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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.

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The transcript of the last communications between South Korean ferry that sank on Wednesday and traffic services reveal panic and indecision by the crew.

In the newly released transcript, a crew member repeatedly asks if there were vessels on hand to rescue passengers if evacuation was ordered.

The captain has said he delayed the move for fear people would drift away.

After three days, divers have now entered the ferry and retrieved 26 bodies, bringing the death toll to 58.

However, another 244 people are still missing. Some 174 passengers were rescued.

The Sewol capsized during a journey from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju. There were 476 people on board – including 339 children and teachers on a school trip,

Investigations are focusing on whether the vessel took too sharp a turn before it started listing and whether an earlier evacuation order could have saved lives.

Some experts believe the turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel.

Messages and phone calls from those inside paint a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Sewol ferry capsized during a journey from Incheon in the north west to the southern island of Jeju photo

Sewol ferry capsized during a journey from Incheon in the north-west to the southern island of Jeju

Details of the panic on the bridge emerged on Sunday, when the coastguard released a transcript of the last communications between the crew and controllers.

At 09:24 – 29 minutes after the Sewol issued its first distress call – a controller says: “Please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing.”

The unidentified crew member says: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?”

“At least make them wear life rings and make them escape,” the controller from the Jindo Vessel Traffic Services Centre replies.

As he continues to urge the crew to prepare for evacuation, the crew member twice asks if passengers would be “rescued straight away”.

It was not until 09:37 – a few seconds before the last communication – that it became clear to controllers that evacuation had been ordered.

On Saturday the captain, Lee Joon-seok, appeared on TV saying: “I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims.

“The current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without proper judgement, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties.”

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was not on the bridge when the ferry began listing. It was steered inexperienced by a third mate who had never navigated the waters where the accident occurred, prosecutors said on Saturday.

The captain and two other crew members have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Since the capsize, many of the relatives of those on board have been on Jindo island, near the site of the accident. Some have protested over the rescue operation.

Boats carrying 13 of the recently retrieved bodies arrived at Paengmok Port on Jindo on Sunday.

About 200 ships, 34 aircraft and 600 divers have been taking part in the search operation. Fishing boats with powerful lights have been brought in to help the divers operate at night.

But the currents are still strong and the visibility remains challenging.

Sewol communications excerpt:

Controller: “Please go out and let the passengers wear life jackets and put on more clothing.”

Crew member: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will you be able to rescue them?”

Controller: “At least make them wear life rings and make them escape.”

Crew member: “If this ferry evacuates passengers, will they be rescued right away?”

Controller: “Don’t let them go bare. At least make them wear life rings and make them escape… We don’t know the situation very well. The captain should make the final decision and decide whether you’re going to evacuate passengers or not.”

Crew member: “I’m not talking about that. I asked, if they evacuate now, can they be rescued right away?”

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Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass and delivered the Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

After leading the ceremony that marks the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Pope Francis delivered his traditional blessing and address.

The pontiff prayed for peace in Syria and Ukraine and “an end to all war and every conflict”.

And he also prayed for those people around the world suffering from hunger, poverty, disease and neglect.

This is the second Easter mass and “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message Pope Francis, 77, has delivered as Pope.

 photo

Pope Francis led his second Easter Mass in front of tens of thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square

The avenue leading up to the Vatican was filled with 35,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands.

“Help us to overcome the scourge of hunger, aggravated by conflicts and by the immense wastefulness for which we are often responsible,” Pope Francis prayed.

He appealed for more medical attention for those suffering from the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa and also prayed for the protection of the most vulnerable members of society.

Pope Francis asked God to “enlighten and inspire the initiatives that promote peace in Ukraine so that all those involved… will make every effort to prevent violence and, in a spirit of unity and dialogue, chart a path for the country’s future”.

“We pray in a particular way for Syria,” he said, expressing the hope that the “defenseless civil population” will be protected from the violence and get the aid they need.

In reference to Syria, Pope Francis urged the international community to “boldly negotiate the peace long awaited and long overdue”.

Pope Francis’ message came as Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad marked Easter by visiting the ancient Christian town of Maalula.

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People have gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis.

After leading the ceremony that marks the holiest day in the Christian calendar, Pope Francis will deliver his traditional blessing and address.

People have gathered in St Peters Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis photo

People have gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Easter Sunday Mass led by Pope Francis (photo Reuters)

Pope Francis is expected to use his message to highlight the suffering of people in areas of conflict, including Ukraine.

The avenue leading up to the Vatican has been decorated with 35,000 flowers donated by the Netherlands.

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Families of passengers on sunken South Korean ferry Sewol have protested angrily over the rescue operation.

Police stopped up to 100 people trying to leave Jindo island intending to march to Seoul.

After more than three days, divers have now finally entered the ferry, retrieving 22 bodies and bringing the death toll to 54.

However, another 248 people are still missing from the Sewol ferry, which sank on Wednesday.

Some 174 passengers were rescued.

Since the capsize, many of the relatives of those on board have been on Jindo, in the south-west of the country.

Hundreds have been camping at a gymnasium on the island, awaiting news from the rescue operation.

Scuffles broke out when some family members tried to cross a bridge to the mainland, reportedly to march on the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, some 260 miles to the north.

Relatives are anxious for the bodies to be retrieved before they decompose.

Families of passengers on sunken South Korean ferry Sewol have protested angrily over the rescue operation photo

Families of passengers on sunken South Korean ferry Sewol have protested angrily over the rescue operation

Even the prime minister came down to try to dissuade the protesters from marching on Seoul, with officials worried that the controversy could turn into a national political issue and harm the government.

About 200 ships, 34 aircraft and 600 divers have been taking part in the search operation.

Squid fishing boats with powerful lights have been brought in to help the divers operate at night.

But the currents are still strong and the visibility remains challenging.

Coastguard official Koh Myung-seok told a briefing that divers had discovered a number of routes into the ferry, and found bodies in different locations.

Captain Lee Joon-seok and two other crew members are in custody and have been charged with negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Officials said on Saturday that the ferry was being steered by an inexperienced third mate in unfamiliar waters when it sank.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was not initially on the bridge when the ship ran into trouble.

The Sewol, carrying 476 passengers and crew, capsized during a journey from the port of Incheon in the north-west to the southern holiday island of Jeju.

