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Archive for Thursday, January 23, 2003

Briefly

January 23, 2003

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Washington, D.C.

Ridge unanimously confirmed as homeland security chief

The Senate confirmed Tom Ridge as homeland security chief Wednesday with a unanimous vote of 94-0.

Ridge, 57, former Pennsylvania governor, will head the new Homeland Security Department that originated in legislation signed by President Bush last November. Ridge will be sworn into office on Friday.

The department eventually will be composed of 170,000 civil servants now working at 22 separate agencies with security-related functions.

Venezuela

Supreme Court suspends referendum on Chavez's rule

In a setback for opposition efforts to oust President Hugo Chavez, the Supreme Court on Wednesday indefinitely postponed a nationwide referendum that would have asked Venezuelans whether the president should quit.

The high court decision just 11 days before the scheduled vote stunned the opposition, which delivered 2 million signatures in November to demand the referendum and backed it up with a strike that has lasted 52 days.

Opposition leaders reacted angrily to the court's decision, contending that Chavez's government was acting through the court to cling to power.

Saudi Arabia

Kuwaiti arrested in attack

Saudi Arabian border guards Wednesday arrested a Kuwaiti suspected of killing one American and critically wounding another in an ambush in Kuwait, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

The agency said the Kuwaiti, who was not named, was arrested Wednesday "sneaking into Saudi Arabia."

"The initial investigation revealed that he was the assailant who fired on the American citizens on Tuesday," the report said.

A Kuwaiti government spokesman said he would not comment on the report until today.

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