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Political Crisis

December 13, 2010 | By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
Perhaps it's only fitting during this holiday season that a child about to be born could be the agent of Silvio Berlusconi's political salvation. Italy's embattled prime minister faces a motion of no confidence in Parliament on Tuesday, and the count is so tight that if any one of three pregnant lawmakers who are expected to vote against him goes into labor beforehand, Berlusconi may survive by the skin of his teeth. Battered by sex scandals and the desertion of onetime allies, the 74-year-old media tycoon tried to rally support Monday, telling lawmakers it would be foolish to bring down his government at a time when the Italian economy is trying to tiptoe its way through the crisis engulfing the euro.
August 26, 2010 | By Ned Parker and Riyadh Mohammed, Los Angeles Times
Insurgents struck across Iraq on Wednesday, killing more than 50 people in bombing and shooting attacks. The violence hit 11 towns and cities from north to south and appeared timed to undermine confidence in the Iraqi army and police as the U.S. military ends its formal combat mission in the country. The attacks pointed to the enduring capabilities of militant groups when the U.S. military and Iraqi forces have depicted Al Qaeda in Iraq and its brethren as no match for the Iraqi army.
August 15, 2010 | Ned Parker and Raheem Salman and Saad Fakhrildeen, Salman is a staff writer in The Times' Baghdad Bureau, and Fakhrildeen is a special correspondent in Najaf.
Every day, the pilgrims gather in the alleyway leading to the home of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, hoping to be among the lucky few to get an audience with the austere Shiite spiritual leader. Political figures are whisked to the cleric's simple office, leaving a short time later with vague pronouncements about Iraq's direction. Even U.S. officials seek his help. Foreign Policy magazine recently reported that President Obama had sent a letter asking for Sistani's assistance in ending the months-long impasse over forming Iraq's next government.
June 28, 2010 | By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times
Mohammad and his gang are back. There may not be a Glock semiautomatic strapped to his waist anymore, but the terrifying mystique of the Mahdi Army still shrouds the Shiite Muslim militiaman like the menacing black uniform he once wore. Civil servant Haidar Naji remembers how Mohammad used to strut around his east Baghdad neighborhood like a mob boss, ordering him not to wear Bermuda shorts, too immodest and Western for his Islamic tastes. Naji changed into longer pants.
May 20, 2010 | By Mark Magnier and My-Thuan Tran, Los Angeles Times
Recent images of Thai army snipers shooting at anti-government protesters in front of a Louis Vuitton outlet during Bangkok street battles have shocked a world accustomed to postcard scenes of sandy beaches and splashing elephants. Yet even as the spotlight glares harshly on Thailand, analysts say neighboring nations suffer conditions similar to those that have fueled the political crisis in downtown Bangkok, although they've generally managed to keep them in better check and prevent them from becoming as combustible.
May 19, 2010 | By Borzou Daragahi, Los Angeles Times
When American tanks tore through her neighborhood, ripping up the roads as they uprooted a nation, she stayed put, refusing to move abroad like many of her wealthy friends. When the black-clad gunmen took over her religiously mixed west Baghdad neighborhood, turning it into a killing field, she wouldn't let them drive her out of the country she loved. And even when they killed her husband, gunning him down as he left work, she fought through her grief, staying in Iraq and hoping for better times.
May 7, 2010 | By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
Nigeria buried its president on Thursday and swore in his successor, Goodluck Jonathan, amid fears of a debilitating power struggle in the ruling party. Politicians hailed the smooth power transfer, but the death of President Umaru Yar'Adua on Wednesday night after a five-month illness could lead to infighting between northerners and southerners in the ruling People's Democratic Party should Jonathan, a southerner, decide to run for the presidency in elections due next year. Jonathan's candidacy would shatter an unwritten deal in the PDP that rotates the presidency for eight years to a leader from the mainly Christian south and eight years to someone from the mainly Muslim north.
February 24, 2010 | By Jim Spencer and Curtis Ellis
Oceans of ink, terabytes of blog space and an eternity of television time have been devoted to the latest object of media fascination, the "tea party" movement. Now (finally!), a poll conducted by CNN gives us some hard data on the Tea Party Nation. Neither "average Americans," as they like to portray themselves, nor trailer-park "Deliverance" throwbacks, as their lefty detractors would have us believe, tea partyers are more highly educated and wealthier than the rest of America.
February 21, 2010 | Times Wire Services
A furious dispute over the war in Afghanistan on Saturday brought down the Dutch government, bitterly divided over whether its forces should stay or go as NATO deepens its engagement against the Taliban. The fall of the government, two days short of the coalition's third anniversary, all but guarantees that the 2,000 Dutch troops will be brought home this year and will eventually prompt new parliamentary elections. The center-right government's collapse was also a sign of the difficulty President Obama faces in maintaining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization contingent in Afghanistan at full strength.
January 28, 2010 | By Ken Ellingwood and Alex Renderos
As a new Honduran president took office Wednesday, former leader Manuel Zelaya flew into exile in the Dominican Republic under a deal that ends months of turmoil since his ouster by the military last summer. Zelaya, accompanied by his wife, two children and President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, left Honduras just hours after Porfirio Lobo was sworn in as president. Under an arrangement brokered last week by Fernandez, Zelaya agreed to abandon the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, where he had holed up in September, and to leave the country once his term officially ended.
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