ISRAEL - LEBANON: Lebanese officials say Israeli warplanes have destroyed transmission towers for television stations and mobile phones in two parts of northern Lebanon. There were no immediate reports of casualties from the strikes in Fatqa and Terbol. Today's (Friday's) attacks were latest against Lebanese communications infrastructure since Israel began its offensive against Hezbollah militants in Lebanon 11 days ago. Meanwhile, Israeli troops and tanks are massed along the Lebanese border as ground forces carry out attacks against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. Israeli officials called the operations limited and say they are against targets that cannot be hit by airstrikes.
LEBANON DIPLOMACY: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says
an immediate ceasefire in the Israel-Lebanon crisis would be little more than a "false promise" without addressing the root cause of the problem. Rice announced Friday that she is heading to the Middle East Sunday for talks on the crisis. She will visit Israel and the Palestinian territories, then travel to Italy to meet with a contact group to discuss helping Lebanon address its political, economic and security challenges. The secretary said the United States urgently seeks an end to the violence, but she said a ceasefire would simply mark a return to a "status quo" of continued terrorism in the Middle East. Rice said the real goal is to create the conditions for stability and lasting peace.
LEBANON EVACUATION: Governments across the world are intensifying efforts to evacuate their citizens trapped by Israel's bombardment of Lebanon. On Friday, dozens of naval and chartered vessels left ports in Lebanon, bringing foreign nationals to safety in Cyprus and Turkey. The mass exodus from Lebanon to Cyprus, however, is overwhelming the small island nation, which has asked the European Union to help transfer them home. The United States, France, Britain, Canada, Germany, Australia and India are among the countries organizing evacuations.
CHINA - BIRD FLU: China's official Xinhua news
agency says a new bird flu outbreak has killed more than three thousand chickens in the northwest. The Ministry of Agriculture told Xinhua that the July 14th outbreak in Xinjiang region's Aksu city is under control. No human infections have been reported. Today's (Saturday's) report says the deadly H5N1 virus killed three thousand-45 chickens, and nearly 357-thousand more were destroyed in an emergency response.
CHINA - EARTHQUAKE: China says at least 18 people have been killed after moderate earthquake hit a mountainous area in southwest China's Yunnan province. The official Xinhua news agency says the five-point-one-magnitude earthquake shook Yunnan's Yanjin county this (Saturday) morning. The epicenter of the quake was about 90 kilometers from Zhaotong city.
CAMBODIA - TA MOK: Hundreds of people have gathered in northern Cambodia to pay their final respects to Ta Mok, a brutal killer who led the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in its final days. Mourners carried incense sticks as they filed past Ta Mok's body today (Saturday) in Anlong Veng. The 80-year-old former military commander died Friday in a Phnom Penh hospital after suffering from respiratory and heart problems for weeks. His body was transported to the Khmer Rouge stronghold where he sought refuge until being captured in 1999. Discussions are ongoing about where he will be buried.
THAILAND POLITICS: Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra is calling for national unity ahead of general elections set for October. In his weekly radio address today (Saturday), Mr. Thaksin urged voters to use the democratic process to express their differences of opinion. He advised people to accept election results as the public's final decision. Thailand's king has approved a government proposal to hold an october 15th re-run of last April's problematic election.
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