Syrian death toll tops 350,000 but Putin’s bombers continue to rain death from the skies

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK conflict monitor which tracks death tolls using a network of contacts inside the war-ravaged country, added that the unofficial death toll could be as high as 500,000, but that only 350,000 bodies had been formally identified.

The remainder 150,000 were cases where the Observatory knew deaths had occurred but did not know the victims’ names.

Around 85 per cent of the dead were killed by the forces of the Syrian government and its allies – chiefly Russia - the Observatory said.

A statement read: “Some 353,935 people have been killed since March 15, 2011, including 106,390 civilians and 19,811 children.”

But as the civil war enters its eighth year, Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and his ally Russian President Vladimir Putin appear unwilling to stop the fresh wave of clashes triggered by Russian-backed government forces bent on driving out Islamist factions from the rebel-held enclave of eastern Ghouta.

Vladimir Putin has deployed fearsome array of strike aircraft, attack helicopters and bombers to Syria.

The nuclear capable Tu-160 - a supersonic heavy strategic bomber which is the largest combat aircraft in the world.

It carries nuclear-tipped or cruise missiles to devastating efffect.

The ‘Russian Black Hawk’ Mi-28 two-seat anti-tank attack helicopter, capable of operating in all weather conditions, day or night.

The 1500-mph Su-30 multirole fighter for all-weather, air-to-air and air-to-surface deep interdiction missions.

The formidable SU-35 fighter jet which can achieve almost three times the speed of sound.

The Tu-22M 1,400 mph supersonic, long-range strategic and maritime strike bomber

Calls from world leaders including Germany’s Angela Merkel and France’s Emmanuel Macron for an end to the violence have been widely ignored, despite a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding a 30-day ceasefire “without delay”.

The re-ignition of violence in Syria has shone a harsh spotlight on the West’s powerlessness and shrinking role in Syria, while highlighting Russia’s growing influence in the region.

In France Mr Macron came under fire from his predecessor François Hollande last night for failing to act definitively against the Russian president.

Speaking to the French daily Le Monde, the former socialist president accused Mr Macron of not exerting enough pressure on his so-called ally, saying that if France was in a position to boast about its historic ties with Russia, then it should be able to convince Mr Putin to force the Syrian government to respect the ceasefire deal.

The young centrist, for his part, denied being passive in the face of escalating Russian-backed violence in Syria, saying later on Monday that he had established a “constant and demanding dialogue” with Mr Putin and even managed to “convince” him not to use his veto power and back the ceasefire resolution.

France’s envoy to the UN François Delattre on Monday also urged Moscow to put pressure on the Syrian regime to stop the indiscriminate bombing of civilians in eastern Ghouta, saying: “Russia can stop the bloodbath”.

See today's front and back pages, download the newspaper, order back issues and use the historic Daily Express newspaper archive.


