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Obama Pushes Stimulus, Meets Economic Team


US - OBAMA: President Barack Obama has met with his economic team to discuss plans for stimulating the lagging U.S. economy. The president and his economic advisors met for two hours at the White House Saturday to discuss the week's developments on the administration's stimulus plan and the federal budget. "The New York Times" reports that the Obama administration plans to move quickly to tighten the U.S. financial regulatory system. The newspaper said in its Sunday edition that officials plan to impose stricter federal rules for hedge funds, credit ratings agencies and mortgage brokers, and establish greater oversight of the financial dealings that contributed to the current economic crisis.

AFGHANISTAN: The U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan has opened an investigation into an overnight (Friday/Saturday) raid by coalition forces that Afghan officials say killed civilians. U.S.-led forces say they killed 15 militants in Laghman province -- including a woman carrying a rocket-propelled grenade -- after they came under attack. But local authorities say the death toll could be as high as 22, with women and children among the victims. Afghan officials are also investigating the incident, which sparked angry protests Saturday in the provincial capital. A U.S. military spokesman, Colonel Greg Julian, told the Associated Press that, quote, "we know the people who were killed were shooting at us."

ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: U.S. diplomatic sources say President Barack Obama is sending his Middle East envoy -- former Senator George Mitchell -- to the region this week. The sources said Saturday that Mitchell is expected to meet with Israeli leaders as well as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank. Earlier in the week, Mr. Obama said Mitchell would travel to the region soon to make sure the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip is sustainable, saying he is deeply concerned about the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life.

SPAIN - FRANCE - STORM: Hurricane force winds lashed northern Spain and southern France Saturday -- killing at least 15 people, knocking out electrical power and causing transportation problems. Four of the victims were children killed when a sports center collapsed in Barcelona. They were members of a baseball team that had sought shelter from the storm. Winds were reported gusting to 160 kilometers per hour. A 78 year-old woman in the Gironde region of France died when her respirator shut down in a power outage. Airports closed Saturday throughout the region.

BOLIVIA CONSTITUTION: Bolivian voters go to the polls today to vote on a new constitution that President Evo Morales supports. Its passage - which is widely expected - would grant greater political power to the country's long-oppressed indigenous majority, who form the base of the president's support. Mr. Morales - Bolivia's first indigenous president - has the support of at least 60 percent of the population. The new constitution would allow him to seek a second five-year term. The proposed constitution also calls for land reform, likely resulting in the break-up of the large landholdings of eastern farmers, with the land to be redistributed among indigenous groups.

CHINA LUNAR NEW YEAR: Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited survivors of last May's devastating earthquake today, on the eve of the Lunar New Year Wen arrived in the southwestern province of Sichuan Saturday and was to celebrate Lunar New Year's eve Sunday evening in Wenchuan, the most severely hit area in the province in the May 12th earthquake that killed nearly 70 thousand people. Across China, hundreds of millions of people prepared to welcome the Year of the Ox Monday, packing temple fairs, setting off fireworks and hurrying to train and bus stations to get home for family reunions.

Listen to our World News for details.

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