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Police arrests Governor over bribery allegation

By Newsdesk

The governor of Rio de Janeiro, Luiz Fernando Pezao, was arrested on Thursday over allegations he received bribes as part of the sprawling “Car Wash” graft probe, according to Brazilian media.

The Globo News television channel showed live footage of federal police at the residence of the governor, who remains in his home in custody.

Pezao is accused of taking bribes when he was vice governor under Sergio Cabral, who is currently in prison.

The police also raided the Guanabara Palace, headquarters of Rio de Janeiro’s government, searching for documents.

The Superior Court of Justice issued the arrest warrant based on the confession of Carlos Miranda, a former Cabral associate, who cooperated in exchange for a sentence reduction.

According to Miranda’s testimony Pezao would have received a monthly payment of 150,000 reais ($40,000) as well as end-of-the-year bonuses of up to one million reais.

The money would have been paid by companies and intermediaries bound by contracts with the Rio de Janeiro government during a period from 2007 to 2014.

The state of Rio de Janeiro is on the verge of bankruptcy and plagued by insecurity.

Wilson Witzel was elected in October to govern the state and is set to take office January 1.

 

NAN

Girl, 10yr-old in court over killing baby in day care

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

A 10-year-old Wisconsin girl was led into court in handcuffs Monday morning and charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of a 6-month-old boy.

Accompanied by her parents, the girl sobbed throughout a 10-minute bond hearing in Chippewa County Circuit Court, where Judge James Isaacson ordered her held on $50,000 cash bond.

Girls identity undisclosed because her case likely will be referred to juvenile court. Under Wisconsin law, first-degree homicide charges must initially be brought in adult court if the accused is age 10 or older.

Wearing a colorful striped skirt, a black hoodie and pink sneakers, the girl buried her head in her mother’s arms, moaning and crying as Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell described the charge against her.

According to Newell, police responded to an emergency call on the afternoon of Oct. 30. A 6-month-old boy at a licensed day care center in the rural town of Wheaton, just west of Chippewa Falls, was found unresponsive and bleeding from the head. The baby was taken to a local hospital and then flown to Gillette Children’s Hospital in St. Paul, where he died Nov. 1.

Police questioned one adult and three children who were present at the day care center. They quickly settled on the girl as the prime suspect, said Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk.

According to Kowalczyk, the girl said she was holding the baby when she dropped the infant, who hit his head on a footstool. When the baby cried, she panicked and stomped on the child’s head, the sheriff said. A local doctor who examined the baby determined that the injuries were not accidental, he added.

Although the girl’s biological parents were with her in court, authorities said she had been removed from their home in September and placed in foster care with the same family that also runs the day care center where the infant’s death occurred. The reason the girl was placed in the foster home was not disclosed.

“It’s not been a good morning for Chippewa County,” Kowalczyk said, referring to the infant’s death as well as the continuing investigation into the deaths of three Girl Scouts and one of their mothers, who were hit and killed by a truck Saturday near Chippewa Falls in an incident that resulted in homicide charges against 21-year-old Colten Treu.

Idris Elba is People’s sexiest man alive

By Entertainment Desk,

Actor Idris Elba, who James Bond fans are campaigning to be the next person to play 007, was named the sexiest man alive on Monday by People magazine.

The London-born actor, 46, said he didn’t believe it when the magazine told him.

“I was like, ‘Come on, no way. Really?’” Elba told the celebrity publication. “Looked in the mirror, I checked myself out. I was like, ‘Yeah, you are kind of sexy today.’ But to be honest, it was just a nice feeling. It was a nice surprise — an ego boost for sure.”

One of Britain’s best-known stars, Elba won a Golden Globe for his lead role in BBC television detective series “Luther”, played a Norse god in “Thor” and appeared in U.S. television series “The Wire.”

Other actors and singers who have been given the title by the magazine’s editors in recent years include Blake Shelton, Chris Hemsworth, Adam Levine, George Clooney and Channing Tatum.

Only two other non-white men – African-American star Denzel Washington in 1996 and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, whose mother is Samoan and whose father is black Canadian, in 2016 – have won the title since People started the feature in 1985.

Fans have been campaigning for Elba, the son of African immigrants to Britain, to take over from Daniel Craig as secret agent James Bond in the lucrative movie franchise after the next Bond film, due for release in 2020.

Elba in August stoked the rumors that he was set to become the first black actor to play Bond when he posted a cryptic message on Twitter using one of the character’s best-known lines – “My name’s Elba, Idris Elba.” Days later he flatly denied it was going to happen, however.

