BUSH -CONGRESS - TERROR: The U.S. Senate is headed for a confrontation with President Bush over how best to try and treat terror suspects. In a 15 to nine vote, the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday approved a bill that would give prisoners more legal rights than the president wants. The Senate committee wants to try terror suspects with a more traditional, military-style approach. A full Senate vote on the bill may come as early as next week.
PHILIPPINES POL: A leading human rights group is calling on Philippine President Gloria Arroyo to ensure the credibility of an independent commission investigating the growing number of politically linked killings in the country. In a meeting with Ms. Arroyo Wednesday in London, Amnesty International Secretary-General, Irene Khan urged the Philippine leader to make sure the Melo Commission's inquiry into the killings is transparent. President Arroyo created the fact-finding commission last month under mounting pressure from human rights groups to investigate the cases.
BURMA - CHILD SOLDIERS: Human rights groups say the military government of Burma continues to recruit large numbers of children into its army, despite government policies intended to prevent the recruitments. Human Rights Watch and the Human Rights Education Institute of Burma said in a report Thursday that boys as young as eleven years old have frequently been recruited using coercive and deceptive tactics. The Associated Press quotes a senior Burmese information ministry official as denying the report.
US - BURMA: First Lady Laura Bush has announced she will host a roundtable discussion on Burma at the United Nations on Tuesday. She hopes to raise awareness about what the White House calls "the humanitarian crisis" in Burma and to gain support for a U.S.-sponsored U.N. resolution on Burma's political and human rights violations. The roundtable is expected to include repeated calls for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, the democracy leader in Burma who has been under house arrest or imprisoned by Burma's military junta for much of the past 20 years. Mrs. Bush has called Aung San Suu Kyi "a role model for women around the world."
JAPAN - NOKOR: Japan is moving forward with plans to impose financial sanctions on North Korea over its weapons program. Media reports in Japan say sanctions may be imposed as soon as next week. Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe told reporters today (Friday) the government is considering the action, but did not provide details. The Kyodo news agency today (Friday) quotes unnamed sources who say Japan could release specifics of financial sanctions on North Korea by Tuesday.
UN / LEADER POLL: A preliminary poll of U.N. Security Council members has
reaffirmed South Korea's foreign minister as the leading candidate to become the world body's next secretary-general. This second straw poll on secretary-general candidates featured the names of five Asian men, one more than was on the ballot for the first vote in July. The voting was done in secret, but within minutes, the result was made public.
China's U.N. Ambassador Wang Guangya confirmed the outcome. South Korean Foreign Minister Ban Ki Moon received 14 votes of encouragement, reaffirming his position as front-runner for the secretary-general's post.
IRAQ: Iraqi officials say security forces found dozens more bodies in Baghdad today (Friday), bringing the number of execution-style sectarian killings to more than 100 over the past three days. The officials say many of the victims had been blindfolded and their arms and legs bound. Most had been shot in the head. Officials say the bodies also had signs of torture.
TAIWAN PROTESTS: Tens of thousands of protesters are expected to fill the streets of Taiwan's capital tonight (Friday) to try to pressure President Chen Shui-bian to resign. Reports from Taipei say several thousand protesters have already made their way to the streets, joining another day of a round-the-clock sit-in that began last week.
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