March 13, 2018

Sources: Daily Express

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    em Uzan and his wife Alara </p><p>For those willing to pay enough money, it could be managed. One of these was Cem Uzan, a controversial Turkish billionaire.</p><p>First, Uzan approached a top PR consultancy, Bell Pottinger, letting them know he'd pay generously if they could help him.</p><p>The agency then introduced Uzan to Charles's assistant private secretary, who agreed to put him in touch with the prince's valet, Michael Fawcett.</p><p>Prince Charles, of course, could not be seen to be openly 'selling' access to himself. But Fawcett had no such qualms.</p><p>So, on his master's behalf, he told Uzan that his wife Alara could sit next to the Prince at a dinner, in June 2000, to celebrate the setting up of the Prince's Foundation, the charity set up by the Prince to help promote architecture, urban design and design. There was just one condition: Uzan would donate £200,000.</p><p>It was agreed the payment would be made and Alara duly had her moment in the limelight. On the day after the dinner, photographs of both Uzans with the Prince of Wales were posted on media sites across the world.</p><p>The shady billionaire was understandably delighted: he'd secured the kind of publicity and kudos that money can normally never buy.</p><p>Dr Elena Allbritton, Robert Allbritton, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, the Duchess of Cornwall, Barby Allbritton, chairman of the Prince of Wales' US Foundation and Prince Charles, Prince of Wales attend a reception and dinner for the Prince of Wales' US Foundation in March 2015</p><p>Back at Buckingham Palace, however, Charles's relationship with Uzan was raising concern. But no one dared take this up with the Prince. The Queen's advisers already knew from experience that he'd ignore any warning.</p><p>Soon enough, in 2001, Uzan was back on Charles's guest-list. This time, the Turkish billionaire found himself in Buckingham Palace's picture gallery, rubbing shoulders with 120 super-rich American supporters of the Prince's charities — and Uzan's £200,000 contribution again secured his wife a seat next to Charles at dinner.</p><p>Had anyone done their homework, they would have discovered that the billionaire was now under investigation for racketeering, and two American companies were asking for the return of $2.7 billion.</p><p>The following day, the Uzans and the other guests travelled to Highgrove for dinner in the Orchard Room, where they were entertained by Shirley Bassey and Joan Rivers. In his speech of welcome, Charles thanked his valet for creating 'such a fantastic evening'.</p><p>Some minutes later, Robert Higdon — the chief executive of the Prince's charity foundation in America — was found hysterical in the garden.</p><p>'Charles called them 'donors' and it should be 'friends',' he wailed. 'They think they're his friends. I'm so embarrassed.'</p><p>Certainly, Uzan now counted Charles as a close friend. After all, he and his wife kept being invited back: the next time, it was for a five-day jamboree with fellow-guests who included Queen Noor of Jordan and King Constantine of Greece.</p><p>For $20,000 per couple, plus an unspecified donation, they had dinner with Charles and Camilla in the Buckingham Palace ballroom; lunch with Camilla at a polo match in Cirencester, featuring Charles and Prince Harry; drinks with Princess Margaret's son Lord Linley in his furniture showroom; a day's racing at Ascot; and dinner in a marquee at Highgrove.</p><p>Uzan had now spent a small fortune, but he'd more than achieved his goal.</p><p>By early 2003, however, his reputation could no longer be ignored. Accused of non-repayment of loans, he was sentenced to jail [in absentia] in the UK and America for fraud-related offences.</p><p>Over the years, while Charles was rightly praised for his charitable work, the pace of bidding for access to the Prince was contrived to become ever more frantic.</p><p>Buckingham Palace became increasingly alarmed. In the Queen's opinion, Charles ignored the boundary between his charities and his constitutional position. Prince Philip was even more incensed: he charged his son with damaging the public's trust by allowing the rich to buy access to him.</p><p>Another unsavoury exchange involved Manuel Colonques (pictured with wife Delfina at William and Kate's wedding), the founder of Porcelanosa, a Spanish tile manufacturer</p><p>The glitzy fundraising also annoyed Prince Andrew. In his opinion, his elder brother was promoting himself in the name of duty, while spending huge sums of money on himself.</p><p>'Charles cannot see beyond the horizon,' complained one palace official 'He's working hard but clearly cannot understand the conflict with propriety.'</p><p>The phrase 'rent-a-royal' began to circulate. Anxious to put a stop to this, the Queen's private secretary suggested that Charles bring in new guidelines for dealing with the donors. His advice was ignored.