'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march

'Dump Trump': Tens of thousands join global march
Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall in Washington, DC, for the 'Women's March on Washington' on January 21, 2017 (AFP Photo/Andrew CABALLERO-REYNOLDS)

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide

March for Science protesters hit the streets worldwide
Thousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of scienceThousands of people in Australia and New Zealand on Saturday kicked off the March for Science, the first of more than 500 marches around the globe in support of science

Bernie Sanders and the Movement Where the People Found Their Voice

"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


.
A student holds a sign reading "Don't shoot, listen!!!" during a protest
on June 17, 2013 in Brasilia (AFP, Evaristo)

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini
FIFA President Sepp Blatter (L) shakes hands with UEFA president Michel Platini after being re-elected following a vote in Zurich on May 29, 2015 (AFP Photo/Michael Buholzer)
"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018

Wall Street's 'Fearless Girl' statue to stay until 2018
The " Fearless Girl " statue on Wall Street is seen by many as a defiant symbol of women's rights under the new administration of President Donald Trump (AFP Photo/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY)



“… The Fall of Many - Seen It Yet?

You are going to see more and more personal secrets being revealed about persons in high places of popularity or government. It will seem like an epidemic of non-integrity! But what is happening is exactly what we have been teaching. The new energy has light that will expose the darkness of things that are not commensurate with integrity. They have always been there, and they were kept from being seen by many who keep secrets in the dark. Seen the change yet?

In order to get to a more stable future, you will have to go through gyrations of dark and light. What this means is that the dark is going to be revealed and push back at you. It will eventually lose. We told you this. That's what you're here for is to help those around you who don't see an escape from the past. They didn't get their nuclear war, but everything else is going into the dumper anyway. … “

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Clippers make silent protest amid race storm

The West Australian – AFP, April 28, 2014


Los Angeles (AFP) - Los Angeles Clippers players staged a silent protest and wore black apparel during a losing NBA playoff game Sunday after racist remarks attributed to team owner Donald Sterling.

Clippers make silent protest amid
race storm (AFP)
Sterling, the NBA's longest-serving team owner after buying the Clippers in 1981, did not attend the heavy 118-97 defeat at the Golden State Warriors, but comments allegedly made by the 80-year-old billionaire cast a long shadow over the contest.

Players gathered at center court in Oakland before a pre-game warmup, removed their team warm-up shirts and left them on the floor, working out wearing shirts that were inside out and did not display the Clippers name or logo.

The Clippers ignored calls by some to boycott the game but players wore black socks, shirts, wristbands or armbands.

"I wasn't thrilled about it but if that's what they want to do, that's what they want to do," Clippers coach Glenn "Doc" Rivers said.

The big Golden State victory matched the Clippers' third-worst playoff loss in team history, to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2 with game five Tuesday at Los Angeles, where there is worry about crowd reaction.

Los Angeles Clippers players protested against their own owner's
alleged racist comments. (Photo: AP)

"I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous," Clippers star Chris Paul said of the looming encounter in Los Angeles, with Rivers adding "usually that would mean we're going to our safe haven. I don't even know if that's true to be honest."

Sterling was the talk of the basketball world and beyond after celebrity-watching website TMZ posted an audio recording Saturday where a man is heard criticizing his girlfriend, identified only as V. Stiviano, for posting photographs on the social media site Instagram of herself and black friends attending Clippers games.

"It bothers me a lot that you want to broadcast that you are associating with black people. Do you have to?" the man, purportedly Sterling, says.

"You can sleep with (black people). You can bring them in. You can do whatever you want. The little I ask is not to promote it on that... and not to bring them to my games.

"In your lousy... Instagrams you don't have to have yourself walking with black people."

That triggered an angry reaction from across the board, including US President Barack Obama.

The first African-American to be elected US president and also a well-known basketball fan, Obama condemned the comments as "ignorant" and "incredibly offensive."

Donald Sterling has been accused of making racist remarks. (Photo:
Getty Images)

"We just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently but also (remain) hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there has been a shift in how we view ourselves," Obama said.

'Defining moment'

Rivers said the growing storm over the controversy might have contributed to the defeat.

