- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 1, 2007

AUSTRALIA

Lights out to fight global warming

SYDNEY — The Sydney Opera House’s gleaming white-shelled roof was darkened last night along with much of the rest of Australia’s largest city, which switched off the lights to register concern about global warming.

Mayor Clover Moore, whose officials shut down all nonessential lights on city-owned buildings, said Sydney was “asking people to think about what action they can take to fight global warming.”

Organizers hope yesterday’s event — which about 2,000 businesses and more than 60,000 individuals signed up for online — will get people to think about regularly switching off nonessential lights, powering down computers and other simple measures they say could cut Sydney’s greenhouse-gas emissions by 5 percent this year.

VENEZUELA

Chavez orders a dry Easter

CARACAS — For beer- and whiskey-loving Venezuelans, Easter this year won’t be an alcohol-soaked drinking fiesta.

President Hugo Chavez has imposed a ban on alcohol sales during Holy Week in an attempt to reduce accidents and crimes, prompting a run on liquor stores.

The sudden, unprecedented measure confused many Venezuelans, who raced to stash up before Friday, thinking that would be their last chance to buy for more than a week.

Nearly a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries are reported every year during the Easter holiday, which authorities attribute largely to alcohol consumption.

SOMALIA

Shells rain down on embattled capital

MOGADISHU — Artillery fire and mortar shells rained down on Somalia’s capital yesterday, killing and wounding untold numbers of civilians as government and Ethiopian troops tried to wipe out Islamist insurgents.

The offensive, which started Thursday, has sparked the heaviest fighting in Mogadishu since the early 1990s. On Friday, insurgents shot down an Ethiopian helicopter gunship and mortar shells slammed into a hospital, leaving corpses piled in the streets and wounding hundreds of people.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said dozens of people have been killed since Thursday and more than 220 wounded, most of them civilians with bullet, grenade and other war wounds. But the fighting is so severe and widespread that bodies were not being picked up or even tallied. Hospitals were overwhelmed, with patients sleeping on floors.

NIGERIA

Gunmen kidnap British oil worker

LAGOS — Gunmen have kidnapped a British oil worker from an offshore oil rig in southern Nigeria, officials said yesterday, the latest abduction in the impoverished region.

Victor Akenge, the environment commissioner of the West African country’s Bayelsa state, said the kidnapping occurred overnight.

Nearly 70 foreigners have been taken in the oil-rich Niger River Delta since the beginning of the year, but most are released unharmed after a cash payment. A Dutch construction worker and two Chinese remain in captivity.

INDIA

Poachers kill rare lions, cub

AHMADABAD — Forest guards recovered the carcasses of two rare Asiatic lions and a cub believed to have been killed by poachers on the outskirts of their only natural habitat in western India, a wildlife official said yesterday.

Nine of the endangered lions have been killed in the past two months, raising fears for the future of the rare cats, said Bharat Pathak, Gir National Park’s conservation officer.

The poachers take the claws, bones and skulls, which are highly prized in traditional Chinese medicine.

BENIN

Legislative vote a plebiscite on president

COTONOU — Benin voted yesterday in legislative elections seen as a test for President Boni Yayi one year after he took office pledging to fight corruption in the impoverished West African country.

Some 4 million people are eligible to vote in the election that will choose 83 members of the legislature from among 2,158 candidates from 26 political parties and groups.

The vote is expected to measure support for Mr. Yayi, a former development banker and a virtual political unknown when he was the surprise winner of the presidential vote in March last year.

Elected with 74 percent of the vote, Mr. Yayi made economic growth and the fight against corruption among the major planks of his campaign.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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