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Briefs, December 10, 2012

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 December, 2012, 4:12am

Russian satellite fails to reach correct orbit

MOSCOW - Russia failed to put a communications satellite into designated orbit, in the latest setback for the once-pioneering space industry, officials said. The space agency said it had taken control of the satellite and was looking to fix the problem. The satellite had been launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The satellite could still reach the designated orbit with the help of its own engines. However that operation would shorten the satellite's life cycle in space. Interfax added that the satellite may need three days to correct its orbit. AFP

 

Merkel rival fires up party for election fight

HANOVER - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's rival, Peer Steinbrueck, kicked off his bid to topple her in next year's election, pledging social equality and a clear pro-European policy. In a speech lasting almost two hours that was rewarded with an almost 10-minute standing ovation from his Social Democratic Party (SPD) supporters, the 65-year-old former finance minister said was "time for a change". With 93.45 per cent of the vote, SPD delegates officially nominated Steinbrueck as their candidate for the unenviable task of unseating Merkel, often called the world's most powerful woman, at federal elections expected in September. AFP

 

Unions plan protests against US labour laws

DETROIT - Union members and others opposed to Michigan becoming a "right-to-work" state plan major protests in the state capital this week to try to stop Republicans restricting labour unions in the cradle of the unionised US car industry. Right-to-work opponents will begin converging on Lansing today, organisers said, and they expect thousands at the rally tomorrow when the state legislature reconvenes. With Republicans in control of the legislature and the governor committed to sign the laws, Michigan could become the 24th right-to-work state by the middle of the week, dealing a stunning blow to the power of organised labour in the United States. Reuters

 

Balkan blizzards kill 5 and cause travel chaos

BELGRADE - Freezing temperatures and heavy snowfall have killed at least five people and caused travel chaos across the Balkans, with rescue teams struggling to reach passengers stranded in buses and cars in Serbia. Officials said four people have died in Croatia and one in Serbia as a result of blizzards in southwestern Europe over the weekend, closing airports and roads. AP

 

Romanian PM looks set to win elections

BUCHAREST - Romania's prime minister was headed for victory in parliamentary elections that could set off another round of a power struggle with the rightist president. Victor Ponta's leftist Social Liberal Union will win the most votes and possibly a clear majority, polls showed. But analysts said President Traian Basescu might use his powers to ask one of his own allies to try to form a government. A prolonged period without a new administration would raise questions over Romania getting a new International Monetary Fund deal early next year. Reuters

 

Detained software guru wants to go home

GUATEMALA CITY - US software tycoon John McAfee, fighting deportation from Guatemala to Belize to face questions about the killing of a neighbour, said he wants to return to the US. McAfee, 67, is being held at an immigration facility after illegally crossing the border to Guatemala with his 20-year-old girlfriend. Responding to McAfee's remarks, the State Department said US citizens in foreign countries were subject to local laws. Reuters

 

Prayers for ailing ex-president Mandela

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans prayed for the health of former president Nelson Mandela and anxiously awaited further word about the anti-apartheid leader after he was admitted to a military hospital. Worshipers gathered at the Regina Mundi Catholic church in the Soweto area of Johannesburg to pray for the frail 94-year-old icon. The church was a centre of anti-apartheid protests and funerals. President Jacob Zuma's office has only said Mandela was doing well and receiving care "consistent for his age". AP

 

Police apologise to family of late rapper

LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles police department apologised to the family of rapper Notorious BIG, murdered 15 years ago, after releasing his autopsy report on Friday without informing them first. Notorious BIG was killed in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997 that remains controversially unsolved, and the police said they hoped the coroner's findings would help new information come to light. AFP

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