"It could have. I'm not going to deny we had other stuff," Rivers said. "If we were injured physically or mentally, the other team shouldn't care. It's a competition and we didn't compete.

"I've got to do a better job of getting ready to play basketball and if it's because of the other things, it's still my fault."

Earlier, a Clippers spokesman said the remarks do not reflect Sterling's views but an attorney for Stiviano, Mac Nehoray, told the Los Angeles Times that it was Sterling's voice.

Nehoray is representing Stiviano in a lawsuit brought by Sterling's wife Rochelle, who attended the game and sat courtside.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who was also there, is investigating the furor, describing the recorded comments as "truly offensive and disturbing," and says the NBA plans to speak with Sterling and the woman on the tape with hopes of wrapping up the probe before Tuesday's game.

Kevin Johnson, a retired NBA star working with the players union, met Sunday with Silver to stress that players want fast action, a voice in the process and the harshest sanctions possible if Sterling made the comments.

"This is a defining moment in the history of the NBA," Johnson said. "The players are outraged."

Retired Los Angles Lakers star Magic Johnson, who vowed never to attend Clippers games again,told ABC that severe punishment was needed against real estate tycoon Sterling.

"He shouldn?t own a team anymore," Johnson said.

"And he should stand up and say, 'I don't want to own a team anymore,? especially when you have African-Americans renting his apartments, coming to his games, playing for him and coaching for him.

"This is bad for everybody. It?s bad for America and I?m really upset about it."

Another former NBA great, Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan, said: "As an owner, I'm obviously disgusted that a fellow team owner could hold such sickening and offensive views.

Taiwan's young people are right to be angry

Want China Times, Editorial 2014-04-28

President Ma Ying-jeou, left, and Premier Jiang Yi-huah sought to address
young people's concerns at a KMT youth forum in Taipei, April 20. (Photo/
Fang Chun-che)

Although political factors were behind the recent Sunflower Student Movement, which saw Taiwan's Legislature occupied for more than three weeks in opposition to a controversial services trade pact with China, the movement would not have found the resonance it did among the general public were it not for economic factors in the country, including stagnant salary levels, difficulty in finding jobs and surging property prices in particular.

Addressing the latter issue, how difficult is it to buy a house in Taiwan? Last week, the Ministry of the Interior announced the house price to income ratio for the fourth quarter of 2013, a key measure of housing affordability, with Taipei surging to 15.01 and New Taipei rising to 12.67, ranking first and third in the world, respectively. The average house price to income ratio was 8.37 in Taiwan overall, far ahead of the South Korean capital Seoul at 6.0, indicating that houses are expensive in Taiwan no matter what part of the country one lives.

In the ruling Kuomintang's Youth Forum held on Sunday, the problem of property prices was a major focus, with Premier Jiang Yi-huah vowing to take action to get the ratio below 10 in the capital and surrounding area.

Taiwan's property prices were not always this high. A survey in 2003 showed that Taiwan's average house price to income ratio stood at just 5.3, with Taipei at 6.1 and New Taipei (then Taipei county) at 5.1. The ratio has jumped to the highs cited above in just 10 years, indicating the government's property control policy has totally failed. How can the country's young people not be disappointed? How can they not complain?

Taiwan's property prices are not the highest in the world, but its house price to income ratio has become No. 1 in the world chiefly because salary levels have simply not gone up, especially for younger members of the workforce. According to government figures, the salary for a person's first job after entering employment has stood at the same level for more than a decade. In 1999, college graduates could expect to earn an average monthly salary of NT$28,551 (US$943 at current exchange rate), but this had actually dropped to NT$26,722 (US$882) in 2012. Is it any wonder that students are opposed to a liberalized labor market policy?

Taiwan produces more than 200,000 college graduates and over 60,000 students with master's or doctorate degrees every year. Why is it that the government's investment in higher education cannot transform this talent into a workforce with economic competitiveness? Though the problem has existed for more than 10 years, Ma Ying-jeou as Taiwan's president for six years should bear a good measure of the responsibility.

