World news briefs: 5/18/14

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Open Internet pushed in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Saturday that websites banned in his country including Facebook and Google's YouTube are part of a "great change" that his nation should be included in as every citizen has the right to access the Internet.

In a speech at a conference on information and communication technologies in Tehran, Mr. Rouhani said the online world ought to be seen as an opportunity by Iran, and not something to be feared, according to Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

"The right of citizens to have access to international networks of information is something we formally recognize," Mr. Rouhani was quoted as saying.

Some of the world's most visited social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Yahoo's Tumblr are blocked in Iran. The policy was enforced in 2009 in a response to the unrest that followed the disputed re-election of Mr. Rouhani's predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Facebook access flap

MOSCOW -- Russians' access to Facebook and Twitter is safe, if Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has a say in the matter.

The government leader rebuked a communications official for saying in an interview published Friday that Russia has the right to fully block online social networks if they don't uphold new legislation tightening control over the Internet.

"Certain bureaucrats, responsible of developing sectors, need to use their brains and not give interviews announcing the closure of social networks," Mr. Medvedev wrote on his Facebook page, after saying that both users and networks should obey Russian legislation.

Crash kills Laotian officials

BANGKOK -- A Laotian military plane carrying senior government officials crashed Saturday in a wooded area as it approached an airport in Laos' northeast, killing at least five people, including the defense minister and other high-ranking members of the authoritarian Southeast Asian country's ruling party.

About 18 people were believed to be on board the plane, which left Vientiane, Laos' capital, early Saturday morning to take the group to an official ceremony in Xiangkhoung province, about 290 miles away, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Sek Wannamethee said.

India's leader steps down

NEW DELHI -- As his party absorbed a crushing election defeat, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh left office Saturday, ending a 10-year run that began with strong economic growth but collapsed amid corruption scandals and political paralysis that he was seen as too aloof to stop.

In a brief valedictory address, Mr. Singh said all Indians must respect the verdict of voters who drummed his Indian National Congress Party out of power and handed a landslide victory to the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in parliamentary election results announced Friday.

"In the last 10 years, we as a country have seen many successes and achievements that we should be proud of," Mr. Singh said in stiff, formal remarks delivered from his office. "Today, India is a far stronger country in every respect than it was a decade ago."

Mr. Singh, 81, turned in his resignation to India's president, the head of state, a formality that paves the way for the BJP's leader, Narendra Modi, to be named prime minister and appoint his Cabinet.

Warning in Libya

TRIPOLI, Libya -- Armed units loyal to a former general in eastern Libya told civilians Saturday to leave parts of Benghazi as the troops prepared for a new assault on Islamist militias a day after heavy fighting in the city.

The death toll from the clashes Friday rose to about three dozen, news agencies reported, with more than 100 wounded.

Longer-surviving dinosaur

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Dinosaur fossils found in Patagonia provide the first evidence that long-necked, whip-tailed diplodocid sauropods survived well beyond the Jurassic period, when they were thought to have gone extinct, Argentine paleontologists say.

Pablo Gallina, a researcher at Buenos Aires' Maimonides University, on Thursday described the find as the first definitive evidence that diplodocids reached South America, and the most recent geologic record of this branch of sauropod anywhere.

Firm in Cameroon attacked

BEIJING -- Unidentified assailants attacked the camp of a Chinese company in Cameroon, leaving 10 people missing and one injured, Chinese state media reported Saturday.

The Chinese Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon's capital, confirmed the attack and said it had demanded that the African nation's government find the missing people and ensure the safety of Chinese nationals in the region, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Xinhua did not identify the Chinese company involved in the attack or give details of its operation. It also did not mention a possible motive for the attack.


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