WORLD ECONOMY: European markets opened higher today, following gains in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Markets in London and Paris are up about three percent, while Frankfurt shows a more than four percent gain. Tokyo's Nikkei index closed up more than six percent, and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong finished more than 14 percent higher as bargain hunters moved in after a week of significant losses. Futures contracts for U.S. markets are also higher. European leaders are stepping up their efforts to stabilize troubled financial markets. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown travels to Paris today to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
US POLITICS: With just one week to go before the U.S. presidential election, the two
major candidates are increasing their efforts to convince voters they
are the best choice to fix the economy and change the way business is
done in Washington.
Democratic Party nominee Barack Obama and Republican John McCain are
each beginning their day today in Pennsylvania, before moving
on to other important states where the race is close.
Obama's campaign says he is making his "closing argument" for votes, in
part by saying McCain would continue the economic policies of the Bush
SYRIA - ATTACK: A U.S. official says a helicopter attack in Syria is believed to have killed the head of a network that had been smuggling weapons and foreign fighters into Iraq. U.S. news agencies quote the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as saying the man targeted was Abu Ghadiya. The U.S. Treasury Department previously identified Ghadiya as a major terrorist financier to al-Qaida in Iraq. Syria is accusing the United States of "terrorist aggression" for the raid, which Damascus says killed eight civilians The White House, U.S. State Department, and Pentagon have refused all official comment on the incident.
KOREAS - TENSIONS: North Korea has threatened to reduce South Korea to "debris" unless
Seoul stops activists from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets across the
The communist state's official news agency says the ultimatum was
issued today at military talks with South Korea at the
border. The statement warns that Pyongyang will take "resolute
action" if Seoul continues what it calls a smear campaign. The
statement threatened an attack by the North Korean military that will
go beyond "setting [South Korea] on fire."
KOREAS - DEFECTORS: South Korean authorities say a North Korean soldier has defected after
crossing the heavily fortified military border that separates the
An official with South Korea's National Intelligence Service says the
soldier approached a South Korean guard post after crossing the
demilitarized zone (DMZ) and asked for asylum.
The defector told authorities he left North Korea because he was frustrated by life there, and was concerned about his future.
The last defection from North Korea at the border occurred in June,
when a man and a woman were found sailing across the western sea border
in South Korean waters.
SUDAN - CHINA KIDNAP: China has condemned the killings of five Chinese oil workers kidnapped
more than a week ago in Sudan. A spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign
Ministry released a statement today in Beijing denouncing the
killings as a terrorist attack. The victims were among nine Chinese oil
employees seized October 19th in central Sudan's oil district. Two surviving workers were wounded while
escaping, while two others remain in captivity. Khartoum says the
government did nothing to provoke the kidnappers into
killing the hostages.
US - BURMA: The United States has begun enforcing a law that tightens a ban on importing gems such as rubies and jade from Burma. U.S. President George Bush signed the legislation in July, but implementation was delayed until Monday. The law -- known as the (Tom Lantos) Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act -- closes a loophole that allowed Burmese gems to enter the United States through third countries. The bill also makes Burma's military officials and their families ineligible for visas to the United States. Gem auctions are a major source of revenue for Burma's military government.
AFGHANISTAN: A survey released today indicates that the number of Afghans
who are pessimistic about their country's future has risen in the past
One-third of Afghans surveyed (or 32 percent) said they think their
country is headed down the wrong path. In 2006, only one-fifth (or 21
percent) expressed that sentiment.
Meanwhile, 38 percent of Afghans questioned said they believe
Afghanistan is headed in the right direction. That is a six-percent
drop from 2006 (when it was 44 percent).
Insecurity was cited as the biggest problem facing Afghans. Earlier
this month, Afghanistan's defense minister (Abdul Rahim Wardak) said
the rise in
CUBA FOOD AID: The U.N. World Food Program is giving emergency assistance to the Cuban government. The WFP announced today that it will help feed about two million people at a cost of nearly six million dollars. The aid package is intended to help Cuba recover from last month's devastation from Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. During the next six months, WFP will provide food rations, including rice, beans, vegetable oil, canned fish and more. The WFP will also supply temporary food storage warehouses and liquid gas stoves to people who lost their cooking facilities in the storms.
Listen to our World News for details.