U.S. retailers pull in nearly $60 bn over holiday weekend


U.S. shoppers spent a little more than $59 billion over the Thanksgiving weekend, setting a record for the percentage of online purchases, according to figures compiled by the National Retail Federation.

Some 247 million people chose to go shopping on Black Friday, so named because it is the day on which retail sellers traditionally have expected to turn the corner in terms of sales and move into profits.

The number of total buyers rose 9 percent over 2011, while their average spending rose by 6 percent.

Over the four days of vacation that began with Thanksgiving Day, U.S. consumers spent an average of $423, compared with $398 in 2011.

The number of online buyers on Black Friday reached a record 89 million.




Nearly 20 die in weekend violence in Puerto Rico


The crime wave continued to rise in Puerto Rico with a long Thanksgiving weekend that left nearly a score of people dead on the Caribbean island, where the homicide rate is more than 20 for every 100,000 inhabitants.

The weekend death toll and the recent murder here of retired boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho brings to the fore once more the drama of violence in the streets of Puerto Rico.

The latest homicides raise to 858 the number of violent deaths so far in 2012, which, with a little more than a month to go, is fulfilling predictions of having less than the 1,136 murders in 2011, the bloodiest in Puerto Rico since 1940.




Olympic chief favors 4-yr suspension in serious doping cases


The president of the International Olympic Committee expressed support for the plans of the World Anti-Doping Agency to raise from two to four years the punishment for serious violations of its rules.

At a press conference in Amsterdam, Belgium's Jacques Rogge confirmed that the proposal, which would enter into force in 2015, "satisfies" the IOC in cases it called "heavy doping."

The draft text is "completely in line with the Osaka Rule," whose purpose "was to stop the athletes to participate in the next games if their penalty was higher than six months." the IOC chief said.

The IOC's Osaka Rule was annulled last year by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which disagreed with the double punishment of having an athlete who had already fulfilled a sanction also be banned from participating in the Olympics.




Another young Tibetan sets self on fire in China


A Tibetan student set fire to himself in the western province of Sichuan to protest China's policies in Tibet and demand the return of the Dalai Lama from exile.

The action of 20-year-old Wangyal brings to 19 the number of Tibetans who have tried to immolate themselves in the last 20 days.

A group of Chinese soldiers arrived at the scene shortly after the young man set fire to himself and they took him away after suffocating the flames that covered his body. The student's condition is not known, the exile news agency Phayul said.




Russian sub carries out its first missile firing


Russia successfully carried out the first firing of a supersonic cruise missile from the nuclear submarine Severodvinsk, media reports said.

"During some maneuvers in the White Sea, the Severodvinsk fired its first supersonic cruise missile while in a surface position," a military spokesman told the Interfax news agency.

A Unified Naval Construction Corporation, or CCNU, representative also confirmed the successful firing of the cruise missile.




Thousands protest after deadly factory fire in Bangladesh


Several thousand workers in Bangladesh's textile sector demonstrated on the outskirts of the country's capital in protest against a factory fire that took 111 lives.

A second fire was reported Monday morning in another clothing factory in Dhaka, though as yet no deaths have been reported.

The demonstrators demanded punishment for those responsible for last weekend's fire, and authorities had to block traffic on the highway from suburban Ashulia to Dhaka to make way for their march, according to police officials cited by The Daily Star.

Most of Ashulia's textile factories have closed their doors amid the massive deployment of police seeking to prevent violence.




Spain's king making "very favorable" progress after operation


Spain's King Juan Carlos is recovering "in a very favorable way" after the hip replacement operation he underwent last week, doctors said.

The monarch showed "very significant progress" at his latest physiotherapy session, and now "gets up and walks around his room unaided," according to the latest bulletin read to reporters by Javier de Joz, director of Quiron San Jose Hospital.

Monday morning he was given a new procedure proving that the initial inflammation had disappeared, according to the medical report, so that "the progress of the surgical incision is proceeding correctly," allowing the medical team to "step up his recovery program."




Fire in Germany takes 14 lives


At least 14 people died in a fire at a workshop for disabled people in the southern German city of Titisee-Neustadt, authorities said.

Another seven people were injured to different degrees and the possibility still exists that some might have been trapped by flames inside the building.

The fire broke out for unknown reasons in a workshop of the humanitarian organization Caritas where about 120 people worked, though firefighters said that at the time of the blaze only 50 were found there.

Emergency management teams of firefighters and medical personnel from nearby towns rushed to the scene to put out the flames and care for the injured.

The rapid response of firefighters allowed many workers and disabled persons to be brought out alive from the building's workshop, which was engulfed in smoke.




Nearly 300 firearms stolen from depot in southern Brazil


A group of armed men overpowered the lone security guard at a judicial system arms depot in Colombo, a city in southern Brazil, over the weekend and stole 291 firearms that were going to be introduced as evidence at different trials, police said.

The firearms, mostly revolvers and pistols, had been seized by police in various operations and were being held at the depot so they could be used as evidence in different cases.

The robbery occurred around 12:30 a.m. Sunday in Colombo, a city in the Curitiba metropolitan area.




Mexico makes biggest oil find in a decade


State-owned oil giant Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, said it found reserves of up to 500 million barrels of crude in southern Mexico, a discovery that President Felipe Calderon hailed as the "biggest find" of petroleum on land in the past decade.

The Navegante 1 field is about 20 kilometers (12 miles) from Villahermosa, the capital of the southern state of Tabasco, and yielded light crude at a depth of 6,800 meters (22,295 feet), Pemex officials told Efe.

Initial estimates are that the field contains 500 million proven, possible and probable (3P) barrels of petroleum, but new test wells are planned and could boost reserve estimates to up to 1 billion barrels, Pemex said.