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With little faith in Latin American police, private firms rise to protect those who can pay

New Europe News - 5 hours 21 min ago
by  Associated Press Private firms filling Latin America's security gap by KATHERINE CORCORAN, Associated Press - 24 November 2014 15:41-05:00

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A panic alert flashed across Alberto Herrera's computer screen. Men claiming to be with the notorious Gulf Cartel had stopped a convoy transporting chemicals through a lawless region of northeastern Mexico. They seized two drivers from an escort truck and demanded the valuable cargo in exchange for their release.

Giant flat-screen monitors blinked with the GPS locations of dozens of vehicles carrying cargo coveted by criminals. The phone chatter and chirping two-way radios sounded like a police dispatch center, but this was the emergency response room of International Private Security, a Mexico-based company that helps international clients like PepsiCo, Audi and BP do business in regions plagued by organized crime.

A direct line to Mexico's federal police sat on Herrera's desk, but he had orders from this client not to use it. Instead, the client's crisis team negotiated the release of the drivers and their cargo.

"They didn't want us to call the police," said the 32-year-old Herrera. "People don't necessarily trust the cops."

Distrust of police has made private security a big business in Latin America, where a majority of police forces are deemed incompetent or corrupt — or both. An army of nearly 4 million private security agents make up an industry growing 9 percent a year and projected to reach about $30 billion by 2016. That's more than the economies of Paraguay or El Salvador.

IPS alone has doubled its employee ranks to 4,000 over the last five years. Across the region, private guards outnumber public officers beyond the global average of 2-to-1. In Brazil, it's 4-to-1; in Guatemala, 5-to-1; and in Honduras, it's close to 7-to-1.

"The private sector should be a complement (to the police)," said Boris Saavedra, a national security professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington. "But in some countries, they're not the complement: They are the main actor."

While private security is growing worldwide, Latin America's boom directly relates to rising rates of homicide, kidnapping and extortion. Plagued by drug cartels and violent gangs, Latin America has surpassed Africa to claim the world's highest murder rate.

Private guards are part of everyday life in Latin American cities. With large guns and bullet-proof vests, they guard bakeries, even mattress deliveries, and ride shotgun in trucks carrying anything from Coca-Cola to cold cuts. They don earpieces and hide pistols under dark suits as they escort executives' children to school.

But they're not solving rampant crime. The guards-for-hire offer protection to the wealthy and middle-classes, leaving the poor majority to fend for themselves in a region already suffering from world's worst income disparity.

Poorer residents get by however they can: forming vigilante groups or paying thugs to leave them alone.

"There's a huge lack of trust among people, so they act independently," said Mexican international relations professor Rafael Fernandez de Castro, coordinator of the team that produced last year's U.N. report on Latin America security. "That makes for fertile ground for organized crime."

Drug gangs rule through fear, often employing local police to work for them. Police in southwestern Guerrero are accused of handing over 43 college students to a drug gang which, authorities say, killed them in September.

Such crimes foster a state of fear. Insecurity is so pervasive that 13 percent of Latin Americans— or nearly 75 million people — feel the need to move to escape crime, according to the United Nations. Fear of gang violence is one of the main forces that has sent thousands of Central Americans, including unaccompanied children, toward the U.S. border.

"People feel powerless in the face of violence and act with instinct rather than reason," said Guatemala psychologist Marco Antonio Garavito.

The weak state of public police forces in part stems from the region's history. Officers across Latin America traditionally protected political regimes, not citizens. Truly reforming public forces would require a long-term change in philosophy and training. So politicians instead choose quick-fix solutions that are visible to voters — spending on equipment and new patrol cars, said Gerardo de Lago, Latin America security and safety director for Laureate International Universities.

Such displays do nothing to rid departments of rogue cops, he said. "It's the same bad guys with new clothes."

The spread of private policing, however, comes with unpredictable results. Growth of the industry has outpaced government regulation, creating a "buyer-beware" market for those hiring security officers.

Most of the region's security businesses operate without formal registration. In Venezuela, Julio Delgado, a guard who helped form an association of private security workers, estimates that 25 percent of his colleagues are committing violent crimes in their off hours.

The bodyguards of a Venezuelan congressman are accused of helping plan his October slaying. Authorities in Brazil said last month a 26-year-old security guard confessed to killing 39 people, shooting many of them randomly from his motorcycle while "cruising the streets."

In Mexico, the head of Elite Systems, a Guadalajara-based protection and alarm-service operation, Arnoldo Villa Sanchez, was alleged by the U.S. government to be security chief for the cartel led by Hector Beltran Leyva before the capo's arrest in October. Villa Sanchez could not be reached for comment.

IPS, for one, requires its employees to pass thorough background checks, according to director general Armando Zuniga. In an effort to maintain a clean force, IPS job postings specifically say "No former police."

___

Associated Press writers Hannah Dreier in Caracas, Sonia Perez D. in Guatemala City, Marcos Aleman in San Salvador, and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

___

Follow Katherine Corcoran on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kathycorcoran

News Topics: General news, Homicide, Violent crime, Crime, Drug cartels, Government and politics, Drug-related crime, Organized crime

People, Places and Companies: Pepsico Inc, Hector Beltran Leyva, Mexico, Venezuela, Latin America and Caribbean, Guatemala, San Salvador, Guatemala City, North America, Central America, South America, El Salvador

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

In Peruvian provincial capital, police failures fuel whip-cracking citizens' justice patrols

New Europe News - 5 hours 21 min ago
by  Associated Press In Peru, whip-cracking vigilantes serve up justice by FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press - 24 November 2014 13:13-05:00

CAJAMARCA, Peru (AP) — The standard "peacemaker" in this highlands Peruvian provincial capital is a whip fashioned from the twisted sinew of a bull penis. It gets a lot of respect. So do the well-organized bands of citizen vigilantes who wield it.

Their rise over the last decade is just one example of how Latin Americans are responding to corrupt, indifferent police forces and the erosion of state-run criminal justice.

For all but the most serious crimes, justice in Cajamarca, a city of 200,000, is routinely administered by these grass-roots citizen patrol units known as "rondas urbanas,"

Their punishments tend to be swift, harsh and painful.

"If the police did their jobs there would be no need for us," says Fernando Chuquilin, the most popular leader of the city's 30-odd "rondas."

In an opinion poll last year, Peruvians ranked the National Police only slightly behind Congress among the country's most corrupt institutions. The judiciary came in third.

It was the rondas — and not police — who recently broke up an auto thefts parts ring, turning over evidence to the chief local prosecutor, Chuquilin boasts.

Yet their periodic whip-cracking raids on brothels have elicited outrage from human rights activists and gasps from Lima TV reporters, who tend to portray them as Andean-style Taliban morality police.

In brothel raids, ski-masked vigilantes have left welts on women they've whipped — and set fire to mattresses and other furniture carried into the street.

Prostitution is legal in Peru, but Chuquilin says he only targets bordellos with underage sex workers or that have become magnets for criminals who rob people nearby.

Locally, few people complain, including judges and prosecutors who acknowledge Chuquilin's popularity and efficacy.

A big man with an easy smile and an incessantly ringing cellphone, Chuquilin lays on the last of a dozen lashes at the group's storefront one morning after patrol members deliver a short, pot-bellied man they say is a serial pickpocket.

After a few stings of the whip, the man shrieks, jumps to his feet and begs for mercy. He confesses, pays $60 to a woman who says he stole her cellphone, and is let go.

"That's how we deal with this kind of thief," says Chuquilin.

