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Bite-sized briefing: world

The UN climate change conference opened in Copenhagen on 7 December. A leaked draft of a Danish document pointed to a divide between developed and developing countries on a future deal. But commentators noted the paper dated from November and was likely to be out of date.

Greenhouse gases threaten human health, acknowledged the US. This may mean the American Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can order cuts in emissions without the approval of Congress.

South Africa will reduce carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020, it pledged at the conference. It said it would need financial aid from developed countries to do so.

Five car bombs in Baghdad killed at least 127 people and wounded 448 on 8 December. The blasts were near government buildings. Officials blamed al-Qaeda trying to destabilise the country before February's elections.

The past decade was the warmest on record, according to the World Meteorological Organisation. This year is poised to be the fifth-warmest in 160 years.

Afghanistan's security forces need international funding for the next 15 years, President Hamid Karzai said. The US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said the US would not abandon the state.

Hundreds of Somalis protested in Mogadishu against al-Shahab, the militant group that controls large parts of the country. The group is held responsible for a suicide attack last week, which it denies.

In Pakistan, two bombs killed 48 people and injured more than 100. The attacks took place in Lahore and Peshawar. No one has yet claimed responsibility.

Japan has agreed a stimulus plan of ¥7.2trn (£48bn). The return of deflation has sparked fears in the country that growth could stall.

Barack Obama announced plans to boost US employment, including winding up the $700bn (£425bn) bank bailout and using remaining money to lend to small businesses. US unemployment stands at 10 per cent.

In Chile, six people were charged over the death of the ex-president Eduardo Frei Montalva (right) in 1982. The judge said there was now evidence that Frei, a vocal critic of Augusto Pinochet, had been poisoned in hospital.

The Philippines government resumed peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, a separatist group from the south of the country. Previous talks collapsed 16 months ago.

Drug trafficking in Africa is turning it into a major crime hub, the head of the UN drugs agency warned. Fifty to 60 tonnes of cocaine are trafficked across West Africa every year, he said.

Egypt's head of antiquities requested that the Rosetta Stone be loaned to Egypt by the British Museum. A 1970 UN agreement states that artefacts belong to their country of origin. The museum says it will consider the request.

Iceland's recession deepened in the third quarter of 2009; output plunged at the fastest pace on record. The economy is expected to continue shrinking next year.

A hunger-striking West Saharan activist is refusing medical care. Aminatou Haidar campaigns for the independence of the disputed region. She was expelled to the Canary Islands in mid-November and has not eaten since.

Jerusalem should be the capital of both Israeli and Palestinian states, EU ministers said. Palestinians welcomed the statement but Israel, which currently claims sovereignty over the city, said it contained "nothing new".

Russian internet censorship claims have spread across the blogosphere after a provider, Yota, admitted blocking access to sites.

Romania's opposition party, the Social Democrats, contested the presidential election result. Polls had predicted a victory for the party's Mircea Geoana, but Traian Basescu won by under 1 per cent.

This article appears in the 14 December 2009 issue of the New Statesman, The Muslim Jesus