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nirav modi has vanished amid an epic indian fraud case

activists of the youth wing of india's main opposition party burn a cutout image of billionaire jeweler nirav modi during a protest friday in mumbai. (francis mascarenhas/reuters)for years, hollywood and bollywood a-listers have sought out nirav modi and his diamonds.the self-described haute diamantaire, a descendant of a family of jewel merchants who launched his own brand in 2010, has been draping actresses such as naomi watts, taraji p. henson and lisa haydon in shiny things for years. his name graces stores in new york, japan and mumbai.but this month, a different set has been looking for the billionaire: investigators with questions and warrants who want to ask one of india's richest men about what may be the biggest bank scam in the country's history.modi, 47, is at the center of ...





insurgents kill more than 20 security forces in separate attacks in afghanistan

kabul — more than 20 security forces were reported killed saturday in attacks by taliban militants in various parts of afghanistan, including kabul — a sign of the insurgents’ resiliency despite a surge of offensives by u.s. and afghan forces in recent months.in kabul, a suicide bomber on foot detonated explosives attached to his body outside an intelligence agency office near the headquarters of nato-led troops, afghan officials said.interior ministry spokesman nasrat rahimi said three afghans were killed and six were wounded, but he did not identify the victims.the death toll in kabul could have been higher, but an official for the intelligence agency threw his arms around the bomber before he could reach an area where there was a larger group of officials and civilians, the interi...





italy’s berlusconi looks set to return as a kingmaker after years in political limbo

rome — as recently as last year, italians had written off silvio berlusconi as a political relic. but onstage for a talk show this month ahead of march 4 elections, the 81-year-old media tycoon and former prime minister appeared like a man reborn.“how do i look?” he asked the studio audience as he settled in on a cushioned chair. “just fine!” a woman shouted back.berlusconi was forced out as italy’s leader in 2011 amid a debt crisis. he can’t hold office until next year because of a tax fraud conviction. but those missteps have receded, as have memories of the bawdy “bunga bunga” parties he frequented — berlusconi called them “elegant dinners” — and he was cleared of charges of paying for sex with a minor.now, the man who converted a media empire into a politica...





u.n. security council approves 30-day humanitarian cease-fire in syria

the u.n. security council on saturday unanimously called for a 30-day cease-fire in syria, with russia agreeing to the temporary hiatus only after forcing two days of delays that critics said allowed ally syrian president bashar al-assad to pursue a renewed bombing campaign blamed for hundreds of recent deaths in a rebel-controlled area.the nationwide truce would begin “without delay,” a victory for the united states and other nations that resisted russian efforts to push back the start or soften the terms.it came after intense negotiations to persuade russia not to use its veto power in the security council. moscow had blocked 11 previous syria resolutions. the united states and others accused moscow of protecting the assad government and its bombing campaign in the damascus suburb of...





nirav modi has vanished amid an epic indian fraud case

activists of the youth wing of india's main opposition party burn a cutout image of billionaire jeweler nirav modi during a protest friday in mumbai. (francis mascarenhas/reuters)for years, hollywood and bollywood a-listers have sought out nirav modi and his diamonds.the self-described haute diamantaire, a descendant of a family of jewel merchants who launched his own brand in 2010, has been draping actresses such as naomi watts, taraji p. henson and lisa haydon in shiny things for years. his name graces stores in new york, japan and mumbai.but this month, a different set has been looking for the billionaire: investigators with questions and warrants who want to ask one of india's richest men about what may be the biggest bank scam in the country's history.modi, 47, is at the center of ...





syrian doctors in eastern ghouta treating new wounds while waiting on cease-fire

wounded children get treatment in a hospital in the besieged town of douma, syria, on friday. (bassam khabieh/reuters)beirut — as the u.n. security council voted unanimously saturday on a 30-day cease-fire to stem spiraling bloodshed in syria, medics in hospitals across a besieged damascus enclave said they were treating fresh wounds and waiting for a miracle. more than 500 people have been killed and 2,500 wounded in a ferocious six-day blitz by syrian and russian warplanes on the opposition-held suburb of eastern ghouta, according to relief groups and rescue workers. world powers have scrambled to stem the violence, one of the bloodiest periods of syria’s six year war, behind closed doors and in charged public meetings at the u.n. security council. jaded after successive failed c...





russian spies hacked the olympics and tried to make it look like north korea did it, u.s. officials say

russian military spies hacked several hundred computers used by authorities at the 2018 winter olympic games in south korea, according to u.s. intelligence.they did so while trying to make it appear as though the intrusion was conducted by north korea, what is known as a “false-flag” operation, said two u.s. officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive matter.officials in pyeongchang acknowledged that the games were hit by a cyberattack during the feb. 9 opening ceremonies but had refused to confirm whether russia was responsible. that evening there were disruptions to the internet, broadcast systems and the olympics website. many attendees were unable to print their tickets for the ceremony, resulting in empty seats.analysts surmise the disruption was reta...