Every day, people visit his no-frills storefront and fill out summonses. No case is too small, no dispute too trivial. People don't dare ignore the summonses, and the hearings are often standing-room-only.

Chuquilin, 50, maximizes public exposure by uploading to YouTube video of his group's public lashings.

He also arbitrates cases that authorities consider minor, settling property and debt disputes, family quarrels and marital infidelities. (Adulterous spouses typically get a few lashes and are ordered to be faithful).

If a felony is committed, the rondas turn the transgressor over to police. The harshest sentence they administer, they say, is banishment.

Still, said Esperanza Leon, the top local prosecutor in Cajamarca, the bands are illegal.

"If this is allowed to spread, there's going to be chaos," she said, even though she often must coordinate with Chuquilin.

"People turn to the rondas because they are more accessible," said Cajamarca state's chief judge, Fernando Bazan. "People rely on them daily — and daily tell us to our face that we are incapable of guaranteeing security."

Cajamarca's 800-member rondas are an outgrowth of rural peasant patrols, or "rondas campesinas," that first formed in the 1970s as small farmers united to fend off cattle rustlers. They won legal status in 1993.

Similar rural systems exist elsewhere in Latin America, particularly in Guatemala and Bolivia.

Their moral authority derives from the close-knit nature of their communities and their power to publicly shame people engaged in anti-social behavior, says John Gitlitz, a sociologist at State University of New York at Purchase.

In Cajamarca, the rural ronda morphed into an urban variety, now so strong it helps police in crowd control at big soccer matches.

The rondas, Chuquilin says, are the best tool available for preventing troublemakers from becoming career criminals.

He cited a recent case of two young men who were robbing motorists at gunpoint. They had even shot a man in the leg.

Ronderos don't use firearms, so Chuquilin and his crew surrounded the house where the youths had holed up and persuaded them to surrender.

Then, to save them from a 300-strong mob, he agreed to let them be force-fed raw chili peppers as punishment.

When it was done, the two paid the medical bills of the man they wounded, were accepted back into the community and given work.

"One didn't have a home — he had been a wanderer — so the community helped him out and built one," said Chuquilin.

"In other words, they turned them into good people."

News Topics: General news, Crime, Prostitution, Sex in society, Social issues, Social affairs

People, Places and Companies: Peru, South America, Latin America and Caribbean

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Killing of young iguana hunter underscores lack of accountability for private security forces

New Europe News - 5 hours 21 min ago
by  Associated Press Killing of Guatemalan hunter likely to go unsolved by KATHERINE CORCORAN and SONIA PEREZ D., Associated Press - 24 November 2014 13:14-05:00

ZACAPA, Guatemala (AP) — Jose Miguel Ramirez went hunting for iguanas on a melon farm, and paid for it with his life. The 19-year-old's body was dumped by a stream near the property line, a bullet hole above his left eye.

What happened to Ramirez remains in dispute, though no one is pushing for answers any longer. The private security guards alleged to have killed him were never prosecuted. A witness who said he saw the shooting recanted. In a country that averages some 100 homicides a week, the killing barely drew headlines and public attention moved on.

The case of Ramirez, whose body was found outside the ZacapaEx plantation in March 2013, reveals just how convoluted security and justice have become in Guatemala, where private guards outnumber police 5-to-1, and the soaring crime rate is married with shocking levels of impunity. Those with means buy protection the state cannot provide, those without take matters into their own hands.

"You don't call the police. You don't call 911. You deal with it yourself," said Frank Moseley, a private security analyst based in Guatemala.

Ramirez, a young corn farmer with a pregnant girlfriend and toddler son had set off with his two brothers-in-law that Sunday, a slingshot in his pocket for hunting. They left the trash-strewn arroyo where the family lives to search for food — fat, green iguanas.

ZacapaEx is one of the large farms producing melons that locals proudly tout as the sweetest in all of Central America. The company is a significant source of jobs in the Guatemalan highlands where opportunities are scarce. Residents get seasonal work in the fields and packing plants, or are hired as guards to patrol the farms against thieves, who take everything from fruit to tires and equipment.

Ramirez had just crossed the fence onto the farm when the shots rang out and he was hit, his brothers-in-law said. They hid as they watched three men dressed in street clothes and a fourth wearing a security guard's uniform drag the body and dump it off beyond the property line. They summoned police, who found Ramirez with his Daytona 500 baseball cap resting neatly on his stomach, saliva foaming at his mouth and a trail of blood that suggested he had been dragged.

Days later, police arrested three men identified by one of Ramirez's brothers-in-law. One of them was Angel Aldana Cruz, a 26-year-old who was alleged to have fired the fatal shot. Authorities described the suspects as private security guards who worked on the farm, although the men claimed they were only hired to do odd jobs. Later, authorities arrested a fourth man, a guard hired from a private security firm, Gevas, to patrol the melon farm.

Over the following weeks, all four men were freed, and ZacapaEx was cleared of any responsibility.

After Ramirez's death, the family was visited by Osmany Giron, the melon company's director of operations, who offered his condolences. Giron knew the family, he told The Associated Press, because two of Ramirez's sisters had worked for him during harvest time. He was saddened to learn that Ramirez left behind a 14-month-old son. He brought tamales, bread and a "small" amount of money for the family.

Ramirez's mother, Odilia del Carmen Sintuj, told AP she was too distraught to pay much attention to the visits by Giron. She recalled that he promised to care for her. The company, she said, helped her go to a hospital for treatment of her diabetes and bought her medicine.

Weeks later, she said, Giron asked her and her husband, Esteban Ramirez, to go with him to an office. He wanted them to sign a document, even though neither of them could read or write. She said the company paid her $4,500.

A local prosecutor who was there, she said, encouraged them to sign, saying it was the best resolution they could expect.

The prosecutor, she said, told them the case wasn't worth pursuing and encouraged them to accept whatever the melon farm offered. "There's nothing here," she recalled the prosecutor saying about the case. "If they want to help, you should take advantage of it."

The couple signed the document with their thumb prints, but say they never understood what it was. By doing so, according to the document filed in court on April 12, 2013, the couple absolved ZacapaEx and the three suspects of any charges and agreed to drop their court action. The prosecutor assigned to the case, Olga Hernandez, declined to meet with AP and did not return telephone calls.

Giron denies Sintuj's version of events, and says he knows nothing of a court paper or indemnification. As for the killing, he says ZacapaEx had nothing to do with it, that the three workers in plain clothes were not guards, and none would have been armed while on duty.

Investigators initially did seize weapons from three of the suspects, but not from Aldana Cruz, the alleged gunman. Ballistics testing on the seized weapons came out clean.

The sworn statement given by Mario Ramos, the brother-in-law who identified the three suspects that day to the police, also was withdrawn and his testimony recanted.

Ramos told AP that a stranger approached him and warned: "You're not going to say anything because if you do, we'll kill you." Soon after, Ramos signed a court document saying he couldn't be sure of the suspects' identities because he hadn't seen their faces. It was, he said, his only option.

"It really hurts me, what they did to my brother-in-law," he said. "But what would you do if someone killed a relative and you saw who it was, and (they) threatened you and said, 'Look, you're not going to say anything because if you do, we'll kill you too?'"

Aldana Cruz and the two other men were freed from custody and their bail money returned, and Mario Antonio Santiago Carranza, the guard charged with being an accessory, was absolved.

It didn't end there.

A week after charges were dropped, Carranza was patrolling the perimeter of the melon farm when he was shot to death by a man passing by on a motorcycle.

Like Ramirez's death, his killing remains unsolved although a representative of the Gevas security company suggested responsibility lies with friends of Ramirez and his brothers-in-law, whom she described as "criminals."

