Egypt‘s Presidential Decree — Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has issued a decree that grants him authority above any court as the guardian of Egypt’s revolution and has ordered the retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak, reports the New York Times. Morsi, according to the Times, portrayed the decree “as an attempt to fulfill popular demands for justice and protect the transition to a constitutional democracy,” but his new powers have raised fears that he might become a new strongman. The head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court said the court did not accept the decree and Morsi’s political opponents called for demonstrations against the president’s new powers.
Korean Nuclear Transparency — South Korea‘s economy ministry has announced that the International Energy Agency (IEA) wants the country’s nuclear sector to be more transparent and its regulators to be more independent, notes Reuters. A series of minor incidents and a scandal involving plant components certified with forged safety documents led to the shutdown of two reactors and have raised concerns about nuclear safety. The Korean government, according to Reuters, “has been criticized for a lack of transparency over safety in its nuclear program and for the dual supervisory and promotion roles of its regulators.”
Chinese Civil Service — The Economist notes that young people in China want to work for the government because of the relatively stable and generous employment benefits it offers. In a country with a weak and underfunded safety net, the health, pension and sometimes housing benefits offered by the Chinese government are major incentives to become a civil servant. In other words, civil service in China today is “a modern version of the unbreakable Maoist ‘iron rice-bowl'” because a government job is still perceived as the route to security and wealth, wrote the Economist.
Eurozone Downturn – The eurozone is facing its worst economic downturn since 2009 in the fourth quarter of this year, writes Reuters. The service sector, which includes banks and hotels, is facing a particularly dark month, laying off increased numbers of staff. Meanwhile, the start of an E.U. summit to settle the trillion-euro budget was delayed on Thursday following a dispute between France and Britain over increased funding, reports France 24. British Prime Minister David Cameron hopes to keep payments into E.U. funds as low as possible while French President Francois Hollande is calling for sustained subsidies for farming and development programs in poorer countries.
Mali Kidnapping –A Malian group called the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) is claiming responsibility for the kidnapping of Gilberto Rodriguez Leal two days ago, writes Aljazeera. The French citizen was captured on Wednesday, bringing the number of hostages in Mali to a total of 13. Fighters, who like MUJAO are linked to the al-Qaeda, took over northern Mali following the March 2012 coup. They continue to carry out Taliban-style attacks beyond the country’s borders and are enforcing a strict form of Sharia law. Western governments have begun backing plans for a military intervention to help Mali reclaim the north.
Argentinian Debt — Argentinian politicians have responded with outrage at a U.S. court judgment which could require the Latin American nation to hand over $1.3bn in repayments and interest to a small number of bondholders, notes the Guardian. Elliott Capital Management and Aurelius Capital Management won the ruling in a New York court on Wednesday. In his ruling, Judge Thomas Griesa said: “Argentina owes this and owes it now.” Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has made it clear that her government will not negotiate and surrender the money.