Citigroup Nears Deal to Return Billions in Bailout Funds
By JEFF ZELENY and ERIC DASH
Published: December 13, 2009
WASHINGTON – Citigroup was close to a deal on Sunday night to be the last of the big Wall Street banks to exit the government’s bailout program, after trying to persuade regulators that it was sound enough to stand on its own.
Negotiations between the bank’s executives and senior government officials went into the night and could still collapse. On Monday, President Obama is to meet with the chiefs of the nation’s biggest banks at the White House and press them to help speed the economic recovery by providing more loans to small businesses and homeowners.
Learning From the Soviets
By Owen Matthews and Anna Nemtsova | NEWSWEEK
Published Dec 11, 2009
From the magazine issue dated Dec 21, 2009
Talk to Russian veterans of Afghanistan and it’s hard not to think that they’re rooting for the U.S. to lose. For these proud men, seeing NATO succeed at a job they botched would deepen the humiliation of defeat. Easier to affirm that if the Soviets couldn’t win there, no one can. “We did not succeed and you will not either,” says Gen. Victor Yermakov, who commanded Soviet forces in Afghanistan from 1982 to 1983. “They didn’t trust us. They won’t trust you.” Ambassador Zamir Kabulov, who served in Afghanistan under the occupation and has just completed a four-year term as Russia’s envoy in the country, is no more optimistic. “We tried to impose communism. You are trying to impose democracy,” he says. “There is no mistake made by the Soviet Union that the international community has not repeated.”
U.S. unveils plan to rev up clean technology in poor nations
Nations pledge funds to make renewable energy more accessible
By Juliet Eilperin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 14, 2009
COPENHAGEN — Energy Secretary Steven Chu will announce on Monday an international plan to deploy clean technology in developing countries, a $350 million, five-year effort that will include everything from putting solar lanterns in poor households to promoting advanced energy-efficient appliances worldwide, administration officials said.
The Climate Renewables and Efficiency Deployment Initiative is an attempt by the United States and other industrialized nations to help curb energy consumption in countries that will help determine if global greenhouse emissions keep rising or level off.
Lieberman criticizes Senate healthcare compromise
A deal hammered out last week, dropping a public option in favor of an expansion of Medicare, draws fire from the Connecticut independent. His support is crucial for the bill.
December 14, 2009
Washington – Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) threatened Sunday to join Republicans in opposing healthcare legislation if it permits uninsured people as young as 55 to purchase Medicare coverage.
Lieberman, whose vote is crucial to the bill’s prospects, expressed his opposition twice during the day: first in an interview with CBS, and more strongly later, according to Democratic officials, in a private meeting with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Reid, who is hoping to pass the legislation by Christmas, needs 60 votes to overcome an expected Republican filibuster. Democrats hold 58 seats; Lieberman and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders, the Senate’s other independent, caucus with them.
Taliban stalls key hydroelectric turbine project in Afghanistan
Convoy diverted British troops from front but generator may never be used
Jon Boone in Kabul
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 13 December 2009 22.18 GMT
An enormous hydroelectric turbine dragged at huge cost by British troops through Taliban heartlands last year may never be installed because Nato has been unable to secure a 30-mile stretch of road leading to an isolated dam in northern Helmand.
The daring mission to deliver 220 tonnes of equipment to the Kajaki dam in Afghanistan in September 2008 was hailed as one of the biggest success stories of the British Army’s three-year deployment in Helmand.
Two thousand British troops took part in the five-day convoy through enemy territory, which was launched because the main road leading to the dam was too vulnerable to Taliban attacks.
Dubai receives a $10bn bailout from Abu Dhabi
Surprise lifeline helps Dubai avoid defaulting on its $4.1bn Islamic bond
guardian.co.uk, Monday 14 December 2009 07.44 GMT
Dubai has received a crucial $10bn (£6bn) bailout from Abu Dhabi, news which sent shares in the Gulf region soaring this morning.
The surprise lifeline means the troubled emirate will avoid defaulting on its $4.1bn Islamic bond later today.
