Panel recommends impeaching governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. : An Illinois House committee has unanimously recommended that Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich be impeached for abuse of power. The decision sets the stage for the full House to take action today. The 21-member committee began studying impeachment after the Democratic governor was arrested on federal corruption charges. The panel based its recommendation on those charges and other allegations of misconduct by Blagojevich. It allegedly has evidence that he circumvented state hiring laws, misspent tax money and expanded programs without proper authority. If the House impeaches Blagojevich, the Senate would then conduct a trial on whether he should be removed from office.


Burris testifies that he offered nothing for seat CHICAGO : Roland Burris, appointed to fill President-elect Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat, testified yesterday that he promised Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich nothing in return for the controversial appointment. Burris told an impeachment committee of the Illinois House of Representatives that one of Blagojevich's lawyers approached him Dec. 26 and told him the governor, who is facing public corruption charges, wanted to name him as Obama's successor. Two days later, Blagojevich phoned to offer him the job. Burris said he first told a Blagojevich aide in July that he would be interested in the seat, but said he had no further conversations with anyone close to Blagojevich until Dec. 26.

Putin and EU reach agreement on gas MOSCOW : Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin struck a deal with the European Union on supervising the flow of natural gas through Ukraine early today , paving the way to restart shipments to European customers. The price dispute that first drove Russia to cut off gas to Ukraine on New Year's Day has yet to be resolved, and there was no word on how soon gas deliveries to Europe would start again. There was no immediate response from Ukraine.


Democrats back deal to alter home loans

WASHINGTON: Democratic lawmakers have reached a deal with Citigroup Inc. on a plan to let bankruptcy judges alter home loans in an effort to prevent foreclosures and urged other lenders to follow suit. The lawmakers aim to attach the plan to President-elect Barack Obama's economic stimulus legislation and said yesterday that the change in bankruptcy law could ease the foreclosure crisis. The compromise would be limited to loans made before the bill is signed. Obama has said he backs the concept. New York Sen. Charles E. Schumer said he received calls yesterday from several banks indicating their potential interest in supporting the idea.

100 signed checks found in Madoff's desk

NEW YORK : Prosecutors said yesterday that investigators found 100 signed checks worth $173 million in Bernard Madoff's office desk that he was ready to send out to family and friends at the time of his arrest last month in what is alleged to be the largest financial fraud in history. The detail was provided in a court filing yesterday. A judge was expected to rule today or Monday on whether Madoff should be sent to jail. Meanwhile, the many Madoff investors who withdrew money from their accounts over the years are now wrestling with an ethical and legal quandary: What they thought were profits was likely money stolen from other clients. The issue came to the forefront as about 8,000 former Madoff clients began to receive letters inviting them to apply for up to $500,000 in aid from the Securities Investor Protection Corp. Lawyers have been warning clients to do some tough math before they apply for funds.

CIA missile strike kills two al-Qaida operatives

WASHINGTON : Two senior al-Qaida operatives were killed in a CIA missile strike on New Year's Day in Pakistan, including a suspect in the suicide bombing of an Islamabad hotel in September, a senior U.S. counterterrorism official said yesterday. The two operatives also had been indicted in the U.S. for their logistics roles in the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa, the official said. One of those killed was a Kenyan national known as Usama al-Kini, who was believed to be al-Qaida's chief of operations in Pakistan.