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Moratorium Urged on Dams in Laos


WORLD ECONOMY: A potential agreement on the Bush administration's 700-billion dollar rescue plan for the U.S. financial sector is on hold after Republicans in the House of Representatives revolted against the proposal.Talks between the administration and congressional negotiators broke up late Thursday with no agreement in sight. Talks are set to resume later this morning.The breakdown in negotiations came hours after U.S. President Bush discussed the plan with congressional leaders and the two presidential candidates, Democratic Senator Barack Obama and Republican Senator John McCain.

BURMA - CRACKDOWN: Security is tight in the main Burmese city of Rangoon today, the one year anniversary of the brutal military crackdown on anti-government protests.Armed police are patrolling Rangoon's streets in trucks in an effort to discourage a repeat of the massive protests led by Burmese monks, which observers dubbed the "Saffron Revolution" because of the color of the monk's robes. The crackdown began on on September 26th, 2007, when troops stormed the ranks of the demonstrators, shooting, beating and detaining thousands of them.

CHINA - SPACE: The crew of China's third manned space mission is assembling a new specially made spacesuit in advance of the country's historic first spacewalk.The three-man crew of the Shenzhou ("sacred vessel") Seven settled into their duties after reaching their final orbit 343 kilometers above the Earth earlier today. They will spend the next half-day putting together a 120-kilogram spacesuit that cost over four-million dollars to create. The outfit has been named Feitian, which means "flying the sky."Crew commander Zhai Zhigang is expected to conduct Saturday's spacewalk, which could last at least 40 minutes.

LAOS - MEKONG RIVER: A new report by the group International Rivers is calling on the Lao government to place a moratorium on the construction of dams along the Mekong River.In a report released Thursday, the group notes that Laos already has six dams in operation, and seven more under construction. It says that in addition to that, 12 more are in the works and development deals are pending on 35 others.International Rivers argues that the flood of hydropower projects in Laos seeks to monopolize on the Mekong at the expense of those who rely on the river for their daily needs.

MALAYSIA - POLITICS: Malaysia's ruling party has postponed its leadership elections, triggering speulation that Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will step down before a planned transition to his deputy.Mr. Abdullah's ruling United Malays National Organization (UNMO) held an emergency meeting in Kuala Lumpur today amid growing calls for him to step down before 2010, when he is set to hand power to Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak. The coalition agreed during today's meeting to move its leadership elections from December to March of next year. Mr. Abdullah said the move is to "facilitate an early transition."

CAMBODIA - NEW CABINET: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has unveiled his new Cabinet, promising to combat corruption and advocate good governance. Mr. Hun Sen presented the Cabinet Thursday to a parliament dominated by his Cambodian People's Party. Critics have accused his government in the past of doing little to control corruption, illegal logging and land-grabbing by well-connected businessmen. The prime minister's party won 90 of the 123 parliamentary seats in the July elections. That landslide victory allows the ruling party to govern without the support of smaller parties for the first time.

US POLITICS: Tonight's first presidential debate between Democratic nominee Barack Obama and Republican counterpart John McCain remains in limbo after McCain pledged to suspend his campaign.The Arizona lawmaker announced Wednesday he was putting his campaign on hiatus to take part in negotiations in Washington on the Bush administration's financial sector rescue plan. He said he would not take part in the debate unless a deal had been reached.Angry congressional Democrats are blaming McCain for scuttling a potential agreement on the Bush administration's 700-billion dollar rescue plan after a White House meeting Thursday.

UN - MALARIA: World and business leaders have pledged three billion dollars to help eradicate malaria. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, whose country pledged 74 million dollars, says the plan is comprehensive and will include money for bed nets, research, drugs, and improving health care systems. The World Bank said it would contribute more than one billion dollars to fight malaria in sub-Saharan Africa over the next three years. And Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates announced his foundation will provide 168-million dollars towards the development of a new generation of malaria vaccines.

Listen to our World News for details.

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