Around the world

2013-02-20T00:00:00Z Around the worldFrom Wire Reports From Wire Reports Arizona Daily Star
February 20, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Cuba

US lawmakers to visit jailed American

HAVANA - U.S. lawmakers met Tuesday with Cuba's foreign minister and have been told they will be allowed access to an American imprisoned in Havana, with the State Department saying they will push for his release.

The delegation, led by Sen. Patrick Leahy, was also hoping to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro before it departs Wednesday.

The detention Alan Gross has become the chief impediment to improved relations between Washington and Havana. Gross, 63, was arrested in 2009, bringing sensitive communications equipment into Cuba under a USAID democracy-building program. He was sentenced to 15 years.

Britain

Tabloid slams writer over Kate comments

LONDON - The Daily Mail on Tuesday ran a front-page broadside against two-time Booker Prize-winning author Hilary Mantel for what it called her "venomous attack" on the former Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge. Within hours, the Internet was ablaze. Prime Minister David Cameron joined in the criticism of Mantel while others rushed to her defense.

In a speech, the writer had characterized the wife of Prince William as "a shop-window mannequin, with no personality of her own."

Ireland

Gov't apologizes for workhouse abuses

DUBLIN - Ireland ignored the mistreatment of thousands of women who were incarcerated within Catholic nun-operated laundries and must pay the survivors compensation, Prime Minister Enda Kenny said Tuesday in an emotional state apology for abuses in the so-called Magdalene Laundries.

Kenny told lawmakers his government has appointed a senior judge to recommend an aid program for the approximately 1,000 still-living victims of the residential workhouses, the last of which closed in 1996.

A government-commissioned report published two weeks ago found that more than 10,000 women were consigned to the laundries after being branded "fallen" women, though virtually none were - and instead were products of poverty, homelessness and dysfunctional families.

Syria

Missile strike kills 33 in Aleppo

A Syrian missile strike leveled a block of buildings in an impoverished district of Aleppo on Tuesday, killing at least 33 people, almost half of them children, anti-regime activists said.

Many were trapped under the rubble and the death toll could still rise further if more bodies are uncovered.

The apparent ground-to-ground missile attack struck a quiet area that has been held by anti-regime fighters for many months, a reminder of how difficult it is for the opposition to defend territory in the face of the regime's superior weaponry.

Mexico

Border city's chief of police is missing

MEXICO CITY - The police chief of the violent Mexican border city of Nuevo Laredo is missing, authorities said Monday.

Tamaulipas state prosecutors said they have opened an investigation into the whereabouts of Roberto Balmori Garza, police chief of the city across the border from Laredo, Texas.

Local media reported that two of Balmori Garza's brothers were found shot dead Sunday inside the trunk of a car in the neighboring state of Nuevo Leon. One of his brothers was a federal investigator.

Vigilante group releases captives

MEXICO CITY - Vigilantes who were threatening to subject a group of alleged criminals to a "people's court" abruptly released their captives Tuesday, avoiding a showdown with authorities.

Saying the government has not been able to protect them from drug traffickers and other violent gangs, villagers in the southern state of Guerrero took up arms this year and formed so-called self-defense patrols.

In the town of Ayutla, in the southern mountains of Guerrero, the vigilantes had captured 53 people, "charged" them with various crimes and promised to try them in a people's court this week.

Under pressure from state authorities, last week they released 11 people accused of the most serious crimes.

Wire reports

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