America and Russia make nuclear disarmament treaty, 29/3.
America and Russia will reduce their nuclear weapons under a new disarmament treaty.
Barack Obama says it is a major achievement for both sides.
The Australian reports, 'US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev have finalised a historic new deal to cut long-range nuclear arms, slashing the number of deployed warheads by a third.
After months of intense negotiations, the pair sealed what Mr Obama called "the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly two decades," as they hailed improved ties that hit a low under the previous US president George W. Bush.
The new pact, due to be signed April 8 in Prague by both the presidents of the former Cold War foes, replaces the landmark 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which expired in December.
In the Czech capital last year, Mr Obama unveiled a plan to purge the world of atomic weapons by cutting stockpiles, curtailing testing, choking fissile production and securing loose nuclear material.
In the latest announcement, Mr Obama -- standing next to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defence Secretary Robert Gates and other key officials -- stressed that the new START treaty was a "fundamental part of that effort" for a nuclear-free world.'
Google hits back at the Chinese government, 25/3.
Google has finally stopped censoring its Chinese search engine after a bitter dispute with the Chinese government.
The Australian writes, 'CHINESE authorities yesterday reacted angrily to Google's decision to stop censoring its China-based search engine, accusing the company of violating promises.
More than two months after it threatened to shut Google.cn if it had to continue policing the site following a mass cyber attack on the US search engine company launched with the apparent approval of the Chinese authorities, Google made the shift early yesterday.
Visitors to Google.cn are now automatically redirected to the Chinese-language service based in Hong Kong, where Google is not legally required to censor searches.
Google's act of defiance could be a pivotal, if financially risky, moment in Western companies' efforts to do business in China and for the broader issue of free speech in the communist nation.
"Google has violated its written promise it made when entering the Chinese market by stopping filtering its searching service and blaming China in insinuation for alleged hacker attacks," an official with the State Council Information Office said.'
Obama wins healthcare reform, 22/3.
Nancy Pelosi summed up and the House voted narrowly to save President Obama's healthcare dream and perhaps also his chance of a second term as president.
The Oz reports: 'BARACK Obama has achieved a breakthrough in his push to overhaul US healthcare, after a congress vote today backed legislation extending health insurance to millions of Americans without cover.
'A drawn-out and at times bitter debate climaxed with the House of Representatives voting 219-212 to pass a compromise health bill costing $US940 billion over a decade.
'As many as 34 Democrats voted against the bill.
'The legislation is still to undergo a final Senate vote before it is signed into law by the President.
'But leaders of Mr Obama’s Democratic Party are confident their health battle is as good as over'.
Turkey threatens Armenians with expulsion, 19/3.
The Turkish government has threatened to expel hundreds of thousands of Armenians if foreign governments continue to accuse Turkey of genocide against them.
The Australian reports, 'TURKEY'S Prime Minister has raised the stakes in an international row over the mass killing of Armenians in Ottoman Turkey by threatening to expel 100,000 Armenians living in the country.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that action could be taken if foreign parliaments continued to increase the pressure by recognising the massacre of Armenians by Ottoman Turks a century ago as genocide.
"In my country there are 170,000 Armenians; 70,000 of them are citizens. We tolerate 100,000 more. So, what am I going to do tomorrow? If necessary I will tell the 100,000: okay, time to go back to your country. Why? They are not my citizens. I am not obliged to keep them in my country," he said, during a visit to London this week.
He also warned the Armenian diaspora that its campaign to have the genocide recognised by foreign parliaments would jeopardise improved ties between Turkey and Armenia.'
Attorney General says Bin Laden may never be captured, 18/3.
Eric Holder, Barack Obama's Attorney General, has said America may never capture Bin Laden nearly nine years into the war on terror.
The Australian reports the American government quickly rejected Holder's comments and said it was committed to getting Bin Laden dead or alive.
'US FORCES are still trying to capture Osama Bin Laden despite the Attorney-General yesterday saying that the al-Qa-ida leader would never be taken alive.
And their offensive to push back Taliban forces around Kandahar have ``already begun'', it was confirmed.
