Love In The Air: Pope Francis Marries Couple During Flight (PHOTOS)

Pope Francis has made history by performing a wedding ceremony for two flight attendants on board a plane travelling between cities in Chile.

Paula Podest Ruiz, 39, and Carlos Ciuffardi Elorriga, 41, had been married earlier in a civil service but asked the Pope to bless their marriage.

“Do you want me to marry you?” he said.

The couple said they were unable to conduct a ceremony in their church in the Chilean capital, Santiago, after it was damaged in an earthquake in 2010.

Pope Francis suggested performing the brief ceremony on his short flight from Santiago to the city of Iquique in northern Chile.

He then carried out a Catholic wedding service for the couple, lining up the airline’s boss as a witness.

A travelling cardinal provided a hand-written religious marriage document on a single sheet of paper, which was signed by the bride, groom, and witness.

The flight was provided by Latin America’s largest airline, Latam, and the journey forms part of the pontiff’s tour of Chile.

On Wednesday, Pope Francis visited the city of Temuco in Chile’s southern Araucania region, where he called for unity in one of the country’s longest-running conflicts.

In a public address, the pontiff said that “destructive violence” between the indigenous Mapuche people and the state was not the answer.

The region has experienced conflict for centuries, sparked by issues including ancestral land ownership and legal recognition for the Mapuche language and culture.

Pope Francis has also used his trip to meet victims of sexual abuse by priests in Chile.

He is wrapping up his visit to the country on Thursday with an open-air mass celebration in Iquique, before heading to Peru for the final leg of his two-nation trip.

Barack Obama’s Birthday Tribute To Michelle Will Bring Tears To Your Eyes

Outside of his former presidential obligations, if there is one thing Barack Obama has been a leader in it’s in his Instagram husband duties. Last year when the 44th president and Michelle Obama were spotted vacationing on a yacht, Obama was photographed assisting the former FLOTUS with a photo shoot. So when his wife’s 54th birthday approached, true to form, Obama had the perfect Instagram tribute for her.
Obama, who has infrequently used his Instagram account since his two presidential terms ended, posted a photo of the couple with the sweet caption, “You’re not only my wife and the mother of my children, you’re my best friend. I love your strength, your grace, and your determination. And I love you more each day. Happy Birthday, @MichelleObama.” The post has since accumulated over 1.5 million likes.


That wasn’t Obama’s only move to celebrate Michelle’s birthday, though. He also made sure that flowers were waiting for her when she started her day, along with a handwritten card. Michelle, who posted a photo of both on her Instagram, showed her appreciation, writing, “Thank you @BarackObama for the beautiful flowers waiting for me in the office this morning. You’re my best friend, biggest fan, and getting notes and flowers from you will never get old. And to the many people from around the country who sent cards and posted on social media, you have no idea how much we love hearing from you. I know birthdays can sometimes be bittersweet (54!), but your messages of hope, generosity, and warmth have always reminded me how lucky and blessed we are.”

Zimbabwe Opposition Leader, Roy Bennett, Killed In Helicopter Crash

Key Zimbabwean opposition leader Roy Bennett died in a helicopter crash in a remote part of the U.S. state of New Mexico that also killed four others, authorities said.

State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo confirmed Bennett’s death Thursday, a day after a helicopter carrying him and five others went down in a mountainous rural area of northern New Mexico. Details of why the 60-year-old Bennett was in the area were not immediately available. The crash injured one person aboard.

Obert Gutu, spokesman for Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change opposition party, said the loss of Bennett, a white man who spoke fluent Shona and drew the wrath of former President Robert Mugabe, was tragic. Bennett’s wife, Heather, also died, Gutu said.

Bennett, treasurer-general of the MDC-T party, won a devoted following of black Zimbabweans for passionately advocating political change. He was known as “Pachedu,” meaning “one of us” in Shona and was often called the sharpest thorn in Mugabe’s side. He won a parliamentary seat in a rural constituency despite being white, angering the strongman and his ruling ZANU-PF party.

The injured victim of the crash called 911 after the helicopter went down Wednesday evening near the Colorado state line, and authorities launched a search. They said the response was slow because of the rugged terrain and remote area, which has few roads.