"An innocent had to pay for something he didn't do," said Alba Rosa Asturias, Gevas' legal representative.

The family denies any role in Carranza's death, though in their minds it was a just ending.

"He who kills by the sword, dies by the sword," Ramos said.

___

Follow Katherine Corcoran on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kathycorcoran

News Topics: General news, Fruit farming, Crime, Agriculture, Security products and services, Security services, Crop farming, Industries, Business, Industrial products and services

People, Places and Companies: Guatemala, Central America, Latin America and Caribbean

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

In Peruvian provincial capital, police failures fuel whip-cracking citizens' justice patrols

New Europe News - 5 hours 21 min ago
by  Associated Press In Peru, whip-cracking vigilantes serve up justice by FRANK BAJAK, Associated Press - 24 November 2014 13:11-05:00

CAJAMARCA, Peru (AP) — The vigilantes collared the short, pot-bellied man at Cajamarca's teeming outdoor market and marched him to their storefront. He was a serial pickpocket, they said.

The man, 42, was made to empty his pockets, shed his shoes, drop to the floor and do push-ups. A look of terror etched his face well before the whip stung his backside. He shrieked, jumped to his feet and begged for mercy, claiming he was innocent.

The assembled men and women, all wearing citizen patrol vests and wielding whips fashioned from the twisted sinew of bull penises, didn't believe him. A dozen lashes later, he confessed, and paid $60 to a woman whose cellphone he'd stolen. He got a shower, and was let go.

"That's how we deal with this kind of thief," said the citizen patrol's leader, Fernando Chuquilin, who personally landed the last lash.

For all but the most serious crimes, this is how justice is routinely administered in this highlands provincial capital of 200,000 people: Swiftly, harshly and painfully. And not by the state.

Instead, in response to an eroding criminal justice system, self-appointed bands of vigilantes have taken on the work of police, prosecutors and judges. The rise of these citizen enforcers, who enjoy widespread support in Cajamarca, is just one response in Latin America to the failure of police forces to offer the most basic protections.

"If the police did their jobs there would be no need for us," says Chuquilin.

Peru's 112,000-officer police force is slightly larger than the Latin America norm per capita, but police spend nearly half their time supplementing monthly salaries that average $650 by moonlighting as private security guards.

Peruvian media carry a steady diet of news about cops running drugs and aiding criminal bands. In an opinion poll last year, Peruvians listed the National Police only slightly behind Congress in a ranking of the country's most corrupt institutions. The judiciary came in third.

Still, the periodic whip-cracking raids on brothels that have gained Chuquilin and his cohort national exposure have elicited outrage from human rights activists and gasps from Lima TV reporters, who tend to portray the bands as over-the-top, Andean-style Taliban morality police.

Locally, though, few people complain, including police commanders, judges and prosecutors who acknowledge Chuquilin's popularity and don't interfere.

A big man with an easy smile and an incessantly ringing cellphone, Chuquilin, is the most popular leader among the 30-odd grass-roots citizen patrol units in Cajamarca known as "rondas urbanas," or urban patrols.

People daily visit his no-frills storefront and fill out summonses. No case is too small, no dispute too trivial for this self-anointed judge. The accused don't dare ignore the summonses, and the hearings are often standing-room-only.

He maximizes public exposure by uploading to YouTube videos his group takes of its public lashings.

Chuquilin, 50, also arbitrates cases that authorities consider minor, settling property and debt disputes, family quarrels and marital infidelities. (Adulterous spouses typically get a lashing and an order to be faithful).

If a felony is committed, the rondas turn the transgressor over to police. The harshest sentence they administer, they say, is banishment.

Esperanza Leon, the local chief prosecutor, said the rondas, which are illegal, are trying to create a parallel justice system.

"If this is allowed to spread, there's going to be chaos," she said.

Nevertheless, Leon is often compelled to coordinate with Chuquilin. Recently, the ronderos broke up an auto parts theft ring that Chuquilin claims police wouldn't touch, turning over suspects and evidence to Leon's office.

But his routine wielding of the whip, which he calls "a necessary evil," may be working against him.

Late last year, Dr. Oscar Malpartida, 26, was in Cutervo, a Cajamarca state city of about 50,000, enjoying a night off from his community service work in a nearby village.

He was with his girlfriend and a group of doctors and nurses at a discotheque when about 50 ronderos hauled them outside at 11 p.m., he said. Apparently, they'd decided the party was over.

When he resisted showing them his national ID card, Malpartida said, he was punched in the face. His glasses were broken.

"I committed no crime," he said. "I wasn't making any kind of trouble."

The group was marched to the central square, where the doctors were made to bend over a bench. Each got three to five lashes.

Malpartida refused to submit "and they hit me about 10 times, with whips and sticks." He posted pictures of the welt on his back to Facebook, filed a criminal complaint and left town fast.

Nothing came of the complaint. "These rondas have a lot of power," he said, "It's very difficult to find a prosecutor who will confront them."

Chuquilin said he couldn't answer for the actions of other ronderos. He says 110 criminal complaints have been filed against him alleging assault, kidnapping and other violations.

He has not been prosecuted. But police arrested four other Cajamarca ronderos on charges of resisting authority last month after they blocked the entrance to a discotheque that Chuquilin claims was unlicensed and attracting minors. A prosecutor is investigating possible criminal charges.

In raids of brothels, ski-masked vigilantes under his command have left welts on women they've whipped — and set fire to mattresses and other furniture they carry out into the street.

Prostitution is legal in Peru, but Chuquilin says he only targets bordellos when neighbors complain they are illegally exploiting minors — or are magnets for criminals who rob people nearby. One brothel owner is seeking criminal charges against him.

In a recent raid, in the town of Chota, Chuquilin said ronderos found two under-aged prostitutes. Video they shot shows him compelling the young women to sing Peru's national anthem, then whip one another.

Cajamarca state's chief judge, Fernando Bazan, generally endorses the rondas urbanas.

"People turn to the rondas because they are more accessible," he said. "People rely on them daily — and daily tell us to our face that we are incapable of guaranteeing security."

Bazan sits on an intercultural justice committee that interacts regularly with the city's 800-member rondas as well as the rural peasant patrols, or "rondas campesinas," of which they are an outgrowth.

The first 'rondas campesinas' formed in the 1970s as small farmers united to fend off cattle rustlers amid a dearth of state authority. They won legal status in the 1993 constitution and keep order in scores of rural communities.

Similar systems exist elsewhere in Latin America, particularly in Guatemala and Bolivia where there is a strong indigenous presence.

Their moral authority derives from the close-knit nature of the communities they serve and their power to publicly shame people who engage in anti-social behavior, says John Gitlitz, a sociologist at State University of New York at Purchase.

"You have to get up and publicly beg for forgiveness. And you have to sign a contract promising to behave. And it's always understood that your family will play a big role in guaranteeing that you do so," he said.

In Cajamarca, the rural ronda morphed into an urban variety, so strong that it is the only one in Peru where the vigilantes help police with security for big soccer matches.

Tito Paucar, who sells pirated DVDs at a downtown market stall, is a believer. He was recently robbed at knifepoint, but got no help from the police.

So Paucar, 30, turned to the ronderos. They asked for a physical description and found his assailant the next day, said Paucar, who identified the suspect.

"They started to go through his pants pockets and they found my wallet," he said. "They gave him about five good whacks. I'm very grateful."