Asked by a reporter today if troops under his command had ``given up'' on trying to capture bin Laden, NATO commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal said: ``Wow, no.''
``If Osama bin Laden comes inside Afghanistan, which is the writ of my mandate.... we certainly would go after trying to capture him alive and bring him to justice,'' he said.
That was something ``understood by everyone,'' he said.
Yesterday American Attorney-General Eric Holder told a congressional hearing that bin Laden would never face trial in the USbecause he will not be captured alive.'
Financial reforms will strengthen the Federal Reserve if passed, 16/3.
The Federal Reserve will become a more powerful institution if the US Congress passes new financial reforms.
The Wall Street Journal writes, 'WASHINGTON—The political battle over rewriting the rules of Wall Street will intensify Monday when Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd is expected to introduce legislation tougher on financial companies than was expected just a few weeks ago.
The shift follows a push from the Obama administration, which sees a political advantage in pushing legislation taking aim at Wall Street. Mr. Dodd's bill would allow the Fed to examine any bank-holding company with more than $50 billion in assets, and large financial companies that aren't banks could be lassoed into the Fed's supervisory orbit. This came after Treasury officials pushed Mr. Dodd to bring more companies under the Fed's purview.
Any financial company, from small payday lenders to huge megabanks, would have to abide by new rules written by an autonomous Fed division that would be given the job of protecting consumers. This division would also be able to sanction any bank with more than $10 billion of assets for violations of consumer rules. Other industries could face enforcement if regulators decide to expand the division's powers. This is a departure from a more-constrained setup Republicans thought they had secured in recent talks.
The bill would now give the government more power to crack down on risky practices or certain types of lending.'
American-Israeli relations worsened after Israel announced it intended to build 1600 houses in East Jerusalem.
The Australian reports Israel's decision has weakened relations with the US and the peace process more generally.
'US attempts to restart the Middle East peace process were in serious doubt last night after Israel announced 1600 new homes in sensitive East Jerusalem during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden.
Only hours after Mr Biden said an opportunity to renew peace existed, he issued a statement condemning Israel.
The White House, the UN, the Palestinian leadership and large sections of the Israeli media joined his denunciation of Israel's plan and its timing.
The move was even panned by Israel's Defence Minister, Ehud Barak. "The entourage of Defence Minister Ehud Barak expresses its anger after the unwarranted announcement, which affects peace negotiations with the Palestinians - negotiations of the highest interest for Israel," a statement said.'
al-Maliki leads Iraqi election, 10/3.
Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's incumbent Prime Minister, seems likely to win a second term after elections in Iraq.
The Australian reports, 'BAGHDAD: Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Shi'ite leader who helped ease Iraq's deadly sectarian conflict, emerged last night as a frontrunner after an election seen as a test of the nation's young democracy.
The estimates from the Baghdad region, which could swing the results of the vote, were not yet available but local officials said Mr Maliki's political bloc was leading in nine of Iraq's 18 provinces.
Millions voted on Sunday, braving rocket, mortar and bomb attacks conducted by al-Qa'ida that killed 38 people, to cast their ballots in the second parliamentary election since US-led forces ousted now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003.
President Barack Obama, who has promised to withdraw all US troops from Iraq by the end of next year, paid tribute to "the courage and resilience of the Iraqi people, who once again defied threats to advance their democracy".'
NASA's future challenged by Obama's new policies, 9/3.
Barack Obama is struggling to sell his NASA policy that would outsource missions to the private sector.
The Wall Street Journal reports Obama faces a unique challenge with many Democrats and Republicans opposing the policy.
'The White House is launching a political counterattack to fend off escalating congressional criticism of its proposals to outsource U.S. manned space missions to private industry.
Facing bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill and lacking prominent champions of such unprecedented space ventures among most large aerospace contractors, the administration hopes to regain momentum on the issue with a personal appeal from President Barack Obama.
The White House said the president would outline his plans for space exploration at a conference in Florida on April 15. The event will give him a forum to defend his proposed cancellation of existing National Aeronautics and Space Administration projects intended to take astronauts back to the moon and deeper into the solar system.
