- - Monday, September 3, 2012

MEXICO CITY — President Felipe Calderon said Monday that he has improved the rule of the law and armored the economy in his six years in office.

Mr. Calderon said his administration has made the largest security investment in Mexico’s history, purging and growing the federal police and reforming laws to better coordinate security operations.

Mr. Calderon delivered his final state-of-the-nation speech Monday, trying to cement his legacy as the president who stabilized the economy and took on the country’s entrenched organized crime groups, putting Mexico on the road to rule of law.

In his report to Congress, Mr. Calderon said the economy is “in a phase of growth” thanks to responsible public finances.

He also said foreign direct investment totaled $126 billion during his administration, reflecting “growing dynamism and competitiveness of our economy.”

Agents in attack were chasing kidnapper

MEXICO CITY — A Mexican official says that the 12 agents under arrest for shooting at a U.S. Embassy vehicle and wounding two U.S. employees inside were investigating a kidnapping.

Federal Police regional security chief Luis Cardenas said the kidnapping occurred hours before the agents fired at the SUV that was carrying the two Americans and a Mexican navy captain.

The Mexican navy said the three were headed to a navy training site in a rural area south of Mexico City.

Mr. Cardenas made the comments Sunday after announcing the detention of David Rosales, the man he said was the leader of the Gulf drug cartel in the northern state of Nuevo Leon.

He said the suspect, known as “Commander Devil,” coordinated attacks on bars in the city of Monterrey that killed several people.


Separatists lead in Quebec campaign

MONTREAL — With separatists in Canada’s Quebec province poised to wrest power from the ruling Liberals in a provincial election Tuesday, the real contest is for second place, according to the most recent poll Sunday.

After nine years in the opposition, the latest figures show Pauline Marois’ Parti Quebecois winning with 33 percent of the vote.

Trailing behind, Premier Jean Charest’s Liberals are battling it out with Francois Legault’s Coalition for Quebec’s Future, according to the Leger Marketing survey of nearly 1,900 people from August 29 to 31.

The longtime ruling Liberal had support from 27 percent of those polled, a point behind the coalition, an upstart party that has attracted both disenchanted federalists, who want the French-speaking province to remain part of Canada, and separatists, who want to secede.

Mr. Charest, an ardent federalist in power since 2003, is running for a fourth term. He is only the second premier in Quebec history to win more than two terms.

This year’s vote comes against a backdrop of social unrest in Quebec, where students since February have challenged the government’s plans to hike university fees, resulting in violent street protests and hundreds of arrests.

Labor groups and other opponents of the Liberals have joined forces with the students at times to pile more pressure on Mr. Charest, who is also facing growing corruption allegations.

Mr. Charest said he recognized the province wanted “change” but nevertheless urged any federalist voters seduced by the coalition to return to the Liberal camp to avoid “getting Madame Marois elected.”

Sunday’s figures are practically unchanged from a poll Friday.

If they hold up, Mrs. Marois would become Quebec’s first female premier, but her party would fall just short of the votes needed to earn a majority in the province’s single-round electoral system.


Humpback whales rebounding on coast

RIO DE JANEIRO — An institute that tracks the population of humpback whales that reproduce along Brazil’s coast says the number of the once-threatened mammals has tripled in the past 10 years.

The Humpback Whale Institute says in a news release there are now almost 10,000 humpbacks off the Brazilian coast. In 2002, the institute counted approximately 3,000 whales.

Institute chief Milton Marcondes says the whales’ fat once was used as fuel for public lighting and in construction. Hunting was banned in 1966, when only about 1,000 whales were left.

Marcondes says restoration efforts have helped the species recover in spite of global warming, accidents with boats, and fishing nets.


No evidence found in mass killing probe

CARACAS — Venezuela’s top official for indigenous affairs says officials who traveled to the Amazon to investigate a report of a mass killing in an indigenous community have found no evidence of killings.

The investigative team traveled by helicopter to a remote jungle area where a Yanomami Indian group last week reported it had received word of a massacre of unknown proportions in July, with perhaps dozens slain by miners.

Nicia Maldonado said on Saturday that “no evidence of any death was found” by the government team. She said officials hadn’t found any burned communal hut, which the indigenous group said had been reported by people who talked with survivors.

Leaders of the Horonami group that released the account couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday.


Stadium named for first Olympic winner

ST. GEORGE’S — Grenada will name a new sports stadium after a young track athlete who won the tiny island’s first Olympic medal.

Prime Minister Tillman Thomas says the unfinished stadium will be named after 400-meter champ Kirani James when it is completed.

Mr. Thomas also said Saturday that the island of just more than 100,000 people will introduce a stamp commemorating Mr. James’ Olympic victory.

Mr. James gave Grenada its first Olympic medal in London when he won the 400-meter race in 43.94 seconds.

Thousands of islanders crowded outside an airport Thursday to welcome back the 19-year-old runner nicknamed “The Jaguar.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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