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A soldier plays a drum after the swearing-in ceremony of Brazil's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia. Rousseff, 63, is the hand-picked successor of the popular Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
A soldier plays a drum after the swearing-in ceremony of Brazil's first female president, Dilma Rousseff, in Brasilia. Rousseff, 63, is the hand-picked successor of the popular Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. (Silvia Izquierdo)

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

West Bank

Palestinian woman dies after tear-gassing

A Palestinian woman from the West Bank village of Bilin died Saturday a day after inhaling tear gas fired by Israeli troops during a demonstration against Israel's separation barrier, witnesses said.

Protesters march weekly in Bilin against the West Bank fence, which has cut off the village from much of its farmland. Friday's protest, the last of 2010, was bigger than usual, with hundreds of participants, including supporters from outside the village.

Witnesses said Jawaher Abu Rahma, 36, was hospitalized in Ramallah after choking on tear gas, and efforts to save her failed. The Israeli army said it was investigating. The woman's brother was killed at a protest in 2009 when he was struck by a tear-gas projectile.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that the route of the barrier at Bilin should be changed, allowing villagers access to more of their lands, but the army has yet to comply.

The latest violence came as Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts remain stalled. Direct talks broke down in late September after Israel resumed new construction in West Bank settlements after a 10-month freeze, and the Palestinians said they would not negotiate unless the building stopped.

The Obama administration continues to meet separately with both sides.

- Joel Greenberg

Korean peninsula

North signals interest in talks with South

North Korea welcomed the new year Saturday with a call for better ties with rival South Korea, warning that war "will bring nothing but a nuclear holocaust."

However, the North, which has conducted two nuclear tests since 2006, also used its annual New Year's message to declare that its military is ready for "prompt, merciless and annihilatory action" against its enemies.

South Korea's Unification Ministry said that despite the tough rhetoric, the editorial carried in the official Korean Central News Agency showed the North's interest in resuming talks with the South.

The annual holiday message is scrutinized by neighboring countries for policy clues. This year, it received special attention after the North's Nov. 23 artillery shelling of a South Korean island near the countries' disputed western sea border, the first attack on a civilian area since the Korean War.

That barrage, which followed the North's torpedoing of a South Korean warship in March, had fueled fears of war in recent weeks.


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