- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Blackouts blamed on short circuit

SAO PAULO | Brazil’s president says last week’s massive blackouts in Latin America’s largest nation were caused by a short circuit in a transmission tower. But President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva says it’s unclear how the short circuit happened.

The outages left nearly a third of Brazil’s 190 million citizens in the dark - raising concerns about energy security for soccer’s 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Mr. Lula da Silva said Monday on his weekly radio program that the short circuit happened in the rural Sao Paulo state town of Itabera. He says an investigation will determine why but offered no prediction on when it will be concluded.

Mr. Lula da Silva also says he will work hard to make sure similar blackouts don’t happen again.


Mob attacks intelligence agents

BOGOTA | The chief of Colombia’s secret police says a mob assaulted three of its agents as they tried to arrest a suspect with alleged guerrilla ties.

DAS intelligence agency director Felipe Munoz says Ivan Danilo Alarcon, wanted for rebellion and drug trafficking, was detained near a university in the city of Cali.

Mr. Munoz says Mr. Alarcon cried out that he was being kidnapped and 100 people surrounded the officers. The crowd detained the agents for more than an hour, threatened them with death and took their weapons and armored vests. They freed Mr. Alarcon from handcuffs, and he fled.

Mr. Munoz said Sunday that Mr. Alarcon apparently posed as a human rights activist but was in fact giving logistical support to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.


Huge drug plane crashes in Africa

DAKAR, Senegal | A Boeing plane being used to transport cocaine from Venezuela to West Africa crashed in Mali earlier this month after a failed takeoff, the representative of the United Nations’ drugs and crime office said Monday.

It is the first time that the United Nations has heard of a plane of this size - although they did not know what model it was - being used to smuggle drugs from South America to Africa.

The plane crashed while taking off from a makeshift airstrip after delivering a load of cocaine from Venezuela, Alexandre Schmidt of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime told journalists in Dakar.

In recent years, West Africa has become an important transit point for South American cocaine being smuggled to European markets and, Mr. Schmidt said, there are also signs that the region is now moving into producing drugs.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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