SAF - ZUMA - CORRUPTION: South Africa's chief prosecutor says he has enough evidence to charge newly elected African National Party president Jacob Zuma with corruption. Mokotedi Mpshe, the acting head of the country's National Prosecuting Authority, discussed the matter today during an interview on a South African talk radio station. Zuma was elected the new leader of South Africa's ruling party two days ago, soundly defeating President Thabo Mbeki in a bitter race. Mr. Mbeki fired Zuma from his post as the nation's deputy president in 2005 for allegedly accepting bribes in connection with a government arms deal.
SOKOR POL: South Korea's president-elect is pledging to get tough with North Korea on human rights and says full-fledged economic exchanges will begin once the North gives up its nuclear weapons. Lee Myung-bak said that as president, he will try to persuade Pyongyang that the way to maintain its regime is to dismantle its nuclear weapons. He was speaking at a news conference today, one day after he was elected. The conservative former Seoul mayor also said he will not shy away from criticizing the North's human rights record.
US - BURMA: The U.S. Senate has passed legislation that would target Burma's leaders and the country's gem and timber industries with new sanctions. A sponsor of the legislation, Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, said the bill's passage sends a clear message that the United States stands with the people of Burma as they seek a peaceful, negotiated transition to democratic rule. Burma is one of the main producers of rubies, jade and other gems, which are a major source of revenue for its military government.
CHINA - EU - BURMA: The European Union's top envoy on Burma says Chinese officials have told him they are unwilling to pressure the Burmese government toward political reform. Speaking in Beijing today after two days of meetings, Piero Fassino said Chinese intervention in military-ruled Burma is fundamental to achieving any progress. He urged China to use its position as a leading power in Asia, and as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, to help resolve the crisis in Burma.
SOLOMONS - POL: Lawmakers on the Solomon Islands have elected opposition candidate Derek Sikua as the South Pacific island nation's new prime minister. Today's vote comes one week after opposition lawmakers successfully pushed and passed a vote of no-confidence against then prime minister Manasseh Sogavare. Speaking in the legislature today, Sikua said the results of the vote and lawmakers' ability to resolve the political crisis showed the strength of democratic institutions on the Solomon Islands.
MALAYSIA - RIGHTS: More than a dozen minority ethnic Indians in Malaysia have shaved their heads to protest the recent detention of activist leaders who have been detained under a tough security law. The five men, leaders of a local ethnic Indian activist group (Hindu Rights Action Force), organized a protest late last month to demonstrate against alleged racial discrimination in Malaysia. Last week, they were detained under Malaysia's Internal Security Act that allows them to be held indefinitely without trial. Today, about 100 Indians gathered at a temple outside the capital of Kuala Lumpur to protest the detention.
US CONGRESS - BUDGET: The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a massive budget for the 2008 fiscal year that includes funding for most government agencies and 70 billion dollars to fund U.S. military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. By a vote of 272 to 142, lawmakers Wednesday voted in favor of the legislation that the Senate cleared late Tuesday. The 555-billion-dollar bill now goes to President Bush for his expected signature, more than two months after the fiscal year started. The budget combines funding for all government departments except defense, housing, law enforcement, and transport.
BUSH - ENERGY BILL: President Bush has signed into law a sweeping energy bill that boosts fuel efficiency standards in U.S. cars and trucks for the first time in 32 years. Mr. Bush signed the bill into law Wednesday at the U.S. Department of Energy. He said the legislation is a "major step" toward reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil, confronting global climate change and helping protect the environment. The law requires U.S. automakers to achieve an efficiency standard of 15 kilometers per liter by 2020 and requires a major increase in the amount of biofuels, especially ethanol, to replace carbon-burning fossil fuels.
US - TIME PUTIN: The U.S. news magazine "Time" has named Russian President Vladimir Putin its 2007 "Person of the Year." The magazine says Mr. Putin received the honor for his extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability in a country that was in chaos and bringing it stability. Time's managing editor (Richard Stengel) says the Russian leader is the new "czar" of Russia. He added that stability in Russia is of more importance to Mr. Putin than civil liberties and freedom of speech. But he says stability is what Russia needed and that is why Putin has the support of his people.
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