The largest cut in production in OPEC history appeared to have no immediate impact on the slide in crude oil futures prices. Trading in contracts for January delivery ends Friday, and OPEC's 2.2 million-barrel-a-day cut only served to send prices down another $1.90 in European trading, to $38.16 – a level last seen in mid-2004. But analysts said a more accurate reflection of the OPEC cut would be February futures, which were opening at $45.21 a barrel in Europe.
Senior generals and at least 17 other people in Iraq's Interior Ministry have been arrested for allegedly planning to rebuild the outlawed Baath Party of Saddam Hussein, officials said Thursday. Among the detainees are both Shiites and Sunnis, the officials said, calling them a "semiorganized group." But they disputed a New York Times report that the suspects were plotting a coup against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The Baathists, an offshoot of the Arab nationalist movement founded in neighboring Syria, ruled Iraq for 35 years. Banning the party was the first official act of the US occupation authority after Hussein's regime fell in 2003.
Christmas shoppers in Athens fled for their safety as rioters fought with police in the 13th straight day of antigovernment protests. Thursday's demonstrations began peacefully, with marchers chanting that the streets belonged to them. But radicals broke away, hurling rocks and firebombs at the police, overturning at least one car, and setting fire to trash bins. Protesters also were marching in Thessaloniki, the No. 2 city, despite heavy rain.
Opening a new rhetorical assault against its southern neighbor, North Korea claimed Thursday to have arrested a "terrorist" sent to assassinate leader Kim Jong Il. The accusation said an agent with the surname Ri had been caught with sophisticated "speech, acoustic sensing, and pursuit devices" and "deadly poison." South Korea has angered the North by cutting off unrestricted aid and by speculating publicly that Kim recently underwent brain surgery.
Using their new majority in Parliament, opponents of Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf voted to open impeachment proceedings against him. The action requires that Yusuf appear before the legislature in Baidoa, capital of his transitional government, to defend himself against charges of behaving like a dictator, failing to further the peace process with Islamist militias, nepotism, and deepening clan rivalries. Last weekend, he fired Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, who was promptly reinstated by the legislators.
Only construction companies were reporting a hopeful outlook in Germany as the measure of business confidence in Europe's largest economy sagged to its lowest point since November 1982. The Ifo Institute of Munich said Thursday its monthly index, based on a survey of 7,000 employers, has dropped more than 20 points this year. It projected that the business climate "will now have an impact on the labor market."
Prosecutors were granted their request for a life sentence for the convicted organizer of the 1994 Rwanda genocide. The UN's International Criminal Tribunal ruled that Theoneste Bagosora used his influence as former director of the Defense Ministry to send Hutu soldiers to kill rival Tutsis as well as moderates from their own ethnic majority. Two codefendants also drew life sentences. Bagosora's lawyer said he'd appeal the verdict.
Rescue crews were trying to establish contact with 18 men trapped in a coal mine in central China Thursday after a buildup of gas exploded. Fourteen others escaped. The mine, in Hunan Province, was licensed to produce 30,000 tons a year but was seeking to double that quota, reports said.