- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 24, 2010

CUBA

Attorney general out for health reasons

HAVANA | Cuba announced its second leadership shake-up of the month on Tuesday, replacing Attorney General Juan Escalona Reguera, who fought under Fidel and Raul Castro in the rebel army that toppled dictator Fulgencio Batista more than half a century ago.

A brief statement read on Cuban state television said Mr. Escalona Reguera, 78, was leaving his post for health reasons. He apparently remains a member of the Communist Party Central Committee.

Mr. Escalona Reguera’s replacement is Brig. Gen. Dario Delgado, who had been deputy attorney general.

On March 9, Cuba abruptly announced it had replaced another veteran revolutionary, Rogelio Acevedo, who had overseen its airlines and airports and as a teenager fought alongside the Castros and Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

GERMANY

Former Nazi hit man convicted

AACHEN | A German court on Tuesday convicted an 88-year-old of murdering three Dutch civilians as part of a Nazi hit squad during World War II, capping six decades of efforts to bring the former Waffen SS man to justice.

Heinrich Boere, No. 6 on the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s list of most-wanted Nazis, was given the maximum sentence of life in prison for the 1944 killings.

For Dolf Bicknese, it was the first time he had seen in person the man who killed his father in 1944 — but he said he felt little emotion staring Boere in the face.

GERMANY

‘Gang of retirees’ sentenced in kidnapping

BERLIN | Three German retirees who lost $1.4 million in the financial crisis and kidnapped their American investment adviser in an attempt to recoup the money were convicted Tuesday; their 74-year-old ringleader was sentenced to six years in prison.

Two couples, ages between 61 and 80, had invested their savings with James A., a financial adviser who worked out of offices in the U.S. and Germany, the Traunstein regional court said.

They received 12 percent annual interest for four years, according to the court. The returns diminished after the financial crisis.

Four of the five defendants pleaded guilty to charges including kidnapping and aggravated assault for abducting James A. from his home in the southern German city of Speyer in June.

ETHIOPIA

VOA airs by satellite after jamming

ADDIS ABABA | U.S.-funded broadcaster Voice of America is broadcasting its local Amharic language service to Ethiopia via satellite after the country’s prime minister ordered it jammed and sparked a diplomatic row.

Ethiopia holds national elections in May, and international press-freedom advocacy groups say the government is cracking down on the media before the vote. The government denies that.

“The international broadcasting agency launched this new means of transmission in order to overcome the jamming by the Government of Ethiopia,” the broadcaster said on its Web site Tuesday, adding that it started using satellite over the weekend.

KYRGYZSTAN

Western democracy unsuitable, leader says

BISHKEK | Kyrgyzstan’s President Kurmanbek Bakiyev said Tuesday that Western-style democracy has run its course in the ex-Soviet Central Asian country, prompting fears of a further decline in political freedoms.

Mr. Bakiyev told a national congress that democracy based on elections and individual human rights may no longer be suitable for Kyrgyzstan. He said “consultative democracy,” envisaging dialogues with influential social groups, would be more in keeping with his country’s traditions.

Western countries view continued stability as essential in Kyrgyzstan, which hosts a U.S. air base serving as a supply and transit point for operations in Afghanistan. Mr. Bakiyev was propelled to power by a 2005 popular uprising, but government critics say that since then he has gradually snuffed out virtually all semblance of opposition.

INDIA

Military to weaponize world’s hottest chili

GAUHATI | The Indian military has a new weapon against terrorism: the world’s hottest chili.

After conducting tests, the military has decided to use the thumb-sized bhut jolokia, or “ghost chili,” to make tear-gas-like hand grenades to immobilize suspects, defense officials said Tuesday.

The bhut jolokia was accepted by Guinness World Records in 2007 as the world’s spiciest chili. It is grown and eaten in India’s northeast for its taste, as a cure for stomach troubles and a way to fight the crippling summer heat.

It has more than 1 million Scoville units, the scientific measurement of a chili’s spiciness. Classic Tabasco sauce ranges from 2,500 to 5,000 Scoville units, while jalapeno peppers measure from 2,500 to 8,000.

R.B. Srivastava, director of the Life Sciences Department at the New Delhi headquarters of the Defense Research and Development Organization, said trials also are under way to produce bhut jolokia-based aerosol sprays to be used by women against attackers and for the police to control and disperse mobs.

MYANMAR

Suu Kyi opposes party joining elections

YANGON | Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is against registering her party for Myanmar’s upcoming elections because the ruling junta’s restrictions on the vote are “unjust,” her attorney said Tuesday.

Mrs. Suu Kyi was quoted as saying she would “not even think” of registering her National League for Democracy for the polls — which the government says will be held this year — but stressed she will let the party decide for itself.

The NLD won the last elections held in Myanmar, in 1990, by a landslide but was barred by the military from taking power.

VENEZUELA

Chavez critic held for ‘conspiracy’

CARACAS | Venezuelan authorities have jailed a former state governor and presidential candidate who accused President Hugo Chavez’s government of links to subversive groups in Latin America.

The detention of Oswaldo Alvarez Paz, a veteran of the opposition COPEI party but not one of Mr. Chavez’s most prominent foes, will fuel criticism that the Venezuelan leader is taking his nation down an increasingly dictatorial route.

Picked up at home Monday night, Mr. Alvarez joins a list of several dozen Chavez opponents now in jail, living in exile or facing probes in the South American oil-exporting country.

With the political atmosphere heating up before legislative elections in September — seen as a barometer for a 2012 presidential vote — Mr. Chavez says his opponents are increasingly breaking laws in their desperation to topple him.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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