AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a suicide car bomber has killed six civilians near Kabul's airport. They say today's attack was aimed at vehicles used by coalition forces in Afghanistan. The blast wounded at least 18 other people, but no foreign troops were badly injured. On Wednesday, top United Nations peacekeeping official Jean-Marie Guehenno said the Taliban insurgency has been worse than expected. He told the Security Council a better coordination with NATO forces and the Afghan government is needed to stabilize the country.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli warplanes struck a Palestinian rocket launcher today in the Gaza Strip after militants fired a volley of rockets into Israel. Israeli officials say they destroyed a loaded rocket launcher. Israel carried out the raid after rockets fired by Palestinian militants hit the town of Sderot, without causing injuries. Wednesday, an Israeli raid on the West Bank town of Bethlehem killed four members of the Palestinian militant groups Islamic Jihad and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Earlier Wednesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh listed conditions for a ceasefire with Israel, saying Israel must stop carrying out raids in Gaza and re-open the territory's borders.
WORLD ECONOMY: International financial markets are in turmoil again today, as investors continue to show concern over the slumping US economy, rising oil prices, and a tightening credit market. The dollar has fallen below 100 yen for the first time since November 1995, and the euro has topped the one dollar, 56 cent mark for the first time, while oil prices neared a record 110 dollars a barrel. Many Asian markets posted high percentage losses today, including Tokyo, Hong Kong and Taipei.
CHINA - US - HUMAN RIGHTS: China is accusing the United States of a double standard when it accuses Beijing and other countries of violating basic human rights. The Communist state leveled the accusation today in a report on the U.S.'s human rights record. The report is in response to a critique of China's human rights record issued Tuesday by the U.S. State Department. In its response, the Chinese State Council highlighted America's growing violent crime rate, and accused the U.S. of restricting the rights of its citizens to join labor unions.
INDIA - TIBET: Indian police have arrested 100 people marching to the Tibetan border to protest the upcoming Olympic Games in China. Shortly after being detained today, protest organizers warned that those in custody will go on a hunger strike. The Tibetan marchers and some foreigners set off Monday from Dharmsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile. Earlier this week, Indian police briefly blocked the marchers and ordered them not to leave Kangra district. Indian authorities say the protest violates a promise by exiled Tibetan leaders not to conduct anti-China political activities on Indian soil.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The top U.S. negotiator on North Korea says he will offer ideas to try to jump-start negotiations at stalled nuclear disarmament talks. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will present his proposals when he meets Thursday with his North Korean counterpart (Kim Kye Kwan) in Geneva. He did not give details on what ideas he might present, but says the United States is willing to be flexible on the format the North uses to provide a promised nuclear declaration. However, he said the format must not interfere with North Korea preparing a complete and correct declaration of its nuclear activities.
THAILAND - BURMA: Thailand's new Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej will visit Burma on Friday where he is expected to discuss Thai business investments in the military-ruled country and avoid sensitive political issues. A Thai government spokesman today says Mr. Samak will leave early Friday and fly first to the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw where he will meet with the country's top leader General Than Shwe. The spokesman says Mr. Samak will use the meeting to introduce himself and to discuss Thailand's business interests in natural gas and its investment and development of a hydroelectric dam on Burma's Salween River.
SERBIA - POL: Serbia's president has disbanded parliament and called for an early general election on May 11th after the ruling coalition collapsed. President Boris Tadic said today that "elections are a democratic way for the citizens to determine how Serbia should develop in the years to come." Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said on Saturday the government could not continue to function because of deep divisions over Kosovo's declaration of independence from Serbia last month. The government formally asked the president Monday to dissolve parliament.
CHAD - SUDAN: Chad has accused Sudan of launching a new rebel attack on its government, as international leaders try to negotiate peace between the neighbors. In a statement today, the Chadian government said Sudan sent "several heavily armed columns" across the border into Chad on Wednesday. It called the attacking forces "mercenaries," the usual term it uses for Chadian rebels opposed to the government of President Idriss Deby. There has been no outside confirmation of the alleged attack. Sudan and Chad routinely accuse each other of supporting rebel movements on each other's territory.
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