In brief: Chavez allies win state elections
CARACAS, Venezuela – Allies of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez steamrolled Venezuela’s opposition in gubernatorial elections, winning 20 of 23 states. The only good news for the opposition was the re-election of its top leader, Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in October’s presidential vote.
Sunday’s vote came less than a week after Venezuela’s leftist president was operated on in Cuba for the fourth time for a stubborn cancer that many fear he won’t beat. It was widely seen as a referendum on whether his socialist-inspired Bolivarian Revolution movement has enough momentum to outlive him.
Capriles’ win sets him up as the presumed challenger to go up against Vice President Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s hand-picked successor in presidential elections that would be held within 30 days of the president’s death or separation from office.
Greek lawmaker attacked at game
ATHENS, Greece – A leftist Greek lawmaker was attacked by three men at a soccer match Sunday who he said identified themselves as members of the extreme right Golden Dawn party.
Dimitris Stratoulis, of the Radical Left Coalition, said the trio threatened to kill him while striking him with several blows to the head. Spectators came to his aid, and the assailants fled.
Stratoulis, 54, was with his adult son at the time of the attack. Stratoulis, who was bloodied but didn’t sustain serious injuries, filed a police complaint.
Golden Dawn has denied involvement in the attack.
Bomb blast kills 10 girls near village
KABUL, Afghanistan – Ten young girls were killed when a bomb exploded as they were gathering firewood outside their village in eastern Afghanistan this morning, an official said.
It was not clear what triggered the explosion outside Dawlatzai village in Nangarhar province’s Chaperhar district, said Mohammad Seddiq, the government administrator for the district.
The girls ranged in age from 9 to 13 and all came from different families, he said. Two others were seriously wounded and were in critical condition at a hospital, Seddiq said.
He could not say if the blast came from a newly planted bomb or from an unexploded mine – many of which are still found in fields and rural areas from decades of conflict in the country.
Philippines set to fund contraception
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine legislators are set to pass a law that would provide government funding for contraceptives and sexuality classes in schools despite strong opposition by the dominant Roman Catholic Church.
President Benigno Aquino III has certified the bill as urgent. Church leaders have criticized the country’s leaders for backing the bill, saying in a pastoral letter Sunday that if passed, it would put the moral fiber of the nation at risk.
After initially approving the bill last week, the House of Representatives is expected to vote in favor of it today. The Senate also votes on it today.