RUSSIA

Police seek to head off

Moscow truck blockade

For days, police and dozens of truckers planning to paralyze Moscow traffic in a vehicular act of protest have played a game of hide-and-seek, as the drivers prepare to ride on the capital in force.

At midnight on Friday morning, nearly half of the fledgling revolutionaries were trapped in an IKEA parking lot on the outskirts of Moscow, blocked by police.

"If as many as we expected had come, we could have made demands of the government," said Sergey Vladimirov, a coordinator of the protest, as his allies stamped their feet to stave off exhaustion and the frost. The air smelled of gas fumes. Vladimirov looked as if he might collapse. "Now all we can do is make them hear us."

The root of their anger is a new road toll system called Platon (derived from the Russian "Pay-per-ton"), which will levy tolls on trucks weighing over 12 tons, raising hundreds of millions of dollars each year. The truckers complain that the new tolls will bankrupt them.    - Washington Post

JAPAN

U.S. to return some land

The United States and Japan said Friday they are hastening the return of some land the American military holds in Okinawa, seeking to soothe local resentment over the issue on the southern Japanese island. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced a plan to return two sites totaling 17 acres now controlled by U.S. bases to local authorities by the fiscal year that ends in March 2018.

   - AP

INDIA

Downpours leave misery

The relentless rains that lashed southern India's Tamil Nadu state for three days eased Friday, but the misery of tens of thousands of people was far from over, with large parts of the main city still underwater along with the region's biggest airport. As Chennai, the state capital, reeled from the heaviest rains in over a century, experts said the devastation was in large part due to the same breakneck and haphazard urban planning that has marked many of India's major cities.

- AP