ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: An Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip has killed one Palestinian
militant and wounded at least one other, a day after the militant group
Hamas officially declared an end to a six-month truce with Israel.
An Israeli army spokesman said the airstrike came in response to a
rocket attack earlier today by militants in the Gaza Strip.
The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades - a violent offshoot of moderate
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement - said the dead
militant was one of its members.
Also today, a boat carrying international activists and medical
supplies docked at the Gaza Strip, despite an ongoing Israeli blockade
of the port.
IRAQ: Iraq's interior ministry says authorities have released some 23
officials accused of working to rebuild the outlawed Baath party of
former leader Saddam Hussein.
Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told reporters on Friday the arrests
were motivated by politics, and not security. He denied that the
detained security and defense ministry officials were planning a coup.
In other news, an Iraqi judge and a lawyer for Muntazer al-Zaidi say
the reporter was badly beaten during his arrest. Zaidi has been in
Iraqi custody since Sunday, when he threw shoes at visiting U.S.
President George Bush during a news conference in Iraq.
US - ECONOMY: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has told U.S. auto companies they
must take "painful" steps to restructure their industry, even as they
prepare to receive billions of dollars in government loans.
Mr. Obama said Friday that he welcomed the Bush administration's plans
to lend 13-point-four billion dollars to Chrysler and General Motors.
But he also cautioned the leading auto companies that the American
people's patience with bad management practices is "running out." And
he said auto workers should not bear the brunt (burden) of the industry's restructuring.
OBAMA - TRANSITION: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to put science at the top
of his administration's agenda, as he announced key members of his
science and technology team.
Mr. Obama said in his weekly radio address today
that he was appointing John Holdren, Harold Varmus, and Eric Lander to
chair the President's Council of Advisers on Science and Technology. He
said he was appointing Jane Lubchenco to lead the National Oceanic and
The president-elect pointed to key areas where science is important --
climate change, defense, and industry.
CHINA - TAIWAN: China says it is willing to provide economic assistance to Taiwan if
the island needs it to get through the global financial downturn.
China's official Xinhua news agency quoted Jia Qinglin, a senior
Communist party leader, as saying today that if Taiwan asks
for help, Beijing will do its utmost to offer assistance.
Xinhua said Jia made the comment at the opening of a two-day meeting
between the two sides in Shanghai. Jia did not specify what kind of
assistance or how much would be offered.
The statement was the latest indication of warming relations between
the two rivals.
HONG KONG - MACAU: Hong Kong lawmakers say at least 20 pro-democracy activists and
legislators were barred from entering Macau today to take
part in a protest against a proposed national security bill.
The politicians said they were detained by immigration officials before
being sent back to Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong legislators say they were told they had broken Macau
security laws, but that authorities would not be more specific.
Among other things, the proposed bill would ban theft of state secrets.
Opponents of the bill say the definition of state secrets is too broad.
ZIMBABWE - POLITICS: Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe has declared "Zimbabwe is mine," and has vowed never to surrender to calls to step down.
Mr. Mugabe told a meeting of his ZANU-PF party central committee that
only Zimbabweans can remove him from power, and he said no African
nation is brave enough to wrest it from him.
The president also said he has invited the main opposition leader,
Morgan Tsvangirai, to be sworn in to join a unity government. However,
at the same, the president said he is not certain if a unity government
AFGHANISTAN: U.S. defense officials say the United States has authorized the
deployment of a combat aviation brigade to Afghanistan next year.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity on Friday, said U.S.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed the order Thursday. The brigade
is expected to deploy early next year.
This means nearly three thousand troops, as well as attack and
transport helicopters, are bound for Afghanistan as part of a larger
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