WORLD ECONOMY: European markets followed on the heels of today's rebound in
Tokyo, as investors were encouraged by Thursday's gains on Wall Street.
The key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt each gained about four
percent at the start of their trading sessions, and were in positive
territory by mid-morning.
In Asia, Japan's key Nikkei index closed more than two-and-a-half
percent higher, rebounding after suffering its worst loss in two
decades on Thursday. Share prices also closed higher in Shanghai, but
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index dropped nearly four-and-one-half percent.
US - IRAQ: The Pentagon says U.S. and Iraqi officials have reached a draft accord
on the legal framework for U.S. troops to stay in Iraq, after the
United Nations mandate on foreign forces expires on December 31st.
Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell stressed Thursday this is not a final
document, and that the draft is still subject to the normal political
process in both countries.
One of the sticking points is the immunity of U.S. troops accused of crimes while serving in Iraq.
Iraq has insisted on Iraqi jurisdiction, while the U.S. side has been
reluctant to agree.
US POLITICS: U.S. presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama return to the
campaign trial today, as they visit a handful of states
crucial in the battle to win the November election.
McCain, the Republican nominee, will hold campaign rallies in Florida while Democratic candidate Obama will hold
rallies in Virginia and Missouri. The two men appeared together
Thursday night in New York City at an
annual charity dinner named in honor of Al Smith, a former governor of
New York state who waged an unsuccessful presidential campaign in 1928.
THAILAND POLITICS: Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat says he will not resign, despite
calls to step down by the country's military chief and a new round of
Mr. Somchai told reporters today his government still had a
responsibility to carry out its duties. The prime minister's comments
came a day after after Army chief General
Anupong Paochinda told a television interviewer if he were the prime
minister, he would have resigned in the aftermath of last week's deadly
clash between anti-government protesters and police.
CAMBODIA - THAILAND: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen says the recent border clash between
his country and neighboring Thailand will not escalate into a wider
The prime minister told reporters in Phnom Penh today the
two rivals have agreed to resolve the dispute directly, rejecting the
need for an outside mediator to negotiate a settlement.
A deadly gunfight between Cambodian and Thai soldiers erupted Wednesday
along a disputed border area. Two Cambodian soldiers were killed in the
shootout, and soliders from each side were wounded. Cambodian cliamed
to have captured some Thai troops.
VIETNAM - JOURNALISTS: The United States and international media advocacy groups have
condemned a Vietnamese court's conviction of two Vietnamese journalists
who helped expose a major government corruption scandal.
A spokesperson from the U.S. embassy in Hanoi told reporters Thursday
that the guilty verdicts are disappointing and contradict the rights
available to journalists under Vietnamese law.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders called the trial a terrible step
backward for investigative journalism in Vietnam. The New York-based
Committee to Protect Journalists called the sentences shameful.
US - CHINA - FOOD SAFETY: The United States says the Food and Drug Administration plans to open its first overseas offices later this year in China.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt
announced the plan on Thursday as part of a new initiative to post
staff in overseas offices year-round.
Leavitt said increasing the presence of U.S. inspectors overseas will
help protect American consumers and benefit host countries.
FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach said a new approach to product
safety is needed because of the globalization of food supply and drug
US - NOKOR - FOOD: Humanitarian groups say the United States will dispatch a fourth food
aid shipment to North Korea later this week so that it will arrive
Mercy Corps, World Vision and three other groups released a statement
Thursday saying that the shipment will contain more than 25-thousand
metric tons of corn and soy.
The groups says they will oversee distribution of the aid to North Korean orphanages, hospitals, nurseries and schools
They said the delivery will be the fourth shipment from the United
States to North Korea, which is facing its worst food shortages in
nearly a decade.
Listen to our World News for details.