U.N. authorizes action in Mali

UNITED NATIONS - The U.N. Security Council on Thursday authorized military action to wrest northern Mali from the control of al-Qaeda-linked extremists but demanded progress first on political reconciliation, elections, and training of African troops and police.

A resolution adopted unanimously by the United Nations' most powerful body stressed that there must be a two-track plan, political and military, to reunify the country, which has been in turmoil since a coup in March.

The Security Council authorized an African-led force to support Malian authorities in recovering the north - an area the size of Texas - but set no time line for military action. Instead, it set out benchmarks to be met before the start of offensive operations, beginning with progress on a political road map to restore constitutional order.

The resolution also emphasizes that further military planning is needed before the African-led force is sent to the north and asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to "confirm in advance the council's satisfaction with the planned military offensive operation."

- AP

Chavez decision may go to court

CARACAS, Venezuela - The president of Venezuela's Supreme Court said Thursday that it could decide whether it's constitutional to postpone the date of ailing President Hugo Chavez's swearing-in as he recovers from cancer surgery in Cuba.

Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales also said the matter has not yet been brought before the court. Chavez is due to be sworn in for another six-year term on Jan. 10, but complications after his Dec. 11 surgery and his silence after the procedure have thrown into doubt whether he will be capable of taking the oath of office.

The justice's remarks came after National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello suggested on Tuesday that Chavez's inauguration could be postponed - a statement that has fed uncertainty about his prospects of recovery.

- AP

Raft accident kills Pa. woman

LIMA, Peru - Police said that they have found the body of an American woman who was missing after a raft carrying foreign tourists capsized in a turbulent river. A Canadian man also died, and his body was found earlier.

Officials said the accident happened Tuesday in Cuzco province as Peruvian guides took three rafts down the rain-swollen Vilcanota River carrying tourists. The region where the accident occurred is a popular destination for adventure sports.

Alycia Berrier, 23, from Pennsylvania, had initially been reported missing and was confirmed dead on Wednesday. The Canadian man was identified as Nishant Fozdar Jagdeep, 25. Authorities haven't given their hometowns.

- AP