- - Thursday, February 3, 2011


Judge orders American held eight more days

LAHORE | A court Thursday ordered the detention of an American diplomat suspected of killing two Pakistanis extended by at least eight days, in defiance of U.S. demands the man be released immediately.

The United States says the American, identified by Pakistanis as Raymond Allen Davis, has diplomatic immunity. He has told a Pakistani court that he acted in self-defense last week when he shot two armed men who were intent on robbing him at gunpoint, as he drove his car in Lahore. Police say they are pursuing murder charges.

The shootings have stoked anti-American sentiment in Pakistan just as Washington is trying to seek more cooperation with Islamabad in the campaign against Islamic terrorists.


Junta prime minister named a vice president

YANGON | Myanmar’s new parliament elected Thein Sein, prime minister in the outgoing military junta, as one of three vice presidents Thursday, making him a likely contender for president in the new military-dominated government.

The army has held power in Myanmar since 1962 and says the selection of the new government is the latest step in a transition to democracy, but critics call it a sham designed to cement military rule.

The army is essentially hand-picking the new president from a pool of three vice presidents, though the combined houses of parliament will make the selection official on Friday.

The military’s delegates in parliament and their civilian allies hold an 80 percent majority in the new legislature, so the new leader is almost certain to be a top junta member.


Storm brings terror, ruin but no deaths

TULLY | Local residents and officials were amazed and relieved that no one was reported killed by the monstrous Cyclone Yasi, which roared across northern Queensland Thursday with winds up to 170 mph.

Officials said lives were spared because, after days of dire warnings, people followed instructions to flee to evacuation centers or bunker themselves at home in dozens of cities and towns in Yasi’s path.


President Nazarbayev allows early election

MOSCOW | The long-ruling leader of Kazakhstan on Thursday signed into law a measure allowing early presidential elections ahead of the scheduled vote in 2012.

The measure President Nursultan Nazarbayev endorsed allows for an election with only two months’ notice, according to the state news agency Kazinform.

Mr. Nazarbayev has led Kazakhstan since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. He has tried to project a democratic image, despite detractors accusing him of corruption and undemocratic practices. The parliament has no opposition members.


Support drop clouds premier’s budget TOKYO | Support for the government of Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has slipped back below 30 percent, reducing its chances of winning approval of a workable budget and for measures to cut the huge public debt.

With such low ratings in opinion polls, analysts said, they doubted Mr. Kan would risk caving in to demands to call a snap election.

But they said the opposition would now be even less likely to back his efforts to craft tax and social security reforms to pay for the rising costs of a quickly aging population and slash public debt twice the size of the $5 trillion economy.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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