World briefs: Laos air crash kills all aboard

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BANGKOK -- A Lao Airlines flight crashed into the Mekong River in southern Laos on Wednesday during "extreme bad weather," killing all 49 people onboard, according to a statement from the Laotian government.

The statement did not specify the nationalities of the passengers, but a spokesman for Thailand's foreign ministry, Sek Wannamethee, said the airline had told him that the passengers were from Laos, Vietnam, Australia, Canada, China, France, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and the United States.

Flight QV301 was flying from the Laotian capital, Vientiane, to the southern Laotian city of Pakse and was carrying 44 passengers and five crew members.

Cycling ban brings outcry

KOLKATA, India -- A ban on cycling in one of India's most polluted and crowded cities has sparked protests in recent days and reignited a civic debate over the country's attitudes toward its poor -- many of whom cannot afford even a bus ride -- and its commitment to addressing air quality.

Kolkata, the sprawling metropolis of 14 million formerly known as Calcutta, first prohibited bikes on about three dozen streets in 2008.

The police commissioner recently expanded the measure, barring bicycles, non-motorized rickshaws, carts and cycle vans from 174 roads.

Authorities said the move was aimed at easing traffic flow.

Although bike travel will be allowed on some streets after business hours, activists say the new restrictions are tantamount to a ban on cycling in the entire city.

Call for additional troops

UNITED NATIONS -- United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is calling for a surge of thousands of African troops in Somalia to stem the threat of terrorism posed by Islamist insurgents and ensure the survival of a U.N.-backed government, whose success Washington believes is crucial to defeating extremist groups in the region, according to a previously undisclosed appeal.

In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Mr. Ban urged member nations to provide the 18,000 person African Union Mission in Somalia financial and military support, including attack helicopters and advanced logistical and intelligence equipment. He warned that there was an urgent need to strengthen the military campaign against al-Shabab, a Somali militant group linked to al-Qaida, and to "avoid further reversals."

Neo-fascist lawmakers

ATHENS, Greece -- As part of a widening effort to clamp down on violent extremism in Greece, the country's Parliament moved on Wednesday to lift the immunity of six lawmakers of Golden Dawn, the neo-fascist anti-immigrant party prosecutors portray as a criminal organization involved in murder, attempted murder, blackmail and other crimes.

The motion passed with an overwhelming majority of 246 votes in Greece's 300-seat House, paving the way for a prosecutor to issue warrants for the arrest of the six. Three party leaders are in custody, and another member was arrested last month but released.

Also in the world ...

France's Bordeaux wine output will probably fall more than the 20 percent forecast last month after rain at the end of September caused grapes to rot, prompting some growers to speed up harvesting, the local wine bureau said. ... An injured kangaroo managed to make its way into Melbourne Airport in Australia on Wednesday, ending up, fittingly, in a pharmacy. The airport is ringed partly by bushland that is apparently frequented by kangaroos.


First Published October 16, 2013 8:02 PM


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