Brazil judge orders former president 'Lula' freed

Brazil's former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is set to walk out of prison after a judge ordered his release.

Federal police have to comply with Friday's order "with urgency," the decision said.

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside the federal police headquarters in the southern city of Curitiba where Lula has been held since April 2018 cheered after the order was issued.

It came hours after Lula's lawyers requested the immediate release of the 74-year-old leftist icon, who has been serving a nearly nine-year sentence for corruption and money laundering.

The move follows a Supreme Court decision Thursday that a person can be imprisoned only after all appeals to higher courts have been exhausted.

Da Silva is still appealing the case that put him behind bars, related to the alleged purchase of a beachfront apartment in Sao Paulo state.

The former leader, who governed from 2003 to 2010, had been favored to win the 2018 presidential election, but his conviction prohibited him from running.

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Brazil says 17 killed in police action in Manaus

Brasilia, October 31 (RHC)-- A shoot-out in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus between police and suspected drug traffickers has left 17 people dead, local authorities announced Wednesday.

"The individuals exchanged fire with the police, 17 were hit by bullets and transported to hospital, where they were confirmed dead," the state security secretariat said of the incident late Tuesday.

The aim of the police operation had been "to intercept a group of drug traffickers from a criminal faction that was preparing to murder rivals to take control of drug selling positions" in a city neighborhood. Police seized 17 weapons.

Various groups are fighting for control of the drug trafficking business in the north of Brazil, a strategic area for the transport of cocaine from neighboring countries such as Colombia, Peru and Bolivia.

The war between rival criminal gangs has blown up many times in recent years into gruesome prison massacres.

At the end of July, 57 inmates were killed during a riot at a prison in Para state, which neighbors Amazonas, whose capital is Manaus.

In January 2017, more than 100 inmates were killed in a spate of prison clashes, the bloodiest of which was in Manaus.

Prison conditions in Brazil have been widely condemned due to chronic overcrowding, while riots and attempted breakouts are common.

Edited by Ed Newman
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Bolsonaro threatens to cancel Brazil's largest TV network for negative comments

Brasilia, October 31 (RHC)-- Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro threatened on Wednesday to cancel the license of Brazil’s largest TV network, Globo, accusing it of “villainous journalism” after a report connecting him with a former police officer accused of killing a Rio de Janeiro city councilwoman last year.

TV Globo reported on Tuesday that just hours before the March 2018 murder the suspect was alleged to have told a doorman he was going to Bolsonaro’s house, gaining access to a gated community where he met instead with another former police officer accused of murdering the left-wing politician Marielle Franco.

The case led to widespread protests by Brazilians outraged to see a Black, openly gay human rights advocate gunned down.  Investigators arrested two former police officers Ronnie Lessa and Elcio de Queiroz nearly a year later and charged them with killing Franco in return for about $50,000.  Their lawyers said they did not commit the crime.

Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, 2019, denied any connection to the case.  He said he was in Brasilia the day of the murder voting in Congress, where he was then serving as a representative.  TV Globo’s report also said Bolsonaro was in Brasilia the day of Franco’s murder.

The president accused the media and a former ally, Rio Governor Wilson Witzel, of conspiring to attack him and his family.  “This is rotten, villainous journalism by TV Globo,” an enraged Bolsonaro said in a live video on social media, recorded at 4 a.m. in a Riyadh hotel during an official visit to Saudi Arabia.

Bolsonaro went on to discuss the timeline for renewing the license of the network, which is part of Grupo Globo, the largest media group in Brazil that includes TV, publishing, internet content and music labels.

“We’ll talk in 2022,” Bolsonaro said.  “You’d better hope I’m dead by then, because the renewal process won’t be persecution, but ... there won’t be any workarounds for you or anyone else.”

In a statement, Globo expressed regret about Bolsonaro’s comments and said its aim was to inform the Brazilian public.  Referring to its license renewal, it said that it had complied with its obligations during the past 54 years.

TV Globo said the doorman to Bolsonaro’s gated community in Rio told police that someone in the Bolsonaro residence identified as “Mr. Jair” confirmed the visitor on the day of Franco’s murder and then waved off the doorman’s concern that the car went to a different house.

“It looks like either the doorman lied or someone induced him to commit a false testimony,” Bolsonaro said on Tuesday.  He accused Governor Witzel of leaking details from a confidential investigation to the press to “destroy the Bolsonaro family” before the 2022 presidential elections.

Witzel denied any political interference with the investigation. “I deeply regret the untimely reaction of President Jair Bolsonaro,” the governor said in a statement.

