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Diane A. Wade

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Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.


IMF chief Lagarde has been placed under formal investigation in France for her alleged role in a long-running political fraud case.

Christine Lagarde, 58, has been questioned about her role in awarding 400 million euro ($527 million) in compensation to businessman Bernard Tapie in 2008. She denies wrongdoing.

She was finance minister in President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government at the time of the award.

Bernard Tapie supported Nicolas Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.

He was once a majority shareholder in sports goods company Adidas but sold it in 1993 in order to become a cabinet minister in Francois Mitterrand’s Socialist government.

Bernard Tapie sued Credit Lyonnais over its handling of the sale, alleging the partly state-owned bank had defrauded him by deliberately undervaluing the company.

Christine Lagarde has been questioned about her role in awarding 400 million euro in compensation to businessman Bernard Tapie in 2008 640x425 photo

Christine Lagarde has been questioned about her role in awarding 400 million euro in compensation to businessman Bernard Tapie in 2008 (photo Getty Images)

His case was later referred by Christine Lagarde to a three-member arbitration panel which awarded the compensation.

Investigators suspect he was granted a deal in return for his support of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Christine Lagarde said last year that her decision to refer Bernard Tapie’s long-running dispute with Credit Lyonnais to a panel of judges was “the best solution at the time”.

Although being placed under formal investigation does not necessarily lead to charges, the development could raise questions about the rest of her term at the IMF, which is due to end in 2016.

Christine Lagarde told AFP news agency she had no intention of resigning from the IMF.

She replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn as IMF managing director in 2011.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn – also a former French minister – resigned following his arrest in New York on charges of sexual assault that were later dropped.

Brazil’s presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign.

Incumbent President Dilma Rousseff faced her main rivals Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) and Aecio Neves of the PSDB.

Dilma Rousseff is ahead in the polls for the October 5 election but analysts predict it will go to a second round.

Marina Silva has replaced the former PSB candidate Eduardo Campos, who died in a plane crash earlier this month.

In the much-anticipated debate, President Dilama Rousseff defended her government’s popular social programs but blamed the international economic crisis for the country’s slowing economy.

Marina Silva spoke passionately about the need for widespread political reform and to remove power from the hands of traditional elites.

The latest opinion polls in Brazilian media on Tuesday showed Marina Silva had narrowed Dilma Rousseff’s lead to 34%, down from 38% in early August.

It gave Marina Silva 29% of voter support and Aecio Neves 19%.

Brazils presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign photo

Brazil’s presidential candidates have taken part in the first TV debate of the campaign (photo AFP)

The poll, published by O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, has a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.

Tuesday’s televised debate also includes candidates Eduardo Jorge (PV), Levy Fidelix (PRTB), Luciana Genro (PSOL) and Pastor Everaldo (PSC).

Dilma Rousseff is seeking re-election with the Workers’ Party (PT).

Marina Silva used to be a member of the PT during the government of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but has since become a stern critic.

A former environment minister, Marina Silva ran for president in 2010 for the tiny Green Party and secured 19 million votes, but was knocked out in the first round.

Marina Silva decided to run for vice-president alongside Eduardo Campos after the Electoral Court in October 2013 refused to register her political movement, Rede Sustentabilidade (The Sustainability Network).

However, Marina Silva was appointed as the PSB’s main candidate after his sudden death.

Eduardo Campos died after a private jet crashed in bad weather in the port city of Santos, Sao Paulo state, while travelling from Rio de Janeiro to the seaside resort of Guaruja.

Brazil’s presidential election will go to a second round later in October if no candidate gets more than 50% of the votes.

France’s President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under Prime Minister Manuel Valls, dropping ministers who rebelled against austerity cuts.

The first government of Manuel Valls, who was appointed less than five months ago, fell on Monday after a row with Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg.

Arnaud Montebourg resigned along with two other ministers from the left.

He will be replaced by Emmanuel Macron, a former Rothschild banker and ex-presidential economic adviser.

President Francois Hollande is seeking a coherent line on economic policy after recent criticism from the left wing of his Socialist Party.

Many see it as his last chance to make a successful presidency, after his recent poll ratings sunk to 17%.

For the first time, a woman – Najat Vallaud-Belkacem – will be put in charge of education, replacing Benoit Hamon who also lost his job.

President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under PM Manuel Valls photo

President Francois Hollande has named a new cabinet under PM Manuel Valls (photo Reuters)

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem was minister for women’s rights in the last cabinet.

Meanwhile, Fleur Pellerin has been made minister for culture, replacing Aurelie Filippetti who is also out of the government.

Key ministers in the previous cabinet, like Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Finance Minister Michel Sapin, retain their posts.

Francois Hollande’s former partner and the mother of his four children, Segolene Royal, will retain her post as environment and energy minister.

The president said earlier that the new cabinet should “cohere to the directions of the prime minister”, who is on the party’s right wing.

PM Manuel Valls said he would hold a parliamentary vote of confidence in September or October, speaking in a TV interview after the new ministers were named.

“And you will see, the majority will be there. There can be no other way. If the majority isn’t there on that occasion, it would be finished. We couldn’t finish our work,” he told France 2 TV.

Manuel Valls also defended the choice of a former banker for new economy minister, saying: “So what? Can one not in this country be an entrepreneur? One can’t be a banker?”

Arnaud Montebourg quit after publicly urging the government to end austerity policies and focus on growth.

France is struggling with high unemployment and low growth, and Francois Hollande’s popularity is the lowest for a president in more than 50 years.

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The video of American journalist James Foley’s killing by an ISIS militant may have been staged, with the actual murder taking place off-camera, forensic specialists suggest.

