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Sept. 18, 2011 at 9:09 AM   |   Comments

Iran paperwork delays U.S. hikers' release

TEHRAN, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Two U.S. hikers who paid $1 million bail won't be freed from prison in Iran because a judge is on vacation until Tuesday, their lawyer said Sunday.

A day earlier, lawyer Masoud Shafiee told reporters both Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer had each posted $500,000 bail to be released amid charges of spying and it was simply a matter of two judges signing off the bail arrangement. One judge signed the documents Saturday, he said.

However, it emerged Sunday the only Iranian judge who could countersign the release agreement was out of town on vacation until Tuesday, CNN reported.

Fattal, Bauer and Sarah Shourd were arrested in July 2009. The three were on a hiking trip in neighboring Iraq and told Iranian authorities they didn't realize they had crossed the unmarked border.

They were arrested, charged with spying and jailed. Shourd was released last year for undisclosed medical reasons although she still faces charges, the report said.

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Long investigation planned for Reno crash

RENO, Nev., Sept. 18 (UPI) -- An official says it will be months before it is known why a vintage World War II era airplane crashed in Reno, Nev., killing nine people and injuring 69.

"This is just the beginning of this accident investigation," National Transportation Safety Board member Mark Rosekind told KOLO-TV, Reno, Saturday night. He said the investigation could take six to nine months.

Investigators Sunday were collecting more evidence at the crash site of the Reno National Championship Air Races, KOLO said.

"It's pretty clear that at low altitude and high speed, the aircraft went nose up, climbed briefly and then nose over quickly, that's why it impacted," Rosekind said.

Investigators said a piece of the plane may have come loose from its tail, causing it to crash into the crowd Friday.

"We're aware of that and in fact a component has been recovered in the area of where that was observed, but I think it's critical at this point to know that we have not identified the component. It will be examined so we don't even know what the component is or if it even came from this particular aircraft," Rosekind said.

The husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. -- retired astronaut Mark Kelly -- was scheduled to fly in the air show, the Arizona Daily Star reported.

Kelly was scheduled to pilot the same type of World War II era plane that was involved in the crash. However, Giffords' spokesman Mark Kimble said Kelly was not at the event when the crash occurred.

Giffords was shot in the head during a public appearance in Tucson Jan. 8. and is undergoing rehab in Houston.


Israel: Palestinian statehood bid doomed

JERUSALEM, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- The pending Palestinian appeal to the United Nations for statehood was ridiculed Sunday by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

At a cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said he was confident the U.N. Security Council would turn down the statehood request in New York Friday, Haaretz reported.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to make the appeal in light of stalemated bilateral talks. Abbas has said if the Security Council turns him down, he'll repeat his appeal to the full General Assembly, which Netanyahu made a joke of in the Sunday meeting, the Jerusalem Post reported.

"It is possible to decide there that the sun rises in the west and sets in the east, and this would pass there," he said, "But it has neither the same weight nor the same importance."

In a conciliatory statement issued Friday, Abbas said the U.N. bid was meant to "delegitimize" the occupation of lands but not Israel as a state, the Post said.

Netanyahu said he would travel to New York this week to "to present our truth, which is that we are not foreigners and we have (land) rights going back 4,000 years."

He said any agreement with Palestinians would have to come from direct bilateral talks and not the United Nations.

"At the end of the day I believe that after the smoke clears the Palestinians will come to their senses and sit down for negotiations that will bring peace for us and our neighbors," he said.


9 dead, others missing in China landslide

XIAN, China, Sept. 18 (UPI) -- Hundreds of rescuers aided by heavy equipment worked their way through a deadly massive landslide in northwestern China Sunday looking for survivors or bodies.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported at least nine people died Saturday afternoon when the wall of mud and rocks slid down a mountainside and slammed into two factories in suburban Xian, the capital of Shaanxi province.

At least five people were injured and an unknown number of people were missing. Xinhua said local government officials initially said about a dozen people were missing but witnesses told the state-run news agency there could be dozens trapped.

The 2 p.m. slide that enveloped a brick factory and partially destroyed a ceramics plant, estimated at more than 100,000 cubic yards earth, was blamed on heavy rains, which were still falling.

About 700 people were involved in the search and recovery operation.

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