Venezuela: Constitution altered
CARACAS Venezuela's pro-government National Assembly overwhelmingly approved constitutional reforms on Friday that would greatly expand the power of President Hugo Chavez and permit him to run for re-election indefinitely.
The 69 changes to Venezuela's Constitution now go to citizens for a Dec. 2 vote. The proposed changes, Chavez's most radical move yet in his push to transform Venezuela into a socialist state, threaten to spur a new wave of political upheaval in this oil-rich South American country already deeply divided over Chavez's rule.
The amendments would allow the government to expropriate private property prior to a court ruling and take total control over the Central Bank, create new types of property managed by cooperatives, and extend presidential terms from six to seven years while allowing Chavez to run again in 2012.
Afghanistan: 2 soldiers killed
KABUL A U.S.-led coalition soldier and an Afghan soldier were killed Friday in clashes with insurgents in southern Afghanistan, a coalition statement said.
Both soldiers died during combat operations in Uruzgan province, the statement said, without giving other details. Afghan security forces, meanwhile, killed a senior insurgent commander as he attempted to cross from Pakistan into Afghanistan earlier in the week, the coalition said.
Haiti: Storm grounds U.N.
PORT-AU-PRINCE U.N. helicopters were waiting out driving rain that lashed Haiti on Friday before they could assess flood damage from Tropical Storm Noel, which killed at least 48 here and left thousands homeless.
The new showers from Noel's outer bands raised fears of further deaths in a country prone to catastrophic flooding. In the Dominican Republic, which shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti, the rains largely let up, allowing flights carrying urgently needed relief supplies. Authorities in the Dominican Republic confirmed 82 deaths and said at least 62,000 were left homeless by the storm.
Pakistan: Drone missile kills 5
PESHAWAR A missile fired from an unmanned aerial drone killed five militants and wounded six other people in Pakistan's lawless tribal areas on Friday, according to a Pakistani security official and a local resident.
The United States has used drones to attack militants in the area in the past, but in Washington, a Pentagon spokesman denied that the U.S. military was involved in a strike, Reuters reported. A spokesman for the Central Intelligence Agency, which operates drones as well, declined to comment.
Thailand: Myanmar bans Petrie
BANGKOK Myanmar's military government ordered the expulsion of the top U.N. diplomat in the country on Friday in response to the envoy's criticism of the regime.
The move came a day before U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari was to return to Myanmar to continue promoting reconciliation between the junta and the country's pro-democracy movement, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. The United States condemned the expulsion of U.N. Resident Coordinator Charles Petrie.