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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Nation/World

Chavez constricts private firm power

The government of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has taken actions that could shutter a private television news station, part of an offensive that has led to the seizure of foreign oil firms and a congressional effort to extend control over nongovernmental organizations critical of the state.

Authorities have accused Globovision, an anti-government cable station, of inciting panic through its coverage of an earthquake on May 4 before authorities released an official report. Then Monday, the government announced that 39 foreign and domestic companies that provide services to the state-run oil company had been brought under government control.

Chavez also declared Sunday that “no land is private” in Venezuela, stirring fears of more state seizures of farms, and promised to nationalize the Bank of Venezuela, a local branch of Spain’s Grupo Santander. Several top opposition leaders, meanwhile, are under investigation for corruption, and the federal government has stripped one of Chavez’s foes, Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, of the authority to control the city budget.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

Flood-displaced begin trek home

Thousands of Brazilians returned home Tuesday following devastating floods but water kept on rising in some places and civil defense officials used helicopters, trucks and boats to deliver aid to victims in isolated communities.

The death toll declined from 42 to 39 because some deaths were mistakenly classified as flood-related, said officials in the sprawling jungle state of Amazonas.

The number of homeless decreased from 300,000 to 267,000 as residents headed home in some of the 11 states affected by the floods – an area three times the size of Alaska. But waters were still rising in some places and authorities warned that the situation remained a threat because the weather forecast calls for more downpours.

A major aid effort was still under way, with civil defense officials delivering food and drinking water to isolated communities surrounded by water.

From wire reports

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