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Asia defence spending overtakes Europe

New weapons aquired by Asian nationsMar. 7.─ Asian defence spending is this year set to exceed that of Europe for the first time in modern history as European Union nations slash their military budgets and Chinese expenditure accelerates, a leading think-tank reports on Wednesday.

In a blunt assessment of the shift in the global redistribution of military power across the world, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says Asia is becoming increasingly militarised as a result of rapid economic growth and strategic uncertainty.

At the same time, European states are responding to the economic crisis in the west by cutting military budgets, with some 16 Nato member states in Europe reducing annual budgets between 2008 and 2010.

"Since the financial crisis in 2008, there has been a convergence in European and Asian defence spending levels," the IISS says in its annual publication The Military Balance.

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North Korea agrees to nuclear moratorium

Korean leader agrees on nuclear moratoriumMar. 1.─ North Korea has agreed to suspend uranium enrichment and nuclear and long-range missile tests in a breakthrough in negotiations with the United States, which is set to provide food aid in return.

The rare simultaneous announcements Wednesday by the two longtime adversaries could clear the way for resumption of multi-nation disarmament-for-aid talks that the North withdrew from in 2009.

Coming just over two months after the death of longtime ruler Kim Jong Il, it signals a willingness by the secretive government under his untested youngest son, Kim Jong Un, to improve ties with the U.S. and win aid.

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The huge & growing US Gross Public Debt

In the century after Alexander Hamilton refunded the debts of the Revolutionary War with a federal debt, the United States only went into debt to pay for its wars. But then in the 1930s the administration of President Roosevelt attempted to get the nation out of the Great Depression with federal borrowings

US Debt chart

Washington, D.C., Jan.10 (─ The federal debt was set up in the 1790s by the first Treasury Secretary, Alexander Hamilton. Experienced in banking, Hamilton stabilized the dollar and refunded the debts incurred by the states in the Revolutionary War by refinancing them as an obligation of the new federal government. The bonds were to be "funded" by federal revenues earmarked for interest payments and repayment of principal. The resulting federal debt stood at 35% of gross domestic product (GDP). By the 1830s the Revolutionary war debt had been paid off—just in time for the Civil War when federal debt climbed back up to 33% of GDP. Still, the Civil War debt was pretty well paid off by the turn of the 20th century.

The federal government's budget deficit for fiscal year 2011 was $1.3 trillion; at 8.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), that deficit was the third-largest shortfall in the past 40 years. (GDP is the sum of all income earned in the domestic production of goods and services. In 2011, it totaled $15.0 trillion.) Based on the 2010 U.S. budget, total national debt will nearly double in dollar terms between 2008 and 2015 and reached 100% of GDP by the third quarter of 2011 ahead of predictions, versus a level of approximately 80% in early 2009. Multiple government sources including the current and previous presidents, the GAO, Treasury Department, and CBO have said the U.S. is on an unsustainable fiscal path.

The 2015 debt at present budgetary trends is projected to be up to 19.776 trillion dollars.

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EGYPT: Hosni Mubarak resigns

  • Steps down after 18 days of demonstrations Egyptians celebrate Mubarak's fall
    VicePresident Suleiman reads on TV short statement on resignation

Cairo, Feb.11.─ Hosni Mubarak stepped down as president of Egypt and handed power to the military, bowing to the demands of protesters who have occupied central Cairo for the past three weeks demanding an end to his 30-year rule. Vice President Omar Suleiman made the announcement in a statement on state television today. Bloomberg's Margaret Brennan and Lara Setrakian report on Video.

The 30-second statement on state television was read by Vice President Omar Suleiman at 6:02 p.m. local time:

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