Barack Obama begins his first full week as U.S. president focused on
the economy -- with a possible confirmation vote for his nominee to run
the Treasury later today. Senate Majority
(Democratic) Leader Harry Reid has said he
wants a vote on the nomination of Timothy Geithner late Monday.
Geithner has been the subject of criticism about his failure to pay
taxes several years ago, but is expected to win confirmation.
President Obama is expected to lobby lawmakers this week to approve his
825 billion-dollar economic stimulus package, and members of the
Federal Reserve board are to meet Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss
A report this week is expected to indicate that the nation's gross
domestic product for the final three months of 2008 declined more than
five percent. Large company earnings reports are due out as well. President Obama will deliver remarks this morning to discuss jobs climate change and energy independence.
A former Congolese militia leader becomes the first suspect to go on trial at the International Criminal Court today. is accused of conscripting, enlisting and using child
soldiers during fighting in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in
2002 and 2003. Lubanga has denied the charges.ZIMBABWE:
Human rights activists say the trial will help send a message that the days of impunity for crimes against humanity are over. ICC prosecutors are investigating war crimes suspects from four African countries (Congo, Uganda, Sudan and the Central African Republic), but Lubanga is the first suspect to come to trial.
The ICC, based in the Netherlands, was established in 2002 to try the
most serious cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and
genocide. The court is based on a treaty endorsed by 108 countries,
including the DRC.
Southern African leaders are holding a summit today in
Pretoria in another attempt to break the political standoff between
Zimbabwe's government and opposition.
Officials with the opposition say they are willing to compromise.
Zimbabwe's state-run "Mail" newspaper predicts the summit will fail.The European Union tightened sanctions today on
Zimbabwe over growing frustration about human rights and the political
situation. EU ministers added more people with close ties to Zimbabwe's
ruling party to a travel-ban list.
CAMBODIA - THAILAND:
Cambodia's foreign minister says he and his Thai counterpart have
agreed to begin setting up boundaries around a disputed, ancient temple
on their border.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong told reporters today
that he and visiting Thai minister agreed they must end a
land dispute near the temple, where a clash between troops from both
sides on October 15th killed three Cambodian soldiers and a Thai.
The border skirts the 900-year-old Hindu Preah Vihear temple, long the center of the dispute.
The International Court of Justice granted sovereignty over the temple
to Cambodia in 1962, but did not rule on the surrounding land, which is
claimed by both countries.
ASIA - LUNAR NEW YEAR:
Lunar New Year celebrations have begun in China and some neighboring
countries to mark the start of the Year of the Ox.
The ox, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, symbolizes calm, hard
work and resolve. Across China, hundreds of millions of people set off
temple fairs and hurried to train and bus stations Sunday to get home
for family reunions.
Celebrations were marred late Sunday by an explosion near a police
station in Shanghai.
Chinese state media says at least one person was
Chinese President Hu Jintao visited revolutionary veterans, model
workers and farmers in Jinggangshan, in the eastern province of
Mr. Hu said China will try its best to develop the old revolutionary
bases and help make life better for the people living there.
TAIWAN - PANDAS:
Thousands of Taiwanese flocked to Taipei's zoo today for the
debut of a pair of pandas that were given to the island by mainland
Tuan Tuan and Yuan Yuan, from China's Sichuan province, were given to
Taiwan as part of a series of measures by the two sides to ease
tensions that have lasted since a civil war divided China in 1949.
China initially offered the pandas in 2005, when the pro-independence
Democratic Progressive Party was still in power, but the government
rejected the gift. The offer was accepted not long after Ma Ying-jeou
of the rival Nationalist Party became president in May.
INDIA - REPUBLIC DAY:
India celebrates its 60th Republic Day today with a military
parade in the capital, New Delhi, to showcase its troops, weaponry and
Security is heavy during the festivities, marking the founding of the
Indian republic on January 26th, 1950. Thousands of members of the
security forces fanned out across India.
Officials say anti-aircraft guns and sharpshooters were deployed, and
police will keep a close watch along the parade route.
U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated the people of India on the
occasion. A White House statement says that together, the United States
and India can celebrate their shared belief in democracy, liberty,
pluralism, and religious tolerance.
Mr. Obama also wished Prime Minister Manmohan Singh a quick recovery
following heart surgery on Saturday.