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April 27, 2010
Posted: 1631 GMT

We'd been leading with the Goldman Sachs hearings on Capitol Hill all morning when an urgent wire crossed: Greece's sovereign debt has been downgraded to "junk" status by ratings agency Standards and Poors.

This means the ratings agency thinks Greece's debt is riskier than in its previous assessments. Investors are now being told that chances of them not getting their money back from Greece are higher. This will push up interest rates and prolong the debt crisis in Europe.

It also means other countries in the Eurozone might have to come up with a more ambitious plan to save Greece from drowning in debt it can't repay.

Stock markets across the continent are down. The anxiety over Greece's debt (and a downgrade for Portugal) has spread to Wall Street. We will go live to New York where Stephanie Elam will break the story down for us.

Stephanie will also join us to cover the Goldman Sachs hearings in Washginton DC. Top executives of the venerable financial insitution are today being grilled on accusations that they knowingly misled investors with deals tied to the subprime mortgage market they knew would lose money.

Join us for that and the rest of the day's top stories from Moscow, Paris, Baghdad and Yemen.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Greece •Today At The I-Desk


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April 21, 2010
Posted: 1642 GMT

Hello everyone,

We will give you the latest on the improvement in travel conditions across Europe. Now that things are getting better, attention is now turning to the cost of grounding tens of thousands of planes for almost six days.

Only one thing was sky-high during the crisis: the price tag associated with shutting down so much of Europe's airspace. What longer-term impact will it have? Who should be responsible for the billions of dollars lost?

Also today, it's been 99 days since the deadly earthquake ravaged large parts of Port-au-Prince. When I was in Haiti back in January, the city was still completely leveled, people lived out on the streets, bodies were still waiting to be collected. No doubt the situation has drastically changed, but that doesn't mean there still aren't major threats facing the people of Haiti.

We will speak to Matt Marek of the International Committee of the Red Cross. He's been there since day one. There are some interesting initiatives to try to protect homeless earthquake survivors from potential hurricanes and severe weather: the Red Cross is helping set up "Disaster Risk Reduction Teams" composed of locals.

I'll also ask Matt what the biggest need is today for ordinary Haitians and how much of the money donated for earthquake relief efforts has been spent.

Join us for that and the rest of the day's top stories.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Ash cloud •Haiti •Today At The I-Desk


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April 20, 2010
Posted: 1715 GMT
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April 19, 2010
Posted: 1637 GMT

Once again, we will be looking at all angles of the volcanic ash story and the travel chaos that has paralyzed Europe for five days now.

This isn't just as European story: it is affecting travelers around the world. Some are trying to make their way home, young couples are missing their wedding reception, politicans are missing state funerals and even organ transplant recipients are having to wait longer for a life-saving operations.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. We will be speaking with Fred Pleitgen on a decision to allow Lufthansa to fly 15,000 passengers back to Germany. Also, British Airways says it will resume some flights out of London at 7pm local Tuesday.

We will also go live to France for more on several airports in southern France now able to operate. Italy, among other countries, has now completely opened its airspace.

We will also look at the economic impact of grounding tens of thousands of planes every day: the costs is now running into the billions and some companies that rely on tourism revenue are starting to feel the pain. Now airlines are complaining that the airspace closures were badly handled by European authorities.

Also today, we will take you live to Baghdad for the latest on the reported death of the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. Authorities there say they killed Abu Ayyub al-Masri in a joint Iraqi-US operation. How will this affect insurgent activity in the country? We'll go to Mohammed Jamjoom in the Iraqi capital.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Airspace closures •Ash cloud •Iceland Volcano •Today At The I-Desk


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April 16, 2010
Posted: 1635 GMT

Hello Ideskers!

I'm back after a few days away on another assignment.

We will be spending a lot of time discussing the volcano ash cloud hanging over Europe, which is still causing travel chaos across the continent.

As of this writing, airspace is not available for travel in the UK (excluding Scotland), Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Estonia, the north of France including all Paris airports, northern parts of Germany, parts of Poland including Warsaw airport and the Czech Republic, and Switzerland.

The airline industry association said today that airlines alone are losing an estimated $200 million a day in revenue. Of course, the total cost of this unprecedented event could run into the billions with millions of passengers affected, trying desperately find a way to their destination.

