World in brief: Drought forces power outages
Caracas, Venezuela – Venezuela’s government imposed rolling blackouts of up to four hours every other day throughout the country on Tuesday to combat an energy crisis.
President Hugo Chavez has said rationing is necessary to prevent water levels in Guri Dam – the cornerstone of Venezuela’s energy system – from falling to critical lows and causing a widespread power collapse. Drought has cut the flow of water into the dam.
Nuclear physicist killed by bomb
Tehran, Iran – A powerful bomb blast killed one of Iran’s leading nuclear scientists Tuesday in a quiet northern Tehran neighborhood as he was leaving home for work, officials said.
Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, 50, was described by colleagues as a respected Tehran University nuclear physicist. Reformist Web sites and two students also described him as an outspoken supporter of opposition figure Mir-Hossein Mousavi.
Hard-line Iranian officials immediately blamed Israel and the West for the assassination.
U.S. to promote poppy alternatives
Kabul, Afghanistan – The U.S. has announced plans to invest $20 million to improve the Afghan government’s ability to promote agriculture reforms.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the Associated Press on Tuesday that efforts to steer Afghan farmers away from the opium poppy trade are key to the war effort.
Vilsack wants to persuade Afghan farmers to choose grapes, wheat and other legal crops over opium poppy.