The bid to outsource many of NASA's current manned exploration programs has sparked opposition partly because of the job losses critics say it would entail.'
Florida and other states that benefit from NASA funding oppose Obama's policy because it would shed jobs and federal government investments into them.
China tells America it needs to try harder, 8/3.
The Chinese government insists America will need to make renewed efforts to improve bilateral relations between the two countries.
The Wall Street Journal reports, 'BEIJING — China said Sunday that it is up to the United States to improve relations that soured over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and a meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama.
Beijing was incensed by Washington's January announcement of a $6.4 billion weapons package for Taiwan, the self-governing island it considers Chinese territory. Beijing suspended military exchanges and has threatened to retaliate against U.S. aerospace firms involved in the deal.
Beijing protested again when Obama met at the White House with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing accuses of seeking independence for the Himalayan region.'
However, this will prove difficult given the deep grievances between America and China.
'The new tensions join recurring friction over human rights and commerce, with U.S. critics accusing China of deliberately undervaluing its currency to boost its massive trade surplus. Meanwhile, Beijing has charged Washington with abusing trade relief measures after U.S. regulators increased import duties on Chinese-made steel pipes.'
Tea Party challenges GOP positions on immigration and war on terror, 3/3.
The Tea Party movement has much in common with the Republican Party, except when it comes to immigration and the war on terror.
The Wall Street Journal reports many Tea Party members want a moratorium on illegal immigration and an end to American involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.
'Republicans today are trying something similar with the Tea Party movement. Yet even as Republicans relish this thought, it's worth remembering that, just as their embrace of the religious right created occasional heartburn alongside electoral success over the years, so too does their slow embrace of the Tea Party movement carry downside risks as well as upside potential.
In particular, Republicans' courtship of the Tea Party movement threatens to pull the party away from its moorings on two crucial and emotional issues: the war on terror and immigration.
On the terror front, many Tea Partiers question the very notion of a war on terror, and see some law-enforcement policies adopted in its pursuit as unacceptable intrusions on American liberties. On immigration, the close-the-borders rhetoric common within the Tea Party movement runs counter to what many in the GOP hope will be a renewed outreach to Hispanics.'
However, the WSJ also notes the Tea Party has no formal position on these issues because it is a decentralized grass roots movement without a party structure or leader.
Thailand takes Thaksin's wealth, 1/3.
Thailand's highest court ruled the government could take one billion dollars from former leader Thaksin.
The WSJ reports the verdict was extremely divisive and may fracture the country.
'BANGKOK—Thailand's Supreme Court seized over half of ousted Thai leader Thaksin Shinawatra's $2.3 billion family fortune on Friday, raising the prospect of Mr. Thaksin facing further criminal charges four years after the military coup that forced him from office.
The court ruled that the fugitive politician abused his position to illegally expand his telecommunications business and said it would confiscate $1.4 billion in frozen family bank accounts. The ruling was read out over the course of several hours while some 20,000 riot police locked down parts of the Thai capital, a nod to Mr. Thaksin's continued pull in a country deeply divided between the former leader's populism and the conservatism of the country's old-guard ruling elite.
Academics and analysts said the government could use the ruling to justify the 2006 army coup that installed Thailand's military-backed government. But political analysts said the ruling may do little to ease tensions because it is unlikely to satisfy either side.'
Obama fails on healthcare, 26/2.
The latest US report is presented below, but Australia's ABC news says Obama's day long meeting ending without hoped for compromise agreement.
'BARACK Obama has urged his opponents in the Republican Party to ''do a little soul searching'' for the sake of 30 million Americans without medical insurance after making a last-ditch attempt to win support for an overhaul of US healthcare.
'In a highly unusual event that was televised nationally today, the US President spent more than six hours with 40 congressional leaders in Washington to try to persuade Republicans to back legislation they have so far blocked in the Senate.
'Presenting his own plan, largely based on the Senate version, the US President left open the option that his Democratic Party could dump Congress procedure and ram through legislation by using a simple majority if Republicans refused to accept a compromise.
