NOKOR - US - JOURNALISTS: South Korean media say North Korea's military has detained two American journalists along the country's northern border.
Reports say the two were detained Tuesday along the Yalu river, which
marks North Korea's border with China. The two were said to have
ignored warnings from North Korean guards to stop filming.
Reports say the two female reporters were working for an online news
company - Current TV - that is based in the western U.S. state of
A U.S. embassy spokesman in Seoul referred questions about the incident
to the State Department, which has yet to comment on the reports.
CHINA - SPRATLYS: A Chinese official tells state media that China may convert more navy ships into fishery vessels to patrol the South China Sea.
In a report in the "China Daily" newspaper Thursday, China's fisheries
department director Wu Zhuang says the additional patrols are needed to
handle new challenges and complications in overseeing sections of the
South China Sea which China claims as its own.
Wu said that as China faces a growing number of disputes, and what he
called other countries' unfounded territorial claims in the South China
Sea, it is necessary to step up patrols to protect China's rights and
THAILAND - POLITICS: Thai lawmakers have begun a two days of debate on a no-confidence
motion against Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva and his cabinet.
The opposition Puea Thai party, which is aligned with ousted Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, is accusing Mr. Abhisit and several of his
ministers of corruption and mismanagement.
The opposition is expected to raise questions over Foreign Minister
Kasit Piromya's ties to anti-government protesters who seized control
of Bangkok's two airports late last year. Kasit publicly supported the
People's Alliance for Democracy during their takeover of the airports
as part of a broader public protest against the pro-Thaksin government
in power at the time.
PHILIPPINES - KIDNAPPING: Islamic militants in the Philippines have agreed to free one of three
Red Cross hostages they have been holding since January.
The local chairman of the Red Cross in the Philippines, Senator Richard
Gordon, says he secured the commitment from Abu Sayyaf leader Albader
Parad late Wednesday. The rebel leader agreed to release one of the
hostages after the Philippine military said it would reposition its
The move comes after Parad threatened to behead the Swiss, Italian, and
Filipino Red Cross workers if government forces pursued the rebels.
Parad made the threat in a radio interview Wednesday after clashes
between the two sides killed at least three soldiers and two militants.
US - OBAMA - ECONOMY: U.S. President Barack Obama is wrapping up a two-day trip to California Thursday, highlighted by a second town hall meeting and a late night talk show appearence to boost support for his economic policies. Mr. Obama spoke to a cheering crowd of 1,300 supporters Wednesday in the Southern California town of Costa Mesa, which has been hard hit by the deepening recession. He said he inherited the mess in the financial sector but that he would take responsibility for cleaning up. The president acknowledged the current outrage about controversial bonuses paid to executives of insurance giant American International Group, which has received billions of dollars in federal bailout funds.
AIG BONUSES: Lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on a bill
Thursday that would impose a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid to
executives of companies that received federal bailout money.
The measure would affect employees making at least $250,000 a year at
businesses that received at least $5 billion in taxpayer funds. House
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer says he expects the bill to pass
The U.S. Senate is considering a similar bill that would impose a 70
percent tax on such bonuses, which would be split equally between the
company and the bonus recipient.
US - AFGHANISTAN: The United States could soon turn to a "surge" of military might and civilian expertise in its efforts to crush the growing insurgency in Afghanistan. Top aides to U.S. President Barack Obama have been meeting in Washington this week hoping to help finalize a new U.S. strategy for the region. The U.S. currently has 38,000 troops in Afghanistan and plans to deploy an additional 17,000 to break what some now describe as a stalemate against Taliban insurgents. But top officials say more is needed. One plan calls for boosting the number of U.S. diplomats working with the Afghan government as well as the number of experts, in areas from economics to farming, to help with rebuilding efforts.
FRANCE - PROTESTS: Workers across France are taking to the streets to express their displeasure with the government's handling of the economic crisis. French unions have planned more than 200 demonstrations across the country Thursday, with rail service already facing delays as a result. Officials say schools, hospitals and government offices are also being affected. The unions want French President Nicolas Sarkozy to do more to help support workers as the global recession continues to hammer French companies, many of which are cutting jobs. On Wednesday, Mr. Sarkozy insisted he understood the concerns of the French people, but his government again refused to expand spending on social programs.
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