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Urgent: Arrests Imminent

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FORMER CROATIAN PRIME MINISTER IVO SANADER ARRESTED

Mr Sanader left Croatia on Thursday shortly before parliament lifted his immunity from prosecution. Earlier yesterday, an international arrest warrant had been issued for him.

Prosecutors suspect him of being behind a plan to create slush funds for his conservative HDZ party when he was in power from 2003 to 2009.

Mr Sanader denies the accusations, saying they are politically motivated.

Mr Sanader was arrested in Salzburg province, Austrian interior ministry spokesman Alexander Marakovits said. "He will go to the Salzburg provincial court and then the authorities will have to decide what will happen with him in the next days or the next weeks,"

Mr Sanader resigned unexpectedly and with no explanation in July 2009. His ruling HDZ party expelled him in January.

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ARRESTS IMMINENT

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CAYMAN ISLANDS PREMIER MCKEEVA BUSH ARRESTED

The premier of the Cayman Islands has been arrested as part of a corruption investigation, local police say.

The charges against McKeeva Bush, 57, include misuse of a government credit card and importing explosive materials.

Mr Bush has been in power since his United Democratic Party (UDP) won general elections in 2009.

The British overseas territory is one of the world's largest financial centres and a well-known tax haven.

On its website, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Force said: "The Premier of the Cayman Islands, McKeeva Bush (57), has been arrested and is currently detained in police custody in connection with a number of ongoing police investigations."

Mr Bush previously held the post of leader of the islands' government between November 2001 and May 2005.

A member of the legislative assembly representing West Bay, he also holds the post of minister of finance, tourism and development.

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KUWAIT'S GOVERNMENT RESIGNS TO MAKE WAY FOR NEW CABINET

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Kuwait's ruler accepted the government's resignation on Monday, the state news agency KUNA said, a step designed to make way for a new cabinet in the Gulf Arab state after parliamentary elections boycotted by the opposition.

The election on Saturday was the second this year in the oil-producing nation, where a series of assemblies have collapsed due to a long-running power struggle between the parliament and the cabinet, in which the emir's ruling family holds the top posts.

"The emir accepted the resignation of the government," KUNA said in an SMS news alert, adding that the ministers would serve in a caretaker capacity until a new cabinet was formed.

Under the constitution, a new government must be formed before the first session of the new parliament. Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said the new parliament would convene on December 16, KUNA said.

Sheikh Sabah is expected to pick his prime minister next week, who will in turn form a cabinet that will be announced on December 14, said Kuwait's al-Watan daily, which is owned by a member of the ruling family.

More than half the members of parliament elected on Saturday are newcomers to the 50-seat National Assembly. The chamber is expected to be more cooperative with the government than its predecessor because of the opposition boycott of the vote, and protests that divided the U.S.-allied, OPEC member state.

(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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ENTIRE UKRAINE GOVERNMENT RESIGNS

The presidency said President Viktor Yanukovych had accepted Mr Azarov's request to give up his post and become an MP, a move expected to be repeated by several cabinet ministers.

It remained unclear who would fill the powerful post of premier, with some analysts speculating it could go to a member of the elite close to Mr Yanukovych known as the "Family".

"President Viktor Yanukovych accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, satisfying the demand of the latter," the statement added.

The move cames as a new parliament prepares to meet after October 28 legislative elections which raised new concerns about democratic standards under Mr Yanukovych.

The ruling Regions Party appears to have retained control of the Verkhovna Rada with the help of independents despite a strong challenge from the opposition parties of boxer Vitali Klitschko and imprisoned ex-premier Yulia Tymoshenko.

