US PLANE CRASH: Authorities in (the northeastern U.S. state of) New York say 49 people
are dead after a commuter plane crashed into a house near the city of
Buffalo late Thursday night. The Continental Airways twin-engine plane
crashed into a neighborhood
at least nine kilometers short of Buffalo Niagara International
Airport. The plane was on a flight from Newark, New Jersey. The dead
include all 48 passengers and crew onboard the plane, and one
person inside the house. Two other people in the house managed to
escape. A witness who saw the plane fly over his car says it was in a
nose dive shortly before it crashed.
IRAQ - VIOLENCE: Iraqi police say a female suicide bomber has killed at least 32 people in an attack on Shi'ite pilgrims south of Baghdad.
Police say the bomber blew herself up in a crowd of women and children
Friday in the town of Iskandariyah, about 40 kilometers south of the
capital. They say she hid her explosives under her abaya, the
traditional black robe worn by Iraqi Muslim women.
Police say at least 65 people were wounded in the blast, which targeted
Shi'ite Muslim pilgrims making their way south for a major religious
There have been a string of attacks this week on Shi'ite pilgrims
heading to the holy city of Karbala for the annual Shi'ite religious
ceremony of Arbaeen on Monday.
US ECONOMY: The speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, says
the House will vote Friday on President Barack Obama's economic
stimulus package, expected to cost some $789 billion.
Pelosi told reporters Thursday that this particular vote in Congress
will be "historic and transformational." The House of Representatives
has enough Democrats to pass the bill even without Republican support.
Members of the Senate are also expected to vote on the package before
the end of the week, in hopes of getting a final bill to the president
by next week so he can sign it into law.
US COMMERCE SECRETARY: U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee for Commerce secretary,
Republican Senator Judd Gregg, has withdrawn his nomination for the
post, saying it just "wasn't a good fit."
In a statement, the New Hampshire senator cited "irresolvable
conflicts" on issues including the economic stimulus package and the
census. He said the president requires a team that is fully supportive
of all his initiatives.
Gregg spoke directly to reporters later Thursday. He said he
appreciated Mr. Obama's willingness to reach across party lines to fill
posts in his cabinet and added he was at fault for accepting the
AUSTRALIA - WILDFIRES: Authorities in Australia have charged a man in connection with one of the massive wildfires that have killed nearly 200 people.
The man was arrested Friday and charged in last week's fire near the
town of Churchill in southern Victoria state that killed 21 people. The
suspect has been charged with arson causing death, intentionally
lighting a fire, and possessing child pornography.
Police have not revealed the man's identity. They say they have moved
him to the state capital of Melbourne for his own safety. A judge who
heard the charges ordered the suspect to undergo a psychiatric
US - NOKOR: A senior U.S. diplomat says North Korea has a positive path forward through international nuclear talks.
Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that positive scenario
depends on Pyongyang keeping its commitments to disable nuclear
facilities and verify information about its nuclear activities.
Hilary Clinton's deputy was speaking Thursday to an audience of
non-governmental organizations in Washington on the eve of an important
policy speech by the new secretary of state. Clinton will give a policy
address in New York on Friday, ahead of her first foreign trip in her
THAILAND - BURMA: Thailand's prime minister says he suspects there were instances where
some Burmese boat people were forced out to sea by the country's
In an interview with U.S.-based Cable News Network Thursday, Abhisit
Vejjajiva says he believes "some instances" of the forcible removal
have happened, despite denials by government officials. Mr. Abhisit
says when he has solid evidence of who was responsible for the policy,
he will hold them accountable.
Thailand has been under fire since allegations surfaced that thousands
of Rohingyas fleeing Burma have been forced back out to sea, and
subjected to abuse.
PHILIPPINES - LANKA - KIDNAP: Philippine police say unidentified gunmen have kidnapped a Sri Lankan peace activist on the southern island of Basilan.
Police say Omar Jalil from the group Nonviolent Peaceforce was seized
from his residence early Friday. A Web site for the group says members
have been working as civilian peace-keepers in the Philippines since
2007 at the invitation of local organizations.
The kidnapping comes after Philippine government troops killed two
militants linked to the rebel Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Monday.
CLOSER: INDIA - UNDERWEAR: Thousands of women in India are sending a very unusual Valentine's Day
present to a radical Hindu group -- boxes and boxes of pink underwear.
Organizers call it "The Pink Chaddi Campaign," using an Indian slang
term for underwear. They are asking supporters to mail the pink panties
to the head of a radical Hindu group known as Sri Ram Sena.
Members of the group last month attacked several women in a bar in
southern India, accusing them of being "un-Indian" for going out
drinking and dancing with men.
Listen to our World News for details.