Lula slams graft charges as ‘farce’
Brazil’s former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday slammed as a ‘farce’ his pending prosecution for allegedly masterminding the large-scale plundering of the state oil giant Petrobras. ‘I am sad because I just learned (Judge Sergio) Moro accepted the charge lodged, even though it is all a farce, a huge lie,’ the ex-president said from Brazil by videoconference to New York, where his lawyers held a solidarity event for him. Lula, 70, will now face trial for his role in a scandal that has pitched Brazilian politics into chaos, with some of the country’s most powerful leaders and parties accused of plundering the coffers of Brazil’s largest company. — AFP, Brasília

17 dead as Yemen loyalists battle rebels
Heavy fighting between Yemeni government forces and Shia rebels for control of the heights overlooking the strategic Bab al-Mandab strait has left 17 combatants dead, the loyalist commander said Wednesday. The waterway connects the Suez Canal and Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Indian Ocean beyond and is a major shipping lane. ‘We launched an offensive which enabled us to recapture two mountains,’ loyalist commander General Fadhl Hassan said. ‘In 18 hours of fighting, which reduced in intensity this afternoon, 13 rebels and four of our men, one of them a colonel, were killed.’ — AFP, Aden

ICRC seeks $15.5m to help flood-hit N Korea
The Red Cross appealed Wednesday for $15.5 million in emergency funding to help flood-ravaged North Koreans, warning of a ‘secondary disaster’ in the impoverished country unless urgent assistance is provided. At least 138 people are known to have died and nearly 400 are missing after torrential rain triggered major floods, devastating villages in the country’s northeast, the UN said last week. According to the UN, 140,000 people need assistance. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said that about 70,000 remain homeless after tens of thousands of houses were damaged or destroyed. — AFP, Seoul

Iran parades new weapons
Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf. At a parade in Tehran on Wednesday, shown on state TV, the military displayed long-range missiles, tanks, and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system. At the port of Bandar Abbas on the Gulf, the navy showed off 500 vessels, as well as submarines and helicopters, at a time of high tension with the United States in the strategic waterway. — Reuters, Beirut

Four siblings killed at Michigan home
A man has been arrested after four siblings were killed and their mother critically injured in an attack at their home in suburban Detroit, the police said Wednesday. Dearborn Heights police Capt. Michael Petri told reporters at the scene that officers responded early Wednesday and took a suspect into custody. He said an investigation is ongoing, but that the killings appear to have stemmed ‘from a domestic violence-type situation.’ Police said the siblings were ages 4, 6, 17 and 19 years, but did not explain how they died. Police didn’t release the age of the wounded woman, who was listed in critical condition. Police have not described the relationship between the man in custody and the family attacked. — AP Dearborn Heights

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