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January 4, 2008
By Compiled from wire service reports by Ross Atkin
accused Egypt on Thursday of undercutting Israeli-
Palestinian peace prospects by letting about 2,200 Palestinian pilgrims return to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip without Israeli screening. Israel insisted they return to Gaza through its territory to allow them to be searched for smuggled cash and weapons, but Egypt allowed them to return directly through a terminal on its Gaza border.
A car bomb exploded in the Kurdish-dominated southeastern Turkish city of Diyarbakir on Thursday, wounding at least 20 people, including military personnel, news reports said.
Authorities blamed the blast on Kurdish rebels. Police were searching for two suspected Kurdish militants. The attack appeared to be a retaliation to three airstrikes by Turkish warplanes against Kurdish rebel shelters in northern Iraq last month.
Activists lifted a blockade at the US-Mexican border on Wednesday, ending a 36-hour protest against the removal of Mexico's last tariffs on US and Canadian farm goods. Mexico abolished its last protective tariffs on basic crops like corn, beans, and sugar on Tuesday, under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA. Mexican farmers have complained they won't be able to compete with US farmers who can sell cheaper products because they receive government subsidies. Above, farmers in Mexico City protested the end of import protections.
Indian farmers and traders, opposed to the entry of private retail giants such as Wal-Mart, are building a chain of superstores as part of efforts to sell their produce directly and stop prices being set by a few big players. An official in the western state of Maharashtra was quoted Thursday as saying the first of the locally operated superstores could open in a few months.
China has decided to restrict the broadcasting of Internet videos, including those posted on video-sharing websites, to sites run by state-controlled companies and require providers to report questionable content to the government. The new rules say those who provide video services "should insist on serving the people, serve socialism ... and abide by the moral code of socialism."
Intense fighting between government and militia forces in eastern Congo has led to a surge in rape by fighters on all sides, women and doctors say. Sexual violence has escalated as about 400,000 people have been forced to flee the safety of their homes since August. Congo's government has called a peace summit with rebel forces for Sunday, but there is little optimism that chronic fighting will end soon.
District councils on both sides of the Irish border are working together on a plan to create the first geopark to link the two countries, the BBC News reported. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the organization that officially provides the designation, defines a geopark as a territory that encompasses one or more sites of scientific importance, not only for geological reasons but also by virtue of its archaeological, ecological, or cultural value.
Japanese rail operator Central Japan Railway Co. announced plans to build the world's second commercially operative maglev system, with Tokyo-to-Nagoya service the first goal of a $44 billion project slated for completion in 2025. The new trains, designed to replace the country's famous bullet trains, will run reach 310 m.p.h., faster than Shanghai, China's 267 m.p.h. counterpart.
Ousted Philippine President Joseph Estrada said Thursday he has decided to return to acting in movies, his original springboard to fame and power, and might consider trying for a political comeback following his historic corruption conviction. Estrada was toppled amid massive public demonstrations in 2001, put on trial, sentenced to life in prison, and ultimately pardoned by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.
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