Venezuela’s congress, dominated by allies of President Hugo Chavez, gave initial approval Tuesday to constitutional reforms that would allow him to run for re-election and possibly govern for decades to come.
After about six hours of debate, National Assembly President Cilia Flores said Chavez’s proposed changes to the constitution, including the lifting of presidential term limits, received “majority approval.”
Final approval is expected within three months.
Quake survivors get clean-up jobs
Basic water and power service returned to parts of Peru’s quake-ravaged central coast Tuesday, as President Alan Garcia promised jobs and financial aid to survivors.
Speaking in the fishing port of Pisco, where last week’s deadly magnitude 8 quake destroyed 85 percent of homes, Garcia said half the city’s electric-powered wells were now operational, along with all the wells in nearby Ica and Chincha.
The government launched a program to employ about 8,000 Pisco, Ica and Chincha residents to help clear tons of rubble from adobe homes that crumbled in the quake, which has killed at least 540 people. Workers will receive about $130 a month, paid in advance.
Towed Maserati nearly auctioned
When authorities towed a $160,000 limited edition Maserati from the streets of London, they assumed the car’s owner would show up to pay his many parking tickets and unpaid congestion charge fines.
But Bertrand Des Pallieres, a wealthy Parisian, didn’t claim his Maserati Cambiocorsa for three months – and then only because the Evening Standard newspaper tracked him down and told him the car was about to be auctioned.
Des Pallieres, 39, was quoted by the paper on Tuesday as saying he quit Deutsche Bank with two colleagues in April to set up their own hedge fund, and was so busy traveling the world to raise money that he didn’t have time to worry about the car when it was towed in May.
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Hunger striker’s condition worsens
The health of a hunger-striking TV cameraman at the military prison in Guantanamo Bay has deteriorated sharply in recent months, according to notes released Tuesday by his lawyer after they were censored by U.S. authorities.
Sami al-Hajj, a cameraman for the Al-Jazeera TV network, has lost 40 pounds since late last year and developed intestinal problems and other conditions, according to the notes from attorney Clive Stafford Smith.
Al-Hajj, who has been held at Guantanamo since June 2002, seemed anxious and “even paranoid,” and had difficulty concentrating or speaking his previously fluent English during a meeting with the attorney, the notes said.
“He’s just losing it,” Stafford Smith said in a telephone interview. “He’s definitely deteriorating physically and mentally from the hunger strike.”
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