Danes to claim Arctic areas

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Denmark plans to lay claim to the North Pole and other areas in the Arctic, where melting ice is uncovering new shipping routes, fishing grounds, and drilling opportunities for oil and gas, a leaked government document showed Tuesday.

The draft document said Denmark's science ministry had started collecting data to formally submit a claim for those areas to the U.N. Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf no later than 2014.

Russia, Norway, Canada, and the United States have their own claims - sometimes competing - in a region believed to hold as much as 25 percent of the world's undiscovered oil and gas.

Denmark has for years explored potential claims to areas off Greenland, a semiautonomous territory, but this is the first time the government explicitly states it will make a claim for the North Pole.

- AP

Some of smallpox virus to be kept

GENEVA, Switzerland - The last known stockpiles of the smallpox virus won't be destroyed anytime soon, the U.S. health secretary said Tuesday, in part out of fear that one of the world's deadliest diseases could be used as a bioweapon.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said the stockpiles held in secure U.S. and Russian labs would remain in place for at least five years.

At the United Nations' European headquarters, Sibelius said the United States was "committed to the eventual destruction" of the stockpiles. But it fears that smallpox could still reemerge and be released unintentionally or deliberately used as a bioweapon. Scientists would need the virus to create a vaccine.

Smallpox was eradicated from the environment three decades ago. The last known case was in Britain in 1978.

- AP

Guatemala says cartel killed 27

SAN BENITO, Guatemala - Guatemala declared a 30-day state of emergency for the northern Peten region after the massacre of 27 people at a cattle ranch.

President Alvaro Colom called the killings sadistic and perverse, and said he believed they were the work of a Mexican drug gang.

Colom visited the jungle region Tuesday to direct operations aimed at rooting out the Zeta cartel. Authorities in Peten ordered schools closed. Streets were deserted and most businesses remained closed.

The gunmen left the severed heads of their victims scattered across the pastures of the ranch. - AP

Elsewhere:

The world's oldest panda has died at age 34. The China Panda Protection Center in Sichuan province said Ming Ming died of kidney failure May 7. She had been living at a preserve in Guangdong province. Wild pandas live 15 years on average and captive ones 22 years, Chinese officials said.

The World Health Organization will cut $1 billion from its next budget because of financial problems among rich donor nations and the exchange rate for the weak U.S. dollar, the agency's director said Tuesday.