Iraqis vote in delayed provincial polls
BAGHDAD, 20 JUNE: Iraqis in two Sunni-majority provinces voted under heavy security in delayed provincial polls today as the country grapples with a surge in nationwide violence and months of protests. The polls, postponed for two months in Anbar and Nineveh provinces due to security concerns, come amid a long-running political deadlock and are seen as a key gauge of politicians’ popularity ahead of general elections next year. afp
France sets deadline for Google
PARIS, 20 JUNE: France today threatened Google with a fine of up to 1,50,000 euros ($1,98,000) if it does not bring its privacy procedures into line with French law on data protection within three months. In a move that France hopes will be followed by other European states, the national data protection agency Cnil said the US Internet giant had failed to provide it with sufficient assurances about the storing and use of data it obtains from users. afp
Thick haze sweeps through Singapore
SINGAPORE, 20 JUNE: Smoke from forest fires in Indonesia has choked Singapore, prompting the authorities here to take precautionary measures following the worsening pollution level in the city-state. The haze, blown from fires in Sumatra Island, hit Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia over the weekend and lifted air-pollution indexes. pti
6 Syrian heritage sites in danger list
PHNOM PENH, 20 JUNE: The Unesco today added six ancient sites in Syria, including a fortress of Saladin and a Crusader castle, to the endangered World Heritage list, warning that more than two years of civil war had inflicted heavy damage. afp
Russian hacker gets Putin aide ‘fired’
MOSCOW, 20 JUNE: Russia was embroiled in political mystery today after it emerged that an unidentified hacker had managed to fool the country’s main news agencies into believing that one of President Vladimir Putin’s closest allies had been “fired” from his post. News of Russian railways chief’s Vladimir Yakunin was flashed by the three main news agencies last evening after they had received an e-mailed statement looking very much like an official government Press release. The only problem was that neither the government nor the Kremlin had heard a thing about it and the statement was a fake. afp
Sopranos actor James Gandolfini dead
LOS ANGELES, 20 JUNE: Triple Emmy Award-winning actor James Gandolfini, best known for his role as mob boss Tony Soprano on The Sopranos, has died aged 51. Gandolfini died after a suspected heart attack in Italy, where he was to attend the 59th Taormina Film Festival in Sicily. He was scheduled to participate in a festival event this weekend with Italian director Gabriele Muccino, reported TMZ Online. pti