World News Brief, Friday December 12

Auto bailout passes the House, looks set to struggle in the Senate; China reveals "dreadful" export figures; no progress in North Korea nuclear talks; Ireland to reconsider Lisbon Treaty; and more


Top of the Agenda: Auto Bailout Plan

The US House of Representatives passed a bill that would speed $14 billion to Detroit's "Big Three" automakers--General Motors, Chrysler, and Ford--though it still must pass the Senate in what analysts say is anything but a sure vote. The legislation was brokered in part by President Bush, but the Washington Post reports Senate Republicans are revolting against the White House's support of the measure, despite Bush's gambit to send his chief of staff, Joshua Bolton, to Capitol Hill yesterday to encourage lawmakers to pass the bill.

Should it pass, the bill would likely install a "car czar" to oversee the US auto industry, much of which would fall under the purview of the US government. The Wall Street Journal reports Democrats are pushing for former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker to fill this role. The Detroit Free Press reports that it seems increasingly unlikely that Chrysler will either be bought as a complete company or survive on its own--leaving the possibility that the company would have to sell off its individual brands, such as Jeep. The Free Press adds that some lawmakers have objected to the bill currently under negotiation on the grounds that the US government should not buy any firm that lacks long-term viability.

The newspaper the Hill, analyzing the looming Senate vote, says Democrats probably lack the votes needed to push the measure through, given that Republicans have enough seats to filibuster the bill. Should the loans be delayed, several news sources have reported that one or two of the firms could potentially go bankrupt before the end of the year.


Pacific Rim: Chinese Exports Plunge

China released new trade figures showing exports have fallen 2.2 percent in the last year. The Economist says this represents "dreadful" news and could prove a serious blow for the global economy.

North Korea: Beijing spoke out on North Korea's nuclear talks, urging all parties involved to show more flexibility (Xinhua) when new talks get underway.

Yesterday, Christopher Hill, US Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, in Beijing for the latest round of talks, said so far the parties had been unable to make progress on getting an agreement on the verification protocol with North Korea.

This Backgrounder offers an in-depth look into the ongoing Six-Party Talks for North Korea's denuclearization.

South Korea: Seoul's central bank lowered its benchmark interest rate by 1 percent (Yonhap), a record reduction, in an effort to stimulate the South Korean economy.



Fatah al-Islam group announces leader has been killed or captured.
Ireland to reconsider Lisbon Treaty in second referendum vote.

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