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Comet caught on camera

BALTIMORE -- The operators of the Hubble Space Telescope say the orbiting observatory has snapped photos of an approaching comet.

The Baltimore-based Space Telescope Science Institute says the comet Ison is being called the "comet of the century" because it could be brighter than the full moon when it makes its closest pass by the sun in late November.

The institute says the pictures taken earlier this month show the comet slightly inside Jupiter's orbit, about 621.18 million kilometres from the sun. The institute serves as the science operations centre for the Hubble.

Hubble scientists say preliminary measurements show the nucleus of the comet is about 4.8 to 6.4 kilometres across. The comet was discovered in September by a Russian team.

 

Mom impregnates teen

LONDON -- A woman desperate for another child forced her 14-year-old daughter to get pregnant using syringes of donor sperm, a British judge said.

In a ruling reported for the first time Monday, High Court judge Peter Jackson said the mother had behaved in "a wicked and selfish way" that almost defied belief.

The judge said the woman, an American divorcee living in Britain with three adopted children, hatched the plan after she was prevented from adopting a fourth.

The scheme involved getting her oldest daughter to inseminate herself with syringes of sperm purchased over the Internet from a Denmark-based company, Cryos International.

The mother is now serving a five-year jail term for child cruelty.

 

Assisted suicide denied

DUBLIN, Ireland -- A paralyzed Irish woman who wants to die cannot legally commit suicide with her partner's help, Ireland's Supreme Court ruled Monday in a case that moved some in the courtroom to tears.

The seven-judge court said nothing in the country's Catholic-influenced 1937 constitution could authorize the deliberate taking of a life on humanitarian grounds. It said lawmakers could pass such a law to permit 59-year-old Marie Fleming to die at a time of her choosing, but no such statute existed yet.

Fleming, a former University College Dublin lecturer, who is unable to move from the neck down because of advanced multiple sclerosis, testified her life had been reduced to irreversible agony and she feared choking to death because she couldn't swallow.

 

Queen Beatrix signs off

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands -- The Netherlands' Queen Beatrix thanked her people Monday and urged them to support her son, Crown Prince Willem-Alexander, in a final address before she abdicates and he takes over as king.

Beatrix, 75, is to sign the papers enacting the once-in-a-generation change of royal titles this morning, the central moment in several days of festivities that are already underway.

"Now that my oldest son is to take over this fine and responsible job tomorrow, it is my deep wish that the new royal couple will feel themselves supported by your loving trust," the popular monarch said in a nationally televised address. Willem-Alexander's Argentine-born wife, Princess Maxima, will be queen.

 

Syrian PM survives attack

DAMASCUS, Syria -- Syria's prime minister narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the heart of the heavily defended capital Monday, state media said, laying bare the vulnerability of President Bashar Assad's regime.

The bombing, which killed several other people, highlights an accelerating campaign targeting government officials, from mid-level civil servants to the highest echelons of the Syrian regime.

State television said Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi was not hurt in the bombing, which struck his convoy as it drove through the posh Mazzeh neighbourhood.

 

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2013 A12

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