US POLITICS: U.S. Senator John McCain of Arizona says his victory in Tuesday's Florida Republican presidential primary election gives his campaign momentum heading into next week's multi-state primaries and caucuses. McCain handily defeated Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney after a hard-fought battle to win that state's 57 delegates. The victory positions McCain as the leading candidate heading into the so-called "Super Tuesday" contests on February fifth, when primaries and caucuses will be held in more than 20 states.
ISRAEL - WAR REPORT: An Israeli commission is set to release its final report today about Israel's conduct during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon. A copy of the (Winograd) commission's report will be submitted to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this evening (15 UTC). Shortly after, commission members will hold a news conference. The panel's interim findings were released last April. That report harshly criticized the Israeli government and military's handling of the conflict. In particular, it accused Mr. Olmert of going to war without a proper plan of action.
AUSTRALIA - ABORIGINES: Australia's newly-elected government says it will offer the country's first formal apology for the past mistreatment of Aborigines when the legislature holds its opening session next month. A top government official, Jenny Macklin, says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will deliver the apology on February 13th, the first day of business for the new legislature. Macklin says Australia's Labor government would apologize to Aborigines of the so-called "stolen generation," who were forcibly taken from their families as children and raised in foster care or institutions.
CHINA SNOW: China is struggling to respond to major transportation delays and power shortages today as its worst winter weather in decades has blanketed parts of central and southern China with snow. Chinese weather forecasters say the brutal winter weather is expected to last at least three more days. Hundreds of thousands of people -- many traveling home for the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday -- are stranded at closed down train stations and airports. Unusually icy temperatures, snow and sleet have blanketed most of central, eastern and southern China where officials say the weather has already caused the deaths of about 50 people.
BURMA: Officials in Burma say detained Burmese opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is being allowed to meet with leaders of her party - the National League for Democracy - today. Officials say the meeting is at a military guest house near her home in Rangoon. Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 12 of the last 18 years under some form of detention and remains under house arrest. In 1991, she won the Nobel Peace Prize. It was unclear which party members are being allowed to attend the meeting. Last November Aung San Suu Kyi was allowed to meet with party leaders for the first time in three years.
CAMBODIA - CHINA - DAMS: Two conservation groups say hydropower dams in Cambodia being built and financed by China threaten livelihoods and the environment. U.S.-based International Rivers and a coalition of Cambodian conservationists released a report late Monday calling attention to Chinese involvement in several Cambodian dam projects that are located in protected forests. The report says the Kamchay Dam, Cambodia's first large hydropower project, will flood thousands of hectares of protected forest when it is completed in 2010, displacing local people who rely on forest products for their livelihoods.
KENYA: A senior U.S. diplomat says "ethnic cleansing" is underway in Kenya's Rift Valley in the aftermath of last month's disputed presidential election, but she says the violence does not rise to the level of genocide. Assistant Secretary of State (for African Affairs) Jendayi Frazer told reporters today in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia that the aim of the violence in the Rift Valley is to push certain people out of the region. Frazer said the United States is reviewing its aid to Kenya in light of the political turmoil there. More than 800 people have died in the post-election violence in Kenya.
US - BUSH - CONGRESS: Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate will consider an economic stimulus plan today that is more expensive than one passed by the House of Representatives. The House bill, passed on Tuesday, would give more than 100-million families tax rebates amounts ranging from 600 dollars to 12-hundred dollars, depending on income levels. The 146-billion dollar measure was passed after negotiations between the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- a Democrat -- and Republican Leader John Boehner.
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