Stores in Hong Kong reported "panic buying" of foreign-label powered milk by thousands of mothers from China as their government said a third infant had died from drinking tainted formula. The Health Ministry also raised the number of ill babies to 6,244. It said free medical care will be provided to all affected infants. The Xinhua news agency said the company that produced the tainted milk fired its chief, who was then arrested.
The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff sought to assure Pakistan that the US respects its sovereignty and appreciates the "positive role it is playing in the war on terror." Adm. Mike Mullen arrived there as Pakistan's military issued orders to fire on US commandos crossing the border with Afghanistan to raid Taliban terrorist camps. Meanwhile, Pakistani intelligence said it was investigating reports of a suspected new US missile strike on a militant base.
In blunt language, Russia's government blasted NATO leaders for visiting the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia. Their trip, the Foreign Ministry said, "confirmed that the Cold War-era reflexes of 'them and us' are once again at work." It can only be seen as encouraging Georgia "to engage in reckless new ventures," the statement continued. The ministry complained that NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer visited only areas inside Georgia that were damaged in the brief war last month, passing up similar damage in the breakaway region of South Ossetia.
With stock prices plummeting and at least one investment bank defaulting on loan payments, the Kremlin made $44.9 billion in new funds available Wednesday to ease worries of another financial collapse in Russia. The Finance Ministry said the infusion would go to the biggest banks, which, in turn, lend to smaller banks. Stock trading was suspended Wednesday amid a sell-off of banking shares. The financial collapse of 1998 cost many Russians their life savings when the ruble was devalued and the banking system failed.
New worry arose that the power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe could yet founder. All parties to the deal were to have met on how to divide 31 cabinet posts, but the talks were postponed indefinitely without explanation. The government-controlled newspaper also said parliament wouldn't rush to amend the Constitution to create the post of prime minister, leaving it unclear when a new government could be seated.
Hopes for a peaceful resolution of Bolivia's deep political divisions rose Tuesday as President Evo Morales and provincial governors who oppose his socialist agenda agreed to negotiate their differences. The pact requires anti-Morales protesters to abandon natural gas pipelines and government buildings they've seized. In return, Morales supporters must halt all counterdemonstrations. The agreement came despite the arrest of one governor for fomenting violence.
By almost a 2-to-1 margin, Thailand's parliament confirmed acting Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat as full-time government chief. He immediately walked to the leader of the opposition to shake hands, saying, "We have to work together to make Thailand peaceful again." But analysts said his election sets up a certain showdown with thousands of protesters who've been sitting in at the prime minister's compound for weeks in an effort to rid the government of all vestiges of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Somchai is Thaksin's brother-in-law.
Embattled Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia lost the support of a coalition partner Wednesday, turned over responsibility for the Finance Ministry to his deputy, and told a news conference that he may quit earlier than mid-2010, the original timetable he set for himself. Although the defecting Sabah Progressive Party had little clout in the government, its pullout will be watched closely because it could trigger a larger exodus, analysts said.