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China: Death-row organs

BEIJING — The majority of transplanted organs in China come from executed prisoners, state media reported today in a rare disclosure about the country's problem of dubious organ donations.

Despite a 2007 regulation barring donations from people who are not related to or emotionally connected to the transplant patient, the China Daily newspaper said 65 percent of organ donations come from death row.

It quoted Vice Health Minister Huang Jiefu as saying written consent is required from condemned prisoners but that they are "definitely not a proper source for organ transplants."

Tonga: Memorial at sea

NUKU'ALOFA — Wailing mourners from Tonga dropped a marble plaque inscribed with 74 victims' names into the ocean Tuesday above the wreck of a ferry that sank this month in a disaster that shook the tiny South Pacific nation.

Relatives and government officials on a small flotilla of boats took part in the funeral ceremony for those believed trapped inside the Princess Ashika when it went down Aug. 5.

Two bodies were recovered and 72 other people were believed drowned.

Venezuela: Breaking ties

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said Tuesday that Venezuela is preparing to break off diplomatic relations with Colombia over the neighboring country's plan to give American troops greater access to its military bases.

Chavez said that "there's no possibility" of repairing relations with the government of President Alvaro Uribe and that he instructed his foreign minister to "begin preparing for the rupture with Colombia."

Iran: Less uranium

VIENNA, Austria — Iran's output of enriched uranium is stagnating even as its production capacity increases, a sign that Tehran may be running out of the ore needed to make nuclear fuel, diplomats said Tuesday.

If so, it could mean that international sanctions to slow if not stop Iran's nuclear program are taking hold.

The diplomats emphasized the possibility that Iran was running short of uranium oxide was only one of several possible explanations for why it had not substantially upped its production of enriched uranium since May.

Argentina: No jail for pot

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina's Supreme Court ruled out prison for pot possession on Tuesday, saying the government should go after major traffickers and provide treatment instead of jail for consumers of marijuana.

Ruling in a case involving several young men caught with marijuana cigarettes in their pockets, the judges struck down a law providing for up to two years in prison for possession of small amounts of narcotics

Iran: More arrests

CAIRO, Egypt — Iran's prosecutors moved Tuesday to shut down the nation's two largest reform parties during a mass trial of former officials, journalists and academics all arrested and charged with conspiring to orchestrate a so-called velvet revolution in Iran.

In the nationally televised hearing, the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sought to repudiate not only individuals charged with crimes but also the entire record of the reform movement. Prosecutors called on the judge to ban the two reform parties, the Islamic Iran Participation Front and the Islamic Revolution Mujahedeen Organization.

The accusations portrayed senior members of the reform movement, as well as journalists and academics, as counterrevolutionary secularists who were leading astray "young people who were experiencing politics for the first time," according to Iranian news services.