London Olympics open with Hollywood-style extravaganza

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The 2012 Olympics officially got under way here with a celebration of Britain's culture and heritage, followed by the procession of most of the roughly 10,500 athletes competing on behalf of 204 nations.

The show was created by filmmaker Danny Boyle, director of the Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire," at a cost of more than 33 million euros ($40.6 million).

Because Boyle's spectacular ran a little long, the Olympic athletes had to make their entrance almost at a trot. As is customary in the modern Olympics, the Greek delegation was first, with the others following in alphabetical order.

Spain, No. 172 in the procession, entered behind basketball star Pau Gasol, who replaced injured tennis icon Rafael Nadal as the standard-bearer.

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Spain's unemployment rate hits 24.6 pct

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Spain's economic crisis continued to take its toll on employment in the second quarter, with the jobless rate edging up to 24.6 percent overall and more than 53 percent among youth.

Those figures - up from 24.4 percent and 52 percent in the previous quarter - mean unemployment in Spain remains the highest among the European Union's 27 member states, whose average jobless rate is 10.3 percent.

The latest results from the National Statistics Institute's EPA workforce survey reveal the human cost of the country's recession-mired economy, as the ranks of the unemployed swelled by 53,500 people between April and June to a record total of 5.69 million.

The statistics are even bleaker considering businesses traditionally take on workers in those months as they prepare for the start of the summer tourist season.

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Marines capture reputed Zeta leader in southeast Mexico

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Marines have captured a suspected leader of the Zetas drug cartel in the southeastern Mexican states of Tabasco, Veracruz, Chiapas, Campeche and Quintana Roo, an arrest that follows the detentions of several other members of the gang this week.

In a statement Friday, the Navy Secretariat said Mauricio Guizar Cardenas was detained a day earlier at a hotel in Huejotzingo, a town in the central state of Puebla.

In the operation, the marines seized "a 66 mm anti-tank rocket launcher, 20 grenades, a sub-machine gun with a magazine containing 30 cartridges," as well as other weapons and a quantity of a synthetic drug.

The detainee is suspected of being a direct collaborator of Omar Treviño Morales, alias "El Z-42," one of the top leaders of the notorious drug gang, the statement said.

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Coca eradication a failure, Colombian politico says

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Colombia's program to eradicate coca - the raw material of cocaine - is a failure and the money would be better spent on efforts to alleviate rural poverty, the governor of the southwestern province of Nariño said here.

Raul Delgado offered that appraisal at an event in Tumaco where Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon had just finished presenting the Colombian government's new strategy to eliminate illegal crops.

"In the last 10 years more than 390,000 hectares (962,962 acres) of this province have been fumigated, added to another 113,000 hectares eradicated manually," Nariño's top elected official said.

Yet the coca fields remain, Delgado said, while Nariño has a homicide rate of 180 murders per 100,000 inhabitants and is one of the provinces "most affected by the armed conflict" among the security forces, leftist guerrillas and right-wing militias.

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Mexican left demands interim president, special elections

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The Mexican left says the July 1 presidential election must be overturned and an interim president appointed to organize another vote.

"If the election is not invalidated, Mexico will be governed by a band of criminals, the most corrupt and terrible in the country," the leftist who finished second in the presidential contest, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, said at a press conference in the capital.

Enrique Peña Nieto, the candidate of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, won with 38.21 percent of the vote, while Lopez Obrador took second place with 31.59 percent, according to the final official tally.

But the leftist hopeful filed a motion last week with Mexico's TEPJF electoral court seeking to have the election overturned, contending that the PRI effectively bought 5 million votes.

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Experts: Unconventional oil, gas a path to LatAm energy self-sufficiency

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Unconventional oil and gas reserves represent a "viable path" to energy self-sufficiency for Latin America and the Caribbean, a region that has shown a strong interest in developing those deposits, experts said at a conference in the Uruguayan capital.

The 2nd Latin American and Caribbean Oil and Gas Seminar concluded here Thursday after two days of discussions on the challenges of and prospects for non-conventional hydrocarbons, with public- and private-sector experts touting the enormous potential of these energy sources.

Nestor Luna, director of studies and projects for the Latin American Energy Organization, or Olade, organizer of the gathering, told Efe that even countries with significant reserves of conventional hydrocarbons, such as Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Brazil, have shown an interest in non-conventional deposits.

"This exploration and development of unconventional resources depends on the resources, their financial aspects and technical possibilities," he said.

EFE