- - Monday, September 26, 2011

BOLIVIA

Defense minister quits to protest crackdown

LA PAZ — Bolivia’s defense minister resigned Monday in protest of a police crackdown on a march by indigenous groups opposed to a planned highway through a rain forest reserve.

“I do not agree with the intervention in the march, and I cannot justify the measure when other alternatives existed,” Cecilia Chacon said in a letter to leftist President Evo Morales.

Her action followed criticism of the police crackdown by the United Nations and human rights groups, and reports that Indian groups in the cities of Santa Cruz and Cochabamba were staging hunger strikes in protest.

Riot police on Sunday fired tear gas at marchers camped out near the northeastern village of Yucumo, rounded them up and forced them onto buses in an operation that left several people injured.

ARGENTINA

Security officials probe mysterious explosion

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s security ministry has an explosives team probing a mysterious blast that killed a woman and injured at least six other people in the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

The explosion occurred shortly after 2 a.m. Monday, destroying two houses, a business and several cars.

Some residents reported seeing a ball of fire fall from the sky right before the explosion.

Federal and provincial experts are not ruling anything out, but NASA has said that a satellite that fell to Earth sometime Saturday landed well clear of South America.

Provincial justice and security minister Ricardo Casal said experts “are evaluating all theories, from an explosion to something strange that came from the sky.”

JAMAICA

Prime minister to resign, says ‘challenges’ took toll

KINGSTON — Jamaica’s prime minister has announced he will not pursue a second term as Jamaica’s leader, possibly averting a rebellion from ruling party members that could have led to his ouster.

Bruce Golding had been expected to lead his party into the 2012 general elections. But on Sunday he said he would step down once a new leader of the Jamaica Labor Party is elected.

The announcement was made in a statement from the party, which said Mr. Golding informed its central executive of his decision at a quarterly meeting.

According to the statement, Mr. Golding said the “challenges of the last four years have taken their toll, and it was appropriate now to make way for new leadership … while mobilizing the party for victory in the next general elections.”

MEXICO

Large newspapers drop most sex advertisements

MEXICO CITY — Two of Mexico’s largest newspaper groups say they have stopped running most of the sex ads that once blanketed the back pages of popular tabloids.

The newspaper El Universal says it has banned “ads that could be used by traffickers of people.” It is part of an effort to combat what experts call a huge problem of exploitation of women and children in Mexico.

The newspaper Reforma also says it has canceled sex ads.

Both paper’s tabloid editions on Tuesday continued to run ads for what appear to sexually oriented phone chat services, but escort-style ads had disappeared.

Neither paper specified what guidelines they were applying in the ban, and some other papers continued to run escort ads.

CHILE

Three electrical blackouts hit country in three days

SANTIAGO — Chile is suffering its third major electricity blackout in as many days, prompting the energy minister to call for strong new investments in the country’s energy network.

Saturday’s blackout was the worst, affecting more than half of the country’s 17 million people. That was followed Sunday by a blackout around Chile’s port city of Valparaiso. On Monday, much of northern Chile lost power. The reasons remain unclear, but failures in the transmission grid are suspected.

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