BRITAIN - BOMBS: British police have increased their patrols in downtown London where two cars loaded with potentially explosive materials were found Friday. Investigators also reviewed video from security cameras to see if they can find who drove and then abandoned the two Mercedes sedans. The cars were filled with nails and canisters of gasoline and propane. Government officials have been holding emergency meetings to figure out how to deal with the situation. The head of London's anti-terrorism police, Peter Clarke, said the first car bomb was found outside a crowded night club, where a blast could have resulted in many fatalities and injuries.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says its troops killed 26 insurgents
and detained 17 others in two pre-dawn raids in the Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City in Baghdad. A U.S. military statement today says the militants were believed to have ties to "Iranian terror networks responsible for funneling lethal aid into Iraq." It says U.S. soldiers faced "significant" resistance during the raids, including roadside bomb attacks as well as fire from rocket-propelled grenades and light weapons. Separately, U.S. military officials said reports earlier this week of 20 men found beheaded in a village near Salman Pak were completely false.
PALESTINIANS: The armed wing of Hamas has rejected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's call for the deployment of international troops in the Gaza strip. The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said today it would regard such a force as an army of occupation and would forcibly resist it. President Abbas dismissed a Hamas-led unity government and formed his own administration in the occupied West Bank after Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip two weeks ago. During talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris Friday, Mr. Abbas called for deployment of an international force to Gaza.
EAST TIMOR ELECTIONS: Voters in East Timor are casting ballots
in the young, impoverished country's first parliamentary elections. Today's race is largely a showdown between the newly-formed National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor, led by former President Xanana Gusmao, and the ruling Fretilin party. Twelve other parties are running in the election. Officials for both Fretilin and the CNRT are predicting they will win more than half the vote, and control East Timor's 65-seat parliament. Analysts believe neither party will win a majority and that a coalition government is likely.
BURMA - JAPAN: Japan says it will provide Burma with a grant of about three-point-eight million dollars for use in two aid projects. A statement from the Japanese embassy said some of the money will fund a scholarship program to allow Burmese youth to study at Japanese universities. The aid will also go toward a forestation project aimed at combating the effects of drought in the dry zone of Burma. The Japanese statement said that project will improve the living environment for local residents.
CHINA - US - FOOD: China has called a U.S. block on seafood
"indiscriminate and unacceptable" and is urging Washington to settle the matter as soon as possible. China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Li Changjiang, the head of the country's top quality agency, as saying that China cannot accept the U.S. ban on several kinds of seafood imported from the mainland. On Thursday, officials with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said they will block five species of fish from China because of concerns the seafood is contaminated with potentially dangerous antibiotics. Officials said there is no immediate health threat to the public because of the low level of contaminants.
KOREAS AID: South Korea is resuming its rice aid to North Korea today after nearly a one-year suspension, now that Pyongyang is moving to dismantle its nuclear program. A ship with three-thousand tons of rice is to arrive in the North today (at the eastern port of Nampo) - the first batch of 400-thousand tons promised by South Korea. Seoul suspended its regular rice aid after North Korea conducted missile tests last July. A nuclear test followed in October. South Korea resumed shipments of fertilizer and other emergency aid to the North in late March, but decided to withhold rice aid until Pyongyang began to carry out its February pledge to shut down its main nuclear reactor.
SOKOR - US -TRADE: The United States and South Korea are
expected to sign a free trade agreement today, in what could be Washington's biggest trade deal since the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement. Seoul and Washington agreed Friday on final changes to their trade agreement. The pact includes new U.S. labor and environmental standards. The free trade deal still needs approval by U.S. and South Korean lawmakers. It faces considerable opposition in U.S. Congress, mainly by majority Democratic Party lawmakers. They argue that the deal could make America less competitive.
IVORY COAST ATTACK: The United Nations has condemned a rocket attack against a plane carrying Ivory Coast's Prime Minister Guillaume Soro on Friday The prime minister was not harmed but three other people on the plane were killed when it was hit by a rocket at Bouake's airport in central Ivory Coast. In a statement late Friday, U.N. Security Council President Johan Verbeke of Belgium strongly condemned the attack and any attempt to disrupt the Ivory Coast peace process. The U.N. Mission to Ivory Coast and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also denounced the violence.
APPLE PHONE: Customers across the United States waited in line
for hours, or even days, to be the first buyers of computer maker Apple's coveted new iPhone. The sleek phone, which went on sale Friday, is also a music and video player and it allows owners to store photos and access the Internet. It costs 500 dollars for the basic version or 600 dollars for one with twice the memory. The cost for phone service is at least 59 dollars more each month.
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