Four months after vote, parliament to convene
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) Afghanistans parliament will convene Jan. 20, more than four months after the fraud-tainted elections, the presidents spokesman said Monday, in what could be a step toward a more stable government in the war-wracked country.
Waheed Omar said the 249-seat parliament will be inaugurated after the winter break. The elections were held Sept. 18 and the results ratified by the Independent Election Commission on Nov. 24.
The ballot was plagued by irregularities and voter intimidation. Election officials discarded 1.3 million ballots nearly a quarter of the total for fraud and disqualified 19 winning candidates for cheating. The attorney generals office also launched a separate investigation into allegations of ballot manipulation.
The Afghan government is fighting for control of the countryside against insurgents led by the Islamic extremist Taliban.
President Lukashenko keeps grip on power
MINSK, Belarus (AP) The countrys autocratic President Alexander Lukashenko appeared to have quashed any immediate threat to his continuing rule, declaring Monday that he was the overwhelming winner of a presidential election that ended with a violent crackdown on reformists hoping for change.
No demonstrations occurred in the capital, Minsk, on Monday night, an indication that things were returning to normal in Belarus, one of the most authoritarian of the former Soviet states and which the U.S. once labeled Europes last dictatorship.
Lukashenko exercises overwhelming control over politics, industry and media in this nation of 10 million bordering Poland and the Baltic nations. The repression has been an embarrassment to the European Union, which offered $3.9 billion in aid to Belarus if the elections were judged to be free and fair.
Prime minister announces formation of new Cabinet
BAGHDAD (AP) Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki submitted his new Cabinet on Monday, clearing a hurdle to seating a government more than nine months after national elections even though serious disputes with one of his key allies remained.
Nearly one-third of the nominees were acting ministers, an attempt to buy time to work out disagreements about some of the posts with the hardline Shiite faction loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Without the Sadrists, al-Maliki would not have had enough support to try to build the government in the first place.
Parliament was expected to vote on the list of 42 ministers and other top government posts as early as today, said Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a member of the Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance that won the most seats in the March 7 election and, until this month, bitterly fought to prevent al-Maliki from keeping his job.
Dog gives birth to 17 puppies
BERLIN (AP) A dog in Germany has given birth to 17 puppies, leaving their owner thrilled but fatigued after having to feed them with a bottle for several weeks because their mother couldnt cope with the demand.
Owner Ramona Wegemann said Monday she barely slept for more than a couple of minutes without interruption during about four weeks in an exhausting struggle to make sure all of the purebred Rhodesian Ridgeback puppies would survive.
She said when she was finished feeding the last puppy, the first was hungry again.
Wegemanns dog Etana gave birth to eight female and nine male puppies Sept. 28 in Ebereschenhof, which is near Berlin.
At least five times a day, Wegemann gave the dogs a bottle with special milk because their mothers nipples could have never coped with the demand, and when the puppies were not hungry, they wanted to be entertained, she said.
Wegemann said when dogs give birth to so many puppies several of them die within the first week. But all of our puppies survived. This is incredible and wonderful, the 32-year-old said.