Nation/World Briefly: Swiss say OK to heroin, but not to marijuana

GENEVA — The world’s most comprehensive legalized heroin program became permanent Sunday with overwhelming approval from Swiss voters who at the same time rejected the decriminalization of marijuana.

The heroin program, started in 1994, is offered in 23 centers across Switzerland and is credited with reducing crime and improving the health and daily lives of addicts.

The nearly 1,300 selected addicts visit one of the centers twice a day to receive the carefully measured dose of heroin produced by a government-approved laboratory. The aim is to help the addicts learn how to function in society.

But the marijuana proposal was rejected; it was based on a separate citizens’ initiative to decriminalize the consumption of marijuana and growing the plant for personal use.

Iran: Oil production cut proposed

Iranian state TV says the country’s Oil Ministry has proposed an OPEC production cut of 2 million barrels per day. The cartel is grappling with how to reverse plunging crude prices, but ended a meeting in Cairo on Saturday without announcing an output cut, leaving any such decision to its next meeting, in Algeria on Dec. 17.

Iraq: War dead swapped with Iran

Iraq and Iran on Sunday exchanged the remains of 241 soldiers killed during an eight-year war between the two countries. It was the first such handover since the two sides signed an agreement in October to work together in tracing tens of thousands still missing after the war.

@3. Headline News Briefs 14 no:NPR journalist’s car bombed

An American journalist for National Public Radio and three Iraqi colleagues escaped injury Sunday when a bomb attached to their car exploded as it was parked along a street in west Baghdad. Ivan Watson, a 33-year-old reporter for NPR on temporary assignment in Iraq, said he had gone to interview people in a kebab cafe a few yards from an Iraqi army checkpoint. When the group returned to their armored car, which was parked out front, they were stopped by Iraqi soldiers who said they had been informed minutes earlier that a bomb was attached to the car, Watson said. The bomb, which had been placed underneath the driver’s side, exploded about 15 feet from the NPR journalists. Soldiers said the bomb was possibly detonated by remote control.

Mexico: 9 headless bodies found

The bodies of nine decapitated men have been found in a vacant empty lot in Tijuana, part of a wave of violence that has claimed at least 23 lives in less than 24 hours in this border city. The heads were discovered in plastic bags near the bodies. Three police identification cards were also found in the bags.

@3. Headline News Briefs 14 no:Mexico extraditing suspects to U.S.

The government of President Felipe Calderon is extraditing drug suspects and other fugitives to the United States at a record pace, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday, reflecting a quiet but seismic shift in Mexican policy that many analysts say could help dismantle trafficking gangs. Calderon’s administration has handed over more than 150 criminal suspects since coming to power in December 2006. The extradition rate is double what it was before Calderon took office.

Russia: Leader praises Castro

Russia’s president paid tribute to Fidel Castro on Sunday after a meeting with the Cuban revolutionary icon. Dmitry Medvedev said his conversation with Castro on Friday was “extremely interesting” and suggested the world should draw on the experience of such long-standing political figures when trying to tackle today’s problems. Medvedev, 43, visited Cuba, Venzuela, Peru and Brazil in a trip designed to boost Russia’s influence in Latin America.

Haiti: Gay marchers make debut

A dozen men in T-shirts declaring “I am gay” and “I am living with HIV/AIDS” marched with hundreds of other demonstrators through St. Marc on Sunday in what organizers called the Caribbean nation’s first openly gay march. The march, held a day ahead of World AIDS Day today, called for better prevention and treatment.

Illinois: Weather slows air travel

A storm system moving across the Great Lakes delivered Illinois’ first snowstorm of the season Sunday, up to 8 inches of snow in some places, and forced the cancellation of more than 50 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. Snowy weather also created travel problems in Colorado. The Federal Aviation Administration said airports around the country were affected by the snowy weather.

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