US POLITICS: U.S. Democratic Senator Barack Obama has claimed his party's presidential nomination. The 46-year-old first term senator from Illinois spoke late Tuesday before a crowd of thousands in (the midwestern city/state of) St. Paul, Minnesota -- in the same convention center where John McCain is to receive the Republican nomination in September. Obama is the first African-American to become the presumptive presidential nominee for a major political party. He surpassed the two-thousand-118 delegates needed to clinch the nomination Tuesday, after winning the endorsement of more key "superdelegates" and splitting the last two remaining primary contests with his rival, Senator Hillary Clinton.
UN FOOD SUMMIT: The United Nations says it will take 15 to 20-billion dollars to stem the tide of soaring food prices that have millions of the world's poorest people on the brink of starvation. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates at the world food summit in Rome today the money is needed to boost food production. Delegates also heard from World Bank President Robert Zoellick, who called for nations to lift trade barriers. He says trade barriers are part of the reason prices for many commodities have risen sharply. Meanwhile, the head of the World Food Program says new donations will help the agency feed tens of millions of people in more than 60 countries.
US - ISRAEL: President George Bush is to meet today with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Washington for talks on advancing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. The two leaders are also expected to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear program as well as security relations between the United States and Israel. Mr. Olmert, who is in Washington for a three-day visit, met Tuesday with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and leaders of the pro-Israel lobbying group, AIPAC. In an address to the group, Mr. Olmert reiterated his support for reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians before the end of the year.
BURMA: The U.S. military says it will withdraw its warships from the waters off Burma after the ruling military government refused to allow the ships to deliver relief supplies to the victims of last month's deadly cyclone. In a statement released today, Admiral Timothy Keating, the head of the U.S. Pacific Command, says the USS Essex and its support ships will leave Burma Thursday. Keating says the ships are leaving after the U.S. tried and failed more than a dozen times to convince the Burmese government to change its position.
CHINA - TIANANMEN: Chinese authorities are blocking access to schools destroyed by last month's deadly earthquake in an apparent effort to quell demonstrations by angry, grieving parents. Police and soldiers have been deployed outside several schools in quake-struck Sichuan province where parents are demanding official accountability for what they say is the shoddy construction of the facilities. Notices have also been posted to remind the public to maintain social order. Thousands of schools collapsed during the earthquake and officials are growing increasingly anxious over public displays of anger and media coverage.
CHINA - QUAKE: Chinese authorities are blocking access to schools destroyed by last month's deadly earthquake in an apparent effort to quell demonstrations by angry, grieving parents. Police and soldiers have been deployed outside several schools in quake-struck Sichuan province where parents are demanding official accountability for what they say is the shoddy construction of the facilities. Notices have also been posted to remind the public to maintain social order. Thousands of schools collapsed during the earthquake and officials are growing increasingly anxious over public displays of anger and media coverage.
INDONESIA - RELIGION: Indonesian authorities have arrested 57 members of a hardline Islamic sect in connection with a violent attack on an interfaith rally earlier this week. More than a thousand police officers were deployed outside the headquarters of the Islamic Defenders Front today in the capital of Jakarta to carry out the arrests. A dozen people were injured Sunday when IDF members allegedly used bamboo sticks to beat the interfaith demonstrators in central Jakarta Sunday. Hundreds of moderate Muslims and their supporters had gathered in the capital to rally for religious freedom.
KOREAS - FOOD AID: South Korea says it is ready to provide 50-thousand tons of corn to impoverished North Korea. Unification Minister Kim Ha-joong told reporters in Seoul today that South Korea had offered the food assistance to Pyongyang last month, but says the isolated regime has yet to respond. Kim says he hopes North Korea will "respond positively" to its offer. If not, he says Seoul will distribute the corn through international aid agencies. More than 30 South Korean civic organizations released a statement Monday urging President Lee Myung-bak's government to quickly provide food aid to North Korea, saying the Stalinist country is facing a massive famine.
JAPAN - NATIONALITY: Japan's Supreme Court has rejected a law that denied citizenship to children born out of wedlock to Japanese fathers and foreign mothers. Today's ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by 10 children of Japanese-Philippine descent seeking full Japanese citizenship. Under current law, the children were not granted citizenship because their Japanese fathers did not acknowledge their paternity until after their birth. The parents also had to be married before the children could be granted nationality.
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