Investigations are focusing on a sharp turn the vessel took before it started listing and whether an evacuation order could have saved lives.

Some experts believe the ship’s tight turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel, while others suggest the sinking could have been caused by a collision with a rock.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Footage from the ship appeared to show instructions from crew members for passengers to remain on board even as it tilted dramatically to one side.

Some 350 of those on board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, who were on a school outing when the ferry sank.

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Orthodox Church patriarchs in Kiev and Moscow have highlighted during their Easter messages the deep division in Ukraine, where a tense stand-off is continuing in the east.

The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church Patriarch Filaret accused Russia of “aggression” and “evil”.

Russian Church Patriarch Kirill asked God to end the designs of those who wanted to rip apart Russia and Ukraine.

Pro-Russian activists in the east continue to occupy government offices.

Meanwhile Russia media are reporting several deaths in a gun battle near the eastern town of Sloviansk.

Reports of fatalities in the region have appeared before but have not been independently confirmed.

A mediator from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is scheduled to hold talks with them on Sunday.

Russian Church Patriarch Kirill asked God to end the designs of those who wanted to rip apart Russia and Ukraine 640x472 photo

Russian Church Patriarch Kirill asked God to end the designs of those who wanted to rip apart Russia and Ukraine

Ertogrul Apakan, who heads the special OSCE mission in Kiev, said his deputy would be in Donetsk to try to get them to comply with an agreement reached on Thursday to ease the crisis.

In his Easter message, Patriarch Filaret said: “Against our peace-loving nation, which voluntarily gave up nuclear weapons, there has been aggression, there has been injustice.

“A country which guaranteed the integrity and inviolability of our territory has committed aggression. God cannot be on the side of evil, so the enemy of the Ukrainian people is condemned to defeat.

“Lord, help us resurrect Ukraine.”

In Moscow, Patriarch Kirill appealed for peace, saying it “should reign in the hearts and minds of our brothers and sisters by blood and by faith”.

But he also said Ukraine was “spiritually and historically” at one with Russia, and he prayed for it to have authorities that were “legitimately elected”.

“We are a single people before God,” he said.

Ukraine’s acting President, Oleksandr Turchynov, said in his Easter message: “We are living in a fateful time when the Ukrainian people have decisively affirmed their striving for freedom and justice.”

In an interview to be aired in full later on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Ukraine’s interim PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk accuses Russian President Vladimir Putin of trying to “restore the Soviet Union”.

If Vladimir Putin succeeded, Arseniy Yatsenyuk says, it would be “the biggest disaster of this century”.

Ukraine has been in crisis since President Viktor Yanukovych was toppled in February.

Russia then annexed the Crimean peninsula – part of Ukraine but with a Russian-speaking majority – in a move that provoked international outrage.

The annexation followed a referendum in Crimea that backed a move to join the Russian Federation.

Pro-Russian activists then occupied buildings in several eastern Ukrainian cities, many calling on Moscow to support them.

Russia, Ukraine, the EU and US agreed during talks in Geneva on Thursday that illegal military groups in Ukraine must be dissolved, and that those occupying government premises must be disarmed and leave.

But the separatists’ spokesman in the city of Donetsk said that the Kiev government was “illegal”, and vowed they would not go until it stepped down.

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Lee Joon-seok, the captain of South Korean ferry Sewol that sank this week, said he delayed giving evacuation orders because he feared passengers would “drift away”.

Lee Joon-seok, 69, was arrested with two crew members on Friday.

Divers saw three bodies in the ship on Saturday but were not able to retrieve them. The number of missing stands at 270 with 32 now confirmed dead, after three bodies were found in the water.

The official leading the rescue said it “may last one or two months.”

Some 174 passengers were rescued, but poor visibility and strong currents are making the search – now in its fourth day – difficult.

Captain Lee Joon-seok faces charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law after being criticized for not giving orders to evacuate soon enough.

Meanwhile relatives of the victims have begun providing DNA samples to help identify bodies recovered from the wreckage.

Investigations are focusing on a sharp turn the vessel took before it started listing and whether an evacuation order could have saved lives.

Sewol’s Captain Lee Joon seok was arrested with two crew members 640x360 photo

Sewol’s Captain Lee Joon-seok was arrested with two crew members (photo AP)

The ferry Sewol was sailing from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within two hours.

Lee Joon-seok, who had already been questioned by police, was shown on television on Saturday after his arrest.

“I am sorry to the people of South Korea for causing a disturbance and I bow my head in apology to the families of the victims,” he said.

“I gave instructions regarding the route, then I briefly went to the bedroom and then [the sinking] happened.

“The current was very strong, the temperature of the ocean water was cold, and I thought that if people left the ferry without proper judgement, if they were not wearing a life jacket, and even if they were, they would drift away and face many other difficulties,” he said.

He added that rescue boats had not arrived at the time of capsizing.

The helmsman at the time, Cho Joon-ki, was also among those arrested. He said that the ship reacted differently to what he had expected.

“There was a mistake on my behalf as well but the steering [gear of the ship] turned further than it was supposed to,” he told reporters.

According to documents seen by the Associated Press news agency, maritime safety officials recommended a full evacuation of the ship five minutes after a distress call was raised.

But a crew member told the agency that it took the captain 30 minutes to issue the order.

Some experts believe the ship’s tight turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel, while others suggest the sinking could have been caused by a collision with a rock.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Officials say air has been pumped into the ship to aid any people trapped inside and to help refloat the vessel.

The South Korean coastguard said on Saturday that a civilian diver had seen three bodies through a window in the fourth floor of the ship.

The diver was not able to retrieve the bodies because of floating objects and time restrictions on diving, the coastguard said.

But three other bodies found in the water near the wreck were recovered, bringing the number of confirmed dead to 32.

Choi Sang-hwan, deputy director of the national coastguard, said nets would be placed around the sunken ferry to prevent any bodies drifting away.

Some 350 of those on board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, who were on a school outing when the ferry sank.

Hundreds of relatives of those on board have been camping at a gymnasium on Jindo island near the scene of the disaster.

Asked how long the rescue operation was likely to continue, Shin Won-Nam, the head of the Emergency Management Centre, told reporters that it could take weeks, if not months.

