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Astronauts on 'lifeboat' amid threat of debris

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Six astronauts were forced to take refuge aboard the International Space Station's "lifeboat" pod Tuesday, bracing for the threat of a collision with floating space debris, the Russian space agency said.

The space junk narrowly missed the vulnerable orbiting station by just 820 feet Tuesday as astronauts were prepared to jump ship, the RIA Novosti news agency cited an official as saying.

The station -- a $100 billion project of 16 nations under construction about 220 miles above Earth since 1998 -- currently has two crew members from the United States, three from Russia and one from Japan.

Only 10 percent of all objects in Earth's orbit are satellites, while the rest is trash, an agency spokesman said.

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Livestock bill is passed, raising religious issues

AMSTERDAM (AP) -- The Dutch parliament passed a bill Tuesday that would ban the slaughter of livestock without stunning it first, removing an exemption that has allowed Jews and Muslims to butcher animals according to their centuries-old dietary rules.

If the law is enacted, religious groups say, observant Jews and Muslims would have to import meat from abroad, stop eating it altogether or leave the country.

If the Netherlands outlaws procedures that make meat kosher for Jews or halal for Muslims, it would join Switzerland, the Scandinavian and Baltic countries, whose bans are mostly traceable to pre-World War II anti-Semitism.

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