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.
Pakistan state TV (PTV) has been taken off air after its headquarters were stormed by anti-government protesters in Islamabad.
PTV showed live images of crowds breaking open the gates and pouring into its offices before its transmission ended.
Latest reports say troops have removed the protesters from the building.
Protesters want PM Nawaz Sharif to resign. He denies charges of corruption and electoral fraud.
Earlier, fresh clashes erupted between protesters and police.
A number of police officers have been injured during clashes near PM Nawaz Sharif’s residence (photo The Express Tribune)
A number of police officers were reported to have been injured in the violence as thousands of demonstrators – some wielding batons and throwing stones – moved on the main building housing Pakistan’s federal bureaucracy and Prime Minister’s House.
Riot police were forced to retreat from the main road in front of parliament, Constitution Avenue.
Protesters attacked vehicles and set fire to shipping containers placed on the road as roadblocks.
On Sunday night protesters used trucks to smash through the outer fence of the parliament building.
Demonstrators loyal to opposition politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri have been taking part in a sit-in in the centre of the capital for two weeks.
Russia has been given by the European Union one week to reverse course in Ukraine or face new sanctions.
European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the EU was working urgently on further restrictive measures.
Earlier, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said his country was “close to a point of no return – full scale-war” with Russia.
Russia denies Western accusations that its forces have illegally crossed into Ukraine to support separatists there.
Pro-Russian rebels have made gains against Ukrainian troops in recent days in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Some 2,600 people have died in fighting.
The conflict in the east erupted in April following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s southern Crimea peninsula a month before.
Western leaders say there is clear evidence of regular Russian military units operating inside Ukraine with heavy weapons.
Speaking after a summit in Brussels, Herman Van Rompuy said the EU “stands ready to take further significant steps in light of the evolution of the situation on the ground.
“Everybody is fully aware that we have to act quickly.”
Herman Van Rompuy did not specify the nature of further sanctions, but said the proposals would be ready within a week.
The US applauded the EU’s move.
Speaking in Brussels, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine was a victim of military aggression and terror (photo AFP)
“We welcome the European Council’s consensus today to show strong support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to prepare further sanctions for consideration in coming days,” White House National Security spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
The EU and US have already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on many senior Russian officials and separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine.
Western sanctions also restrict loans for Russian state banks, block defense-related technology exports and certain oil industry exports to Russia.
Russia denies that its forces are backing the rebels, instead accusing Ukrainian forces of aggression and deliberately firing at civilians.
Speaking in Brussels, President Petro Poroshenko said Ukraine was a victim of “military aggression and terror”.
“Any offensive action which would be undertaken [by Russia]… would be a point of no return. And that’s why we undertake enormous efforts to stop that.”
Petro Poroshenko also said that he would discuss the possibility of a ceasefire at a meeting in Belarus on Monday of the Contact Group, which includes Ukraine, Russia, Belarus and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).
Federica Mogherini, named on August 31 as Catherine Ashton’s successor, said there could be no military solution to the crisis and that while sanctions were being worked on, the diplomatic process would need to continue.
Ukraine’s government forces have lost ground in recent fighting.
A Ukrainian military spokesman said on August 30 that Russian tanks had attacked the town of Novosvitlivka near Luhansk and “destroyed virtually every house”.
Spokesman Andriy Lysenko said troops had been ordered to retreat from Novosvitlivk.
Ukrainian soldiers have also been trying to evacuate Ilovaisk in the Donetsk region, which has been surrounded by the rebels. Reports say a number of soldiers have been killed in shelling by the separatists.
Rebel leader Alexander Zakharchenko told the Russian News Service radio station a new offensive was being planned to create a corridor between Donetsk and Luhansk.
In south-eastern Ukraine, people have been leaving the port city of Mariupol, after advancing rebels captured Novoazovsk to the east.
Western and Ukrainian officials say this offensive has been substantially helped by Russian regular troops, opening a new front. Russia denies the accusation.
Libya’s PM Abdullah al-Thani has resigned in a move to end the power struggle in the country.
Abdullah al-Thani’s cabinet said it was resigning to enable the elected parliament to choose a new, inclusive government.
The Islamist-linked militia which seized the capital, Tripoli, last week has called for the elected parliament to be replaced by the previous body, the General National Congress (GNC).
Libya has been hit by instability since the 2011 ousting of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.
The various armed groups which united against Libya’s long-time leader have refused to disarm, leaving the government unable to exert control.
