U.S. evidence on Syria chem weapons not convincing, Moscow says

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the evidence provided by the United States on the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army was not solid and had not convinced Moscow to change its position on military intervention in the Arab country, the Interfax news agency reported.

"Yes, they showed us some reports that did not contain anything concrete - no geographic coordinates or the names or evidence that the samples were collected by professionals," Lavrov said during an appearance at the International Relations Institute in Moscow.

"What our American, British and French partners have shown us recently also does not convince us at all," the Russian foreign minister said.

The Russian Black Sea Fleet's Priazovie, an exploration vessel, sailed from Sevastopol on Sunday night for the Syrian coast to gather information on the situation, Interfax reported, citing officials.


Mexican police capture Juarez cartel's leader

The suspected leader of the Juarez drug cartel was arrested by the Federal Police in the western state of Nayarit, Mexican Attorney General's Office spokesmen told Efe.

Alberto Carrillo Fuentes is now in Mexico City and undergoing questioning. The 47-year-old faces murder, drug and organized crime charges.

The suspected drug trafficker is the brother of Vicente Carrillo Fuentes, who ran the Juarez cartel for 16 years, and Amado Carrillo Fuentes, who founded the criminal organization.

The Juarez cartel, one of Mexico's most violent criminal organizations, has been waging a war against the Sinaloa cartel that has left thousands of people dead in the past few years.


Report: U.S. spied on Brazilian, Mexican presidents

The U.S. National Security Agency intercepted telephone calls and e-mails of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Mexican leader Enrique Peña Nieto, Brazil's Globo television said, citing documents from whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

NSA began spying on Peña Nieto even before he won Mexico's July 2012 presidential election.

The surveillance continued during the transition, giving Washington advance knowledge of the new Mexican president's Cabinet appointments, according to a report aired Sunday on Globo's flagship news magazine, "Fantastico."

The program referred to a June 2012 "Top Secret" slide presentation touting NSA's ability to access the content of the voice and e-mail communications of both Rousseff and Peña Nieto.


Verizon to buy Vodafone's U.S. wireless business for $130 bn

U.S. giant Verizon Communications Inc. announced it will pay $130 billion for British-based Vodafone PLC's 45 percent stake in Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile operator.

The mammoth transaction would leave Verizon with full control of its wireless unit and mark Vodafone's exit from the U.S. market after 14 years.

The deal, which remains subject to approval by shareholders and regulators, is expected to close in the first half of 2014, the parties said in a joint statement.

Established in 2000, Verizon Wireless quickly became a source of friction between Vodafone and 55-percent owner Verizon Communications. Each of the partners made attempts to buy out the other, but an accord remained elusive until now.


Mexican leader hails lawmakers' approval of teacher evaluation

Mexican lawmakers' approval of a measure subjecting teachers to a comprehensive regime of evaluation represents a triumph over "pressure and group interests," President Enrique Peña Nieto said.

The legislation, part of a package of bills needed to implement the educational overhaul Peña Nieto promulgated in February, passed the lower house of Congress Sunday night by a vote of 369-69 with four abstentions.

Teacher evaluation is "transcendental for achieving quality in education," the president said, adding that he expects the Senate to take up the measure soon.

Members of the militant CNTE union, which represents a third of the country's public school teachers, have mounted a series of protests in Mexico City against what they describe as a "punitive" teacher-evaluation scheme.


Bale thrilled to join Real Madrid

It's a dream for me to be in Madrid," Welsh international Gareth Bale said here as Real Madrid formally introduced its latest addition in front of some 25,000 delighted fans at Santiago Bernabeu stadium.

"Thanks for this great welcome. Let's go, Madrid!," the 24-year-old midfielder said in Spanish before receiving his first Blancos shirt from club president Florentino Perez.

Bale arrived in the Spanish capital late Sunday to sign a six-year contract with Real Madrid as a months-in-the-making deal finally materialized.

Though none of the parties has publicly disclosed the sums involved, British media say Real Madrid paid London club Tottenham Hotspur a record 101 million euros ($133.5 million) for Bale, who scored 26 goals in the Premier League last season.