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US Government to Buy $250 Billion in Private Bank Stock


WORLD ECONOMY: Asian and European markets climbed again today, as traders waited for details of a U.S. government plan to buy up to $250 billion in the stock of private banks. President George Bush is making the official announcement at this hour that the government will inject money directly into the banks in the latest effort to restore confidence in the financial sector. The government intervention is designed to allow the banks to raise money and resume normal lending. Officials say the plan will include a temporary guarantee for loans that banks make to each other -- a critical part of the nation's credit system.

CAMBODIA - THAILAND: Cambodian army officials say Thai soldiers pulled out of a disputed border zone today, just before a noon deadline issued by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen. The officials told reporters that the area in the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple, which lies at the heart (core) of a border dispute, has returned to normal. On Monday, Hun Sen said Thailand should withdraw its soldiers within 24 hours, before the area became what he called a "life and death battleground." He said 84 Thai soldiers crossed early Monday about one kilometer inside Cambodia, where they camped just 40 meters from Cambodian troops.

CAMBODIA - KHMER ROUGE: A Cambodian court has convicted three former Khmer Rouge soldiers in the murder of a British mine-clearing expert and his Cambodian interpreter 12 years ago. A judge today announced the sentencing of the men to 20 years in prison for the kidnapping and murder of Christopher Howes and Huon Huot in 1996. At a one-day trial in Phnom Penh last week, the former Khmer Rouge soldiers and two other defendants described the execution-style killing of the 37-year-old British man. The defendants said they were innocent and tried to shift the blame to two deceased guerrillas.

PHILIPPINES - REBELS: The Philippine Supreme Court has rejected a government agreement that would have given Muslim separatists more autonomy on the southern island of Mindanao. A court ruling today said the August fourth agreement was unconstitutional and could lead to the partition of the country. Eight of the court's 15 judges approved the ruling. Shortly after the deal was signed in August, the court issued an injunction citing protests from Christian politicians in the south. The move angered Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels who went on a violent rampage killing dozens of people.

THAILAND POL: Thailand's Constitutional Court has agreed to hear vote fraud charges against three ruling parties that could result in their being disbanded and their leaders banned from politics for five years. A statement today said the court had decided to hear the case after it was passed to them by prosecutors. The court has given leaders of the People Power Party and two of its coalition partners orders to submit answers to the charges within two weeks. After the submissions are received, the court will begin deliberations. No date was set for a verdict.

SYRIA - LEBANON: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has issued a decree formally establishing diplomatic ties with next-door neighbor Lebanon. The decree was announced today by the official Syrian news agency. It calls for the creation of a diplomatic embassy at the ambassador level in the Lebanese capital of Beirut. Mr. Assad and Lebanese President Michel Suleiman agreed to establish relations back in August, during talks in Paris with French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy. The two countries have not had embassies in each other's capitals since they both gained independence from France more than 60 years ago.

SAUDI - EXECUTIONS: The human rights group Amnesty International says the number of executions in Saudi Arabia is surging. In a new report issued today, the London-based group said Saudi authorities continue to execute people at an average of more than two a week. Amnesty says almost half of the victims are impoverished migrant laborers from developing countries, who are sentenced in largely secret and unfair trials conducted in a language they do not understand. The report says execution is usually by beheading. The group called on the Saudi government to introduce an immediate moratorium on the death penalty.


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