Venezuela captures 9 Colombian paramilitaries


The Venezuelan government announced the capture of nine Colombian paramilitaries who entered the country to carry out "a mission in Caracas" that may have entailed an attack on President Nicolas Maduro.

"Undoubtedly, all this can be part of a plan that is being orchestrated from there (neighboring Colombia) to attack the life of our president and against the stability of the Bolivarian government," the interior minister, Gen. Miguel Rodriguez Torres, told reporters.

The detainees told Venezuelan authorities that though they were enroute to Caracas to carry out a mission, they had yet to be given precise instructions. They also suggested that a third group of Colombian paramilitaries was already in the Venezuelan capital, Rodriguez said.




Brazil to spend $250 mn on building grain silos


Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said her administration plans to invest around $250 million in grain silos to address what has become a major problem for the country's vital agricultural sector.

"We will expand, and by a lot, the capacity to warehouse our production," she said on her weekly radio program.

"And we will do it in two ways: financing the construction of new private warehouses and earmarking resources to the construction and reform of the public warehouses," Rousseff said.

The president cited a finding by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization that Brazil, a global agricultural powerhouse, needs to expand its grain storage capacity by roughly 65 million tons over the next five years.




Former Mexican governor says he did not break the law


Former Tabasco Gov. Andres Granier said in a television interview in the United States that he did not break the law and planned to return to Mexico to clear his name in the courts.

"I want to repeat and make it very clear that I am innocent and I am going to show it," Granier said on Televisa's Primero Noticias show.

Granier, who stands accused of illicit enrichment, has been living in the United States for the past few months due to health problems.

The interview was the politician's first public appearance since his successor, Arturo Nuñez, said on Feb. 22 that an audit of Granier's administration found 1.91 billion pesos ($152 million) was missing.




Japan's 1st quarter GDP number revised upward


The Japanese government revised upward its estimate of economic growth in the first quarter, saying that the world's No. 3 economy expanded by 4.1 percent compared with the first three months of 2012.

Officials' initial report, released last month, said gross domestic product climbed 3.5 percent on an interannual basis in the January-March period.

The new estimate also shows that Japan's GDP grew by 1 percent in the first quarter compared with the last three months of 2012, its biggest quarterly gain in a year.

Investors in the Tokyo stock market reacted enthusiastically to the revised growth figure, pushing the benchmark Nikkei index up by 5 percent.




Gunmen kill 2 guards during prison break in Mexico


Two guards were killed by gunmen who assisted nine inmates in escaping from a prison in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero over the weekend, officials said.

Gunmen broke into the prison in La Union, located in the state's Costa Grande region, and helped the nine convicts get out, the Guerrero Public Safety Secretariat said.

Guards Emigdio Castro Texta, 35, and Efrain Torres Gomez, 28, were killed by the gunmen, who were armed with assault rifles and pistols, around 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, the secretariat said.

Another guard and an inmate were wounded in the incident, the secretariat said.




Former CIA employee says he leaked information on NSA program


Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee and National Security Agency contractor, revealed over the weekend that he provided information to journalists about a top secret U.S. spying program.

Snowden said in an interview published Sunday in The Washington Post that he planned to seek asylum in Hong Kong, where he fled.

The 29-year-old Snowden revealed that he was a source for Britain's Guardian newspaper and The Washington Post about an NSA data mining program.

The technician worked for several NSA contractors, most recently for Booz Allen Hamilton, where he had access to classified intelligence.