PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani officials say at least eight people have been killed and 35 others wounded in a suicide car bomb attack in the country's northwest. Authorities say the attacker rammed his explosives-laden car into another vehicle today in the town of Parachinar in Pakistan's North West Frontier Province. Also today, Pakistan's military said four soldiers and 10 Islamic militants were killed in a clash in the North Waziristan tribal region near the Afghanistan border. A Pakistan army spokesman said at least four government soldiers were wounded after pro-Taleban militants launched a pre-dawn attack against an army checkpoint.
BUSH - CONGRESS: The U.S. Senate has voted in favor of a bill expanding the government's ability to eavesdrop without court warrants on suspected foreign terrorists. The bill, approved by the Senate late Friday by a vote of 60-28, expands the Bush administration's authority for a period of six months. Senate Democrats failed to pass a version of the bill that would have limited that authority to four months. The White House says the bill would give the intelligence agencies "the essential tools they need to protect" the nation. Democrats were angered when President Bush's national intelligence director, Michael McConnell, personally lobbied lawmakers to pass the measure.
US - BRIDGE COLLAPSE: President Bush will travel to the northern U.S. city of Minneapolis (, Minnesota) today to visit the wreckage of a major bridge that collapsed into the Mississippi River this week. In his weekly radio address, Mr. Bush says the disaster "shocked and saddened" the nation, and he promised Minneapolis residents the nation would do everything possible "to help them recover and rebuild." The president is visiting Minneapolis a day after his wife, First Lady Laura Bush, toured the site and visited rescue workers. Both chambers of the U.S. Congress approved legislation Friday releasing 250-million dollars in emergency money to rebuild the bridge.
SOUTH ASIA FLOODS: Monsoon rains in South Asia have killed more than one-thousand people, as government and relief agencies struggle to get humanitarian aid to at least 20 million others driven from their homes. In India alone, thousands of army personnel have been dispatched to Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh states to provide desperately needed food, water and medicine to millions of stranded people. Rescue efforts in rural areas are hampered by waist-high waters that have cut off access to many villages. Half of neighboring Bangladesh is under water, while in Nepal, landslides and floods triggered by melting snow from the Himalayan mountains displaced tens of thousands of people.
AFGHANISTAN - HOSTAGES: Afghan and South Korean officials, and the Taleban kidnappers of the 21 remaining South Korean hostages are still seeking a meeting place for negotiations to release the hostages. The parties have been working today to find a negotiating venue acceptable to all sides. The Taleban has been reluctant to meet in an area controlled by the Afghan government. A South Korean delegation has been in Afghanistan for several days hoping to meet with the Taleban captors of the Korean aid workers held since July 19th.
IRAQ: The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces killed four suspected terrorists and captured 51 others today in two separate operations. In a pre-dawn raid in Qasirin, the military says coalition forces killed four militants and detained 18 others. The militants are believed to have been involved in explosive attacks against the coalition. In another operation, the military says 33 suspects were detained during operations in Kirkuk and the Tigris River Valley. Also, the U.S. military said today an American Marine was killed Thursday during combat operations in western Anbar province.
UN - AU - DARFUR: Representatives of the United Nations, the African Union and Darfur rebel factions are meeting in Tanzania, with the goal of establishing a platform and timeline for peace talks. Representatives from some 12 rebel factions are expected to take part in the three day meeting that began Friday in the resort city of Arusha. Congolese envoy Pascal Gayama has said the talks in Tanzania will focus on the political settlement needed for peace in Sudan's war-torn Darfur region. Diplomats hope to establish common ground among the rebel groups before the start of negotiations with the Khartoum government.
US - MARS PROBE: A robotic probe is on its way to Mars after a spectacular pre-dawn launch today at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Flames from the powerful rocket lit up the nighttime sky as the Phoenix lander began a journey that will last nearly 10 months and cover 679 million kilometers. The U.S. space agency NASA says Phoenix will land on Mars next May. The probe will renew the search for carbon-bearing compounds on the Red Planet. If such compounds are found, it could indicate an environment conducive to life. The Phoenix is intended to land near the north pole of Mars, where the soil is icy.
GREAT GRANNY GRADUATES: A 94-year-old great-great-grandmother in Australia may be the world's oldest recipient of a master's degree. Phyllis Turner this week received a master's in medical science from the University of Adelaide. Her family says it plans to submit a request to put her in the Guinness Book of World Records. Turner left school at the age of 12 to help her mother take care of her brothers and sisters after her father left the family. At 70, she enrolled in college and studied both in Australia and the United States.
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