PAKISTAN: Pakistani authorities have released former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto from house arrest hours before a new caretaker prime minister took office today. A senior police official in the eastern city of Lahore says the detention order against Ms. Bhutto has been withdrawn and that she is allowed to move without restrictions. But the official said police will remain outside her home for her protection. Authorities had issued the detention order late Monday to prevent Ms. Bhutto from leading a mass caravan from Lahore to the capital, Islamabad, to protest President Pervez Musharraf's emergency rule.
BANGLADESH - STORM: Authorities in Bangladesh say more than 240 people have been killed by the powerful cyclone that battered the country's southern coast late Thursday. Officials say scores of people are missing and the death toll may rise. The strong winds and torrential rains of Cyclone Sidr leveled many houses, uprooted trees, cut telephone links and downed power lines. Officials say the storm has caused considerable destruction, but a mass evacuation ordered in advance helped save many lives.
OSCE - RUSSIA ELECTIONS: The biggest election monitoring group in Europe has announced it is canceling plans to oversee parliamentary elections in Russia December 2nd. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's election-monitoring arm said today it canceled the plans because of what it called Russia's "delays and restrictions." The group said Russian authorities had denied entry visas to the observers it wanted to send. The OSCE had announced it would send monitors to Russia at the beginning of November after it received an invitation from the Russian government to send 70 observers.
TURKEY - KURDS: Turkish media say the prosecutor's office has started a legal process to shut the country's main pro-Kurdish political party, alleging it has ties to Kurdish rebels. The reports say Turkey's chief prosecutor (Abdurrahman Yalcinkaya) filed a case at the Constitutional Court to ban the Democratic Society Party -- the DTP. The move follows the DTP's call for autonomy for the mainly Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey as a way to resolve more than two decades of separatist violence spearheaded by the Kurdistan Workers Party -- the PKK. In the past, Turkey has banned pro-Kurdish parties for links to PKK rebels.
KOREAS - PEACE TALKS: North and South Korea have reached more agreements on expanding links between the two countries still technically at war. Ending a three-day meeting in Seoul, the prime ministers of the two countries agreed that regular train service for freight will begin December 11th across the heavily-fortified border for the first time in more than half a century. The trains will link the North's Kaesong industrial complex with industries in the South. The two sides agreed to start next year to establish a joint fishing zone. The South will build shipyards and repair a major highway and railroad in the North.
JAPAN - US: Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukada has arrived in Washington ahead of a meeting Friday with President Bush that is expected to cover the sensitive topic of North Korea. The United States is considering removing North Korea from the State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism, in exchange for Pyongyang giving up its nuclear weapons program. But Mr. Fukada is expected to argue against that, and raise the issue of Japanese citizens that North Korea has admitted kidnapping during the 1970s and 1980s.
CAMBODIA - KHMER ROUGE: A U.N.-backed genocide tribunal in Cambodia has decided to detain a husband and wife who were once officials with the Khmer Rouge for up to a year while they await trial. The U.N. issued a statement Thursday announcing the decision to place former Foreign Minister Ieng Sary and his wife, Ieng Thirith, a former social affairs minister, in provisional detention. The two face charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for their roles in the brutal Cambodian government of the late 1970s.
BURMA: The U.N. human rights envoy met with political detainees at Burma's notorious Insein Prison Thursday before wrapping up his first visit to the country in four years. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro says he met with several prisoners, including labor activist Su Su Nway, who was arrested this week, and country's longest serving political prisoner, journalist Win Tin. Pinheiro told reporters at Rangoon airport Thursday that the journalist is always in high spirits despite having spent 18 years in prison. Pinheiro said his request to meet detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who is under house arrest, had been refused.
CHILE - QUAKE: The Chilean government has set up temporary hospital and emergency shelters in the northern part of the country, while rescue teams are delivering water, food and medicine to victims of Wednesday's major earthquake. Powerful aftershocks hit northern Chile Thursday as President Michelle Bachelet toured Tocopilla, one of the areas hardest-hit by the seven-point-seven-magnitude earthquake. At least two people were killed and dozens injured. At least 15-thousand people have been displaced.
POLAND POL: Polish President Lech Kaczynski swore in a new prime minister and 18 cabinet members today. Donald Tusk takes over as prime minister from the president's twin brother (Jaroslaw Kaczynski) who stepped down as prime minister earlier this month. Mr. Tusk's new center-right government promises to improve ties with the European Union, Germany, and Russia, which were strained under the previous government. Mr. Tusk's Civic Platform party beat the Kaczynskis' Law and Justice party in October 21st elections, and is forming a government with the centrist Polish Peasants' Party.
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