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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Clinton Shields Obama by Taking Responsibility in Libya Killings

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said today during a visit to Peru that she takes responsibility for the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other American staffers during an attack on the consulate in Benghazi last month. “I’m in charge of the State Department’s 60,000-plus people all over the world,” Clinton said in an interview with CNN. ”The president and the vice president wouldn’t be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals.” Her words are thought to be an attempt to shield President Barack Obama from attacks by his Republican opponent Mitt Romney during their second debate this evening, which is expected to focus on foreign policy. Last week, Vice President Joe Biden said in his debate against Vice Presidential hopeful Paul Ryan he hadn’t been made aware of requests by U.S. diplomats for more security in Libya, contradicting a statement released two days earlier by the State Department. Clinton explained that those requests wouldn’t have reached the ears of the president, or the vice president.

Germany’s Schäuble Speaks on Reform, Spain, and Greece

Germany’s Financial Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has been staunchly defending the euro and the euro area in the past three days, first stating that a Greek default will not happen, then presenting a series of proposals to bring stability back to the region. His plan includes measures that would give the European Union (EU) more oversight on national budgets. It would also grant greater powers to the EU Commissioner for Economics and Monetary Affairs, allowing him or her to make decisions without consulting other commissioners, and to the EU Parliament, bringing a democratic legitimacy to larger legislative projects. Before announcing this program, Schäuble briefed European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Euro Group President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, giving his project more weight ahead of the EU summit that is due to start Thursday. Schäuble also said Germany is open to Spain requesting a credit line with the EU rescue fund, marking a shift in his stance. Last month, he warned the Iberian country against seeking more help on top of the bailout package aimed at recapitalizing its troubled banks.

Bosnia’s Karadzic Opens Defense, Denies War Crimes

Former leader of Bosnia’s Serbs Radovan Karadzic began his defense today at the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague by saying he should be “rewarded” for “reducing suffering” rather than prosecuted for 10 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity. He described himself as a “mild and tolerant man” who sought peace during the conflict that tore the country apart between 1992 and 1995. Karadzic had been on the run for 13 years before his arrest in 2008. He stands accused of having ordered the murder of 8,000 Muslim boys and men in Srebrenica in 1995, the worst crime committed on European soil since World War II. His attorney says Karadzic was not aware that they would be systematically executed, while the accused argued that the number of victims was probably exaggerated. He is also charged with using United Nations observers and peacekeepers as human shields during a bombing campaign by NATO. Karadzic will have 300 hours to build his defense, and is expected to call 300 witnesses to the stand.

Citigroup CEO Steps Down Unexpectedly

Citigroup’s board said today Chief Executive Officer Vikram Pandit has stepped down, following concerns over his management style. The announcement was received with shock within the bank and on Wall Street, with traders gasping and standing from their chairs upon hearing the news at the New York Stock Exchange. Citigroup Chairman Michael O’Neill reportedly criticized Pandit for lacking vision and failing to anticipate change, causing the bank to stumble as crises hit. This comes a day after Citigroup published better-than-expected earnings for the third quarter, even though it didn’t do as well as some of its competitors. Specifically, the bank has been singled out for being slow to respond to the resurgence in mortgage lending, which has benefited other financial players like JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo. Pandit will be replaced by Michael Corbat, who was previously CEO of Europe, Middle Eastern and Africa operations. Corbat has worked at Citigroup for 29 years, and will receive a salary of $1.5 million per year, Bloomberg reported.

Cuba Loosens Exit Rules for its Citizens

Cuba announced today it will drop the compulsory exit permit without which Cubans aren’t allowed to leave the country. The measure will take effect on January 14, 2013, ending decades of mistrust between the government and its citizens. It will not apply to all equally, however, with soldiers, doctors, and scientists required to serve their nation before being allowed to leave. Another part of this decision will make it possible for Cubans to keep their nationality for longer after they move abroad. This comes after a series of economic reforms that were aimed at increasing the number of small businesses and reducing the number of civil servants, while still saddling personal initiative with heavy taxes. Though many Cubans welcomed the news with skepticism, experts say this new policy is likely to increase the flow of immigration towards the U.S. and other developed nations.

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