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Labour slumps to historic defeat
Voters in European polls deliver a damning verdict on Labour, as it is beaten by UKIP and sees the BNP gain its first MEPs.
Lloyds likely to repay taxpayers
Taxpayers are set to claw back cash from Lloyds Banking Group after investors strongly backed a share sale.
Murdered woman's unborn baby dies
The unborn baby of a pregnant woman who was stabbed to death in Grimsby also died in the attack, police say.
Minister quits in PM loyalty row
Minister Jane Kennedy is the latest to leave the government amid the row over Gordon Brown's leadership.
Youth drug treatment hits record
Young people are increasingly being treated for substances like cocaine and cannabis, with a sharp drop in addiction to 'hard' drugs like heroin.
More bodies found from lost jet
Search teams recover more human remains from the Atlantic following last week's plane crash, bringing the total to 17 bodies.
North Korea jails U.S. journalists, warns U.N
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea, facing U.N. sanctions for last month's nuclear test, on Monday raised the stakes in its growing confrontation with Washington by sentencing two U.S. journalists to 12 years hard labor for "grave crimes."
Supreme court asked to delay Chrysler sale
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Indiana pension funds and consumer groups asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Sunday to stop the sale of bankrupt automaker Chrysler LLC to a group led by Italian carmaker Fiat SpA while they challenge the deal.
Crews find more bodies from Air France crash
RECIFE, Brazil/PARIS (Reuters) - Searchers found 15 more bodies from a crashed Air France jet on Sunday and retrieved a large amount of debris from the plane that plunged into the Atlantic ocean in the worst air disaster since 2001.
U.S. allies hand Lebanon's Hezbollah election blow
BEIRUT (Reuters) - A surprise victory in Lebanon by an anti-Syrian coalition against the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies should be confirmed on Monday with the release of official results of the country's parliamentary election.
Obama wants "immediate" Mideast talks: Mitchell
OSLO (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama wants "immediate" talks between the Palestinians and Israel to forge a comprehensive Middle East peace agreement, U.S. envoy George Mitchell said on Monday.
Britain's Brown faces revolt after poll thrashing
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown faced the prospect of a new challenge to his leadership on Monday when support for his ruling Labour Party plunged to its lowest level in a century after European elections.
Govt ups measures to combat swine flu
The govt said it would activate 16 more laboratories across the country and set up state-level rapid action forces of medical personnel after fresh cases were reported.
After Sharad Yadav, Mulayam opposes Women's Bill
Samajwadi Party on Monday termed Women's Reservation Bill as a "conspiracy" against the leaders who have reached the Lok Sabha through "hard struggles".
Fresh attack on Indian student in Australia
A 23-year-old Indian student was beaten up for the second time in a fortnight by a group of youths in Melbourne. He was found unconscious by another Indian student.
CPM slams governor's nod for Vijayan's prosecution
CPM said it would fight "both politically & legally" the Kerala governor giving permission to the CBI to prosecute leader Pinarayi Vijayan in the SNC Lavalin scam.
Kerala guv gets threat for clearing Vijayan's prosecution
A caller is said to have threatened the governor's life for giving the go-ahead to the CBI to prosecute CPM leader Pinarayi Vijayan in the multi-crore SNC Lavalin scam.
NCP to dissociate itself from Padamsinh if proven guilty
NCP will "completely dissociate" itself from MP Padamsinh Patil, arrested for the murder of a Cong leader, if charges against him are proved, Praful Patel said.
NKorea sentences 2 US journalists to 12 years jail (AP)
FILE-In this file photo taken on Thursday, June 4, 2009, a South Korean protester displays portraits of American journalists detained in North Korea as they shout slogans during a rally at a public park in Seoul.  North Korea's state news agency says the country's top court has convicted the two U.S. journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in labor prison.    The Korean Central News Agency says the Central Court tried American journalists Laura Ling, right photo,  and Euna Lee, left photo,  from June 4 to 8.  It said Monday, June 8, 2009,  the trial confirmed an unspecified 'grave crime' against the nation, and of illegally crossing into North Korea.   (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)AP - North Korea's top court convicted two American journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in a prison Monday, intensifying the reclusive nation's confrontation with the United States.
