US POLITICS: Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain won their parties' respective presidential primary elections Tuesday in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Obama defeated Senator Hillary Clinton by double digits in all three contests, giving him a slight lead over Clinton in the total number of delegates needed to win their party's nomination. McCain also posted impressive wins in the regional contests, despite a strong challenge from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. The veteran Arizona lawmaker dismissed Obama's talk of hope as just "a platitude" during a victory speech in Alexandria, Virginia.
AUSTRALIA ABORIGINES: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made a historic apology for past mistreatment of the country's Aboriginal people. Mr. Rudd delivered the apology in parliament today, acknowledging the profound suffering caused by past Australian laws and policies. On behalf of the government, he expressed remorse for the indignity and degradation inflicted on Australia's indigenous people. Mr. Rudd said he especially apologized for the suffering caused by the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Island children -- the so-called "Stolen Generation" -- from their families.
EAST TIMOR ATTACKS: Prosecutors in East Timor are preparing to issue arrest warrants for 18 people allegedly involved in Monday's assassination attempts on the country's two top leaders. Authorities did not provide details about the suspects. President Jose Ramos-Horta is in serious but stable condition after being wounded Monday. He underwent another operation today and doctors are hopeful he will make a good recovery. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped a separate attack uninjured. On Tuesday, additional Australian troops and a warship arrived in East Timor to reinforce international security forces.
MALAYSIA - POL: Malaysia's prime minister has dissolved parliament to pave the way for early general elections. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi made the announcement today. Elections were not due until 2009, when Mr. Abdullah's five year term ends. Malaysia's Election Commission will soon decide on a new election date. The vote is expected to be held in March and will test the prime minister's popularity amid increasing concern over inflation. Malaysia's government has been wary of street rallies that began breaking out in November, targeting issues such as electoral reform and rights for the nation's ethnic Indians.
US - SUDAN - DARFUR: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says ending the conflict in Sudan's troubled Darfur region will require international pressure, including from China and Arab states. Rice said in a speech to university students in Washington Tuesday that resolving the crisis is something the United States can not do alone. She said it requires increased efforts by parties with more leverage on Sudan that the United States, and specifically mentioned China and Arab states. The secretary met Tuesday with Sudanese Foreign Minister Deng Alor Kuol and reiterated U.S. concerns about the Sudanese military offensive in Darfur in recent days.
CHINA - OLYMPICS - DARFUR: U.S. film director Stephen Spielberg has stepped down as artistic consultant to the Beijing Olympics due to China's policy on Sudan and the conflict in Darfur. Spielberg said his conscience will not allow him to continue in the position because he believes China has not been active enough in resolving the crisis in Darfur. Human Rights Watch says Spielberg's decision should prompt other influential people to press China to reform. On Tuesday, a group of Nobel Peace laureates, politicians and Olympic athletes called on China to use its influence on Sudan to help end ongoing violence in Darfur.
SYRIA - EXPLOSION: The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah says one of its top leaders was killed in a car bomb attack late Tuesday in Syria. The Shi'ite group announced the death of Imad Mugniyah on its television channel today and accused Israel of carrying out the attack. The Israeli government has denied any involvement. Israel had accused Mugniyah of masterminding the 1992 bombing of an Israeli embassy in Argentina that killed 29 people, and the blast at a Buenos Aires Jewish center in 1994 that killed dozens.
IRAQ - JOURNALISTS: The office of radical Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr says it has reached a deal with kidnappers to release two journalists held captive since Sunday. Representatives for the cleric in Basra announced today the kidnappers have agreed to free the journalists, who are employed by the U.S. television network CBS. It is unclear when they will be freed. CBS has not released the names of the journalists and asked that their privacy be respected. Witnesses say a group of about eight gunmen kidnapped the journalists from the southern city's Sultan Palace Hotel.
OIL US VENEZUELA: Venezuela's state-run oil company has announced it is cutting crude sales to ExxonMobil -- the largest U.S. oil company -- because of Exxon's efforts to seize Venezuelan assets. Petroleos de Venezuela said in a statement Tuesday its move is retaliation for what it calls ExxonMobil's economic harassment. ExxonMobil has not yet responded to Venezuela's decision. British and Dutch courts last week granted ExxonMobil's demand to freeze as much as 12-billion dollars in Venezuelan oil assets. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has threatened to cut off oil sales to the U.S. if the court decision freezing the assets is upheld on appeal.
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