IRAQ VIOLENCE: Iraqi authorities say two car bombs have exploded in a commercial area in eastern Baghdad, killing at least 13 people and wounding more than 40 others. Police say today's (Saturday's) apparently coordinated attack occurred in a predominantly Shi'ite area of the capital. Authorities say the bombs were detonated one after the other on a busy street lined with shops and businesses. Also in eastern Baghdad, authorities say gunmen dressed in Iraqi commando uniforms abducted eight people from an electronics store in a Shi'ite neighborhood.
PALESTINIANS FIGHTING: Violence continued today (Saturday) in the Gaza Strip between the two main Palestinian factions, a day after fighting led to the suspension of talks aimed at forming a unity government. Two people were killed today during clashes between supporters of the ruling Islamic militant group Hamas, and the Fatah movement of president Mahmoud Abbas. Witnesses say one of those killed was a police officer, and the other was a bystander caught in the crossfire. At least 15 people were killed Friday.
CANADA-US-SYRIA: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper says his government will pay nearly nine million dollars to a Syrian-born citizen detained and deported by the United States after he was wrongly identified as a suspected terrorist. Mr. Harper apologized to Mahar Arar Friday and announced the compensation package. Arar was detained by the U.S. in 2002 based on information it received from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Arar was sent to Syria, where he says he was tortured during the year he spent in prison.
WORLD ECON FORUM: Trade ministers from about 30 nations will try to revive global trade talks today (Saturday) at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The ministers will attempt to break an impasse that has threatened negotiations within the World Trade Organization on a global trade deal, started in 2002 in Doha, Qatar. The deal would reduce tariffs and subsidies on a variety of goods.
THAILAND-HMONG REFUGEE: The United Nations refugee agency has criticized Thailand for deporting ethnic Hmong refugees to Laos. An official with the U.N. agency (Erika Feller) says Thailand did not first screen the refugees to see if they were entitled to international protection. She said (Friday) that Thailand should have followed international standards before choosing to deport 16 Lao Hmong. There are currently 153 Hmong refugees still being held in a northern town in Thailand (Nong Khai). The U.N. is working with other countries for resettlement arrangements.
THAILAND-AIRPORT: Airport officials in Thailand say about 100 cracks on runways and taxiways are causing congestion and flight delays at Bangkok's new airport. Officials say some of the taxiways and runways have been closed because of the cracks. On Thursday, flights at the Suvarnabhumi airport were delayed by seven to eight hours because airplanes could not take off or land. Some planes had to wait in the air for so long that they had to be redirected to an airport about 200 kilometers away to refuel. Airport officials say it will take several weeks to fix the cracks, and that delays will continue.
CHINA-US-AIDS: The United States, China and the United Nations (International Labor Organization) have launched a campaign to educate Chinese workers about HIV/AIDS. The U.S.-funded three-point-five million dollar campaign will mostly target migrant workers in China who are engaged in high risk activities such as commercial sex and intravenous drug use. There are an estimated 200 million migrant workers in China, mostly male, who often spend extended periods of time away from their wives.
BURMA- HEALTH: Health experts are warning that infectious diseases in Burma are growing beyond the government's ability to control them. Experts concluding an international conference in Bangkok Friday said that Burma is seeing rising rates of infectious diseases, including tuberculosis, AIDS and drug-resistant malaria. They say Burma needs increased funding and resources to cope with the diseases as well to face any new health threats, such as an outbreak of avian flu.
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