- - Sunday, March 27, 2011

GERMANY

Conservatives lose key regional election

STUTTGART | Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives lost power in a regional stronghold Sunday, with early poll results showing the Greens, buoyed by Japan’s nuclear crisis, surging to their first state premiership.

In Baden-Wuerttemberg state, where anti-nuclear sentiment has been mobilized by Japan’s nuclear breakdown, the Greens and Social Democrats were set to win 47.3 percent, eclipsing the Christian Democrats (CDU) who held power there for six decades.

Mrs. Merkel’s CDU and their Free Democrat coalition partners, big backers of nuclear power, won a combined 44.3 percent, according to projections in the state of 11 million people.

Analysts said the loss would cause the chancellor some headaches in her party, with many disconcerted by recent policy decisions.

FRANCE

Socialists win local vote, while far right surges

PARIS| The opposition Socialist Party was the clear winner of French local elections Sunday, and the far-right National Front also scored highly in a blow to President Nicolas Sarkozy, a year before he faces re-election.

With more than 80 percent of votes counted, the left had 36 percent, double the ruling conservative UMP party’s 18.6 percent, the Interior Ministry said.

The National Front, which has surged in opinion polls under new leader Marine Le Pen, took 11 percent. If the anti-immigrant party had candidates running in every department, that level of support could have given it a score of 25 percent.

The elections to pick local councillors across half of France’s provinces were the last big test of sentiment before an April 2012 vote set to pit the unpopular Sarkozy against much stronger left-wing rivals and a surging far right.

ITALY

German pope prays at Nazi atrocity site

ROME | German-born Pope Benedict XVI prayed Sunday at the site where Nazis killed 335 Italian men and boys and denounced one of the worst atrocities of World War II as “the most horrendous form of evil.”

Benedict visited the Ardeatine Caves on Rome’s southern outskirts and prayed there together with Rome’s chief rabbi, Riccardo di Segni. Seventy-five of the victims were Jews.

On March 23, 1944, Italian partisans set a bomb on a narrow street, killing 33 German policemen who were part of the occupying powers in Rome.

In retaliation, a furious Hitler approved the murder of 10 Italians for each German killed and ordered that it should be carried out within 24 hours.

SWITZERLAND

Avalanche kills four; one skier still missing

GENEVA | An avalanche buried a group of French skiers in southern Switzerland on Sunday, killing four people and leaving one missing, Swiss police said. Five others were injured.

The search for the missing victim was called off for the night because of dangerous conditions, police said.

The avalanche happened on the 12,200-foot Mount Velan in the Pennine Alps near the Swiss-Italian border.

BRITAIN

Online abbreviations make Oxford dictionary

LONDON | OMG! LOL! The venerable Oxford English Dictionary approves of the three-letter, Internet-inspired expressions you use for “oh, my God” and “laughing out loud.”

It is adding them to the authoritative reference book’s latest online update.

You can now text the news to your BFF. That’s “best friends forever.”

All three expressions - and IMHO, or “in my humble opinion” - are among 900 new words included this week. Cracking the dictionary, however, is no easy task.

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