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Gloria Vanderbilt: US fashion icon and heiress dies aged 95


US artist and fashion icon Gloria Vanderbilt has died aged 95. She passed away at home with family members by her side, said her son Anderson Cooper, a CNN anchor, after suffering from stomach cancer.

Vanderbilt, known as the “poor little rich girl”, was the great-great-granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt, a 19th Century tycoon. The socialite, who was married several times, made her name in the 1970s and ’80s as a designer jeans pioneer.

“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms,” Mr Cooper said in a statement. “She was a painter, a writer, and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend. “She was 95 years old, but ask anyone close to her, and they’d tell you, she was the youngest person they knew, the coolest, and most modern,” the statement added. Vanderbilt was not even two years old when her father died.

As the beneficiary of a multimillion-dollar trust fund, Vanderbilt became widely known as the “poor little rich girl” in 1934 because of a high-profile custody fight between her mother and her aunt in New York. The aunt eventually won the legal battle, described by the media at the time as the “trial of the century”. Vanderbilt was a talented painter and actress. She was also the author of several books.(BBC)…[+]

Sudan’s Bashir charged with corruption, in 1st appearance since April


KHARTOUM – Sudan’s ex-president Omar al-Bashir was charged with corruption-related offences yesterday, as he appeared in public for the first time since he was overthrown and detained in April. Looking much the same as prior to his removal by the military, he was driven to the prosecutor’s office in Khartoum.

He was charged with illicit possession of foreign currency and accepting gifts in an unofficial manner, prosecutor Alaa al-Din Abdallah told media, adding that Bashir would be given the chance to respond to the accusations. His trial will be a test of how serious the country’s transitional military council is about trying to erase the legacy of his autocratic 30-year rule, marked by widespread violence, economic collapse and the secession of South Sudan.

Bashir was charged last month with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and prosecutors also want him questioned over suspected money laundering and terrorism financing. Sudan’s chief prosecutor said on Saturday that 41 former officials from Bashir’s administration were being investigated for suspected graft.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad: Venezuelan Hindu marriages being investigated


The Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha is concerned about Venezuelan migrants entering the country with Hindu marriage licences issued by a pundit in central Trinidad. Pundit Lutchmidath Persad Maharaj, in a telephone interview yesterday, said there was an investigation of Venezuelans coming in from Cedros, presenting Hindu marriage licences.

These licences, he added, were being issued by a pundit from central Trinidad. Maharaj, who is also the first vice-president of the Inter-Religious Organisation, said the Immigration Division has been contacted. According to Maharaj, almost 100 people have produced marriage licences with that pundit’s registration.He said this took place over an extended period of time and not during the recently concluded two-week registration period.

“There was an investigation going on because it meant the licence had to be shipped out of the country for them to be presenting it when they came in at the port in Cedros.” “It is a legitimate concern for the Maha Sabha,” he told Newsday. He said marriage licences are only issued after a particular set of religious rituals were performed, such as pre martial counselling and the balancing of astrologies or the planetary influences. “We would hope that the pundits’ practice the correct thing. Once you hold a Hindu marriage licence, the process of registering the marriage could only take place after the ritual is completed.”(Trinidad Newsday)…[+]

Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara admits misusing public funds

sara netanyahu

The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted to misuse of state funds and will have to pay $15,000 (£11,910). Sara Netanyahu was accused of spending $99,300 on outside catering while falsely declaring there were no cooks available at the PM’s residence. She was charged with fraud and breach of trust last year.

Her lawyer said the case had nothing to do with her and said it was an attempt to bring down her husband. Under a plea deal, Mrs Netanyahu will repay the state $12,490 and pay a fine of $2,777. She will have a criminal record though the charges she faced were reduced, the Jerusalem Post reported. Prosecutor Erez Padan said that the prosecution had made “significant concessions” that led to a “balanced and right plea deal.” He said the compromise had saved the court from calling on 80 witnesses. “The prosecution is aware there isn’t full correlation between the sum and the criminal offence, however in the framework of the legal procedure, a full correlation is not obligatory,” he said.

