Wednesday 16 January 2019

In brief: Ireland given bailout boost

European Council president Herman Van Rompuy has said a deal must be struck over the possibility of an interest rate cut to Ireland's international bailout.

Mr Van Rompuy said he was aware a rate reduction was a sensitive topic but said progress had to be reached.

"We continue to work with our partners to find a solution," he said after a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin. "We need to reach a deal."

The Government has faced staunch opposition to a rate cut from France in particular, with President Nicolas Sarkozy demanding Ireland increase its controversially low 12.5pc corporation tax rate in return.

Mr Kenny is expected to meet Mr Sarkozy in Brussels next week.

Glitch grounds US jet fleets

United Airlines passengers across the United States were stranded for at least five hours following a computer crash that grounded flights.

United Airlines announced to passengers in Denver yesterday that it was preparing to resume service about five hours after the computer problems started.

Long lines of passengers formed at check-in counters at Chicago's O'Hare International and Denver International airports, two of United's largest hubs.

Obama visits

Afghan victims

US President Barack Obama has visited service members wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan at Walter Reed Army Medical Centre, and awarded two of them purple hearts.

The White House said the president met 21 wounded troops -- 16 who had served in Afghanistan and five in Iraq.

Mr Obama faces a decision soon on how many troops to begin withdrawing from Afghanistan next month.

32 seized in

fraud probe

Federal authorities have arrested 32 Texas residents in what they describe as a wide-ranging fraud scheme that conned an insurer, Aflac, out of $3m (¤2.1m) over a decade.

The 32 -- including a police officer, teachers and county employees -- are accused of making fraudulent minor injury claims.

A Justice Department statement said they bought accident insurance and with the help of two Mexican doctors filed minor injury claims thought too small to draw suspicion. In return, the border-city doctors received small kickbacks.

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