HAITI EARTHQUAKE: U.N. officials say the Haiti government has declared the search and
rescue phase is over in the earthquake-ravaged country, while
humanitarian efforts continue.
A statement late Friday from the U.N. (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs)
says there were 132 live rescues by January 21. That number does not
include two survivors pulled from the rubble in Port-au-Prince Friday,
10 days after they were buried by the earthquake that devastated the
capital and surrounding areas.
The U.N. says the Haiti government confirmed 111,481 deaths from the
earthquake as of Friday, though many more are known to be missing and
TERROR ALERTS: The British Government has raised its terror threat alert to "severe"
-- the second highest level -- indicating concern that an attack is
Home Secretary Alan Johnson said Friday the raised security level means
Britain is heightening its vigilance, but he stressed the government
has no intelligence suggesting an imminent attack. Authorities have
expressed continued concern over terrorism after the failed Christmas
day bombing attempt on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.
US - IRAQ: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is holding talks with senior Iraqi officials to discuss the decision by an Iraqi government committee to bar hundreds of candidates from upcoming parliamentary elections. Biden met Saturday with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and also has talks planned with President Jalal Talabani and other Iraqi officials. A Biden spokesman said the United States is trying to ensure the March 7 election will be seen as credible and legitimate. The spokesman also said, "it is not for any outsider to tell Iraqis how to resolve this issue."
AFGHANISTAN: Afghan officials say a provincial governor escaped unharmed from a
roadside bomb attack that killed four Afghan soldiers.
They say the governor of Wardak province, Halim Fidai, was traveling in
a convoy targeted Friday. A spokesman for the governor says a local
Taliban commander was arrested on the scene. In another development, a
U.S. firm that monitors Islamic extremist
Internet sites says a group is reporting 15 of its members were killed
in a suspected U.S. drone strike in Afghanistan.
US - MIDEAST: The Obama administration's Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, met with
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for three hours on Friday in the
West Bank town of Ramallah but failed to convince him to resume peace
negotiations with Israel.
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, says Israel must halt
all settlement activity in order for the Palestinians to return to
negotiations. He also said the talks should pick up where they left off
with the previous Israeli government.
US - TAIWAN: The United States says it will allow Taiwan's president to pass through
California while flying to and from Central America, a step that
typically draws criticism from China. A U.S. State Department spokesman
(Philip Crowley) said Friday the United States approved President Ma
Ying-jeou's request based on long-standing practices. He said President
Ma will transit in San Francisco and Los Angeles and
will be greeted in both cities by the head of the American Institute in
Taiwan, which carries out unofficial U.S. relations with Taiwan.
MALAYSIA - RELIGION: Malaysian police say they arrested four men Saturday in connection with
arson attacks on two Muslim prayer halls amid a dispute over the use of
the word "Allah" by Christians.
The arrests follow the detention of seven people Friday in connection
with arson attacks on churches, and a Catholic school. Eight other
people were arrested Wednesday in connection with an arson attack that
destroyed the ground floor of a church in suburban Kuala Lumpur early
this month. (News Updates)
IRAN - TRAIN: A passenger train has crashed off its rails in northeastern Iran, killing at least eight people.
A local official told state media 12 additional people were wounded, and that the death toll was likely to rise.
A broadcast on state television said four of the wounded were in critical condition.
The train was en route from the northeastern city of Mashhad to the capital, Tehran.
It derailed in Joqatai, about 700 kilometers east of Tehran.
In 2004, northeastern Iran saw another deadly train accident, when
runaway train cars carrying fuel and industrial chemicals derailed,
killing more than 200 people. (News Updates)
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