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Update on the latest news, sports, business and entertainment

Jan 31, 2013 6:00pm

MEXICO-PEMEX FIRE

14 dead, 100 (new number) injured in Mexico oil company blast

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's state-owned oil company says 14 have died and more than 100 are injured in an office building explosion at its headquarters in the capital.

An explosion at the main headquarters of Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, also damaged three floors of the building, sending hundreds into the streets and a large plume of smoke over the skyline.

There was no immediate cause given for the explosion which occurred in the basement of an administrative building next to the iconic, 52-story Pemex tower.

CHINA-FIREWORKS EXPLOSION

NEW: Fireworks explosion on Chinese highway kills 26

BEIJING (AP) — A truck carrying fireworks ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations exploded Friday on a bridge in central China, killing at least 26 people as it sent vehicles plummeting dozens of meters (yards) to the ground, state media said.

The blast destroyed a section of the bridge outside the city of Sanmenxia. Emergency crews closed the highway at the accident site, said China National Radio, which reported the death toll of 26. The Xinhua News Agency reported four deaths but said search and rescue efforts were continuing.

Photos posted on the popular news site Sina.com by Chinese netizens showed a stretch of elevated highway gone, with a truck perched precariously at the broken edge. Other photos showed wrecked trucks below and blackened chunks of scattered debris.

SCHOOL BUS DRIVER SHOT

Negotiators talking to Ala. captor through pipe

MIDLAND CITY, Ala. (AP) — Negotiators have been talking through a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe to a man holding a 5-year-old boy hostage in an underground shelter in rural Alabama.

The standoff has entered its third day after authorities said a gunman pulled the boy off a school bus and killed the driver Tuesday.

The police chief of the adjacent town of Pinckard, James Arrington, says that the two are in a bunker that's about 4 feet underground and has about 6-by-8 feet of floor space.

He says the man identified by neighbors as Jimmy Lee Dykes has been sleeping some. The chief also says the man holds strong anti-government views and the FBI has reason to believe the shooting of the driver was a hate crime.

GUN CONTROL-BIDEN

Biden says gun curbs won't end mass killings

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Joe Biden says curbs on guns can reduce firearm deaths but won't ensure an end to mass killings like December's slaying of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn.

Biden met with Senate Democrats on Thursday to urge them to support the gun restrictions that President Barack Obama has proposed. They include bans on assault weapons and on high-capacity magazines for ammunition and requiring all gun buyers to undergo background checks.

After that session, Biden told reporters that the administration's plans would not eliminate the chances of another mass shooting, or bring gun deaths down to 1,000 yearly from the current 30,000 estimated by the Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence.

Biden said lives can be saved by curbing firearms without restricting the right to bear arms.

GUNS IN CHURCH

Ark. panel approves guns in church measure

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — A plan to allow concealed handguns in churches has been approved by an Arkansas House panel after pastors who testified before lawmakers split on whether it would make their sanctuaries safer.

The House Judiciary Committee endorsed legislation that would leave it up to churches and other houses of worship to decide whether to allow concealed handguns and who could carry them.

The measure, which has already passed the Arkansas Senate, now heads to the House floor for a vote next week. Gov. Mike Beebe has indicated he'll likely sign the guns-in-church bill into law if it reaches his desk.

Pastors who oppose the measure said it conflicts with the mission of churches to be sanctuaries from violence.

But supporters said houses of worship can be targeted not only during services but throughout the week, and that law enforcement may not be able to respond quickly enough to thwart an intruder.

CLINTON-SYRIA

As she leaves, Clinton sounds warning over Syria

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is issuing a parting warning about Iranian involvement in Syria's civil war and the rising threat of a larger regional conflict growing from it.

As she winds up her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton says, "I've done what was possible to do."

But she calls Syria's violence "distressing on all fronts."

Speaking to a roundtable of journalists on the eve of her departure, Clinton said Tehran is dispatching more personnel and better military supplies to Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. And it is working with its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, to fight Syrian rebel forces.

Clinton also criticized Russia for its continued financial and military support to Assad.

And she defended a much-maligned leader of Syria's opposition for suggesting negotiations with Assad's regime.

MARINES-WOMEN IN COMBAT

Marine leader: skepticism in infantry about women

SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Marine Corps commandant says the infantry side is skeptical about how women will perform in those units, and some positions may end up being closed if not enough females meet the rigorous standards.

Gen. James Amos spoke to reporters Thursday at a defense conference in San Diego hosted by the U.S. Naval Institute.

Amos says most Marines support the Defense Department's lifting of the ban last week, which opened thousands of positions to women. But he says the more dangerous, all-male infantry units are more skeptical.

Amos says if there isn't enough interest among female service members to join the infantry or few qualify for those positions then they may be closed to women.

The Marines opened their infantry school to women in the fall. Two tried unsuccessfully.

WALL STREET JOURNAL-HACKING

Wall Street Journal infiltrated by Chinese hackers

NEW YORK (AP) — The Wall Street Journal says its computer systems have been infiltrated by Chinese hackers who were trying to monitor the newspaper's coverage of China.

A spokeswoman for Dow Jones & Co., the newspaper's publisher, says the Journal completed a network overhaul to bolster security on Thursday.

The New York Times reported on Thursday that Chinese hackers repeatedly penetrated its computer systems and stole reporters' passwords. The Times said the hackers were hunting for files on an investigation into wealth amassed by the family of a top Chinese leader.

The Journal didn't address how the hacking of its systems occurred, but it said it has faced such threats from China in recent years. It says the hacking was not an attempt to "gain commercial advantage or to misappropriate customer information."

FREEWAY CRASH-DETROIT

2 children, 1 adult die in Detroit freeway pileups

DETROIT (AP) — Police say two children killed in a massive chain-reaction crash on a Detroit freeway are believed to be siblings whose parents were injured in the accident.

The Thursday morning accident also killed another motorist as blinding snow squalls, strong winds and slick roads led to a mile-long series of crashes involving about 30 vehicles along Interstate 75.

Michigan State Police Lt. Michael Shaw tells The Associated Press the children who died were a 7-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl from Windsor, Ontario.

None of the victims' names have been released.

Shaw says 13 people, including a 9-year-old girl, were taken to local hospitals.

A similar pileup west of Indianapolis involving about 35 vehicles along Interstate 70 injured at least a dozen people.

SOLDIER SLAIN-HICCUPS

Soldier admits shooting man trying to cure hiccups

FORT HOOD, Texas (AP) — A Fort Hood soldier has pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, saying he shot his friend accidentally while trying to scare away his hiccups.

Fort Hood officials say Spc. Patrick Edward Myers, of Spartanburg, S.C., was sentenced Thursday to 3½ years in military prison. He also was busted to private and will receive a bad-conduct discharge.

Myers fatally shot Pfc. Isaac Lawrence Young in September while they were watching a football game at a Killeen apartment. Myers told police he thought the weapon had dummy rounds and was trying to scare his friend so his hiccups would stop.

Young, of Ash Grove, Mo., was 22.

The case was tried in military court on the Central Texas Army post because the victim and suspect were soldiers.


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