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In brief

Look out, Pele A humanoid robot named ’Lothar’ kicks a ball as it plays soccer at the Hanover industrial fair in Hanover, Germany, Tuesday. The ’Robo Cup German Open’ competition will take place at the fair up to Friday.

AP photo
NEW ORLEANS Bush promotes trade deals

President Bush chastised lawmakers on Tuesday for letting international trade deals falter in Congress and criticized Democratic presidential contenders for wanting to scrap or amend the vast North American free-trade zone.

At the close of a two-day summit, Bush, along with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, stood solidly behind the North American Free Trade Agreement. Under NAFTA, trade between the U.S., Canada and Mexico has swelled from roughly $290 billion in 1994 to an estimated $1 trillion by the end of this year.

“Now is not the time to renegotiate NAFTA or walk away from NAFTA,” Bush said. “Now is the time to make it work better for all our people.”

Democratic presidential hopefuls Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama have have threatened to pull the U.S. out of NAFTA or renegotiate it to push for more protections for workers and the environment.

NEW YORK Ruling clears ex-EPA chief

Former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman cannot be held liable for telling residents near the World Trade Center site that the air was safe to breathe after the 2001 terrorist attacks, a federal appeals court said Tuesday.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Whitman’s comments reassuring people about the safety around the site apparently were based on conflicting information and reassurances by the White House.

The appeals court said legal remedies are not always available for every instance of arguably deficient governmental performance.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by residents, students and workers in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn who said they were exposed to hazardous dust and debris from the fallen twin towers after Sept. 11.

BEIJING Zimbabwe denied weapons

A Chinese ship carrying weapons for Zimbabwe’s security forces that has been blocked from unloading in four African nations headed home Tuesday with its cargo still aboard.

The return of the vessel is an embarrassment for China in Africa, where it has growing trade and political influence, and it signaled new woes for Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader, who’s fighting to retain power after disputed elections three weeks ago.

The state Xinhua news agency quoted Zimbabwean Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying the Chinese weapons were meant for national defense and not for use against civilians in the nation’s electoral dispute.

SAO PAULO, Brazil ‘Flying’ priest missing

A Roman Catholic priest who floated off under hundreds of helium party balloons was missing Monday off the southern coast of Brazil.

Rescuers were searching off the coast of Santa Catarina state, where pieces of balloons were found.

Rev. Adelir Antonio de Carli lifted off from the port city of Paranagua on Sunday afternoon, wearing a helmet, thermal suit and a parachute.

The priest wanted to break a 19-hour record for the most hours flying with balloons to raise money for a spiritual rest-stop for truckers in Paranagua.

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