EU ministers agree on bank supervisor framework


The European Union's economy and finance ministers agreed on the legal framework under which the European Central Bank will supervise eurozone financial institutions starting in 2014.

"Historic agreement on the supervisor!" the European internal markets commissioner, Michel Barnier, tweeted after 14 hours of meetings.

Barnier said the ECB would take on its supervisory role as of March 1, 2014, with a certain flexibility, since it will need a year to prepare the regulations and bring together the necessary personnel, among other tasks.

Eventually, the ECB will directly supervise banks that have at least 30 billion euros ($39.2 billion) in assets or make up more than 20 percent of their country's gross domestic product - a group of roughly 100 financial institutions.




Homicide the leading cause of death for Brazilian teens


Homicide is the leading cause of death among adolescents in Brazil, where three of every 1,000 teens will be murdered before reaching 19, a new report says.

On current trends, 36,735 Brazilians between the ages of 12 and 18 will be slain over the next three years.

The index of murders of adolescents rose from 2.61 per every 1,000 teenagers in 2009 to 2.98 per 1,000 the following year, according to report from the Presidential Human Rights Office, Unicef and a Brazilian NGO.

More than 45 percent of all deaths among Brazilian adolescents can be attributed to violence, the study concludes. The comparable figure for the population at large is 5.1 percent.




Spain mulls releasing names of biggest tax cheats


Spain's government is considering publishing the names of the country's "biggest tax dodgers and delinquent taxpayers," Finance Minister Cristobal Montoro said.

During debate in the Senate on a bill containing measures aimed at fiscal consolidation, Montoro said name-and-shame lists have already used in other European countries such as Britain and Ireland.

The goal in making the names public is to induce tax evaders to make good on their outstanding debt to the Treasury, he said.

"It's so they pay up. I can't say it more clearly. The fight against tax fraud lies in good measure on voluntary compliance with fiscal obligations and social awareness of the damage caused by tax fraud," the minister said.




Guinness recognizes Messi's single-year goal record


Guinness World Records has recognized FC Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi for setting a new mark for most goals in a calendar year - 88 and counting.

The 25-year-old Argentine has notched that total with two Spanish league matches left in 2012, surpassing the previous record that Germany's Gerd Muller had held for 40 years.

Guinness and FIFA issued a statement Thursday saying that Messi's goals this year and those of Muller in 1972 are part of the official record and there should be no controversy surrounding the Argentine's feat.




Bombing in Afghanistan kills 3


A U.S. service member and two civilians were killed in a suicide bombing in the southern city of Kandahar that coincided with a surprise visit to the country by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, an Afghan official told Efe.

The blast occurred at 5:00 p.m. at the entrance to Kandahar Airfield and was aimed at a convoy of personnel from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force, provincial government spokesman Javed Faisal said.

The attacker rammed an explosives-packed vehicle into the convoy, Faisal said. Besides the three fatalities, the attack left 18 civilians wounded.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, another Afghan official told Efe the bombing took place "hours" Panetta left Kandahar on a plane bound for Kabul.




Moody's lowers Puerto Rico's credit rating 2 notches


Ratings agency Moody's Investors Service slashed Puerto Rico's credit rating two notches to Baa3, or one level above speculative grade.

Moody's, which maintained a negative outlook for Puerto Rico's debt, said advances have been made in recent years on the economic and fiscal fronts but that they were not enough to impede the two-notch downgrade from Baa1.

The ratings agency expressed particular concern over the ability of the island's government to control public spending and lack of progress on pension reform.

"Economic growth prospects remain weak after six years of recession and could be further dampened by the commonwealth's efforts to control spending and reform its retirement system, both of which are needed to stabilize the commonwealth's financial results," Moody's said in its report.