</p><p>Some years later, after three high-profile fundraising events, Whitehall put its foot down. Sounding exasperated, a senior civil servant called Charles's private secretary, Sir Michael Peat. Trading on the allure of the royals was open to corruption, he told him, so Buckingham Palace was no longer for sale.</p><p>From then on, the Prince would no longer be able to sell seats at dinners in a royal palace to the highest bidder. Instead, donors would be asked to buy a table for around £20,000 — with an unwritten understanding that they'd also make a hefty donation. Even so, it was soon business almost as usual, with billionaires flocking from all over the world to become Charles's 'friends'. And the Prince, in turn, benefiting not just from their donations but also their lavish 'favours'...</p><p>Just before William and Kate's wedding, Prince Charles agreed to meet President Barack Obama in Washington. The Foreign Office, however, refused to provide a private jet, and insisted that he fly on British Airways.</p><p>His foreign travel costs, a civil servant pointed out, had increased over the previous year by 18 per cent, to nearly £2 million — paid for by taxpayers.</p><p>Charles, however, was furious at being downgraded to an airline. So he asked his staff to call up Robert Higdon, the head of his charity foundation in America, to rustle up a private jet. This wasn't the first time Higdon had been required to tap up the Prince's rich American donors.</p><p>'It was quite normal,' he said, 'for me to call and ask people like Joe Allbritton, [an American banker] 'Can we borrow your G5?' The gift of their plane gave legitimacy to folk from Texas and Colorado.'</p><p>Allbritton agreed to fly his Gulfstream empty across the Atlantic — at great expense to himself — in order to collect Charles and transport him to Washington. Then, after returning him to Wiltshire, the jet flew back empty to Texas.</p><p>When asked to justify the flights, a Clarence House spokesman replied: 'In the current economic climate, it was felt that it was right to accept the Allbrittons' offer.'</p><p>Joe and his wife Barbara Allbritton did not go unrewarded. 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In August 1999, he flew to Greece with William and Harry to board the Alexander, then the world's third largest private yacht, at the invitation of Yiannis Latsis — a foul-mouthed Greek shipping billionaire whose fortune, some claimed, was based on black marketeering and bribery.</p><p>Prince Charles, Prince of Wales during a visit to Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, a rehabilitation centre for orangutans in Malaysia</p><p>To buy such a cruise privately would cost around £1 million, and Charles had recently accepted £1 million from Latsis for his Youth Business Trust.</p><p>Another unsavoury exchange involved Manuel Colonques, the founder of Porcelanosa, a Spanish tile manufacturer. In 1998, Charles had hosted a party at St James's Palace to celebrate the company's 25th anniversary, and another to thank the company for a donation to the Prince's Foundation.</p><p>One further donation later, Colonques was allowed to invite 250 guests to Buckingham Palace for a dinner captured by a ¡Hola! photographer. 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First, one had to be the last person to talk to him on a chosen subject, by remaining in the room after others had left.</p><p>In 2007, during a dinner at Windsor Castle (pictured), Charles was told that the Marquess of Bute was about to sell Dumfries House, a Palladian mansion in Ayrshire</p><p>Then, graciously thanking His Royal Highness for the opportunity of a private moment, the adviser would preface his presentation with an offer to interpret His Royal Highness's wishes with a wholly unthreatening offer of help: 'Sir, might we do the same by a slightly different route?'</p><p>In 2007, during a dinner at Windsor Castle, Charles was told that the Marquess of Bute was about to sell Dumfries House, a Palladian mansion in Ayrshire.</p><p>It was far from anywhere, boarded up and located in a coalfield. But the Prince was immediately enthusiastic about buying it — though he'd never seen it.</p><p>To purchase the dilapidated old house and its Chippendale furniture would cost £43 million, but he refused to dip into his own pocket (his annual income was by then £15.1 million.)</p><p>No, the answer was to create yet another charity, which immediately took out a staggeringly large loan of £40 million.</p><p>Next, Charles and his valet started targeting rich donors from Saudi Arabia, Latvia and Kyrgyzstan and both sides of the Atlantic. Implicit in the request for donations was the opportunity of a lunch or dinner with Charles. The donors were also assured that a sizeable donation would be rewarded with a room, bench, garden or fountain named in their honour.</p><p>Few, if any of them, ever visited Dumfries. But none of the donors believed their money was wasted.</p><p>By then, there was a pattern to Charles's fundraising events. If they were held in someone else's home, the hosts were told the food he would like.</p><p>If he chose lamb, they were instructed to contact Barrow Gurney, the suppliers of organic meat produced on the Duchy of Cornwall's farms.