U.S. military suicides set new record


Suicides in the U.S. Armed Forces last year reached a record 349, compared with 310 combat deaths in Afghanistan.

"We're deeply concerned by the suicides in the Armed Forces, which is one of the most urgent problems we're confronting," Defense Department spokesperson Cynthia Smith told Efe.

Last year saw the largest number of military suicides since authorities began keeping records in 2001.




Cuba reports cholera outbreak in Havana


The Cuban government said that up to 51 cases of cholera have been confirmed in this capital as a result of the outbreak detected at the beginning of January, but noted that the contagion of the disease "is on the point of extinction."

The Public Health Ministry said in a communique that early this month "an increase of severe diarrhetic diseases" was detected in several Havana municipalities, and "a group of those patients showed symptoms and signs that raised...a suspicion of cholera."

Subsequent testing confirmed 51 cases of cholera, said the official note, which did not mention any fatalities.




Spain's crown prince, Pentagon chief discuss defense cooperation


Spain's Crown Prince Felipe and U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta discussed here Tuesday bilateral cooperation on defense, the war on terrorism in Mali and the start of Spanish troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Madrid is one of several stops on Panetta's European junket before stepping down from his post.

The prince received Panetta at Zarzuela Palace where the discussion also included Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes and U.S. Ambassador to Spain Alan Solomont.

After speaking with the prince, Panetta met with Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.




Lance Armstrong admits to doping


Retired U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong has admitted in an exclusive interview with Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs, media reports said.

The cyclist came clean about his doping in an interview with the popular television personality that will air on Thursday, a person familiar with the contents of the interview told USA Today on condition of anonymity.

Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year, came to the interview "ready" to talk, Winfrey said in a Twitter posting.

Winfrey will air the interview Thursday on her OWN cable network at 9:00 p.m. and it may be released on her Oprah.com Web site later.

For years, Armstrong categorically denied the doping allegations leveled against him, but he announced in August that he would no longer fight them.




Trump to build $100 mn residential tower in Uruguay


Two offspring of Donald Trump launched in Punta del Este a $100-million building development with which the U.S. magnate plans to mark "a before and after" of the famous Uruguayan seaside resort.

Located on Playa Brava beach, Torre Trump (Trump Tower) will be a luxury 25-story building with 129 residences at prices ranging from $750,000 to $3 million.




Billionaire Slim to pour $317 mn into education in Mexico


Billionaire Carlos Slim, ranked by Forbes as the world's richest person, said he planned to invest more than 4 billion pesos (about $317 million) over the next three years to support Mexico's education system.

"We will invest more than 4 billion pesos to support connectivity, the development of digital libraries and the equipping of schools as part of our program of educational assistance in Mexico," Slim said during a press conference Monday at which he announced an alliance with Salman Khan, who runs Academia Khan.




Spain again world leader in organ transplants


Spain in 2012 kept its world leadership in organ transplants with 4,211 procedures, the director of the National Transplants Organization, or ONT, said.

Rafael Matesanz offered the figures at a press conference in Madrid, where he stressed how important it was that Spain's economic crisis did not significantly affect transplant operations, unlike the case in Greece and Portugal.

In 2012 there was a "very slight" decline compared with 2011 in the number of both donors and transplant procedures, according to the ONT director, who said the organization is seeking "solutions" for those regions and hospitals where the decreases occurred.




Golden Globes draw largest audience in 6 years


The 70th Annual Golden Globes Awards attracted 19.67 million viewers in the United States, its best showing in the past six years, ratings firm Nielsen said.

The ceremony hosted Sunday night by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler saw a 17-percent increase over last year's audience.

This was the Golden Globes' biggest following in the past six years - in 2007 some 20 million people watched the awards ceremony.




Venezuelan V.P. says Chavez on the mend


Venezuela's vice president said that President Hugo Chavez is making progress in his recuperation in Cuba, where he remains hospitalized following a Dec. 11 operation to remove a cancerous tumor.

"We could say that our comandante is 'climbing the hill,' he's advancing and that fills us with joy from a purely human point of view, but it also signifies great happiness for our country," Nicolas Maduro said at a session of Venezuela's Federal Council.

Just back from Cuba, Maduro said he and other senior officials met with Chavez on Monday to update him on the latest developments in Venezuela.

Chavez, 58, who won another six-year term in the Oct. 7 election, has undergone four operations, chemotherapy and radiation since being diagnosed with cancer in June 2011.