Wikinews Shorts: November 27, 2008

A compilation of brief news reports for Thursday, November 27, 2008.

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Large drop in US consumer spending


United States consumer spending dropped one percent in October, the largest decline since September of 2001. Consumer spending, which makes up approximately two-thirds of economic activity in the United States, rose by 0.3% in September.

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department has stated that the pace of new home sales in October dropped by 5.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 433,000, their lowest rates since January 1991.

Other figures released yesterday say that the number of new jobless claims last week dropped to 529,000 from a sixteen-year high of 543,000 in the previous week.


Thai Prime Minister rejects calls to step down


Thailand's Prime Minister, Somchai Wongsawat, has rejected calls by General Anupong Paochinda, the commander-in-chief of the Royal Thai Army, to step down.

Somchai said that his government was legitimate, and that he would continue to work for the country.

This comes in the face of massive anti-government protests, the latest of which saw Bangkok's main airport being shut down by hundreds of demonstrators.

Speaking in a televised address, Somchai said that "I reassure the people that this government, which is legitimate and came from elections, will keep functioning until the end."


Europe announces €200 billion rescue plan


The European Commission (EC) has unveiled an economic recovery plan worth 200 billion, which it hopes will save millions of jobs.

The EC is expecting European Union member states to pay €170 billion, while the EC will contribute the rest of the sum.

It is hoped that the plan will stimulate spending and increase consumer confidence. A portion of the money will be allocated to job training, improving energy links and broadband access, and creating lower-emission cars.


Former Indian Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh dies

Vishwanath Pratap Singh, the former Prime Minister of India, has died today at the age of 77. The cause of death was announced as blood cancer and renal failure. The Indian government has announced a seven-day state mourning as a mark of respect to V P Singh.

Singh was born on June 25, 1931, in Allahabad. He served as India's Prime Minister from 1989 to 1990.


Judge rules Florida ban on gay adoption unconstitutional

A family court judge in Miami has ruled the standing 31-year ban on adoption by gays in the U.S. state of Florida unconstitutional, setting the stage for another gay rights fight just weeks after Florida voters banned same-sex marriages and other contractual unions by plebiscite.

Miami-Dade County Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman allowed Frank Gill, a gay man from North Miami, to adopt two children who have been in his foster care since 2004. In the court papers, the children were only identified as "John and James Doe" to protect their privacy. Minutes after her ruling, the state attorney general's office announced plans to appeal in the Third District Court in Miami.

In her ruling, Lederman said, "John and James left a world of chronic neglect, emotional impoverishment and deprivation to enter a new world, foreign to them, that was nurturing, safe, structured and stimulating. They are a family, a good family, in every way except the eyes of the law."

The ban was passed by the Florida Legislature in 1977 after singer Anita Bryant led a then-popular charge to repeal gay-friendly ordinances in Miami. The ban had already been upheld once before by the Florida Supreme Court in 1995.