World News Brief, Friday August 21

Afghans vote today; Bill Richardson and the North Koreans; Chinese children suffer lead contamination; bike bomb explodes in Baghdad; Lockerbie bomber released on compassionate grounds; and more

Top of the Agenda: Afghanistan Votes


Afghans vote in presidential elections (LAT) today amid threats of violence from the Taliban. The vote will decide between incumbent President Hamid Karzai and thirty contenders. Ten candidates dropped out just before the election, most of them throwing their support behind Karzai.

There were several reports of violence around the country as Taliban insurgents attempted to make good on their pledge to disrupt the election. Police killed two Taliban fighters (Reuters) after a gunfight with police in Kabul.

Turnout appeared uneven across the country, with higher participation in the more stable north, the New York Times reports.  Afghan poll monitors were covering more than 60 percent of polling places, but were not in force in some of the most insecure districts, according to the head of the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan.

In an interview with CFR, leading Afghanistan expert Ahmed Rashid discusses the possibility that a low voter turnout caused by Taliban violence could lead to a constitutional deadlock.

In a new interview, CFR's Daniel Markey looks at neighboring Pakistan's stake in the election. He says Pakistan, confronting its own Taliban insurgency, has an interest in seeing Afghanistan's presidential elections yield a legitimate government that brings stability.

TIME considers the importance of the youth vote in Afghanistan.

A new CFR interactive timeline chronicles the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

Der Spiegel looks at the battle between German NATO troops and the Taliban for control over Afghanistan's Kunduz province.

A CFR Backgrounder profiles the Taliban in Afghanistan.

PACIFIC RIM: North Korea-Richardson Meeting


A North Korean delegation met with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson (WashPost) in Santa Fe to demand that the United States engage in bilateral talks with the country. Richardson, who negotiated with Pyongyang in the 1990s, said he was not negotiating officially with the delegation, but was acting as "sort of a liaison."

China: Some thirteen hundred children living near a Chinese manganese factory in central Hunan province have lead contamination (Times of London). The factory, which has been shut down, had never faced any kind of environmental safety regulation since it's opening in May 2008.


-Bike bomb explodes in Baghdad.

-Lockerbie bomber to be released.

This is an excerpt of the Daily News Brief. The full version is available on