- - Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Conservatives win coveted majority

TORONTO | Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper won his coveted majority government in elections that changed Canada’s political landscape, with the opposition Liberals and Quebec separatists suffering a shattering defeat.

Mr. Harper, who took office in 2006, has won two elections but until Monday’s vote had never held the majority of Parliament’s 308 seats, forcing him to rely on the opposition to pass legislation.

Mr. Harper deliberately has avoided sweeping policy changes that could derail his government, but he now has an opportunity to pass any legislation he wants with his majority.

Meanwhile, Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff announced Tuesday that he would step down from the post after the party suffered its worst defeat in Canadian history. Mr. Ignatieff even lost his own seat in a Toronto suburb.

While Mr. Harper’s hold on Parliament has been tenuous during his five-year tenure, he has managed to nudge an instinctively center-left country to the right.

He has gradually lowered sales and corporate taxes, avoided climate change legislation that would harm Alberta’s oil sands sector, promoted Arctic sovereignty, increased military spending and extended Canada’s military mission in Afghanistan. He also has staunchly backed Israel’s right-wing government.


Army kills 4 pirates; 20 hostages freed

JAKARTA | Indonesian forces killed four Somali pirates in a gunfight after a ship and 20 Indonesian hostages held nearly two months were freed, the military said Tuesday.

About 35 pirates left the MV Sinar Kudus in groups Sunday after they received a requested ransom, Rear Adm. Iskandar Sitompul said.

A special joint military squad made sure no more pirates were still on the ship and then pursued the groups, catching up with and killing four pirates in an exchange of gunfire.

He refused to discuss the ransom, which media reported was between $3 million and $4.5 million.

The Sinar Kudus was seized in the Arabian Sea on March 16. Soon afterward, the pirates used the hijacked ship to attack another cargo ship nearby, but private security repelled them, the EU Naval Force said.


Russia seeks 20 years for U.S. spy ring traitor

MOSCOW | Russia announced Tuesday that it would seek a 20-year prison term for a top spy whose cooperation with the United States led to last year’s humiliating expulsion of 10 of Moscow’s sleeper agents.

The Federal Security Service (FSB) said it has concluded its probe into the former deputy head of its U.S. clandestine operations department and charged him with treason and desertion.

Russian media have identified the suspect as Alexander Poteyev and said he has been hiding in the United States since last year. Security officials believe a trial will be held in absentia.

“The FSB investigative department has concluded its investigation into Russian citizen A. N. Poteyev,” news agencies quoted an FSB statement as saying.

The exposure of the spies left some intelligence officials conceding that their U.S. surveillance program had been dealt a brutal blow.


14 miners trapped in coal mine explosion

MEXICO CITY | Authorities in northern Mexico said a gas explosion in a coal mine trapped 14 miners.

Coahuila state Civil Protection spokesman Jose Luis Ledezma said the explosion early Tuesday also injured a miner who hadn’t entered the small mine. There were no confirmed deaths.

Mr. Ledezma said rescue crews were at the mine in the town of Sabinas but have not been able to make contact with the miners.

A February 2006 methane gas explosion at a coal mine in Sabinas killed 65 miners. Rescuers recovered the bodies of two miners, but tons of wood, rock and metal, as well as toxic gas, hindered the recovery of the others.

Sabinas is 85 miles southwest of Eagle Pass, Texas.


No honeymoon retreat for royal couple

ANGLESEY, WALES | Britain’s most glamorous royal couple are spending this week on an island - just not the kind of island everyone expected.

It’s not a private honeymoon retreat in the Caribbean or the Seychelles, but Anglesey, a wind-swept spot off northwest Wales where Prince William works as a search-and-rescue helicopter pilot at the Royal Air Force Valley base.

Despite the conspiracy theories, they are not there because of Osama bin Laden’s death in Pakistan.

Although there has been heated speculation that the U.S. military operation to find the al Qaeda leader was behind the royal couple’s decision to remain in the U.K. after their wedding Friday, a palace spokesman said the couple decided “weeks ago” to stay.

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