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News Topics: General news, Crime, Prostitution, Police, Sex in society, Social issues, Social affairs, Law enforcement agencies, Government and politics

People, Places and Companies: Peru, Latin America and Caribbean, South America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

With little faith in Latin American police, private firms rise to protect those who can pay

New Europe News - 5 hours 21 min ago
by  Associated Press Private firms filling Latin America's security gap by KATHERINE CORCORAN, Associated Press - 24 November 2014 13:05-05:00

MEXICO CITY (AP) — A panic alert flashed across Alberto Herrera's computer screen. Men claiming to be with the notorious Gulf Cartel had stopped a convoy transporting chemicals through a lawless region of northeastern Mexico. They seized two drivers from an escort truck and demanded the valuable cargo in exchange for their release.

Giant flat-screen monitors blinked with the GPS locations of dozens of vehicles carrying cargo coveted by criminals: designer jeans, rare art and business executives ripe for kidnapping.

The phone chatter and chirping two-way radios sounded like a police dispatch, but this was the emergency response room of International Private Security, a Mexico-based company that helps clients like PepsiCo, Audi and BP do business in the unpredictable landscape of a country where organized crime rules entire swaths.

A direct line to Mexico's federal police sat on Herrera's desk, but he had orders from this client not to use it. Instead, his crisis team negotiated the release of the drivers and their cargo.

"They didn't want us to call the police," said the 32-year-old Herrera. "People don't necessarily trust the cops."

Distrust of police has made private security big business in Latin America, where a majority of public security forces are deemed incompetent, corrupt, or both. In the world's most dangerous region, an army of nearly 4 million private security agents make up an industry growing 9 percent a year and projected to reach about $30 billion by 2016. That's more than the economies of Paraguay or El Salvador.

IPS alone has doubled its employee ranks to 4,000 over the last five years. Across the region, private guards outnumber public officers beyond the global average of 2-to-1. In Brazil, it's 4-to-1; in Guatemala, 5-to-1; and in Honduras, it's close to 7-to-1.

"The private sector should be a complement (to the police)," said Boris Saavedra, a national security professor at the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington. "But in some countries, they're not the complement: They are the main actor."

While private security is growing worldwide, Latin America is the region where the boom is accompanied by rising rates of homicide, kidnapping and extortion. Plagued by drug cartels and violent gangs, Latin America has surpassed Africa to claim the world's highest murder rate.

Private guards are part of everyday life in Latin American cities. With large guns and bullet-proof vests, they guard bakeries, even mattress deliveries, and ride shotgun in trucks carrying anything from Coca-Cola to cold cuts. They don earpieces and hide pistols under dark suits as they escort executives' children to school.

But they're not a solution to the rampant crime. Security guards only push crime to unguarded areas. They weaken the sense of community and widen the gap between the rich and poor in a region that already has the largest income disparity in the world, said Mexican international relations professor Rafael Fernandez de Castro, coordinator of the team that produced last year's U.N. report on Latin America security.

The guards-for-hire offer protection to the wealthy and middle-classes. Poorer residents get by however they can: forming vigilante groups or paying thugs to leave them alone.

"There's a huge lack of trust among people, so they act independently," Fernandez de Castro said. "That makes for fertile ground for organized crime."

Drug gangs rule through fear, often employing local police to work for them. One of the most egregious cases occurred in September, when officers in Mexico's southwestern Guerrero state allegedly handed 43 college students to a drug gang which, authorities say, likely killed them and incinerated their bodies.

The hills and deserts of rural Mexico are known as dumping grounds for the burned and mutilated bodies of narco victims. Commuters in Brazil face being robbed by gunmen on motorcycles who speed off with appalling ease. In a middle-class suburb of Buenos Aires, resident Jorge Kiss says he has been kidnapped and assaulted three times in his home even though his neighborhood has its own private watchman.

Insecurity is so pervasive that 13 percent of Latin Americans— or nearly 75 million people — feel the need to move to escape crime, according to the United Nations. Fear of gang violence is one of the main forces that has sent thousands of Central Americans, including unaccompanied children, toward the U.S. border.

The lack of faith in official justice sometimes leads some victims to take matters into their own hands. Armed robbers in rush hour on a crowded Mexico City bus tried to steal a passenger's belongings several weeks ago and got pumped with bullets instead from the gun of a fellow passenger. One died on the floor of the bus, the other after he fled.

Lynchings have been recorded recently in places where they were previously unheard of, including Argentina. In central Guatemala, Alfonso Cu was pummeled to death for allegedly abusing a 3-year-old in a public bathroom.

"People feel powerless in the face of violence and act with instinct rather than reason," said Guatemala psychologist Marco Antonio Gravito.

The weak state of public police forces in part stems from the region's history. Officers across Latin America traditionally protected political regimes, not citizens. As the region transitioned to democracy, many police forces failed to adopt new practices — although countries such as Chile, Uruguay and Nicaragua are exceptions. Officers traditionally have been low skilled, low paid, and receive little training, making them susceptible to corruption.

Truly reforming public forces would require a long-term change in philosophy and training, the effects of which would not be seen for generations. So politicians instead choose quick-fix solutions that are visible to voters, such as spending on equipment and new patrol cars, said Gerardo de Lago, Latin America security and safety director for Laureate International Universities.

Such displays do nothing to rid departments of rogue cops, he said. "It's the same bad guys with new clothes."

The spread of private policing, however, comes with unpredictable results. Growth of the industry has outpaced government regulation, creating a "buyer-beware" market for those hiring security officers.

The quality of the forces varies widely. Some top guards are trained by former Israeli commandos and land middle-class salaries protecting the executives of major corporations. Others scrape by with far less. One 56-year-old retired Honduran police officer said he was handed a machete to guard a medical building, where he earned just $190 a month.

In general, however, private guards in Latin America are the most heavily armed in the world, with 10 times more weapons per employee than private forces in Western Europe, according to a 2011 survey by the Graduate Institute of Geneva.

"Poorly trained private security guards with shotguns and pistols only make the shootouts more dangerous to innocent bystanders," the U.S. State Department wrote last year in a report for the Bureau of Diplomatic Security.

Most of the region's security businesses operate without formal registration, meaning there are no accurate statistics on the number of killings and other crimes in which their guards become entangled.

In Buenos Aires, only 150 of 15,000 nightclub security guards had completed required training courses, according to U.N. Regional Center for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean. In Costa Rica, 20 percent of security companies were investigated in 2012 for misconduct, including obstructing police work and general abuse.

In Venezuela, Julio Delgado, a guard who helped form an association of private security workers, estimates that 25 percent of his colleagues are committing violent crimes in their off hours.

The bodyguards of a Venezuelan congressman are accused of conspiring with Colombian paramilitaries to plan his October slaying. Authorities in Brazil said this month a 26-year-old security guard confessed to killing 39 people, shooting many of them randomly from his motorcycle while "cruising the streets."

In Mexico, the head of Elite Systems, a Guadalajara-based protection and alarm-service operation, Arnoldo Villa Sanchez, was alleged by the U.S. government to be security chief for the cartel led by Hector Beltran Leyva before the capo's arrest in October. Elite Systems, which has 150 employees, is also suspected of laundering drug proceeds. Villa Sanchez couldn't be reached for comment. The company's phone number is not working, and an email inquiry from the AP was not answered.

Even security experts find themselves at risk.

A neighborhood security guard was the main suspect in the 2011 robbery of the Bogota, Colombia, home of Daniel Linsker, who manages Latin America for the global security analysis company Control Risks.

"Even if you have security guards in buildings and take security precautions, things happen," Linsker said.

IPS is among the firms requiring background checks for unexplained income and lie-detector tests for prospective employees, according to the company, which is in the process of registering its staff with Mexico's national police database and is fully licensed. In an effort to maintain a clean force, IPS job postings specifically say "No former police. No military deserters."

