119 Dead in blaze at China poultry plant


The death toll from a fire at a poultry processing plant in the northern province of Jilin stands at 119, China's official Xinhua news agency said, citing local authorities.

Xinhua emphasized that as of midday on Monday the fire was not yet extinguished, and thus the exact number of people remaining inside the plant was not known.

When the fire broke out, more than 300 people were working inside the plant, but about 100 managed to escape despite the fact that the door was locked.




Suicide bomber kills 13 in Afghanistan


Ten children were among the 13 people killed in a suicide attack outside a school in the eastern Afghan province of Paktia, officials told Efe.

"A suicide bomber driving a motorcycle set off the explosives a noon in the Samkanai district as it passed a NATO vehicle," provincial police chief Zalmai Oriyakhel said.

"At that moment a number of children were getting off a bus to go eat," he said, adding that 16 civilians were injured in the attack.

A spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, Daniel Wallace, said two NATO soldiers were killed in the attack, though he offered no further details nor revealed the nationality of the victims.




Turkish P.M. says extremists behind protests


Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that "extremists" were behind the protests that have engulfed dozens of cities across Turkey.

The protests were initially peaceful and aimed at saving Istanbul's Gezi Park, but demonstrators later clashed with police in a number of cities and demanded Erdogan's resignation.

Protesters used the park as a pretext, Erdogan said in a press conference.




Sen. Frank Lautenberg dies


Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the last remaining World War II veteran in the Senate, died early Monday, his office said. He was 89.

The senator passed away just after 4:00 a.m. at New York Presbyterian Hospital as a result of viral pneumonia.

Lautenberg entered the Senate in 1982 and served three terms before announcing his retirement from politics in 2000. But he returned to the fray in 2002 after incumbent Democratic Sen. Bob Torricelli abandoned his bid for re-election amid federal corruption charges.

Winning the 2002 race, Lautenberg went on to secure another term in 2008.

Among other causes, he promoted environmental protection, improvements in public transport, better labor conditions and benefits for military veterans, as well as the strengthening of security at chemical and maritime installations.




Floods kill 8 in Germany, Austria and Czech Republic


At least eight people have died and nearly a dozen others are missing in the wake of the heavy rains and floods that hit sections of Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic over the weekend, officials said.

Hungary, Slovakia and Poland could be affected by flooding next, officials said.

The heavy rains caused flooding in cities and towns in eastern Germany, where one person has been reported killed.

The death toll in Austria was raised Monday to two and officials are working to deal with raging river waters.




Violent crimes increased in 2012 in western U.S.


Statistics from 2012 show an increase in the rates of violent crime and crimes against property in the western half of the United States, the FBI said.

The FBI compiled the data from 18,000 local and state police stations, university campuses, Native American reservations and federal law enforcement institutions and found that, compared with 2011, last year the West had the highest rate of increase in reported violent crimes: 3.3 percent.

The Northeast was the only region of the country that registered a decline in violent crime - 0.6 percent - and it was the only area that experienced reductions in the four categories of violent crime: murders, rape, armed robbery and aggravated assault.




30 Pct of Mexicans say war on crime will last for years


Thirty percent of Mexicans think that victory in their government's war on organized crime, which began in late 2006, is at least five years away, according to a survey published in the daily El Universal.

Another 22 percent of the 1,000 adults consulted by pollster Buendia & Laredo believe it will take between one and three years to defeat the criminal gangs, while 20 percent say the task will be accomplished within five years.

With regard to the official strategy against organized crime, half of those interviewed say it has changed since Enrique Peña Nieto became president last Dec. 1, compared with 30 percent who say it's the same as it was under Felipe Calderon, who governed from 2006-2012.




Is Penelope Cruz the next Bond Girl?


Penelope Cruz will be the oldest actress to play a "Bond Girl," according to Britain's Daily Mail, but the Spanish beauty's representatives in Madrid refused to either confirm or deny the rumors.

The 39-year-old Cruz, who is pregnant with her second child, will co-star with Daniel Craig in the 24th Bond film, which will be directed by Sam Mendes.

"The producers have tried to get Penelope before, but she has never been available because of other commitments," a source told the British newspaper.




Attempted robbery at private residence of Puerto Rico governor


The crime wave lashing Puerto Rico does not even respect Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla, whose private residence was the target of an attempted robbery over the weekend.

Police reported Monday that one or several individuals tried to break into the Garcia Padilla residence at the inland town of Caguas before dawn Sunday.

The chief of detectives in the Caguas region, Elexis Torres, said that one or several individuals forced a window open at the residence belonging to the chief executive, which set off the alarm system.

The woman renting the home from the governor was inside at the time of the attempted break-in.

Caguas police rushed to the house to question security personnel about the development and to launch an investigation.




Honduran migrants killed for reporting extortion attempt, Mexican bishop says


The two Honduran migrants whose bodies were found last week in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas were killed because they reported being targeted by extortionists, San Cristobal de Las Casas Bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel said.

Iris Suleida Raudales Flores, 24, and Cynthia Carolina Cruz Bonilla, 19, were murdered last Thursday.

The women "had filed a complaint two days earlier about the extortion they were being subjected to," the bishop said.

"It is an international embarassment" that Mexico "does not provide greater protection to those crossing" its territory, Arizmendi said.

Nine illegal Honduran immigrants who allegedly belong to Central American gangs dedicated to extortion and robberies of migrants have been arrested in connection with the murders, officials said.

The suspects confessed to the killings, the Government Secretariat and the National Migration Institute, or INM, said in a joint statement.