Last year, Mrs Netanyahu’s lawyers argued that she had not been made aware of the procedures about outside catering and that the meals had been ordered by the household manager and served to visiting dignitaries. Responding to the charges, Mr Netanyahu said in a statement: “Sara Netanyahu is a strong and honourable woman and there has never been any fault in her actions.”(BBC)…[+]

Leaked chats appear to show judge advised prosecutors in Lula case


BRASILIA – Leaked personal messages published yesterday by a news website show the judge who led the corruption trial that jailed former Brazil president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva advised prosecutors to influence public opinion against the leftist leader.

The Intercept posted what it said were social media chats from then judge Sergio Moro to the prosecution team, suggesting prosecutors make a public statement playing up what Moro said were contradictions in Lula’s testimony to undermine his claim to be a victim of political persecution. The exchange occurred after Lula’s May 10, 2017 deposition against charges that he took a beachside luxury apartment as a bribe. Lula left the court room to tell supporters that he was being “massacred” and was preparing to run for president again. Moro, who is now Brazil’s justice minister, questioned the authenticity of the messages and said he would not comment on texts obtained by hackers. “The supposed material, obtained in a criminal way, must be presented to an independent authority so that its integrity can be certified,” he said in a statement.(Reuters)…[+]

Venezuelans assure Trinidad women: ‘We are not here for your husbands’


Venezuelan school teacher and desperate migrant Isabeth Moren, has a message for the women of Trinidad and Tobago. “We did not come here to take your husbands,” she said. Moreno, who also has a radio programme in her homeland, said she had fled a country plagued by a worsening economic and political crisis. And she was simply seeking a better life.

Standing in line at the migrant registration centre at Achievors Banquet Hall in San Fernando on Friday, Moreno said she was disappointed in the way Trinidadian women treated her kind. “We are insulted and degraded. I am a school teacher, my friend here is a doctor. Not every single Venezuelan woman you see is here for prostitution,” she said. Moreno, 50, arrived in Trinidad two months ago and has secured a job as a waitress.

“But the men in Trinidad thinks we are here for sex. That is not right. In many instances we have men coming into our bedrooms in our apartments asking for sex. Some of them ask for massages. That is wrong. We are not here for that. It is unfair that we have to be degraded like this,” she said. Moreno said she wanted to return to her homeland and be reunited with her family. “My country is beautiful. We don’t want to live here. We want to be allowed to stay and work and someday return home,” she said.(Trinidad Express)…[+]

Pope warns oil bosses of climate threat

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The Pope has told oil company bosses that climate change threatens the future of the “human family”. The oil executives had been invited to the Vatican in Rome for an audience with the pontiff. Pope Francis said a radical energy transition is needed to save what he called “our common home”.

The head of BP agreed that the world must find urgent solutions to environmental problems – but said all must play a part. The Pope warned him and other bosses: “Civilisation requires energy, but energy use must not destroy civilisation.” The oil bosses were brought to the Vatican alongside fund managers who invest in their stocks. The companies represented were believed to include Eni, Exxon, Total, Repsol, BP, Sinopec, ConocoPhillips, Equinor, and Chevron.

A small group of demonstrators gathered outside a Vatican gate. One held a sign reading “Dear Oil CEOs – Think of Your Children”. The executives were given a dressing down by the former Irish premier Mary Robinson. She said: “We should all salute the courage the Holy Father has shown on climate change when too many secular leaders have spurned their responsibilities.” Ms Robinson asked the oil bosses: “What could be more cynical than still seeking to exploit fossil fuel reserves when the scientific evidence is abundantly clear that we need to end all combustion of fossil fuels by 2050?”

