Puyehue volcano erupts in Chile
June 9th, 2011
01:29 PM ET

Puyehue's volcanic ash cloud grounds flights out of Argentine capital

Three airlines have canceled flights out of two airports in Argentina's capital city because of the ash cloud from the Puyehue volcano in Chile, according to media reports.

Aerolíneas Argentinas, LAN and Austral canceled flights from Buenos Aires' Jorge Newbery Metropolitan (aka Aeroparque) and Ezeiza International airports after the ash cloud arrived in the city, and Spain's Iberia airline canceled three flights from Madrid to the Argentine capital, the Buenos Aires Herald reported. The latter flights were rerouted to Santiago, Chile.

The airlines had already canceled a string of morning flights but later called off flights until 5 p.m. with a warning more could follow, depending how the situation unfolds, the newspaper reported.

FULL POST

Thursday's intriguing people
December 16th, 2010
02:02 PM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Grace Mugabe

The first lady of Zimbabwe has filed a defamation suit demanding $15 million from a newspaper that quoted a 2008 diplomatic cable alleging she profited from the illegal diamond trade.

The Standard, a Harare-based Sunday newspaper, this week quoted WikiLeaks-released U.S. cables saying rumors that Mugabe and Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor, were profiting off of the diamonds are true.

In short, the paper alleged the cables show that Gono made thousands of dollars each month off diamond dealing and funneled money to Mugabe, her sister-in-law and members of Zimbabwe’s ruling party.

“The diamonds that are sold to regime members and elites are sold for freshly printed Zimbabwean notes issued by the (Reserve Bank),” The Standard quoted British mining executive Andrew Cranswick as saying in a 2008 document.

According to Britain’s The Guardian, the Marange district of Zimbabwe has been the “scene of a frenzied diamond rush in recent years.”

In court papers, Mugabe called the allegations printed in The Standard false and malicious and said they damaged her credibility, Al-Jazeera reported.

“Whatever it prints is regarded as gospel truth by those people in Zimbabwe and abroad,” the network quoted court documents as saying.

Mugabe, in the past, has been the subject of media reports questioning her lavish tastes as first lady of a country where inflation has soared and a majority of citizens live below the poverty line.

FULL POST

Wednesday's intriguing people
December 15th, 2010
01:02 PM ET

Wednesday's intriguing people

Mikhail Khodorkovsky

The former oil tycoon will not learn the verdict of a Russian court for about two more weeks, his attorney says, adding no reason was given for the delay.

Khodorkovsky (pictured above) and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, have been behind bars for seven years on tax evasion convictions.

They are presently charged with embezzling 218 tons of oil from Khodorkovsky’s firm, Yukos, and laundering more than 3 billion rubles (about $98 million), according to Russia’s state-run RIA Novosti. They are scheduled to hear a verdict in their new case December 27.

The men have maintained their innocence in all the charges, and their plight prompted human rights watchdogs to write President Dmitry Medvedev in October, saying the charges and trials “call into question your administration’s commitment to the rule of law and the legitimacy of the proceedings.”

The Khodorkovsky Center describes its billionaire patron as a patriot, energy pioneer, philanthropist and political prisoner and says his imprisonment is a “scar on the Russian political landscape.”

Human rights groups and the center allege Khodorkovsky was targeted for challenging the Kremlin and for his efforts to promote democracy.

FULL POST