Taliban militants bombed a military convoy in northwestern Pakistan killing 41. Attacks have increased in recent days, including an attack on Pakistan’s military headquarters where militants were able to hold hostages for more than 24 hours this weekend, Bloomberg. Q & A on the army HQ attack, Reuters. Militant groups including the Taliban and al Qaeda are spreading into parts of Pakistan that were previously peaceful, BBC News (warning: link inncludes emotional account of a man who lost his family in a bombing.)
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed members of the Northern Ireland Assembly today urging leaders to reconcile their differences and work together in compromise. A key dispute involves the transfer of police powers from London to Belfast, New York Times.
Elinor Ostrom, a professor at Indiana University, and Oliver Williamson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley have won the Nobel Prize for Economics. Ostrom is the first woman to win the prize for economics, Voice of America.
A power company in Mexico has been taken over by the Mexican government. Luz y Fuerza del Centro supplies power to Mexico City and four central states. Officials said the decentralized public company was not financially stable. A new government owned company will take over, CNN.
A new report from General Stanley McChrystal says that the U.S.’s strategy in Afghanistan is not working. The priority should be on protecting Afghans from the Taliban and that the U.S. should seek more peaceful engagement with the Taliban, McCrystal said, Christian Science Monitor.
45 Taliban were killed by security forces in the Swat Valley in Pakistan. Pakistan waged a house to house effort to root out Taliban from the Swat Valley earlier this year, Associated Press.
Two firefighters have died while fighting wildfires just north of Los Angeles, California. The fires are driven by high temperatures. A dozen separate fires are raging throughout the area, threatening over 20,000 homes, ABC News.
Japan’s new leader will be Yukio Hatoyama. After 55 years in power, the Liberal Democratic Party was defeated in Japan by Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan in elections held yesterday. Hatoyama will boost government spending, including increasing payments to families with children, Economist. Factbox on policy change challenges, Reuters.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is in Norway today to observe the effects of global climate change on the Arctic. He has made global climate change his top priority. The visit comes amid charges that Ban did not push the U.N. to stop bloodshed in Sri Lanka earlier this year when the government cracked down on Tamil Tiger rebels and ethnic Tamils, Associated Press.
What really happens to electronics when they are recycled? 60 Minutes tracks a shipping container from Denver to Hong Kong and discovers a toxic city in China, 60 Minutes story and video.
2 million refugees are returning to Pakistan’s Swat Valley. Swat Valley residents were evacuated from the area while the Pakistani military conducted an intensive fight against the Taliban. The area is safe for families to return to but many homes have been destroyed, Voice of America.
Unrest continues in the Chinese city of Urumqi between Muslim Uighurs and the Chinese government. Two Uighurs were shot and killed by police today. The police were trying to prevent the men from attacking another Uighur, according to official reports, BBC News .
The Prime Minister of Japan is expected to call an election on August 30. His party, the LDP, which has been in power in Japan for most of the past 30 years, suffered losses in recent Toyko elections prompting a vote of no confidence, Reuters.
Suspected Nazi John Demjanjuk has been charged with 27,900 counts of accessory to murder for his alledged involvement in the gassing of prisoners at a concentration camp in Poland during World War II, Associated Press.
The spaceshuttle Endeavor is set for another launch attempt this evening. This will be the fifth try on this go round, Associated Press.
South Korean media reports that Kim Jong-il is suffering from pancreatic cancer, Christian Science Monitor.
Sonia Sotomayor, US President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace David Souter on the Supreme Court, will begin her Congressional confirmation hearings today at 10am EDT. USA Today is live blogging the hearings. Watch live on CSPAN.
In a major victory for the Pakistani army, Taliban fighters have fled Mingora in the Swat Valley after intense fighting. Officials hope this is a turning point in a fight to rid the country of the terrorist group. The 20,000 civilians trapped in the area are being given supplied, but power in the area will not be restored for an estimated two weeks. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has said cash payments will be given to affected residents and massive reconstruction will occur, AP.
England’s Prince Harry landed yesterday in the U.S. for his first official visit to the country. The prince has played in a charity polo match in New York City, visited Harlem, met with Gov. Patterson, and honored September 11th victims, CNN.