Last year, the ratio of single women of marriage age rose to a new high of 32.55%, and economic factors were cited as the second-most important reason why they had not married. This indicates many current political and social problems are caused by economic imbalance. According to a recent survey, only 6% of younger married couples under the age of 34 owned their own home. But even if they did, they would have to bear a huge pressure on mortgage repayments. On average, Taipei's homeowners have a housing cost burden ratio of 63.4% (53.5% in New Taipei), meaning these families have to pay more than 50% of their income just on their mortgages. The resulting lack of disposable income is one of the reasons Taiwan's economy has been stagnant in recent years as private consumption provides important momentum for economic growth.

We have cared about the wealth gap between the rich and the poor, but have ignored the wealth distribution between the younger and older generations. Today's young people face worse employment prospects than their parents and have to continue to rely on their financial assistance in consequence. Such a gap in wealth distribution from generation to generation will continue to expand and the government should not underestimate its future effects.


Anti-nuclear activists rally in front of the Taipei Main Station to urge the government
 to stop the construction of the fourth nuclear power plant, Apr. 27. (Photo/
Wang Chin-ho)

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Members of the Taiwan Alliance to End the Death Penalty protest before
the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday. (Photo/Wang Chin-ho)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bustard act: Saudi prince accused of slaying 2,000 near-extinct birds while on safari in Pakistan

  • Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed 1,977 houbara bustards in 21 days
  • He had been granted a permit to kill a certain number within a small area
  • But it is claimed he far exceeded his allowance and hunted in banned zone
  • Arab royals have long hunted houbara, considering its meat an aphrodisiac
  • Bird is covered by protection laws but Pakistan can grant special permits
  • Hunting sees global houbara population shrink by 30 per cent annually

Daily Mail, John Hall, 22 April 2014

Hunt: Fahd bin Sultan is said to have killed
1,977 houbara bustards in just 21 days while
on holiday
A Saudi prince has been accused of killing 2,000 birds that are on the verge of extinction while on a safari holiday in Pakistan earlier this year.

Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud - who is commonly known as Fahd bin Sultan - is said to have killed 1,977 near-extinct houbara bustards while on a 21-day trip to Chagai in Pakistan's Balochistan province in January.

An additional 123 bustards - which are covered by laws to protect endangered species - were slaughtered by members of the prince's travelling party, bringing the total killed to 2,100.

Fahd bin Sultan, 63 -the governor of Saudi Arabia's Tabuk Province and the second eldest son of late Crown Prince Sultan - is accused of hunting illegally in protected areas, according to a report by Karachi-based Dawn News.

The website claims to have seen a document titled ‘Visit of Prince Fahd bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud regarding hunting of houbara bustard' which they say was prepared by Jaffar Baloch - a divisional officer in the local forest and wildlife department.

The report allegedly says the prince and his party hunted for 21 days - from Jan 11, 2014 to Jan 31 - and had been granted special permits by the Pakistani federal government which allow important visitors to bypass laws preventing the hunting of houbaras.

These permits still require the recipient to kill no more than 100 birds over a 10-day period however, and only allow them to do so in certain areas.

More...

It is not known if Fahd bin Sultan or any or his party will face punishments for violating the rules over how many birds they killed and for hunting with falcons outside the specified areas.

Houbaras are highly valued by Arab royals, who consider the meat to be an aphrodisiac.

For decades sheikhs have travelled to remote areas of Pakistan in time for the bird to make its winter migration from Central Asia. India banned the hunting of houbaras in early 1979.

At risk: Hunting in Pakistani sees the global houbara population shrink by
 between 20 and 30 per cent annually. Houbaras are highly valued by Arab royals,
who consider their meat to be an aphrodisiac

The ongoing hunting in Pakistan has seen global houbara numbers fall to around 110,000 - with that figure decreasing by between 20 and 30 per cent every year.

After a particularly aggressive hunting season last year, Pakistan introduced an interim ban on killing the birds.

The move proved popular with local environmental campaigners who have grown tired of Arab sheikhs flouting hunting laws, but the Pakistani government appears to have subsequently eased the restrictions, issuing at least 33 houbara hunting permits already this year.

One reason they are likely to have done so is because Arab royals bring a huge economic boost to the poor regions in which they hunt.

They are said to travel in a convoy of private jets while on safari, with some transport planes given over purely to falcons and hunting equipment.

The sheikhs also make large donations while travelling in Pakistan's poor rural areas - paying for new schools and mosques to be built, as well as funding the repair of rundown roads and airports.

