North Korea to be Removed From Terrorism Blacklist

12 10 2008

The administration of U.S. President George W. Bush plans to remove North Korea from a terrorism blacklist on Saturday after getting assurances the nation has agreed to a plan to inspect its nuclear facilities. Bush signed off on the move on Friday in a bid to salvage a faltering accord aimed at getting the North to abandon atomic weapons, according to diplomats briefed on the matter.

Trasury Department Might Take Ownership Stakes in Banks

9 10 2008

Having tried without success to unlock frozen credit markets, the Treasury Department is considering taking ownership stakes in many United States banks to try to restore confidence in the financial system, according to government officials.

Treasury officials say the just-passed $700 billion bailout bill gives them the authority to inject cash directly into banks that request it. Such a move would quickly strengthen banks’ balance sheets and, officials hope, persuade them to resume lending. In return, the law gives the Treasury the right to take ownership positions in banks, including healthy ones.

Government to Supply Taiwan With $6bil of Weapons

4 10 2008

The US government has notified Congress of plans to supply Taiwan with arms worth more than $6bn (£3.4bn).

The sales include advanced interceptor missiles, Apache helicopters and submarine-launched missiles.

Correspondents say the decision is likely to anger China, which regards Taiwan as its territory and opposes US military support of the island.

The move could also complicate efforts to get North Korea, an ally of Beijing, to end its nuclear programme.

The US Defence Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) said the sales would “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region”.

VP Debate Most Watched in History

4 10 2008

The nationally televised U.S. vice-presidential debate Thursday night has become the most-watched in history, Nielsen Media Research reported Friday.

With 66.9 million U.S. viewers, the debate between Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden and his Republican opponent Sarah Palin handily beat the previous record of 56.7 million viewers.

That record was set in 1984 by Democratic vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman on a major-party ticket, and the Republican incumbent at the time, George Bush.

The audience tally for the Palin-Biden debate also easily eclipsed the 52.4 million viewers who tuned in for the first faceoff between presidential nominees Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama last Friday.

Two more presidential debates are scheduled for Oct. 7 and Oct. 15.

US In Agreement

25 09 2008

A leading US senator says both parties in Congress are in agreement on the outline of a $700bn (£380bn) bail-out plan to revive the finance sector.

Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee said they had reached “fundamental agreement” on the principles of a deal.

But he later added that it could take beyond Friday’s target to finish work.

US President George W Bush is meeting presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama to discuss the bail-out.

Republicans and Democrats have been worried about who will fund the plan.

Mr Bush has said he hoped there would be agreement on a rescue deal “very shortly”.

However US Senate Majority leader Harry Reid told journalists discussions were “ongoing”.

Mr Dodd said Congress could act in the next few days to pass a bill on the subject.

“We look forward to reviewing the proposal. Our focus remains the same – ensuring that the final package is effective,” said Treasury spokeswoman Jennifer Zuccarelli.

After Mr Dodd’s comments Tony Fratto, the White House deputy press secretary, said it was a “a good sign that progress is being made”.

The plan, as it was first proposed last week, would broadly help finance firms offload bad debt, which has triggered a global credit crisis.

“We now expect that we will have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate and be signed by the president,” Republican Senator Robert Bennett of Utah said after meetings with lawmakers on Thursday.

Details of the package were not immediately available but it is tipped to include restrictions on executives’ pay as well as oversight requirements.

The benchmark Dow Jones index rose after Senator Dodd’s comments, to close 198.09 points, or 1.83%, up at 11,023.26.

Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain are in Washington for the talks.

The pair are due to hold a presidential campaign debate on Friday, but Mr McCain had said it should be called off because of the pressing financial crisis.

However, on Thursday evening Mr McCain’s campaign team said the Republican senator had not yet decided whether to attend the debate.


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