- - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

ANTARCTICA

Skier reaches South Pole in solo Antarctic trek

British adventurer Felicity Aston has reached the South Pole, nearly halfway in her attempt to become the first person to ski solo using only muscle power across Antarctica.

She made it to the U.S. research station at the geographic South Pole on Tuesday after pulling two sledges for more than 500 miles up a glacier, over a mountain range and against stiff head winds for nearly a month.

She said it feels amazing to have reached the pole, where she planned a day’s rest to replenish her supplies before hitting the ice again.

She’s not sure if she’ll make the record, but she said that whatever happens next, she’ll have the satisfaction of having made it solo from the coast to the pole.

SRI LANKA

Group: Tamil women exposed to abuse

COLOMBO | Ethnic Tamil women in Sri Lanka’s former war zones face abuses including sexual violence, trafficking and forced prostitution, an international human rights group said Wednesday.

The Brussels-based International Crisis Group said there have been credible allegations of sexual violence against women in those areas at the hands of both security forces and men from their own communities.

The group said many cases go unreported in the country’s north and east, where a 25-year civil war ended in May 2009 when government troops defeated separatist Tamil rebels.

Scores of Tamil women live alone, or with young children or elderly parents because their husbands are dead or in government detention.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Police detain woman on war-crimes charges

BANJA LUKA | A Bosnian Serb woman suspected of such brutal crimes against non-Serbs during the 1990s that her victims nicknamed her the “Female Monster” has been detained, police and local media reported Wednesday.

It was a rare arrest in that relatively few women have been linked to the atrocities of that era.

Halid Emkic, spokesman for the police in the northern Bosnian town of Brcko, said the woman’s initials are M.I.

But Bosnian media identified the suspect as Monika Ilic, a native of Brcko, whose once-childlike appearance is alleged to have hid a cruel disposition.

Ilic reportedly was 18 when she married Goran Jelisic, a convicted murderer and concentration camp torturer. The two allegedly committed crimes against imprisoned non-Serbs in Brcko at the beginning of the 1992-95 Bosnian War.

Jelisic, who called himself the “Serb Adolf” after Adolf Hitler, was sentenced in 2001 to 40 years in jail by the U.N. war-crimes tribunal. But Ilic evaded capture for years, apparently living in Serbia under a false name for a time.

RUSSIA

Soyuz craft bound for space station

MOSCOW | A Soyuz spacecraft carrying a Russian, an American and a Dutchman to the International Space Station blasted off flawlessly from Russia’s launch facility in Kazakhstan on Wednesday.

Mission commander Oleg Kononenko and his colleagues, American Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers, are to dock with the space station Friday.

The blastoff from the snowy launchpad in Baikonur took place without a hitch and the spacecraft reached Earth orbit about nine minutes later.

The three aboard the Russian spacecraft will join three others already on the space station, NASA’s Daniel C. Burbank and Russians Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin. The six are to work together on the station until March.

PHILIPPINES

Philippines seeks 12 F-16 fighter jets

MANILA | The Philippines will seek a squadron of F-16 fighter jets and a third coast guard ship from longtime ally Washington amid simmering territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Wednesday that he and the country’s defense chief will meet their U.S. counterparts in Washington next year to discuss the requests.

The Philippines has turned to the U.S., a defense treaty ally, for warships and planes to patrol South China Sea areas it claims.

Mr. del Rosario said the requests for 12 F-16 fighter jets and a third coast guard cutter already have been relayed to U.S. officials and their initial response was encouraging.

“We are getting good signals,” Mr. del Rosario said.

The Philippines wants to build “a minimum credible defense posture and the U.S. has expressed their willingness to help us,” Mr. del Rosario said.

Washington has provided a Coast Guard cutter and agreed to send another one next year to the Philippines, which is locked in territorial disputes with China and four other governments.

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