Top Stories: Worldwide

The following are the day's top general news stories:

1. Mumbai Police Bolster Security, Search for Four Said to Plan Terror Attack 2. Russia Must Purge Regional Government of Corrupt Officials, Medvedev Says 3. Californians Start Cleaning Up Mud, Water, Debris as Deluge Destroys Homes 4. Jailed Khodorkovsky Says Love for Dogs Only Crack in Putin's `Icy Armor' 5. Pinera Sells Chile Soccer Club Stake for $7.4 Million, Reversing Decision

1. Mumbai Police Bolster Security, Search for Four Said to Plan Terror Attack

Police in Mumbai increased security and intensified the search for four men from a Pakistan-based terrorist group said to be planning an attack in the city during year-end celebrations. The men, members of the Lashkar-e-Taiba group, entered the city to carry out "violent" attacks during Christmas and New Year festivities, Joint Commissioner of Mumbai Police Himanshu Roy said at a press conference yesterday. "They have come here for extremely dangerous activities," he said, while releasing a sketch of one of the suspected terrorists. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is blamed by India and the U.S. government for the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai that killed 166 people. Mumbai is a target for terror attacks as it symbolizes India´s economic growth. The city is home to India´s biggest companies such as Reliance Industries Ltd. and the Tata Group, and the two main stock exchanges. It is also a center for trading in currencies, bonds, commodities, gold and diamonds. Mumbai was attacked in 1993, when the Bombay Stock Exchange was among the targets, and again in 2006.

2. Russia Must Purge Regional Government of Corrupt Officials, Medvedev Says

Russia needs to "purge" criminals from government, President Dmitry Medvedev said today, as he promised to step up his fight against corruption. "I believe we´ve managed to clean things up at the federal level in recent years," Medvedev said in a live question-and- answer session with the heads of Russia´s three main television channels. "But at the regional level, there are a lot of people who work according to a different code and there we need to carry out purges." In the capital Moscow, which accounts for nearly a quarter of Russia´s gross domestic product, there is "unprecedented" corruption, which new Mayor Sergei Sobyanin is battling, said Medvedev. The president in September fired Yury Luzhkov, Moscow´s mayor since 1992, after state media reports accusing him of corruption and favoritism toward his wife, billionaire developer Yelena Baturina. The couple denied the allegations. Medvedev, 45, hand-picked by his predecessor, current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, is in the third year of his term begun May 2008. He has made his priority fighting corruption, which he terms a major threat to national security, modernizing the economy away from oil dependency and revamping civil institutions.

3. Californians Start Cleaning Up Mud, Water, Debris as Deluge Destroys Homes

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4. Jailed Khodorkovsky Says Love for Dogs Only Crack in Putin's `Icy Armor'

Jailed former Yukos Oil Co. owner Mikhail Khodorkovsky wished Prime Minister Vladimir Putin kindness and tolerance and said he pitied a man who felt only love for dogs. "Love for dogs is the only sincere, kind feeling, breaking through the icy armor worn by the national symbol of the early 2000s," Khodorkovsky wrote in an article published by Nezavisimaya Gazeta today. "A man in such an armor cannot be happy." Khodorkovsky, already serving an eight-year term on charges of tax evasion, awaits the verdict in a second trial on related charges that may add six years to his sentence. During Putin´s presidency, Yukos, once Russia´s largest company by market value, was bankrupted under $30 billion of tax claims and sold off in pieces. Khodorkovsky has called the case against him retribution for his political opposition to Putin. Speaking in his annual call-in show with the nation on Dec. 16, Putin said that "a thief should sit in jail," referring to Khodorkovsky´s conviction in his first trial for fraud.

5. Pinera Sells Chile Soccer Club Stake for $7.4 Million, Reversing Decision

Chile´s billionaire President Sebastian Pinera sold his shareholding in the company that owns the country´s most popular soccer team for $7.4 million. Pinera sold 11 million Blanco y Negro SA shares to the brokerage unit of Corpbanca for 250.03 pesos each and 2.75 million shares to Larrain Vial at 261.5 pesos apiece in an auction on the Santiago exchange. The buyers´ clients weren´t disclosed. Blanco y Negro runs the Colo Colo soccer club. The president, a Harvard-trained economist, reversed a pre- election decision to retain the shares after opposition politicians including Senator Jorge Pizarro made allegations that he played a role in the ousting of Harold Mayne-Nicholls as soccer association president last month. Pinera denied those allegations in comments transmitted on state-owned station TVN. "It´s not the first and won´t be the last time that Pinera wants to hold on to something and then has to give in to public opinion," said Carlos Huneeus, executive director of the Santiago-based Center for the Study of Contemporary Reality, an independent polling group. "That affects his image."

-0- Dec/25/2010 00:35 GMT

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