Spanish soldier killed in bomb blast in Afghanistan


A Spanish soldier died in a bomb blast in Afghanistan, Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said.

The Spanish government's No. 2 and spokeswoman said in a press conference after the weekly Cabinet meeting that army Sgt. David Fernandez Ureña, 35, had been killed.

In her remarks, Saenz de Santamaria paid tribute to members of the Spanish army and armed forces for their work "in the service of peace and stability worldwide."

The soldier was killed while carrying out reconnaissance work between the towns of Qala i Naw and Darra i Bun, Spain's Defense Ministry said.




5 Slain in western Mexico


Gangland violence has claimed five more lives here in Mexico's second-most-populous city, Jalisco state authorities said.

The bodies of three men were found before dawn in Morelos, a neighborhood on Guadalajara's south side, sources in the state Attorney General's Office and the municipal police told Efe.

A man of around 30 was found dead in the trunk of his car near a set of railroad tracks in El Salto, on the edge of the city. The victim's eyes were taped shut and his head was covered with a plastic bag, police sources said.

Carlos Bautista Garcia, 33, was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Guadalajara suburb of Zapopan. Struck by eight bullets, he was pronounced dead at the scene. Several criminal outfits are battling each other for control of northbound drug-smuggling routes in Jalisco.




Japanese gov't approves $224.28 bn stimulus plan


Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's Cabinet has approved a stimulus package of as much as 20 trillion yen ($224.28 billion) aimed at reviving the country's long-stagnant economy.

Funding for the plan, which still must be passed by parliament before it goes into effect, will partly come out of a 13-trillion-yen supplementary budget for this fiscal year.

In a press conference after the Cabinet meeting, Abe said the stimulus measures are projected to achieve real gross domestic product growth of 2 percent this year and create some 600,000 jobs.

The government specifically plans to spend 3.8 trillion yen to finance public works projects and speed up reconstruction of parts of the northeastern Tohoku region that were devastated by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.




French motorcyclist dies in Dakar Rally


French motorcyclist Thomas Bourgin was killed when he collided with a Chilean police vehicle prior to the seventh stage of the Dakar Rally.

The accident occurred at 8:23 a.m. as Bourgin was en route to the start of the timed portion of the race segment between the Chilean city of Calama and Salta, Argentina, rally organizers said.

"The 25-year-old rider collided with a Chilean police car that was traveling in the opposite direction. The exact circumstances of the accident are being subjected to an inquiry," according to a statement on the Dakar Rally Web site.

The race's medical staff rushed to the scene of the collision, near the Jama pass through the Andes, but were unable to save the rider.




Global PC sales down 3.2 percent in 2012


Global sales of personal computers fell by 3.2 percent in 2012 compared to the previous year amid higher demand for smartphones and tablets, U.S.-based market research company International Data Corporation said.

A total of 352.42 million PCs were sold worldwide last year, down from 363.89 million units sold in 2011.

In the fourth quarter of 2012, PC sales declined by 6.4 percent relative to the same period of the previous year, the first inter-annual decline in that quarter since 2007. Demand for computers fell in the final three months of last year despite the release of the new Windows 8 operating system, IDC said.




At least 39 die in China landslide


At least 39 people died in a landslide in the southwestern Chinese province of Yunnan, the official news agency Xinhua said.

The agency, citing local authorities, said the avalanche buried the homes of 16 families in the village of Gaopo in Zhenxiong municipality.

The hillside collapsed at around 8:20 a.m. and buried some 40 people, according to preliminary estimates. Emergency management teams continue to search for survivors and recover bodies.

"The landslide, which poured hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of muddy earth and rocks on the village, buried all the homes in the area and created huge difficulties for rescuers, with the prevailing low temperatures making the situation even worse," the leader of one of the emergency management teams, Sun Anfa, told Xinhua.