Launch of 1st private craft to space station


The privatization of space exploration made a crucial leap forward with the putting in orbit of Dragon, the first commercial space capsule to travel to the International Space Station.

After two postponements and an aborted launch this month, a Falcon 9 rocket of Space Exploration Technologies Corp. - SpaceX - blasted off at 3:44 a.m. from Florida's Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

NASA, which last year put an end to the era of shuttles that made the construction of the International Space Station possible, has signed a $1.6 billion contract with SpaceX for a dozen missions to provide supplies for the station.




Colombian rebels kill 12 soldiers near Venezuela border


A unit of about 80 FARC guerrillas presumably operating out of Venezuela killed 12 Colombian soldiers along the border, officials said.

"It's a setback, a setback in the war we are waging and in which we are making progress and are winning," President Juan Manuel Santos said.

The Colombian president said he spoke with his Venezuelan counterpart, Hugo Chavez, by telephone Monday morning and again in the afternoon to discuss the incursion by the rebels, who returned to Venezuela after staging the attack.

Chavez reiterated his position that the rebels' presence would not be tolerated in Venezuela and said he ordered the mobilization of military units in the border region, Santos said.




Colombia, Venezuela militarize common border in search of rebels


The governments of Colombia and Venezuela consolidated their joint fight against Colombian rebels, militarizing both sides of the border in the hunt for guerrillas who killed 12 soldiers in Colombia and later returned to their base in the neighboring country.

The northernmost stretch of the border is now being patrolled by security forces from both countries who are seeking members of the 59th Front of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

That was the unit that on Monday attacked a squad of Colombian troops who were protecting efforts to rebuild an electrical tower knocked down by the guerrillas in a rural portion of La Guajira province, killing 12 troops.

Colombian Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon said on Caracol Radio that the 59th Front "probably has its base area" in the neighboring Venezuelan state of Zulia.




1,000 "Disappeared" remain on Chile's voting rolls


One thousand people who disappeared in custody during the 1973-1990 Augusto Pinochet dictatorship remain on Chile's voting rolls, the head of the electoral authority said.

Juan Ignacio Garcia disclosed the figure in an exchange with Lorena Pizarro, leader of the AFDD group representing families of the "disappeared detainees," who called the phenomenon a manifestation of the state's failure to "face the situation of forced disappearance."

The fact came to light following the implementation in January of a system whereby all Chilean citizens are automatically registered to vote on reaching adulthood.




Support for Romney, Obama economic policies running neck-and-neck


Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney is in a technical dead heat with President Barack Obama about which of the two could more efficiently resolve the nation's economic woes, a new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows.

Obama and Romney each have 47 percent of voter support for their economic policies, while in general terms voter preference leans toward the Democratic incumbent with 49 percent compared with 46 percent for the former Massachusetts governor.

The survey also shows that twice the number of Obama supporters say they are "very enthusiastic" compared with those backing Romney.

The economy is the chosen battlefield for both their campaigns.

Obama has harshly criticized Romney's role as head of private equity firm Bain Capital and on Monday, from Chicago, said that his future rival could not be a good president considering what his years as a businessman really meant.




Missing Spanish police officer found dead in Yemen


A Spanish police officer assigned to the Spanish Embassy in Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, who went missing five days ago, has been found dead on the outskirts of that city, Spanish Foreign Ministry officials told Efe.

Antonio Cejudo, who had been posted in that country for two years, belonged to the riot control unit and his whereabouts had been unknown since last Thursday when he was scheduled to travel to Spain, one of his brothers said.

The police officer's body was found shot in the head on a hill outside Sana'a with his service weapon by his side, the Spanish National Police said.

The 38-year-old officer had been dead for three days, forensic specialists said.

The police officer, who had been diagnosed with a serious illness a month ago, left the embassy in Sana'a carrying his gun in a car of the diplomatic legation, police officials told Efe.




300 Rescued from burning building in Mexico


Some 300 people were rescued from a burning building in the Mexican capital's upscale Santa Fe neighborhood, officials said.

The municipal emergency services chief, Elias Miguel Moreno Brizuela, said that during the blaze at least 300 people inside the 10-story building suffered moments of fright and panic attacks.

He said that people from his department cordoned off the area to avoid any further mishaps and evacuated everyone in the building.

The fire sparked an immediate deployment of police, firefighters and paramedics.

Also aiding in the operation were three helicopters that rescued seven people who sought refuge on the roof to escape the flames and dense smoke.

Moreno Brizuela said the blaze was apparently caused by a short circuit in the building's basement.




2010 Census left out 1 million minority members


The U.S. Census Bureau said that it omitted more than 1.5 million people belonging to ethnic minorities in the 2010 count, though it defended the accuracy of all other figures.

The bureau released estimates of over- and undercounting in the 2010 Census.

The document calculated some 16 million omissions in the 2010 Census, which included people whose information could not be checked because they incorrectly filled out the questionnaires sent them in the mail.

The report said that in total the Census omitted close to 2.1 percent of African-Americans and 1.5 percent of Hispanics, who together add up to some 1.5 million people who were not counted as they should have been. In any case, these percentages were not statistically different from the results of the 2000 Census, the bureau said.

The 2010 Census also failed to include 4.9 percent of indigenous people living on reservations.




Soldiers kill 5 gunmen in shootout in Mexico


Five suspected criminals died in a shootout with army troops in a mountainous area in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero, state prosecutors said.

Soldiers from the 19th Infantry Battalion killed the gunmen Sunday afternoon in El Guayabal, a community near the resort city of Zihuatanejo, a Guerrero Attorney General's Office spokesman told Efe.

The gunmen attacked the soldiers, who returned fire, killing the five unidentified men.

The area where the shootout occurred in the mountains of Zihuatanejo, near the border with Michoacan state, is the scene of regular shootouts involving drug traffickers.