By Lesley Wroughton WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will provide $2.5 million in food and medical aid to Venezuelans fleeing their economically-crippled country to neighboring Colombia and is poised to help other countries if the situation worsens, U.S. officials said on Tuesday. It is the first funding by the U.S. government's main aid agency to help Venezuela's neighbors deal with the influx of hundreds of thousands of people trying to escape hunger and poverty in Venezuela. The move signals Washington is seeking to boost its involvement in the fallout from Venezuela's crisis following several rounds of financial sanctions that have effectively blocked President Nicolas Maduro's ability to borrow money abroad.
One of the most powerful men in government, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, is terrified of desks. Carson disclosed his highly un-understandable anxiety in a House Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday. The Secretary was asked to speak about the $31,000 dining set he recently tried to purchase for his office. Carson then used the opportunity to pass the buck. First, he blamed formidable desks. Then, he blamed his wife, who... does not serve in government. SEE ALSO: Donald Trump's 'pee tape' controversy, explained Here's Carson's version of events: "People were being stuck by nails, a chair had collapsed with somebody sitting in it," Carson told the committee. I'm not sure why Carson's HUD Secretary office sounds like it was firebombed in Afghanistan, but either way, Carson decided to go along with a renovation. He allegedly put his wife Candy in charge: "I left it with my wife," Carson said. "The next thing that I, quite frankly, heard about it was that this $31,000 table had been bought." I also drew Ben Carson pic.twitter.com/StpNZji7b1 — Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) March 19, 2018 How do we know Ben Carson is not only incompetent but a bad person? Because he just publicly threw his wife under the bus. Have some spine @SecretaryCarson and take responsibility. You are the head of a major federal agency. Act like it. https://t.co/RuW0WFjGi4 — Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) March 20, 2018 Carson says he immediately rescinded the order for the table only after he heard about it from news headlines. He said it was on the grounds that he couldn't justify such a lavish purchase as he prepared massive budget cutbacks to his agency. HUD spokespeople initially denied that Carson and his wife had anything to do with the table's purchase, though later internal emails revealed that Candy was actively involved in the purchase. Whoops. The story has eerie parallels to Candy's account of her son's birth. In her book, A Doctor in the House, Candy details how Ben, hands full of placenta, forced her to go downstairs to find something to cut off her own umbilical cord. HUD Secretary Ben Carson, always throwing his wife under the bus. It should be noted that Ben could've found a perfectly adequate dining room set from West Elm, or even CB2. We're not asking him to go all the way down to IKEA. The Price is Not Right, Ben. Neither is blaming your wife for your department's decisions. WATCH: This Instagrammer's artistic portraits are hilariously "accurate"
Poland's governing conservatives said they have met Tuesday's deadline to answer the European Union's concerns about Warsaw's judicial reforms or risk never-used-before sanctions. Brussels on December 20 launched unprecedented legal action against Warsaw over "systemic threats" to the independence of the Polish judiciary, and gave it three months to say how it will comply. Poland's foreign ministry said in a statement that it had "presented explanations regarding the European Commission's objections".
By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin and Babak Dehghanpisheh LONDON (Reuters) - Iran has defused all regional threats against the country, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday, as tension rises between Tehran and Washington over the influence of the Islamic Republic in the Middle East. In an Iranian New Year message, Khamenei did not specify any particular threat. Shi'ite Iran has also been locked in a regional power struggle with Sunni Saudi Arabia which has extended to the war in Yemen and to Lebanon.
Google on Tuesday bought up New York's Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion, finalizing its acquisition of the emblematic retail and food hall that stands opposite the internet giant's current headquarters in the city. Google had already paid $1.7 billion for the building facing the market in 2010, which has 275,000 square metres of office floorspace. It already has offices in the Chelsea Market building -- built in 1913 by architect Albert G. Zimmerman as a factory for the Nabisco biscuit company -- which serve as offices for the Google-owned online company Youtube.
Cambridge Analytica scandal: This is what happened when we went to Facebook headquarters seeking answers
Politicians on two continents would love to know where Mark Zuckerberg is. The Facebook CEO opened this year with a public mea culpa after the social media platform he nurtured into global dominance became entangled in congressional enquiries into Russian election meddling, with mounting evidence that Russian surrogates had used the platform to distort and divide. Mr Zuckerberg had already walked back dismissing the notion that Facebook could be a vessel for political chicanery as “crazy”, and at the outset of 2018 he pledged to do better.
Google said it plans to spend $300 million over the next three years to improve the accuracy and quality of news appearing on its platforms. The changes come as Google, Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc face a backlash over their role during the U.S. presidential election by allowing the spread of false and often malicious information that might have swayed voters toward Republican candidate Donald Trump. In a separate blog post, Google said it was launching a tool to help subscribe to news publications.
Nigeria's military was on Tuesday accused of ignoring repeated warnings about the movements of Boko Haram fighters before they kidnapped 110 schoolgirls in the country's restive northeast. The students -- the youngest aged just 10 -- were seized from the town of Dapchi, Yobe state, on February 19 in virtually identical circumstances to those in Chibok in 2014. President Muhammadu Buhari has called the Dapchi abduction a "national disaster" and vowed to use negotiation rather than force to secure their release.
A couple living in London interrogated their young French au-pair relentlessly for hours before murdering her and burning her body to cover up the crime, prosecutors told a court Tuesday. The charred remains of 21-year-old Sophie Lionnet were discovered by the fire brigade on September 20, in the back garden of the southwest London home where she cared for two children. On Tuesday's second day of the trial, the packed courtroom heard clips of more than eight hours of audio recordings of Lionnet being questioned by the couple.