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14 US Soldiers Die in Helicopter Crash in Northern Iraq


IRAQ: The U.S. military says an American helicopter has crashed in northern Iraq, killing all 14 soldiers on board. The military says initial indications are that the (UH-60 Blackhawk) helicopter crashed today as a result of a mechanical malfunction. The military says there are no indications of hostile fire. An investigation into the crash is underway. In the northern city of Baiji, Iraqi police say a suicide truck bomber attacked a police station, killing at least 19 people and wounding dozens more. The victims include both police and civilians. Tuesday, 15 former aides of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein went on trial in Baghdad.

US - IRAQ: President Bush will urge the American people to be patient in a speech today defending the war in Iraq. According to portions of the speech released by the White House, Mr. Bush will compare the conflict in Iraq to previous U.S. military efforts in Asia. Mr. Bush will liken Islamic extremists to Japanese militarists during World War Two, and communists in Korea and Vietnam during the Cold War. The White House says today's speech will describe how "America's patience and perseverance" in Asia led to a democratic and prosperous region.

IRAN - NUCLEAR: A senior U.S. official has criticized the deal Iran reached with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a timetable for Tehran to answer questions about its controversial nuclear program. Gregory Schulte -- the head of the U.S. delegation to the IAEA -- said today (Wednesday -- in Vienna) the pact has "real limitations," and does not allow for wider inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities. Schulte said Iran is "clearly trying to take attention" from its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. He added this will not prevent the United Nations Security Council from taking additional punitive measures against Iran.

BURMA - ARRESTS: Burma's military government has arrested 13 activists, including one of Burma's most prominent pro-democracy leaders, after a protest in Rangoon Sunday over fuel price increases. The state-run newspaper New Light of Myanmar reported today that members of the 88 Generation Students group were detained Tuesday night for attempting to "undermine the stability and security of the nation." Members of the 88 Generation Students were at the forefront of a 1988 pro-democracy uprising that was brutally suppressed by the military. Among those detained is Min Ko Naing, who spent 16 years in prison, despite international calls for his release.

INDIA - JAPAN: Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has called on India to form a strategic and economic alliance with Japan, the United States and Australia. Speaking to a joint session of India's parliament, Mr. Abe said the alliance would share values such as freedom, democracy and a respect for basic human rights. He said the four nations working together could protect shipping lanes, vital to the world economy. Lawmakers greeted the alliance idea largely with silence. Analysts say Mr. Abe is trying to strengthen relations with India to counter Beijing's growing influence in the region.

NOKOR - FLOODS: North Korea's state-run media say the country's most powerful organization has taken charge of relief efforts, after some of the worst flooding in years. Radio Pyongyang reported today that the National Defense Commission, chaired by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, is supervising relief operations. On Tuesday, the World Food Program issued a statement saying the government in Pyongyang will allow it to distribute food to 215-thousand people over the next three months. The country has reported 300 people are dead or missing after torrential rains earlier this month.

ASIA - AIDS CONFERENCE: A top U.N. AIDS official says the pandemic is on the rise in some Asian and Pacific nations and is urging governments to devote more resources to fighting the deadly disease. U.N. AIDS Asia Pacific Regional Director Prasada Rao said Tuesday that, compared to HIV infection rates in Africa, the prevalence of AIDS is low in Asia. However, he said infection rates are up in many Asian and Pacific nations such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. He made his comments while attending a five-day conference on AIDS/HIV in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

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