Cuban court: Gov't must decide on furlough for Alan Gross


A decision on whether to allow jailed U.S. contractor Alan Gross to visit his terminally ill mother rests with the Cuban government, the Communist-ruled island's top judge said.

"We don't have the request in the tribunal, we are not evaluating the request in the tribunal. It's a request that has been made at the level of state and government and it is up to those authorities to speak out on it," the chief justice of the Supreme People's Tribunal, Ruben Remigio Ferro, told reporters in Havana.

Gross' request "is not a judicial matter as such," he said at the opening of the 6th International Justice and Law Encounter.

"The issue of exit permits for someone who is serving a sentence, as is the case of Mr. Gross, is an issue that is handled at the governmental level," Ferro said.

Now 63, Gross was arrested in Havana on Dec. 3, 2009, in possession of satellite communications equipment he said he was planning to distribute among Cuba's Jewish community.




Obama, Romney to address Latino Political Convention


President Barack Obama and likely Republican challenger Mitt Romney will participate in the annual meeting of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials in June in Orlando, Florida.

NALEO, which expects more than 1,000 people at the June 20-23 gathering, confirmed on Wednesday Romney's attendance after already having done the same some days ago with regard to Obama's participation.

Romney will deliver a speech to the conference attendees on June 21, while the president will do so the following day, according to the organization's agenda.

For Obama, this will be the first time that he has attended NALEO's annual meeting since 2008, when he was running for president and courting the Hispanic vote.

Hispanics are the electoral bloc that has grown fastest in the United States in recent years and, according to NALEO, this year calculations are that at least 12.2 million will go to the polls on Nov. 6.




Spanish gov't ready to aid nationalized bank


The Spanish government will provide the funds needed to shore up the country's fourth-largest bank, recently nationalized BFA-Bankia, the economy minister said.

The bank needs roughly 7.1 billion euros ($8.9 billion) in additional capital, Luis de Guindos told lawmakers.

Speaking to the lower house of Parliament, he said the government plans to sell its controlling stake in BFA-Bankia as soon as possible.

The government took control of BFA-Bankia on May 10, converting into shares the 4.46 billion euro ($5.77 billion) loan the institution received in late 2008 from the state-backed Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring, or FROB.

The troubled institution's new CEO, Jose Ignacio Goirigolzarri, advocated in favor of the temporary nationalization.




Spanish mountain climber dies after reaching Everest's summit


Spanish mountaineer Juan Jose Polo Carbayo died on the weekend as he was descending the Chinese slope of Mt. Everest after reaching the summit of the world's tallest mountain, the Nepalese agency responsible for the climbing expedition told Efe.

"The most probable cause of his death was exhaustion," said an official with Himalayan Guides, Hari Parjauli, who added that the 43-year-old Carbayo died on Saturday after breaking away from the group with which he had reached the summit.

"Carbayo was going in a group of four, each one with their sherpa, and the Spaniard was falling behind," said Parjauli.

"The sherpa assured us that he only left him when he noticed that he was already dead," said the company official.

He said that according to the sherpa's testimony, the Spaniard died at a spot above 8,000 meters (26,000 feet) in altitude.




Dolphin deaths in Peru due to natural causes, report says


The approximately 800 dolphin deaths over the past few months in central and northern Peru were likely due to natural causes, the Peruvian Sea Institute, or Imarpe, said in a report.

"Human activities have been ruled out as the direct cause of death," but "the exact cause of death has not been determined," the 81-page report, which was posted on Imarpe's Web site on Tuesday, said.

Contact with fishing vessels, pesticides, pollution from heavy metals and seismic mining exploration were among the human causes ruled out.

The report, however, also ruled out some possible natural causes of the deaths, including lack of food, bacterial infections, viral infections and biotoxins.

"Although the exact cause of these deaths has not been determined, it is presumed that they are related to natural causes, whether biotoxin poisoning or emerging diseases, of which there are no prior records," the report said.




Chilean coal miners rescued


The two miners trapped in a small coal mine in southern Chile were rescued and are in good condition, officials said.

Richard Perez Jara, 21, and Reinaldo Brevis Jaque, 39, spent a total of 22 hours trapped about 150 meters (492 feet) underground at the Buen Retiro mine outside Coronel, a city about 540 kilometers (335 miles) from Santiago.

The miners were trapped in a cave-in around 4:00 a.m. on Tuesday, officials said.

The two men were rescued at around 2:15 a.m. Wednesday, Biobio region Gov. Victor Lobos said.

The two miners were in good condition, but they were taken to San Jose Hospital in Coronel for a check-up.

Perez Jara and Brevis Jaque were dehydrated but in otherwise good health, Dr. Jorge Fierro said.