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Mexico's child cancer victims to get free help

All Mexican children with cancer will receive free treatment as long as they need it, President Vicente Fox announced Thursday.

The announcement came as Fox inaugurated the Mexico City-based National Council for the Prevention and Treatment of Cancer in Infants and Adolescents.

Mexico's social security system covers people who work in taxpaying jobs, while most people involved in the informal economy _ maids, street vendors, and farmers _ are left out. At least half of Mexico's employed population is estimated to work in the informal economy.

Speed signs to go metric

DUBLIN, Ireland _ The government launched a public information campaign Thursday to prepare Ireland's drivers for the imminent arrival of metric speed limits nationwide.

Transport Minister Martin Cullen said all 35,000 existing speed limit signs in miles will be taken down and replaced with metric signs in the few days before the Jan. 20 changeover. He said an additional 23,000 signs would be erected in what he called "one of the most important changes to date in Irish motoring history."

The move was designed, in part, to end a glaring inconsistency on Irish roads. Speed limits are listed in miles, but most other road signs note distances in kilometers.

In neighboring Northern Ireland, the British government announced Thursday that it will erect new speed signs on major border crossings, emphasizing that the north's signs remain in miles, not kilometers.

Elsewhere . . .

UKRAINE ELECTION: Ukraine's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected losing presidential candidate Viktor Yanukovych's appeal of last month's repeat election, bringing the former Soviet republic a step closer to resolving its political crisis. However, Yanukovych's campaign has said that his main appeal will be filed with the court only after the Central Election Commission announces the final results of the Dec. 26 vote, which he lost to pro-Western reformer Viktor Yushchenko.

PINOCHET: A judge backed by eight detectives searched the office of Gen. Augusto Pinochet on Thursday, as the former dictator remained under house arrest at his country estate west of Santiago, Chile, on charges of kidnapping and homicide.

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