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EUR/USD FACING PRESSURE AFTER ITALIAN PRIME MINISTER RESIGNS

As we begin the new trading week, EUR/USD has settled down, following sharp losses late last week. The euro is under pressure as Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti announced on Friday that he plans to resign. Monti, who has gained the respect of the markets with his skillful handling of Italy’s debt crisis, stated that he could no longer lead the country without the support of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s party. The dramatic development means that Italians will head to the polls early next year. The markets are concerned that the political uncertainty could have an adverse impact on Italy’s weak economy, the third largest in the Euro-zone. Italy is mired in recession, and the loss of Monti’s steady hand at the helm could undermine confidence in the shaky Italian economy.. Immediately following the resignation announcement, the Standard & Poor’s rating agency was quick to state that it was concerned whether the new Italian government would continue to practice austerity, and warned that it could lower Italy’s credit rating if the economy does not improve in 2013.

In Germany, the Bundesbank lowered its growth forecast for the Euro-zone’s largest economy. In its semi-annual report, the Bundesbank stated that it expects GDP to grow 0.7% this year and a negligible 0.4% in 2013. Earlier this year, the powerful central bank had predicted GDP growth of 1% in 2012 and 1.6% in 2013. On a positive note, the report stated that the economy should expand by a respectable 1.6% in 2014. The markets were pleased with US employment numbers. Non-Farm Employment Change dipped in November, but came in well above the forecast. As well, the US unemployment rate dropped to 7.7%, its lowest level since February 20o9. However, Prelim UoM Consumer Sentiment had a weak release, as the important consumer indicator dropped to 74.5 points, a four-month low. The market estimate stood at 82.4 points.

Back in Europe, German Industrial Production slumped badly, posting its worst numbers since February. The key indicator fell 2.6%, disappointing the markets which had predicted a modest decline of 0.4%. In today’s releases, Italian and French Industrial Production disappointed, falling well below the estimates. In today’s releases, Italian and French Industrial Production both disappointed, falling well below the estimates. It is a quiet day in the US, with no scheduled releases today.

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CHEIK MODIBO DIARRA, MAI PRIME MINISTER, RESIGNS AFTER BEING ARRESTED BY JUNTA

BAMAKO, Mali — Soldiers arrested Mali's prime minister and forced him to resign before dawn on Tuesday, showing that the military remains the real power in this troubled West African nation despite handing back authority to civilians after a coup in March.

The prime minister's ouster comes as the United Nations considers backing a military intervention in Mali, a once-stable country now in constant turmoil. By late Tuesday, a new prime minister had been named, but the developments drew international rebuke and raised questions about the viability of the military operation, which would use the country's military to try to take back Mali's north from Islamic extremists.

Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra, dressed in a dark suit, his expression somber, appeared on state television at 4 a.m. to announce his resignation, hours after soldiers stormed his house.

"Our country is living through a period of crisis. Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation are hoping for peace," he said on television. "It's for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government on this day, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012. I apologize before the entire population of Mali."

The 60-year-old Diarra is a NASA astrophysicist who has contributed to numerous space exploration missions including the Magellan probe to Venus and the Galileo spacecraft to Jupiter. He is now under house arrest, said a spokesman for the junta, Bakary Mariko.

The government remains technically under the control of the interim president, Dioncounda Traore, who waited nearly 24 hours after Diarra's arrest to address the nation. Late Tuesday, he issued a decree naming a longtime civil servant, Django Sissoko, as the new prime minister. And in an oblique speech, he spoke of the need for Mali to remain united in its goal of reconquering the north and installing democracy, never mentioning the military.

The shake-up in Bamako is already looking like it may endanger plans for the military intervention. The African Union is proposing sending several thousand African troops to help the Malian military take back the north, which fell to al-Qaida-linked Islamists in the chaos that followed the March 21 coup.

The military's meddling in state affairs has concerned the international community. Many worry that supporting the operation will simply further arm and embolden the very officers responsible for Mali's current state.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle warned Tuesday that Diarra's forced resignation makes Western countries wary of getting involved in a military incursion.

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INDONESIAN MINISTER RESIGNS OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS

A circle of corruption allegations is tightening around Indonesia's ruling party - and even the president's own cabinet. Today a minister in Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's government was forced to resign after being named as a corruption suspect. Andi Mularangeng was the president's spokesman until today, and he was a member of the ruling party's advisory board.

