KENYA: Kenyan opposition leaders have canceled today's planned protest in the capital of Nairobi after police fired tear gas and water cannon to disperse their supporters. Williams Ruto, a senior official of the Orange Democratic Movement, says the party's supporters are "peaceful people" who do not want violence. Ruto called on supporters to attend a gathering planned for next Tuesday. The rally was called for by opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has accused President Mwai Kibacki of rigging last week's election to ensure his victory.
PAKISTAN: The opposition party of slain former Pakistani prime minister, Benazir Bhutto, is dismissing the government's announcement that Britain's Scotland Yard will help investigate her killing. Senior officials from the Pakistan People's Party -- or, PPP, say they want President Pervez Musharraf's government to accept a United Nations commission to investigate the assassination. Ms. Bhutto's party and the other opposition party of former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have also condemned the government's decision to delay parliamentary elections until February 18th,due to the rioting following Ms. Bhutto's death.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Palestinian medical officials say at least five Palestinians, including two civilians, were killed during an Israeli raid in the southern Gaza Strip early today. Witnesses say Israeli troops backed by tank and attack helicopters carried out the operation near the town of Khan Yunis. An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers killed two gunmen, after coming under attack. She also said a tank fired at a building where gunmen were spotted taking shelter. The spokeswoman said soldiers were searching for militants who fire rockets at Israel.
US - CIA VIDEOTAPES: The U.S. Justice Department is opening a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA videotapes of the interrogations of terrorist suspects. Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced Wednesday that he is appointing federal prosecutor John Durham to conduct the investigation. CIA director General Michael Hayden said last month that some videotapes of al-Qaida suspect interrogations, made in 2002, had been destroyed in 2005 to protect the identities of the interrogators. Critics of the move accuse the CIA of destroying evidence of torture.
CHINA - DEATH PENALTY: A top Chinese judicial official says China is considering expanding the use of lethal injections for death sentences instead of execution by gunshot. A report today in the state-run China Daily newspaper quotes the vice president of the Supreme People's Court, Jiang Xinchang, as saying that lethal injections will eventually be used by all courts which carry out most of the country's executions. Jiang said that lethal injections were more humane and notes that already half of the country's Intermediate People's Courts use injections to carry out executions.
CHINA - OLYMPICS: China has started a campaign to clear its city streets of beggars and unlicensed peddlers to create what it calls a civilized and sound environment for the August 2008 Olympic Games. The official Xinhua news agency said today that the crackdown would focus on Tiananmen Square, a main street in the center of Beijing and six other city districts. China is doing everything it can to make sure that the 2008 Olympic Games are a stunning success. In addition to cracking down on beggars it has launched campaigns to stop people from spitting and teach them to stand in line.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels are reporting heavy fighting in the north -- a day after the government decided to formally withdraw from a cease-fire agreement with the rebels. In an Internet posting, the rebels say their fighters put up stiff resistance to an army assault on their positions in Mannar district and exchanged heavy artillery fire with government troops for several hours today. Separately, a land mine blast elsewhere in the north hit a military truck, killing at least two soldiers. A Sri Lankan military spokesman said the truck was transporting food supplies for troops on the frontlines.
US - POLITICS: Democratic and Republican U.S. presidential candidates are making final pitches to voters in (the midwestern state of) Iowa in the hours before today's state party nominating caucuses. Former Democratic Senator John Edwards began a marathon 36-hour bus tour across Iowa Wednesday, stressing his campaign theme as a defender of the American middle class. Recent polls show Edwards locked in a tight three-way race along with Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.
US - LIBYA: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet with her Libyan counterpart today in Washington. The talks between Rice and Foreign Minister Abdel-Rahman Shalgam are being held amid improving relations between the two nations since Tripoli renounced terrorism and weapons of mass destruction in 2003. Washington normalized relations with the African nation in 2006. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says the two will discuss human rights and democracy in Libya, including the release of political dissidents.
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