Elba appears on the cover of a special double issue of People that arrives on newsstands on Friday. people.com/sexiestmanalive2018

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry rush out of Fiji market

Meghan Markle’s only solo engagement during her royal tour of Oceania with Prince Harry was cut short this morning when she was hurried out of a crowded market in Fiji.

Kensington Palace initially said the pregnant royal’s sudden departure was down to “uncomfortable conditions” but later added that there had been “crowd management issues”..

The Duchess was at the market in the capital, Suva, to meet female stallholders involved in a UN Women project called Markets for Change, which seeks to promote a safe, inclusive environment for women vendors in a number of South Pacific nations.

According to the Daily Express, “Meghan was spotted whispering to one of her royal aides” before leaving the market with her security team just eight minutes into the scheduled 15-minute visit.

“Onlookers say the Duchess ‘looked concerned,’ as she greeted large crowds and did not seem like her ‘usual self’,” the newspaper adds.

Meghan and Prince Harry are currently on their first overseas tour together since getting married in May. Their 16-day trip started in Australia, and will continue on to Tonga and New Zealand, says the BBC.

Prior to the market incident, the Duchess delivered her first speech of the tour during a visit  with her husband to the University of the South Pacific.

Calling for greater educational opportunities for women in developing countries, she told the audience: “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly, the education they have the right to receive.”

The Duke then travelled alone to Colo-i-Suva Forest Park, where he planted a tree and unveil a plaque to mark its dedication.

Canada running out of marijuana two days after it became legal

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

Canadians were so excited about getting their hands on some legal, recreational marijuana the country is reportedly experiencing a shortage.

Police were called to help shops struggling to handle long queues and with frustrated people unable to buy cannabis.

Bill Blair, a former Toronto police chief who has led the government’s legalisation programme, told public broadcaster CBC the country was unable to supply enough to meet demand.

“We expected, you know, certain strains might run out and there would be a bit of a run on supply,” he said.

“But, you know, they’ve got a pretty good infrastructure in place and I’m confident it will work.”

On Wednesday Canada became the first industrialised nation and only the second country in the world, after Uruguay, to legalise recreational cannabis as part of a controversial experiment in drug policy.

Under the new law, citizens will be allowed to carry up to 30 grams of cannabis in public and each household will be able to grow up to four marijuana plants.

Woman marries best friend’s dad in U.S.

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

A woman married her best friend’s dad who is twice her age — and now the trio all go on vacation together.

Real estate agent Taylor Lehman, 27, admitted she did feel guilty at first about dating Kern, 54, due to her friendship with his daughter Amanda, 30.

But five years in, the couple from Phoenix, are still going strong – and Taylor says people compare them to Hollywood stars Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas.

Taylor revealed how she and Kern never expected their “rebound fling” to turn into marriage.

After discovering a shared love for music, traveling and having fun, the pair quickly moved in together.

The couple who have been mistaken for father and daughter at one time, now have the support of their families despite initial concern and shock.

Taylor recalled: “When we first met, I worked with Kern’s daughter, she was my best friend and he was married at the time; I was also in a relationship.

“At first I thought he was very handsome. I have always been attracted to older guys. He thought I was cute, and we started flirting at the bar.”

“Amanda and I had been friends for a year before I got with her dad, so I did have a lot of guilt and felt bad at first. But over time I have gotten over that. She knows I will always be there for her in her life and problems,” she said.

At least 59 killed as train hits crowd in northern India

By News Desk,

A commuter train traveling at high speed ran through a crowd of people on the rail tracks in northern India killing at least 59 people on Friday, state officials said, making it India’s worst rail disaster this year.

Video footage from the scene showed hundreds had gathered to watch the burning of an effigy as part of the Dussehra festival celebrations, when a commuter train ran through the crowd.

“We have 59 confirmed dead. The toll can rise,” State police chief Suresh Arora told Reuters, adding emergency officials were still trying to ascertain the extent of the disaster on the outskirts of Amritsar in Punjab state.

A Reuters witness at the scene saw bodies of victims strewn around rail tracks, friends and relatives stood around in shock, many were sobbing and appeared distraught.

An officer in the police control room said it was hard to confirm the toll as there were dismembered body parts all over.

Reuters partner ANI, a domestic news agency, reported that the Chief Medical Officer of the Civil Hospital in Amritsar said 60 people were killed and at least 51 people were injured. Reuters could not immediately confirm that death toll.

