Farewell given to Chavez
With folk songs, a soaring choir and the brandishing of a symbolic sword, Venezuela bade goodbye to President Hugo Chavez in an emotional funeral Friday as his hand-picked successor pledged to fiercely defend his socialist revolution.
The ceremony drew world leaders, athletes and left-wing celebrities, while multitudes of Chavez supporters watched on giant screens outside. The day was set to end with the swearing-in of Vice President Nicolas Maduro as interim president, despite criticism from opposition leaders that the move is unconstitutional.
The United States was represented by Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, and former Rep. William Delahunt, a Democrat from Massachusetts.
Mideast peace talks unlikely
President Barack Obama is playing down expectations for a Mideast peace breakthrough during his upcoming trip to Israel, telling American Jewish leaders that he won’t be carrying a “grand peace plan” when he arrives in the region later this month.
Obama, in an hourlong private meeting at the White House on Thursday, acknowledged that near-term prospects for peace are bleak, according to a person who attended the discussion. But the president said a deal with the Palestinians remains the only way for Israel to achieve long-term security.
Israel’s political climate makes the prospects for jumpstarting peace talks all the more unlikely during Obama’s trip.
La Salle students safe
Officials say more than three dozen Pennsylvania college students visiting Kentucky for a mission trip are all safe after becoming lost when a sightseeing mountain hike unexpectedly stretched into the night.
Rescuers were able to find them after an hours-long effort in rough terrain and freezing temperatures.
A spokesman for La Salle University in Philadelphia says the group was made up of 37 students and three staff members. They were spending spring break helping build houses in the Harlan, Ky., area about a half-hour from Whitesburg, he said.
Racism screenings for cops?
A police chief hired to rebuild a tiny Tennessee department dismantled by scandal is using a lie-detector test to keep racists off his force.
Coopertown Police Chief Shane Sullivan took over the department in November, becoming the 11th chief in as many years. He was hired on the heels of a series of police scandals that for a few months left Coopertown with no police at all.
Law enforcement experts say Sullivan’s polygraph approach is unusual, though some departments use the devices for other purposes during the application process. Others try to root out bias in other ways. One polygraph expert warned that lie detectors can’t accurately predict racism for reasons that include people’s inability to recognize their own racism.