Obama promises more than 600,000 stimulus jobs (AP)
President Barack Obama returns to the White House following a trip to Normandy for a D-Day commemoration and Egypt where he delivered a speech outlining his vision for relations with the Muslim world, Sunday, June 7, 2009. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)AP - President Barack Obama promised Monday to deliver more than 600,000 jobs through his $787 billion stimulus plan this summer, with federal agencies pumping billions into public works projects, schools and summer youth programs.
Bombing kills 9 in mainly Shiite area in Baghdad (AP)
Map locates Dora, Baghdad, where at least seven people were killed in a bombing1c x 1 3/4 inches; 46.5 mm x 44 mm;AP - A bomb tore through a minibus during morning rush hour Monday in a mainly Shiite area in Baghdad, killing at least nine people and wounding 24, Iraqi officials said.
Panel finds lax oversight of wartime contracting (AP)
FILE -- In this March 31, 2009 file photo, Iraqi army officers march during a handover ceremony in Baghdad. The Multi National Force-Iraq handed over control of Camp Rustamiyah to the care of the Iraqi army. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim, File)AP - The Defense Department has failed to provide adequate oversight over tens of billions of dollars in contracts to support military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, says a new report by an independent commission investigating waste and fraud in wartime spending.
7,000 US Marines patrolling southern Afghan desert (AP)
The prototype of a Canadian army unmanned ground vehicle robot is pictured at Kandahar Airfield June 7, 2009. REUTERS/Jorge Silva (AFGHANISTAN CONFLICT POLITICS MILITARY)AP - Some 7,000 of the new U.S. troops ordered to Afghanistan are fanning out across the dangerous Afghan south on a mission to defeat the Taliban insurgency and to change the course of a war claiming American lives at a record pace.
Lebanon's pro-Western bloc claims election win (AP)
Lebanese Sunni Muslim pro-Western supporters celebrate after the polling stations closed, in the Sunni stronghold of Tarik Jadideh, in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, June 7, 2009. Hezbollah and its allies appear to have failed in their bid to unseat a pro-Western coalition in Lebanese elections Sunday, according to TV projections. Official results were not expected before later Monday. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)AP - Lebanon's Western-backed coalition declared it had retained control of parliament Monday after facing a serious challenge from the militant Hezbollah group and its allies.
The Moscow Times (search.themoscowtimes.com)
500 read timeout
Labour trounced by SNP in Euro election
LABOUR suffered a mauling at the hands of the SNP as disastrous European election results across the UK dealt another shattering blow to Gordon Brown's insistence that he
Made in Scotland: Japan's gourmet beef
NORMALLY it is pop stars who boast of being "big in Japan" but some of Scotland's iconic Aberdeen Angus cattle could soon have a similar claim to fame.
Across Europe, polls back conservatives in record low turnout
EARLY results and exit polls showed conservatives racing towards victory last night in some of Europe's largest economies.
You're hired - on Sir Alan's 'gut instinct'
RESTAURANT owner Yasmina Siadatan won a job with Sir Alan Sugar in last night's final of The Apprentice.
Biggest jump yet in swine flu cases - and it's tip of iceberg
THE largest daily rise in swine flu cases in Scotland since the outbreak began was revealed yesterday, amid warnings from one of the country's leading bacteriologists that
Brown: 'Britain wouldn't forgive me if I resigned'
GORDON Brown sent a defiant message yesterday that he would not capitulate to the clamour for him to go - saying the British public would not forgive him for turning his back
Bangkok Post (www.bangkokpost.com)
SET index down 0.75%
The Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) index on Monday lost 4.54 points or 0.75 per cent to close at 600.03 points. The market value was 27.50 billion baht, with 5.86 billion shares traded.
