PAKISTAN - VILENCE: Pakistani authorities say suicide bombers are to blame for two separate blasts that killed 24 people and wounded 66 in the city of Rawalpindi today. In the first attack, officials say a bomb ripped through a bus carrying government defense workers, killing at least 15 of them. Police say a second bomb exploded minutes later in a nearby commercial district, killing several more people. Rawalpindi is a garrison town outside the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and is the headquarters for Pakistan's army. There has been no immediate claim of responsibility for either bombing.
IRAQ - TRIAL: An Iraqi appeals court has upheld the death sentence of Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, widely known as "chemical Ali." Majid was convicted of genocide for his role in the killing of up to 180-thousand Iraqi Kurds in the 1980's. The court also upheld the death sentences of two of Saddam's former senior officials who also were convicted in the case of the massacre Kurdish villagers in northern Iraq, known as the "Anfal" campaign. In its ruling today, the court said the death sentences would be carried out within 30 days. All three men were convicted in June.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The Israeli Supreme Court has ordered the government to re-route a section of the West Bank separation barrier Israel is building. The court today ruled that planners must change the route of the barrier near the Palestinian village of Bilin so it causes less harm to the area's residents. Palestinian villagers and their supporters have argued that the current route of the barrier, which runs through their village, kept them from their fields and orchards. They have protested at the construction site every Friday for than two years.
US - NOKOR: The top U.S. envoy on North Korea is dismissing Pyongyang's claim that Washington plans to remove it from a list of states that sponsor terrorism. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters in Sydney, Australia today that North Korea must further dismantle its nuclear program before it can be taken off the blacklist. North Korean state news reported Monday that Washington had decided to remove Pyongyang from the list and lift punitive sanctions against the country. It said the decision was made after Hill wrapped up talks with his North Korean counterpart Kim Kye Gwan in Geneva Sunday.
AUSTRALIA - APEC: President Bush is traveling to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Australia, where protesters are expected to stage anti-Iraq war demonstrations. Mr. Bush is due to arrive in Sydney late today after stopping in Iraq on Monday. He is one of 21 leaders scheduled to gather for talks on world trade, regional economic cooperation and climate change during the week-long APEC summit. Ahead of the summit, Chinese President Hu Jintao stopped in western Australia and oversaw the signing of an energy deal today. The deal between Chinese and Australian companies will provide China with billions of dollars worth of liquefied natural gas.
CHINA - ETHNIC UNREST: A Hong Kong human rights group says clashes between minority Chinese Muslims and the Han majority in eastern China last month killed at least one person and injured 20 others. The Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy reported today that the fighting broke out in the coastal province of Shandong on August 17th after a group of Han Chinese beat a Hui man who was caught stealing. The center says angry Hui Muslims then stormed the commercial district of the town of Shimiao. Four police vehicles were damaged in the riot. Local government officials have declined to comment on the incident, and state media generally do not report on ethnic clashes.
BURMA - THAILAND: Thai and Burmese officials say an attack on the site of a controversial hydropower dam project in Burma has killed a Thai worker. Officials say the surveyor was killed Sunday at the site in Karen state. Burmese state media blame Sunday's attack on the rebel Karen National Union, which has been fighting for greater autonomy from Burma's military government. But the rebels told the Reuters news agency they believe Burmese troops carried out the attack to discredit their group. The Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand is building the one-billion dollar dam.
UN - SUDAN - DARFUR: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has arrived in the city of Juba, seat of the regional southern Sudanese government. Ahead of his arrival, the secretary-general said he plans to show the U.N.'s commitment to the 2005 peace deal that ended Sudan's north-south civil war. Southern Sudanese leaders have accused the government in Khartoum of not living up to the 2005 agreement, which created an autonomous government in the south and calls for the establishment of two separate armies. The accord ended a 21-year war between Sudan's northern Islamist government and the mainly Christian and animist southern rebels.
HURRICANE FELIX: U.S. meteorologists say Hurricane Felix has reached its highest intensity as it arrives just off northeastern Nicaragua. Weather forecasters are warning that the storm has again reached the top strength level - Category Five - and is very dangerous. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says the center of the storm is expected to soon cross the coastline of Nicaragua, near the border of Honduras. Thousands of people have evacuated the countries' coastal areas to try to escape the wrath of the powerful storm, which has winds of nearly 260 kilometers-per-hour.
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