Pledge to work with Brazil
The White House on Wednesday tried to smooth over a diplomatic row with Brazil, pledging to address concerns caused by reports that it had spied on President Dilma Rousseff and hacked into the computer networks of state-run oil company Petrobras. National Security Advisor Susan Rice met with Brazilian Foreign Minister Luiz Alberto Figueiredo to discuss Brasilia’s questions about documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Anger over dropped charges
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) on Wednesday expressed serious concern that charges had been dropped against a man charged in a 1997 attack on a journalist. Marco Antonio Quinones, known as “El Pato,” had been accused of an assassination attempt that wounded Jesus Blancornelas, editor of the weekly Zeta, and killed his bodyguard. A court ruling recently dismissed the charges. IAPA expressed what it called its “highest level” complaint to the government for its failings in prosecuting the attack against Blancornelas, “which remains unpunished after 14 years,” the group said in a statement.
Oil on train was mislabeled
The oil that sparked a massive explosion when a train derailed in Quebec in July, killing 47 people, was as far lighter and more flammable than it was represented, investigators said Wednesday. The Transportation Safety Board said it has alerted US transportation authorities that the North Dakota crude was not correctly documented. The oil was labeled “category three” — the least dangerous category, used for conventional crude oil — but should have been classed as “category two” for more combustible substances.
Pouting over pandas
China’s panda diplomacy has left Dutch speakers angry that two loaned bears will go to a zoo in the French-speaking region of the country. Beijing offered to lend the giant pandas during a visit by Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo this week. The bears will go to Pairi Daiza, a wildlife park in Wallonia, not far from Di Rupo’s home. Zuhal Demir, a lawmaker from the Flemish separatist N-VA party, said it was clear that Di Rupo had intervened to ensure the pandas went to the French-speaking south rather than the Antwerp Zoo in Dutch-speaking Flanders.
Naked rambler cleared
A naturist who liked to stroll naked in the woods of the Dordogne region has been acquitted of sexual exhibitionism charges. A court in Perigueux accepted the 52-year-old man’s defense that he was no flasher after hearing testimony that he had once suffered an eye-watering injury after jumping into bushes to spare the blushes of a passer-by. Lawyer Tewfik Bouzenoune hailed the judgement as a victory for naturists everywhere. “The court has made a distinction between sexual exhibitionism and naturism,” he said. “This was not about naked rambling, it is about people practicing naturism with precautions. One of the precautions my client took was to always have clothing to hand so that he could hide his private parts. He wasn’t trying to be provocative.” The charges were brought after a complaint by a female walker who spotted the unclothed man from a distance and then, accompanied by her grandson, approached him to make sure he really was naked.