IRAQ: Authorities in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf have imposed a daytime ban on vehicle traffic, following fierce fighting this week between an Islamic cult and U.S. and Iraqi forces. Officials said today (Friday) they have extended the overnight curfew and imposed additional restrictions in the Shi'ite holy city, about 160-kilometers south of Baghdad. The officials did not say if there was any threat of an imminent attack on Najaf, but described the restrictions as preventive security measures.
AFRICA - CHINA: Chinese President Hu Jintao is in Sudan, the third leg of his eight-nation African tour. Mr. Hu was greeted by hundreds of cheering of supporters when he arrived in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum today (Friday). In a statement to reporters shortly after he landed, the Chinese leader said he expected his visit to strengthen the friendship and expand cooperation between the two nations. China has invested heavily in Sudan's oil industry in order to fuel its energy-hungry economy, and is also building many key infrastructure projects like dams and roads.
THAILAND - AIRPORT: The president of Thailand's airport authority has resigned amid growing turmoil over Bangkok's new airport. Chotisak Asapavirya resigned late Thursday, saying he had to quit because of health problems created by stress from managing the city's multi-billion-dollar Suvarnabhumi [pron: soo-WAH-NAH-poom] airport. The airport opened in September, with Thai officials hoping it would transform the Thai capital into Southeast Asia's leading air hub. But the facility has been mired in problems, including cracks on runways and taxiways, corruption accusations and an inadequate number of toilets. Authorities have closed 11 gates at the airport.
CAMBODIA - PEACE CORPS: Thirty Peace Corps volunteers arrive in Cambodia today (Friday) for the U.S. group's first program in the country. The volunteers will teach English and help Cambodian English teachers improve their language instruction skills. The visitors will also organize community improvement programs in rural areas where they are assigned. An official at Cambodia's Embassy in Washington says the volunteers will help the country meet its goals in reducing poverty and improving rural development. Cambodia is the 139th country to partner with the Peace Corps.
GIANT BABY: A Mexican woman has given birth to a six-point-six-kilogram (14-and-a-half pounds) boy in the resort town of Cancun, Mexico. The baby, Antonio, dubbed "Super Tonio," was delivered Monday by Caesarean section. Hospital officials say the baby is healthy. The average weight of a newborn is around three-point-two kilograms (7 pounds). Super Tonio is not the heaviest healthy baby ever born. The Guinness World Records reports an Italian baby born in 1955 as holding the record. He tipped the scales at 10-point-two kilograms (22 pounds).
UN - GLOBAL WARMING: A new U.N. report by some of the world's top scientists says people "most likely" are to blame for global warming, and the world can expect effects of the climate phenomena to continue for centuries to come. The scientists say they are more than 90 percent certain that man-made pollutants are causing the Earth to experience higher temperatures, rising sea levels, and erratic weather. The report's leading scientist (Rajendra Pachauri) says greenhouse gas levels in our planet's atmosphere have not been this high in 650-thousand years.
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