Forensic analysis of the footage of James Foley’s death has suggested that the British jihadist in the film may have been the frontman rather than the killer.

The video has been widely seen as a propaganda coup for ISIS militant group.

A study of the four-minute 40-second clip, carried out by an international forensic science company which has worked for police forces across Britain, suggested camera trickery and slick post-production techniques appear to have been used.

James Foley’s killing video has been widely seen as a propaganda coup for ISIS militant group photo

James Foley’s killing video has been widely seen as a propaganda coup for ISIS militant group

A forensic analyst told The Times that no blood can be seen, even though the knife is drawn across the neck area at least six times.

Sounds allegedly made by James Foley do not appear consistent with what may be expected.

During James Foley’s speech, there appears to be a blip which could indicate the journalist had to repeat a line.

One expert commissioned to examine the footage was reported as saying: “I think it has been staged. My feeling is that the execution may have happened after the camera was stopped.”

However, the company, which requested anonymity, did not reach a definitive answer.

It concluded: “No one is disputing that at some point an execution occurred.”

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The family of James Foley – the kidnapped American journalist killed by Islamic State militants last week – has posted a letter they say he sent while in captivity, via a fellow hostage.

James Foley was unable to write letters to his family because they were confiscated by his jailers.

Instead he asked another hostage who was about to be released to commit his letter to memory.

When that hostage was freed he dictated the letter to James Foley’s mother, Diane.

The family posted the letter on Sunday evening, on a Facebook page they had set up to campaign for James Foley’s release.

Earlier they had attended a memorial mass for James Foley in their home town of Rochester, New Hampshire.

James Foley was abducted in northern Syria in November 2012 while covering that countrys civil war photo

James Foley was abducted in northern Syria in November 2012 while covering that country’s civil war

James Wright Foley, 41, a freelance journalist was abducted in northern Syria in November 2012, while covering that country’s civil war.

Last week, Islamic State militants released a video showing his killing by a masked man with a British accent.

On Sunday, the British ambassador to the US told CNN that British officials were close to identifying the killer.

James Foley’s last letter

Dear Family and Friends,

I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart.

I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.

Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell… we have found ways to play checkers, Chess, and Risk… and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.

I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.

I think a lot about my brothers and sister. I remember playing Werewolf in the dark with Michael and so many other adventures. I think of chasing Mattie and T around the kitchen counter. It makes me happy to think of them. If there is any money left in my bank account, I want it to go to Michael and Matthew. I am so proud of you, Michael and thankful to you for happy childhood memories and to you and Kristie for happy adult ones.

And big John, how I enjoyed visiting you and Cress in Germany. Thank you for welcoming me. I think a lot about RoRo and try to imagine what Jack is like. I hope he has RoRo’s personality!

And Mark… so proud of you too Bro. I think of you on the West coast and hope you are doing some snowboarding and camping, I especially remember us going to the Comedy Club in Boston together and our big hug after. The special moments keep me hopeful.

Katie, so very proud of you. You are the strongest and best of us all!! I think of you working so hard, helping people as a nurse. I am so glad we texted just before I was captured. I pray I can come to your wedding…. now I am sounding like Grammy!!

Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.

Jim

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has dissolved parliament and called snap elections for October 26, as government forces continue to fight pro-Russian rebel forces in the east.

Petro Poroshenko said many current parliamentarians were backers of ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and that the majority of Ukrainians wanted a new parliament.

Elections would be held on October 26, he said in a TV address.

Separately, Ukraine’s military says it clashed with rebel armored vehicles that entered the country from Russia.

Ukraines President Petro Poroshenko has dissolved parliament and called snap elections for October 26 photo

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has dissolved parliament and called snap elections for October 26

It said a column of 10 tanks and two armored personnel carriers was heading towards the south-eastern port of Mariupol but was stopped. Two tanks were reportedly destroyed.

More than 2,000 people have died in months of fighting between Ukrainian forces and separatists in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The two regions declared independence from Kiev, following Russia’s annexation of the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine in March.

Ukraine accuses Russia of arming the rebels in the east and sending its troops into the country – a charge the Kremlin denies.

On Tuesday, Petro Poroshenko is expected to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin at talks in Minsk Belarus.

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has submitted the government’s resignation to President Francois Hollande and has been asked to form a new cabinet.

The French government was badly shaken on Sunday by criticism over its handling of the economy by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg.

Moments after Manuel Valls’s resignation President Francois Hollande issued a statement.

Francois Hollande asked Manuel Valls to set up a new cabinet “consistent with the direction [Francois Hollande] has set for the country”.

The prime minister had accused Arnaud Montebourg of “crossing a yellow line” after the economy minister had attacked austerity measures which he said were strangling France’s growth.

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has submitted the governments resignation to President Francois Hollande and has been asked to form a new cabinet photo

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls has submitted the government’s resignation to President Francois Hollande and has been asked to form a new cabinet

Arnaud Montebourg told a meeting of Socialists in eastern France that the time had come to put up a “just and sane resistance” to the “excessive obsessions of Germany’s conservatives”.

On Saturday, Arnaud Montebourg told Le Monde newspaper that Germany was trapped in an austerity policy that it imposed across Europe”.

He was backed up by education minister Benoit Hamon and appeared to have the support of culture minister Aurelie Filippetti, too.

Benoit Hamon called on Sunday for a revival in demand and for an end to German Chancellor Angela Merkel setting Europe’s direction: “You can’t sell anything to the French if they don’t have enough income.”

Manuel Valls became prime minister in March after a poor performance by President Francois Hollande’s Socialist party in local elections.

Earlier this month, the French government admitted it would be impossible to reach a previous growth forecast of 1%. Germany saw its economy shrink by 0.2% between April and June.