Read more:
Arab royal hunts down 2,100 houbara bustards in three week safari

Related Article:


Spain's King Juan Carlos poses in front of a dead elephant
on a hunting trip in Botswana, Africa. Photograph: Target
Press/Barcroft Media



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Kansas judge grants Chelsea Manning's request to change name

Convicted soldier hails verdict as victory for transgender people, though it does not compel US military to treat her as a woman

theguardian.com, Associated Press in Leavenworth, Wednesday 23 April 2014

This undated photo shows Chelsea Manning in wig and make-up.
Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

A Kansas judge granted a request Wednesday to formally change the name of the soldier convicted of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks from Bradley Edward Manning to Chelsea Elizabeth Manning.

The former intelligence analyst is serving a 35-year prison sentence for passing classified US government information to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. Manning is serving the sentence at the army prison on Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

Leavenworth county district judge David King said he'd allow the name change during a court hearing that lasted about a minute. Manning didn't attend the hearing but issued a statement saying it was "an exciting day".

"Hopefully today's name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we [transgender] people exist everywhere in America today, and that we have must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are," Manning said.

The decision clears the way for official changes to Manning's military records, but it would not compel the military to treat Manning as a woman. That includes transferring Manning to a prison with a woman's unit.

The only impact of the district court ruling was changing Manning's name on military records, but not his confinement status, army spokesman George Wright said.

"Likewise, the US disciplinary barracks is a male-only facility and prisoners there are referred to by the title 'inmate'," Wright said in a statement to the Associated Press.

Manning, who grew up in Oklahoma, filed the court petition as the first step toward getting her army records changed.

Manning has been diagnosed by at least two army behavioral health specialists with gender dysphoria, or gender identity disorder.

Manning was sentenced in August for six Espionage Act violations and 14 other offenses for leaking more than 700,000 secret military and US State Department documents, along with battlefield video, while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010. An army general upheld the convictions last week, clearing the way for appeals with the army court of criminal appeals.

There was no opposition filed to the petition, though Manning included several newspaper reports indicating the desire to live publicly as a woman last August, as well as copy of an Oklahoma birth certificate.

She has filed a grievance with the US disciplinary barracks commander at Fort Leavenworth over the lack of a response to her request for comprehensive treatment for her gender identity disorder, including specialized gender counseling and hormone replacement therapy.

The military has said it doesn't provide hormone replacement therapy. Gender dysphoria generally disqualifies one for military service, but Manning can't be discharged while serving the prison sentence.

Related Article:


Whistleblowers need better protection: helpline

DutchNews.nl, Tuesday 22 April 2014

Martin van Pernis, Chairman, Committee
 Whistleblowers advice center, speaking
at the launch of the advice center
Whistleblowers in 2012 (NRC/ANP)
A special helpline for whistleblowers has helped 61 people go public since it was founded in October 2012 and has dealt with 435 requests for advice, according to the Adviespunt Klokkenluiders’s first annual report.

Most whistleblowers – 30% - were concerned about problems in the health service, followed by local government (10%) and manufacturing (10%). Four out of 10 cases involved the semi-public sector. Fraud or theft were the most common complaints.

The report also shows that three out of four whistleblowers had problems at work after going public with their fears. These ranged from bullying to redundancy.

Friday, April 18, 2014

KPMG in Holland again under investigation, this time for tax fraud

DutchNews.nl, Friday 18 April 2014

Pheijffer: the affair on the construction
 of the KPMG office, is not isolated.
Accountancy company KPMG is again under formal investigation by the authorities, this time for suspected tax fraud involving the construction of its new Amstelveen headquarters.

The public prosecution department said in a statement on Thursday the investigation focuses on fake bills supplied by the building firm and inflated costs which were used to depress the company's tax bill.

The Financieele Dagblad says the allegations are particularly painful because accountants should never be the subject of such claims about its tax returns and points out that KPMG Meijburg is one of the biggest tax advisors in the Netherlands.

Painful

Local chairman Jurgen van Breukelen told a press conference on Thursday the case is 'extremely painful for KPMG.' The governance around the company set up to develop the new building was 'not in order', he said. KPMG was 70% owner of that vehicle, the FD said.

