In brief: Protests escalate over jailed Venezuela opposition leader
Caracas, Venezuela – Violent clashes flared up across Venezuela on Wednesday as the nation waited to learn what charges jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez will face for organizing mass protests that have breathed new life into the movement challenging socialist rule in the oil-rich nation.
Gunfire echoed through downtown Caracas as President Nicolas Maduro spoke on live TV for more than two hours Wednesday night denouncing what he calls a “fascist” plot to destabilize the country. Elsewhere, protesters set trash fires in streets or threw rocks at National Guard troops, who fired tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets.
Lopez, who dramatically surrendered to authorities before thousands of cheering supporters Tuesday, was supposed to appear before a judge inside a military jail to learn what charges he might face for organizing the protests that the government has blamed for the violence.
The hearing was closed and the outcome had not been announced by late Wednesday, but Maduro suggested in his speech that Lopez would remain in custody and face criminal charges.
Car explosions in rush hour kill at least three people
Beirut – Twin suicide car bombs ripped through a residential district of the Lebanese capital Wednesday in the latest deadly attack believed tied to the war raging in neighboring Syria, according to official and witness accounts.
At least three people were killed and scores injured in the blasts, which may have targeted a nearby Iranian cultural center.
The strikes – the latest in an escalating series of bombings in Lebanon – occurred during the morning rush hour near a busy traffic circle in a densely populated neighborhood.
Blair said to have sought adviser role for Murdoch
London – Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair offered to act as a secret adviser to Rupert Murdoch and two of his newspaper executives as they confronted revelations of illegal phone hacking, a London jury heard Wednesday.
The disclosure – contained in an email sent by Rebekah Brooks, a former executive of News International, once the British branch of Murdoch’s News Corp. media empire, and to Murdoch’s son and deputy, James – came as prosecutors wrapped up their case against seven defendants charged in the scandal.