PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistan has launched new air strikes on suspected Taliban positions in
the northwestern Swat Valley, a day after the prime minister ordered
the military to "eliminate" militants in the region.
Warplanes and helicopters on Friday bombed targets in the Kabal area, a
Taliban stronghold northwest of Mingora, the main city in Swat. The
military also sent new soldiers to reinforce its ground troops.
In a televised address Thursday, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
urged the nation to unite against extremists. He also called on the
international community to assist in helping those displaced by
fighting in Swat.
SINGAPORE - FUGITIVE: Singaporean officials say a suspected leader of an al-Qaida linked
terrorist group has been recaptured in Malaysia after spending more
than a year on the run.
Singapore officials say Mas Selamat Kastari was arrested in Malaysia's
southern Johor state in early April in a joint operation involving
security agencies from both countries.
Authorities say Mas Selamat is the leader of the Singapore branch of
Jemaah Islamiyah, a militant Islamist group with ties to al-Qaida.
Mas Selamat escaped from a detention center in February of last year
and was previously believed to be hiding somewhere in Singapore or
LAOS - BRITAIN: Britain says a pregnant British woman could serve a sentence in her
home country if a Laos court convicts her on drug smuggling charges.
Britain's Foreign Office said Foreign Secretary David Miliband and the
deputy prime minister of Laos signed a prisoner transfer agreement
during a meeting Thursday in London.
Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell, who also attended the meeting,
said the Laos diplomat agreed that the 20-year-old British woman would
be eligible under the deal once it comes into effect.
Samantha Orobator faces capital drug smuggling charges after Laos
authorities allegedly caught her trying to board an airplane in the
Laos capital with 680 grams of heroin in August.
VIETNAM - HUMAN RIGHTS: Critics of Vietnam's human rights record are expected to demonstrate in
Geneva, Switzerland, Friday as the United Nations Human Rights Council
conducts a review of the actions of the Vietnamese government.
The Human Rights Council is examining Vietnam as part of its periodic reviews of all 192 U.N. member states.
Critics say the Vietnamese government abuses the rights of indigenous
ethnic minorities such as the Khmer Krom. They say the government
seizes the land of ethnic Khmers and restricts cultural and religious
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: North Korea has vowed to strengthen its nuclear arsenal because it believes that it is useless to talk to the United States.
In a North Korean state media report Friday, a foreign ministry
official says is nothing is to be gained by sitting down with members
of the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The report says North Korea carried out a study of the past 100 days of
Mr. Obama's administration, and determined the current government's
policies toward it are still hostile.
North Korea's comments come as Mr. Obama's special envoy Stephen
Bosworth is traveling through the region in an effort to persuade
Pyongyang to come back to the negotiation table.
SWINE FLU: Around 300 guests and staff quarantined in a Hong Kong hotel for past
week due to fears about the H1N1 influenza virus are to be released
They were confined to the hotel last week after a guest visiting from
Mexico tested positive for the virus, commonly known as swine flu.
In Bangkok, Asian health ministers agreed to increase stockpiles of
medicine to fight the virus and consider ways to share supplies in case
of a pandemic.
The talks included ministers from the Association of South East Asian
Nations along with officials from China, Japan and South Korea.
JAPAN - TOYOTA: Toyota, the world's largest automaker, announced an annual net loss for
the fiscal year through March, and warned that the worse may be yet to
In an announcement Friday, Toyota said it had posted a $4.4 billion net
loss for the fiscal year, its worst result in company history. The
Japanese-based company also warned that this year its losses were
likely to be even greater.
Toyota says it expects its operating loss - which reflects its core
automaking business - to nearly be cut in half for the year through
US ECONOMY - BANKS: U.S. economic officials say 10 of the nation's top banks should raise a
total of $75 billion to help them weather future economic problems.
The directives follow a thorough examination of the major banks to see
if they have enough money to cover potential losses if the recession
gets worse. The so-called "stress tests" found that nine other major
U.S. banks have sufficient capital reserves.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday that banks must earn back the trust of the public.
Bank of America must raise some $34 billion, while Wells Fargo was
found to need $13.7 billion and Citigroup needs $5.5 billion.
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