Thai-Malaysian cooperation tightened
Thailand and Malaysia have agreed to tighten their cooperation in some areas, including solving the insurgency problem in the South, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Monday after talks with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.
LPG price may be floated
The Energy Ministry will propose to the National Energy Policy Committee that the price of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) be floated as the LPG price in the world market has continued to rise.
Puea Pandin MPs still unified
Industry Minister and Puea Pandin party leader Charnchai Chairungruang insisted the 32 Puea Pandin MPs would stick together, but said his party would not stop its members from leaving to other parties.
2,000 more hospitals in 18 months
The Public Health Ministry will upgrade 1,000 tambon health stations to hospital level this year and another 1,000 next year.
NESDB begins study of bus options
The Office of the National Economic and Social Development Board (NESDB) on Monday began its study of the NGV bus project backed by the Bhumjaithai party.
Israel News (www.ynet.co.il)
San Francisco Chronicle (feeds.sfgate.com)
Lebanon's pro-Western bloc claims election win
Lebanon's Western-backed coalition declared it had retained control of parliament Monday after facing a serious challenge from the militant Hezbollah group and its allies. Official results for Sunday's election were expected later Monday, but the winners...

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NKorea sentences 2 US journalists to 12 years jail
North Korea's top court convicted two American journalists and sentenced them to 12 years in a prison Monday, intensifying the reclusive nation's confrontation with the United States. The sentencing came amid soaring tensions fueled by the North's latest...

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Suspect in abortion doctor death warns of violence
The man charged with murdering a high-profile abortion doctor claimed from his jail cell Sunday that similar violence was planned around the nation for as long as the procedure remained legal, a threat that comes days after a federal investigation launched...

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Two children shot and wounded in Berkeley
Two young children were shot and injured in Berkeley early today when the home they were sleeping in came under fire, according to police. The shooting happened shortly before 5 a.m. , police said, on the 1500 block of Oregon Street. Neighbors called police...

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15 more bodies found in Atlantic Air France crash
Search ships methodically worked through debris from a doomed Air France jet Sunday, recovering 15 more bodies near the spot where the Airbus A330 is believed to have gone down a week ago. Two bodies were recovered Saturday, and Brazilian and French ships...

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Senator says Obama 'got nerve' to push lawmakers
Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says that President Barack Obama "got nerve" to go sightseeing in Paris while telling lawmakers it's time to deliver on a health care overhaul. Grassley, the top Republican on the Finance Committee, is key to any bipartisan...

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Sunday Streets brings party to the Mission
Outsiders travel to the Mission District for the excellent food, the night life, to appreciate art and for other mostly adult pursuits. It's not celebrated as a destination for Bay Area residents who want to teach their kids how to ride a bike. All that...

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'BART' takes backseat on new badges
BART Police Chief Gary Gee has quietly stripped the word "BART" from all the shoulder patches on his officers' uniforms. Instead of saying "BART Police" in bold letters, the patches say, "Police" - with "Bay Area Rapid Transit" in very small letters wrapped...

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7 face hearing in '71 killing of S.F. sergeant
The ghosts of San Francisco's violent past return Monday morning, as seven men - all in their late 50s and early 60s - go before a preliminary hearing in connection with the shotgun slaying of a police officer 38 years ago. The defendants allegedly are all...

