Mohammad Qasim Fahim
Influential Afghan vice president
Influential Afghan Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim, 57, a leading commander in the alliance that fought the Taliban who was later accused with other warlords of targeting civilian areas during the country's civil war, died Sunday of natural causes in Kabul. He had diabetes and other ailments.
Fahim was an ethnic Tajik who was the top deputy of Ahmad Shah Massoud, the charismatic Northern Alliance commander who was killed in an Al Qaeda suicide bombing two days before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. He died a month before Afghans go to the polls to choose a new president to replace Hamid Karzai, who is barred from seeking a third consecutive term.
Fahim served as defense minister in Karzai's first administration and most recently was the first of two vice presidents. But he was best remembered as a former warlord who fought against the Soviets when they occupied the country and for taking part in the bitter internecine fighting that marked the early 1990s. He went on to battle alongside Massoud against the Taliban.
The Pashtun-dominated Taliban seized Kabul in 1996 and ruled from the capital until they were ousted five years later by a U.S.-led coalition and its Afghan allies in the Northern Alliance, made up mostly of minorities including ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras.
Fahim was widely accused of marginalizing all Pashtuns, particularly in the security services, during his tenure as defense minister in the first years after the Taliban's collapse. He was bitterly criticized for alleged past atrocities -- such as killing civilians by rocketing residential areas and booby-trapping homes -- his heavy-handedness and allegations of corruption.
Human Rights Watch accused Fahim, as well as several other prominent warlords allied with the U.S.-led coalition, of war crimes when they last ruled in Afghanistan in the early 1990s, before the Taliban took over.
He was removed from his post as defense minister in 2004.
Veteran producer of Grammys, NFL games
Ted Bergmann, 93, a veteran producer whose credits include early Grammy and National Football League telecasts, died March 2 after surgery in Santa Monica, said his wife, Beverly.
A Pacific Palisades resident, Bergmann started his television career at NBC in 1947. He went on to work in advertising, where he matched companies such as Coca-Cola and Colgate with entertainment properties. The group behind the Grammy Awards sought Bergmann's help in 1962 to bring the ceremony to TV. He then produced the music awards show for seven years.
Bergmann served as president of the DuMont Television Network and televised early NFL games and live boxing. Other TV credits include "The Arthur Godfrey Show," "Love Thy Neighbor" and "Three's Company."
Born Sept. 12, 1920, in Brooklyn, N.Y., Bergmann served in the Army in Europe during World War II.
'Heroine of Cuban Revolution'
Melba Hernandez, 92, who helped Fidel Castro launch his revolutionary battle with a failed 1953 attack on a military barracks and was later named a "heroine of the Cuban Revolution," died Sunday night in Havana of complications from diabetes, the Communist Party newspaper Granma reported.
With her crown of snowy white curls, Hernandez was occasionally seen at official events in her later years, accompanied by one or the other of the ruling Castro brothers. Fidel stepped down as the country's leader in 2006 because of ill health, passing command to his younger brother, Raul.
Born on July 28, 1921, Hernandez was five years older than Fidel and remained loyal to him throughout her life.
Hernandez helped found the Communist Party of Cuba and served as the country's ambassador in Vietnam and Cambodia.
-- Los Angeles Times wire reports