Scientists and technicians applauded themselves Wednesday after successfully firing particle beams in both directions around the 17-mile Large Hadron Collider (LHC) under the Swiss-French border. The $3.8 billion LHC, the world's largest and most complex machine, was built to try ultimately to recreate – in miniature – the heat and energy of the so-called "Big Bang," which is thought to have occurred 15 billion years ago.

Once again, senior Russian officials warned that their nation's ballistic missiles "could" be aimed at the proposed US defense shield in eastern Europe. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, en route to Warsaw for consultations with Poland's leaders, accused them of "a mean action and a political mistake" in agreeing to allow American interceptor missiles to be based there. Poland, he said, "took revenge on us for having defended the Ossetians" last month.

Both sides in Zimbabwe's power-sharing negotiations appeared upbeat after a session with mediator Thabo Mbeki. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change told reporters, "There's been a positive development." He wasn't specific, but the official Herald newspaper suggested it had come in the matter of who should have the top post in government, Tsvangirai or President Robert Mugabe. The Southern African Development Community, which has been monitoring the situation closely, postponed what was to be a special meeting with Mbeki until Thursday.

Prices for future deliveries of crude oil were showing little fluctuation Wednesday despite the decision by OPEC to lop 520,000 barrels a day from its output. But the cutback will come in what is excess production, since members regularly have been pumping more than the cartel's daily quota of 27.3 million barrels, set last November. Investors need time to assess the significance of the cut, which won't immediately affect the global supply of oil, analysts said.

Ousted Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej's whereabouts were a secret as the ruling coalition in Thailand debated whether to try reelecting him when parliament votes on a successor later this week. Samak had yet to comment publicly on the ruling Tuesday by the nation's highest court stripping him of the post he'd held for just seven months. But sources close to him said he'd accepted it. The leader of the opposition Democratic Party was floating the idea of a unity government with himself as prime minister.

Some of the worst political violence in months flared in Bolivia Tuesday, deepening the rift between leftist President Evo Morales and autonomy-minded protesters in natural gas-rich eastern states. In the city of Santa Cruz, Army troops fired tear gas to try to keep protesters at bay but were chased back to their barracks. Some were beaten and had their weapons stolen. In Vilamontes, another city, the Army was ordered to guard gas pipelines against protesters bent on shutting off exports to neighboring Brazil.

Hope that any further survivors would be found was fading in China's Shanxi Province, where a massive tide of mud and mining waste buried much of the city of Tashan. At least 128 residents died when a dam holding back the waste collapsed under heavy rains Monday, sending a three-story-high surge onto buildings below. An unknown number of people remain trapped under the debris. The accident is the worst in China since the Olympic Summer Games.

At least four people were killed and 26 others were hurt as a strong earthquake followed by 10 aftershocks shook southern Iran. The magnitude-6.1 quake was felt as far away as Dubai, across the Persian Gulf, where frightened employees evacuated high-rise office buildings. But Iranian officials said they didn't expect heavy casualties or property damage because "houses in this region ... are resistant to earthquakes."

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