- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2006

CANADA

New leader boosts Liberals’ popularity

MONTREAL — Support for Canada’s Liberal Party has surged under its new leader, Stephane Dion, to the point where it would form the next government if an election were held soon, according to a new poll.

The EKOS poll for the Toronto Star and Montreal’s La Presse, published Saturday, indicated 40.1 percent of voters would choose the Liberals, who form the opposition in Parliament.

That puts them well ahead of the 33.5 percent support for the Conservatives, who rule with a minority government.

In the January election, the Conservatives under leader Stephen Harper unseated the Liberal minority government by garnering 36.3 percent of the vote versus 30.2 percent for the Liberals.

COLOMBIA

Journalist charged with terrorism

BOGOTA — A Colombian journalist has been charged with rebellion and terrorism for a series of bombings in 2002 — a move his news channel said was in response to his reporting on human rights violations.

Freddy Munoz, 36, was charged with participating in attacks on the electrical grid in and around the Caribbean coastal cities of Barranquilla and Cartagena, the chief federal prosecutor’s office said. No one was killed in the explosions.

Mr. Munoz works for the news channel Telesur, which is majority owned by the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez. Chavez critics in Colombia fear the station would tilt its coverage toward the country’s leftist rebels and against the right-wing government of President Alvaro Uribe.

CANADA

Pig farmer pleads not guilty to killings

VANCOUVER — A pig farmer accused of being Canada’s worst serial killer has pleaded not guilty to charges of killing women from Vancouver’s seediest streets.

Robert “Willie” Pickton, 56, who is accused in the deaths of at least 26 women, stood and softly said “not guilty” as each of the names of six of the women was read in court Saturday.

Newspapers and broadcast stations are barred from revealing details of the case until opening arguments on Jan. 8. What can be reported is that Mr. Pickton was arrested in February 2002, and health officials later warned neighbors who may have bought pork from his farm that the meat may have contained human remains.

Weekly notes …

Two U.S. pilots accused of playing a role in Brazil’s worst air accident left the country for the first time since the September crash that killed 154 persons, arriving in New York on Saturday to a crowd of relatives and friends. Joseph Lepore, 42, of Bay Shore, N.Y., and Jan Paladino, 34, of Westhampton Beach, N.Y., were piloting a small executive jet that on Sept. 29 collided with a Gol Airlines Boeing 737-800 over the Amazon jungle. The two men promised Friday to return to Brazil for their trial or when required by local authorities. … A daughter of hockey great Bob Gainey was still missing yesterday after she was washed overboard in the Atlantic during a storm while working on a sailing ship bound for the Caribbean. Laura Gainey, 25, was thrown from the 180-foot vessel Friday night.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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