Giant new balloons join traditional Thanksgiving Day parade

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New gigantic balloons were added to the popular Thanksgiving Day parade that, along with colorful floats, bands and musical performances, officially welcomed the Christmas season to the streets of New York City.

Millions of New Yorkers and people from around the country didn't want to miss the 86th edition of the parade organized by Macy's department store which for Americans has become - along with the traditional turkey dinner - an indispensable element in the celebration of the special day.

Starting early in the morning, people began filling the streets to get a good spot from which to enjoy the event, and some even reserved hotel rooms overlooking the parade route to be able to secure a bird's-eye view.

Others preferred to enjoy the parade from the comfort of their homes and every year some 50 million people watch the live television broadcast of the event, although this year people also had the chance to follow the parade via their cell phones.

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600 CentAm migrants stranded in southeast Mexico

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About 600 Central American migrants are stranded in Arriaga, a city in the southeastern state of Chiapas, due to a fire in the locomotive of the train used by migrants to reach central Mexico.

The fire broke out Tuesday in Corazones, a town on the border between Oaxaca and Chiapas states, as the train, known as "The Beast," was heading to Arriaga with no migrants aboard.

The fire completely destroyed the locomotive, media reports said.

Ferrocarril del Istmo de Tehuantepec, which operates the train, sent about 20 workers to remove the locomotive and repair the tracks, a job that will likely not be completed until the weekend.

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Puerto Rican pugilist Hector "Macho" Camacho dies

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Puerto Rican boxing icon Hector "Macho" Camacho has died from wounds suffered in a shooting this week on the Caribbean island, the director of the Centro Medico trauma facility, Dr. Ernesto Torres, said here. He was 50.

The latest medical tests on the former three-time boxing world champion confirmed that he was clinically brain dead, the physician told reporters.

The former fighter was shot in the face Tuesday by unknown assailants outside a bar in Bayamon, part of the San Juan metropolitan area. A man accompanying Camacho was killed in the attack.

Doctors waited for nearly two days for the test results that showed Camacho, one of Puerto Rico's greatest-ever boxers, had lost the last fight of his life, Torres said.

The ex-boxer's family will decide Friday whether or not to take him off life support, the hospital director said.

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4 Chinese kidnap victims freed in Colombia

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Three Chinese oil workers and their interpreter were freed in Colombia after being held captive for 17 months, a crime authorities blame on FARC rebels though the guerrillas - currently in peace talks with the government - have not claimed responsibility.

A group of unidentified individuals on Wednesday night handed over engineers Zhau Hong, Yang Jing and Tang Guo Fu, as well as their Chinese interpreter, to the International Committee of the Red Cross in a rural area outside San Vicente del Caguan, a town in the southern province of Caqueta.

The head of the ICRC in Colombia, Jordi Raich, confirmed their release in a press conference Thursday, saying one of the freed men has difficulty walking.

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Hostess to shut down after mediation with union fails

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A U.S. bankruptcy court accepted the request by giant U.S. bread and cake producer Hostess Brands Inc. to shut down due to a strike that has derailed its recovery plan, a move that means that some 18,500 workers will be laid off.

New York Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain approved the firm's request for an orderly closure of its operations and the sale of its assets, the firm said in a communique.

The judge's decision came after the firm and the union that staged the walkout were unable to reach agreement during a mediation session requested last Monday by the magistrate.

Hostess will now close 33 bakeries, 565 distribution centers and 570 outlet stores all over the country and will sell its most famous brands.

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Spain's King Juan Carlos doing "very well" prior to hip surgery

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Spain's King Juan Carlos said that he is doing "very well, terrific" at a Madrid hospital where he underwent the last test prior to surgery on his left hip.

The monarch returned to his residence at Zarzuela Palace after a bone density test was performed on the hip at Madrid's USP San Jose Hospital, the Royal Palace told Efe.

After the successful test, everything appears to be pointing toward the king undergoing surgery on Friday, although the palace did not confirm that.

The Royal Palace did not say when the king would return to the hospital for the operation, which will include installing an artificial hip to eliminate the problems he has been having as a result of degenerative osteoarthritis.

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Company of king's daughter, son-in-law could be seized to pay bail

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The judge overseeing the corruption case involving Iñaki Urdangarin, the son-in-law of Spain's King Juan Carlos, could seize the firm Aizoon, owned by Urdangarin and his wife, Princess Cristina, if he eventually sets a bail of almost 8.2 million euros ($10.4 million).

Court sources informed Efe of the possibility on Thursday after the anti-corruption prosecutor on Wednesday asked for bail in that amount for Urdangarin and his former partner Diego Torres with the aim of covering the cost of potential civil financial obligations stemming from their possible convictions in the so-called "Noos case."

The Anti-corruption Bureau believes that the two men conducted, via that supposedly non-profit institution, "premeditated criminal activity" to appropriate public funds from the regional governments of the Balearic Islands and Valencia.

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Confessed killer of Mexican activist's daughter dies in shootout

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One of the most-wanted fugitives in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua and confessed killer of Rubi Marisol Frayre - the teenage daughter of a human rights activist who was murdered herself - has died in a clash with army soldiers, prosecutors said.

Sergio Rafael Barraza Bocanegra and three other individuals were killed in a gunfight with the troops on Nov. 16 on a road near Joaquin Amaro, a town in the central state of Zacatecas, the Chihuahua Attorney General's Office said in a statement.

The clash occurred after a military convoy came under attack by a purported cell of the Los Zetas drug cartel.

Soldiers found ID on one of the men in the name of Sergio Barraza Bocanegra and provided that information to Zacatecas state prosecutors, the AG's office said.

A relative of the slain man went to the coroner's office in Zacatecas and identified him as Barraza.

Frayre was Barraza's former girlfriend and was only 16 when she was murdered in 2008.

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Mexican rights body says disappearances, murders soared in past 6 years

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Violations of personal rights have soared over the past six years in Mexico, with more than 2,000 people listed as missing and over 46,000 murders linked to organized crime groups, the Mexican National Human Rights Commission, or CNDH, said.

The Senate should address the problem of security "with the greatest urgency" in Mexico, where just eight of every 100 crimes committed are reported and only 1 percent of crimes are investigated by prosecutors, allowing 99 percent of crimes to go unpunished, CNDH chairman Raul Plascencia said.

"This means a substantial increase in human rights violations, such as torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests, illegal searches and seizures, forced disappearances and arbitrary deprivations of life, among others," Plascencia said.

The CNDH has opened cases on 2,126 forced disappearances over the past six years, as well as tallying 46,015 killings linked to the wave of drug-related violence in the country, 15,921 unidentified bodies and 1,421 bodies discovered in clandestine graves, Plascencia said.

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EFE