CHAD - EMERGENCY: Chad's president has declared a nationwide state of emergency following a rebel attack on the capital earlier this month. President Idriss Deby said the emergency will begin today and will last for 15 days. He said exceptional measures are necessary to maintain order and guarantee stability in the country. After 15 days, Chad's national assembly can decide whether to allow an extension of the state of emergency. Chadian rebels attacked the capital, N'Djamena, in early February in an effort to overthrow President Deby. They later retreated to the southeast after a three-day battle.
BIRD FLU: Health officials in Vietnam say a deadly strain of the bird flu virus has killed a second Vietnamese man this week, raising the country's death toll from the virus to 50. Officials say the 27-year old man from Vietnam's northern Ninh Binh province died late Thursday and tested positive for the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Officials say the man fell ill after slaughtering two chickens at his home. He is the third person to die from avian influenza in Vietnam this year. Not counting the latest death, the World Health Organization says 227 people around the world have died from bird flu since 2003. Most of the world's cases, 103, have occurred in Indonesia.
PHILIPPINES - PROTEST: Thousands of protesters have gathered in the financial district of the Philippine capital of Manila to demand the resignation of President Gloria Arroyo for alleged corruption. Security was tight around the Makati district as an estimated 10-thousand people turned out for today's rally. The protesters include left-wing activists, students and groups affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The demonstration was sparked by allegations that Mrs. Arroyo's husband and the country's former election chief accepted bribes and kickbacks connected to a 330-million dollar telecommunications deal with a Chinese firm.
EAST TIMOR: Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made a brief visit of support to East Timor's capital of Dili in the wake of attacks on the country's two top leaders. The Australian leader met today with East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and Australian military officials before returning to Australia. Mr. Rudd said his visit sends a clear message that Australia backs East Timor's democratically elected government. He dismissed concerns about his own safety, saying he had a responsibility to ensure that Australian forces deployed on the island have the tools necessary to carry out their mission.
CHINA - ECONOMY: China's trade surplus hit 19-point-five billion dollars in January, an increase of more than 22 percent from a year ago. The state-run Xinhua news service says January's figures were down compared to the previous month's surplus of 22-point-seven billion dollars. China hit a record 262-point-five billion dollar trade surplus in 2007. China's growing trade surplus has been a point of contention with both the United States and the European Union. China's major trading partners accuse Beijing of manipulating its currency, the yuan, to keep its value low and give Chinese products an unfair price advantage on world markets.
US UNIVERSITY SHOOTING:
A former student has been identified as the gunman in Thursday's deadly shooting spree at a university near (the midwestern U.S. city of) Chicago, Illinois. The shooter walked into a crowded lecture hall at Northern Illinois University in the city of DeKalb and randomly opened fire. He killed five people -- three of them instantly -- and wounded 16 others before killing himself. U.S.-based Cable News Network is reporting that a sixth person has died from the attack.
US POLITICS: Former U.S. presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has endorsed fellow Republican and former rival Senator John McCain for their party's presidential nomination. Romney, who ended his own candidacy a week ago, acknowledged differences with McCain. But he said Thursday it is best to go forward into the November general election as a unified party. McCain is still being challenged by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who has found success with conservatives. But McCain has a huge lead in convention delegates needed to secure the Republican nomination.
BUSH - AFRICA: President Bush is scheduled to leave Washington today to begin a five-nation tour of Africa. The president is scheduled to make stops in Benin, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana and Liberia. But on Thursday, he said he may delay his departure after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives refused to reauthorize a controversial domestic surveillance program. The current law expires Saturday. In a speech Thursday Mr. Bush described Africa as having enormous potential, and said his trip will show how compassionate Americans have been in providing money to fight AIDS and other deadly diseases.
US - SPY STELLITE: The U.S. Defense Department says it is planning to shoot down a broken U.S. spy satellite that is expected to re-enter Earth's atmosphere next month. At a news conference Thursday, Deputy National Security Adviser James Jeffries said a warship will fire a missile at the satellite right before it re-enters the atmosphere. He said President Bush approved the mission. Jeffries says a toxic rocket fuel (hydrazine) contained in the satellite could be harmful to someone who came into close and extended contact with it.
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