HAITI - EARTHQUAKE: Desperate Haitians have spent a third night in the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, waiting for promised aid that is slowly trickling in following Tuesday's devastating earthquake. The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson was expected to drop anchor off the Haiti coast Friday where it will serve as floating airport for helicopters carrying rescue teams and supplies. Troops and planeloads of desperately needed food and medicine from many countries began slowly arriving in Haiti Thursday after the worst earthquake in 200 years reduced the capital city to rubble.
US - HAITI: The U.S. government has stepped up its commitment to Haiti, as the
first wave of a projected 5,000 U.S. troops began arriving to provide
security and distribute aid following Tuesday's devastating earthquake.
President Barack Obama Thursday promised $100 million in new aid to
support Haiti's recovery, adding that the relief effort under way will
be one of the largest in recent U.S. history.
The U.S. Southern Command reported that hundreds of U.S. army
paratroopers landed in Haiti Thursday afternoon, with more on the way.
HAITI SIDEBAR - FRANCE: France says it is suspending deportations of illegal Haitian immigrants back to Haiti and will temporarily open its borders to earthquake victims who need help. France is home to about 80,000 Haitian expatriates. Haiti was a French colony from 1697 until it won independence in 1804. French is still one of Haiti's official languages, along with Creole. French President Nicholas Sarkozy Thursday called for an international conference on rebuilding Haiti. France has sent planeloads of emergency aid and rescue teams to Haiti.
CHINA - US INTERNET: China says its trade and economic ties with the United States will not
change despite a threat by U.S.-based Internet giant Google to pull out
of China after a cyber attack.
Commerce Ministry spokesman Yao Jian made the vow during a news
conference Friday in Beijing. Google announced earlier this week it
will no longer censor its content after uncovering an attack on the
e-mail accounts of Chinese human rights activists.
Chinese officials Thursday insisted the country's laws prohibit cyber
attacks and that its Internet is "open."
UN - NORTH KOREA: A United Nations official says North Korea has imposed harsher
punishments for people who try and fail to escape the reclusive,
Vitit Muntarbhorn, the U.N.'s special envoy on human rights in North
Korea, told reporters in Seoul, South Korea Friday the punishments
include torture, prison and even execution. The Thai academic says
entire families are targeted as a form of "collective punishment."
Most North Koreans who try to flee the country escape by way of China, which forcibly repatriates them.
JAPAN - AFGHANISTAN: The Japanese military has ended its naval refueling mission in support of the U.S.-led international effort in Afghanistan. Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa issued an order Friday for two naval ships to cease operations in the Indian Ocean. The ships were first deployed to the region after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, whose government took office in September, vowed not to renew the mission's mandate when it expired this month. The government has instead pledged $5 billion in new aid for Afghanistan over the next five years to help rebuild the country.
KOREAS - TENSIONS: North Korea is threatening to cut off all dialogue with South Korea
over an alleged Seoul contingency plan for the fall of the communist
The threat came even as Pyongyang said it accepts South Korea's long-standing offer of food aid.
A statement issued Friday by the North's powerful National Defense
Commission is demanding South Korea apologize over unconfirmed news
reports about the contingency plan. The NDC vows to wage a "holy war"
against those who conceived the plan, including the Blue House, the
headquarters of the South Korean president.
SOLAR ECLIPSE: People in parts of Africa and Asia saw a nearly total eclipse of the sun Friday. The eclipse is an annular eclipse, in which the moon passes directly in front of the sun, but leaves a ring of sunlight flaring around its edge. It was first visible early Friday in the westernmost Central African Republic. It was then visible for short periods of time in Uganda, Kenya, Somalia, the Maldives, India, Sri Lanka and China. People in a larger area were able to see a partial eclipse, in which the moon blocks only a portion of the sun.
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