IRAQ: Iraqi police say a double suicide bomb attack in the western city of
Ramadi has killed at least 20 people and wounded more than 30 others.
Police say Wednesday's bombings appeared to target senior officials of
Iraq's Anbar province, of which Ramadi is the capital. They say the
attack began with a suicide car bombing on a road near the offices of
Anbar's governor, Qassim Mohammed al-Fahdawi.
Police say a suicide bomber on foot blew himself up a short time later
as al-Fahdawi was leaving the complex to inspect damage from the first
US AIRLINE ATTACK: U.S. President Barack Obama says a "systemic failure" among U.S.
security agencies allowed the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound
aircraft on Christmas Day (December 25).
Speaking from Hawaii Tuesday, Mr. Obama said the agencies did not
properly share information after receiving warnings from the father of
the Nigerian man suspected of trying to detonate a bomb aboard a
Northwest Airlines aircraft.
The president called the security lapse "totally unacceptable" and said
the U.S. must quickly fix the flaws in its homeland security.
LAOS - HMONG - THAILAND: Laos has rejected a United Nations request for access to 4,500 ethnic Hmong who were forcibly repatriated from Thailand.
A foreign ministry spokesman in Laos says international observers are
welcome at a later date, after the resettlement process for the Hmong
On Monday, Thai officials sent the ethnic Hmong to Laos on Monday.
Among them was a group of 158 Hmong officially recognized by the United
Nations as refugees.
The repatriation has raised concerns that the Hmong will be persecuted
by authorities in Laos.
US CONGRESS - HMONG: U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Committee Chairman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), issued the following statement in response to the forced deportation of thousands of ethnic Hmong from Thailand to neighboring Laos “The Thai
government’s decision to repatriate more than 4,500 Lao Hmong to Laos
is deeply troubling. Among those sent back were some who still face a
well-founded fear of persecution due to their affiliation with the
U.S.-supported resistance to the Pathet Lao decades ago.
CHINA - DEFENSE - MIDEAST: A top Chinese military official says China needs a permanent naval base
overseas to support its anti-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden.
In an interview posted on China's defense ministry Web site, Rear
Admiral Yin Zhuo said the base would help the Chinese military fulfill
its international commitments.
Yin noted that any decision to establish such a base would have to be
decided by the ruling Communist Party and its Central Military
China has operated patrols for a year now in the narrow gulf, escorting
Chinese and foreign ships through waters menaced by pirates operating
off the Somali coast.
NOKOR - CURRENCY: South Korean and Chinese news reports say North Korea will ban the use of all foreign currencies, beginning January 1.
China's official news agency, Xinhua, quotes an official Pyongyang
statement displayed in North Korean shops and markets. The statement,
said to be dated December 28, bans individuals and business
organizations from using foreign currencies.
Xinhua quotes the statement as saying foreigners will have to exchange
their money into North Korean won for spending in the communist country.
Listen to our World News for details.