The World Health Organization has declared a global flu pandemic based on the growing spread of the swine flu, or H1N1, in many regions of the world and now 74 countries. Health experts had developed the pandemic protocols based on much deadlier flu scenarios such as the bird flu, or H5N1. The swine flu is not nearly as deadly but officials are fearful that the virus could mutate, BBC News. Three more people have died from H1N1 in New York City, bringing the total to 15 there, Fox44 News. Hong Kong has ordered all its daycares and primary schools shut in an effort to keep the virus from spreading, Voice of America.
Five American contractors being held in the death of James Kitterman, owner of a Houston, Texas based contracting company, were ordered released by an Iraqi judge due to insufficient evidence. Two will remain in custody in Iraq on drug charges, Associated Press.
Palau and Bermuda will take some of the 17 Chinese nationals who are still being held at the US prison in Guantanamo Bay despite court orders from as far back as 2003 clearing the individuals to be released, AFP. The Uighurs are an ethnic group of mostly Turkish descendants in central Asia. Many live in China and international reports indicate that China discriminates against the group. 22 Uighurs were held at Guantanamo Bay. The men were picked up at a camp in Afghanistan but have never been linked to terrorism or expressed hatred against the United States. Some of the Uighurs have been released to Albania though China has requested they be sent home to face charges there. Experts suspect that they will be executed if returned to China.
Demonstrators march in support of Iran’s presidential candidates. Women account for about 65% of the voting population in Iran and 70% of the population is less than 30 years old. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s main opponents are Mirhossein Mousavi, a reform candidate and Mehdi Karoubi who is the major liberal candidate. Mousavi’s support has been rising in recent days with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators taking to the streets to show their support. However, Karoubi could spilt the liberal-reform vote. Some analysts predict the election will be forced into a run-off between President Ahmadinejad and Mousavi, Reuters.