- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Venezuela's congress sputters to a close
CARACAS, Venezuela — After his rise to power, populist President Hugo Chavez rewrote Venezuela's constitution and created the unicameral congress he hoped would transform Venezuelan society.But as its first yearlong session ended Saturday, reality fell far short of that goal.
Inexperience, infighting and indifference to the minutiae of lawmaking were blamed for the National Assembly's passing of only six minor laws — 94 short of their goal.
The result was a bitter defeat for Mr. Chavez, whose supporters control two-thirds of the 165-seat legislature. Chronic absenteeism among his Patriotic Pole coalition marred his efforts to build a "social revolution" for Venezuela's majority poor.

2 dead birds show virus in Canada
TORONTO — The potentially deadly West Nile virus has been detected in early tests of two dead birds found in the province of Ontario, which could mark the first time the virus has made its way into Canada.
Health Canada officials said yesterday they are conducting further tests on a dead crow found in the border town of Windsor, Ontario, in early August after preliminary tests showed the presence of the virus.
A blue jay found in Oakville, 15 miles west of Toronto, is also being examined after early tests showed signs of the virus.
West Nile virus is transmitted via mosquitoes after the insects become infected by feeding on the blood of birds that carry the virus.

13 mutilated, slain in Rio drug war
RIO DE JANEIRO — At least 13 persons died early Sunday in a war between rival drug gangs in a poor neighborhood here, police said. The bodies of the eight men and five women were found mutilated in an abandoned truck.
Investigators said they believe the deaths were part of an ongoing battle among rival drug gangs for control of the Quitungo favela.
More than a million of Rio de Janeiro's 5.8 million people live in favelas, poor neighborhoods which often begin as squatters' camps and where law enforcement is often weak or nonexistent.
Brazil has 24.9 homicides per year for every 100,000 residents, compared with 6.64 per 100,000 worldwide, according to the United Nations.

Weekly notes
Ralph Leroy, a German married to a Colombian woman, was kidnapped as he drove on a rural road in central Colombia over the weekend, civil authorities were quoted in news accounts yesterday as saying. The incident came as German Foreign Ministry representative Georg Boomgarden arrived in Colombia to negotiate the ransom of three other Germans kidnapped July 18. Millionaire balloonist Steve Fossett's bad luck continued Sunday as members of his backup crew were prevented from entering Brazil because they lacked entry visas. Blocked at Sao Paulo's Cumbica International Airport, the crew, including project manager Tim Cole, traveled on to Buenos Aires, where ithoped to obtain visas yesterday.

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