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Ivory Coast: French take control of Abidjan airport

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© Rex
Fighting in Abidjan appeared to be reaching a bloody climax. Gun battles have left most of the city's five million residents too terrified to leave their homes
French troops have taken control of Abidjan airport as forces loyal to the country's rival presidents fight for control of Ivory Coast's main city, the French military said Sunday.

France has also boosted its Licorne (Unicorn) mission in the cocoa-rich nation by 300 to around 1,400 troops, where part of their mission is to protect foreigners from attacks and looting amid rising insecurity.

"Licorne, in coordination with UNOCI (United Nations Operation in Cote d'Ivoire), has taken control of Felix Houphouet-Boigny airport," chief of staff spokesman Colonel Thierry Burkhard told AFP.

"UNOCI and Licorne troops are ensuring security and air traffic control at the airport," Burkhard said.

This allows "civil and military aircraft to land at the airport so that foreigners wishing to leave Ivory Coast can do so," he said, adding that no decision had yet been taken to evacuate foreigners.

More than 1,650 foreigners, about half of them French, have taken shelter at a Licorne camp in Abidjan.

Eye 1

NISA: Stemming leak will take months

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Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said a full-scale recovery of cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is needed to stem the leakage of radioactive substances, but that work will take several months.

A senior official of the agency, Hidehiko Nishiyama, made the comments at a news conference on Sunday.

Highly radioactive water was found inside turbine buildings and also in tunnels under the plant. The radioactive water is flowing directly into the sea.

Family

Japan: More than 12,000 confirmed dead in quake

More than 12,000 people have been confirmed dead in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami that hit northeastern Japan.

Miyagi Prefecture has reported the highest number of deaths, 7,374. Neighboring Iwate Prefecture has reported 3,540, followed by Fukushima Prefecture, which has 1,113 confirmed dead.

Deaths have been reported in a wide area from the northernmost main island of Hokkaido to Kanagawa Prefecture in the Kanto region. Seven died in Tokyo.

Vader

Mounting alarm over US use of depleted uranium arms in Libya

The countries involved in air strikes on Colonel Gaddafi's forces in Libya are coming under pressure to ban the use of toxic depleted uranium (DU) weapons because of the dangers they could pose to civilians.

The US has refused to rule out the use of DU shells in Libya, though it claims not to have fired any so far.

"I don't want to speculate on what may or may not be used in the future," the US air force spokeswoman, Paula Kurtz, said yesterday.

The US admitted using A-10 tankbuster aircraft designed to destroy armoured cars and tanks, and which are capable of firing 3,900 armour-piercing DU-tipped shells per minute.

Nuke

Japan: Engineers watch, wait to see if mix of polymers, newspaper and sawdust will stop nuke leak

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© The Associated Press / Vincent Yu
Survivors stand on a hill overlooking the area destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Kesennuma in Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan, Sunday, April 3, 2011.
Engineers pinned their hopes on chemicals, sawdust and shredded newspaper to stop highly radioactive water pouring into the ocean from Japan's tsunami-ravaged nuclear plant Sunday as officials said it will take several months to bring the crisis under control, the first time they have provided a timetable.

Concrete already failed to stop the tainted water spewing from a crack in a maintenance pit, and the new mixture did not appear to be working either, but engineers said they were not abandoning it.

The Fukushima Da-ichi plant has been leaking radioactivity since the March 11 tsunami carved a path of destruction along Japan's northeastern coast, killing as many as 25,000 people and knocking out key cooling systems that kept it from overheating. People living within 12 miles (20 kilometres) of the plant have been forced to abandon their homes.

The government said Sunday it will be several months before the radiation stops and permanent cooling systems are restored. Even after that happens, there will be years of work ahead to clean up the area around the complex and figure out what to do with it.

"It would take a few months until we finally get things under control and have a better idea about the future," said Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama. "We'll face a crucial turning point within the next few months, but that is not the end."

His agency said the timetable is based on the first step, pumping radioactive water into tanks, being completed quickly and the second, restoring cooling systems, being done within a matter of weeks or months.

Heart - Black

US: 3-year-old boy falls to his death from roller coaster in Chicago suburb

A 3-year-old boy died Saturday after falling out of a roller coaster at a suburban Chicago amusement park, police said.

