ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Thousands of Gaza Palestinians have flooded the Egyptian border town of Rafah, after gunmen detonated a series of explosions overnight and destroyed most of the metal wall along the border. Palestinians began entering Egypt early today to buy food, fuel and other supplies that have become scarce because of an Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip. Egyptian border guards and police from Gaza's ruling Hamas group took no action. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak said he allowed Palestinians to enter Egypt on humanitarian grounds -- to buy food and then return.
Stock prices on most Asian markets closed sharply higher today as investors welcomed Tuesday's emergency interest rate cut by the U.S. Federal Reserve. Benchmark stock indexes in Manila, Sydney, Shanghai and Tokyo closed up between two and four percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index surged, closing up nearly 11 percent. The markets had suffered two days of sharp declines European stocks lost ground after early gains of more than one percent today, moving into negative territory.
THAILAND - THAKSIN: The wife of ousted former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra says her husband will return to Thailand in May to face corruption charges, after more than a year of living in exile. Mr. Thaksin's wife, Pojaman Shinawatra made the announcement today as she faced corruption charges of her own at the Thai Supreme Court. Mr. Thaksin and his wife have been accused of illegally influencing a real estate deal in 2003 to buy land from a government agency at a below market prices. In a statement read during her first hearing today, Pojaman denied those charges.
INDONESIA - SUHARTO:
Doctors treating Indonesia's ailing former president Suharto say his condition has worsened today as infections spread throughout his body. Doctors say they are trying to find the bacteria, and administer antibiotics to help Suharto, but cannot guarantee their efforts will be successful. Suharto was admitted to a Jakarta hospital on January fourth with heart and lung trouble and later suffered multiple organ failure. His condition has improved and deteriorated several times since then.
CHINA - INTERNET: Chinese state media say authorities shut down more than 44-thousand Web sites last year as part of a nationwide crackdown on Internet porn. The official Xinhua news agency says more than 800 people have been arrested and about two-thousand penalized in connection with the effort. Authorities say the crackdown will continue until after the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Rights groups have said the campaign is being used as an excuse to crackdown on dissent and round up dissidents ahead of the 2008 Games.
Health officials in Vietnam say bird flu has killed a 32-year-old man, the country's first human case this year. Officials in Vietnam's northern Tuyen Quang province say the man died last week, two days after he was admitted to the hospital. Officials say the man tested positive for the highly contagious H5N1 strain of the disease. They say he developed symptoms of the disease after eating poultry that died in his backyard farm. Tuyen Quang and three other provinces in Vietnam are currently on the country's bird flu watch list.
ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe's main opposition leader was briefly detained by police today ahead of a planned protest march. Police seized Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, during a pre-dawn raid on his home in the capital city of Harare. His attorney (Alec Muchadehama) has told news outlets Mr. Tsvangirai has since been released. The MDC says today's march is aimed pressuring the Zimbabwean government for a new constitution before presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for March.
KENYA: Violence broke out in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi again today, as former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan prepares to hold talks with rival political factions in an effort to bring an end to the crisis. Supporters of the opposition Orange Democratic Movement clashed with police as they held a funeral procession to honor dozens of people killed in recent fighting. They were hit with tear gas after they blocked traffic and threw stones at the police. More than 650 people have been killed in the fighting, which erupted after the December 27th presidential election.
LOST FATHER FOUND:
A Vietnamese woman who went to Taiwan to find her father has discovered that he is her former employer. Police said 40-year-old Tran Thi Kham went to Taiwan over two years ago in search of her biological father, named Tsai Han-Chao. He met her mother in Hong Kong in 1967 before she returned to Vietnam for family reasons. She gave birth to Tran there and died two months later, leaving behind an engraved gold ring and a photo of her father.
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