Caracas, Venezuela
Chavez pledges radical socialism in second term

Emboldened by a resounding re-election, President Hugo Chavez pledged to shake up Venezuela with a more radical version of socialism and forge a wider front against the United States in Latin America.

Opposition contender Manuel Rosales accepted defeat Sunday night, but promised to continue countering a leader whom he accuses of becoming increasingly authoritarian.

Touting his victory in a speech to thousands, Chavez said Venezuelans should expect an “expansion of the revolution” aimed at redistributing the country’s oil wealth among the poor.

“Long live the revolution!” Chavez shouted from the balcony of the presidential palace. “Venezuela is demonstrating that a new and better world is possible, and we are building it.”

Suza, Fiji

President calls military action virtual coup

Troops surrounded government buildings and seized ministers’ cars earlier today to try to force the elected government to resign in what the prime minister said was “virtually a coup.”

Soldiers briefly came to Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase’s residence this morning before they were turned away by police. Armed forces chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama visited President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and Qarase said the president could be a key player in determining the outcome of the crisis that has paralyzed the country for weeks.

“There is virtually a coup now taking place,” Qarase told New Zealand’s National Radio.

Qarase has refused to meet Bainimarama’s demand that he resign, prompting the military chief to order a gradual lockdown of the capital, Suva, since early Monday. Soldiers loyal to Bainimarama yesterday disarmed the police.

Santiago, Chile

Pinochet stable after heart attack

Gen. Augusto Pinochet, whose 17-year dictatorship carried out thousands of political killings and widespread torture, was fighting for his life in a Chilean hospital after suffering a heart attack. But doctors said his condition was improving after an emergency procedure to restore blood flow to his heart.

Doctors initially said they planned bypass surgery Sunday on the 91-year-old former strongman but they later ruled it out. Dr. Juan Ignacio Vergara, a member of the team treating Pinochet, said the surgery was not needed after an angioplasty performed in the morning to clear a heart artery obstruction “allowed improvement in his condition.”

South plainfield, N.J.

E. coli outbreak linked to three Taco Bells

An E. coli outbreak that has sickened at least 22 people – two of them seriously – was linked by health investigators yesterday to three Taco Bell restaurants in New Jersey. Investigators also were examining whether an outbreak on Long Island was connected to the fast-food chain.

All but two of the people who fell ill in New Jersey had eaten at one of the fast-food restaurants between Nov. 17 and Nov. 28, authorities said.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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