The boy was sitting near the front of the Python Pit roller coaster at the Go Bananas amusement park when he got underneath the ride's safety bar, Norridge Police Chief James Jobe said. He suffered head injuries in what Jobe described as "a tragic accident."

The boy was on the ride with his twin brother when he fell out of the coaster while it was moving, Jobe said. The Cook County medical examiner's office said the boy died at the park. Police said a state inspector was at the scene.

Pistol

Germany: Shooting set to end top female boxer's career

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© Agence France-Presse
German lightweight WIBF and WIBA boxing world champion Rola El-Halabi poses at a motor sport event in the southern German city of Ulm. The top boxer, who is recovering in hospital after being gunned down by her step-father before a world title fight, may never return to the ring, her promoter has said
Top female boxer Rola El-Halabi, who is recovering in hospital after being gunned down by her step-father before a world title fight, may never return to the ring, her promoter said on Sunday.

El-Halabi, 26, was shot her in the hands, feet and knees in her dressing room as she prepared to fight for the WIBF world lightweight title in Karlshorst, Berlin, on Friday night.

Two security guards were also shot during the attack, but are recovering in hospital having also undergone surgery.

"Her operation went smoothly, but the shots were intended to end her career and it seems almost certain that that will happen," her promoter Malte Mueller-Michaelis told SID, an AFP subsidiary.

El-Halabi's 44-year-old attacker was overpowered by police at the boxing hall and arrested shortly after the shooting, while nearly 600 spectators were quickly evacuated.

"I was with my coach and manager in the changing room when Dad rushed into the room, threatening us with a gun and shouted 'All out!," El-Halabi told Sunday's edition of German daily Bild.

Info

Images of American flag taken by Apollo 14 astronauts provide fuel for conspiracists

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© unknown
Astronaut Edwin 'Buzz' Aldrin poses next to the U.S. flag July 20, 1969 on the moon
Did all the manned U.S. lunar landings between July 1969 and December 1972 actually take place or were they hoaxes?

A Canadian book publisher has taken a closer look at images acquired by the Apollo 14 astronauts just before they left the moon 40 years ago.

What Robert Godwin uncovered will probably provide more ammunition for those who doubt a U.S. astronaut ever set foot on Earth's celestial neighbour.

Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin are credited with being the first humans to set foot on the moon, on July 20, 1969.

One frequently used argument is that video of the Stars and Stripes planted on lunar soil appears to show the flags blowing in the wind - even though there's no atmosphere on the moon.

Godwin says two frames of film taken from the Apollo 14 lunar lander in February 1971 may lead some people to believe that's true.

In one frame, the American flag is pointed to the right, while in another frame, it's pointing in another direction - to the left.

Godwin, 53, says he was drawn to Apollo 14 after viewing high-resolution images of that landing site which were taken recently by a lunar reconnaissance satellite.

Bad Guys

My electric shock nightmare at the hands of the CIA's evil doctor

Living as an actor is rather like living life on the trapezes in a circus. Every time you jump on, you have to pray that when the time comes for you to jump off there is another trapeze swinging your way.

I have been very lucky. So far they have kept swinging by and over the years I have had more than my fair share of roles on stage and television, including Upstairs Downstairs, The Darling Buds Of May, Dinnerladies, Acorn Antiques and Cranford.

Then there are the films, parts that have, to my surprise, given me quite a saucy reputation. After Calendar Girls, people might well think of me as something of an exhibitionist. I am not.

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© Unknown
Famous friends: Celia Imrie, above left, with Helen Mirren and Julie Walters in the hit British film Calendar Girls.

Eye 1

Workers struggle to plug leak at Japan nuclear plant

Tokyo -- A first attempt to plug a cracked concrete shaft that is leaking highly radioactive water into the ocean off Japan failed Saturday, so officials are now exploring alternatives, spokesmen for Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.


Power plant workers had been trying to fill the shaft with fresh concrete, but that did not change the amount of water coming out of the crack, the spokesmen said at a news conference that ran late into the night Saturday.

Their "plan B" is to use polymers to stop the leak, the spokesmen said. A Tokyo Electric expert will visit the site Sunday morning and decide what polymer to use before the work begins.

Workers will then break the shaft's ceiling and insert the polymer in a different spot from where they tried to place the concrete, they said.