May 21, 2009 in Nation/World

World in brief: Thousands protest cuts to education

 
Associated Press photo

Riot police watch students protest a reduction in education budgets in Caracas, Venezuela, on Wednesday.
(Full-size photo)

Thousands of university students marched through Venezuela’s capital on Wednesday demanding more state financial aid for public universities after President Hugo Chavez’s government reduced funding by 6 percent.

The crowd – comprising thousands of students, professors and university workers – chanted anti-Chavez slogans as they marched toward Venezuela’s education ministry, where they raised their concerns with Higher Education Minister Luis Acuna.

Kabul, Afghanistan

Military counters death toll claim

Video evidence recorded by fighter jets and the account of the ground commander suggest no more than 30 civilians were killed in a two-day battle in western Afghanistan this month, the U.S. military said Wednesday, a stark contrast to Afghan claims that 140 civilians died.

The footage shows insurgents streaming into homes that were later bombed, said Col. Greg Julian, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Afghanistan. He said ground troops observed some 300 villagers flee in advance of the fighting, indicating that not many could have been inside the bombed compounds.

The figures, which the Americans called preliminary, are far lower than the numbers villagers provided to an Afghan government commission days after the May 4-5 battle in the villages of Gerani and Ganjabad in Farah province.

Wellington, New Zealand

Couple capitalize on error, vanish

Police are looking for a New Zealand couple who disappeared after a bank mistakenly put 10 million New Zealand dollars ($6.1 million) into their account.

The couple, who ran a gas station in the northern city of Rotorua, applied to Westpac Bank for a NZ$10,000 overdraft and had 1,000 times that amount paid into their account. The two then withdrew some of the money and disappeared, Detective Senior Sgt. David Harvey said.

Harvey said Interpol has been contacted for help, suggesting authorities believe they may have fled abroad with the cash.

“We are currently conducting an investigation into the individuals that may have been involved in the withdrawal of that money,” Harvey said.

Westpac Bank said it was “pursing vigorous criminal and civil action to recover the sum of money stolen,” but declined further comment.

From wire reports


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