IRAQ: U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have launched a new offensive designed to wipe out
al-Qaida in Iraq from one of its last strongholds.Officials say the
operation began today with a series of raids in Baquba, the
capital of Diyala province, northeast of Baghdad. U.S. military
officials say Iraqi troops are leading the fight, with only minimal support from
U.S. forces.Officials say similar operations elsewhere have contributed
to a sharp decline in terrorist attacks.Meanwhile, police in Baghdad
have increased security as hundreds of thousands or Shi'ite pilgrims make their
way to a revered shrine, one day after three female suicide bombers killed at
least 30 pilgrims, including children.
INDIA - PAKISTAN: India's army says Pakistani troops entered its side of the disputed Kashmir
region and fired across the de facto border, killing an Indian
soldier.An army spokesman says Monday's incident is a violation of a
cease-fire agreement between the neighboring countries. The two sides
continued fighting overnight. India says at least four Pakistani soldiers have
been killed in the battle along the Line of Control separating Kashmir. Pakistan
denies any of its soldiers were killed.Indian government officials say
Pakistani troops crossed into Indian territory Monday because they objected to a
new border post being built by the Indian army.
US - AL-QAIDA: A research center that often consults for the U.S. military says the United
States needs to change its approach to fighting terrorism.The Rand
Corporation says there is no "battlefield solution" to terrorism, and that the
U.S. needs to rely more on police and intelligence agencies in order to defeat
al-Qaida.The report, released today, analyzed more than
600 terrorists groups that have been disbanded since 1968, and found 40-percent
were neutralized only after police and intelligence agencies apprehended or
killed key leaders.It argues local police forces are better suited to
infiltrate and disrupt terrorist organizations because of their permanent
presence in areas where terrorists try to hide.
OLYMPIC TRUCE: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on all those who are at
war to observe a two-week truce during the upcoming Olympic Games.The
U.N. chief says the limited pause in hostilities could demonstrate to the world
that peace is possible. Mr. Ban made the appeal Monday, endorsing a
resolution adopted last October by the 192-member U.N. General Assembly.
The resolution calls for a worldwide truce from August eighth to the
24th during the Summer Olympics, and from September sixth to the 17th during the
Paralympic Games. A group of Olympic athletes issued a separate appeal
earlier this month in support of a truce in Sudan.
AUSTRALIA - IMMIGRATION: Australia says it will halt a controversial policy of automatically locking up
asylum seekers when they arrive in the country.Immigration Minister
Chris Evans told reporters today that arrivals who pose no
threat to the community will remain free while their visa status is resolved. He
added that children and their families will no longer be held in detention
centers.Evans rejected the previous government's claim that detention
would deter illegal immigration to Australia. He said desperate people are not
deterred by the threat of harsh detention, because they are often fleeing much
SOKOR - US BEEF: The first shipment of American beef under a controversial import deal arrived in
South Korea today.Officials said the one-point-five-ton
shipment will undergo quarantine inspections for about two weeks before being
released to local markets for sale next month.Tens of thousands of
people have rallied almost daily in South Korea since early May against the
deal, saying the government ignored fears of mad cow disease.Under new
guidelines reached in April, the United States will export beef to South Korea
only from cattle less than 30 months old. Older cattle are seen as potentially
more at risk.
BURMA - INSURANCE: A human rights group opposed to Burma's military government says global
insurance companies are insuring businesses that provide cash for the country's
ruling generals.The Burma Campaign UK released a report today urging insurance companies including Lloyd's of London and
Japan's Tokio Marine to stop underwriting policies issued by state-owned Myanma
Insurance, the only provider of insurance policies in Burma.The report
says global insurers have facilitated businesses such as airlines, natural gas
pipelines, ports and shipping services, which provide revenue to the regime.
RUSSIA - US: Russia's Foreign Ministry announced today that President Dmitry
Medvedev has appointed a new ambassador to the United States. Deputy
Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak, a career diplomat who was formerly Russia's top
Iran nuclear negotiator, is Russia's new envoy to Washington. He has
also served as Russia's ambassador to NATO.Kislyak replaces the previous
ambassador to Washington, Yuri Ushakov, who left last month to take a senior
government post in Moscow.
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