Party set for second vote
Center-left Democratic Party leader Pier Luigi Bersani is set for a run-off vote against young pretender Matteo Renzi, after millions of supporters chose their nominee for next year’s general election. With 40 percent of the votes counted from Sunday’s balloting, Bersani was in front with 44.3 percent support, followed by Florence Mayor Renzi with 36.3 percent, the organizing committee said. More than 4 million supporters took part in the vote, which will now head for a second round run-off on Sunday. A general election is expected in April with the winner of the center-left nomination one of the favorites to replace Mario Monti as the nation’s next prime minister.
Likud party extends primary
The ruling Likud party extended its primary to choose candidates for national elections scheduled for Jan. 22 into a second day after breakdowns yesterday in the computerized balloting system. About 123,000 party members are eligible to vote, according to Likud spokeswoman Noga Rappaport. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned that more extremist elements of the party may be strengthened by the vote, the Haaretz daily reported, citing unidentified associates of the Likud leader.
Wales, Cornwall flooded
More than 800 homes in England and Wales have been flooded as heavy rain and strong winds battered the country and environmental officials warned of more downpours to come. Two people have died since heavy rain began on Wednesday last week.
In a Twitter message, Prime Minister David Cameron described the scenes of flooding in Cornwall as “shocking,” and promised the government “will help ensure everything is being done to help.” Parts of the Cornish village of Millbrook were reportedly under 1.5m of water and 40 homes were evacuated after torrents of muddy water swept through the village on Saturday, a BBC reporter said.
Utility worker behind blast
A natural gas explosion that injured 18 people and damaged 42 buildings in the entertainment district of Springfield, Massachusetts, was blamed on Sunday on a utility worker, who accidentally punctured a high-pressure pipeline while looking for a leak. State Fire Marshal Stephen Coan said the blast in one of the largest cities in the New England states was caused by “human error.” He did not name the Columbia Gas Co worker who pierced the pipe while responding to reports of a gas leak. The worker damaged the underground pipe while using a metal probe to locate the source of the leak, Coan said. A flood of gas then built up in a building that housed a strip club and some kind of spark touched off the blast, officials said.
Street named after Romero
A Roman Catholic archbishop assassinated in 1980 for speaking out against brutal government repression got a special honor on Sunday, with the dedication of a key new avenue in his name. Monsenor Oscar Arnulfo Romero Street, a new boulevard in the west of the capital city, connects the city with Santa Tecla. “Today we once again pay public tribute to the man who died so that thousands and millions could live,” President Mauricio Funes said in a ceremony inaugurating the new street.