Nation & World Briefly
Mexico grows with fewer migrants
MEXICO CITY (AP) – Mexico’s census shows the population has grown more quickly than expected, in part due to a drop in the number of people leaving to seek work.
Preliminary data released Thursday by the National Institute for Statistics and Geography says Mexico had 112.3 million inhabitants as of July. That was 3.6 million more than experts had projected.
The head of the institute, Eduardo Sojo, says the bigger-than-expected increase was likely due to a rise in births and a fall in migrants leaving the country.
Teens rescued after 50 days adrift
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) – Three teenagers survived 50 days adrift in a tiny boat in the South Pacific by drinking rainwater and eating raw fish and a seagull before being rescued by a passing trawler, a senior crewman on the fishing vessel said.
The trio – Samuel Pelesa and Filo Filo, both 15, and Edward Nasau, 14 – had been given up for dead on their coral atoll in the Tokelau islands, where a memorial service was held for them after extensive searches failed to find them.
The boys set off on Oct. 5 in their aluminum dinghy from their home island to one nearby.
On Wednesday, the tuna boat San Nikuna spotted the dinghy bobbing in the open sea northeast of Fiji, 800 miles from where the teens had set out.
U.S. presence in Afghanistan about
to surpass Soviets’
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – The Soviet Union couldn’t win in Afghanistan, and now the United States is about to have something in common with that futile campaign: nine years, 50 days.
Today, the U.S.-led coalition has been fighting in this South Asian country for as long as the Soviets did in their humbling attempt to build up a socialist state. The two invasions had different goals – and dramatically different body counts – but whether they have significantly different outcomes remains to be seen.
What started out as a quick war on Oct. 7, 2001, by the U.S. and its allies to wipe out al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and the Taliban has instead turned into a long and slogging campaign.
Now about 100,000 NATO troops are fighting a burgeoning insurgency while trying to support and cultivate a nascent democracy.
A Pentagon-led assessment released earlier this week described the progress made since the United States injected 30,000 more troops into Afghanistan earlier this year as fragile.
The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, has said NATO’s core objective is to ensure that Afghanistan “is never again a sanctuary to al-Qaida or other transnational extremists that it was prior to 9/11.”
Some shoppers trade turkey for bargains
NEW YORK (AP) – Not all Americans tucked into turkey with their families on Thanksgiving. Some were out shopping, hitting sales ahead of the crowds expected Friday.
After a year of cautious spending and worry over an uncertain economy and high unemployment, more stores this year extended hours into Thanksgiving Day, a day when stores are traditionally closed.
Many grumble about the relentless march of commercialism creeping into the holiday. But at least some shoppers took the bait.
While crowds appeared relatively light compared with the weekend ahead, the extended hours drew in overseas visitors, those who have to work Friday and some who couldn’t resist a good deal.
Sears, Kmart and some Sports Authority, Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic stores were among those open Thursday.
Iraq’s PM to form next government after epic deadlock, now must unit warring factions
BAGHDAD (AP) – Incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cemented his grip on power Thursday, bringing an end to nearly nine months of political deadlock after he was asked to form the next government.
He now faces the daunting task of bringing together Iraq’s Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish factions in a government that can overcome enduring tensions as the country struggles to develop its economy and prevent a resurgence of violence as the last American troops are due to leave by the end of next year.
The long-awaited request from President Jalal Talabani sets in motion a 30-day timeline during which al-Maliki must pick his Cabinet. Al-Maliki, a steely politician known more for his ability to alienate than unify, said he was aware of the challenges ahead.
“I call upon the great Iraqi people from all sects, religions and ethnicities and I call upon my brothers the politicians to work to overcome all differences,” the prime minister designate said during the ceremony at the president’s palace.
The new government is expected to include all the major factions, including the Kurds, Shiite political parties aligned with Iran and a Sunni-backed bloc that believes it should have been the one leading the next government.
Monterrey, Mexico’s modern city, succumbs nearly overnight to battle between cartels
MONTERREY, Mexico (AP) – A 21-year-old university student lies dead from a gunshot to the head. Nearby, paramedics wrap the head of another woman in a blood-soaked shirt while her husband holds their cowering children.
