- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009


Chavez wants to ‘reset’ U.S. ties

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez said Saturday he hopes to “reset” relations with the United States at the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.

“I’ll be willing to press the reset button,” he said in a telephone call to Venezuelan state television from Iran. “I hope that will be the policy of President Obama.”

Mr. Chavez employed the “reset” metaphor that U.S. officials have been using to describe their efforts for better relations with Russia after years of tension under the Bush administration.


Girl killed during attack on police

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip | Israeli forces Saturday fatally shot a 16-year-old Bedouin girl who opened fire at a police base in southern Israel, security officials and medics said.

In the rare incident, the teenager opened fire at a guard post at the base and was gunned down by border police stationed there. No police were injured in the shooting.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the girl, a high school student in a Bedouin village in southern Israel, had been armed with a pistol. Tens of thousands of Bedouin, once desert nomads, live in villages across the Negev desert region of southern Israel.


62 migrants found dead inside truck

QUETTA | At least 62 people suffocated in the back of a truck packed with illegal migrants, but dozens were rescued unconscious after Pakistani police acting on a tip opened the vehicle Saturday near the Afghan border.

Rasool Bakhsh, a senior police official in the city of Quetta, said the shipping container the truck was carrying entered Pakistan from Afghanistan and was headed for Iran. He said most of the victims were Afghans. More than 100 people were packed inside the 40-foot-long metalcontainer, he said.


U.S. Navy fires Canadian’s lawyer

SAN JUAN, P.R. | A U.S. Navy lawyer who clashed with his superiors over defense tactics for a Guantanamo detainee has been fired from the case of a Canadian accused of killing a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, officials said Saturday.

Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, the Pentagon-appointed lawyer for Omar Khadr, was reassigned Friday following an internal probe into his conduct, according to Michael Berrigan, the deputy chief defense counsel at Guantanamo.

In his two years on the case, Cmdr. Kuebler campaigned for Mr. Khadr’s return to Canada to short-circuit a military tribunal system he described as unfair. Like all Guantanamo prosecutions, the case is on hold pending a review by President Obama’s administration.


Aid agencies ordered to register

MOGADISHU | Somalia’s prime minister has ordered all aid agencies working in the lawless Horn of Africa nation to register with the new government for their own safety.

The country is suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes. A two-year Islamist rebellion has killed more than 16,000 civilians, driven 1 million from their homes and left about 3 million dependent on food aid.

Complicating operations for aid workers, large parts of south and central Somalia are under the control of hard-line al-Shabaab insurgents and allied Islamist fighters.

Al-Shabaab, which Washington accuses of close ties to al Qaeda, asked international humanitarian organizations last week to register to carry out operations in its territory. But a spokesman for Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke said late Friday that no aid groups would be allowed to work in the capital, Mogadishu, or anywhere else without getting the government’s approval first.


2 gay men killed in Baghdad slum

BAGHDAD | The bodies of two gay men have been found in Baghdad’s Shi’ite slum of Sadr City after a leading cleric repeatedly condemned homosexuality, an Iraqi police official said Saturday.

The killings took place after Shi’ite cleric Sattar al-Battat repeatedly condemned homosexuality during recent Friday prayers, saying Islam prohibits homosexuality. Homosexual acts are punishable by up to seven years in prison in Iraq.

The two men were believed killed Thursday by relatives who were shamed by their behavior, said the official. Police said they suspected the killings were at the hands of family members because no one has claimed the bodies or called for an investigation.

The killings come weeks after Iraqi police found four bodies in late March buried near Sadr City with the words “pervert” and “puppies” written on their chests, said the official. Puppy is a derogatory word used by residents in Sadr City to refer to homosexuals.


Thousands protest economic policies

ROME | Hundreds of thousands of Italians shouting anti-government slogans marched in Rome on Saturday to protest Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s handling of the economic crisis and to demand more spending to create jobs.

Waving red union banners and balloons, students, workers and leftist politicians marched in five processions through the city in the rally, organized by Italy’s biggest union, CGIL. Much of central Rome was blocked off to traffic.

Organizers said 2.7 million people took to the streets. Police put the number at closer to 200,000.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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