OBAMA - GUANTANAMO: U.S. President Barack Obama will explain his national security policies
in a speech in Washington Thursday, as he seeks to fight off criticisms
from both opposition Republicans and members of his own Democratic
Mr. Obama's speech comes one day after the Democratic-controlled U.S.
Senate, by a vote of 90-6, rejected the administration's request for
$80 million to close the detention center for suspected terrorists at
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Democratic senators who voted against the
administration say Mr. Obama has not decided where to house the
facility's 240 detainees.
IRAQ: Iraqi officials say suicide bombers killed at least 18 people in two
separate attacks on Thursday amid a recent upsurge in violence.
One bomber hit a market in southern Baghdad, killing at least 12 people
and wounding 25 others. Media sources report U.S. soldiers in the area
were targeted, and there are unconfirmed reports of American deaths.
In the northern city of Kirkuk, at least 6 members of a U.S.-backed Sunni militia were killed while waiting in line to get paid.
The militias fight al-Qaida and other insurgent groups and have been
credited with helping reduce violence in Iraq. But Iraq has seen an
increase in deadly attacks recently.
THAILAND REFUGEES: The foreign aid group Doctors Without Borders says it is
withdrawing its support from a refugee camp in the Thailand because of
military restrictions and coercion. The aid group says the Thai
military is using pressure to force the repatriation of ethnic Lao
Hmong in the camp who may face persecution if sent back to Laos. VOA's correspondence Daniel Schearf reports in Bangkok reports Doctors Without Borders told
journalists Wednesday they would
no longer cooperate with the Thai military to provide medical care and
distribute food to refugees at Huai Nam Khao. The refugee camp in
northern Thailand has since 2005 been home to
thousands of ethnic Hmong who fled Laos and depend on the aid.
BURMA - SUU KYI: Burma's military junta has again barred foreign diplomats and the media from attending the trial of detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi On Wednesday, the Burmese government had allowed foreign diplomats and reporters to attend the trials proceedings. It is unclear when Burma may reopen the trial again. The decision to close the court's doors comes despite warnings from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She told a U.S. congressional panel on Wednesday that the U.S. rejects the Burmese government's "baseless charges" against Aung San Suu Kyi, who is accused of violating the terms of her house arrest.
BURMA - UN INQUIRY: A group of international jurists is calling on the United Nations to open an inquiry into human rights abuses in Burma. A report issued Thursday by the jurists through Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic says Burma's ruling military junta has committed war crimes and crimes against humanity for years. The report quotes documents obtained from the U.N. that show the regime has engaged in numerous atrocities, including the forced displacement of more than 3,000 villages, summary executions of innocent civilians, and widespread and systematic sexual violence and torture.
INDINESIA - PLANE CRASH: Indonesian air investigators are sifting through the charred remains of
a military transport plane that crashed into homes and burst into
flames Wednesday, killing at least 99 people.
Officials say investigators are still trying to understand why the
C-130 Hercules plane went down during a routine flight and have yet to
find anything pointing to a possible cause of the crash. They have also
refused to speculate whether human error was a possibility.
Military officials say the nearly 30 year old plane was fit to fly and
that weather was clear when it went down near an air base in East Java.
NEPAL - EVEREST: A Nepalese Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest for a record-breaking 19th time.
Mountaineering officials say Apa Sherpa reached the summit of the
world's highest mountain early Thursday, breaking his own record for
climbing the peak the most times.
At the top, he unfurled a banner reading "Stop Climate Change" before
returning to lower camps with the rest of his team, the Eco Everest
Apa said he was scaling the 8,850-meter summit again to draw
international attention to the impact of climate change on the
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