BUSH EUROPE: The leaders of the world's eight major industrialized nations have pledged to spend 60 billion dollars to fight AIDS, malaria and other diseases that plague the African continent. The plan was announced today during the Group of Eight leaders' final working session of their summit at a German Baltic Sea resort. The session was attended by some African leaders, including South African President Thabo Mbeki.
IRAQ: Iraqi security officials say gunmen have kidnapped three children of a police chief in Diyala province and killed 14 people in an attack on his home. Officials say the police officer's wife, two brothers and 11 bodyguards were killed in the predawn attack near the city of Baquba. In southern Iraq, at least 16 people were killed and more than 30 wounded in two bomb blasts in the town of Qurna. Police say the blasts occurred in quick succession -- a bus exploded at a bus terminal while a car blew up in a market in the town, about 60-kilometers north of Basra -- Iraq's second largest city.
LEBANON: The Lebanese army has opened artillery and tank fire on Fatah al-Islam militants holed up inside a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli. The latest assault on the Nahr al-Bared camp began early today. Militants responded with heavy machine-gun fire and anti-tank rockets. Clouds of smoke billowed over the camp. More than 100 people, including soldiers, militants and civilians have been killed since the fighting erupted almost three weeks ago.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's Supreme Court has ordered the government to immediately halt the eviction of minority ethnic Tamils from the capital, Colombo. The court issued the order today following a complaint by a political activist group that says the forced eviction is a violation of fundamental human rights. The court is expected hear the case later this month. On Thursday, police raided Tamil areas of Colombo and forced hundreds of people to board buses bound for the north and east of the country.
KOREAS TALKS: Senior military officials from North and South Korea have begun talks on easing tensions on the peninsula, one day after the North fired missiles off its coast. The Yonhap news agency quoted officials as saying today's one-day meeting in the truce village of Panmunjom is intended to follow up on agreements made during talks at their general-level meeting last month. Officials would not comment on whether the South Korean delegation would mention North Korea's missile launches on Thursday.
CHINA - ENVIRONMENT: Chinese President Hu Jintao is calling for developing countries to play a role in dealing with climate change. China's official Xinhua news agency says Mr. Hu made the comments Thursday in Germany, where he is attending the annual G8 summit. The report says Mr. Hu told leaders in a meeting of five developing countries (- China, Brazil, India, Mexico and South Africa -) that developed countries should take the lead in reducing carbon emissions, and help developing countries adapt to climate change.
CHINA - ALGAE: Chinese state media say blue-green algae has appeared in another eastern Chinese lake, one week after a similar situation in a neighboring province. China's Xinhua news agency says environmental officials in Anhui province are closely monitoring the potentially poisonous algae bloom in Lake Chao, China's fifth-largest freshwater lake. Last week, an algae bloom formed in Taihu Lake in Jiangsu province, contaminating the main supply of drinking water for millions of people.
JAPAN - SUICIDE: Japan's Cabinet has approved new measures aimed at reducing the country's suicide rate, setting a target of decreasing suicides by more than 20 percent over the next decade. The prevention plan approved today includes efforts to decrease unemployment and bankruptcy, as well as improving mental health services. The goal is to reduce suicides in Japan to around 25-thousand a year. On Thursday, the National Police Agency said more than 32-thousand people committed suicide in Japan last year, with an increasing number of them students.
VENEZUELA PROTEST: Venezuelan students have walked out of a debate in the country's National Assembly in protest of President Hugo Chavez's closure of a private television station (RCTV) often critical of the president. On Thursday, congress organized a debate between anti-government students and student supporters of Mr. Chavez. After the event got under way, a student leader of the protests complained that the debate was politicized. The protesting students abruptly left the Assembly.
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