The emirate announced this morning that its neighbour had intervened to ease the debt crisis, which began almost three weeks ago. The cash injection will allow Dubai World, the state-controlled conglomerate, to make the repayment on the Islamic bond that matures later today. The remaining funds will be used to keep Dubai World operating until the end of April while it negotiates a restructuring deal with its creditors.
Secret document exposes Iran’s nuclear trigger
From The Times
December 14, 2009
Catherine Philp in Washington
Confidential intelligence documents obtained by The Times show that Iran is working on testing a key final component of a nuclear bomb.
The notes, from Iran’s most sensitive military nuclear project, describe a four-year plan to test a neutron initiator, the component of a nuclear bomb that triggers an explosion. Foreign intelligence agencies date them to early 2007, four years after Iran was thought to have suspended its weapons programme.
An Asian intelligence source last week confirmed to The Times that his country also believed that weapons work was being carried out as recently as 2007 – specifically, work on a neutron initiator.
Nostalgic Serbs board the 8.15 to Sarajevo
After 18 years, rail link between the Serbian and Bosnian capitals reopens
By Vesna Peric Zimonjic In Belgrade Monday, 14 December 2009
The last time Husein Kratina boarded a train in Belgrade bound for his native Bosnia-Herzegovina was more than 18 years ago. That last trip was made as the wars leading to the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia tore his homeland apart in 1991.
In the icy cold of yesterday morning, the retired Belgrade university professor became one of the first passengers to climb aboard the Belgrade to Sarajevo express, a direct rail link between the two capitals which has only finally reopened after almost two decades of interruption.
Berlusconi hit in the face with a model of Milan’s cathedral
From The Times
December 14, 2009
Josephine McKenna and Richard Owen in Rome
The Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was struck in the face yesterday by a man holding a small replica of Milan’s cathedral, leaving him with two broken teeth and forcing him to spend the night in hospital.
Witnesses said Mr Berlusconi was attacked after a political rally in the centre of Milan, as he was signing autographs in the square in front of the cathedral, the Duomo. He had just finished giving a speech to rally support for his ruling coalition amid continuing speculation about his future and an increasingly divided government.
He slumped to the ground after he was struck and his security guards immediately took him to San Raffaele hospital for treatment.
Human Rights Watch urges UN to stop backing Congo army
Campaign group Human Rights Watch is urging the UN to immediately stop supporting a military campaign in DR Congo against Rwandan rebels.
By Barbara Plett
BBC News United Nations correspondent, New York
It says the UN should wait until it can ensure that joint operations in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo do not violate international humanitarian law.
In a new report the charity charges the UN’s continued backing undermines its mandate to protect civilians.
The UN says that overall the campaign is bolstering stability in the region.
The US-based group released its report ahead of UN Security Council deliberations this week on renewing the mandate of UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
There has been mounting criticism of the UN’s supporting role in a military campaign against Rwandan rebels that has led to the killing of hundreds of civilians.
Chile vote exposes fatigue with ruling center-left alliance
Even though outgoing socialist President Michelle Bachelet enjoys approval ratings of over 70 percent, voters seem to be growing weary of the Concertacion political alliance she represents.
By Sara Miller Llana Staff writer / December 13, 2009
Center-right billionaire Sebastian Piñera held a strong lead in the polls going into Chile’s presidential election Sunday, positioning the country’s conservatives to take the reins from Chile’s center-left alliance for the first time since 1990 when dictator Augusto Pinochet was forced to step down peacefully. But the clear frontrunner was not expected to win outright, putting the spotlight on the surprisingly strong wildcard candidacy of Marco Enriquez-Ominami, a young leftist who broke off from his party to run as an independent.
Even though outgoing socialist President Michelle Bachelet enjoys approval ratings of over 70 percent, voters seem to be growing weary of the Concertacion political alliance she represents. And while Mr. Enriquez-Ominami is polling behind both the traditional parties on the right and the left, the fact that he could face one in a runoff is being watched as a potential advancement for Chilean democracy.