'The President dismissed suggestions of Republican leaders John Boehner and Mitch McConnell that the best way to progress what he has rated the No1 domestic policy issue of his first term would be to start again with a "clean slate".'
So much for global coverage of important events.
We refer readers to anatole Kaletsky's report before todays meeting in Washington - linked below.
US fiscal gridlock a vast risk, 26/2.
Anatole Kaletsky says in what is a most important contribution: 'TODAY'S [US Healthcare] summit is crucial to policy and economic prospects in the US and the West.
'You may not have noticed, but today is a very important day for US politics, world economic prospects and even for the global balance of power between Western democracy and benign dictatorship along Chinese lines. Why? Because today marks either the beginning of the end of Barack Obama' presidency, or the end of the beginning.
'At 10am US eastern time, he will host an all-day "summit", broadcast live on nationwide TV, with his Republican congressional opponents and his wayward Democratic supporters, to try to establish some kind of political consensus on the top priority of his presidency -- reform of the ruinously expensive US healthcare system. Medicine now absorbs 17 per cent of US national income, double the average in other advanced economies'.
'If nothing is done to change the US healthcare system, it can be stated with mathematical certainty that the US government and many leading US companies will be driven into bankruptcy, a fate that befell General Motors and Chrysler largely because of their inability to meet retired workers' contractually guaranteed medical costs. ...
'But even more troubling would be the economic and financial effects. Gridlock over healthcare would imply similar stalemates on taxes, public spending, the budget, macro-economic stimulus and financial reform. As a result, an active response to any future financial crisis might become impossible.
'Even worse, any important action to control US government borrowing could be ruled out. If the financial markets seriously reached this conclusion, all the debates about government debt and public spending in Britain, Greece and other countries would be a waste of breath. A genuine loss of confidence in America's fiscal outlook would create a financial crisis so horrific that actions by the British or European governments would be swept away like beach huts in a tsunami. And precisely this possibility must be taken seriously if Mr Obama fails to break the healthcare deadlock. The issue at the heart of America's present political polarisation almost guarantees that government deficits will continue to widen if he cannot create some kind of consensus. For the deadlock over healthcare is just one instance of a more generalised paralysis on economic issues'.
USA, Iran and China, 17/2.
Graeme Mills comments: 'I have been watching Hilary Clinton of late, and she definately has forgotten to take her lipstick ... Yikes!'
The New York Times says: 'With the administration’s efforts to reach out to Iran having failed to produce a response, it is shifting to a more confrontational strategy that is tailor-made for Mrs. Clinton, a longtime skeptic of the value of engaging with Tehran. This, after all, is the woman who once warned that if she were president and Iran attacked Israel, the United States would “totally obliterate” Iran.'
I wonder how much of this is a complex global strategy aimed at China which is becoming increasingly isolated in its position re Iran as a member of the gang of 5 on the UN?'
Haiti death toll exceeds 230,000, 11/2.
The Haiti earthquake has now killed more than 230,000 people according to the Haitian government.
The Australian reports this figure now equals the death toll from the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004.
'PORT-AU-PRINCE: Haiti's government raised the death toll for the January 12 quake to 230,000 yesterday, matching the toll from the 2004 Asian tsunami.
The grim milestone was announced as a quake-damaged Haitian supermarket collapsed in the capital with several people inside and rescue crews were working to pull them out last night.
"There were looters inside the building," site supervisor Meir Vaknin said. "I was trying to get rid of them and when the building fell,there were some of them inside."
Mr Vaknin estimated five to eight people had been in the supermarket and said at least one was spotted alive inside.
The five-storey building had been popular with well-off Haitians and was the capital's largest supermarket. It was badly damaged in the quake but part of it has remained standing.'
New international sanctions against Iran seem likely after the country announced it would continue to pursue nuclear energy.
The Wall Street Journal reports, 'Iran began enriching uranium at levels closer to weapons grade on Tuesday, raising fresh threats of sanctions but potentially spurring the U.S. to reopen discussion over a stalled international nuclear deal.
