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Photographers found
dead in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — The bodies of three photojournalists were found dismembered Thursday in the eastern state of Veracruz, days after a crime reporter for a national magazine was killed in her house there.

The motives for the killings were not immediately known, and few such cases in Mexico are solved. But human rights groups condemned the deaths as another worrying sign of the vulnerability of journalists reporting on the wave of drug and organized crime violence that has rocked Mexico in the past six years and left more than 50,000 people dead.

“What we have seen in Mexico in the last years is a systematic attempt to muzzle the press that has been successful in various parts of the country, where the press has been effectively censored,” said Rosental Alves, director of the Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas, in Austin, Texas. “This unprecedented blood bath is fueled by a certainty of impunity, as the cases of crimes against the press usually don’t even reach a court of law.”

The Veracruz journalists killed this past week were the first documented killings of Mexican journalists this year, according to press groups; last year 11 were killed and, according to Article 19, a press freedom group, 44 have been killed in the past six years since drug crime soared and the government began an offensive.

—Karla Zabludovsky, The New York Times

Latest shift in Jordan’s cabinet sows doubts on reform

AMMAN, Jordan — King Abdullah II of Jordan swore in a new Cabinet this week assigned the task of making progress on laws allowing for more government posts to be filled by elections, but political activists and analysts here said Thursday that the quick succession of governments over the past year and a half did not bode well for the prospect of genuine reform.

Since protests inspired by the Arab Spring rocked Jordan 15 months ago, the king has replaced three prime ministers, none of whose governments effected significant change.

The governments “proved a definite truth: that the mechanism of appointing the government is no longer feasible,” said Khaled Kalaldeh, secretary-general of the Social Leftist Movement and a member of a national dialogue on the reform process.

The new prime minister, Fayez Tarawneh, 62, held the post in the late 1990s. Educated in the United States, he has also served as foreign minister and as chief of the Royal Court, and he led Jordan’s negotiating team that reached a peace agreement with Israel in the 1990s.

—Ranya Kadri and Isabel Kershner, The New York Times

Societe Generale’s
results show weakness

PARIS — The French bank Societe Generale said Thursday that its first-quarter net income fell 20 percent from the period a year earlier, as the bank unloaded assets and booked a charge on the cost of its own debt.

The bank’s net income in the first three months of the year dropped to 732 million euros ($963 million), while revenue fell 4.7 percent, to 6.3 billion euros.

The firm took a charge for the revaluation of its own debt; had it not done so, net income would have been 851 million euros, it said. Analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News and Reuters had forecast net income of 600 million euros to 750 million euros.

Societe Generale’s corporate and investment banking unit posted revenue of 1.9 billion euros, down about 18 percent from the first quarter of 2011. The unit’s performance was hurt by a decline in the financing and advisory business.

—David Jolly, The New York Times