They were shopping in a popular downtown promenade when gunmen chasing a security guard opened fire into the crowd. This wasn’t supposed to happen in Monterrey, Mexico’s modern northern city with gleaming glass towers that rise against the Sierra Madre, where students flock to world-class universities, including the country’s equivalent of MIT.
But drug violence has painted Monterrey with the look and feel of the gritty border 100 miles (160 kilometers) to the north as two former allies, the Gulf and Zetas gangs, fight for control of Mexico’s third-largest – and wealthiest – city.
The deterioration happened nearly overnight, laying bare issues that plague the entire country: a lack of credible policing and the Mexican habit of looking the other way at the drug trade as long as it was orderly and peaceful.
“To a certain extent, we saw ourselves as a privileged city and very isolated from Mexico’s problems,” said Blanca Trevino, Monterrey-based president and CEO of Softtek, the largest information technology consulting firm in Latin America. “The violence hit us because we were not accustomed to having it and therefore to handling it. Now we live in a sort of psychosis.”
Alabama AG: Honeymoon death suspect faces 2 murder counts; state won’t seek death penalty
LOS ANGELES (AP) – An Alabama man who served prison time in Australia for his wife’s drowning death during their honeymoon returned Thursday to the U.S., where he faces murder charges that could carry a much stiffer punishment.
Gabe Watson, 33, arrived in Los Angeles on Thursday morning after he was deported on a commercial flight from Melbourne, Australia. Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said Watson was accompanied by two Immigration Department staff and three Queensland state police officers. Watson cleared customs within an hour and was taken away in handcuffs.
He was booked at a local police substation after his arrival, said Los Angeles police Lt. Aaron McCraney. Watson will likely make a court appearance in Los Angeles before being sent back to Alabama.
Alabama hopes to arrange to bring Watson back to the state early next week, said Attorney General Troy King. King said Australian authorities showed too much leniency to Watson, who served an 18-month sentence in that country after pleading guilty last year to manslaughter. Tina Watson, 26, drowned in 2003 while scuba diving with her husband of 11 days.
Gabe Watson had been in immigration custody since completing a prison sentence earlier this month. Australia, a staunch opponent of capital punishment, delayed his deportation until it received a pledge that U.S. authorities would not seek the death penalty.
Tracking prehistoric giants sheds light on how mammals evolved after the dinosaurs died off
WASHINGTON (AP) – They just needed some leg room: New research shows the great dinosaur die-off made way for mammals to explode in size – some more massive than several elephants put together.
The largest land mammal ever: A rhinoceros-like creature, minus the horn, that stood 18 feet tall, weighed roughly 17 tons and grazed in forests in what is now Eurasia. It makes the better known woolly mammoth seem a bit puny.
Tracking such prehistoric giants is more than a curiosity: It sheds new light on the evolution of mammals as they diversified to fill habitats left vacant by the dinosaurs.
Within 25 million years of the dinosaurs’ extinction – fast, in geologic terms – overall land mammals had reached a maximum size and then leveled off, an international team of scientists reports Friday in the journal Science. And while different species on different continents reached their peaks at different points in time, that pattern of evolution was remarkably similar worldwide.
“Evolution can happen very quickly when ecology permits,” said paleoecologist Felisa Smith of the University of New Mexico, who led the research. “This is really coming down to ecology allowing this to happen.”
Brady throws a season-high 4 TDs – all in 2nd half – to lift Patriots to 45-25 win over Lions
DETROIT (AP) – Tom Brady’s perfect game was much too much for the Detroit Lions.
Brady threw a season-high four touchdown passes, all in the second half, and the New England Patriots routed Detroit 45-24 on Thursday.
He was 21 of 27 for 341 yards – just short of season high – with no interceptions, giving him a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3. Brady became the first to have a perfect passer rating this season with a minimum of five attempts, according to STATS, LLC.
It was Brady’s second perfect QB rating. His first was Oct. 21, 2007, when he threw a career-high six TDs in a win over the Miami Dolphins.
Brady threw a go-ahead touchdown to Deion Branch early in the fourth quarter after connecting with him on a 79-yard pass to tie the game at 24-all. Wes Welker’s second TD reception sealed the victory with 6:42 left, putting the Patriots ahead 38-24.