US - IRAN: Iran's supreme leader is dismissing calls from U.S. President Barack
Obama's for a "new beginning" in relations between the two countries.
Speaking in the holy city of Mashhad Saturday, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
said the U.S. is using "the slogan of change," but that he sees no real
change in U.S. policy toward Iran.
He also asked how President Obama could congratulate Iranians marking
the New Year holiday of Nowruz, but at the same time accuse them of
supporting terrorists and seeking nuclear weapons.
In a videotaped message to the Iranian people, Mr. Obama said Friday he
is committed to diplomacy to address "serious differences" between the
U.S. and Iran.
US - NOKOR - JOURNALISTS: North Korea has confirmed that it detained two U.S. journalists this week, accusing them of "illegally" entering the country. The North's official news agency (KCNA) said (Saturday) the Americans were taken into custody Tuesday while crossing the North Korea-China border. It said the matter is under investigation. South Korean media reports say U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee were detained with their Chinese guide near the Tumen River, along North Korea's border with China. In Washington, a State Department official said the United States has contacted North Korea about the matter through its mission to the United Nations in New York.
OBAMA - ECONOMY: U.S. President Barack Obama says his proposed $3.6 trillion budget is
an "economic blueprint" for the country's future.
Opposition Republicans have criticized the proposal for raising the
country's deficit. But in his weekly address Saturday, the president
promises his budget will attack the problems that have dragged down the
Mr. Obama says the proposal calls for investments in energy, education
and health care that will lead to "a real and lasting prosperity."
He also says the budget will cut the deficit in half by the end of his
AFGHANISTAN VIOLENCE: Afghan officials say a suicide bomber in a car blew himself up at a police checkpoint in eastern Afghanistan killing six people, including one policeman. Nangarhar's governor said at least four other people were wounded in Saturday's attack Separately, NATO says one of its soldiers has been killed during a "hostile incident" in southern Afghanistan. The military alliance says the soldier died Friday, but did not give details of the incident or the soldier's nationality. The killing came on the same day that a top NATO commander in Afghanistan said the arrival of more U.S. troops in the coming months will trigger an increase in violence.
THAILAND - POLITICS: The Thai government easily survived a no-confidence vote Saturday
following a two-day debate on corruption allegations against top
political figures including the prime minister and Cabinet members.
The opposition Puea Thai party, which is aligned with ousted Prime
Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accused Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva
and several of his ministers of corruption and mismanagement.
Puea Thai forced several votes in parliament, including a censure
motion against the prime minister, but each motion was voted down by at
least 53 votes.
MADAGASCAR: Former disc jockey Andry Rajoelina was sworn in as Madagascar's new president Saturday in front of tens of thousands of supporters at a sports stadium. In a clear sign the international community is not happy about the new government, no foreign ambassadors attended the ceremony in the capital, Antananarivo. Mr. Rajoelina, who had been the mayor of the capital city, took power this week after protests and a loss of military support forced President Marc Ravalomanana to resign. Many nations say Mr. Rajoelina's assumption of power was nothing less than a coup.
INDIA - MUMBAI ATTACKS: Indian police are calling for the lone surviving suspect from November's terrorist attack on Mumbai to be put to death.
Maharashtra state Home Minister Jayant Patil says the death sentence is
justified because of the rare and heinous nature of the crime.
Pakistani national Mohammed Ajmal Kasab has been charged with "waging
war" on India for the three-day assault that left more than 170 people
India also accuses Kasab of links to the Pakistan-based militant group
Lashkar-e-Taiba, inflaming tensions between India and Pakistan.
POPE - AFRICA: Pope Benedict is urging African governments to do more to fight
poverty, corruption and violence on the continent.
The pope, on the second stop of his African tour,arrived in Angola
Friday. He was greeted by tens of thousands of people who lined the
streets along his motorcade route. At a meeting with government
officials and diplomats, Pope Benedict
said African leaders can transform the continent by following such
democratic principles as creating an independent judiciary, allowing a
free press, promoting human rights and rooting out corruption. (News Updates)
SPACE STATION: The crews of the U.S. space shuttle Discovery and the International
Space Station unfurled the orbital outpost's new solar wings Friday,
after installing them on Thursday.
The U.S. space agency, NASA, says the new panels will double the amount of electricity available for science operations.
The extra power supply will also allow the U.S. and Russian space
agencies and other partners to increase the station's permanent crew
from three to six astronauts.
Four astronauts currently at the station took part in a special
interactive webcast with Voice of America Friday. (News Updates)
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