After North Korea’s dismemberment of the Korean Armisitice, American officials have been cautioning the country against taking any militay action. Defense Secretary Robet Gates said today: “We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in Asia — or on us. He went on to say he didn’t believe Korea was, right now, a direct threat, NPR.
A car bomb in Lahore, Pakistan has killed at least 30 and injured hundreds others. The bomb went off outside a police and secret service headquarters after men step out of the car and began firing rifles. The attack is thought to be in retaliation for the crackdown on Taliban militants in the Swat Valley, BBC News. Images of the blast, BBC News.
The UN Security Council is scrambling to find the right response to North Korea’s declaration that it will not abide by the terms of the 1950s armistice that ended the Korea War. Outright military engagement is undesirable as North Korea has a one million member military. Sanctions are not likely to have much effect as North Korea is already very impoverished. The Security Council will try to get North Korea allies Russia and China to apply pressure, CNN.
Illinois Senator Roland Burris caught on tape offering to write a check to disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich as he asks for consideration for the Senate seat vacated by President Obama, Washington Post.
The world is on alert after confirmation of an underground nuclear test near Kilju, North Korea. Seismologists recorded the blast in South Korea with tremors of 4.5 on the Ritcher scale. North Korea tested a much smaller weapon underground in November 2006. Yesterday’s blast was between 10 and 20 kilotons which is about the size of the atom bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki in World War II. The UN Security Council will hold an emergency session this afternoon. As we reported last night when the news broke, Japan has set up an emergency room to monitor the situation in the Prime Minister’s resident. China, a sometimes ally of North Korea, has also condemned the tests. BBC News reports that South Korea has also detected short-range missile tests by North Korea. These tests come at a time when North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il is said to be in poor health and there is concern over who will be his successor, CNN.
Scientology is on trial in Paris, France on charges of fraud under French anti-cult laws. A woman claims she was persuaded to spend 20,000 euros on bonus services by the church, such as medication for purification. If found guilty, Scientology could be shut down in France, France 24.
Pakistani troops are going house to house in Mingora in a heavy effort to stamp out the Taliban in the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan. Although most residents have fled the heavily-fortified town, 10,000-20,000 are estimated to remain. The offensive to clear the Swat Valley has lasted about four weeks. Pakistan army officials say they expect to have taken back Mingora in 7 to 10 days, Reuters.
An Indian guru was killed in the shooting at the Sikh temple in Vienna, Austria this weekend. His death sparked riots in Jalandhar, India, Wall Street Journal.
Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is scheduled to testify in her defense on Thursday, Associated Press. The bizarre story of the charges against Suu Kyi.
Sri Lanka says the military crackdown on the Tamil Tiger rebels should end in 48 hours. The Sri Lankan army has pushed the rebels, along with Tamil civilians, into a 1.5 square mile area in northern Sri Lanka along the coast. Conditions are very poor there and the only semi-legitimate reports come from doctors who have been treating the civilian victims. President Mahinda Rajapaksa says the army is expected to break through and eliminate the rebels in the next two days. The Red Cross has suspended relief efforts in the area because it is so dangerous. A Red Cross worker was killed two days ago, CNN.
The White House is expected to announce today that it will restart military tribunals for some of the detainees held captive in the Guantanamo Bay military prison. The administration says the detainees will have access to their lawyers in order to prepare a defense and that the trials will be more in keeping with U.S. due process laws than they were under the Bush administration but critics fear that secret evidence, which will not be available to either the detainees or their lawyers, will be used in the military tribunals, Christian Science Monitor.
Pakistan lifted a curfew in the Swat Valley to encourage civilians to flee the area. The Pakistani military, which is heavily engaged in conflict with Taliban rebels in the northwestern region of Pakistan, are hoping to minimize civilian casualties as fighting intensifies, Voice of America.
Europe’s recession may be reaching its low point. Growth dropped in many countries in Europe, Reuters.
Google issues apology for yesterday’s slow service, BBC News. Website to bookmark: Is it down for everyone or just me?