Bolsonaro’s Justice Minister Sergio Moro asked Brazil’s top public prosecutor to investigate the doorman’s allegation, saying he might have given false testimony, either in error or as part of a wider conspiracy to implicate the president, according to the request made public by the ministry.

Edited by Ed Newman

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Left's win in Argentina strains ties with Brazil, deepens split in Latam

BRASILIA (Reuters) - The election of leftist Alberto Fernandez in Argentina, who Brazil’s right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro has called a “red bandit,” sets the stage for a run-in between South America’s two biggest economies that could derail their Mercosur trade bloc.

Bolsonaro, an outspoken former army captain who won power last year, told reporters during a visit to Abu Dhabi on Monday that Argentine voters had made a mistake and he had no intention of congratulating Fernandez for his win on Sunday.

Their hostility highlighted the ideological battlelines reappearing in Latin American diplomacy.

Fernandez’s victory, along with last year’s win by leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in Mexico, marked an end to market-friendly reforms in both countries, leaving conservatives in Chile, Colombia and Brazil more isolated.

Lopez Obrador said on Monday he would call to congratulate Fernandez and Bolivian President Evo Morales, the last survivor of the ‘pink tide’ of leftist leaders of the 2000s who won a controversial fourth term this month in elections denounced by the opposition, the United States, Brazil and Colombia.

Brazil-Argentina relations have been cordial and constructive since both shed military rule in the 1980s, despite traditional tensions in geopolitics and on the soccer field.

Although they compete in global grains and beef markets, Brazil remains the top trade partner of Argentina thanks in part to the role of the Mercosur bloc - which includes Uruguay and Paraguay - in fostering an exchange of cars and other manufactured goods.

As both economies sputter, however, their presidents may find it tempting to play to their bases, antagonizing ideological foes and emphasizing their differences over red-button issues such as Cuba and Venezuela.

As he cruised to victory, Argentina’s president-elect posted a Twitter message calling for the release of Brazil’s former leftist president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was jailed last year for a bribery conviction.

The tweet riled Bolsonaro. “The first thing Fernandez did was to post ‘Free Lula’ saying he was unfairly jailed. So we can see where he is coming from,” Bolsonaro said.

Fernandez, a trade protectionist, has vowed to reconsider Argentina’s membership in Mercosur. Bolsonaro, in turn, has said Argentina should be left out of Mercosur if it blocks trade liberalization proposed by Brazil.

Bolsonaro said on Monday that his government would wait to see what position Fernandez takes once he assumes the presidency in December.

“Let’s see how he behaves,” Bolsonaro said, adding: “I hope Argentina does not change its course on trade.”

Foreign policy and trade experts say the two economies are too interdependent to entirely break up Mercosur.

The greater threat may be to a trade deal between Mercosur and the European Union, which has taken two decades to negotiate and is facing resistance in European countries.

“The relationship between Argentina and Brazil will, at best, be cold for the next three years,” said Welber Barral, a Brasilia-based consultant and former trade secretary.

He said, however, that industrial groups on both sides will try to “appease” the governments in an effort to insulate their exports and the EU-Mercosur agreement.

Fernandez has said he wants to renegotiate parts of the EU agreement that do not suit Argentina, which could delay its ratification with lengthy new rounds of talks.

Brazil is heading in the other direction and wants to reduce Mercosur’s common external tariff and allow its members to negotiate new trade deals.

In the past, Brazil and Argentina’s differences could be resolved because they saw eye-to-eye ideologically, but now Brasilia plans to negotiate more aggressively within Mercosur, government officials told Reuters, on condition of anonymity.

Brazil has no plan to abandon the trade bloc at present due to the Peronist return to power in Argentina, but that option has not been totally discarded, they said.

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Brazilians demand Lula's release on his 74th birthday

Brasilia, Oct 28 (Prensa Latina) Popular movements, parties and social organizations took to the streets in several Brazilian cities on Sunday to celebrate the 74th birthday of former President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, protest against his political imprisonment and demand his release.

The largest rally was held in Curitiba, in the southern state of Parana, by the Free Lula Vigil, a few meters from the headquarters of the Federal Police in that city, where Lula has been held since April 2018.

Present at the event were Workers' Party (PT) President Gleisi Hoffman, Lula's brother, who is known as Frei Chico, and Federal Lawmaker Benedita da Silva.

In her speech, Hoffman referred to the ex-president and his entire life dedicated to the struggle for the workers' rights.

'Lula leaves one of the greatest legacy of his government to the Brazilian people and will leave a greatest legacy of resistance and courage when he stands here (in Curitiba) with his head very high and without exchanging his dignity for freedom,' she stressed.

