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Showing posts from February 22, 2013

Egypt's Morsi calls parliament elections in April

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's Islamist President Mohammed Morsi has issued a presidential decree calling for staggered parliamentary elections, starting April 27 and ending in June.

The decree, announced late Thursday, says the vote will take place in four stages and the new parliament will convene on July 6.

Since the ouster of longtime authoritarian leader Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising in 2011, Egyptians have gone through a series of referendums, presidential and parliamentary elections. The first elected parliament was disbanded by a court order last June.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as the country's dominant political group.

The call for the balloting comes as Egypt is in deep turmoil, bitterly divided between the fundamentalist Brotherhood and their backers on one side, and secular liberal political parties and youth groups on the other.

Guatemala: Probing reports drug lord may be dead

Associated Press/Damian Dovarganes, File - FILE - In this June 10, 1993 file photo, Joaquin Guzman Loera, alias "El Chapo" Guzman, is shown to the media after his arrest at the high security prison of Almoloya …more de Juarez, on the outskirts of Mexico City. Guatemalan authorities say on Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013, they are investigating whether a man killed in a shootout near the border with Mexico is most-wanted drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File) less


GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan authorities are mobilizing security forces to scour a remote, rural area where residents reported a gunbattle between drug gangs and said one of the dead resembled Mexico's most-wanted drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.

But officials stressed late Thursday that they had not yet found any bodies or even confirmed a shootout happened.

Interior Minister Mauricio Lopez Bonilla told The Associated Press that police and soldiers would begin…

Argentine Senate approves deal with Iran to probe 1994 bombing

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Argentina's Senate approved on Thursday an agreement with Iran to set up an international "truth commission" to investigate the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people.

The two governments reached the agreement last month on how to deal with the attack in which Argentine court authorities have accused Iranian officials, including the defense minister, of involvement. Iran has denied any link to the bombing.

Many Jewish groups in Argentina and abroad reject the accord, saying it gives credibility to Iran at a time when the United States is leading efforts to isolate the country over its disputed nuclear program.

Critics also say it is unconstitutional for the executive branch to get involved in judicial matters and that the international commission's findings could hurt Argentina's court case.

Senators voted 39-31 to approve the accord, with most of the political opposition voting against it. The bill will now pas…

Russia leases planes to Cuba, writes off Soviet debt

HAVANA (Reuters) - Russia will lease eight jets worth $650 million to its Cold War- era ally Cuba and will partially write off the country's multi-billion-dollar, Soviet-era debt under agreements signed during Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Havana on Thursday.

Moscow will write off part of the $30 billion debt and will offer a 10-year refinancing plan for the remaining amount, according to the preliminary agreement, Russia's industry and trade minister Denis Manturov told reporters on the sidelines of the talks.

"There was an accumulated debt on loans allocated by the Soviet Union and we have now prepared an agreement that should undergo all the necessary procedures," he said.

Manturov said the final decision on debt settlement will be signed by the end of the year.

Russia will also lease three Ilyushin-96-400 long-haul jets, three AN-158 regional planes and two TU-204SM mid-range aircraft to Cuba under the agreements inked in the presence of Medvedev and …

Venezuela's Chavez still suffers breathing trouble

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's cancer-stricken president, Hugo Chavez, is still suffering respiratory problems after surgery in Cuba two months ago, the government said on Thursday in a somber first communiqué since his homecoming this week.

Struggling to talk and breathing through a tracheal tube, the 58-year-old socialist leader is being treated at a Caracas military hospital after returning unseen before dawn on Monday.

Long accustomed to the drama and speculation over Chavez's health since cancer was first detected in June 2011, Venezuelans are now debating if he can recover and return to active rule, or may resign and try to ensure his vice president wins a vote.

Some think he may have simply come home to die.

"The breathing insufficiency that emerged post-operation persists, and the tendency has not been favorable, so it is still being treated," read the communiqué, in gloomy news for Chavez's millions of passionate supporters.

The short statement, read by Info…

10 Things to Know for Friday

Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about Friday:

1. WHO'S NOT BENEFITING FROM FLU SHOTS

This year's vaccine is proving startlingly ineffective in protecting older Americans—the most vulnerable age group.

2. DREW PETERSON GETS 38 YEARS IN PRISON

The sentence comes in an Illinois court after the ex-cop angrily denies killing his third wife.

3. WHAT SWUNG THE BALANCE IN HAGEL'S FAVOR

Alabama GOP Sen. Richard Shelby decides to back the defense nominee, giving him enough votes to win confirmation.

4. SEEKING BAIL, PISTORIUS FACES A HIGH HURDLE

His lawyers will have to prove there's an "exceptional" reason to free him before trial.

5. HOW TO FOIL DRONES

Among other tips, Al-Qaida is advising its fighters to use desert-grass mats to camouflage their vehicles.

6. DRAMATIC CAR CHASE SHOOTOUT ON THE VEGAS STRIP

Three people are killed and six injured in street violence that a tourist likens to "something out …

US gov't to air-drop toxic mice on Guam snakes

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam—Dead mice laced with painkillers are about to rain down on Guam's jungle canopy. They are scientists' prescription for a headache that has caused the tiny U.S. territory misery for more than 60 years: the brown tree snake.

Most of Guam's native bird species are extinct because of the snake, which reached the island's thick jungles by hitching rides from the South Pacific on U.S. military ships shortly after World War II. There may be 2 million of the reptiles on Guam now, decimating wildlife, biting residents and even knocking out electricity by slithering onto power lines.

More than 3,000 miles away, environmental officials in Hawaii have long feared a similar invasion—which in their case likely would be a "snakes on a plane" scenario. That would cost the state many vulnerable species and billions of dollars, but the risk will fall if Guam's air-drop strategy succeeds.

"We are taking this to a new phase," said Dani…

Huge car bomb targeting Damascus ruling party HQ kills 53

DAMASCUS, Syria -- A car bombing near Syria's ruling party headquarters in Damascus killed 53 people on Thursday, according to state media, while mortar rounds exploded near the army's central command in the city.

It was the third straight day of attacks on the center of the capital, among the deepest and fiercest on the heart of Bashar Assad's seat of power during the civil war.

The car bombing was the deadliest attack inside Damascus in nine months and within hours, two other bombings and a mortar attack on the military compound followed.

While no one group has claimed responsibility, the attacks suggest that rebel fighters who have gotten bogged down in their attempts to storm the capital are resorting to guerrilla tactics to loosen Assad's grip on the capital.

The day's deadliest attack struck a main street on the edge of central Mazraa neighborhood, near the headquarters of Assad's Baath party and the Russian Embassy, as well as a mosque, a hospital a…