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ITALIAN POLICE ARREST EX-FINMECCANICA EXEC, INVESTIGATE FORMER MINISTER FOR ALLEGED CORRUPTION

MILAN - Italian prosecutors are investigating a former Cabinet minister and have ordered the arrest of a former sales manager for Finmeccanica as part of a corruption investigation into the state-controlled aerospace and engineering giant's international dealings.

Former economic development minister Claudio Scajola is under investigation for alleged corruption in connection with Finmeccanica contracts in Brazil for the supply of Naval frigates, Italian media reported Tuesday.

Scajola, who resigned from former premier Silvio Berlusconi's last government in a private housing scandal, denied any wrongdoing.

"I always carried out the duties of economic development minister, which took me around the world, in full respect of the laws and rules," Scajola told TG 24 Italian television. "I never had private meetings. I am not worried, and I don't know what is behind this, but I am available to the prosecutors if they want to hear what I have to say."

Police earlier arrested the former sales manager for Finmeccancia, Paolo Pozzessere, on suspicion of international corruption related to the supply of helicopters and other technology to Panama. Naples prosecutors allege that a Panamanian company acting as an intermediary for the deal was "secretly" controlled by a Panamanian politician.

Finmeccanica has previously denied having paid or promised kickbacks of any kind to any intermediary or the government of Panama.

Pozzessere resigned from his position last September, saying that he was stepping down to protect the company's reputation and denying any involvement in illegal activities. He remains an adviser to the company on Russia.

Finmeccanica, which has been the subject of a series of corruption probes that saw a chairman and former CEO resign under government pressure last December, had no comment on the development. The company is 30 per cent owned by the Italian government, which was coming under heat for not commenting on the developments involving Finmeccanica's international dealings.

Separately, the company's former Chairman and CEO Pier Francesco Guarguaglini and his wife are suspected of being involved in a scheme in which false invoices were used to evade taxes and set up a €2 million ($2.7 million) slush fund to pay off political go-betweens. Both have denied wrongdoing.

Finmeccanica is a global player in defence and aeronautics that employs more than 75,000 people worldwide and focuses on designing and manufacturing helicopters, civil and military aircraft, satellites, space infrastructure, missiles and defence electronics.

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My favorite thing about venom.

He doesn't let any of you people's negativity bother him.

As I have said, much of this is hard to believe, but keep powering forward dude.

4 people like this

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KNU PRESIDENT GENERAL TAMLA BAW RESIGNS AND URGES CONGRESS TO ELECT 'RIGHT LEADERS'

General Tamla Baw, the Karen National Union’s President resigned on the first day of the KNU’s 15th Congress held at Lay Wah Camp, Hlaing Bwe Towhship in Karen State. General Tamla Baw, who had a long and distinguish career as a soldier said in his opening speech at the KNU Congress.

“I will resign at this Congress. I advise those who remain working in the KNU, that they have to work in the right way and to develop and bring on the new leaders. When electing new leaders at this Congress, please elect the right people who have the ability and the intelligence to analyze the political situations. Leaders are not those who are followers but can lead the people.”

In his opening speech, General Tamla Baw, stressed that, “the KNU is the Karen national revolutionary organization and is working hand-in-hand with all people for the emergence of peace. In this case we should not blame and oppose our heroes who sacrificed their lives during our struggle.”

The KNU 15th Congress has asked President General Tamla Baw and Padoh David Tha K’paw to take on the chair and the KNU General Secretary, Naw Zipporah Sein, the 1st Secretary P’doh Saw Hla Ngwe and 2nd Secretary P’doh Saw Dot Lay Mu to be the Congress facilitators.

Attending the Congress will be all KNU districts, seven military Brigades, the General Headquarter, KNLA Headquarter representatives and representatives from Karen communities inside Burma and from outside the country – all together there 175 people will attend.

The Congress will hear statements from a diverse range of representatives that include the Karen State culture and literature, the Abbot of Taung Kalay, former political prisoner, Min Ko Naing, the leader of the 88 New Generation, the Australian Karen Organization, the National Democratic Front, the United National Federation Council, the National League for Democracy (Liberation Area), the Arakhine Liberation Front and the European Karen Network.

