- - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

ATHENS — Greece headed into a month of political uncertainty after power-sharing talks collapsed Tuesday, triggering new elections that could determine whether the country retains its tenuous position in Europe’s monetary union.

Nine tortured days of fruitless talks to build a coalition government fueled increasing doubt that Greece can make enough reforms to prevent the world’s largest currency federation from fracturing.

No date has been set for the elections, but they will have to be held by mid-June when Greece must make more spending cuts to ensure it meets the terms of its international bailout. A caretaker government will be appointed until then.

The uncertainty has created alarm across the continent, with key leaders fearing that Greece could be forced out of the euro, triggering shock waves throughout the 17-country eurozone.


Ex-tabloid editor charged in phone scandal

LONDON — One of Rupert Murdoch’s most trusted lieutenants and five people close to her were charged Tuesday with conspiring to hide evidence of phone hacking, bringing the scandal that has raged across Britain’s media and political elite uncomfortably close to Prime Minister David Cameron.

The charges against former tabloid editor Rebekah Brooks, her husband Charles and four aides are the first prosecutions since police reopened inquiries 18 months ago into wrongdoing by the country’s scandal-hungry press.

Mrs. Brooks, 43, faces three separate allegations of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, an offense that carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

For years, Mrs. Brooks was the star in Mr. Murdoch’s media empire, the top editor of two of his tabloids, a friend of his daughter Elisabeth and a close friend of Mr. Cameron, who has known her husband since they both went to an elite high school.


Authorities find cash in crashed plane

QUITO — Authorities have found $1.3 million in cash in a plane from Mexico that crashed into a rural hillside, Ecuador’s anti-drug chief said Tuesday.

Gen. Juan Carlos Barragan said officials counted up the cash and also found the remains of two Mexican men and three dogs in the wreckage of the plane that went down at about 8:40 p.m. Sunday. Officials have said the flight was probably part of a money-laundering or drug-buying operation.

The two men were identified as 22-year-old Santiago Alfonso Lopez Monzon and 36-year-old Cruz Alfredo Solis Lopez.


EU naval forces hit pirate lair

MOGADISHU — European Union naval forces in attack helicopters conducted their first onshore raid on a suspected pirate lair in Somalia on Tuesday. A pirate said the strike destroyed a supply center and set back their operations.

No deaths were reported in Tuesday morning’s attack on a village, about 11 miles north the town of Haradhere, a key pirate lair. EU officials said forces did not go on land during the attack in Somalia.

The EU Naval Force announced in March that it would expand its mission to include Somalia’s coast and waterways inside the country for the first time.

Bile Hussein, a pirate commander, said the attack along Somalia’s central coastline destroyed speed boats, fuel depots and an arms store.


Ex-official injured, two killed in bombing

BOGOTA — A bomb targeting a former Colombian interior minister killed two people and injured at least 19 others in the heart of Bogota’s uptown commercial district Tuesday, authorities said.

President Juan Manuel Santos said the former minister, Fernando Londono, was hurt but was out of danger, and Bogota Mayor Gustavo Petro tweeted that “a person committed the attack while walking.”

Mr. Petro also tweeted, without further detail, that someone had been arrested, but officials did not immediately ascribe blame for the attack.

Mr. Santos said in a brief televised declaration that Mr. Londono’s driver and a police bodyguard were killed in the bombing.


Historic diamond fetches $9.7 million

GENEVA — Marie de Medici wore it at her coronation as queen consort of Henry IV in France in 1610, and now the Beau Sancy diamond is a lavish accessory owned by an anonymous bidder who paid $9.7 million for it at Sotheby’s auction.

The spring auction season for jewelry and watches is upon Geneva, where elegant lakefront hotels fill with well-heeled buyers and bidders in a scene far removed from the debate over European austerity.

Five bidders fueled the price Tuesday at the Sotheby’s sale for the Beau Sancy, a 34.98 carat diamond that had passed among the royal families in France, England, Prussia and the Netherlands.

It was sold by the Royal House of Prussia, the line of descendants that once ruled Prussia.

From wire dispatches and staff reports



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