IRAQ: Iraqi officials say the country's presidential council has approved the execution of Saddam Hussein's cousin, Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali." No date has been set for Majid's execution. Majid was given the nickname "Chemical Ali" due to his role in the mass killings of Kurds in northern Iraq during the 1980s. Nearly 180-thousand Kurds died in what was called the Anfal Campaign. Last September, an Iraqi appeals court upheld the conviction of Majid and two others (former defense minister Sultan Hashim al-Tai and former deputy military commander Hussein Rashid Mohammed) for genocide and ordered that they be executed within 30 days.
TURKEY - IRAQ: The Turkish military has scaled back its ground offensive against Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq, but there are conflicting reports on whether Turkey has begun a complete troop withdrawal. Military sources say Turkish troops had stopped activity in Iraq's Zap region, which is reported to be the site of a large base of the Kurdistan Workers Party (or PKK). Earlier today, Turkish television (TRT) reported that Turkey had ended its land offensive against Kurdish rebels. Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari also said Turkey was withdrawing its troops.
AFGHANISTAN - PRINCE HARRY: Britain's Ministry of Defense says Prince Harry will be withdrawn from Afghanistan immediately now that his deployment on the front lines of the war with the Taliban has been revealed. The British government had reached an agreement with major media operating in Britain that they would not report the prince's deployment until it was scheduled to end in mid-June. But this week an American Web site (The Drudge Report) broke the news blackout on the service of the 23-year-old prince, third in line to the throne, revealing that he has been fighting alongside his fellow troops in the lawless Helmand province in southern Afghanistan since mid-December.
CUBA - UN:
The Cuban government signed two United Nations human rights pacts Thursday that former Cuban President Fidel Castro opposed for more than 30 years. Cuba's Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. He said the Cuban government still had reservations about some provisions in the pacts. The right of workers to form and join trade unions is among Cuba's concerns about the pacts.
CHINA - OLYMPICS - AIRPORT: Beijing has opened a massive new terminal at its international airport, built especially to welcome the millions of foreign visitors expected to attend the Summer Olympics. The first passengers arrived today at Terminal Three on a flight from eastern China. The multi-billion dollar structure, designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, resembles a giant dragon, complete with triangular windows shaped as if they were the animal's scales. The three-kilometer-long terminal was built in just under four years, and features a state-of-the-art baggage handling system to serve the 64 million people expected to fly into Beijing this year, compared to the 50 million visitors last year.
SOUTH KOREA POL: South Korean lawmakers have approved the nomination of Han Seung-soo as the country's new prime minister. The National Assembly approved Mr. Han's nomination today by an overwhelming vote of 174-94. The vote was a victory for newly installed President Lee Myung-bak, who has gotten off to a rocky start after just four days in office. Three of his cabinet nominees were forced to step aside because of allegations of unethical conduct.
CHINA - US - MIA SOLDIERS: China has agreed to provide the United States with information from its archives that could shed light on the fate of more than eight-thousand American servicemen still missing from the Korean War. Defense officials from both governments signed an agreement today in Shanghai that would give the U.S. information about soldiers held in Chinese prison camps during the conflict, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. Charles Ray, who represented the United States, says the new pact will give American researchers sustained access to Chinese archival information for the first time.
PUTIN - VOTING: Russian President Vladimir Putin urged citizens to vote this Sunday in an election that some observers see as a foregone conclusion. Putin is constitutionally barred from running for a third term, but he says he will take the country's number two post -- prime minister -- when he steps down from the presidency. Opinion polls and analysts say Putin will be succeeded by his chosen successor, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev. Friday, as Mr. Putin asked Russians to go to the polls March second, he said the vote of each citizen is important.
PHILIPPINES - PROTEST: At least 15-thousand protesters, including two former Philippine presidents, have rallied in Manila, calling for President Gloria Arroyo's resignation over a controversial corruption scandal. Former presidents Corazon Aquino and Joseph Estrada both joined the rally today in Manila's financial district. Soldiers and police were placed on high alert and checkpoints set up around the city. Ms. Arroyo has already faced three impeachment bids and at least three coup plots since taking office in 2001.
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