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March 5, 2013 at 5:18 PM   |   Comments

Venezuela: President Chavez dead at 58

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 5 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday, Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced in a televised address Tuesday. Chavez was 58.

Maduro said Chavez died at 4:25 p.m., Caracas time, CNN reported.

The announcement came after the government said Chavez was suffering from a severe respiratory infection caused by an immune system weakened by to his medical condition.

Minister of Communication and Information Ernesto Villegas said earlier in a nationwide address that Chavez experienced "a deterioration of his respiratory function due to the immune-suppressed status characterizing his clinical condition," El Universal reported.

"Currently, he has a new and severe infection," Villegas said.

Chavez recently returned to Venezuela from Cuba where he received treatment for cancer.

Chavez was aware of his condition and was complying with a treatment plan designed by his medical team, Villegas said.

Villegas urged Venezuelans to reject attempts by the opposition to use Chavez's condition "as an excuse to destabilize the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."


Venezuela expels U.S. attache

CARACAS, Venezuela, March 5 (UPI) -- Venezuela expelled a U.S. Embassy attache Tuesday, with Vice President Nicolas Maduro saying the diplomat was trying to form an anti-government military plot.

The country's information ministry said David Del Monaco, an Air Force attache for the U.S. Embassy, was expelled "for being implicated in a conspiratorial plan." No other details were reported.

"He has been evicted; he has 24 hours to leave Venezuela; our armed forces should be respected; we have forwarded a legal notice to the U.S. government," Maduro said, El Universal reported. ""We are tracking other constituent elements of that venomous scheme, intended to disrupt and cause small disturbances."

Maduro accused homegrown and foreign enemies of poisoning President Hugo Chavez, who the government said was battling an infection after undergoing cancer surgery, CNN reported.

Chavez's supporters say he is running the country through his illness, while critics of Chavez are demanding more information on his health.


Dow surges to all-time high

NEW YORK, March 5 (UPI) -- The Dow Jones industrial average blasted into new territory Tuesday, posting its best-ever closing and surpassing its previous intraday high.

Both previous records were set in 2007, before the financial crisis that scalded Wall Street and triggered a near global recession that displaced millions of jobs around the world.

Economic problems abound, but stocks have been on the rebound for two years, culminating in Tuesday's new high-water mark.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer for BMO Private Bank, based in Chicago, told The Wall Street Journal the Dow's performance "really does represent an achievement that we have climbed out of this crater."

By close of trading, the Dow added 125.95 points, or 0.89 percent, to reach 14,253.77 -- eclipsing its previous closing peak of 14,164.53, recorded Oct. 9, 2007.


Panel approves Brennan for CIA

WASHINGTON, March 5 (UPI) -- A U.S. Senate panel voted 12-3 behind closed doors Tuesday to recommend the confirmation of John Brennan as CIA director.

It was not immediately clear when the full Senate would vote on the nomination after the Senate Intelligence Committee acted, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he hopes to have a vote by the end of the week, Politico reported.

But Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., says he wants to know if Brennan believes the United States may legally use drones to conduct strikes on U.S. soil, and threatens to delay the nomination until he gets an answer, Politico reported.

Also, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., threaten to delay Brennan's confirmation if they do not get additional information about the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.


Two missing as truck slips on snowy road

MENOMINIE, Wis., March 5 (UPI) -- One man is dead and another was missing after a semi-trailer slid off a snow-covered Wisconsin highway into a river, the Wisconsin State Patrol said Tuesday.

State troopers said the truck, which was registered in Michigan, was eastbound on Interstate 94 when it jackknifed about 4 a.m. Tuesday and slid into the Red Cedar River near Menominee, KSTP-TV, St. Paul, Minn., reported.

Dive crews recovered the body of the driver and were searching for a passenger, KARE-TV, Minneapolis, reported.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation spokeswoman Christine Ouellette said eastbound lanes of I-94 have been reopened, after having been closed for a time during the search operation.

The winter storm threatened transportation and electrical service in at least 19 states as it moved across the eastern United States, ABC News reported.

Parts of North Carolina, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey were expected to get heavy snow Tuesday through Thursday, after the storm blasted portions of the Plains and Midwest, Accuweather.com said.


N. Korea threatens to nullify war truce

PYONGYANG, North Korea, March 5 (UPI) -- North Korea, citing what it called U.S.-led moves to punish it for its recent nuclear testing, threatened Tuesday to nullify the Korean war truce.

The threat came as the United States and China introduced new sanctions against North Korea at the United Nations. U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters the sanctions will be among "the toughest" imposed by the United Nations, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"The resolution tabled today will take the U.N. sanctions imposed on North Korea to the next level, breaking new ground and imposing significant new legal obligations," Rice said.

The ambassador said the sanctions target North Korean diplomats and Pyongyang's international banking relationships, the Journal reported. She said U.S.-Chinese agreement on the new sanctions came after "intensive and productive" negotiations and she hoped the U.N. Security Council would adopt them unanimously this week.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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