</p><p>The richest person present would be seated next to Charles — 'Look, I think you should write a cheque for this,' the heir to the throne would murmur. During the meal, each guest was given a pledge card. After listening to Charles give a speech about Dumfries, many wrote down '£5,000'.</p><p>Then a frisson would go round the room when people noticed that the Prince was ostentatiously examining each card. Suddenly, pens were retrieved and £5,000 became £50,000.</p><p>To bring in additional money, the indispensable Fawcett became manager of Dumfries and the house was let out for weddings and conferences, put into use as a hotel and promoted as a tourist attraction.</p><p>Paying guests were greeted by a retinue of servants — maids for women and valets for men — who unpacked their suitcases, ironed their clothes and filled the well-furnished rooms with flowers. It was, they were told, the full 'Sandringham experience.'</p><p>The death of Charles's beloved grandmother in 2002 left tax officials with a headache</p><p>The death of Charles's beloved grandmother in 2002 left tax officials with a headache.</p><p>Ordinarily, they would have asked for millions in inheritance tax on her jewels, antiques and art collection — including a Monet worth £50 million.</p><p>But they were told that the Queen Mother had given the lot to her daughter and grandchildren in 1993. And, by law, gifts made seven years before death are not liable to inheritance taxes.</p><p>Suspicions were raised, however, when her entire collection of jewels was found still in her own cupboards.</p><p>In the end, the Inland Revenue decided not to challenge this. The settlement, however, worried some MPs.</p><p>As a result, the National Audit Office undertook the first official investigation of some of the family's accounts. And it concluded that there were 'obscurities and potential conflicts of interest' in the scant accounts of the Duchy of Cornwall — which in 2004 was providing Prince Charles with an income of £11.9 million a year.</p><p>The Public Accounts Committee then launched an investigation.</p><p>One aspect that bothered them was the sale, for £2.3 million, of trees — planted for Charles on duchy land — to the duchy itself. In this circular deal, the Prince pocketed the money without paying any tax.</p><p>Free of any scrutiny, his advisers had also boosted his income by moving money from the duchy's capital account to the revenue account, refusing to detail the reasons. Yet everyone understood the real purpose of the manoeuvre: Charles wanted more money, not least to pay his staff.</p><p>The majority of staff members, however, made little dent in his vast income. In the duchy's accounts, 94 out of 124 staff members were described as 'official' employees, meaning they could be claimed as expenses against tax.</p><p>MPs also wondered whether it was justifiable to claim Camilla's personal upkeep — including her hair, clothes and jewellery — as a tax-deductible item. After all, she undertook very few public duties.</p><p>Questioned about these matters, Charles's private secretary Michael Peat resisted giving detailed answers. The duchy's arrangements had been secret for 700 years, he said, and outsiders had no right to know about them. The MPs were unconvinced.</p><p>Extremely irritated, Charles authorised his spokesman to describe the committee's report as a 'travesty' and 'fundamentally wrong'. Fortunately for him, he had a powerful ally: Gordon Brown, Chancellor of the Exchequer.</p><p>Questioned about these matters, Charles's private secretary Michael Peat (pictured in 2005) resisted giving detailed answers. The duchy's arrangements had been secret for 700 years, he said, and outsiders had no right to know about them</p><p>'He does not deserve to be the target of these shoddy and underhand tactics,' said Mr Brown.</p><p>After that, Charles's income kept rising. The 2008 stock market crash failed to affect him: the year before, his advisers had sold off most of his shares.</p><p>That year, Charles increased his staff to 146, including nine media specialists, and 11 gardeners at Highgrove.</p><p>By 2009, when the vast majority of Britons were suffering in the wake of the financial crash, his income was £17.1 million.</p><p>In 2013, the Public Accounts Committee grilled the Prince of Wales's principal private secretary over corporation and capital gains tax exemptions enjoyed by Duchy of Cornwall estate. Austin Mitchell, a Labour MP on accused the Prince of 'dodging around' for tax purposes</p><p>Charles had, by then, had enough. Soon afterwards, he used the Human Rights Act to prevent anyone having access to his tax returns. </p><p>Michael Fawcett, Prince Charles's valet, carrying luggage off a Royal flight </p><p>To sell seats at his fund-raising dinners in royal palaces, Charles relied heavily on two men who disliked each other intensely.</p><p>One was his valet Michael Fawcett and the other was Robert Higdon, the head of his charity foundation in America. And it was the valet who unquestionably had the upper hand.