Spain nabs 3 al-Qaeda suspects with explosives

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Three suspected al-Qaeda members arrested in possession of explosives were planning an attack on European soil, the Spanish interior minister said.

Authorities found "clear indications" the trio was plotting to strike in Spain or another European country, Jorge Fernandez Diaz told a press conference in Madrid.

He described two of the three suspects as "extremely dangerous persons" who were the "operational" elements of the cell.

Security forces had earlier identified the two men as Chechens and the third suspect as a Turkish national who acted as a "facilitator."

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Mexican elections court deals setback to left

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Mexico's TEPJF electoral court has rejected the request made by the leftist Progressive Movement coalition for a special audit of the results of the July 1 presidential election.

The coalition's request falls outside the court's "legal functions and purview," the TEPFJ said in a statement.

The Progressive Movement has demanded that the results of the presidential election, which was won by the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, be thrown out, alleging that the winning alliance exceeded campaign spending limits and engaged in vote-buying with funds obtained from illicit sources.

PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto won the presidential election with 38.21 percent of the vote, while leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador took second place with 31.59 percent, according to the final official results released by the Federal Electoral Institute, or IFE.

The TEPJF cannot force the IFE, Mexico's highest elections agency, to take an action whose purpose "is to create a special audit procedure or simply to resolve administrative proceedings in a summary manner," Magistrate Pedro Esteban Penagos said.

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Cartel leader captured in Mexico

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One of the suspected leaders of the La Barredora drug cartel and three of his associates were captured in northwest Mexico, the Public Safety Secretariat said.

Gino Huerta Moreno, who went by the alias Arturo Moreno Araujo, is considered the top leader and one of the founders of La Barredora, the secretariat said.

The Federal Police arrested Huerta Moreno in San Sebastian en Los Mochis, a city in Sinaloa state, where the suspected drug trafficker is from, the secretariat said in a statement.

The 30-year-old Huerta Moreno was identified by intelligence reports as the gang's coordinator of kidnappings and contract killings, federal officials said.

La Barredora "mutilated its victims" and dumped their bodies "with intimidating messages for rival gangs," the secretariat said.

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Chavez denies getting medical checkup in Brazil

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been battling cancer since June 2011, said he feels fine and denied rumors that he submitted to a medical checkup during his just-completed offical visit to Brazil.

"I feel very well. I know that some, I think the mentally sick, and also with a certain sadism, take advantage of anything ... and OK it will continue being like this, any opportunity to continue sending their messages," said Chavez at a press conference upon his return from Brazil, where he attended the ceremony for Venezuela's entry as a full partner into the Mercosur trade bloc.

"It's absurd and totally false that they took me ... to a hospital and, I don't know, well it's a complete tale, like a movie," said the leftist president.

"I don't like to even respond because I don't want to fall to that level of, how can I call it, human wretchedness," he said.

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Deported Mexican returns to U.S. to fight for custody of kids

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An immigrant deported to Mexico who is fighting to keep custody of his three children received humanitarian permission to return to the United States to continue his court battle in North Carolina.

Felipe Bautista Montes since Wednesday has been in the western city of Sparta, where on Aug. 10 he must present himself at a hearing before a judge.

Carlos Flores Vizcarra, Mexico's general consul for the Carolinas, confirmed Thursday to Efe that the Department of Homeland Security authorized Montes to receive permission to stay in the country for 90 days.

The Mexican Consulate hired a lawyer to handle the request that was accepted last week by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"In the 11 years of my career, I have never heard of a similar action, where the same agency that deported an immigrant now allows him to return," Flores emphasized to Efe.

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Bolivia formally cancels mining concession

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Bolivia's government issued a decree formally revoking a mining concession held by the private firm Compañia Minera Malku Khota and rejected claims for compensation by Canadian parent South American Silver Corp., saying no contract was signed with the Vancouver-based company.

Mining Minister Mario Virreira said the decree returns the concession for the mining project - located in Malku Khota, a town 350 kilometers (217 miles) south of La Paz - to the government.

A faction of Indians who had kidnapped seven people in that region in late June - including five Malku Khota employees - amid a conflict that resulted in the death of one Indian had secured a pledge from the government to cancel the concession and had threatened more violence if the government did not keep its promise.

Compañia Minera Malku Khota, a unit of SAS, said in June that a majority of the Indian clans - known as ayllus - in the area supported the firm's project, but that one faction of the indigenous people saw the operations as an obstacle to their own efforts to mine gold.

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Mexico murders down 7 pct, Calderon says

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The number of murders committed in Mexico fell "some 7 percent in the first half of this year," compared to the same period in 2011, and a downward trend is being seen "for the first time in several years," President Felipe Calderon said.

Deaths linked to violence between criminal organizations have fallen "close to 15 percent," Calderon told the 33rd session of the National Public Safety Council, or CNSP.

"Month after month (in the first half of 2012), we have seen a decrease in homicides with respect to the same month last year," Calderon said.

Twenty-two of the 37 most dangerous leaders of criminal organizations have been "captured or killed" during the current administration, whose term ends this year, the president said.

These successes are a result of the security policy implemented by the government, Calderon told the CNSP, whose members include state governors, Cabinet members and representatives of civil society.

The change from "a reactive model to a preventive one" was among the most important changes, making it possible to have "a civilian option in security matters," the president said.

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EFE