Hamas declares end to six-month truce

JERUSALEM : Hamas declared a formal end to its cease-fire with Israel yesterday, ruling out an extension of a six-month-old pact that began fraying weeks ago with tit-for-tat attacks across Israel's border with the Gaza Strip. Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the group that governs Gaza, said the truce would expire at 6 a.m. today. He said it was not being renewed because "the enemy refused to comply" with promises to lift a crippling blockade of the Palestinian enclave and halt military attacks. Hamas did not threaten an immediate escalation of rocket and mortar attacks, and Israeli officials said they were reluctant to launch a major military offensive into the densely populated coastal territory.


Strong earthquake hits central Chile

SANTIAGO, Chile : A powerful earthquake shook central Chile yesterday, alarming residents of the nation's second-largest city but apparently causing no major damage, officials said. The 6.3-magnitude quake struck at 6:19 p.m. local time and was centered about 45 miles north of Valparaiso, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The Seismological Institute of the University of Chile said the quake's magnitude was 5.9. The tremor was followed by two aftershocks, one of which the USGS measured at magnitude 5.8. Carmen Fernandez, head of Chile's Emergency Bureau, said there were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries.


U.S. charges limit Ill. case against governor

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. : Illinois lawmakers could be forced to build their impeachment case against Gov. Rod Blagojevich on a raft of relatively small grievances, rather than the blockbuster Senate-seat-for-sale allegations, for fear of undermining federal prosecutors' criminal investigation. Members of the state House impeachment committee said yesterday that they will do nothing that would interfere with the investigation by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. The committee would then probably emphasize some lower-profile allegations of misconduct against Blagojevich. Among them: defying the Legislature, failing to honor reporters' Freedom of Information requests, and trading state jobs and contracts for campaign contributions.

Shoe-throwing Iraqi asks for pardon

BAGHDAD : The Iraqi journalist who hurled his shoes at President George W. Bush is begging for a pardon, the prime minister's spokesman said yesterday. Muntadhar al-Zeidi, a reporter for an Iraqi-owned TV station based in Cairo, Egypt, could face two years' in prison. He remained in custody last night. "It is too late to reverse the big and ugly act that I perpetrated," al-Zeidi wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, according to the prime minister's spokesman, Yassin Majid. White House press secretary Dana Perino said yesterday that she had seen reports that al-Zeidi had apologized but she did not know whether Bush was aware of them.

Obama says Madoff shows need for reform

NEW YORK : Bernard Madoff spent his first day under electronic monitoring yesterday as President-elect Barack Obama said the scandal brought on by the disgraced investor "has reminded us yet again of how badly reform is needed." The effects of the $50 billion fraud have spread around the globe, and a Michigan-based foundation created to grant money to get healthy food into urban areas is among the latest to say it is going out of business because of the scandal. Madoff had his bail conditions modified Wednesday. He must be at his Upper East Side residence from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m. and wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements.

Memo exempts CO2 from emissions law

WASHINGTON : The Bush administration is trying to make sure in its final days that federal air pollution regulations will not be used to control the gases blamed for global warming. In a memorandum sent yesterday, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson sets an agencywide policy prohibiting controls on carbon dioxide emissions from being included in air pollution permits for coal-fired power plants and other facilities. The decision could give the agency a legal basis for issuing permits that increase global warming pollution until the Obama administration can change it, which would require a lengthy rule-making process. The White House has repeatedly said that the Clean Air Act should not be used to regulate carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.