IRAQ: A U.S. newspaper says top U.S. military commanders have told President Bush that his new Iraq strategy is likely to fail without more civilian help in rebuilding the country. Citing unnamed government sources, "The New York Times" says senior military officers, including members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have warned that a military buildup alone can not solve Iraq's problems. President Bush's new strategy calls for the deployment of more than 21-thousand additional troops to Iraq to bolster security, along with U.S. civilian teams to step up reconstruction and political development efforts.
INDONESIA FLOODS: Many residents of Indonesia's capital are returning home today (Wednesday), as floodwaters that have inundated the area for several days have begun to recede. But much of Jakarta remains under filthy water after nearly a week of flooding. Homes are caked in mud and many streets are still impassable. The number of displaced people has fallen from 340-thousand to 260-thousand --- most of whom are residing in cramped shelters in the capital and surrounding areas.
CHINA RELIGION: A recent poll by a Shanghai university finds that the number of religious believers in China is three times larger than official figures show. The state-controlled China Daily newspaper says the poll of four-thousand-500 people by professors at East China Normal University reveals that 31-point-four- percent of Chinese aged 16 and older consider themselves religious. The figures equal to 300 million Chinese, three times more than government projections. The poll says that about 200 million people are Buddhists, Taoists or worshippers of figures such as the Dragon King and God of Fortune.
NOKOR TALKS: Senior international diplomats are arriving in Beijing for another attempt to negotiate an end to North Korea's nuclear weapons capabilities. Upon arriving in the Chinese capital today (Wednesday), U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he expects this week's session to be a good first step toward success in the talks. He said real success, however, will be measured by the implementation of a September 2005 agreement, in which North Korea agreed to roll back its nuclear program in exchange for diplomatic and economic incentives.
PALESTINIAN POL:Leaders of rival Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas are holding talks in Saudi Arabia in efforts to end a deadly power struggle and form a unity government. The meeting is taking place in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Before joining the talks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah said his group will not leave without an agreement.
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