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The Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk)
Lebanon's ruling coalition claims election victory
• Saad Hariri expected to become prime minister
• Vote deemed fairest in country's historyJubilant supporters of Lebanon's US-backed ruling coalition took to the streets last night, claiming a decisive election victory. It marks a dramatic reversal of fortunes after polls showed it losing its slim majority to a Hezbollah-led coalition backed by Syria and Iran.Fireworks streamed from the Beirut home of Saad Hariri, leader of the governing coalition and the top Sunni politician who is now expected to become prime minister. The post was held five times by his father, whose assassination in 2005 triggered a prolonged crisis."We extend our hand to work together seriously and in earnest for the sake of Lebanon … to build a strong and sovereign state," Hariri told supporters in the early hours of the morning. "Long live democracy."Appearing to concede defeat, Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah told the Hezbollah-run Al Manar television: "Whatever the results are, it won't change the sensitive equilibrium. Lebanon's only choice is consensus."Official results will be announced early today, but supporters of the ruling coalition, known as March 14, last night began the celebrations on the streets of Beirut, blaring car horns and flying party colours. Local media reported that with 80% of the votes counted, March 14 - which won elections in 2005 by opposing Syria, which they blame for Rafik Hariri's assassination - had a slim lead over the Syrian-backed opposition.Voters patiently queued all day outside polling booths, many for several hours, watched over by 50,000 soldiers and police in what monitors said was Lebanon's most free and fair parliamentary election to date.Isolated voting booths, indelible ink and a voter education campaign launched by the interior ministry made the elections a significant improvement on 2005, with turnout averaging more than 50%.The vote pitted a moderate Sunni-led government, supported by the west, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, against an opposition led by Hezbollah, the Middle East's most powerful militant group, which fought Israel in the devastating 2006 war and is financed by Iran's Shia government.Presidential elections will take place in Iran on Friday and fears about growing Iranian influence were evident in some Lebanese voters. "My main concern is for the army to be the only ones to carry arms," said Georges Abdo, a Christian hairdresser who voted for the current ruling coalition. Such fears were dismissed by voters supporting the Hezbollah-led coalition. "We don't listen to everything Hezbollah says," said Harout Vartanian, a 30-year-old Armenian kung-fu champion who said he was voting with the opposition in order to secure his community's representation in cabinet.There were widespread reports of vote-buying before the poll, with some Lebanese expatriates being offered free air tickets home. Though voting passed off largely without incident, tensions in the capital and the battleground Christian towns remained high, with the army imposing a midnight curfew on the capital."Democracy is a blessing we must preserve, a blessing that distinguishes Lebanon in the Middle East," said President Michel Suleiman after voting in his home town of Amchit, north of Beirut. He urged Lebanese to vote "calmly and with joy".With Sunnis largely aligned with the incumbent government coalition and Shias solidly behind the Hezbollah-led opposition, Christians, who make up nearly 40% of Lebanon's 3.26m eligible voters, provide the crucial swing vote.Christian leader Michel Aoun redrew the political map in 2005 when he forged an unlikely alliance with Hezbollah, weathering fierce criticism from opponents. Aoun's party, the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) could have delivered victory to Hezbollah's coalition if it had gained 10 extra seats in the 128-member parliament, which is divided equally between Muslims and Christians. The FPM has defended its alliance with Hezbollah as helping to stabilise Lebanon rather than give Hezbollah a platform for renewed conflict with Israel."If the west wants to make serious negotiations with Islamist groups like Hezbollah then the FPM has set a precedent," Ziad Abs, who negotiated the FPM's alliance, told the Guardian. "The main threat to us is from Israel. There can be no stability in Lebanon without peace in the region."While the US continues to list Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation, Barack Obama has offered dialogue with Iran and is sending his Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, to the region this week to work on an Arab-Israeli peace deal, with a visit to Damascus expected.In a break with US policy, Britain announced in March that it would re-establish contact with Hezbollah politicians, making a distinction between the group's armed wing and its politics.
