- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2006


Communist official sentenced for graft

HAVANA — A Communist official long held up as an example of the island’s future leadership was sentenced to 12 years in prison for influence peddling, the party said yesterday.

Juan Carlos Robinson Agramonte, 49, a member of the ruling Politburo before being kicked out of the elite body and the party in April, pleaded guilty Friday during a trial in Havana, the official Granma newspaper said. Granma offered no specifics on what benefits were obtained or how Robinson used his influence to get them.

Cuba is striving to build up its younger leadership to take over for the original revolutionary leaders, many of whom are now in their 70s. President Fidel Castro will turn 80 in August, and his brother and constitutionally designated successor, Defense Minister Raul Castro, is 75.


Military convoys attacked; 1 killed

KANDAHAR — Attacks on two military convoys yesterday in southern Afghanistan left one dead and 13 wounded — including six Canadian soldiers — and the U.S.-led coalition warned that “significant fighting” lies ahead.

A suicide attacker detonated his explosives-filled car near a military convoy in the city of Kandahar, killing one and wounding nine, Afghan and coalition officials said.

Meanwhile, scores of British paratroopers were airlifted into the mountainous town of Sagrin in Helmand province before dawn yesterday to regain control after reports said the Taliban had seized it and massacred 32 civilians.


U.S. campaign in U.N. criticized

CARACAS — Venezuela condemned what it called U.S. diplomatic pressure against its bid for a U.N. Security Council seat, saying Washington is trying to lobby Latin American nations to keep Venezuela off the council because it would stand up to the Bush administration.

Maripili Hernandez, Venezuela’s deputy foreign minister for North America, said Tuesday that the United States “is worried that a small country like Venezuela can stand up to the empire with dignity and strength.”

Venezuela is competing with U.S. ally Guatemala for a regional seat. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John R. Bolton said Washington was pushing for Guatemala when asked yesterday whether Washington was encouraging countries not to back Venezuela.


Australians kill guard by mistake

BAGHDAD — Australian security guards protecting a trade delegation in Baghdad mistakenly opened fire on the bodyguards of the Iraqi trade minister yesterday, killing one and wounding three, witnesses said.

The incident could embarrass Canberra, which has been trying to improve trade ties with Iraq after Baghdad suspended dealings with Australia’s monopoly wheat exporter over large-scale kickbacks it purportedly paid to Saddam Hussein.

The shooting took place as the trade delegation left the offices of Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Soudani. Iraqi police and Interior Ministry sources said it appeared the Australians mistook the bodyguards, who were dressed in civilian clothes and armed with AK-47 rifles, for insurgents.


Students protest World Cup blackout

SHANGHAI — Students at a Chinese university set fires and smashed equipment in a protest over power cuts during soccer World Cup games, news reports and a school administrator said yesterday, in China’s second case of campus unrest in recent days.

The protests broke out last week at Sichuan University’s Jiang’an campus in the country’s southwest. Two Chinese-language news Web sites said that up to 9,000 students took part. An administrator said midnight power cuts were standard at the university to ensure students get enough rest.

Over the weekend, thousands of students smashed offices and set fires at Shengda Economics, Trade and Management College in a riot sparked by administrative changes that made their diplomas less prestigious.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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