Castro on video, looking healthier

HAVANA - Cuban state television broadcast a video yesterday of a healthier-looking Fidel Castro meeting and speaking with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, the first images of the ailing leader shown in three months.

The report said the 10-minute video clip was taped Monday during a two-hour private meeting in Havana. It seemed to be aimed at knocking down the most recent round of reports about Castro's health, including a report in the Spanish newspaper El Pais earlier this month that described his prognosis as "grave."

Castro, 80, who was standing, looked more alert and heavier than in previous images that had showed him much more thin and frail. Dressed in a red, white and blue track suit, he also was shown sitting and drinking orange juice.

"It's not a lost battle," Castro said of his health problems. "Nor will it be," Chavez responded. - AP

N. Korea nuclear

talks to resume

BEIJING - International talks on dismantling North Korea's nuclear programs will resume Feb. 8, China said yesterday.

The last round of arms talks, in December, failed to make any progress on getting the North to disarm. The duration of next week's nuclear discussions "will depend on the progress made during the talks," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Deputy Assistant Treasury Secretary Daniel Glaser, in Beijing for negotiations with North Korea over its alleged illicit financial dealings, said he was hopeful of progress on the issue, which has stymied progress at the nuclear talks.

- AP

Germans protest

retirement change

BERLIN - Thousands of German workers took part in protests yesterday against a government plan to raise the retirement age to 67, the country's biggest industrial union said.

The IG Metall union said that about 85,000 people across Germany took part in demonstrations and brief walkouts. The protests were the latest in a series during recent weeks as IG Metall seeks to pressure Chancellor Angela Merkel's government to review its plan to raise the retirement age from its current level of 65, in gradual steps from 2012 to 2024.

The government made clear that it had no plans to budge from its plan, which still requires parliamentary approval.

- AP


Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Darfur human-rights activist Mossaad Mohamed Ali won the Olof Palme Prize yesterday for their work to protect human rights, peace and security. The award, endowed by the family of the slain Swedish prime minister and Sweden's Social Democratic Party, was set up to honor efforts carried out in Palme's spirit.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees appealed yesterday for $19.7 million to help millions of people displaced by violence in Sudan's violence-torn Darfur region.

Manchester was chosen yesterday as the site for Britain's first Las Vegas-style supercasino, beating the odds-on favorites, Blackpool and London's Millennium Dome.