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European voters take turn to the right
Centre-left parties find economic woes and protest votes for extremists adding to humiliation at the ballot boxEurope's mainstream centre-left parties suffered humiliation last night when four days of voting in the EU's biggest-ever election concluded with disastrous results for social democrats.Results from the national rounds of the European parliament election across the 27 member states also showed support for centre-right Christian democrats diminishing in places, but nonetheless notching up handsome victories in several key states.In Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Poland, Austria, Bulgaria, Hungary and the Czech Republic, the centre right won the elections, with stunning defeats for the left in certain cases.In the EU's biggest country, Germany, returning 99 of the parliament's 736 seats, the Social Democrats (SPD), the junior partner in Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition, sunk to an all-time low, with 21% of the vote.The result was slightly worse than a ­dismal performance five years ago that all the opinion polls had predicted would not be repeated."The result is significantly worse than we expected," said Franz Müntefering, the SPD's chairman. "This is a difficult evening."Less than four months before Germany's general election, last night's outcome augured well for Merkel's hopes of ditching her grand coalition in favour of a centre-right alliance with the small Free Democrats, who made the biggest gains, from six to more than 10%.Next door in Austria, the chancellor and leader of the Social Democrats, Werner Faymann, led his party to its worst ever election result, just over 23%.In both countries, the Christian democrats won comfortably, but Merkel's Christian Democrats and her Bavarian CSU allies were six points down, on 38%.France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, claimed triumph with 28% for his UMP party to the Socialists 17%, the first time a sitting French president has won a European election since the vote began 30 years ago.In Italy, the centre-right government of Silvio Berlusconi also did well, despite his marital breakdown and scandals over parties at his Sardinian villa, while in Spain the Socialist government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero also lost the election to conservatives."It is bitterly disappointing, we had hoped for a better result. In most countries it went pretty bad for us," said Martin Schulz, the leader of the Socialist group in the European parliament.With the social democrats licking their wounds and the centre-right scoring ­victories whether in power or in opposition, the other signal trend of the ballot was the breakthroughs achieved by extreme right-wing nationalists and xenophobes.Following on from the triumph of Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam campaigner, who came second with 17% in the Netherlands on Thursday, the hard-right and neo­fascists chalked up further victories .The anti-Gypsy extremists in Hungary, Jobbik, took three of the country's 22 seats; in Austria two far-right parties mustered 18%, and extreme Slovak nationalists gained their first seat in the European parliament.Anti-Brussels candidates and Eurosceptics also won more seats in Denmark, Finland, Austria, and the Czech Republic.The misery for the centre left, exemplified by Germany's SPD and Labour's traumas in the UK, deepened as results trickled in from other big EU states, such as France, Italy, Poland, and Spain.The main opposition for Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, is further to the right, while the leaders in France and Italy appeared to benefit from tough anti-immigration and law-and-order stances, despite the soap opera nature of both leaders' private lives.With the jobless numbers soaring amid the worst economic crisis in the lifetimes of European voters, the centre left is clearly failing to benefit politically in circumstances that might be expected to boost its support.In the Netherlands on Thursday, in the first of the four-day election marathon, the Dutch Labour party, junior partner in the government, also took a hammering, losing 11 points to come third and failing for the first time to lead in at least one of the country's four big cities.If the social democrats in the big countries of Europe faced a bout of soul-searching pessimism last night, many of the smaller EU countries offered little consolation.The opposition centre-right in Ireland also notched up gains, while the Fianna Fáil government performed wretchedly. The opposition right in Hungary scored a landslide victory against a discredited socialist government.Crumbs of comfort for the centre left came from Portugal, Greece, and Malta.But analysts noted that the protest votes and victories for mavericks could also be ascribed to a lackluster election campaign in which leaders of key countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, and the other big member states failed to project any persuasive pro-European vision in the midst of the most worrying economic crisis ever experienced by voters.Yesterday was the big election day, with 18 of the 27 staging ballots, as well as Italy voting for the second day. Britain and the Netherlands kicked off the voting marathon on Thursday last week, with a further five countries following on Friday and Saturday.Estimates of the new balance of power in the 736-seat assembly suggest that the centre right will have around 270 seats to the socialists' 160, a much wider margin than predicted.The four-day vote was the biggest ever for the EU's only directly elected institution, with 375 million people entitled to choose from more than 10,000 candidates for 736 seats.Hans-Gert Pöttering, the outgoing president, or speaker, of the European parliament, stressed that Europeans "want" the parliament, but conceded that that desire would not be reflected in the turnout.Pöttering, a German Christian Democrat, is likely to be the sole MEP to serve in all seven parliaments since voting began in 1979.The assembly, he said, closing the final session last month, is "the centre of a European parliamentary democracy of which we could only dream in 1979".The damning popular verdict on that assertion, however, was the lowest turnout in 30 years. It was estimated at around 43%, compared with 45% last time, and 62% in Europe's first election in 1979.
