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Gaza Calm as Israeli Troops Continue Pullout


GAZA-ISRAEL: Residents of Gaza enjoyed a second night of relative calm Monday,after a three-week offensive by Israel against Hamas militants was halted by cease-fires declared separately by each side.
Israel is gradually withdrawing from the Palestinian territory. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says Israel's offensive in Gaza has achieved all its goals, and he wants his country's troops out of Gaza as soon as possible. Hamas said it was giving Israeli forces one week to leave.
Israeli officials did not say how many troops they were pulling out. But they warned that if Hamas continues to launch attacks into southern Israel, the military will respond.
Hours after the Israeli cease-fire declaration early Sunday, militants in Gaza fired at least 15 rockets into Israel, and Israeli warplanes fired at Hamas rocket launchers.

US INAUGURATION EVENTS: U.S. President-elect Barack Obama pays tribute today (Monday) to the late African-American civil rights leader Martin Luther King by focussing on community service.
Martin Luther King Day is an annual federal holiday, traditionally marked by taking part in volunteer activities for the public good.
On the day before he is inaugurated as the country's first African-American president, Mr. Obama will be joined by civic leaders nationwide running service projects, ranging from cleaning up parks to assembling care packages for troops.

CAMBODIA-KHMER ROUGE: Cambodia's UN-backed genocide tribunal has set a start date for the long-delayed trial of the first of five former Khmer Rogue leaders accused of atrocities in the 1970s.
The court said today (Monday) that former Khmer Rouge prison chief Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch, will appear at an initial hearing on February 17th.
Duch was the commander of the Khmer Rouge's notorious S-21 torture center.

THAILAND-AUSTRALIA: A Thai court has sentenced an Australian writer to three years in prison after convicting him of insulting the royal family in a novel.
Bangkok's Criminal Court initially sentenced Harry Nicolaides to six years today (Monday), but reduced the term because he pleaded guilty.
Nicolaides had been teaching English in northern Thailand. He was arrested at the end of August as he tried to board a plane at Bangkok airport. He said he was not aware that an arrest warrant had been issued in March.Former Taiwan president Chen Shui-bian has told a pre-trial hearing that he is innocent of graft charges.

TAIWAN -CORRUPTION: The jailed ex-president arrived at court in handcuffs today (Monday), under tight security.
Mr. Chen was indicted last November on charges of graft and money laundering. He and his wife are accused of embezzling more than three million dollars in public funds and accepting bribes worth nine million dollars in a land purchase deal.
Mr. Chen was elected in 2000 on a pledge to fight corruption. He says the charges against him are politically motivated, and has accused his successor, Ma Ying-jeou, of initiating the probe.



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