March 22, 2013
italy
Bersani is called on
to form government

Italy’s center-left leader, Pier Luigi Bersani, was chosen Friday to form a new and viable government, which is badly needed to steer the country out of recession and get more Italians back to work.

The national elections last month produced no clear winner, but President Giorgio Napolitano said that Bersani, 61, was best positioned to create a government given “the most difficult circumstances” — a reference to the fact that the political leader has a comfortable majority in the lower house but that the Senate is split.

Bersani’s forces finished first in the elections, but he has ruled out a coalition with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative alliance, which would risk further alienating the voting base of Bersani’s Democratic Party.

But if he shuns Berlusconi, Bersani will need to win support from Parliament’s new third bloc, a populist, anti-euro movement founded by comic-turned-political leader Beppe Grillo.

Grillo has rejected a vote of confidence to support any established party. Still, some Grillo lawmakers broke ranks over the weekend and voted to back Bersani’s candidate as Senate speaker.

— Associated Press

russia
Trial opens of lawyer
who died in custody

Russia started the posthumous trial of a lawyer who died in custody in 2009 after accusing state officials of fraud, putting a dead man in the dock in a move supporters said was politically motivated and illegal.

The trial of Sergei Magnitsky on tax evasion charges got underway after the judge rejected a challenge from a court-appointed defense lawyer who said the state had no legal right to prosecute a dead person without his family’s consent.

Magnitsky, a lawyer who worked for Hermitage Capital Management, once one of the biggest investors in Russia, was arrested shortly after accusing Russian officials of stealing $230 million from the state through fraudulent tax refunds.

— Reuters

egypt
Raids, clashes hit
Brotherhood offices

Egyptian protesters clashed with President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood backers and ransacked three offices nationwide Friday as anger over allegations of beatings and power-grabbing boiled over into the largest and most violent demonstrations yet on the doorstep of the powerful group.

Anger erupted a week ago when Brotherhood members beat journalists and liberal and secular activists during a protest outside the group’s Cairo headquarters.

On Friday, three Brotherhood offices were ransacked by mobs in another Cairo neighborhood, in the second-largest city of Alexandria and in the Nile Delta city of Mahalla.

— Associated Press

south korea
Officials: Cyberattack
was not from China

South Korean officials said a cyberattack that froze networks at broadcasters and banks this week came from a domestic source and not China, contradicting an initial conclusion.

The malware code was from an Internet protocol address at Nonghyup Bank, one of the banks affected, that may have originated from abroad, the Korean Communications Commission said. The agency had said Thursday that the code came from China, amid speculation North Korea was responsible for the March 20 attack.

Confusion over the source of the attack highlights growing threats to cybersecurity, which a U.S. assessment this month listed as the intelligence community’s top concern, ahead of terrorism.

— Bloomberg News

Chinese leader bolsters Russian ties on first foreign trip: Chinese leader Xi Jinping emphasized the importance of relations with Russia as a counterweight to U.S. influence by visiting Moscow on
his first foreign trip as president. Although relations between Moscow and Beijing have rarely been smooth, they have improved in the past decade, and Xi highlighted this by signing energy, trade and political deals to strengthen mutual ties and secure more oil to fuel China’s growing economy.

Congo warlord transferred to international court: African warlord Bosco Ntaganda was taken from the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda and put on a flight to The Hague, where he faces trial at the International Criminal Court on charges including murder, rape and persecution during a rebel group’s reign of terror in eastern Congo a decade ago. U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry called the transfer “an important moment for all who believe in justice and accountability.”

32 refugees die in fire at Thai camp: At least 32 Burmese refugees died in a blaze at the Ban Mae Surin refugee camp in Thailand, officials said, adding that the fire, which destroyed about 100 thatch huts, was thought to have been started by a cooking mishap. More than 100,000 refugees live in Thai camps near the Burmese border, mostly members of Burma’s Karen minority.

— From news services

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