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Monks try to teach ‘maleness’ to Thai ladyboys

CHIANG KHONG, Thailand — The 15-year-old aspiring “ladyboy” delicately applied a puff of talcum powder to his nose — an act of rebellion at the Thai Buddhist temple where he is learning to “be a man”. “They have rules here that novice monks cannot use powder, make-up, or perfume, cannot…

Russia gains edge in space race as US shuttle bows out

As the United States winds down its shuttle programme in a symbolic twist in a long-running space rivalry, Russia will gain complete control of access to the International Space Station. The Russian space agency plays down any triumphalism, but US astronauts will remain dependent on Russia for access to the…

Greek PM faces critical confidence vote

ATHENS (AFP) – Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou vowed there would be no backsliding on a 28 billion euro programme of cuts ahead of a confidence vote Tuesday seen as key to calming fears for the euro’s future. Lawmakers are expected to give their verdict on Papandreou’s new-look government at…

U.S. Peace Corps volunteer raped in Mozambique: police

MAPUTO — A US Peace Corps volunteer was raped at knife-point in central Mozambique, police said Wednesday, as the US Congress prepared to open hearings into the safety of the agency’s volunteers worldwide. The 30-year-old woman was attacked while walking with a Mozambican friend shortly before midnight on May 1…

China details plans for own orbital space station

BEIJING (AFP) – China will attempt its first space docking between two unmanned vehicles this year, the first step in efforts to build a Chinese space station, a senior official said Friday. Yang Liwei detailed the next stages of China’s human spaceflight programme during a press visit to Space City…

Second computer worm ‘hits Iran’

TEHRAN — Iran has been hit with new malicious software as part of cyber attacks against the country, a military officer told Mehr news agency on Monday without specifying the target. “Certain characteristics about the ‘Stars’ virus have been identified, including that it is compatible with the (targeted) system,” Gholam…

Ex-leaders to visit N. Korea with Carter: report

SEOUL — Three former world leaders will accompany ex-US president Jimmy Carter to North Korea this month to discuss tensions on the peninsula and food shortages in the communist state, a report said Monday. JoongAng Daily, quoting diplomatic sources in South Korea, said Carter would be accompanied by former Finnish…

Asia’s star burns ever brighter in space

BEIJING – Asia’s extraterrestrial ambitions have rocketed from nowhere in the 50 years since the first human space flight, with China shooting for the moon while India and Japan fuel up their own programmes. Since China in 2003 became the world’s third nation to put a man in space independently,…

Philippines to fight invading species

MANILA (AFP) – Like some bad science-fiction movie, Philippine fishermen are encountering strange alien creatures: tough, speckled fish with sharp spines that tear and rip their nets. These suckermouth catfish from South America are just one of a growing number of foreign species that are spreading in local waterways and…

Iran to ‘remove fuel’ from nuclear plant

TEHRAN (AFP) – Iran said on Saturday it is removing the fuel from the reactor of a Russian-built nuclear power plant, a move seen as a big blow to its controversial nuclear programme. The decision to remove the fuel from the reactor of the nuclear plant in the southern city…

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