Philippines Politics: Philippine lawmakers have overwhelmingly defeated the latest impeachment bid against President Gloria Arroyo after a marathon debate session in the House of Representatives.
The lower house of Congress voted 173 to 32 this morning (Thursday morning) to squash the motion, which accused Mrs. Arroyo of corruption, human rights abuses and voting fraud.
Lawmakers spent 17 hours debating the impeachment complaint overnight Wednesday.
Mrs. Arroyo has suffered dwindling popularity since taking office in 2001. She survived another impeachment attempt last year, following allegations of vote rigging in the 2004 presidential election. She denied wrongdoing but admitted that phoning an election official during the poll was a "lapse of judgment."
Thailand Bomb: Thai police have arrested
an army lieutenant who they say was preparing a car bomb near Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's home.
The man was detained today (Thursday) after he parked a car containing dynamite and other explosive materials near Mr. Thaksin's Bangkok residence. Police said they had been tipped off by a security guard who noticed the suspect repeatedly driving by the prime minister's compound.
Bomb-squad members deactivated the explosives safely, and police identified the lieutenant in custody as a member of Thailand's Internal Security Operations Command, an intelligence group.
Mr. Thaksin has dismissed a general who was deputy chief of the internal security unit.
US – ASEAN – Burma: The U.S. Trade Representative says a new trade arrangement with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will not affect U.S. trade sanctions on Burma.
Susan Schwab told reporters in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur that a new Trade and Investment Agreement with ASEAN will only apply to countries with which the United States already trades. The agreement is to be signed on Friday.
Earlier this month, President Bush renewed U.S. trade sanctions on Burma to pressure it to implement democratic reforms and release political prisoners such as pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
China Drought: State-run media in China say the worst drought to hit the southwest in 50 years has caused a loss of nearly five million tons of grain.
The China Daily reports today (Thursday) the drought has affected about two million hectares of agricultural land in Sichuan province.
The government is urging farmers to plant crops like sweet potatoes, beans and yams, which can be harvested later in the season to make up for the shortfall.
Authorities say the dry spell has threatened the supply of drinking water to nearly 10 million people and caused a billion dollars in economic losses.
China Poverty: A Chinese government official says up to 100 million poor people are not receiving state assistance because the official poverty line is set too low.
Currently, Beijing says people are in living in poverty if they earn less than 85 dollars (680 yuan) a year, or about 23 cents a day. That figure places 23 million people in China below the poverty line.
The official China Daily newspaper quotes a poverty alleviation official (Wu Zhong) as saying the poverty line should be raised to the internationally-accepted level of one dollar a day.
Israel – Lebanon: Finland - the current president of the European Union -- says it wants the first reinforcements for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon to be in the region within the next week.
(Speaking in Berlin after talks with top German officials) Finland's foreign minister (Erkki Tuomioja) said that time is "crucial" and he hopes to see the first contingent to be in place in Lebanon within a week, with more arriving shortly afterwards.
The Finnish minister also said he hoped to have specific troop commitments from E.U. member states by Friday, when E.U. foreign ministers meet with U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan in Brussels.
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