WORLD ECONOMY: Asian markets closed sharply higher today (Monday), as two more major economies make moves to prop up struggling banks. Hong Kong's Hang Seng and Australia's key (S&P/ASX) market both closed up more than four percent, while Tokyo's Nikkei rose three-and-a-half percent. South Korean shares (Kospi) were up more than two percent, posting a gain for the first time in four trading days. Major European markets were up about two percent in morning trading.
South Korea said Sunday it will guarantee up to 100 billion dollars in foreign debts held by the country's banks. The government also said it will provide the banks with 30 billion dollars in direct funds. Also Sunday, the Netherlands said it will inject 13 billion dollars into Dutch-based ING, one of the world's 20 largest banks. ING warned Friday it expects a quarterly loss of 670 million dollars because of the global credit crisis.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan police say gunmen on motorbikes have killed a British woman who worked for a Christian aid agency in Kabul. The British Embassy confirms the woman gunned down early today (Monday) in the Afghan capital is a British national. Earlier reports said she was believed to be from South Africa. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the slaying. A spokesman for
the militant group says the woman was killed for spreading Christianity.
Taliban insurgents have increasingly targeted aid workers in a campaign to weaken support for the Western-backed Afghan government.
CHINA - FARMERS: China has announced a new policy that will allow farmers to trade, lease and transfer their land use rights, as part of a government effort to end rural poverty. Chinese state media announced Sunday that the measure is aimed at making the best use of China's farmland, which is state-owned. Many farmers have been moving to cities where they can get jobs with better pay. The new policy will allow them to rent out their land allotment, exchange land allotments with others, or join together to increase production. Chinese officials hope to double the average farmer's income by 2020.
CAMBODIA - THAILAND: The prime ministers of Cambodia and Thailand plan to meet late this week to discuss a long-running border dispute that erupted into a deadly shootout last week. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's advisor, Sri Thamrong, told reporters today (Monday) that the Cambodian leader would meet with Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat on the sidelines of an international summit taking place in the Beijing Friday and Saturday. No specific date was given for the meeting between the two prime ministers when they attend the summit of European Union and Asian leaders.
THAILAND PROTEST: Thousands of anti-government protesters marched in Thailand's capital today (Monday) to denounce alleged police brutality earlier this month. The demonstrators have stepped up their protests against Prime Minister
Somchai Wongsawat since a rally outside Parliament October seventh
ended in a clash with police that resulted in two deaths and hundreds
Last Thursday, Thailand's army chief (General Anupong Paochinda) called for Mr. Somchai, a brother-in-law of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to resign to take responsibility for the fatal clashes. Mr. Somchai says he will not step down. He says the government will await the results of an investigation into the violent protests before deciding what to do next.
GEORGIA REFUGEES: United Nations refugee officials say thousands of Georgians driven from their homes during the brief war with Russia in August have returned home. A spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Ron Redmond, tells VOA (correspondent Lisa Schlein) that 20-thousand have gone back at least temporarily to their towns and villages since Russian troops left the buffer zone outside South Ossetia. But Redmond warns all those going home to watch out for landmines and unexploded shells. He says a number of casualties have already been reported.
CANADA SUMMIT: Fifty-five French-speaking nations from around the world have pledged to cut their greenhouse gas emissions in half by the year 2050. The pledge was announced Sunday in Quebec City, Canada, at the close of the 12th Francophonie summit. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government will spend nearly 85 million dollars to help developing countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the South Pacific fight the effects of climate change.
ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe opposition officials say their leader, leader Morgan Tsvangirai, will not attend today's (Monday's) regional summit on the country's political impasse because he could not get the necessary travel documents. The Movement for Democratic Change says Tsvangirai is unable to travel to the meeting in Swaziland where he and Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe were scheduled to meet with leaders from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Tsvangirai and Mr. Mugabe signed a power-sharing deal but are deadlocked over which party gets control of each of the country's 31 ministries.
NORTH KOREA(News Updates): South Korean officials say they have not noticed any unusual activity
in North Korea, even after recent media reports in Japan said the
Stalinist state was preparing to make a major announcement. A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry said today (Monday) that all international and domestic events are proceeding as scheduled.
There has been intense speculation in recent weeks over the health and condition of the reclusive country's leader, Kim Jong Il. Mr. Kim disappeared from public view in mid-August.
Listen to our World News for more details in Lao.