</p><p>At fund-raising dinners, he'd stand behind Charles, waiting for a royal click of the fingers to signal that his boss needed something.</p><p>He knew precisely how to please him. When the Prince arranged to have a dinner for donors in Hong Kong, for instance, Fawcett shipped over a full set of eighteenth-century china and glasses from England. He also brought a set of special bells used by Charles to summon his staff.</p><p>In his guise as a valet, he travelled everywhere with his master. Such was the trust that Charles invested in Fawcett that the valet became his Rasputin, empowered to outflank everyone at court.</p><p>For that reason, the Queen had no time for him. Observers at a dinner in Holyrood noticed that she cringed when his name was mentioned. In Charles's eyes, however, he could do no wrong. If Fawcett took against one of the charity donors, the Prince would echo his judgment.</p><p>One casualty was John Studzinski, a sophisticated and generous American-born investment banker. Invited to a lunch at St James's Palace, he'd given a finely worked speech about raising funds for the homeless. Afterwards, Charles told an organiser, 'John shouldn't have made the address, because Michael says that he doesn't give me enough money.'</p><p>The Prince also gave Fawcett a free hand in organising entertainment for the super-rich donors. The valet's taste, however, tended towards the vulgar.</p><p>During one performance, the Irish dancer Michael Flatley was accompanied by a troupe of female dancers who whipped off their robes to reveal skimpy bikinis, with violin music apparently coming from speakers concealed in their bikini bottoms.</p><p>Aides noted that Charles didn't comment on such tawdriness; his valet was too valuable. But then so was Robert Higdon. In 2001 alone, he'd raised $2,622,981 for Charles's charity foundation — though at $716,000, his combined salary and expenses were unusually high.</p><p>'I became Mr Cash Cow,' he recalled proudly. Any competitor for Charles's attention, however, aroused Fawcett's antagonism, even one who was useful. 'I was the new enemy,' said Higdon.</p><p>Since he arranged the donations from Americans, he wanted to be the one who supervised their visits when they came over to meet Charles. But Fawcett, he complained, wanted to push him out, and they argued bitterly.</p><p>'He not only provided bad food and horrible sweet German wine but deducted the cost of the food from my raised money,' said Higdon. 'And he organised the dinners like a Barnum &amp; Bailey circus.'</p><p>The two men also quarrelled about where guests should sit. Fawcett would ignore Higdon's plans, and place women of his own choosing next to Charles — either because they were particularly good-looking or because they'd promised significant cash.</p><p>Minutes before the American guests arrived, there would often be farcical scenes. Each man would grab at name cards on the Prince's table to move them either nearer to his seat or further away. In the case of Eva Rausing, the American wife of the Swedish billionaire Hans Rausing, their argument became particularly unseemly.</p><p>Higdon had originally persuaded Rausing to support Charles's charities. At one American dinner, however, he'd discovered that Fawcett had placed her next to Charles, apparently in exchange for a donation of £500,000, thus outdoing the American woman whom Higdon had promised could sit next to the Prince for $250,000.</p><p>'He's one of the most horrible people I've met in my life,' Higdon complained of Fawcett.</p><p>As for Higdon himself, Charles found it hard to warm to him. 'But the Boss and the Blonde kept me because they knew the money I was bringing in,' said the American, who worked for the Prince for 14 years.</p><p>H e developed a great affection for the blonde — Camilla. She 'has more self-confidence than anyone I know. Unlike Charles, who is doubtful and whiney, she's so tough. She never questions anything,' he said.</p><p>'Charles and I had a dysfunctional relationship. He would phone on Thanksgiving and Sundays, which was disturbing. We did laugh a lot. But Charles never said thank you.'</p><p>In the late Nineties, after Higdon fell blind-drunk from a boat in St Vincent in the Caribbean, it became clear that he was an alcoholic. Charles, however, was reluctant to fire such an outstanding source of income, and Higdon resumed his job after treatment.</p><p>He was finally fired in 2011. Shortly before, according to Higdon, he'd been taken aside by Charles's accountant Leslie Ferrar.</p><p>'You know, Robert,' she told him, 'people are very uncomfortable about you and your relationship with Prince Charles.'</p><p>She went on to say that Higdon's familiarity with the Prince had crossed the line; he acted like a friend, while in reality he was a servant.</p><p>'You're out of your mind,' exploded Higdon, who remains bitter about Charles's lack of gratitude for all the millions he raised.</p><p>As for the Prince's staff, he called them 'mean, vicious . . . the most horrible people I've ever worked with.' </p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 22, 2018
  •  US was a temporary stop for many Venezuelans; now it's home

