FOR the first time the Pope was invited to broadcast a Christmas message on the BBC. Speaking on Thought for the Day on BBC Radio 4, Pope Benedict also referred favourably to his visit to Britain.

AGAINST expectations President Obama secured Congressional ratification of the “New START” nuclear arms reduction treaty with Russia which he had signed earlier in the year. The 76-26 vote showed that several Republican Senators had supported the ratification against the wishes of their party managers.

IN Britain several Liberal Democrat ministers in the government coalition were recorded by under-cover Daily Telegraph reporters making negative comments on their Conservative colleagues. The Business Secretary Vince Cable's references to an issue on which he held quasi-legal responsibility led to it being given to another minister, although Mr Cable was not asked by the prime minister to resign as some opinion had expected.

AFTER nine months of negotiation following an election, the incumbent Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, was able to announce the formation of a new government which, however, he said “did not reflect his priorities”.

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