Iranian state media reported the process started Tuesday morning at Iran's pilot enrichment facility in Natanz, under the supervision of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran formally notified the United Nations nuclear watchdog of its intentions to begin enrichment in a letter late Monday. The IAEA confirmed it was monitoring the work.
The decision, the latest move by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in defiance of international efforts to curb Tehran's nuclear ambitions, brought new calls by Western officials to pursue economic sanctions on Iran.'
Barack Obama criticized Iran for defying the IAEA and other international organizations.
'"We have bent over backwards to say to the Islamic Republic of Iran that we are willing to have a constructive conversation with them about how they can align themselves with international norms," President Barack Obama said at a White House news conference Tuesday. "The next step is sanctions."'
Palin hints at 2012 campaign, 9/2.
The Wall Street Journal reports conservatives within and outside the Republican Party want Sarah Palin to run in 2012.
Her comments today also suggest she is likely to campaign for the Presidency in 2012.
'WASHINGTON -- Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin on Sunday said she wasn't ruling out running for president in 2012, after a weekend appearance at the National Tea Party Convention underscored the depth of her support from the conservative grassroots movement.
"I think that it would be absurd not to consider" a 2012 run, Ms. Palin, the GOP's 2008 vice presidential nominee, said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." She said she would jump into the next presidential race if she believed it was "the right thing to do for the country" and for her family.
Ms. Palin criticized President Barack Obama's job performance and predicted that he wouldn't be re-elected unless he adopts a tough line against terrorists. She challenged the administration's decision to try terror suspects in U.S. courts and suggested Attorney General Eric Holder should resign for urging that course of action.'
Gays may be allowed to openly serve, 4/2.
Members of the U.S. high command have openly supported Obama's plan to end a ban on gays in the military.
The Australian writes, 'WASHINGTON: The US military's top officer has ardently backed lifting the ban on gays serving openly in uniform, saying it was "the right thing to do".
In dramatic testimony before a Senate panel yesterday, Admiral Mike Mullen became the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to endorse repealing the ban, providing a powerful boost to President Barack Obama's bid to change the policy.
But no action is likely for at least a year as Admiral Mullen and Defence Secretary Robert Gates unveiled plans to carry out a year-long review looking at the possible effect of ending the ban.
"It is my personal belief that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly would be the right thing to do," Admiral Mullen said. "No matter how I look at this issue, I cannot escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy which forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens."'
President Clinton introduced the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the 1990's.
Obama meeting with the Dalai Lama goes ahead, 3/2.
Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama in spite of Chinese pressure.
The Australian reports the decision may further worsen American-Chinese relations after the U.S. promised it would sell Taiwan new military equipment to the tune of several billion dollars.
'BARACK Obama will meet the Dalai Lama, the White House said today, rejecting Chinese pressure to snub him amid escalating disputes between the Pacific powers.
“The president told China leaders during his trip last year that he would meet with the Dalai Lama, and he intends to do so,” White House spokesman Bill Burton said on Air Force One en route to New Hampshire.
“The Dalai Lama is an internationally respected religious and cultural leader, and the president will meet with him in that capacity.”'
Countries hesitate to increase climate change targets, 2/2.
Most of the countries that attended the Copenhagen conference last year did not increase their carbon reduction targets, says the Telegraph.
It reports, 'The climate change deal signed in Copenhagen last year is looking weaker than ever after fewer than half of the countries that took part in negotiations managed to meet the latest deadline to fight global warming.'
Not surprisingly, the UN lamented the unwillingness of countries to embrace bold new targets.
'Yvo de Boer, Executive Secretary of the UN climate change body, said greater ambition is required.
“The commitment to confront climate change at the highest level is beyond doubt," he said.
"These pledges have been formally communicated to the UNFCCC. Greater ambition is required to meet the scale of the challenge.
"But I see these pledges as clear signals of willingness to move negotiations towards a successful conclusion.”'
'The Chinese Foreign Ministry said China-US co-operation on regional and international issues would be affected by the issue, causing "severe damage" to China-US relations.
'The row comes after Google's announcement it would quit China in protest against state-condoned or commissioned cyber attacks and censorship, a row that worsened after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton demanded an explanation from Beijing.
