S. Africa to allow elephant killing

PRETORIA, South Africa - South Africa said Monday that it will start killing elephants to reduce their burgeoning numbers, ending a 13-year ban and possibly setting a precedent for other African nations.

Environment Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said the government was left with no choice but to reintroduce killing elephants 'as a last option and under very strict conditions' to reduce environmental degradation and rising conflicts with humans.

There will be no 'wholesale slaughter,' he told reporters.

The announcement follows months of impassioned debate, with some conservationists arguing for elephant killings to protect the ecosystem, and animal welfare groups outraged at the prospect of slaughtering one of the planet's most intelligent and self-aware creatures.

Iran atomic work may have continued

VIENNA, Austria - The U.N. nuclear monitoring agency presented documents Monday that diplomats said indicate Iran may have focused on a nuclear weapons program after 2003 - the year that a U.S. intelligence report says such work stopped.

Iran again denied ever trying to make such arms. Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, the chief Iranian delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, dismissed the information showcased by the body as 'forgeries.'

Pakistan takes out YouTube for many

NEW YORK - Most of the world's Internet users lost access to YouTube for several hours Sunday after an attempt by Pakistan's government to block access domestically affected other countries.

The outage highlighted yet another of the Internet's vulnerabilities, coming less than a month after broken fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean took Egypt off line and caused communications problems from the Middle East to India.

Police fire tear gas at Serb protesters

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Kosovo - Police fired tear gas to disperse a crowd of Serbs hurling rocks during a protest against Kosovo's independence at a border crossing near the capital Monday.

Some 150 Serbs chanting 'Kosovo is Serbia!' pelted ethnic Albanian police with stones and bottles that they brought with them in a truck to the crossing about 18 miles northeast of Pristina, Kosovo police spokesman Veton Elshani said.

Nineteen officers were injured, one seriously, before NATO peacekeepers helped bring the situation under control, he said.

Norway inaugurates 'doomsday' vault

LONGYEARBYEN, Norway - It's been dubbed a Noah's Ark for plant life and built to withstand an earthquake or a nuclear attack.

Dug deep into the permafrost of a remote Arctic mountain, the 'doomsday' vault is designed by Norway to protect the world's seeds from global catastrophe.

The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a backup to the world's 1,400 other seed banks, was to be officially inaugurated in a ceremony Tuesday on the northern rim of civilization attended by about 150 guests from 33 countries.

The frozen vault has the capacity to store 4.5 million seed samples from around the globe, shielding them from climate change, war, natural disasters and other threats.

Cypriot leader says divide could end

NICOSIA, Cyprus - The decades-long division of Cyprus could be resolved by the end of the year, the leader of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots said Monday.

The remarks came a day after Greek Cypriots elected Dimitris Christofias as president after he campaigned on a pledge to quickly restart long-stalled talks to reunify the island.

'It is very possible to find a solution by the end of the year,' Mehmet Ali Talat said.

Cyprus has been divided into a breakaway Turkish Cypriot north and a Greek Cypriot south since 1974, when Turkey invaded in the wake of a coup attempting to unite the island with Greece.

British plane diverts after co-pilot dies

LONDON - A British airline said Monday that one of its flights was forced to divert to Turkey after the co-pilot died in mid-flight. He died of natural causes, the airline said.

GB Airways said the Airbus A320, carrying 156 passengers from Manchester to Paphos in Cyprus, landed in Istanbul on Sunday after what was termed a medical emergency on the flight deck.

The co-pilot was pronounced dead once the plane had landed.

Pentagon predicts 140K troops in Iraq

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon is projecting that when the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq ends in July there will be about 8,000 more troops on the ground than when it began in January 2007, a senior general said Monday.

Lt. Gen. Carter Ham, operations chief for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that by July the troop total is likely to be 140,000. That compares with 132,000 when President Bush approved orders to send an additional five Army brigades to Iraq.