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World Bank Chief Says Global Economy Facing Difficult First Half of 2009


WORLD ECONOMY: World Bank President Robert Zoellick is urging governments to avoid giving into protectionism in response to the growing worldwide recession. Zoellick told reporters in Singapore today the policies enacted by governments would determine if and how the world economy will recover next year. Zoellick says economic growth in the first half of 2009 will be a worldwide problem, especially in Asia. The Washington-based World Bank issued a report last week predicting economic growth in East Asia will slow to just over five percent in 2009, compared to an expected seven percent for this year.

RWANDA - GENOCIDE: A U.N. court has sentenced a former Rwandan army colonel to life in prison for his role in plotting Rwanda's 1994 genocide. The Tanzania-based International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda found Theoneste Bagosora guilty of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. The United Nations has described Bagosora as one of the main instigators of the 1994 massacres that killed an estimated 800-thousand people. Two other former army officers were also convicted today for their role in the 100-day slaughter. Earlier the court sent the former president's brother-in-law Protais Zigiranyirazo to jail for 20 years for genocide and extermination.

CHINA - SOMALIA: China says it will send warships to the waters off Somalia to join an international force combatting pirates operating out of the lawless African state. Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters in Beijing today that preparations are underway to send warships to the Gulf of Aden. A story in the official "China Today" newspaper Wednesday said the government has vowed to send a "significant peacekeeping operation" to Somalia. Also Wednesday, a Chinese vessel was nearly captured by a band of pirates. The sailors fought off the pirates, with international forces backing up the sailors with helicopters.

ZIMBABWE - CHOLERA: The United Nations says Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic continues to worsen, with the death toll from the disease rising to more than 11-hundred. Figures issued today by the U.N. say more than 20-thousand-500 cholera cases have been reported since August. And there are now fears the crisis could get worse with the arrival of the rainy season. Matthew Cochrane, a spokesman for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, says the rains typically cause flooding that leads to unsanitary conditions and a cholera outbreak.

IRAQ: Iraqi authorities say security forces have arrested at least 35 interior ministry officials accused of working to restore Saddam Hussein's outlawed Baath party. Officials said today that the suspected members of the Al Awda party have been detained for questioning. The "New York Times" newspaper says the Al Awda members were plotting to overthrow the government. But news reports also stress that the atmosphere in Iraq is very tense ahead of upcoming provincial elections, so that rumors about coups and conspiracies may be false. The "Times" says more arrests might be made soon.

SOKOR - US - FTA: South Korean lawmakers clashed Thursday as the ruling party took steps to advance a controversial free trade agreement with the United States in Seoul's legislature. Members of President Lee Myung-bak's ruling Grand National Party barricaded themselves in a legislative committee room to hold a vote on the deal and move it forward. Outside, opposition lawmakers swung hammers and used crow bars to try to pry open the room's doors. The conservatives successfully initiated the process of ratifying the deal, while security guards scuffled with dozens of their political opponents.

OBAMA - TRANSITION: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has announced more nominees for his Cabinet, filling the jobs of interior and agriculture secretaries. At a news conference Wednesday in Chicago, the president-elect named former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to head the Department of Agriculture, while Colorado Senator Ken Salazar was named for the post of interior secretary. Both men are centrist Democrats, and their selection reinforces the notion that Mr. Obama is assembling a politically pragmatic team heavy with experience, as he prepares to take office next month.

BUSH - PRESIDENTS - LUNCH: The White House says President George Bush will host a lunch next month with President-elect Barack Obama and all the living former American presidents. The White House said Wednesday Mr. Bush has invited his father, George H.W. Bush, along with former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, to the luncheon that is set for January seventh. President Bush has made a smooth transition to the next administration a top priority as his presidency winds down. Last month, Mr. Bush and President-elect Obama held talks at the White House on major issues the incoming chief executive will face during his administration. Mr. Obama will be sworn into office on January 20th.

OBAMA TIME MAGAZINE: U.S.-based "Time" magazine has selected President-elect Barack Obama as its Person of the Year for 2008. The magazine says Mr. Obama has risen to "dominate the public sphere" in his short time on the national scene. It says the incoming president overcame "centuries of the social pecking order" to become the first African-American elected to the White House. "Time" is also praising Mr. Obama for the swift and business-like manner in which he has assembled his administration, beginning the very day after his historic election.

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