Nation/World Briefs

Tour-bus crash kills 9 in Oregon

PENDLETON, Ore. – A tour bus careened through a guardrail along an icy Oregon highway and several hundred feet down a steep embankment Sunday, killing nine people and injuring more than 20 others, authorities said.

The charter bus carrying about 40 people lost control around 10:30 a.m. on the snow- and ice-covered lanes of Interstate 84, according to the Oregon State Police.

The bus came to rest at the bottom of a snowy slope. More than a dozen rescue workers descended the hill and used ropes to help retrieve people from the wreckage in freezing weather. The bus driver was among the survivors, but had not yet spoken to police because of the severity of the injuries the driver had suffered.

Obama vows to push bill to chill gun violence

WASHINGTON – Recalling the shooting rampage that killed 20 first graders as the worst day of his presidency, President Barack Obama pledged to put his “full weight” behind legislation aimed at preventing gun violence.

Obama voiced skepticism about the National Rifle Association’s proposal to put armed guards in schools after the Dec. 14 tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The president made his comments Saturday in an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Instead, the president vowed to rally the American people around an agenda to limit gun violence, saying that he still supports increased background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity bullet magazines. He left no doubt it will be one of his top priorities next year.

“It is not enough for us to say, ‘This is too hard so we’re not going to try,”’ Obama said.

Envoy warns of failed state in Syria

BEIRUT – The international envoy seeking to end Syria’s civil war warned Sunday that the failure of the government and the rebels to pursue a political solution could lead to the “full collapse of the Syrian state” and threaten the world’s security.

Lakhdar Brahimi, who represents the United Nations and the Arab League, said that as many as 100,000 people could be killed in the next year as Syria moves toward “Somalization” and rule by warlords.

Brahimi has reported little progress in his mission to push forward a peace plan for Syria first presented in June at an international conference in Geneva. The proposal calls for an open-ended cease-fire and the formation of a transitional government to run the country until new elections can be held and a new constitution drafted.

Hugo Chavez suffers ‘new complications’

CARACAS, Venezuela – Hugo Chavez has suffered “new complications” after his cancer surgery in Cuba, his vice president said Sunday, describing the Venezuelan leader’s condition as delicate.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro spoke with a solemn expression in a televised address from Havana, saying he had spoken with Chavez and that the president sent greetings to his homeland. Maduro did not give details about the complications, which he said came amid a respiratory infection.

The vice president’s comments suggest an increasingly difficult fight for the ailing president. The Venezuelan leader has not been seen or heard from since undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery Dec. 11, and government officials have said he might not return in time for his scheduled Jan. 10 inauguration for a new six-year term.

Associated Press