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Malaysia’s acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has announced that the search area for the missing MH370 plane has narrowed and will be at “a critical juncture” in the next two days.

Hishammuddin Hussein said underwater drone Bluefin-21 would finish searching the area within the next week.

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine has so far found nothing after six missions.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing carrying 239 people.

The Bluefin is mapping the area of the sea bed within 6 miles radius of where acoustic signals were detected believed to have come from the aircraft’s flight recorder.

It is operating at a depth of more than 13,000 feet.

The Bluefin 21 mini submarine searching for missing Malaysia Airlines plane has so far found nothing after six missions photo

The Bluefin 21 mini-submarine searching for missing Malaysia Airlines plane has so far found nothing after six missions

Hishammuddin Hussein said it was important to focus on the search on Saturday and Sunday.

“The narrowing of the search for today and tomorrow is at a critical juncture,” he said.

“I appeal to everyone around the world to pray and pray hard that we find something to work on in the next couple of days.”

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that the MH370 ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

They do not know why the plane flew so far off course and finding the plane’s flight recorders is seen as key to understanding what happened.

The Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is searching in an area defined by four acoustic signals picked up by an Australian search team, and was deployed after officials concluded that the batteries on the plane’s flight recorders would likely have expired, given their one-month shelf life.

Submersible Bluefin-21 has an operating depth of 4,500m (15,000ft) and on its first mission a built-in safety device returned it to the surface after it exceeded that depth.

The authorities have now adjusted the device to allow it to go as deep as 4,695m.

The Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said on Thursday that the machine could operate deeper than 4,500m at “a small but acceptable level of risk”.

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Easter’s Way of the Cross procession in Rome has been led by Pope Francis, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned.

Via Crucis ceremony marks Christians’ commemoration of Christ’s crucifixion on Good Friday. Tens of thousands of people lined the route near the 2,000-year-old Colosseum.

Pope Francis heard the Vatican’s official preacher deliver a sermon denouncing greed and the love of money.

The procession is part of the Church’s Easter triduum festival.

Pope Francis urged the crowd to “remember all the abandoned people” and spoke of the “monstrosity of man” when he lets evil guide him.

Easters Way of the Cross procession in Rome has been led by Pope Francis with prayers for the poor and the abandoned 640x426 photo

Easter’s Way of the Cross procession in Rome has been led by Pope Francis, with prayers for the poor and the abandoned

“Evil won’t have the last word, but love, mercy and pardon will” he added at the end of the Way of the Cross.

The sermon, by Father Raniero Cantalamessa, spoke of the injustice of human trafficking and suffering caused by environmental damage.

“Money is behind every evil in our society” the preacher declared.

The procession route included 14 stages, known as Stations of the Cross, at which specially written meditations were recited.

One meditation touched on the plight of child soldiers, while another recalled the deaths of migrants trying to reach more prosperous countries.

Other meditations criticized overcrowding in prisons and the treatment of the elderly.

Immigrants, prisoners, former drug addicts and elderly people were among those who helped carry a large cross between the different stations.

On Saturday night, Pope Francis will celebrate an Easter vigil Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

Easter services will then conclude on Sunday with a Mass celebrating Jesus’s resurrection.

Pope Francis will deliver his twice-yearly “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) message.

On Thursday, the Pope washed the feet of 12 disabled people in Rome as part of the Maundy Thursday service commemorating Christ’s Last Supper.

Pope Francis broke with tradition by washing the feet of several women and a Muslim man in a ceremony traditionally restricted to men only.

Lee Joon-seok, the captain of South Korean ferry Sewol that capsized and sank earlier this week has been arrested, Yonhap news agency reports.

Captain Lee Joon-seok faced charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law.

Yonhap said a local court had issued arrest warrants for him and two other crew members on these charges.

Efforts to find the 268 people still missing have been hampered by low visibility and strong currents.

Twenty-eight people are now known to have died in the disaster, with 179 rescued.

The ferry Sewol was sailing from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within two hours.

Captain Lee Joon seok faced charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law photo

Captain Lee Joon-seok faced charges including negligence of duty and violation of maritime law (photo Yonhap)

Lee Joon-seok, who had already been questioned by police, was shown on television on Thursday, his face partially obscured, apologizing to the victims and their relatives.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say,” he said.

It has emerged that a junior officer – and not the captain – was at the helm of the ferry when it capsized.

Investigations are focusing on the sharp turn the vessel took before it started listing and whether an evacuation order could have saved lives.

Some experts believe such a tight turn could have dislodged heavy cargo and destabilized the vessel, while others suggest it could have been caused by a collision with a rock.

Survivors have accused the crew of instructing them to remain where they were rather than evacuate the ship.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the sharply-listing ferry.

Earlier on Friday, coastguard officials said that two divers had managed to enter the cargo bay of the vessel, but could not identify or rescue anyone because of items obstructing their way.

Some 350 of those on board were students from Danwon High School in Ansan, a suburb of Seoul, who were on a school outing when the ferry sank.

The vice principal of Danwon High School, who was rescued from the ferry, was found dead on nearby Jindo island on Friday.

Kang Min-Kyu, 52, had been missing since Thursday and was discovered hanging from a tree near the gym on Jindo island – where many of the relatives of missing passengers have been staying.

Amid a major search and rescue operation, officials say air has been pumped into the ship to help any people trapped inside and to help refloat the vessel. But officials say it is unlikely anyone has survived.

Three salvage cranes have reached the site and they may be used to raise the ship or move it to another area with weaker currents.

Challenging conditions have hampered the search for a third consecutive day.

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According to South Korean investigators, the third officer was at the helm of Sewol ferry that capsized off Jindo island.

A total of 268 people – including scores of high school students – remain missing after Wednesday’s disaster.

Twenty-eight people are now known to have died and 179 were rescued.

It is not clear why the ferry sank, but experts have suggested it either hit a rock or turned sharply, unbalancing the vessel as cargo shifted.

Sewol ferry had been travelling from Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju. It capsized and sank within a period of two hours, officials said.

A major search and rescue operation has been under way. Bad weather, poor visibility and strong currents hampered the divers’ search on Thursday.

Some of the divers have managed to enter the cargo bay of the ship, a coast guard official confirmed in a press conference on Friday.

But they could not identify or rescue any people due to items obstructing the way, the unnamed official added.

