AFGHANISTAN: About 4,000 U.S. Marines descended on Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan Thursday, launching the first major operation under U.S. President Barack Obama's new strategy to stabilize the country. The U.S. troops and about 650 Afghan troops and police pushed into the lower Helmand River valley, the heart of the Taliban insurgency, during the pre-dawn hours. Some troops rolled into towns and villages in armored convoys while others descended from helicopters.
HONG KONG PROTEST: A group of protesters was forcibly removed from Hong Kong's government
headquarters early Thursday, hours after a massive rally marking the
anniversary of the former British colony's return to Chinese rule.
The group chanted democracy slogans as they ignored police warnings to
leave, demanding to hold a face-to-face meeting with Chief Executive
Donald Tsang, before they were hauled away.
Authorities say they had no choice but to remove the protesters after repeated warnings.
NOKOR - NUCLEAR: South Korea says North Korea has test-fired two short-range missiles.
A spokesman for South Korea's defense ministry says the two
ground-to-ship missiles were fired within a 40-minute span Thursday
near the eastern coastal city of Wonsan.
The development comes as tensions increase on the Korean peninsula over
North Korea's May 25th nuclear test and a series of missile launches.
The United Nations Security Council imposed a harsh new set of
financial sanctions against the regime last month in response to the
nuclear and missile tests.
US - VEITNAM - RIGHTS: A group of U.S. senators has urged Vietnam's President Nguyen Minh
Triet to release a Catholic priest imprisoned for advocating human
Thirty-seven senators have signed a letter asking for the immediate and
unconditional release of Father Nguyen Van Ly. The letter was delivered
to the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington on Wednesday.
In the letter, the senators, including Democrat Barbara Boxer and
Republican Sam Brownback describe Father Ly's hastened 2007 trial as
LAOS - HEALTH: The World Bank says Laos is losing nearly $200 million a year due to
poor sanitation and diseases resulting from a lack of toilets and dirty
A World Bank economist (Guy Hutton) said Thursday the
group's study found that Laos undergoes a huge economic loss from
treating 3 million cases of disease and sustaining 6,000 premature
deaths each year. Others costs include buying bottled water and
building wells to insure a clean water source in a country flooded with
piles of trash and polluted rivers.
HONDURAS: The leader of Honduras' interim government says his country will not
bow to outside pressure and reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Acting president, Roberto Micheletti, is dismissing an ultimatum set by
the Organization of American States to reinstate Mr. Zelaya by Saturday
or face expulsion from the regional organization.
The acting president said he is confident that Honduras will not be
isolated for long and that other countries will see that the new
government saved Honduras.
MEDVEDEV - OBAMA: Russia's president says Russia is ready to improve diplomatic relations with the United States ahead of a meeting with the U.S. president. In a video address posted on the Kremlin website, Dmitri Medvedev said U.S. President Barack Obama seemed willing to "build more effective" relations, and Russia was ready to play its part. Mr. Obama is scheduled to travel to Moscow next week for talks with Mr. Medvedev on nuclear disarmament and to work on an update for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, set to expire in December.
INDIA - GAY SEX: A high court in India has decriminalized consensual gay sex between adults. The Delhi High Court made the landmark ruling on Thursday, saying that treating consensual gay sex as a crime violates fundamental rights provided by the constitution. The law applies only in New Delhi. Sex between the people of the same gender has been illegal in India since British colonial times . The offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
MICHAEL JACKSON: U.S. media report the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has joined the investigation into pop star Michael Jackson's sudden death on June 25. Reports say the Los Angeles Police Department asked the federal drug agency to help find out what caused the 50-year-old singer's death. Investigators removed two large bags of medical evidence from Jackson's rental home, where an emergency caller reported that the pop icon had stopped breathing.
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