PAKISTAN - AFGHANISTAN: U.S. and Pakistani officials say intelligence forces captured the top Taliban military commander several days ago in a secret joint operation in Karachi. Officials say the commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, is in Pakistani custody. Baradar, who is of Afghan descent, is described as ranking second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the founder of the Taliban. Officials say Baradar is the most significant Taliban figure detained since the war in Afghanistan started in late 2001. The Taliban in Afghanistan deny Baradar has been captured, dismissing the report as a rumor and a diversion.
US - IRAN: Iran's foreign minister has refuted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton's recent remarks that Iran is becoming a military dictatorship.
Iranian media quote Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki saying Tuesday
that Clinton is trying to manipulate public opinion of Iran with
"unreal and incorrect issues."
On Monday, Clinton told an audience of students in Qatar that the U.S.
believes the Iranian government is being "supplanted" by the elite
Revolutionary Guard military force.
Mottaki made the same accusation about the United States Tuesday,
saying it has acted like a military dictatorship through its actions in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
AFGHANISTAN: NATO forces say three more Afghan civilians were killed during a major offensive against the Taliban in the southern province of Helmand. A statement from the international force Tuesday said two civilians were killed in separate incidents after being shot for failing to heed warnings to stop approaching troops. Another man was reported killed after getting caught in the crossfire between coalition forces and insurgents. NATO commanders say protecting civilians is a major priority in the offensive. That effort suffered a setback Sunday when rockets fired by coalition forces hit a home in Marjah, killing 12 civilians, including six children.
BURMA DISSIDENTS: Burma sentenced four women to two years in prison with hard labor Monday on a conviction of causing public unrest. The four were arrested last October after they donated alms, including religious literature, to a high-profile monastery (Magwe Pryiyatti) in the eastern town of Dagon. Defense lawyer Kyaw Hoe said he would file an appeal against the verdict. The four used to pray every week for the release of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The were arrested after Aung San Suu Kyi was told her appeal against the extension of her house arrest had been rejected and as supporters gathered to pray for her release.
TIBET - PROTEST: Reports from southwestern China say some 400 Tibetan monks and lay
people have marked the beginning of Tibet's lunar year by staging a
sit-in to protest the killing of Tibetan demonstrators nearly two years
The protest in Sichuan province's Ngaba county took place Monday in the
main market square of Ngaba town. The pro-Tibetan independence Web site
www.phayul.com said demonstrators threw tsampa
-- barley flour -- into the air in an expression of mourning for the
Tibetan protesters killed during the widespread demonstrations that
took place across Tibet in March 2008.
NOKOR - KIM BIRTHDAY: North Korea celebrates the 69th birthday of leader Kim Jong Il Tuesday,
after several days of celebration that overlapped Sunday's Lunar New
Mr. Kim's birthday each year is used as an opportunity to demonstrate
the loyalty of the North Korean people for their "dear leader."
North Korean official media reported that some 100,000 people rallied
in Pyongyang Saturday in support of Mr. Kim, while the government
presented children with candy and cookies.
The birthday celebration comes at a tense time for Mr. Kim and his
nation, as the government deals with international pressure to resume
talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear program.
TOYOTA RECALL: U.S. safety regulators say they have received complaints alleging that
34 deaths were caused by acceleration problems in Toyota vehicles.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says since late
January it has received reports of nine crashes between 2005 to 2010,
involving 13 deaths and 10 injuries.
Between 2000 and 2009, the agency had received reports of 17 crashes
that might be linked to sudden acceleration in Toyota vehicles, with 21
OLYMPICS: The International Ice Hockey Federation says two goaltenders on the
U.S. men's Olympic hockey team at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver
will have to cover or remove slogans they have written on their
Ryan Miller had the words "Miller Time" emblazoned on his helmet during
Monday's practice time, while teammate Jonathan Quick has the slogan
"Support Our Troops" posted on his.
A spokesman for the IIHF says a rule by the International Olympic
Committee prohibits advertising, demonstrations and propaganda on a
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