VOA NEWS IN SPECIAL
VOA NEWS IN SPECIAL ENGLISH
April 12, 2012
Syria has promised to observe a cease-fire beginning Thursday. That is the day set by peace negotiator Kofi Annan to end 13 months of fighting. The Syrian government released a statement Wednesday. It said the army has successfully fought what it called "armed terrorist groups" and had returned control of the country to the government. But the statement warned that armed forces will answer any attacks. The Obama administration warned that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has not kept its promises to stop the violence.
International aid agencies say Pakistan's actions against militants in the Khyber tribal district in the northwest are forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. The agencies say the number of people fleeing the violence is growing every day. The head of the United Nations refugee agency in northwestern Pakistan says more than 200,000 people have fled the fighting since January. He said about 10 percent of the refugees have been placed at the Jalozai refugee camp outside Peshawar. He said the rest are staying with their families.
North Korea announced Wednesday that workers have begun injecting fuel into a rocket for a planned space launch . The chief of North Korea's launch command center, Paek Chang Ho, spoke to a visiting group of foreign reporters. The reporters were able to witness the fuel being loaded into the rocket by video. The rocket is set for launch sometime between Thursday and Monday depending on weather conditions. the planned launch has angered many of North Korea's neighbors. They believe the North plans to test a missile that could later transport a nuclear weapon.
Chinese state media are praising the decision of the Chinese Communist Party to remove one of its leading members, Bo Xilai. The Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday that he was suspended from the party's Politburo and the much larger Central Committee. He has been accused of serious violations of party rules. Also, Chinese media report that Bo Xilai's wife, Gu Kailai, has been detained. She is a suspect in the murder of a British businessman, Neil Heywood. Mr Heywood reportedly had ties with the family of Bo Xilai.
The United States and the United Nations said Wednesday they are concerned about the increasing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan. They called for an immediate end to the fighting between the two nations. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon urged South Sudan's President Salva Kiir to meet with Sudan's president. The American State Department condemned military actions by both sides and called on both countries to withdraw all forces deployed across the border.
The president of the Democratic Republic of Congo has told reporters that he is going to arrest an army general wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court. Joseph Kabila ordered the arrest of General Bosco Ntaganda. But he said the general would be arrested for the sake of the Congolese people, not because of international pressure.
A leading Malian political leader says he believes most parties will work with the country's new acting government. Cheick Traore is head of the African Convergence for Renewal party. He told VOA that Malians want to return to a "normal constitutional life." Mali's parliament speaker, Dioncounda Traore, is to be sworn in as temporary president on Thursday. He will have up to 40 days under the constitution to organize a new election. His appointment is part of an agreement between the Economic Community of West African States and rebel soldiers who ousted Mali's president in late March.
Officials in the state of Florida have charged a man who shot and killed an African-American young person with murder. Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Mr Zimmerman was a member of a neighborhood watch group when The shooting took place. Mr Zimmerman said he shot Trayvon Martin in self-defense. Police did not arrest him after the shooting. Trayvon Martin's family says he was shot because he was black. Media have described Mr Zimmerman as a white Hispanic.
The United States central bank says the nation's economy has improved. But the Federal Reserve said rising fuel prices could slow business and spending in the coming months. The Federal Reserve said manufacturing expanded throughout much of the country from mid-February through the end of March. And it said factory leaders are hopeful about the chances for more growth. The central bank also said families were spending more and that helps economic activity.
The United States government is accusing Apple corporation and book publishers of reaching an illegal agreement to set prices of electronic books. The government says the agreement has cost buyers of e-books millions of dollars in additional charges . A Justice Department official said the deal between Apple and two book publishers added 2 to 3 dollars to the price of each e-book. Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters the case was aimed at, in his words, "making sure e-books are as affordable as possible." He said the government believes that Americans paid millions of dollars more than they should have when they bought books to read on their Apple iPad computers. Before the case was announced Wednesday, the government reached a deal with three other publishers.