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New government for Montenegro

PODGORICA, Montenegro - Lawmakers in Montenegro on Wednesday approved a new prime minister and his government after last week's resignation of veteran Premier Milo Djukanovic.

Igor Luksic's cabinet won support Wednesday from 46 deputies in the 81-member assembly. Opposition lawmakers voted no and demanded an early election.

Luksic, 34, an economics expert and former finance minister, is a close ally of Djukanovic, who ruled Montenegro for 20 years, steering the country to independence and EU membership candidacy. Luksic has said he will follow Djukanovic's course and boost reforms. - AP

Northern Ireland faces water crisis

BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Frustration and fears of disease mounted in Northern Ireland on Wednesday as 36,000 people were left without water, some for more than a week, after a deep freeze and a sudden thaw caused aging pipes to burst.

With reservoirs running low, water supplies were cut off in many towns and cities, and residents turned to emergency water tankers and bottled water for their cooking, cleaning, and drinking needs.

"It's been a nightmare," said James Lawson, a resident in Lisburn, near Belfast, who has gone without water for 13 days. "You can't wash, you can't eat because you can't wash your dishes. I think it's a fiasco," he told the BBC. Scotland said it was sending 42,000 gallons of bottled water to help out.

Northern Ireland's deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, called the situation "a grave crisis" and said people had been let down by their water supplier. The Northern Ireland government scheduled an emergency meeting for Thursday to discuss the crisis. - AP

China to rein in officials' revelry

BEIJING - China plans to crack down in the coming year on lavish parties and seminars organized by government officials, hoping to placate a public angered by corruption and accounts of sex- and booze-fueled fetes held at taxpayer expense.

Along with vast improvements in quality of life for most citizens, China's booming economic growth has led to an ever-larger gap between rich and poor and a surge in corruption that brings unwanted public criticism. The Communist leadership sees any public discontent as a threat to government stability.

Many of the parties made headlines this year, including some at which excessive drinking led to deaths of revelers. Other bashes were memorialized in a diary that ended up on the Internet - allegedly written by an official who was later arrested - chronicling casual sex, drinking, and under-the-table payments at parties. - AP


Russian Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin harshly reprimanded officials Wednesday over a winter-weather shutdown at Moscow airports that left thousands stranded for days, and he banned high-ranking officials from taking vacations until further notice. Icy rains covered runways and planes with a thick layer of ice over the weekend.