World news: Chavez raises diplomatic stakes with US

President Hugo Chavez dared the US government to expel his ambassador from Washington in response to Venezuela's rejection of the US ambassador in Caracas.

US diplomat Larry Palmer angered Mr Chavez by suggesting Colombian rebels are finding refuge in Venezuela.

Last man off death row

Cuba's supreme court commuted the death sentence against a Cuban-American who was the last person remaining on death row in the island nation, according to a human rights activist.

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Elizardo Sanchez, head of the Havana-based Cuban Commission on Human Rights and National Reconciliation, said the court sentenced Humberto Eladio Real to 30 years in prison instead. He was convicted of killing a man in a 1994 raid.

Billy the Kid is set for pardon

More people say they favour a pardon for Billy the Kid - one of New Mexico's most famous Old West outlaws - than oppose the idea, after governor Bill Richardson's office set up an e-mail address to take comments on a possible posthumous pardon. Some 430 argued for a pardon and 379 opposed it.

Drugs gang in war threat

Men in Guatamala claiming to belong to the Zetas drug gang forced radio stations to broadcast a threat of war in a northern province where the government declared a state of siege last week.

They said "war will start in this country, schools and police stations".

West African leaders have ended their mission to Ivory Coast, having failed to persuade incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo to stand down.

They had hoped Mr Gbagbo would agree to cede power to Allasane Ouattara, widely considered to be the true winner of November's elections.

But Mr Gbagbo has refused, despite the leaders' threat of military action.

The dispute has led to widespread unrest in Ivory Coast, with thousands fleeing and scores of people killed.

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The presidents of Benin, Sierra Leone and Cape Verde had travelled to the main city, Abidjan, as representatives of the Ecowas West African regional grouping.

The visit was being seen as a final chance to urge Mr Gbagbo to peacefully cede to Mr Ouattara - who is currently holed up in a hotel in the city protected by around 800 UN peacekeepers.

Few details of the separate talks with the two rivals have emerged, but President Boni Yayi of Benin said: "Everything went well."

The West African presidents will now report back to Ecowas chairman Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan, who, they said, will negotiate a date for their return.

Australia: North-eastern Australia's worst flooding in decades is continuing to cause chaos across the region.

Around 1000 people in Queensland have been evacuated, including the entire population of the town of Theodore.

Russia: A Russian Antonov military cargo plane crashed on the border between Russia's Tula and Oryol regions, killing all 11 crew members aboard, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.