YEMEN: The United States and Britain are keeping their embassies in Yemen closed for a second day Monday because of threats from a local branch of the al-Qaida terrorist network. It is not clear when they plan to re-open.
U.S. President Barack Obama's top counter-terrorism aide, John Brennan, told CNN Sunday the U.S. Embassy was closed because there are indications al-Qaida is planning an attack in Sana'a, possibly against the diplomatic building. The embassy says the threats are from the group al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which was linked to the failed bombing of a U.S.-bound airplane on Christmas Day (December 25). The U.S. Embassy building in Yemen was the target of an al-Qaida attack in 2008, when two car bombs exploded outside the main entrance, and gunmen attempted to breach security. Sixteen people were killed in a firefight between the attackers and Yemeni soldiers.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown told the BBC Sunday that Islamist extremists driven out of Pakistan are emerging in Yemen and other struggling states like Somalia. He called Yemen a failing state, and said the West has to be very careful about whom it supports and what they do with that support.
US AIRLINE SECURITY: The U.S. government has ordered more security screening for people flying into the United States from 14 countries at high risk for terrorism. The new security measures come after the the failed Christmas Day (December 25) attack on a U.S.-bound jetliner.The Transportation Security Administration said Sunday that every individual flying into the United States "from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest" will be subject to "enhanced screening."The U.S. State Department's list of state sponsors of terrorism consists of four countries - Cuba, Iran, Sudan and Syria. U.S. media reports say passengers from Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen will also be subject to the more stringent screening.
Extra screening measures may include body pat-downs, swabbing of luggage to detect explosives and body scans.
INDIA POLICE: Officials say five police officers in Mumbai have been suspended for partying with some of the city's most notorious criminals.
While the officers say they are innocent, Indian television channels have been airing video footage appearing to show the officers socializing at a Christmas Eve party with key figures from a gang led by alleged underworld boss Chhota Rajan. Mumbai's Deputy Police Commissioner V.N. Salve and Assistant Commissioner Prakash Wani were among those suspended.
CHINA OIL SPILL : Thousands of people in northern China were told Monday to stop using water from the Yellow River after an upstream pipeline leaked more than 900 barrels of fuel oil into a tributary.The diesel spilled from a broken pipeline Wednesday into the Wei River, which feeds into the Yellow River, a water source for millions of Chinese. About 700 workers dug diversion channels and built floating dams Sunday in what turned out to be a failed attempt to keep the leak from reaching the Yellow River.The pipeline in Shaanxi province is owned by China National Petroleum Corporation.
KOREAS-TENSIONS: South Korea's president called Monday for a "turning point" in relations with North Korea, and again urged its nuclear-armed northern neighbor to disarm. President Lee Myung-bak's remarks came days after North Korea said in its New Year's message that it is committed to improving ties with the U.S. and South Korea, and to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.In a nationally-televised (New Year's) address, Mr. Lee suggested the establishment of an inter-Korean dialogue body.
The South Korean leader also repeated his call for North Korea to return to the six-party nuclear disarmament talks that Pyongyang quit nine months ago.