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RUSSIA: 171 dead; Putin tours area

President Vladimir Putin moved quickly to address anger over the deaths of 171 people in severe flooding that inundated thousands of homes in the Black Sea region as many residents were sleeping. Putin, criticized for a delayed or seemingly indifferent response to disasters, flew to the region in the south and ordered the head of Russia's investigative agency to establish whether enough had been done to warn people about the floods. Federal prosecutors were investigating whether the population had been properly protected from "natural and technological catastrophes." Torrential rains dropped up to a foot of water in less than 24 hours, five times the monthly average. The water rushed into the town of Krymsk early Saturday with such speed and volume that residents said they suspected water had been intentionally released from a reservoir in the mountains. Officials said it was not technically possible to open the sluices.

GREECE: Coalition wins support

The new three-party coalition government won a vote of confidence in parliament early Monday. All 179 deputies of the three parties, conservative New Democracy, socialist PASOK and moderate leftist Democratic Left, voted in favor. The 121 voting against included deputies of Radical Left Coalition (Syriza), nationalist right Independent Greeks, the extreme right Golden Dawn and the Communist Party.

ISRAEL: Mossad accused in killings

A new book claims the spy agency Mossad sent assassins into Iran as part of a campaign to sabotage the country's much-debated nuclear program. The authors say Mossad sent Israeli operatives who killed four Iranian nuclear scientists, targeting them from motorcycles. In "Spies Against Armageddon: Inside Israel's Secret Wars," Dan Raviv and Yossi Melman say the hits are part of a series of regular missions deep into Iran. Iran has long blamed Israel, but media reports speculated Israel contracted outsiders. The authors say the missions were deemed too sensitive to farm out.


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