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Harper won't send troops to Mali

OTTAWA -- Prime Minister Stephen Harper ruled out sending Canadian troops to fight Islamist insurgents in Mali, essentially rejecting an impassioned request Tuesday by the head of the African Union for NATO to join the battle.

Harper said Canada will not join the fight alongside African Union forces in Mali against an al-Qaida-linked group that controls the northern part of the country.

"The government of Canada is not considering a direct Canadian military mission," said Harper, standing next to the visiting head of the African Union, Thomas Boni Yayi.

Tour bus banned in U.S.

VANCOUVER -- The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered a Coquitlam, B.C., tour bus company involved in a fatal crash to get off American roads because of its "continuing and flagrant" safety failures and violations.

The order for Mi Joo Tour and Travel Ltd. to cease operations was issued Tuesday as the transport agency revealed the driver of the bus had been on the road "well beyond" the 70-hour maximum limit.

The fully packed vehicle careened off an Oregon highway, plunging down a snowy embankment, killing nine people just before the new year.

A 55-year-old man from Maple Ridge, B.C., Seokmin Moon, was the only Canadian killed, while most of the other 38 victims were from Washington state and Korea.

Death row inmate waits

HELENA, Mon. -- Former Gov. Brian Schweitzer is leaving the pending request for clemency from a Canadian citizen on death row for new Gov. Steve Bullock.

Schweitzer left office Monday without taking any action on the case. The former governor told The Associated Press his replacement has all the paperwork necessary to evaluate the case.

The Montana Parole Board recommended last year Ronald A. Smith be denied clemency. Smith is asking for life in prison without the possibility of parole instead of the death sentence he now faces.

Smith argues his original 1983 trial for shooting two Blackfeet cousins was botched.

Poisoned lottery winner

CHICAGO -- The wife of an Indian-born lottery winner who was poisoned with cyanide said she was devastated by his death and cannot believe her husband could have had enemies.

Shabana Ansari spoke to The Associated Press a day after news emerged Urooj Khan, 46, died from cyanide poisoning in July. Prosecutors, Chicago police and the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office are investigating Khan's death as a homicide.

Ansari would not talk about the circumstances of her husband's death, saying it was too painful to recall. She described Khan as a hard-working and generous man who would send money to orphanages in their native India.

Khan's death on July 20 was initially ruled a result of natural causes. But a relative's request for a deeper look resulted in the startling conclusion months later Kahn was killed with the poison as he was about to collect $425,000 in winnings.

Chavez inauguration off

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan lawmakers voted on Tuesday to postpone the inauguration of ailing President Hugo Chavez for his new term, prompting complaints from opponents who called it a violation of the constitution.

Chavez's congressional allies, who hold a majority of seats in the National Assembly, agreed with a government proposal for Chavez to be sworn in at a later date before the Supreme Court. While pro-Chavez lawmakers approved the plan with a show of hands, opponents condemned the action as illegal.

-- from the news services

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 9, 2013 A8

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