WORLD ECONOMY: Asian markets are rallying Wednesday as investors cheer the welcome news from U.S.-based financial giant Citigroup.
Japan's key Nikkei index finished more than four percent higher, one
day after posting its worst close in 26 years. Prices are also surging
in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Sydney and Wellington.
The Asian surge extends Tuesday's rally on Wall Street, which was
boosted after Citigroup officials announced the firm was profitable in
the first two months of 2009.
U.S. stocks rose as much as seven percent from what had been 12 year
lows. European shares also posted strong gains of about five percent.
US - CHINA: Chinese naval officials say a U.S. naval ship that was involved in a
standoff Sunday near China's southern coast was on a spying mission.
In an article carried Wednesday in the official China Daily newspaper,
naval officials said it was clear the USNS Impeccable was not just a
surveillance ship, but a spy ship.
Vice Admiral Jin Mao, the former vice-commander of China's navy told
the newspaper that anyone with eyes could tell what the ship was up to.
Other naval officials noted that the Chinese navy was well within its
rights to intercept the vessel.
KOREA - TENSIONS: North Korea has issued new warnings about annual military exercises by U.S. and South Korean troops.
North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Pyongyang will take
every necessary measure to defend itself against what it said were
threats to its sovereignty.
The ministry repeated its claim that the joint military drills are a preparation for an invasion.
The exercises come at a time of high tensions between the two Koreas
and growing pressure for the North to end its nuclear weapons program
and drop its plans to test a long range missile.
THAILAND - POLITICS: Thailand's opposition party has filed an impeachment motion against
Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, accusing him of supporting last
year's seizure of Bangkok's airports.
The impeachment motion filed Wednesday in parliament's upper house was
signed by 158 members of the Puea Thai party, which is aligned with
former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.
The party says Mr. Abhisit backed members of the People's Alliance for
Democracy in their eight-day takeover of the airports last November as
part of a broader public protest against the pro-Thaksin government in
power at the time.
US - UN: U.S. President Barack Obama is warning the humanitarian crisis in the
Darfur region of Sudan is getting worse, now that Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir has ordered aid groups to leave.
The topic dominated talks at the White House Tuesday between President Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
The Sudanese president expelled 13 foreign aid agencies last week,
after the International Criminal Court charged President Bashir with
Mr. Obama says it is important the international community send a
strong and unified message to Khartoum that the worsening humanitarian
situation is unacceptable.
US - CUBA: The U.S. Congress has approved a spending bill that includes easing trade andtravel restrictions against Cuba.
The provisions are part of a $410 billion spending bill approved by the
Senate on Tuesday and passed earlier by the House of Representatives.
The measures allow Cuban-Americans visit to their families in Cuba once a year, instead of once every three years.
The actions also relax rules on exporting agriculture products and medicines into the communist island.
The provisions do not lift the U.S. trade embargo imposed against Cuba in the early 1960s.
IRAN - SUMMIT: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is blaming the West for the current global economic crisis.
Mr. Ahmadinejad told regional leaders Wednesday at the opening of the
Economic Cooperation Organization summit in Tehran that the capitalist
system is close to collapse.
He said developing trade among the 10 ECO members and setting up a
common bank for ECO will help create a safer financial situation for
Afghan President Hamid Karzai also addressed the summit. He said the
narcotics trade was devastating Afghanistan's development and asked ECO
to help fight his country's opium problem.
PAKISTAN POLITICS: Authorities in two Pakistan provinces have banned protests and dozens
of political activists have been detained in an effort to thwart an
opposition protest march from Lahore to Islamabad.
Officials from Sindh province announced a 15-day ban on protests
Wednesday, following a similar announcement from Punjab province.
Opposition parties said dozens of their members had been arrested.
Former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's party, the Pakistan Muslim
League-N, is calling on activists and lawyers to demonstrate for the
restoration of the nation's former chief justice.
Listen to our World News for details.