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Suicide Truck Bomb Kills 20 in Northern Iraq


IRAQ: Iraqi police say a suicide truck bomber has killed at least 20 people and wounded 27 in a Kurdish village in northern Iraq. The blast took place early Thursday in Wardak village near the city of Mosul. Police say a second suicide attack was thwarted, when Iraqi security forces opened fire on the bomber before he could trigger the explosives on his truck. In a separate incident, police say four people were killed and 29 wounded in a bomb attack (in Mahmudiya) south of Baghdad. On Wednesday, a car bomb exploded outside a house in the northern city of Kirkuk, killing eight people and flattening at least one building.

OBAMA - HEALTH CARE: U.S. President Barack Obama told congressional lawmakers Wednesday it was time to put aside the harsh rhetoric and pass a meaningful health care reform bill. During a speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Mr. Obama lashed out at critics for spreading misinformation about his proposals, including charges that it would create "death panels" that would determine health care for the sick and elderly. The president promised common ground with lawmakers in the weeks ahead. Mr. Obama gave details of his $900 billion proposal that would include a government-run insurance option to provide competition to private companies.

MEXICO - HIJACKING: Mexican officials say a Bolivian man claiming to have received a divine revelation was behind Wednesday's brief hijacking of an AeroMexico commercial jet from the resort city of Cancun to Mexico City. Public Safety Secretary Genaro Garcia Luna says the 44-year-old man told police he is a pastor and that he hijacked the plane because Wednesday's date, 9-9-09, had meaning for him. Garcia Luna said the man told authorities he wanted to warn Mexican President Felipe Calderon of an impending earthquake. As the incident ended, all 112 passengers and crew left the plane unharmed and police stormed the jet, taking away as many as eight men in handcuffs.

INDIA - SCHOOL STAMPEDE: Indian police say at least five girls were killed and 27 other students injured in a stampede Thursday at a state-run school in New Delhi. The accident occurred on a narrow staircase in the two-story building (in Khajuri Khas) in the city's northeast area. Police say the students were being moved from one section of the school to another, following rumors that a student was electrocuted in a flooded classroom. Police say no child was electrocuted. There have been heavy rains in New Delhi since Wednesday night.

NORTH KOREA - JAPAN: A top North Korean official has called for "fruitful relations" with Japan's next prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama. In an interview with Japan's Kyodo news agency, North Korea's nominal No. 2 leader, Kim Yong Nam, said Pyongyang would be watching Hatoyama and Japan's incoming administration. Kim said that the prospect of relations between the two countries would solely depend on the attitude of the Japanese government. He also said it would depend on how Japan tackles such issues as compensation for Japanese colonial rule of the Korean peninsula between 1910 and 1945.

BURMA - HUMAN RIGHTS: A human rights group says two international energy companies are providing support for Burma's oppressive military regime. EarthRights International issued two reports Thursday linking French oil giant Total and its U.S. counterpart Chevron to forced labor, high-level corruption and killings connected to a pipeline project. The group says the project has earned the regime nearly $5 billion. It accuses the regime of keeping nearly all the money from the project off the country's budget and depositing the proceeds in two Singapore banks.

YEMEN - UNREST: Yemeni officials say troops killed 17 Shi'ite rebels and captured four during recent fighting in the country's north. Officials said military operations were targeting al-Houthi rebels in the mountainous Saada province. On Wednesday, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh asserted that the rebels are receiving funding from groups in Iran. He did not accuse any official Iranian parties. But he said members of two rebel cells, questioned by Yemeni authorities, admitted to receiving $100,000 in financing from Iran. The rebels, largely influenced by Iranian Shi'ites, have been fighting since 2004 against what they claim is oppression by the government.

TURKEY - FLOODS: Turkish officials say at least 31 people have been killed in flash floods sparked by torrential rains in northwestern Turkey. Turkish officials say at least 24 people were killed in Istanbul, where rains caused floodwaters to rise Wednesday to about two meters. The remaining dead were from west of the city. Hundreds of people have been trapped in cars and buses, and tens of thousands more have been forced from their homes. Military helicopters have helped people to safety. Several main highways, including a road connecting Istanbul to the international airport, have become unusable.

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