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【整理】SENEWS-2004-0812-2330

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It is 23:00 Universal Time, this is Richard Rael reporting from Washington.

[1] United States and Iraqi forces had launched a major operaton in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kufar. They are trying to end a rebellion by supporters of Shiite religious leader Moqtada al-Sadr. A spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi urged arm resistance groups to disarm. He said they should leave Muslim holy places in Najaf and join the political process. He spoke at a news conference in Bagdad. In Najaf, United States forces raided the home of Moqtada al-Sadr after airplanes bombed nearby targets. The Muslim cleric is believed to be hiding somewhere in the city. Iraq's interior minister said Iraqi police and National Guard Troops have captured, killed or injured at least 400 Shiite militants. The fighting took place in the Southeastern city of Kut.

[2] Chinese officials say at least 29 people have been killed and more than 1,500 injured by a powerful ocean storm. Typhoon Rananim reached the Chinese coast Thursday. About 4 hundred thousand people fled coastal areas before the storm arrived. Heavy rains were reported in Zhejiang province. The storm is also expected to reach Shanghai. Officials have warned of flooding, earth slides and property demange from the storm, there had been reports of wind speeds as high as one hundred forty kilometers an hour. Parts of Taiwan also were effected by the storm Thursday.

[3] Security officials in eastern Afghanistan say a Taliban commander was killed in an attack on Ameircan and Afghan military vehicles. They say Taliban fighters left the body of Mullah Janan when they fled from the attack in Laghman province, few other deaths. Detail were given, Mullah Janan was a member of the former Taliban group that ruled Afghanistan before the United States invasion in 2001. Earlier Thursday a United States military helicopter crashed in Khost province. One marine was killed, 14 others were injured. A United States military spokesman says the helicopter did not crash because of enemy fire. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

[4] The United States and Azerbaijan have agreed to continue cooperation on security issues. United States Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met Thursday with President Ilham Aliyev in the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. Mr. Rumsfeld thanked Mr. Aliyev for Azerbaijan's help in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former Soviet Republic is the only majority Muslim nation with troops in Iraq. Mr. Ramsfeld will next visit Ukraine.

[5] Reports say the United States Department of Defense may deploy a second aircraft carrier to the Asia-Pacific area. An aircraft carrier is a ship that carries airplanes. Japanese and United States newspapers report that American Defense officials say a second aircraft carrier could be deployed within three years. Currently, only one aircraft carrier is in the area. It is based in Japan. A Defense Department official told Voice of America that no decision has been made. A second aircraft carrier in the Pacific would better prepare United States forces for increased tensions near Taiwan or in Korea.

[6] Assistants to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon say he is angry about comments made by a top official. The official said Israel will have to remove more Jewish settlements from the West Bank than planed. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will have to remove more settlements to ease the international pressure. But Mr. Olmert later said such action will not take place soon. Mr. Sharon has called for the withdrawal of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four settlements in the West Bank.

[7] The United States has denied charges made by Sudan's president. President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said that western countries are interested in Sudan's Darfur area because they wish to use the country's gold and oil. The President said this week that the United States and Europe do not care about the people of Darfur. A spokesman for the American State Department said this week that oil and gold in Darfur do not concern the United States. He said the United States wishes to save people from disease, hunger, murder and sexual attack. Also the United Nations World Food Program said Thursday that it now is able to operate freedly in the Darfur area.

[8] Two Chinese officials have been jailed for permitting the sale of poor quality milk that caused the deaths of 13 babies last April. Chinese media report the 2 people worked for the local government in eastern Fuyang city where the deaths happened. Chinese investigators say the officials accepted illegal payments to permit the sale of the poor quality milk. One official received thirty months in prison, the other received twenty-four months.

[9] The Supreme Court of the state of California has cancelled more than four thousand same sex marriages. The court decided that the mayor of San Francisco did not have the power to approve the marriages. The court ruled that officials such as mayors can not dismiss a law that they believe is not constitutional. The court ruled that a judge must decide if a law is constitutional. The court did not say if a state can legally declare that marriage is only between a man and a woman. Current California law says that only traditional marriages are legal.

Again the hour's top news.

United States and Iraqi forces have launched a major operation in the Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kufar. Chinese officials say at least 29 people have been killed and more than 1,500 injured by a powerful ocean storm. And security officials in eastern Afghanistan say a Tanliban commander was killed in an attack on ..
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