IRAN - NUCLEAR: Members of the United Nations nuclear regulatory agency voted Friday to censure Iran's nuclear activities, amid Western suspicions the country is developing atomic weapons. Iran says the resolution "jeopardizes" the environment needed for productive international talks on its nuclear program. The resolution, drafted by diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China, demands Iran halt construction of a previously-secret uranium enrichment site and confirm it has no other hidden nuclear activities. Twenty-five out of the 35 members on the International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board voted in favor of the measure, while three countries voted against it, and six abstained.
MUSLIMS - HAJJ: Millions of Muslim pilgrims in Saudi Arabia are preparing to
symbolically stone the devil in what has historically been the most
dangerous portion of the annual Hajj.
For three days starting Friday, pilgrims will pelt stones at three
walls representing the devil, an act that symbolizes the rejection of
There have been a number of deadly stampedes in recent years at Jamarat
Bridge, where the stoning ritual takes place. In the most severe
incident, in 2006, 365 people died.
Saudi Arabia recently completed a $1.2 -billion high-tech upgrade to
the pedestrian bridge to allow for a safer flow of people. Officials
say the revamped bridge has 10 entrances across four levels and can
accommodate up to 300 thousand pilgrims per hour.
NORWAY - IRAN - NOBEL: Iran has frozen the bank accounts of Iranian Nobel laureate Shirin Ebadi and confiscated her Peace Prize medal.
Ebadi and her colleagues say the government is demanding $400,000 in
back taxes on her $1.3 million prize. But Ebadi and her colleagues say
such prize money is not taxed under Iranian law.
Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere called the confiscation of
Ebadi's medal "shocking" and said it was the first time in the 108-year
history of the prize that it has been confiscated by national
authorities. He said Iran's actions are a sign of the increasing
pressure Tehran is putting on the human rights lawyer and dissident.
The Norwegian Foreign Ministry summoned Iran's envoy (charge d'affaires)
in Oslo to protest the action.
CAMBODIA - TRIBUNAL: The Khmer Rouge prison chief blamed for thousands of deaths at an
infamous torture center asked Cambodia's genocide tribunal to acquit
and release him as his trial concluded on Friday.
Kaing Guek Eav, also known as Duch [PRON: DOIK], cited his
decade of time in jail and cooperation as reasons for his release. Duch
also asked that he be acquitted on the grounds that he was not a senior
member of the Khmer Rouge.
Earlier this week, international prosecutors asked the judges to impose
a jail sentence of 40 years on Duch for his role in the brutal
1975-1979 communist regime.
Duch says he never personally killed anyone, but he has taken
responsibility for the deaths of more than 12,000 people who were
starved and tortured under his watch.
PHILIPPINNIES: 2A Philippine politician whose wife and relatives were people
massacred earlier this week in an apparent bid to stop him from running
for governor has filed his candidacy.
Escorted by solders, a police commander and a senior army general,
Ismael Mangudadatu said only death could keep him from running in 2010
elections for provincial governor of Maguindanao. His candidacy is
challenging a rival clan that has ruled the area unopposed for years.
Mangudadatu is currently the vice mayor of a local (Buluan) township.
On Monday he sent his wife, sisters and other female relatives to
register him for the election after he received death threats.
ETHIOPIA - POLITICS: Two prominent Ethiopian politicians, both former members of the ruling
party, have joined the country's main opposition party ahead of next
Former president Negasso Gidada and former defense minister Siye Abraha
joined the Unity for Democracy and Justice Party, or UDJ, on Thursday.
In speeches to the UDJ leadership, both described Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi as an authoritarian ruler who is intent on establishing a
one-party state. The UDJ is part of a coalition of opposition parties
set to challenge the ruling EPRDF (Ethiopian People's Revolutionary
Democratic Front) party of Prime Minister Zenawi.
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called on the Taliban to disarm and reconcile with the government. Mr. Karzai spoke outside the presidential palace Friday during the first day of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha. He asked those he called his Taliban "brothers" and everyone who has taken up arms against their homeland to join the government and help usher in peace and prosperity. Mr. Karzai's appeal came two days after Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a statement that ruled out talks with the president and urged Afghans to break ties with what he called a "stooge administration." Mr. Karzai responded to Omar's message Friday, saying he would not rescind his invitation to the militants until Afghanistan achieves peace and stability.
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