- - Thursday, September 22, 2011

SWITZERLAND

Scientists clock particles faster than speed of light

GENEVA — Scientists at the world’s largest physics lab say they have clocked subatomic particles traveling faster than light, a feat that, if true, would break a fundamental pillar of science.

The readings have so astounded researchers that they are asking others to independently verify the measurements before they claim a discovery.

Nothing is supposed to move faster than light, at least according to Albert Einstein’s special theory of relativity: the famous E=mc2 equation. That stands for energy equals mass times the speed of light squared.

However, neutrinos - one of the strangest well-known particles in physics - have been observed smashing past this cosmic speed barrier of 186,282 miles per second.

UNITED NATIONS

Palestinians to submit U.N. request Friday

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will hand over Friday morning a formal application for a Palestine to be granted full U.N. membership as a state, a top Palestinian official said.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the U.N., confirmed to Agence-France Presse late Thursday that Mr. Abbas would hand over the letter at a meeting planned with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Frustrated by the deadlock in the Middle East peace process, Mr. Abbas has pressed ahead for full state membership at the United Nations, despite fierce opposition from Israel and the U.S. that will doom the effort. The U.S., a permanent Security Council member, has said it will veto any bid that comes to the council.

The Palestinians could also go to the U.N. General Assembly, however, to be given non-member observer state status, such as what Vatican City now has. That could not be vetoed.

FRANCE

Lawyer claims he was bagman for Chirac

PARIS — Police on Thursday questioned a lawyer who claimed to have ferried suitcases holding a total of $20 million in cash from African leaders to former President Jacques Chirac and an ally.

Robert Bourgi, an unofficial adviser to President Nicolas Sarkozy and a notorious go-between in France’s complex relations with its former African colonies, made the shocking claims last week in a series of media interviews.

He said between 1995 and 2005 he regularly brought cash shipments from African leaders to Paris, first to Mr. Chirac when he was still mayor of Paris and then to Mr. Chirac’s aide and future prime minister, Dominique de Villepin.

Mr. Chirac, who already is on trial in another corruption case dating from his years as mayor, and Mr. de Villepin have denied the charge and lodged libel suits.

SYRIA

Students join protests against Assad regime

BEIRUT — Syrian students chanting for revolution marched outside the capital and other areas after class Thursday in a new tactic that brought a swift response from security services, who beat up or detained many of the young protesters, activists said.

Children as young as 10 have been taking to the streets since the new school year started on Sunday, according to witnesses and online videos posted by activists.

ZAMBIA

Populist challenger wins presidential race

LUSAKA — The chairwoman of the Electoral Commission of Zambia says challenger Michael Sata has defeated the incumbent in presidential elections.

Irene Mambilima announced early Friday that with tallies completed from nearly all the country’s 150 constituencies, Mr. Sata had won with 1,150,045 votes, or 43 percent of the total. President Rupiah Banda had 961,796 votes, or 36.1 percent. Eight other candidates shared the remainder.

Mr. Banda’s party, of which Mr. Sata had been a member until a 2001 leadership dispute, had been in power for two decades.

Mr. Sata has earned the nickname “King Cobra” for his biting rhetoric, often appealing to the urban poor and unemployed youths. He has vowed to transform the poor southern African country’s fortunes within 90 days of taking office.

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