Nation & World

December 11, 2007

N.J. appears set to abolish death penalty

TRENTON, N.J. -- The state Senate approved legislation yesterday that would make New Jersey the first state to abolish the death penalty since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated it in 1976. The measure to replace the death sentence with life without parole would spare the life of a sex offender whose crimes sparked Megan's Law. With the support of the Democratic-controlled Assembly and the Democratic governor, the bill is expected to be signed into law within a month. New Jersey has eight men on death row and hasn't executed anyone since 1963.

Argentina swears in ex-president's wife

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina --Invoking the spirit of Eva Peron and the mothers who confronted the former dictatorship, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was sworn in yesterday as Argentina's first elected female president. "I know that it will be more difficult for me because I am a woman," the longtime senator and former first lady told assembled lawmakers in the ornate congressional palace downtown. "But I believe I have the strength to be able to do it." Seated by her side was her husband, outgoing President Nestor Kirchner, who renounced almost-certain re-election this year and instead designated his wife as their party's candidate to succeed him.

France drafts plan to punish Iran anew

WASHINGTON --A draft plan for new United Nations sanctions against Iran would punish a branch of the Iranian armed forces and one of the nation's largest banks, despite last week's U.S. re-evaluation of Iran's nuclear intentions, U.S. officials said yesterday. A preliminary sanctions plan drafted by France is under consideration by leading members of the U.N. Security Council. The United States, which has been pressing for continued sanctions pressure on Iran, supports the package. Diplomats from the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany are to discuss the draft today. If passed by the Security Council, the plan would slap a third round of sanctions on Iran for defying international demands that it roll back and explain its nuclear program.

Lebanese lawmakers delay presidential vote

BEIRUT, Lebanon --A sharply divided Lebanese parliament again put off its vote for a new president as political bickering yesterday still snarled an effort to install the army chief in the post as a compromise candidate. Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri issued a terse statement late yesterday announcing that the ballot was being pushed back for yet another week, until Dec. 17. The army commander, Gen. Michel Suleiman, emerged as a consensus choice for the presidency early this month with the backing of both parliament's anti-Syria majority and the Syria-friendly opposition led by the militant group Hezbollah. But parliament members have been unable to agree on holding a vote to pass a constitutional amendment that would allow an army chief to be elected president and on the presidential ballot.

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