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World in brief: ‘Latin Women’ site founder shot, killed

Sun., April 1, 2007, midnight

An American entrepreneur who introduced foreign men to “young, sexy, exotic and beautiful Latin Women” via the Internet was killed in the western city of Cali by gunmen on a motorcycle, police said Saturday.

Robert Marshall Vignola, 50, of Hamden, Conn., says on his Web site that he founded the Cali, Colombia-based company in 1999. The site says the company “has assisted hundreds of clients in the search for the Latin Woman of their dreams.”

In addition to offering contact with women pictured in bikinis for $20 each, the Web site promoted vacation packages to Cali including a “private tour” accompanied by Vignola for $600 per day plus airfare.

Vignola was shot and killed Thursday night by two men on a motorcycle while driving to Cali’s airport, police said. His 33-year-old Colombian wife, Beatriz Ramos, was hospitalized.

Cali’s police chief, Gen. Alberto Moore, told the Associated Press on Saturday that authorities did not know why he was killed.

BANGUI, Central African Republic

U.N.: Sudan conflict destabilizing region

The U.N. humanitarian chief said Saturday that the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region was destabilizing neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic and a comprehensive solution to the region’s problems was needed.

John Holmes, the U.N. undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, concluded a 10-day tour of the region by saying he was struck by “the magnitude of the humanitarian challenge in these three countries” and calling for a strong political effort to end the growing chaos.

“Beyond the immediate humanitarian action, the international community must help find a solid political solution for the region,” he said. “We need to address all the problems in the region in an integrated way because they all spill over into each other.”

The 4-year-old conflict between local rebels and the Sudanese government in Darfur has left more than 200,000 dead and 2.5 million homeless.

CARACAS, Venezuela

Chavez bans liquor sales during Easter

For beer and whiskey-loving Venezuelans, Easter this year won’t be an alcohol-soaked drinking fest.

President Hugo Chavez has imposed a ban on alcohol sales during Holy Week in an attempt to reduce accidents and crimes, prompting a run on liquor stores.

The decree prohibits alcohol sales on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday next week.

A more limited ban – restricting sales to between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., including at restaurants and bars – went into effect Friday and will last through April 9.

The sudden, unprecedented measure confused many Venezuelans who raced to stock up before Friday.

Close to a hundred deaths and thousands of injuries are reported every year during the Easter holiday, which authorities attribute largely to alcohol consumption.


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