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U.S. ships to leave Myanmar coast

A top U.S. military commander said American Navy ships off Myanmar’s coast will leave the area after failing to get the junta’s permission to help with cyclone relief efforts.

Adm. Timothy Keating said he wants the USS Essex and accompanying vessels to resume their previously scheduled duties on Thursday.

The ships were in the region for international exercises. Keating made them available to help with relief efforts for last month’s cyclone and they were deployed near Myanmar in case they obtained permission to enter the country’s waters.

But Myanmar allowed only limited U.S. military aid flights to the country, and barred the ships from approaching.

Keating said the U.S. made at least 15 attempts to persuade Myanmar’s leaders to allow ships to provide additional disaster relief.


U.S. deserters find support in Canada

Parliament’s lower house passed a nonbinding motion Tuesday allowing U.S. military deserters to stay in Canada, but the Conservative government was expected to ignore the vote.

The opposition parties banded together to bypass Conservative members and approve the motion to grant permanent residence status to deserters and their families.

There are thought to be about 200 American military deserters who have come to Canada to avoid service in Iraq.

Canadian immigration officials and the courts have rejected efforts to grant them refugee status, and several currently face deportation.

Kabul, Afghanistan

McKiernan to lead Afghanistan troops

The U.S. general who led American troops into Iraq took command Tuesday of the 40-nation NATO-led campaign in Afghanistan.

Army Gen. David D. McKiernan took charge of the 51,000-member International Security Assistance Force from Gen. Dan McNeill, who will retire from the U.S. Army after 40 years.

Addressing a change of command ceremony Tuesday, McKiernan said he was “honored to walk alongside our Afghan brothers.”

“While today marks a transition in commanders, the mission must continue without missing a beat,” he said, listing security, reconstruction and development as the types of support that Afghanistan deserves. “Insurgents, foreign fighters, criminals and others who stand in the way of that mission will be dealt with.”

Dujiangyan, China

Police remove bereaved parents

Angry parents whose children were killed in an earthquake-stricken school shouted “Oh, my child!” and “Tell us something!” when police forcefully removed them Tuesday from a protest outside a courthouse.

The police action was the clearest signal yet that authorities are hardening their stance against the impromptu displays of public anger over the May 12 earthquake that collapsed schools and killed thousands of children.

The students’ deaths have become the focus for Chinese, both inside and outside the quake zone, fueling accusations about corruption in school construction. The brewing public anger has become a political challenge and threatens to turn popular sentiment against the authoritarian government.

Aggrieved parents and even rescuers have pointed to steel rods in broken concrete slabs that were thinner than a ball point pen. About 7,000 classrooms were destroyed.

“Oh, my child!” one woman wailed as officers took the arms of the parents gathered outside the courthouse. “Tell us something!” other parents shouted as they were led away. Their children had died in the Juyuan Middle School.


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