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After three days of debate the United Nations Security Council acted on a request from the Arab League and authorised the use of “all necessary measures” to prevent the Gaddafi regime in Libya from attacking its own people Resolution 1973 based on a British/French proposal for a no-fly zone and broadened by US support for wider powers was passed with abstentions by permanent members China and Russia and Brazil, Germany and India.

The 9.0 earthquake in Japan and its consequent tsunami left 500'000 homeless in extreme winter conditions; the initial death toll of 14'000 was expected to increase considerably. The malfunctioning of the Fukushima nuclear power facility led to fears of radioactive leaks as far as Tokyo where a precautionary exodus included foreign embassy and business staff as well as local people moving south.

Stocks around the world were negatively affected by anticipated effects of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and by unrest in the Middle East but had rebounded by the end of the week. A rare intervention by the Group of Seven nations helped Japan to restrain the soaring yen against the dollar and euro.

The French carmaker Renault faced a storm of criticism for dismissing three senior executives on the basis of forged evidence. The executives, who were reinstated, had been accused of supplying secret information about electric car development to a competitor. Renault's Chief Executive Officer, Carlos Ghosn, apologised and said he would forgo his performance bonus in penance.