AFGHAN VIOLENCE: Afghan officials say a suicide car bomb blast near the Indian embassy in Kabul has killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 80. The Afghan Interior Ministry said Thursday the bomb initially killed one police officer and 11 civilians on a road between its headquarters and the Indian embassy. Ministry officials later confirmed that at least one more person died from injuries sustained during the blast. Witnesses say the explosion shattered shop windows, scattered debris on the road and filled the air with smoke. Taliban militants claimed responsibility for the attack, saying the Indian embassy was the target.
US - AFGHANISTAN: U.S. President Barack Obama will meet with Vice-President Joseph Biden
and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the White House Thursday to
discuss the administration's ongoing review of U.S. strategy in
Mr. Obama met with his senior military and political advisors Wednesday
on the eighth anniversary of the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, the
latest in a series of meetings aimed at crafting a new strategy to deal
with the mission.
Wednesday's meeting focused on the role neighboring Pakistan could play
in any new strategy.
ASIA - EARTHQUAKES: Three major earthquakes caused panic in the South Pacific on Thursday
sending islanders fleeing to higher ground as it triggered fears of a
second devastating tsunami in a little more than a week.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the first quake Thursday morning
measured 7.8 in magnitude and occurred some 300 kilometers northwest of
Vanuatu. Two other earthquakes greater than magnitude 7 were recorded
in the same region in a little more than an hour.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for the
entire southwest Pacific, including island resorts and Australia, New
Zealand, and Indonesia.
JAPAN - TYPHOON: Authorities in Japan say two people are confirmed dead after a powerful
typhoon made landfall on the Pacific nation's main island.
Typhoon Melor struck the island of Honshu Thursday with winds of 198
kilometers an hour. The storm uprooted trees and tore roofs off houses
and buildings. Television footage showed abandoned cars submerged on
A newspaper delivery man died when his motorbike struck a falling tree
in Wakayama prefecture. A 69-year-old man in Saitama prefecture north
of Tokyo was killed when an uprooted tree fell on him.
INDONESIA - CORRUPTION: An Indonesian court has begun the trial of the country's former top anti-graft official, who has been charged with the alleged murder of the head of a state-owned company. Antasari Azhar was arrested in May, two months after Nasuradin Zulkarnaen, the head of the pharmaceutical company was shot and killed by two gunmen as he was leaving a golf course on the outskirts of the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Azhar denies any wrongdoing and says his arrest is part of a smear campaign in retaliation for his efforts to put high-ranking officials behind bars.
OBAMA - ASIA: The White House says U.S. President Barack Obama will travel to Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea next month. Presidential spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters Wednesday that Mr. Obama will visit Japan on November 12 and 13, then travel to Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 13 through 15. After Singapore, Mr. Obama will make stops in China on November 15 through 18, visiting both Beijing and Shanghai. The spokesman said the president plans to visit Seoul, South Korea on November 18 and 19.
US - HEALTH CARE: Congressional budget analysts say a health care reform bill under
consideration by the Senate Finance Committee would cost about $829
billion over the next decade.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office issued its assessment in a
report Wednesday, saying the bill also would expand health care
coverage to about 94 percent of Americans, up from about 83 percent
President Barack Obama has said health care reform must not add to the deficit or cost more than $900 billion.
US - BUDGET DEFICIT: U.S. congressional budget analysts are estimating that the federal
budget deficit grew to a record $1.4 trillion for the 2009 fiscal year
that ended in September.
The Congressional Budget Office released the estimate Wednesday, saying
last year's deficit was equal to nearly 10 percent of gross domestic
product. The non-partisan group also says the deficit marked the
highest shortfall, relative to the size of the economy, since 1945.
The budget office attributes the growth in the deficit to factors that
include declining revenues and increased spending.
US - MIDEAST: U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell is urging the Israelis and
Palestinians to resume peace talks, even though Israel's top diplomat
is pessimistic about reaching a comprehensive agreement anytime soon.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio Thursday the two
sides should try to reach interim agreements and resolve the tough
Before a meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Mitchell told
reporters the U.S. will continue its efforts to get the two sides to
restart negotiations. He will meet with Lieberman later Thursday.
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