Arnaud Montebourg told French radio shortly before Manuel Valls announced the government’s resignation that he had no regrets about his remarks, “first of all because there’s no anger”.

There was no debate about authority, Arnaud Montebourg told Europe 1 radio, but a “debate about economic direction”.

A 7-magnitude earthquake has struck near Puquio, central Peru, on August 24, the US Geological Survey has said.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, said Mario Casareto, spokesman for Peru’s fire agency.

Mario Casareto said authorities were still surveying the region, including the Ayacucho area where the quake was centered.

Peru quake occurred about 13 hours after a 6 magnitude temblor shook Northern California photo

Peru quake occurred about 13 hours after a 6-magnitude temblor shook Northern California

The seismological service said in a preliminary report that the quake occurred at 23:21 GMT on August 24 and was centered about 26 miles east-northeast of an area called Tambo, and about 292 miles southeast of the capital of Lima. It had a depth of 36 miles.

Local media said that the quake was felt in parts of Lima and in many major cities of southeastern Peru, including Cuzco and Arequipa.

The quake occurred about 13 hours after a 6-magnitude temblor shook Northern California, near Napa.

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Thousands of people gathered in the New York borough of Staten Island near the site of Eric Garner’s death to march in protest against police killings.

Eric Garner, a 43-year-old black man, died in July after being placed in a chokehold as police arrested him for allegedly selling untaxed cigarettes.

The march was led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and relatives of Eric Garner.

Eric Garner died weeks before black teenager Michael Brown was killed in Missouri.

Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead on August 9 after being stopped by a police officer for walking in the street in the St Louis suburb of Ferguson.

The killing sparked days of protest culminating in the deployment of the National Guard, which was withdrawn on August 22.

Some of the protesters in New York displayed banners saying “Black lives matter” while others demanded justice in the cases of both Eric Garner and Michael Brown, as a large police contingent looked on.

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The Staten Island march was led by the Rev. Al Sharpton and relatives of Eric Garner

Some shops were closed for the day on August 23, amid fears the protest could turn violent as happened in Ferguson earlier this week.

However, civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton repeatedly warned demonstrators that such action would not be tolerated. He said that Eric Garner’s death was a defining moment for police nationwide.

In the event protesters filed peacefully past the spot where Mr Garner was held to the ground by police as the marchers processed towards the the Staten Island prosecutor’s office.

“We will prevail,” the black reverend – who was accompanied by Eric Garner’s widow and several of his children – told the crowd.

“They will not cry alone.”

The demonstrators demanded the prosecution of Daniel Pantaleo, the suspended police officer who arrested Eric Garner. Some chanted “Hands up, don’t shoot” – the slogan often used by the Ferguson demonstrators.

A New York grand jury is considering criminal charges against Daniel Pantaleo.

Eric Garner, who had asthma, was heard on a witness video shouting “I can’t breathe!” as police arrested him.

A medical examiner has ruled his death a homicide.

However, the New York City medical examiner’s office said other factors contributed to his death included asthma and heart disease.

Eric Garner’s death provoked an outcry, especially after a video of Officer Daniel Pantaleo placing him in a chokehold became public.

Chokeholds are banned by the New York Police Department and Commissioner William Bratton has ordered an internal review of training.

Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano eruption sparked a red alert for the aviation industry, meaning significant ash emissions are likely.

Iceland’s meteorological office has warned that a small eruption under an ice cap has begun at Bardarbunga.

The air space over the site has been closed, but all Icelandic airports currently remain open, authorities say.

Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano erupted in 2010, producing an ash cloud that severely disrupted air travel.

The red alert is the highest warning on the country’s five-point scale.

A team of scientists was flying across the region on Saturday afternoon to monitor seismic activity.

Bardarbunga volcano eruption sparks red alert for aviation industry 640x433 photo

Bardarbunga volcano eruption sparks red alert for aviation industry

“The eruption is considered a minor event at this point,” police said in a statement.

“Because of pressure from the glacier cap, it is uncertain whether the eruption will stay sub-glacial or not.”

Bardarbunga is part of a large volcano system hidden beneath the 0.31-mile thick Vatnajokull glacier in central Iceland.

Authorities have previously warned that any eruption in the volcano could result in flooding north of the glacier.

On Wednesday, authorities evacuated several hundred people from the area over fears of an eruption.

The region, located more than 190 miles from Iceland’s Reykjavik, has no permanent residents but sits within a national park popular with tourists.

The move came after geologists reported that about 300 earthquakes had been detected in the area since midnight on Tuesday.

The Eyjafjallajokull eruption in April 2010 caused the largest closure of European airspace since World War Two, with losses estimated at between 1.5 billion and 2.5 billion euros.

Criticism following the strictly enforced shutdown resulted in the CAA relaxing its rules to allow planes to fly in areas with a low density of volcanic ash.

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The hunt for the missing Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 has entered the next phase.

Two vessels – the Fugro Equator and the Zhu Kezhen – are currently mapping an area covering 60,000 sq km.

Detailed information being gathered about the shape of the ocean floor west of Australia confirms the seabed in some locations to be extremely rugged.

This survey will guide a metre-by-metre search using towed instruments and submersibles.

This is likely to get under way towards the end of September.

The Australian authorities have warned that this could take a year to complete.

The Dutch-owned Fugro Equator and the Chinese naval vessel Zhu Kezhen are presently assembling a bathymetric (depth) map.

It covers the general location in the southern Indian Ocean where investigators believe MH370 is most likely to have come down.

The map is akin to a broad canvas – a first-ever proper look at a terrain about which there is the slimmest of knowledge.

