IRAN POLITICS: Iran's parliament has approved 18 nominees put forward by President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his 21-member Cabinet, including the first
woman to serve as a minister since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. Lawmakers voted Thursday after five consecutive days of debate. The single approved female nominee, Marzieh Vahid Dastjerdi,will head the health ministry.
The nominees for the energy, education, and welfare ministries were rejected. Two of them were women. Among the 18 approved ministers is Mr. Ahmadinejad's choice for defense minister, Ahmad Vahidi. Argentina says Vahidi was involved in the bombing of a Buenos Aires Jewish center in 1994.
INDONESIA-QUAKE: Rescue workers on Indonesia's Java island are digging through rock and
debris with their bare hands in hopes of finding villagers believed to
be buried in a landslide triggered by a strong earthquake.
Officials say the 7.0-magnitude earthquake, which struck Wednesday off Java island's coast, has killed at least 49 people and injured more than 300 others.
Officials say more than 700 buildings across West Java province were toppled or badly damage during the quake. In the West Java village of Cikangkareng, a landslide buried a row of homes under tons of rock and mud. Rescue workers were forced to use their hands to dig for those believed to be trapped because heavy digging equipment has yet to reach the village.
CHINA-UNREST: Chinese state media are confirming witness reports that protesters have
taken to the streets in China's western Xinjiang region to voice
concerns about what they say is deteriorating public safety. Residents say hundreds of China's majority Han ethnic group gathered in
the capital Urumqi to speak out about the government's inability to
ensure safety in the region. Ethnic unrest in Xinjiang in July left
nearly 200 people dead. There are conflicting reports on whether the latest protest was peaceful. China's official Xinhua news agency says people gathered at several
sites in Urumqi Thursday and noted that the protest followed reports of
syringe attacks in the city. Xinhua says police have arrested 15 people for stabbing others with hypodermic needles.
BURMA-SUU KYI: Lawyers for detained Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have filed an appeal Thursday against a criminal conviction last month that put her under house arrest for 18 more months. Last month, a district court in Burma ruled that the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate was guilty of violating the terms of an earlier detention that put her under house arrest.
Aung San Suu Kyi's main lawyer, Kyi Win, says the appeal was submitted to a higher court in Rangoon. Kyi Win says they will try to argue that her conviction is not in accordance with Burmese law. Aung San Suu Kyi insisted on her innocence during the trial, which was held at Rangoon's notorious Insein prison. U.S. OBAMA-HEALTH CARE: President Barack Obama is scheduled to give a major address to Congress on health care September 9. A White House official (David Axelrod) announced the speech Wednesday as Mr. Obama continued the push for lawmakers to pass legislation on health care reform. In a recent radio and Internet address, Mr. Obama sought to lay to rest charges from his opponents that his reforms would include health insurance for illegal aliens, mandatory public funding for abortions, and so-called "death panels" that would determine which patients were worthy of continued care. He said those are "phony claims meant to divide" Americans.