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Kremlin Says Modernization Requires Political Competition

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says opposition parties and increased political competition can help modernize Russia.  He issued the call for reform in a live, nationally-televised meeting of the State Council, in which representatives of small Russian parties condemned media censorship and the ruling United Russia Party.  Russian President Dmitri Medvedev told a Kremlin meeting of various political party leaders and governors that Russia's political system must become more flexible to reflect society's growing diversity.  He says that requires cooperation rather than commands. The Kr

Zimbabwe Facing Another Drought

Farmers in Zimbabwe say they face another difficult agricultural season, as the dry spell that has hit the country continues. Weeks into the agricultural season, the rains are nowhere near normal and the crops are showing it.  Zimbabwe Farmers Union Director Paul Zakariya tells VOA even crops that normally thrive under dry conditions are feeling the heat. "We are looking at maize [corn], we are looking at cotton and, in some instances, it's also the tobacco and the other small grains which naturally will be resisting or would be tolerant but they are already succumbing," he said. The

Petraeus Accepts Some Pakistani Deals with Border Tribes

The commander of U.S. forces in Central Asia and the Middle East, General David Petraeus, says Pakistan will likely have to make some deals with tribes along its border with Afghanistan in an effort to consolidate gains its military forces have made, but can not sustain on their own.  Such deals have failed in the past, and U.S.

IJC Operational Update, Jan. 22

An Afghan-international security force searched a compound north of the village of Nakhonay, in the Panjwa'I district of Kandahar and detained insurgents. The joint force also found multiple weapons, including automatic rifles, a hand grenade and Taliban propaganda. Also in Kandahar last night, an Afghan-international security force searched compound north of the village of Khenjakak, in the Panjwa'i district and found a building with extensive IED components, including high explosives.

Children Treated After Gun Battle

ISAF forces operating in the Nawah-ye Barakzai district of Helmand province yesterday engaged a number of insurgents with small arms fire after being fired upon. The insurgents broke contact and fled the area on motorcycles. Three children were seriously injured in the firefight. ISAF forces broke contact with the insurgents, provided immediate medical attention and transported a 5 year old boy and a 6 year old girl to a nearby medical facility.

U.S. forces in Haiti to grow to 20,000

Roughly 20,000 U.S. troops will be supporting relief efforts in Haiti by Jan. 24, military officials said, adding to the 13,000-strong American force currently there. Comprising the force will be the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, the 82nd Airborne Division's 2nd Brigade and thousands of other troops operating afloat off the Haitian coast and on shore, distributing provisions, assisting in medical operations and helping to maintain security.

Ospreys provide MEU's a new tool for Humanitarian Aid missions

When calamity strikes and only a trail of desolation remains, no other Marine Air Ground Task Force is better prepared to support a full spectrum of Humanitarian Aid missions than a Marine Expeditionary Unit.

Carl Vinson Receives MEDEVAC, Mass Casualty

Approximately 20 medically evacuated personnel from Haiti and USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) arrived on board USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Jan. 21 and the medical team activated the ship's walking blood bank. Volunteer Sailors on board make up the walking blood bank. Those Sailors are willing to provide blood in the event of a mass casualty or other medical emergency. The medical team put the call out over the ship's announcing system for A-negative and O- negative blood types. Medical team members initially triaged the patients whose injuries range from abdominal pain to fractures.

Angolan Opposition Walks Out as Parliament Votes New Constitution

Angola's main opposition party has walked out of parliament to protest a new constitution that expands the powers of the presidency.

Dutch Politician on Trial for Anti-Muslim Comments

Dutch politician Geert Wilders has appeared in an Amsterdam court on charges of incitement and discrimination against Muslims for his comments about Islam and for an anti-Muslim film he made.  The trial in the Netherlands is being closely watched around the world, because it pits the right to free speech against religious freedom and freedom against persecution. The defendant is Dutch politician Geert Wilders, whose remarks against Islam and Muslims, and his anti-Islamic movie, Fitna, have offended many Muslims around the world. At the Amsterdam courthouse where he went on tr

New Earthquake Jolts Haiti

The U.S. Geological Survey says the new quake, which shook Haiti just after sunrise Wednesday, was centered about 35 miles northwest of the capital Port au Prince. It was the largest of more than 40 significant aftershocks following the January 12th quake. There have been no reports of injuries from the new quake. Meantime, relief efforts continue in the aftermath of last week's earthquake, which killed an estimated 200,000 people.

Successful Afghan National Army Operation

The Afghan national army's 2nd Kandak completed a successful mission at Forward Operating Base Sperwan Ghar, Jan. 13. Soldiers patrolled through villages near the FOB and checked compounds for insurgents and explosive devices that could harm civilians or coalition forces. "We received intelligence on enemy activity around the area," said ANA Capt. Shafi Feela. "We planned a two-day mission to sweep through the villages and find any enemies or enemy equipment." ANA and ISAF soldiers found a number of IEDs.

IJC Operational Update, Jan. 21

An Afghan-international security force searched a compound in the village of Qal-eh-ye-Bara, in the Qarah Bagh District of Ghazni province. During the operation the joint force responded to an imminent threat and killed insurgents and captured another. In Kandahar today, a joint security force stopped a vehicle near Maiwand village in the Maiwand District. While searching the vehicle and a nearby compound, the Afghan-international security force found three men, including one with fragmentation wounds he was unable to explain, who were attempting to bury a handheld radio.