IRAN: Voting for a new parliament

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's name will be nowhere on Friday's ballots. But the voting for parliament seats will be very much about what's left of his final term in office. Voting for the 290-member parliament boils down to a contest between conservative groups that have turned against each other after crushing reformists in the upheavals that followed Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election in 2009. One bloc seeks to further diminish Ahmadinejad's stature; the other hopes to give him a rebound after he was humbled in a power struggle with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.


CHINA: Tibetan barred from award

An outspoken Tibetan poet, Tsering Woeser, said Chinese authorities prevented her from receiving a cultural award Thursday at the Dutch ambassador's residence in Beijing and are keeping her under virtual house arrest. Woeser said state security agents told her Wednesday they would not let her attend the low-key, private event to receive the Prince Claus Fund of the Netherlands award for courage in speaking on behalf of the rights of Tibetans. She told The Associated Press four or five security agents were stationed at her apartment building and she had to ask permission to go anywhere. China's annual legislative session starts next week, and the city's security tightens.


SEYCHELLES: Disabled liner reaches port

The stricken cruise ship Costa Allegra docked Thursday at Victoria, three days after a fire broke out in the ship's generator room, leaving passengers without working toilets, running water or air conditioning. Cabin temperatures reached 100 to 110 degrees. "Things became very primitive," said Gordon Bradwell of Athens, Ga., a far cry from what he and his wife Eleanor had expected when they embarked on an $8,000 multiweek cruise. The Costa Allegra and the Costa Concordia, which hit a reef off Italy, leaving 32 people dead, were operated by Costa Crociere SpA, which is owned by Florida-based Carnival Corp.

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