Those Latin Americans without the resources to hire their own security guards do whatever they can to give themselves some sense of safety — including paying off the very groups that threaten them.

In El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, criminal gangs originally formed in United States prisons in the 1970s and '80s, have become the de facto rulers of many neighborhoods. Their ranks continually replenished with local recruits and deportees from the U.S., the gangs murder, rape and rob, while extorting businesses for protection.

"They're the law," said Josefa Martinez, whose neighborhood north of San Salvador is controlled by the Mara Salvatrucha gang. "If you can, you give them a little so they leave you alone. Almost everyone gives them money. ... You have to learn to live that way."

In Guatemala, middle class neighborhoods are enclosed like prisons, with high walls, razor wire and guard shacks at iron gates. In one subdivision, where an iron gate obstructs what's supposed to be a public street, a cheerful banner promoting aerobics and Zumba classes hangs below a stern black-and-white sign warning that all buses and delivery trucks will be searched.

"Nobody's secure," said Raul Perdomo, a 44-year-old banker, who lives in a gated community on the outskirts of El Salvador's capital. "We have security guards at the entrance, so it's quiet. But outside it's different."

___

Associated Press writers Hannah Dreier in Caracas, Sonia Perez D. in Guatemala City, Marcos Aleman in San Salvador, and Debora Rey in Buenos Aires contributed to this report.

___

Follow Katherine Corcoran on Twitter: http://twitter.com/kathycorcoran

News Topics: General news, Child abuse, Homicide, Assault and battery, Violent crime, Gangs, Crime, Police, Drug cartels, Government and politics, Crimes against children, Social issues, Social affairs, Law enforcement agencies, Drug-related crime, Organized crime

People, Places and Companies: Pepsico Inc, Hector Beltran Leyva, Brazil, San Salvador, Mexico, Mexico City, Venezuela, United States, Guatemala, Latin America and Caribbean, El Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Guatemala City, South America, Central America, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

BC-LT--Private Policing,ADVISORY, LT

New Europe News - 5 hours 22 min ago
by  Associated Press BC-LT--Private Policing,ADVISORY, LT Associated Press - 27 November 2014 00:00-05:00

Rejecting their public police forces as inept, corrupt or both, people across Latin America increasingly are turning to private security guards for protection. From Mexico to Argentina, an army of nearly 4 million men and women are part of an industry expected to soon be worth $30 billion. But private security is only available to those who can afford it, leaving the rest to fend for themselves.

In a package of three stories, titled "Private Policing," The Associated Press examines this trend, how it falls short of solving the region's security problem and how the poor rely on vigilante justice and other homegrown solutions. The stories, which will move in a few minutes for immediate use, and the project is accompanied by a photo gallery and a multimedia interactive profiling private security guards from across Latin America.

Here is the package:

PRIVATE POLICING, from MEXICO CITY: Distrust of public police has made private security a big business in Latin America, where a majority of police forces are deemed incompetent or corrupt — or both. In the world's most dangerous region, an army of nearly 4 million private officers make up an industry growing 9 percent a year and projected to reach $30 billion by 2016 — more than the economies of Paraguay or El Salvador. By Katherine Corcoran. 1,700 words, photos. Abridged version of 900 words also available.

PRIVATE POLICING-PHOTO GALLERY, from MEXICO CITY: The earpiece is usually the giveaway. Or, maybe it's the dark suits, the big SUVs with tinted windows or the menacing Dodge Avengers in black, always black. Private security guards are part of the landscape in Mexico, especially in the capital, where the fear of violence has fueled steady demand for high-end security. By Dario Lopez. 290 words.

PRIVATE POLICING-VIGILANTE JUSTICE, from CAJAMARCA, Peru: Self-appointed bands of citizen vigilantes enjoy widespread support in Cajamarca, doing a job legally assigned to prosecutors, judges and police. The rise of these citizen enforcers in the past decade is just one response in Latin America to an eroding criminal justice system and corruption-marred, ineffective police forces unable to offer even the most basic protections. By Frank Bajak. 1,325 words, photos. Abridged version of 800 words.

PRIVATE POLICING-VICTIM, from ZACAPA, Guatemala: Jose Miguel Ramirez went hunting for iguanas on a melon farm, and paid for it with his life. The killing of the 19-year-old reveals just how convoluted security and justice have become in Guatemala, where private guards outnumber police 5-to-1, and the soaring crime rate is married with shocking levels of impunity. By Katherine Corcoran and Sonia Perez. 1,150 words, photos.

Private Policing-Interactive: Profiles of security guards from across Latin America

News Topics: General news, Police ethics, Police, Law enforcement agencies, Government and politics

People, Places and Companies: Mexico, Mexico City, Latin America and Caribbean, North America, Central America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Seth Tuttle scores 19 and Northern Iowa tops Northwestern 61-42 for Cancun crown

New Europe News - 5 hours 32 min ago
by  Associated Press Unbeaten Northern Iowa tops Northwestern 61-42 Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:50-05:00

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Seth Tuttle scored 19 points and Northern Iowa beat Northwestern 61-42 to claim the Cancun Challenge championship.

Nate Buss added 11 points, including three 3-pointers, as the Panthers (6-0) posted their 11th win all-time against a Big Ten team.

Northwestern (5-1) took an 18-14 lead at 10:14 of the first half after a layup and 3-pointer by Alex Olah, but Northern Iowa went on a 17-2 run to close the half, including a pair of 3-pointers by Nate Buss, to lead 31-20 at the break. The Panthers were 14 of 24 (58 percent) from the floor before intermission and 48 percent overall.

The Wildcats got it to 10 with 11:05 left, but a pair of free throws and a dunk by Tuttle pushed it back to 16.

Bryant McIntosh led Northwestern with 13 points. The Wildcats shot just 30 percent (16 of 53) and were 5 of 21 beyond the arc.

News Topics: Sports, Men's college basketball, Men's basketball, College basketball, Basketball, College sports, Men's sports

People, Places and Companies: Alex Olah, Bryant McIntosh, Iowa, Mexico, United States, North America, Central America, Latin America and Caribbean

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Cricket Australia says batsman Phillip Hughes has died in a Sydney hospital

New Europe News - 5 hours 35 min ago
by  Associated Press Cricket Australia says batsman Phillip Hughes has died in a Sydney hospital Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:47-05:00

SYDNEY (AP) — Cricket Australia says batsman Phillip Hughes has died in a Sydney hospital.

News Topics: Sports, Cricket

People, Places and Companies: Australia, Sydney, Oceania

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Wednesday's NHL Capsules

New Europe News - 5 hours 38 min ago
by  Associated Press NHL Capsules by The Associated Press, Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:44-05:00

DETROIT (AP) — Pavel Datsyuk scored twice in his return from an injury to lead the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night.

Datsyuk, who had missed Detroit's last four games with a sore groin, sent a slap shot over Steve Mason's shoulder in the second period to give the Red Wings their third goal. Mason was then pulled after making 11 saves.

Datsyuk knocked a rebound past Ray Emery late in the period to put the Red Wings up 4-1.

Jimmy Howard made 22 saves as Detroit won its second straight. Emery finished with nine saves.

ISLANDERS 3, CAPITALS 2, OT

UNIONDALE, New York (AP) — John Tavares scored a power-play goal late in overtime to lift New York over Washington.

The goal, the ninth of the season for Tavares, came at 4:36 and was assisted by Ryan Strome and Johnny Boychuk.

The Islanders have set a franchise record by winning 16 of their first 22 games. They are 10-1-0 in their last 11 and 7-0 in extra time this season.

