European markets rebounded slightly today (Tuesday) after Monday's decline in shares worldwide on fears of a U.S. recession. Stock prices were volatile in Europe in early trading today (Tuesday), dropping significantly when the markets opened before making up some ground. Markets plunged in Asia, with share prices falling nearly 10 percent in India shortly after the market opened, forcing a brief suspension in trading. Prices also tumbled in South Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and China.
Israel eased its blockade of the Gaza Strip today (Tuesday) to allow some shipments of fuel and cooking oil into Hamas-controlled territory. Several truckloads of supplies have already passed through the Nahal Oz border crossing, carrying fuel for Gaza's main power plant. The truckloads are the first since Israel began a blockade last week. On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to ease the blockade following warnings from U.N. officials and international human rights groups that Gaza was on the verge of a humanitarian disaster.
THAILAND POL: Thailand's first elected parliament since a coup 16 months ago has elected a top adviser to ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra as speaker. The new parliament, which is dominated by the People Power Party, elected Yongyuth Tiyapairat by a vote of 307 to 167 (today/Tuesday) in its second day in session. Yongyuth's first task will be to convene the house to select a new prime minister, widely expected to be PPP leader Samak Sundarvej. The selection is scheduled for Friday.
AUSTRALIA-NOKOR: Australian officials say North Korea will close
its embassy in Canberra for financial reasons. Officials at Australia's foreign ministry said today (Tuesday) that Pyongyang told them they would reconsider reopening the embassy if their financial situation improves. Australia is one of the few countries in the world to maintain diplomatic relations with the isolated Stalinist state.
NOKOR NUCLEAR: North Korea has again accused the United States of failing to meet its commitments under a deadlocked denuclearization deal. The North's official Minu Joson newspaper said in a commentary today (Tuesday) that the United States failed to fulfill its promise to remove Pyongyang from U.S. terrorism and trade blacklists by the end of 2007. The Stalinist state missed a December 31st deadline to disable its main atomic facilities and give a full declaration of all nuclear programs, as required under a six-nation agreement (between North Korea, the United States, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia).
Audio in Lao.