- - Monday, August 15, 2011

EUROPE UNION

Central Bank buys $32 billion worth of bonds

PARIS — The European Central Bank (ECB) revealed Monday that it spent $32 billion last week - more than it has ever done before - to prop up the bond markets of Italy and Spain.

News of the big bond purchases came a day before the leaders of Germany and France were to meet to discuss the debt crisis that has engulfed Europe for more than a year and a half.

Speculation that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy would be considering proposals for the eurozone to issue jointly guaranteed government debt appear to have been dashed, however.

Tuesday’s meeting in Paris comes after a week of turmoil in financial markets, which was partly blamed on Europe’s sprawling government debt crisis, which threatened to sweep up economic heavyweights such as Italy and Spain.

Fears that the eurozone’s third and fourth largest economies may find it too expensive to service their debts triggered the ECB’s intervention in the bond markets.

NIGERIA

Officials report attacks in restive areas

JOS — Nigerian officials said attackers on Monday stabbed eight people to death in a central region beset by religious and ethnic tensions, while police in the restive northeast said members of a Muslim sect attempted to drive a car loaded with explosives into a busy police station.

The separate attacks on Monday underscore the fragile security and religious tensions in Africa’s most populous nation, which is almost evenly split between Muslims in the north and the predominantly Christian south.

Capt. Charles Ekeocha said the stabbings happened Sunday night in the volatile city of Jos. He said soldiers dispersed rioters who gathered in a predominantly Christian neighborhood Monday morning to protest the killings.

Sporadic violence recently resumed after months of relative calm in Jos and surrounding areas, which are heavily policed. A clash there left five dead in July after a Muslim locksmith was found dead in a Christian neighborhood.

Human Rights Watch says at least 1,000 people were killed in the area in 2010 and another 200 died at the turn of the year. Violence there cuts across religious lines, but has roots in political, economic and ethnic strife.

UNITED KINGDOM

Cameron says UK must reverse ‘moral collapse’

LONDON — Britain must confront a culture of laziness, irresponsibility and selfishness that fueled four days of riots that left five people dead, thousands facing criminal charges and costly property damage, Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday.

As rival political leaders staked out their response to England’s unrest, Mr. Cameron pledged to deliver a raft of new policies by October aimed at reversing the “slow-motion moral collapse” that he blames for fostering the disorder.

“This has been a wake-up call for our country. Social problems that have been festering for decades have exploded in our face,” Mr. Cameron told an audience at a youth center in Witney, his Parliamentary district in southern England. “Just as people last week wanted criminals robustly confronted on our street, so they want to see these social problems taken on and defeated.”

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said Monday he was checking whether those involved in the riots should have their welfare payments cut. London Mayor Boris Johnson said young people convicted in the disorder would lose their right to use public transportation for free.

SUDAN

U.N. urges probe into alleged war crimes

GENEVA — The United Nations called Monday for a thorough probe into alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Sudan’s South Kordofan region between June 5-30, shortly before the nation formally separated into two countries.

According to a 12-page report released by the U.N. human rights office in Geneva, Sudanese security forces allegedly carried out indiscriminate aerial bombardments that killed civilians and executed prisoners accused of belonging to the south’s Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) before burying them in mass graves.

The report also cites claims that both the Sudanese army and members of the SPLM laid anti-personnel mines in Kadugli, the capital of South Kordofan.

Many inhabitants of South Kordofan fought for the south during the country’s decades-long civil war against the north and are ethnically linked to the south.

Clashes between government troops from Sudan’s Arab north and forces aligned with the south have continued after South Sudan’s independence on July 9, straining relations between the two countries.

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