GENEVA (AP) -- A U.N. mediator has ended direct talks between Syria's government and the opposition without finding a way of breaking the impasse in the peace effort. Saturday's talks in Switzerland lasted less than half an hour.
The future of the negotiating process is in doubt, with no date set for a third session.
Mediator Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters afterward that both sides need to decide whether or not they want the peace process to move forward. He said he had suggested an agenda for the next round of talks, but that Syria's government "refused." And he says the opposition now believes the government has no interest in discussing a transitional governing body.
Syria's ambassador to the U.N. says his government did, in fact, accept the proposed agenda -- but not the way the agenda was interpreted by the other side.
Even amid the peace effort, more than 3,400 people have been reported killed this month in Syria. Activists said today that the death toll has reached 140,000 from three years of violence.
BEIRUT (AP) -- A Syrian activist group says the death toll in that country's conflict has reached 140,000.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday the dead from three years of political violence include civilians, rebels, members of the military, pro-government militiamen and foreign fighters.
The group bases its count on a network of informants on the ground.
The group says more than 3,400 people have been killed so far this month, an escalation in the violence even as the government and opposition hold peace talks in Geneva.
The U.N.'s human rights office said in January it has stopped updating the death toll from Syria's civil war, confirming that it can no longer verify the sources of information that led to its last count of at least 100,000 in late July.
SEA SURVIVOR-DEAD FRIEND
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico (AP) -- The father of a man who died on a fishing boat says he still has unanswered questions after talking to an El Salvadoran castaway who was with his son and apparently survived for 13 months at sea.
The El Paso Times reports Saturday that Nicolas Cordoba Cruz, the father of 23-year-old Ezequiel Cordoba Rios, wants to meet Jose Salvador Alvarenga.
Cordoba Cruz, who lives in Mexico, says he spoke to Alvarenga on the phone and the man asked for forgiveness because he couldn't save his companion.
Alvarenga has said the man died because he couldn't eat raw animals.
The El Paso Times reports that the family spells its name Cordova. The Associated Press has reported the name Cordoba. The AP was unable to immediately confirm the spelling Saturday.
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Archaeologists say they have discovered "an exceptional" burial site under an apartment building in Mexico City containing the remains of 12 dogs, animals that had a major religious and symbolic significance to the Aztecs of central Mexico.
Experts with Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History, or INAH, said in a statement Friday that this is the first time a group of dogs has been found buried together. They have been found accompanying human remains or as part of an offering in a monument.
Aztecs believed dogs could guide human souls into a new life after death on earth.
Archaeologist Rocio Morales Sanchez says the dogs were buried in a small pit between 1350 a 1520 A.D., the heyday of the Aztec empire.
SAO PAULO (AP) -- A survey conducted by a leading Brazilian newspaper says more than 100 cities are rationing water amid the worst drought to hit the country in decades.
The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper wrote Saturday that water is being rationed to close to six million people living in 142 cities in 11 states.
The newspaper quoted water supply companies saying reservoirs, rivers and streams are the driest they've been in 20 years.
Some neighborhoods in the city of Itu in Sao Paulo state only receive water for 13 hours, once every three days.
Water consumption normally grows by up to 20 percent during the Southern Hemisphere's summer. But this year, consumption has risen to 30 percent due to a prolonged heat wave affecting several states.
LONDON (AP) -- Two people have died in weather-related incidents as storms continue to batter Britain.
One woman died in London when part of a building collapsed on the minicab she was driving during a heavy windstorm.
One cruise ship passenger also died after high winds kicked up giant waves in the English Channel.
The army was also called in to rescue 30 people from a seafront restaurant in Hampshire southwest of London after high winds blew a shingle through its windows, allowing flood waters in.
Officials said Saturday that 22 severe flood warnings are in place, meaning lives are in danger at those points. More heavy rain and winds are expected Saturday.
Britain has experienced its worst flooding in decades as many rivers remain at record high levels.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- The Taliban are calling on Afghans to drive American forces out of their country, just like they say the USSR was defeated 25 years ago today.
In a statement on Saturday, the 25th anniversary of the Soviet withdrawal, Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said the USSR's forces had killed innocent people and "destroyed our country," but that "all our nation stood against them and were able to defeat them."
Ahmadi said that instead of taking that as a lesson, Americans invaded -- making them "the same as yesterday's Soviets."
He urged Afghans to "deal with today's invaders as they dealt with yesterday's invaders," adding that "there is no difference between our jihad of yesterday and today."
NATO-led combat forces are due to withdraw from Afghanistan at the end of 2014.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- A strong earthquake, of 4.6 magnitude, has hit the western Greek island of Kephalonia. No damage has been reported.
The tremor occurred at 9:31 a.m. Saturday at sea, west of the island, 25 kilometers (16 miles) below the sea surface, some 300 kilometers west of the capital Athens, the Institute of Geodynamics at Athens University reports.
Since January 26, Kephalonia has been struck by 2 quakes over 5.0 in magnitude, and hundreds of aftershocks over 3.5, resulting to damage in some 3,000 houses, according to authorities. The island, which was flattened in 1953 by 3 successive earthquakes, culminating in a 7.2 tremor, lies in a very active seismic area.
A 4.6 tremor also struck early Friday morning, following a 4.5 one on Wednesday.