Capsule’s return delayed
Bad weather is delaying the return of three astronauts from the International Space Station. The astronauts were scheduled to land in a Soyuz capsule in central Kazakhstan early today. But fog and freezing rain prevented Russian rescue helicopters from flying to the touchdown site. NASA’s Kevin Ford and Russians Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin will stay at the space station for at least another day. They’ve been in space for nearly five months. The astronauts had already climbed into their capsule and were waiting to close the hatch when Russian officials called off their departure at the last minute. Their return trip is now set for Saturday, when the weather is expected to be better. Three other astronauts will remain at the space station.
Judge to run government
Nepal’s chief judge was named head of an interim government in an attempt by the country’s main political parties to cure the paralysis and infighting that have blocked elections for months. Supreme Court Chief Justice Khilraj Regmi was sworn in as prime minister Thursday by President Ram Baran Yadav. An agreement signed late Wednesday night by leaders of Nepal’s four main political parties says Regmi will have an 11-member Cabinet and the interim government will hold elections by June 21. In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called it an “important political milestone.” She expressed hope for free and fair elections.
Drought crisis declared
A drought that is costing farmers millions of dollars each day is beginning to take a toll on New Zealand’s economy. Today, the government officially declared its most widespread drought in at least 30 years. Parts of the North Island are drier than they’ve been in 70 years and some scientists say the unusual weather could be a harbinger of climate change. There has been little significant rainfall in the northern and eastern parts of the country since October. Farmers estimate the drought has so far cost them about $820 million in lost export earnings.
Compiled from wire reports.