It is essential work. Without this map, which has a resolution of roughly 25m in the deepest depths, it would not be safe to put down submersibles, as there is a high risk these vehicles would be lost.

The Fugro Equator is equipped with a state-of-the-art multibeam echosounder.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was lost on March 8 2014 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people 640x425 photo

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was lost on March 8, 2014, as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people

The vast majority of the area it is covering has never been sampled before.

It has recorded depths near to 6,000m. Even the shallow regions are more than 1,000m down.

But it is the craggy nature of the seabed that will prompt extreme caution to be exercised in the next phase of operations.

Fugro has been contracted by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau to conduct this part of the search as well.

It will involve the Equator and another ship, the Fugro Discovery. Both ships will pull a deep-tow instrument very close to the sea floor using a 10,000m armored fiber-optic cable.

Echosounders are its ears; cameras represent its eyes; and a chemical sensor works like a nose.

This nose will “sniff” for the presence of any jet fuel in the water, down to a few parts per billion in concentration.

Assembling the bathymetric map has been a tough job in itself.

The Equator has had to contend with some terrible winter weather.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was lost on March 8, 2014, as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, carrying 239 people.

Its disappearance has become one the biggest mysteries in aviation history.

The best information investigators have for its whereabouts come for a series of brief satellite communications with the jet during its flight.

The last of these connections suggests MH370 crashed into the water inside the “high priority” search zone now being surveyed by the Dutch and Chinese vessels.

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UN human rights chief Navi Pillay has announced that 191,369 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict up to April 2014.

Navi Pillay said the figure was “probably an underestimate” and criticized what she called “international paralysis” on the issue.

The figure is more than double the UN estimate given a year ago.

Opposition groups in Syria have been fighting President Bashar al-Assad for over three years, but have lost ground in recent months.

More than 191000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict up to April 2014 photo

More than 191,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict up to April 2014

The UN report was based on data from four different monitoring groups and the Syrian government which was then cross-checked.

“Tragically it is probably an underestimate of the real total number of people killed during the first three years of this murderous conflict,” Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said.

“The killers, destroyers and torturers in Syria have been empowered and emboldened by the international paralysis” she added.

The highest number of killings was recorded in Damascus province, with 39,393 deaths, followed by Aleppo, with 31,932.

Both the Syrian government and Syrian rebel groups have been accused of war crimes by the UN.

The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last month have arrived in Kuala Lumpur.

A specially chartered plane took off from Amsterdam and landed around 10:00 local time.

National flags are flying at half-mast for the day of mourning.

Flight MH17 is believed to have been shot down by a missile fired by pro-Russian rebels. They deny the claim.

All 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 died on July 17.

From office workers to train drivers, many among the nation of 30 million observed a minute’s silence as white hearses drove the remains from the airport to private funerals in various provinces.

Malaysia’s public transportation, including the national rail system and Kuala Lumpur’s monorail, paused during the minute of silence.

PM Najib Razak, who turned his Twitter and Facebook pages black, wrote a condolence message that was widely shared.

The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last month have arrived in Kuala Lumpur photo

The bodies of 20 Malaysian victims of Flight MH17 that crashed in Ukraine last month have arrived in Kuala Lumpur (photo Getty Images)

“Last month, 43 Malaysian lives were taken over eastern Ukraine. Today we mourn the loss of our people. Today, we begin to bring them home.”

“Our thoughts and our prayers are with the families and friends of those who lost their lives. Today we stand with you, united as one.”

Transport minister Liow Tiong Lai said in a statement that the government will “redouble” efforts to bring home the remaining victims.

Malaysia Airlines is organizing a public prayer session and a spokesman also expressed the company’s condolences.

Earlier on Thursday, a contingent of Malaysian soldiers met the plane to escort the coffins to the hearses.

All the coffins were draped in the national flag. Three of the 20 bodies have been cremated in the Netherlands.

The victims’ bodies have been given to their families and relatives to be laid to rest.

This is the first time Malaysia is holding a national day of mourning for civilian victims.

The honor has traditionally been accorded only to the royal family and heads of government.

Of the 43 Malaysian victims, 28 have been identified in the Netherlands so far, which is leading an international investigation into the crash in eastern Ukraine.

More than 200 coffins with remains of the victims have so far been taken to the Netherlands.

The inquiry is being hampered by continuing fighting between Ukrainian government troops and pro-Russian rebels near the crash site.

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A mandatory fingerprinting system will placed in Venezuela’s supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling, President Nicolas Maduro has announced.

Nicolas Maduro said the system would stop people from buying too much of a single item.

However, the opposition in Venezuela rejected the plan, saying the policy treated all Venezuelans as thieves.

Critics said fingerprinting consumers of staple products was tantamount to rationing and constituted a breach of privacy.

Up to 40% of the goods which Venezuela subsidizes for its domestic market are smuggled to Colombia, where they are sold at much higher prices, the authorities say.

A mandatory fingerprinting system will placed in Venezuela’s supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling 640x359 photo

A mandatory fingerprinting system will placed in Venezuela’s supermarkets to combat food shortages and smuggling

“The amount of staples smuggled to Colombia would be enough to load the shelves of our supermarkets,” Gen. Efrain Velasco Lugo, a military spokesman, told El Universal newspaper earlier this week.

The opposition blames what it says are the failed left-wing policies of the past 15 years – initiated by late President Hugo Chavez – for the country’s economic crisis.

Dissatisfaction with the shortage of many staples, as well as rampant crime and high inflation, led thousands of people in the western Venezuelan states of Tachira and Merida to take to the streets in January.

The protests quickly spread to the rest of Venezuela, which faces similar problems.

Earlier this month Venezuela launched an anti-smuggling operation on its border with Colombia.

