ZIMBABWE: Election officials in Zimbabwe have begun a partial recount of votes from last month's disputed election. The electoral commission plans to conduct a recount of the presidential, parliamentary, and local council votes from 23 constituencies. The commission has not yet released results of the presidential vote which was held three weeks ago (on March 29th). The opposition Movement for Democratic Change says its candidate Morgan Tsvangirai defeated President Robert Mugabe in the presidential race. In the parliamentary race, the opposition has been named the winner.
SOUTH KOREA - US: U.S President George Bush holds a second day of talks with new South Korean President Lee Myung-bak today at Camp David. The two leaders are expected to discuss North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and the U.S. military presence in South Korea. Mr. Bush welcomed his South Korean counterpart to the U.S. presidential retreat in the mountains outside Washington (in the state of Maryland). The summit began hours after U.S. and South Korean officials announced details of a deal to resume imports of U.S. beef (30-months old or less).
IRAQ: Iraqi military commanders say they have taken control of an area of the city of Basra formerly held by Islamic militants. Military officials said today that U.S. and Iraqi forces seized the Hayaniya neighborhood, a stronghold of the Mahdi Army militia loyal to radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Coalition forces launched an intense assault on the area earlier today. No figures on casualties were immediately available. U.S. and Iraqi forces began a crackdown on militants in Basra in March. There were also clashes today between Iraqi troops and members of the Mahdi Army in the southern city of Nasiriyah.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The Israeli army says three Hamas militants were killed and 12 Israeli soldiers were wounded in a suicide car bomb attack on a Gaza border crossing. A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said today the Palestinian militants staged their attack, using at least two vehicles, under heavy fog at the Keram Shalom border crossing. Hamas, which controls Gaza, claimed responsibility for the attack. It occurred hours before the start of the Jewish Passover holiday. Earlier today, at least one Hamas militant was killed in attacks by Israeli soldiers.
OLYMPIC TORCH: Bangkok's leg of the Olympic torch relay began today under heavy security. Thousands of Thai police officers are lining the 10-kilometer route between Bangkok's Chinatown and the royal palace, where the torch run will end after it is carried by 80 torchbearers. The torch for the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games has been kept in tight security at a luxury hotel since its arrival Friday from New Delhi. International outrage over China's harsh crackdown on unrest in Tibet has sparked large and sometimes chaotic protests during the torch's international relay.
CHINA - TIBET: Chinese state media say Tibet will reopen to tourists "soon," and that Buddhist monasteries will resume religious activities for the first time since troops broke up anti-government protests last month. Tourists have been prevented from traveling to the region since violence began in the capital of Lhasa on March 14th. Authorities announced earlier this month tourism would resume on May first, but reports later surfaced that the decision had been reversed. Meanwhile, the Drepung monastery in Lhasa will soon hold Buddhist services five times every month.
US - POPE: Pope Benedict celebrates Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York today and visits a seminary near the city. The Pope arrived in New York Friday, on the final leg of his first trip to the United States. He began the day at the United Nations, where he addressed a packed General Assembly hall. Pope Benedict said every state has a duty to protect its people from grave and repeated human rights violations and from the consequences of humanitarian crises -- whether natural or man-made. Also on Friday, the pope visited a synagogue, becoming the first leader of the Roman Catholic church to visit a Jewish place of worship in the United States.
RUSSIA - SPACE: Russian officials say a Soyuz space capsule carrying South Korea's first astronaut and two other crew has returned safely from the International Space Station. The capsule landed in northern Kazakhstan today, 420 kilometers off target after a three and a half hour descent. South Korean nano-technology engineer Yi So-yeon spent eleven days in space. Returning with her was US astronaut Peggy Whitson and Russian flight engineer Yuri Malenchenko. They had been away six months. Yi was not originally expected to undertake the mission.
THAILAND - MARTIAL LAW: Thailand's cabinet has approved a three-month extension of emergency rule in the country's south, where Islamist separatists have waged a four-year insurgency. Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej said Friday that the state of emergency in Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat provinces will not continue indefinitely. The state of emergency imposed since July 2005 gives officials broad immunity from prosecution and sweeping powers of arrest, search and seizure. Mr. Samak announced Thursday that martial law, imposed nationwide in September 2006, has been lifted in all but the three southern provinces.
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