Libya rewarded in French deal

PARIS - Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi received encouraging words from France - and cut deals for $14.7 billion in contracts for armaments and a nuclear reactor - on his first official visit yesterday to a Western country after renouncing terrorism and doing away with weapons of mass destruction.

President Nicolas Sarkozy described the contracts as rewards for Tripoli's improved behavior.

Gadhafi was long known as a sponsor of state terrorism. But his country began moving back into the international fold with its 2003 decision to dismantle its nuclear-arms program. The same year it paid $2.7 billion to families of the victims of the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, then agreed to pay $170 million to families of 170 victims of the 1989 bombing of a French passenger jet.

- AP

All in the family in Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - Cristina Fernandez was sworn in yesterday as Argentina's first elected female president, completing a rare husband-and-wife transfer of power that the nation hopes will ensure continued recovery from an economic meltdown.

Fernandez - whose husband, Nestor Kirchner, is credited with leading Argentina out of its 2001-02 economic crisis - vowed to increase his center-left economic programs, create jobs, and reduce high poverty levels.

In an hour-long inaugural speech, Fernandez, 54, demanded faster progress in court investigations of human-rights abuses during the country's 1976-83 dictatorship. Several South American presidents looked on, and thousands of supporters outside Congress waved blue-and-white Argentine flags.

- AP

Ebola deaths rise to 29 in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda - The death toll from a new strain of the Ebola virus has risen to 29, and the government warned against shaking hands and other close contact, health officials said yesterday.

The death toll was expected to rise, said Sam Zaramba, director-general of Uganda's health services. "We expect to see a moderate rise in new cases and deaths," he said. "But this strain of Ebola seems less virulent than ones we have seen in the past."

Ebola typically kills most of those it strikes. Experts say the Ebola subtype that sparked the outbreak is new. Although the outbreak began in August, the disease was not diagnosed until late November.

- AP

Elsewhere: .

Europe's

human rights court

refused to consider an appeal of a ruling that acquitted 16 people of criminal negligence in a cable-car fire in Austria that killed 155 people, including eight Americans, in November 2000.

Somalian pirates

who seized a Japanese tanker six weeks ago have threatened to kill the 22 crew members unless a $1 million ransom is paid, a maritime official said.

Britain unveiled

plans to generate enough electricity through offshore wind farms to power every home in the country by 2020, increasing production more than 60-fold and changing the look of its coastlines.