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News in Brief: Bank of America to Halt Foreclosures Nationwide, and More

Bank of America to Halt Foreclosures Nationwide

Bank of America to Halt Foreclosures Nationwide

Bank of America has announced that they will halt foreclosures nationwide because of concerns about mishandled mortgage documents, reported The Washington Post. The move will expand last week’s suspension of foreclosures in 23 states. The bank said they are halting foreclosures pending a review of the documents being used to justify homeowner eviction.

Obama Calls on China to Free Nobel Peace Prize Winner

President Obama called on China to release the newest Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, who is serving an 11-year prison sentence for spearheading a campaign for wider human rights, reported The Washington Post.

“Last year, I noted that so many others who have received the award had sacrificed so much more than I,” Obama, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said. “That list now includes Mr. Liu, who has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs … We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible.”

Contractors Hired Taliban to Protect US Military

A Senate investigation has discovered that military-funded, private Afghan security forces being hired to guard US bases and convoys were recruited by local Taliban warlords, reported The Wall Street Journal. The Senate Armed Services Committee’s review of 125 military security contracts found “untrained guards, insufficient and unserviceable weapons and unmanned posts.” The majority of Afghanistan’s 26,000 private security officers are under contract with the US government to guard convoys and military bases. Hamid Karzai’s government wants to disband the security firms by the end of the year.

Signs of Compromise on Israeli Settlements in Peace Talks

Israeli settlements in the West Bank have repeatedly brought Middle East peace talks to the brink of collapse, but both parties may be willing to move toward a compromise on the issue to salvage talks, reported The Associated Press. A Palestinian official indicated that Palestinians would consider the US idea of a two-month construction freeze, which would allow time for a border agreement to be reached. The Israel side, which has been less flexible on the issue, acknowledged US incentives to extend a recently expired ban on settlement construction. A meeting of the Arab League has said the peace talks are not bearing fruit, but they are not yet planning to recommend abandoning them.

Abolition of the Death Penalty – New “De Facto” Millennium Goal

The creation of an International Commission Against the Death Penalty, whose immediate goal is to push through a global moratorium by 2015, has been announced by Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero Thursday. The ten-member commission was formally established ahead of the World Day Against the Death Penalty to end what Zapatero described as the “horror” of capital punishment, reported The Inter Press Service.

Offshore Wind Can Deliver Cleaner Energy Than Offshore Oil; China Blames Climate Talk Impasse on Rich Nations

A new report shows that focusing investment on clean energy like offshore wind could be more cost effective and beneficial to job creation than offshore oil and gas exploration and development. According to the report, the Atlantic coast could generate 30 percent more electricity than offshore oil and gas resources combined. The area has been targeted for expansion of oil and gas activities, reported The Environmental News Network.

China is pushing to lock in fresh vows from rich nations to reduce their greenhouse gas outputs if they want to continue talks with China for a new climate change deal, Reuters reported. The impasse over the Kyoto Protocol, a key UN treaty to fight climate change, is reducing the hope that a broader climate pact could emerge at talks next year.

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