'Jin Canrong of Renmin University in Beijing said the sale of $US6.4 billion ($7.2bn) worth of arms to Taipei would push China to accelerate testing of its anti-missile defence system, and reduce co-operation on the Iran and North Korean nuclear issues, and counter-terrorism'.
It seems the UN has used yet another fraudulent report to justify immediate climate change action.
The Australian reports, 'A STARTLING report by the UN climate watchdog that global warming might wipe out 40 per cent of the Amazon rainforest was based on an unsubstantiated claim by green campaigners who had no scientific expertise.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its 2007 benchmark report that even a slight change in rainfall could see swaths of the rainforest rapidly replaced by savanna grassland.
The source for its claim was a report from WWF, an environmental pressure group, which was written by two green activists. They had based their "research" on a study published in the science journal Nature, which did not assess rainfall but looked at the impact on the forest of human activity such as logging and burning. WWF said on Saturday it was launching an internal inquiry into the study.
This is the third time in as many weeks that serious doubts have been raised over the IPCC's conclusions on climate change. Two weeks ago, after reports in London's The Sunday Times and The Australian, the panel was forced to retract a warning that climate change was likely to melt the Himalayan glaciers by 2035. That warning was also based on claims in a WWF report.'
This latest episode strengthens the position of climate sceptics who have accused the UN of deliberately faking and misrepresenting the views of scientists.
Obama changes focus for second year, 30/1.
Barack Obama will focus on jobs in his second year as President, possibly at the expense of federal health reform.
The Australian writes Obama has promised new tax cuts for small businesses to encourage new jobs.
'Campaigning yesterday in Tampa, Florida, Mr Obama won repeated applause as he told a town hall meeting that he wanted to boost jobs by giving tax breaks to small businesses that hired unemployed workers.'
Yet, he insisted the campaign for universal healthcare was not over.
'But he recommitted to pressing ahead with the stalled health legislation, regardless of Senate resistance. "We will not stop fighting for a healthcare system that works for the American people, not just for the insurance industry," he said.'
America signals new climate change policy, 29/1.
The US will cut its carbon emissions by 17% by 2020 under a new climate change policy.
The Senate still needs to confirm the policy, but Obama and Democrats are confident it will pass.
The Australian reports, 'THE United States today officially stated a goal to cut carbon emissions by 17 per cent by 2020 off 2005 levels, in a submission to the United Nations as part of last month's Copenhagen meeting.
The United States said it expected to cut emissions blamed for global warming “in the range of 17 per cent” and “anticipated” that Congress would approve legislation to meet the target.
On Wednesday, Climate Change Minister Penny Wong revealed that Australia's target for greenhouse gas emissions cuts by 2020 under the Copenhagen Accord would be an unconditional, minimum of 5 per cent and a possible maximum of 25 per cent.'
Climate change scepticism rises, 28/1.
The climate change debate is still raging despite the efforts of alarmists and the UN.
According to a top British scientist, fear and not rational science is driving the climate debate.
The Australian reports, 'THE impact of global warming has been exaggerated by some scientists and there is an urgent need for more honest disclosure of the uncertainty of predictions about the rate of climate change, according to the British government's chief scientific adviser.
John Beddington said climate scientists should be less hostile to sceptics who questioned man-made global warming. He condemned scientists who refused to publish the data underpinning their reports.
Australia's chief scientist, Penny Sackett, told The Australian last night she shared Professor Beddington's concerns.
Professor Sackett said climate change was a scientific reality but there was a need for absolute openness and rigour in the presentation of evidence, including recognition of which aspects of climate change science were imprecise and required further research.'
The news comes as the Rudd government prepares to reintroduce its ETS bill later this year.
Haiti death toll continues to rise, 25/1.
The earthquake in Haiti has now killed more than 110,000 people.
The Australian writes the death count is still rising despite an influx of foreign aid.
'MORE than 110,000 people have been confirmed as killed in Haiti's devastating earthquake, making it the deadliest on record in the Americas.