Engulfed in flames, the wreckage was spotted on the ranch property east of the small community of Raton. The fire had charred a large area around the crash site.

The crash also killed pilot Jamie Coleman Dodd, 57, of Trinidad, Colorado; co-pilot Paul Cobb, 67, of Conroe, Texas; and Charles Ryland Burnett, 61, of Houston.

Authorities say the limited information they have indicated the helicopter was flying from Raton to the community of Folsom, less than 40 miles away.

In Zimbabwe, Tendai Biti, a prominent opposition leader and a former finance minister, tweeted that the Bennetts’ “tragic passing” was “a blow to our struggle.”

In 2004, Bennett was jailed for a year for assaulting a Cabinet minister who had said Bennett’s “forefathers were thieves and murderers” during a parliamentary debate. An enraged Bennett charged the minister, who fell to the floor.

He emerged from prison rail-thin and scarred from repeated sunburns. He told of the mistreatment of fellow prisoners, some of whom he said had starved to death in their cells.

After receiving death threats, Bennett fled Zimbabwe but returned in 2009 after his party nominated him for the deputy agriculture minister in a coalition government with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF. Mugabe, who had repeatedly alleged Bennett was the opposition party’s contact with foreign funders, refused to swear him in.

Bennett later returned to South Africa but remained a vocal critic of Mugabe’s rule. He also criticized his former party for allegedly enjoying the comforts of government while ordinary Zimbabweans suffered.

Nigerian Oil Magnate, Walter Wagbatsoma Jailed In UK For Money Laundering

A Nigerian businessman Walter Wagbatsoma, 47, was on Wednesday sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment for money laundering in the United Kingdom.

Wagbatsoma was also disqualified from being a company director for six years.

According to Lincolnshire police, fraudulently obtained funds in the UK were laundered through an account in Dubai under the control of a co-conspirator Oluwatoyin Allison, a UK national who was convicted in his absence at an earlier trial in April 2017 and sentenced to seven years imprisonment.

The funds were then transferred to Wagbatsoma’s account in the UK. Following a trial at Leicester Crown Court a thirteenth defendant has been convicted of conspiracy to launder money in an international fraud and money laundering investigation.

This investigation was conducted by Lincolnshire Police Economic Crime Unit under Operation Tarlac, in which over £12m was defrauded from public bodies including hospital trusts, housing associations and councils around the UK.

Walter Wagbatsoma, 47, was originally detained on a European Arrest Warrant in June 2016 whilst travelling through Germany. He was extradited soon afterwards and charged with conspiring with others to launder the proceeds of fraud through his business interests in the UK.

Wagbatsoma, an oil and gas businessman, was on trial in Nigeria at the time of his arrest for his part in a £1.9 billion oil subsidy fraud for which he was convicted and sentenced in his absence to 10-years imprisonment in January last year.

This is the third criminal trial for this operation and follows the successful conviction of 12 other defendants in the investigation which began with a complaint of fraud from Lincolnshire Partnership Foundation Trust in September 2011, in which £1.28m was fraudulently obtained by the gang. Subsequently, a further 20 linked offences was identified resulting in losses of £12.6m.

After a four-year investigation, those convicted have received prison sentences in excess of 50-years and proceedings are underway to recover the gains of the conspiracy under the Proceeds of Crime Act. This is to make sure that victims can in some way be recompensed for what the Judge described as a “sophisticated and widespread fraud in its conception and execution.”

Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor said: “For a small force, this investigation shows that officers in our Economic Crime department have shown real endeavour and determination in investigating what is a huge money laundering and fraud offence.

“Operation Tarlac has now seen thirteen individuals given lengthy prison sentences for their part in an international offence, which has had a national impact on public bodies in the UK. As a force, we have achieved a significant impact against organised crime in this investigation and this shows the hard work by our officers.

“Proceedings are now underway to recover a large amount of money, and I want to personally thank partners for their support and co-operation with us in this investigation and congratulate my officers and staff on a job well done.”

 

Abike Dabiri Eulogises Nigerian For Returning N150m Wrongfully Credited To Account In Qatar

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, has hailed a Nigerian, Michael Asemota, for returning QR1,502,000 ($441,127.99) about N150 million wrongfully posted into his account in Qatar.

