25 dead, 101 hurt in Mexico City blast — An explosion at the office headquarters of Mexico’s state-owned oil company killed 25 people and injured 101 on Thursday as it heavily damaged three floors of a building, sending hundreds into the streets and a large plume of smoke over Mexico City’s skyline. An additional 30 people were reported trapped in the debris late Thursday, as soldiers with rescue dogs, trucks with mounted lights and a Pemex crane were brought in to extract victims. The Interior Ministry said it was uncertain of the exact number of people trapped because many were outside having lunch when the explosion occurred about 3:45 p.m. local time in a basement parking garage next to the iconic, 51-story tower of Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, one of the tallest buildings in Mexico City.
Tense talks in Alabama standoff — Speaking into a 4-inch-wide ventilation pipe, hostage negotiators tried Thursday to talk a man into releasing a kindergartener and ending a standoff in an underground bunker that stretched into its third day. The man identified by multiple neighbors and witnesses as 65-year-old retired truck driver Jimmy Lee Dykes was accused of pulling the boy from a school bus on Tuesday and killing the driver. The pair was holed up in a small room on his property that authorities compared to tornado shelters common in the area. There were signs that the standoff could continue for some time: A state legislator said the shelter has electricity, food and TV. The police chief said the captor has been sleeping and told negotiators that he has spent long periods in the shelter before.
Second newspaper hacked — One day after The New York Times reported that Chinese hackers had infiltrated its computers and stolen passwords for its employees, The Wall Street Journal announced that it too had been hacked. On Thursday, The Journal reported that it had been attacked by Chinese hackers who were trying to monitor the company’s coverage of China. It said hackers had broken into its network through computers in its Beijing bureau.China’s Ministry of National Defense has denied any involvement in the cyberattack at The Times or any other U.S. corporations.
Iran said to be speeding uranium enrichment — Iran has told the U.N. nuclear supervisory body that it plans to install more sophisticated equipment at its principal nuclear enrichment plant, a diplomat said Thursday, enabling it to greatly accelerate its processing of uranium in a move likely to alarm the United States, Israel and the West. The diplomat, based in Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, cited a letter from Iranian officials to the IAEA saying that Iran wants to upgrade its main enrichment plant at Natanz. The upgrade could speed up enrichment by as much as two or three times, the diplomat said, requesting anonymity in light of the confidential nature of the Iranian note.
L.A. archbishop relieves retired cardinal of all duties — Retired Cardinal Roger Mahony, the former head of the nation’s largest Roman Catholic diocese, was stripped of his duties Thursday by his successor as the Los Angeles archdiocese released thousands of pages of personnel files of priests accused of child molestation. “I find these files to be brutal and painful reading," Archbishop Jose Gomez said in a statement, referring to the newly released files made public by the church Thursday night just hours after a judge’s order. “The behavior described in these files is terribly sad and evil. There is no excuse, no explaining away what happened to these children."
Syria threatens retaliation for airstrike — Syria threatened Thursday to retaliate for an Israeli airstrike and its ally Iran said the Jewish state will regret the attack. Syria sent a letter to the U.N. Secretary-General stressing the country’s “right to defend itself, its territory and sovereignty" and holding Israel and its supporters accountable. Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria on Wednesday targeting a convoy carrying anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah, the powerful Lebanese militant group allied with Syria and Iran. In Israel, a lawmaker close to hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stopped short of confirming involvement in the strike. But he hinted that Israel could carry out similar missions in the future.
Texas prosecutor killed by assailant — An assistant district attorney was shot and killed Thursday morning near the North Texas courthouse where he worked, and authorities said they were searching through his cases to try to find clues about why he may have been targeted. Mark Hasse, 57, had exited his vehicle in the parking lot behind the Kaufman County Courthouse annex in Kaufman and was walking toward the building when a masked gunman shot him multiple times just before 9 a.m., Kaufman County authorities said. Hasse was taken away in an ambulance, but it’s unclear if he died at the hospital or en route. No arrests had been made as of late Thursday, Kaufman Police Chief Chris Aulbaugh said.