Police said it was “freak accident” as people did not hear the train approaching amid the din of festivities and fireworks.

During the festival of Dussehra people all over the country set aflame large effigies of a 10-headed demon from the Hindu epic Ramayana in a ceremony that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.

In Amritsar, video footage showed the effigy of the demon Ravana had just been lit and firecrackers were going off when the train plowed into the crowd, who were craning their necks and applauding the show.

ANI reported that a witness at the scene said the train that ran over people was traveling at a high speed.

Amarinder Singh, Punjab chief minister, said he was rushing to Amritsar to supervise relief and rescue operations.

“We have also ordered an inquiry as to why this incident has taken place,” Singh told ANI, adding he did not know why the Dussehra celebrations were being held so close to the railway tracks.

DECADES OF UNDERINVESTMENT

Singh declared a state of mourning and said all offices and educational institutions across the state would remain closed on Saturday.

A witness told Indian television channel Times Now that relatives of some of the deceased were picking up dead bodies by themselves and no proper rescue operations were currently taking place.

Bodies of victims lay strewn around the scene and local television stations showed distraught and angry people, including a weeping mother who just lost a child.

“Lot of students were gathered here and we can see so many unknown bodies lying around and there is not even enough light here even now,” one person on the scene told a local channel.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he was extremely saddened by the train accident.

“The tragedy is heart-wrenching,” he tweeted. “My deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their loved ones and I pray that the injured recover quickly. Have asked officials to provide immediate assistance that is required.”

India’s state railways, largely built during colonial rule, have an appalling safety record after decades of underinvestment in rail safety infrastructure, as the priority has remained more on keeping fares low for the 23 million passengers who use the network daily.

Seven people were killed and 21 were injured earlier this month when nine coaches of the New Farakka Express derailed in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

Taliban kill powerful police chief in Kandahar

By News Desk, with Agency Report,

The Kandahar police chief had survived previous attempts on his life. Accused of severe human rights abuses, he was a key figure for the US in the fight against the Taliban. A US commander survived the attack.

One of Afghanistan’s most powerful security officials, anti-Taliban strongman and police chief  General Abdul Raziq, was killed on Thursday when the governor’s bodyguard opened fire.

The attack came at the end of a high-level security meeting of US Forces and NATO Resolute Support Mission commander General Scott Miller, provincial governor Zalmay Wesa and
provincial spy chief Abdul Mohmin. Mohmin and an Afghan journalist are also believed to have died.

Miller survived the attack. Two Americans and the governor were among 13 people injured.

The Taliban immediately claimed responsibility for the attack and announced via social media that Miller and Raziq were the targets of the shooting. It came just days ahead of the Afghan elections. “The brutal police chief of Kandahar has been killed along several other officials,” the statement read.

An insider attack

Khalid Pashtun, an Afghan parliamentarian from Kandahar, confirmed to DW that Raziq was one of the first to be shot.

“After the meeting ended and as the officials were saying goodbyes, a member of the governor’s team of bodyguards opened fire,” Pashtun said,

“General Raziq was among the first ones to be shot. The provincial governor, head of intelligence and the commander of the military corps in the region were also shot,” he added.

Raziq had been police chief of Kandahar since 2011 and had been accused of severe human rights abuses, including running a secret torture center. The UN committee against torture in 2017 said that he should be prosecuted over allegations of torture and enforced disappearances. He always denied the accusations.

He had been a key figure in the US strategy of securing the southern region against the Taliban.

Raziq narrowly escaped an attack last year in which five diplomats from the United Arab Emirates were killed in Kandahar.

Elections under threat

The recent attack is a blow to the Afghan government as it gears up for parliamentary elections on Saturday, which the Taliban have vowed to disrupt. Some 2,500 candidates are competing for 249 seats in the lower house. So far, ten of them have been killed during the election campaign.

“General Raziq’s death will have a huge impact on security and the election in the south because a lot of voters may not feel safe to go to vote,” a senior security official commented after the attack.

However, the US military said the attack would have no effect on its military presence aimed at bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table: “This attack will not change US resolve in our South Asia strategy,” Defense Department spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Kone Faulkner said. “If anything, it makes us more resolute.”

 

Zika virus cases spike in India’s Jaipur as peak tourist season nears

By News Desk,

At least 55 people have tested positive for the Zika virus in India’s tourist city of Jaipur, up from 22 a week ago, the local health department said on Sunday, raising fears the virus is spreading just ahead of peak tourist season.

