- The Washington Times - Monday, January 29, 2007

AFGHANISTAN

Pelosi, Afghan ruler discuss troop needs

KABUL — President Hamid Karzai told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that his security forces need to be stronger during a meeting yesterday, days after the Pentagon extended the tour of 3,200 soldiers.

An Afghan official said Mr. Karzai stressed his desire for increased training and equipment for his country’s fledgling army and police forces. Mrs. Pelosi, of California, was visiting Afghanistan with six other congressional Democrats after stops in Iraq and Pakistan.

The Bush administration asked Congress last week for $10.6 billion for Afghanistan. About $8.6 billion would be for training and equipping Afghan police and soldiers and $2 billion would go toward reconstruction.

ISRAEL

First Muslim minister named to Cabinet

JERUSALEM — Israel appointed its first Muslim Cabinet minister yesterday, a step the minister said would help the country’s Arab citizens identify more strongly with the Jewish state.

“The first step has been taken, and this has given Israeli Arabs a feeling of belonging,” Galeb Magadla told Army Radio after the Cabinet ratified his appointment as a minister without portfolio.

Mr. Magadla was nominated by the Labor Party for a ministerial post after one of its members quit the Cabinet to protest the addition of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beitenu faction to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s coalition government in October.

VENEZUELA

Chavez denies plans to seize wealth

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez denied yesterday that his left-leaning government would seize private property — such as second homes or expensive cars — from the wealthy and called on Venezuelans not to fear his accelerated push toward socialism.

But Mr. Chavez also warned political opponents that “nothing would stop” the progress of what he calls “21st-century socialism,” saying a majority of Venezuelans want to gradually move away from capitalism.

“Nobody should allow themselves to be imbued with fear. If anybody should be scared, we should be scared of capitalism, which destroys society, people and the planet,” Mr. Chavez said during his weekly television and radio program “Hello President.”

BRITAIN

67-year-old new mom lied to fertility clinic

LONDON — The oldest woman to give birth deceived doctors to get the fertility treatment that let her have twins at age 67 last month, a Sunday newspaper said.

Carmela Bousada, who gave birth to twins Christian and Pau on Dec. 29, convinced a Los Angeles clinic that she was 55, the cutoff age for the facility’s in vitro fertilization program, Britain’s News of the World said.

“They didn’t ask for my age or my passport. I may look tired now, but before the births I did look slim and a lot younger,” the newspaper quoted Miss Bousada as saying.

BRITAIN

Bollywood star wins British reality show

LONDON — Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty clinched a public vote yesterday to win “Celebrity Big Brother” after her treatment on the British television show sparked an international furor over accusations of racist bullying.

Miss Shetty, whose victory will be seen as a triumph for racial equality, beat 13 other contestants, including those who were accused of tormenting her. “Are you kidding me?” gasped the 31-year-old Indian actress when she heard of her victory after 26 days cooped up in a special house under 24-hour surveillance.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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