Prime minister pledges economic turnaround
Lawmakers formally elected telecom tycoon Thaksin Shinawatra as Thailand's new prime minister on Friday after his party swept last month's general elections. Thaksin, 51, who won the vote in the lower house of parliament by a 340-127 margin, pledged to make tackling the country's economic problems his top priority.
However Thaksin could be kicked out of office if the Constitutional Court upholds an indictment by the National Counter Corruption Commission, which found him guilty of breaking the law by concealing his assets while serving in a previous government.
Census-takers begin counting 1 billion people
An army of 2 million census-takers fanned out across the country Friday and began the mammoth task of counting India's billion-plus population.
Armed with two-page questionnaires, they will cover more than 200 million households in 630,000 villages and 5,500 towns and cities. From newborns to the aged, the rich to the poor, disabled or homeless, every Indian citizen was expected to fall into the census net by the time the census concludes Feb. 28. The census is being carried out in 18 languages.
Police crack down on freedom protests
Police used tear gas Friday to disperse about 1,000 protesters who gathered in Tehran's largest park to demand freedom of expression, witnesses and Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said. The protesters were mostly young, and were demanding freedom of expression, the news agency said. Witnesses described them as supporters of restoring Iran's monarchy, toppled in 1979, and said some were chanting, "long live freedom."