- - Wednesday, October 24, 2012

LIBYA

BANI WALID — Libya's government on Wednesday took control of one of the last strongholds of deposed dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists, the government claimed, after fierce battles that left dozens dead and thousands displaced.

The capture of Bani Walid was a triumph for the government that replaced Gadhafi’s regime, but the fact that it took a full year underlined the fractious nature of the country and the new regime’s inability to impose its authority over squabbling tribes and heavily armed militias.

The victory could even spark new violence.

The government-backed militia that led the charge came from the city of Misrata, a longtime rival of Bani Walid, and recriminations could result.

JAMAICA

Hurricane Sandy heading to Jamaica

KINGSTON — Hurricane Sandy pounded Jamaica with heavy rain as it headed for landfall Wednesday near the country’s most populous city on a track that would carry it across the Caribbean island to Cuba, and a possible threat to Florida.

The island’s international airports closed, cruise ships changed their itineraries, and police ordered 48-hour curfews in major towns to keep people off the streets and deter looting as the late-season storm neared Jamaica’s south coast.

Police slowly drove through drenched communities in the capital of Kingston with their cruisers’ lights flashing.

The 18th named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season was forecast to make landfall in the vicinity of Kingston Wednesday afternoon and then spin on into eastern Cuba overnight.

CHINA

China set to OK new nuclear plants

BEIJING — China said Wednesday that it is ready to approve new nuclear power plants as part of ambitious plans to reduce reliance on oil and coal, ending a moratorium imposed after Japan’s Fukushima disaster last year.

The government said it hopes to generate 30 percent of China’s power from solar, wind and other renewable sources as well as from nuclear energy by the end of 2015.

That’s up from an earlier target of 15 percent from renewables plus 5 percent from nuclear by 2020.

The communist government is aggressively promoting wind, solar, hydro and other alternative energy sources to reduce pollution from coal plants and curb surging reliance on imported oil, which it sees as a national security risk.

The Cabinet on Wednesday passed plans on nuclear power safety and development that said construction of nuclear power plants would resume “steadily.”

Russia

Opposition denounces crackdown on dissent

MOSCOW — Russian opposition leaders urged President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to stop clamping down on dissent and warned they will ask Western governments to freeze assets of Russian officials involved in the spiraling crackdown on the opposition.

Alexei Navalny and other activists of the opposition’s Coordinating Council accused the Kremlin of unleashing a campaign of “direct and forceful pressure against its opponents in rude violation of Russian and international law.”

They pointed at what they said was the abduction of opposition activist Leonid Razvozzhayev from neighboring Ukraine as an example of the repression of dissenters.

The opposition leaders warned that government officials and law enforcement officers will face “imminent punishment for their crimes against Russian citizens.”

They said the opposition will hold a rally in Moscow in support of Mr. Razvozzhayev and other jailed opposition members this weekend.

Russia’s top investigative agency formally charged Mr. Razvozzhayev on Tuesday with orchestrating riots.

Germany

Memorial dedicated to Gypsy ‘Holocaust’

BERLIN — Germany opened a long-awaited memorial Wednesday to the hundreds of thousands of Gypsies, or Roma, who were killed by the Nazis in what one survivor called “the forgotten Holocaust.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck inaugurated the memorial at an official ceremony in Berlin’s Tiergarten park. Designed by Israeli artist Dani Karavan, it features a water-filled basin with a retractable, triangle-shaped column at its center that will be topped by a fresh flower every day.

Gypsies were subjected to racial discrimination from the early days of Nazi rule. Estimates of the number of Gypsies killed by the Nazis range from 220,000 to more than 500,000.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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