Obama discusses drone strikes, presents plan for closing Guantanamo


U.S. President Barack Obama committed himself to providing more transparency in counterterrorism operations using drones and presented a new plan to close the prison at Guantanamo.

In a speech at the National Defense University on the outskirts of Washington, Obama extended a hand to the Muslim community to prevent violent extremism and supported the idea of the United States no longer being in "continual warfare" against terrorism.

"We must define our effort not as a boundless 'global war on terror' - but rather as a series of persistent, targeted efforts to dismantle specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America," he continued.

The president announced that he had signed a memorandum defining the circumstances under which Washington will use drones in the future against presumed terrorists and said that the use of the unmanned aircraft is legal and "has saved lives."

With regard to Guantanamo, "there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened," Obama emphasized.

In addition to lifting the moratorium on sending prisoners to Yemen, the president announced that he will appoint "a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries."




Britain arrests 2 more in soldier's murder


Two additional suspects were arrested in connection with the brutal killing of a British soldier on a street in this capital, Scotland Yard said.

The two men shot and detained at the scene of Wednesday's attack remained under guard at separate hospitals in London.

The new suspects, identified only as a man and woman, both 29, were being questioned at a police station, Scotland Yard said in a statement.

Britain's Defense Ministry said the slain soldier was Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, a Manchester native attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

He is survived by a 2-year-old son, Jack.

The two suspects grabbed at the crime scene allegedly used a car to knock down the soldier, who was walking outside a military barracks in London's Woolwich neighborhood, and then hacked him to death in broad daylight as witnesses looked on.

The two assailants are British citizens of Nigerian origin.




China's manufacturing output falling after 7 months of expansion


China's factory output is falling in May after climbing for seven months, according to a monthly reading by the HSBC bank that predates the release of official data.

The reading of 49.6 points for May on the flash HSBC Purchasing Managers' Index, or PMI, released Thursday, indicates a contraction in manufacturing activity (readings above 50 show expansion).

That compares with a PMI reading of 50.4 points for April. Factory output in the world's No. 2 economy also expanded between October 2012 and March 2013 after contracting over the first three quarters of 2012.




Mexican governor says his state is calmer thanks to army


This week's deployment of Mexican army soldiers in Michoacan has brought "tranquility" to the violence-wracked western state, Gov. Jesus Reyna said.

Acknowledging the state is not "100 percent" calm, the governor told MVS radio that "the results have been good."

He said his administration asked President Enrique Peña Nieto for military help "to re-establish completely the institutional order" amid the rise of armed militias that had taken it upon themselves to police their own communities.




Mexican judge indicts ex-officials for corruption


A Mexican judge ordered eight former officials to stand trial for massive cost overruns in the construction of a monument in this capital.

The defendants are all erstwhile employees of III Servicios, a subsidiary of state oil monopoly Pemex.

Judge Ruben Dario Noguera set bail of 5,000 pesos ($402) for each of the accused, a court source told Efe.




10 Dead in Pakistan car-bomb attack


At least 10 people, including 8 police officers, died and 13 were wounded in a car-bomb attack in the western city of Quetta, a Pakistani police officer told Efe.

The attack came early in the morning when several insurgents detonated by remote control a car loaded with explosives as a truck carrying security personnel passed by, the officer said.

The attack occurred in Bhosa Mandi, a very populated part of the provincial capital of Baluchistan, and several cars and buildings were also damaged or destroyed by the blast.

The daily Dawn reported that 12 people had been killed and 21 wounded.




Ecuadorian satellite escapes collision with Russian rocket


Ecuador's first satellite avoided a direct collision with the remains of a Russian rocket, but whether the device is still operating remains unclear, the head of the country's EXA space agency told Efe.

The U.S.-based Joint Space Operations Center, which had alerted EXA to the possible threat to Pegaso, informed the Ecuadorian agency on Thursday that the Russian wreckage did not hit the satellite head-on.

"There was no frontal, direct collision, but we knew that the rocket carried fragments," EXA director Ronnie Nader said, adding that Pegaso's next transmission to the ground monitoring station is scheduled for Friday.

"I know that it's whole, I know that it's in orbit, but I don't know if it still works," Ecuador's first astronaut said.




Bangladesh mulls homicide charges in deadly collapse


The commission investigating the building collapse that left 1,127 dead and more than 2,400 others hurt urged the Bangladeshi government to pursue homicide charges against the owners of the structure and of the five textile factories operating there, an official told Efe.

The worst industrial disaster in the history of the South Asian nation was due to poor construction and the use of "extremely poor quality" materials, according to the panel's 400-page report on the April 24 tragedy.

"All of the country's construction norms were violated," the Interior Ministry official who led the probe, Uddin Khandaker, told Efe.

The Rana Plaza was built on swampland in Savar, just outside the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka.

Though planned as a shopping center, the building was instead used to house five textile factories, complete with heavy machinery and electrical generators whose vibrations weakened the structure of Rana Plaza, Khandaker said.

And while the construction permit was for a six-story structure, building owner Sohel Rana extended the height to eight stories and was in the process of adding a ninth at the time of the accident.