SRI LANKA - ELECTIONS: Sri Lanka has conducted its first peace-time presidential election in decades, after a violence-marred campaign.
Voters, including Tamils displaced by the country's civil war, cast
ballots Tuesday to extend the tenure of incumbent President Mahinda
Rajapaksa or replace him with his former top military chief, Sarath
There were 22 candidates listed on the ballot, but the election
centered around Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Fonseka who were both touted as
war heroes for last year's victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels.
FRANCE - BURQAS: A French parliamentary commission is calling for a partial ban on women wearing the full Islamic veil.
The commission Tuesday is recommending a ban on Muslim women wearing
burqas in all places of public services, including hospitals, schools,
and public transportation. The report does not suggest a full public
ban or outlawing the veil in private areas.
President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this month that Muslim women
should not be allowed to wear the veil. Mr. Sarkozy said the burqa was
against French values.
AFGHANISTAN: In diplomatic cables published for the first time in full Tuesday, the
U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan warned President Barack Obama that
Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "not an adequate strategic partner."
The full cables, published by The New York Times Tuesday,
show Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's reservations about a U.S. troop surge
in Afghanistan. Eikenberry warned Mr. Obama that a U.S. troop buildup
in Afghanistan would make President Karzai's government too dependent
on the United States.
HONG KONG POL: Five Hong Kong legislators resigned Tuesday to protest the slow pace of democratic reform from Beijing.
The lawmakers, from the League of Social Democrats and Civic Party,
signed their resignation letters, then handed them to the secretary of
Hong Kong's Legislative Council.
The two opposition parties hope the resignations will force
by-elections that would spark a de-facto referendum on winning full
democracy in the former British colony.
Hong Kong possesses Western-style civil liberties under Chinese rule
but only some direct elections.
KOREAS - DEFECTION: News reports in Seoul Tuesday said a North Korean Embassy official in
Ethiopia defected to South Korea last year after seeking asylum in its
embassy in the African country.
YTN television in Seoul and South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the
40-year-old man, identified only as Kim, stormed into the South Korean
Embassy in Addis Ababa in October and stayed there for several weeks
until he was taken to South Korea.
The reports said the defection prompted the North Korean ambassador in
Ethiopia to make a protest call to his South Korean counterpart.
IRAQ: Iraqi authorities say a suicide car bomb attack has killed at least 18
people and wounded 80 others in a strike against a police crime lab in
Police say the bomb exploded Tuesday, causing major damage to the government forensics office in the Karrada neighborhood.
Officials said many of those killed or wounded in the attack were likely police officers.
The blast comes a day after suicide bombers attacked three Baghdad
hotels popular with foreigners, killing at least 36 people and wounding
VENEZUELA: Authorities in Venezuela say a teenager was shot and killed Monday
during a protest over the government's decision to shut down a leading
opposition television station.
The 15-year-old student was killed late Monday during a demonstration
in the western state of Merida, when opponents of President Hugo Chavez
clashed with forces allied with the socialist leader. Interior Minister
Tareck El Aissami said the student, a Chavez supporter, was among
students peaceably expressing their opinions when they were - in his
words - "cowardly ambushed."
INDIA - REPUBLIC DAY: India is celebrating its 60th Republic Day under heightened security due to fears of militant attacks.
At least 15,000 paramilitary soldiers were deployed in and around the
capital of New Delhi Tuesday to ensure safety along the route of the
annual Republic Day parade.
India celebrates the holiday on January 26 every year, but this year
security measures have increased following intelligence reports of
possible terror attacks by Islamic militants.
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