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Gonzales says he doesn’t remember

WASHINGTON — Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, fighting to save his job, said in prepared Senate testimony Sunday he has “nothing to hide” in the firings of eight federal prosecutors but claimed a hazy memory about his involvement in them.

Two Republican senators said Gonzales has yet to shore up his credibility amid shifting explanations of his role in the dismissals. Vice President Dick Cheney reaffirmed White House support for the attorney general — but left it to Gonzales to defend himself to lawmakers who have called for his resignation.

Mexico bus crash death toll rises

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — The toll from a bus crash outside this border city rose to 28 dead and 21 injured, Mexican authorities said Sunday.

Authorities said the bus driver, who was among the dead, was speeding when the vehicle collided with a tractor-trailer early Saturday near Ciudad Juarez, across from El Paso, Texas. The truck’s gas tank exploded, engulfing the bus in flames.

Officials initially said 23 died and 11 were injured, but revised the toll after determining that the bus was carrying 49 people — some of whom did not have seats and including children who were sitting on people’s laps, said Patricia Gonzalez, a prosecutor in Chihuahua state.

Ecuador supports constitution change

GUAYAQUIL, Ecuador — Leftist President Rafael Correa scored a major victory Sunday as Ecuadoreans voted overwhelmingly to support his ambitious plan to remake the nation’s system of government and weaken its discredited Congress, an exit poll showed.

An exit poll by CEDATOS-Gallup showed that 78.1 percent of voters approved the election of a constitutional assembly while 11.5 percent rejected the proposal and 10.4 spoiled their ballots or cast blank ones.

World Bank leader plans to stay on

WASHINGTON — Embattled World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz said Sunday he will continue to lead bank efforts to reduce global poverty, resisting calls to step down over his involvement in securing a huge pay increase for a close female friend.

“The bank has important work to do and I will continue to do it,” he said at a meeting of the steering committee for the bank and the International Monetary Fund.

The committee said in its closing communique the Wolfowitz issue was “of great concern to us all” and called on the bank board looking into the matter to complete its work.

Russian police, protesters clash

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Riot police beat and detained dozens of anti-Kremlin demonstrators Sunday on a second day of protests that tested the weak opposition’s ability to challenge widely popular President Vladimir Putin.

As in Moscow a day earlier, only a few thousand people turned out in St. Petersburg to criticize the government.

Opposition leaders called that a heartening response in the face of the huge police forces massed against both rallies.

Putin’s foes said the harsh handling of demonstrators, who included many elderly people, would fuel a growing sense that the leader is strangling democracy ahead of parliamentary elections in December and a presidential vote next spring.

Volunteerism down after historic high

WASHINGTON — People in this country have been volunteering at record levels in the years following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but that voluntary service dipped slightly in 2006, a study found.

More than a fourth of the population, 26.7 percent, did volunteer work in 2006, down from 28.8 percent the previous year, according to a new report by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

“We can’t expect every year to be a new high so we’re not really concerned moving from ’05 to ’06 with a small decrease,” said David Eisner, chief executive officer of the corporation.

“We would get concerned if that repeated itself year after year.”

Compiled from wire reports

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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