Far-leftist favored in primary runoff


Far-leftist favored in primary runoff

PARIS — Hard-left rebel Benoit Hamon is heading into France’s Socialist presidential primary runoff as a surprising favorite to beat probusiness pragmatist Manuel Valls. The Sunday vote is expected to realign France’s unpredictable presidential campaign. Hamon is the favorite in the runoff after leading in the first round with 36 percent of the votes. He has proposed a $800 a month ‘‘universal income’’ that would be gradually granted to all adults. Valls, a former prime minister who placed second with 31.4 percent, criticized Hamon’s ‘‘unrealistic’’ promises. (AP)


Berlusconi to face corruption charges

ROME — A judge on Saturday ordered Silvio Berlusconi to be tried on corruption charges, damping the former Italian premier’s hopes of running for office again after being sidelined by a tax-fraud conviction. Judge Carlo Ottone De Marchi set the trial to begin April 5 in Milan. The former three-time premier is accused of having shelled out millions of dollars plus expensive gifts to some 20 young women who attended parties at his Milan villa. (AP)


Drought aid sought for about 5 million

WARDER — Ethiopia is struggling to counter a new drought in its east that authorities say has left 5.6 million people in urgent need of assistance. UN humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien visited the region Saturday, saying that ‘‘these people are really struggling to survive.’’ Last year’s drought left 10.2 million people hungry and killed much livestock. For this drought, the government is appealing for $948 million from donor nations. (AP)


Thousands protest smog in frigid cold


ULAANBAATAR — Thousands of Mongolians stood in frigid weather Saturday for the second time this winter to protest the government response to smog that routinely blankets their capital. An estimated 7,000 people, many of them wearing air masks and gas masks underneath thick winter hats, braved temperatures that fell below minus 4. Standing in the city’s central Sukhbataar Square, they held black balloons and protest signs. (AP)