World News: Vatican Conclave Meets Tuesday to Choose New Pope

At the end of each day, the Vatican Conclave will emit smoke; if the smoke is white, then a new Pope has been chosen.
By  | 

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Preparations for the voting that will lead to a new pope are continuing apace at the Vatican.
Firefighters on Saturday, installed the Sistine Chapel chimney that will tell the world when a decision has been reached.
Elsewhere, officials took steps to definitively end Benedict XVI's pontificate, destroying his fisherman's ring and the personal seals and stamps he used for official papers.
The Vatican is also trying to put an end to speculation that divisions among cardinals could drag out the conclave to elect the new pope.
There's no clear front-runner to succeed Benedict and a number of cardinals would prefer more discussion of the church's problems before a vote.
But, the Vatican spokesman says the decision to set Tuesday as the start of the conclave was nearly unanimous. And he notes that no conclave over the past century has dragged on for more than five days

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AP) -- Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he believes American officials will be able to work things out with Afghan leaders who have ordered special operations forces out of Wardak province.
Hagel's comments came on his first trip to Afghanistan as defense secretary. On his first morning in Kabul on Saturday, two suicide bombings, one outside the Afghan Defense Ministry and the other near a police checkpoint in eastern Khost province, killed at least 19 people, including a U.S. contractor. A Taliban spokesman says the blast outside the defense ministry was a message to the visiting Pentagon chief.
Hagel, who heard the explosion during a meeting, says "you shouldn't be surprised when a bomb goes off or there's an explosion" in a war zone.
Hagel is expected to meet Sunday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who ordered the U.S. forces to leave the province just outside Kabul because of allegations that Afghans working with the commandos were involved in abusive behavior and torture.
U.S. officials insist they have seen no evidence that American forces were involved in the abuse of Afghan civilians.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Federal officials have rescued 71 Haitian migrants found stranded on the shores of a cluster of islands just west of Puerto Rico.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Coast Guard first rescued two migrants found on one island and then the remainder of the group from the island of Desecheo off the western coastal town of Rincon.
Customs spokesman Jeffrey Quinones said Saturday that a large number of the Haitians were dehydrated and had bruises and scratches. They were taken to hospitals for treatment.
The rescue comes a week after 67 migrants from Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic were found in the same cluster of islands. One Haitian woman was found dead.

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) -- Authorities in Mexico say the recently appointed tourism minister in western Jalisco state was shot to death Saturday while driving in a suburb of Guadalajara (gwah-duh-luh-HAHR'-uh) in an attack that may have been related to his business dealings.
A state government official says Jose de Jesus Gallegos Alvarez was shot with a 9-mm pistol during a chase as he drove his Toyota SUV in Zapopan.
The official says preliminary investigations indicate the attack was not related to Gallegos' work promoting tourism. Instead, he says the attack may have had to do with his private business dealings.
Jalisco is home to Guadalajara, Mexico's second-largest city, as well as such popular Mexican traditions as mariachi music and tequila.
Gallegos was to serve under new Gov. Aristoteles Sandoval, who was just sworn in March 1.
According to profile material, Gallegos, an engineer, was founder and president of a key developer of the Mayan Resorts and several condominium towers in Guadalajara and resort cities such as Acapulco, Los Cabos and Puerto Vallarta.
President Enrique Pena Nieto says he has ordered a thorough investigation.

IAPA: Latin America press freedom is under attack
PUEBLA, Mexico (AP) -- The Inter-America Press Association says attacks on press freedom have intensified in Mexico, Central America, Brazil, Argentina and Ecuador.
The group says assassinations and assaults on journalists continue in Mexico, Honduras and Brazil, while the governments of Ecuador and Argentina have put legal and economic restrictions on media, especially those that don't go along with government interests.
The nonprofit press group says the worst situation is in Mexico, where 127 journalists have been attacked the last 12 years.
IAPA says such incidents have continued under new President Enrique Pena Nieto, who canceled an appearance at the group's conference in Puebla, Mexico. In recent days, a journalist was killed in the Mexican border town of Ojinaga and attacks were staged on the two newspapers, Diario de Juarez and Siglo de Torreon.

CAIRO (AP) -- It's been a day of violent protest in Egypt's capital.
An Egyptian court decision was the trigger for one of the incidents. The court confirmed the death sentences against 21 people for taking part in a deadly soccer riot in the city of Port Said (sy-EED') last year. The court also acquitted seven police officials for their alleged role in the violence.
That decision has set off a rampage by thousands fans of the Cairo club involved in the original melee. At least five people were injured in today's protests.
In unrelated violence, at least two protesters were killed in clashes between riot police and stone-throwing demonstrators on a street along the Nile in central Cairo. Nineteen others were injured. Clashes have been taking place daily between anti-government protesters and police in the area, which is near two luxury hotels and the U.S. and British embassies.

China issues plan to streamline government
BEIJING (AP) -- China is issuing a plan to streamline government ministries, doing away with the powerful Railways Ministry, creating a super-agency to regulate the media and realigning other bureaucracies in a bid to boost efficiency.
The plan introduced Sunday to the rubber-stamp national legislature is being pushed by the newly installed Communist Party leadership and reflects its priorities to reduce waste and address quality of life issues for a more prosperous, demanding society.
Among the changes, the corruption-plagued Railways Ministry will be split, its regulatory responsibilities going to the Transport Ministry and its operations to a commercial entity. The food and drug agency will see a boost in authority, and two censorship arms, one of broadcasters and one for print media, will be merged.

LONDON (AP) -- British researchers have proposed a new theory for the origins of Stonehenge: It may have started as a giant burial ground for elite families around 3,000 B.C.
Researchers say that analysis of cremated bones of 63 people excavated from the site suggested that family groups were buried at a circular enclosure -- a larger, earlier version of Stonehenge, built 500 years before the monument we know today.
Professor Mike Parker Pearson, at University College London, said the human remains included men, women and children, and the location of many of their bodies was originally marked by bluestones.
In addition, Pearson claimed that study of settlement remains found near Stonehenge showed that up to 4,000 people from across Britain had traveled to the site to build Stonehenge over about 10 years.