Guatemala earthquake death toll reaches 52


The number of confirmed deaths from the magnitude-7.4 earthquake that jolted Guatemala stands at 52 and another 22 people remain missing, officials said.

More than 1 million Guatemalans were affected in some way by the temblor, President Otto Perez Molina said during a press conference at the headquarters of the disaster management agency, Conred.

He announced the declaration of a "state of calamity" in the provinces of San Marcos, Quetzaltenango, Quiche and Huehuetenango, aimed at enabling authorities to respond quickly to needs as they arise.

"Sadly, the number of dead is going up," the president said.

More than 8,000 people have been forced from their homes and many residences were destroyed or damaged beyond repair, he said.




7 Life sentences for Giffords' shooter


The confessed gunman in the January 2011 mass shooting here that left 6 dead and 13 wounded, including then-Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was sentenced to seven life terms plus 140 years in prison without possibility of parole.

The sentence imposed on Jared Lee Loughner, presiding Judge Larry Burns said, has a "symbolic character," since it is intended to reflect the damage caused to all the victims of the massacre.

Loughner pleaded guilty in August in exchange for prosecutors' agreement not to seek the death penalty.

Each of the life sentences corresponds to one of the fatalities in the shooting as well as for the assassination attempt on Giffords, who was Loughner's target on Jan. 8, 2011.




Another 9 slain in Brazil's biggest city


Nine people were killed in another night of mayhem here in Brazil's most populous city following the announcement by federal and regional officials of a new anti-crime plan, authorities said.

The violence, which had been concentrated in slums and gritty industrial suburbs, spread to the affluent Sao Paulo neighborhood of Jardins, where a gunman trying to rob a gas station died in a shootout with police.

Two other would-be robbers died and a police officer was wounded in a gunfight among cops, criminals and private security guards at a supermarket.

The latest killings came two days after the Sao Paulo state government and Brazilian federal officials launched a joint plan to confront a recent upsurge in violence here.




10 Farmworkers massacred in Colombia


A suspected paramilitary successor group killed 10 farmworkers at a rural property in the northwestern Colombian province of Antioquia, police said.

The crime was committed by a group of armed men in a rural area of Santa Rosa de Osos, a town north of the city of Medellin, a National Police spokesperson said.

One farmworker was wounded but survived the Wednesday evening massacre at the La España tamarillo farm, the spokesperson said, adding that the Los Rastrojos criminal gang is suspected of carrying out the killings.

The Los Rastrojos gang is one of several heavily armed drug-trafficking gangs that emerged following the ostensible demobilization of the AUC militia federation in 2006.




5 Tibetans immolate themselves to protest Chinese occupation


Five Tibetans tried to burn themselves alive in the Chinese province of Siachen to protest the occupation of Tibet by the Chinese army, a spokesman for the Tibetan government in exile told Efe here.

"At least two of the people who set fire to themselves died as a result of the burns," Tempa Tsering said.

This is the largest immolation attempt since the beginning more than a year ago of this type of resistance action against the Chinese occupation of Tibet. It comes amid a wave of protests that has taken the lives of about 60 people, most of them Buddhist monks.

According to the Tibetan government in exile, the five people who tried to burn themselves to death on Wednesday were young people and there was one woman among them.




EU, Latin American nations mark end of "banana war"


Officials from the European Union and 11 Latin American nations gathered here at the headquarters of the World Trade Organization to sign a pact ending a two-decade-long dispute over banana tariffs.

"This is a truly historic moment," WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy said after witnessing the signing. "After so many twists and turns, these complicated and politically contentious disputes can finally be put to bed."

The Latin American nations represented at the event in Geneva were Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Venezuela and Peru.




Ferrer loses to Federer at ATP World Tour Finals


Spaniard David Ferrer's record at the ATP World Tour Finals fell to 1-1 after he lost 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) to Roger Federer in round-robin play.

Ferrer, who brought an 11-match winning streak into the contest, including a three-set victory Tuesday over Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro, put pressure on Federer's serve and earned 10 break points throughout the match in London's O2 Arena.

But his poor conversion rate on those break chances - one for 10 - proved costly.

The Swiss great was unable to break the Spaniard's serve in the second set, but he won the big points in the tiebreaker to run his career record over Ferrer to 14-0.




10 Civilians die in land-mine blast in Afghanistan


Ten civilians were killed and seven others wounded when the van carrying them detonated a land mine in the southern Afghan province of Helmand, police told Efe.

The blast took place around 7:00 a.m. as the victims were on their way to a wedding, Mohammed Satar said.

The fatalities included a child.




Argentine court freezes Chevron assets


An Argentine judge has embargoed the assets of U.S. oil supermajor Chevron Corp. in the South American country, a victory for plaintiffs trying to collect on a $19 billion judgment against the company in Ecuador for environmental damage.

Judge Adrian Elcuj Miranda on Wednesday upheld a petition by an Ecuadorian court that was filed under the terms of a regional treaty, the attorney for the plaintiffs in Argentina, Enrique Bruchou, said in a press conference.

The goal of the 47 named Ecuadorian plaintiffs is to collect on a $19 billion sum that Chevron has been ordered to pay for irreversible environmental damage between 1964 and the early 1990s by Texaco.