Moody's downgrades Spain's credit rating 3 notches


Credit ratings agency Moody's slashed Spain's sovereign credit rating by three notches, from A3 to Baa3, and said it had placed the country "on review for further downgrade."

Moody's justified the action by saying the impending EU rescue of Spanish banks will further increase the country's debt burden and pointing to the Iberian nation's "very limited financial market access" and continued economic weakness.

In its review for potential further downgrade, Moody's said it will examine the results of ongoing external audits of Spain's financial system and the "details" and "conditionality" of the aid announced last week by the Eurogroup meeting of eurozone finance ministers.

Also Wednesday, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy told Parliament that a loan of up to 100 billion euros (about $126 billion) approved Saturday at the Eurogroup meeting is necessary because Spain does not have that amount available at this time and, alluding to the high interest rates on Spanish bonds, "cannot issue debt" to obtain it.




Dozens of suspected Zetas rounded up in northern Mexico


Police arrested 52 suspected employees of the notoriously violent Los Zetas drug cartel in the northern Mexican state of Nuevo Leon, officials said.

The detainees include two municipal police officers and two ex-cops, state Attorney General Adrian de la Garza told a press conference here.

Police seized assault rifles and torture devices during the raids, state government security spokesman Jorge Domene said.

Nuevo Leon, which borders Texas, and other states in northern Mexico, have been battered in recent years as the upstart Zetas battle the more-established drug cartels for control of territory and smuggling routes.




Brazil arrests 7 for journalist's murder


Police in the northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhao arrested seven people in connection with the April 23 murder of a journalist.

Decio Sa, a political reporter and blogger, was gunned down at a bar in Sao Luis, the state capital.

One of those detained on Wednesday was a 24-year-old man with a history of murder for hire, Sa's colleagues said on the slain journalist's blog.

The slaying of the 42-year-old Sa sparked denunciations from journalists in Brazil and abroad, as well as an official condemnation from the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay.




Peña Nieto remains frontrunner in Mexican presidential election


Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, presidential candidate Enrique Peña Nieto is still the frontrunner in the race, enjoying a lead of 14.2 percentage points over leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in the contest to be Mexico's next leader, the latest Consulta Mitofsky poll shows.

Peña Nieto has the support of 43.8 percent of likely voters, excluding undecided voters, while Lopez Obrador has the backing of 29.6 percent of likely voters.

The numbers for the two leading candidates barely budged in the weekly poll. National Action Party, or PAN, candidate Josefina Vazquez Mota, however, saw her support slip from 25.3 percent to 24.8 percent.

Mexico will hold its presidential election on July 1, selecting a successor to President Felipe Calderon.




Red Cross wins Spanish int'l cooperation prize


The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement was named here as this year's recipient of Spain's Prince of Asturias Award for International Cooperation.

The jury hailed the world's largest humanitarian network's "mission to prevent and alleviate human suffering, protect life and health and ensure respect" for people's dignity, "especially in times of armed conflict and in situations of crisis and need."

The international cooperation prize is one of eight Prince of Asturias Awards given out annually.

The prizes, which Spain's crown prince will hand out at a ceremony in the fall in Oviedo, are regarded as the Ibero-American world's equivalent of the Nobels.




Arrest made in killing of Mexican politician


Ulises Grajales Niño, who had been the candidate of Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, candidate for mayor of the southern city of Villaflores, was arrested in connection with the murder of a member of a rival party, the Chiapas state Attorney General's Office said.

Grajales was arrested Tuesday after investigators confirmed that he was present when Edgar Hernandez Corzo, a National Action Party, or PAN, member, was murdered, the AG's office said.

A test indicated that Grajales did not fire a weapon, but his driver and bodyguard, Alfonso Lopez Moreno, tested positive, the AG's office said. The two men were arrested on homicide charges, state prosecutors said.