Brazil president: Not worried about looming corruption cases

BRASILIA, Brazil – President Michel Temer said Thursday he was not worried about corruption charges that could lead to his being jailed after leaving office Jan. 1. In a meeting with foreign correspondents in the presidential residence in Brasilia, Temer said the cases were without merit, even if he said they nixed chances his administration … Continue reading “Brazil president: Not worried about looming corruption cases”

BRASILIA, Brazil – President Michel Temer said Thursday he was not worried about corruption charges that could lead to his being jailed after leaving office Jan. 1.

In a meeting with foreign correspondents in the presidential residence in Brasilia, Temer said the cases were without merit, even if he said they nixed chances his administration could achieve major reforms, such as to the pension system.

"I'm at ease. I don't have the least bit of worry," Temer said, adding he believed they would be thrown out.

As a sitting president, Temer has partial immunity, which has helped him avoid criminal prosecution. Twice the lower Chamber of Deputies in Congress, which must weigh in on matters involving the president, voted against putting Temer on trial for charges leveled by the attorney general.

When the 78-year-old leaves office, however, those cases will go to the normal court system.

Over the last four years, numerous businessmen and politicians, including ex-President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, have been convicted and jailed amid a sprawling corruption investigation called "Car Wash." The cases against Temer are connected to that larger probe, which focused on construction companies paying politicians for favors, often with money from inflated public works contracts.

Legal observers believe the cases against Temer are strong and will likely move forward. In recent weeks, local news media have reported that Temer might be given an ambassadorship by the incoming administration of President-elect Jair Bolsonaro.

Such a position would give Temer the partial immunity given to federal lawmakers, cabinet members and several other top officials. The law stipulates that only the nation's top court, the Supreme Federal Tribunal, can decide whether to allow charges to go forward or put any particular official on trial, which in practice slows any prosecution. But granting such an appointment would be problematic for Bolsonaro, who ran on promises of "zero tolerance" for corruption.

On Thursday, Temer said he "wouldn't stop" being active and planned to take some time for himself. However, he declined to provide specifics, noting jokingly that he was older than 50 years old.

Temer, a career politician famed for his ability to move bills through Congress, was serving as vice president when President Dilma Rousseff was impeached and ousted from office in 2016. Upon taking office, he cast himself as a reformer ready to help Latin America's large nation emerge from its worst recession in decades.

While his administration was beset with scandals — several ministers had to resign over corruption allegations in the first weeks — it did move Brazil forward on many fronts. A major reform to the labor code was passed, and in 2017, gross domestic product grew by 1 percent after contracting nearly 4 percent in each of the two previous years.

"I think I will be remembered as someone who at least tried to get Brazil on track," Temer said. "I will also be remembered as someone who did not worry about populism. Anybody worried about populism would not have done what I did" — an allusion to the unpopularity of his proposals to improve state finances by cutting guarantees for workers and slimming the pension system.

Temer had publicly flirted with running for re-election this year despite approval ratings below 10 percent for most of his time in office. But his own corruption scandals didn't just make that unrealistic and derail much of his agenda, they also threatened to jail him while in office.

Last year, Temer was twice charged by Attorney General Rodrigo Janot in cases involving alleged bribery and obstruction of justice. He is also being investigated by federal police in a third case involving allegedly using bribes to pay for renovations on family property.

Pakistan opposition rally clashes with police, dozens hurt

LAHORE, Pakistan – Hundreds of supporters of Pakistan's opposition leader, Shahbaz Sharif, clashed with police in the eastern city of Lahore on Thursday, leaving dozens of protesters hurt, officials said.

The violence erupted when riot police used batons to prevent Sharif's supporters from reaching an anti-graft tribunal where he appeared before the court for a pre-trial hearing over alleged links to a multi-million dollars housing scam.

Police also detained several activists, angering the country's opposition parties, which in turn urged Prime Minister Imran Khan's government to immediately free those detained.

According to Maryam Aurangzeb, a spokeswoman for Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League party, police beat the party's supporters without any provocation. "We were peaceful and police started swinging batons and beating our supporters without any provocation," she said.

But police insisted they prevented demonstrators from trying to storm the court.

Sharif, the opposition leader in parliament, has been held in custody by the National Accountability Bureau since October. He is accused of influencing authorities to award contracts for a housing program to a company with which he had political connections.

