- - Wednesday, November 14, 2012


CARACAS — Venezuelan authorities deported a prominent drug trafficking suspect to Colombia on Wednesday, nearly two months after his capture in an operation aided by Colombian and U.S. authorities.

Colombian officials consider Daniel Barrera one of the country’s most-wanted drug lords.

Mr. Barrera was handcuffed as he was led to a waiting plane at Caracas’ international airport along with two other drug suspects, including a U.S. citizen.

Venezuelan Justice Minister Nestor Reverol said Mr. Barrera had a false passport when he was captured in September in the southwestern Venezuelan city of San Cristobal.

Mr. Barrera is known as “el Loco,” or “the Madman,” and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has called him “the last of the great capos.”

The 50-year-old Mr. Barrera was arrested after Colombian officials, who had been working with U.S. and British authorities, notified Venezuela that Mr. Barrera was making a call from one of dozens of public phones that were being monitored, officials said.


South seized freighter carrying military cargo

UNITED NATIONS — U.N. diplomats said South Korea has reported the seizure of cargo from a Chinese freighter that can be used to produce ballistic missiles and reportedly was made in North Korea and destined for Syria.

The diplomats said the seizure in May of 445 graphite cylinders from the Shanghai-registered Xin Yan Tai was reported to the U.N. Security Council committee monitoring sanctions against North Korea. The sanctions bar the country from importing or exporting nuclear and missile technology.

According to the diplomats, China briefed the sanctions committee on the seizure Oct. 24, but the committee wants additional information on those involved in the shipment.


Ireland probes death of ailing abortion-seeker

DUBLIN — The debate about legalizing abortion in Ireland flared Wednesday after the government confirmed that a woman in the midst of a miscarriage was refused an abortion and died in an Irish hospital after suffering from blood poisoning.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny said he was awaiting findings from three investigations into the death of Savita Halappanavar, a 31-year-old Indian woman who was 17 weeks pregnant.

Her case highlighted the legal limbo in which pregnant women facing severe health problems can find themselves in predominantly Catholic Ireland.

Ireland’s constitution officially bans abortion, but a 1992 Supreme Court ruling found the procedure should be legalized for situations when the woman’s life is at risk from continuing the pregnancy.

Five governments since have refused to pass a law resolving the confusion, leaving Irish hospitals reluctant to terminate pregnancies except in the most obviously life-threatening circumstances.

The bulk of Irish women wanting abortions, an estimated 4,000 per year, simply travel next door to England, where abortion has been legal on demand since 1967. But that option is difficult, if not impossible, for women in failing health.

Mrs. Halappanavar’s widower, Praveen, said doctors at University Hospital Galway in western Ireland determined she was miscarrying within hours of her hospitalization for severe pain on Oct. 21.

He said over the next three days, doctors refused their requests for an abortion to combat her surging pain and fading health.

The hospital declined to say whether doctors believed Mrs. Halappanavar’s blood poisoning could have been reversed had she received an abortion rather than waiting for the fetus to die on its own.


Israel: Rebels take villages near Golan Heights frontier

JERUSALEM — Syrian rebels have taken control of nearly all villages near the frontier with the Israel-held Golan Heights, Israel’s defense minister said Wednesday, adding that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces were “displaying ever-diminishing efficiency.”

Fighting in the area this past week already has drawn Israeli retaliatory fire into Syria twice after apparently stray mortar shells flew into Israel-held territory.

That raised fears that Syria’s civil war could take a new and even more dangerous twist, widening further into an armed conflict with the region’s strongest military power.

“Almost all of the villages, from the foot of this ridge to the very top, are already in the hands of the Syrian rebels,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Wednesday during a tour of the Golan Heights, the strategic plateau that Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and later annexed. “The Syrian army is displaying ever-diminishing efficiency.”

Mr. Barak said Israel will remain “vigilant and alert.”

The border area in the Golan Heights on the Syrian side is a buffer zone, with some villages where fighting has flared over the past week. The 46-mile-long buffer zone is governed and policed by the Syrian authorities, and no military forces other than U.N. forces are permitted within it.


Communist Party congress closes with new leadership

BEIJING — Months of sharp behind-the-scenes jostling reach a climax Thursday with the announcement of a new Chinese leadership that almost regardless of its makeup is likely to be much like the one it replaces: divided, deliberative and weak.

All but officially announced, Xi Jinping is expected to head the new leadership as Communist Party chief, joined by Li Keqiang, the presumptive prime minster, in a choreographed succession that began five years ago when the two were anointed as successors.

Alongside them at the apex of power, the Politburo Standing Committee, will be a handful of senior politicians drawn from top positions in the provinces and bureaucracies.

Their ascent was nudged along Wednesday, when a weeklong party congress closed by naming Mr. Xi, Mr. Li and the other leading candidates to the Central Committee, a 205-member body which appoints the new leadership.

Left off the list was Hu Jintao, who is retiring as party chief after 10 years. A top general told reporters that Mr. Hu also is relinquishing his sole remaining powerful post, as head of the military, a significant break from the past that would give Mr. Xi leeway to establish his authority.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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