U.S. sanctions Venezuelan insiders for currency scheme

WASHINGTON/CARACAS, (Reuters) – The United States imposed sanctions that target a Venezuelan currency exchange network scheme that siphoned off billions of dollars to corrupt insiders of the Venezuelan government, the U.S.

China denies report of bailout offer for scandal-plagued Malaysian fund

KUALA LUMPUR,  (Reuters) – China yesterday rejected a Wall Street Journal report that said Chinese officials had offered to bail out scandal-ridden Malaysian state fund 1MDB and try to get the United States and other countries to drop their corruption probes into the fund.

Guatemala to shut down U.N. anti-corruption body early

UNITED NATIONS,  (Reuters) – Guatemala notified the United Nations it was terminating a U.N.-backed anti-graft commission yesterday, months ahead of schedule, accusing the body of abuses of power, and prompting a swift rebuke from the U.N.

Brazil gang attacks challenge Bolsonaro’s security strategy

FORTALEZA, Brazil, (Reuters) – Criminal gangs on a rampage in northeast Brazil are posing an early security test for new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, highlighting the challenge he faces in quelling drug-related violence and halting a record wave of murders in the country.

Brazil’s president says NGO funding will be tightly controlled

SAO PAULO,  (Reuters) – Nongovernmental organizations working in Brazil will have their public funding rigidly controlled, President Jair Bolsonaro said yesterday, as part of increased oversight of their activities by his new right-wing administration.

Actor Kevin Spacey denies sexually assaulting teen on Nantucket

NANTUCKET, Mass., (Reuters) – Former “House of Cards” star Kevin Spacey stood impassively in a Nantucket courtroom yesterday before pleading not guilty to sexually assaulting an 18-year-old man at an island bar over two years ago, a charge his lawyer dismissed as “patently false.” Spacey did not speak during a brief hearing in Nantucket District Court to face one count of felony indecent assault and battery, though a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf.

World Bank’s Kim abruptly resigns to join infrastructure firm

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim unexpectedly resigned yesterday, more than three years before his term ends in 2022, amid differences with the Trump administration over climate change and the need for more development resources.

Mozambique indicts 18 people in connection with $2 billion loan scheme

MAPUTO,  (Reuters) – Mozambique has indicted 18 citizens for their involvement in fraud involving $2 billion in loans to state-owned companies, the attorney general’s office (AGO) said on Monday, in a scandal that has ensnared two major international banks.

Gabon arrests four military officers after coup attempt

LIBREVILLE,  (Reuters) – Gabon foiled an attempted military coup today, arresting several plotters just hours after they took over state radio in a bid to end 50 years of rule by President Ali Bongo’s family.

Trump holds firm on border wall, offers steel option as compromise

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump pledged yesterday not to bend in his demand for a wall along the southern border with Mexico but said the barrier could be made of steel instead of concrete as a potential compromise with Democrats who refuse to fund it.

No breakthrough in U.S. shutdown talks, Pelosi plans new legislation

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) – U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Democrats would pass new legislation to try to reopen parts of the government next week after talks between the Trump administration and Democratic negotiators yesterday failed to end a two-week partial government shutdown.

Thousands rally in Belgrade against Serbian president

BELGRADE,  (Reuters) – Thousands marched through Belgrade’s frozen city centre yesterday to protest against President Aleksandar Vucic and his ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) and demand media freedoms and end to attacks against journalists and opposition figures.

Ecuador president demands probe into predecessor’s oil projects

QUITO,  (Reuters) – Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno yesterday asked the country’s prosecutor to probe $4.9 billion of oil-related infrastructure projects, alleging that the OPEC nation’s money was looted during the decade-long tenure of his leftist predecessor.

U.S. top court takes up politically charged electoral map disputes

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court is giving itself another chance to make a definitive ruling on the legality of the long-established but often-criticized political practice called partisan gerrymandering in which state legislators draw electoral districts with the intent of entrenching their party in power.

Mexican president owns no cars or real estate, but his wife does

MEXICO CITY,  (Reuters) – Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said yesterday he owns no real estate, vehicles or personal property, echoing what experts say is a pattern among the country’s politicians of shifting assets to relatives.

Google shifted $23 bln to tax haven Bermuda in 2017 – filing

AMSTERDAM, (Reuters) – Google moved 19.9 billion euros ($22.7 billion) through a Dutch shell company to Bermuda in 2017, as part of an arrangement that allows it to reduce its foreign tax bill, according to documents filed at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

Poor U.S. data, Apple warning spook global markets

SYDNEY,  (Reuters) – Global markets were on edge  as dire U.S. economic data slammed Wall Street yesterday and pushed investors to bet the Federal Reserve could reverse its policy tightening before the end of this year.

Brazil farm lobby wins as Bolsonaro grabs control over indigenous lands

RIO DE JANEIRO/BRASILIA,  (Reuters) – New Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro issued an executive order yesterday making the Agriculture Ministry responsible for deciding on lands claimed by indigenous peoples, in a victory for agribusiness that will likely enrage environmentalists.

Democrat Warren takes step to challenge Trump in 2020

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a liberal firebrand who has taken on Wall Street and traded barbs with Donald Trump, on Monday became the most prominent Democrat to announce a challenge to the Republican president in 2020.

Trinidad bar patron killed by police

(Trinidad Express) A Fyzabad man was killed by a single gunshot fired from a police officer’s gun in Vessigny Village, La Brea early Monday.

U.S. CBP chief defends agents in child border deaths

WASHINGTON,  (Reuters) – The head of U.S. Customs and Border Protection yesterday defended his agents’ handling of two sick children who died in their custody, saying they did everything they could to get medical help for them in difficult circumstances.

Trump says “big progress” on possible China trade deal

WASHINGTON/BEIJING,  (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Twitter yesterday that he had a “long and very good call” with Chinese President Xi Jinping and that a possible trade deal between the United States and China was progressing well.

New Year’s Eve party in Times Square to cheer for press freedom

NEW YORK,  (Reuters) – Reporters will be the guests of honour at the New Year’s Eve party in New York’s Times Square on Monday, in what organizers said was a celebration of press freedom after an unusually deadly year for journalists at U.S.

Congo heads to the polls for tense, long-delayed presidential vote

KINSHASA,  (Reuters) – Voters in Democratic Republic of Congo head to the polls today for a presidential election that could lead to the country’s first democratic transfer of power but has been marred by campaign violence and chaotic preparations.

Egyptian forces kill 40 suspected militants after tourist bus bombed

CAIRO,  (Reuters) – Egyptian security forces have killed 40 suspected militants in three separate incidents in North Sinai and Giza, the Interior Ministry said yesterday, a day after a bombing on a Vietnamese tourist bus in Giza killed four people.

Sierra Leone arrests former defence minister in graft crackdown

FREETOWN (Reuters) – A former Sierra Leone defence minister and his deputy were arrested yesterday as part of a crackdown by President Julius Maada Bio’s administration on alleged graft by its predecessor, the country’s anti-corruption commissioner said.