The FD points out this is the second criminal investigation against KPMG in a short space of time.

The company was also investigated in connection with bribery allegations at building group Ballast Nedam and reached a €7m out of court settlement to head off prosecution. Three members of staff do face charges.

Procedures

Last year, KPMG was fined €900,000 by the Dutch financial sector regulator AFM for failing to have proper internal procedures in place. The company was also involved in the collapse of housing corporation Vestia, the paper points out.

At the press conference Van Breukelen said the company had failed to move with the times and had an 'archaic and introverted culture'.

Partners had become over-focussed on the 'bottom line' and were more interested in their profits. Quality and integrity should take first place, the paper quoted him as saying.

Switch

The revelations come at a time that the big four accountancy groups in the Netherlands are competing for major new corporate contracts.

The Dutch government has introduced new rules forcing large companies to switch auditor every eight years and that means and a number of lucrative contracts are up for grabs.

The new rules will also stop companies using the same accountant to control its books and provide advice. The aim of the change is to make accountants more independent in the wake of the financial crisis.

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Two former Anglo Irish Bank executives found guilty of handing out illegal loans

Patrick Whelan and William McAteer convicted in Dublin court of illegally lending to Maple 10 group of investors

The Guardian, Henry McDonald in Dublin, Thursday 17 April 2014

Patrick Whelan outside court. He was found gulity of illgeal lending.
Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Two former Anglo Irish Bank executives have been found guilty of handing out illegal loans from the financial institution whose reckless lending almost bankrupted Ireland.

Patrick Whelan and William McAteer were convicted in a Dublin court of illegally lending to the Maple 10 group of investors in the summer of 2008, in order to prop up the Anglo Irish share price and save the bank from collapse.

The 10-week-long trial of the directors transfixed a nation that had been forced to pay out more than €30bn (£25bn) in taxpayers' money to rescue the business.

It was the first time that any bankers faced charges under Section 60 of the Irish Republic's Companies Act, which bars banks from giving out loans to bolster their share price.

However the pair were found not guilty of orchestrating illegal loans from the bank to the family of Seán Quinn, Ireland's one-time richest man.

William McAteer leaves
court after the verdicts.
The pair will remain on bail until they are sentenced on 28 April, the Dublin circuit criminal court was told. Trial judge Martin Nolan warned that sentencing may go beyond that date.

Whelan, 52, the former head of lending in Ireland for Anglo Irish Bank, and McAteer, 63, its former chief risk and finance officer, could face up to five years in jail on each count.

The jury took nearly 17 hours to decide the fate of Whelan and McAteer as well as Seán FitzPatrick, former Anglo Irish chairman, whom they found not guilty on Wednesday.

The guilty verdicts for Whelan and McAteer were unanimous. Outside court the two men refused to talk to the media.

The judge had previously directed that 65-year-old FitzPatrick be found not guilty in connection with loans to Quinn, because of a lack of evidence. He also cleared Whelan of seven counts relating to the amendment of loan facility letters sent to the so-called Maple 10, a group of rich Irish investors allegedly used to buy out the Quinn family's shares in the bank.

Quinn and his family's legal battle with the Irish state over the collapse of Anglo Irish sustained a blow after the jury decided the loans given to them were legal.

The Quinns are engaged in a civil action against the state which rests on the supposed illegality of the loans from Anglo Irish.

The trial focused on moves by the bank to unravel Quinn's secret holding in the institution, built up via financial instruments called contracts for difference – or highly leveraged bets on an increase in the Anglo Irish share price.

By July 2008, with financial ruin looming for Anglo Irish Bank owing to excessive lending in the Irish property boom, Quinn controlled about 28% of the shares in the ailing bank.

The Maple 10 investors were lent a total of €450m by Anglo to buy about 10% of the shares that Quinn controlled. Quinn's wife and five children were also lent €169m to buy nearly 15% of the stock.

In February prosecutors said that executives at the bank decided to do something "absolutely illegal" by lending money to the individuals.

FitzPatrick, who was chief executive of the bank from 1986 to 2005, said his successor, David Drumm, told him the plan to lend the money was "kosher and above board", according to interview notes that police read out during the trial.

