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U.S. fails to stop antitorture plan

The United States on Wednesday failed to muster enough support to block a U.N. vote on a plan meant to enforce a convention on torture, and its attempts to do so were widely criticized by European and Latin American allies.

The plan, which calls for independent visits to prisons as a way to halt the practice of torture, was passed 35-8 with 10 abstentions in the U.N. Economic and Social Council, known as ECOSOC.

A U.S. proposal to reopen 10 years of negotiations on the document failed when it was voted down 29-15 with eight abstentions.

Among the U.S. concerns was language that could allow for international and independent visits to U.S. prisons and to terror suspects being held by the U.S. military at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.

London avoids sanctions in Ulster

LONDON _ The British government on Wednesday declined to impose sanctions on any of the paramilitary armies in Northern Ireland or their affiliated political parties, but warned that it would establish "more rigorous" measures to stop the paramilitaries from engaging in violence.

Both unionists and republicans said they were disappointed, but neither pulled out of the province's new power-sharing assembly. That means the peace process begun by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement can continue.

In flooding . . .

VENEZUELA: Military troops in boats patroled flooded towns in southwestern Venezuela on Wednesday as air force cargo planes delivered tons of supplies for an estimated 50,000 driven from their homes by the rising waters.

Five people were killed in Apure state as rivers overflowed, creating lakes of stagnant water filled with dead animals, trash and sewage.

SOUTH ASIA: Monsoon rains have killed at least 175 people in Nepal, Bangladesh and India with swollen rivers surging through embankments, flooding thousands of villages and triggering mudslides, relief officials said Wednesday.

The rising waters have forced millions in the three countries to flee their homes and search for higher ground. The worst displacement was in Bangladesh, where more than 2-million people sought shelter in schools or atop embankments built in case of floods, according to relief officials in the capital, Dhaka. Many have lost their houses, crops and livestock.

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