IRAQ: Iraqi police say at least 27 Shi'ite pilgrims have been killed and 56
wounded in a bombing on the outskirts of the holy city of Karbala,
south of Baghdad. There are reports of both a car bomb and mortar
The bombing is one of several that struck this week as hundreds of
thousands of Shi'ite pilgrims flocked to the city on the most important
day of a Shi'ite pilgrimage (, Arbain,). Wednesday, a motorcycle bomb exploded as pilgrims made their
Karbala, and two separate roadside bombs targeted Shi'ite pilgrims in
US - NORTH KOREA: North Korea says it will free detained American activist Robert Park,
who entered the country illegally in December to raise human rights
The North's state-run Korean Central News Agency said Friday the
government decided to forgive and release Park following what it called
his sincere repentance.
Park, a missionary, entered North Korea on Christmas Day, in what he
called a crusade to encourage North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il to close
concentration camps and allow impoverished North Koreans access to
Last week, North Korea said it had detained another U.S. citizen who
entered the country illegally.
CHINA - US - TRADE DISPUTE: China says it will impose heavy anti-dumping tariffs on imports of U.S. poultry products.
The Commerce Ministry announced Friday it is imposing the duties after
an investigation found the chicken products were being sold at
improperly low prices, which have hurt domestic producers.
It said the tariffs take effect on February 13th. Companies that
appealed the ruling, including top U.S. poultry producer Tyson Foods,
will pay duties between 43 and 80 percent. Those who did not appeal
will pay a duty of 105.4 percent.
UN - GAZA WAR: U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is unable to determine if
Israel and the Palestinians have carried out credible, independent
probes of alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Ban made that assessment in a report delivered to the U.N. General Assembly late Thursday.
He said the process initiated by Israel is ongoing, and that the Palestinian side initiated its process only 10 days ago.
The General Assembly had given both sides until Friday to investigate
charges by a U.N. panel that Israel and Hamas militants committed war
crimes during the Gaza war more than a year ago.
TOYOTA: News reports out of Japan say Toyota is considering a recall of 270,000 Prius hybrid sedans in Japan and the United States.
The world's number automaker has acknowledged a software problem in the
Prius' anti-lock braking system that causes brakes to be momentarily
unresponsive when the car is traveling on bumpy or slippery roads.
Toyota says it fixed the braking problem in Prius cars shipped since
last month and is deciding what to do about models sold before then.
The U.S. Department of Transportation says it has received about 124
complaints about the 2010 model, including four crashes.
WORLD ECONOMY: Asian markets are falling sharply in early trading Friday, as concerns
grow that the global economy remains at risk of another slowdown.
Japan's key Nikkei index plunged nearly three percent by the closing
bell, the lowest level in almost two months, while Hong Kong's market
plummeted well over three percent.
Markets in Seoul, Jakarta, Shanghai and Singapore are also trading between two and three percent lower.
The rout in Asia is fueled by concerns about a rise in jobless claims
in the United States and a growing debt crisis in some European Union
INDONESIA - BUFFALO: The Indonesian government says it will enforce a ban on bringing
animals to public rallies, after a water buffalo was used to disparage
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at a recent protest.
The ban follows demonstrations across the Pacific island nation last
week in which protesters expressed dissatisfaction with President
Yudhoyono's first 100 days of his second term. Some protesters brought
in water buffalos and displayed Mr. Yudhoyono's photos or initials on
The president said he found the comparison to a beast of burden
offensive, saying he did not like the suggestion that he was "big,
stupid and slow like a buffalo."
PAKISTAN VIOLENCE: Pakistani authorities say an explosives-laded motorcycle has rammed
into a bus in the southern port city of Karachi, killing at least 12
people and wounding 40 others.
Television footage showed the bus badly damaged after the blast Friday. The wounded are being rushed to the hospital.
Karachi has seen an upsurge of ethnic violence in the past week, with
at least 26 people. The clashes appeared to be between activists from
rival political parties -- the Muttahida Qaumi Movement and the Awami
National Party -- which traditionally gather support from different
ethnic groups. (News Updates)
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