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St. Peter's Basilica is framed by the 82-foot Christmas tree lit up at the Vatican on Friday. Ukraine supplied the tree.
St. Peter's Basilica is framed by the 82-foot Christmas tree lit up at the Vatican on Friday. Ukraine supplied the tree.Read more   

Chavez presents coffin for Bolivar

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez paid tribute to 19th-century independence leader Simon Bolivar on Saturday by unveiling a new coffin containing Bolivar's remains and adorned with gold, pearls, and diamonds.

Soldiers lifted a flag from the mahogany coffin during a ceremony marking the anniversary of Bolivar's death in 1830. Bolivar is both a national hero in Venezuela and the namesake of Chavez's Bolivarian Revolution political movement.

"You live on in us," Chavez said in a speech, standing next to the coffin. "As the years pass, you will be more alive, father Bolivar." Officials have said Chavez's government is spending 119 million bolivars ($27.7 million) to build a new mausoleum.

Chavez oversaw the exhumation of Bolivar's remains last year, seeking to confirm his idol's identity and investigate a theory that Bolivar could have been killed. Researchers confirmed Bolivar's identity through DNA tests but were unable to pin down the cause of his death.

- AP

Migrants missing at sea near Java

JAKARTA, Indonesia - A wooden ship believed to be carrying more than 200 migrants, many of them from the Middle East, sank Saturday off Indonesia's main island of Java, local media reported. So far only 33 people have been rescued.

Police blamed the accident on overloading, telling the official news agency Antara that the vessel appeared to have been carrying more than twice its capacity. Those on board Saturday - apparently heading to Australia - were from Afghanistan, Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.

One of the survivors, Esmat Adine, 24, told Antara the ship started rocking from side to side, triggering widespread panic. Because people were so tightly packed, they had nowhere to go. Adine, an Afghan migrant, said that he and others survived by clinging to parts of the broken vessel until they were picked up by local fishermen. - AP

Mexican party names candidate

MEXICO CITY - The party that ruled Mexico for most of the 20th century has officially named the candidate it hopes can wrest back the presidency in 2012.

The Institutional Revolutionary Party gave Enrique Pena Nieto a document declaring him the party's candidate Saturday. All other hopefuls had already dropped out. Legal candidate registration takes place in February, and the campaign starts in March.

The former Mexico State governor has a strong lead in most polls. His party ran Mexico from 1929 to 2000, when it lost to the National Action Party that still governs. National Action is still choosing its candidate. - AP


The president of Kazakhstan declared a state of emergency Saturday in a town in the western oil-producing region of the country, where striking workers and the police fought the day before, leaving at least 11 people dead. "We will not permit any attempts to disturb the peace and calm in our home, to erase the achievements of our independence," Nursultan Nazarbayev said in a statement.