World and Nation

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Judge Orders Investigation of Executions in Franco Era

The crusading investigative judge Baltasar Garzon opened Spain’s first criminal investigation into Franco-era executions and repression with an order Thursday to open 19 mass graves, including one believed to contain the remains of the poet Federico Garcia Lorca.

Garzon, who has focused on terrorism cases in recent years, is often praised for his failed attempt to prosecute Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the Chilean dictator, in 1998 for crimes against humanity. But his order on Thursday raised an immediate controversy within Spain itself. Silence and a so-called pact of forgetting about past atrocities were the pillars of the peaceful transition to democracy after the nearly 40-year dictatorship of Franco, who died in 1975.

In a 68-page court document, Garzon accepted a petition to investigate the forced disappearances of thousands of people who, like Garcia Lorca, were on or linked to the losing Republican side of the Spanish Civil War. The petition was filed by 13 associations of victims’ families.

Garcia Lorca was executed in Granada, where he was born, by a firing squad at the start of the war, which ran from 1936 to 1939. The grave his remains are believed to lie in, along with those of a schoolteacher and two union leaders, is in a nearby village, Viznar. It has become a pilgrimage site for lovers of Garcia Lorca’s tragic, passionate verse, as well as for students of Spanish history — many of whom leave flowers or notes at the site.

In Economic Crisis, Newly Profligate India Cuts Back

Aman Walia, 21, dreamed of flying.

Armed with a student loan, he enrolled in flight attendant school and snatched himself a dream job with Jet Airways, India’s largest private carrier, six months ago. In short order, he bought his first car, renovated his apartment and threw himself into the high life of young, exuberant New India.

This week, he was fired.

Jet Airways, having posted large losses over the last year, announced layoffs of 1,900 crew members, including 800 flight attendants.

It was part of India’s first taste of pain from a bruising global economic slowdown. “Dreams are on hold right now,” Walia said Thursday. He and dozens of former Jet employees, the men in navy suits and the women in knee-length golden yellow jackets usually seen on board doling out lemonade with smiles, marched incongruously through the domestic airport here this morning, shouting slogans.

“Jet Airways, down, down,” they chanted as news television cameras rolled.

While the airline reversed itself later in the day and reinstated the workers, the shock seemed likely to linger.

Until recently, Indians had been spared the worst of the fallout from the current global financial crisis: no mass foreclosures, no banks threatening default under mountains of debt. But India’s fast-clip economy is beginning to show signs of a slowdown, in turn tamping the country’s newfound predilection to spend.

Google’s Net Is Up 26 Percent

For months, Google has promised investors that the company’s online advertising system would do relatively well in an economic downturn. On Thursday, it showed evidence that it may be able deliver on that promise.

Google said that its growth rate continued to slow in the third quarter. But the company fared better than Wall Street expected as it reported a solid 26 percent jump in net income to $1.35 billion, or $4.24 a share, from $1.07 billion in the third quarter of 2007. The company’s results were bolstered by strong gains in online advertising and efforts by Google to slow hiring and rein in costs.

Google’s shares, which rose to $353.02, or 4 percent, in regular trading on Thursday, jumped an additional 10 percent after the company reported its financial results. However, they remain down sharply from their high of just over $740 in November 2007.

Google’s chief executive, Eric E. Schmidt, said the results reflected marketers’ acceptance of a system that is better and more measurable than other forms of advertising. He said that while the economic environment was unpredictable, Google was poised to continue doing relatively well.

“We are very realistic about the macroeconomic climate, but we are optimistic about Google’s future,” Schmidt said during a conference call with analysts.

Nader Displays New Fervor On the Bailout Issue

Standing on the steps of Federal Hall just after noon on Thursday, Ralph Nader was the same familiar tall, rumpled, graying figure, fervently railing against corporate power and greed.

“There are no bailouts for the working people of this country!” said Nader, 74, addressing a crowd of several hundred people on Wall Street, a mix of cheering fans toting “Jail Time for Corporate Crime” signs, curious workers on their lunch breaks and bewildered tourists snapping pictures. “Just bailouts for the speculative corporations of this country.”

In the $700 billion bailout plan for the financial system, Nader, now on his fourth presidential run, has finally found a real-life event to illustrate what he has made a cause of his career.

“Oh yeah, it’s got everything,” Nader said in an interview after the rally. “Taxation without representation, no public hearings. This is the worst yet, procedurally and substantively.”

Nader continues to draw scorn for his role in the 2000 election, when many Democrats felt his long-shot candidacy destroyed Al Gore’s chances of becoming president. But this time, some polls in critical swing states like Florida suggest he is drawing votes from Sen. John McCain, the Republican nominee.