AFGHANISTAN: NATO forces in Afghanistan Wednesday freed a New York Times reporter held hostage by militants, though his interpreter and a British soldier were killed in the operation. Stephen Farrell, a dual Irish-British citizen, was abducted Saturday while reporting on the aftermath of a controversial NATO air strike in the northern province of Kunduz. Farrell told the Times that his interpreter, Sultan Munadi, who was kidnapped at the same time, was shot dead during the rescue effort. Farrell said he did not know if the fatal shots were fired by the rescuers or the militants.
OBAMA - HEALTH CARE: U.S. President Barack Obama is to make a speech to both houses of
Congress late Wednesday, in hopes of persuading them to accept his
ideas for health care reform.
Mr. Obama's hardest task will be convincing skeptics -- including
Republicans and some moderate Democrats -- that his proposal for a
government-run health insurance program is viable. Mr. Obama argues
that it would provide competition for private insurers, while some
critics say it would amount to a government takeover.
A White House spokesman said Tuesday Mr. Obama will try to clear up
confusion about the specifics of the plan.
JAPAN - POLITICS: Japan's newly elected ruling party has struck a deal with two smaller parties on key policies to form a coalition government. A spokesman for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) said Wednesday that the secretary generals of the three parties have resolved remaining differences over defense and foreign policies. The DPJ won a sweeping victory in Japan's August 30th parliamentary elections, but needs support from two other smaller parties to win control of the the upper house of the country's legislature. The DPJ's victory ended more than half a century of nearly unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party.
KOREAS - FLASH FLOOD: A South Korean official says Seoul suspects North Korea intentionally
flooded a cross-border river Sunday, killing six people in the South.
Earlier in the week, South Korea's Defense Ministry had said there were
no immediate signs the water release was meant as an attack.
But Wednesday, in comments to South Korean lawmakers, Unification
Minister Hyun In-taek said that while the real motives are still
unclear, the government views North Korea's release of water into the
Imjin River as intentional.
AUSTRALILA - INDONESIA: Australian authorities say they will launch a war crimes investigation into the deaths of five reporters killed on the eve of the 1975 Indonesian invasion of East Timor. The Australian Federal Police announced Wednesday that it was launching the probe based on findings by the deputy coroner for New South Wales state in 2007. Coroner Dorelle Pinch ruled the journalists were killed by Indonesian special forces in the town of Balibo as they were trying to surrender. Pinch says the men were executed to keep the invasion a secret.
ISRAEL - RUSSIA: Israeli media are reporting that Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, made a secret trip to Russia earlier this week to discuss Moscow's arms deals with Israel's enemies Iran and Syria. The Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Aharonot says Mr. Netanyahu flew to Moscow on Monday, explaining his hours-long absence that day. His office had said he was visiting an Israeli security facility in Israel. The Israeli government has been trying to convince Russia not to sell an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran, which could deploy the system around its controversial nuclear sites.
EGYPT - ISRAEL - MIGRANTS: Egyptian security officials say police have shot and killed four African migrants as they tried to cross into Israel. Officials say two other migrants, both Ethiopian, were wounded late Tuesday at Egypt's border with Israel. The nationalities of those killed was not known because they were not carrying identification papers. With Tuesday's deaths, Egyptian border guards have killed at least 11 African migrants so far this year. At least 28 others were killed at the border last year.
US - WORLD ECONOMY: A new survey indicates that Switzerland, rather than the United States, is now the world's most competitive economy.
The World Economic Forum announced the results Tuesday, based on how
countries performed in areas such as good government, infrastructure,
innovation, and availability of talent. Singapore's economy ranked
third in the survey. Emerging economies China, Brazil, and India all
showed improvement, while Russia's ranking fell.
US - SPACE PROGRAM: A report by a White House task force created to study the U.S. manned space program says NASA needs more funding if it hopes to achieve its goal of returning Americans to the moon. In a 12-page summary report released Tuesday, the commission says the agency's current $18 billion annual budget has placed NASA's plans for human space flight on "an unsustainable trajectory." The panel says the agency needs an additional $3 billion a year if it hopes to send astronauts back to the moon by 2020, with the eventual goal of sending humans to Mars.
Listen to our World News for details.