    US was a temporary stop for many Venezuelans; now it's home

    a for a while when two men, one brandishing a gun, showed up at her party rental business and told her to stop working for local politicians opposed to then-President Hugo Chavez.</p><p> Villalonga put a sign in the window of her business that said "closed for vacation" and set off with her two youngest children to the U.S., figuring she would be gone a few weeks.</p><p> But it hasn't worked out like she expected. The weeks turned into months and then years. As Venezuela started a massive downward spiral, she and many other Venezuelans put down deeper roots in the U.S.</p><p> In a demographic trend that has political and demographic implications back in their South American country, a growing number say they may never return.</p><p> "I would like to return to Venezuela like it was, but that place doesn't exist anymore," said Villalonga, a Florida resident who has helped organize voting among her fellow exiles. "I'll never see it now."</p><p> But more recent arrivals are starting to acknowledge a bitter reality: Conditions in the South American country have forced many to conclude that their future is overseas. "It is beyond what anyone ever imagined," said Veronica Huerta, a 57-year-old in Miami who fled in 2003. "To go back now would be very hard."</p><p> For Villalonga, it was gradual process. The men came into her business in Valencia in 2000, asking for her by name and making sure she could see one was armed. After she left the country, her husband was attacked in the street and soon joined her in South Florida with their third child.</p><p> The situation in Venezuela, meanwhile, only got worse. Chavez died and was replaced by his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. The government grew increasingly authoritarian, the economy spiraled downward, and crime rose, with one of the highest homicide rates in the world. It's gotten so bad that hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing across the borders of neighboring Brazil and Colombia, some saying they barely had enough to eat in Venezuela.</p><p> A fearful Villalonga never went back, even for important family milestones like the death of her brother.</p><p> People who study immigrant trends in the United States say the Venezuelans harken back to the Cubans who fled the 1959 revolution and the upheaval that followed.</p><p> Unlike those fleeing to other South American countries, the Venezuelans who have come to the U.S. tend to be from the middle and upper classes, and their departures have had economic repercussions in their homeland. Many homes in Venezuela are empty and real estate prices have collapsed, marking a change from years prior when people would preserve wealth in the face of hyper-inflation by investing in property.</p><p> There are political consequences as well. Expatriates had been a small, but influential force in past elections. Villalonga helped mobilize three buses with 180 people to vote in the presidential elections of 2013, which they had to do in New Orleans because Chavez closed the Miami consulate to punish the opposition-dominated expat community. She's not planning to do that for this year's upcoming presidential election because she doesn't feel represented by opposition leaders and doesn't see the point of getting involved.</p><p> She's not alone. With Maduro expected to triumph over divided and dispirited opponents, enthusiasm among overseas voters overall appears to have declined.</p><p> "I don't think our vote will make any difference at this point," said Elvira Ojeda, a 45-year-old business owner who came in 2011. "The energy is gone."</p><p> Various polls have shown that about 10 percent of the electorate, or between 1 million to 2 million people, are outside the country. The Venezuelan government says it projects only about 100,000 will take part in overseas voting for May elections.</p><p> "While it's true that the vote of the diaspora is essential, in this election it won't amount to anything," said Moises Rendon, a public policy analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "There's a sense of frustration in the exile community, as there is in Venezuelan society in general, that there is no way out of the situation."</p><p> The Venezuelan population in the United States has more than doubled over the past decade to about 366,000 as of 2016, according to the census, with about half in Florida. More than three-quarters of the total came after Chavez took office. The number of Venezuelans seeking political asylum in the U.S. doubled last year to 28,000, a figure that is five times as much as in 2015.</p><p> Their presence has been felt most strongly in the South Florida suburbs of Doral and Weston, communities where it's common to find the red, blue and yellow of the Venezuelan flag. People from Venezuela regularly feature near the top of the list of foreign property buyers in the Miami area as they seek safe havens for their capital and put down roots. A local association of Venezuelan lawyers now has about 200 members, up from 10 founders in 2013. Membership at the Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce has doubled to more than 300.</p><p> Venezuelan-born Cristina Pocaterra says it is hard to imagine going back to the country. She came for what she thought would be a temporary work assignment in 1999 and ended up becoming a naturalized citizen in 2014 and giving birth to twins. She is trying to get her 74-year-old mother to join her. "Those of us who left had to do so in order to develop," said the 54-year-old business consultant. "Now, I don't have anything concrete left in Venezuela."</p>