The ministry put the toll from the disastrous January 12 quake at 111,499, a major increase from the government's previous estimate of 75,000 people killed.
Calling the damage "catastrophic," it said in a statement that 193,891 people were injured in the 7.0-magnitude quake that hit the Port-au-Prince capital region.
More than 609,600 people were currently living in 500 temporary camps, it said, updating a previous figure of 500,000 homeless.
Haitian officials have expressed fear that the death toll from the country's worst earthquake in over a century may surpass 200,000.'
The American Supreme Court has changed its position on political campaign donations.
The Supreme Court ruled that limits and restrictions on corporate and union donations were unconstitutional and against the first amendment.
The Wall Street Journal reports, 'WASHINGTON—A divided Supreme Court struck down decades-old limits on corporate political spending, potentially reshaping the 2010 election landscape by permitting businesses and unions to spend freely on commercials for or against candidates.'
Barack Obama promised he would try to overturn the ruling with legislation, whilst Republicans welcomed the verdict.
'President Barack Obama attacked the ruling and said it gave "a green light to a new stampede of special-interest money in our politics," particularly "big oil, Wall Street banks, health-insurance companies and the other powerful interests" that "drown out the voices of everyday Americans." He pledged to work with lawmakers to craft a "forceful response."
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who has long fought campaign-finance regulations, hailed the court for a "monumental decision" toward "restoring the First Amendment rights of [corporations and unions] by ruling that the Constitution protects their right to express themselves about political candidates and issues up until Election Day."'
Democratic fortress falls to Republican challenger, 21/1.
Barack Obama and the Democrats are worried after a little known Republican won the Massachusetts Senate race.
Scott Brown won one of America's most liberal states campaigning against Obama's policies and the status quo.
The Australian reports, 'BARACK Obama's first-term legislative agenda, including an overhaul of US healthcare, has been thrown into turmoil after his Democratic Party surrendered its Senate balance of power with the loss of the blue-ribbon seat held by Ted Kennedy since 1962.
In a huge electoral upset, a little-known Republican Party candidate yesterday claimed the Senate seat in Massachusetts formerly held by the Kennedy clan for more than half a century.
The result, which shook Democrat leaders, cost the party its 60th Senate vote, needed to prevent Republicans blocking legislation in the 100-seat Senate.
Coming just a day before Mr Obama marks the first anniversary of his inauguration as US President, the outcome is potentially disastrous for his political fortunes after the hopes for change associated with his historic victory.'
The result shows public opinion is against incumbents and that no state is now safely Democratic or Republican.
Support for Obama's foreign policy holds, 20/1.
Although his support has fallen slightly, Barack Obama's foreign policy remains popular with most Americans.
The Wall Street Journal reports Obama's foreign policy has been successful because it is less divisive than his economic policies.
'Yet after a year of bruising economic problems and domestic-policy debates, foreign policy actually has emerged as an area of comparative strength for Mr. Obama. By a 50%-to-37% margin, those surveyed in the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll give him a positive rating for his handling of foreign policy, higher than his overall job rating and his rating for handling the economy.
Moreover, the 13-point positive differential between the share who approve and the share who disapprove of his handling of foreign policy is the most positive reading in his job appraisal. By contrast, he enjoys just a five-point positive differential on his overall job approval and a six-point negative gap between approval and disapproval on his handling of the economy.'
The findings bode well for Obama as his Presidency enters its second year.
President Obama's first year, 18/1.
'Barack Obama’s first year has been good, but not great—and things are going to get a lot harder'. This is the judgment of The Economist.
'HOW far away it seems, that bitingly cold, crystal-clear morning when almost 2m people filled the Mall from Capitol Hill to the Washington Monument to hear the new president talk of the victory of hope over fear, of unity of purpose over conflict and discord. Recalling the dark days of the war of independence, he pledged, like George Washington, that in the face of common danger Americans under his leadership would come forth to meet it. One year on, how well has he done?
