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In brief: Fourth Bolivian state votes for autonomy

Mon., June 23, 2008

Natural gas-rich Tarija became the fourth Bolivian state to declare autonomy from the government of leftist President Evo Morales on Sunday when voters backed greater independence in a referendum, according to two private, quick counts of votes.

Autonomy backers waved the state’s flag and celebrated in Tarija’s capital after pollsters released results showing the “yes” vote getting about 80 percent support.

“A new Bolivia must be built on a foundation of autonomy,” Gov. Mario Cossio told a crowd of supporters Sunday night. “Centralism has left a bad legacy – we are the second-poorest country on the continent. Autonomy is the new path.”

The referendum followed similar votes, with similar results, in three other states.

Morales has called the referenda illegal attempts to cripple his government.


Mayor: No proof of ‘pregnancy pact’

School counselors, teachers and families of students the principal said made a pact to get pregnant and have babies together have no information to back the claim, the mayor of Gloucester said Sunday.

Mayor Carolyn Kirk plans to meet today with officials after Gloucester High School Principal Joseph Sullivan was quoted in Time magazine as saying the girls made such a pact.

Seventeen girls in the high school became pregnant this year – four times the usual number. The girls are all 16 or younger, and nearly all sophomores.

“The high school principal is the one who initially said it, and no one else has said it,” Kirk said. “None of the counselors at the school, none of the teachers who know these children and none of the families.”


Obama introduces energy proposal

Sen. Barack Obama rolled out a proposal Sunday to curb speculation in energy markets, which his advisers said would help stabilize gasoline prices.

Obama laid out a four-step program that would close an “Enron loophole” that protects some trading in energy futures from federal oversight, his advisers said.

The other components of the plan are to ensure U.S. energy futures cannot be traded in offshore, unregulated markets; to work toward international regulation of oil futures markets; and to have both the Federal Trade Commission and Justice Department investigate oil markets.

Sen. John McCain’s campaign said Sunday Obama is mimicking McCain.

“The truth is Barack Obama is following John McCain’s lead to close a Wall Street loophole that was signed into law by President Bill Clinton,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds said. “John McCain has supported bipartisan efforts to close this loophole and will work to address abuses in oil speculation.”


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