SWINE FLU: Health officials are reporting the first death in the United States from the current swine flu outbreak.
Dr. Richard Besser, the acting director of the U.S. Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, confirmed to CNN Wednesday morning the victim
was a 23-month-old child in Texas, which sits on Mexico's northern border.
It is the first reported death from swine flu outside Mexico, where the
number of suspected deaths is up to 159. Health Minister Jose Cordova
told reporters late Tuesday there are 26 confirmed cases of swine flu,
including seven deaths. He says just over 1,300 people with symptoms of
the virus remain hospitalized.
OBAMA - 100 DAYS: U.S President Barack Obama is marking his 100th day in office
Wednesday, with two high profile events aimed at highlighting the
accomplishment's of his administration.
Mr. Obama will hold a town hall meeting in St. Louis, Missouri where he
will likely push his initiatives on the economy, health care and other
issues. Later, the president will return to the White House for a
nationally televised news conference.
Mr. Obama has undertaken an ambitious agenda since becoming the
nation's first African-American president on January 20. He pushed
through a $787 billion economic stimulus package and unveiled a number
of initiatives to rescue the ailing financial and automotive industries.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: North Korea has threatened to conduct a nuclear test and to test-launch
ballistic missiles if the U.N. Security Council does not apologize for
condemning Pyongyang's controversial rocket launch earlier this month.
A statement Wednesday from the North's Foreign Ministry called the
threats to hold the tests a self-defensive measure. The ministry also
said it would consider building a light water reactor power plant and
begin developing technology to produce nuclear fuel for the plant if an
apology did not come immediately.
The threats dramatically raise the stakes in an ongoing standoff with
the international community over the North's nuclear weapons programs.
TAIWAN - WHO: Taiwan says it has been invited to participate in a key World Health Organization body for the first time in decades.
In an announcement Wednesday, Taiwan's Health Minister Yeh Chin-chuan
showed the formal invitation to participate in the World Health
Assembly to Taiwanese television stations.
The letter from WHO Director Margaret Chan said Taiwan was invited to
participate in the WHA as an observer under the name of Chinese Taipei.
In the past, the island's attempts to participate in the assembly have
been blocked by China, which took over Taiwan's seat in the United
Nations in 1971.
China has yet to comment on the invitation.
JAPAN - CHINA: Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso arrived in China Wednesday for a
two-day visit that is expected to focus on the global financial crisis,
swine flu and efforts to disarm North Korea.
Japanese officials say Mr. Aso is scheduled to meet in the afternoon
with his Chinese counterpart Premier Wen Jiabao, and on Thursday with
Chinese President Hu Jintao before returning to Tokyo.
Japan and China are the world's second and third biggest economies and
as such economic issues are likely to dominate the talks.
Officials are expected to discuss ways the two sides can fight the
fallout of the global financial crisis and economic cooperation.
PAKISTAN: The Pakistani military says its forces took control of a key town in
the northwest Wednesday, during an operation to drive Taliban militants
out of the area.
Officials say troops secured the town of Daggar -- important position
in Buner district, just 100 kilometers from the capital, Islamabad.
Wednesday was the second day of Pakistan's new assault, targeting Taliban positions in the mountainous terrain.
The U.S. Defense Department has welcomed Pakistan's offensive, but says
the main test will be whether the effort is sustained and the militants
are actually defeated.
AFGHANISTAN: Australia says it will send more than 400 additional troops to Afghanistan to train local forces and to enhance security ahead of Afghan national elections in August. Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced the plan Wednesday, saying the troop deployment will help reduce the threat of terrorist attacks on Australian citizens. The move brings Australia's total troop deployment in Afghanistan to about 1,500 -- the biggest contribution by a country outside the NATO alliance. In a separate development, the U.S. military in Afghanistan says coalition and Afghan forces killed 10 militants during a battle in Logar province, south of the capital Kabul.TURKEY - VIOENCE: Turkey's army chief says a powerful bomb blast has killed nine soldiers traveling in an armored vehicle in southeastern Turkey. General Ilker Basbug told reporters the bomb exploded Wednesday as the soldiers were driving on a road in Diyarbakir province to clear the way for a military convoy. He said the bomb was very powerful, and likely a homemade device. Although he did not explicitly blame the Kurdish rebel group PKK, Basbug said these incidents make the military more determined to fight terrorism. Turkey, the United States and the European Union consider the PKK, or Kurdistan Worker's Party, a terrorist group.
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