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APEC Leaders Begin Meetings in Singapore


APEC: Leaders of 21 Pacific Rim economies opened meetings in Singapore Saturday to discuss recovery from the global financial crisis and promotion of free trade. Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum leaders have stressed that the global recovery is still fragile, and more coordinated efforts are needed to overcome protectionism and maintain stable growth. U.S. President Barack Obama, on his first visit to Asia as president, arrives in Singapore from Japan within hours for the APEC meetings. Mr. Obama came under fire from some APEC leaders Saturday for allegedly backtracking on free trade.

OBAMA - ASIA: U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged cooperation with China and a greater U.S. engagement in Asia during a major speech in Tokyo Saturday. President Obama said the United States does not seek to contain China, and welcomes its efforts to play a greater role on the world stage. However, he said the United States will never waver in speaking up for values it cherishes and said a discussion about human rights can take place in a spirit of partnership. Highlighting his own childhood in Indonesia, President Obama emphasized America's ties to Asia as he made his first trip to the region since becoming president.

WORLD FOOD: The World Food Program says for the first time in history, the number of hungry people worldwide will exceed one billion this year. The huge amount of people facing food insecurity has prompted the U.N. organization to appeal to individuals for the first time. WFP launched the Billion for a Billion online campaign Saturday to get one billion people living in the developed world to give one dollar a week to the campaign (at www.wfp.org/1billion). WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran said the small weekly support could transform lives.

US - ARMY BASE SHOOTING: The U.S. Army psychiatrist accused of fatally shooting 13 people at Fort Hood last week may be paralyzed. An attorney for Major Nidal Malik Hasan said Friday that it appears his client is paralyzed from the waist down after being shot multiple times by civilian police during the attack at the Texas military base. He said Hasan also has extreme pain in his hands. The civilian attorney said he spent time with Hasan Thursday at the Army hospital (near San Antonio) where he is being treated. Army officials announced Thursday that Hasan is being charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder.

BRITAIN IRAQ TORTURE: Britain's Ministry of Defense has launched an investigation into allegations that British soldiers tortured Iraqi civilians. British armed forces minister Bill Rammell said Friday formal investigations must becarried out without judgments being made prematurely. The investigation follows reports in the British newspaper, The Independent, detailing allegations by more than 30 Iraqi civilians who were prisoners during the Iraq war insurgency. The civilians say they were raped, tortured or assaulted while in British military detention.

INDIA TRAIN CRASH: Indian officials say a Delhi-bound train derailed in western India, killing at least seven people and injuring many others. All 15 cars on the Mandor Express train jumped the track early Saturday outside the city of Jaipur. Rescue workers used metal cutters to free passengers trapped in the coaches that had overturned. Officials say a broken piece of railroad track pierced an air-conditioned car, hitting passengers inside. India's heavily-used rail network is one of the world's largest, with some 9,000 passenger trains carrying 18 million people every day. There are about 300 Indian rail accidents every year.

US - MOON WATER: The U.S. space agency says a recent mission to the moon has uncovered evidence of water in much larger concentrations than seen before. NASA Friday announced the discovery of a "significant amount" of water on the moon, after analyzing preliminary data from spacecraft that it intentionally crashed into a permanently shadowed region of the lunar surface. On October 9, NASA directed a large, empty rocket into a crater at the moon's south pole, followed minutes later by a probe (LCROSS, or Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite) designed to photograph the event, and capture residue from the impact.

US - CONGRESS - BRIBERY: Former U.S. Congressman William Jefferson has been sentenced to 13 years in prison for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to broker business deals in Africa. A federal court in Alexandria, Virginia Friday handed down the sentence against Jefferson, who represented a district in (the Gulf coast state of) Louisiana for nearly 20 years. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of at least 27 years for the Louisiana Democrat. Jefferson was convicted of corruption charges in August, four years after investigators found some $90,000 in cash inside his freezer.

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