S&P downgrades Spain by two notches
The Standard & Poor’s ratings agency has downgraded Spain’s sovereign credit rating by two notches, from A/A-1 to BBB+/A2. It also placed the country on a negative economic outlook, forecasting further economic contraction in 2012-2013. Spain is one of the Eurozone’s hardest-hit economies, with a total debt-to-GDP ratio of 68 per cent and an unemployment rate of over 20 per cent.
Military judge refuses to drop key charge against Bradley Manning
A US military judge ruled Thursday that suspected WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning can be tried for “aiding the enemy” after allegedly leaking documents to the site. The 24-year-old could be jailed for life if convicted of “aiding the enemy,” one of 22 criminal charges that judge Colonel Denise Lind let stand at pre-trial hearings this week at Fort Meade, in Maryland.
Libya’s ruling council dismisses Cabinet, citing incompetence
Libya’s interim ruling council (NTC) has fired the nation’s Cabinet just two months before the first post-revolution national election. Sixty-five of the NTC’s 72 members approved a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Abdurrahim el-Keib in a meeting Wednesday. It’s the latest blow to Libya as it struggles to reorganize in the wake of the overthrow of longtime dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The move throws into question the country’s ability to hold an election in June, when Libyans will elect a 200-member assembly to form a government and prepare to writing a new constitution.
Dutch parliament approves austerity deal
The Dutch Parliament reached agreement Thursday on an austerity program demanded by the EU. This comes days after the government collapsed over the measures. Stef Blok, chair of the liberal VVD group – the party of outgoing Prime Minister Mark Rutte – said five parties representing a wide political spectrum had approved the deal. The vote on the austerity law is set for later in the evening and is a mere formality, Blok said. The law will include measures to reduce the country’s public deficit, which reached 4.7 per cent last year, to a point below the EU ceiling of 3.0 per cent of gross domestic product.