Saying, "We aren't going to give up an inch," Mexico's interior secretary promised to send Army and police reinforcements to Ciudad Juarez, the community on the US border that has become the focal point of the war against drug cartels. The extra security, estimated to number up to 7,000 men, "will be visible to the residents," Secretary Fernando Gomez-Mont said. The city's police chief quit last week amid threats to kill at least one of his officers every 48 hours. Since then, the mayor and his family have been threatened with beheading.
The largest annual loss in British history – $34.4 billion – was reported by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). The bank said it would undergo a massive restructuring program, scaling back operations in 36 foreign countries and shifting $462 billion in so-called toxic assets into a government debt-insurance program. Such a move could hike the taxpayers' stake in RBS to 95 percent, analysts said. A similar move may come Friday by the prestigious Lloyds Banking Group, The Times (London) reported.
Calling Zimbabwe's new power-sharing government "an interim arrangement," President Robert Mugabe said a new national election will be held within two years. In an interview, Mugabe also rejected calls by his partner in the unity government, the Movement for Democratic Change, to fire two senior officials widely blamed for causing the nation's economic collapse. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's request for $2 billion in aid from the African Development Bank was being considered, although executives said the troubled nation must first retire its current $5 billion debt obligation.
In a heavy blow to prosecutors, former Serbian President Milan Milutinovic was acquitted of murder and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo by the UN war crimes tribunal for the Balkans. Five co-defendants were found guilty and sentenced to at least 15 years in prison. All were charged with targeting ethnic Albanians in the breakaway province in 1999. Prosecutors also failed to obtain a conviction on the same charges against Milutinovic's predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic, before he died in custody in 2006.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon hurriedly dispatched a senior aide to Madagascar Thursday after a fourth effort at talks between the nation's political rivals broke down. Opposition leader Andry Rajoelina said he no longer wanted to discuss an end to the civil unrest with President Marc Ravalomanana after the latter skipped a scheduled meeting to confer instead with military chiefs. Clergymen mediating the talks refused to continue, claiming they'd done all they could to bring the two sides together.
More cars were burned and stores looted in a second straight night of violence on Martinique as islanders protested the pace of negotiations over their demands for higher pay to cope with the cost of living. Police responded with tear gas and said they arrested almost 30 people. Still, Martinique has had less trouble than its sister island, Guadeloupe, which has experienced a 37-day strike and more serious violence. Protest leaders there said Wednesday night they're reviewing a $102-a-month offer by France's government to supplement the $128 pledged by employers. Strikers have demanded an overall $250-a-month increase.
Arsonists struck a city in south-eastern Sweden for the second time in three months, targeting supermarkets that carry American products. Three stores were destroyed Thursday in Södertälje, where about 6,000 Iraqi refugees have resettled. A fourth fire was put out before it could spread. There was no claim of responsibility, but left-wing extremists have encouraged residents to burn stores that sell US-made goods.