ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel will continue its
offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, despite a U.N.
Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire.
Hamas leaders also dismissed the measure, saying it did not take Palestinian interests into account.
The resolution, approved late Thursday by a 14-0 vote, calls for a
truce leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces. It also demands
an end to Hamas rocket attacks and calls for the unimpeded distribution
of humanitarian aid.
The United States abstained from the vote, saying it wants to see the outcome of mediation efforts by Egypt.
US - PAKISTAN - AL-QAIDA: A U.S. counter-terrorism official says the head of al-Qaida's
operations in Pakistan, and his top aide were killed by a CIA missile
strike on New Year's Day.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on Thursday the two were believed to be Kenyan nationals.
The men, identified as Usama al-Kini and his aide, Sheikh Ahmed Salim
Swedan, were high on the FBI's list of most wanted terrorism suspects. .
Usama al-Kini is believed to be responsible for several attacks,
including the bombing of a Marriott hotel in Islamabad in September
that killed more than 50 people.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's military says troops fighting are to capture the highly
strategic Elephant Pass, the Tamil Tiger rebels' last stronghold in the
Military officials today said the causeway, which
links the Jaffna peninsula with the northern mainland, was close to
falling to government troops after they entered the area days ago. Most
of the Jaffna peninsula is already in government hands. Troops captured
the rebel capital Kilinochchi, last week.
Meanwhile, authorities said at least three security personnel and four
civilians were killed in northeastern Sri Lanka today during a rebel
AFGHANISTAN - VIOLENCE: Afghan officials say a suicide bomber has killed six people, including
one police officer, at a market in the south of the country.
The governor of Nimroz province says the bomber
was apparently targeting the police officer who was killed in today's blast in the town of Zaranj. The official had said earlier
that more than 10 people were killed during the bombing.
Also today, the U.S. military said coalition forces killed five
militants in a Thursday attack on a bomb-making network in the southern
province of Zabul.
Officials said troops came under fire while pursuing a Taliban militant
known to have directed roadside bomb attacks along the country's major
THAILAND - US - PEDOPHILE: Police in Thailand have arrested a man wanted in the United States on child sex charges.
Forty-one-year-old Darren Ray Castleberry could be extradited to the United States within the next few days.
Prosecutors in the southern state of Texas have brought four charges
against Castleberry for aggravated sexual assault against a child.
He also faces two charges of sexual assault on a child between the ages of 14 and 17.
The U.S. war veteran videotaped some of the acts.
Castleberry fled to Thailand in 2006.
International police had issued a warrant for his arrest.
CHINA - INTERNET - PORN: China has expanded its crackdown on objectionable material on the
Internet, targeting more than a dozen Web sites accused of publishing
pornographic and vulgar content.
U.S.-based Microsoft's MSN is one of the Web sites cited in the
expanded list issued late Thursday. Beijing criticized 19 other Internet operators and Web sites for not
doing enough to eliminate pornography, including Google and popular
domestic provider Baidu. The agency says Google has made progress to
clean up the site, but calls Baidu's efforts "ineffective."
OBAMA - ECONOMY: President-elect Barack Obama has warned that a "bad situation could
become dramatically worse" if Congress does not pump an unprecedented
amount of money into the faltering U.S. economy.
Mr. Obama's comments on Thursday were designed to help win
congressional and public support for his massive economic stimulus
proposal -- a two-year plan costing as much as 800 billion dollars. He
said the plan includes tax cuts for most Americans, along with spending
on roads, schools, health care, and energy.
Mr. Obama blamed the crisis on what he called "profound
irresponsibility" and pledged to improve regulation to keep reckless
greed and risk from threatening the U.S. economy again.
BIDEN - PAKISTAN: The U.S. Embassy in Pakistan says U.S. Vice President-elect Joe Biden has arrived in the country to meet with Pakistan's top military and political leaders. The incoming-vice president is leading a congressional delegation to South Asia. Senator Biden is making the trip as outgoing chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Earlier this week, Biden's office released a statement saying the group will be on a fact-finding mission, but it did not disclose the itinerary or other details about the trip for security reasons. Biden met with Kuwait's prime minister Thursday during a stop in the emirate on his way to South Asia.
Listen to our World News for details.