THAILAND - PROTEST: Leaders with Thailand's anti-government movement are blaming the
country's leaders for a grenade attack in Bangkok that killed at least
one protester and wounded 23 others.
The attack occurred today on the grounds of the prime minister's
official compound, which has been occupied by protesters from the
People's Alliance for Democracy for nearly three months.
The PAD says it will hold a massive rally Sunday to drive the government out of power.
Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat denies PAD's accusations, telling
reporters it is not government policy to use violence against the
WORLD ECONOMY: European and Asian markets are plummeting today following more bad news about the struggling global economy.
The key indexes in London, Paris and Frankfurt fell more than two percent in the early session.
In Asia, Japan's Nikkei index lost nearly seven percent, the Kospi in
South Korea dropped six-and-a-half percent, and Hong Kong's Hang Seng
index fell more than four-and-one-quarter percent.
The rout in Asia was triggered by news that Japanese exports in October fell to the lowest point in six years.
ICELAND - IMF: The International Monetary Fund has approved a two-point-one billion dollar loan for Iceland, which has been hit hard by the world financial crisis. The IMF said Wednesday that Iceland is in the midst of an extraordinary banking crisis, and faces severe recession. The fund is making 827-million dollars available immediately and the rest of the loan will be paid in eight installments of about 155-million dollars. Meanwhile, four Nordic countries (Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway) agreed to lend Iceland another two-point-five billion dollars.
OBAMA TRANSITION: Democratic sources say U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has picked
Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to lead the department of homeland
Napolitano leads a border state and has been praised for her handling
of immigration and homeland security issues. The governor's Web site
says Napolitano is a national voice in calling for the federal
government to take responsibility for securing the nation's borders.
Democratic officials say Mr. Obama's pick for the Department of Health
and Human Services, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, has
accepted the Cabinet job.
PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani officials say Islamabad has summoned the U.S. ambassador to lodge a protest about U.S. missile strikes by unmanned spy planes. They say U.S. envoy Anne Patterson was called today to the foreign office in Islamabad. On Wednesday, a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan's volatile northwest killed six alleged militants, including possibly a top al-Qaida operative. Local officials say the pre-dawn attack by a suspected U.S. drone destroyed a militant hideout in Bannu district in the North West Frontier Province.
IRAQ - US: Iraq's foreign minister says a pact extending the presence of U.S.
troops in Iraq has a chance of gaining parliamentary approval, despite
some heated opposition.
Hoshyar Zebari spoke today, a day after an
Iraqi parliamentary session was cut short due to opposition to the
U.S.-Iraqi security pact from lawmakers loyal to Shi'ite cleric Moqtada
Sadrist members disrupted the session by shouting, and one lawmaker scuffled with guards.
Iraqi lawmakers are expected to resume debate today on the security
agreement, which would extend the U.S. troop presence in Iraq by three
years to 2011.
IRAN NUCLEAR: Iran says it will continue cooperating with the International Atomic
Energy Agency, despite an IAEA report that says Tehran has refused to
provide the agency with more details on its nuclear program.
Iran's state news agency quotes the deputy head of
Iran's nuclear agency, Mohammad Saeedi, as saying the IAEA is allowed
to inspect Iran's nuclear plants in the framework of the nuclear
Saeedi spoke after Wednesday's release of the IAEA report that said the
agency's investigation into Iran's atomic program has reached a
standstill, due to a lack of cooperation from Tehran.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli radio says Jordan's King Abdullah has asked Israeli leaders not to launch large-scale military operations in the Gaza Strip. The radio report cited a top Israeli official as saying the king made the plea during a secret meeting in Amman this week with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The report said Mr. Olmert told King Abdullah that Israel cannot restrain itself if Gaza militants continue firing rockets into Israel. Meanwhile, Palestinian medical sources say an explosion in Gaza has killed a Palestinian militant.
AUSTRALIA - STORMS: A strong storm in Australia's coastal city of Brisbane has cut power to
hundreds of homes and killed one woman as flash floods swept her away
in her car.
In a matter of hours, the storm dumped more than 200 millimeters of
rain on the city. Officials say the flooding was the worst the area has
seen in decades.
One local resident, David Gilbank told state radio that when he awoke
he found that his bed was floating in more than a meter of water.
It is the second time in a matter of days that the city in Australia's Queensland state has been hit by extreme weather.
Listen to our World News for details.