ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The Palestinian militant group Hamas says its six-month ceasefire with Israel is over.
The group says there are no plans to renew the truce, which expired early today (Friday at 0400 GMT).
The cease-fire took effect in June and has eroded considerably in
recent weeks. Hamas militants have regularly fired rockets and mortars
into Israel, which has responded by tightening its blockade of the
Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip and attacking suspected rocket launchers in the
Both sides have accused each other of violating the Egyptian-brokered truce.
US - MIDEAST: U.S. President George Bush is expected to host the Palestinian
president Mahmoud Abbas at the White House later today, for a
"farewell meeting" between the two leaders.
The White House has said the talks will focus on building Palestinian
institutions, achieving economic development, and training and
deploying Palestinian security forces in the West Bank. Mr. Bush will
leave office on January 20th, without realizing his goal of securing a
Middle East peace deal.
Mr. Abbas will travel next to Russia, where he will meet with Russian
leaders in Moscow.
JAPAN - ECONOMY: Japan's central bank has slashed its key interest rate below one percent, while the government predicts the nation's economy will experience zero growth through 2010. The Bank of Japan cut its key interest rate to zero-point-10 percent today. The rate cut was expected after the U.S. Federal Reserve cut the U.S. interest rate between zero and one-quarter percent Tuesday. The Japanese central bank says it will begin buying commercial paper, the short-term debt that companies issue to fund their day-to-day operations, and increase its purchase of government bonds.
US - ECONOMY: Two of the so called "Big Three" U.S. automakers are reported close to securing emergency loans from the government.
News reports say a deal could be announced as early as today.
General Motors and Chrysler have been in negotiations with the Bush
administration to obtain 14 billion dollars in loans to to keep the
companies solvent into early 2009. The automakers and the White House
have been in talks ever since a rescue package failed in the U.S.
Senate last week.
G.M. and Chrysler are reeling from the global recession, which has led
to tightening credit and a falling consumer demand.
KOREAS - KIM - PLOT: South Korea is denying North Korea's accusations that it orchestrated a plot to track and harm North Korean leader Kim Jong Il.
A statement from the North's Ministry of State Security carried by the
nation's official media Thursday says a man with the surname Ri has
been arrested in connection with the alleged plot.
It says a South Korean intelligence agency trained Ri and, in a direct
quote, provided "speech and acoustic sensing and pursuit devices for
tracking the movement of the top leader."
North Korea says it was a "terrorist mission" with the purpose of harming Mr. Kim.
NOKOR - KIM JONG IL: The commander of U.S. forces in Asia and the Pacific says Kim Jong Il remains alive and in control of North Korea. Admiral Timothy Keating told reporters Thursday that he believes Mr. Kim is relatively in control of his faculties. But Keating denied having any further information about the 66-year-old North Korean leader's health. U.S. and South Korean officials have said Mr. Kim suffered a stroke in August and underwent surgery. North Korea has dismissed those claims and released a series of undated photographs purported to show Mr. Kim performing official duties, such as visiting state-run factories and military units.
YEMEN - GERMANY: Reports from Yemen say tribesmen have released three German hostages.
Yemeni authorities andtribemembers today announced that the
hostages -- a German woman working in Afghanistan, and her visiting
parents -- had been set free.
Tribesmen captured the three Germans on Sunday, as they toured the
outskirts of Sanaa. Government officials said the
tribesmen were keeping the hostages in a mountainous area east of the
capital. They said the kidnappers hoped to use their hostages as
leverage to get
two of their fellow tribesmen freed.
ZIMBABWE - CHOLERA: The United Nations says Zimbabwe's cholera epidemic is worsening, with
the death toll from the disease rising to more than 11-hundred-20.
New figures released today show the fatality rate
from the disease is currently five point four percent. The World Health
Organization says it needs to be below one percent to control the
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says more
than 20-thousand-500 cholera cases have been reported in Zimbabwe since
IRAQ: The U.S. Defense Department says top military officials have briefed
President-elect Barack Obama's national security team on plans to
withdraw thousands of troops from Iraq next year.
Mr. Obama has said he wants U.S. forces to leave Iraq within 16 months.
Military officials did not say whether the Pentagon's plans match Mr.
In a television interview this week, U.S. Defense
Secretary Robert Gates said thousands of U.S. forces could remain in
Iraq after 2011 -- the withdrawal date mandated by a recently approved
security agreement with Iraq.
Listen to our World News for details.