Jaroslav Halak made 25 saves for his eighth straight win. He has allowed only 10 goals in those eight wins.

Anders Lee and Travis Hamonic scored first-period goals for the Islanders. Alex Ovechkin scored two power-play goals for the Capitals in his 700th NHL game.

JETS 2, SABRES 1

BUFFALO, New York (AP) — Bryan Little and Michael Frolik scored to lead Winnipeg to its second road win in two nights.

Chris Stewart had the goal for Buffalo, which had won a season-best three straight.

Ondrej Pavelec stopped 19 shots for the Jets. Jhonas Enroth made 24 saves for the Sabres.

KINGS 4, WILD 0

ST. PAUL, Minnesota (AP) — Dustin Brown's goal and assist helped spark a four-goal first period, and Martin Jones earned his fifth career shutout.

Mike Richards, Tyler Toffoli and Justin Williams also scored for the Kings, who won on the road for just the second time this season.

Starting his second straight game and given a comfortable lead after the first, Jones stopped 28 shots for his first shutout since April 10, 2014.

Darcy Kuemper gave up all four first-period goals on 10 shots before being replaced by Niklas Backstrom to start the second.

The blowout loss was Minnesota's second defeat at home and its most lopsided of the season.

LIGHTNING 4, RANGERS 3

TAMPA, Florida (AP) — Ryan Callahan scored twice against his former team for the second time in 10 days to lead Tampa Bay over New York.

Former Lightning captain Martin St. Louis played in Tampa for the first time since requesting a trade and being dealt to the Rangers for Callahan last March in a rare swap of captains.

Tampa Bay went ahead 3-2 when Steven Stamkos skated behind the net and got his second assist of the game setting up Callahan, who beat Henrik Lundqvist from in close at 10:17 of the second.

PENGUINS 4, MAPLE LEAFS 3

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Blake Comeau completed his second career hat trick with a slap shot past Jonathan Bernier 2:07 into overtime to lift the Penguins.

Comeau settled a pass from Kris Letang and fired a shot from the point for his third goal of the night and eighth of the season. Evgeni Malkin added a goal and two assists, and Sidney Crosby had two assists to become the third player in Penguins history to reach 800 points.

Marc-Andre Fleury, wearing gold pads for the first time in seven years, stopped 24 shots for his 301st win.

Leo Komarov scored twice for the Maple Leafs, and Tyler Bozak got his ninth of the season. Bernier made 22 saves.

PANTHERS 1, HURRICANES 0

SUNRISE, Florida (AP) — Nick Bjugstad scored 21 seconds into the game as Florida edged Carolina despite an injury to Roberto Luongo.

The veteran goalie made 11 saves before leaving with 9:38 left in the second period with an upper-body injury. Luongo was replaced by Al Montoya, who stopped 22 shots in his sixth appearance of the season.

The Panthers won for the first time in three games and posted their first shutout since a 1-0 win at Buffalo on Oct. 17.

The Hurricanes lost for the sixth time in seven games and have an NHL-worst 2-9-2 road record.

Cam Ward made 27 saves for Carolina.

News Topics: Sports, Athlete injuries, Men's sports, NHL hockey, Athlete health, Professional hockey, Hockey, Men's hockey

People, Places and Companies: Pavel Datsyuk, Steve Mason, Ray Emery, Jimmy Howard, John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Johnny Boychuk, Jaroslav Halak, Anders Lee, Travis Hamonic, Alexander Ovechkin, Bryan Little, Michael Frolik, Chris Stewart, Ondrej Pavelec, Jhonas Enroth, Dustin Brown, Martin Jones, Mike Richards, Tyler Toffoli, Justin Williams, Darcy Kuemper, Niklas Backstrom, Ryan Callahan, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist, Blake Comeau, Jonathan Bernier, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak, Nick Bjugstad, Roberto Luongo, Al Montoya, Cam Ward, Detroit, Tampa, Buffalo, Michigan, United States, North America, Florida, New York

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Ashley-Cooper shifts to center to replace Kuridrani for Australia's tour-ending test v England

New Europe News - 5 hours 51 min ago
by  Associated Press Ashley-Cooper shifts to center for Wallabies Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:31-05:00

SYDNEY (AP) — Veteran back Adam Ashley-Cooper has shifted from wing to center to replace the injured Tevita Kuridrani in one of three changes to Australia's starting lineup for its tour-ending test against England on Saturday.

The Wallabies, coming off three-point losses to both France and Ireland, recalled Rob Horne on the wing to fill the void and selected Sean McMahon on the blindside flank to replace Luke Jones. The pack was otherwise unchanged, with lock Rob Simmons selected to earn his 50th test cap — one of six Australian forwards to achieve that milestone in 2014.

Australia opened its five-match tour with wins over the Barbarians in London and Wales in Cardiff, before losing 29-26 in Paris and 26-23 at Dublin. Kuridrani sustained a low-grade ankle injury in the loss to Ireland.

News Topics: Sports, Rugby union, Rugby

People, Places and Companies: Australia, Ireland, Oceania, Western Europe, Europe

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

BC-SOC--Mexican Standings

New Europe News - 6 hours 14 min ago
by  Associated Press BC-SOC--Mexican Standings Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:08-05:00 BC-SOC--Mexican Standings Mexican Football Standings

Liga MX

GP W D L GF GA Pts America 17 9 4 4 28 18 31 Tigres 17 8 7 2 25 17 31 Atlas 17 9 4 4 22 20 31 Toluca 17 8 5 4 24 18 29 Chiapas FC 17 7 7 3 24 20 28 Monterrey 17 8 3 6 23 20 27 Pachuca 17 7 4 6 20 18 25 UNAM 17 6 6 5 24 20 24 Santos 17 5 8 4 23 24 23 Leon 17 7 1 9 29 27 22 Tijuana 17 4 9 4 21 19 21 Queretaro 17 6 3 8 23 22 21 Cruz Azul 17 5 6 6 16 15 21 Universidad de Guadalajara 17 3 8 6 10 16 17 Puebla 17 2 10 5 15 21 16 Guadalajara 17 3 7 7 13 20 16 Veracruz 17 3 6 8 8 15 15 Morelia 17 2 4 11 16 34 10 QUARTERFINAL First Leg Wednesday, Nov. 26

Pachuca 1, Tigres 1

UNAM vs. America, 2200 local time

Thursday, Nov. 27

Monterrey vs. Atlas, 1900 local time

Chiapas FC vs. Toluca, 2100 local time

Second Leg Saturday, Nov. 29

America vs. UNAM, 1700 local time

Tigres vs. Pachuca, 1900 local time

Sunday, Nov. 30

Toluca vs. Chiapas FC, 1200 local time

Atlas vs. Monterrey, 1800 local time

News Topics: Soccer, Men's soccer, Sports, Men's sports, Professional soccer

People, Places and Companies: Guadalajara, Mexico, North America, Central America, Latin America and Caribbean

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

BC-SOC--Mexican Results

New Europe News - 6 hours 14 min ago
by  Associated Press BC-SOC--Mexican Results Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:08-05:00 BC-SOC--Mexican Results Mexican Football Results

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Results from Mexican football:

Liga MX

Quarterfinals First Leg Wednesday's Matches

Pachuca 1, Tigres 1

UNAM vs. America

Thursday's Matches

Monterrey vs. Atlas

Chiapas FC vs. Toluca

News Topics: Soccer, Men's soccer, Sports, Men's sports

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

China anti-corruption campaign snares deputy manager of iconic liquor maker Moutai

New Europe News - 6 hours 22 min ago
by  Associated Press Iconic Chinese liquor maker in graft probe Associated Press - 26 November 2014 23:00-05:00

BEIJING (AP) — China's anti-corruption campaign has snared a top official at iconic state-owned liquor maker Moutai.