Also Thursday in Lahore, hundreds of farmers rallied to demand a decrease in the prices of fertilizers, pesticides and seeds, and to pressure authorities so they could get higher prices for sugarcane and other produce.

The farmers' protest, which began Wednesday, swelled Thursday with more joining the rally. Farmers say authorities in recent months increased prices of pesticides and fertilizers and that sugar mills are now offering them lower prices to purchase their sugarcane.

The farmers are threatening to burn their crops in protest if their demands are not accepted.

In other developments, Pakistan's Minister for Science and Technology Azam Swati resigned Thursday after a judicial probe found he had abused his office to get members of a poor family arrested.

Swati has been criticized by human rights activists since last month, when his guards clashed with the family, living near his farmhouse.

Israeli police recommend indicting Netanyahu in telecom case

JERUSALEM – Israeli police on Sunday recommended indicting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on bribery charges related to a corruption case involving Israel's telecom giant, prompting immediate calls for his resignation.

Police say their investigation has established an evidentiary foundation to charge Netanyahu and his wife Sara with accepting bribes, fraud and breach of trust. The case revolves around suspicions that confidants of Netanyahu promoted regulations worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for positive coverage of the prime minister on Bezeq's subsidiary news website, Walla.

Police have already recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges in two other cases. One involves accepting gifts from billionaire friends, and the second revolves around alleged offers of advantageous legislation for a newspaper in return for positive coverage.

The prime minister has denied any wrongdoing, dismissing the accusations as a witch hunt orchestrated by the media.

"The police recommendations regarding me and my wife don't surprise anyone," Netanyahu said in a statement. "These recommendations were decided upon and leaked even before the investigation began."

The Bezeq case, known as Case 4000, is the most serious of all those of which Netanyahu has been accused. Two of his top confidants have turned state witnesses and are believed to have provided police with incriminating evidence. Netanyahu held the government's communications portfolio until last year and oversaw regulation in the field. Former journalists at the Walla news site have attested to being pressured to refrain from negative reporting of Netanyahu.

Police say the investigation, which included the testimony of 60 witnesses, revealed that Netanyahu and Bezeq boss Shaul Elovitch engaged in a "bribe-based relationship."

Police are also recommending charges be brought against Elovitch and members of his family.

"The most serious bribery case yet leaves no room for doubt: a prime minister who is accused of the most serious offense for a public servant in the Israeli rule book cannot keep serving one minute longer," said Tamar Zandberg, head of the dovish opposition Meretz party.

"The prime minister has no moral mandate to keep his seat and must resign today. Israel must go to elections."

Other opposition parties quickly joined in the call for Netanyahu to resign.

Vietnam jails 2 ex-police generals for role in gambling ring

HANOI, Vietnam – A court in northern Vietnam on Friday jailed two former police generals for protecting a multimillion-dollar online gambling ring as the Communist government steps up its crackdown on graft.

Former national police chief Phan Van Vinh and former head of hi-tech crimes police department Nguyen Thanh Hoa were sentenced to nine and 10 years respectively after being convicted of abuse of power at the end of the three-week trial by the People's Court in Phu Tho province.

Two gambling ring leaders, Nguyen Van Duong, former chairman of the private company CNC, and Phan San Nam, former chairman of VTC Online joint stock company, were sentenced to 10 and five years respectively for organizing gambling and money laundering.

The ring had operated from April 2015 until it was broken up in August last year with some $425 million having been gambled online. The ring made $200 million in illegal profits, according to the government.

They were among 92 defendants involved in the case.

"Vinh's acts have caused discontent among the public, reduced the reputation of the police force and people's trust," state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted the verdict as saying. "Vinh had intentionally covered up the crimes committed by Duong and his accomplices."

Vinh, who was general director of the General Department of Police under the Ministry of Public Security until his retirement two years ago, was arrested in July while Hoa was arrested a month earlier. Following their arrests, the ministry stripped both men of their ranks.

The two allowed CNC company to rent an office from the General Department of Police, which indirectly facilitated the crimes and hindered their staff and other agencies in investigating the gambling ring, the verdict said.

During the hearing, prosecutors quoted Duong as telling police investigators that he bribed Vinh with $2.8 million, a $7,000 Rolex watch and gave Hoa $936,000, state media reported.

