- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 1, 2002

Canada to boost social spending

OTTAWA Canada's Liberal government said yesterday that it would initiate several social programs and promised increased investment, but gave few details of where the extra money would come from.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien, announcing his plans for the new parliamentary session in the Speech from the Throne, promised to spend more money on health, children, natives and infrastructure. He also said tougher regulations would be introduced to fight corporate crime.

The speech delivered by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, representative of Queen Elizabeth, Canada's head of state pledged to keep the government budget out of deficit.

One of Mr. Chretien's main accomplishments was to eliminate the budget deficit of $42 billion (Canadian) he inherited from the Conservatives in 1993, and he repeatedly has promised not to go back to red ink. "We don't know how they are going to be able to finance all this," said Walter Robinson, head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Chavez urges backers to defy protest march

CARACAS, Venezuela President Hugo Chavez urged his supporters during the weekend to confront an upcoming protest march to demand his resignation.

"We must be ready to defend the revolution. At least 10 million must be ready to take the streets. They won't be able to stop us," Mr. Chavez said before a crowd of several thousand in Caracas on Saturday.

Government opponents have announced a big march for Oct. 10, "The Seizure of Caracas," to demand that Mr. Chavez, elected in 1998, step down. The president asked his supporters many wearing copies of his trademark paratrooper's beret to defy the planned march with pro-government rallies.

Rio drug gang tells stores to close

RIO DE JANEIRO Just a week before elections held amid discontent about endemic crime, hundreds of stores here shut yesterday after threats by a violent drug gang.

The closures were ordered by the "Comando Vermelho" and targeted tourist areas, such as Ipanema. "This shutdown order is strange, to say the least, coming one week ahead of general elections," said military police spokesman Maj. Frederico Caldas.

"We have deployed battalions in all affected areas and are investigating the origin of these orders, apparently aimed at causing panic," he said. Police said they arrested four persons caught issuing the orders to storekeepers.

Weekly notes

Chilean Sen. Sergio Paez has been elected president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union for a three-year term at its annual assembly, the IPU announced yesterday in Geneva. Created in 1899, the union has 144 national and five regional parliaments among its members. Mexico's army has charged two generals and a major in the killings of 143 suspected guerrillas and dissidents during the so-called dirty war of the 1960s and 1970s. A military court is to rule today whether there is enough evidence to hold retired Gens. Francisco Quiros and Mario Arturo Acosta and retired Maj. Francisco Javier Barquin for trial on homicide charges.

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