- - Monday, November 1, 2010

HONDURAS

5 men rob plane from military

TEGUCIGALPA | Five armed men broke into a military base at the major international airport in northern Honduras early Monday and made off with a small airplane that authorities seized last year in an anti-drug operation.

The theft occurred at La Mesa International Airport in San Pedro Sula, about 180 miles north of the capital, Tegucigalpa. The airport is one of the busiest in the country.

Security Minister Oscar Alvarez said the gunmen attacked three guards at the entrance gate, went to the military hangar near a runway, started the engine and flew away. Their identities and destination were unknown.

“It was a very professional operation,” Mr. Alvarez said during a news conference.

The plane had been in custody at the military base while the government was deciding whether to donate it to a state agency. The theft was reported around 3 a.m. to police. Alvarez said they were investigating.

Honduras is experiencing a wave of violence unleashed by gangs that are financed by drug trafficking and other crimes. According to the government, nearly 800 tons of cocaine each year passes through Honduras from Colombia to the United States.

HAITI

Haitians brace for hurricane

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Government officials and aid partners in earthquake- and cholera-ravaged Haiti scrambled Monday to prepare crowded quake-survivor camps and coastal towns for a possible hit by a hurricane later this week.

Tropical Storm Tomas, which is heading westward across the eastern Caribbean Sea, is expected to turn north toward Haiti and the Dominican Republic by the end of the week and restrengthen as a hurricane, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Jamaica also could be affected, although the precise track of the storm remained uncertain, the forecasters said.

Tomas now threatens another humanitarian emergency for disaster-prone Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest state.

Haiti suffered a devastating earthquake in January and is grappling with a cholera epidemic that has killed at least 330 people so far and sickened nearly 5,000 more.

BRAZIL

President-elect to go to G-20 summit

BRASILIA | President-elect Dilma Rousseff is to accompany outgoing President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to the Group of 20 summit in South Korea this month, officials said Monday.

But Mrs. Rousseff, who was Mr. Lula da Silva’s Cabinet chief before he tapped her to succeed him, will take a few days before the Nov. 11-12 summit to relax after her election victory on the weekend, the state news agency Agencia Brasil reported.

Planning Minister Paulo Bernardo said Mr. Lula da Silva and Mrs. Rousseff will travel to Seoul via Mozambique to open a generic-medicine factory there.

The Seoul summit is to examine global financial issues, especially complaints from Brazil and other midsize states that they are victims of a “currency war” waged by leading economies, including China and the United States.

CUBA

Castro urges union to accept layoffs

HAVANA | Cuban President Raul Castro urged union leaders to explain the need for massive layoffs to the country’s labor force and warned them not to hide the deep economic problems facing the cash-strapped island.

“The benefit of errors is that at least they give us the experience not to repeat them,” Mr. Castro said in a blunt speech to leaders of the 3-million-strong Cuban Workers Confederation, which is affiliated with the Communist Party and the only labor union allowed by the government.

He said it is essential that union leaders resist the “pernicious tendency” to cover up problems, according to a report on the front page of Monday’s edition of the Communist Party daily Granma.

Cuba has announced that it will lay off half a million state workers — 10 percent of the total labor force — by March, while making it easier for individuals to open up private businesses. Mr. Castro has said another half-million workers will need to leave government jobs within five years.

CANADA

Paper: Jihadist now Canada’s ‘problem’

OTTAWA | Canada will soon have to decide the fate of Canadian national Omar Khadr after years of rejecting his repatriation from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, media reports said Monday.

“Verdict’s in: Khadr is Ottawa’s problem now,” shouted a front-page headline in the daily Globe and Mail.

The military tribunal at the Guantanamo Bay naval base sentenced Khadr to 40 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to throwing a grenade that killed a U.S. sergeant in Afghanistan in 2002.

The sentence, however, was largely symbolic. Under a plea agreement, Khadr just will serve up to eight years behind bars and, after one year in Guantanamo, can seek to be transferred to Canada to serve the remaining seven years.

Once in Canada, Khadr, who was 15 at the time of the crime, would be eligible to apply for full parole following completion of one-third of his sentence.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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