CHINA QUAKE: The Chinese military is air-dropping food and medicine to earthquake survivors in remote mountain villages of Sichuan province, but time is running out for thousands buried under the rubble and mud of collapsed buildings, homes and schools. China raised the official death toll again today to nearly 15-thousand. Authorities expect that number to go up as rescue crews arrive at the hardest-hit areas and begin digging through the rubble. Officials estimate that an additional 40 thousand people are either buried or missing. As help arrived in some of the hardest-to-reach areas today, some victims were being pulled out alive.
CHINA QUAKE SDBR: SCHOOL: Some 900 students were trapped in the wreckage of Juyuan Middle School in China's Sichuan province after Monday's earthquake. Most are now presumed dead. Workers have recovered dozens of bodies and a few survivors from the rubble -- but hundreds remain buried. Since the earthquake, the wreckage of the school has been surrounded by anguished family members, who set off firecrackers, according to tradition, to mark the sad event. Overnight rains turned the schoolyard to mud as parents lit candles and waited for news of their children.
BURMA: Another cyclone appears to be forming near the Burmese coast, devastated by Cyclone Nargis nearly two weeks ago. The U.S. Defense Department's Joint Typhoon Warning Center (based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii) said today that a new tropical storm is developing on a path that could take it across Burma's Irrawaddy delta region. The center says the chances the storm will develop into a cyclone within the next 24 hours are good. A spokeswoman for the United Nations' humanitarian relief program says another cyclone could further hamper efforts to provide help to some two million Burmese left without food and water since Nargis made landfall May second and third.
NOKOR - US FOOD: U.S. officials say Washington and Pyongyang have nearly finalized an agreement on food aid to North Korea, in discussions separate from ongoing nuclear talks. Officials in Washington say the Bush administration will soon make an announcement about a new U.S. food aid commitment. A State Department spokesman (Sean McCormack) says a U.S. aid team that traveled to North Korea earlier this month made good progress towards an aid plan. He says the main issue holding up an agreement has been Washington's desire for a way to monitor how the food is distributed.
BUSH - MIDEAST: U.S. President George Bush is in Israel to continue pursuit of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and to celebrate the Jewish state's 60th anniversary. Mr. Bush arrived today at a Tel Aviv airport, where he was welcomed by an Israeli military honor guard. President Bush said Israel and the United States both faced great challenges when they were founded and have relied on the same principles to help them succeed. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert thanked Mr. Bush for being a part of Israel's anniversary celebrations.
INDIA - BLASTS: Indian authorities today set a daylong curfew in the western city of Jaipur, where a string of bomb blasts killed 80 people and wounded 200 others. Seven bombs exploded Tuesday over a 12-minute period in the capital of Rajasthan state. The attacks happened during the evening rush hour near a Hindu temple and several crowded markets. No one has claimed responsibility for the bombings. Police have questioned several suspects, but no arrests have been made. Indian authorities have blamed similar attacks in recent years on Islamic militants.
US POLITICS: U.S. Democratic Senator Hillary Clinton has vowed to fight on in her quest to win the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Clinton made the vow Tuesday night after an overwhelming, but largely symbolic, win over rival Senator Barack Obama in (the eastern state of) West Virginia's Democratic primary. She told a crowd of supporters in the state capital of Charleston she is better suited to win the November general election. Despite her overwhelming victory Tuesday, experts say Clinton can not catch Obama in the number of delegates needed to secure the nomination.
IRAN - NUCLEAR: Russia has urged world powers to give Iran security guarantees to help resolve the dispute about Tehran's nuclear program. Russian news agencies quote Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying today the powers should also ensure Tehran has a better place in Middle East negotiations. Lavrov said he is convinced this is an effective way to ease tensions in the Middle East and resolve the Iranian nuclear situation. Germany and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council -- the U.S., Britain, France, Russia and China -- have been negotiating to end Iran's sensitive nuclear activities.
VIETNAM - ACTIVISTS: A Vietnamese court has convicted three democracy activists, including a U.S. citizen, of planning to commit terrorism. The People's Court of Ho Chi Minh City today announced its ruling on the three, who were members of a group called the Viet Tan party, a pro-democracy group that Vietnam considers a terrorist organization. The American, Nguyen Quoc Quan, was sentenced to six months in prison, most of which he has already served. The judge (Vu Phi Long) said Quan will be deported to the United States in four days. A second defendant, Nguyen The Vu, was sentenced to time served and released.
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