Nation & World Briefs 03-06-13 Maduro to run for president just as Chavez ordained


CARACAS, Venezuela -- Even in death, Hugo Chavez's orders are being followed. The man he anointed to succeed him, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, will continue to run Venezuela as interim president and be the governing socialists' candidate in an election to be called within 30 days.

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua confirmed that Tuesday, just hours after Maduro, tears running down his face, announced the death of Chavez, the larger-than-life former paratroop officer who had presided over Venezuela as virtually a one-man show for more than 14 years. It was not immediately clear when the presidential vote would be held.

Considerable funereal pageantry was expected to honor Chavez, the political impresario widely adored among Venezuela's poor for putting the oil-rich state in their service.

Seven days of mourning were declared, all school was suspended for the week and friendly heads of state were expected in this economically challenged and violence-afflicted nation for an elaborate funeral Friday. No date or place were announced for Chavez's burial.

Sought larger U.S. force in Afghan: Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, told senators for the first time Tuesday that he had envisioned keeping about 20,000 troops in Afghanistan after combat operations end in 2014, far more than the number the Obama administration and NATO are considering. Mattis, the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, said he personally recommended the U.S. leave 13,600 troops in Afghanistan and that he assumed the NATO allies would probably contribute "around 50 percent" of the U.S. total, which would be roughly 6,500.

CIA nominee on fast track: John Brennan's nomination to be CIA director is on the fast track to Senate confirmation after lagging for weeks. The Senate Intelligence Committee has overwhelmingly approved President Barack Obama's pick to lead the spy agency, clearing the way for the full Senate to confirm Brennan as early as Thursday. Committee chairwoman Sen. Dianne Feinstein is calling for swift action on Brennan's nomination. If it's approved, Brennan would replace Michael Morell, the CIA's deputy director. Morell has been acting director since David Petraeus resigned in November after acknowledging an affair with his biographer.

Called "common sense:"

Flyers reacted with shrugs but largely agreed with a new policy announced by the Transportation Security Administration that airline passengers will be able to carry small knives and previously forbidden sports equipment on planes. "It's common sense," said Pat O'Brien, who stood at Los Angeles International Airport after arriving from Durango, Colo. "You can make anything into a knife so I don't have a problem with it at all. You can sharpen a credit card to make a sharp implement."

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