Libya’s PM Abdullah al-Thani has resigned in a move to end the power struggle in the country (photo Reuters)
French President Francois Hollande on Thursday called for the UN to give “exceptional support” to Libya to prevent the country sliding further into chaos.
Following the call by the Misrata-led militia for the GNC to reform, some members gathered this week in Tripoli and said they had appointed a new prime minister.
The UN this week stressed that it only recognized the elected body, the House of Representatives, which is dominated by liberal and federalist lawmakers.
The GNC had an Islamist majority.
Because of the instability in Tripoli, and the second city Benghazi, the House of Representatives has been meeting in the far eastern town of Tobruk.
Abdullah al-Thani, 60, served as Libya’s prime minister since March 2014, when he took over in an interim capacity after Congress dismissed Ali Zeidan. He was previously the defense minister in the government of Ali Zeidan.
Turkey’s outgoing PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been officially sworn in as the country’s president after winning the first public vote for head of state.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who served three terms as prime minister, has vowed to give more power to the previously ceremonial post.
Critics of Recep Tayyip Erdogan say the move will make him more authoritarian. Opposition MPs walked out of the ceremony.
Outgoing Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is set to be Turkey’s prime minister after being elected head of the governing AK Party.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan promised in his presidential oath to protect Turkey’s independence and integrity, to honor the constitution and adhere to the principles of the founder of modern Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
“In my capacity as president of the Republic, I swear upon my honor and repute before the great Turkish nation and before history to safeguard the existence and independence of the state,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the brief ceremony in parliament.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan served three terms as Turkey’s prime minister (photo AFP/Getty Images)
The new president left parliament to lay a wreath at Ataturk’s mausoleum in the centre of Ankara – widely regarded as one of the most important symbols of the secular republic.
Another ceremony was held at the presidential palace.
Turkey’s main opposition party walked out of parliament just before Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived, in protest over what they say is his disrespect for the constitution.
One legislator was even reported to have hurled a copy of the constitution toward the Speaker, complaining that he was not allowed to express his views.
Main opposition party leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu boycotted the inauguration ceremony.
Under the constitution, Recep Tayyip Erdogan must cut his ties with the AK Party upon becoming president.
At the party’s congress on August 27, he said Turkey needed a new constitution, which analysts say would introduce the style of executive presidency that Recep Tayyip Erdogan openly seeks.
Thursday’s inauguration ceremony was attended by several heads of state.
However, the US only sent a representative of its embassy and no Western European leader was there.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan clamped down violently on anti-government protests last year and recently compared Israel’s policy in Gaza to “genocide… reminiscent of the Holocaust”.
His supporters say he has transformed Turkey’s economy and given a political voice to the country’s conservatives.
However, his critics accuse him of having an abrasive style and Islamist leanings.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan won Turkey’s first direct presidential election earlier this month after gaining nearly 52% of the votes in the first round.
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will focus on the southern part of the search area in the Indian Ocean, Australian officials say.
Officials said further refinement of satellite data found the plane may have turned south earlier than thought.
The announcement came as Australia and Malaysia signed an agreement on the search’s next phase, which will see the two countries sharing costs.
The Beijing-bound plane disappeared on March 8 with 239 people onboard.
Based on analysis of satellite data, it is believed to have ended its journey in seas far west of the Australian city of Perth.
Investigators do not know what happened to the flight and finding its “black box” flight recorders is seen as key to understanding the factors behind its disappearance.
The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 will focus on the southern part of the search area in the Indian Ocean
Australia, which is responsible for search and rescue operations, has been looking for the plane in an area about 1,800km off its west coast.
The latest detail on the plane’s possible flight path came from an analysis of a failed attempted satellite phone call from Malaysia Airlines to the plane, said Australia’s Deputy PM Warren Truss.
“The search area remains the same, but some of the information that we now have suggests to us that areas a little further to the south… are of particular interest and priority,” he told reporters in Canberra.
A Dutch contractor, Fugro Survey, will kick off the next phase in the search in September. Three vessels towing underwater vehicles will scan for the plane.
The search will focus on an area of about 60,000 sq km and is estimated to cost about A$52 million ($49 million).
Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai signed the memorandum of understanding with Warren Truss.
The two were also briefed on search efforts, together with China’s Transport Vice-Minister He Jianzhong.
Most of the passengers onboard MH370 flight were Chinese. The ministers issued a statement saying they “remain cautiously optimistic” that the plane will be found.
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%.
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.
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
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.”
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 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.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
“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 (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 (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.