- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 12, 2010


Copter crash kills tycoon, relatives

MEXICO CITY | Mexican telecom and real estate tycoon Moises Saba Masri and several members of his family have died in a helicopter crash in the foothills outside Mexico City.

Mr. Saba Masri, 46, belongs to one of Mexico’s most prominent business clans and once held stakes in the Unefon telephone company and the Morelia soccer team, said Dan McCosh, a spokesman for Grupo Salinas, which operates those companies.

Mr. Saba Masri, his wife, son and daughter-in-law were killed in the crash late Sunday after an eight-seat Agusta 109 helicopter heading into Mexico City from the nearby city of Toluca clipped the top of a three-story building, fell into a deep gully and apparently exploded, said Mexico City Civil Defense Secretary Elias Moreno. The pilot also died.

The family had arrived at the international airport in Toluca, 35 miles west of the capital, on a flight from New York City and was heading home to Mexico City. Initial reports indicated another person had been on board, but Mr. Moreno confirmed there were only five.

The mountains and foothills separating Toluca and Mexico City are notoriously dangerous for helicopters because of altitudes that exceed 11,500 feet and frequent fog.

No deaths or injuries were reported on the ground, even though Mr. Moreno said the craft sheared off a railing on the roof of a three-story home, then hit two parked cars and a tree before tumbling into a 65-foot-deep creek bed.


Museum honors dictator’s victims

SANTIAGO | Chile on Monday opened its “Museum of Memory and Human Rights,” honoring victims who were tortured, killed, oppressed or “disappeared” during the 17-year-old dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

The museum, in the capital city of Santiago, was a cherished project of Socialist President Michelle Bachelet, 58, who along with her mother was tortured by the regime and spent years in exile, while her father died in one of Pinochet’s prisons.

Ms. Bachelet’s father was a general and associate of Socialist President Salvador Allende, who was killed during the coup.

Pinochet’s military regime overthrew Allende in 1973. Pinochet was voted out of office in 1990 and died on Dec. 10, 2006, at a military hospital in Santiago, at age 91, after evading repeated attempts to bring him to trial.


Morales banks on ‘Coca Colla’

LA PAZ | President Evo Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous leader known for chewing coca leaves at U.N. meetings, is making a fresh push for the plant, this time in the form of the soft drink “Coca Colla.”

Intended to rival its more famous U.S. cousin, Coca-Cola, the fizzy drink is at the center of a plan coca growers from the Morales stronghold of Chapare in central Bolivia submitted to the government last week to boost coca production.

A Ministry of Coca and Integral Development official said the project would be launched in about four months and that the initiative could be either run by the state or a joint partnership with coca growers.

The official said the drink’s packaging would feature a black swoosh and red label similar to the famous Coke insignia.

The fate of Coca Colla is of particular concern to La Paz, which wants to expand coca cultivation. Tea, flour, toothpaste and liquor are already being produced using a coca base.

Bolivia, the world’s third largest producer after Colombia and Peru, yielded a coca crop of some 75,370 acres in 2008, an increase of 6 percent over the previous year, according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.


Chavez calls for socialist soap operas

CARACAS | President Hugo Chavez says there’s too much capitalism on Venezuelan TV. So he’s urging producers to start making films and TV shows that stress socialist values.

Mr. Chavez says producers should be making “socialist soap operas.” He said Sunday he recently visited Cuba “and they have soaps there. But they’re not capitalist soap operas.”

Cuba does make some of its own programming. One of Sunday’s offerings was “Our History: I Die for the Revolution.” But its state-run television channels also air Brazilian soaps, Walt Disney cartoons and programs such as “Desperate Housewives.”

Chavez-allied producers made a 2004 soap opera called “Love Inside the Barrio” that emphasized socialist values but failed to draw many viewers.


Man killed by his pet tiger

SOUTHWOLD, Ontario | A Canadian man has been mauled to death by his pet tiger.

Norman Buwalda, 66, went into the tiger’s cage on his property in Southwold, Ontario, to feed the animal Sunday and was attacked and killed, police said. The tiger weighed about 660 pounds.

Ontario Provincial Police Constable Troy Carlson said Monday there were no witnesses. A family member discovered the man’s body and was able to lock the tiger in a separate part of the cage, isolating Mr. Buwalda from the pacing tiger until an ambulance arrived.

The attack is not the first one to occur on Mr. Buwalda’s property, which houses a number of exotic animals. In June 2004, a 10-year-old boy was attacked by a tiger that was led out of its cage on a leash so the child could take its picture.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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