OLYMPIC TORCH: The president of the International Olympics Committee says the Beijing Games will rebound from its "crisis" after days of anti-China protests have plagued stops of the international torch relay. Speaking ahead of a meeting of top IOC officials in Beijing today, Jacques Rogge said the committee was "saddened" by demonstrations that disrupted the carrying of the torch in London and Paris. Rogge acknowledged Wednesday's torch run through San Francisco was better, but "not the joyous party" the organizers had hoped for.
DALAI LAMA - CHINA: The Dalai Lama says he supports the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games, despite China's harsh crackdown on anti-government protesters in Tibet and other areas last month. Speaking in Tokyo, during a stopover on the way to the U.S., the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader urged Beijing to reject official secrecy and the violent suppression of political opponents. He said China should become more open and transparent and argued that Beijing does not have the right to tell critics of its policies in Tibet to shut up.
CHINA - OLYMPICS PLOT: Chinese authorities say they have broken up two terrorist groups planning to carry out attacks against the upcoming Beijing Olympic games. A spokesman for the Ministry of Public Security says at least 45 suspects have been detained in the western Xinjiang region, which is dominated by ethnic Muslim Uighurs. Police also seized several kilos of explosives and extremist material. The terrorist ring was allegedly planning to kidnap athletes, foreign journalists and other visitors to the Olympics.
US - IRAQ: U.S. officials say President Bush plans to announce today a reduction in U.S. Army combat tours in Iraq from 15 months to 12 months. The officials say the move is meant to ease the strain of extended deployments on the U.S. military. It will bring U.S. Army rotations back to what they were before last year's U.S. troop surge in Iraq. The shorter deployments will apply to troops sent to Iraq beginning in August, but not to troops already there. President Bush is due to announce the move in a speech outlining his future Iraq policy. His speech follows two days of congressional testimony by the top U.S. military commander in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador to Baghdad.
THAILAND - BURMA IMMIGRANTS: Police in Thailand say at least 54 migrant workers from Burma suffocated and 21 others were seriously injured while being smuggled into Thailand inside a container truck. The commander of a police station in southern Ranong province (Colonel Kraithong Chanthongbai) said Thursday some 47 workers survived the incident late Wednesday and are being questioned by police. The commander said more than 120 people were inside the container and that the driver fled the scene after he realized that some of the people in the truck were dead.
THAILAND - ARMS DEALER: Russia says it will do all it can to protect the rights of a suspected international arms dealer being held in Thailand while he awaits extradition to the United States. Russian authorities say they are monitoring the investigation into alleged crimes committed by Russian national Victor Bout. Thai authorities arrested Bout last month as part of a U.S.-led operation and charged him with trying to smuggle weapons to Marxist rebels in Colombia. Thailand has since dropped the charges to clear the way for his extradition to the United States.
SOKOR - ELECTION: The conservative Grand National Party (GNP) of South Korea's President Lee Myung-bak won control of the country's parliament in Wednesday's election, after a decade of liberal rule. The final official vote tally shows the GNP will take 153 seats in the 299-member National Assembly. The liberal United Democratic Party collected just 81 seats, down from the 136 it previously held as the largest party in parliament. The rest of the seats will be awarded by proportional representation.
NEPAL - ELECTION: Millions of voters in Nepal have cast ballots in a historic election to choose a special assembly that is likely to write a new constitution and abolish the monarchy. Officials reported high early turnout in the country's first election in nine years. About 18-million people were eligible to vote for members of the 601-seat special assembly. Nepalese officials and election observers say the vote appeared to have gone smoothly in most of Nepal. Authorities reported only sporadic incidents of violence that caused no casualties but forced voting to be suspended in several locations.
WORLD BANK - FAO/FOOD: World Bank President Robert Zoellick is warning that high food prices could wipe out hard-won gains against poverty and malnutrition. Zoellick says in a new World Bank report issued Wednesday that people in poor urban areas and low-income countries are suffering daily from the impact of high prices. The report said the price of wheat in Yemen has doubled in the past year and could reverse all the gains made in poverty reduction made in the past 10 years in the country.
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