Israel intensified its war on Hamas in Gaza, sending in ground troops while continuing frequent air strikes. After almost two weeks more than 700 Palestinians had been killed, many of them women and children; Israeli casualities totalled seven dead. At the United Nations, the United States abstained and prevented unanimous approval of a resolution calling for a ceasefire and an Israeli withdrawal.

The annual dispute between the Ukraine and Russia over gas supplies escalated when Russia cut off the pipeline flow, claiming that Ukraine had not paid its bills; several countries in south-eastern Europe were left without gas during very cold weather.

The Bank of England cut its key interest rate to 1.5 percent, the lowest since the Bank was founded in 1694.
In the United States president-elect Barack Obama met some criticism that his fiscal stimulus proposals might not prove strong enough to deal with what he admitted to be a “dire and declining” situation in the economy. Mr Obama responded to criticism of his silence on the Gaza war by promising he would have a lot to say after his inauguration on 20 January.


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