Chatter: US 'fiscal cliff' talks down to the wire




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Need to know:

Will the United States go over the "fiscal cliff"?

There's only one more day for Republicans and Democrats to reach a compromise deal to stop steep tax rises and spending cuts. Failure to reach an agreement by January 1 could see the US slip back into recession.

Harry Reid, the Democratic Senate majority leader, and Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate's Republican minority, spent the weekend locked in negotiations aimed at striking a deal before Bush-era tax cuts expire. 

But talks ended without an agreement. And so the Senate is to meet again today for what will be a very unusual New Year's Eve get-together. 

Want to know:

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, has suffered "new complications" after a cancer operation in Cuba.

In a televised address, Venezuela's Vice-President Nicolas Maduro said Chavez continued to be in a "delicate state." Maduro did not give details about the complications, but said they came amid a respiratory infection.

In New York, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is being treated in hospital for a blood clot stemming from a concussion she suffered earlier this month.

Clinton's spokesman said doctors found the clot during a follow-up exam Sunday. She is being treated with anti-coagulants and was admitted to New York Presbyterian Hospital in order for doctors to monitor the medication over the next 48 hours.

Dull but important:

After 13 years, the United Nations has ended its peacekeeping mission in East Timor.

UN peacekeepers arrived in East Timor in 1999, when the Timorese voted for independence following 24 years of occupation by Indonesia.

The UN directly administered East Timor until it formally became a country in 2002, and afterwards remained during a period of political and ethnic violence.

The country has now had two relatively calm presidential elections, but East Timor continues to face challenges. Ranked 147th of 187 countries on the UN's human development index, improving its citizens' standard of living will be a major undertaking.

Just because:

Time to party like it's 2013 (except for US lawmakers locked in fiscal cliff talks — you people, please keep working).

Celebrations are being held around the world, from sunny Sydney, Australia to Myanmar's biggest city Yangon to the beaches of Brazil.

It's also time to reflect on the year that was. To get the party started, GlobalPost has compiled some helpful lists, including the top 2,012 words of 2012 — the buzzwords, keywords, or just plain words that were uttered time and again.

Also check out the 12 most viral stories of 2012, accompanied by our editors' picks from each month of 2012.

And there's more! See our selection of best quotes of 2012, chosen by GlobalPost's far-flung correspondents. Finally, there's our list of people of the year. You're welcome.

Strange but true:

From the "he's not dead yet!" file...

Der Spiegel, a top German newsmagazine, has accidentally published an obituary for George H.W. Bush. 

The 88-year-old former US president was hospitalized November 23 for bronchitis, and was moved to an intensive care unit after developing a fever.

Cue Der Spiegel jumping the gun with an obituary titled "The Better Bush" that described the elder Bush as "colorless" but whose image improved after his son's tenure as president.

The article appeared online for a few minutes Sunday before it was spotted and quickly removed.

Meanwhile, the former president has been moved back to a regular hospital room after his condition improved.