■ United States
Moore posts `observers'
Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore announced that he is dispatching 1,200 people to literally watch the polls in today's presidential election in the US. The volunteers will be outfitted with video cameras to record any irregularities that might occur in the battleground states of Florida and Ohio. The well-publicized opponent of President George W. Bush made the award-winning documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, which was released this year and bashed Bush and his decision to go to war in Iraq. In a statement, Moore said he was sending out the observers because he was worried that some voters might be intimidated and their votes suppressed.
Marxist rebels freed four hostages whom they had held in the jungle for as long as three years and four months, relatives of the former captives said. The four former hostages were flown to Neiva, 240km southwest of the capital Bogota, on Sunday aboard a military plane. One of the hostages said their release was unexpected. Anibal Rodriguez, her daughter Natalia and brother-in-law Jaime Brinez were among 16 people who were snatched by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, on July 26, 2001, during a mass kidnapping in Neiva.
Elections strengthen Chavez
Left-wing President Hugo Chavez consolidated political power on Sunday by sweeping to victory in regional elections two months after winning a referendum, according to preliminary results. National Electoral Council director Jorge Rodriguez said partial results showed supporters of the former army officer had captured at least five more states and the greater Caracas mayor's post from opponents. Chavez, a firebrand populist first elected in 1998, has vowed to strengthen his social, land and education reforms for the poor after ousting opposition governors and mayors whom he accuses of backing a brief 2002 coup against him.
Leftists win presidency
Uruguay's Left celebrated its first presidential victory into the wee hours yesterday while partial election returns indicated Tabare Vazquez would win and his main challengers conceded on exit poll results. With half of the votes tallied, the charismatic 64-year-old doctor was just short of the 50 percent needed to win in first-round balloting on Sunday. But he should surpass that level when more votes come in from the capital Montevideo, his stronghold and home to half of the country's voters. Vazquez declared himself winner a few hours after compulsory voting ended in the nation of 3.4 million.