And in conclusion: 'It is not too late for him to toughen up. Firm talk about the budget in his state-of-the-union message would help. Now that the administration’s priority has shifted from engaging Iran to imposing sanctions, Mr Obama may be able to apply the stick and not the carrot. He is due to see the Dalai Lama. He might even, if he can relearn the virtues of bipartisan dealmaking, bully a climate-change bill through Congress. But this will all be a lot more difficult than anything he did in his first year'.
China rebuffs Google, 15/1.
'CHINA has made it clear that it will ignore an ultimatum from Google to relax internet censorship and reminded all companies that they must strictly abide by state controls of the country's cyberspace.
'The tough tone was set by the Foreign Ministry, taking refuge behind the fig leaf that any controls are against pornography and to protect people from evil influences'.
"I don't think there is any doubt, if there was when this administration began, that the United States is back in Asia, but I want to underscore we are back to stay," Mrs Clinton said yesterday in a major policy speech in Honolulu.
'The Obama administration would engage other Asia-Pacific nations on all levels, but Mrs Clinton made it clear that in "the defining regional institutions", the Americans intended to be full and leading participants'.
'The sheer wattage of the candidates was always going to make 2008 a year to remember, and Heilemann and Halperin knew this early on. Heilemann is the hipper of the two, tall, stubbly and something of a hellraiser in his early years. Halperin is smoother, telegenic and a veteran Time magazine White House correspondent. The pair met during the 1996 presidential campaign and have each covered every race since then. They went into 2008 with high expectations.
'Driving back we had a sense that this was going to be the best campaign of our lives," Heilemann says. "We started working ourselves up into a fever . . . `Who's writing the Primary Colors based on this?' We jumped from that to `this would be a great movie'. By the time we got to the Capitol we realised maybe this was the rare campaign that would justify an account that not just political junkies would read."
Al Qaeda terrorists killed in Yemen, 6/1.
Two Al Qaeda terrorists have been killed in Yemen. The killings come after America announced it was helping the Yemeni government fight Islamic extremism.
The Wall Street Journal reports, 'SAN'A, Yemen -- Government forces killed two alleged al Qaeda militants in a raid on a tribal village Monday, Yemeni officials said, part of a stepped-up offensive after the group's regional chapter claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jet on Christmas Day.
The capital, San'a, was on high alert Monday as worry mounted over threatened al Qaeda attacks and Yemeni government reprisals against the group.'
Yet terrorism remains a danger in Yemen, and will be difficult to uproot.
'Many tribal leaders, however, are allied with al Qaeda. Some observers say the government attacks could drive more people into al Qaeda's arms, rather than weakening the group.'
Dealing with Islamic terror, 5/1.
It is becoming more and more obvious that we in the West are going to have to summon up the courage to deal drastically with the Armed Islamic Supremism (AIS) and the broad mass of muslims amongst whom the armed activistas hide. Some 'out of the box' thinking will need to be done. We cannot continue having our lives disrupted non-stop by the fantasies and violence of AIS coalitions and plotters. Action needs to be taken ... serious action. Action which actually puts strong and serious pressure on the broad mass of muslims who have any connection with our societies. This pressure must be brought to bear to goad them to turn on the crazies in their midst. Henry, we don't have to take this any more. Here are five 'out of the box' suggestions for consideration.
The United Nations has withdrawn one-third of its staff from Pakistan because of worsening security and increased terrorist attacks.
The Wall Street Journal writes Pakistan's failure to defeat terrorist groups operating within the country and Afghanistan forced the UN to leave.
'The withdrawal is the latest sign of plummeting international confidence in Pakistan's ability secure its big cities. U.S. diplomats already travel in cars with ordinary license plates – as opposed to the more conspicuous diplomatic plates. Most Western embassies have in the past few years moved out families of diplomats and officials based in Pakistan.
The war against the Taliban is largely restricted to the northwest, and the cities like Islamabad, the capital, and Lahore in the east were until recently only subjected to sporadic terror attacks. But the tempo of attacks on cities has steadily increased over the past 18 months and terror strikes have become a regular occurrence since the Oct. 5 suicide bombing of a U.N. World Food Program office in Islamabad.'
The terrorist threat in Pakistan is particularly severe because the country has nuclear weapons and borders India and China.