Briefs, December 23, 2012

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2012, 7:05am


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Thatcher recovering in hospital after surgery

LONDON - Britain's former prime minister Margaret Thatcher was in hospital yesterday recovering from a minor operation to remove a growth in her bladder and may remain there over Christmas. The "Iron Lady", 87, was doing "absolutely fine", her spokesman said. But the operation has raised fresh fears for the prime minister from 1979 to 1990, who has been a subdued figure in recent years. AFP


Kerry 'perfect choice' as US secretary of state

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama has nominated John Kerry to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, calling the veteran senator the "perfect choice" for America's top diplomat as he began reshaping his national security team for a second term. Obama settled on Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, after the frontrunner, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, withdrew from consideration last week. Reuters


Pope's butler granted Christmas pardon

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict has granted his ex-butler a Christmas pardon for stealing private papers and leaking them to a journalist. The pope met with Paolo Gabriele in the prison where the man was serving his sentence for the theft. Gabriele was then freed and returned to his Vatican City apartment where he lived with his wife and three children. But the Vatican said he would not continue living or working there. AP


BP's US$7.8b payout for oil spill approved

NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge has given final approval to BP's settlement over the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. BP has estimated it will pay US$7.8 billion to resolve more than 100,000 claims by businesses and individuals who lost money because of America's worst offshore oil spill. There is still a lot of litigation left, including a trial to identify the causes of BP's blowout and assign percentages of fault to the firms involved. That trial is scheduled to take place next year. AP


'Substantial sum' for Grant in hacking case

LONDON - Actor Hugh Grant has accepted a "substantial sum" from Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid publisher over phone hacking by the News of the World. The Four Weddings and a Funeral star will donate the damages to the Hacked Off campaign against press intrusion. His lawyer Mark Thomson said the damages would be transferred to Hacked Off as soon Grant, 52, receives the payment, with a statement to be made in open court in the new year. AFP