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North Korea jails two US journalists
Women sent to labour camp after being found guilty of illegally entering country and committing 'grave crime'A North Korean court today sentenced two American journalists to 12 years' hard labour after finding them guilty of committing "hostile acts", in a move certain to raise tensions with the US.Laura Ling and Euna Lee were each sentenced to 12 years of "reform through labour" for illegally entering the country and committing a "grave crime", said the state-run Korean Central News Agency.Ling and Lee, reporters for Current TV, a California-based broadcaster co-founded by the former US vice-president Al Gore, were arrest on 17 March while filming a report about North Koreans attempting to cross the narrow Tumen river into China.North Korea said the pair had entered the country after crossing the river, along its north-east border with China. Other reports said the women had been arrested on the Chinese side by North Korean guards who objected to being filmed. Their cameraman and guide managed to evade capture.The women are unable to appeal because they were convicted by North Korea's highest court.Their trial has been surrounded by absolute secrecy since it began last Thursday. No members of the public or foreign observers were allowed inside the court, and the women have been allowed just one visitor - the Swedish ambassador in Pyongyang - during their four months in solitary confinement.The US state department said it was "deeply concerned" by the verdict and was "engaged through all possible channels to secure their release"."We once again urge North Korea to grant the immediate release of the two American citizen journalists on humanitarian grounds," Ian Kelly, a state department spokesman, said in a statement.The guilty verdict means the women's fate could be determined by Washington's response to North Korea's increasingly provocative behaviour.In April, it tested a Taeopodong-2 ballistic missiles that, in theory, is capable of striking Alaska. Late last month it detonated a nuclear device and test-fired several short-range rockets.And today , it warned shipping to stay away from an area off its east coast for three weeks, a sign that it may be about to test more short-range missiles.The north has also threatened to test-launch a more advanced Taepodong-2 missile from a newly built base in the north-west unless the UN apologises for condemning its April rocket launch.It has also refused to resume six-party talks on its nuclear programme and warned South Korea that it no longer recognises the truce that ended the Korean war in 1953.The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, said last week she was "incredibly concerned" about the reporters. Both are married and Lee has a four-year-old daughter. Ling, who suffers from an ulcer, told her sister, Lisa, in a phone call last month that she was "very, very scared"."We are incredibly concerned on both a diplomatic and, on my behalf, a personal basis," Clinton told reporters."I have met with their families and I share the grave anxiety that they feel about the safety and security of these two young women. We call again on the North Korean government to release them and enable them to come home as soon as possible.In an interview aired on Sunday on ABC's This Week programme, Clinton said: "The charges against these young women are absolutely without merit or foundation."Barack Obama is reportedly considering putting North Korea back on Washington's list of states that sponsor terrorism, a move that would subject it to tougher financial sanctions. George Bush removed the regime from the terror list last October after it agreed to dismantle its nuclear weapons facilities.But reports from the region say the north has restarted its main Yongbyon reactor, which is capable of developing weapons-grade plutonium.Pyongyang said it would retaliate with "extreme" measures if the UN security council punished it for last month's nuclear test. "Our response would be to consider sanctions against us as a declaration of war and answer it with extreme hardline measures," the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said.Some experts believe the regime will free the women and demand that Washington reciprocate by sending a special envoy to Pyongyang to discuss its missile and nuclear programmes.North Korea watchers had expected the sentence to be shorter. Evan C Hunziker, an American who swam across the Yalu river from China into North Korea in 1996, was arrested and detained for three months but released after the governor of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, paid the $5,000 (£3,500) "hotel bill" Hunziker had racked up during his detention.