The daughter of the charismatic Karen hero and martyr, Saw Ba U Gyi, Thelma Gyi will also attend and speak at the Congress. The Congress is due to finish on December 7th.

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3 POLICE ARREST SERBIA'S RICHEST MAN IN ANTI-GRAFT PROBE

* Retail tycoon held in inquiry into privatised road companies

* Miskovic seen as one of Serbia's most influential figures

* Made money under Milosevic, flourished under democrats (Adds analyst, edits)

By Aleksandar Vasovic

BELGRADE, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Miroslav Miskovic, a billionaire tycoon who built a retail empire during Yugoslavia's bloody collapse and went on to become one of Serbia's most powerful people, was arrested on Wednesday as part of a corruption investigation.

The swoop climaxed months of accusations against Miskovic by Defence Minister Aleksandar Vucic, the government's anti-graft czar who took power six months ago promising to get to grips with deep-rooted organised crime and corruption.

Success on that front is crucial for Serbia's candidacy for membership of the European Union, with Belgrade pushing for accession talks to start in 2013.

Miskovic, a slight, bespectacled 67-year-old who is estimated to be Serbia's richest man, was arrested at his home in the snowbound capital, Belgrade. Eight others were also taken into custody, including Miskovic's son, Marko.

"The message to everyone in Serbia is that there are no more untouchables," said political analyst Zoran Stojiljkovic. "Regimes and governments changed, but he (Miskovic) stayed. This is now a clear message that nothing is off the table."

The chief organised crime prosecutor said those arrested were suspected of illegally milking millions of euros from a group of privatised and now bankrupt road maintenance companies.

"According to charges ... as co-owners of privatised road maintenance companies between 2005 and the end of 2010, they siphoned off funds and property and made financial gains of as much as 2.9 billion dinars ($33.4 million)," prosecutor Miljko Radisavljevic told Reuters.

Miskovic's Delta Holding company issued a statement denying any irregularities. "We are absolutely sure of the legality of operations by Delta Holding and its owner (Miroslav) Miskovic," the company said on its website. It said the board of directors would continue to manage the company.

CHANGE OF POWER

His arrest was a bold move by the governing coalition, an alliance of nationalists and socialists who last shared power at the tail end of Slobodan Milosevic's 13-year rule, when Vucic was the feared minister of information and Serbia was at war with NATO.

The Belgrade government says it is serious about tackling crime, though some Western diplomats fear it is motivated more by political score-settling than genuine reform.

Police said they had stepped up security for Vucic, saying Miskovic had threatened him during the arrest. Miskovic's lawyer denied his client had threatened anyone.

Under Milosevic, Serbia became a pariah for its role in the wars that tore apart Yugoslavia in the 1990s. As ordinary Serbs became mired in poverty, a brash elite made fortunes busting sanctions and profiting from cosy ties to the president.

Miskovic served briefly as deputy prime minister under Milosevic in 1990, but quickly switched to private business. When Milosevic was ousted in 2000, Miskovic survived and then flourished under the pro-Western Democrats who took power.

With over 7,000 employees, Delta Holding has interests in retail, agribusiness, real estate and insurance in Serbia and the Balkans region. It is the exclusive distributor of Nike and a franchise partner of Costa Coffee.

In 2007, Miskovic was worth a billion dollars, according to the finance magazine Forbes. In 2011, he sold his Delta Maxi supermarket chain to Delhaize, a Belgium-based retailer, for 932.5 million euro ($1.21 billion).

Last year, Delta Holding says it turned over 1.42 billion euros ($1.85 billion).

The pro-Western Democratic Party was voted out in May this year, punished for a bruising economic downturn and accusations of cronyism - and replaced by a socialist-nationalist alliance.

Since then, police have arrested more than a dozen businessmen, including two ex-cabinet ministers from the former ruling Democratic Party, on charges of corruption, fraud and abuse of office.

($1 = 0.7693 euros) (Editing by Matt Robinson and Mark Heinrich)

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