L.A. Lakers owner Jerry Buss dies


The legendary owner of the Los Angeles Lakers, Jerry Buss, died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Los Angeles Times said. He was 80.

Buss, who was suffering from cancer, passed responsibility for the NBA team's operations to his son Jim in 2011, while his daughter Jeanie took charge of all the Lakers' business activities.

He became the Lakers' owner in 1979, when he bought the team along with the NHL's Los Angeles Kings and the Forum, where both teams played, from real estate businessman Jack Kent Cooke for the then-record sum of $67.5 million.

Under Buss's ownership, the Lakers won 10 NBA titles and the value of the franchise - according to Forbes magazine - is now $643 million, second in the league only to the New York Knicks.




Still-ailing Chavez returns to Venezuela


President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela after spending more than two months in Cuba due to complications that followed a Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Havana.

Arriving unannounced in the wee hours, he went directly from the airport to a military hospital in Caracas to begin the next phase of what has already been a 20-month-long battle against the illness.

"We have returned to the Venezuelan homeland. Thank you, God! Thank you, beloved people! We will continue the treatment here," Chavez, 58, said on Twitter.

The doctors who have overseen Chavez's care since the cancer was first diagnosed in June 2011 accompanied the leftist head of state to Caracas, Vice President Nicolas Maduro told state television.




Western Conference wins NBA All-Star game


Kevin Durant and Chris Paul shined as on the court the Western Conference topped the East 143-138, but it was retired superstar Michael Jordan, who remained largely out of sight and avoided the media, dominated NBA All-Star Weekend.

Jordan, who turned 50 on Sunday, was in Houston for the festivities and enjoyed a private birthday celebration.

Though the winner of six NBA championships was not scheduled to take part in any of the All-Star events, the disappointment at his absence was palpable in Houston's Toyota Center.




Correa wins by a landslide in Ecuador


Incumbent Rafael Correa romped to victory in Ecuador's presidential election, taking nearly 57 percent of the vote in a field of seven candidates, the CNE electoral council said.

With 69.53 percent of the ballots counted, the left-leaning economist had 3.48 million votes, compared with 1.4 million - 23.22 percent of the total - for his closest challenger, former banker Guillermo Lasso.

A former president, Lucio Gutierrez, finished third with 6.46 percent, followed by attorney Mauricio Rodas, 4.11 percent; banana magnate Alvaro Noboa, 3.63 percent; and former Cabinet minister Alberto Acosta, 3.06 percent.

Norman Wray, an erstwhile city councilman, and evangelical pastor Nelson Zavala each garnered less than 2 percent of the votes, according to the latest figures from the CNE.

Correa, who took office in 2007, appeared before supporters Sunday night to thank Ecuadorians for giving him another term.




Cuban dissident faces protests on first day in Brazil


Cuban dissident Yoani Sanchez was received with protests by a group of militant communists at the airport in the northeastern Brazilian city of Salvador.

A score of people waited for Sanchez at the Luis Eduardo Magalhaes airport with posters on which they had written "mercenary," an epithet Cuba's Communist government frequently hurls at dissidents.

A similar situation occurred earlier at the Recife airport, where Sanchez arrived on a flight from Panama and was welcomed by filmmaker Dado Galvao, her host in Brazil.

When asked about these incidents, Sanchez told reporters that "that's how democracy is and should be, the same democracy that we want for Cuba."




Colombian rebels say they'll continue to hold Canadian


The smaller of Colombia's two main guerrilla groups said that a Canadian mining engineer abducted last month will remain a captive.

About 25 members of the National Liberation Army, or ELN, stormed the Snow Mine camp in the northern province of Bolivar and took six people prisoner, including the Canadian and two Peruvian nationals.

The ELN handed over the other five hostages to the International Red Cross last Friday.

Gernot Erich Wober, a 47-year-old engineer, remains in the custody of the guerrillas.

He is a vice president of Geo Explorer, a subcontractor of Canada's Braeval Mining Corporation, which operates the Snow Mine project.




At least 15 injured in protesters' clashes with Bulgarian police


At least 15 people were injured in clashes between demonstrators and police in this capital during the ninth consecutive day of protests over the recent 13 percent hike in electricity rates, according to state-run BNT television.

Interior Ministry officials consulted by Efe said that 11 people were arrested and two police officers were injured.

They added that preliminary information indicates that several windows in the Parliament building were broken, a number of trash bins' contents were strewn on the streets and burned and four police cars were damaged.

Sofia police chief Valeri Yordanov, as quoted by the Focus news agency, said that about 1,500 people participated in the protest.

Bulgaria is the European Union's poorest country, but its people have been dealing with a 13 percent hike in electricity rates since July and a harsh winter that has raised power consumption.




Thousands in Pakistan protest sectarian massacre


Some 10,000 Shi'ite Muslims mounted a protest in the western Pakistani city of Quetta after a weekend attack that killed 87 of their co-religionists, a police official told Efe.

Among the demonstrators are relatives of the victims who have refused to bury the bodies and have brought them out onto the streets of the Shi'ite neighborhood of Hazara Town, the scene of two similar massacres so far this year.

"At this time, the gatherings ... are completely peaceful and there have not been any violent incidents," a police officer in Quetta said.

The protests are almost identical to those that took place a month ago in Quetta after another similar attack in the same area that took about 90 lives and which, like the Saturday attack, was also the work of the Lashkar-e Jhangvi group.




8 Slain in northern Mexico


The bodies of eight murder victims were found within a 24-hour period in this northern metropolis, Mexican police said.

A young boy in Monterrey's Colonia Moderna neighborhood found human remains inside two black garbage bags he came across Sunday morning.

The gruesome discovery was made just a few blocks from the headquarters of the Nuevo Leon state police

Four men, one of them in a wheelchair, were gunned down Saturday evening while gathered outside a home in the Garza Nieto district, where three other males were fatally shot a few minutes later at an auto repair shop.




Bolivia nationalizes airport-management firm


The Bolivian government nationalized the Spanish-owned firm that runs the Andean nation's three largest airports, accusing the company of not investing enough in improvements.

President Evo Morales announced the move in the central city of Cochabamba, where Servicios de Aeropuertos Bolivianos S.A. is headquartered.

Bolivian military units were deployed to the three airports "to guarantee continuity of service," the leftist head of state said.

Sabsa, as the company is known, becomes the sixth Spanish-owned Bolivian enterprise to be nationalized in less than a year.




Silent film "Blancanieves" sweeps Spain's Goyas


Blancanieves," a silent movie shot in black-and-white, took Best Film honors at the Goya awards, Spain's equivalent to the Oscars.

Pablo Berger's version of the Snow White tale picked up 10 awards in all, including Best Original Screenplay and a Best Actress nod for Maribel Verdu as the evil stepmother.

The Cuban entry, zombie pic "Juan de los Muertos" (Juan of the Dead) took the prize for Best Ibero-American Film.

"The Impossible," an English-language film, turned its box office record of more than 42 million euros ($56 million) into five prizes, including Best Director for Juan Antonio Bayona.