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December 17, 2009

Yegor Gaidar, Russian economist and politician, dies at 53

Yegor Gaidar, Russian economist and politician, dies at 53

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Yegor Gaidar
Image: Slobodinskij Sergej Dmitrijevitj.

Russian liberal economist and politician Yegor Gaidar died on Wednesday at the age of 53. He was the son of the famous Russian journalist Timur Gaidar.

Born in Moscow in 1956, he graduated in economics from Moscow State University in 1978. In January 1992 in the position of Russia’s first finance minister he dropped state control over prices, making Russia a capitalist country with a market economy. While working as an acting Prime Minister of Russia, Gaidar provided the so-called “shock therapy” treatment of the Russian economy, a set of liberal economic reforms.

His health was declining after he was allegedly poisoned in Ireland in 2006, collapsing soon after eating breakfast. This episode led to comparisons to Alexander Litvenenko, killed with radioactive polonium in November 2006.

Yegor Gaidar died of a blood clot at his home in the Moscow region. He is survived by his wife, three sons and daughter. His funeral is scheduled to take place on Saturday, the burial place is yet to be decided.



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UK experiences first widespread snow of 2009

UK experiences first widespread snow of 2009

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gresley Way Herts today.
Image: David Precious.

As of 23:56 GMT, many parts of the United Kingdom are experiencing heavy snowfall, with many other parts bracing themselves for the first widespread cold snap and heavy snow falls of the winter. During the afternoon of the 17th snow had already started to fall across parts of Northern and Eastern England. In London the Met Office issued the warnings, for the following areas. Gale force winds are also predicted areas of heavy snow fall could lead to drifting.

  • North East England Heavy Snow 1600 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • Yorkshire & Humber Heavy Snow 1600 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18 Heavy Snow 1930 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • East Midlands Heavy Snow 1930 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • East of England Heavy Snow 1800 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18 Heavy Snow 1930 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18
  • London & South East England Heavy Snow 1800 Thu 17 0800 Fri 18

Other areas where expect to experience over night lows down as far as -4 c in rural areas. On the coast Liverpool was expecting temperatures of -2, whilst further in land -3 was expected, by Midnight on the 17th Liverpool was experiencing light snow showers.

The weather for Friday is predicted to remain cold possibly allowing any snow that remains at dawn to last throughout the day.

According to National Rail Enquires, some rail services in East Anglia were suspended, noting there was the possibility of disruption to other services.

The proximity of Christmas has caused bookmakers to reassess the odds of a White Christmas. Ladbrokes is giving odds on London at 2/1. While Glasgow is at 2/1, Aberdeen 11/8 and Birmingham, Cardiff, Dublin and Manchester are quoted at 11/4.



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Suspected US drone strikes kill twelve in western Pakistan

Suspected US drone strikes kill twelve in western Pakistan

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

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Pakistani intelligence officials said earlier today that two suspected US drone attacks in Taliban-dominated tribal areas of the country have killed at least a dozen people, although some reports put the number as high as seventeen.

The first attack targeted a vehicle carrying two suspected militants in the town of Dosali, in the North Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border.

Hours later elsewhere in North Waziristan, officials reported that several drones fired seven missiles into suspected militant compounds. They added that the death toll could rise. However, it was not immediately clear how many Taliban members were killed in the strikes.

“Seven missiles were fired. They hit a cave complex, a compound and a vehicle,” said a Pakistani official, as quoted by the Reuters news agency.



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Irish bishop resigns over child abuse scandal

Irish bishop resigns over child abuse scandal

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

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St John’s Cathedral, Limerick
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The Irish Roman Catholic bishop Donal Murray has resigned, following a strongly critical report on his handling of child sex abuse cases. It was announced today he would be leaving the position of Bishop of Limerick, and that the Pope had accepted his resignation.

The report into allegations against priests in the Dublin Archdiocese decribed Murray’s conduct in one case as “inexcusable”. Father Thomas Naughton was sentenced to three years jail in 1998 for abuse, and yesterday was jailed once again for further abuse between 1982 and 1984. Judge Michael O’Shea described the abuse as “appalling, shocking and horrifying”, and said it had an “absolutely catastrophic” impact on the victim, a six year old altar boy.

Murray had failed to investigate allegations about Naughton, when he was Auxiliary Bishop in Dublin. Eight other priests from the Dublin Archdiocese have also been convicted of child sex abuse, and four more face charges.

Speaking at St John’s Cathedral, Limerick, the bishop confirmed his resignation and apologised to the priests’ victims.

“I know full well, that my resignation cannot undo the pain that survivors of abuse have suffered in the past and continue to suffer each day. I humbly apologise once again to all who were abused as little children. To all survivors of abuse I repeat, that my primary concern is to assist in every way that I can, on their journey towards finding closure and serenity.”



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EU, Microsoft agree on browser ballot

EU, Microsoft agree on browser ballot – Wikinews, the free news source

EU, Microsoft agree on browser ballot

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

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The headquarters of the European Commission
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The European Commission and Microsoft have finalised the proposal for a ‘browser ballot’ in Windows, following the Commission’s concern that Microsoft was unfairly using its operating system monopoly to gain control of the browser market.

The browser ballot will give Windows users an option of switching to one of twelve competing browsers when it is made available in an update to the new Windows 7, as well as Vista and XP.

Microsoft said in a statement that “today’s resolution follows years of intensive examination by the European Commission of competition in computer software. The measures approved today reflect multiple rounds of input from industry participants relating to competition in Web browser software and interoperability between various Microsoft products and competing products.”

The agreement on browser ballot, named the ‘choice screen,’ is to last five years, and its effectiveness is to be regularly monitored during this time. If successful, it could reduce Internet Explorer’s market share.

The complaint regarding the alleged browser monopoly was first brought by Opera Software in January 2009, and the idea of a browser ballot, and Microsoft first agreed to the idea back in July. Since then, the nature of the ballot has been discussed in detail, and now, finally, a conclusion has been reached.



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