by Charles Lemos, Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 04:38:15 AM EST
Here is the Friday, January 1st, 2010 edition of what's making news and interesting reads from around the world.
Iceland Votes to Repay Billions
Iceland's parliament narrowly approved by 33 to 30 vote a repayment scheme to pay back 3.4 billion pounds ($5 billion USD) to Britain and the Netherlands after the Icesave bank collapsed in late 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis. The money will reimburse the British and Dutch governments which stepped in to compensate depositors with Icesave after its parent bank Landsbanki failed last year. The bank's collapse affected more than 320,000 savers. There has been strong opposition to the measure in Iceland, amid fears the country would not be able to afford repayments. But the leftist government of Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir hopes the move will help boost the country's bid to join the European Union and repair its battered economy.
Charges Against Five Blackwater Employees Dismissed
A federal judge has dismissed all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards charged in a deadly Baghdad shooting. More from the New York Times. In Iraq, the news was received with disbelief, anger and bitter resignation.
US Drone Strike in North Waziristan
The second US drone strike in as many days has killed three militants in North Waziristan, part of the Tribal areas of Pakistan. The unmanned US predator drone fired two missiles against a suspected militant hideout in Ghundikala village, 15 kilometres east of Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan and close to the Afghan border. The story in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.
Israeli Settlement Construction Continues Unabated
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that despite a temporary ban on construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, hundreds of housing units remain under construction in isolated settlements.
Germany Inc. - A Radical Restructuring Needed
The German news magazine Der Spiegel finds that German economy performed "astonishingly well" against the backdrop of the global financial crisis in 2009. Still the staff writers of Der Spiegel believe that Germany "will need to lay the foundations for a radical restructuring" in 2010 if the country is to " fend off powerful new competitors from China and India." They ask if Germany needs a new business model. It's a question we might ask here in the United States.
DPRK Calls for an End to "The Hostile Relationship"
The New York Times reports that North Korea called for an end to “the hostile relationship” with the United States, issuing a New Year’s message that highlighted the reclusive country’s attempt to readjust the focus of six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
In an editorial carried by its major state media outlets, North Korea said that its consistent stand was “to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations.” The editorial added that “the fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability” was “to put an end to the hostile relationship” with the United States.
The sequence of easing tension with Washington, establishing a peace regime and then denuclearizing the Korean peninsula has been shaping up as the North’s policy approach before it re-engages in talks about giving up its nuclear weapons, according to officials and analysts in Seoul.
However, the Korea Times reports that a South Korean think tank published a paper arguing that North Korea may detonate a third nuclear device and provoke border clashes to escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula next year. The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) reported that through a third nuclear test, Pyongyang could show the world that it has no plans to scrap its atomic weapons program. On Thursday, President Lee Myung-bak noted that although there was little progress in inter-Korean relations in 2009, he believe that his government has laid the groundwork for developing relations in a positive direction.