US ECONOMY: The U.S. Senate has given final congressional approval to a $787
billion economic stimulus bill intended to jolt the country's faltering
The Senate late Friday passed the plan 60-38, with only three minority Republicans voting in favor of the bill.
The House of Representatives passed the bill earlier Friday 246-183, with no Republican support.
The package includes tax cuts and domestic spending projects. It now goes to President Barack Obama to sign into law.
Most Republicans complain the bill includes too much government
spending, and not enough tax cuts.
OBAMA - ECONOMY: U.S. President Barack Obama has praised Congress for passing his
massive economic recovery plan, saying "we've delivered real and
tangible progress for the American people."
In his weekly address Saturday, Mr. Obama called the passage of the
legislation "a major milestone on our road to recovery," and he thanked
members of Congress for coming together in common purpose to make it
He said the bill, which he will sign into law next week, will save or
create more than 3.5 million jobs over the next two years, ignite
spending by business and consumers and lay a new foundation for lasting
economic growth and prosperity.
PAKISTAN - MISSILE: Pakistani intelligence officials say a suspected U.S. missile attack
has killed at least 27 people in a tribal region of northwest Pakistan.
The officials say two missiles believed to have been fired from a U.S.
drone early Saturday struck a target in Zangari village, a remote area of South Waziristan, near the Afghan
A security official says the target was a hideout for a top Pakistani
Taliban commander, Baitullah Mehsud. It was not immediately known
whether he was there at the time. Local officials said many of the dead
were foreign militants, including Uzbeks, plus some local fighters.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan police say two separate bombings have killed a local official
and four police officers, as the country's president prepared to meet
with the new U.S. envoy to the region.
Police in eastern Khost province say a roadside bomb Saturday killed the district chief in Nadir Shah Kot.
In southern Afghanistan, police say another roadside bomb hit a police
vehicle in Kandahar province late Friday, killing four policemen.
The attacks came as U.S. envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard
Holbrooke was preparing to hold talks Saturday with Afghan President
Hamid Karzai on how to battle the growing Taliban insurgency.
CLINTON - FOREIGN POLICY - ASIA: The United States is ready to normalize relations with North Korea, but only if the communist country makes good on its promise to abandon nuclear weapons. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the promise during a speech (to the Asia Society) in New York Friday, while warning Pyongyang against "unhelpful actions." Clinton says the Obama administration would be willing to sign a peace treaty with North Korea if the country completely and verifiably dismantles its nuclear program. After her speech, she told VOA that the Obama administration is concerned by what she called the "terrible" human rights situation in North Korea, but she said there must be a "realistic" overall approach to North Korea that centers first on the country's nuclear program.
LEBANON - ANNIVERSARY: Tens of thousands of people have gathered in downtown Beirut to mark
the fourth anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime
Minister Rafik Hariri.
Many in the crowd are waving red-white-and-green Lebanese flags or the
banners of their political parties at the rally in Martyrs' Square.
They cheered as the son of the slain leader, Saad Hariri, arrived and
waved to the crowd before saying a prayer at his father's grave,
alongside the square.
The former prime minister and 22 other people were killed in Beirut on
February 14, 2005, when a massive truck bomb exploded as his convoy
BURMA HUMAN RIGHTS: Aung San Suu Kyi's opposition party in Burma is reported to have urged
the United Nations Saturday to take action against human rights abuses
in the military-ruled country.
U.N. human rights envoy Tomas Ojea Quintana is scheduled to arrive in
Burma late Saturday. He hopes to meet with Burmese officials, leaders
of the country's political parties and political prisoners during his
Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy said there have been
no signs of progress since the visit of U.N. special envoy Ibrahim
Gambari earlier this month.
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