US POLITICS: Illinois Senator Barack Obama has won the Democratic Party's presidential primary in (the southern state of) Mississippi, extending his lead over his rival -- New York Senator Hillary Clinton -- in advance of next month's crucial primary in the delegate-rich state of Pennsylvania. Returns from nearly all the state's precincts show Obama ahead 60-percent to Clinton's 39-percent of the vote. Of Mississippi's 33 delegates, Obama is expected to gain at least 17. Obama told television network CNN in an interview Tuesday that he expects the Democrats will rally against presumptive Republican nominee Senator John McCain, who Obama said will continue the policies of President Bush.
THAILAND - THAKSIN: Deposed Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has pleaded innocent to one of three corruption charges filed against him. Mr. Thaksin entered his plea today before a Thai Supreme Court judge. He is accused of using his office to win a property deal for his wife. Mr. Thaksin returned to Thailand on February 26th, 17 months after he was deposed in a bloodless military coup. He was immediately arrested and taken to the Supreme Court to face charges on the real estate deal. The court barred him from leaving Thailand without permission.
EAST TIMOR: East Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta has issued his first public statements since he was wounded in an assassination attempt last month. The Nobel peace laureate thanked the Australian medical staff that cared for him in a videotaped message released today. Mr. Ramos-Horta said he wanted to refrain "from making a political speech." He also thanked people who had prayed for his recovery. The president was wounded when he was ambushed by rebels outside his home in the Timorese capital of Dili on February 11th.
CAMBODIA - TERRORISM: Cambodia's Supreme Court has turned down appeals from three men convicted and sentenced to life in prison for plotting terrorist attacks on embassies in Phnom Penh. The high court upheld the previous convictions of Cambodian native Sman Ismael, and Thai nationals Abdul Azi Haji Chiming and Muhammad Yalaludin Mading during a hearing today (Wednesday). The three men were convicted in 2004 for conspiring with Indonesian Riduan Isamuddin, an Islamist militant who went by the name Hambali.
US - CENTCOM - RESIGNATION: The top U.S. military commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East (CENTCOM), Admiral William Fallon, is resigning at the end of the month, amid recent press reports that said he differed with President Bush over policy on Iran. In a statement issued Tuesday, Admiral Fallon denied any difference of opinion with the Bush administration. But he said the perception of discord makes it difficult for him to serve effectively. Fallon was a Navy Admiral in charge of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. A recent article in Esquire magazine portrayed Admiral Fallon as opposed to President Bush's policies on Iran, particularly on the possibility of military action to stop Iran's nuclear program.
WORLD ECON: World stock prices are surging following major gains on Wall Street Tuesday and new injections of cash in some major global financial markets. Major stock indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and Taipei all closed higher today (Wednesday), along with markets in Manila, Sydney, Taipei and Wellington. European markets, including indexes in London and Paris, also made gains in early trading. On Tuesday, the Fed -- acting in coordination with the central banks in Canada and Europe -- offered 200 billion dollars to banks and mortgage providers and said it could increase the size of the program if needed.
US HUMAN RIGHTS SDBR - EAST ASIA: The United States has dropped China from its global list of worst human rights abusers, while accusing Beijing of continuing to deny people basic freedoms. The U.S. State Department's 2007 rights report issued Tuesday does not include China among 10 countries where it says human rights are systematically violated by unaccountable rulers. Washington had placed China in the top 10 in 2006 and 2005. The U.S. report says Beijing has pursued some important judicial reforms, such as reintroducing Supreme Court reviews of death penalties.
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