Reason to comment

"I'm going to be stubborn on this." Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., pauses to talk to reporters before heading into a Democratic caucus on health care reform last week. (Image via AP)

An Israeli official said “the Shalit matter is about to be closed” as talks with Hamas to exchange Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit for 350-450 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit would be handed over to Egypt. “The efforts to win Gilad Shalit’s release are continuing and taking place outside the media spotlight. We have no intention of commenting beyond this,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. [France 24]

The U.S. government may be financing its more than trillion-dollar-a-year borrowing with IOU’s on terms that seem too good to be true. That reality may turn sour as the Fed turns course away from current ultralow interest rates. [NYT]

But, on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria show, India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh — who seems to be in town at the right time — said he still had confidence in the U.S. dollar, and sees any setbacks to financing such hefty borrowings as temporary. “As far as I can see right now, there is no substitute for the dollar … we have not entered an era of irreversible shift in economic strength of the United States.” Afterward, Singh met with President Barack Obama. [Times of India]

UN climate change negotiator Yvo de Boer has expressed slight optimism about the ever-near Copenhagen talks. Due to recent promises from attending countries, including the U.S., de Boer expects developing and developed nations to both come to the table with numbers. He also expects Barack Obama to take the lead in discussions. “The key issue here at the moment is the United States,” de Boer said. “My sense is Obama will be in a position to come to Copenhagen with a target and and a financial contribution.” [AFP]

Meanwhile, the White House has yet to announce whether the president will attend Copenhangen in the flesh. It does, though, tout 10 mounths of unprecedented action regarding climate change unseen during the Bush administration. A senior WH official said that Obama sees a vital synergy between what happens during global talks and the moves legislators make in the U.S. Take the Senate, he said, where bipartisan talks lead by John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) are most encouraging. Also, members of  the administration’s “Green Cabinet” have been heading to the Hill for meetings for months. [TPM]

UNICEF, Islamic Relief Worldwide, and the Shawthab Foundation for Children and Development have all expressed outrage that Houthi rebels in Yemen have been using child soldiers in their battle against the government. [Al Arabiya]

Twenty-one of forty political prisoners captured in the Philippines have been killed, and the army fears that more bodies will soon be uncovered. The 40 hostages were members of a convoy connected to Esmael Mangundadatu, a local mayor, and included his wife, who is among the dead, aides, supporters and journalists. Though thorough investigation looms, reports indicate the attackers were sent by Andal Ampatuan, a Philippine governor who is said to be involved in a feud against the Mangundadatu family. [Al Jazeera]

Fierce fighting erupted between the Pakistani military and the Taliban on Sunday night around the Orakzai tribal region, a Taliban stronghold. The Pakistani government estimates that 22 rebel forces were killed. [Reuters]

It’s election time in the Ukraine and incumbent President Viktor Yushchenko pledged to force Russia’s Black Sea Fleet to leave Ukraine’s Crimea by 2017. Russia has been leasing the sea for the use of practicing naval exercises, but Ukrainians would like to allow the lease to expire. Russia does not. Yushchenko is struggling to reach double digit numbers in election polls. [Ria Novosti]

Reports from China’s Heilongjiang province put the death toll from Saturday morning’s coal mine blast at 104. About 500 miners were working at Xinxing Coal Mine, under the state-owned Heilongjiang Longmei Mining Holding Group’s unit in Hegang City, when the explosion occurred. China Central Television (CCTV) said the explosion resulted from a massive gas buildup, but the government has yet to comment. [China Daily]

Video via Sky News.



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