'Our gift to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is this resistance,' Benedita da Silva said.

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Former Brazilian President Lula da Silva turns 74 as political prisoner

The former president and leader of the Workers' Party (PT) of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva turned 74 on Sunday, as he serves multiple prison sentences over corruption charges that were based on shaky evidence in an unfair trial.

Lula was born in 1945, in the city of Garanhung, in the state of Pernambuco, in northeastern Brazil.  At the age of seven, he migrated with his family to the state of Sao Paulo, city of Guarujá, in search of work opportunities.  He started working at 12 years of age in different activities, such as shoeshiner and a mail carrier.  At age 14, he entered a metallurgical company.

In 1968, two years after the military dictatorship was imposed in Brazil, Lula made contact with the union life and that same year his older brother, Frei Chico, a member of the Brazilian Communist Party, was arrested and tortured by the military.  There began his struggle for human rights.  In 1975, he was elected president of the Union of Metallurgists of Sao Bernando and Diadema.

Lula has shown his fondness for football and is a fan of the Sports Club Corinthians of São Paulo.  During his first presidential term in 2003, he launched the Statute of the Amateur, to make the publication of sold ticket numbers and numbers of attendees mandatory, as well as to attend suggestions and complaints from the parties.

Before coming finally taking office, Lula had three tries at the presidential seat.  However, it was only in the elections of October 27, 2002, that he was elected in the second round with 61 percent of the vote.  He is the first worker president of the South American country.

He has been imprisoned twice.  The first time in 1980, when he was detained under the full military dictatorship for 31 days for "undermining the national order."  Then, in April 2018, he was arrested for alleged corruption with a sentence of 12 years and 11 months in prison. Legal experts and his supporters argue that the charges were political as the prosecution had struggled to present concrete evidence against him.

Also, recent exclusive reports by The Intercept media outlet revealed leaked conversations between judges and prosecutors in charge of the Lula case, showing that his arrest and subsequent convictions were an effort to prevent him from running as a candidate in the 2018 elections.

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Brazil crowned at FIVB men's World Cup with 11 straight wins

Olympic and three-time world champions Brazil beat Italy 25-20, 25-22, 25-15 in Hiroshima, Japan on Tuesday to wrap up the FIVB men's volleyball World Cup with 11 consecutive wins and bring home the trophy on 32 points.

Poland came out the runners-up on 28 points from nine victories and two losses, edging the United States to the third place on advantage of winning sets.

The United States, who settled for a bronze with a 9-2 win-loss mark but 29-12 sets record, finished their last game in Japan with a 3-1 win over Egypt. Matthew Anderson scored a match-high 17 points.

Hosts Japan concluded the 12-nation tournament on fourth with eight wins and three losses by defeating Canada 3-2 in the final game of the final day.

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FIVB VOLLEYBALL MEN'S WORLD CUP - RESULTS AND RANKING

The 2019 edition of the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup featured 12 national teams from the five continental confederations playing in Nagano, Fukuoka and Hiroshima from October 1 to 15. The competition began in Fukuoka and Nagano before teams moved to Hiroshima for the last six match days. Brazil claimed gold, Poland silver and USA bronze.

FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup: Standings, schedule and results. All times local. (GMT+9)




Matches on Tuesday, October 1 in Nagano and Fukuoka
Australia v Egypt 1-3 (22-25, 25-21, 23-25, 18-25)
USA v Argentina 2-3 (21-25, 20-25, 25-19, 25-21, 12-15)
Russia v Iran 3-1 (25-21, 25-18, 24-26, 25-22)
Poland v Tunisia 3-0 (25-16, 25-23, 25-12)
Brazil v Canada 3-0 (25-14, 25-22, 25-14)
Japan v Italy 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-21)

Matches on Wednesday, October 2 in Nagano and Fukuoka
Egypt v Iran 3-1 (22-25, 26-24, 25-18, 26-24)
Tunisia v Argentina 1-3 (19-25, 18-25, 25-23, 14-25)
Canada v Russia 2-3 (25-23, 25-16, 17-25, 23-25, 10-15)
Italy v USA 1-3 (25-19, 19-25, 14-25, 19-25)
Australia v Brazil 0-3 (15-25, 20-25, 17-25)
Poland v Japan 3-1 (25-23, 25-17, 19-25, 25-17)

