SOMALIA - GREECE - PIRATES: Maritime officials say Somalia pirates have seized an oil super tanker some 11-hundred kilometers off the coast of Somalia. Authorities say the Greek-owned Maran Centaurus, with 28 crewmembers on board, was hijacked Sunday. The tanker, which can transport more than 2-million barrels of oil, was sailing from the Middle East to the United States. Andrew Mwangura, a Kenyan maritime official says the capture of the ship is a "jackpot to the pirates" because a tanker full of oil is worth millions. It could also pose a huge security and environmental threat. Somali pirates have hijacked dozens of ships over the past two years,
demanding and receiving millions of dollars in ransom from the hijacked
HONDURAS: Wealthy Honduran rancher Porfirio "Pepe" Lobo has won a solid victory in the country's post-coup presidential election. Mr. Lobo, the conservative opposition candidate, won Sunday's poll with
56 percent of the vote, well ahead of the Liberal Party's Elvin Santos.
Santos was the former vice president to ousted Honduran President
Manuel Zelaya. Election officials praised the mostly smooth balloting and the 62
percent voter turnout, despite clashes in the northern city of San
Pedro Sula. Police fired tear gas to disperse protesters supporting Mr.
Zelaya, who had called for a boycott of the election.
Neither Mr. Zelaya nor Roberto Micheletti, the military-backed leader who replaced him, competed in the poll.
URUGUAY VOTE: A former guerilla leader who campaigned on a platform of continuing the
ruling party's moderate policies has won Uruguay's presidential run-off
election. Early results show Jose Mujica, a former leftist rebel who spent 14
years in prison, was elected president on Sunday after gaining a little
over 50 percent of the vote. His opponent, former president Luis
Alberto Lacalle, conceded the election. Mr. Mujica will replace President Tabare Vazquez, who is barred from
seeking a second consecutive term. His victory keeps the center-left
Broad Front coalition in power for another five years.
IRAN - NUCLEAR: Iran's government says it plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment
plants similar to the country's main enrichment facility in Natanz. State media report five locations have already been approved for new
plants, and the country's Atomic Energy Agency has been directed to
find five additional sites. Iran's nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said the new sites will be
built into mountains to protect them from attacks, and the facilities
will use new, more efficient centrifuges. The Iranian government's announcement about expanding its controversial
nuclear program comes as international powers and the United Nations
nuclear agency attempt to curb Iran's enrichment activities. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Iran would be committing a
serious violation of its international obligations. He added that it is
"another example of Iran choosing to isolate itself." NEWS UPDATES: A top Iranian official says the decision to build 10 new uranium
enrichment plants was taken in response to the country's condemnation
by the United Nations nuclear agency.
DUBAI - DEBT: Stock markets in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates tumbled between six and seven percent in early trading Monday. The exchanges opened for the first time since last week's request by
the state-owned property company, Dubai World, for a delay in its debt
repayments. The markets had been closed for the four-day Muslim holiday
of Eid al-Adha. On Sunday, the U.A.E.'s Central Bank said that it intends to pump
liquidity into its banking sector in an effort to limit the impact of
the crisis. The International Monetary Fund issued a statement welcoming the bank's announcement. World stock markets dropped last week on investors' fears that the
Dubai credit crisis could affect emerging economies and European banks
that made loans to the Gulf state.
THAILAND - KING: Thailand's royal palace announced Monday that a traditional birthday
eve address by King Bhumibol Adulyadej scheduled for Friday has been
postponed indefinitely. The king's private secretary said the Trooping of the Color, a parade
honoring the king scheduled for Wednesday, has also been postponed. The palace statement said the monarch will still preside over a
Saturday morning ceremony at the palace attended by his family and
members of parliament. King Bhumibol, the world's longest-reigning monarch, turns 82 Saturday.
He was hospitalized on September 19 for a lung infection and fever. His
condition has caused widespread concern among Thais, who see him as a
unifying figure in the politically-polarized country.
PHILIPPINES MASSACRE: Hundreds of journalists and activists marched in the Philippine capital
Monday to protest the massacre of 57 civilians in the restive southern
islands last Monday. Wearing mostly black shirts, the crowd heckled the president's press secretary, who crossed a police line near the presidential palace in Manila to assure the journalists the government is seeking justice. On Friday, authorities charged Andal Ampatuan Jr., a town mayor in Maguindanao province, with mass murder. Authorities flew him to Manila from the southern Philippines, where he turned himself in the day before. Ampatuan is suspected of planning the attack on a rival politician's convoy of relatives, supporters and journalists.
NEWS UPDATES: Philippines President Gloria Arroyo said Monday she will run for Congress next year after her term ends. She is barred by the constitution from seeking a second term, and said
Monday she will step down following national elections in May and run
for the lower house.
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