Chavez to miss inauguration, will be sworn in later by judges


Ailing President Hugo Chavez will not be fit in time for Thursday's scheduled inauguration and plans to take the oath of office at a later date before the Supreme Court, the speaker of Venezuela's National Assembly said.

Chavez "will not be able to appear on that date before the National Assembly," Diosdado Cabello said Tuesday from the legislative podium, reading from a message sent by Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

The 58-year-old head of state, who won another term in the October elections, remains hospitalized in Cuba almost four weeks after undergoing his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months.




Illinois to allow driver's licenses for undocumented


Pro-immigrant groups hailed as an historic victory for immigrant families the approval in the Illinois House of Representatives of a bill to allow the issuance of driver's licenses to some 250,000 undocumented foreigners living in the state.

"Victory for Illinois families on driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants after 13-year fight," the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights said after the measure passed the House by a vote of 65-46.

The Senate had approved the bill before the end of last year.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn promised to sign the bill immediately so that it will enter into force within 10 months.




Colombian navy seizes drug-running sub


The Colombian navy reported that it seized a small submarine used to smuggle cocaine off the country's southwestern coast.

The semi-submersible vessel was spotted adrift last Saturday 60 nautical miles from the mouth of the Naya River by air and maritime units and authorities found that it had no cargo or crew on board.

Authorities presume that the sub - which has the capacity to carry four tons of cocaine - was going to be loaded and sailed to Central America.




Leader of Mexican left works to build new party


The dominant figure on the Mexican left for a decade, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, formally signed up with the new political party he hopes will become a mass movement.

"We begin this membership campaign with the goal of recruiting and adding millions of Mexicans ... who are convinced of the necessity of genuine change," the two-time presidential candidate told supporters in the Zocalo, this capital's giant main square.

Lopez Obrador ally Marti Batres delivered to the Federal Electoral Institute the documents needed to begin the process of turning the Morena organization into a registered political party eligible for public funding.




Wild dogs kill 4 people in Mexico City reserve


Four people died in an attack by wild dogs at an ecological reserve in Mexico City, according to forensic analysis, authorities in the Mexican capital said.

The Federal District Attorney's Office reported in a communique Monday that the injuries on the bodies found in the Cerro de la Estrella Reserve, east of the city, were "caused by dog bites."

Experts established that, in view of the severity of the injuries, 10 or more dogs were involved in each attack and that the four people died of external hemorrhage as a result of "injuries to the neurovascular bundle by canines."

As of Monday, members of the capital's Public Safety Secretariat had captured eight wild male dogs, 10 females and seven puppies that were living in caves of the ecological reserve.




Eurozone jobless rate climbs to 11.8 pct; EU rate stays unchanged


The unemployment rate in the eurozone climbed one-tenth of a percentage point to 11.8 percent in November relative to the previous month, while the jobless rate in the European Union remained unchanged at 10.7 percent, the EU's statistics' agency said.

The new data means that unemployment reached a new record high for countries of the euro area, while for the entire group of 27 EU member-states joblessness remained at the highest level since the rate began to be calculated on a European-wide basis.

Unemployment in Spain stood at 26.6 percent in November, four-tenths of a percentage point more than in October, and remained the highest in Europe.

Some 26.06 million people were unemployed across the European Union in November, 18.8 million of whom live in eurozone countries, according to Eurostat estimates.




"Blancanieves" and "Grupo 7" lead Goya nominations


Pablo Berger's "Blancanieves" and the Alberto Rodriguez action film "Grupo 7" are the favorites going into the 27th edition of the Goyas, Spain's equivalent of the Oscars, with 18 and 16 nominations, respectively.

Actors Elena Anaya and Antonio de la Torre were tasked with making public the list of nominees for the awards, which will be presented on Feb. 17 in Madrid.

Nominated for best actress are Maribel Verdu for "Blancanieves"; Aida Folch for "El artista y la modelo"; Naomi Watts for "Lo imposible" and Penelope Cruz for "Volver a nacer."

Daniel Gimenez Cacho for "Blancanieves," Antonio de la Torre for "Grupo 7," France's Jean Rochefort for "El artista y la modelo," and Jose Sacristan for "El muerto y ser feliz" are the finalists for best actor.




Spain completes high-speed rail link with France


Spain inaugurated a rail line from Barcelona to the French border that completes the process of linking the two nations' high-speed passenger rail services.

The route from Barcelona to the border city of Figueres will become operational Wednesday with nine trains running in each direction.

Eight of the southbound trains will connect with the Barcelona-Madrid line, while two northbound trains offer links to France's TGV line to Paris.