IRAQ: An al-Qaida-linked group in Iraq has claimed responsibility for
Sunday's devastating car bombings in Baghdad that killed at least 155
people and wounded more than 500 others.
The militant group named the Islamic State in Iraq announced it was
behind the twin suicide bombings in a statement posted on a militant
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki had blamed the attacks on al-Qaida
and members of the former Baathist party. He said the bombers intended
to create instability and stop the country from holding elections in
AFGHANISTAN ELECTION: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has rejected a demand by his rival in next month's presidential run-off election, Abdullah Abdullah, for the removal of the head of the country's Independent Election Commission. In a statement Monday, Mr. Karzai said such a dramatic change on such short notice before the November 7 vote "would not be good for the welfare of the country." Mr. Abdullah said the election commission chief, Azizullah Lodin, has no credibility following numerous reports of fraud during the first round of presidential voting in August.
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS - WATER: The human-rights group Amnesty International has issued a critical
report charging that Israel prevents Palestinians in the occupied West
Bank and Gaza Strip from receiving acequate water supplies.
The report, issued Tuesday, says Israel is pumping more than its share of water from an aquifer it controls in the West Bank.
According to Amnesty, on a per-capita basis, Israelis use four times as
much water as Palestinians, whose water supply is far below the minimum
recommended by the World Health Organization.
Israeli officials say the Amnesty report is biased and incorrect.
US - RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: The U.S. State Department has released a report naming Burma, China and
Cuba among the world's worst violators of religious freedom.
The Annual Report on International Religious Freedom,
which records the status of respect for such freedom in all countries,
was released Monday. It covers the period from July 2008 to June 2009.
It named Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea among countries that had
"engaged in or tolerated particularly severe violations of religious
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday that the United States
will always stand against religious-based discrimination and
TIBET EXECUTIONS: A group that monitors human rights in Tibet says the Chinese embassy in London has confirmed that two Tibetans were executed in Lhasa because of their alleged role in protests and rioting last year. The International Campaign for Tibet says two men, identified as Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, were sentenced to death in April for "starting fatal fires" during demonstrations on March 14, 2008 in Tibet's capital. The rights group says the official confirmation came after a British official condemned the executions during his visit to Lhasa in September.
KOREAS - DEFECTOR: North Korea's official news agency says that a South Korean citizen has defected to the communist country.
The official Korean Central News Agency says the 30-year old man, Kang
Dong-rim, crossed the heavily fortified border to the North on Monday.
KCNA says Kang was now under what it called the "warm protection" of the North.
Thousands of North Koreans have defected to the South in recent years,
but it is very rare for South Koreans to defect to the impoverished
South Korea's Unification Ministry says more than 16,000 have defected
to the South since the end of the Korean War.
THAILAND UNREST: Authorities in southern Thailand say a policeman and a suspected Muslim separatist were killed in a shootout Monday night. Police said Tuesday that a second policeman was seriously wounded in the incident in the mainly Muslim province of Pattani. In a separate incident, two Buddhist villagers were killed by unidentified gunmen Monday afternoon in Pattani. At least 3,500 people have been killed since 2004 in Thailand's Muslim-majority southern provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat. Much of the violence has been linked to Muslim separatists. The region was an Islamic sultanate until Thailand annexed it in the early 20th century.
PAKISTAN - IRAN: Pakistani authorities said Tuesday they have freed 11 Iranians who were
arrested for illegally crossing the border into Pakistan.
It is unclear on what grounds the men were released.
Pakistani authorities initially identified the men as members of Iran's
Revolutionary Guard, but they later said they are security guards.
Iranian state television described the men as border guards who had chased a vehicle of suspected smugglers into Pakistan.
Pakistani authorities detained the Iranian guards on Monday in Mashkel,
an area in Baluchistan province, near the Iranian border.
US - ROCKET LAUNCH: The U.S. space agency NASA is hoping bad weather will not delay Tuesday's planned launch of its newest rocket. Forecasters say there is only a 40 percent chance of clear skies over the Kennedy Space Center launch site in (the southeastern state of) Florida for the early morning test flight of the Ares I-X. . Tuesday's planned test of the Ares I-X rocket comes as observers cast doubt on the future of the U.S. manned space program.
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