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  • El Salvador church leaders call for new gang truce

  • By Nelson Renteria SAN SALVADOR (Reuters) - Church leaders in El Salvador on Tuesday said they want to revive a fragile truce between the country's powerful street gangs in order to curb a resurgence of violent crime. Catholic Bishop Fabio Colindres, who helped broker a 2012 deal between gang leaders, proposed that religious leaders establish new talks with gang leaders. The 2012 truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and rival gang Barrio 18 helped cut the Central American country's murder rate in mid-2013 to around five per day, a 10-year low, from around 12 a day. While the homicide rate is still below levels seen before the 2012 truce, the country still has one of the highest murder rates in the world due to ongoing turf battles between the gangs.
  • Independent Scotland's last gasp forgotten in Panama jungle

  • Children play at the beach as a local boat passes by the coast of Caledonia island in the region of Guna YalaBy Dave Graham CALEDONIA, Panama (Reuters) - A few years before giving up its independence, Scotland took a bold gamble to secure a brighter future, founding a colony on the isthmus of Panama to corner trade between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. The 1698 venture ended in tragedy, helping to push Scotland into political union with England and form the United Kingdom. Named after the gulf where modern Panama and Colombia meet, the Darien scheme was hamstrung from the start by poor planning and English opposition. Barely a shadow of it lingers in the bay known locally as Puerto Escoces (Scottish Harbor), where the Scots founded the colony of New Caledonia with an initial contingent of 1,200.



  • AP PHOTOS: Nicaraguan town drags chained 'Judases'

  • In this April 18, 2014 photo, a youth with a mask poses for a picture during a break while participating in "Los Encadenados," or The Chained Ones procession on Good Friday during Holy Week in Masatepe, Nicaragua. For the past 130 years, residents of Masatepe have celebrated Good Friday by dressing up in colorful masks and costumes, and dragging chained “Judases” through the streets of this town in western Nicaragua. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)MASATEPE, Nicaragua (AP) — For 130 years, the people of Masatepe have observed Good Friday by dressing up in colorful masks and costumes and dragging chained "Judases" through the streets of their town in western Nicaragua.



  • Costa Rican a celebrity after certified miracle

  • FILE - In this July 5, 2013 file photo, Floribeth Mora stands by her shrine to Pope John Paul II inside the entrance to her home in La Union de Cartago, Costa Rica. Mora, her doctors and the Catholic Church say her aneurysm disappeared in May of 2011 in a miracle that cleared the way for the late pope to be declared a saint. Mora will attend the ceremony at the Vatican on April 27, 2014 as a guest of honor. (AP Photo/Enrique Martinez, File)TRES RIOS, Costa Rica (AP) — On a warm spring day, Floribeth Mora was in her bed waiting to die from a seemingly inoperable brain aneurysm when her gaze fell upon a photograph of Pope John Paul II in a newspaper.



  • Costa Rican woman attributes miracle to pope

  • FILE - In this July 5, 2013 file photo, Floribeth Mora stands by her shrine to Pope John Paul II inside the entrance to her home in La Union de Cartago, Costa Rica. Mora, her doctors and the Catholic Church say her aneurysm disappeared in May of 2011 in a miracle that cleared the way for the late pope to be declared a saint. Mora will attend the ceremony at the Vatican on April 27, 2014 as a guest of honor. (AP Photo/Enrique Martinez, File)TRES RIOS, Costa Rica (AP) — On a warm spring day, Floribeth Mora was in her bed waiting to die from a seemingly inoperable brain aneurysm when her gaze fell upon a photograph of Pope John Paul II in a newspaper.



  • Japan to carry out NW Pacific whale hunt this yr -Agriculture Ministry

  • A miniature South Korean flag is seen during the 64th annual International Whaling Commission in Panama CityJapan will carry out its annual Northwest Pacific whaling hunt despite an international court ruling against its whaling program last month, though on a smaller scale, its agriculture ministry said on Friday, a move likely to provoke global anger. Tokyo's decades-old and disputed "scientific whaling" program suffered a major blow last month with the International Court of Justice, in a surprise ruling, ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean. The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry also said on Friday that it would pull together a new proposal for its Antarctic whaling by later this year.



  • Japan considers curtailing whale hunt further: media

  • A miniature South Korean flag is seen during the 64th annual International Whaling Commission in Panama CityBy Elaine Lies TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is considering scrapping a Northwest Pacific whale hunt just days before the fleet's planned departure, media said on Thursday, as the government grapples with its response to an international court ruling against its main whale hunt. In a blow to Tokyo's decades-old and disputed "scientific whaling" programme, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) last month ordered a halt to its annual hunts in the Southern Ocean, prompting Japan to cancel its 2014-2015 Antarctic hunt, the program's mainstay, as it pledged to abide by the ruling. The judgment did not specifically mention Japan's other whaling hunts, one small-scale one off its coastline and the other across a wide swath of the Northwest Pacific during the spring and summer, with a quota of nearly 300 whales. "The government is currently racking its brains about whether or not to allow the Northwest Pacific whaling, set to start on April 22, to take place," the paper said, adding that the timing - with U.S. President Barack Obama scheduled to arrive in Japan on April 23 - was unfortunate.



