Thursday, August 14, 2008


Army closes case on journalist’s death

JERUSALEM | The Israeli army has closed an investigation into the death of a Reuters cameraman in the Gaza Strip last April, clearing the tank crew that killed the young journalist of any wrongdoing and saying the soldiers will not face disciplinary action.

Reuters said it was “deeply disturbed” by the findings and was considering unspecified legal action, while Israel’s Foreign Press Association warned the army probe could encourage further violence against journalists.

The army found that troops acted properly when they opened fire on Fadel Shana, suspecting he was a militant preparing to fire a missile after he set up a tripod in a Gaza battle zone. Mr. Shana, 24, was killed instantly by a tank shell that sprays a hail of metal darts at its target. Four bystanders also died in the attack.


Bolivian opposition agrees to talks

LA PAZ | Bolivian opposition governors accepted an olive branch offered by President Evo Morales after a bitter nationwide recall election, saying Wednesday they will meet him for talks on solving the country’s political crisis.

After meeting among themselves in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, Leopoldo Fernandez, governor of Pando department, announced that the five leaders will travel to the capital La Paz for negotiations.

Mr. Fernandez said the governors are prepared to take part in a dialogue aimed at reaching “a national agreement.”

Just hours earlier the governors had been no-shows at the presidential palace, where Mr. Morales invited them for talks following the nationwide recall.

Bolivians overwhelmingly backed Mr. Morales in the referendum, reaffirming his mandate to upend historical inequalities and empower the country’s poor Indian majority. Two opposition politicians were among three governors ousted.


Experts open 10th mass grave

TUZLA | Forensic experts said Wednesday they had opened a 10th mass grave found near an eastern Bosnian village and that it may contain the bodies of up to 100 victims of the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

The remains of 30 to 40 people were revealed when the forensic team removed the first layer of soil at the grave in Kamenica, said team leader Murat Hurtic.

Experts have already exhumed about 3,370 victims killed in the Srebrenica massacre - Europe’s worst mass killing since World War II - in nine graves along the 7-mile road from Srebrenica to Kamenica.

In 1995, during the Bosnian war, Serb troops overran the town of Srebrenica, which the United Nations had declared a safe zone, and killed as many as 8,000 Muslim Bosniak men and boys.

The victims’ bodies initially were buried at other locations. But after the end of the war and international pressure to investigate and punish Bosnia’s wartime atrocities, the bodies were secretly moved in an effort to hide the crime.


Protests spread to Indian cities

SRINAGAR | Police jeeps drove through the deserted streets of a town in Indian Kashmir on Wednesday blaring warnings from loudspeakers that residents would be shot if they broke a curfew imposed after 16 people were killed in the riots that have rocked the restive Himalayan region.

The violence, which has roiled Kashmir since June 23 when Muslims and Hindus began a series of protests over a plan to transfer land to a Hindu shrine in India‘s only Muslim-majority state, also spread to other parts of India.

The extreme measures in Kishtwar town come a day after tens of thousands violated the blanket curfew to attend the funeral of a prominent separatist leader shot by police. Kishtwar is some 155 miles north of Jammu, the region’s only majority Hindu city.


Chavez supports ban on candidates

CARACAS | Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is defending a decision to prevent 272 officials from running in November’s local elections.

Mr. Chavez said a news media campaign has portrayed the officials as “the best.” But he says that really they are “thieves” who “need to be in prison.”

Last week, Venezuela’s Supreme Court upheld the Comptroller General’s decision to bar the candidates from running on suspicion of corruption.

Those blacklisted include key Chavez opponents, who have protested in the streets.

But Venezuela’s National Electoral Commission officially closed registration for the candidates on Tuesday.

Mr. Chavez said that the uproar over the disqualifications is the “work of the Empire,” a reference to the United States.


Lugo makes deal for ruling majority

ASUNCION | President-elect Fernando Lugo has reached a deal with a leading opponent that will give him a governing majority in Paraguay’s Congress as his five-year term begins on Friday.

Elected with about 41 percent of the vote in a three-way race that ended 61 years of authoritarian leadership by the Colorado Party, the former Catholic “bishop of the poor” needs the help of his opponents to get anything done.

He appears to have found it in retired Gen. Lino Cesar Oviedo, who was once jailed for coup-plotting and who came in third in the presidential race. Gen. Oviedo’s opposition party, the National Union for Ethical Citizens, holds 9 seats in Congress.

Together with the 14 seats held by the Lugo-allied Authentic Liberal Radical Party - itself a diverse coalition of leftists and conservatives - the new president will have the advantage he needs against 15 Colorado lawmakers in the 45-member senate.


Government to expel U.S. deserter

MONTREAL | The Canadian government has ordered the expulsion of a U.S. soldier and his family after he deserted to Canada and sought refugee status for opposing the war in Iraq, a support network said Wednesday.

“U.S. Iraq war resister Jeremy Hinzman was told today that his family’s application to stay in Canada has been rejected,” the War Resisters Support Campaign said in a statement.

The group described Mr. Hinzman, his wife Nga Nguyen and their son as the first Iraq war resisters to seek sanctuary in Canada. The parents have since had a second child, born in Toronto.

Another U.S. soldier who sought refugee status for opposing the war in Iraq was extradited to the United States on July 15 after his asylum request was rejected by Canadian authorities. He was the first U.S. soldier extradited since the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Mr. Hinzman served one tour in Afghanistan in a non-combat role, but when his unit, the 82nd Airborne Division, was ordered to Iraq he fled to Canada with his family, according to the support group.


Uribe eyes 3rd term as president

BOGOTA | Colombia’s popular President Alvaro Uribe is laying the groundwork this week to run for an unprecedented third mandate, but mystery remains whether he will vie with Ingrid Betancourt, a political rival he is credited with saving from leftist rebels.

Electoral authorities were examining a petition of 5 million names ahead of what was expected to be a formal move to change the constitution to allow Mr. Uribe to seek re-election in 2010, when his current term is up.

The president, Washington’s closest ally in Latin America, already had the constitution amended two years after he was first elected to office in 2002 to allow his re-election in 2004. Previously, the 1991 basic law had not permitted presidents more than a single four-year term.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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