OBAMA - MIDEAST: U.S. President Barack Obama says "the moment is ripe" for the Israelis
and Palestinians to achieve a lasting peace, but he stressed that all
parties in the region must play a role in the process.
In an interview late Monday with Dubai-based Al-Arabiya television, Mr.
Obama said both sides would have to decide for themselves what is best
for them. But the new president says the Israelis and Palestinians must
realize the current situation will not result in "prosperity and
security" for their people.
US ECONOMY: U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Capitol Hill today to
meet with opposition Republican Party leaders in the U.S. House and
Senate about his proposed 825 billion-dollar economic stimulus proposal.
Republican lawmakers have increasingly expressed opposition to the huge
spending plan, which calls for about 250 billion dollars in tax cuts
and 550 billion in spending. The spending portion of the bill is
directed at public works projects, including repairing and upgrading
roads and bridges. The spending is also aimed at science and energy,
along with other areas.
THAILAND - BURMA: Thai officials say more Rohingya migrants from Burma have arrived in
Thailand, but are being held by police rather than the military, which
is accused of dealing harshly with hundreds of migrants.
Authorities in Bangkok said today that the Thai navy found
around 78 Rohingya at sea Monday and turned them over to police.
The move is a break from the Thai army's processing of other Rohingya
on a remote Andaman Sea island before towing them out to sea and
The migrants picked up Monday had wounds that looked like lash marks,
and told Thai authorities they had been beaten by soldiers from Burma.
THAILAND - LAOS - HMONG: Human rights groups are warning that fear among Lao Hmong refugees in
Thailand could lead to unrest, following reports that the new
government plans to repatriate thousands of Hmong people.
Human Rights Watch analyst Sunai Phasuk says it is not clear what
happens to refugees once they cross the Thai-Lao border. He says fear
may lead to resistance and protests among refugees, and that could be
met by a heavy-handed response from the Thai military.
About five thousand members of Lao Hmong minority live in a refugee
camp in Thailand (370 kilometers north of the Thai capital, Bangkok.)
SRI LANKA: Sri Lankan troops are trying to capture the last territory held by
Tamil rebels in northern Sri Lanka, as international concern grows for
civilians trapped in the area.
Several journalists reported hearing heavy weapons fire as they made a
rare visit to the combat zone today under escort from Sri
U.N. spokesman in Colombo Gordon Weiss says an estimated 200-thousand
to 300-thousand civilians are trapped by the fighting between Sri
Lankan troops and Tamil rebels. Pro-rebel Web site Tamilnet accuses Sri
Lankan forces of killing
hundreds of civilians Monday by firing on a refugee safe zone set up by
the government last week.
ZIMBABWE: Southern African leaders have ended a summit on forming a unity
government in Zimbabwe, but the regional leaders and representatives of
the country's opposition disagree on the results. The regional grouping
released a communique early today saying opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai should be sworn in as prime minister by February
eleventh. However, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
contradicting statement saying the summit fell "far short of our
expectations." The MDC says it plans to meet at the end of the week to
define its position on the summit.
SOMALIA: The African Union is condemning Monday's takeover of the Somali town of
Baidoa by Islamic insurgents.
The town is home to Somalia's parliament.
Al-Shabab seized control of Baidoa after Ethiopian troops left, and
while most lawmakers were in neighboring Djibouti approving plans to
double the size of parliament to admit moderate Islamists.
The new parliament had planned to elect a new Somali president as soon
as it was seated.
Former Somali Education Minister Mohammed Ali Ahmed tellls VOA that al-Shabab plans to enforce fundamentalist Islamic law
in Baidoa and promises not to harm anyone who obeys the law.
JAPAN - ECONOMY: Japan's parliament has approved a contentious stimulus package that includes cash payouts for taxpayers.
Japan's parliament passed the 54 billion dollar extra budget after
hours of wrangling between Prime Minister Taro Aso's ruling party and
It is the second time in less than a year that Japan has approved an
extra budget. In addition to extending credit to small businesses the
budget will also give more than 22 billion dollars in cash to taxpayers
in a bid to boost consumer spending.
Listen to our World News for details.