News that Senate Republicans killed the bailout of the Big 3 U.S. auto companies has set stocks tumbling around the world. In the major European papers available in English, we're seeing headlines like "World markets slump as US car industry bail-out fails" (Guardian), "US car industry set to collapse as bailout fails" (Times of London)

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Switzerland-Italy Border Photo

Switzerland has opened its borders to Europe, Deutsche Welle reports:

For the 700,000 commuters who cross the borders between European Union countries and Switzerland every day, life got just a little bit easier on Friday.

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"People assume we should be offended that somebody in the military thinks our song is annoying enough that played over and over it can psychologically break someone down. I take it as an honor to think that perhaps our song could be used to quell another 9/11 attack or something like that."  - Bassist Steve Benton of Drowning Pool, whose 2001 hit "Bodies" is a particular favorite of interrogators

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Figures published Wednesday on China's economy show the country doing worse than the World Bank previously anticipated, boding poorly for China's chances of avoiding the global downturn as well as for the West's hopes of possible bailout assistance from Asia

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Britain announced that it could withdraw its 4,100 remaining troops from Iraq by June 2009 if Iraqi elections in January go off peacefully. The withdrawal will mark the end of a six-year campaign, and the conclusion of an unpopular war both at home and abroad. Yet British troops can leave with their heads held high, for despite political misgivings about the legality of the war, they have performed with admirable professionalism and certainly won't leave in 'shame' as one Guardian columnist suggests.

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It emerged last night that President-Elect Barack Obama will “likely” name physicist Steven Chu as the next Secretary of Energy. This is one of the most significant appointments the President-Elect has made yet, due to both the nature of the position and the unique background of the appointee. The official announcement is expected next week and, if appointed, Nobel Prize winner Chu will be the first Secretary of Energy to hold a PhD, and the only one to be a practicing scientist.   

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Times are tough, it seems, even for Russian millionaires, TIME's John Wendle reports.

These days, Russia's wealthy can't always get what they want. The country's once soaring economy is in freefall — growth, which averaged 7% over the past five years, could drop below 2% in 2009 according to economists — and it's taking the rich down with it.

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"What About NATO?" asks an unsigned Economist editorial, with the ambitious subhead "How the alliance should move forward." Its premise is that the Georgia crisis demonstrated NATO's lack of will to stand up to Russian aggression and created serious doubts among the Alliance's new members, especially "Poles, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians" and that therefore "NATO’s credibility could do with a boost."

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British Pound Collage

Martin Walker argues that the precipitous fall of the British pound, which has lost a quarter of its value since the summer and is now at historic lows against the dollar, will not, as European Commission President Jose Barroso and others have speculated, nudge the UK into the Eurozone.

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Retired brigadier and author Allan Mallinson writes in the Times of London that the special relationship between the UK and the US "needs repair work."

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