N.Y., New Jersey seek $71 bn to recover from Sandy

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Authorities in New York and New Jersey estimate the cost of recovering from the damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy and of measures to minimize the impact of future weather events at $71.3 billion.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo cited a figure of $41.9 billion after meeting with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and officials from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties.

The devastation caused by Sandy is "of unprecedented proportions," the New York governor said.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that the damaged caused by the storm in his state amounts to at least $29.4 billion, although he warned that that figure could go higher because authorities continue evaluating Sandy's impact.

The state of New York is seeking $32.8 billion for repairing the damage, as well as $9.1 billion to limit the damage from future storms.

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Puerto Rico pays tribute to Camacho in final farewell

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The Puerto Rican people paid tribute to ex-world champion boxer Hector "Macho" Camacho at a massive wake where many of the Caribbean island's most outstanding boxers were in the crowd.

Retired champs like Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfredo Benitez, Felix "Tito" Trinidad, Samuel Serrano and Ivan Calderon, as well as active pugilists including Rocky Martinez, Orlando Cruz and Juanma Lopez, paid their last respects to Camacho at San Juan's Recreation and Sports Department.

Wilfredo Gomez, considered by many the best Puerto Rican boxer ever, told the media he will remember Camacho as "a great human being" who helped everyone.

The ex-fighter advised young athletes to set their lives on a straight, honest path, not like he and Camacho did with their abuse of drugs and alcohol.

Trinidad lauded the humility so characteristic of Camacho, who died last Saturday at the age of 50, four days after he was shot during an incident in the San Juan suburb of Bayamon.

Macho Camacho was hit by a bullet in the carotid artery that interrupted the flow of blood to the brain.

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Obama, Mexico's next leader call for closer economic ties

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U.S. President Barack Obama and the man who will take charge of Mexico's government in four days vowed here to pursue economic integration and closer cooperation against organized crime.

Obama congratulated Enrique Peña Nieto for his victory in the July presidential election and described Mexico as an important "multilateral and multinational partner."

The president praised the "incredible contributions" of Mexican immigrants to the U.S. economy even as he acknowledged Mexico's interest in seeing Washington adopt comprehensive immigration reform

Mexicans make up a majority of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

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Chavez will travel to Cuba for medical treatment

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez will travel to Cuba to undergo "special" medical treatment six months after his most recent session of anti-cancer radiation therapy.

Chavez on Tuesday sent to the National Assembly a request for permission to leave the country immediately, legislative speaker Diosdado Cabello said.

"I have been exercising due care about my health and assiduously complying with the ... treatment plan ordered by the medical team attending me," Chavez added, going on to say that he will remain in Cuba for an undetermined period.

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Sectarian attacks leave 23 dead in Iraq

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Twenty-three people were killed and 72 others wounded in attacks on Shi'ite Muslims in Baghdad, Iraqi police sources told Efe.

One assault took place near the Al Zahra mosque in the Shi'ite neighborhood of Al Shola, where an explosion left eight dead and 21 wounded, some of them seriously.

The blast also destroyed vehicles and buildings.

Ten died in a car-bomb attack near the Ali Bash mosque, while 32 people were injured.

A third bombing, also targeting a Shi'ite mosque, resulted in five fatalities and left a score of people wounded.

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Mexican beauty queen dies in shootout with army

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Investigators are trying to determine whether model and beauty queen Maria Susana Flores, who died in a shootout with the Mexican army over the weekend, was involved with a drug cartel, Sinaloa state Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera Gomez said.

The 22-year-old Flores was killed in the shootout early Saturday in Mocorito, a city in the northwestern state of Sinaloa.

The beauty queen was with her boyfriend, who officials said may have been one of the subjects who attacked an army patrol.

"The information we have is that she was with a group of criminals who clashed with army troops," Higuera Gomez said.

Two soldiers died in the shootout and four suspected gunmen were arrested and handed over to federal prosecutors, Higuera Gomez said.

This is not the first time that a Mexican beauty queen has been linked to drug traffickers.

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Spain's king continues "gaining in mobility" after surgery

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Spain's King Juan Carlos is progressing "very favorably" and continues "gaining in mobility and autonomy," according to the medical report on his condition released by the Madrid hospital where he underwent hip replacement surgery last week.

The report, read to reporters by the director of Quiron San Jose Hospital, Javier de Joz, does not say when the monarch might be released but it does state that "the next medical report will be issued within 24 hours."

The king's recovery process "continues being very favorable ... (and) he is improving, according to expectations," with "two daily sessions of physical therapy," the report says.

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Cuban dissident freed without charges after paying fine

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Cuban dissident Antonio Gonzalez Rodiles was released without charges after remaining in detention for 19 days at a Havana police station, he told Efe.

"They let me go, there are no charges against me and they fined me 800 pesos ($32)," he said by telephone from his home in the capital.

The arrest of Gonzalez Rodiles, a 40-year-old physicist, occurred Nov. 7 when the activist went to a police station to inquire about the detention of attorney Yaremis Flores, the legal counsel for an opposition group.

At first Gonzalez Rodiles was accused of the crime of resisting authority, but a week after his detention prosecutors changed his status to preventive detention.

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Pope Benedict XVI opens Twitter account

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Pope Benedict XVI is signing onto Twitter and starting in December will have his own account on that social network, which will be presented officially on Dec. 3, the Vatican said.

The pope's presence on Twitter will be presented that day by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications; the secretary of that bureau of the Curia, Paul Tighe; Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi; the director of L'Osservatore Romano, Gian Maria Vian; and the new communications advisor, Greg Burke.

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EFE