British lawmakers reject military action against Syria

Britain's House of Commons voted 285-272 against a motion that would have opened the door to British participation in a U.S.-led strike on Syria to punish President Bashar Assad's regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons.

"The British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action," Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron acknowledged after the vote.

Cameron, who favors an attack on Syria, had hoped to win over the opposition Labor Party and skeptics in his own party by amending his original proposal to delay any decision until U.N. inspectors complete their work.

The United States is preparing for a military strike against Syria in response to the alleged chemical attack on the rebel-controlled Ghouta area outside Damascus, where the opposition alleges the Assad regime killed more than 1,000 people on Aug. 21.


Colombian police break up protests in support of striking farmers

Colombian police used tear gas and water cannon to break up a demonstration here in solidarity with a nationwide general strike in the agricultural sector.

Thousands of students, healthcare and oil sector workers, truckers and other activists converged in Bogota's Bolivar Square to show support for the farmers.

Riot police charged the protesters to subdue small groups of masked militants who were throwing stones at shops and banks branches in the downtown area.

The charge was accompanied by volleys of tear gas and highly pressurized water. Once driven from the square by the police, some of the demonstrators regrouped and resumed marching down nearby streets.


U.S. covert operation targets Mexican drug traffickers

The U.S. government is using manned aircraft to assist Mexican police in identifying, capturing and killing some of Mexico's most-wanted criminals, Fox News reported.

"Operation Lowrider," which is being run by the Pentagon's Northern Command, started in 2011 after the murder of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Jaime Zapata in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Fox said.

More than 70,000 people have been killed and thousands of others have disappeared in Mexico's drug war, which started in late 2006.

"It's been successful in identifying, eliminating and bringing to justice those who brought tons and tons of drugs into the United States," Phil Jordan a former DEA special agent and director of the agency's El Paso Intelligence Center, told Fox.


YPF-Chevron accord OK'd amid protests in Argentina

The legislature of the southern Argentine province of Neuquen approved a decree granting state-controlled oil company YPF and U.S. energy supermajor Chevron Corp. the right to develop non-conventional hydrocarbon reserves in the Vaca Muerta formation, even as opponents of the tie-up clashed with police.

By a vote of 25-2, the legislature gave the green light for the agreement for the first large-scale development of shale oil and gas reserves within Vaca Muerta.

The decree - signed July 24 by Neuquen Gov. Jorge Sapag - awarded the rights to develop Vaca Muerta's General Mosconi area to YPF and Chevron.

The legislative approval clears the way for Chevron to spend the first $300 million of a planned $1.24 billion outlay for the drilling of 115 wells using the method of hydro fracturing, or fracking.


Spanish gov't to streamline employment contract system

The Spanish government plans to reduce the number of standard employment contracts from 41 to five, Labor Minister Fatima Bañez said.

The current system will be streamlined to five categories - indefinite contract; temporary contract; replacement contract; internship; and training and learning contract, Bañez told Parliament.

The employment system's overhaul is an effort to promote job creation in Spain, where nearly 6 million people are jobless, the labor minister said.

The Employment Law will also be updated to include existing incentives for hiring, Bañez said.


29 Dead in Taliban attack in eastern Afghanistan

A Taliban assault on a joint U.S.-Polish base and Afghan government compound in the eastern province of Ghazni left 29 people dead and 62 wounded, a senior official told Efe.

The fatalities include 15 Taliban members and 10 civilians, deputy provincial Gov. Mohammed Ali Ahmadi said.

The attack began Wednesday afternoon with the detonation of an explosives-packed vehicle in front of the offices of a Provincial Reconstruction Team in Ghazni city.

The explosion was followed by a firefight that extended well into the night. "Among the 62 injured there are 24 women and schoolchildren and 10 soldiers," Ahmadi said.