FitzPatrick's legal team had persuaded the jury that he was kept in the dark as to the identities of the Maple 10 investors and consequently would not have known the loans were illegal transactions.

The case was one of the most complex in European financial criminal history and lasted 43 days. More than 600 documents were read into the book of evidence and 54 witnesses were called during the trial in court number 19 of Dublin's circuit criminal court.

Attention will now turn to whether the Irish government will hold a public inquiry into the Anglo Irish scandal. In 2010 the state was ultimately forced to seek a €67.5bn bailout from the International Monetary Fund, the European commission and European Central Bank, which it exited last year.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

End of an era as Prince Bandar departs Saudi intelligence post

Prince's exit could signal shift in kingdom's policy towards Syria, with looming leadership transition complicating picture

The Guardian, Ian Black, Middle East editor, Wednesday 16 April 2014

Prince Bandar bin Sultan in 2008. Photograph: Hassan Ammar/AP

Prince Bandar bin Sultan's departure as head of Saudi intelligence, confirmed this week, marks the end of an era for a flamboyant and powerful character on the Middle Eastern stage. The big question is whether it signals a meaningful shift in the kingdom's policy towards Syria and its commitment to the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bandar – known as "Bandar Bush" from his 22 years as Saudi ambassador to the US – is a legendary networker and hawk. The Saudi press agency said he stepped down at his own request. (It did not say whether he would continue as head of the national security council, a less important position.) He will be replaced by his deputy at the Saudi equivalent of the CIA, Youssef bin Ali al-Idrisi, who is not a royal and therefore far less powerful.

For the past 18 months Bandar had led Saudi efforts to better co-ordinate the supply of weapons to Syrian rebels fighting Assad. But he faced criticism for backing extreme Islamist groups and thus risking a repeat of the "blowback" that brought Osama bin Laden's Saudi fighters home after the officially sanctioned jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Bandar's departure is not a complete surprise. Amid unprecedented tensions in relations between Riyadh and Washington, there had been signs he had fallen from favour and had in effect already been sidelined on Syria.

"Bandar's approach was very black and white," said one well placed observer. "And he seems to have over-promised to the king in terms of confidently predicting Assad's departure."

He was often abroad, reportedly being treated for health problems, or "unavailable" at home due to illness. He is also known to suffer badly from depression. Several months ago he failed to turn up for an urgently-scheduled meeting on Syria with David Cameron at Chequers.

According to sources in Riyadh, Bandar faced strong opposition from the powerful interior minister (and possible future king), Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, who led the crackdown on al-Qaida following a wave of attacks between 2003 and 2006. Bin Nayef became increasingly concerned about battle-hardened young Saudis returning home radicalised after fighting in Syria. Bandar's removal probably reflects that policy divergence, western diplomats and Saudis say.

Bandar has irritated the Americans with outspoken criticism of Barack Obama's failure to punish Syria following the chemical weapons attack near Damascus last August. After that he talked of limiting interaction with the US in protest at its policies on Syria, Israel and especially the beginning of rapprochement with Iran – the latter an unchanging bogeyman and regional and sectarian rival for the Saudi prince. Bandar was also said by a senior Arab figure to have angrily threatened the emir of Qatar, which upstaged its larger neighbour in backing anti-Assad forces. His departure may help heal the rift between the US and the kingdom following last month's meeting between Obama and Abdullah. That, in turn, could impact on Saudi policy towards Syria.

Bandar, a former fighter pilot, is King Abdullah's nephew. He was close to presidents Reagan and both Bushes. He negotiated huge arms deals for the kingdom – including the infamous £43bn al-Yamamah agreement with the UK. The Guardian reported allegations that he had received £1bn in secret payments from BAE.

Known for his showy lifestyle – he has a penchant for cigars and flies in a private Airbus – he has kept a low profile since returning from the US to Riyadh in 2005. He became head of intelligence in July 2012. Apart from the Syria file, he was also closely involved in Saudi support for Egypt's military rulers after they ousted the Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi.

Saudi-watchers say decision-making in Riyadh is in poor shape. King Abdullah is 90 and frail, Crown Prince Salman is 78. Last month the appointment of a new deputy crown prince, Muqrin, a relative youngster at 68, again focused attention on the succession.