insurgents kill more than 20 security forces in separate attacks in afghanistan

kabul — more than 20 security forces were reported killed saturday in attacks by taliban militants in various parts of afghanistan, including kabul — a sign of insurgents’ resiliency despite a surge of offensives by u.s. and afghan forces in recent months.in kabul, a suicide bomber on foot detonated explosives attached to his body outside an intelligence agency office near the headquarters of nato-led troops, afghan officials said.interior ministry spokesman nasrat rahimi said three afghans were killed and six were wounded, but he did not identify the victims.the death toll in kabul could have been higher, but an official for the intelligence agency threw his arms around the bomber before he could reach an area where there was a larger group of officials and civilians, the interior m...





the 'hapsburg group'? european ex-politicians under scrutiny after mueller indictment

austrian chancellor alfred gusenbauer, talks during a 2008 news conference in the bulgarian capital, sofia. (valentina petrova/ap)in an indictment updated friday, special counsel robert s. mueller iii accused paul manafort and rick gates of secretly retaining “a group of former senior european politicians to take positions favorable to ukraine, including by lobbying in the united states.”these former european leaders would claim to provide independent assessments of the kiev government, but would in fact be “paid lobbyists” for ukraine. in 2012 and 2013, manafort used at least four offshore bank accounts to wire more than 2 million euros (roughly $2.5 million) to the group, the indictment states.though the group's members weren't named, they are collectively given an informal n...





french authorities find stolen $1 million edgar degas painting in a bus

the 1877 painting “les choristes” (the chorus singers) by edgar degas was found during a routine check on a bus at a highway rest area east of paris on feb. 16. (douane francaise/french customs office via reuters)the 1877 monotype “les choristes” (the chorus singers) by edgar degas is distinctive for at least two reasons.first, the french impressionist depicted dancers so often that this work is his only operatic scene to omit them.second, it was stolen in a mysterious december 2009 heist after thieves unscrewed it from the wall one night at musée cantini in marseille, leading investigators to speculate that the theft could be an inside job.the trail had grown cold over the years, as french customs investigators tried in vain to find the artwork, valued at more than $1 mi...





italy’s berlusconi looks set to return as a kingmaker after years in political limbo

as recently as last year, italians had written off silvio berlusconi as a political relic. but onstage for a talk show this month ahead of march 4 elections, the 81-year-old media tycoon and former prime minister appeared like a man reborn.“how do i look?” he asked the studio audience as he settled in on a cushioned chair. “just fine!” a woman shouted back.berlusconi was forced out as italy’s leader in 2011 amid a debt crisis. he can’t hold office until next year because of a tax fraud conviction. but those missteps have receded, as have memories of the bawdy “bunga bunga” parties he frequented — berlusconi called them “elegant dinners” — and he was cleared of charges of paying for sex with a minor.now, the man who converted a media empire into a political force l...





italy’s berlusconi looks set to return as a kingmaker after years in political limbo

rome — as recently as last year, italians had written off silvio berlusconi as a political relic. but onstage for a talk show this month ahead of march 4 elections, the 81-year-old media tycoon and former prime minister appeared like a man reborn.“how do i look?” he asked the studio audience as he settled in on a cushioned chair. “just fine!” a woman shouted back.berlusconi was forced out as italy’s leader in 2011 amid a debt crisis. he can’t hold office until next year because of a tax-fraud conviction. but those missteps have receded, as have memories of the bawdy “bunga bunga” parties he frequented — berlusconi called them “elegant dinners” — and he was cleared of charges of paying for sex with a minor.now, the man who converted a media empire into a politica...





iran's president rouhani pushes economic reforms after mass protests

istanbul — when iran’s worst unrest in years broke out in december, the country’s president, hassan rouhani, saw a rare chance to push for reform. rouhani had won a second term last year campaigning on a platform for change. but he faced stiff resistance from the country’s hard-line clerics, who wield the ultimate authority. so as iranian protesters, furious over political repression and a stagnant economy, took to the streets for nearly two weeks, rouhani leveraged their anger to promote his agenda. since then, he has increased pressure on iran’s armed forces, including the powerful revolutionary guard, to divest from the economy. and he has made moves to overhaul a chaotic banking sector, where illicit lenders wiped out the savings of small depositors, helping stir the unrest. ...





