Brazilian judge: "No doubt" lawmakers took bribes


Members of Congress traded votes for money during the first two years of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's 2003-2011 tenure as president, one of the judges in Brazil's corruption "trial of the century" said.

Supreme Court Judge Joaquim Barbosa gave a detailed account of the cash that Lula's Workers Party, or PT, paid to lawmakers of four other parties to secure passage of the administration's legislative agenda.

Backed by documents submitted by prosecutors, Barbosa said "there's no doubt that votes were bought" and that the money was paid "before, during and after" the bills were voted on in the lower house.




Venezuela's Chavez bumps opposition hopeful from airwaves


Television coverage of a speech by opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles was interrupted when incumbent head of state Hugo Chavez commandeered Venezuela's airwaves for an event marking the start of the school year.

Critics have accused the leftist president of abusing the mechanism known as the "cadena obligatoria," under which the government can compel all television and radio stations to preempt regular programming for an official event.

Monday's cadena came as Globovision TV was broadcasting a speech by Capriles to supporters in Caracas.

During the event, Chavez interacted with a group of pupils in the capital neighborhood of Macarao and made a video hookup with a school in an indigenous community in the northwestern state of Zulia.




Nadal revels in "great era for Spanish sport"


Tennis great Rafael Nadal, honored here as Person of the Year by Vanity Fair, told reporters he is happy "to be part of a great era for Spanish sport."

"I believe Spain has a multitude of personalities and athletes who are at the highest level and much loved by everyone," the 26-year-old superstar said at the gala organized by the Spanish edition of Vanity Fair.

The injured Nadal hailed his teammates on Spain's Davis Cup team for the "exceptional" achievement of reaching the final for the ninth time, while adding that he was not sure he will recover in time to join the squad for the showdown with the Czech Republic.

Nadal, ranked No. 4 overall, began the summer on a high note by capturing a record seventh French Open title with a victory over then-world No. 1 Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final, but has not played since his shocking second-round loss at Wimbledon.




Deferred Action hopefuls flood L.A. schools with doc requests


The Los Angeles Unified School District reported that it is suffering an administrative collapse due to the avalanche of requests for academic documents necessary to apply for Deferred Action, a federal program allowing qualified undocumented youth to at least delay deportation.

The LAUSD confirmed that since Aug. 15, when the Deferred Action program went into effect, it has built up a backlog of more than 2,300 requests for transcripts or diplomas.

Applicants must prove that they have resided continuously in the country since June 15, 2007, among other requirements.

The Homeland Security Department is accepting transcripts and diplomas issued by schools as documents to prove U.S. residence.




Mexico's population loss accelerates


Mexico's population loss accelerated to 27.6 people per 10,000 inhabitants in the April-June 2012 period, a level not seen since 2008, when the financial crisis cooled off the global economy, the National Institute of Statistics and Geography, or INEGI, said.

The population loss "is the result of the difference between the immigration rate" of 14.3 new inhabitants from aborad per 10,000 people and emigration, which is running at 41.9 people per 10,000 inhabitants leaving Mexico for another country in the quarter, the INEGI said in a statement.

Immigration hit a "historic low" in the April-June 2012 period, solidifying the downward tendency, the federal agency said.




Cuba sets trial date for Spaniard charged in deadly crash


The negligent homicide trial of the Spanish political activist who was at the wheel for the car crash that killed prominent dissident Oswaldo Paya will begin Oct. 5, Cuban official media said.

Prosecutors said they will seek a prison sentence of seven years for Angel Carromero, leader of a youth group in Spain's governing Popular Party.

The Spaniard, Swedish citizen Jens Aron Modig, Paya and fellow dissident Harold Cepero were on their way from the Cuban capital to the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba in a rented car on July 22 when the accident happened.

The vehicle, with Carromero at the wheel, ran off the road and crashed near Bayamo, about 800 kilometers (500 miles) east of Havana.

Paya and Cepero died, while Carromero and Modig suffered relatively minor injuries.




Prominent figure in Spain's governing party bows out


Esperanza Aguirre, one of the leading figures of Spain's ruling conservative Popular Party, announced her resignation as head of the Madrid regional government and her withdrawal from electoral politics after 29 years.

Aguirre told a press conference that she is leaving the post of regional lawmaker and head of the Madrid autonomous community after 29 years in politics.

"It's a hard decision, very hard," she told a press conference, attributing the move to "personal matters," including her recent battle with breast cancer, and her conviction that "this is the right time."

Aguirre, who said her cancer appears to be in remission, let it be understood that while her illness influenced her decision, it is not her only reason for leaving office.




Armadillo will be mascot for World Cup in Brazil


FIFA and Brazil's 2014 World Cup Organizing Committee have presented the soccer championship's mascot, an armadillo whose name will be decided by popular vote and which will be used to raise awareness about the importance of ecology and the environment.

Soccer star Ronaldo Nazario de Lima was chosen to present the final design of the mascot on Brazil's Globo television, FIFA said on its Web site.

The Brazilian striker confessed to feeling "very be able to welcome such an important member of the 2014 team," one that will be an "illustrious ambassador" for Brazil "over the next two years."

The Brazilian said "it will inspire soccer-playing children and young people in Brazil and around the world with the immense passion it feels for soccer and country."