It deployed 17,000 troops along the border and began closing all the crossings at night.

The one-month ban will be lifted in mid-September.

The decision to close the border was agreed with Colombia, where the smuggling of cheap goods from Venezuela is also seen as a major problem.

The Colombian government says it leads to a big loss in taxes, with complaints of unfair competition faced by local businesses.

Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been named the new prime minister of Thailand.

Prayuth Chan-ocha, 60, was nominated on August 21 in a legislature hand-picked by the junta and made up of mostly military and police figures.

The general was the head of the army when he led a dramatic coup in May.

It followed months of intense political deadlock between Yingluck Shinawatra’s government and opposition parties that resulted in protests and clashes.

Prayuth Chan-ocha was chosen after all 197 members of Thailand’s National Assembly cast their votes on Thursday morning.

The vote in Parliament was little more than a formality, lasting just 15 minutes, as Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha was the only candidate.

The assembly’s choice is expected to be approved by King Bhumibol Adulyadej later.

Although his role is meant to be an interim one as Prayuth Chn-ocha plans to hold a general election in late 2015.

Coup leader General Prayuth Chan ocha has been named the new prime minister of Thailand 640x479 photo

Coup leader General Prayuth Chan-ocha has been named the new prime minister of Thailand (photo AP)

He now wields enormous power and also still heads the military junta.

Prayuth Chn-ocha is expected to pick his new cabinet soon.

He has promised a root and branch reform of politics to prevent a return to the turmoil of recent years, offering a possible restoration of democratic rule next year.

However, critics believe his real priority is to destroy the political party of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, which has won every election for the past 14 years, and to secure a delicate royal succession.

Such goals would require a much longer democratic timetable.

Concerns have mounted that the military is seeking to strengthen its hold on the country.

Besides hand-picking the national assembly, the junta issued an interim constitution in July that gives the military sweeping powers.

It is appointing a national reform council that would help to come up with a permanent constitution that would take effect by July 2015.

Prayuth Chan-ocha and junta officials have argued that military rule has brought stability to Thailand following months of violent protests between the pro- and anti-Thaksin camps.

Marina Silva has been formally named as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s new presidential candidate.

Environmental campaigner Marina Silva, 56, replaces the late Eduardo Campos, who was killed in a plane crash last week.

Marina Silva was Eduardo Campos’s running mate and served as environment minister.

She is seen as a leading challenger to President Dilma Rousseff, who’s seeking re-election in the October 5 poll.

PSB President Roberto Amaral told a news conference Marina Silva had been chosen unanimously.

Congressman Beto Albuquerque was named the party’s new vice presidential candidate.

Marina Silva will test President Dilma Rousseff’s status as favorite to win October’s election and make this a much more interesting process than it looked like being barely a week ago.

Marina Silva has been formally named as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s new presidential candidate 640x360 photo

Marina Silva has been formally named as the Brazilian Socialist Party’s new presidential candidate (photo AP)

In the last presidential election, standing as the Green candidate, Marina Silva polled a credible 20% of the vote and is already a recognizable and much-admired figure across this continent-sized nation.

The first test of public opinion after Eduardo Campos’s death suggested Marina Silva could surpass the main opposition PSDB candidate Aecio Neves in the first round and beat current President Dilma Rousseff in the second, although both outcomes were within the poll’s margin of error.

However, analysts caution that, with the strong emotional reaction to last week’s events, a bounce in the polls was inevitable and the picture could change substantially.

A devout evangelical Christian who overcame poverty, Marina Silva only learnt to read and write when she was 16.

Correspondents say she appeals mostly to young voters who are unhappy with the Brazilian political establishment.

On Sunday, more than 100,000 people in Brazil paid their last respects to the late presidential candidate, Eduardo Campos, a former governor and rising political star.

They attended a funeral Mass and filled the streets of the city of Recife to follow the passage of his coffin.

Eduardo Campos’s jet crashed on August 13 in bad weather in the port city Santos, near Sao Paulo, killing six other people. Investigators are still trying to establish the exact causes of the accident.

Texas Governor Rick Perry has been booked at the Blackwell-Thurman Criminal Justice Center in Austin, for two felony indictments of abuse of power on August 19.

Rick Perry told dozens of cheering supporters outside the Texas courthouse that he would “fight this injustice with every fiber of my being”.

Showing no hint of worry on his face, Rick Perry flashed a thin, confident grin beneath perfect hair in his mug shot. He then headed to a nearby Austin eatery for ice cream, even gleefully documenting his excursion via Twitter.

The Republican, who is mulling a second presidential run in 2016, was indicted after carrying out a threat to veto funding for state public corruption prosecutors. He has dismissed the case a political ploy, and supporters chanting his last name and holding signs greeted him upon arriving at a Travis County Courthouse in Austin.

“I’m going to fight this injustice with every fiber of my being. And we will prevail,” Rick Perry said before walking inside the building, where he set off a metal detector but didn’t break stride, heading straight to a first-floor office to have his fingerprints taken and stand for the mug shot. In it he’s wearing a blue tie but shed the glasses that have become something of his trademark in recent months.

The longest-serving governor in Texas history was indicted last week for coercion and official oppression for publicly promising to veto $7.5 million for the state public integrity unit, which investigates wrongdoing by elected officials and is run by the Travis County district attorney’s office. Rick Perry threatened the veto if the county’s Democratic district attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, stayed in office after a drunken driving conviction.

Showing no hint of worry on his face Rick Perry flashed a thin confident grin beneath perfect hair in his mug shot photo

Showing no hint of worry on his face, Rick Perry flashed a thin, confident grin beneath perfect hair in his mug shot (photo Austin Police Department)

Rosemary Lehmberg refused to resign and Rick Perry carried out the veto, drawing an ethics complaint from a left-leaning government watchdog group.

