IRAQ: The commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, says the military still faces a dangerous enemy, despite a recent decline in violence across the country. Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, General Petraeus expressed satisfaction at the progress made in security, but cautioned against -- as he put it -- feeling too successful. He added that more tough work is required against "a very dangerous enemy." Petraeus meets with visiting U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Baghdad today. Gates held talks with top Iraqi leaders Wednesday and said he believes a secure and stable Iraq is within reach.
US - CLIMATE CHANGE: A U.S. Senate committee has approved legislation that would cap greenhouse gas emissions scientists blame for global climate change. The Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-8 late Wednesday on a bill that calls for a 70-percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050 in all sectors of the economy, including public utilities and manufacturers. It would allow companies to participate in a cap-and-trade system, in which companies unable to meet their emissions cap could buy pollution allowances from other companies that have exceeded their required cuts.
LAO-AMERICAN - DRUGS: The DEA with the cooperation of local police arrested 29 members of an international drug-trafficking organization and seized more than 65,000 Ecstasy tablets. Officer Mark Bishop of the Marietta Police Department told VOA that during the course of an investigation, the DEA identified a Marietta police officer of Lao descent as possibly involved in the drug ring. Thirty-year-old Isaac Saleumsy, a two-year Marietta police veteran, is among those behind bars after police made arrests in Georgia, Tennessee, California and Ontario, Canada. Investigators charged Saleumsy with conspiracy to possess Ecstasy with intent to distribute. Two other Lao-Americans of the Atlanta, Georgia, area were among those arrested on November 27.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: U.S. nuclear envoy Christopher Hill says North Korea must at least submit a draft list of all of its nuclear activities to members of the six-party talks before the end of the year. Speaking to reporters today in Beijing, Assistant Secretary of State Hill said that the list did not need to be final, but stressed that it should at least be credible. Hill made his remarks before meeting with Chinese and Russian officials to brief them on his rare trip to North Korea this week. On Wednesday, Hill said he was still having some problems reaching an agreement with North Korea on just what nuclear activities Pyongyang should disclose.
CHINA - MINE BLAST: Chinese officials say a gas blast at mine in northern China has killed at least 40 people, and trapped another 74 underground. Xinhua news agency said the blast happened at a mine in Linfen city in Shanxi province, one of China's top coal-producing provinces. State-run television (CCTV) said 40 people have been confirmed dead, but added that 13 were rescued. Officials say the mine was properly licensed, but its managers are still being questioned by police. China's coal mining industry is the most dangerous in the world. More than 47 hundred Chinese coal miners died last year - a rate of nearly 13 a day.
PHILIPPINES - ABU SAYYAF: A Philippine court has convicted 14 Muslim militants of abducting a U.S. missionary couple and 18 others from a luxury beach resort in 2001. The chase to free the hostages from their captors lasted for over a year, during which five of the abductees were killed. The incident prompted Washington to start training troops in the Philippines. A judge at the trial today sentenced 14 members of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group to life in prison and asked them to pay damages to each of the victims' families.
US - MALL SHOOTING: An apparently troubled young man killed eight people Wednesday in a shooting rampage at a shopping mall in (the midwestern U.S. city/state of) Omaha, Nebraska, before taking his own life. Authorities say 19-year-old Robert Hawkins randomly opened fire on holiday shoppers from a third-floor balcony in a department store. Terrified customers either fled or barricaded themselves in dressing rooms. Five other people were wounded, at least two of them critically. A woman who had taken Hawkins into her home says he recently lost his job at a fast-food restaurant, and had broken up with his girlfriend.
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