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World in brief: Bin Laden calls for holy war

Fri., March 21, 2008

Osama bin Laden lashed out Thursday at Palestinian peace negotiations with Israel and called for a holy war to liberate the Palestinian lands.

A day after a bin Laden audio on a militant Web site threatened Europeans, Al-Jazeera TV broadcast audio excerpts attributed to the al-Qaida leader that urge Palestinians to ignore political parties “mired in trickery of the blasphemous democracy” and to rely on armed might.

“Palestine cannot be retaken by negotiations and dialogue, but with fire and iron,” he said.

Al-Jazeera did not say how it obtained the recording, which was broadcast with an old photograph of bin Laden in a white headscarf and traditional dress.

There was no indication how recently the recording was made, or if it was an unreleased part of the audio posted late Wednesday on an extremist Web site that has carried al-Qaida statements in the past. The two messages were bin Laden’s first this year.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Dengue outbreak leaves 47 dead

An outburst of dengue has killed at least 47 people – and perhaps twice that – in Rio de Janeiro state this year, officials said Thursday, announcing a hot spot in a hemispheric outbreak that sickened nearly 1 million people in 2007.

State officials said 51 cases are being reported hourly as the outbreak strains public hospitals’ capacities.

“What we see today in Rio de Janeiro is a catastrophe,” said Edmilson Migovski, a professor of infectious diseases at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. “The death toll is rising because the virus is becoming more virulent, and at the same time people who were infected once are getting infected again.”

Brazil had more than half of the 900,782 cases of dengue in the Americas last year, according to the Pan American Health Organization.

But while federal officials say overall numbers were down in early 2008, they have jumped in Rio state. State officials say dengue has killed 47 people, and is suspected of killing 49 others whose deaths are under investigation. The state, which has 16 million inhabitants, has seen more than 32,000 dengue cases this year, officials said.

Health officials across the Americas are trying to coordinate their fight against dengue. Known as “bonebreak fever,” dengue is spread by the Aegis aegypti mosquito and can incapacitate patients with severe headaches and joint pains.


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