SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa says government troops have
taken control of the Tamil Tigers' de-facto capital, Kilinochchi, for
the first time in a decade.
Mr. Rajapaksa told reporters today that the
military capture was an "unparalleled victory" for Sri Lanka. Officials
say troops breached the northern town's defenses at two locations and
took over key landmarks in the town following fierce fighting.
The capture of Kilinochchi is a huge blow to the rebels and their
25-year-old war for an independent homeland for the nation's Tamil
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israel is allowing hundreds of foreign passport holders to leave the
Gaza Strip, where a seven-day offensive against Hamas has killed nearly
420 Palestinians and wounded nearly two thousand others.
About 400 people are expected to evacuate Gaza today, raising
speculation of a ground offensive by the thousands of Israeli troops
massed along the border.
The Israeli army locked down the West Bank today for 48 hours,
prohibiting movement into the occupied Palestinian territory except in
Israel also put thousands of security forces on alert, after Hamas
urged Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to protest in a "day
of wrath" following mid-day prayers.
GAZA - WORLD REACTION: Massive protests are erupting around the world in condemnation of Israel's deadly bombardment of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. Large crowds of Palestinians in Ramallah waved banners and chanted slogans in solidarity with their fellow Palestinians in Gaza, as Israeli security forces stood on high alert in the occupied West Bank. In Indonesia, at least 10-thousand people marched through the streets of Jakarta chanting "God is great" in Arabic outside the U.S. embassy. Thousands of Afghans held their own protest in Kabul, shouting slogans against Israel and the United States, and burning the countries' flags.
THAILAND - FIRE: Thai investigators are working to identify 30 bodies pulled from the
wreckage of a Bangkok night club that were burnt beyond recognition in
a fire on New Year's Eve.
At least 61 people -- including many foreign tourists and expatriates
-- have died from burns, smoke inhalation and injuries sustained as
they attempted to escape the blaze at the upscale Santika Club.
Witnesses describe seeing people's clothes and hair in flames and young
women trampled as nearly a thousand guests rushed in panic to the
building's single public entrance.
AUSTRALIA - GUANTANAMO: Australia's acting prime minister says the country is unlikely to agree
to a U.S. request to accept inmates from the Guantanamo Bay detention
center for terrorist suspects.
Julia Gillard said in a statement today Australia
is considering the request the administration of U.S. President George
Bush made last month. She said requests for resettlement would be
considered on a case-by-case basis.
Gillard said Australia rejected a similar request to resettle a small group of detainees early last year.
Mr. Bush has said he would like to close the Guantanamo Detention
center, and his successor, President-elect Barack Obama, has officially
pledged to shut the prison's doors after taking office in January.
CUBA - REVOLUTION: Cuba has marked the 50th anniversary of the revolution that brought
Fidel Castro to power, and turned the island -- 145 kilometers south of
U.S. shores -- into a Communist state.
Cuban President Raul Castro led official ceremonies in Santiago de
Cuba, the city from where his older brother proclaimed victory when
dictator Fulgencio Batista fled on New Year's Day, 1959.
Raul Castro, who wore an olive green army uniform, alluded to difficult
economic times ahead before a a crowd of about three thousand invited
guests. He predicted the revolution would last another 50 years.
US - OBAMA - TRANSITION: Political sources say U.S. President-elect Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, will meet Monday to discuss a stimulus plan for the ailing U.S. economy. They say the two Democrats will discuss the scope and timing of the economic recovery package, which is intended in part, to create jobs and invest in U.S. businesses. According to the Washington Post newspaper, Pelosi has said she wants a bill ready for Mr. Obama to sign when he takes office on January 20th. The stimulus plan is expected to cost between 675 billion dollars and 775 billion dollars.
Listen to our World News for details.