PAKSITAN - TRAIN: Pakistani officials say at least 56 people were killed and more than 120 injured when a train packed with holiday travelers derailed today in southern Pakistan. Rescue crews used cutting equipment to free the last survivors trapped in badly damaged rail cars. The packed train was heading from the southern city of Karachi to Lahore when about 12 of its 16 cars came off the rails near Mehrabpur. Local villagers helped rescue those trapped in the wreckage, before emergency crews arrived on the scene. Many of the passengers were believed to be heading home for the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha (the festival of sacrifice).
US - IRAQ: A new U.S. Defense Department report on Iraq says that despite a significant reduction in violence over the past three months, the Iraqi government has been lagging in taking necessary political and economic steps to solidify the security gains. The Pentagon's quarterly assessment on progress in Iraq also says that Iraqi forces have grown in size and capabilities, but they still depend on the U.S. for logistics and training. The report also warned that Iran is continuing to train and provide support for Shi'ite militias in Iraq. But it did not specify whether there has been a decline in the shipment of Iranian arms -- particularly the armor piercing deadly roadside bombs.
SOKOR POLITICS: Exit polls in South Korea show the conservative pro-business candidate Lee Myung-bak winning the country's presidential election by a landslide vote of 50 percent. Television exit polls from today's voting indicate Lee's closet rival, liberal candidate Chung Dong-young, was trailing far behind with only 26 percent of the vote. Lee is a former corporate executive officer at Hyundai and ex-mayor of Seoul. He was widely expected to win the race, despite allegations of financial fraud. If the results are confirmed, the election of his conservative Grand National Party could end more than a decade of liberal rule in South Korea.
AUS - JAPAN - WHALING: The newly-elected government of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says it will send planes and a ship to monitor Japanese whaling in the Antarctic to step up its pressure on Tokyo. Speaking to reporters today Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said the Japanese whaling mission is "slaughter" and not scientific research. Smith said an unarmed customs and fisheries patrol ship, the Ocean Viking, will follow the Japanese whaling fleet, while aircraft will conduct aerial surveillance of the hunt. Smith says any evidence that Australia gathers could be used to mount an international court challenge against Japanese whaling.
PHILIPPINES - UNREST: Philippine military officials say at least six Muslim rebels and two soldiers have been killed in clashes on the country's restive southern island of Basilan. Brigadier-General Juancho Sabban said members of the al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf group and members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were involved in the clashes which began on Tuesday. The fighting follows Monday's attack on a U.S.-chartered helicopter that was taking supplies to U.S. troops who are helping train Philippine soldiers. General Sabban said Tuesday's fighting broke out as soldiers hunted for individuals believed to involved in the helicopter attack.
COLOMBIA - HOSTAGES: Colombian leftist rebels have announced plans to free three hostages and hand them over to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. In a statement released to a Cuban news agency (Presna Latina), The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said it will free Clara Rojas, her young son, Emmanuel, and former congresswoman Consuelo Gonzalez. It is not clear when the FARC will let them go. Colombia's Peace Commissioner (Luis Carlos Restrepo) welcomed the FARC's decision and its gesture toward Mr. Chavez.
MACAU - CASINO: The newest mega-sized casino resort has opened in the Chinese gambling enclave of Macau, hoping to draw more gamblers to the world's biggest gaming hub. The new MGM Grand casino is a joint venture between U.S. casino operator MGM Mirage and Pansy Ho, the daughter of Macau's former casino tycoon Stanley Ho. Operators say the 600-room resort will target high-end customers. The complex, which cost one-and-a-quarter billion dollars, boasts a huge atrium styled after the central train station in Lisbon -- a nod to Macau's heritage as a former Portuguese colony.
SAF POLITICS: South Africa's ruling party has elected the nation's former deputy president, Jacob Zuma, as its new leader, dropping President Thabo Mbeki from the post. Zuma defeated President Mbeki 60 to 40 percent in a vote at the national conference of the African National Congress party Tuesday. The results make Zuma the party's president and put him in a strong position to win South Africa's presidency in the 2009 elections. Zuma's victory was greeted by cheers and singing from his supporters. Zuma loyalists also won five other top posts in the party.
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