PAKISTAN - VIOLENCE: Pakistani police say 39 people have been killed and nearly 100 others
wounded in two suicide bomb blasts in the eastern city of Lahore.
Authorities say the explosions occurred 15 seconds apart and targeted
military vehicles in the city Friday morning. Polce say the suicide
bombers were on foot.
The incident is the second attack in Lahore this week. A suicide car
bomb killed 13 people and wounded 70 others on Monday.
In a separate development, a Pakistani official (Jamil Soomro) says
apparent sectarian violence in the southern city of Karachi killed five
CHINA - US - RIGHTS: China has offered its own critique of the United States in response to
Washington's annual review of Beijing's human rights record.
China's State Council issued a report Friday blaming the subprime
mortgage crisis in the U.S. for triggering the global economic
The report also accused the United States of restricting the rights of
its citizens in a number of areas, including racial equality, personal
security, and political and economic advancement.
The U.S. State Department accused China of numerous human rights
violations in its annual global report, which it issued Thursday.
THAILAND - PROTESTS: Opponents of the Thai government are gathering in Bangkok for the start
of days of massive protests aimed at forcing Thai Prime Minister
Abhisit Vejjajhiva to call new elections.
Red-shirted supporters of the United Front for Democracy Against
Dictatorship arrived at five locations in the capital Friday.
Organizers expect hundreds of thousands of supporters from across
Thailand to converge on Bangkok on Sunday.
At least 50,000 security personnel will be deployed across Bangkok
during the demonstration, despite the UDD's pledge of non-violence.
TAIWAN - EXECUTIONS: Taiwan's justice minister has resigned under pressure after declaring she would not authorize executions for the 44 inmates on Taiwan's death row. Taiwan's Prime Minister Wu Den-yih said late Thursday he had accepted the resignation of Justice Minister Wang Chin-feng. Wang, a former human rights lawyer, resigned a day after declaring she would not authorize executions and would work toward abolition of the death penalty. Taiwan's Presidential Office said Thursday that all death row convicts must be executed unless there was good reason not to carry out the execution.<!-- IMAGE -->
ISRAEL - PALESTINIANS: The United States says it believes indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace
talks will be held, despite Arab anger over Israeli plans to expand
settlements in East Jerusalem.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters on Thursday that
the U.S. has received no information indicating Palestinians have
decided to withdraw from the indirect negotiations.
Crowley said U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, still
plans to go to the region next week to arrange the indirect peace talks.
Palestinian officials have said they will not begin talks until Israel freezes settlement activity.
INDIA - RUSSIA: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in New Delhi Friday to oversee the signing of more than a dozen deals in arms and civilian nuclear technology. Mr. Putin is hoping to finalize the sale of $10 billion in weapons and technology to India. India was expected to buy a Soviet-era aircraft carrier that Russia has been modernizing for the Indian navy. India initially agreed to buy the vessel, the Admiral Gorshkov, in 2004 for less than $1 billion, but is now expected to offer $2.3 billion. Mr. Putin's delegation also was expected to sign deals to sell India 29 MiG29K naval fighter jets, and to help India build several nuclear power plants.<!-- IMAGE -->
JAPAN - NZ - WHALING: An anti-whaling activist from New Zealand has been arrested for
illegally boarding a Japanese whaling vessel in Antarctic waters last
The Japanese Coast Guard arrested Peter Bethune Friday after he arrived in Tokyo aboard the Shonan Maru 2.
Bethune is a member of the U.S.-based environmental group Sea Shepherd
Conservation Society, which has clashed numerous times with Japanese
whaling vessels operating in the Southern Ocean. He was captain of the
group's high-tech speedboat, the Ady Gil, which sank in January after
colliding with the Shonan Maru 2.
INDONESIA - TERROR: Indonesian police have killed two suspected terrorists and arrested at least six others after a gunfight in the province of Aceh. Police say shooting broke out after they stopped a vehicle carrying the militants Friday. Security forces seized five rifles from the car. Last month, police launched a series of raids on a suspected Jemaah Islamiyah cell in Aceh that was operating a militant training facility. A senior Jemaah Islamiyah leader, wanted for the 2002 Bali bombings, was killed in a raid this week near the capital, Jakarta.
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