Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva

Ridicule of leaders, samba, skimpy garb at Brazil Carnival

Rio de Janeiro's top samba schools danced and sang hard Monday as millions of other Brazilians did the same during nationwide Carnival celebrations that ridiculed local and world leaders, called for tolerance and pushed the boundaries of just about everything.

Instead of the normal start of the workweek, Brazilians loaded up on spirits and hit the beaches, public squares and streets for huge "blocos," or street parties, in many locales under a penetrating tropical sun common during the sweaty summer month of February.

By late Monday night, with the sun set but the heat still in force, Rio's leading samba schools gave it their all at the Sambadrome, where they...