- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 3, 2006

ITALY

Berlusconi resigns; Prodi assumes post

ROME — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the longest-serving leader in postwar Italy, resigned yesterday to make way for a center-left government led by Romano Prodi that must re-energize a moribund economy.

President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi asked Mr. Berlusconi to remain on as caretaker prime minister during their 30-minute meeting at the Quirinale Palace.

After the meeting, Mr. Berlusconi returned to his private residence and told about 20 flag-waving supporters of his Forza Italia party that “everything is fine.”

RUSSIA

Armenian jet crashes with 100 aboard

MOSCOW — An Armenian passenger jet with 100 persons aboard crashed early today off the Black Sea coast shortly before it was to land in the Russian city of Sochi, Russian news agencies reported.

Wreckage from the plane was spotted not far from the shoreline, but no passengers or crew have so far been found, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported, quoting Russian Emergency Situations spokesman Viktor Beltsov.

The Airbus A-320, which belonged to the Armenian airline Armavia, disappeared from radar screens at about 2:15 a.m. local time, the RIA-Novosti agency reported. It was carrying 92 passengers — including five children — and a crew of eight, ITAR-Tass reported.

BRITAIN

Suicide linked to birth month

LONDON — People born in spring or early summer in the Northern Hemisphere have a 17 percent increased risk of committing suicide than those with birthdays in the autumn or early winter, researchers said yesterday.

They found that women born in April, May and June were 29.6 percent more likely to take their own lives, while men had a 13.7 increased risk.

“Our results support the hypotheses that there is a seasonal effect in the monthly birthrates of people who kill themselves and that there is a disproportionate excess of such people born between late spring and midsummer, compared with the other months,” Dr. Emad Salib, of Liverpool University, said in a report in the British Journal of Cancer.

CANADA

Prime minister mocked on signs

TORONTO — A mocking announcement about Canada’s prime minister, “Stephen Harper Eats Babies,” was flashed on electronic advertising signs on Toronto area commuter trains for several days, and technicians were still scrambling yesterday to get the signs fixed.

“Stephen Harper Eats Babies. Stephen Harper Eats Babies. Stephen Harper Eats Babies,” started to appear every three seconds across some light-emitting diode screens late last week. The signs usually carry transit updates and advertising spots.

“It appears that this was a case of electronic vandalism,” said Stephanie Sorensen, corporate communications and media specialist for the GO Transit commuter system.

AFGHANISTAN

20 ministers sworn in

KABUL — Twenty ministers of the new Afghan Cabinet were sworn in yesterday, the latest step in this war-racked country’s democratic revival after the fall of the Taliban regime.

President Hamid Karzai delivered the oath of office to the new ministers at the presidential palace in Kabul. Each placed their hands on a copy of the Islamic holy book, the Koran, and pledged to work for “the unity of Afghanistan.”

President Bush telephoned Mr. Karzai to congratulate him on the formation of his new Cabinet and to discuss anti-terror efforts, the Afghan president’s office said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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