- - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

IRAN

Launch of homemade satellite sparks Western concern

TEHRAN — Iran launched a satellite into earth orbit Wednesday, Iran’s state TV reported, in a feat that is likely to raise concerns among those who fear Iran’s nuclear program.

The report said the locally produced satellite, called Rasad, or observation, was launched successfully by a Safir missile on Wednesday. There was no independent confirmation of the launch or of the satellite achieving orbit.

It is the second satellite Iran has put into orbit. The first, named Omid, was launched in 2009. The Iranian TV report said the new satellite is designed to produce high resolution maps.

Iran’s decade-long space program has raised alarms in the West because the same technology that allows missiles to launch satellites can be used to fire warheads.

TURKEY

Aid workers erect tents to shelter Syrian refugees

YAYLADAGI — Turkish aid workers Wednesday erected new tent cities at the Syrian border to shelter more refugees, as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held talks with a Syrian envoy in Ankara.

Some 8,500 Syrians, more than half of them children, have already been accommodated at three camps run by the Turkish Red Crescent in the border province of Hatay, local officials said.

Most of the refugees fled a major security crackdown in the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur, roughly 25 miles from the Turkish border.

BELARUS

Rare protest ignores warning of retaliation

MINSK — Up to 1,000 people turned out in the Belarussian capital, Minsk, on Wednesday in a rare protest at economic hardship, defying a warning by President Alexander Lukashenko that he would “strike hard” against them.

Police sealed off Minsk’s Oktyabrskaya Square close to Mr. Lukashenko’s main administration building, but several hundred people massed in a largely silent protest in nearby streets all the same.

The demonstrators were responding to a protest call sharply critical of Mr. Lukashenko that was carried on social networking sites. They carried no slogans, and they were largely silent apart from some rhythmic clapping of hands.

MEXICO

President pushes Congress for economic, political reform

MEXICO CITY — President Felipe Calderon urged lawmakers Wednesday to hold an extra session of Congress in a desperate effort to push through reforms the opposition has blocked as it eyes a return to power.

Mr. Calderon still hopes to sign off on a raft of legislation such as a bill to liberalize the labor market, as well as a political reform measure that will allow independents to run for office and let lawmakers serve consecutive terms.

However, the proposals are unlikely to pass because the lower house of Congress is dominated by the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, which hopes to next year regain the presidency that it held for more than 70 years until 2000.

SPAIN

Protesters clash with police over education, health cuts

BARCELONA | About 2,000 demonstrators angry about planned budget cuts in education and health clashed with police outside a regional parliament in Spain on Wednesday. There were reports of 36 injuries.

Some politicians could only reach the Catalonian parliament building using police helicopters. Scuffles broke out when police pushed back protesters so other lawmakers arriving on foot could get in.

The politicians were heckled, and at least two were sprayed with paint, a police spokeswoman said.

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