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Gabon president Bongo reported dead
Gabon prime minister denies reports that world's longest ruling head of state has died at 73The world's longest ruling head of state, Omar Bongo, of Gabon, has died after 41 years in power, according to French media. The central African country's prime minister denied the reports.Several French media outlets, including the France 24 TV station, reported yesterday that Bongo had died. Last month, Bongo was sent to a health clinic in Barcelona, Spain. While Gabonese officials claimed he was there for a checkup, Spain's foreign ministry said he was ill and was "in serious condition".A ministry official said yesterday he could not deny or confirm reports of the president's death.Gabon's prime minister, Jean Eyeghe Ndong, told national TV he had been "very surprised" to read the reports. "If such a situation comes about, I would think that the president's family would naturally get in touch with me," he said.The minister of communication, Laure Olga Gondjout, told the Associated Press: "The prime minister has just gone on TV to deny the information put out by France 24.Ask France 24 to tell us when he died. We are telling you he is not dead."France 24, as well as the news magazine Le Point and the French news agency Agence France-Presse, all reported Bongo's death, citing unnamed French government sources.A French foreign ministry spokeswoman, Anne Boillon, said: "French authorities deny being the source of the news, about which they were not informed."Bongo, 73, has been in power since 1967. When Cuba's Fidel Castro ceded power to his brother last year, Bongo became the world's longest ruling head of state.According to Gabon's constitution, the head of the senate, Rose Francine Rogombe, would assume power and organise presidential elections within 90 days of Bongo's death.Born Albert Bernard Bongo, the youngest of 12 children, Bongo served as a lieutenant in the French air force, then climbed quickly through the civil service and assumed the presidency in 1967, after Gabon's first post-independence leader died. Six years later he converted to Islam and took the name Omar.
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Air France crash: 11 more bodies found
Eleven bodies were recovered in the sea about 400 miles from the Brazilian archipelago of Fernando de Noronha today as the search continued for the remains of the 228 people aboard the doomed Air France jet that disappeared off Brazil's north-east coast last Monday.The recovery of the bodies came after a night of "intense activity" by the fleet of 14 aeroplanes, five naval ships and one French vessel deployed to scour the remote waters around Fernando de Noronha, amid fears that deteriorating weather over the next 24 hours may hamper recovery operations.A total of 17 bodies have now been recovered after the remains of six were found on Saturday. Authorities said pilots searching the mid-Atlantic also spotted an undetermined number of additional bodies from the air and were sending ships to recover them.Flight 447 disappeared in turbulent weather on 31 May during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris with 228 people aboard - all now presumed dead. The investigation is increasingly focused on whether external instruments may have iced over, confusing speed sensors and leading computers to set the plane's speed too fast or slow - a potentially deadly mistake.The French agency investigating the disaster said airspeed instruments on the plane had not been replaced as the maker had recommended, but warned that it was too early to draw conclusions about what role that may have played in the crash.The agency, BEA, said the plane received inconsistent airspeed readings from different instruments as it struggled in a huge thunderstorm.In Brazil, Air Force Colonel Henry Munhoz said he could not immediately provide information on how many more bodies were spotted from the air.An initial four bodies were found yesterday about 45 miles from the point where the jet sent out a burst of messages indicating it was experiencing a series of electrical failures and losing cabin pressure.Authorities also said that searchers had spotted two plane seats and other debris with Air France's logo, and have recovered wing fragments and other debris. Munhoz said there was "no more doubt" that the wreckage was from Flight 447.Hundreds of personal items belonging to passengers have been recovered, but Munhoz said the authorities would not immediately identify them, after the reaction of relatives when authorities yesterday announced the discovery of a laptop computer and a briefcase with a plane ticket inside it. "We don't want to cause them more suffering," Munhoz said.The bodies and plane wreckage will be transported tomorrow to Fernando de Noronha, where the military has set up a staging post for the search operation. From there, remains and debris will be taken to the north-eastern coastal city of Recife for identification.Air France Flight 447 emitted its last signals roughly 400 miles (640 km) north-east of the Fernando de Noronha islands.The Pentagon has said there are no signs of terrorism. Brazil's defence minister said the possibility was never considered. French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, agreed that there is no evidence supporting a "terrorism theory", but said that "we cannot discard that for now".
