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Chinese spacecraft en route to orbiting module

BEIJING: A spacecraft carrying China’s first female astronaut and two male crew mates made a planned course change today en route to docking with an orbiting module, state television reported. The Shenzhou 9 capsule was launched on Saturday on China’s most ambitious space mission yet in a step toward building a permanent space station. The spacecraft carried out the first of five planned orbit changes early today, state television said. The capsule is to dock on Monday with the Tiangong 1 module 343 kilometres above Earth. Liu Yang, a 33-year-old air force pilot who is China&rsqu...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Syrian activists warn of dire conditions in Homs

BEIRUT: Syrian troops intensified shelling of rebel-held neighborhoods in central Homs Sunday, according to activists who say humanitarian conditions are growing more dire and are pressing for the evacuation of 1,000 endangered families and dozens of wounded people who can't get adequate medical care. Homs has been under siege for a week, part of a major escalation of violence around the country that forced the 300-strong U.N. observer force in Syria to call off its patrols. "The humanitarian situation in Homs is very difficult," said Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the British-based ...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Swiss voters reject more direct democracy

ZURICH: Swiss voters looked to have rejected on Sunday a bid to force all international treaties to be put to popular referendum, which opponents argued could have hampered foreign policy and caused legal uncertainty. The vote was called by the Action for an Independent and Neutral Switzerland (AUNS) that is regarded as close to the powerful right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), which is an ardent defender of direct democracy. AUNS wanted voters to have more say over foreign policy, particularly sensitive issues like asylum, but the government and most political parties campaigned against t...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Iran‚ 6 powers both need success at nuclear talks

MOSCOW: Iran and six world powers resume nuclear talks Monday no closer to progress than in previous rounds, and with the clock ticking on international diplomatic efforts to persuade Tehran to curb activities that could be used to make atomic arms. Diplomats from several nations meeting with Iran in Moscow depict the talks as crucial. They say it will likely be the last in a series and that, if negotiators fail to make headway in persuading Tehran to stop higher-grade uranium enrichment, it's unclear if or when new talks would occur. Iran insists all of its nuclear activities are peaceful. ...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Spiralling violence compels UN to halt Syria monitoring

BEIRUT: Escalating violence in Syria forced United Nations observers to suspend operations on Saturday, in the clearest sign yet that a peace plan brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan has collapsed. Chief monitor General Robert Mood said the fighting posed a threat to his unarmed observers, one of whose patrols was fired upon four days ago, and prevented them from carrying out their mandate to oversee Annan's widely ignored April 12 ceasefire. The Norwegian peacekeeper blamed both government troops and rebels for the relentless conflict, in which President Bashar al-Assad's forces a...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Nigeria church bombings kill 7‚ spark reprisals

ZARIA: Explosions at three churches in Nigeria's northern Kaduna state killed at least seven people on Sunday, leading furious Christian youths to drag Muslims out of their cars and kill them in retaliation, officials and witnesses said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Islamist sect Boko Haram has often attacked church services in Nigeria, split roughly evenly between Christians and Muslims. The explosions and retaliatory attacks stoked fears of wider sectarian conflict in Africa's top oil producer and OPEC member, although flare-ups of this nature are usually brief. Two ...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Saudi Crown Prince Nayef to be buried on Sunday

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah will bury his former heir, Crown Prince Nayef, in Mecca on Sunday, and must now name a new successor to rule the world's biggest oil exporter. The most likely candidate to take the position to succeed the 89-year-old king is Prince Salman, 76, and like all former kings a son of Saudi Arabia's founder Abdulaziz ibn Saud. "There will be a meeting where the next crown prince will be decided. If you take a historical perspective it has always been done in an orderly and organized manner. Prince Salman fits the profile in many ways," said Khaled Alma...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Greeks vote in critical election

ATHENS: Greece voted Sunday amid global fears that victory by parties that have vowed to cancel the country's international bailout agreements and accompanying austerity measures could undermine the European Union's joint currency and pitch the world's major economies into another sharp downturn. For Greeks, it is the second national election in six weeks and arguably the most critical in decades, reflecting political turmoil sparked by a two-year financial crisis that some fear could force the country to abandon the euro and return to its old currency, the drachma. That in turn would likely ...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Desperation greets Myanmar boat people in Bangladesh

GOLAR PARA: At first, the boat bobbing in the water in the middle of the night appeared to be empty. But when Bangladeshi villagers took a closer look, they found a baby too weak to cry, a refugee from marauding mobs in Myanmar apparently abandoned by her family. The cleft-lipped infant, just weeks old, is among hundreds of Rohingya Muslims who fled this month's sectarian violence in Myanmar's western state of Rakhine, packing themselves into rough wooden boats and heading for the shores of neighboring Bangladesh. No one knows how many made it ashore. Bangladesh has ordered its border guard...
Published On: 2012-06-17

Bangladesh jails 611 soldiers for 2009 mutiny

DHAKA : A Bangladesh court jailed 611 border guards for their role in a bloody 2009 military mutiny, bringing the total number of soldiers imprisoned for the unrest to more than 4,000, a prosecutor said. Scores of senior army officers were killed during an uprising that began when soldiers at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters in the capital Dhaka went on a killing spree, later dumping the bodies in sewers and shallow graves. A special military court in Dhaka on Saturday found 611 border guards from the force´s 13th battalion guilty of joining the mutiny, state prosecutor Manju...
Published On: 2012-06-17