Time magazine names Obama "Person of the Year"


Time magazine named recently re-elected President Barack Obama as its "Person of the Year" for 2012, the second time the U.S. head of state has garnered that honor.

Obama, whom the magazine hailed as "the architect of the new America," became the 13th person to receive that distinction on two occasions, having also been the person who most influenced the year's events in 2008.

"After four of the most challenging years in the nation's history, his chance to leave office as a great president who was able to face crises and build a new majority coalition remains within reach," Time said on its Web site.




Hundreds attend slain Hispanic teacher's funeral in Connecticut


She will always be our hero" was the statement on a poster at the entrance of the church at the funeral of Victoria Soto, one of the victims of the massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, who lost her life saving her students from the assault-rifle rampage of Adam Lanza.

Hundreds of people attended the ceremony to say goodbye to the 27-year-old Puerto Rico-born teacher.

The body of the teacher was brought to the Community of God church accompanied by dozens of police cars and motorcycles, a huge security presence and the music of bagpipers.

Soto's family members, who have given no statements to the media, were accompanied by hundreds of neighbors and friends who surrounded the church in Stratford, Connecticut, where her parents live, and listened to the funeral service being broadcast from within.




Death toll stands at 23 in Mexico prison riot


The death toll from the prison riot and escape attempt at the penitentiary in Gomez Palacio, a city in the northern Mexican state of Durango, has risen to 23, officials said.

Durango Public Safety Secretary Jesus Antonio Rosso said that 14 inmates and nine guards at the facility had died.

He also said that five prisoners and two guards are suffering from "serious wounds," adding that the death toll could rise further.

Rosso went on to say that autopsies had revealed that just two of the guards died from gunshot wounds, while the rest were beaten to death.

He also said that to date so many guards had never died in a prison riot in Mexico, adding that they are prohibited from entering the prison carrying firearms.

Guards and inmates engaged in a shootout during the escape attempt on Tuesday afternoon, the secretariat said.

Soldiers on patrol outside the prison foiled the escape attempt and authorities later regained control of the facility, officials said.




China's largest private art museum opens


China's largest private art museum, the Long ("Dragon") Museum, has just been inaugurated in Shanghai's special Pudong economic zone with funds from a local couple, Liu Yiquian and Wang Wei, who own one of the most extensive collections of valuable art in this country.

Some of the most emblematic pieces on display at the new museum are the "Sketches of a strange bird," created in the 12th century by Emperor Song Huizong (1082-1135), which Liu acquired in 2009 for 61.7 million yuan (7.4 million euros, or $9.9 million), the official Shanghai Daily reported.




China arrests over 500 in crackdown on apocalyptic groups


Chinese authorities have arrested more than 500 people linked to sects and cults that have been predicting that the world will end next Friday, including more than 400 people from the so-called "Church of All-powerful God."

The majority of the sect members have been arrested in the western Chinese province of Quinhai, although police have staged raids in several administrative divisions around the country, state-run CCTV television reported.

The sect is predicting "three days of darkness without electricity."




Public memorial service for singer Jenni Rivera


In an emotional public memorial service, friends and family bade farewell to Mexican-American singer Jenni Rivera at the Gibson Amphitheatre here.

The family referred to the service broadcast live by Telemundo - although the funeral itself was slated to be private - as a "Celestial Graduation" and it was led by Rev. Pedro Rivera Jr., the singer's brother.

A red casket with white butterflies was placed in the middle of the stage on a bed of white roses, while images from the popular singer's life - photographs and video clips from concerts and interviews - were shown on gigantic screens.

Numerous members of the singer's family were present, all dressed in white, except for her mother, Rosa Rivera, who wore a red dress, and the ceremony was accompanied by mariachi music because, although Jenni Rivera was born in Long Beach, California, she said she was "proudly Mexican."

The 43-year-old singer and six other people were killed on Dec. 9 in the crash of a Learjet in northern Mexico.




Argentina's YPF seals deal with supermajor Chevron


Argentine energy firm YPF signed an agreement with U.S. oil supermajor Chevron Corp. to develop the massive non-conventional Vaca Muerta formation in southwestern Argentina.

Chevron's head of operations for Latin America and Africa, Ali Moshiri, and YPF CEO Miguel Galuccio were on hand for the signing ceremony, which took place in Houston and was broadcast via videoconference to Buenos Aires.

Galuccio hailed the deal as a "milestone" for Argentina's largest oil and natural gas producer.

Both companies agreed to the "terms and conditions" for the development of shale (non-conventional) oil in the Loma La Lata Norte and Loma Campana areas within Vaca Muerta, located in Neuquen province.