- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2009


Cocaine kingpin moved to U.S.

BOGOTA | Colombia extradited one of its most-wanted drug lords to the United States on Wednesday to face charges of running an armed cocaine-smuggling gang with his twin brother, police said.

Ex-paramilitary leader Miguel Angel Mejia Munera was handcuffed and wearing body armor before he boarded a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration plane in Bogota bound for the United States, which had offered a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

Mejia, 49, had been held in a high-security prison in Colombia since his arrest in May. He is expected to be charged with drug trafficking and money laundering after his arrival in Miami.

The State Department says he and his brother, Victor, shipped at least 68 tons of cocaine to the United States and Europe over a two-year period before their network was broken up in 2003.


U.S. returns to rights council

GENEVA | The United States returned Wednesday to the U.N. Human Rights Council, a body it left nine months ago saying it was biased against Israel and had failed to confront notorious rights abusers.

The U.S. informed the council it will resume participating in meetings as an active observer. Observer status means the U.S. can engage in debate but not vote.

In June, the Bush administration announced it was virtually giving up on the 47-nation body and would participate in debates only if absolutely necessary.


Defense spending up by 15 percent

BEIJING | China announced plans Wednesday to boost spending on its increasingly potent military 14.9 percent this year, maintaining nearly two decades of annual double-digit defense increases that have stirred concern in Washington and among Beijing’s neighbors.

A spokesman for the national legislature played down worries about China’s military might, saying the boost was “modest” and suitable for the world’s third-largest economy. Much of the additional funding would go toward salaries and benefits for servicemen, he said.

China’s defense spending is on a par with the budgets of Japan, Russia and Britain, but is still dwarfed by U.S. military expenditures, which are nearly 10 times as large.


Governor ousted in election fraud

BRASILIA | A Brazilian court Wednesday stripped a state governor of his job for buying votes, its second such ruling in two weeks, as the world’s fourth-largest democracy cracks down on election fraud.

An additional five Brazilian governors face similar charges and could be forced out of office.

The Supreme Electoral Tribunal in Brasilia stripped Jackson Lago, governor of the northeastern state of Maranhao, of his mandate.


Parliament OKs e-mail tracking

HELSINKI | The Finnish parliament approved controversial legislation Wednesday that allows employers to track workers’ e-mails. Lawmakers approved the government proposal in a 96-56 vote. Forty-eight were absent or abstained.

The new law, which is subject to the president’s approval, does not allow employers to read employees’ e-mails. But it gives them the right to track workers’ e-mails by retaining information about such messages, including the recipients, senders and the time when e-mails have been sent or received.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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