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Chavez rejects U.S. ambassador

CARACAS, Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez formally rejected Washington's nominee for ambassador Monday, and the State Department said the decision would have consequences in U.S. relations with Venezuela.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Venezuela's government presented an American diplomat in Caracas with a note withdrawing its consent for Larry Palmer.

Crowley repeated that the United States stood behind its nomination of Palmer, who awaits Senate confirmation. Crowley would not comment on specific U.S. responses.

Chavez warned Saturday that if Palmer arrived in Venezuela he would be put on the next flight home. Palmer angered Chavez by suggesting during Senate confirmation hearings that morale was low in Venezuela's military and that Colombian rebels get refuge in Venezuela. - AP

Europe mulling new pilot rules

BRUSSELS - The European Aviation Safety Agency, seeking to reduce pilot fatigue, a major cause of crashes, proposed Monday that pilots not work more than 14 hours during the daytime or 12 hours at night, including time waiting to get airborne.

Europe's umbrella pilots union said the proposal was inadequate and it accused the agency of buckling to pressure from airlines. The European Cockpit Association, which represents 39,000 pilots, urged bigger reductions in continuous work hours.

The new rules, if accepted by the European Union after a comment period, would standardize work hours in all member countries. Currently in Britain, for example, pilots cannot be on duty for longer than nine hours a day; elsewhere in Europe the limits are higher.

The Federal Aviation Administration in the United States also has proposed new limits on pilots' hours, barring them from working more than 13 hours in a 24-hour period - a reduction of three hours. - AP

Higher toll feared in boat crash

SYDNEY - The bodies of an estimated 18 asylum seekers unaccounted for since their boat smashed into cliffs on Australia's remote Christmas Island may never be found, the prime minister said Monday.

That would push up the number killed in the disaster to at least 48.

Thirty bodies have been recovered since the rickety boat packed with Iraqi, Iranian, and Kurdish asylum seekers broke apart in stormy seas last week. Forty-two people were rescued from the churning surf, but officials believe at least 18 were swept away in the strong currents.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said it appeared about 90 asylum seekers were on the boat. "That does mean, of course, that we are still not able to account for around 18 people on the boat," Gillard told reporters in Canberra. "But I do say that we may never know the total number with certainty." - AP


Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan launched My Friends and I, a book in which he has compiled his Facebook interactions. He said it was an effort to "encourage a reading culture" in the country, Africa's most populous.