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THAILAND: Prime minister survives vote

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva survived a no-confidence vote Wednesday that was called after anti-government protests crippled the capital and 89 people were killed in street battles. Opposition lawmakers accused Vejjajiva of brutally suppressing the protests. He defended himself during debate in Parliament on Tuesday, promising an independent investigation into whether the army used undue force to clear demonstrators from Bangkok's streets. The lower house of Parliament voted 246-186 to reject the no-confidence motion against Vejjajiva, who needed at least 238 votes to survive the motion. Street clashes, grenade attacks and sniper fire killed 89 people and wounded some 1,800 over 10 weeks of protests in the capital.

IRAN: Getting tough on women's apparel

Authorities have begun police patrols in Tehran to arrest women wearing clothes deemed improper. The campaign against loose-fitting veils and other signs of modernism comes as government opponents are calling for rallies to mark the one-year anniversary of the disputed presidential election, and critics of the crackdown say it is stoking feelings of discontent. Hard-liners say improper veiling is a "security issue," and "loose morality" threatens the core of the Islamic republic. The interior minister has promised a "chastity plan" to promote the proper covering "from kindergarten to families," though the details are unclear. Tehran police have been arresting women for wearing short coats, modest veils and even when they were too sun-tanned. Witnesses report fines up to $800 for dress considered immodest. Some say the new measures are part of a government campaign of intimidation ahead of the election anniversary this month. The hard-liners have grown more influential since the vote, which led to months of anti-government protests that leaders saw as the biggest threat to the Islamic system in decades. Iranian women are obliged by law to cover their hair and wear long coats in public. During the reign of Western-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, bikinis and miniskirts were not uncommon.

BANGLADESH: 20 killed in Dhaka building collapse

The death toll from a building collapse in Dhaka rose to 20 as rescuers pulled more bodies from the rubble Wednesday, officials said. Rescuers traced four more bodies under the collapsed building but could not retrieve them, the official said, adding that the rescue operation might continue until Thursday. The five-story building collapsed late Tuesday onto an adjacent three-story tin-roofed house where more than 200 poor people lived. Some 21 people were rescued and taken to hospitals with severe injuries.


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