Egyptian military ousts Morsi, pledges new elections


Following days of massive anti-government protests, Egypt's armed forces ousted elected President Mohammed Morsi, suspended the constitution and named a senior jurist as provisional head of state pending fresh elections.

The country's military chief, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, announced Morsi's ouster in a televised speech that sparked a celebration among the large crowd packing Cairo's Tahrir Square.

He was accompanied by a group of notables including Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Cairo's ancient seat of Muslim learning; Pope Tawadros, the head of Egypt's Coptic Church; and Nobel peace laureate Mohammed ElBaradei.

Adli Mansour, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, will become interim head of state, with the authority to appoint a prime minister and a mandate to organize fresh parliamentary and presidential elections, Al-Sisi said.




27 Die in strong quake in Indonesia


Indonesian emergency teams were looking for survivors of the magnitude-6.1 earthquake that hit the northern part of the island of Sumatra, leaving 27 dead and more than 200 injured.

At least six children lost their lives when the mosque they were inside collapsed in the town of Blang Mancung in central Aceh and where rescue teams found other children alive amid the ruins.

Rescue efforts have been hampered by the damage to roads providing access to the more remote areas, power outages and problems with the local telecommunications network.

"Some 1,500 buildings were damaged in the quake, including individual homes, mosques and government buildings, as well as several highways," said the spokesman for Indonesia's disaster management agency, Sutopo Purwo.




Brazil truckers maintain blockades despite court order


Brazil's truck drivers maintained their blockades on dozens of highways despite a court injunction ordering them to end the demonstration, which they have mounted in addition to the wave of popular protests undertaken in recent weeks over a wide range of grievances.

The truckers' protest, which began on Monday, continued in the states of Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Bahia, Espiritu Santo, Minas Gerais, Mato Grosso, Rio Grande do Sul and Santa Catarina, highway police said.

Authorities said that the truckers were blocking traffic with their vehicles on about 30 highways around the country.

The mobilization is designed to challenge a ruling by a federal court in Rio de Janeiro, which on Tuesday ordered an end to the blockades and the levying of a fine on the MUBC union of 100,000 reais ($45,000) for every hour that traffic remains blocked.




17 Die in U.S. drone strike, Pakistan says


Seventeen people were killed and two others wounded in a U.S. drone strike in the North Waziristan tribal area, Pakistani authorities told Efe.

The target of the overnight attack was a "Taliban center" in the Darpakhel zone, a member of the Tribal Agencies coordination body said.

The fatalities include Sher Khan, a commander of an Afghan insurgent group known as the Haqqani network, another official told Efe.

With thousands of fighters, the Haqqani network launches attacks on government and NATO forces in neighboring Afghanistan from strongholds in North Waziristan.




"Cuba will be free one day," dissident tells Euro lawmakers


Cuban opposition figure Guillermo Fariñas expressed confidence that "Cuba will be free one day" during his speech accepting the Sakharov Prize at the European Parliament three years after it was awarded to him but he was prevented from receiving it because Havana refused his request to travel abroad.

Fariñas, who received the prize from deputy speaker Giani Pitella, raised the diploma with his left hand and formed his right into a fist, a gesture that he said "symbolizes the force of the hope that democracy will one day get to the Cuban people."

The European Parliament, by bestowing the award, desired to recognize the Cuban journalist and psychologist for his work to defend freedoms on the communist-ruled island.




Bolivian president's plane diverted to Vienna


Bolivian President Evo Morales's official plane was diverted to Vienna and kept on the ground for more than 13 hours while it was searched overnight by authorities who suspected that former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden might be aboard.

The presidential plane was forced to land in Vienna around 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday because France and several other European countries refused to allow it to enter their airspace.

"This is not just a provocation against Evo Morales, but against Bolivia and all of Latin America. It is aggression against Latin America by some European countries," the president said.

Morales and his delegation, which includes Defense Minister Ruben Saavedra, took off Wednesday for Spain's Canary Islands, where they planned to refuel before continuing on to La Paz.




Mexican energy agency builds 8 power plants worth nearly $1.5 bn


Eight new power plants worth $1.45 billion are under construction in Mexico, the Federal Electricity Commission, or CFE, said.

The power plants will have total generating capacity of 1,749 MW and will boost the national power grid, the CFE said in a statement.

The biggest project is a $440 million combined-cycle plant in the central state of Morelos that will have 642 MW of generating capacity and is expected to go online in July 2014.




Belgium's King Albert II abdicates in favor of son


Belgium's King Albert II announced his abdication in favor of his son, Crown Prince Philippe.

"After reigning 20 years, I feel that the time has come to pass the torch to the next generation," said the king in a televised address.

Albert II emphasized that his 53-year-old son is well prepared to succeed him, and he said he will step down on July 21, Belgium's national day.

The king cited his age and health as the reasons why he had made the decision to abdicate.