Rick Perry was indicted by a grand jury in Austin, a liberal bastion in otherwise mostly fiercely conservative Texas.

“I’m going to enter this courthouse with my head held high knowing the actions I took were not only lawful and legal, but right,” Rick Perry told supporters before heading inside the building located just steps from the governor’s mansion.

In less than 10 minutes, Rick Perry was outside again, telling those assembled that he was confident in the rule of law.

“We don’t resolve political disputes or policy differences by indictments,” he said.

“We don’t criminalize policy disagreements. We will prevail. We will prevail.”

If convicted on both counts, Rick Perry could face a maximum 109 years in prison – though legal experts across the political spectrum have said the case against him may be a tough sell to a jury. No one disputes that Rick Perry has the right to veto any measures passed by the state Legislature, including any parts of the state budget.

However, the complaint against Rick Perry alleges that by publicly threatening a veto and trying to force Rosemary Lehmberg to resign, he coerced her. The Republican judge assigned to the case has assigned a San Antonio-based special prosecutor who insists the case is stronger than it may outwardly appear.

Rick Perry has hired a team of high-powered attorneys, who are being paid with state funds to defend him.

Top Republicans have been especially quick to defend the governor, though, since a jail video following Rosemary Lehmberg’s April 2013 arrest showed the district attorney badly slurring her words, shouting at staffers to call the sheriff, kicking the door of her cell, and sticking her tongue out. Rosemary Lehmberg’s blood alcohol level was also three times the legal limit for driving.

Rick Perry is the first Texas governor to be indicted since 1917.

Rick Perry plans to turn himself in to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The Texas governor he was indicted by a jury in the state last week on two felony charges of abusing power, local news reports said.

Rick Perry, 64, is due to be arraigned on Friday.

The indictment has cast a shadow over Rick Perry’s possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination, with experts predicting that legal wrangling in the case is likely to stretch into the 2016 election cycle.

Rick Perry plans to turn himself in to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot photo

Rick Perry plans to turn himself in to authorities for fingerprinting and a mug shot (photo Getty Images)

Rick Perry was indicted on August 15 by a grand jury in Travis County, a Democratic stronghold in the heavily Republican state, over his veto of funding for a state ethics watchdog that has investigated prominent Texas Republicans.

The governor has called the indictment politically motivated and pledged to fight the charges.

Rick Perry became the target of an ethics probe last year after he vetoed $7.5 million in funding for the state public integrity unit run from the Travis County district attorney’s office.

The veto was widely viewed as intended to force the resignation of county District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg, a Democrat, after she had pleaded guilty to drunken driving but remained in office.

Democrats have said Rick Perry may have been looking to put an ally in charge of the unit, extending what they say is cronyism in his administration.

Rick Perry faces a prison sentence of five to 99 years.

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Pope Francis spoke about an early retirement and his own death for the first time, giving himself “two or three years”.

Talking to reporters on a flight back to the Vatican from South Korea, 77-year-old Pope Francis, who seemed in good spirits, was asked about his global popularity, which was evident again during his five-day visit.

“I see it as the generosity of the people of God. I try to think of my sins, my mistakes, not to become proud. Because I know it will last only a short time. Two or three years and then I’ll be off to the Father’s House,” the pontiff replied.

Pope Francis said he could handle the popularity “more naturally” these days, though at first it had “scared me a little”.

Pope Francis spoke about an early retirement and his own death for the first time photo

Pope Francis spoke about an early retirement and his own death for the first time

While the pope has not spoken publicly before about when he might meet his maker, a Vatican source said he had previously told those close to him that he thought he only had a few years left.

Pope Francis also mentioned the possibility of retiring from the Papacy, as his predecessor Benedict XVI did last year, if he felt he could no longer adequately perform his duties.

Resigning the papacy was a possibility “even if it does not appeal to some theologians”, Pope Francis told reporters.

He added that 60 years ago it was practically unheard of for Catholic bishops to retire, but nowadays it was common.

“Benedict XVI opened a door,” he said.

Pope Francis admitted that he had “some nerve problems”, which required treatment.

“Must treat them well, these nerves, give them mate [an Argentine stimulant tea] every day,” he joked.

“One of these neuroses, is that I’m too much of a homebody,” he added, recalling that the last time he’d taken a holiday outside of his native Argentina was “with the Jesuit community in 1975″.

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Pope Francis has lifted a ban the Catholic Church put on the beatification of murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero over his suspected Marxist ideas.

An outspoken critic of the military regime during El Salvador’s bloody civil war, Archbishop Oscar Romero was shot dead while celebrating Mass in 1980.

Beatification, or declaring a person “blessed”, is the necessary prelude to full sainthood.

Oscar Romero was one of the main proponents of Liberation Theology – an interpretation of Christian faith through the perspective of the poor.

On Monday, Pope Francis said he was hoping for a swift beatification process.

“For me Romero is a man of God,” the Pope told journalists on the plane bringing him back from a trip to South Korea.

Pope Francis has lifted a ban the Catholic Church put on the beatification of murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero over his suspected Marxist ideas photo

Pope Francis has lifted a ban the Catholic Church put on the beatification of murdered Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero over his suspected Marxist ideas

“There are no doctrinal problems and it is very important that [the beatification] is done quickly.”

Archbishop Oscar Romero denounced the right-wing death squads that operated in the Central American nation at the time and the oppression against the poor, calling for an end to all political violence.

Left-wing rebels fought an insurgency against the US-backed right-wing government.