The third officer was at the helm of Sewol ferry that capsized off South Korea coast 640x359 photo

The third officer was at the helm of Sewol ferry that capsized off South Korea coast

Air was also now being injected into the ship to help any people trapped inside – though officials have said that survivors are unlikely – and to help refloat the vessel.

Coast guard officials, quoted by AFP, say the bodies picked up were found floating in the water, and none had been retrieved from the ship itself.

Three salvage cranes have also arrived at the scene, to raise the ship or move it to another area with weaker currents.

“We will review the options very carefully, as the salvage operations may hurt survivors trapped inside,” Yonhap news agency quoted a coast guard officer as saying.

Meanwhile, investigators have stated that the captain of the ferry, Lee Joon-seok, was not in charge when the ferry ran into trouble.

“It was the third officer who was in command of steering the ship when the accident took place,” state prosecutor Park Jae-Eok told journalists.

“Whether or not they took a drastic turnaround… is under investigation,” he said.

“Though surviving crews have different testimonies about the situation, we’ve been investigating the captain as he was suspected to leave the steering room for an unknown reason,” Park Jae-Eok added.

In a separate development, reports say the vice principal of Danwon High School, who was rescued from the ferry, was found dead on Friday.

Yonhap news agency quotes police as saying Kang Min-Kyu, 52, was found hanging from a tree near the gym where many of the relatives of missing passengers have been staying.

Witnesses have accused the crew of telling passengers to remain where they were, rather than evacuate the sinking ship.

Messages and phone calls from those inside painted a picture of people trapped in crowded corridors, unable to escape the severely-listing ferry.

Some 350 of those on board were students from the same high school in a suburb of Seoul who were on a field trip.

Their relatives have endured a long wait for news – their anguish compounded by conflicting information about numbers of survivors issued early on.

In a public statement issued on Friday, families of the missing called for more urgent action.

“Nobody told us about what went wrong and what was happening out there. There was not even a situation room in charge by late Wednesday,” a representative said.

“Our children would be shouting for help in the freezing water,” he said.

“Please help us save our children.”

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Four anti-corruption activists linked to the New Citizens’ Movement – which campaigns for government transparency – have been jailed by a Chinese court.

Human rights lawyer Ding Jiaxi was jailed for three and a half years, while veteran activist Zhao Changqing was jailed for two and a half years.

Activists Zhang Baocheng and Li Wei each received two-year sentences.

The verdicts come after Beijing’s high court upheld a four-year jail term given to movement founder Xu Zhiyong.

Four anti corruption activists linked to the New Citizens Movement have been jailed by Beijing court photo

Four anti-corruption activists linked to the New Citizens’ Movement have been jailed by Beijing court

The New Citizens’ Movement a loose network of activists is campaigning for government officials to disclose their wealth.

Xu Zhiyong had appealed against his sentence for “gathering crowds to disrupt public order”.

The four activists were charged with the same offence, Beijing’s Haidian District People’s Court said in a blog post.

Zhang Baocheng’s lawyer, Ge Yongxi, told the AFP news agency that the ruling was “a warning and a threat”.

“We think he’s completely innocent; there is no legal basis for the court’s ruling, and the punishment is too heavy,” Ge Yongxi said.

The ruling Chinese Communist Party has repeatedly vowed to crack down on corruption – but the party has also tried critics and anti-corruption activists.

Human rights groups said the crackdown on the activists was part of a wider campaign against civil society by the government, despite President Xi Jinping’s high-profile public campaign against corruption.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to kick off his re-election campaign at an event his brother and campaign aide has called “history in the making”.

Rob Ford is expected to deliver a 20-minute speech at the Toronto Congress Centre, where he celebrated his mayoral win in 2010.

He has been stripped of many of his powers after admitting to using and purchasing drugs while mayor.

Rob Ford faces two major challengers in the 27 October election.

His brother and campaign manager City Councilor, Doug Ford, said he expected “thousands” to turn out after the campaign sent automated phone invitations to many Toronto residents.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to kick off his re election campaign photo

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is set to kick off his re-election campaign

Rob Ford was first elected in 2010 to lead Canada’s largest city on a pledge to tackle wasteful spending at city hall. He draws much of his support from the suburban areas of Toronto.

He soon privatized rubbish collection across much of the city and did away with a vehicle tax, but quickly became bogged down in disputes with the council.

And over the past year, Rob Ford has admitted smoking crack cocaine “in a drunken stupor” and to purchasing illegal drugs while mayor.

Allegations have also surfaced in police documents that Rob Ford used racially abusive language, threatened staff, harassing a female colleague, and snorted cocaine in a restaurant.

He denies the allegations.

In the fallout from the drugs scandal, the city council stripped Rob Ford of most of his mayoral powers and his budget, rendering him effectively mayor in name only, analysts say.

However, Rob Ford has brushed aside pressure to quit, saying voters will decide whether to keep him in office in the October election. He has said his “track record speaks for itself”, and recent polls show him running in contention with his chief challengers.

On Thursday, Doug Ford told reporters his brother’s campaign kick-off would include “some humility, a lot of accomplishments” but no new campaign policy announcements.

The Toronto mayor faces serious challenges from centre-right candidate John Tory, a broadcaster and former member of the provincial parliament, and former New Democratic Party (NDP) MP Olivia Chow.

John Tory has released a “Code of Conduct” in which he vows to “respect and defend our laws, not break them”, and to “show up for work each day”, in a clear rebuke to Rob Ford’s recent behavior.

Karen Stintz, a city councilor, and David Soknacki, a former councilor, are also running.

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The search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster has been hampered by bad weather, murky water and strong currents.

Emergency services are still searching for about 280 people missing after a ship carrying 475 people sank.

Officials say 179 people have been rescued. Most of the passengers were pupils at the same high school.

South Korea’s president visited the wreck and urged rescuers to “hurry”.

President Park Geun-hye said that time was running out and that every minute and every second was critical.

Eighteen people are confirmed to have died, with dozens more injured.

The search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster has been hampered by bad weather murky water and strong currents photo

The search for survivors of the South Korean ferry disaster has been hampered by bad weather, murky water and strong currents (photo Yonhap)

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported earlier that one Russian and two Chinese were among the missing.

