Nations discuss natural gas cartel

TEHRAN, Iran - Russia, Iran and Qatar took their first serious steps toward forming an OPEC-style cartel for natural gas on Tuesday, a prospect that has unnerved energy-importing nations in Europe and the United States.

The three countries together account for 60 percent of the world's gas reserves, and Russia and Iran have both been accused of using their hold on energy supplies to bully neighboring countries. The European Union, which is heavily dependent on Russian gas, criticized the proposal, saying 'energy supplies have to be sold in a free market.'

Indian moon mission ready

NEW DELHI - Scientists have better maps of distant Mars than the moon where astronauts have walked. But India hopes to change that with its first lunar mission.

Chandrayaan-1 - which means 'Moon Craft' in ancient Sanskrit - was scheduled to launch from the Sriharikota space center in southern India at 8:20 p.m. Tuesday in a two-year mission aimed at laying the groundwork for further expeditions.

Chief among the mission's goals is mapping not only the surface of the moon, but what lies beneath. If the launch is successful, India will join what's shaping up as a 21st century space race with Chinese and Japanese crafts already in orbit around the moon.

Afghan student gets 20 years for questions

KABUL, Afghanistan - An Afghan appeals court overturned a death sentence Tuesday for a journalism student accused of blasphemy for asking questions in class about women's rights under Islam. But the judges still sentenced him to 20 years in prison.

The case against 24-year-old Parwez Kambakhsh, whose brother has angered Afghan warlords with his own writings, has come to symbolize Afghanistan's slide toward an ultraconservative view on religious and individual freedoms.

Protesters attack envoy

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Angry protesters in southern Taiwan assaulted an envoy from rival China on Tuesday, part of an escalating reaction by the pro-independence opposition to President Ma Ying-jeou's policy of greater engagement with Beijing.

The Harvard-educated Ma was elected in March after promising to turn the corner on pro-independence policies.