Friday, May 29, 2009


Afghan migrants die as ship sinks

JAKARTA | A ship packed with Afghan migrants sank off Indonesia’s western coast early Thursday, killing at least five people and leaving 17 others missing, the navy said.

Al Muhfid, a second lieutenant, said fisherman rescued more than a dozen people from the water.

The men, including several who were seriously hurt, told authorities they wanted to seek political asylum in Indonesia because of the security situation in their homeland, he said.

Indonesia is increasingly being used as a transit point for illegal migrants from war-ravaged countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. They typically continue on to Australia aboard cramped, barely seaworthy ships.


More centrifuges said in operation

TEHRAN | President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran has boosted its capacity to enrich uranium, another sign of anti-Western defiance by the leader seeking re-election in a vote next month.

Mr. Ahmadinejad said last month that Iran had 7,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz in central Iran. The figure marked a significant boost from the 6,000 centrifuges announced in February. In his latest comments, reported by the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency on Thursday, he did not give a specific new figure.

Mr. Ahmadinejad has made Iran’s expanding nuclear program one of the centerpieces of his campaign for the June 12 elections and has struck an increasingly harsh tone against the United States and other countries calling for Iran to halt it uranium enrichment.

Iran’s leaders say they will never give up nuclear technology and insist they seek only energy-producing reactors. The United States, Israel and other nations worry that Iran’s enrichment facilities could eventually produce material for nuclear warheads.


Witness defends Suu Kyi at trial

YANGON | The sole witness allowed for pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi insisted Thursday that she had broken no law, as a Myanmar court heard final testimony before closing arguments in a trial that could send the Nobel Peace Prize laureate to prison for five years.

Kyi Win, a legal expert and a member of Mrs. Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, argued there was no legal basis to the charge that Mrs. Suu Kyi had violated the terms of her house arrest when an uninvited American swam secretly to her home.

Prosecutors seemed very unhappy with his testimony, the witness told reporters outside the courtroom after the trial’s ninth day. Reporters were not allowed inside Thursday; they have been allowed in just twice.

The trial has evoked outrage from the international community and Mrs. Suu Kyi’s local supporters, who worry that the military junta has found an excuse to keep her detained through next year’s elections.


Anticipated novel already a hit

TOKYO | Everything has been kept secret, except the author and title. But the first novel in five years by Japan’s Haruki Murakami has become a hit even before its official release Friday.

The book’s publisher, Shinchosha, said it raised its first printing to 480,000 copies from 380,000 after orders flooded in.

Mr. Murakami, 60, is one of the most widely translated Japanese writers alive, with global best-sellers such as “Norwegian Wood,” “Kafka on the Shore” and “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.” He is considered a top Japanese candidate for the Nobel Prize in literature.

Fans ordering the book know nothing but the title, “1Q84,” which can be read as “1984” in Japanese.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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