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Chavez eyes political fallout from deadly refinery fire

PUNTO FIJO, Venezuela — Venezuela declared an end to its deadliest refinery disaster Tuesday, three days after an explosion and fire killed more than 40 people and unleashed an outpouring of criticism of President Hugo Chavez. Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez said firefighters had finally put out the fire at the…

Civilians crushed in own homes in Syria’s Aleppo

ALEPPO, Syria — The disfigured bodies of women and children brought into Aleppo’s largest hospital bear witness to the intensity of the fighting in residential districts of Syria’s second city. “The majority of casualties are caused by buildings crashing down on civilians,” said Abu Abdu, who works as a general…

France opens Arafat murder enquiry: sources

French prosecutors have opened a murder enquiry into Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s 2004 death near Paris, sources close to the matter told AFP Tuesday. The probe comes after Arafat’s family launched legal action in France last month over claims the veteran Palestinian leader died of radioactive polonium poisoning. Arafat’s widow…

NATO transition in Afghanistan ‘irreversible’

The transfer of security control from a US-led international mission to Afghan troops has reached an irreversible phase, a top NATO commander said Tuesday, as he outlined moves to stem insider attacks on NATO forces. “We have now reached a phase where the transition is irreversible,” said Germany’s General Wolf…

American and European activists to try again with Palestinian visit

US and European activists insisted Tuesday on making a new attempt to go to Palestinian territories, two days after Israel and Jordan barred them from entering the West Bank to deliver aid to students. “We are thinking of going in December to the Palestinian areas to break the siege on…

Cuba vice president’s daughter defects to U.S.: report

The daughter of Cuba’s vice president has defected from the communist-run island and now lives in Tampa, Florida, the site of the Republican National Convention, a newspaper reported. Glenda Murillo Diaz, 24, daughter of Vice President Marino Murillo, crossed over into Texas from Mexico, according to a report in the…

Argentina crowns new World Tango champs

Argentine dancers Facundo de la Cruz and Paola Sanz have won the ballroom competition at the tenth World Tango Championship, beating out 42 pairs of finalists from around the globe. “This is a magical moment,” Sanz, 29, said late Monday. “My grandfather listened to a lot of tango, and I…

Paralympics founder’s ‘far-fetched’ dreams come true

When Eva Loeffler volunteered as a ball girl during a rudimentary wheelchair sports tournament for World War II veterans in 1948, she had no idea the contest would grow into the Paralympic Games. Sixty-four years on, Loeffler is honorary mayor of the Paralympic Village, welcoming 4,200 athletes to the world’s…

Israel court clears military, finds ‘no negligence’ in Rachel Corrie death

An Israeli court on Tuesday cleared the military of any responsibility for the death of US activist Rachel Corrie who was killed by an army bulldozer in 2003, rejecting a civil suit filed by the family. The family said they were “deeply saddened and deeply troubled” by the verdict, with…

Iran will never stop uranium enrichment: envoy

Iran “will never stop” its controversial uranium enrichment, the country’s envoy to the IAEA said on Tuesday, on the sidelines of a Non-Aligned Movement ministerial meeting in Tehran. “Our enrichment activities will never stop and we are justified in carrying them out, and we will continue to do so under…

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