The verdict, however, said there has been no evidence to prove the two former police generals were involved in bribery.

The foreign media were not allowed to cover the trial.

Vietnam's unprecedented crackdown on graft had previously focused on corruption at the state energy giant PetroVietnam and the banking sector but appears to be spreading to the police force.

Scores of PetroVietnam senior officials and bankers have been brought to trial, the most high-ranking of them being Dinh La Thang, a former Politburo member who was sentenced to a total of 31 years in prison for mismanagement in two separate cases earlier this year dating to his time leading PetroVietnam.

He was the first Politburo member to be jailed in decades.

Ukraine bars entry of Russian males 16 to 60 amid naval conflict

KIEV, Ukraine – Ukrainian officials on Friday upped the ante in the growing confrontation with Russia, announcing a travel ban for most Russian males and searching the home of an influential cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The long-simmering conflict bubbled over Sunday when Russian border guards rammed into and opened fired on three Ukrainian vessels near the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014. The vessels were trying to pass through the Kerch Strait on their way to the Sea of Azov. The Russians then captured the ships and 24 crew members.

The Ukrainian parliament on Monday adopted the president's motion to impose martial law in the country for 30 days in the wake of the standoff.

There has been growing hostility between Ukraine and Russia since Moscow's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014. Russia has also supported separatists in Ukraine's east with clandestine dispatches of troops and weapons. Fighting there has killed at least 10,000 people since 2014 but eased somewhat after a 2015 truce.

Petro Tsygykal, chief of the Ukrainian Border Guard Service, announced at a security meeting on Friday that all Russian males between 16 and 60 will be barred from traveling to the country while martial law is in place.

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President Petro Poroshenko told the meeting that the measures are taken "in order to prevent the Russian Federation from forming private armies" on Ukrainian soil.

The announcement follows Thursday's decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to scrap the much-anticipated meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump said it isn't appropriate for him to meet with Putin since Russia hasn't released the Ukrainian seamen.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian intelligence agency announced on Friday that they are investigating a senior cleric of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Ihor Guskov, chief of staff of the SBU intelligence agency, told reporters that its officers are searching the home of Father Pavlo, who leads the Pechersk Monastery in Kiev. He said the cleric is suspected of "inciting hatred."

The Pechersk Monastery, the spiritual center of Ukraine, is under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Ukrainian church, which has been part of the Russian Orthodox Church for centuries, moved close to forming an independent church — fueled by the conflict with Russia Ukraine's Orthodox communities earlier this year.

There are currently three Orthodox communities in Ukraine, including two breakaway churches. Ukrainian authorities sought to portray the Russian Orthodox clerics in Ukraine as supporting separatists.

Ukraine's president announced on Thursday that the Constantinople patriarchy has approved a decree granting the Ukrainian Orthodox Church independence from the Russian Orthodox Church, a major boost to the president's approval ratings.

Both the Russian Orthodox Church and Russian authorities are strongly against the move and have warned Ukraine not to do it, fearing sectarian violence.

Russian government-appointed ombudswoman for Crimea told Russian news agencies that all the seamen have been transported from a detention center in Crimea. The three commanders have been taken to Moscow, she said. It wasn't immediately clear where the other 21 have been taken.

A Crimea court earlier this week ruled to keep the Ukrainian seamen behind bars for two months pending the investigation.

Putin accuses Ukrainian president of playing ‘dirty game’ amid warnings of ‘full-scale war’ with Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday lashed out against Ukraine and accused the government of playing a “dirty game”, claiming they set up the naval incident that led to the seizure of three Ukrainian naval ships with the crew becoming prisoners.

Speaking during an investment forum in Moscow, Putin accused Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko of attempting to score political points in a bid to get re-elected.

"This is a dirty game within the country [Ukraine],” Putin said. “It is a provocation initiated by the current authorities, and I think by the [Ukrainian] president, in light of the upcoming elections to be held next year."

— Vladimir Putin

“This is a dirty game within the country (Ukraine),” Putin said. “It is a provocation initiated by the current authorities, and I think by the (Ukrainian) president, in light of the upcoming elections to be held next year.”

“The incident in the Black Sea happened, it is a border incident, no more.”

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Putin’s remarks came after the Ukrainian government imposed the country’s first ever martial law in parts of the country that are vulnerable to a possible military action from Russia, with Poroshenko saying there was the “extremely serious” threat of a land invasion.