Abdur-Rahman Balogun, Special Assistant on Media to Abike Dabiri-Erewa said in a statement that the SSA gave the commendation when she received Asemota in her office on Wednesday in Abuja.

The SSA said that such a rare display of honesty and sincerity from a Nigerian in the Diaspora had given the country as other Nigerians living in Qatar a good image.

She urged Asemota to continue to be a good ambassador of Nigeria and implore other Nigerians in the Diaspora to emulate the positive image he has given to Nigeria in Qatar.

“With this exceptional act of honesty, you have given a positive image to Nigerians and Nigeria in Qatar, and indeed, world over.

“We are truly proud of you and urge you to continue to extol the virtues and strength of the Nigerian heritage of honesty, integrity and honour.

“Your shining beacon serves as inspiration to the Youth of Nigeria,” Dabiri-Erewa stated in a letter of commendation personally signed by her and given to Asemota.

Asemota, a native of Edo state but based in Doha, Qatar, had opened an account with a cheque of QR150, 200 with an undisclosed commercial bank, where he is the sole signatory of the account.

“I got back home, I received an alert showing that a QR1,502,000 had been credited into my account by mistake instead of QR150,200.

“I went to see the manager to report the error of QR1, 502,000 deposited into my account. After checking for confirmation, the manager gave me a warm handshake in appreciation,” he said.

Asked why he alerted the bank about the error, Asemota said: “I knew the money did not belong to me and should not be in my account in the first place, so there were no motives and temptations to keep it.”

He said the singular act had given Nigeria and Nigerians positive image in Qatar in the midst of bad stories of Nigeria emanating from the country.

Asemota is an official of Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation-Qatar (NIDO-Qatar), the umbrella body of Nigerian residents in the country.

UK Appoints ‘Minister For Loneliness’ To Tackle Social Isolation

Britain appointed a “minister for loneliness” on Wednesday to tackle what Prime Minister Theresa May described as “the sad reality of modern life” affecting millions of people.

Tracey Crouch, a junior minister for sport and civil society, will take on the role as part of a broader strategy to combat loneliness in Britain.

“For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life,” May said.

“I want to confront this challenge for our society and for all of us to take action to address the loneliness endured by the elderly, by carers, by those who have lost loved ones — people who have no one to talk to or share their thoughts and experiences with,” the prime minister added.

More than nine million people say they are always or often lonely, out of a population of 65.6 million, according to the British Red Cross.

The charity describes loneliness and isolation as a “hidden epidemic” affecting people across all ages at various moments in their life, such as retirement, bereavement or separation.

The ministerial appointment follows a recommendation from a committee in memory of Jo Cox, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour party who was murdered by a far-right extremist.

“Jo experienced and witnessed loneliness throughout her life especially as a new student at Cambridge University and separated from her sister Kim for (the) first time,” the Jo Cox Foundation wrote on Twitter.

“She would be delighted by Tracey Crouch’s new job as minister for loneliness and would be saying ‘let’s get to work!’” the Foundation added.

The prime minister was to host a reception on Wednesday to celebrate the legacy left by Cox, whose killing just days ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum shocked the nation.

Britain’s loneliness initiative will see a strategy published later this year, with input from national and local government, public services, the voluntary sector and businesses.

 

The Gambian President, Adama Barrow Visits Buhari (PHOTOS)

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday met behind closed doors with visiting Gambia’s President Adama Barrow at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Barrow, who is visiting Nigeria for the first time since his inauguration as Gambian President on January 19, 2017, arrived the presidential villa at about 11.50a.m.

The president would host Barrow to a lunch after bilateral discussions.

The 51-year-old Gambian president ended the rule of longtime leader of Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, who is currently on exile in Equatorial Guinea.

Buhari played a major role in ensuring smooth democratic transition in The Gambia when Mr. Jammeh refused to step aside.

The Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) appointed President Buhari the mediator on the Gambian political impasse.