The ruling Communist Party's anti-corruption body says Kweichow Moutai Group deputy general manager Fang Guoxing is under investigation for serious violations of discipline. The term almost always refers to corruption, although the one-sentence announcement gave no further details.

A fiery spirit distilled from sorghum and wheat, Moutai is considered China's national drink and is a staple at state and business dinners. That has placed it among the symbols of government excess and corruption, characterized by lavish entertaining at taxpayer expense.

President Xi Jinping has cracked down on such practices, and scores of officials have been arrested. A former top general and an ex-member of the party's all-powerful Politburo Standing Committee also are under investigation for corruption.

News Topics: Business, General news, Distillery operation, Alcoholic beverage manufacturing, Beverage manufacturing, Food, beverage and tobacco products manufacturing, Consumer product manufacturing, Consumer products and services, Industries

People, Places and Companies: Xi Jinping, China, Greater China, East Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Philippines unlikely to meet full-year growth target after economy slows in 3Q

New Europe News - 6 hours 40 min ago
by  Associated Press Philippines unlikely to meet full-year growth goal Associated Press - 26 November 2014 22:42-05:00

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines is unlikely to meet its 2014 growth target after the economy's expansion slowed to 5.3 percent in the third quarter.

Growth was dragged down by a decline in agriculture and slower expansion in services and industry. The economy grew 6.4 percent in the previous quarter.

Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio Balisacan said Thursday that growth for the first nine months was 5.8 percent.

He said hitting even the low of the govenrment's 6.5-7.5 percent target "would pose a big challenge."

The economy would have to expand 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter to meet the target.

The biggest decline was in agriculture and fisheries, which fell by 2.7 percent due to damage from typhoons.

The Philippine economy grew 7 percent in the third quarter of last year.

News Topics: Business, General news, Economic growth, Agricultural sector performance, Economy

People, Places and Companies: Philippines, Manila, Southeast Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Wednesday's NBA Capsules

New Europe News - 6 hours 54 min ago
by  Associated Press NBA Capsules by The Associated Press, Associated Press - 26 November 2014 22:28-05:00

CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 29 points and Kevin Love added 21 as the Cleveland Cavaliers exacted a little revenge on Washington with a 113-87 win over the Wizards on Wednesday night.

Five days after they were embarrassed in a 91-78 loss to Washington, the Cavs controlled this one from the start and got back to .500.

James led the way, also collecting 10 rebounds and eight assists in 36 minutes. The four-time MVP, who called his team "fragile" during a recent four-game losing streak, was energized from the start as he powered to the basket and imposed his will on the Wizards.

With Cleveland up by 19, James took a seat with 7:52 left, getting an early start on the Thanksgiving holiday. Kyrie Irving added 18 points for the Cavs.

Rasual Butler scored 23 and Paul Pierce had 15 for the Wizards, who only got six points from leading scorer John Wall.

NETS 99, 76ERS 91

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Alan Anderson scored 10 of his 12 points in the fourth quarter as Brooklyn extended Philadelpia's season-opening skid to 15 games — matching a franchise record.

Philadelphia rallied from a 20-point deficit in the first half to the lead early in the fourth quarter, but Anderson and Mirza Teletovic led the way for Brooklyn in the final period. Teletovic had six of his nine points in the fourth.

Joe Johnson had 21 points and Brook Lopez scored 19 for Brooklyn (6-8), which won for just the second time in eight games.

K.J. McDaniels and Tony Wroten scored 18 apiece for Philadelphia, which matched the 1972-73 team that started with 15 losses on its way to setting an NBA record for fewest wins in an 82-game schedule at 9-73.

WARRIORS 111, MAGIC 96

ORLANDO, Florida (AP) — Stephen Curry had 28 points, including six 3-pointers as Golden State rolled to its seventh consecutive win.

Curry rested in the fourth quarter of Golden State's third consecutive win over the Magic. The Warriors led by as many as 27 in the second half.

Seven Warriors scored in double figures. Harrison Barnes had 16 points.

Orlando, which has been bothered by a rash of recent injuries, lost its third straight game. Tobias Harris led the Magic with 16 points and 10 rebounds.

TRAIL BLAZERS 105, HORNETS 97

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina (AP) — Wesley Matthews scored a season-high 28 points as the Trail Blazers defeated the Hornets for their ninth consecutive victory.

Matthews was 10 of 15 from the field and 6 of 9 from 3-point range as Portland (12-3) improved to 7-0 against Eastern Conference teams.

Damian Lillard had 22 points, and Robin Lopez added 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Brian Roberts had a career-high 24 points for the Hornets, who have lost seven straight and nine of 10. Al Jefferson had 21 points and 14 rebounds for his fifth double-double.

CLIPPERS 104, PISTONS 98

AUBURN HILLS, Michigan (AP) — Jamal Crawford scored 25 points and Chris Paul had 23, leading the Clippers to the road win.

Blake Griffin added 15 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for Los Angeles, which outscored Detroit 32-25 in the final period. Crawford, one of the NBA's top reserves, and Paul combined for 31 points in the second half.

D.J. Augustin scored 19 points for the Pistons, who have lost six in a row. Andre Drummond had 17 points and 13 rebounds.

News Topics: Sports, Men's sports, NBA basketball, Men's basketball, Professional basketball, Basketball

People, Places and Companies: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Rasual Butler, Paul Pierce, John Wall, Alan Anderson, Mirza Teletovic, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, K.J. McDaniels, Tony Wroten, Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes, Tobias Harris, Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard, Robin Lopez, Brian Roberts, Al Jefferson, Jamal Crawford, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, D.J. Augustin, Andre Drummond, Cleveland, Orlando, Ohio, United States, North America, Florida

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Smith scores 26 points, Bibbs adds 22 as Virginia Tech routs Miami (Ohio) 78-63

New Europe News - 7 hours 11 min ago
by  Associated Press Smith, Bibbs lead Virginia Tech past Miami (Ohio) Associated Press - 26 November 2014 22:11-05:00

CANCUN, Mexico (AP) — Adam Smith scored 26 points, Justin Bibbs added 22 and Virginia Tech used a strong first half to defeat Miami (Ohio) 78-63 in the Riviera Division third-place game of the Cancun Classic on Wednesday.

The duo hit 15 of 22 shots, including 10 of 13 3-pointers for the Hokies (3-2), who were more impressive on defense in the first half.

In rolling to a 39-17 lead, Tech held the RedHawks (2-3) to 8 of 24 shooting, with just one attempt from the foul line and four 3's (one good). The Hokies also had an 18-11 rebounding advantage and forced 13 turnovers.

Zach McCormick led Miami, which trailed by 27 with 6 minutes left, with 12 points.

The Hokies broke away from an early 9-9 tie with a 12-2 run. Bibbs kicked it off with a 3-pointer, followed by a dunk and 1 of 2 foul shooting from Joey van Zegeren. After McCormick scored for Miami, Smith, Jalen Hudson and Devin Wilson scored to make it 21-11 at 7:29, forcing the RedHawks to call timeout.

The stoppage didn't help much. Smith hit a jumper, then a 3 at 3:25 and Virginia Tech had Miami doubled, 34-17.

Smith closed the half with a 3 to make it a 22-point game and Smith's 15 points were just two shy of Miami's total.

The Hokies were 11 of 24, with four 3's and went 11 of 14 from the foul line.

