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  Ricin Found In Vegas Motel RoomFebruary 29, 2008 20:13 man is in critical condition after staying in a Las Vegas motel room where the deadly toxin ricin was found, police say.
Seven other people were taken to hospital but later released, after several vials of ricin were found at the Extended Stay America Motel.

Authorities say they do not believe the incident is related to terrorism.

The man in critical condition was taken to hospital on 14 February after complaining of breathing problems.

Police said the man was unconscious and they had not been able to interview him.

Castor beans

They only began investigating the incident on Thursday after another man went to retrieve his belongings and found the vials, police said.

Castor beans, which can be used to make ricin, were also found in the room.

Three motel employees, three police officers and one other person were decontaminated and taken to hospital as a precaution.

The room where the substance was found has been isolated and the area cordoned off by police.

Ricin is highly toxic and even small amounts can be fatal if inhaled, ingested, or injected.

A dose the size of a pin head could be enough to kill an adult, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 
  Fidel Castro Resigns As Cuba'S PresidentFebruary 19, 2008 13:10 Fidel Castro, ailing and 81, announced Tuesday he was resigning as Cuba's president, ending a half-century of autocratic rule which made him a communist icon and a relentless opponent of U.S. policy around the globe.

The end of Castro's rule — the longest in the world for a head of government — frees his 76-year-old brother Raul Castro to implement reforms he has hinted at since taking over as acting president when Fidel fell ill in July 2006.

President Bush said he hopes the resignation signals the beginning of a democratic transition, though he doubts that would come about under the rule of another Castro. The State Department denigrated the change as a "transfer of authority and power from dictator to dictator light."

Castro temporarily ceded his powers to his brother on July 31, 2006, when he announced that he had undergone intestinal surgery. Since then, he has not been seen in public, appearing only sporadically in official photographs and videotapes and publishing dense essays about mostly international themes as his younger brother consolidated his rule.

"My wishes have always been to discharge my duties to my last breath," Castro wrote in a letter published Tuesday in the online edition of the Communist Party daily Granma. But "it would be a betrayal to my conscience to accept a responsibility requiring more mobility and dedication than I am physically able to offer."

In the pre-dawn hours, most Cubans were unaware of Castro's message, and Havana's streets were quiet. It wasn't until 5 a.m., several hours after it was posted on the internet, that official radio began reading the news to early risers.

As the news across the island, Cubans went about their business as usual, accepting the inevitable with a mix of sadness and hope.
  Kosovo Declares Independence From SerbiaFebruary 17, 2008 09:34 Kosovo declared itself a nation on Sunday, mounting a historic bid to become an "independent and democratic state" backed by the U.S. and key European allies but bitterly contested by Serbia and Russia.

"Kosovo is a republic _ an independent, democratic and sovereign state," parliament speaker Jakup Krasniqi said as the chamber burst into applause. Krasniqi, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and President Fatmir Sejdiu signed the declaration, which was scripted on parchment.

Across the capital, Pristina, revelers danced in the streets, fired guns into the air and waved red and black Albanian flags in jubilation at the birth of the world's newest country.

Serbian President Boris Tadic immediately rejected the independence bid, saying his country will never accept Kosovo's "unilateral and illegal" declaration.

Sunday's declaration was carefully orchestrated with the U.S. and key European powers, and Kosovo was counting on swift international recognition that could come as early as Monday, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels, Belgium.