WORLD IN BRIEF

WORLD IN BRIEF

Monday, February 18, 2008

israel

Olmert Says Military Has 'Free Hand' in Gaza

Israel's prime minister on Sunday gave his military a "free hand" to attack fighters in the Gaza Strip after a rocket slammed into a house in the Israeli town of Sderot, where visiting U.N. humanitarian chief John Holmes had just called for an end to the daily salvos.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that he would not allow a humanitarian crisis to develop in Gaza, which is run by the armed militant group Hamas, but that the people there could not live normal lives while Israelis across the border were constantly targeted by rockets.

Early Sunday, Israeli ground forces backed by aircraft entered Gaza. Three Palestinian fighters and a civilian were killed in clashes, and an Israeli soldier was seriously wounded. More than 20 people were wounded, including several gunmen and a civilian who was shot in the head, Palestinian officials said.

China

Severe Weather Leaves Almost 180,000 Stranded

Almost 180,000 people have been stranded in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan by a return of snow and freezing weather that has blocked roads and caused blackouts, state media said Sunday.

More than 8,700 miles of roads have been affected and 20,000 vehicles are stuck, the official New China News Agency said. It added that a repair force had been organized, but that "repairs were greatly hampered by the plateau climate, poor facilities and shortage of money."

U.S. Plan to Shoot Down Satellite Causes Concern

China said Sunday it was concerned about U.S. military plans to shoot down a damaged spy satellite that is hurtling toward Earth with 1,000 pounds of toxic fuel.

The U.S. military has said it hopes to smash the satellite as soon as next week -- just before it enters Earth's atmosphere -- with a single missile fired from a Navy cruiser in the northern Pacific Ocean.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman was quoted as saying the government was monitoring the situation and has urged the United States to avoid causing damage to security in outer space and in other countries.

egypt

Opposition Candidates Detained Before Vote

Egyptian police detained at least 41 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday as part of what the movement said was an attempt to disrupt its plans for local council elections.


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