Virginia Tech finished at 49 percent from the field and was better from behind the arc, making 10 of 19. The Hokies also went 18 of 24 from the foul line while Miami was 8 of 13. They were a plus-9 in rebounding, with van Zegeren getting nine to go with his eight points.

TIP-INS

Miami (Ohio): The RedHawks were only out-rebounded by eight and had 16 turnovers in the loss to Northwestern a day earlier. ... Geovonie McKnight had four points, giving him seven in the two losses after hitting double figures in each of the first three games. ... Before arriving in Mexico, Will Sullivan had hit 11 of 17 from 3-point range, but went 0-1 against Northwestern. He rebounded to go 3 of 3 against Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech: After being held to eight points in the loss to Northern Iowa, Bibbs hit double figures for the fourth time in his five games, finishing with 22. ... Smith had seven in the loss to Maryland-Eastern Shore, going 1 for 5 behind the arc, but bounced back to finish two shy of his career best.

ANCIENT HISTORY

Miami and Virginia Tech met two previous times. Miami won 83-82 in overtime at the Miller Classic in Tampa, Fla., in 1985. Virginia Tech won 93-84 on its home court in December of 1979.

DANCING

All activities surrounding the tournament took place on the premises of the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya, an all-inclusive resort. The games were played in a ballroom, capable of seating about 1,800. The practice gym was in another ballroom.

UP NEXT

Miami (Ohio) returns home to face Elon, which won the Mayan Division title, on Sunday in a game that is considered part of the Cancun Challenge.

Virginia Tech also wraps up the Cancun Challenge with a Sunday home game against Morgan State, which was third in the Mayan Division.

News Topics: Sports, Men's college basketball, Men's basketball, College basketball, Men's sports, Basketball, College sports

People, Places and Companies: Adam Smith, Justin Bibbs, Joey Van Zegeren, Jalen Hudson, Devin Wilson, Ohio, Mexico, United States, North America, Central America, Latin America and Caribbean

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Trial starts for Japanese journalist accused of defaming South Korean president

New Europe News - 7 hours 50 min ago
by  Associated Press S. Korea starts trial for Japanese journalist Associated Press - 26 November 2014 21:32-05:00

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A trial has begun for a Japanese journalist charged with defaming South Korea's president by reporting rumors that she was absent for seven hours during a ferry disaster in April because she was with a man.

A spokeswoman from the Seoul Central District Court said Thursday that Tatsuya Kato of Japan's Sankei Shimbun was present in court as his lawyers and prosecutors introduced evidence.

The indictment has raised questions about South Korea's press freedom. Critics accuse South Korean President Park Geun-hye's conservative government of clamping down on journalists in an attempt to control her image.

Prosecutors indicted Kato in October over his Aug. 3 article about Park's whereabouts on the day the Sewol ferry sank and killed more than 300 passengers, mostly teenagers on a school trip.

News Topics: General news, Trials, Journalists, Legal proceedings, Law and order, News media, Media

People, Places and Companies: Park Geun-hye, South Korea, Japan, Seoul, East Asia, Asia

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Atletico Mineiro beats rival Cruzeiro 1-0 to win 1st Brazilian Cup title

New Europe News - 8 hours 2 min ago
by  Associated Press Atletico Mineiro wins 1st Brazilian Cup title Associated Press - 26 November 2014 21:20-05:00

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (AP) — Atletico Mineiro defeated rival Cruzeiro 1-0 to win its first Brazilian Cup title with a 3-0 aggregate score.

Brazil striker Diego Tardelli netted the winner with a header in first-half injury time at the Mineirao Stadium in Belo Horizonte.

After conceding the goal at home, Cruzeiro needed to score four times to reverse the deficit.

Cruzeiro clinched its second consecutive Brazilian league title on Sunday. It was attempting to claim its fifth Brazilian Cup title, which would be the most by any club. Gremio also has four titles.

It is Atletico Mineiro's second national title. The team won the Copa Libertadores for the first time last year.

It was the first time the two fierce Belo Horizonte rivals met to decide a national title.

News Topics: Sports, Soccer, Men's soccer, Men's sports, Professional soccer

People, Places and Companies: Belo Horizonte, Brazil, South America, Latin America and Caribbean

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich ruled out for game against Indiana after medical procedure

New Europe News - 8 hours 52 min ago
by  Associated Press Spurs' Popovich undergoes medical procedure Associated Press - 26 November 2014 20:30-05:00

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will miss Wednesday night's game against the Indiana Pacers after undergoing what the team is calling a minor medical procedure.

Popovich also is expected to miss Friday's home game against Sacramento. Assistant Ettore Messina will run the team in Popovich's absence.

"It's not what you want, but the good thing is that obviously it's nothing big or you would not see me here so relaxed," Messina said.

Messina becomes the first European-born coach to run an NBA team in the regular season. Referred by many as the "Coach Pop of Europe," Messina is in his first season with the Spurs after a successful international career.

"Obviously, he's an international basketball legend," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "I don't really know that much more about him other than he's highly, highly respected."

Messina is a two-time Euroleague coach of the year and also has coached in Russia, Italy and Spain. He served as a coaching consultant for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2011-12.

"Everybody here tells me from Day One to feel very comfortable," Messina said of San Antonio.

In recent seasons, his name was raised as a candidate to become the first European coach to become a head coach in the NBA.

David Blatt beat him to it, coming over from Israel this year to coach the Cleveland Cavaliers. But Blatt is American born.

Messina coached the Spurs in a 121-90 preseason loss to Phoenix on Oct. 16 when Popovich opted to stay at home.

"I am terribly scared," Messina said of his regular-season debut. "I am average scared. Not scared at all. You pick up the (one you want).

"I'm trying to think what Pop would have said to you. I haven't thought about (being the first European-born coach in the NBA), honestly. You try to stay focused on what you have to do, that's it. There is already enough to think about. The rest will stay for the record, for the good memory to tell my grandkids when I will be home in front of the fireplace, I will tell the story."

Vogel jokingly said Messina should toss aside all of the coaching strategies Popovich has used in leading the Spurs to five NBA championships.

"That's what I would do," he said. "Pop's stuff is terrible, it doesn't really work. So, honestly, I would go away from that, especially for tonight's game."

News Topics: Sports, NBA basketball, Coaching, Men's basketball, Professional basketball, Basketball, Men's sports

People, Places and Companies: Gregg Popovich, Frank Vogel, David Blatt, San Antonio, Europe, Texas, United States, North America

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News

Defending champion Rory McIlroy shoots opening 2-under 69 at Australian Open

New Europe News - 9 hours 1 min ago
by  Associated Press Defending champ McIlroy shoots opening 2-under 69 by DENNIS PASSA, Associated Press - 26 November 2014 20:21-05:00

SYDNEY (AP) — Rory McIlroy's defense of his Australian Open title began with a 2-under 69 on a cool, overcast and often drizzly morning at The Australian Golf Club.

McIlroy, winner of back-to-back majors this year at the British Open and U.S. PGA, began play on the back nine and made the turn at even-par after a birdie and a bogey. He birdied the first hole of his second nine, added another at the par-5 fifth, but made bogey on the seventh.

He finished strongly, hitting his approach on the ninth to less than two feet and making an easy birdie.

Adam Scott, who finished second in last year's tournament at Royal Sydney when McIlroy birdied the 18th hole of the final round, was in an afternoon group that included American Jordan Spieth.

News Topics: Sports, Men's golf, Golf, Men's sports

People, Places and Companies: Rory McIlroy, Adam Scott, Jordan Spieth, Sydney, Australia, Oceania

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Categories: News