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Arnie's mercy for pimp killer

A woman who was 16 when she ambushed and killed her former pimp in a Southern California motel room has been granted clemency by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in his last full day in office.

Sara Kruzan, now 32, was sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole for the 1994 shooting death of George Gilbert Howard.

Calling her life sentence "excessive," Mr Schwarzenegger commuted Kruzan's sentence to 25 years to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Her clemency petition cited years of abuse and psychiatric reports saying she suffered from battered women's syndrome.

NASA listens for Mars probe

The Mars rover Spirit marks its seventh year on the red planet today.

Not only is it stuck in a sand trap, it hasn't communicated with Earth since March.

Nasa does not know whether Spirit is dead, but the space agency is diligently listening for it.

A pair of Mars orbiters has been making daily overhead passes hoping for a signal from Spirit, which became mired in sand in April 2009.

Meanwhile, its twin, Opportunity, is exploring a 300ft-wide crater.

Iran president sacks advisers

An Iranian pro-government website said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fired 14 advisers as part of an ongoing shake-up of his administration.

The report from mashreghnews.ir said Mr Ahmadinejad sacked the advisers a day earlier in an effort to help reduce the size of the government.

Those dismissals appeared to signal a rift at the top levels of the Iranian leadership, pitting the president against rival conservatives.

Vietnam opens new airport

Vietnam has opened a new international airport in Can Tho, hoping to welcome more tourists to the Mekong Delta.

Services began on New Year's Day and the runway is now long enough to accommodate large, long-haul jets, such as the Boeing 777.