Matches on Friday, October 4 in Nagano and Fukuoka

Iran v Canada 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 27-25, 25-19)
Argentina v Italy 2-3 (28-26, 25-17, 12-25, 18-25, 10-15)
Russia v Australia 2-3 (16-25, 25-22, 28-26, 21-25, 12-15)
USA v Poland 3-1 (25-19, 25-20, 24-26, 27-25)
Brazil v Egypt 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 25-22)
Japan v Tunisia 3-0 (25-23, 25-21, 25-11)

Matches on Saturday, October 5 in Nagano and Fukuoka
Egypt v Canada 2-3 (25-27, 25-27, 25-16, 25-22, 9-15)
Poland v Argentina 3-1 (27-29, 25-17, 25-18, 26-24)
Brazil v Russia 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-22)
Tunisia v Italy 0-3 (19-25, 21-25, 18-25)
Australia v Iran 1-3 (22-25, 25-18, 18-25, 25-27)
Japan v USA 0-3 (19-25, 19-25, 21-25)

Matches on Sunday, October 6 in Nagano and Fukuoka

Russia v Egypt 3-1 (25-19, 21-25, 25-19, 25-21)
Italy v Poland 0-3 (18-25, 18-25, 22-25)
Iran v Brazil 1-3 (27-25, 21-25, 25-27, 22-25)
USA v Tunisia 3-0 (25-10, 25-18, 25-17)
Canada v Australia 3-1 (18-25, 28-26, 25-20, 25-22)
Argentina v Japan 1-3 (19-25, 20-25, 28-26, 22-25)

Matches on Wednesday, October 9 in Hiroshima
Tunisia v Canada 2-3 (20-25, 25-20, 27-29, 25-20, 12-15)
Italy v Egypt 3-0 (25-19, 25-21, 25-22)
Argentina v Brazil 0-3 (19-25, 19-25, 24-26)
Poland v Russia 3-1 (25-27, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22)
USA v Iran 3-1 (25-18, 22-25, 25-18, 25-12)
Japan v Australia 3-0 (25-17, 25-22, 25-22)

Matches on Thursday, October 10 in Hiroshima
Argentina v Canada 3-0 (25-16, 25-22, 25-20)
Poland v Egypt 3-0 (25-19, 25-18, 25-16)
Tunisia v Iran 0-3 (24-26, 17-25, 22-25)
Italy v Australia 3-0 (30-28, 25-13, 25-22)
USA v Brazil 0-3 (23-25, 22-25, 17-25)
Japan v Russia 3-1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-22, 25-16)

Matches on Friday, October 11 in Hiroshima

Argentina v Iran 2-3 (25-27, 25-23, 25-19, 17-25, 10-15)
Poland v Australia 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-9)
Tunisia v Brazil 0-3 (17-25, 14-25, 13-25)
Italy v Russia 1-3 (25-13, 25-27, 26-28, 12-25)
USA v Canada 3-2 (21-25, 25-11, 20-25, 25-19, 15-13)
Japan v Egypt 3-2 (25-14, 18-25, 25-23, 28-30, 15-13)

Matches on Sunday, October 13 in Hiroshima
Argentina v Russia 3-1 (25-23, 25-23, 21-25, 25-16)
Italy v Canada 2-3 (25-19, 17-25, 25-15, 23-25, 16-18)
USA v Australia 3-0 (25-14, 25-13, 25-16)
Poland v Brazil 2-3 (25-19, 23-25, 19-25, 25-16, 11-15)
Tunisia v Egypt 3-1 (25-23, 14-25, 25-17, 25-18)
Japan v Iran 3-1 (25-16, 26-28, 25-13, 25-21)

Matches on Monday, October 14 in Hiroshima
USA v Russia 3-0 (25-23, 25-11, 25-16)
Poland v Canada 3-0 (25-23, 26-24, 25-20)
Argentina v Egypt 3-1 (25-27, 25-17, 25-22, 25-17)
Italy v Iran 3-2 (25-27, 27-29, 30-28, 25-17, 15-13)
Tunisia v Australia 0-3 (21-25, 17-25, 21-25)
Japan v Brazil 1-3 (17-25, 26-24, 14-25, 25-27)

Matches on Tueday, October 15 in Hiroshima
USA v Egypt 3-1 (22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-13)
Poland v Iran 3-0 (25-18, 25-18, 25-16)
Tunisia v Russia 0-3 (16-25, 16-25, 15-25)
Italy v Brazil 0-3 (20-25,22-25, 15-25)
Argentina v Australia 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 26-24)
Japan v Canada 3-2 (22-25, 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 15-9)

The men's competition at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup follows the women's tournament, which was played across five cities in Japan from September 14 to 29. Click here for more information.
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