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Obama Begins Week Focused On Economy

  • Vannasone Keodara
  • Thongpan Thepvongsa

US ECONOMY:

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 interest rates.

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.

WAR CRIMES:

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.

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.

ZIMBABWE:

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 fireworks at 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 killed. Chinese President Hu Jintao visited revolutionary veterans, model workers and farmers in Jinggangshan, in the eastern province of Jiangxi. 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 China. 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 aircraft. 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.


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