IRAQ: Iraqi security officials say two car bomb blasts in a mainly Shi'ite district of Baghdad have killed at least seven people and wounded more than 25. Police say the two parked vehicles exploded in quick succession today (Wednesday) in the Kadhimiyah district, home to a Shi'ite shrine. In southern Iraq, gunmen riding in a vehicle shot dead an aide to the country's most revered Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Police say the aide (Raheem al-Hasnawi) was gunned down outside his home in the town of al-Mishkhab late Tuesday.
CHINA-HEALTH: Chinese officials say the government will take more stringent steps against tainted medicines and foods following international alarm over the quality of the country's products. Officials say the steps will include increased testing and better inspections at food sources and ports. In the past few months, several Chinese exports have been banned or turned away by U.S. inspectors, including animal feed containing an illegal and sometimes lethal additive.
JAPAN-AUSTRALIA: The Japanese and Australian foreign and defense ministers hold their first joint meeting today (Wednesday) in Tokyo to discuss how to deal with threats from North Korea and terrorism. The talks involve Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Aso and Defense Minister Fumio Kyuma, and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer and Defense Minister Brendan Nelson. Japan and Australia have said their alliance is not aimed at containing China's growing military strength.
AFGHANISTAN-JOURNALIST: Afghan officials say gunmen have killed a female Afghan journalist in the north of the country in the second such incident in a week. Officials say Zakia Zaki, owner of Peace Radio, was killed in her home in (the town of Jabalussaraj in) Parwan province late Tuesday. The private radio station broadcasts to Parwan, Kapisa and Kabul provinces. Last Friday, gunmen killed television anchor Shakiba Sanga Amaj, inside her Kabul home. The 22-year old woman worked for the private Shamshad TV Pashtu channel. Her father told a local news agency (Pajwok) that he believes relatives paid gunmen to kill his daughter over a family feud.
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