U.S. asks Asia leaders to reduce tension in China Sea


U.S. President Barack Obama concluded his official Asia tour by urging leaders in the region to reduce the tension that has arisen due to territorial disputes between China and neighboring nations.

This message dominated the East Asia Summit, where Obama said that Washington will expand cooperation with a region it considers to be of "top priority" to give a push to the U.S. and global economies.

"I think President Obama's message is there needs to be a reduction of the tensions in the East China Sea and a process going forward, more broadly, to ensure that these types of disputes don't risk escalation," Ben Rhodes, the deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, told reporters in Phnom Penh.

Obama met on the sidelines of the summit with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihido Noda.




Rebel ceasefire begins in Colombia between hope and skepticism


The unilateral ceasefire by Colombia's FARC guerrillas began between hopes of peace after almost 50 years of armed conflict, and the skepticism of a government that vows to continue its military operations against the rebels.

The end of hostilities, announced Monday in Havana by the second-in-command of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, Ivan Marquez, got underway Monday and will continue until Jan. 20, 2013.

On this first day, the army told Efe about mine explosions where a group of soldiers were advancing in the strife-ridden province of Cauca, which sparked a shootout.

Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzon made it clear Monday that the government is not joining in the truce.




British court sentences rogue trader to 7 years


A British court sentenced UBS trader Kweku Adoboli to seven years in prison for a fraud estimated at 1.8 billion euros ($2.3 billion).

The 32-year-old was found guilty performing unauthorized operations when he worked for the Swiss bank in London between October 2008 and September 2011.

Adoboli, who was born in Ghana but educated at exclusive schools in England, was arrested on Sept. 15, 2011, after he confessed to the phony trades when someone at UBS questioned some of the transactions.

According to the bank, the fraud was possible since the financial market trader presumably created fake data to camouflage the risks he assumed.




Mexican police deny attack on U.S. personnel planned


Federal Police Commissioner Maribel Cervantes Guerrero denied in interviews published in the Mexican press that the Aug. 24 attack on a U.S. Embassy vehicle that left two American government security experts wounded was planned, as alleged by federal prosecutors.

Cervantes Guerrero, however, acknowledged that the Federal Police officers involved in the incident did not follow the proper procedures.

The attack on the SUV in which the two U.S. officials and a Mexican marine were traveling was prompted by "a shot fired in the air," the Federal Police commissioner told the Milenio and El Universal newspapers.

The officers involved in the attack were investigating a kidnapping in Tres Marias, a town in the central state of Morelos, when the incident occurred, Cervantes Guerrero said.

The U.S. Embassy vehicle's armor plating saved the lives of the two American officials and the Mexican marine accompanying them, the Mexican Attorney General's Office said.




Poland says terror suspect hoped to kill top officials


Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said that the arrest of an anti-Semitic nationalist who intended to blow up parliament forces authorities and the nation to be "prepared" for the threat of an attack like that carried out last year in Norway by Anders Behring Breivik.

Tusk asked lawmakers and the public to reduce the tension of the political debate, which is often marked by incendiary rhetoric, especially on the part of the main ultra-nationalist opposition group led by former Premier Jaroslaw Kaczynski.

Authorities said the suspect, a 45-year-old chemist and research fellow at Krakow Agricultural University, intended to detonate a car bomb outside parliament when President Bronislaw Komorowski, Tusk and other senior officials were present.




Michelle Obama honors Hispanic talent


U.S. first lady Michelle Obama honored the work of a dozen projects promoting the development of art and the humanities in education, notably the Paso Nuevo/New Step bilingual school of theater, and a program for preserving mariachi music.

Trumpets and guitars were played with youthful power by a group of students in the Mariachi Master Apprentice Program of San Fernando, California, founded by the Grammy-winning band Los Camperos.

This initiative was one of those honored with the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award, presented by the first lady in the White House East Room.




Inmates in Guatemala free guards, end uprising


Inmates at a maximum-security prison outside this capital who took eight guards hostage ended their rebellion and freed the last of the captives, Guatemala's interior minister said.

"The five guards were liberated after several hours of dialogue and without the use of force," Mauricio Lopez told reporters.

The inmates released three hostages Monday night.

"There was no negotiation with the rebels, instead they were persuaded to abandon the action," the minister said.

Once all the guards were safe, he said, authorities restored order in Fraijanes II prison - "fortunately without using violence" - and began the process of transferring the 156 inmates to other facilities to allow repairs of the damage resulting from the rebellion.




U.S. tops EU as biggest market for China exports


The United States has surpassed the European Union as the principal market for Chinese exports, the spokesman for China's Trade Ministry told a press conference.

Shen Danyang gave no precise details about the change nor the period measured, since the ministry's official statistics only account for the total value of bilateral trade with its chief partners, which in October was $31.2 billion between China and the U.S. and $26.4 billion with the EU.




Activists plan to protest animal abuse on Hobbit set


The animal-rights group PETA will stage a protest at the Nov. 28 world premiere in Wellington, New Zealand, of the first episode of "The Hobbit" because of the suspected abuse of almost 30 animals when the movie was filmed, media reports said.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) says 27 animals including horses, goats, sheep and chickens, were mutilated or died due to the mistreatment they received during the shooting of "The Hobbit" trilogy, the TVNZ network reported.

The abuse is believed to have occurred chiefly because the animals were enclosed on farms full of traps, drains and other deadly devices, TVNZ said.