US POLITICS: Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mike Huckabee have emerged as the big winners in the Iowa caucuses, the first major test of the 2008 presidential election campaign. Obama, a first term U.S. senator from (the northern state of) Illinois, easily defeated former Senator John Edwards and former first lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton, who finished second and third respectively on the Democratic side Thursday. Obama, seeking to become the first black U.S. president, said his victory represented a yearning for change.
KENYA: Kenya's main opposition party has called for new elections to end days of violent, deadly unrest following last week's disputed vote. Orange Democratic Movement secretary general Anyang Nyongo made the comments to reporters today. The party - led by opposition candidate Raila Odinga - says last week's presidential election was rigged to give President Mwai Kibaki a victory. There was no immediate reaction from the Kibaki government. Meanwhile, Kenyan police are deployed across Nairobi for a second day to prevent a planned opposition rally.
PAKISTAN: A team of British anti-terror officers is in Pakistan to join the investigation into the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Pakistani officials said the five-member team from Scotland Yard arrived in Islamabad today. President Pervez Musharraf has asked British police to assist in the probe amid a storm of controversy about exactly how Ms. Bhutto died. She was killed last Thursday during a shooting and suicide blast at a political rally in Rawalpindi. Mr. Musharraf said Thursday he was not fully satisfied with the investigation.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: North Korea says it is bolstering its "war deterrent," accusing the United States of attempting to initiate a nuclear war. Pyongyang issued the warning today in an editorial in the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper. It comes amid U.S. concerns about North Korea's failure to meet a December 31st deadline to declare all of its nuclear activities. Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Christopher Hill will leave for Asia today to consult with four other nations involved in urging the Stalinist state to abandon its nuclear program.
CHINA - CORRUPTION: A court in China has sentenced prominent sports magnate Yu Zhifei to four years in prison on corruption charges. A court in Wuhu City, in Anhui province, on Thursday also fined him more than 41-thousand dollars. Yu was accused of embezzling about 140-thousand dollars from Shanghai's Shenhua soccer team in the late 1990s while serving as its head. China's Xinhua news agency says the 54-year-old Yu was given a lighter sentence because he cooperated with the investigation. He may still appeal Thursday's ruling. Yu is credited with bringing Formula One racing to China in 2004.
CHINA - STABILITY: An official of a top Chinese research institute says China needs food price controls to maintain social stability. Li Peilin, sociology bureau director at the government-sponsored Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, made the comment Thursday while discussing a new research report. The CASS report says people living in China's rural areas are happier than a year ago, but urban residents are less satisfied. CASS says both trends are mainly due to high food prices, which Li said have boosted farmers' incomes while squeezing the urban poor.
PHILIPPINES- ABU SAYYAF: The Philippine military says it has arrested an Islamic militant wanted for the 2001 kidnapping of 20 people from a resort hotel. Tuwatin Anahalul was detained Thursday during a raid on his hideout in the southern Philippines. Anahalul has been identified as a senior commander in the al-Qaida linked Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. Authorities placed a bounty of nearly 50-thousand dollars on Anahalul's head for his role in the abduction of 20 people from the Dos Palmas resort on Palawan Island, including three Americans.
BURMA - INDEPENDENCE: Burma's military rulers staged a low-key ceremony today to celebrate the country's 60th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule. A speech by military leader Senior General Than Shwe was read during a flag-raising ceremony in the new capital city of Naypyidaw. In the speech, the general says Burma will build a "discipline-flourishing democratic state" based on a seven-stage road map. Critics have denounced the road map as a sham because it keeps the military in formal power, and bars the National League for Democracy, the opposition party led by democratic icon Aung San Suu Kyi.
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