PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Civilians are trying to escape fighting in Pakistan's Swat valley as
government troops step up their offensive against Taliban militants
after the collapse of a peace deal in the region.
Military helicopters and warplanes were pounding suspected Taliban positions in Swat on Thursday.
Authorities temporarily relaxed their curfew in the region, and
provincial officials were bracing for a flood of tens of thousands of
A spokesman for Sufi Muhammad, the radical Muslim cleric who helped
negotiate the short-lived cease-fire, said one of Muhammad's sons was
killed Thursday when a bomb or artillery shell hit his house in nearby
AFGHANISTAN: A crowd of angry demonstrators threw rocks at government buildings in
western Afghanistan Thursday to protest recent civilian deaths they
blame on U.S. air strikes.
Residents of the town of Farah said there was some gunfire as police
faced off against the protesters, but it was not clear where it came
Local health officials said at least four people were wounded in the chaos, including one demonstrator who was shot.
The crowd was protesting against an incident in Farah province earlier
this week, in which local Afghan officials say U.S. air strikes and
related fighting killed more than 100 people, mainly civilians.
US - CHINA: U.S. President Barack Obama had a wide ranging telephone conversation
with China's president on Wednesday, which touched on the global
economy and world health issues as well as concerns about Pakistan and
China's official Xinhua news agency says President Hu Jintao told Mr.
Obama that his country wants to cooperate on tackling the financial
crisis and other global and regional issues.
The White House says that during the discussion, Mr. Obama explained
his concerns about recent threats to Pakistan by militant extremists
LAOS - BRITAIN: British and Laotian officials are meeting Thursday in London to discuss
the fate of a pregnant woman from Britain who has been jailed on drug
smuggling charges in Laos.
The woman, 20-year-old Samantha Orobator, will go on trial next week
and authorities say they will provide a lawyer for her ahead of her
She reportedly became pregnant in December or January while being held at the notorious Phonthong prison.
Orobator was allegedly caught trying to board an airplane in the Laos capital with 680 grams of heroin.
Laos law imposes a mandatory death sentence for anyone caught with more
than 500 grams of heroin.
BURMA: Burmese state media are reporting a U.S. citizen has been arrested
after he allegedly swam across a lake and snuck inside the residence of
detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Reports say the man recently checked into a Rangoon hotel across the lake from Aung San Suu Kyi's residence.
They say the man allegedly confessed to swimming across the Inya Lake
on Sunday. He was caught trying to swim back to his hotel late Tuesday.
The U.S. Embassy in Rangoon says it has seen the reports and was trying to learn more.
Official Burmese media say the man was carrying a U.S. passport and his name is John William Yeattaw.
OBAMA - BUDGET: White House officials say the Obama administration is set to unveil a
new set of proposed budget cuts totaling about $17 billion.
Officials say President Barack Obama on Thursday will release a list of
121 federal programs to be cut or reduced in his "line-by-line" effort
to trim the budget for next year.
The cuts add up to only a tiny percentage of the $3.5 trillion budget
approved by Congress last month, and some lawmakers have resisted past
efforts to cut the same programs.
House Minority Leader John Boehner said Congressional Republicans "respectfully suggest that we should do far more."
SWINE FLU: A top World Health Organization official says the global health body is
still working to understand the influenza A H1N1 virus and called for
continued vigilance to fight the spread of the disease.
Speaking (by videolink) to Asian officials gathered in
Bangkok Thursday for a meeting on the disease, acting WHO
director-general Keiji Fukuda said it is critical countries maintain
their alertness and monitor the evolution of the disease, commonly
known as swine flu, as closely as possible.
Fukuda said WHO officials still do not believe they have gotten a
handle on the severity of the disease.
Listen to our World News for details.