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Nation and world news briefs

TNS Regional News • Jan 21, 2014 at 10:33 AM

Here are nation and world news briefs distributed by McClatchy-Tribune News Service:


New Jersey’s lieutenant governor denies charges by Hoboken mayor

UNION BEACH, N.J. — In a forceful personal denial, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno said Monday that allegations that she tried to coerce the mayor of Hoboken to approve a redevelopment plan to benefit politically connected firms in exchange for Superstorm Sandy relief are “wholly and completely false.”

Speaking inside a fire hall in Union Beach before a day of service honoring the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., Guadagno said Dawn Zimmer’s accusation caught her by surprise.

“Mayor Zimmer’s version of our conversation in May 2013 is not only false, but is illogical and does not withstand scrutiny when all the facts are examined,” Guadagno said. “Any suggestion that Sandy funds were tied to the approval of any project in New Jersey is completely false.”

Zimmer claimed this weekend that the Christie administration threatened to withhold Sandy aid if she didn’t fast-track a politically connected real estate project. She said she didn’t come forward earlier because she feared no one would believe her.

—The Record (Hackensack, N.J.)


US eases sanctions, Iran halts some nuclear work as deal begins

WASHINGTON — Iran has started suspending some of its uranium enrichment as part of a deal between Tehran and world powers to rein in the nation’s nuclear program in return for the lifting of some economic sanctions, according to an international watchdog.

Negotiators for the nations said they will now begin working on a longer-term, more comprehensive agreement. The United States will send Undersecretary Wendy Sherman to meet her counterparts in Geneva on Tuesday to begin talks.

The International Atomic Energy Agency — the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog — reported that Iran had taken the initial steps it had committed to by Monday’s deadline as part of a joint plan of action between the nations.

950 (with trims) by Anita Kumar in Washington. MOVED

—McClatchy Washington Bureau


10 workers hurt, some killed in Omaha plant disaster

An industrial accident in Omaha, Neb., sent at least 10 workers to the hospital and killed some when an animal feed plant collapsed after an apparent explosion, officials said Monday.

Interim Omaha Fire Chief Bernie Kanger said at an afternoon news conference: “There are fatalities … we have moved to recovery mode.”

Earlier, Kanger said he was not sure how many workers might be trapped in the International Nutrition plant, where an explosion, fire and building collapse were reported about 10 a.m. CST.

—Los Angeles Times


Suicide attack kills 13 near Pakistan army headquarters

PESHAWAR, Pakistan —A suicide bomber struck near Pakistani army headquarters on Monday, killing at least 13 people, including six soldiers, in the second major attack on Pakistan’s security forces in as many days.

Eighteen others were wounded in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, police officials said, when a man riding a bicycle blew himself up as police tried to stop him near a military police checkpoint.

The Pakistani Taliban coalition of insurgents claimed responsibility just as they had for the previous day’s attack, when a bomb exploded inside an army base in northwest Pakistan as a convoy of security forces was preparing to depart for the volatile North Waziristan region. The area is located inside Pakistan’s tribal belt near the border with Afghanistan, where soldiers and paramilitary forces have been battling the militant organization.

At least 22 soldiers were killed and 30 others wounded, many of them critically, in Sunday’s bombing.

—Los Angeles Times


Talks founder amid clashes between Ukraine protesters, riot police

KIEV, Ukraine — Promised talks aimed at resolving two months of unrest failed to materialize Monday as antigovernment protesters clashed with riot police in Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, for a second day, with more than 200 people reported injured.

The violence follows weeks of largely peaceful demonstrations against President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision not to sign a free-trade and association deal with the European Union, choosing instead to pursue closer ties with Russia.

At least 61 police officers and 42 protesters have been hospitalized since Sunday, officials said. The injured also include at least 15 journalists, news reports said.

—Los Angeles Times


Mexican vigilantes say they will keep weapons until cartel bosses are arrested

LA RUANA, Mexico — A week after the federal government seized security functions in troubled Michoacan state, the organized crime group wreaking havoc in the state has gone to ground.

But the top three leaders of the Knights Templar gang remain at large, and the armed citizens militia that has put the gang on the run says it won’t give up its weapons until the leaders are caught.

“If they don’t capture these people, then we will remain armed,” said Hipolito Mora, one of the founders of the vigilante movement that began 11 months ago.

—McClatchy Foreign Staff


World’s richest 85 people have as much as half of globe’s population, Oxfam reports

BERLINE — The world’s richest 85 people control the same amount of wealth as half the world’s population, according to a report issued Monday by the British-based anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

That means the world’s poorest 3.55 billion people must live on what the richest 85 possess. Another way to look at it: Each of the wealthiest 85 has access to the same resources as do about 42 million of the world’s poor, a number equal to the populations of Canada, Kentucky and Kansas, taken together.

McClatchy Foreign Staff


Violence-torn Central African Republic gets new leader

JOHANNESBURG — The mayor of the Central African Republic’s capital was elected by lawmakers Monday as the country’s new interim leader, after the resignation of former rebel leader Michel Djotodia, who seized power last year.

Bangui Mayor Catherine Samba-Panza emerged ahead of seven other candidates vying for the post, including two sons of former presidents.

International human rights advocates hailed the choice of Samba-Panza, who is seen as independent and courageous.

—Los Angeles Times


Israeli Arab lawmakers heckle Canada’s Harper

JERUSALEM — Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was heckled on Monday by Israeli Arab lawmakers, one of whom stormed out, as he addressed the Knesset.

The angry response to Harper, who is considered a staunch supporter of Israel, came after he called campaigns to boycott Israel were the "new face of anti-Semitism."

Harper said it was "deplorable" that some in the international community still questioned Israel's right to exist.

He condemned what he said was "selective criticism" against Israel in international forums, such as the United Nations and the Human Rights Council, where he charged Israel was being "singled out."



Auschwitz museum offers educational program in Arabic, Persian

WARSAW, Poland — The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, a memorial to those killed in the largest of the Nazi death camps, on Monday expanded its educational program to include Arabic and Persian.

The program, which is accessible online, was previously available in English and Polish. Modules in Arabic, Persian, Spanish and Portuguese have been added to the website.

The move is an attempt to target countries in which Holocaust denial is common.

"Statistically, there are hardly any visitors from Arab countries or from Iran," says Andrzey Kacorzyk, the museum's director. "But it is especially in those countries that the Holocaust is doubted or used as political capital."


Distributed by MCT Information Services


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