Cleveland kidnapper sentenced to life plus 1,000 years


Ariel Castro, the Cleveland, Ohio, man who pleaded guilty to the kidnapping, rape and mistreatment of three women over a decade, was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years.

Castro, 53, received the sentence of life behind bars for the most serious charge he was facing - aggravated homicide - for beating one of the women during her captivity until she aborted the fetus she was carrying.

On the rest of the more than 900 counts, Castro received several consecutive sentences adding up to an additional 1,000 years in prison.

The sentence was passed after Castro entered a guilty plea that his defense team had arranged for with prosecutors so that the former school bus driver could avoid the death penalty.




Supporters of Egypt's Morsi defy order to end protests


Islamist partisans of ousted President Mohammed Morsi girded for a possible confrontation after Egypt's defacto government ordered them to end their sit-ins in Cairo.

Protesters outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya Mosque in eastern Cairo stockpiled rocks for use in case of a police attempt to disperse them.

A smaller group of Morsi supporters remained in Nahda square, near Cairo University's main campus in Giza.

The military-backed Cabinet on Wednesday ordered the Interior Ministry to put an end to the sit-ins, which began after the July 3 army coup, labeling the encampments a threat to national security.




Snowden gains asylum in Russia


Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden left the transit area of Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport after receiving a temporary grant of asylum in Russia, his Russian legal adviser told the media.

"I delivered to him the certification of the grant of temporary asylum for one year in the Russian Federation," attorney Anatoli Kucherena said, adding that the American may travel freely throughout the country.

Snowden, who exposed Washington's targeting of the telephonic and Internet communications of tens of millions of private citizens in the United States and abroad, left the airport for a "secure location," the lawyer said.

"The matter of security is a big issue for him," Kucherena said of the 30-year-old American, who faces charges in the United States under the 1917 Espionage Act.




ExxonMobil posts disappointing 2nd qtr. profit


ExxonMobil Corp., the world's largest publicly traded oil company, said that it posted a profit of $6.9 billion in the second quarter, down 57 percent from the same period in 2012.

"Excluding the prior year net gain of $7.5 billion associated with divestments and tax-related items, earnings were down 19 percent. Weaker refining margins and volumes associated with planned refinery turnaround and maintenance activities negatively impacted downstream earnings," chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said in a statement.

Earnings per share came in at $1.55 (assuming dilution) in the second quarter, down 55 percent from the $3.41 per share profit posted in the same period last year, the company said.




60 Arrested in protests to demand immigration reform


About 60 activists from the immigrant community were arrested in protests in front of the U.S. Congress demanding approval of a comprehensive immigration reform package that would legalize the country's 11 million undocumented migrants.

The groups that organized the protests said in a communique that 41 activists were arrested in the morning and at least 15 others during the afternoon, although the total number could rise.

The first group of activists was arrested after they blocked a main street near the Capitol.

"Each day that the House of Representatives leaves the reform to the side, 1,100 members of our community are deported. We're here to say enough, our community has organized and mobilized itself and is demanding a vote" on reform, said Marielena Hincapie, the executive director for the National Immigration Law Center.




Statehood option failed in P.R. referendum, gov. tells senators


Puerto Rico Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla emphasized before a U.S. Senate panel the failure of the statehood option in last November's plebiscite on the island.

In his testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the governor and leader of the pro-commonwealth PPD party said that the statehood option obtained just 44.4 percent of the votes, not the 61 percent claimed by statehood advocates.

"The Puerto Rico Elections Commission certified that 1,878,969 participated and that 834,191 voted for statehood. The truth is that of the total of votes cast, only 44.4 percent favor statehood," he said.




Mother of Miami shooter requested psychiatric assistance for him


The mother of Pedro Vargas, who was fatally shot by police after he killed six people in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, had requested psychiatric assistance for her son in a 911 call before his shooting spree, investigators said.

Vargas called 911 a few hours before he began the massacre and told the dispatcher that he felt threatened and that someone was following him.

During the July 27 call, which lasted 12 minutes and was conducted in Spanish, the dispatcher asked to speak with Vargas' mother, 83-year-old Esperanza Patterson.

Patterson said her son was very "disturbed" and that she wanted to get him an appointment with a psychiatrist.

The dispatcher decided to send the police to the apartment, but Patterson told her to cancel that order because her son had left the home.




No criminal charges brought in Chile mine cave-in that left 33 trapped


The prosecutor's office of the northern Chilean region of Atacama has decided not to bring any criminal charges in the case of a 2010 mine collapse that left 33 miners trapped far underground for nearly 70 days.

"There was no conviction to formulate any charges" against the mine owners or the regional heads of the National Geology and Mining Service, Atacama chief prosecutor Hector Mella Farias said.




4 Afghan police officers die in NATO bombardment


Four Afghan police officers died in a NATO air bombardment in the eastern province of Nangarhar, an official with the International Security Assistance Force told Efe.

The incident took place Wednesday night along the highway linking the Afghan city of Jalalabad with the Torkham border crossing point into Pakistan.

"The Afghan forces requested air assistance. An ISAF aircraft responded ... and as a result of the bombardment four Afghan police officers lost their lives. We very much regret what happened," said an ISAF spokesman by telephone.

She added that the ISAF had launched an investigation into the incident.




Spanish P.M. says he will not resign or call early elections


Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told lawmakers he would not resign or hold early elections despite calls from the opposition for him to step down amid the allegations of corruption leveled against his party.

"They are not asking me for explanations, but just declaring me guilty," Rajoy said, referring to the opposition.

The prime minister made an appearance in the Senate to discuss the investigation into the activities of former Popular Party, or PP, treasurer Luis Barcenas.

The former PP treasurer, according to press reports, allegedly kept a secret ledger that appears to show two decades of off-the-books cash payments to party leaders, including Rajoy.

Barcenas told an investigating judge that the money came from businesses.