A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, December 20, 2008.

The United States government has announced that it will give US$17.4 billion in loans to help three of the nation’s automobile makers – Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford – avoid bankruptcy.

The money will be taken from the $700 billion bailout package originally intended to rescue US banks. General Motors will get $9.4 billion and Chrysler $4 billion before next year. Ford stated that it wants to get by without government aid.

President George Bush said that it would not be “a responsible course of action” to allow the companies to collapse.


Telephone and Internet communications between Asia and Europe have been disrupted after some submarine cables were severed.

The cables FLAG FEA, SMW4 and SMW3 near Alexandria, Egypt, were damaged, and the GO cable 130 kilometres off the coast of Sicily has also been reported as broken. France Telecom will repair the damage, and the company announced that it was dispatching a ship to repair the line between Egypt and Italy.

Experts warn that it could be several days before the problems are fixed.


Yann Elies, a French yachtsman participating in the Vendee Globe round-the-world solo yacht race, was rescued on Saturday by the Australian navy after the former was paralysed by a wave that struck his boat in the Southern Ocean.

Elies broke his left thighbone and perhaps several ribs after the wave slammed into his boat 200 kilometres southwest of Perth.

The Australian frigate dispatched the HMAS Arunta to rescue Elies. The ship left Fremantle early on Friday morning and reached Elies by evening.