Military divers have been fighting high winds and waves to try to access the vessel but were not able to get into any of the cabins, the Chief of the West Regional Headquarters of the South Korean Coastguard, Kim Soo-hyun, said.

At a press conference on Thursday, Kim Soo-hyun said reports that the ferry went off its course were being investigated.

It is not yet clear what caused the ship to list at a severe angle and flip over, leaving only a small part of its hull visible above water, but some experts have suggested the ship may have hit an underwater obstacle.

Passengers’ relatives are also questioning the role of the captain, who is being quizzed by police.

Captain Lee Joon-seok was shown apologizing on television.

“I am really sorry and deeply ashamed. I don’t know what to say,” he said.

It comes amid reports he was one of the first to escape the doomed ship.

Naval and coastguard vessels have been using floodlights and flares as darkness falls to maintain a search now involving more than 500 divers, 171 vessels and 29 aircraft.

Distraught relatives gathered in a gymnasium on nearby Jindo island insisted more should be done, and vented their grief and frustration to anyone who would listen.

The vessel – named Sewol – was travelling from Incheon port, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.

Yonhap said the dead included four 17-year-old students and a 25-year-old teacher as well as a 22-year-old female crew member. Identities of the other victims were not immediately known.

The latest figures say 475 people were on board and 278 are still missing. Figures issued by the government have changed several times, prompting criticism.

Search efforts have been concentrated on the ship, which sank in about 100ft of water.

“We carried out underwater searches five times from midnight until early in the morning, but strong currents and the murky water pose tremendous obstacles,” said Kang Byung-kyu, Minister for Security and Public Administration.

Meanwhile, the coastguard chief denied reports that three divers had been swept away and had to be rescued themselves.

Privately, some officials admit it is unlikely the remaining passengers will be found alive.

“Honestly, I think the chances of finding anyone alive are close to zero,” one coastguard official told an AFP journalist on a rescue boat.

The US Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, to assist with the search.

Cranes are expected to reach the scene on Saturday.

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Mini-submarine Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt.

Two previous missions to scour the floor of the Indian Ocean for wreckage were cut short by technical problems.

The data from the sub’s latest mission is being analyzed. Previous forays have not shown anything significant.

It is searching in the area acoustic signals thought to be from the missing plane’s “black box” flight recorders were heard.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Using satellite data, officials have concluded that it ended its journey in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

Bluefin 21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt photo

Bluefin-21 searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane has completed a full mission at its third attempt

They do not know why the plane flew so far off course and an investigation is ongoing. Finding the plane’s flight recorders are seen as key to understanding what happened.

The Bluefin-21, operated by the US Navy off the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, is an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) that can identify objects by creating a sonar map of the sea floor.

It is searching in an area defined by four acoustic signals picked up by an Australian search team, and was deployed after officials concluded that the batteries on the plane’s flight recorders would likely have expired, given their one-month shelf life.

The submersible has an operating depth of 15,000ft and on its first mission a built-in safety device returned it to the surface after it exceeded that depth.

Its second mission was also cut short because of unspecified technical difficulties, but the third mission – a full 16 hours, plus two hours each way for diving and surfacing – went according to plan.

“Overnight Bluefin-21 AUV completed a full mission in the search area and is currently planning for its next mission,” the Joint Agency Co-ordination Centre (JACC) said in a statement.

“Bluefin-21 has searched approximately 90 square kilometres to date and the data from its latest mission is being analyzed.”

JACC also said that an oil sample collected in the area the acoustic signals were heard had arrived in Perth for testing.

“We will provide details of the results when they become available,” it said.

Officials have warned that the search for wreckage on the sea floor could take weeks or months.

India is voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP.

Polling takes place in 121 seats in 12 states, including the key states of Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra and West Bengal.

The nine-phase vote began on April 7 and will conclude on May 12. Votes will be counted on May 16.

More than 814 million Indians are eligible to vote in the polls.

Polling has been already completed in 111 seats, and voter turnout in most states has been higher than in 2009.

April 17 is one of the most critical days of voting spread across 12 states, from Indian-administered Kashmir in the north, to the information-technology hub of Bangalore in the south, Rajasthan in the west and the tea-growing Himalayan town of Darjeeling in the east.

With all of its 28 seats going to polls on Thursday, the southern state of Karnataka is a key battleground.

Bangalore South is one of the keenly contested seats in the state with Congress party’s Nandan Nilekani, BJP’s Ananth Kumar and the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Nina Nayak as candidates.

Nandan Nilekani is the billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Infosys, one of India’s largest IT services firms, while Ananth Kumar is a former federal minister.

The anti-corruption Aam Aadmi (Common Man’s) Party, which secured a spectacular result in local polls in Delhi last year, offers a challenge to the main parties.

Several smaller regional parties are also in the fray and if no single party wins a clear majority, they could play a crucial role in the formation of a government.

Thousands of police and paramilitary security personnel have been deployed across the country to ensure smooth polling.

India is voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP 640x427 photo

India is voting in the biggest day of the general election pitting the ruling Congress party against the main opposition BJP

The marathon vote is being staggered over five weeks for security and logistical reasons.

The main contest in the elections is between the Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, and the BJP, led by the charismatic and controversial Hindu nationalist leader Narendra Modi.

Narendra Modi, who is ahead in all the pre-election opinion polls, is the leader of Gujarat state, which witnessed one of India’s worst anti-Muslim riots in 2002.

The BJP has promised to improve the economy and infrastructure and curb corruption if it wins in the general elections.

The Congress party has promised “inclusive growth” if it returns to power, with a raft of welfare schemes, including a right to healthcare for all and pensions for the elderly and disabled.

Any party or a coalition needs a minimum of 272 lawmakers to form a government.

