World/nation briefs

  • Updated: November 28, 2012 - 6:46 PM

WASHINGTON, D.C.

House panel promises more VA oversight

The truce is over and expect more aggressive oversight, a House committee chairman angrily told leaders of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The comments from Rep. Jeff Miller, R-Fla., who heads the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, came at the conclusion of an often contentious hearing regarding spending at employee training conferences. Miller called the hearing in response to an inspector general's report that described $762,000 in expenses from two Orlando, Fla., conferences that were deemed as wasteful or unnecessary.

Inquiry into general narrows focus

Two and a half weeks after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced an inquiry into e-mail exchanges between Gen. John Allen of the Marines and a socialite in Tampa, Fla., 15 investigators working seven days a week have narrowed their focus to 60 to 70 e-mails that "bear a fair amount of scrutiny," a Pentagon official said. The official did not disclose the content of the e-mails, but senior Pentagon officials have described the voluminous correspondence between Allen, the NATO commander in Afghanistan, and the socialite, Jill Kelley, as potentially "inappropriate communication."

NEW YORK

Nanny pleads not guilty to murder

The nanny charged with fatally stabbing two children she cared for in Manhattan pleaded not guilty to murder charges from her hospital bed. Yoselyn Ortega, 50, has been hospitalized since Oct. 25, when the children were found dead in a luxury apartment building a block from Central Park. The police charged Ortega with first-degree murder on Nov. 3, delaying the charges because unable to speak as she received treatment for self-inflicted knife wounds to her throat and wrists.

TEXAS

State moves to seize polygamists' ranch

The Texas attorney general moved to seize the ranch owned by convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs' group, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Investigators filed a warrant to seize the 1,600-acre ranch in West Texas under a state law that allows seizure of property used to commit or facilitate criminal conduct.

VENEZUELA

Chavez returns to Cuba for therapy

President Hugo Chavez arrived in Havana, Cuba, for treatment to aid his recovery from cancer, seven weeks after winning re-election in a campaign in which he told voters he was "totally free" of the disease. The self-proclaimed socialist, who cut back public appearances after earning a third six-year term in October, sought permission from Congress to leave Venezuela and travel to the Communist island for a seventh time this year to undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

IRAN

Tehran plans to speed uranium enrichment

Iran will step up its uranium-enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel, said Iran's nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi. That's in direct defiance of demands by Western nations, which suspect Iran's nuclear program could be headed toward weapons production and has imposed punishing sanctions to try to persuade Tehran to stop enrichment.

CONGO

M23 rebels announce plans to leave Goma

The M23 rebel group said it's preparing to withdraw from Goma, a day after saying any pullout would be conditional on President Joseph Kabila's government meeting a series of demands. The fighters plan to move 12 miles outside Goma, the capital of North Kivu Province, as requested by regional leaders on Nov. 24, Bishop Jean-Marie Runiga, head of M23's political wing, said by telephone. "We will withdraw and then we will see if the government is serious," Runiga said. After the pullout, the M23 wants direct talks with Kabila that will include members of Congo's opposition and civil society, he said.

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