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By Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Martin Petty BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra dissolved parliament on Monday and called a snap election, but anti-government protest leaders pressed ahead with mass demonstrations in Bangkok seeking to install an unelected body to run the country. Police estimated that about 150,000 protesters were converging on Yingluck's office at Government House, extending a rally that had descended into violence before pausing late last week out of respect for the king's birthday. Blowing whistles, they said they would oust Yingluck and eradicate the influence of her self-exiled brother, former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Declaring they were unable to work with Yingluck, the main opposition Democrat Party resigned en masse from parliament on Sunday, raising the question of whether it would boycott the election, driving Thailand deeper into crisis.
By David Alexander RAWALPINDI, Pakistan (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed the use of U.S. drones against militants in remote areas of Pakistan on Monday during the first visit by a Pentagon chief to the South Asian ally in almost four years. The United States has a complicated relationship with Pakistan and ties have been further soured by a dispute over unmanned military aircraft the United States uses to target militants in Pakistan's tribal areas on the Afghan border. Protests by anti-drone activists prompted the United States to suspend ground shipments of NATO cargo leaving Afghanistan via Pakistan last week. "The prime minister ... conveyed Pakistan's deep concern over continuing U.S. drone strikes, stressing that drone strikes were counter-productive to our efforts to combat terrorism and extremism on an enduring basis," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Washington's elite defied a winter ice storm to give standing ovations to the latest recipients of the Kennedy Center Honors, the nation's highest laurel for a living performing artist. Latino rock pioneer Carlos Santana, opera star Martina Arroyo, jazz icon Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine and pop legend Billy Joel were honored with song and dance performances at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, on Sunday. "The diverse group of extraordinary individuals we honor today haven't just proven themselves to be the best of the best," President Barack Obama told a White House reception prior to the event in the Kennedy Center's 2,000-seat opera house.