Dates when different states and Union Territories vote:

Andaman and Nicobar islands: April 10
Andhra Pradesh:
April 30 and May 7
Arunachal Pradesh: April 9
Assam: April 7, 12 and 24
Bihar: April 10, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12
Chandigarh: April 10
Chhattisgarh: April 10, 17, 24
Dadra and Nagar Haveli: April 30
Daman and Diu: April 30
Delhi: April 10
Goa: April 17
Gujarat:
April 30
Haryana: April 10
Himachal Pradesh: May 7
Jammu and Kashmir: April 10, 17, 24, 30 and May 7
Jharkhand: April 10, 17, 24
Karnataka: April 17
Kerala: April 10
Lakshadeep:
April 10
Madhya Pradesh: April 10, 17, 24
Maharashtra: April 10, 17, 24
Manipur: April 9, 17
Meghalaya: April 9
Mizoram: April 9
Nagaland: April 9
Odisha: April 10, 17
Puducherry: April 24
Punjab: April 30
Rajasthan: April 17 and 24
Sikkim: April 12
Tamil Nadu: April 24
Tripura:
April 7, 12
Uttarakhand: May 7
Uttar Pradesh:
April 10, 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12
West Bengal: April 17, 24, 30, May 7 and 12

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South Korean emergency services are continuing to search overnight for almost 300 people missing after Sewol ferry carrying 462 people sank off Jindo Island.

According to officials, 174 people were rescued from the ship, which was travelling from Incheon Port, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.

Emergency teams have been using floodlights and flares to search the vessel for passengers into the night.

At least six people are thought to have died, with dozens more injured.

It is not yet clear what caused the ship to list at a severe angle and flip over, leaving only a small part of its hull visible above water.

Rescue efforts are concentrated on the ship’s wreckage, which sank in 30 metres of water. Many passengers are thought to be trapped inside.

South Korea’s PM Chung Hong-won, has warned there is not “a minute or a second to waste” in the search for survivors, urging those involved to do their utmost to save more lives.

South Korean emergency services are continuing to search overnight for almost 300 people missing after Sewol ferry carrying 462 people sank off Jindo Island 640x346 photo

South Korean emergency services are continuing to search overnight for almost 300 people missing after Sewol ferry carrying 462 people sank off Jindo Island (photo NBC News)

But officials say the rescue operation involving coast guard, military and commercial vessels has been hampered by poor visibility and strong currents.

“There is so much mud in the sea water and the visibility is very low,” said Lee Gyeong-og, vice-minister of security and public administration.

The US Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, to assist with the search.

Navy divers have managed to enter three compartments of the ship but have not yet found any bodies.

Relatives of the missing have gathered in the town of Jindo, near to where ferry capsized, awaiting news of their loved ones.

Many of the passengers on board the ship were school students and teachers from the same school near the capital, Seoul, heading on a field trip to Jeju island.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye has expressed sadness over the incident, saying it was “truly tragic” that students on a field trip were involved in “such an unfortunate accident”.

Kim Young-boong, an official from the company which owns the ferry, has apologized.

“I would like to say sorry to the passengers, which include a number of students and their parents, and promise that our company will do its best to minimise loss of life. We are sorry,” he said, according to the AP news agency.

“We will try to determine the cause of the accident after rescue operations are over,” Lee Gyeong-og said.

MV Sewol:

Passengers on board: 459

Maximum capacity: 900

Length: 146 metres

Built: 1994

Source: Reuters

About 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 476 people capsized and sank off South Korea, killing at least two passengers.

The passenger ferry, named Sewol, carrying mainly school students, was travelling from the port of Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.

A major rescue effort is under way, using dozens of ships and helicopters.

Several hours after the disaster, at least 290 people remained missing, local media said.

South Korean officials had earlier said that 368 people had been plucked to safety, but later said there had been a counting error.

They have now revised down the number rescued to about 180, Yonhap news agency reported.

Two people are known to have died and at least 13 others have been injured, reports say.

An official from Sanwon High School in Seoul’s Ansan suburb told Reuters that all 338 students and teachers aboard the ferry had been rescued, although that information was not immediately confirmed by authorities involved in the rescue operation.

The students aboard the Sewol were on their way to the resort island of Jeju on a school trip, according to local reports.

Images showed the ferry listing at a severe angle and then later almost completely submerged, with only a small part of its hull visible.

About 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 476 people capsized and sank off South Korea 640x360 photo

About 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 476 people capsized and sank off South Korea (photo Reuters)

Pictures showed rescue teams balanced on the sinking hull pulling teenagers from cabin windows. Some of their classmates jumped into the sea as the ship went down.

Reports suggest some of those rescued were picked up by nearby commercial vessels.

Navy divers were now searching the scene for those unaccounted for, officials said.

One body, of a female crew member, had been recovered from the ship, the coastguard said. Another person is reported to have died after being rescued.

One student told local media her friends became trapped.

It is not yet clear what caused the incident, but witnesses described hearing an impact, before the ship listed and quickly sank.

One passenger told the YTN news channel: “We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped.

“The boat is tilting and we have to hold on to something to stay seated,” the passenger said.

Another passenger said the ship was “shaking and tilting”, with people tripping and bumping into each other.

Weather conditions were described as fine.

However, Reuters reported that heavy fog had set in overnight off the west coast, leading to the cancellation of many island passenger ferry services.

The Busan Regional Maritime Affairs & Port Administration confirmed that the ferry sent a distress call Wednesday morning local time.

News agencies said the ferry had sent out a distress signal about 12 miles off the island of Byungpoong at about 09:00 local time.

Earlier reports put the number of passengers on the ferry at about 350. The Sewol is reported to have a capacity of up to 900 people. Shipping records show it was built in Japan in 1994.

Italy’s ex-PM Silvio Berlusconi should serve a one-year sentence for tax fraud doing community service, a Milan court has ruled.

Silvio Berlusconi, 77, was convicted of tax fraud in connection with TV rights purchased by his firm Mediaset.

Silvio Berlusconi should serve a one year sentence for tax fraud doing community service 640x480 photo

Silvio Berlusconi should serve a one-year sentence for tax fraud doing community service

The alternative to community service had been house arrest. It is not yet clear what form his community service will take.

Silvio Berlusconi has been embroiled in a string of court cases.

The Milan court is expected to make a statement detailing its ruling later on Tuesday.

Bluefin-21 robotic mini submarine deployed to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane in the southern Indian Ocean has had its first mission cut short.

The drone was sent to search the sea floor for wreckage after signals believed to be consistent with “black box” flight recorders were detected.

The Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating limit of 15,000ft and was brought back to the surface.

It was due to return later on Tuesday if weather conditions permitted.

“To account for inconsistencies with the sea floor, the search profile is being adjusted to extend the sonar search for as long as possible,” an update from the US Navy – which operates the Bluefin-21 – said.

