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Markets Tumble; Goldman's Pummeled; Thai Protesters & Police Rumble

Good morning.

As we reported a little earlier, a story to watch today will be whether the U.S. Coast Guard decides to go ahead and start burning off the massive oil slick that has formed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana — where an explosion on an oil rig last week left 11 workers missing and presumed dead, and created a leak that may spill oil into the gulf for weeks or longer.

Other stories making headlines include:

— The Associated Press — "World Markets Tumble Again Amid Greek Debt Fears": "World markets tumbled Wednesday amid acute fears that Greece's debt crisis would spread like wildfire through Europe after a leading credit ratings agency downgraded the country's debt to junk status and cut Portugal's rating as well. The downgrades by Standard & Poor's reinforced investor fears that Europe leaders were failing to get a handle on the government debt crisis afflicting Greece and that there is now a big chance of contagion with higher borrowing costs hitting other euro-using countries with weak finances."

From a related story by Bloomberg News: "The danger is that the authorities lose control of the situation and that sovereign yields rise to levels that make a bailout for Greece even more difficult," Gary Jenkins, a strategist at Evolution Securities in London, wrote in a note. "Unless we see some stabilization soon, a number of governments may find it very difficult to access the markets at a yield that makes any financial sense for them or, in some cases, at all."

Live-Blogging the financial crisis: At The Guardian.

Morning Edition — "Goldman Sachs Executives Lambasted By Senate Panel": NPR's Yuki Noguichi rounds up the news from yesterday's 11-hour grilling.

Related story by The New York Times — "Democrats Use Goldman to Push Bank Overhaul": Democratic lawmakers "have seized on emerging details about Goldman's wheeling and dealing — recounted in a marathon bipartisan questioning of top executives from the firm on Tuesday during a televised Senate hearing — to put pressure on Republicans" and move ahead on new rules to govern Wall Street.

— BBC News — Violence Flares Again In Thailand As "Red-Shirts" And Troops Clash: "Thai troops and a convoy of hundreds of red-shirt protesters have clashed on the outskirts of Bangkok. One soldier has died, reportedly from a shot fired by a member of the security forces, and at least 16 people have been injured. ... The red-shirts, who want the government to step down, have been camped out in Bangkok for more than six weeks."

From a related report by NPR's Michael Sullivan in Bangkok: Security forces used rubber bullets and tear gas. It's not clear whether live ammunition was used as well. The confrontation ended after a heavy rain cooled tempers.

The Arizona Republic — "Arizona Immigration Law Could Drive Latinos Out Of State": "More than 100,000 undocumented immigrants have left Arizona in the past two years because of the bad economy and earlier enforcement crackdowns. Now, a new wave of Latinos is preparing to leave. And it isn't just illegal immigrants: Legal residents and U.S. citizens also say they will leave Arizona because they view the state as unfriendly to Hispanics. Arizona's new immigration law is not so much about using local police to round up and deport as many of the estimated 460,000 illegal immigrants in the state as possible, said state Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, it's about creating so much fear they will leave on their own."

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