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News Briefs

With New Chief, Uruguay Veers Left

When tiny Uruguay inaugurates its new president here on Tuesday, it will make a clear break with the country’s past. After 150 years in which two moderate parties alternated in power, Uruguay’s five million people will have turned decisively to the left.

But more than that, the moment is fraught with symbolism for the region. Uruguay’s shift consolidates what has become the new leftist consensus in South America. Three-quarters of the region’s 355 million people are now governed by left-leaning leaders, all of whom have emerged in the last six years to redefine what the left means today.

They are not so much a red tide as a pink one. Doctrinaire socialism carries the day far less than pragmatism, an important change in tone and policy that makes this political moment decidedly new.

From Brazil to Argentina to Ecuador and Venezuela, while demonstrating important differences in style and substance, these new leaders are united in their conviction that the free-market reforms of the 1990s have failed and by a renewed focus on egalitarianism and social welfare, but not to the point where it breaks the bank.

They are sympathetic to the symbols and rhetoric of the left’s revolutionary past, cozy with Fidel Castro, and frequently anti-American in their talk, but they continue to pursue economic policies that are favorable to American interests and sensitive to perceptions of Wall Street. None, for instance, would even think of nationalizing foreign-owned companies, as both Castro and Salvador Allende of Chile once did.

Rice Urges Palestinians To Dismantle Terror Groups

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, traveling to an international conference on aiding the Palestinian authority, warned Palestinian leaders on Monday that they had better come prepared to show a clear resolve to break up terrorist groups.

Speaking to reporters aboard her plane on the way here, Rice lamented the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Friday that killed five Israelis, and then said it was time for the Palestinians “to begin dismantling the terrorist infrastructure. That is what I will be looking for.”

She also said the event was “an important opportunity for the Palestinians to demonstrate how they plan to carry out economic reforms.”

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, is playing host for the conference on Tuesday, and in talks with President Bush last year he urged the United States to attend. Israel was not invited; the conference, attended by representatives from the United Nations, the European Union, and more than a dozen nations, was to be dedicated to helping the Palestinians improve their government and security structures.

But Rice’s remarks suggested that, after the bombing last week, the tenor of the meeting had changed. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, has tried to curb attacks on Israelis by persuading the various Palestinian groups to observe a cease-fire -- rather than trying to dismantle them, as Israel has urged.

U.S. Details Iraq’s Human Rights Abuses in 2004

The State Department on Monday detailed an array of human rights abuses last year by the Iraqi government, including torture, rape and illegal detentions by police officers and functionaries of the interim administration that took power in June.

In the Bush administration’s bluntest description of human rights transgressions by the U.S.-supported government, the report said the Iraqis “generally respected human rights, but serious problems remained” as the government and U.S.-led foreign forces fought a violent insurgency. It cited “reports of arbitrary deprivation of life, torture, impunity, poor prison conditions -- particularly in pretrial detention facilities -- and arbitrary arrest and detention.”

The lengthy discussion came in a chapter on Iraq in the department’s annual report on human rights, which pointedly criticized not only countries that have been found chronically deficient, like North Korea, Syria and Iran, but also some close U.S. allies, including Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.

The allegations of abuses by an Iraqi government installed by the United States and still heavily influenced by it provided an unusual element to the larger report. The report did not address incidents in Iraq in which Americans were involved, like the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which came to light in 2004.

CNN Becomes the First Cable News Network to Run Liquor Ads

CNN has become the first national cable television news network to accept commercials for distilled spirits, running a spot Monday night for Grey Goose vodka during “News Night With Aaron Brown.”

The policy change also affects a CNN sibling, CNN Headline News, although that network has no liquor marketers scheduled to run commercials yet.

In rewriting its policy to accept liquor advertising for the first time since it began operating in 1980, CNN joins a growing list of national cable channels that run such commercials. The rest, focused on entertainment, financial and sports programming, include BET, Bloomberg, Bravo, E, FX, Fox Sports, Golf Channel, Spike TV, Sci-Fi Channel, Style, USA and VH1.

CNN and Headline News are also joining those cable networks in imposing rules for liquor commercials that are stricter than those for many other advertising categories.