TRIPOLI, Lebanon

Fatal clashes erupt in streets over neighboring Syria’s war

Gunmen loyal to opposite sides in neighboring Syria’s civil war battled on Wednesday in the streets of a northern Lebanese city where two days of clashes have killed at least six people and wounded more than 50, officials said.

The Lebanese army fanned out in the city of Tripoli in an attempt to calm the fighting, with soldiers patrolling the streets in armored personnel carriers and manning checkpoints. Authorities closed major roads because of sniper fire.

LONDON

Two Aussie DJs apologize for impersonating queen

Two Australian radio disc jockeys apologized Wednesday after impersonating Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Charles in a prank call and getting a London hospital to tell them all about Kate Middleton’s condition.

The King Edward VII hospital in London acknowledged that the 2DayFM station made the hoax call in the early hours Tuesday — and that the hospital fell for it.

The 30-year-old Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant and is being treated at the hospital for severe morning sickness.

A woman using the often-mimicked voice of Britain’s monarch asked after the duchess’ health — and was told by a nurse that Kate “hasn’t had any retching with me and she’s been sleeping on and off.”

WASHINGTON

Experts’ report says NASA lacks direction, clear vision

NASA, the agency that epitomized the “Right Stuff,” looks lost in space and doesn’t have a clear sense of where it is going, an independent panel of science and engineering experts said in a stinging report Wednesday.

The report by a panel of the distinguished National Academy of Sciences doesn’t blame the space agency; it faults the president, Congress and the nation for not giving NASA better direction. At the same time, it said NASA is doing little to further the White House’s goal of sending astronauts to an asteroid.

In one withering passage, the panel said NASA’s mission and vision statements are so vague and “generic” that they “could apply to almost any government research and development agency, omitting even the words ‘aeronautics’ or ‘space.”‘

The space shuttles were retired in 2011. Few people are paying attention to the International Space Station, and U.S. astronauts have to rely on Russian spaceships to get there and back. Meanwhile, rocket-building is being outsourced to private companies.

PHOENIX

Dad: Missing girl in Mexico being treated for leukemia

The mystery surrounding the whereabouts of a sick girl with leukemia deepened Wednesday after her father said his 11-year-old daughter is being treated in Mexico and authorities considered bringing child neglect charges against the family.

Phoenix police have been looking for Emily since surveillance video one week ago showed the girl’s mother walking her out of Phoenix Children’s Hospital a day before the child was set to be released.

The girl underwent about a month of chemotherapy and had been treated for an infection that forced doctors to amputate her arm, police said. Doctors had inserted a tube through her chest to deliver medications through her heart.

Her mother unhooked the tubing from an IV and left with the girl, leaving her susceptible to infection.

– From news service reports