International agencies are reaching out to Burma, where the death toll from Saturday's cyclone has risen to more than 15-thousand people, with 30-thousand missing. The toll is expected to rise as information comes in from hard-to-reach areas. Officials say Cyclone Nargis has left hundreds of thousands of people without shelter, and has created a severe shortage of food and drinkable water. The first planeload of foreign aid arrived in Rangoon today from Thailand. More is expected to follow.
INDONESIA - FUEL PROTEST: Police arrested five students today, after a protest against planned fuel price hikes turned violent in Indonesia. The protest in the South Sulawesi city of Makassar came one day after the government announced plans to raise subsidized fuel prices to protect the state budget from the soaring cost of oil. The protest turned violent when students tried to seize a fuel truck and police moved in to stop them.
CHINA - JAPAN: President Hu Jintao arrived in Japan today for the first visit by a Chinese president to the country in 10 years. The Chinese leader was greeted by Japanese officials and cheering Chinese well-wishers as he began his five-day goodwill visit. Speaking ahead of his trip, Mr. Hu said he looked forward to a cordial atmosphere during his visit. Mr. Hu told Japanese reporters Sunday in Beijing that he expects his visit will promote stronger ties between the two countries. The Chinese president said he believes the major trading partners can resolve a dispute over lucrative drilling rights in the East China Sea.
SOKOR BIRD FLU:
South Korean officials say bird flu has spread to the capital of Seoul, despite a massive culling of ducks and chickens in recent weeks. The Agriculture Ministry said today that an outbreak has been detected at a district government office in Seoul that was raising scores of chickens, ducks and turkeys. The ministry says all the birds at the site have been killed. North Korean officials asked South Koreans two weeks ago not to bring poultry to a joint industrial zone inside North Korea, because of concerns about the bird flu outbreak.
US POLITICS: Voters in the U.S. states of North Carolina and Indiana are heading to the polls for key Democratic Party primaries, as rivals Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama vie for the party's presidential nomination. A combined 187 delegates are at stake in today's primaries. Surveys have showed that Clinton has a slight edge in Indiana, and Obama has a solid lead in North Carolina. The two senators campaigned Monday in both states, discussing economic policies and qualifications for office.
US - IRAQ: The U.S. military says it will soon withdraw 35-hundred soldiers deployed to Iraq as part of the so-called "surge" in U.S. troops last year. A statement today says the soldiers (from the 3rd Infantry Division) will be moved out of Iraq in the next few weeks. The head of the U.S.-led Multi-National force in Iraq, Brigadier-General Dan Allyn, says the regular withdrawal of surge brigades from Iraq demonstrates continued progress in the country. The re-deployment of the 35-hundred troops is in line with a U.S. plan to complete a withdrawal of at least 20-thousand surge troops by the end of July.
SOMALIA UNREST: Somalis took to the streets in the capital of Mogadishu for a second straight day to protest high food prices and the devaluation of the local currency. On Monday, similar riots in Somalia's capital left three people dead. Thousands of demonstrators burned tires and hurled stones at food traders who refused to accept old currency notes. Many traders are demanding U.S. dollars instead of Somali shillings because the local currency notes are often counterfeits. Somalis say the counterfeit shillings have flooded the market, devalued the currency and driven up inflation.
UN - FOOD CRISIS: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has formed a high-level task force to deal with the global food crisis. At the United Nations Monday, Mr. Ban warned that the crisis "could cascade into multiple crises," affecting trade development and social and political security around the world. He said the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people are threatened. He said the United Nations must take the lead in dealing with long-term challenges, particularly efforts to boost agricultural development in affected regions.
CANADA - BURMA: Canadian lawmakers have presented Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi with honorary Canadian citizenship. Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier said presentation shows Canada's respect to Aung San Suu Kyi's long struggle to promote freedom and democracy in Burma. Bernier gave the award on Monday to the Nobel peace laureate's cousin Sein Win, who heads Burma's government in exile. A group called Parliamentary Friends of Burma says Aung San Suu Kyi is the fourth person to receive the Honorary Canadian Citizenship award.
BRITAIN - GLOBAL POVERTY:
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is urging international businesses to do more to help ease poverty in the developing world. Mr. Brown is to host a major conference on poverty in London Tuesday, with more than 80 multi-national companies, including Coca-Cola, Microsoft and Vodafone. The British leader says the "Business Call to Action" conference will lobby businesses to develop innovative ways to spread growth, prosperity and opportunity in poor countries.
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