Actress seeks to save elephants

NAIROBI, Kenya - Chinese actress Li Bingbing is in Kenya to bring attention to the growing problem of elephants slaughtered for the international ivory trade.

Bingbing on Tuesday urged governments and consumers to combat the illegal wildlife trade. She told a news conference that Africa's poaching crisis raises major concerns about the survival of elephants and rhinos in Kenya. She noted that such deaths are linked to organized crime and the funding of armed militias.

Former NBA star Yao Ming has also visited Kenya to raise awareness about the ivory trade. Most African ivory is shipped to Asia, especially to China. The United Nations says the number of elephants illegally killed in Africa has doubled in 10 years.

Bingbing has starred in high-profile English-language films, including Resident Evil and The Forbidden Kingdom.

- AP

Venezuela holds U.S. filmmaker

CARACAS, Venezuela - U.S. diplomats have been given no access to a California man held in Venezuela for nearly two weeks in what his family on Monday called a "nightmare" that unfolded after he was accused of being a spy fomenting postelection unrest.

The family of Timothy Tracy, 35, said in a statement that "we hope that he is granted consular access very soon." The U.S. State Department confirmed that diplomats have not been allowed to see Tracy, who is held by the Venezuelan intelligence service.

It is standard practice for countries holding foreign citizens to allow diplomats to see them to confirm that they are being treated humanely, and help them negotiate the local court system.

Tracy's family says he is a filmmaker who had been making a documentary about Venezuelan politics for six months. Tracy's friends said he had been briefly detained by Venezuelan authorities twice before but decided to continue his work. - AP

Wave of killings strikes Mexico

CULIACAN, Mexico - Mexico saw a wave of killings over the weekend, despite what the government says is a drop in the number of deaths related to drug violence.

In the northern state of Sinaloa, 17 bodies were found over the weekend, including six dumped in a pile along a highway. The Sinaloa state prosecutors' office said two of the men were decapitated.

In a northern suburb of Mexico City, officials said Monday that seven bodies were found on a street near two cars in the city of Ecatepec. Most of the seven men were found bound, gagged and had been shot to death, state prosecutors' spokesman Claudio Barrera said.

State Attorney General Marco Antonio Higuera called the two sets of killings "very different," but said officials would hold an urgent meeting to discuss the violence. - AP