20 Children perish in massacre at U.S. elementary school


A shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, left 20 children and seven adults dead, including the perpetrator, state police said.

Eighteen youngsters were pronounced dead at the scene and two others died later at the hospital, state police Lt. Paul Vance told a press conference.

The six adult victims at the school included the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, while another adult found slain at a different location is thought to have been killed by the same shooter. The perpetrator apparently took his own life.

"We are not going to confirm the identity of the shooter," Vance said, adding that police could not release additional details pending completion of the investigation.




Fugitive Mexican pol demands "guarantees"


A former Mexican state governor wanted on charges of ties to drug trafficking plans to remain in hiding until he is assured that his "guarantees and rights" will be respected, attorneys representing Tomas Yarrington said.

The man who governed the northern state of Tamaulipas from 1999-2004 is "in a secret place," one of the lawyers said.

"Tomas Yarrington will appear before the authorities at the appropriate moment, when this defense (team) considers it prudent," attorney Marco Tulio told a press conference at a Mexico City hotel.

The former governor initially went underground because he was convinced he would not receive genuine due process from the administration of President Felipe Calderon, whose term ended Nov. 30, Tulio said.




U.S. court sentences Colombian gen'l to 13 years


A retired Colombian police general was sentenced in U.S. federal court to 13 years in prison for colluding with his country's AUC federation of right-wing militias, which is on Washington's list of international terrorist groups.

Gen. Mauricio Santoyo, who served as then-President Alvaro Uribe's security chief from 2002-2006, pleaded guilty in August to charges he accepted bribes from the AUC in exchange for tipping off the paramilitaries about impending police operations.

Federal prosecutors had sought a 15-year prison term.

Santoyo, who retired from the National Police in 2009, came under investigation after three erstwhile AUC commanders extradited to the United States - Salvatore Mancuso, Juan Carlos Sierra and Carlos Mario Jimenez - testified that he had accepted bribes.




Typhoon Bopha leaves some 1,800 dead and missing in Philippines


Philippine authorities raised to 1,838 the number of dead and missing left by Typhoon Bopha, which ravaged the central and southern part of the archipelago for five days last week.

With 906 fatalities at the latest count, emergency management teams have little hope of finding alive the 932 people missing for more than a week after the typhoon devastated plantations and dozens of villages.

According to the national emergency management office, 2,660 people were injured as floods and mudslides damaged close to 250,000 homes, of which some 60,000 were totally destroyed.

Some 59,000 people are being sheltered in evacuation camps, while close close to 759,000 are in need of water and food in order to survive.




Josh Hamilton signs with Angels for $125 mn


The Los Angeles Angels have wrested slugger Josh Hamilton away from the Texas Rangers, signing him to a five-year, $125 million deal and showing they are not the only L.A. team with deep pockets.

While the crosstown-rival Los Angeles Dodgers secured this off season's top free-agent pitcher, Zack Greinke, earlier this month and will shell out more than $225 million on player salaries next season, tops in the big leagues, the Angels have now snagged the other impact player on the market.

Hamilton, the American League's MVP in 2010, was a key part of the Rangers teams that reached the World Series in both 2010 and 2011.

The 31-year-old has been one of the most dangerous and consistent hitters in recent years, but his signing is considered risky because of his past struggles with drug and alcohol addiction that delayed his rise to stardom.




Ecopetrol, Anadarko to explore for oil off Colombia


Colombian state oil company Ecopetrol announced a partnership with a unit of Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum Corporation to explore three deep-water blocks off the Caribbean coast.

The Anadarko subsidiary will be the operator of the Fuerte Norte, Fuerte Sur and Purple Angel blocks, although each company will hold a 50 percent stake, Ecopetrol said in a statement Thursday.

In 2006, Ecopetrol signed contracts with the National Hydrocarbons Agency, or ANH, to explore and develop the Fuerte Norte and Fuerte Sur blocks. Under the partnership agreement announced Thursday, Anadarko has taken a 50 percent interest in those areas.

On Dec. 7, the ANH awarded Ecopetrol and Anadarko the rights to conduct exploration work in Purple Angel. Colombia is currently Latin America's fourth-largest oil producer after Venezuela, Mexico and Brazil.