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Berlusconi wins confidence vote

Afghanistan

Four militants killed in attack on U.S. base

Four militants assaulted the gate of an American base in eastern Afghanistan on today, striking before dawn with rocket-propelled grenades and a vehicle packed with explosives, a police official said. He said the attackers were killed.

The attackers failed to breach the gate of the base in Panjshir province's Rakha district, though they did hit a security tower with a rocket-propelled grenade, said the provincial police chief, Gen. Mohammad Qasim Jangalbagh.

Three of the men attacked on foot, shooting, while a fourth detonated the explosives-laden vehicle outside the gate, Jangalbagh said. Two security guards were wounded, he said. He did not provide nationalities for the security guards.

washington

House votes to alter rules on coal ash

House Republicans pushed through legislation Friday that gives the states the power to regulate coal ash from power plants as if it were municipal garbage, pre-empting pending federal regulations that could be much tougher.

The vote on coal ash disposal was the latest of several passed by the GOP-controlled House that would shift authority away from the Environmental Protection Agency and reduce federal regulations that Republicans say are burdensome, hamper economic growth and cost jobs.

Other bills have dealt with toxic emissions from power plants, cement plants and incinerators. Like those bills, the coal ash bill is unlikely to be considered in the Democratic-controlled Senate.

Elsewhere

Britain: A British coroner on Friday ordered an inquest into the 2006 death of dissident former KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko. Litvinenko died in a London hospital after ingesting a radioactive substance. On his deathbed, he blamed then-Russian President Vladimir Putin for authorizing his poisoning.

Portugal: A judge has allowed captured American fugitive George Wright to leave jail and stay at his Portuguese home while he fights extradition to the United States, his lawyer said Friday. Wright must wear an electronic tag that monitors his movements, the lawyer said.

Times wires

Italy

Berlusconi wins confidence vote

In his narrowest escape yet, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi survived a confidence vote Friday, saving his government from collapse but leaving it all but incapable of legislating effectively.

With 316 for and 301 votes against, his center-right coalition won the vote. But it failed to secure a solid majority, making difficult for him to pass legislation aimed at protecting Italy from Europe's sovereign debt crisis. Had he lost, Berlusconi would have had to resign, marking the end of an 18-year political era in which the billionaire businessman shaped Italian politics in his own image, entwining the country's fate with his own.

Since 2009, the European debt crisis has felled governments in Ireland, Portugal and Slovakia, led to early elections in Spain and a Cabinet shuffle in Greece. Berlusconi has maneuvered to remain in power while promising to solve Italy's debt problems.

Berlusconi wins confidence vote

10/15/11 [Last modified: Saturday, October 15, 2011 1:14am]

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