The Bluefin 21 exceeded its operating limit of 15000ft and was brought back to the surface photo

The Bluefin-21 exceeded its operating limit of 15,000ft and was brought back to the surface

The US Navy said in a later update that no objects of interest were found when the six hours of data were downloaded and analyzed.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers over the South China Sea.

Malaysian officials believe, based on satellite data, that it ended its flight thousands of miles off course, in seas west of the Australian city of Perth.

Amid a major international search, an Australian navy vessel last week detected four acoustic signals using a US Navy towed pinger locator. Officials believe these could come from the missing plane’s flight recorders.

No signals have been detected since 8 April, however, leading to fears that the recorders’ batteries – which last about a month – have run out.

Bluefin-21 is an almost 5m-long vehicle that can create a sonar map of the sea floor. On Monday officials said each mission was expected to last 24 hours, with 16 hours spent on the ocean floor, four hours’ diving and resurfacing time, and four hours to download data.

The submersible has a safety feature that brings it to the surface if it exceeds its performance capabilities, however.

The sea where the Bluefin-21 is searching is estimated to be about 4,500m deep, but experts say there could be variations on the sea floor.

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South Korean President Park Geun-hye has issued an apology to the nation after three officials of the country’s intelligence agency were charged with fabricating evidence in a spying case.

President Park Geun-hye said the case had exposed “wrong practices” within the National Intelligence Service (NIS).

NIS chief Nam Jae-joon promised a “bone-crushing overhaul” of the agency.

The NIS is accused of falsifying documents, including Chinese immigration records, to prosecute a North Korean defector.

President Park Geun hye has issued an apology to the nation after three officials of the country’s intelligence agency were charged with fabricating evidence in a spying case photo

President Park Geun-hye has issued an apology to the nation after three officials of the country’s intelligence agency were charged with fabricating evidence in a spying case (photo AP)

On Monday one of the agency’s deputy heads, Suh Cheon-ho, resigned to take responsibility for the case. Three NIS officials are also facing charges in connection with the scandal.

It relates to the case of Yoo Woo-seong, a former Seoul government official who defected from North Korea in 2004.

He was charged with providing information to Pyongyang about more than 200 North Korean defectors, but subsequently acquitted.

When prosecutors appealed, they submitted Chinese immigration records on Yoo Woo-seong’s visits to the North – some of which were later found to have been forged.

“Regrettably, wrong practices of the NIS and holes in its management system have been revealed,” the South Korean president told her cabinet, according to Yonhap news agency.

“The NIS must make excruciating efforts to overhaul itself to make sure this kind of incident won’t repeat itself.”

The NIS has faced controversy in the past, including allegations that its agents took part in an online campaign to discredit the opposition candidate during the 2012 presidential election.

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Washington Post and The Guardian US have shared this year’s Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism for a series of stories on NSA electronic spying.

The publications’ reporting was based on documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

Among other winners of the top prize in US journalism was the Boston Globe, for breaking news reporting.

Two staff writers of the Reuters news agency were awarded the prize for international reporting.

The Pulitzer Prizes are awarded by the Columbia University journalism school.

In giving the top prize to The Guardian and the Washington Post, the Pulitzer committee said the Guardian helped “through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy”.

It said the Post’s stories were “marked by authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security”.

Edward Snowden, in a statement published by The Guardian, called the award “a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government.

Edward Snowdens NSA leaks earned Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian and Washington Post photo

Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks earned Pulitzer Prize for The Guardian and Washington Post

“We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation,” added Edward Snowden, who has been charged with espionage in the US and is currently a fugitive in Russia.

Meanwhile, the Boston Globe provided “exhaustive and empathetic coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings and the ensuing manhunt that enveloped the city”, the committee wrote of the paper’s coverage of the April 15, 2013 attack.

Chris Hamby of the Center for Public Integrity was awarded a Pulitzer for his reporting on how lawyers and doctors conspired to deny benefits to coal miners stricken with black lung disease.

The top prize for US reporting was awarded to The Gazette in Colorado for its examination of mistreatment of wounded combat veterans, while the prize for international reporting went to Reuters for reports of persecution of a Muslim minority group in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

The editorial staff of the Oregonian in Portland won the prize for commentary for pieces explaining pension costs.

Tyler Hicks of the New York Times won for breaking news photography for images captured during a terrorist attack at Westgate Mall in Kenya. Also for the Times, Josh Haner won in the feature photography category for a “moving” essay on a Boston Marathon bomb blast victim who lost most of both legs.

Among other categories, Donna Tartt, author of The Goldfinch, was awarded the Pulitzer for fiction writing, while Don Fagin received the award for general nonfiction for his work, Tom’s River: A Story of Science and Salvation.

Members of this year’s selection committee included Katherine Boo, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and Eugene Robinson, a columnist for The Washington Post.

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Robotic submarine Bluefin-21 will be deployed for the first time to search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said the Bluefin-21 drone would be sent down as soon as possible to search for wreckage on the sea floor.

Teams have been using a towed pinger locator to listen for signals from the plane’s “black box” flight recorders.

But no new signals have been heard since April 8, amid concerns the flight recorders’ batteries have expired.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board. It was flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when it lost contact with air traffic controllers over the South China Sea.

Malaysian officials believe, based on satellite data, that it ended its flight in the southern Indian Ocean, thousands of kilometres off course.

Teams searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are to deploy robotic submarine Bluefin 21 for the first time photo

Teams searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane are to deploy robotic submarine Bluefin-21 for the first time

An international search has focused on waters west of the Australian city of Perth, with teams racing against time to detect signals before the flight recorder batteries – which last about one month – run out.

ACM Angus Houston, who heads the joint agency coordinating the search effort, said that given no signals had been detected in six days, it was time to go underwater.

The Bluefin-21 – an almost 5m-long underwater autonomous vehicle that can create a sonar map of the sea floor – will search for wreckage in an area defined by four signals heard last week.

Officials believe those signals – picked up by the pinger locator towed by an Australian vessel – are consistent with flight recorders.

“Analysis of the four signals has allowed the provisional definition of a reduced and manageable search area on the ocean floor,” ACM Angus Houston said.

