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photo by British Red Cross


The family of a British woman missing after the New Zealand earthquake have spoken of their agonising wait to learn whether she was among the dead.

Susan Selway was in her fourth floor office in the Canterbury Television building, which was struck when tremors tore through the city of Christchurch on the South Island earlier this week.

Ms Selway, a clinical psychologist who celebrated her 50th birthday this month, was working in the building temporarily after her previous office was badly damaged in the last earthquake to hit the area in September.

Her husband, financial adviser Richard Austin, rushed to her workplace after hearing the news and waited all night with his brother David in the hope of seeing her walk out of the building alive.

Meanwhile, her father Malcolm Selway, 72, from Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, had just returned to Britain after a trip to New Zealand but took the first plane back there to look for his daughter.



US stocks finished with modest gains after the government reported a sharp drop in the unemployment rate. Information technology companies led stocks higher.

The Labour Department said that the unemployment rate dropped to 9% in January, the lowest rate since April 2009. But in a separate survey, the government said 36,000 new jobs were created last month, the fewest in four months.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 30 points, or 0.2%, to close at 12,092. The S&P 500 index rose 3 points, or 0.3%, to 1,310. The Nasdaq gained 15 points, or 0.6%, to 2,769.



Britain has called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to "listen urgently" to protesters as pressure for him to quit intensified.

Foreign Secretary William Hague delivered the message after tens of thousands of demonstrators again defied a government curfew to remain on the streets.

More than 50 people are now said to have been killed and thousands injured in five days of clashes between police and crowds demanding economic, social and democratic reform.

Efforts by Mr Mubarak to contain the crisis and prolong his three-decade reign appeared to be having little success. On Saturday evening he appointed former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as his new deputy, having dismissed his whole cabinet overnight.

But the army seems unwilling to intervene to quell the uprising, and the US and UK - long-standing allies of the president - have refused to back his regime. America is reviewing its multibillion-dollar aid package for Egypt in light of the violence.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opponent of Mr Mubarak, has returned to the country to join the dissidents but is believed to have been put under house arrest.

The Foreign Office has advised Britons against "all but essential" travel to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez, while extra diplomatic staff have been flown out to help those stranded. An estimated 30,000 UK nationals are in the country, but the majority are in the relatively safe Red Sea resorts.


photo fiannafail


Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen has announced he is standing down as leader of the ruling Fianna Fail party but will remain at the head of the country's government until the March general election.

After more than a week of political turmoil and a string of ministerial resignations, Mr Cowen said the election should be fought on policies not a leadership issue.

"I'm concerned that renewed internal criticism of Fianna Fail is deflecting attention from this important debate," Mr Cowen said.



Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Russia has stepped up its spying row with Britain, declaring the expulsion of a diplomat from its London Embassy as groundless and unfriendly.

Foreign Secretary William Hague announced that he had requested the diplomat's removal "in response to clear evidence of activities by the Russian intelligence services against UK interests".

The Kremlin responded with the tit-for-tat expulsion of a member of staff from the UK Embassy in Moscow.

The Russian foreign ministry issued a statement declaring itself the injured party, saying: "The British side took an unfriendly step the other day, having groundlessly declared one of our colleagues in our embassy in London persona non grata. We were forced to take an adequate corresponding measure."

The statement described Britain as the "initiator" of the row and voiced regret that it had come at a time when "encouraging trends" had been developing in Anglo-Russian relations.


The UN Security Council is meeting in an emergency session amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula and a North Korean warning of a "catastrophe" if South Korea goes ahead with a live-fire drill.

Russia called for the meeting, and Moscow wants the UN's most powerful body to adopt a statement calling on North Korea and South Korea "to exercise maximum restraint".

The North has warned of "catastrophe" if the South goes ahead with plans to conduct one-day, live-fire drills by Tuesday on the same front-line island the North shelled last month as the South conducted a similar exercise.

The US government is to sue BP for costs and damages resulting from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The firm is among eight companies named by the US Justice Department in a lawsuit filed in a New Orleans court.

On April 20, an explosion at BP's Deepwater Horizon rig killed 11 workers and led to the worst environmental disaster the region has ever seen.

The US administration is calling for the eight named firms to be held liable without limitation for all costs and damages under the Oil Pollution Act.

The lawsuit is also calling for the companies - which includes drilling rig operator Transocean and its insurer QBE Underwriting - to be held accountable under the Clean Water Act.

The US administration alleges that safety regulations were violated prior to the blast. It claims that the defendants failed to use the best available drill and neglected to adequately monitor conditions at the well.


The London court where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is due to appear at a hearing has been besieged by protesters and media.

Hundreds of people packed the busy road outside City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Photographers and cameramen from around the world made the small, staired entrance almost impassable. Dozens of police officers corralled a vocal and diverse protest behind metal fencing on the other side of the road.

A squad of officers helped celebrity Jemima Khan as she walked into court amid chaotic scenes to again offer a cash surety. Veteran journalist and campaigner John Pilger, who has also put up cash bail, pushed his way through the scrum.

Among those leading the protest were gay rights activist Peter Tatchell and Lindsey German of the Stop the War campaign group.


Scotland Yard has received the paperwork required to arrest WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, sources say.

A fresh European Arrest Warrant has been issued by the authorities in Sweden where he is wanted for questioning over claims of sexual assault.

Mark Stephens, who represents the 39-year-old Australian former computer hacker, said he would fight any move to extradite his client.

But the move means there is no longer any legal impediment to holding Mr Assange and making him appear before City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Mr Assange is believed to be in hiding in south-east England as the latest publications on his whistle-blowing website fuel global uproar.

Perran Berry British Paratrooper from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, Cpl. Perran Berry, 31, from New Zealand, takes part in an operation to search three compounds and look for weapons on July 1, 2008 in Salavat, Panjawi Province, Afghanistan. The 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment conducted a joint operation with Canadian-led Task Force Kandahar, U.S.-led Task Force Paladin, Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police ANP) in the village of Salavat in the Province of Panjawi to search three compounds, of which one was a mosque, to seize weapons and fight against the Taliban. According to the military, during the operation about ten Taliban were killed and 200lbs of explosives confiscated.


A British soldier who died in southern Afghanistan on Sunday may have been killed by friendly fire, the Ministry of Defence has said.

The soldier, from the 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, was shot while on patrol in the Nad-e Ali District of Helmand Province.

Initial reports indicate that his death may have been caused by an attack on an insurgent position by a US aircraft, an MoD spokesman said.

The spokesman said: "Further to the announcement of the death of a soldier from 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment in Nad e-Ali yesterday, initial reports suggest that the death was caused as a result of a friendly fire incident.

"The incident will be the subject of a full investigation; however, first reports indicate that an attack on an insurgent position by a US aircraft, requested by and agreed with British forces on the ground, may have been the cause.