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Senior Aide to Saddam Hussein Sentenced to 15 Years

Tariq Aziz, the senior aide to Saddam Hussein who gained international renown as the public face of Iraq during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Wednesday for crimes against humanity.

Two of Saddam’s half brothers, Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan and Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, were sentenced to death in the same case, the 1992 executions of 42 Baghdad merchants accused of speculating on the price of food while the country was under severe international sanctions after its invasion of neighboring Kuwait.

It is the second verdict to be issued in a case involving Aziz, 73. Earlier this month he was acquitted on charges of ordering a brutal crackdown against Shiite protesters after the assassination of a revered cleric. He still faces charges in a third trial involving a massacre of Kurds in 1983.

In the Gulf War, he rejected a last-minute overture from President George H.W. Bush for talks, citing what he called the American leader’s humiliating tone.

Value of Suing Over 9/11 Deaths Is Still Unsettled

More than seven years after the 9/11 terror attacks, a new court report suggests that the small minority who went their own way and sued made out better financially than those who received awards from the special fund to compensate survivors and victims’ families.

With respect to the lawsuits, 93 of the 96 claims have been settled, for an average of $5 million, or more than twice the average payment from the special fund.

But calculating cost and benefit is never easy when lives are involved. If anything, the report, released last week by U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein of the Southern District of New York, who has overseen the lawsuits, refocuses attention on the variety of goals money, answers, justice, peace of mind that survivors and the relatives of those who died had to weigh in the wake of an overwhelming loss. Many families chose the fund because it offered a relatively quick resolution — the process was completed within 33 months. A vast majority sought compensation from the fund, which paid out more than $7 billion to survivors of 2,880 people who were killed and to thousands of others who were injured.

Europe Slow on Economy, Some Say

As the evidence of economic pain mounts in Europe, a growing number of analysts say the Continent’s leaders are reacting too slowly.

On Wednesday, President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner seemed to add their voices to the chorus of private economists, turning up the heat on their European counterparts before this weekend’s meeting of finance officials from the 20 most industrialized nations.

“I think it’s very important for the American people to understand that as aggressive as the actions we are taking have been so far, it’s very important to make sure that other countries are moving in the same direction, because the global economy is all tied together,” Obama said.

Geithner added, “Everything we do in the United States will be more effective if we have the world moving with us.” So far, those pleas have fallen on deaf ears. European leaders have been unwilling to ante up American-size stimulus packages and the institutions of Europe have proven ill-suited to implement the kind of fiscal policies that the Bank of England has put into place.