Mitt Romney collected almost $77 mn in May, more than Obama


Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney last month collected almost $77 million for his campaign, some $17 million more than President Barack Obama.

The Republican National Committee announced the fundraising figures on its Twitter account on Thursday, just a few hours after the Democrats had done the same.

The Romney campaign also announced in a communique that it currently has at its disposal a sum of $107 million, but the Obama team has not revealed the size of its war chest.

The Democrats said that the average donation they received in May was $54.94 and emphasized the increase in donations last month over the $43.6 million they collected in April.




Fed ready to act if Europe crisis worsens


U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said his institution is ready to act if the European financial crisis worsens.

"As always, the Federal Reserve remains prepared to take action as needed to protect the U.S. financial system and economy in the event that financial stresses escalate," he told Congress' Joint Economic Committee.

Bernanke acknowledged that the crisis in Europe has acted as a drag on the U.S. economy, saying European authorities must take additional measures "to stabilize euro-area banks, calm market fears about sovereign finances, achieve a workable fiscal framework for the euro area, and lay the foundations for long-term economic growth."




2 Colombian rebels killed by their own bomb


Two members of the FARC guerrilla group were killed when a bomb they were planning to launch at a police post accidentally detonated, Colombian police said.

The incident occurred Wednesday in the northwestern village of Puerto Valdivia, the police commander in Antioquia province told reporters in Medellin, the provincial capital.

The bomb, a cooking-gas cylinder packed with explosives and shrapnel, went off before the rebels could use it in an attack on the police outpost, Col. Jose Gerardo Acevedo said.

Puerto Valdivia lies on the Cauca River and the guerrillas planned to launch the projectile from the opposite bank of the river, he said.




2 Dead, 30 poisoned in northern Colombia


Two girls died and at least 30 other people were sickened by an unidentified chemical in two communities outside the northern Colombian city of San Jacinto del Cauca, health officials said.

The first girl was dead when she arrived at the city's hospital on Tuesday, while the second girl died a day later at the medical facility, municipal health secretary Catherine Atencio Avila told Efe by telephone.

The large number of patients with similar symptoms overwhelmed the hospital in San Jacinto del Cauca, which is in Bolivar province, the health official said.

"We have 20 patients, who are in stable condition, at our hospital," the health official said, adding that all the patients were suffering from poisoning.

"But we have not determined the cause," Atencio said.




Mexico's Calderon meets with Spain's King Juan Carlos


Mexican President Felipe Calderon met with Spain's King Juan Carlos I during the 4th Alliance of the Pacific Summit in the northern Chilean city of Paranal, the Office of the President said in a statement.

Calderon, who is attending the summit as a special guest, praised the "intensity" of the high-level Mexican-Spanish political dialogue, citing Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's visit to Mexico in April as an example of the extensive bilateral contacts.

The Mexican president and King Juan Carlos discussed the challenges faced by the global community in light of the economic situation in Europe during their meeting on Wednesday.




Cuba's Catholic primate meets with dissidents


Leaders of the dissident group Ladies in White spent nearly four hours with Cuba's Catholic primate, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, asking him to mediate with the communist government to stop its repression of them.

The meeting, held at the Havana Archdiocese, came at a time marked by criticism of the cardinel by certain Cuban exile groups and the internal opposition.

At the close of the meeting, the spokesperson for the dissident group, Berta Soler, told reporters that Ortega was "very receptive" to their request and listened to everything they had to say.

Soler said she and her three colleagues has as their objective informing the cardinal that the Ladies in White are "being "taken to jail" for going to their regular Sunday Masses and that "the repression (against them) has intensified.




Spain names new central bank chief as crisis deepens


Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government named a new governor of Spain's central bank, entrusting him with overseeing the continued restructuring of the nation's troubled financial sector.

Economy Minister Luis de Guindos announced that veteran technocrat Luis Maria Linde was chosen to replace Miguel Angel Fernandez Ordoñez, who is leaving the Banca de España one month before his term was set to expire.

The minister hailed the political independence of the new governor and his "recognized competence."

Linde takes the reins at a time when Spain's bad-loan saddled financial sector is mired in crisis and the central bank, accused of mishandling the clean-up of large banks and regional lenders, known as "cajas," has suffered a sharp dip in prestige.

Working in tandem with the Economy Ministry, the new governor must decide on the future of recently nationalized banks such as BFA-Bankia, CatalunyaCaixa, NovaGalicia and Banco de Valencia.




3 Wounded in grenade attacks on auto dealers in Mexico


Three people were wounded when unidentified assailants threw grenades at two auto dealerships in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of the northeastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, state officials said.

The attacks occurred Wednesday afternoon at auto dealerships located less than 200 meters (about 220 yards) from each other, the Tamaulipas Attorney General's Office and the Public Safety Secretariat said in a statement.

One of the grenades set a vehicle on display outside the Renault dealership on fire.

The second grenade damaged the exterior of the Volkswagen dealership a short distance away.




Helicopter carrying 2 crewmen, 12 tourists missing in Peru


A helicopter carrying 14 people - two crewmen and 12 tourists - disappeared in the jungle region of Madre de Dios while flying to the southern Peruvian region of Cuzco, the National Police told Efe.

The aircraft was scheduled to arrive on Wednesday around 5:00 p.m. in Marcapata, a town in Cuzco, but it is not known what happened to it.

Officials suspect that the helicopter experienced an emergency and a special police patrol made up of officers with mountain rescue experience was sent out Thursday, the National Police said.