U.S. Diplomat Richard Holbrooke Dies, WikiLeaks Founder Assange in Court

BY Francine Uenuma  December 14, 2010 at 8:29 AM EDT


U.S. diplomat Richard Holbrooke had a career that spanned four decades. Photo by Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images.

Richard C. Holbrooke, President Obama’s envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, died Monday at the age of 69. A longtime diplomat, with a career spanning four decades, he was perhaps best known for hammering out the 1995 Dayton peace accords to end three brutal years of war in the former Yugoslavia.

Holbrooke was hospitalized after collapsing in a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Friday. He died after two surgeries to repair a torn aorta. In a statement Monday, Clinton said, “America has lost one of its fiercest champions and most dedicated public servants.” President Obama called him “one of the giants of American foreign policy.”

Tributes have also come from other world leaders. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, who phoned Holbrooke’s wife Sunday, said he was “an accomplished and experienced diplomat who quickly gained the confidence of his interlocutors.”

Holbrooke is survived by his wife, Kati Marton, two sons from a previous marriage and four grandchildren.

See more coverage from the NewsHour here.

WikiLeaks Founder in London Court

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, held in connection with accusations of sex crimes in Sweden, will appear in court in London on Tuesday, where he is expected to seek bail. Assange has claimed that the arrest is connected to his web site’s release of secret State Department cables and has urged his supporters to protect WikiLeaks from “the instruments of U.S. foreign policy”.

His legal woes come amid a surge of cyber attacks on people and companies who have challenged WikiLeaks, including Visa, MasterCard and Amazon. Assange has threatened more damaging leaks if he is imprisoned.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll showed that 68 percent of Americans surveyed believe WikiLeaks’ exposure of diplomatic documents harms the public interest and that Assange should be charged.

Major Winter Storm Moves North

After days of snow and winter weather delayed flights and snarled traffic in the Midwest, the storm is expected to move north toward Canada but leave freezing temperatures in its wake. The cold spell extended to some unusual places — Florida is expecting freezing wind, while Nashville was coated in a light snow.

The cold spell across the eastern United States is a sharp contrast to the West, which is experiencing record highs in some states. Parts of Texas are expecting temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s Tuesday.

Italy’s Prime Minister Survives Vote of Confidence

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi eked out a narrow victory in a confidence vote on Tuesday by a vote of 314 to 311 in Italy’s lower house of parliament. Berlusconi’s term in office is set to expire in 2013, but a loss in the confidence vote would have forced elections two years sooner.

Berlusconi, a longtime politician, has been the subject of a series of legal and personal scandals in recent years. Being in office makes him immune from prosecution, per a law passed during his tenure, but a court is set to review that law in January.

The focus on the prime minister also comes at a time when Italy is facing ongoing economic woes.

16 Killed, 100 Injured in Bangladesh Factory Fire

A fire in a clothing factory in Bangladesh north of its capital, Dhaka, killed at least 16 workers, but the toll is expected to rise from the scores of workers suffering severe injuries. The high-rise garment factory produced clothing for many well-known clothing chains, including Gap. Many reportedly died after jumping from the 10th floor of the building to escape the blaze.