- - Monday, November 15, 2010

IRELAND

Irish in crisis talks with EU nations

DUBLIN | Ireland is talking with other EU governments about how to handle its troubled finances, officials said Monday as the continent’s debt crisis plagued markets and policymakers across Europe.

Irish officials denied the talks were aimed at getting a financial lifeline from the EU’s bailout fund, while already bailed-out Greece revealed revised figures showing a bigger budget deficit.

EU chiefs meeting in Brussels on Tuesday are anxious to quell market fears of an eventual Irish debt default. Those fears are driving up the borrowing costs of other EU nations saddled with red ink, notably Greece, Spain and Portugal.

SUDAN

Registration begins for freedom vote

MELUT | Voter registration began in Southern Sudan on Monday in preparation for a January independence referendum that could see Africa’s largest country split in two.

Voters lined up at more than 2,600 registration centers around the country. In the capital, Juba, Southern Sudan President Salva Kiir showed off an ink-stained finger after registering.

Most observers expect the south to vote for independence, an outcome even the U.S. government has labeled “inevitable.”

NIGERIA

Militants attack offshore oil rig

LAGOS | Militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich and troubled southern delta attacked an offshore oil rig operated by Exxon Mobil Corp., an assault similar to one last week that saw seven foreigners kidnapped, officials said Monday.

In a brief statement, Exxon Mobil’s Nigerian subsidiary said “unknown armed persons” on Sunday night boarded the oil rig operating off the coast of the Niger Delta. The subsidiary did not say whether anyone had been hurt during the attack.

ISRAEL

PM tries to secure support for U.S. plan

JERUSALEM | Despite seemingly premature congratulations from President Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was scrambling Monday to secure enough Cabinet votes to pass a U.S. proposal to halt West Bank settlement construction for 90 days, aimed at restarting peace talks with the Palestinians.

Mr. Netanyahu is under heavy pressure to move forward with the plan, which could lead to critical negotiations on Israel’s final borders with a future Palestine.

Israeli officials say the plan includes a gift of 20 stealth warplanes to Israel, but Mr. Netanyahu faces opposition from hard-liners who oppose limits on settlement construction.

CHINA

High-rise fire kills 42

SHANGHAI | Fire engulfed a high-rise apartment building under renovation in China’s business center of Shanghai on Monday, killing 42 people and sending residents scrambling down scaffolding to escape, city authorities said.

The official Xinhua news agency cited a witness saying the fire began when building materials went alight. The blaze spread to scaffolding and then to the 28-story apartment block.

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