In brief: Coalition foils 2 Taliban attacks
Kabul, Afghanistan – Two significant Taliban attacks in the Afghan capital were thwarted in the last three weeks, Afghan intelligence officials said Wednesday, an indication of success in foiling such plots and of insurgents’ continuing determination to carry them out.
One of the planned attacks involved a complex strike aimed at the presidential palace in the center of Kabul and the other revolved around a suicide bombing meant to kill Afghanistan’s first vice president, Mohammed Fahim.
Major attacks in the capital by insurgents have been relatively rare in the last eight months.
NATO officials have attributed the drop-off to a concerted campaign by coalition forces against the Haqqani network, a Taliban offshoot that operates mainly in eastern Afghanistan.
Chavez faces bigger opposition
Caracas, Venezuela – Opposition lawmakers gained a bigger presence and a platform to challenge Hugo Chavez as a new National Assembly took office Wednesday, though the congress’ powers are limited by a measure letting the president enact laws by decree.
After having almost no representation at all in the outgoing congress due to a decision to boycott 2005 elections, the opposition now controls 67 of the National Assembly’s 165 seats. That means Chavez’s allies no longer have a two-thirds supermajority, the threshold needed to approve some types of major laws and appoint Supreme Court justices.
Lawmakers stood and sang the national anthem at the start of a raucous inaugural session, which saw opening speeches that drew applause and shouts from the two camps.
The outgoing congress, overwhelmingly controlled by Chavez loyalists, approved a law last month granting him special decree powers for the next year and a half – meaning he will be able to bypass congress to enact laws in areas ranging from the financial sector to the country’s “socio-economic system.”
The lawmakers also appointed nine new Supreme Court justices, reinforcing the dominance of judges widely seen as friendly to the government.