Some 75,000 people were killed in the civil war, which began in 1980 and ended in 1992 with an UN-brokered peace agreement.

Archbishop Oscar Romero was killed on March 24, 1980, aged 62, after ending his sermon in the capital, San Salvador.

No-one has ever been convicted in connection with his murder.

In 2010, then President Mauricio Funes – El Salvador’s first left-wing leader since the end of the civil war – made an official apology.

“I am seeking pardon in the name of the state,” Mauricio Funes said as he unveiled a mural honoring Oscar Romero at El Salvador’s international airport.

Archbishop Oscar Romero, President Mauricio Funes said, was a victim of right-wing death squads “who unfortunately acted with the protection, collaboration or participation of state agents”.

Imran Khan’s opposition party, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaaf (PTI), says it has decided to resign all its seats in Pakistan’s national assembly.

A senior member of party said they were trying to force PM Nawaz Sharif to step down.

The PTI party has 34 of the national assembly’s 342 seats, making it the second biggest opposition group.

Imran Khan has called for the prime ministers to step down, alleging vote rigging in the 2013 election that he won by a landslide.

Shah Mehmud Qureshi, a senior PTI leader, said the party would also withdraw from three out of four provincial assemblies in Pakistan.

The fourth province, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, is under PTI control and officials there will not resign, he said.

The members of parliament’s resignations must be submitted to the national assembly speaker but correspondents said this would not happen on Monday as parliament had adjourned for the day.

Imran Khan has called for Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif to step down alleging vote rigging in the 2013 election that he won by a landslide photo

Imran Khan has called for Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif to step down, alleging vote rigging in the 2013 election that he won by a landslide (photo Wikipedia)

Imran Khan, a former captain of Pakistan’s cricket team, has been demonstrating along with thousands of his supporters in the capital Islamabad since Friday to demand fresh elections.

His rally took place at the same time as a similar demonstration by anti-government cleric Tahirul Qadri, who told crowds that the protests must continue until they bring a “peaceful revolution”.

Nawaz Sharif’s victory was the first democratic transfer of power in Pakistan, which has a long history of coups.

Critics say Tahirul Qadri has close ties to Pakistan’s armed forces.

Supporters of Imran Khan and Tahirul Qadri are angry about Pakistan’s poorly performing economy, growing militancy, and the government’s failure to deliver services such as a steady electricity supply.

However, other opposition figures have criticized the demonstrations and Imran Khan’s call for people to stop paying tax bills in protest at the government.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, co-chairman of the Pakistan People’s Party, the largest opposition party, said such “unconstitutional means” would not help the cause.

“Democracy will not be served by calls for civil disobedience nor by a stubborn refusal by any side to engage in a meaningful dialogue on political issues,” Asif ALi Zardari said in a statement.

Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving Ecuador’s embassy in London “soon”.

The WikiLeaks founder said he would be “leaving the embassy” after two years’ refuge but gave no more details.

Julian Assange, 43, is wanted for questioning over alleged s** assaults in Sweden and faces arrest if he leaves the embassy.

WikiLeaks spokeswoman Kristinn Hrafnsson later said the plan “as always” was for Julian Assange to depart when the UK “calls off the siege”.

“The world is not coming to an end,” Kristinn Hrafnsson told reporters inside the embassy.

“The plan, as always, is to leave as soon as the UK government decides to honour its obligations in relation to international agreements.”

Julian Assange faces questioning by prosecutors in Stockholm over claims made by two women in 2010. He denies the allegations and sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in June 2012 shortly after the UK’s Supreme Court dismissed his efforts to block his extradition.

Since then police have maintained a round-the-clock presence outside the building, in London’s Knightsbridge, at a cost of £6.4 million ($10.2 million).

Julian Assange would be arrested and extradited if he left the embassy.

Speaking at the news conference, Julian Assange said: “I understand that Kristinn Hrafnsson has said that he can confirm I am leaving the embassy soon.”

He added it was not because he needed medical treatment, as had been reported in some of the UK press.

Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving Ecuador’s embassy in London soon photo

Julian Assange has suggested he will be leaving Ecuador’s embassy in London soon (photo AP)

Julian Assange says he fears he could eventually be handed over to the US because WikiLeaks published classified US military documents on the Afghan and Iraq wars.

However, UK courts have repeatedly ruled that he should be sent to Sweden to face questioning.

The UK first ordered his extradition in February 2011. Julian Assange launched a number of appeals, which culminated in the Supreme Court saying the extradition was lawful in 2012.

After that decision, Julian Assange, who had been on conditional bail, sought refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy.

He was then granted asylum by Ecuador in August 2012 and the country’s foreign minister Ricardo Patino said he would continue to be offered “protection”.

Sitting next to Ricardo Patino at a news conference on Monday, Julian Assange said his health had suffered during his time inside the embassy.

Reports in UK newspapers at the weekend said Julian Assange had developed a heart defect and a chronic lung condition during his confinement.

The Australian said the reasons for him leaving were not those “reported by the Murdoch press” – but did not elaborate further.

Any argument Julian Assange could not be extradited because of his health was “almost certainly bound to fail” because Sweden has a good healthcare system.

Ricardo Patino said the Ecuadorean government would attempt to meet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond to discuss the case.

He said changes to the UK’s extradition laws had created a better climate for reaching a deal over Julian Assange.

“It is time to free Julian Assange. It is time for his human rights to be finally respected,” Ricardo Patino added.

A UK Foreign Office spokesman called on the Ecuadorean government to help “bring this difficult and costly situation to an end”.

Floods and landslides in Nepal and northern India have killed at least 160 people following days of torrential rains.

In Nepal, officials said at least 101 people were known to have died after rescuers found four more bodies. More than 130 people are still missing.