    1 March 22, 2018
  • BREAKING: Los Angeles BOMB SQUAD rushes to 'suspicious package sent from Austin, Texas'

    BREAKING: Los Angeles BOMB SQUAD rushes to 'suspicious package sent from Austin, Texas'

    os Angeles after reports of a suspicious package originating from Austin, Texas.</p><p>This comes after a suspected serial bomber from Austin blew himself up.</p><p> See today's front and back pages, download the newspaper, order back issues and use the historic Daily Express newspaper archive. </p>

    1 March 22, 2018
	Ant 'gave Dec his blessing' to host Saturday Night Takeaway ALONE

    Ant 'gave Dec his blessing' to host Saturday Night Takeaway ALONE

    g to host the final two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway without him, as the embattled presenter heads to rehab hours after he was charged for drink-driving.</p><p>A source told the website: 'Dec wouldn’t go ahead without Ant giving him the OK.   </p><p>Support: Ant McPartlin reportedly gave Declan Donnelly his blessing to host the final two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway, as the embattled presenter heads to rehab hours after he was charged for drink-driving</p><p>Tough times: The Mirror reports the 42-year-old presenter, who was involved in a three car crash on Sunday, gave his best friend and presenting pal of more than two decades Dec, 42, (above) his support to go it alone for the final shows</p><p>'Because of their previous pact to work together throughout their career.' </p><p>This comes amid claims Dec has been left in a 'bad way' following Ant's arrest and subsequent charge for drink-driving.</p><p>A source said: 'Dec is in a terrible state of mind. He’s totally devastated by what has happened and has had to make difficult decisions in a quick space of time. </p><p>'Dec is facing the prospect of having to work on his own - something he simply hasn’t done because they’ve always been a duo. The decision to go ahead with Takeaway was totally Dec’s, and ITV made it clear they’d respect it.</p><p>'He feels strongly that a lot was riding on it for a lot of people, but it is incredibly tough for him right now.'     </p><p>MailOnline has contacted a representative for Ant and Dec for comment. </p><p>This comes as Declan confirmed he will host the final two Saturday Night Takeaway episodes alone as his best friend heads for a spell in rehab.</p><p>Confirmed: Dec released a statement admitting he had been forced to break a promise to his best friend so he doesn't let down viewers and people on the show</p><p>Dec admitted 'I never thought I'd be in this position' as he is set to appear on one of their TV shows without his co-star for the first time in their 20-year career.</p><p>Dec's difficult decision came after Ant crashed his car in Richmond on Sunday and he met with police today after being arrested on suspicion of drink driving.</p><p>Takeaway co-stars Stephen Mulhern and Scarlett Moffatt will appear as usual but it is not yet known if Dec will appear on stage alone.</p><p>He said in a statement released after meeting with ITV bosses today: 'Whilst I never thought I'd be in this position, after much discussion and careful consideration we've decided that the remaining two shows of this series of Saturday Night Takeaway will go ahead.</p><p>'We made a promise to take hundreds of deserving winners to Florida to watch the series finale, and we will honour that.</p><p>Visit: Declan Donnelly arrived at Ant's £1.6million rented property in London shortly after his friend returned from the police station</p><p>'Everyone at ITV and the Takeaway team feels we owe it to the audience to complete the series'. </p><p>An ITV spokesman added: 'We can confirm that Saturday Night Takeaway, presented by Declan Donnelly, will return to ITV on March 31, and the series finale will be taking place at Universal Orlando Resort in Florida a week later.'</p><p>In their 2010 autobiography, Ooh! What A Lovely Pair, Dec wrote he couldn't do it without his screen partner.</p><p>He said: 'We made an agreement – whatever happened, we'd be mates forever, and neither one of us would ever be on our own out there.</p><p>'If it all ended tomorrow, we'd still speak every day, we'd still see each other all the time and we'd still be best mates. And that's something we're both very proud of.'</p><p>Declan Donnelly has revealed he is to present Saturday Night Takeaway without his best friend Ant as he heads to rehab (both pictured today) </p><p>Dec (pictured with Ant, Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on Saturday) admitted he never thought he'd have to go it alone</p><p>Beleaguered television star Ant is pictured today for the first time since his drink-driving arrest, arriving at a police station in London.</p><p>The 42-year-old, who friends say has been hit 'hard' by his impending £60million divorce from his wife of 11 years Lisa Armstrong, left his £1.6million rented property where he has been in lockdown since Sunday.</p><p>His co-host Declan Donnelly was seen strolling through the capital with his wife Ali Astall today, after he said he was 'devastated' about his embattled friend's arrest and shunned the Royal Television Awards on Tuesday night.</p><p>But he took to Twitter this afternoon and posted an emotionally-charged statement in which he confirmed he would press ahead and present the last two episodes of Saturday Night Takeaway - which has been cancelled this Saturday - alone, on March 31.</p><p>Ant's appearance comes as it was revealed his £26,000 John Cooper black Mini was searched for drugs after he was involved in a crash with two other cars in Richmond, south west London, on Sunday.</p><p>While no substances were found, the presenter failed a breathalyser test at the scene of the crash and was arrested.</p><p>Police previously confirmed that a number of individuals were treated at the scene for minor injuries, and a child passenger from one of the cars was taken to hospital to be checked as a precaution.</p><p>It marked the latest in a string of personal setbacks for the star, whose admission to rehab last year was followed, several months later, by the announcement that his marriage of 11 years to his wife Lisa had ended.  </p><p>The TV presenter, 42, is seen appearing dazed as he climbs out of his £26,000 John Cooper, which smashed into two other cars and injured a three-year-old girl</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 22, 2018
	Fanny Craddock to return to BBC as cookery archives open

