NOKOR - KIM: North Korean officials say there is no problem with Kim Jong Il, as speculation
grows over the top leader's health. But South Korean intelligence services
believe that Mr. Kim has suffered a debilitating stroke.The North's
number two leader, Kim Yong Nam, told Japan's Kyodo news agency that "nothing is
wrong" with the North Korean leader. A senior North Korean diplomat said
reports that Mr. Kim is seriously ill are part of a "conspiracy."But
South Korean lawmakerWon Hye-young says parliament has been told by
intelligence officials the North Korean leader has suffered a stroke that has
left him unable to walk.
THAILAND - POLITICS: Thailand's ruling political party is meeting in Bangkok today
to discuss a possible successor to ousted Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej.
Mr. Samak was forced to resign Tuesday after Thai's Constitutional Court
ruled he violated the constitution by accepting payment for appearing on a
television cooking show while in office.His People Power Party, the
largest in Thailand's six-party ruling coalition, has vowed to nominate the
ex-premier for the post. But the 73-year-old Samak has been in seclusion since
Tuesday's court decision, and there is speculation he will reject the party's
nomination.The Thai parliament will meet Friday to elect a new prime
MALAYSIA - ANWAR: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim insists he is "on track" with his plan
to topple the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi by September
16th.Anwar made the declaration today outside a Kuala
Lumpur courtroom, where a hearing was held on the sodomy charges brought against
him. He is accused of having sexual relations with a former male aide. Anwar
says the charges are politically motivated.The former deputy prime
minister says he is working to get 30 lawmakers belonging to the ruling party to
defect to his three-party coalition. But around 50 lawmakers have been sent on
an overseas tour.
BURMA - EXPLOSION: Burma's state-run news agenciessay three people were injured in an
explosion aboard a passenger bus in the main city of Rangoon today.The blast occurred days after Burma's police chief
announced the arrest of three opposition members in connection with the bombing
of pro-government offices in July. Two of the suspects are members of
the National League for Democracy party, headed by opposition leader Aung San
Suu Kyi.The cause of the explosion is under investigation.
JAPAN - POLITICS: Five veteran Japanese politicians have officially submitted their names to
replace outgoing Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda.The five, including
ex-Foreign Minister Taro Aso, informed the ruling Liberal Democratic Party today of their intentions to succeed Mr. Fukuda as party president.
The other candidates include Nobutera Ishihara, Shigeru Ishiba, Kaoru Yosano
and Yuriko Koike, who is hoping to become Japan's first female prime
minister.Aso, the LDP's current secretary-general, is regarded as the
favorite to win the September 22nd party vote. The winner is almost certain to
become prime minister, because of the LDP's majority in the powerful lower house
GEORGIA: A top State Department official says the United States and Russia may be in for
a difficult period.U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried told
Congress Tuesday that Russian leaders must change their path and not be allowed
to draw a new line in Europe.Fried said it is in the United States'
interest to help Georgia recover economically, restore its sovereignty, and
address what he calls its "legitimate military needs."A top Pentagon
official told the
lawmakers that a defense department team is going to Georgia this week. He said
the team will assess how to help Georgia rebuild its military after the brief
war with Russia over two breakaway Georgian regions.
RUSSIA - POLAND: Russian news reports say a top defense official has warned that Russia may point
ballistic weapons at a U.S. missile defense system in Europe.News
agencies today quote General Nikolai Solovtsyov as saying
Russia may take the action if the United States moves forward with a missile
defense plan in Poland and the Czech Republic.The United States and
Poland signed a missile defense agreement in Warsaw last month. It allows the
United States to deploy 10 defensive missiles in Poland. The United States also
plans to set up guidance radar in the Czech Republic.
OIL PRICES: Oil prices began rebounding today after oil ministers from
the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) moved to cut
production.The group agreed earlier today to cut
production by more than half-a-million barrels a day, one day after oil prices
fell to a five-month low .The decision came as a surprise since the head
of OPEC said Tuesday that ministers would likely keep production levels steady.
Algerian Energy Minister Chakib Khelil had told Bloomberg Television that
cutting production would do more harm than good.
ATOM SMASHER: A team of European scientists today initiated a vastly
ambitious experiment they say could provide the answers to the origins of the
universe.Scientists fired the first protons through the 10-billion
dollar atom smasher called the Large Hadron Collider, which features a
27-kilometer long underground tunnel near Geneva.Project leaders with the European Organization for Nuclear
Research say the machine will create the conditions that were present less than
one-billionth of a second after the Big Bang -- the phenomenon many scientists
say created the universe.
Listen to our World News for details.