"The looming transition in Saudi leadership … may contribute to the uncertainty and opacity of the kingdom's foreign policy-making," said Yezid Sayigh, of the Carnegie Foundation. "Already highly personalised, decision-making may become further dispersed as multiple centres of princely power prepare to compete over the succession from King Abdullah."

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Guardian and Washington Post win Pulitzer prize for NSA revelations

Pair awarded highest accolade in US journalism, winning Pulitzer prize for public service for stories on NSA surveillance 

theguardian.com, Ed Pilkington in New York, Monday 14 April 2014

The Guardian revealed the NSA's bulk collection of phone records 10 months
ago based on Edward Snowden's leaks. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

The Guardian and the Washington Post have been awarded the highest accolade in US journalism, winning the Pulitzer prize for public service for their groundbreaking articles on the National Security Agency’s surveillance activities based on the leaks of Edward Snowden.

The award, announced in New York on Monday, comes 10 months after the Guardian published the first report based on the leaks from Snowden, revealing the agency’s bulk collection of US citizens’ phone records.

In the series of articles that ensued, teams of journalists at the Guardian and the Washington Post published the most substantial disclosures of US government secrets since the Pentagon Papers on the Vietnam war in 1971.

The Pulitzer committee praised the Guardian for its "revelation of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency, helping through aggressive reporting to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy".

Snowden, in a statement, said: "Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognises was work of vital public importance."

He said that his actions in leaking the documents that formed the basis of the reporting "would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers".

At the Guardian, the reporting was led by Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and film-maker Laura Poitras, and at the Washington Post by Barton Gellman, who also co-operated with Poitras. All four journalists were honoured with a George Polk journalism award last week for their work on the NSA story.

Investigative reporter Laura Poitras accepts the George Polk Award alongside
 Barton Gellman, far left, and Ewen MacAskill. Photograph: Andrew Burton/
Getty Images

The NSA revelations have reverberated around the world and sparked a debate in the US over the balance between national security and personal privacy. On the back of the disclosures, President Obama ordered a White House review into data surveillance, a number of congressional reform bills have been introduced, and protections have begun to be put in place to safeguard privacy for foreign leaders and to increase scrutiny over the NSA’s mass data collection.

"We are truly honoured that our journalism has been recognised with the Pulitzer Prize," said Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of the Guardian. "This was a complex story, written, edited and produced by a team of wonderful journalists. We are particularly grateful for our colleagues across the world who supported the Guardian in circumstances which threatened to stifle our reporting. And we share this honour, not only with our colleagues at the Washington Post, but also with Edward Snowden, who risked so much in the cause of the public service which has today been acknowledged by the award of this prestigious prize."

Janine Gibson, editor-in-chief of Guardian US, said: "We're extremely proud and gratified to have been honoured by the Pulitzer board. It's been an intense, exhaustive and sometimes chilling year working on this story and we're grateful for the acknowledgement by our peers that the revelations made by Edward Snowden and the work by the journalists involved represent a high achievement in public service."

Among the disclosures were:


• the program codenamed Prism used by the NSA and its UK counterpart GCHQ to gain back-door entry into the data of nine giant internet companies including Google and Facebook

• the cracking of internet encryption by the NSA and GCHQ that undermined personal security for web users ;


The coverage of the Snowden leaks presented a particularly thorny issue for the 19-strong panel of journalists, academics and writers who recommend the winners. The stream of disclosures invoked strong and polarised reactions in the US and around the world.

In January, Obama said that the debate on the acceptable limits of government surveillance prompted by the articles “will make us stronger”. But other prominent US politicians such as Mike Rogers, Republican chairman of the House intelligence committee, have suggested journalism based on Snowden’s leaks was tantamount to dealing in stolen property.

Snowden has been charged with three offences in the US. He is the eighth person to be charged with breaking the 1917 Espionage Act by the Obama administration – more than all the prosecutions brought under previous presidents combined.

The Guardian's US operation, headquartered in New York, was incorporated as an American company in 2011 and recognised last year by the Pulitzer board as a US news outlet eligible to be considered for its prizes.

Last month editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger was given a special award at the European press awards; earlier this month the Guardian was named newspaper of the year in the UK; and there it has been awarded other prizes for online and investigative journalism in Germany, Spain and the US.

