World briefs – September 27

Venezuela is awaiting the results of congressional elections, and President Hugo Chavez’s opponents are hoping to break his long-standing monopoly on power in the National Assembly.

Venezuela awaits congressional vote results

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuela is awaiting the results of congressional elections, and President Hugo Chavez’s opponents are hoping to break his long-standing monopoly on power in the National Assembly.

Voters formed long lines at polling stations during Sunday’s balloting, which stirred strong sentiment on both sides of Venezuela’s political divide. Chavez said turnout could be as high as 70 per cent.

At least 16 people have been detained in scattered violations of electoral rules, and some Chavez opponents are complaining about pro-government groups riding motorcycles near polling stationss. But National Electoral Council member Sandra Oblitas says no major problems were reported during the voting.


Germany bus crash kills 12

BERLIN — At least 12 people were killed and dozens injured Sunday when a bus carrying Polish tourists crashed on the highway southeast of Berlin, police said.

Arne Feuring, president of police in Frankfurt an der Oder, told the news agency DAPD that seven of the wounded were in critical condition, while another 27 suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk and Health Minister Ewa Kopacz arrived in Berlin later Sunday to view the crash site and visit the injured, who were being treated in several Berlin hospitals.

Ahead of his arrival, Chancellor Angela Merkel called Tusk to express her sympathy and vow that German doctors and officials would do their utmost to help heal the wounded.

“This accident affects not only our Polish friends, but us as well,” German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said in a statement. “Our deepest sympathy and our thoughts are with the friends and family of the victims in their dark hour.”


France ready to talk to kidnappers

PARIS — The French president’s office says that Paris is prepared to talk to al-Qaida kidnappers who abducted five French workers and two others in a Niger mining town.

The office of President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Sunday that there has been no contact with the captors but “Paris is ready to discuss” the kidnappings 10 days ago in the mining town of Arlit.

The North African branch of al-Qaida has claimed responsibility for the abductions and said it would send France its demands. French Defence Minister Herve Morin said on Saturday that the demands are “what we’re waiting for.”

Morin also said there is “every reason to think” that the hostages are alive.


Pastor accused in sex scandal speaks out

LITHONIA, Ga. — The pastor of a Georgia megachurch says that he will fight allegations that he lured young men into sexual relationships. He says that he is not the man being portrayed in the media.

Bishop Eddie Long told a congregation of thousands on Sunday that he has been accused and is under attack. He says “I am not a perfect man, but this thing I’m going to fight.”

Long also says he feels like “David against Goliath.” Long told the crowd that he realized people had been waiting on him to speak since the lawsuits were filed.

Four young men have sued Long, claiming he lured them into sexual relationships with gifts and overseas trips when they were 17 and 18 years old.