National

Colombia kills top strategist for rebel army

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia's military killed the No. 2 leader and top military strategist of the country's main rebel army in bombardments of a major jungle camp, officials announced Thursday, saying rebel informants helped prepare the demoralizing shock to an already weakened insurgency.

The death of Jorge Briceno, also known as Mono Jojoy, is a huge setback for the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, which has been reeling from years of pressure by an increasingly effective U.S.-backed military.

President Juan Manuel Santos called the attack "the most crushing blow against the FARC in its entire history."

Venezuelans rally ahead of elections

CARACAS, Venezuela — Opponents and supporters of President Hugo Chavez held their final rallies on Thursday ahead of legislative elections that both of Venezuela's political camps view as a critical test.

Venezuelans on Sunday will elect 165 members of the National Assembly, which has been almost entirely pro-Chavez since opposition parties boycotted the last vote in 2005 citing concerns about possible irregularities.

Karaoke champ prize: one million dumplings

MOSCOW — The winner of the Karaoke World Championships may not achieve world fame, but at least he or she won't have to worry where the next meal is coming from — the top prize is 1 million Russian dumplings.

With an unusual purse like that, it's clear that karaokists retain a sense of humor about a pursuit as derided as it is popular. But they're also serious enough about it to have traveled from as far away as Australia and Nigeria for a three-day battle-of-no-bands in a Moscow banquet hall.

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