SWINE FLU: Nearly all of Mexico is at a standstill Friday in a dramatic attempt to
contain the spread of the H1N1 swine flu virus that has sickened scores
of people in the country and beyond.
Schools, businesses and non-essential offices will be closed for five
days, with President Felipe Calderon urging people to stay home during
the Cinco de Mayo holiday.
Mexican authorities Thursday said 40 more people have tested positive
for the swine flu virus, bringing the number of confirmed cases in the
country to 300, including 12 deaths.
KOREAS - TENSIONS: North Korea says it is intensifying its investigation of a South Korean
worker detained by the regime at a joint industrial complex just north
of the border.
A statement issued Friday by the North Korean office overseeing the
complex at Kaesong says the worker, identified as Yu Song-jin,
"malignantly slandered" the regime's "dignified system." The statement
says an unidentified agency is conducting a "deep-going investigation"
into the case.
Yu Song-jin was detained by North Korean authorities on March 30 after
allegedly making derogatory comments against Pyongyang.
BURMA - CYCLONE NARGIS: International donors say enormous challenges remain in Burma nearly one
year after Cyclone Nargis, even though more than one million people
have received international assistance.
Days before the anniversary of the devastating storm that killed
138,000 people, the International Red Cross said Thursday that more
work is still needed. It says there is still a need for water sources,
shelters, schools and psychological counseling, and families still need
to restore their livelihoods.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's army says the Tamil Tiger rebel leader is still in the shrinking warzone, and warns that the only way he can survive is to surrender. Sri Lanka's Army Brigadier tells VOA that the founder of the rebel movement, Velupillai Prabhakaran, is cornered in a five kilometer strip of territory in the northeast. Sri Lanka says the rebels are less than a week away from total defeat. Military officials say they want to avoid civilian casualties as they launch a final assault on the rebels.
US - RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS: A U.S.-government backed commission has cited 13 nations, including
Burma, North Korea and Sudan, for "egregious violations of religious
In its annual survey, the U.S. Commission on International Religious
Freedom is recommending the U.S. State Department designate the 13
nations as "countries of particular concern" because their governments
tolerate or engage in severe violations of religious freedom, including
disappearances, prolonged detention and torture.
US - ENEMY COMBATANT: A suspected al-Qaida agent who was held in U.S. custody as an "enemy
combatant" for five years has pleaded guilty to a charge of providing
material support to terrorism.
Ali al-Marri entered the plea Thursday in a federal court in Illinois,
after reaching a deal with prosecutors to drop a second charge. He
faces up to 15 years in prison when sentenced in late July.
The Qatari national entered the United States legally on September 10,
2001 with his wife and children. The next day, terrorists launched
their attacks against the United States.
KYRGYZSTAN POLITICS: Kyrgyzstan's President Kurmanbek Bakiyev has accepted his party's
nomination to run for a second term in the politically turbulent
Central Asian country.
Mr. Bakiyev accepted the nomination Friday, saying his main goal will be to improve the lives of Kyrgyz citizens.
He will face opposition leader, and former prime minister, Almazbek
Atambayev in a vote scheduled for July. The opposition has accused the
government of stifling political dissent through intimidation and
trying to rig the upcoming election.
CLOSER - BRITAIN MENSA: The newest member of the British branch of the Mensa society for geniuses is two years old. Elsie Tan Roberts intelligence quotient is measured at 156 with standardized tests, while the average IQ is 100. British Mensa's youngest member can name 35 world capitals and three kinds of triangles. She can also spell her own name. Elsie's parents said they realized their daughter was unusually bright when she began talking at five months old. Elsie was born in London, but her family comes from Malaysia, China, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.
Listen to our World News for details.