- - Monday, October 17, 2011


Voters rebuke Morales in judicial ballot

LA PAZ — Most Bolivians who voted in Sunday’s election to choose the country’s top judges cast invalid ballots in what could be a stinging rebuke for President Evo Morales, according to unofficial partial results.

If the results hold, it would the first electoral defeat for the leftist president in nearly six years in office.

Official results were not expected for at least five days in the vote for 56 judgeships on Bolivia’s top four tribunals, including its supreme and constitutional courts.

An unofficial count by the Ipsos, Opinion and Mercado polling firm found 61 percent of voters cast ballots that were either null or blank.

Opposition leaders had called on voters to cast invalid ballots to protest what they considered a power grab.

They contended that the election would erode the independence of the judiciary and strengthen Mr. Morales because the 114 candidates were chosen by a Congress dominated by his governing MAS movement.


Groups warn trade pact is a Trojan horse

OTTAWA — About 25 Canadian and European civil groups rolled a Trojan horse up to Canada’s Parliament building on Monday to protest a proposed trade pact with the European Union as a new round of negotiations kicked off.

“Just like the Trojan horse behind me, this trade deal carries huge threats,” warned Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians, flanked by the 14-foot-high wooden horse.

Canadians and Europeans have been kept in the dark during the negotiations about “what’s being given away,” she said, decrying a lack of public disclosure of the negotiations, which are entering their ninth round.

The 27-nation EU is Canada’s second-largest trade partner after the United States. Bilateral exports and imports total about $98.5 billion annually.


Colombian women end ‘crossed legs’ protest

BOGOTA — The women of Barbacoas, Colombia, have ended a three-month, 19-day “crossed legs” strike of sexual abstinence aimed at getting a road to their isolated town paved, after officials pledged to invest in the project.

“That night we devoted to our husbands. The desire was great, and we took advantage of it,” said Luz Marina Castillo, the leader of the protest, to the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo in comments published Sunday after the strike was lifted.

Transport Minister German Cardona pledged to invest an estimated $21 million to pave the first 17 miles of the 35.5-mile road and said studies were under way on the cost and design of the second half of the route.

At least 300 women began the strike June 22, refusing to have sex with their partners until the government agreed to pave the first half of a 163-year-old horse trail to the town in the southern department of Narino.

The women were encouraged to go on strike by two Narino judges, Maribel Silva and Diego Enriquez, after they complained about the men’s passivity in the face of the problem.


Doctors tried for removing live patients’ organs

RIO DE JANEIRO — Two doctors are in court in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on charges they removed organs for transplant from patients who were still alive. The patients later died in the hospital.

Drs. Pedro Torrecillas and Rui Sacramento are each charged with four homicides in a trial that started Monday.

The deaths happened between September and December 1986 in the hospital connected to the University of Taubate, in Sao Paulo state.

Dr. Mariano Fiore Jr. is charged as an accomplice.

According to court documents, the doctors used fake death certificates to extract kidneys from the victims, who had agreed to donate organs after their death.

Drs. Torrecillas and Sacramento have pleaded not guilty.


Military drafts thousands, blames student protests

SANTIAGO — Chile is drafting nearly 57,000 18-year-olds for military service, saying it needs to fill gaps in the armed forces because the student protest movement has reduced the number of volunteers it usually gets.

Military service is obligatory in Chile, but volunteers usually fill the ranks. By the end of last month, just 14,000 people had volunteered. The military wants a bigger pool from which to fill about 11,000 spots.

Alfonso Vargas, deputy secretary of the armed forces, blamed the student movement and anti-military activists who blocked the army from recruiting in schools.

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