Panamanian gov't withdraws bills that sparked protests


President Ricardo Martinelli announced that he is withdrawing two controversial bills that spurred disturbances in Panama's National Assembly and protests on the streets.

The supermarket magnate attributed opposition to the measures - one authorizing sale of the government's stakes in utility companies and the other a ratification of three Supreme Court appointments - to a lack of information.

"To impel a broad discussion and a consensus on these matters, I will withdraw them today from the National Assembly and send them to the National Coordination," Martinelli told reporters at the presidential palace.

The National Coordination is a consultative body that includes representatives of business, labor, academia and other elements of society. Martinelli invited "all sectors" to take part in the discussion and said he will ask the Catholic Church to mediate the talks.




Boxer "Macho" Camacho ordered to stay away from son, ex-wife


A judge in Central Florida ordered former boxing champion Hector "Macho" Camacho to have no contact with his 13-year-old son pending a verdict in the child abuse case against the retired athlete.

Camacho must also stay away from his ex-wife, Orange County Circuit Judge Marc Lubet said at Tuesday's hearing, though he allowed the 50-year-old to remain free on bond.

Prosecutors had asked Lubet to revoke Camacho's bail because the defendant violated the terms of his bond by trying to contact the alleged victim.

Prosecutors accuse Macho of having grabbed the 13-year-old by the neck and slamming him to the ground.




Miro painting sells for record $37 mn


Joan Miro's "Peinture (Etoile Bleue)" sold here at Sotheby's auction house for 23.56 million pounds ($37 million), a record price for a work by the Spanish artist.

The picture, described by Miro (1893-1983) as a "key" turning point in his artistic career, incorporates surrealist symbols and elements that the painter would repeat in later works.

The intense blue of the painting influenced not only the artist's later works, but also the style of other painters like Mark Rothko (1903-1970) and Yves Klein (1928-1962).




ACLU denounces police brutality in Puerto Rico


The Puerto Rico Police Department "is steeped in a culture of unrestrained abuse and near-total impunity" and promised reforms have yet to materialize, the American Civil Liberties Union says in a new report.

The 180-page report, Island of Impunity: Puerto Rico's Outlaw Police Force, documents the brutality and shortcomings of the second largest police department in the United States, with more then 17,000 police officers.

The abuses are not "isolated incidents," but "pervasive and systemic, island-wide and ongoing," Jennifer Turner of the ACLU human rights program said.

The analysis was released nine months after the U.S. Department of Justice published its own report on constitutional violations committed by the PRPD, which covered incidents between 2004 and 2008 along with the repression of protesters in 2009 and 2010.




U.S. extradites suspected arms trafficker to Mexico


A Mexican fugitive has been handed over by the United States to Mexico, marking the first extradition under the new bilateral policy of targeting arms trafficking, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said.

Gregorio Salgado Lopez faces charges that he smuggled firearms purchased at Pete's Sport Shop in Madera, California, into Mexico, the AG's office said.

Salgado was arrested on March 22, 2009, at a customs inspection station in Sonoyta, a town in the northern state of Sonora, for transporting 55 .22-caliber rifles.

The suspect posted bond and was released by authorities, the AG's office said. Salgado failed to appear in court and an arrest warrant was issued for him.




Mexican gov't declares disaster in areas hit by storm


A disaster declaration has been issued for 68 cities in the southern state of Oaxaca and five cities in the southwestern state of Guerrero affected by Hurricane Carlotta, the Mexican federal government said.

The disaster declaration will allow areas hit by the storm to receive assistance, the national emergency management office said.

Affected cities will be eligible to receive money from the Natural Disasters Fund to provide food, clothing and medical assistance to hurricane victims, the government said in a statement.

Carlotta became a Category 1 hurricane on Friday and strengthened to Category 2. The storm later weakened and made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane before being downgraded Saturday morning to a tropical storm and later to a tropical depression.