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House approves shipping to India

The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to allow U.S. shipments of civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India, handing President Bush a victory on one of his top foreign policy initiatives.

Rep. Tom Lantos said the proposal, which reverses decades of U.S. anti-proliferation policy, is “a tidal shift in relations between India and the United States.”

The House approved the measure 359-68. The Senate has yet to vote on the plan.

For Bush to implement his accord with India, lawmakers must first exempt New Delhi from U.S. laws that bar nuclear trade with countries that have not submitted to full international inspections. Congressional action is needed because India built its nuclear weapons program outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.


Pilot error blamed in airplane crash

Russian air safety officials Wednesday blamed pilot error for the May crash of an Armenian airliner that killed all 113 people aboard when it went down in the Black Sea.

The pilots of the Airbus-320 operated by Armavia airline descended too low amid heavy rain and poor visibility on the plane’s approach to the airport outside the Russian resort town of Sochi, said Tatyana Anodina, head of the Interstate Aviation Committee.

Anodina said an automated system warned the two pilots the plane was too low but a last-ditch effort to gain altitude failed to prevent the May 3 crash, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.


Germany to release Holocaust files

Millions of Nazi files detailing the suffering and deaths of inmates at labor and concentration camps during the Holocaust will be opened to researchers under an agreement signed Wednesday by Germany and seven other countries.

Historians campaigned for years to overcome privacy concerns that restricted access to the more than 30 million documents in the vast, war-era archive to Holocaust victims and their relatives.

The accord was reached in April by the 11-nation governing body of the International Tracing Service, the arm of the International Committee of the Red Cross that oversees the archive in the western German town of Bad Arolsen.

Israel, the United States and Britain were among the nations that signed Wednesday, and three others are expected to do so by Nov. 1.


Rocket crashes in Kazakhstan

A Russian rocket that was to put 18 satellites in orbit crashed shortly after liftoff early today, the Interfax news agency reported.

The Dnepr rocket crashed about 15 miles south of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan but caused no injuries or damage on the ground, Interfax quoted Russian space agency deputy chief Yuri Nosenko as saying.

The rocket was carrying a Russian satellite and 17 from other countries, including the United States and Italy.

Interfax, citing an unidentified Mission Control official, reported that preliminary information indicated a problem occurred when the rocket’s third stage detached. RIA-Novosti and ITAR-Tass, also citing unnamed officials, said the engine shut off 86 seconds into the flight.


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Early exit polls show strong support to lift Ireland ban on abortion

UPDATED: 3:05 p.m.

Ireland’s referendum Friday represented more than a vote on whether to end the country’s strict abortion ban. It was a battle for the very soul of a traditionally conservative Roman Catholic nation that has seen a wave of liberalization in recent years.