CARACAS, Venezuela

Chavez begins third term, invokes Christ, Castro

Invoking Christ and Castro as his socialist models, President Hugo Chavez began his third term yesterday by declaring that socialism, not capitalism, is the only way forward for Venezuela and the world.

His first stop: Nicaragua, where leftist ally Daniel Ortega was returning to power
with his own inauguration hours later. Chavez can now count on remaining president until 2013 – or later if he gets his way with a constitutional amendment allowing him to run again.

At the apex of a resurgent Latin American left, Chavez has been emboldened to make more radical changes at home after winning re-election with 63 percent of the vote, his widest margin ever.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua

Ortega, a former revolutionary, sworn into office

Former revolutionary Daniel Ortega took office yesterday in a ceremony expected to be attended by more than a dozen world leaders, including many Latin American leftists celebrating their latest ally in the region.

Ortega has promised a delicate balance between taking a moderate economic and social stance while cultivating close relationships with U.S. opponents such as Venezuelan Hugo Chavez and the communist Cuban government. Ortega was once one of the most bitter foes of Washington, which secretly backed a rebel insurgency aimed at toppling him.

Chavez was arriving just hours after he was sworn in for another six-year term in his own country, echoing Cuban communist leader Fidel Castro in taking his oath: “Socialism or death!”

WASHINGTON

Report: 744,000 homeless in 2005

There were 744,000 homeless people in the United States in 2005, according to the first national estimate in a decade.

A little more than half were living in shelters, and nearly a quarter were chronically homeless, according to the report yesterday by the National Alliance to End Homelessness, an advocacy group.

A majority of the homeless were single adults, but about 41 percent were in families, the report said.

The group compiled data collected by the Department of Housing and Urban Development from service providers throughout the country. It is the first national study on the number of homeless people since 1996. That study came up with a wide range for America’s homeless population: between 444,000 and 842,000.

NEW YORK

Conn. Senator announces ’08 White House bid

Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd, a veteran lawmaker who entered Congress in the post-Watergate class of 1974, will announce his bid for the presidency, Democratic officials said yesterday.

Dodd, 62, will make the formal announcement in an interview this morning on the “Imus in the Morning” radio show – a curious bit of timing since he’ll be forced to compete with heavy coverage of President Bush’s speech on the Iraq war.

– Compiled from Daily wire reports

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