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Lao Court Sentences British Woman to Life in Prison


LAOS - BRITAIN: A spokesman for the British Embassy says a court in Laos has sentenced a pregnant British woman to life in prison on drug trafficking charges. The spokesman says that during Wednesday's brief trial, a panel of judges found Samantha Orobator, 20, guilty of trying to smuggle 680 grams of heroin on a flight out of the country. Normally, anyone found with more than 500 grams of heroin in Laos would face the death penalty. Orobator was not given the maximum sentence because she is pregnant. She became pregnant while in prison.

OBAMA - MIDEAST: U.S. President Barack Obama has arrived in Saudi Arabia, his first stop on a trip aimed at reaching out to Muslims around the world. Mr. Obama flew into Riyadh Wednesday will hold talks with King Abdullah that are expected to center on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran's role in the Mideast, and rising oil prices. The U.S. president will then travel to Egypt Thursday to deliver a much-anticipated speech to the Muslim community, that will also address the Mideast peace process and the issues of religious extremism and violence.

BRAZIL - FRANCE PLANE: Brazilian Defense Minister Nelson Jobim says debris found in the south Atlantic is without a doubt from the Air France flight that disappeared this week with 228 people on board. Brazilian search planes spotted airplane seats, metal parts, and a jet fuel slick floating Tuesday about 1,000 kilometers off Brazil's northeast coast. Jobim says close examination confirmed the floating wreckage came from Air France Flight 447. There was no trace of any survivors. The big Airbus (-330) jet disappeared from radar early Monday, about four hours after taking off from Rio de Janeiro Sunday night on its way to Paris.

CHINA - TIANANMEN: China shut down Internet forums and social media sites, and security forces blanketed Tiananmen Square Wednesday, on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Witnesses say security has been visibly increased at Tiananmen Square, with black police vans parked nearby and plainclothes police patrolling the area. Journalist access to the square has been restricted. On June 4th, 1989, tanks rolled into Tiananmen Square before dawn to crush weeks of student and worker protests.

NORTH KOREA: India's newly elected lower house of parliament on Wednesday approved the country's first-ever female speaker. Meira Kumar, who is a member of the low-caste Dalit (or untouchable) community, is a five-term lawmaker from the impoverished eastern state of Bihar. She was nominated as speaker by the ruling Congress party, but emerged as a consensus candidate, with support from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and other groups. Political analysts say naming Kumar as speaker will work to the advantage of the Congress party on several levels.

INDIA POL: A senior American diplomat warned Wednesday that North Korea's nuclear test, barrage of rockets and preparations to launch a long-range missile have put it on the wrong path. Speaking with reporters in Seoul, Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said that he and officials in South Korea agree that they need to make it clear to the North that it must reverse course. Steinberg said that both Washington and Seoul want North Korea to return to talks on ending its nuclear weapons program.

BRITAIN - AL-QAIDA - AFRICA: Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown says there is "strong reason" to believe that an al-Qaida-affiliated group operating in Mali has executed a British hostage. Mr. Brown in a statement Wednesday condemned the apparent execution of Edwin Dyer as "appalling and barbaric." In a statement posted on a Web site, the group that calls itself Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb says it killed Dyer on May 31. Mr. Brown said he had discussed the case with Mali's president and vowed to work with allies to pursue those who use terror against British citizens.

MALAYSIA - DVD DOG: A DVD-sniffing dog named Paddy has helped Malaysia shut down six warehouses storing pirated movies and discs slated to be exported to Singapore. A statement late Tuesday from the U.S. Motion Picture Association says Paddy, a black Labrador dog, helped officials retrieve some 35,000 copies of games, software and movies in two days of raids. The statement said that officials originally believed that the warehouses that were raided were burner labs.

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