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China

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Chinese Space Flight


Three Chinese astronauts have undocked their spacecraft from an orbiting robotic module and are preparing to return to Earth on Thursday night.

China‘s Shenzhou 9 vehicle separated from the Tiangong 1 space lab Wednesday evening, according to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency. The mission’s three taikonauts, as Chinese astronauts are known, returned to Shenzhou 9 to begin the maneuver at 6 p.m. ET (6 a.m. Thursday Beijing time).

Source : Microsoft News (MSN)

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E3+3 Talks on Iran


The major E3+3 countries of the world (including the UK, US, China, France, Germany and Russia) will be meeting today in Instanbul with the Iranian Government once again to discuss and have an offer of an  assurance over any proposed nuclear programme that Iran may be conducting. This follows a meeting of the E3+3 at the UN General Assembly in September 2009. At that meeting Iran’s nuclear programme was found a matter of concern to the E3+3 countries as they said in their statement – those talks basically wanted to see Iran to implement all measures required by the IAEA and the UN Security Council and to build confidence that a exclusively peaceful nature nuclear programme was only being developed.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website has issued the following statement : “We welcome the fact that the Iranian government is ready to re-engage with the United Kingdom and other members of the international community on its nuclear programme.  These talks present a genuine opportunity to move things forward. The Iranian government has written to us to say it wants these talks to cover its nuclear programme.  The talks will be a demonstration of whether or not the Iranian government is really ready to do that”

The Oxford Research Group have said on their website about the risk of a conflict appearing greater than ever due to events in Iran and the arab world since the last meeting took place.ORG say’s in a statement about the talks that a negotiations between Iran and the member states of the E3+3 have proved elusive due to ‘a lack of political will, demonization, deep distrust and misunderstanding on all sides.’  They warn that if these talks fail, there could be the prospect of a military attack on Iran –  which they have previously published a  series of reports since 2006. Israeli itself is also poised to take action should Iran be planning such a programme (as discussed in their Global Security Briefing ‘The Potential for Israeli Military Action against Iran’s Nuclear Facilities’)

Below is the Foreign Office Minister Alistair Burt discussing his hopes for negotiations with the Iranian Government during the E3+3 talks today.

Syrian Update (from the BBC)


The current news from the BBC Internet News service concerning Syria

Heavy artillery fire has been rocking Homs, as Syrian troops step up an assault on the restive city.

A BBC correspondent there describes almost constant blasts, in the fiercest attack in the 11-month uprising.

US President Barack Obama said it was important to resolve the conflict without outside military intervention.

Meanwhile, Russia and China defended their veto of a UN draft resolution criticising Syria – a move that angered opponents of President Bashar al-Assad.

Later the US State Department said it had closed its embassy in Damascus and pulled out all remaining staff because of security concerns.

China monitoring calls with “Protest” word


BEIJING — If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive.

A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

A host of evidence over the past several weeks shows that Chinese authorities are more determined than ever to police cellphone calls, electronic messages, e-mail and access to the Internet in order to smother any hint of antigovernment sentiment. In the cat-and-mouse game that characterizes electronic communications here, analysts suggest that the cat is getting bigger, especially since revolts began to ricochet through the Middle East and North Africa, and homegrown efforts to organize protests in China began to circulate on the Internet about a month ago.

On Sunday, Google accused the Chinese government of disrupting its Gmail service in the country and making it appear as if technical problems at Google — not government intervention — were to blame.

Source : http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/22/world/asia/22china.html?_r=2

Editor comments that the above calls were made to the Beijing office of the New York Times and are not meant to be indicative of the the broader  public position on censorship in China

Sky News

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