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Murder trial after babies found in freezer
Husband says Veronique Courjault, who confessed after initially denying pregnancies, has psychological disorderIt is a mystery that has gripped France. A well-educated and well-liked expat family were living in Seoul with their two young sons. One day, the father found the corpses of two newborn babies in the family freezer. Baffled, he called the police. The couple flatly denied the babies were theirs, but a DNA test proved otherwise. The story inspired a novel by François Mitterrand's daughter, a national outpouring and a new focus on a spate of infanticides across France over the past decade.As Veronique Courjault, the mother of the frozen babies, goes on trial in France for murder on Tuesday facing possible life imprisonment, the nation is braced for a new round of soul-searching over the psychological difficulties that can hit some pregnant women. Judges will have to decide whether Courjault was in denial of her pregnancies or was conscious of what she was doing. She has spent two and a half years on remand in prison and her family insists she is not a danger to society.In 2006, the Courjaults were living in a smart ex-pat villa on a high-security estate in the South Korean capital. Jean-Louis Courjault worked as an engineer for a multinational company and was often away from home. His wife, described as a devoted mother to her sons, aged nine and 11, did yoga with other mothers and had worked as a classroom assistant at the local French school. On 23 July 2006, after his wife and sons had left for their annual summer trip to France, Courjault returned to Seoul on business. He bought fish and went down to the family's basement freezer which he wouldn't normally open. Therehe found the corpses.Courjault was allowed to fly back to France to be with his wife. Holding hands, they held a press conference insisting they were not the parents and were puzzled by the find. Weeks later, DNA tests proved they were the parents, and both were arrested.Under questioning by French police, Veronique confessed to hiding two pregnancies from her husband in 2002 and 2003, giving birth alone in the bathroom before strangling each baby and storing them in the freezer. She also confessed to killing another newborn while the couple still lived in France in 1999, disposing of the body in the family's fireplace. She told psychiatrists she had not felt the babies move in her womb during pregnancy. "For me, it was never children, it was a part of me, a prolongation of myself that I killed," she said. She explained feeling out of her depth at the thought of having more children. Earlier this year, a judge found Jean-Louis Courjault innocent of knowing anything about the pregnancies or the babies' deaths. After the verdict, Courjault said: "Another battle is now starting against society's received ideas. Society has to admit that not all pregnancies are happy. My wife certainly has a problem of a psychological order."Now living in France and raising the couple's two sons, he has forgiven his wife and wants her home from prison to rejoin the family.France's huge interest in the case was reflected in a 2007 novel by Mazarine Pingeot, daughter of François Mitterrand, which focused on a mother who hides her dead babies in a freezer. The Courjault family accused her of exploitation, but Pingeot argued that the case was not unique and the universaltheme of mothers who kill their children had been a "fascinating crime since mythology".
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2009 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


Reporters get 12 years in N. Korea labor camp
Two U.S. journalists detained in North Korea while covering the plight of defectors living along the China-North Korea border have been sentenced to 12 years in prison, the country's state-run media said. The Central Court of North Korea sentenced Laura Ling and Euna Lee for the "grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing," the Korean Central News Agency said.
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Acapulco shootout leaves 18 dead
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New Orleans Mayor Nagin quarantined in China
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10 immigrants killed in SUV crash
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The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com)
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N. Korea Convicts 2 Journalists
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Antiabortion Fight Goes to States
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Black Vote Courted in Virginia
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'Billy Elliot,' 'Carnage' Win Tonys
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The Sydney Morning Herald (feeds.smh.com.au)
Search goes on after bodies, debris from Air France jet found
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Crucial 24 hours for Brown leadership
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Associated Press (hosted.ap.org)
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Breitbart (www.breitbart.com)
Japan, OSCE to host meeting on military transparency, other issues+
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(external news feeds last updated at 12:01pm and took 19 seconds)

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