MIDEAST - DIPLOMACY: U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell says it is critically important
to extend and consolidate a cease-fire in the conflict between Israel
and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
Mitchell said today that Washington supports
Egypt's efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas militants.
He was speaking in Cairo after talks with Egyptian President Hosni
Mitchell says his visit to the region is a clear signal that the new
Obama administration is committed to pursuing Middle East peace and
The U.S. envoy also visits Israel today to listen to the views of
Israeli leaders on reviving the peace process.
US - DEFENSE: U.S. President Barack Obama meets with the heads of the four U.S.
military services today to discuss strategies for the wars
in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Obama will hold talks with the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defense
Secretary Robert Gates at the Pentagon.
Talks are likely to focus on Mr. Obama's plans to reduce the number of
troops in Iraq, while sending more U.S. forces into Afghanistan.
Secretary Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that
the war in Afghanistan is the "greatest military challenge" facing the
US ECONOMY: The U.S. House of Representatives is votingtoday on
President Barack Obama's 825-billion-dollar plan to stimulate the
Democrats in the House have enough votes to pass the bill, but Mr.
Obama wants broad bipartisan backing for the measure.
On Tuesday, Mr. Obama went to Congress to lobby skeptical Republicans
who say the plan spends too much and does not offer enough tax cuts.
Meantime, a key Senate panel approved its version of the bill after
adding another 70 billion dollars in tax cuts, bringing the total cost
of the plan close to 900-billion dollars.
KOREAS - LEAFLETS: South Korean officials are warning activists they face prosecution if
they attach North Korean currency to the anti-Pyongyang leaflets they
send across the border.
A spokesman for South Korea's Unification Ministry, which handles
relations with the communist regime, says it is against the law to
bring North Korean banknotes into the South for the purpose of
resending it to the North.
The activists have attached U.S. dollars to the leaflets in the past.
Pyongyang threatened in October to launch military strikes against
Seoul if the activists did not stop launching balloons carrying
messages denouncing leader Kim Jong Il.
HRW - BURMA: A prominent international human rights group accuses Burma's ruling
military junta of subjecting its ethnic Chin people to harsh treatment,
including forced labor and torture.
New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report today
highlighting the abuses suffered by the Chin, who live in Burma's
western Chin state near the border with India. It says the Chin face
arbitrary arrest, brutal beatings at the hands of
Burmese soldiers and are forced to give up their food. Human Rights
Watch also says the Chin, who are 90-percent Christian, are subjected
to religious persecution in the mostly Buddhist nation.
THAILAND - FIRE: Thai police have arrested the lead singer from a band called "Burn" for
allegedly causing a fire that killed at least 65 revelers at a New
Year's Eve celebration.
Thailand's deputy national police chief, General Jongrak Jutanont, said
Tuesday that the singer lit fireworks as part of a stage show shortly
before the fire raced through the club.
Jongrak said eyewitness and other evidence point to the fireworks as the cause of the blaze.
The 28-year-old singer, Sarawut Ariya, denies the charge. Sarawut could
serve up to 10 years in prison if convicted of negligence causing
death, serious injuries and damaging property.
RUSSIA - US - MISSILES: A Russian military official says the country has suspended plans to
install missiles in Kaliningrad because of the attitude of the new
administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The official told Interfax news agency today that
Russia halted its plans to move the Iskander missiles because the Obama
administration is not rushing U.S. plans for a missile defense shield
in Poland and the Czech Republic.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said in November that Russia would
deploy missiles in its western outpost in response to the U.S. missile
WORLD ECON FORUM: Record numbers of world leaders, economic advisors and business
executives are focusing on the global financial crisis at the annual
World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The forum begins today in the Alpine ski resort and lasts
until February 1st. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is giving the
Founder and Chairman of the Forum, Klaus Schwab, says financial crisis
is unprecedented in scope. He said it should be seen as a wake-up call
to reform global institutions, systems and ways of thinking.
Listen to our World News for details.