World News Brief, Friday January 23

President Obama to close Guantanamo prison; Hillary Clinton confirmed as Secretary of State; China's GDP down as exports slump; Tamil hub seized; and more


Top of the Agenda: Executive Orders

A day after U.S. President Barack Obama requested a 120-day pause to all trials at the controversial Guantanamo Bay detention facility, Obama is expected to sign executive orders calling for the closure of that facility as well as the Central Intelligence Agency's network of secret prisons. The New York Times reports Obama will request the closure of the prisons within a year and says the move would rewrite the United States' rules regarding the detention of terror suspects and could usher in an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at Guantanamo.

The Washington Post says Obama's move to close Guantanamo comes as part of a broader reversal of many Bush administration policies that Obama is seeking to effect via executive order during his first days in office. Obama has also signed orders intended to limit the influence of lobbyists in Washington and mandating his administration to share information more freely with the public.

Obama also met with senior military advisers yesterday and discussed strategy (ABC News) for drawing down the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

Separately, Hillary Rodham Clinton was confirmed yesterday as U.S. Secretary of State, and Timothy Geithner finished his confirmation hearings to be the next U.S. Treasury Secretary. Geithner pledged action on a "dramatic scale" (FT) to tackle the financial and economic crises now confronting the United States.



China reported sharply lower (FT) gross domestic product growth of 6.8 percent in the last quarter of 2008, saying slumping exports and a weak housing sector led to the slowdown.

THAILAND: The Bangkok Post reports Thailand's prime minister is planning a sweeping crackdown on illegal immigrants entering the country.



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