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Zimbabwe Opposition, Now a Power in Parliament, Wins a Top Job

Jubilant opposition legislators in Zimbabwe’s parliament broke into song and dance on Monday after their candidate won the powerful position of speaker of parliament, defeating a nominee backed by President Robert Mugabe’s party, ZANU-PF.

The victory of the opposition candidate, Lovemore Moyo, by a vote of 110-98, underscored the opposition’s newfound control of parliament. Despite widespread attacks on its members, the opposition holds a majority in parliament for the first time since Zimbabwe achieved independence from white minority rule in 1980 — and now seems ready to wield that power.

The opposition’s rejoicing follows a grim period for the country since elections in March. Human rights groups say more than 100 opposition supporters have been murdered and thousands tortured and beaten by Mugabe’s state-sponsored enforcers. Opposition members of parliament, who feared until the moment of voting on Monday that Mugabe would somehow deprive them of their March victory, sang, “ZANU is rotten!”

Immigration Raid Detains Hundreds of Factory Workers

In another large-scale workplace immigration crackdown, federal officials raided a factory here on Monday, detaining at least 350 workers they said were in the country illegally.

Numerous agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement descended on a factory belonging to Howard Industries Inc., which manufactures electrical transformers, among other products.

As of late Monday afternoon, no criminal charges had been filed, said Barbara Gonzalez, an ICE spokeswoman, but she said that dozens of workers had been “identified, fingerprinted, interviewed, photographed, and processed for removal from the U.S.”

The raid follows a similar large-scale immigration operation at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa, in May when nearly 400 workers were detained. That raid marked a significant escalation of the Bush administration’s enforcement practices because those detained were not simply deported, as in previous raids, but were imprisoned for months on criminal charges of using false documents.

Responding to a Housing Crisis

As a wave of home foreclosures courses through the United States, some of the nation’s hardest hit cities think they have found a way to ease the blight left on their communities by the crisis.

Using taxpayer money and private money, Boston, Minneapolis, San Diego and a handful of others are buying foreclosed properties to refurbish and resell them to developers and homeowners in an effort to prevent troubled neighborhoods from sliding into urban decay.

The efforts so far have been on a small scale. But local officials say they can become an important pillar of any housing recovery with the help of $4 billion in federal grants that were part of a housing bill Congress approved in July.

The sale of foreclosed homes — not just to city governments but more broadly to investors and homeowners — contributed to a 3.1 percent increase in existing home sales in July, the highest level in five months, according to data released on Monday by the National Association of Realtors. That hardly means that the housing crisis is over, because the number of homes for sale climbed to another record level as more people put their homes on the market. But without buyers buying foreclosed homes at steeply discounted prices, the problem would be even worse.