She said the energy transition would require a massive shift of capital to clean energy and warned: “If some industries fail to adjust to this new word, they will fail to exist.” In a statement, BP said its CEO Bob Dudley was “honoured to participate at the Vatican“.(BBC)…[+]

Brazil Supreme Court rules homophobia a crime


SAO PAULO– The Brazilian Supreme Court ruled yesterday that homophobia should be criminalized under existing legislation until Congress creates a specific law for the subject, weighing in on a topic that has drawn the ire of President Jair Bolsonaro. Eight of 11 justices voted to treat homophobia in the same way as racism under Brazilian law, making it a criminal act.     “Sexual orientation and gender identity are essential to human beings, to the self-determination to decide their own life and seek happiness,” Justice Gilmar Mendes said, according to the court’s Twitter account.

During the court’s deliberations last month, as it became clear that most justices would rule in favor of criminalizing homophobia, Bolsonaro strongly criticized the court. He accused the justices of legislating from the bench and suggested it was time to appoint an evangelical Christian to the Supreme court. Evangelicals and other socially conservative Brazilians helped Bolsonaro win last year’s election as he promised to overturn years of liberal social policies, including more rights for same-sex couples.

Bolsonaro, a Catholic who was baptized by an evangelical pastor on a trip to Israel three years ago, had a history of making homophobic, racist and sexist public remarks before he took office in Jan. 1 He told one interviewer he would rather have a dead son than a gay son.(Reuters)…[+]

Trinidad mother loses second son to killers


The moth­er of se­cu­ri­ty of­fi­cer Ri­car­do Dixon, 22, was on Thursday lost for words as she tried to come to terms with los­ing her sec­ond son in six years to vi­o­lence. Dixon left home at 5.20 am to pick up his first day of du­ties at Heller Se­cu­ri­ty Ser­vices but was shot dead mo­ments lat­er.

His moth­er, Camille Taitt, 40, was in a state of shock and dis­be­lief when she saw the body of her son, ful­ly clad in his se­cu­ri­ty uni­form, ly­ing on the road­way at Xeres Road in Carlsen Field. Dixon was shot six times but was able to tell a passer­by what hap­pened to him min­utes be­fore he suc­cumbed to his in­juries at the scene.

Po­lice found five spent .40 cal­i­bre shells on the ground near his body. Dixon was the fa­ther of a one-year-old girl. Speak­ing with the Guardian Me­dia on Thurs­day, Taitt said her son was very ex­cit­ed for his first day as a se­cu­ri­ty guard and was look­ing for­ward to tak­ing up du­ty. “I woke him up at 5 am and walked him to the road and looked at him walk­ing out for a taxi. I nev­er knew what hap­pened to him un­til I saw his body on Face­book”, she said.(Trinidad Guardian)…[+]

US watchdog calls for Trump aide Kellyanne Conway’s removal


A US government oversight agency has said White House aide Kellyanne Conway should be fired for engaging in banned political activities while in office. The Office of Special Counsel said Mrs Conway violated the Hatch Act, which bans federal employees from campaigning for candidates while on the job.

The watchdog cited “numerous occasions” in which she violated the law, calling her a “repeat offender”. The White House dismissed the advice as “deeply flawed” and “unprecedented”. The allegations stem from statements Mrs Conway made on television during the 2017 Alabama special Senate election in which she advocated for and against certain individual candidates. The president, vice-president and some other high level officials are not bound by the 1939 Hatch Act. In a statement announcing the recommendation, the independent Office of Special Counsel (OSC) said that her “violations, if left unpunished, would send a message to all federal employees that they need not abide by the Hatch Act’s restrictions.

“Her actions thus erode the principal foundation of our democratic system – the rule of law.” The agency described one episode in which she appears to shrug off the Hatch Act, saying “if you’re trying to silence me through the Hatch Act, it’s not going to work,” and “let me know when the jail sentence starts”.

It is up to President Donald Trump whether or not to heed the recommendation and fire his former 2016 campaign manager. The office is run by Henry Kern, who the president nominated for the role. The White House rushed to defend Mrs Conway, calling the special counsel’s actions a violation of Mrs Conway’s rights to free speech. “Others, of all political views, have objected to the OSC’s unclear and unevenly applied rules which have a chilling effect on free speech for all federal employees,” said deputy White House press secretary Steven Groves in a statement to US media.(BBC)…[+]