Lawmakers brawl in Kiev; 6 injured

KIEV, Ukraine - A fierce fight in Ukraine's parliament sent at least six lawmakers to the hospital with concussions, a fractured jaw, and multiple bruises, setting a new low for the often-tumultuous body.

Ambulances rushed to parliament late Thursday after lawmakers from President Viktor Yanukovych's Party of Regions stormed the parliament podium, which was occupied by opposition allies of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Pro-Tymoshenko legislators had been blocking legislative work all day, protesting a corruption probe against her.

Parliament Speaker Volodymyr Lytvyn, who hid from flying eggs and smoke bombs behind an umbrella during a fight in April, said Friday that it was time to put an end to the mess. Lytvyn produced iron bars, chains, and locks, which he said were brought into the hall Thursday.

"What relation does this have to legislative activity?" he said. "How can we teach children democracy and love for their motherland?" Six lawmakers were injured in the fight and four were still in the hospital Friday, Tymoshenko's office said. - AP

U.N. seeks source of Haiti cholera

UNITED NATIONS - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of an international scientific panel Friday to investigate the source of the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed more than 2,400 people.

The U.N. chief told a news conference that he was creating the independent panel to make a determination since there are several different theories about the origin of the outbreak. Ban said the panel would include epidemiologists and microbiologists and he hopes to announce its members "as soon as possible."

There has been widespread speculation in Haiti that the outbreak started at a base for U.N. peacekeepers from Nepal not far from where hundreds of Haitians began falling ill. U.N. officials rejected any idea the base was involved, saying its sanitation was airtight. - AP

Chavez can enact laws by decree

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan lawmakers granted President Hugo Chavez broad powers Friday to enact laws by decree, undermining the clout of a new congress that takes office next month with a bigger opposition bloc.

Chavez opponents condemned the move as a power grab, saying the law gives him a blank check to rule without consulting lawmakers. The National Assembly approved the special powers for 18 months.

A new congress goes into session Jan. 5 with an opposition contingent large enough to hinder approval of some types of major laws. Chavez has argued he needs decree powers to fast-track funds to help the victims of recent floods and landslides, and also to hasten Venezuela's transition to a socialist state.

- AP