National & world briefs

Published: Thursday, January 2, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 1, 2003 at 9:11 p.m.
  • CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Almost all surgeries were canceled at four West Virginia hospitals beginning Wednesday as more than two dozen surgeons began a protest of the high cost of malpractice insurance.
    In one hospital, 18 of the 19 orthopedic, cardiac and general surgeons are taking leave this week in protest. On Wednesday, at least one patient was transferred 90 miles to another hospital in order to undergo an operation.
    The West Virginia general, orthopedic and heart surgeons complain that their state has done too little to address their rising insurance costs.

    Brazil's new president pledges to fight poverty

  • BRASILIA, Brazil - Brazil's first elected leftist president took office Wednesday, pledging to ease the agony of countless impoverished and hungry Brazilians who inhabit South America's biggest country - a fertile land the size of the continental United States.
    Choking back tears as he spoke to an estimated 200,000 supporters, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said there was no excuse for hunger among any of Brazil's estimated 50 million poor.
    Silva warned, however, that the task would be difficult. Brazil's weakened economy has produced double-digit inflation and a currency that lost 35 percent of its value against the dollar last year.

    Mexicans mourn deaths in fireworks explosions

  • VERACRUZ, Mexico - The people of this port city are known for their extravagant celebrations, but spent New Year's Day mourning the deaths of at least 28 people after a chain of fireworks explosions blasted through a crowded central market.
    Sobbing friends and relatives made their way to the site of charred rubble Wednesday to see if their loved ones were among the dead. Many of the victims were burned beyond recognition, and officials asked residents to provide dental records to help identify the bodies.

    Monitors visit brewery, bottling plant in Iraq

  • BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.N. arms inspectors made surprise visits to a brewery and a 7UP bottling plant Wednesday in their continuing search for banned chemical, biological and nuclear weapons in Iraq.
    The inspectors also appeared unannounced at a missile maintenance factory and a truck repair company, where the owner complained they had disrupted his New Year's holiday. All four inspections occurred in or near Baghdad.

    Venezuelan president leaves nation for Brazil

  • CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez left his strikebound and politically riven country Wednesday to attend the presidential inauguration in Brazil, and again refused to bow to opposition leaders who have crippled Venezuela in a month of massive protests.
    "It's not a strike, it is a conspiracy," Chavez said after arriving in Brasilia for Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's swearing-in. "Venezuelan workers are on the side of the government. . . .The country hasn't stopped."
    - Compiled from The Associated Press
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