Berlusconi notches another election in Rome
Media billionaire Silvio Berlusconi won a decisive victory Monday in Italy's parliamentary election, setting the colorful conservative and...
Media billionaire Silvio Berlusconi won a decisive victory Monday in Italy's parliamentary election, setting the colorful conservative and staunch U.S. ally on course to his third stint as premier.
The victory in voting Sunday and Monday by parties supporting the 71-year-old Berlusconi avenged his loss two years ago to a center-left coalition.
This was Berlusconi's fifth consecutive national election campaign since 1994, when he stepped into politics from his media empire, currently estimated to be worth $9.4 billion. He has fended off challenges to his leadership by conservative allies, withstood accusations of conflict of interest and survived criminal trials linked to his business dealings.
During his last time as premier, Berlusconi served a record-setting five years until his 2006 defeat. He made notable international gaffes as well as unpopular decisions at home, such as sending 3,000 soldiers to Iraq despite widespread opposition among Italians.
The Iraq contingent was withdrawn after his 2006 ballot loss, and he has ruled out sending any more troops there. But his friendship with the United States is not in doubt.
São Paulo, Brazil
Massive new source of oil reported
A deep-water exploration area could contain as much as 33 billion barrels of oil, an amount that would nearly triple Brazil's reserves and make the offshore bloc the world's third-largest known oil reserve, a top energy official said Monday.
National Petroleum Agency President Haroldo Lima cautioned that his information on the field off the coast of Rio de Janeiro is unofficial and needs to be confirmed — but his comments sent shares of state-run oil company Petrobrás soaring in New York and São Paulo.
Petrobrás said more studies are needed to determine the potential of what could be the planet's largest oil find in decades. Analysts said the magnitude of the find, if confirmed, could have far-reaching global energy ramifications.
Lima told reporters that Petrobrás "may have discovered a huge petroleum field that could contain reserves as large as 33 billion barrels," amounting to the world's third-largest reserve, said his spokesman, Luiz Fernando Manso.
Brazil's current proven oil reserves are 11.8 billion barrels, according to the U.S. Energy Department. The U.S. has 21.8 billion barrels in proven reserves.
Torch procession goes without hitch
Thousands cheered and some danced with traditional daggers along the Olympic torch's path through Oman's capital Monday, a festive greeting that contrasted with disrupting protests elsewhere on the flame's global journey.
Under tight security, about 80 torchbearers ferried the flame down into the heart of this Persian Gulf sultanate's capital, passing alongside the old souk before winding along the edge of the Gulf coast against the backdrop of spectacular mountains.
The rare carnival-like atmosphere in tightly controlled Oman was a welcome respite for Olympic organizers seeking to avoid protests over China's human-rights record that marked torch stops in Paris, London and San Francisco.
Officials said they expected a smooth relay of the flame on the brief Middle Eastern leg of its 20-nation tour, warning any attempt to disrupt the parade would be dealt with severely.
Ivory Coast's long-delayed presidential election will be held Nov. 30, a top electoral official said Monday, setting a vote seen as a key step to restoring the West African country to a functioning democracy after a bitter civil war.
Seattle Times news services
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When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.