 

Photo Credit: Bayo Omoboriowo

Parliament To Summon Mugabe Over Missing $15bn

Former president Robert Mugabe is to be summoned to Zimbabwe’s parliament “to expand on allegations he made in 2016 that $15bn (£11bn) worth of diamond revenue went missing”, the privately owned news site NewsDay reports.
At the time, Mr Mugabe blamed foreign companies for “swindling” and “smuggling” the commodity in an interview with state-run ZBC TV.
The new site reports that the government’s mining and energy committee also plans to question Home Affairs Minister Obert Mpofu, a former mining minister, and his successor, Walter Chidakwa, over the disappearance of the diamond revenue during their time in office.
“There are no sacred cows,” the MP in charge of the committee – Temba Mliswa – reportedly said, adding, “there is nothing that even stops us from calling Mugabe”.
However he has not said when the ex-president would be summoned.

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Welcome Baby Girl Via Surrogacy

Baby number three is here for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West! The couple welcomed their third child—a girl—via surrogate early Monday morning (January 15), Kardashian announced on her personal website. “Kanye and I are happy to announce the arrival of our healthy, beautiful baby girl,” she wrote in a short blog post. “We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give and to our wonderful doctors and nurses for their special care. North and Saint are especially thrilled to welcome their baby sister.”
We don’t know the name of Kardashian and West’s daughter yet, but she weighed 7 pounds and 6 ounces at the time of birth, according to their announcement.
Rumors that Kardashian and West were looking to hire a surrogate first popped up over the summer, with the couple confirming it themselves on an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians in September. “We’re having a baby!” Kardashian said in the episode. In November, Kardashian revealed having a surrogate was “so much harder” than her past pregnancies. (And that’s say something for her, seeing as how she suffered from placenta accreta after giving birth to baby Saint. That was a huge factor in her decision to hire a surrogate.)

“You know, it is really different,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “Anyone that says or thinks it is just the easy way out is just completely wrong. I think it is so much harder to go through it this way, because you are not really in control. And, you know, obviously you pick someone that you completely trust and that you have a good bond and relationship with, but it is still…knowing that I was able to carry my first two babies and not, you know, my baby now, it’s hard for me. So it’s definitely a harder experience than I anticipated just in the control area.”

How Donald Trump’s Grandfather Was Banished From Germany

A historian has discovered a royal decree issued to Donald Trump’s grandfather ordering him to leave Germany and never come back.

Friedrich Trump, a German, was issued with the document in February 1905, and ordered to leave the kingdom of Bavaria within eight weeks as punishment for having failed to do mandatory military service and failing to give authorities notice of his departure to the US when he first emigrated in 1885.

Roland Paul, a historian from Rhineland-Palatinate who found the document in local archives, told the tabloid Bild: “Friedrich Trump emigrated from Germany to the USA in 1885. However, he failed to de-register from his homeland and had not carried out his military service, which is why the authorities rejected his attempt at repatriation.”

The decree orders the “American citizen and pensioner Friedrich Trump” to leave the area “at the very latest on 1 May … or else expect to be deported”. Bild called the archive find an “unspectacular piece of paper”, that had nevertheless “changed world history”.

Trump was born in Kallstadt, now in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, in 1869. He emigrated to the US aged 16 initially to escape poverty, attracted by the gold rush.

He quickly turned his attention to catering for the masses of other gold hunters in Alaska, later allegedly running a brothel for them, and there made his fortune. He habitually sent the gold nuggets with which his customers regularly paid for their food to his sisters who had already emigrated to New York and had started trading in property.

Returning on a visit to Kallstadt in 1901, Trump fell in love with Elisabeth Christ, whom he married a year later, returning with her to the US. But when she became homesick and wanted to return to Germany, the authorities blocked his attempts to settle there.

Royal decree ordered Friedrich Trump to leave Bavaria and never come back after he failed to do military service

In an effort to overturn the royal decree dated 27 February 1905, Trump wrote an obsequious letter appealing to Prince Regent Luitpold, addressing him as “the much-loved, noble, wise and righteous sovereign and sublime ruler”.

But the prince rejected the appeal and the Trumps left Germany for New York with their daughter on the Hapag steamship Pennsylvania on 1 July 1905. Elisabeth was three months pregnant with Donald Trump’s father, Fred.

Residents of Kallstadt, a small wine-growing town of about 1,200 people in south-west Germany, joke that the blame for Trump becoming US president-elect lies with the German authorities who threw his grandfather out. They have so far shown little enthusiasm for claiming the businessman turned politician as their own.

The Guardian of London