US - GUANTANAMO: U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey says military trials for suspected terrorists detained at the Guantanamo Bay prison will proceed, despite a key ruling Thursday by the U.S. Supreme Court. In their narrow (5-to-4) decision, the justices ruled foreign terrorism suspects held at the U.S. naval base in Cuba can challenge their detentions in civilian courts. Mukasey told reporters in Tokyo today he was disappointed with the decision, because it will lead to hundreds of challenges from so-called "enemy combatants." Mr. Bush said (in Rome Thursday) he will abide by the court's ruling but said, in his words, "that doesn't mean I have to agree with it."
BUSH - EUROPE: U.S. President George Bush has met with Pope Benedict at the Vatican, as he continues his week-long European trip. After his talks with the pontiff, Mr. Bush was traveling to Paris, France, where he is to give a speech later today on the strong relationship between the U.S. and Europe. U.S. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley said Mr. Bush will urge European leaders to work even more closely with the U.S. to help bring peace to the Middle East. Mr. Hadley said the trans-Atlantic relationship has been strengthened by the current leaders in Italy, Britain, Germany, and France.
TAIWAN - CHINA: China and Taiwan have signed a landmark deal to launch regular direct flights and allow mainland tourists to visit the island. The two sides signed the deal today in Beijing on the second day of their first formal meeting since 1999. They reached the agreement on Thursday. The agreement allows for charter passenger flights on Saturday and Sunday starting next month. Apart from special holidays, there have been no direct flights between the two rivals since a civil war divided them in 1949. After signing the agreement today, China's official Xinhua news agency says Taiwan's top envoy Chiang Pin-kung and his delegation met with Chinese President Hu Jintao.
JAPAN - NOKOR: Japan says it will lift some sanctions on North Korea in response to Pyongyang's agreement to reinvestigate the fate of Japanese citizens kidnapped by the isolated regime. The deal was announced in Tokyo today by Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura. He says Tokyo will lift a ban on charter flights from North Korea, and will allow North Korean ships to make port calls to retrieve humanitarian aid. The agreement was reached after two days of talks in Beijing last week between Japanese envoy Akitaka Saiki and his North Korean counterpart, Son Il Ho.
JAPAN - G-8 MEETING: Finance ministers from the world's eight richest nations have begun two days of talks in Japan, with soaring prices for oil and food at the top of their agenda. Officials from Japan, Russia, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Canada and the United States are meeting in Osaka as oil prices continue to rise to a near record 140 dollars a barrel. The rising cost of oil has been pinned on the continuing fall of the U.S. dollar, which has prompted traders to invest heavily in oil and other commodities. U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently suggested he may intervene to prop up the U.S. dollar.
ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe's main opposition party says two campaign buses used by its presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai have been seized by police. A spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change said the move was an effort to cripple the campaign of Mr. Tsvangirai, who is facing President Robert Mugabe in runoff election June 27th. Mr. Tsvangirai was detained twice Thursday as he tried to campaign in central Zimbabwe. He was released both times after staying in police custody for several hours. The opposition leader has now been detained four times this month Also Thursday, police arrested the opposition party's number-two official Tendai Biti to face charges of treason -- a charge that could carry the death penalty.
PAKISTAN - LAWYERS: Thousands of Pakistani lawyers and activists are heading to the capital, Islamabad, for a protest to demand the reinstatement of judges fired by President Pervez Musharraf. The protesters' so-called "long march" began in Karachi earlier this week with a procession of vehicles traveling across the country. The march will culminate today with a rally and sit-in outside the parliament building in Islamabad. Deposed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif addressed a crowd of protesters at a rally Thursday in the eastern city Lahore.
ASIA - CORRUPTION: A report by the United Nations Development Program says small-scale corruption fuels poverty and strangles economic growth across Asia. The report released Thursday says poor people are often drained by a constant stream of small bribes to be paid at police checkpoints, government offices, health care facilities, and even schools, to get needed services. The report was released in Indonesia, where President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for so-called "shock therapy" to make people aware of the need to root out corruption.
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