CLIMATE CONFERENCE: There are increasing concerns that efforts to fight global warming will fail unless talks in Copenhagen suddenly heat up. Negotiators from all over the world say key differences remain as talks prepare to resume Tuesday, with many world leaders scheduled to arrive later this week in the hopes of signing a final document. One African official (Nigeria's Victor Fodeke) even compared the ongoing talks to a train crash waiting to happen.
Meanwhile, China is accusing developed nations of "some regression" on pledges to help poor nations fight climate change.
Before leaving for Copenhagen Monday, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he remained confident. But he also warned that should the talks fall apart, it would be a "failure of potentially catastrophic consequences."
US HUMAN RIGHTS: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the administration of President Barack Obama will pursue a "pragmatic and agile" policy supporting human rights around the world. In a speech at a university in Washington, D.C. Monday, Clinton said the U.S. will make its efforts to advance human rights "smart, strategic, determined, and long-term."
She said the Obama administration's commitment to human rights starts with holding all nations, including the United States, to the same universal standards. She rejected the assumption that the U.S. must choose between pursuing human rights and its national interests in dealing with such nations such as China and Russia.
US-EU-CHINA DISSIDENT: China has warned the European Union and the United States not to interfere in the case of prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo.
The warning comes after both called for his immediate and unconditional release. The U.S. and EU also urged China to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to express their desire for internationally recognized freedom.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said such calls are unacceptable and amount to interference in China's judicial process.
Police took Liu, a former university professor, into custody in December 2008 for co-authoring a pro-democracy petition, called Charter 08. The petition called for political reforms in the tightly controlled country. China has charged him with inciting subversion of state power. If convicted, Liu could face up to 15 years in prison.
US-TERROR DETAINEES: White House officials say U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered the federal government to purchase a state prison in (the midwestern state of) Illinois to house about 100 suspected terrorists now being held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The prison is located in Thomson, a rural town about 240 kilometers west of Chicago. The 1,600 cell correction center there was built in 2001 to house maximum security inmates, but is nearly-empty.
Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and U.S. Senator Richard Durbin have been promoting a federal purchase of the prison for months, saying it would create thousands of badly-needed jobs in the area. An official announcement on the deal is planned for Tuesday.
The president signed an order days after taking office in January to close Guantanamo within a year.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a suicide car bomb attack in Kabul has killed at least eight people and wounded 40 others. Authorities say the bomber blew himself up Tuesday in front of the Heetal Hotel and the home of a former Afghan vice president in Kabul's Wazir Akbar Khan district. The blast damaged the fortified hotel and surrounding buildings. The Heetal Hotel is frequented by foreigners. It is unclear if the bomber was targeting the hotel or the former vice president Ahmad Zia Massoud. The blast came as lawmakers, government officials, and foreign ambassadors gathered in the city for a conference on fighting endemic corruption within the government.
25th SEA GAMES MEDAL TALLY FOR TODAY, DEC. 15