  • El Salvador to use terror charges against gangs

  • El Salvador's government on Wednesday said it would charge gang members who attack police and military personnel under anti-terrorism laws, which impose longer prison sentences, to crack down on rising homicides in the poor Central American nation. Justice Minister Ricardo Perdomo blamed a faction of the country's Barrio 18 gang for ordering attacks against government troops, saying there had been 60 so far this year. A truce between the Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) gang and rival Barrio 18 had cut the murder rate in El Salvador down to a 10-year low in mid-2013, but homicides started climbing again.
  • Man pleads not guilty in 2008 sword slaying

  • LANCASTER, California (AP) — An El Salvador-born man has pleaded not guilty to killing his girlfriend with a sword in front of her four children in California nearly six years ago.
  • Panama presidential candidates tied ahead of May vote

  • Panama's ruling party presidential candidate and an opposition challenger are in a dead heat ahead of the Central American country's May 4 vote, a poll showed on Monday. Jose Arias, from the ruling Democratic Change (CD)party, and Juan Navarro, from the moderate left opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD), both won 32 percent support in a poll by Ipsos and Canal 13. The country's current vice president, Juan Varela, took 26 percent in the poll. Varela broke with current President Ricardo Martinelli and ran on the ticket of the Panamenista Party.
  • 2 women Dutch tourists still missing in Panama

  • PANAMA CITY, Panama (AP) — Authorities in Panama say they haven't found any clues about two female tourists from the Netherlands who went missing near a popular tourist destination two weeks ago.
  • String of earthquakes puts Nicaraguans on edge

  • Children lie on mattresses on sidewalks outside stores near their homes after several earthquakes in Managua, Nicaragua, just after sunrise Monday, April 14, 2014. The government is recommending people sleep outside after an earthquake occurred a bit further away from Managua Sunday morning, following quakes on Thursday and Friday. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Thousands of Nicaraguans woke up in the streets Monday after a sleepless night rocked by two strong earthquakes, part of a string of tremors that have kept the Central American country on edge since late last week.



  • Nicaragua shaken by third quake

  • A quake hits the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, raising fears that a fault line beneath the capital may have been reactivated.
  • Magnitude 6.6 quake hits southwest Nicaragua: USGS

  • A woman and a boy carry a bed frame at a shelter for people affected by the earthquake in ManaguaMANAGUA (Reuters) - A 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit southwest Nicaragua on Friday near the coast, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said, shaking buildings in the capital Managua and as far away as San Jose in Costa Rica. Initial reports indicated no major damage from the quake, which was also felt in El Salvador. The quake struck 15 miles south of the town of Granada, near the country's Pacific coast, at a depth of 86 miles, the USGS said. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said a tsunami was not expected due to the depth of the quake. ...



  • Aftershocks shake Nicaragua; nation on alert

  • A woman walks inside a home that was damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 10, 2014. A 6.1-magnitude earthquake damaged dozens of houses in western Nicaragua on Thursday, and authorities said some people were injured by falling ceilings, beams and walls. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua's president is placing his government on the highest alert level as aftershocks rattle the country following a magnitude-6.1 earthquake.



  • 6.1-magnitude earthquake shakes Nicaragua

  • A woman walks inside a home that was damaged by an earthquake in Nagarote, Nicaragua, Thursday, April 10, 2014. A 6.1-magnitude earthquake damaged dozens of houses in western Nicaragua on Thursday, and authorities said some people were injured by falling ceilings, beams and walls. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — A strong earthquake damaged dozens of houses in western Nicaragua on Thursday, and authorities said that at least 23 people were injured by falling ceilings, beams and walls in one town.



  • Strong 6.1 quake shakes Nicaragua, no major damage

  • By Ivan Castro MANAGUA (Reuters) - A strong earthquake shook western Nicaragua on Thursday, knocking out power and phone lines in some areas of the capital Managua, a Reuters witness said, but there were no reports of fatalities or major damage. The quake had a magnitude of 6.1, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and was very shallow at a depth of 6.2 miles. Some residents in Managua rushed out into the streets, clearly nervous. "There are no injuries, no loss of life so far, nor even any significant material losses," Nicaraguan government spokeswoman Rosario Murillo said on local radio, adding that the government was checking reports that two dozen homes had suffered some damage.
  • Magnitude 6.4 quake strikes near Managua in Nicaragua -USGS

  • WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A strong earthquake of magnitude 6.4 struck near the Nicaraguan capital, Managua, on Thursday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. It said the quake, very shallow at a depth of 6.2 miles and therefore more powerful, struck at 2327 GMT north of Managua, 14 miles northeast of the town of Nagarote. A magnitude 6.4 quake is capable of causing severe damage. The quake was initially reported as having a 6.2 magnitude. (Reporting by Sandra Maler; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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