New World Order

EU leaders agree 3% budget cut deal in Brussels

EU leaders agree 3% budget cut deal in Brussels

BBC – European Council President Herman Van Rompuy announced the deal and said in a statement it was “worth working for”. The new budget ceiling amounts to 960bn euros (£812bn; $1.3tn). It is the first time the EU’s multi-annual budget has been reduced. UK Prime Minister David Cameron, who had been pressing for cuts, hailed it as a “good deal for Britain”. Read article

Scottish independence: David Cameron launches defence of UK

BBC – Scotland should remain part of the UK because having two governments looking after its affairs offers “the best of both worlds”, David Cameron has said. The PM said on the No 10 website that he would use arguments of the “head and heart” to keep the UK together. The UK government is preparing to release an analysis paper about Scotland’s role in the Union, ahead of next year’s referendum on independence. The SNP accused the PM of focusing on “an entirely negative attack”. Read article

A New World Order Cometh: EU to set up euro-election ‘troll patrol’ to tackle Eurosceptic surge

Telegraph – The European Parliament is to spend almost £2 million on press monitoring and trawling Eurosceptic debates on the internet for “trolls” with whom to debate in the run-up and during euro-elections next year amid fears that hostility to the EU is growing. Read article

A New World Order Cometh: U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner to Join Council on Foreign Relations

Council on Foreign Relations: Timothy F. Geithner, the 75th Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, will join the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) later this month as a distinguished fellow. Geithner, who was previously a senior fellow at CFR in 2001, will be based at the organization’s headquarters in New York. “We are thrilled to welcome Tim back to the Council on Foreign Relations,” said CFR President Richard N. Haass. “Both at Treasury and at the New York Federal Reserve, Tim was a tireless, creative, and responsible custodian of the public trust. His coming to CFR only strengthens our capacity to produce thoughtful analysis of issues at the intersection of economic, political, and strategic developments.” Read Article

Euro MPs back large-scale fishing reform to save stocks

BBC – The package includes measures to protect endangered stocks and end discards – the practice of throwing unwanted dead fish into the sea. Wasteful discards are reckoned to account for a quarter of total catches under the current quota system. There are hopes that the changes can become law by next year, after more talks with the 27 EU governments. Read article

US expands sanctions on Iran, targeting oil and media

BBC – The US has tightened existing sanctions on Iran, in an effort to push Tehran to abandon its alleged nuclear weapons programme. The measures further restrict Iran’s access to its own oil revenues but also include financial restrictions against Iran’s state-run media. Read article

Iceland goes it alone on mackerel quota

BBC – The Icelandic government has announced that it is lowering its mackerel fishing quota for 2013 by 15%. It said the move is part of the country’s commitment to the “long-term sustainability” of stocks. The European Commission has said it “regrets” Iceland’s announcement of a unilateral quota. The Commission said it remained committed to seeking a multilateral solution with the non-EU countries that fish the Atlantic. Read article

Gloom as EU budget talks resume in Brussels

BBC – The EU is resuming tough negotiations on its multi-year budget, with leaders warning that big differences remain ahead of a Brussels summit this week. Irish PM Enda Kenny is meeting the three EU presidents, to explore possible compromises. The Republic of Ireland currently plans the EU agenda. France’s President Francois Hollande warned that “conditions are not there yet” for a deal between the 27 nations. Read article

Iran seeks ‘authentic’ bilateral US nuclear talks

BBC – Iran says it welcomes a US offer of bilateral nuclear talks, but wants the US to show an “authentic… fair and real intention to resolve the issue”. Foreign Minister Ali Akhbar Salehi said the US should stop threats to take action against Iran as it offers talks. He was speaking at a security conference in Germany a day after Vice-President Joe Biden told the gathering Iran had to be “serious” on the issue. International talks on Iran’s nuclear programme are due later this month. Read article

Defiant Iran to speed up uranium refinement

ABC – Iran has informed the United Nations nuclear watchdog that it plans to expand its nuclear refinement capability despite international opposition. In a defiant move that may further complicate diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute over the country’s atomic activities, Tehran says it plans to deploy more modern machines to refine uranium. Read article

Israel must pull all settlers from Palestinian land — UN

JT – “Israel must… cease all settlement activities without preconditions [and] must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers” from the occupied territories, said a report commissioned by the UN’s Human Rights Council last March. Because of the settlements, Palestinians’ human rights “are being violated consistently and on a daily basis”, the three independent experts said in the report. Israel quickly rejected the report, ratcheting up tensions that this week saw it become the first country to ever boycott a rights review by the UN body. Read article

