CHINA: A U.S. Congressional advisory panel warned lawmakers that Chinese spies are aggressively stealing American secrets to build-up Beijing’s military and economic strength. The U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission also said in its annual report that Beijing is building a navy that could block the U.S. military from the region if fighting should break out between China and Taiwan.
JAPAN: Deflation has come back to the Japanese economy for the first time since 2006, government officials warned in Japan. The Cabinet Office said the falling prices could hurt the economic recovery of the country.
NIGERIA: Nigeria will be receiving $1 billion from the European Union to tackle corruption and help promote peace. A large percentage of that money will specifically target issues in the Niger Delta.
ZIMBABWE: Over a dozen white Zimbabwean farmers that lost their land under President Mugabe’s land redistribution program have found a new home: Nigeria. Almost five years after many of them arrived and began working in the agriculture industry, they have proved to be highly beneficial to Nigeria by creating jobs and adding to overall food security.
SOMALIA: Somalia has agreed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The treaty’s aim is to protect those under 18 from violence, exploitation, discrimination, and neglect. It remains unclear — if the treaty is ratified — whether or not the transitional government will be able to uphold the Convention.
ITALY: A researcher at the Vatican claims to have found text, including the words “Jesus Nazarene,” on the Shroud of Turin, which she says would prove the authenticity of what is commonly believed to be Jesus’ burial cloth.
BELGIUM: Representatives from the UN’s permanent Security Council member states and Germany met in Brussels Friday to discuss Iran’s refusal to stop its program of uranium enrichment.
ROMANIA: Voters go to the polls on Sunday to break a political deadlock and elect a new President.
RUSSIA: Child mortality is on the decline in Russia, according to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children Report. The number of children dying before reaching the age of five in Russia fell by just over 50% between 1990 and 2008.
Alcoholic beverages in Russia may soon become pricier, if a Presidential Commission’s plans to set a minimum price on vodka are approved. The measure is the latest in President Medvedev’s campaign to crack down on alcohol abuse.
A well-known Russian priest was shot and killed outside his church in southern Moscow late last night. The priest, Daniel Sysoyev, was known for his missionary outreach and had received several death threats in the past.
KYRGYZSTAN: Parliament has approved the strictest anti-smoking legislation in Central Asia. The amendments ban advertising for tobacco products by all media outlets and smoking in state institutions and public places.
LITHUANIA: The Washington Post reports on the Lithuanian Parliament’s investigation into a secret CIA high-security prison complex in that country.
BRAZIL: The World Trade Organization on Thursday allowed Brazil to place sanctions on the US, which places illegal subsidies over its cotton industry. Brazil is not yet prepared to impose the sanctions.
ARGENTINA: A law has been passed in Argentina that will allow judges to force DNA testing to establish the identity of people thought to have been kidnapped as children during the country’s ‘Dirty War.’
CUBA: In an unusual response, President Barack Obama answered questions posed by a Cuban blogger on her website. Yoani Sanchez has gained international exposure for her searing criticism of the Cuban government.
HONDURAS: Honduras’ interim president, Roberto Micheletti, has announced he will step down temporarily to allow voters to concentrate on the upcoming presidential elections, a move that deposed leader Manuel Zelaya called “tasteless and absurd.”
EGYPT: Egyptian protesters threw stones and firebombs at police near the Algerian embassy in Cairo today, and the Egyptian government recalled its ambassador to Algeria in response to attacks on Egyptians after the countries’ World Cup qualifier.
PALESTINE: Israeli forces detained six Palestinians from the West Bank, including the commander and four officers of the Palestinian Authority Intelligence Services. In Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has agreed to postpone parliamentary and presidential elections that had been set for January.
ISRAEL: Syrian President Bashar Assad’s top aide Bouthaina Shaaban said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris last week that he wanted to launch talks with Damascus without preconditions.
TURKEY: U.S. Senator Harry Reid has agreed to co-sponsor a Senate resolution calling on the United States to formally recognize World War I-era killings of Armenians as “genocide.”
LEBANON: The head of Hezbollah group (Party of God) Hassan Nasrallah was re-elected as the leader of the powerful Lebanese Shiite party. The election followed a congress that also adopted a new manifesto, which is to be revealed in coming days.
PAKISTAN: A US drone attack in northwestern Pakistan killed at least eight suspected militants.