Tropical storm forms in Atlantic

Tropical Storm Delta – the 25th storm of the busiest hurricane season in history – formed in the central Atlantic on Wednesday, but the only threat it posed was to ships at sea, forecasters said.

Delta had sustained winds of about 60 mph and could briefly strengthen into the 14th hurricane of the season, the National Hurricane Center in Miami reported.

“It’s way out there in the middle of nowhere,” hurricane specialist Stacy Stewart said. “It shouldn’t threaten the United States or probably any other land area for that matter.”

The record of 21 tropical storms and hurricanes in a season had stood since 1933, but it was broken this year. The 13 hurricanes so far this year also broke the record of 12 set in 1969.

Israel, Hezbollah battle on Lebanese border

Beirut, Lebanon Hezbollah guerrillas clashed with Israeli soldiers on the southern Lebanese border Wednesday, reviving a two-day old confrontation that saw some of the heaviest fighting in years.

It was unclear what provoked the flare-up. Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television said guerrillas engaged an Israeli army unit that had crossed the Lebanese border.

But Israeli security officials said Israeli troops opened fire as they were trying to help an Israeli civilian who had inadvertently flown into Lebanon in a hang glider.

Chinese farmer dies from bird flu

Beijing China on Wednesday reported its second confirmed death from a strain of bird flu that has claimed more than 60 lives in Asia.

State media, meanwhile, reported that a bird flu vaccine being developed in China would be tested on 100 people. It’s already been tried on minks, chickens and rats.

The 35-year-old farmer identified only by her surname, Xu, died Tuesday after developing a fever and pneumonia-like symptoms following contact with sick and dead poultry. The woman lived in Xiuning County in Anhui, the eastern province where China’s first confirmed bird flu death occurred.

According to the World Health Organization, at least 67 people have died of the H5N1 strain of the virus since late 2003 in Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and China.

Pinochet charged with tax evasion

Santiago, Chile Two days short of his 90th birthday, Gen. Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest Wednesday at his Santiago mansion for alleged tax evasion – not the thousands of deaths and disappearances for which opponents have long tried to have him imprisoned.

Lawyers pursuing the former dictator said the indictment on corruption charges related to his multimillion-dollar overseas accounts still was a major victory. Several relatives of the dictatorship’s victims cheered and embraced at the courthouse.

Pinochet’s attorneys immediately appealed the ruling on grounds of his ill health, the same factor that has blocked earlier trials.

Pinochet was charged with evading $2.4 million in taxes, using four false passports to open bank accounts abroad, submitting a false government document to a foreign bank and filing a false report on his assets.


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