Finance minister likely to become prime minister
Japan's ruling party picked Finance Minister Naoto Kan, an outspoken politician with activist roots, as its new chief today, virtually assuring that he will become the country's next prime minister. Kan, 63, would succeed the unpopular Yukio Hatoyama, who stepped down two days earlier amid plunging approval ratings over broken campaign promises and a political funding scandal. Because the Democratic Party of Japan controls the more powerful lower house of Parliament, Kan was virtually certain to be chosen as prime minister by lawmakers later in the day.
EPA tightens rules on sulfur dioxide
The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday set a new health standard that coal-fired power plants and other industries will have to meet on sulfur dioxide, a pollutant that triggers asthma attacks and causes other respiratory problems. It is the first time the standard has been changed since the original one was issued in 1971. The EPA estimated that cleaner air as a result of the new standard would mean 2,300 to 5,900 fewer premature deaths and 54,000 fewer asthma attacks per year. It said the estimated cost to upgrade pollution controls was about $1.5 billion.
Turkey: A Roman Catholic bishop, Luigi Padovese, 62, was stabbed to death Thursday at his home in Iskenderun, a day before he had planned to travel to Cyprus for the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. Police arrested his driver.
Bangladesh: A devastating fire raced through several apartment complexes in Dhaka, killing more than 100 people and injuring just as many, local media reported today. A fire official said the blaze started when an electric transformer exploded.
Sao Paulo: At least 1 million evangelical Christians rallied here Thursday for the annual "March for Jesus," an event that unites the faithful from hundreds of Protestant churches across the country.