US - ECONOMY: Majority Democrats and minority Republicans in the U.S. Senate have failed to reach agreement on a financial rescue plan for the nation's struggling auto industry. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced the talks had collapsed late Thursday night, saying there were too many differences between Democrats and Republicans. Reid called the failure "a great loss for the country." Republican lawmakers say the talks failed because the union that represents employees, the United Auto Workers, refused to agree to a date to slash wages. The Bush administration issued a statement describing the collapse of the talks as "disappointing."
IRAQ - VIOLENCE: A suicide bomber struck a crowded restaurant near the northern Iraqi
city of Kirkuk on Thursday, killing at least 55 people and wounding
more than 100, including Kurdish and Arab officials.
The blast occurred as Kurdish officials and Arab tribal leaders dined
together at the "Abdullah" restaurant, following a meeting aimed at
reconciling their differences over control of the oil-rich region.
Officials tell VOA (Kurdish Service) a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan was among those killed.
The restaurant was also busy as people gathered to celebrate the final
day of the Eid al-Adha religious holiday. The attack was the deadliest
in Iraq since June, when a car bombing killed 63 people in Baghdad.
INDIA - PAKISTAN: A top U.S. diplomat is in New Delhi to
advise Indian political leaders on improving the country's intelligence
agencies, following last month's terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Deputy
Secretary of State John Negroponte is due to meet today with
Indian foreign and home ministers. Negroponte was in (the Pakistani
capital of) Islamabad Thursday, where he met with senior Pakistani
civilian and military leaders. India's intelligence agencies were
sharply criticized for failing to
prevent the Mumbai attacks, which killed at least 170 people. India's
government has accused Pakistan of sheltering the terrorist groups
behind the attacks.
JAPAN - US - AFGHAN: Japanese lawmakers have extended a naval refueling mission that supports a U.S.-led anti-terrorism effort in the Indian Ocean.
Today's vote in the lower house of parliament
extends the mission in the Indian Ocean until January 2010. The
Japanese naval forces refuel foreign vessels participating in U.S.
operations in Afghanistan.
The mission was rejected earlier by the upper house of parliament,
which is controlled by the main opposition party. The measure was then
sent back to the more powerful lower house, which is controlled by the
ruling Liberal Democratic Party.
The refueling mission first began in 2001. It was briefly suspended
last year after opposition lawmakers blocked an extension.
TAIWAN - POL: Taiwanese prosecutors have indicted former President Chen Shui-bian on several corruption-related charges.
Prosecutors announced today that Mr. Chen has
been indicted for money laundering, embezzlement and forgery. Twelve
other people have also been indicted in the case, including Mr. Chen's
wife, son and daughter-in-law.
The former president has been detained since last month on suspicion of
corruption dating back to his eight-year term in office, which ended
when he left office in May. He is the first ex-Taiwanese president
facing criminal charges.
Mr. Chen has accused his successor, Ma Ying-jeou, of bringing the
charges to appease China.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: The United States says it may reconsider its strategy toward North
Korea nuclear talks because the North would not agree to verification
measures on its nuclear disablement efforts. White House spokeswoman
Dana Perino said Thursday that Washington will have to rethink its
"action-for-action" approach, in which it has
provided economic and diplomatic incentives to North Korea in exchange
for disablement. But she said Washington is not considering returning
North Korea to a
terrorism blacklist, from which Pyongyang was removed in October.
U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the five other
parties to the talks accepted a Chinese draft agreement, but Pyongyang
NOKOR - KIM JONG IL: A French newspaper has reported that a neurosurgeon says North Korean
Leader Kim Jong Il is recovering from a stroke and is in charge of the
Thursday's report in the "Le Figaro" newspaper quotes Paris-based
doctor Francois-Xavier Roux as saying that Mr. Kim is better now and
did not undergo surgery. Roux, who is head neurosurgeon at a Paris
hospital, said he believes that recent photographs of Mr. Kim are
current and genuine.
Roux said he could not say more because of medical confidentiality and
state secrecy. A French newspaper identified Roux as Mr. Kim's
physician in a late October report.
ZIMBABWE - CHOLERA: Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe says his government has stopped a
deadly cholera epidemic -- but the United Nations says the death toll
The United Nations said Thursday the death toll had risen to 783, with more than 16-thousand suspected cases of cholera.
Also, a British charity, Save the Children, in Zimbabwe said there is
much evidence the outbreak is growing, and that many people have been
unable to get to cholera treatment centers.
South Africa declared a border district with Zimbabwe a disaster area because of the water-borne disease.
HORN OF AFRICA - HUNGER: The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
says hunger in the Horn of Africa is getting worse, and could tip into
famine if the next harvest comes up short.
The federation said Thursday that food aid is urgently needed in remote
areas of Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya. It says 20 million
people are already living on what it called the margins of survival.
Federation officials say severe drought, conflict, displacement, and
rising food prices are some of the reasons for the emergency. The
federation is appealing for more than 95-million dollars in urgent
aid to feed the two-point-two million people it says are the most at
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