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Nuclear experts fault Japan

SEOUL, South Korea - Japan didn't properly protect its nuclear plants against tsunami risks before the March 11 disaster that caused radiation to spew from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, a preliminary report by international nuclear experts has concluded.

"The tsunami hazard for several sites was underestimated," according to a summary released Wednesday by a U.N. nuclear safety team probing the aftermath of a magnitude-9.0 earthquake that triggered a 50-foot-high wall of water, deluging the plant and causing power outages that caused the disaster to spiral out of control.

That miscalculation led to meltdowns in three of the facility's six reactors, which caused the release of harmful radioactive isotopes into the air, soil, and seawater.

The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency was compiled by nuclear experts from a dozen nations, including the United States, France, Russia, and China.

- Los Angeles Times

Swazi protesters seek U.S. help

MBABANE, Swaziland - Hundreds of teachers marched in Swaziland's capital Wednesday to deliver petitions to the U.S. and South African Embassies calling on their country's most important allies to push for democratic and economic reform in sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarchy.

Teachers and other civil servants have been restive since February, when the prime minister presented an austerity budget freezing government salaries for three years.

The teachers on Wednesday called on Washington to identify and freeze assets of prominent Swazis in the United States, charging that the money was looted from public funds.

They also asked South African President Jacob Zuma to help guide Swaziland to multiparty democracy. - AP

Power struggle escalates in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's parliament voted Wednesday to take Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to court over his takeover of the vital oil ministry, escalating a power struggle between the president and the hard-line establishment that has turned against him.

The 165-1 vote in the 290-member house was the latest salvo in maneuvering that began when Ahmadinejad publicly challenged Iran's supreme leader in April, only to back down. The power struggle comes ahead of parliamentary elections next year and the vote for the president's successor in mid-2013.

Lawmakers were infuriated when Ahmadinejad consolidated ministries without parliamentary approval, fired the oil minister, and named himself as the replacement.

It's unclear whether the vote will be followed by charges against Ahmadinejad, but it clearly pits him against a majority of lawmakers, including parliament speaker Ali Larijani, a leader of a rival conservative camp. - AP


Ethiopia's president said the government has commuted the death sentences of 23 high-ranking officials from the communist regime of dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam that was ousted in 1991. Mengistu lives in exile in Zimbabwe.