u.n. security council approves 30-day humanitarian cease-fire in syria

the united nations security council on saturday unanimously called for a 30-day cease-fire in syria, with russia agreeing to the temporary hiatus only after forcing two days of delays that critics said allowed ally syrian president bashar al-assad to pursue a renewed bombing campaign blamed for hundreds of recent deaths in a rebel-controlled area.the nationwide truce would begin “without delay,” a victory for the united states and other nations that resisted russian efforts to push back the start or soften the terms.it came after intense negotiations to persuade russia not to use its veto power in the security council. moscow had blocked 11 previous syria resolutions. the united states and others accused moscow of protecting the assad government and its bombing campaign in the damascus...





the mueller indictment mentioned the ‘hapsburg group.’ now european ex-politicians are under scrutiny.

austrian chancellor alfred gusenbauer, talks during a 2008 news conference in the bulgarian capital, sofia. (valentina petrova/ap)in an indictment updated friday, special counsel robert s. mueller iii accused paul manafort and rick gates of secretly retaining “a group of former senior european politicians to take positions favorable to ukraine, including by lobbying in the united states.”these former european leaders would claim to provide independent assessments of the kiev government, but would in fact be “paid lobbyists” for ukraine. in 2012 and 2013, manafort used at least four offshore bank accounts to wire more than 2 million euros (roughly $2.5 million) to the group, the indictment states.though the group's members weren't named, they are collectively given an informal n...





italy’s berlusconi looks set to return as a kingmaker after years in political limbo

rome — as recently as last year, italians had written off silvio berlusconi as a political relic. but onstage for a talk show this month ahead of march 4 elections, the 81-year-old media tycoon and former prime minister appeared like a man reborn.“how do i look?” he asked the studio audience as he settled in on a cushioned chair. “just fine!” a woman shouted back.berlusconi was forced out as italy’s leader in 2011 amid a debt crisis. he can’t hold office until next year because of a tax-fraud conviction. but those missteps have receded, as have memories of the bawdy “bunga bunga” parties he frequented — berlusconi called them “elegant dinners” — and he was cleared of charges of paying for sex with a minor.now, the man who converted a media empire into a politica...





insurgents kill more than 20 security forces in separate attacks in afghanistan

kabul — more than 20 security forces were killed in a series of attacks by taliban militants on saturday in various parts of afghanistan, including kabul, officials reported in a sign of insurgents’ mobility despite a surge of offensives by u.s. and afghan troops in recent months.in kabul, a suicide bomber on foot detonated explosives attached to his body outside an intelligence agency office, near the headquarters of nato-led troops, afghan officials said.interior ministry spokesman nasrat rahimi said three afghans were killed and six wounded, but he did not identify the victims.the death toll in kabul could have been higher, but an official for the intelligence agency threw his arms around the bomber before he could reach an area further up from the site of the blast, where there was...





top homeland security official, who clashed with white house over immigration policy, to step down

elaine duke, the second-highest-ranking official at the department of homeland security, announced friday that she will step down after serving less than a year in the job.a longtime homeland security official who ran the agency as acting secretary for more than four months last year, duke, now deputy secretary, is a well-regarded figure at dhs and viewed as one of its most experienced managers. but duke was largely sidelined after secretary kirstjen nielsen took over in december and given a portfolio described as “embarrassingly light,” according to people familiar with the matter.in a brief statement, nielsen said duke would “retire from government service in april,” having “selflessly served the federal government for three decades.”duke worked as a top-ranking dhs official...





6 bodies were found dismembered in landscape planters in canada. there might be more.

ottawa — the mystery deepened this week in the case of bruce mcarthur, the man charged with killing several middle-aged men linked to toronto’s gay village and burying dismembered body parts in landscape planters.toronto police said friday that they had added a sixth charge of first-degree murder against mcarthur, a 66-year-old landscaper, in connection with the 2010 disappearance of skandaraj navaratnam, a 40-year-old man who had been linked romantically with mcarthur, according to media reports. his remains were among the dismembered bodies of six individuals discovered at a garage where mcarthur used to store his equipment.and there may be more to come. toronto police said last week they were investigating missing people’ cases across the province of ontario for the past 40 years,...





ivanka trump arrives in south korea, but seoul says no meeting with north planned

seoul — ivanka trump arrived in south korea on friday night to attend the closing of the pyeong­chang winter olympics, with the progressive government in seoul pulling out all the stops to fete “assistant ivanka” — and by extension her father, as well.but the growing divide between seoul and washington over how to deal with north korea was apparent even amid the niceties of pre-dinner remarks. south korean president moon jae-in talked about engagement, while ivanka trump reiterated the need for “maximum pressure.”and with a high-level north korean delegation arriving in the south on sunday to attend the closing of the games, the ceremony will present another diplomatic minefield for the south korean hosts as they try to push forward with a north korean thaw without antagonizin...