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Asian Markets Mixed After Worldwide Interest Rate Cuts


WORLD ECONOMY: Trading on Asian markets is mixed today, following a move by the world's central banks to cut their key interest rates in a coordinated attempt to head off a global recession. Japan's benchmark Nikkei index closed one-half of one percent lower, and markets in Manila, Sydney, Taiwan and Wellington also lost points at the end of their sessions. But the Hang Seng in Hong Kong closed the day's trading with a gain of more than three percent, as investors reacted to news the territory's central bank was cutting its key interest rate by one-and-a-half percent.

JAPAN - ECONOMY: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso has instructed leaders in his ruling party to craft an additional economic stimulus package to bolster the country's struggling economy. Kousuke Hori, the policy chief of the Liberal Democratic Party, says Mr. Aso wants a measure that goes beyond an 18-billion dollar stimulus package approved Wednesday by the lower house of parliament and expected to pass the upper house next week. The new stimulus measure may include assistance for small businesses, and tax cuts to encourage business investment.

THAILAND - PROTESTS: Thailand's Court of Appeals has dismissed treason charges against nine leaders of an anti-government protest group which has occupied the government's main complex for nearly two months. The court threw out arrest warrants for the leaders today, saying the charges were groundless. The judges also dismissed charges of conspiracy to incite treason and disobeying police orders to disperse. The treason charges carried a maximum life prison sentence. Authorities had issued the arrest warrants after members of the People's Alliance for Democracy seized the official Government House in Bangkok in late August.

NOKOR - MISSILES: South Korean news reports say North Korea is preparing to test fire more short-range missiles, following this week's reported launch of two missiles. According to the reports, intelligence sources believe the North has deployed 10 missiles on Chodo, a small island navy base off the peninsula's western coast. The missiles include land-to-ship and ship-to-ship missiles. Pyongyang has banned all ships from traveling near Chodo until October 15th. North Korea reportedly fired two missiles from Chodo on Monday as part of a military drill.

CHINA - TAINTED MILK: More than 10-thousand children in China remain hospitalized after drinking tainted milk, as the government releases its first set of rules regarding the chemical blamed for the scandal. So far, more than 50-thousand children have been sickened and four have died after consuming milk powder contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. China's health ministry says melamine will now be limited to one milligram per kilogram for infant formula and two-point-five milligrams per kilogram for food products containing more than 15 percent milk.

CHINA - US - GUANTANAMO: China has issued fresh demands that the United States hand over 17 Chinese Muslims being held at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Speaking with reporters today in Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said the detainees must face the "sanction of the law" in China. Qin says the 17 men are members of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, a group the United Nations lists as a terrorist organization. U.S. officials fear the detainees could be tortured if they are turned over to China and have sought their release to a third country, so far unsucessfully.

PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Security officials in Pakistan say a suspected suicide bomber attacked a police building in Islamabad today, wounding several people. Officials say the attack targeted a building that is part of a police compound. Security has been heightened in the capital since last month, when at least 55 people were killed in a suicide truck bombing outside a luxury hotel. Today's attack occurred as lawmakers gathered in Islamabad for a second intelligence briefing on the threat posed by al-Qaida and Taliban militants.

AFGHANISTAN: The U.S. military in Afghanistan says security forces killed 12 militants in the country's south, while militants killed 10 civilians in a nearby village. A military statement issued today says Afghan and coalition troops on patrol in Uruzgan province Wednesday responded to attacks by militants equipped with small-arms, and rocket-propelled grenades. The military reported no troop casualties. Meanwhile, the statement says local villagers told coalition forces that militants had killed 10 civilians nearby.

NOBEL PRIZE - CHEMISTRY: Two American scientists and a Japanese researcher have won the Nobel Prize for chemistry for discovering a glowing green protein that can track the growth of brain cells and tumors. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm said U.S.-based Japanese scientist Osamu Shimomura, and Americans Martin Chalfie and Roger Tsien will share the prize for the discovery of the protein GFP. The Nobel committee says GFP, discovered in jellyfish, has allowed researchers to develop ways to watch previously invisible processes inside living cells.

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