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Briefly across the World

Bucharest, Romania

European river shipping halted, death toll 61

Officials suspended shipping along Europe's second-longest waterway on Tuesday as a polar spell gripped a large swathe of the continent, causing hardship especially among migrants, the homeless and the elderly. The deep freeze has caused at least 61 deaths since it began last week, a third of those in Poland.

Romanian police halted shipping at midday for an undetermined period along a 565-mile stretch of the Danube River, which crosses Romania. Croatian and Serbian authorities also stopped river traffic on the Danube.

In Serbia, shipping was banned on the River Sava because of icy conditions, which claimed another two lives in southern Serbia.

Managua, Nicaragua

Ortega sworn in for 3rd term as president

Daniel Ortega was sworn in for another term as Nicaragua’s president Tuesday while his wife, Rosario Murillo, became the new vice president, giving a married couple the reins of power for the first time in the Central American country’s history.

Ortega, a 71-year-old former Sandinista guerrilla fighter, took the oath in Managua with the presidents of Venezuela, Bolivia and Taiwan in attendance.

Ortega and Murillo were elected in November with 72.5 percent of the vote, but with a high rate of abstentions. Their party won 71 of the 92 seats in parliament.

San Juan, Puerto Rico

Governor seeks freedom of information law

Puerto Rico’s new governor has signed an executive order creating a new public affairs and public policy secretary position that will be responsible for drawing up proposed legislation similar to the Freedom of Information Act that has long been enforced in the U.S. mainland.

Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Tuesday that the legislative proposal will be discussed with the media and the public before it goes to legislators for debate.

The U.S. territory has a weak public records law that is not always enforced, especially when it comes to requests for information tied to the island’s decade-old economic crisis. The newly elected governor said he wants to create more transparency within his administration.

Mexico City

Mexico says it will negotiate with Trump

Mexico’s new foreign relations secretary said Tuesday his country isn’t just willing to negotiate changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement, it wants to start talks as soon as possible.

Luis Videgaray said there’s “enormous uncertainty” following the U.S. election of Donald Trump as president. Trump has pressured companies not to move jobs to Mexico, warned he would tax those who do, and has vowed to renegotiate NAFTA.

Videgaray said in a Radio Formula interview that Trump's actions have caused concern, adding “that is why this [negotiation] process is so important, to dispel this uncertainty.” He said talks should start “as soon as possible.”

Catholic church calls for search for missing priest

The Mexican Council of Bishops called on authorities Tuesday to search for a priest who has been missing for a week.

The council said Rev. Joaquin Hernandez Sifuentes was a parish priest in the northern state of Coahuila, which has been plagued by drug cartel violence.

It's unclear if foul play was involved in his disappearance, but the council said “crime and violence destroy the most sacred thing we have, life.”

Hernandez was supposed to take a short vacation from his duties beginning Jan. 3, according to the Saltillo Diocese. But a close friend was unable to reach him by phone that day. Early that same morning, a neighbor saw two young men take Hernandez’s car, but did not see the priest with them.

The friend went to the priest's residence at the church and found his room a mess, with closet and drawers open and clothes on the floor, unusual for a priest who was very neat and orderly, the diocese said.


3 doctors suspended for tending patients on floor

Three doctors at a Naples-area hospital have been suspended for treating emergency room patients while they were lying on the floor.

Antonietta Costantini, manager of the public health district that includes Nola hospital, justified the suspensions, saying Tuesday that the physicians should have told administrators the ER had a stretcher shortage.

But Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin defended the doctors as “heroes” who did the best they could under trying circumstances.


Trudeau shuffles cabinet, Freeland top diplomat

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has shaken up his cabinet less than two weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration as U.S. president.

Trudeau on Tuesday named Chrystia Freeland as Canada’s new foreign minister amid worries Trump will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Freeland was trade minister when she oversaw last year’s ratification of the Canada-European Union free trade agreement after initial concerns Europe wouldn’t approve it.

The former journalist of Ukrainian descent is barred from Russia, something she’s called an honor.

— The Associated Press