MYANMAR: The United States wants to see real progress in Myanmar towards democracy before any policy changes, said a senior U.S. diplomat after the first high-level talks between the two nations in more than a decade were completed.
JAPAN: Toyota Motor Corporation announced a surprise profit last quarter, suggesting a gradual recovery may be under way for Japan’s automakers.
CHINA: China’s ministry of health is going to ban the use of beating to treat teenagers addicted to the web. There are dozens of treatment centers in the country that offers to help teenagers withdraw from their web addiction by using military-style boot camp methods with tough extreme physical exercise and counseling.
NIGERIA: Late Wednesday Nigeria recorded its first swine flu case. The virus was found in a 9-year old girl from the United States living in Lagos.
MAURITANIA: Despite a law enacted in 2007 criminalizing slavery, the practice still persists in the northwest African country of Mauritania. That’s according to an independent UN representative who recently toured the country.
GERMANY: Thousands of Opel workers went on strike to protest GM’s move to stop the sale of Opel, a move which GM has said will cost thousands of German jobs.
SWEDEN: The Scandinavian country approved a gas pipeline which would bring natural gas from Russia to Germany. The move has already been approved by Denmark, and needs the go-ahead from Finland, Russia, and Germany to move forward.
UK: The Bank of England said Thursday it would inject an additional 25 billion pounds into its economy.
CZECH REPUBLIC: Forty-five percent of Czech citizens believe that social conditions are better today than before 1989, according to a poll published prior to the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution. Seventy-four percent pointed to the desire for freedom as the main factor behind the revolution.
RUSSIA AND CIS:
Russian investigators have arrested two people they say are responsible for last summer’s killings of human rights activist Stanislav Markelov and Anastasia Baburina.
Swine flu deaths are on the rise in Russia, where fifteen people have died thus far from the epidemic. Buryatia–the latest region to declare a swine flu emergency–has banned all mass gatherings and is requiring every individual to wear a mask in public.
Police have seized more than 48 buckets of salmon caviar and 9 boxes of crab meat from poachers on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. Illegal poaching is a main source of livelihood for many residents of the area.
Time reports on global warming skeptics in Russia and the challenges the rest of the world faces in getting Russia to sign on to reductions in emissions targets in advance of next month’s Copenhagen conference.
Bloggers and free speech activists are criticizing Russia’s largest search engine Yandex for pandering to Kremlin censorship, the Times of London reports.
MEXICO: An American airman was killed in a Ciudad Juarez bar along with five other people last night, bringing the total number of homicides to 30 over the last four days.
Authorities in Mexico have arrested three doctors and a nurse at a private hospital for telling mothers that their newborns had died and then selling the babies.
CUBA: Russia and Cuba have signed four accords that will allow a Russian state energy firm to run oil exploration projects on the Island for the next 25 years.
ISRAEL: Haaretz newspaper reports that a ship seized on Wednesday by Israeli security forces has been released. Israeli officials said it contained tons of weapons supplied by Iran to Hezbollah.
LEBANON: In its official channel Al Manar TV, Lebanese militant group Hezbollah denied Israeli allegations that the ship Israel intercepted on Wednesday was headed for Lebanon. Hezbollah says that Israel is creating a distraction from the Goldstone report on war crimes in Gaza.
PALESTINE: In an emotional speech, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas confirmed he will not seek reelection.
SAUDI ARABIA: Al Jazeera English is reporting that Saudi fighter jets have pounded the strongholds of Houthi combatants in northern Yemen after an earlier confrontation between Shia fighters and Saudi security forces killed two Saudi security men.
PAKISTAN: The Pakistani military said it has killed some 28 militants in South Waziristan.
AFGHANISTAN:The United Nations announced today said that it is temporarily relocating more than half its international staff in Afghanistan following last week’s deadly Taliban attack against UN workers. Also from Kandahar, Afghanistan, an overnight airstrike by international forces killed nine civilians, including at least three children.