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INTERNATIONAL EDITION

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2011 108TH YEAR I ©2011 THE MIAMI HERALD

Mysterious blasts pose dilemma for Iranian leaders BY THOMAS ERDBRINK Washington Post Service

lis Gotsis has promised to fight the tax bills in court. He has also organized a group of electricians willing to reconnect — illegally — anyone who is cut off. “This thing on top of all the other taxes and salary cuts has made people snap,” Gotsis said recently. “It is the drop that made the glass full.” Many Greeks consider the new tax, which makes no exceptions

TEHRAN — A massive blast at a missile base operated by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps nearly two weeks ago was the latest in a series of mysterious incidents involving explosions at natural gas transport facilities, oil refineries and military bases — blasts that have caused dozens of deaths and damage to key infrastructure in the past two years. Iranian officials said the Nov. 12 blast at the missile base was an “accident,” and they ruled out any sabotage organized by the United States and its regional allies. The explosion on the Shahid Modarres base near the city of Malard was so powerful that it shook the capital, Tehran, about 30 miles to the east. Despite the official denial of foreign involvement in the latest blast, suspicions have been raised in Iran by what industry experts say is a fivefold increase in explosions at refineries and gas pipelines since 2010. Explaining the increased number of industrial incidents is proving to be a predicament for Iranian leaders, who do not want to appear vulnerable at a time when Israeli leaders have been debating military intervention against Iran over its controversial nuclear program. Officials have blamed industrial accidents for most the blasts, saying they were caused by such deficiencies as “bad welding” or “substandard manufacturing.” But media restrictions and the lack of independent investigations have made it hard to verify the claims. One oil expert said that increasingly strict sanctions prohibiting Western companies from maintaining key installations in Iran could also be to blame. “Now, many projects are finished by Iranian companies without observing safety standards,” said Reza Zandi, an Iranian journalist who specializes in energy issues. “There is clearly an increase in incidents in recent years,” said

• TURN TO GREECE, 2A

• TURN TO IRAN, 2A

MOISES SAMAN/NEW YORK TIMES SERVICE

Voters wait to enter a polling station in Cairo. At right, a man casts his ballot in Luxor. Below, women show their inked fingers after voting.

AP

EGYPTIANS FLOOD POLLING STATIONS BY HANNAH ALLAM McClatchy News Service

CAIRO — Defying predictions of violence and chaos, Egyptians came out in numbers Monday to cast ballots in the first elections since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak. Polls were slow to open in several districts because judges were late or ballots hadn’t arrived, but overall, voting unfolded smoothly and Egyptians said they didn’t mind the hours-long wait because, for the first time, they felt their vote would be counted. Mubarak’s regime was known for rigged elections and voter intimidation. “For the first time in my life, my voice will mean something,” said Mohamed Nassar, 36, a telecommunications manager, who spent hours in line at a polling site in Seyyida Zaineb district. “I’ll wait as long as it takes.”

AMR NABIL/AP

Election officials said turnout was far higher than expected, and that only minor violence such as fistfights had erupted at a few polling centers in Cairo. The capital, along with the port

city of Alexandria, and large Upper Egyptian towns, launched the first round of staggered parliamentary elections that are scheduled to end in March. After a particularly fitful

month that included a weeklong, deadly battle between security forces and anti-military protesters, it was uncertain right up until the eve of elections whether the polls would go on. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which has ruled Egypt since Mubarak resigned last winter, was dead-set on timely polls in order to stick with a road map that guarantees it exclusive control of the rocky transition period. The Muslim Brotherhood was the council’s primary backer in keeping elections on schedule, to the ire of liberal parties who would have needed the Islamists’ backing to force out the entrenched generals. But nothing would keep the group from its moment, and much of the voting Monday looked like • TURN TO EGYPT, 2A

Greeks balk at paying steep new property tax BY SUZANNE DALEY New York Times Service

NEA IONIA, Greece — Ioannis Chatzis is 86 and lives in a tiny, single room, surviving on a pension that is just enough to pay for food and care for his bedridden wife. But in its latest push to raise cash, the Greek government sent him a new $372 real estate tax bill, incorporated into his October electric statement.

