Africa’s first elected female president pledged in her acceptance speech in Monrovia on Wednesday to end Liberia’s history of corrupt, brutal and male-dominated rule. Confirmed Wednesday as the winner of Liberia’s first postwar elections, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said her victory marked a new beginning for her country and for African women, whom she called on to help govern their own countries.
Belgium: Merkel courts the U.S.
Angela Merkel reached out Wednesday to the United States in her first foreign trip as German chancellor, saying it was time to heal the trans-Atlantic rift caused by Germany’s opposition to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Merkel met Wednesday with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Brussels.
Chile: Ex-dictator’s house arrest
Two days short of his 90th birthday, Gen. Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest Wednesday at his Santiago mansion for alleged tax evasion – not the thousands of deaths and disappearances for which opponents have long tried to have him imprisoned. Pinochet’s attorneys immediately appealed the ruling on grounds of his ill health, the same factor that has blocked earlier trials.
China: Toxins pollute city’s water
With temperatures dipping to minus 10, the frigid northeastern city of Harbin was digging 100 new wells Wednesday after shutting down its water system to protect residents from toxic benzene spewed into the Songhua River by a chemical factory explosion. Harbin, known abroad for its winter “ice lantern” festival, closed schools and was trucking in bottled water after suspending water supplies at midnight Tuesday.
From Herald news services