T.S. Beryl makes landfall in Florida


Tropical Storm Beryl made landfall in northeast Florida, near the Georgia border, weakened and was downgraded to a tropical depression, the National Hurricane Center, or NHC, said.

The storm's center was located about 100 kilometers (62 miles) west-northwest of Jacksonville, Florida, and some 65 kilometers (about 40 miles) east-southeast of Valdosta, Georgia, at 11:00 a.m., the NHC said.

Beryl, the second tropical storm of the season, has maximum sustained winds of 55 kph (35 mph) and is moving west-northwest at 9 kph (6 mph).




3 of the Spanish children killed in Qatar fire were siblings


Three of the four Spanish children killed in a fire at a daycare center in a mall in Doha were the children of an executive of Spanish construction company OHL who works in Qatar, company spokesmen told Efe.

The children ranged in age from 2 to 7 and died along with a 7-year-old girl from another Spanish family.

Relatives of the girl live in Doha because the father, who is an engineer, is working there on big development projects, the mayor of Campo de Criptana, in the province of Ciudad Real, in central Spain, Santiago Lucas Torres, told Efe.

The father of the three youngsters who died is the personnel chief at the hospital that OHL is building in Doha, the company spokesman said.

In addition to the four Spanish children, another 15 people died in the fire, including nine children, four teachers and two firefighters, the Qatari Interior Ministry said.




Red Cross: Langlois in good condition, all ready for his release


The International Committee of the Red Cross said that Romeo Langlois, the French journalist captured a month ago by FARC guerrillas in a firefight, looks to be in good condition after images of him appeared in a video released Sunday by Telesur, and it confirmed that "everything is ready" for his release next Wednesday.

"We're happy to see him. We had not feared at any time for his life, but it's good to see that he's in good health," the ICRC spokesman in Colombia, Spaniard Jordi Raich, told Efe.

Raich also said that as far as the humanitarian organization, which is tasked with taking custody of Langlois at a certain as yet unannounced spot in the southern Colombian jungle, is concerned "everything is ready" for his release.

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, announced on Sunday that they will hand over the reporter on Wednesday to a mission headed by the ICRC and comprised of an emissary of the French government and former Colombian Sen. Piedad Cordoba.




P.M.: Spanish banks do not need European bailout


Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said that Spain's banks will not have to resort to a European rescue operation, on a day on which the investment markets punished the country's sovereign debt after the request by BFA-Bankia for an injection of 19 billion euros ($23.77 billion) of public funds.

With the risk premium standing at more than 500 points "financing is very difficult," Rajoy said in an unexpected press conference after meeting with the leadership of his center-right Popular Party, or PP.

The risk premium - which measures the difference between the return that the German 10-year bond has to pay and its national equivalent - rose on Monday above the feared 500-point barrier and Bankia shares plunged in the stock market, ultimately losing 13.38 percent of their value.

So far this year, Bankia shares have fallen by 62.17 percent in value, a percentage only slightly below the 63.73 percent that they have retreated since their market debut almost a year ago.

"There's not going to be any rescue of the Spanish banking sector," Rajoy said in response to a question about whether he could fully rule out Spain's resorting to a European rescue of its banks.

Nationalized earlier this month, BFA-Bankia is seeking what would be the largest bank bailout in Spanish history.




Rights activist Sicilia rips Mexico's presidential campaign


Poet Javier Sicilia, the leader of Mexico's Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, or MPJD, blasted the farce represented by the current electoral campaign, considering it "the continuation of violence by other means."

"It seems that the polls are no longer able to respond to the nation's broken dreams," Sicilia said.

Mexico is "facing an electoral process trapped in a dead end," in the grip of violence that has left almost 60,000 people dead and more than 20,000 missing since the end of 2006 when President Felipe Calderon launched a strategy of all-out war against crime, Sicilia said.

Mexico today has been seized "by hypocrisy, cynicism and crime," and is in a situation of national emergency because of the insecurity and violence, Sicilia said.

The poet and human rights activist has said that he plans to cast a blank ballot in the July 1 general elections as a "dignity" vote and to protest the inability of the political parties to deal with Mexico's problems, including the wave of drug-related violence.




Mob storms jail and lynches suspect in Bolivia


An angry mob stormed a jail and lynched a prisoner accused of murdering a man and wounding his wife in a town in the Bolivian region of Santa Cruz, which borders on Brazil and Paraguay, prosecutor Lucio Hinojosa told Efe.

This is the second lynching registered in Bolivia in the past three days, after on Friday a policeman who was confused with a thief was murdered by residents of the city of El Alto, adjacent to La Paz and one of the poorest cities in South America's most backward nation.

The victim on Sunday was Sixto Gonzalez, who was suspected of murdering another man last Friday in the town of San Julian, 175 kilometers (109 miles) from the city of Santa Cruz, Hinojosa said.

Police officers captured Gonzalez on Sunday and decided to take him to the nearby town of San Ramon when they learned that people were organizing in San Julian to lynch him, the prosecutor said.

"The people learned of that situation and immediately went to San Ramon ... Practically, the police were overwhelmed. The attempts to persuade (the members of the mob) to abandon their violent attitudes were in vain. The situation was uncontrollable," Hinojosa said.

Gonzalez was taken back to San Julian by the enraged townspeople and there the mob beat him to death in front of the home of the man he had allegedly killed, without the police being able to stop them.




Cuba's Ladies in White ask cardinal to help with papal audience


The Cuban dissident group Ladies in White told Efe that it requested the mediation of Havana Archbishop Cardinal Jaime Ortega so that Pope Benedict XVI would grant them an audience in The Vatican.

The request was transmitted to the chancellor of the Havana archbishopric, Ramon Suarez Polcari, during a meeting held last Friday, the group's spokeswoman, Berta Soler, told Efe on Sunday.

Last Wednesday, a Ladies in White delegation also met in Havana with the president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Cuba, or COCC, Dionisio Garcia, who is also archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, Soler said.

"We delivered (to Msgr. Polcari) a letter in which we are asking for the cardinal to intercede with the Holy Father so that he might give a delegation of the Ladies in White an audience in The Vatican," Soler said.

"Polcari was not receptive at that time because he said that if they didn't allow us to participate here (in Cuba) in the pope's Masses, how could we go to The Vatican," Soler said.




10 Murdered in Mexican Pacific resort city


At least 10 people were murdered over the weekend in the Pacific resort city of Acapulco, Mexican prosecutors said.

The bodies of nine men and a woman were found in different sections of the port city between Saturday night and noon on Sunday, spokesmen for the Guerrero state Attorney General's Office told Efe.

The woman's body was discovered around 2:00 a.m. Sunday on a highway near Acapulco, the AG's office said, adding that the unidentified victim appeared to be in her early 20s.

Two dismembered bodies were found Sunday morning by the Acapulco municipal police department.

The mutilated bodies were discovered in Acapulco's La Maquina district, with the heads and extremities left alongside the trunks.

Two men were gunned down at a basketball court in La Maquina on Saturday morning.

The other five bodies were found in different sections of the resort city, and all of the victims died from gunshot wounds, the AG's office said.

The La Barredora drug gang and the Cartel Independiente de Acapulco have been fighting for control of the resort city for more than one year.