“The experts have therefore determined that the Australian Defense Vessel Ocean Shield will cease searching with the towed pinger locator later today and deploy the… Bluefin-21 as soon as possible.”

Angus Houston warned that the submersible search would be a long, “painstaking” process that might, in the end, yield no results.

Each Bluefin-21 mission will last 24 hours, with 16 hours spent on the ocean floor, four hours’ diving and resurfacing time, and four hours to download data.

Australian vessel Ocean Shield had also spotted an oil slick in the same area where the signals had been heard, ACM Angus Houston said, and a sample was being sent for testing.

“I stress the source of the oil is yet to be determined but the oil slick is approximately 5,500m downwind… from the vicinity of the detections picked up by the towed pinger locator,” he said.

Australian officials have said previously that they are confident they are searching in the right area for the missing plane.

Officials have no idea yet why the plane diverted so far from its intended flight path. Investigators are looking at options including hijacking, mechanical failure, sabotage and pilot action.

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Venezuela’s military has admitted it committed “some excesses” during weeks of political unrest that have left 41 people dead.

The military’s strategic command chief, General Vladimir Padrino Lopez, said they were investigating 97 officers and police staff for “cruelty and torture”.

However, Vladimir Padrino Lopez stressed these were less than 1% of all officers.

Security forces have been accused of human rights abuse during the almost daily anti-government protests.

“We are able to say that 97 [officers] are being investigated by prosecutors for cruelty, for torture,” Gen. Vladimir Padrino Lopez said.

General Vladimir Padrino Lopez insists the security forces of President Nicolas Maduro respect the rule of law photo

General Vladimir Padrino Lopez insists the security forces of President Nicolas Maduro respect the rule of law

“That represents only 0.4% of the force,” he told Venevision television.

The protests have left at least 41 people killed and hundreds more injured on both sides.

The Venezuelan opposition and human rights activists accuse the security forces of repression and using heavy-handed tactics.

However, Vladimir Padrino Lopez insisted the security forces were acting “in accordance with the rule of law”.

“No soldiers have received orders to hurt anyone, harass or end the life of a Venezuelan,” he said.

On Thursday, President Nicolas Maduro met opposition leaders in crisis talks aimed at quelling more than two months of protests.

The demonstrations began over high levels of crime, rising inflation and shortages of basic foods, but have since grown into a wide opposition movement.

Venezuela remains sharply divided between supporters and opponents of Nicolas Maduro, who narrowly beat his bitter rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles to the presidency last year.

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Six victims of Augusto Pinochet’s military government have been reburied in Chile more than 40 years after they were killed.

The remains of the six men were discovered in an unmarked grave in 1992.

The men were among dozens of people killed by a military unit in late 1973, just weeks after General Augusto Pinochet came to power in a coup.

His officials flew around the country in helicopters, and executed political prisoners by firing squad.

Carlos Berger, Carlos Escobedo, Luis Moreno, Hernan Moreno, Mario Arguelles and Jeronimo Carpanchay were killed in the northern Chilean city of Calama.

Journalist Carlos Berger was murdered on October 19 1973 by the infamous Caravan of Death during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship photo

Journalist Carlos Berger was murdered on October 19, 1973, by the infamous Caravan of Death during General Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship (photo MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images)

Carlos Berger, a lawyer and journalist, had been arrested on September 11, 1973, after refusing to broadcast a government message at the radio station where he worked.

His and the other men’s remains were identified after extensive forensic tests in Europe, and finally buried in a ceremony at the main cemetery in the Chilean capital, Santiago.

The six men were murdered by what became known as the Caravan of Death, in one of the most notorious episodes of the Pinochet government.

General Augusto Pinocher sent the “delegation” of military men to Chile’s provincial towns because he was reportedly annoyed that some commanders there had been “soft” on political opponents.

The Caravan of Death is thought to have killed 97 opponents of the military coup.

According to official figures, 40,018 people were victims of human rights abuses during the 1973-1990 Pinochet government and 3,065 were killed or disappeared

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Pope Francis marked Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peter’s Square ignoring his prepared homily and spoke entirely off-the-cuff in a remarkable departure from practice.

Later, the pontiff hopped off his popemobile to pose for “selfies” with young people in the crowd.

In his homily, Pope Francis called on people, himself included, to look into their own hearts to see how they are living their lives.

“Has my life fallen asleep?” Pope Francis asked after listening to a Gospel account of how Jesus’ disciples fell asleep shortly before he was betrayed by Judas before his crucifixion.

“Am I like Pontius Pilate, who, when he sees the situation is difficult, washes my hands?”

Pope Francis sounded tired, frequently pausing to catch his breath, as he spoke for about 15 minutes in his homily during Palm Sunday Mass, which solemnly opens Holy Week for the Roman Catholic Church.

Pope Francis marked Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peters Square ignoring his prepared homily photo

Pope Francis marked Palm Sunday in a packed St. Peter’s Square ignoring his prepared homily

“Where is my heart?” the pope asked, pinpointing that as the “question which accompanies us” throughout Holy Week.

Pope Francis seemed to regain his wind after the 2 ½ hour ceremony. He shed his red vestments atop his plain white cassock, chatted amiably with cardinals dressed more formally than he at that point. Then he posed for “selfies” with young people from Rio de Janeiro who had carried a large cross in the square.

He had barely climbed aboard his open-topped popemobile when he spotted Polish youths, they, too, clamoring for a “selfie” with a pope, and he hopped off, to oblige them.

In a crowd of around 100,000 Romans, tourists and pilgrims, people clutched olive tree branches, tall palm fronds or tiny braided palm leaves shaped like crosses that were blessed by Francis at the start of the ceremony.

Pope Francis used a wooden pastoral staff carved by Italian prison inmates, who donated it to him. The pope wants to put people on the margins of life at the center of the church’s attention.

The pontiff wore red vestments, symbolizing blood shed by the crucified Jesus.

Holy Week culminates next Sunday with Easter Mass, also in St. Peter’s Square. Many faithful will remain in Rome, while others will pour into the city for the April 27 canonization of two popes, John Paul II and John XXIII.

Pope Francis noted that Pope John Paul’s long-time aide, now Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland, had come to Rome.

The pontiff also noted he’ll be making a pilgrimage to South Korea this summer, with the key event, church World Youth Day celebrations on August 15 in Daejeon.

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