Greek finance minister eyes 2014 recovery for economy

BBC – “There is definitely a glimmer of hope; light at the end of the tunnel,” Yannis Stournaras said. As reforms were rushed through and a massive austerity package passed late last year, Greece secured a huge slice of bailout money from its international creditors. “The probability of Greece leaving the euro – Grexit – is now very small”, he told the BBC. Read article

Israel boycotts UN rights council in unprecedented move

BBC – Israel’s action has prompted concern that it might undermine the UN’s human rights work, says the BBC’s Imogen Foulkes in Geneva, where the council is meeting. Human rights experts fear other countries facing awkward questions might follow suit. Even Israel’s biggest ally, the United States, had urged Israel to take part. The big question now is what – if anything – the UN can do about Israel’s refusal to participate, our correspondent adds. Read article

30 dead after Egyptians angry about riot verdicts try to storm prison

CNN – A stern Egyptian court ruling tied to a soccer riot spurred clashes that left at least 30 people dead on Saturday, the latest round of violence in the unsettled North African nation. In addition to those killed, more than 300 were wounded when people in the northeastern city of Port Said clashed with authorities outside a prison where their kin were being held, the head of Port Said hospitals told state-run Nile TV. Read article

Czech election: Milos Zeman wins presidential poll

BBC – As president, he will represent the Czech Republic abroad and appoint candidates to the constitutional court and the central bank, but the post does not carry much day-to-day power. Mr Zeman will replace the eurosceptic Vaclav Klaus, who steps down in March after ten years in office. Both presidential candidates support deeper integration of the European Union. Read article

North Korea threatens war with South over U.N. sanctions

Reuters – North Korea threatened to attack rival South Korea if Seoul joined a new round of tightened U.N. sanctions, as Washington unveiled more of its own economic restrictions following Pyongyang’s rocket launch last month. Read article

Russia warns Israel, West against attack on Iran

Reuters – Russia warned Israel and the West on Wednesday against any military strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities but suggested Tehran should be quicker to cooperate over inspections of its nuclear sites. Read article

EU referendum: In-out choice by end of 2017, British PM promises

Guardian – David Cameron will on Wednesday set a deadline to hold an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union by the end of 2017 as he hardens his position on the issue that has bedevilled Tory leaders for a quarter of a century. To the delight of Eurosceptics, the prime minister will throw down the gauntlet to his fellow EU leaders to agree to a revision of Britain’s membership terms within two and a half years of the next general election or risk triggering a British exit. Read article

Mali conflict: French troops ‘seize’ Islamist towns

BBC – French warplanes have bombed suspected Islamist positions around both towns since France launched a military operation in Mali on 11 January. A column of French and Malian troops entered Diabaly, said an AFP news agency reporter with the soldiers. France has sent some 2,000 troops to help Malian forces fight the militants. Read article

Lagarde list: Greek ex-ministers face tax probe vote

BBC – Greek MPs are set to vote on whether to investigate high-ranking former ministers over the alleged mishandling of evidence of tax evasion. The three parties in coalition government are expected to back an investigation into former Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou. He is accused of removing his relatives from a list of potential suspects. Read article

Mali conflict: West African troops to arrive ‘in days’

BBC – Troops from a regional West African force will be in Mali within days to help a French intervention against Islamist rebels, Nigeria says. The force’s commander, Gen Shehu Abdulkadir, confirmed the move to the BBC as West African military commanders met in Mali’s capital, Bamako. France has 750 troops in Mali and is expected to increase that to 2,500 Read article

EU debate: Conservative MEP deplores ‘pitbull UK’ image

BBC – The leader of the UK Conservative MEPs says stridently Eurosceptic opinions give the wrong impression that Britain is one against the rest in the EU. Speaking in a debate in London, Richard Ashworth MEP said “we’re making ourselves look pretty darned unattractive” as a partner in the EU. Many of PM David Cameron’s fellow Conservatives want a straight “in-out” referendum on the UK’s EU membership. He is expected to make a key speech on the UK’s role in Europe on 22 January. Read article

UK ‘valuable’ to US partly because of EU

BBC – The UK is “valuable” to the US partly because it is a member of the EU, the deputy prime minister has said. It comes after the Obama administration expressed concern about the impact of a UK referendum on its future in the EU. Mr Clegg said if the UK wanted to lead in the world you had to be “strong in your neck of the woods”. Read article

Nato forces needed in Mali, says AU’s Thomas Boni Yayi

BBC – The African Union’s chairman Thomas Boni Yayi has called for Nato to send forces to Mali to help fight militant Islamists who have captured the north. The Malian conflict was an “international question” and Nato should intervene just as it had done in Afghanistan, Mr Yayi said. However, the campaign against the militants should be led by an African force, he said. The UN last month approved plans to send some 3,000 African troops to Mali. Read article