TEHRAN, Iran

Iran, Venezuela heads affirm joint opposition to U.S.

Venezuela’s outspoken president joined with Iran’s leader yesterday in boasting that they are “united like a single fist” in challenging American influence, saying the fall of the dollar is a sign that “the U.S. empire is coming down.”

Hugo Chavez also joked about the most serious issue the U.S. is confronting regarding Iran – nuclear weapons – during his get-together with Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The visit came after a failed attempt by the firebrand duo to move OPEC away from pricing its oil in dollars.

OPEC’s weekend summit displayed the limits of their alliance – their proposal was overruled by other members, led by Saudi Arabia – but it also showed their potential for stirring up problems for the U.S. and its allies.

WASHINGTON

Across nation, hate crimes increase

Hate crime incidents rose nearly 8 percent last year, the FBI reported yesterday, as civil rights advocates increasingly take to the streets to protest what they call official indifference to intimidation and attacks against blacks and other minorities.

Police across the nation reported 7,722 criminal incidents in 2006 targeting victims or property as a result of bias against a race, religion, sexual orientation, ethnic or national origin or physical or mental disability. That was up 7.8 percent from 7,163 incidents reported in 2005.

More than half the incidents were motivated by racial prejudice, but the report did not even pick up all the racially motivated incidents last year.

Although the noose incidents and beatings among students at Jena, La., high school occurred in the last half of 2006, they were not included in the report.

KABUL, Afghanistan

U.N.: Afghan bodyguards opened fire maliciously

Afghan lawmakers’ bodyguards fired indiscriminately into a crowd after a suicide bombing and children bore the brunt of the onslaught, according to an internal U.N. report obtained yesterday. The report calls the shooting deliberate and criminal.

The United Nations mission in Afghanistan said the report is one of several conflicting views inside the world body and has not been officially endorsed.

The report by the U.N. Department of Safety and Security said it was not clear how many people died in the suicide bombing and how many died from gunfire that erupted after the Nov. 6 attack in Baghlan province. Sixty-one students and six lawmakers were among those killed.

ACWORTH, Ga.

Three adolescent boys held in the rape of 11-year-old girl

Three boys, ages 8 and 9, were being held yesterday in a detention center on charges of kidnapping and raping an 11-year-old girl near a suburban apartment complex, officials said.

The alleged attack happened Thursday and the girl’s mother reported it to authorities Sunday, Acworth police Capt. Wayne Dennard said.

“The victim said they were playing outdoors and the girl was forced into a wooded area where she was sexually assaulted, where one of the boys raped her,” Dennard told The Associated Press.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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