Argentina wrests newsprint control

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - The paper used to produce newspapers came under government control in Argentina on Thursday, in a long-sought victory for President Cristina Fernandez in her dispute with the opposition media.

Argentina's Senate, which is controlled by Fernandez's allies, voted 41-26 to control newsprint's manufacture, sale, and distribution to media friends and foes alike.

Argentina also approved a tough package of new laws against terrorism and financial crimes Thursday, dismissing concerns that the government could use them to attack political opponents.

After three hours of post-midnight debate, the Senate agreed to double penalties for any crime committed with the goal of terrorizing the people or pressuring authorities to take some action. Human-rights groups are concerned that the vaguely worded law will give future governments broad powers to crack down on social protests. - AP

Nigerian oil spill imperils wildlife

LAGOS, Nigeria - An oil spill near the coast of Nigeria is likely the worst to hit those waters in a decade, a government official said Thursday, as slicks from the Royal Dutch Shell P.L.C. spill approached the country's southern shoreline.

The slick from Shell's Bonga field has affected 115 miles of ocean near Nigeria's coast, said Peter Idabor, who leads the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency. Idabor said the slick continued toward the shore Thursday night, putting at risk birds, fish, and other wildlife.

Shell, the major oil producer in Nigeria, said Wednesday the spill likely occurred as workers tried to offload oil onto a tanker. The company published photographs of the spill, showing a telltale rainbow sheen in the ocean, but said it believes that about 50 percent of the leaked oil had evaporated. The source of the leak has been plugged, Idabor said. - AP

Iran's navy plans a show of force

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's navy chief said Thursday his forces plan to hold a 10-day drill in international waters beyond the strategic Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, an exercise that could bring Iranian ships into proximity with U.S. Navy vessels.

The drill will be Iran's latest show of strength in the face of mounting international criticism over its controversial nuclear program, which the West fears is aimed at producing atomic weapons - charges that Tehran denies, insisting the program is for peaceful purposes only.

The Strait of Hormuz is of strategic significance as the passageway for about a third of the world's oil tanker traffic. The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is also active in the area, as are warships of several other countries that patrol for pirates there. - AP

Elsewhere:

President Obama on Thursday announced an additional $113 million in emergency aid to the Horn of Africa, where millions of people in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are suffering through famine and drought. Tens of thousands have died. The new emergency relief assistance is on top of $870 million the United States has already provided.