One of those passengers is the Prime Minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, who's decided to drive his way through Europe because he can't fly back to Oslo. We are hoping to connect with him on his roadtrip across the continent.

Guillermo will join us with an aerial view of the ash cloud. The amazing pictures show the scope of the affected area. We will also talk about how long it will take for all of this to clear up.

Polish official say the funeral of their fallen President is going ahead as planned, but what if world leaders, including U.S. President Barack Obama can't fly in this week-end? We'll look at that angle as well.

Hope you can join us for the Idesk at the top of the hour for this and all the rest of our top stories.

See you then!

Hala

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Filed under: Iceland Volcano •Today At The I-Desk


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April 12, 2010
Posted: 1646 GMT

It is an unprecedented summit in scope and one that will deal with trying to prevent would be catastrophic – and unprecedented – attack. U.S. President Barack Obama's nuclear summit in Washington will bring almost 50 heads of state together to discuss ways of making sure terrorists don't get their hands on nuclear weapons.

There are an estimated 1,600 tons of highly enriched uranium worldwide, and the vast majority of it is accounted for in admitted nuclear countries. And then there are other materials that are used in nuclear weaponry.

But the fear is that Pakistan, a nuclear power, will become so unstable that militants will somehow get their hands on nuclear weapons. Or even that North Korea will sell technology to terrorists. Or that a group like Al Qaeda will find a way to acquire enough material to build a so-called "dirty bomb" that will cause widespread damage and many deaths.

And American President Barack Obama is leading this effort with nuclear "street cred" : he has just signed a new START treaty with Russia, pledging a reduction of the U.S.'s nuclear warheads and has announced a revamped American nuclear military strategy.
This is the largest gathering of world leaders called by a U.S. President since the end of World War II.

Importantly, Barack Obama and Western leaders like French President Nicolas Sarkozy are hoping this summit, which takes place a month before a U.N. Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty conference, will help push through tougher sanctions against Iran, if it refuses to give up developing nuclear technology.

We are live in Washington with Jill Dougherty on that story.

Join us for that and the rest of the day's top stories.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Nuclear Summit •Today At The I-Desk


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April 8, 2010
Posted: 1638 GMT

Russia and the United States, the two former Cold War enemies, may still have enough of a nuclear arsenal to obliterate each other several times over, but today's signing of landmark arms reduction deal is still hugely significant.

First of all, it signals a rapprochement between Moscow and Washington after a period of tension. Secondly, it sets the stages fro future reductions of nuclear arsenals. Thirdly, and perhaps in the short term most importantly, it gives the Obama administration a certain moral legitimacy when asking Iran for nuclear containment.

Numbers aren't what make this START treaty pivotal – both Russia and the United States will reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 – it's the symbolic message being sent to the world.

It also gives Barack Obama a significant foreign policy victory less than a year and a half into his presidency.

We are live in Prague with White House Correspondent Ed Henry and in Moscow with Matthew Chance for a look at this story from both the U.S. and Russian perspectives.

Also today, we are live in Kyrgyzstan for the latest on what is still an entirely confusing situation. After several days of violence, opposition leaders say they've toppled the government and are now in charge. But the man they say has been ousted, Kurmanbek Bakiyev, says he refuses to leave.

We'll also show you Tiger Woods' new television ad for Nike, featuring the voice of his deceased father. It's certainly generating a lot of talk. Already, late night talk show hosts have aired spoofs of the ad. We'll show you the one Jimmy Kimmel's team put together.

That plus the all the major news stories and how today's jobless claims numbers are affecting Wall Street.

See you at the IDesk!

Hala

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Filed under: Kyrgyzstan •U.S.-Russia-Nuclear


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Posted: 1429 GMT

Filed under: Tiger Woods


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Posted: 1306 GMT

Now that Russian and U.S. leaders have signed a new nuclear arms reduction treaty, we wanted to know your thoughts:

Filed under: Barack Obama •I-Desk Poll •Russia


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April 6, 2010
Posted: 1251 GMT

Filed under: I-Desk Poll •UK Election


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International Desk brings viewers into the heart of the largest news gathering operation in the world. Viewers don't come here to watch the news; they come here to be immersed in it. To feel the rush of being the first to know what's happening as stories break, and to leave knowing they've gotten the best and latest information available. The show airs Mon-Fri at 1900 CET.

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