Western governments came out in support of Ukraine and accused Russia of violating international law. Earlier this week, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told the Ukrainian president that the alliance is supporting the country’s “territorial integrity and sovereignty,” though Ukraine is not part of the military alliance.

TRUMP THREATENS TO CANCEL PUTIN MEETING AMID RUSSIA-UKRAINE TENSIONS

President Trump said he’s not “happy” about the situation and floated the possibility of canceling planned talks with Putin at this week's G20 summit in Buenos Aires. “I don't like that aggression,” Trump said in a recent interview with the Washington Post.

The Kremlin responded to the martial law in Ukraine with a pledge to deploy S-400 surface-to-air missile systems on the Crimean peninsula soon, according to the Interfax news agency.

CAPTURED UKRAINIAN SAILORS SEEN ON RUSSIAN TV APPARENTLY CONFESSING TO ‘PROVOCATIVE’ ACTION

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Putin on Wednesday also reiterated the Kremlin’s story of how the clash between the ships occurred, saying Ukrainian vessels violated Russia’s territorial waters.

Russia’s main intelligence agency, the FSB, released a video on Tuesday that interviews three Ukrainian seamen, all of whom say Ukraine violated the Russian border. It was not immediately possible to ascertain if the men were talking under duress. One of them was apparently reading from a teleprompter.

But the video posted by Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov appears to contradict Putin’s version of the event as it shows an apparent Russian commander shouting “slam him from the right” as the Russian vessel hits the Ukrainian ship.

UKRAINE IMPOSES MARTIAL LAW AMID 'EXTREMELY SERIOUS' THREAT OF RUSSIAN INVASION

Poroshenko on Tuesday appeared on national television and warned of the threat of “full-scale war” with Russia. “I don’t want anyone to think this is fun and games. Ukraine is under threat of full-scale war with Russia,” he said.

He went on to claim that Russia is building up its military presence along the Ukraine-Russian border, noting that with the number of tanks had tripled.

Ukraine and Russia have been involved in a long-term conflict starting in 2014. Russia-backed separatists have occupied parts of Eastern Ukraine and have held the control until this day, while Russia annexed Crimea in a referendum that most western countries deem illegal and illegitimate.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lukas Mikelionis is a reporter for FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @LukasMikelionis.

Almost 60,000 migrants deemed dead or missing on dangerous journeys since 2014, study finds

While global migration levels are currently at an unprecedented high – characterized by graphic images of refugees on the run in the Middle East, caravans traversing Central America and flimsy boats from Africa capsizing in the Mediterranean Sea – far less confronting is the silent toll of those who never make it a border, those who die or disappear on often-dangerous expeditions.

A new Associated Press report has estimated that at least 56,800 migrants across the world have died since 2014 – almost twice the number documented by the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). The most recent IOM findings, as of the beginning of October, listed 28,500 missing migrants.

While the AP’s tally found an additional 28,300 unaccounted for, the report acknowledged its numbers were still low.

“More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea,” the report stated. “And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.”

Video

INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS FEARS FOR CITY IN SYRIA IT CAN'T REACH WITH AID

This year in Africa alone, more than 1,700 people died in the seas that separate Africa and Europe. And, since 2014, within the African continent itself, more than 18,400 migrants are believed to have died. This includes over 4,300 unnamed bodies in just one South African province. The IOM also asserted that many more likely disappear without a trace – perishing in the vast plains of the Sahara Desert.

Moreover, at least 3,861 migrants are presumed to have died en route between Mexico and the United States since 2014.

YAZIDIS SEEK RESCUE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN ENSLAVED, MARRIED OFF TO ISIS

The report highlights that many of the missing – or pronounced dead – are children. Some 2,773 minors have been reported to the Red Cross as disappeared on the journey to Europe, with an additional 2,097 adults reported missing by children.

The AP report also indicated that that funding for projects to adequately track migration and its costs has waned, meaning that many will likely never be found or identified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hollie McKay has a been a Fox News Digital staff reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from war zones including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma and investigates global conflicts, war crimes and terrorism around the world. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay

Almost 60,000 migrants deemed dead or missing on dangerous journeys since 2014, study finds

While global migration levels are currently at an unprecedented high – characterized by graphic images of refugees on the run in the Middle East, caravans traversing Central America and flimsy boats from Africa capsizing in the Mediterranean Sea – far less confronting is the silent toll of those who never make it a border, those who die or disappear on often-dangerous expeditions.

