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US Judge: September 11 Suspects to Plead Guilty


GUANTANAMO TRIAL: Five men accused of plotting the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States have told a U.S. military judge they want to plead guilty -- but have postponed formally submitting their pleas. The judge Monday read a note from the defendants, including alleged September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, asking for an immediate hearing session to announce their confessions. Prosecutors in the trial are seeking the death penalty. The five defendants said they decided the day Barack Obama was elected to be the next U.S. president that they would withdraw all pending motions and enter guilty pleas.

US - IRAQ - BLACKWATER: U.S. federal prosecutors have charged five American security contractors with unlawfully shooting Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square in 2007. The five men, who worked for U.S. security company Blackwater Worldwide, are charged with manslaughter, attempted manslaughter and weapons offenses. They could face decades in prison if convicted. The U.S. Justice Department Monday said the defendants are accused of opening fire on unarmed Iraqis on a Baghdad street, killing 14 and wounding 20 others. A sixth Blackwater security guard involved in the shooting has pleaded guilty in the case. Iraqi authorities have said 17 Iraqis were killed in the September 2007 incident.

US - ECONOMY: The White House is reviewing a draft agreement submitted by Democratic Party lawmakers who say it could help the ailing U.S. auto industry survive the next few months and rescue millions of jobs. U.S. President George Bush, in an interview late Monday with ABC-TV News, declined to say whether a deal is close. Mr. Bush said only companies that can survive in the long-term should be eligible for bailout funds. He said policy makers must do their best to guarantee that taxpayer money is repaid. Earlier Monday, the Bush administration and Democrats in Congress said they were making progress in reaching a deal on a draft proposal that would make automakers eligible for 15 billion dollars in emergency loans.

JAPAN ECON - SONY: Japan's Sony Corporation said today that it will slash eight thousand jobs worldwide in a bid to cut costs during the global downturn. The giant corporation said it will cut the jobs from its electronics operations, which employ about 160 thousand workers. The company also plans to shut down about 10 percent of its plants and delay plans to boost output for liquid crystal display TVs in Slovakia. Sony said the new business plan will result in savings of more than a billion dollars a year by March of 2010. The news comes as Japan announced today that it had fallen into a deeper recession in the third quarter than first thought.

CHINA DISSIDENTS: Chinese authorities have detained two prominent dissidents ahead of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Zhang Zuhua, one of the detained dissidents, tells VOA that police showed up at his home Monday evening and did not release him until later Tuesday. Zhang says questions by authorities focused largely on an open letter that he and another dissident, Liu Xiaobo, had signed calling for greater human rights in China. Liu was also detained late Monday. His wife tells VOA he has yet to return home. The homes of both Liu and Zhang were searched and raided. Zhang says authorities seized computers, all of his credit cards and cash.

RUSSIA - RELIGION: Russia paid tribute today to its first Orthodox patriarch of post-Soviet times at the funeral of Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexei the Second. Speakers at the half-day service in the Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow praised Alexei for reviving the nation's Christian faith after decades of communism. The 79-year-old patriarch died Friday at his residence outside Moscow. Church officials did not disclose a cause of death. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and their spouses attended the funeral. Also at the service were representatives of the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, other Orthodox patriarchs and Islamic leaders.

DRC - RED CROSS: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is launching an emergency appeal to help up to 60-thousand Democratic Republic of Congo refugees in Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The IFRC is hoping to raise one-and-half-million dollars. The deputy head of the Eastern Africa zone of the Red Cross says there could be 50-thousand to 100-thousand refugees fleeing the DRC if the current peace talks in Nairobi between rebels and Congo's government collapse. The IFRC says the Uganda and Rwanda Red Cross-Red Crescent organizations are the principle providers of humanitarian aid to the Congolese refugees in their countries.

ZIMBABWE: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe continues to ignore the growing chorus of world leaders calling for him to step down. Mr. Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said today the West is using the country's cholera outbreak to advocate an invasion of Zimbabwe in a bid to oust Mr. Mugabe. Charamba accused the U.S. and Britain of being "dead set on ensuring that there is an invasion" of his country. While African countries like Botswana and Kenya have said Mr. Mugabe should go, most of Zimbabwe's neighbors have remained silent, or backed floundering negotiations aimed at forming a unity government.

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