In northern Indian states severe flooding after rainfall left at least 60 dead and entire villages marooned.

The worst of the rain is now thought to be over.

At least 101 people were known to have died in Nepal floods 640x446 photo

At least 101 people were known to have died in Nepal floods

Landslides and flooding devastated rural communities and cut off roads throughout the region. In Nepal, officials voiced fears about a possible cholera outbreak.

Rescue helicopters have been deployed to convey emergency supplies to those stranded.

More than 1,500 villages are inundated in India’s Uttar Pradesh state where 28 people have died and thousands have been left homeless.

In Uttarakhand, cloudbursts and landslides killed 32 and in Bihar at least two people have died.

“The flood situation arose following heavy downpours in Nepal, which led to overflowing rivers which originate in the Himalayan region including Tibet and Nepal,” news agency Reuters quoted chief secretary of Uttar Pradesh Alok Ranjan as saying.

In the north-eastern Assam state, the water level has risen to alarming levels in the Brahmaputra and its tributaries, flooding large areas and killing one person, reports the Press Trust of India.

The Kaziranga National Park and the Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary are also heavily flooded, forcing animals to move to highlands to protect themselves, the agency added.

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Ricardo Izurieta, Chile’s ex-army commander, has passed away at his home aged 71.

Gen. Ricardo Izurieta succeeded Augusto Pinochet as army commander in 1998, during the country’s difficult transition towards democracy.

In a statement, the army praised Ricardo Izurieta for uniting Chilean society.

He helped set up a human rights commission to investigate serious abuses committed during military rule.

The commission’s work led the military to admit that it had dropped the bodies of political prisoners into the sea during the dictatorship.

Lieutenant General Ricardo Izurieta took over from General Augusto Pinochet as commander in chief of the Army in March 1998 photo

Lieutenant-General Ricardo Izurieta took over from General Augusto Pinochet as commander-in-chief of the Army in March 1998

Ricardo Izurieta took over from Gen. Augusto Pinochet as commander-in-chief of the Army in March 1998 and stayed in the post until 2002.

Augusto Pinochet had seized power in a coup in 1973 and stood down as president in 1990. But remained as army commander for another eight years.

During the 1973-1990 period Augusto Pinochet led the brutal persecution to supporters of the deposed Socialist President, Salvador Allende.

According to official figures, 40,018 people were victims of human rights abuses in the Pinochet years and 3,065 were killed or disappeared.

Ricardo Izurieta was appointed to replace Augusto Pinochet as army commander by Chile’s democratically-elected President, Eduardo Frei.

“He united the army and the whole Chilean society, without excluding anyone,” the army said in a statement.

The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, also praised Gen. Ricardo Izurieta role in Chile’s democratic transition.

“He was someone I could rely on in difficult times,” said Jose Miguel Insulza, who was forced to leave Chile after the 1973 coup.

Ricardo Izurieta will be buried at the Military Academy in Santiago on Tuesday. The cause of death has not been disclosed.

Augusto Pinochet died in hospital in December 2006, aged 91.

In October 1998, he was arrested while on holiday in London.

The Spanish government sought to put Augusto Pinochet on trial in Madrid over the deaths of its citizens in Chile, but he was released and returned to Santiago in March 2000.

Ricardo Izurieta was at the Air Force base in Santiago to welcome his former commander.

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Pope Francis has urged for reconciliation between the two Koreas, on the final day of his visit to South Korea.

Koreans, Pope Francis said, should reject a “mindset of suspicion and confrontation” and find new paths to build peace.

The pontiff spoke at a Mass in Seoul’s main cathedral attended by President Park Geun-hye and North Korean defectors.

The service coincided with the start of major US-South Korea military exercises.

The annual drills, called Ulchi Freedom Guardian, last for 12 days and involve some 80,000 US and South Korean service personnel.

The exercises always enrage North Korea, which has in recent weeks conducted a series of short-range missile tests – including one as the Pope arrived.

It has threatened a “merciless” retaliatory strike in response to the drills.

North Korea and South Korea remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in an armistice and not a peace treaty.

Pope Francis has urged for reconciliation between the two Koreas on the final day of his visit to South Korea photo

Pope Francis has urged for reconciliation between the two Koreas, on the final day of his visit to South Korea (photo EPA)

Speaking at Myeongdong Cathedral, Pope Francis said all Koreans were “brothers and sisters, members of one family, one people”.

“Let us pray for the emergence of new opportunities for dialogue, encounter and the resolution of differences,” he said.

He also called for generosity in providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, and urged Koreans to work together as one, “with no victors or vanquished”.

Representatives from North Korea’s state-run Korean Catholic Association were invited to attend the Mass, but Pyongyang rejected this offer.

Also at the service were seven elderly women forced to work as prostitutes for Japanese troops during World War Two.

One of the women gave Pope Francis a gold butterfly pin – a symbol of their continuing struggle for justice – which he wore during the Mass.

Pope Francis, who on Saturday beatified 124 Koreans who died for their faith in the 18th and 19th Centuries, later flew out of Seoul.

The pontiff will visit the Philippines and Sri Lanka in January.

En route to Rome, Pope Francis sent a telegram to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a follow-up to a message he had sent when he flew over China to South Korea on Thursday.

“Returning to Rome after my visit to Korea, I wish to renew to your Excellency and your fellow citizens the assurance of my best wishes, as I invoke divine blessings upon your land,” Pope Francis said.

The Vatican and Beijing have no formal ties, but the decision to let Pope Francis fly through Chinese airspace is being seen as a possible sign of warmth.

When Pope John Paul II visited Seoul in 1989, he had to fly through Russian airspace to get to South Korea.