Chatzis says he is being asked to choose between lights and paying for his wife’s medicines, since he can not afford both on his $720 a month pension. “This is how we are treated,” he said recently, his face a mixture of fury and despair. “I have nothing left to give. I will not be paying it.” Chatzis is far from alone in that vow, and it is not certain that the Greek government will do any-

In small-town India, car salesmen sell a dream BY TIM SULLIVAN Associated Press

BARABANKI, India — Out on the edge of town, a few steps from the railroad tracks and across the street from an emerald-green field that stinks of sewage, Sanjeev Saxena sits inside a signpost of a new Indian era. Occasionally, he glances up from his desk to see if anyone is coming through the door. He’s waiting to sell you a dream. It’s a dream about small-town prestige, and air conditioning in the brutal north Indian summer. It’s a dream that people never thought they’d see in India’s millions of villages, and of generations that once couldn’t imagine clawing their way into the middle class. It’s a dream that comes in 15 models and 35 colors. Financing is easily available. “I remember when cars were for rich people,” said Dharmendra Srivastava, 32, one of Saxena’s seven salesmen at the brightly

thing about the tax rebels. As the first due dates approach on the Greek government’s novel idea of linking electricity to tax payments, a growing resentment is settling over many parts of this country — one that some local officials believe could even shake its political stability. Already there are pockets of resistance popping up in dozens of areas, including this northern suburb of Athens, where Mayor Irak-

GOP candidates share complex relationships BY ASHLEY PARKER New York Times Service

lit dealership with the unwieldy name Bright4Wheel. “Today, everyone in India wants to have a car: the city people, farmers, everyone.” Little is changing modern India more than the spread of cars, a four-wheeled reflection of its economic transformation and a window into the aspirations of the new Indian middle class. The automotive metamorphosis has spread from the upperclass enclaves of India’s biggest cities to its countless Barabankis: once-quiet towns now spilling over with concrete buildings, crowded streets and clattering vehicles. Farmers and schoolteachers now buy cars. The Barabanki shopkeeper selling fluorescent tubes for 150 rupees ($3) apiece has one. The farmer-businessman with the one-room tire store has two. Saxena, with his smoker’s growl and graying comb-over,

Moments before the start of a recent presidential debate at Dartmouth College, Mitt Romney and Herman Cain flung open the doors to their closet-size green rooms and ran into Newt Gingrich. “Oh my God,” Gingrich marveled. “I’m looking at the ticket right now.” Then he went in for the kill. “I just don’t know how you’re going to feel about being vice president, Governor Romney,” Gingrich deadpanned. Was that gentle teasing among friends? Full-out mockery? Or was Gingrich taking a dig at Romney, whom he is now battling in the polls for the top of the field? Whether in private moments like this, recounted by a witness, or in front of millions of viewers at debates, candidates come bearing years of shared history, relationships — or grudges — just beneath the surface. So don’t always believe what you see. Politicians are, well, politicians, and their charm and

• TURN TO INDIA, 2A

• TURN TO CANDIDATES, 5A

PHELAN M. EBENHACK/AP

Rick Perry, left, and Jon Huntsman are perhaps closer than any other pair of candidates. INDEX

REPORT ALLEGES COVERUP IN RUSSIAN LAWYER’S DEATH, 3A

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SUICIDE CAR BOMBER KILLS 19 IN IRAQ, 6A

WITH EURO IN DANGER, EUROPE RACES FOR DEBT SOLUTION, BUSINESS FRONT

TEBOW LEADS BRONCOS TO OT WIN, SPORTS FRONT

THE AMERICAS............4A U.S. NEWS.....................5A OPINION........................7A COMICS & PUZZLES ...6B

11/29/2011 5:11:01 AM


THE MIAMI HERALD 29 NOV.2011