A new Associated Press report has estimated that at least 56,800 migrants across the world have died since 2014 – almost twice the number documented by the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). The most recent IOM findings, as of the beginning of October, listed 28,500 missing migrants.

While the AP’s tally found an additional 28,300 unaccounted for, the report acknowledged its numbers were still low.

“More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea,” the report stated. “And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.”

Video

INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS FEARS FOR CITY IN SYRIA IT CAN'T REACH WITH AID

This year in Africa alone, more than 1,700 people died in the seas that separate Africa and Europe. And, since 2014, within the African continent itself, more than 18,400 migrants are believed to have died. This includes over 4,300 unnamed bodies in just one South African province. The IOM also asserted that many more likely disappear without a trace – perishing in the vast plains of the Sahara Desert.

Moreover, at least 3,861 migrants are presumed to have died en route between Mexico and the United States since 2014.

YAZIDIS SEEK RESCUE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN ENSLAVED, MARRIED OFF TO ISIS

The report highlights that many of the missing – or pronounced dead – are children. Some 2,773 minors have been reported to the Red Cross as disappeared on the journey to Europe, with an additional 2,097 adults reported missing by children.

The AP report also indicated that that funding for projects to adequately track migration and its costs has waned, meaning that many will likely never be found or identified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hollie McKay has a been a Fox News Digital staff reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from war zones including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma and investigates global conflicts, war crimes and terrorism around the world. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay

Almost 60,000 migrants deemed dead or missing on dangerous journeys since 2014, study finds

While global migration levels are currently at an unprecedented high – characterized by graphic images of refugees on the run in the Middle East, caravans traversing Central America and flimsy boats from Africa capsizing in the Mediterranean Sea – far less confronting is the silent toll of those who never make it a border, those who die or disappear on often-dangerous expeditions.

A new Associated Press report has estimated that at least 56,800 migrants across the world have died since 2014 – almost twice the number documented by the UN’s International Organization for Migration (IOM). The most recent IOM findings, as of the beginning of October, listed 28,500 missing migrants.

While the AP’s tally found an additional 28,300 unaccounted for, the report acknowledged its numbers were still low.

“More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea,” the report stated. “And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.”

Video

INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS FEARS FOR CITY IN SYRIA IT CAN'T REACH WITH AID

This year in Africa alone, more than 1,700 people died in the seas that separate Africa and Europe. And, since 2014, within the African continent itself, more than 18,400 migrants are believed to have died. This includes over 4,300 unnamed bodies in just one South African province. The IOM also asserted that many more likely disappear without a trace – perishing in the vast plains of the Sahara Desert.

Moreover, at least 3,861 migrants are presumed to have died en route between Mexico and the United States since 2014.

YAZIDIS SEEK RESCUE OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN ENSLAVED, MARRIED OFF TO ISIS

The report highlights that many of the missing – or pronounced dead – are children. Some 2,773 minors have been reported to the Red Cross as disappeared on the journey to Europe, with an additional 2,097 adults reported missing by children.

The AP report also indicated that that funding for projects to adequately track migration and its costs has waned, meaning that many will likely never be found or identified.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Hollie McKay has a been a Fox News Digital staff reporter since 2007. She has extensively reported from war zones including Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Burma and investigates global conflicts, war crimes and terrorism around the world. Follow her on twitter and Instagram @holliesmckay

85,000 children may have died of hunger in Yemen, international aid group says

SANAA, Yemen – An estimated 85,000 children under age 5 may have died of hunger and disease since the outbreak of Yemen's civil war in 2015, an international aid group said Wednesday.

Save the Children said the "conservative" estimate is based on average mortality rates for Severe Acute Malnutrition, which the U.N. says has afflicted more than 1.3 million children since a Saudi-led coalition went to war with Yemen's Houthi rebels in March 2015.

Tamer Kirolos, Save the Children's Yemen director, says: "For every child killed by bombs and bullets, dozens are starving to death and it's entirely preventable," adding that "children who die in this way suffer immensely."

The war and a Saudi-led blockade have created the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with more than 8 million people at risk of starvation.