LEBANON: Fierce fighting has resumed between the Lebanese army and Islamic militants at a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. News reports say scores of army tanks were massed near the entrances to the Nahr el-Bared camp. Television footage showed plumes of smoke rising from the area after heavy artillery shelling. It was not immediately clear if the army was preparing to storm the camp, where Fatah al-Islam militants have been holed up for nearly two weeks. The militants have refused government demands to surrender.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have killed six
suspects and detained 18 others in separate operations targeting al-Qaida terrorists in Iraq. Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday that the United States is looking to a long-term military presence in Iraq similar to its arrangement with South Korea. Gates says the presence would be based on a mutual agreement with Iraq, which would protect the sovereignty of Iraq's government and limit what U.S. forces can do while in the country.
BUSH - CLIMATE CHANGE: President Bush is asking 15 nations that produce the most greenhouse gases to cut their emissions, believed to be a major cause of global warming. Mr. Bush says the United States takes the issue seriously. In a speech Thursday, he called on 15 of the world's major polluters to set a goal by the end of 2008 to cut emissions. The president says he wants rapidly expanding economies, including India and China, to be among the nations that set new limits. He also called on other nations to eliminate tariffs on the import of clean energy technologies.
WHALING MEETING: Japan is threatening to withdraw from the
International Whaling Commission after it failed to pass a resolution to allow four of Japan's small coastal villages to hunt minke whales. Tokyo issued the threat Thursday at the end of the commission's annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska. Japan said its resolution was similar to one passed by the IWC which extended a five-year quota on bowhead whaling for indigenous people in Alaska and northeast Russia. But the resolution faced strong opposition from anti-whaling nations such as New Zealand.
KOREAS - TALKS: North and South Korea have failed to reach any substantial agreements on the last day of their talks in Seoul. Three days of ministerial level talks ended today, with the two Koreas issuing a joint statement saying they would continue to seek ways to promote cooperation and peace on the Korean peninsula. However, the delegates failed to set a date for future talks. They also did not resolve a dispute over South Korean aid. North Korea is nearly two months overdue to shut down its main nuclear facility, as it promised to do earlier this year.
CAMBODIA - LOGGING: An international human
rights organization says Cambodia's political leaders are stripping the country of its once-great forests, providing little or no benefit to its people. A report published (Thursday) by Britain-based Global Witness says senior government officials, including relatives of Prime Minister Hun Sen, are illegally destroying Cambodia's forests. The report details the activities of what it calls Cambodia's most powerful illegal logging syndicate, and says the syndicate is controlled by individuals associated with Cambodia's prime minister.
BIRD FLU: Indonesian health authorities say a teenage girl has died of bird flu. If confirmed by the World Health Organization, her death would bring to 79 the number of people in Indonesia who have died from the H5N1 strain of the virus. In Vietnam, health authorities say bird flu has spread to another province in the central part of the country. Thirteen provinces have been been affected by new outbreaks in the last month. Authorities say the H5N1 strain killed around 300 unvaccinated ducks on a farm in Quang Nam province.
AUSTRALIA SEX TRAFFICKING: Thai Woman Wins Landmark
Compensation in Australian Sex-Trafficking Case. An Australian tribunal has awarded compensation to a Thai woman who was forced to work as a prostitute in Sydney when she was 13. Jetsadophorn Chaladone was brought to Australia with her father's permission in 1995 and had hoped to be employed as a nanny. Instead she was put to work in a brothel by a gang of traffickers and was told she had to pay off a 28-thousand dollar debt. Australian immigration officials raided the brothel just over a week later.
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