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Denying climate change 'is like saying moon is made of cheese'

US president Barack Obama has said denying climate change is like arguing that the moon is made of cheese.

Mr Obama issued a call for action on global warming as he addressed graduates of the University of California, Irvine. He said Americans should be determined to do "big things", despite the type of opposition he faces from Congress.

Taliban chop off fingers of 11 voters

The Taliban cut off the fingers of 11 people to punish them for voting in this weekend's presidential run-off, officials said.

The Taliban had warned people not to participate in Saturday's vote to choose a successor to President Hamid Karzai.

But seven million Afghans – 52% of the population – braved the threats and searing heat to vote, despite more than 150 attacks in which 50 people died.

"The insurgents who were defeated today cut off inked fingers of 11 voters in #Herat," Afghanistan's deputy interior minister Ayoub Salangi tweeted.

The gruesome incident took place in Herat Province after the men, mostly elders, returned home after casting their ballot.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb killed 11 people, including four election monitors.

Sediq Azizi, spokesman for the governor in the northern Samangan province, said a minibus hit an improvised explosive device, with the blast killing six women, one child and four men in the provincial capital Aybak.

Mr Azizi said four of the victims were employees of the country's election commission, which organised the vote.

In the election, Abdullah Abdullah, who emerged as the front-runner with 45% of the vote in the first round, faced Ashraf Ahmadzai, an ex-World Bank official. Both candidates vowed to sign a security pact allowing 10,000 US troops to remain in the country for two more years.

Ukraine in mourning for plane victims

Ukraine's new president declared yesterday a day of mourning and vowed to punish those responsible after pro-Russia separatists shot down a Ukrainian military transport plane, killing all 49 aboard.

It was a bitter setback for the Ukrainian forces – the deadliest single incident yet in their escalating battle against an armed insurgency that the government, backed by the US, insists is supported by Russia.

The downing of the plane drew condemnation and concern from the White House and European leaders.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko spoke firmly to glum-faced security officials at a televised emergency meeting, scolding the head of the country's SBU security service for "omissions" in measures to protect military aircraft. Mr Poroshenko called for "a detailed analysis of the reasons" for the lapse and hinted that personnel changes were imminent.

In a conversation with French president Francois Hollande, Mr Poroshenko said he hoped the EU would decide on further sanctions against Russia if what he called the illegal border crossings and the supply of weapons did not cease.

Nine crew and 40 troops were on board the Il-76 troop transport when it went down as it approached the airport at Luhansk.

In other fighting, five border guards were killed and seven wounded in the southern port of Mariupol when their vehicles were ambushed, the guards service said.

We must stay in EU to attract Chinese cash, warns Prescott

Investment in the UK will only remain attractive to China if the nation stays in the EU, former deputy prime minister, Lord Prescott, has warned.

The Labour politician accepted "fundamental changes" were needed to prevent further descent into a federal Europe but stressed the importance of access to the European market and its 450 million people.

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