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Ireland's budget sparks dispute

DUBLIN — Opposition leaders vowed Thursday to rewrite Ireland's harsh four-year austerity plan if, as expected, they oust Prime Minister Brian Cowen in early elections next year.

European Union and International Monetary Fund experts negotiating an estimated $115 billion bailout for Ireland have demanded that the country make binding commitments to slash its deficit — now the worst in Europe — as a condition of any aid.

To that end, Ireland unveiled Wednesday a plan to cut $20 billion from its deficits through 2014, starting with a 2011 budget, which the government will present to parliament on Dec. 7.

Opposition chiefs have refused to confirm whether they will support that budget, which will seek $6 billion in new taxes. The government says the budget's defeat would imperil Ireland's efforts to save its banking system from collapse — and sabotage any hope of getting an EU-IMF loan.

Ex-security chief sought in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombian prosecutors issued an arrest warrant Thursday for a 73-year-old former domestic security chief who they say participated in the 1989 assassination of presidential candidate Luis Carlos Galan.

Retired Gen. Miguel Maza Marquez has been charged with aggravated homicide for allegedly allying himself with the drug traffickers whose hired guns killed Galan, said German Gomez, spokesman for Colombia's chief prosecutor.

France to search for crash's flight recorder

PARIS — The French government said Thursday it will conduct a fourth search beginning in February for the flight recorders of an Air France jetliner that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while flying from Rio de Janeiro to Paris 18 months ago.

All 228 people aboard Flight 447 died, and families of some victims have demanded that France not give up the hunt for the flight recorders — and answers about what caused the plane to plunge into the ocean during a large thunderstorm on June 1, 2009.

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