AFGHANISTAN: Voters in Afghanistan have cast their ballots in the country's
second-ever president election Thursday under tight security and the
threat of Taliban violence.
Initial turnout appeared low in parts of the country, including the
capital, Kabul, where explosions were heard early in the day. Later,
police exchanged gunfire with a group of armed men who took over a
building in the east of Kabul. Two men wearing suicide vests were
Elsewhere, in southern Helmand province, a child was killed after a
series of rockets landed in the capital, Lashkar Gah.
IRAQ: Iraqi police say a bombing in Baghdad has killed two people and wounded
at least 10, one day after bombs and mortar attacks killed 95 people
and wounded more than 500 others in the Iraqi capital. Officials say
the bomb was strapped to a bicycle and exploded at Rasheed street in
central Baghdad on Thursday.
Wednesday was the bloodiest day in the Baghdad since U.S. combat troops
withdrew from urban areas on June 30. The carnage prompted Iraqi Prime
Minister Nouri al-Maliki to vow an immediate re-evaluation of the
government's security methods.
US - NORTH KOREA: The governor of New Mexico,
Bill Richardson, will host more rare talks with North Korean diplomats
Thursday, in what he calls a "hopeful sign" of improving relations
between Washington and Pyongyang.
Richardson and the two visiting diplomats will meet for their second
and final day of talks in Sante Fe. Richardson told CNN Wednesday that
he detected a lessening of tension during his talks.
The veteran negotiator and former U.N. Ambassador also said North Korea is seeking direct negotiations with the U.S.
The State Department said the Obama administration facilitated the
meeting, but that the governor was not asked to convey any message to
US - VIETNAM: U.S. Senator Jim Webb says the U.S. should do more to defend the
sovereignty of Asian countries who might be worried about China's
recent claim to 80 percent of the South China Sea.
Vietnam and five other Southeast Asian nations dispute the claim.
Webb said Wednesday in Vietnam's capital Hanoi that the U.S. should do
more to "balance" China in the region. But he said it should be done by
diplomatic rather than military means.
Webb is on five-country tour of Asia -- seen as part of a broader
diplomatic effort by the U.S. to rebuild ties with the region. He said
Asia is vitally important to the United States.
TAIWAN - TYPHOON: Taiwan's cabinet has approved a $3 billion for typhoon reconstruction
after the worst storm to hit the country in 50 years killed more than
100 people and devastated the south.
The cabinet passed a budget Thursday to cover the expenses of
rebuilding in areas damaged by the natural disaster. The leaders must
now submit the budget to parliament for approval.
On Wednesday, survivors of a typhoon in southern Taiwan scolded the
island's President Ma Ying-jeou as he toured the ruins of a village
devastated by the storm.
BURMA: The American man sentenced to prison in Burma for his uninvited visit
to pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi returned home to the United
John Yettaw arrived in Chicago from Thailand, where he was hospitalized
after being deported from Burma on Sunday under a deal struck by U.S.
Senator Jim Webb. Yettaw suffers from diabetes and epilepsy.
A military court in Burma this month convicted Aung San Suu Kyi with
breaking the terms of her house arrest by sheltering Yettaw and
sentenced her to an additional 18 months of house arrest.
LOCKERBIE: Scotland has ordered the early release of a dying Libyan jailed for
life for the 1988 mid-air Lockerbie bombing that killed 270 people.
Scottish Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill announced the decision
Thursday in Edinburgh, saying the release was granted on compassionate
grounds. Authorities say the convicted bomber, former Libyan
intelligence officer Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, is near death from
Recent speculation about Megrahi's early release angered the families
of the victims -- many of whom were American college students returning
from studies in Europe. (New Updates)
RUSSIA - SHIP: Crew members of the cargo ship Arctic Sea and their suspected hijackers
have arrived in Russia.
Three Russian military planes carrying 11 crew members and eight
alleged hijackers from Cape Verde (a chain of islands in the Atlantic
Ocean off Africa's western coast) arrived
at an airport near Moscow on Thursday. Russia's foreign ministry says
the captain and three crew members remain on board the Arctic Sea.
Russia's defense minister (Anatoly Serdyukov) says the
ship was hijacked off the Swedish coast on July 24.
Listen to our World News for details.