Cyprus reaches $13 bn bailout agreement


Cyprus reached a bailout agreement with its Eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund that protects small bank depositors while penalizing holders of large accounts and shrinking the banking system.

The agreement, which was reached less than 24 hours before the deadline imposed by the European Central Bank, or ECB, for cutting liquidity to the island's financial institutions, "puts an end to the uncertainty that has affected Cyprus and the rest of the Eurozone in the past few days," Dutch Finance Minister and Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem said.

Cyprus, whose banks have been battered by their heavy exposure to Greek government debt, is the eurozone's smallest economy.




5 Die in shootout in northwest Mexico


At least four civilians and a police officer died in a shootout and an attack in Los Mochis, a city in northwestern Mexico, city officials said.

Police acting on a tip that a young man was being attacked in Los Mochis ended up pursuing the suspected assailants through the city's streets and engaging them in a shootout.

The young man died while being treated at a hospital.

Three suspected gunmen and a police officer died in the shootout, city officials and prosecutors said.

Another police officer wounded in the shootout was taken to a hospital.




Obama asks for "political courage" on assault weapons


The White House urged the Senate to show "political courage" and implement a ban on assault weapons within the framework of the pending debate in Congress on gun control.

"The president thinks that is really important. And it will be a question for all 100 members of the Senate to ask themselves about whether or not they think that voting for and supporting an assault weapons ban would actually do something to reduce gun violence in communities all across the country," spokesman Josh Earnest said.

The Senate will vote upon lawmakers' return from the Easter recess on a stripped-down measure for a national record check for all people seeking to purchase weapons.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said last Friday that other measures, such as a ban on assault weapons and large ammunition magazines, will be put to a vote as amendments so as not to torpedo the basic bill.




White House insists Obama wants immigration reform


The White House rejected the recent accusations by Republican Sen. Ted Cruz that President Barack Obama is really looking for immigration reform to fail and for that situation to become a Democratic campaign weapon in 2014 and 2016.

"There's no evidence to support those claims," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

A group of four Republican and four Democratic senators are currently trying to devise an immigration reform proposal.

Obama "is hopeful" that the eventual Senate proposal "would pass the Congress and would be something the president could sign into law sooner rather than later," Earnest said.




Republicans must stop hemorrhage of voters, chairman says


The chair of the Republican National Committee is pushing for the renewal of his party after two consecutive presidential defeats and, in an interview with Efe, he said that part of the recipe includes stopping the bleeding of voters away from the GOP.

Reince Priebus acknowledged that he is facing the task of repairing the image of the party with minorities and overcoming internal fragmentation on issues such as gun control, immigration reform and same-sex marriage.

The Tea Party-backed attorney from Wisconsin, who has headed the RNC since January 2011, last week presented a 100-page plan to remodel the party, which in 2012 lost support in almost all electoral blocs.




NATO hands over control of Bagram prison to Afghan gov't


The NATO-led coalition in Afghanistan turned over to Afghan authorities complete control of the Bagram prison, where many inmates are being held without trial or charge.

"The transfer of the detention facility is an important part of the overall transition of security lead to Afghan National Security Forces," U.S. Gen. Joseph Dunford, commander of the International Security Assistance Force, said.

The transfer was completed at a ceremony where Dunford and Afghan Defense Minister Bismillah Mohammadi signed a memorandum of understanding in which the detainees are guaranteed fair and humane treatment.




Pope Francis meets with cardinals from the Americas


Pope Francis met with Brazilian Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz and Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Vatican said.

The Brazilian cardinal is prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life and the Canadian is prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Both men were considered candidates for pope in the conclave that elected Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio the 266th pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church on March 13.

The meetings were private and the Vatican did not release any details on what was discussed.