Cruise ship safe at Argentine port

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - A damaged cruise ship reached Argentina's southernmost port early Friday with its 88 American passengers and 77 crew members safe after a large wave broke its bridge window and cut off its communications and radar.

The Clelia II was to stay four days in Antarctica but had to sail back to its scheduled port of Ushuaia after only two days because of the incident on Tuesday, according to passengers. It was a very slow trip in heavy weather, said passenger Denis Smyth, 68, a Navy veteran from Rockville Point, N.Y.

Smyth said a large wave broke loose a railing that smashed through the window of the bridge. Water then poured in, short-circuiting the communications and radar. At another point, a half-dozen people fell off their chairs during a wildlife lecture, but no one was seriously injured, he said.

The Clelia II declared an emergency on Tuesday when it was northeast of the South Shetland Islands, the Argentine navy said in a statement. Smyth said the passengers, ages 50 to 85, had paid more than $9,000 a person for their berths. - AP

Drug-cartel chief is believed dead

MEXICO CITY - The eccentric leader of the brutal La Familia drug cartel is believed to have been killed in a shootout during two days of fighting between federal police and gunmen that terrified civilians across a western Mexican state, the government said Friday.

The death of Nazario Moreno Gonzalez - nicknamed "The Craziest One" - would be a major blow to a drug cartel that burst into national prominence four years ago by rolling severed heads into a nightclub and declaring that its mission was to protect Michoacan state from rival gangs and criminals.

Police have received information that the 40-year-old Gonzalez - also known as "El Chayo" or "The Doctor" - was killed in a clash Thursday between cartel gunmen and federal police, said Alejandro Poire, the government spokesman for security issues.

- AP

France welcomes German troops

STRASBOURG, France - For the first time since World War II, German combat troops are being stationed in France, part of a conscious effort to show the two EU powers have forever buried former hatreds.

A German battalion in a French-German military brigade officially took up arms Friday at a symbolism-rich ceremony in eastern France attended by the two countries' defense ministers.

The 6,000-strong French-German Brigade was created in 1989. But until this year, German combat troops had never been stationed in France, though French ones had been posted at bases in Germany - a legacy of the Allies' postwar occupation. - AP

Elsewhere:

A rare and unusually fatal outbreak of polio in Republic of Congo has caused more than 200 deaths, a UNICEF spokesman said Friday. The disease usually strikes children younger than 5, but most of those affected have been males 15 to 24 years old, spokesman Martin Dawes said.