Syria’s civil war spills into Lebanon, 4 dead
BEIRUT – Syria’s civil war spilled into neighboring Lebanon once again on Sunday, with gun battles in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of President Bashar Assad’s regime that left four dead.
Nine Syrian judges and prosecutors also defected to the opposition. It was the latest setback for the regime, which appears increasingly embattled with rebels making gains in northern Syria and near Damascus, the capital.
The defecting judges posted a joint statement online urging others to join them and break ranks with Assad’s regime. There have been several high-level defections during the last year, including Assad’s former prime minister.
All eyes on U.S. after climate talks
DOHA, Qatar – Even as international climate talks ended this weekend with no new commitments on carbon emissions or climate aid from the United States, some were relieved America didn’t make a weak deal even weaker.
Other countries are now watching to see if the Obama administration will back up post-election comments about climate change with renewed efforts to cut emissions at home, and pave the way for more ambitious targets as work proceeds to adopt a new global climate pact in 2015.
The two-week talks in Doha ended with an extension of the Kyoto Protocol, which was to expire this year, but which now will cover only 15 percent of global emissions since several developed countries, including Japan and Canada, have opted out. The U.S. never ratified the accord.
European Union Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said Sunday that the U.S. negotiators were “careful not to block” the negotiations, adding that it’s “still difficult to know whether they will actually invest political capital in committing to a new international deal.”
Greek bond buyback going ‘very well’
ATHENS, Greece – Greece’s prime minister says the bond-buyback scheme aimed at lessening the crisis-hit country’s debt load is “going very well” and that he will have definite results today or Tuesday, according to state TV NET.
Antonis Samaras visited Munich, where he had talks with Bavarian governor Horst Seehofer. Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras has also made the trip Sunday.
The government had initially said an announcement would be made during the weekend. The government has said it will spend about €10 billion, about $13 billion, in European funds on the buyback, offering between 30 and 40 percent of the bonds’ face value.
The bond buyback, along with a tax bill to be introduced Tuesday, will clear the way for the release of €34 billion, or about $44 billion) in rescue loans.
Chavez faces new cancer battle, surgery
CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was heading back to Cuba on Sunday for a third cancer surgery after naming his vice president as his choice to lead the country if the illness cuts short his presidency.
Chavez’s announcement on Saturday night unleashed new uncertainty about the country’s future, and his supporters poured into city plazas across the nation to pray for his recovery from what appears to be an aggressive type of cancer.
Chavez acknowledged the seriousness of his health situation in a televised address, saying for the first time that if he suffers complications Vice President Nicolas Maduro should be elected as Venezuela’s leader to continue his socialist movement.