The Snowden stories were edited from New York by Guardian US editor-in-chief Janine Gibson and deputy editor Stuart Millar. The UK end of the reporting was led by deputy editor Paul Johnson and investigations editor Nick Hopkins.

Others on the team of journalists included Spencer Ackerman, James Ball, David Blishen, Gabriel Dance, Julian Borger, Nick Davies, David Leigh and Dominic Rushe. In Australia the editor was Katharine Viner and the reporter Lenore Taylor.

The Pulitzers have been bestowed since 1917, at the bequest of the legendary newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer who established the honour in his will as a means of encouraging publicly-spirited journalism. The awards have shifted and grown over the years to reflect the modern publishing landscape and today stands at 22 categories, including 14 journalism awards and seven gongs for books, drama and music. All the awards are administered by Columbia University.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Liechtenstein Banker Shot Dead in Reported Investment Feud

Bloomberg, Jan-Henrik Foerster and Carolyn Bandel  Apr 7, 2014

Jürgen Frick
A Liechtenstein banker was shot dead after a feud involving an investment fund, and police said they believe the alleged killer later committed suicide.

The 48-year-old man was shot in the underground garage of a financial institution in Balzers at 7:30 a.m. local time, the Liechtenstein police said on their website today. Neither the victim nor the institution was identified in the statement. The deceased was Juergen Frick, CEO of Bank Frick & Co. AG, according to Switzerland’s Radio 1, which cited employees of his bank.

The suspect, Juergen Hermann, fled the scene in a Smart car with Liechtenstein license plates, according to police. The authorities later said Hermann appears to have committed suicide after they found the vehicle in Ruggell, 25 kilometers (16 miles) north of Balzers, with his passport and a confession.

“Service dogs were able to track the suspect to the banks of the Rhine,” police said in a statement. “Clothing belonging to the suspect was found there. Because of the circumstances and the evidence, suicide has to be assumed.”

Calls to Bank Frick were answered by a voice-mail message saying the company is closed because of “a death.” It gave no further details. A police spokesman didn’t immediately respond to telephone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Prime Minister

Bank Frick & Co., founded in 1998, specializes in wealth management and investment advice. The firm managed about 3.5 billion Swiss francs ($3.9 billion) of assets on behalf of clients at the end of 2012, according to its website. The company’s chairman is Mario Frick, who was prime minister of Liechtenstein from 1993 to 2001.

Bank Frick was previously partly owned by Bawag PSK Bank AG, the Austrian lender that almost collapsed because of its links with failed U.S. futures firm Refco Inc. Bawag owned 26 percent and Refco had a 4 percent holding, according to a report by the Austrian Press Agency. After Austria led a bailout of Bawag in 2006, the company sold its stake in Bank Frick, according to a paper published the following year on the European Commission’s website.

Hermann is a fund manager who has been embroiled in a dispute with the Liechtenstein government and Bank Frick for many years, according to Radio 1.

Hermann Finance

The Liechtenstein government and the country’s Financial Market Authority “illegally destroyed my investment company Hermann Finance and its funds, depriving me of my livelihood,” according to a website registered under the name Juergen Hermann of Hermann Finance AG.

He has filed lawsuits seeking recovery of 200 million Swiss francs from the government and 33 million francs from Bank Frick, according to the website. The lender “illegally enriched itself,” among other alleged crimes, it said.

A representative of Hermann’s lawyer declined to comment when reached by telephone. A call to an office telephone number listed on Hermann Finance’s website was answered by an employee of a law firm who said his company isn’t related to Hermann Finance.

Hermann had been “publicly hostile” to the country’s Financial Market Authority and some of its employees, forcing it to take security measures in consultation with the police, FMA spokesman Beat Krieger said in an e-mail today.

Liechtenstein, a country of 36,800 people wedged between Switzerland and Austria, hasn’t seen a homicide since 2011, when three people lost their lives to crime, police said in their annual report. Bank Frick is one of 17 lenders in the Alpine country, according to the Liechtenstein Banking Association.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jan-Henrik Foerster in Zurich at jforster20@bloomberg.net; Carolyn Bandel in Zurich at cbandel@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Mariajose Vera at mvera1@bloomberg.net James Kraus, John Simpson

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