Soon, kids' names may need approval

Associated Press
Published September 2, 2007

CARACAS, Venezuela

Venezuelans have a penchant for creative naming, with some parents giving their children unusual names like Hersony, Nohemar - or even Superman.

But such odd names might be turned down by the civil registry if Venezuela approves a bill barring parents from giving their children "names that expose them to ridicule, are extravagant or difficult to pronounce," or that raise doubts about whether a child is a girl or a boy.

The National Electoral Council in the past week laid out that proposal in a draft bill circulated to city offices in Caracas.

If approved by the National Assembly, the bill could let authorities turn down names like some of the more unusual monikers currently on the voter rolls: Edigaith, Yorleth, Mileidy, Leomar and Superman.

"I agree with putting limits on people who don't have a sense of the ridiculousness," said 58-year-old office worker Alfredo Blanco.


Suspect in U.S. killing will lead congress

A man wanted in the United States on charges of involvement in the killing of an American soldier 15 years ago in Panama was elected president of that country's congress on Saturday.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Tom Casey said the United States is "deeply disappointed.

Pedro Miguel Gonzalez Pinzon is wanted in the United States for the 1992 death of U.S. Army Sgt. Zak Hernandez Laporte and attempted murder of U.S. Army Sgt. Ronald Marshall.


Progress hailed in North Korea talks

The chief nuclear negotiators for the United States and North Korea reached an understanding Saturday during talks aimed at smoothing upcoming six-nation negotiations, the American envoy said.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said enough progress had been made that he could look forward to a successful meeting later this month with Japan, Russia, South Korea and China to discuss ending North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

ATHENS, Greece

Help promised forfire-stricken region

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso toured fire-damaged southern Greece by helicopter Saturday and promised aid for areas where 64 people died and an estimated 469,000 acres of mostly forest and farmland were destroyed.

Though largely contained, fires forced the evacuation of two villages and the helicopter rescue of firefighters surrounded by flames, the fire service said.

The fire damage is estimated at more than $1.6-billion.


Pope tells youths to have faith in marriage

Pope Benedict XVI decried the collapse of marriages, telling an estimated 300,000 young Catholics on Saturday that he was praying that a crisis in traditional family values doesn't become an "irreversible failure."

Benedict urged pilgrims at a weekend rally to have faith that they can succeed in marriage even though others had failed.

"There is so much failure of love all around us!" he said.