14 Dead in bus-truck collision in Venezuela


At least 14 people died and 33 others were injured in a head-on crash between a bus and a truck in the central Venezuelan state of Guarico, the Civil Protection Service reported.

The number of fatalities is "remaining at 14," the general director of the Civil Protection Service, Luis Diaz Curbelo, told Efe, confirming that although 33 people were injured in the crash, "the great majority" of them have been released from the hospital.

The accident occurred about 4 a.m. in the city of Calabozo, some 260 kilometers (161 miles) by highway south of Caracas, when a bus owned and operated by the Expresos del Mar company collided head-on with a cargo truck carrying bricks.




Votes are there for immigration reform, Dem lawmaker says


Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said that comprehensive immigration reform has the support of dozens of members of the Republican majority in the House of Representatives.

Among GOP backers of comprehensive reform he cited Wisconsin's Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican candidate for vice president.

Gutierrez said 195 of the 201 Democrats in the House would vote for a reform bill similar to the one passed last month by the Senate, meaning that fewer than two dozen Republican votes would be needed to reach the magic number of 218 required to pass it.




U.S. economy grows 1.7 pct in 2nd qtr.


The U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 1.7 percent in the second quarter, up from the 1.1 percent rate registered in the January-March period, the Commerce Department said.

The majority of analysts were expecting the gross domestic product to expand at a 1.1 percent rate in the April-June period.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of economic activity in the United States, rose 1.8 percent in the second quarter, while business investment grew 9 percent, led by a 2 percent rise in home construction.




U.S. to grant multiple-entry visas to Cubans


The U.S. government will extend the validity of the non-immigrant visas it awards to Cuban travelers from six months to five years, with the possibility of entering and exiting the country multiple times, the State Department said.

"The State Department is changing the maximum validity of visitor visas for family and other personal non-immigrant travel from six months, as it is currently - six months single entry to five years multiple entries for qualified Cuban nationals," Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf told reporters.

The move is forecast to reduce the financial burden for Cubans who want to request a B2 visa, given that they will only have to pay the fee to obtain the permit once.




Mexico's president undergoes surgery to remove thyroid nodule


The operation performed on Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto to remove a thyroid nodule was successful, his chief of staff said.

"We're very happy. Everything went very well, as had been planned," said Aurelio Nuño at a press conference at the Central Military Hospital.

The presidential aide said that the surgery lasted about two hours and added that the president will spend two days recovering in the hospital.

The head of the surgical team, Brig. Gen. Juan Felipe Sanchez, said that "the diagnosis shows no evidence of malignancy."




Rowling accepts donation to charity from law firm that revealed pen name


British writer J.K. Rowling accepted a large donation to charity from the law firm that revealed that she was Robert Galbraith, the author of the detective novel "The Cuckoo's Calling."

The Harry Potter creator had sued the Russells law firm after one of its partners, Chris Gossage, told his wife's best friend that Robert Galbraith was Rowling's pen name.

The woman sent a Twitter post a few days later to a columnist for "The Sunday Times," triggering a wave of publicity that sent sales of the crime novel skyrocketing.

Rowling was disappointed by the revelation of her secret and sued the Russells firm for violating client confidentiality.




Spanish train driver says phone call was from on-board inspector


The driver facing charges for last week's deadly train derailment in northwestern Spain said here that the telephone call he received minutes before the accident came from the on-board ticket inspector.

Francisco Jose Garzon, who remains free pending a likely trial on 79 counts of homicide, voluntarily appeared before investigating magistrate Luis Alaez to clarify the matter of the phone call.

The call came to light Tuesday when the judge issued a statement summarizing the information obtained from the train's black boxes.

The content of the conversation led Alaez to believe the communication originated with a dispatcher at state railway Renfe who called to give the driver instructions.

Garzon, however, identified the caller as the Renfe ticket inspector, who was riding in one of the passenger cars.

The roughly two-minute conversation was about which platform the train should use on arrival at Pontedeume station, Garzon told the magistrate.

Under Renfe policy, communication en route between the driver and the ticket inspector should be limited to emergencies.