Around The World Mexico City Oil fraud

Mexico City
Oil fraud: Mexican authorities have arrested a top oil executive for allegedly defrauding Citigroup of up to $400 million. Prosecutors say Amado Yáñez Osuna’s Oceanografía oil services company falsified invoices used as collateral for loans from Citigroup’s Mexican subsidiary. They believe some of the money was laundered through a soccer team Yáñez owns. But the opposition National Action Party contends the case may be politically motivated. Oceanografía was awarded many lucrative contracts by the state-owned oil giant Pemex while the National Action Party was in power. The NAP is refusing to support President Enrique Peña Nieto’s energy reform bill until the case is resolved.

Guantánamo Bay, Cuba
Terrorist plan worked: Al Qaida wanted to provoke the U.S. into war, said accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Speaking to lawyers for Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law, who was on trial in New York, Mohammed said that the attacks were intended to drive the U.S. out of Muslim lands. “Every state of emergency declared and every change of alert level that inflicts specific procedures on military and civilian sectors costs the country millions of dollars,” he said. “The U.S. government has incurred losses upwards of a trillion dollars in the wars it has waged in the aftermath of 9/11, the bleeding of which continues to this day.”

Caracas, Venezuela
Booted out: A Venezuelan opposition lawmaker has been kicked out of parliament for giving a speech in Washington. María Corina Machado went to the headquarters of the Organization of American States last week to inform the delegations about the recent protests against Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Panama ceded its seat at the OAS meeting so that Machado could speak, and Venezuelan authorities say Machado betrayed her country by “acting as a Panamanian official.” They stripped her of her seat and her parliamentary immunity, and say she could be arrested for “inciting violence.” More than 30 people have been killed in anti-government protests in the past month.

Montevideo, Uruguay
U.s. detainees welcome: Uruguay has become the first Latin American country to agree to accept prisoners released from Guantánamo Bay. “I was imprisoned for many years, and I know how it is,” said President José Mujica, a former leftist guerrilla jailed under Uruguay’s dictatorship in the 1970s and ’80s. “They are coming as refugees, and there will be a place for them in Uruguay if they want to bring their families.” Uruguay is expected to accept five of the 154 detainees who remain in Guantánamo. The U.S. government said no deal has been finalized and wants assurances that resettled prisoners will be required to stay in the country for at least two years.

Rallying against austerity: Hundreds of thousands of citizens marched across Spain this month, meeting up in Madrid for a rally against rampant poverty and EU-imposed austerity measures. The “marches for dignity” drew protesters from cities across the country decrying unemployment and cuts in housing, health, and education services. Banners called on the government to stop paying international debt and start investing in jobs instead. One banner read “Bread, jobs, and housing for everyone,” while another read “Corruption and robbery, Spain’s trademark.” A quarter of the Spanish workforce is unemployed, and there has been a wave of eviction-related suicides.

Rio de Janeiro
Troops raid favelas: With less than three months to go before the World Cup, Brazil is sending soldiers into the slums around Rio to stem surging violence. Last week, the gangs that control the favelas firebombed police stations in a coordinated attack. “Criminals want to weaken our policy of pacification and take back territories that were in criminal hands for decades,” said Rio state Gov. Sérgio Cabral. Activists say the violence is rising because of police brutality. Residents have been tortured and killed by police, and the rioters contend that the cops are more corrupt than the criminals.

Bandar Abbas, Iran
warship just a prop: Iran is building a replica U.S. warship that it says will be used for a movie shoot. Satellite photos show what appears to be a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier in an Iranian shipyard, which U.S. intelligence suspected would be blown up for some propaganda purpose, according to The New York Times. Iran claims the ship is part of the set for a new movie by Iranian director Nader Talebzadeh about the 1988 downing of an Iran Air passenger jet by missiles fired from the American missile cruiser USS Vincennes. All 290 passengers and crew were killed in what the U.S. called a tragic mistake. “Without any proof or real basis,” said the news site, “Western media have jumped again to paint a more negative picture of Iran.”

Kampala, Uganda
Get Kony: The U.S. is doubling its military effort to help African Union forces find fugitive Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony. The new deployment of advanced Osprey helicopters and other aircraft, along with 150 special operations forces, will join the 100 U.S. troops already in the region hunting for the leader of the rebel group Lord’s Resistance Army. At its height in the 1980s and ’90s, the cult was notorious for mutilating villagers and kidnapping thousands of their children for use as soldiers and sex slaves. His influence waning, Kony is now believed to be hiding along the border between Central African Republic and Sudan. The search to date has been hampered by a lack of aircraft that can penetrate the dense jungle.

Pyongyang, North Korea
Missile test: North Korea conducted its first tests of midrange rockets in nearly five years this week, firing two Rodong missiles into the sea toward Japan. The missiles were fired from mobile launchers, in what South Korean officials believe was a demonstration of the North’s ability to launch a surprise attack. The tests were timed to coincide with President Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation summit in Europe, where he met with the leaders of South Korea and Japan to discuss the North Korean issue. “We are monitoring the situation closely,” said Kim Min-seok of the South Korean Defense Ministry, as previous tests “had been preceded or followed by additional provocations.”

nuclear fuel relinquished: Japan has agreed to hand over hundreds of pounds of highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium and plutonium to the U.S. The fuel, which has been poorly guarded, was purchased from the U.S. in the 1960s and has been used for research. But enough material remains to build dozens of nuclear weapons. Japan’s relinquishment is the largest single accomplishment yet for President Obama’s global nonproliferation initiative. The agreement was announced at the president’s third summit on securing nuclear materials, held this week in The Hague, Netherlands. China and Iran have criticized the stockpile in the past, saying that it would enable Japan to make nuclear bombs in short order should it so choose.

Mass death sentence: Protests erupted across Egypt this week after 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were sentenced to death following a two-day show trial that drew instant international condemnation. The defendants were convicted of attacking police in August during riots that broke out after police cleared a Muslim Brotherhood camp that had been set up to protest the coup that deposed President Mohammed Morsi. Days later, undeterred Egyptian authorities opened another mass trial of 682 Brotherhood members, including their spiritual leader, Mohamed Badie. Defendants’ lawyers weren’t allowed to present evidence in either case. Amnesty International called the verdicts “a death sentence for the credibility and independence of Egypt’s criminal justice system.”

Nairobi, Kenya
wildlife service corruption: The founding former chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service says the agency has been infiltrated by a poaching cartel that is slaughtering elephants and rhinos. Richard Leakey claims the government knows who the poaching ring’s leaders are and has urged Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to act against them. “I call on him now personally to take the next step and get this under control,” Leakey said. The KWS says that poaching is down and that only about 30 elephants have been killed this year, a claim Leakey called “patently not true.” Impunity for poachers is well documented in Kenya. According to a study by Wildlife Direct, a conservation group headed by Leakey, only 4 percent of offenders convicted of wildlife crimes do any jail time.

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