- - Thursday, November 11, 2010

BURMA

Pro-junta party wins Parliament majority

RANGOON | Burma’s pro-junta political party secured the majority of seats in both houses of Parliament, according to the latest official results from the country’s first election in 20 years.

The partial batch of results released Thursday confirms the victory of the Union Solidarity and Development Party in Sunday’s vote, which critics say was marked by fraud and engineered to sustain the military’s power.

The latest results were announced the same day democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi lost an appeal for early release from house arrest. The sentence is due to expire Saturday, and close aides remain optimistic she will be freed.

The junta has not confirmed that the 65-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner will be set free, but government officials have said quietly that they are making “necessary security preparations” for this weekend.

INDONESIA

Flights resume as volcano spews ash

MOUNT MERAPI | A deadly Indonesian volcano spit out towering clouds of ash, but clear skies over the distant capital let international airlines resume flights Thursday.

The official death toll from Mount Merapi has been raised to 194 to include deaths from respiratory problems, heart attacks and other illnesses related to the eruptions that started more than two weeks ago.

The notoriously unpredictable volcano in the heart of Java island roared back to life two weeks ago, spewing searing gases and ash almost daily.

PAKISTAN

Bomb hits police, kills 18

KARACHI | Militants armed with guns and a truck bomb demolished a police station used to detain terror suspects in Pakistan’s biggest city, Karachi, killing 18 people and wounding 130 others on Thursday.

Pakistan’s Taliban swiftly claimed responsibility for what was a rare attack on government security forces in Karachi, a politically tense city of 16 million in the south, far removed from militant strongholds in the northwest.

Karachi is Pakistan’s economic capital, home to its stock exchange and the Arabian Sea port where NATO supplies dock to be trucked overland to support the more than 150,000 US-led troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan.

PHILIPPINES

Lawmakers to push family-planning bill

MANILA | A group of Philippine lawmakers said Thursday it will try to pass a family-planning bill with backing from the country’s new president despite strong opposition from the Roman Catholic Church.

Members of the House of Representatives advocating family planning told reporters they will begin public hearings in two weeks on six versions of a proposed reproductive health law.

They are aiming for a single comprehensive bill that will include family planning, improved maternal and child care, prevention of unsafe abortions, the safeguarding of women’s rights and poverty reduction.

Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, one of the bill’s main proponents, said opposition to the bill comes mainly from the church hierarchy, not from ordinary citizens in the predominantly Catholic nation.

AUSTRALIA

Oil leak might have fouled jet engine

SYDNEY | Leaking oil may have caught fire in the engine of a Qantas superjumbo jet and set off a violent disintegration that sent pieces of machinery slicing through vital control systems in the wing of the world’s largest jetliner, Europe’s air-safety regulator said.

The agency issued an emergency order requiring airlines to re-examine Rolls-Royce engines on Airbus A380s and ground any planes with suspicious leaks.

The order by the European Aviation Safety Authority echoed earlier indications from investigators that a turbine disc — a heavy metal plate that holds the blades of the turbine that powers the jet — was the first piece to come apart as the Qantas jet climbed over Indonesia. It was the first official mention, however, that an oil fire could have preceded the disintegration.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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