Nation, World Briefs: Obama leads on eve of South Carolina vote

CHARLESTON, S.C. — Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton raced through a final day of campaigning in advance of today’s South Carolina primary, after a week of angry bickering and with the electorate here polarized along racial lines. Obama looked to today’s vote in the first Southern primary of the 2008 nomination season to rebound after disappointing losses to Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada, which followed his win in Iowa at the beginning of the month. Late polls showed Obama leading Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards.

California: Avalanche kills skier

Mountain avalanches killed an off-duty ski patrol worker and left another person missing Friday as California strained under nearly a week of snow and rain. One avalanche struck Friday afternoon at Wrightwood in the snow-laden San Gabriel Mountains. A 23-year-old employee of the Mountain High ski area was pulled from the debris, but died at a hospital later that afternoon, a hospital spokeswoman said. As night fell, searchers were still looking for another person who was missing after a second avalanche about a half-mile from the first, on national forest land.

@3. Headline Briefs 14 no:Rock slide halts commuter train

A commuter train had to be pulled out of a narrow gorge Friday when it ran into a rock slide north of downtown Los Angeles. The Metrolink commuter train carrying about 400 people was headed from Ventura County to Los Angeles County and was moving through a narrow, rocky gorge when it hit the slide, a Metrolink spokeswoman said. The stranded train had to be pulled by another train to a station. Four other trains also had to be halted while the route was cleared, causing a 2½-hour delay for about 2,000 passengers, she said.

Connecticut: Rove sparks protest

Some students at Choate Rosemary Hall, the prestigious prep school attended by John F. Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson, are protesting the choice of former presidential adviser Karl Rove as this year’s commencement speaker. Some plan to walk out, while others are trying to bring comedian Stephen Colbert to campus for an alternate speech. The campus newspaper has urged the school to reject Rove. The headmaster said he looks for interesting and provocative commencement speakers and Rove has prompted more discussion than any speaker in the past 20 years.

Maryland: MLK menu falls flat

An attempt by the Naval Academy to honor the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. this week by serving fried chicken, greens and corn bread in the midshipmen’s dining hall sparked a debate on campus about racial sensitivity. On Tuesday, the academy served those items, along with mashed potatoes, pie and lemonade, as clips of King speeches were broadcast in King Hall, named after an academy graduate. The meal was served Tuesday because classes were not held during the holiday honoring the civil-rights leader.

Slovenia: New security measures

The European Union’s top justice official on Friday proposed replicating U.S. border security measures in Europe, with plans to fingerprint and electronically record the entry and exit of all visitors. The measures would prevent visitors to the 27-nation bloc from illegally entering Europe or overstaying the three-month stay given to tourists and EU visa holders, he said. “We have been dealing with the security of Americans, (and) now the time has come to deal with the security of Europeans,” he said. “Terrorism remains threat No. 1.”

Venezuela: Chavez warns of plot

President Hugo Chavez on Friday accused neighboring Colombia and the United States of plotting a military “aggression” against Venezuela. “I accuse the government of Colombia of devising a conspiracy, acting as a pawn of the U.S. empire, of devising a military provocation against Venezuela,” Chavez said. “A military aggression is being prepared,” Chavez added, saying that Washington aims to “oblige us to respond, and later a war could be set off.”

Switzerland: New Iran sanctions

New U.N. sanctions against Iran would require countries to ban the entry of individuals involved in the Iranian nuclear program — a step up from a previous call for vigilance over their travel, according to a document obtained Friday. The latest penalties would also ban trade in technology that can be used in both civilian and nuclear programs, according to elements that would form the basis of a new U.N. resolution. It would call on countries to inspect cargo heading to or from Iran “provided there are reasonable grounds to believe” that prohibited goods are being transported, the document said.

Kenya: Street violence spreads

Fierce street battles erupted Friday, leaving bodies lying on the ground with machete slashes and arrow piercings, witnesses said. At least 12 people were killed and hundreds of homes were burned in the latest explosion of fury over a deeply flawed presidential election. The violence broke out in Nakuru, the country’s fourth largest city. One victim was stoned to death, a local newspaper said.

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