    Fanny Craddock to return to BBC as cookery archives open

    ssing a spot of eccentricity – and could do with a touch more food colouring – this will come as good news.</p><p>The programmes are being brought back to chart the 'evolution of the nation's tastes' in food, and show how TV cooking shows have changed.</p><p>TV chef Fanny Cradock (pictured) is returning to our screens this Easter, as the BBC opens up its archives to revive cookery shows from as early as 1970</p><p>Viewers will be treated to the first episode that Mrs Cradock filmed in her kitchen, alongside ever-patient husband Johnnie, in which she makes deep fat-fried cheese and breaks two eggs at the same time, all the while staring into the camera. </p><p>The programmes, which will be on BBC iPlayer from March 31, also include the 1978 Delia Smith's Cookery Course, which saw the home cook find fame.</p><p>The first shows about Chinese and Indian food, presented by Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey, are also among the 50 episodes that will be made available. </p><p>The move will help the BBC battle streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, which have a wealth of shows on offer.</p><p>Mrs Cradock, who died in 1994 at the age of 85, was known for her over-the-top wardrobe and bossy, direct presenting style.</p><p>She had a penchant for cooking with brandy and cream, and a fondness for food colouring – even making green mashed potato and green cheese ice cream. </p><p>More appealingly, her first episode in her own kitchen sees her cooking fondue frites – cheese fondue with chips.</p><p>Modern programmes including Levi Roots's Caribbean Food Made Easy, which aired in 2009, will also be part of the revival, as will Lorraine Pascale's 2012 show Lorraine's Fast Fresh and Easy Food.</p><p>Modern programmes including Levi Roots's Caribbean Food Made Easy (pictured), which aired in 2009, will also be part of the revival</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 22, 2018