PAKISTAN: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has begun a new five-year term in office as a civilian president. Mr. Musharraf took the oath of office at the presidential palace today, calling it "a milestone" in Pakistan's transition to democracy. He was sworn in a day after stepping down as army chief, ending a 46-year military career. In his inaugural address, the Pakistani leader said the return from exile of two former prime ministers, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, was "good" for political reconciliation. The two were not present at the ceremony in Islamabad.
MIDEAST PEACE: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel's long-term survival could be threatened if negotiations with the Palestinians fail to achieve a two-state solution. Mr. Olmert told Israel's "Haaretz" newspaper that if the two-state solution collapses, Israel will face a struggle for equal voting rights for all, including the Palestinians. Mr. Olmert said as soon as that happens, in his words, "the state of Israel is finished." Israel worries that Palestinians could eventually outnumber Jews if Israel continues to control all the territory it captured during the 1967 Middle East war.
PHILIPPINES - SOLDIERS: Rebellious Philippine military officers are surrendering after government forces raided the luxury hotel in the capital of Manila they seized earlier today. An armored vehicle crashed through the front door of the Peninsula Hotel, with government forces trailing behind, firing tear gas into the lobby. The forces stormed the hotel after the rebel officers ignored a deadline to end the standoff. Antonio Trillanes, a Philippine senator and one of the officers who seized the hotel, told reporters they were surrendering for the safety of the civilians still in the hotel.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: The chief U.S. envoy to the North Korea nuclear talks says he expects Pyongyang to submit a complete list of its nuclear programs in time for the next round of six-nation negotiations. Speaking in Seoul today, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the list should be completed by next week at the latest. Hill is scheduled to travel to North Korea early next week to observe the dismantling of the country's main nuclear complex at Yongbyon. American experts have been supervising the process since early this month.
CHINA - AIDS: China estimates 700-thousand of its citizens will be either be HIV-positive or living with full-blown AIDS by the end of 2007. Health Minister Chen Zhu announced the statistics today in a press conference in Beijing. He says the total includes 85-thousand Chinese with AIDS. The estimates are part of a joint report compiled by Beijing, the United Nations and the World Health Organization. China had an estimated 650-thousand HIV/AIDS infections at the end of 2006. Officially, over 223-thousand Chinese were diagnosed as HIV-positive by the end of October, including more than 62-thousand who already have full-blown AIDS.
AUSTRALIA POL: Australia's incoming prime minister has unveiled the members of his new cabinet, which includes the country's first female deputy prime minister, as well as a former rock star. Kevin Rudd made the announcements today in the Australian capital of Canberra. He has selected Julia Gillard as deputy prime minister, one of seven women in the Australian cabinet. Ms. Gillard will also hold the ministerial posts of education and industrial relations. He named Peter Garrett, the former lead singer of the band Midnight Oil, as environment and arts minister.
SPORTS - CAMBODIA GOLF: Professional golf has come to Cambodia, where Asia's newest international tournament is being played amid centuries-old Angkor temples. The Cambodian Open teed off Thursday at the recently opened Phokeethra Country Club in Siem Reap province, Cambodia's main tourist hub. Siem Reap is the nearest town to Cambodia's most popular tourist attraction, the vast network of ancient temples including Angkor Wat. The golf course is one of just three in the southeast Asian nation. Thailand's Thaworn Wiratchant, a former Asian number one and holder of a record nine victories in the region, is competing at the tournament.
US - TRAVEL: U.S. security officials will begin scanning all 10 fingerprints of most non-Americans traveling to the United States. The new 10-finger scanners will replace the current two-finger machines currently in use. The Department of Homeland Security says the program will begin Thursday at Washington Dulles International airport. It plans to have the new scanners at all U.S. ports of entry by the end of next year. The U.S. State Department currently uses 10-fingerprint scanners when it issues visas for travel to America.
US - OBESITY: American obesity rates appear to have leveled off, but still a third of U.S. adults are obese. The Centers for Disease Control reported Wednesday that after 25 years of climbing obesity rates, there has been no significant increase in the past two years. The CDC says Americans age 40 to 59 had the highest prevalence of obesity, with about 40 percent of that age group obese. The government health centers also noted large race and ethnic disparities in obesity among women. More than half of African American and Mexican American women were obese, compared to less than 40 percent of white women.
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