Around 280 health officials are doing the rounds of houses in Jaipur in the western state of Rajasthan to detect larvae to control the mosquito-borne virus, the health department said in a statement late on Saturday.

Known for its palaces and museums and deserts close by, Jaipur is a big draw with both foreign and Indian tourists.

This is the third Zika outbreak in India, with the first in the western city of Ahmedabad in January 2017 and the second in the southern state of Tamil Nadu in July 2017 – both of which were “successfully contained”, the government said last week.

First discovered in 1947, the zika virus reached epidemic proportions in Brazil in 2015, when thousands of babies were born with microcephaly, a disorder that causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.

Of the 55 people found to have tested positive for Zika over the past month in Rajasthan, 38 are no longer showing symptoms of the disease, the department said, adding that officials were conducting fogging to control the mosquito population.

Women in their first trimester of pregnancy are being paid particular attention, said Veenu Gupta, the additional chief health secretary of Rajasthan. Research has shown women are at greatest risk of microcephaly during this period.

There is no vaccine for Zika yet, though Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceutical and some other companies are trying to developing one.

The latest cases come amid a spike in cases of other mosquito-borne diseases in the country, according to the World Health Organization.

The capital New Delhi has reported a rise in cases of dengue fever this year, with 169 reported in the first week of October, taking the total for the year to 650, according to local channel NDTV.

Pope Francis declares murdered El Salvador’s Archbishop Romero Saint

By News Desk,

 

Thousands of people are converging on the Vatican for the canonization of Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero, two of the towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic Church.

Pope Paul VI oversaw the modernising church reforms of the 1960s, while Archbishop Romero was a human rights icon murdered for his defense of El Salvador’s poor.

Pope Francis is to celebrate Sunday’s saint-making Mass wearing the blood-stained rope belt that Romero wore when he was gunned down in 1980 and using Paul VI’s staff, chalice and pallium vestment — evidence of the strong influence both men had on history’s first Latin American pope.

Some 5,000 Salvadoran pilgrims travelled to Rome for the ceremony, and tens of thousands more stayed up all night to watch it on giant TV screens outside the San Salvador cathedral where Romero’s remains are entombed.

For many it was the culmination of a fraught and politicized campaign to have the church formally honor a man who publicly denounced the repression by El Salvador’s military dictatorship at the start of the country’s 1980-1992 civil war.

“I am here to give glory to Monsignor Romero.

“He is a light for our people, an inspiration for all,” said Aida Guzman, a 68-year-old Salvadoran woman who carried photos of people killed during the war as she joined thousands in an evening procession in San Salvador.

Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador, was gunned down by right-wing death squads as he celebrated Mass on March 24, 1980, in a hospital chapel.

A day before he was killed, he had delivered the latest in a series of sermons demanding an end to the army’s repression – sermons that had enraged El Salvador’s leaders.

Almost immediately after his death, Romero became an icon of the South American left and is frequently listed along with Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi as one of the world’s most influential human rights campaigners.

The United Nations commemorates the anniversary of his death each year.

His influence continues to resonate with El Salvador’s youth as the country endures brutal gang violence that has made the Central American nation one of the most violent in the world — an scourge that Francis has frequently lamented.

“He is my guide, and from what I have read about his life, I want to follow in his steps,” said Oscar Orellana, a 15-year-old who participated in the San Salvador procession wearing a white tunic like the one Romero used to wear.

Paul VI, on his part, is best known for having presided over the final sessions of the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 church meetings that opened up the Catholic Church to the world.

Under his auspices, the church agreed to allow liturgy to be celebrated in the vernacular rather than in Latin and called for greater roles for the laity and improved relations with people of other faiths.

Paul is also remembered for his two most important encyclicals, or teaching documents, that have had a profound effect on the church and Francis: One, “The Progress of Peoples” denounced the mounting inequality between rich and poor, and the other, “Humanae Vitae,” reaffirmed the Catholic church’s opposition to artificial contraception.

The stark prohibition empowered conservatives but drove progressives away.

Even today it remains one of the most contested and ignored of papal encyclicals, with studies showing that most Catholics use contraception anyway.

Francis was deeply influenced by Paul, who was the pope of his formative years as a young priest in Argentina and was instrumental in giving rise to the Latin American church’s “preferential option for the poor.”

Francis has styled his papacy on another of Paul’s exhortations, and has adopted the “church of the poor” ethos that Paul embodied when he formally renounced wearing the bejeweled papal tiara.