'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.)

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick

Hong Kong's grandpa protesters speak softly but carry a stick
'Grandpa Wong' is a regular sight at Hong Kong's street battles (AFP Photo/VIVEK PRAKASH)
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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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Podemos rallies Spaniards with anti-austerity message

Spain's upstart leftist party drew tens of thousands of supporters to central Madrid on Saturday. In just one year, it has gone from nothing to a serious contender in the upcoming vote. Guy Hedgecoe reports from Madrid.

Deutsche Welle, 31 Jan 2015

Angel Lopez strode through the back streets of Madrid with a group of friends, towards Puerta del Sol, the city's massive central square. Like tens of thousands of others this Saturday, they took part in the "March for Change," a demonstration organized by Podemos, the upstart political party which has taken Spanish politics by storm over the last year.

Saturday's event is the first time Podemos has gathered so many supporters, and Lopez believes it could be the beginning of the end for what he calls Spain's "pseudo-democracy."
"Podemos is our last hope," said the 61-year-old civil servant. "People of my age believe that the only way of ensuring that this corrupt system changes is through a new force that has the support of the grassroots."

Minutes later, Lopez arrived in Puerta del Sol for the culmination of the march, which saw a total of 100,000 people filling the square and surrounding streets, according to the police. Many demonstrators were brandishing the trademark purple flag of Podemos, or chanting its adopted slogan: "Si se puede" (or "Yes we can").

Iglesias: "Austerity policies have
divided our country in two"
Soaring support

Founded by a group of academics just a year ago, Podemos has transformed Spain's political landscape. Last May, it scooped 1.2 million votes in the EU elections, earning five seats in the European Parliament. Since then, support for its leftist, anti-austerity platform has soared. It currently leads many opinion polls, thus breaking the bi-party grip the Socialists and governing Popular Party (PP) have had on Spanish politics for over three decades.

Much of the party's success is attributed to its leader, Pablo Iglesias, a 36-year-old, ponytailed political scientist with a talent for public speaking. Dressed in jeans and a windbreaker, he addressed the crowd in Madrid to loud cheers.

"Today we're not here to protest, we're here to say that the time has come," he said.
"Austerity policies have divided our country in two: those who have won and those who are worse off than before - it's those on top and those down below."

Allied with Syriza

The party's fierce opposition to the austerity preached by Germany and the European authorities has aligned it with Syriza, the new governing party in Greece. Iglesias and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras have become close allies and in mid-January the Spaniard visited Athens to lend his support to the Syriza election campaign. Among the few concrete policies Podemos has announced is a proposed audit of the national debt, similar to Syriza's own plans.

"Who said that a government cannot change things?" Iglesias asked the Madrid crowd. "In Greece, they have done more in six days than other governments have done in years."

Syriza's election victory is seen as a boost to Podemos, and on Saturday Greek flags were visible among supporters of the Spanish party. One demonstrator bore a placard which read: "Greece 10, Angel Merkel 0."

Tens of thousands joined the rally in central Madrid

Spain's economy may be over five times larger than that of Greece, but the two countries have been suffering similar problems. The eurozone economic crisis has been deeply damaging for both nations, reversing growth, sending public debt soaring and leading to austerity policies which have eroded the welfare state. In Greece's case all of those challenges have been more pronounced than in Spain. However, the Spanish jobless rate, at just under 24 percent, is close to that of Greece's 26 percent.

"I don't know if Greece will get better or worse [under Syriza], but we do know that we don't want what we have right now," said Miguel Ruiz, at the demonstration with his family.

"We need a change in general - a change in our society, a cultural change," said his wife, Gemma.

Spain has now returned to growth after its half-decade economic slump and the International Monetary Fund has forecast that its gross domestic product will increase by 2 percent in 2015. But despite Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's insistence that the country is on the road to recovery, many Spaniards are unconvinced, especially with the jobless rate so high and austerity policies still in place.

Battling corruption

In addition, the perceived mismanagement of the economic crisis and a glut of scandals have combined to undermine the credibility of many state institutions, from traditional political parties and the government, to banks and the royal family.

For the last two years, the governing PP has been plagued by allegations that it ran an illegal cash fund financed by corporate bribes. Meanwhile, in late 2014, it emerged that 82 board members of the lenders Caja Madrid and Bankia had been given unregistered credit cards with which they had spent over 15 million euros ($16.9 million) on personal and luxury items. Other corruption scandals have hurt the Socialists in Andalusia and the Catalan nationalists of the Convergence and Union party.

"We're fed up at the lack of trustworthiness and the level of corruption among our politicians," said Javier Gonzalez, a 37-year-old engineer. "We're fed up with the establishment. It would be great if this [demonstration] worked to boost Podemos, but also as a wake-up call for the traditional parties."

With Podemos firmly focusing public debate on corruption, the party itself has been subjected to intense scrutiny. In recent days, critics have pointed to a 425,000-euro payment that Podemos co-founder Juan Carlos Monedero received from the governments of Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua in 2013 for advisory work. The tax authorities are investigating whether the payment was made legally.

A year of upheaval

Such political tensions reflect the fact that Spain is going into a year of potentially major upheaval. Municipal and regional elections are scheduled for May, with a general election almost certain to take place by the end of the year.

"It's going to be an enormous year," said Josep Lobera, a sociologist at Madrid's Autonoma University.

"At a regional level this year is going to see an earthquake, because Podemos could end up governing a number of regions, in coalition or on its own," he said. In the general election, he added, the party will also be a contender.

"That is new. It means a break with the bi-party system for the first time in nearly 40 years," Lobera added.

Related Article:

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fake Chinese bank cheats depositers out of US$32m

Want China Times, Xinhua 2015-01-24

A Chinese bank branch in Fuzhou, Fujian province, Jan. 23. (File photo/CNS)

A rural cooperative posing as a bank cheated 200 million yuan (US$32 million) out of unwitting depositors in an eastern Chinese city, local police said.

The fake bank ensnared more than 200 customers over the past year with promise of higher interest rates.

The scheme was unraveled only after a customer reported unusual activity to the police after being unable to make a withdrawal, according to police in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province.

Police say the cooperative had decorated itself exactly the same as a bank, with LED screens, a queuing machine and uniformed clerks. It also faked documents to prove itself as an authorized financial institute.

One legal representative cooperative and four "managers" have been detained on suspicion of illegally absorbing public money.

Most victims were businessmen from neighboring Zhejiang province. Police are still seeking victims of the scam.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Saudi buries King Abdullah, Salman takes throne

Yahoo – AFP, Ian Timberlake, 23 Jan 2015

The body of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz is carried during his funeral at
Imam Turki Bin Abdullah Grand Mosque on January 23, 2015 in Riyadh (AFP Photo)

Riyadh (AFP) - Saudi Arabia buried King Abdullah Friday as foreign leaders gathered in the capital for the funeral of the ruler of the world's top oil exporter and the spiritual home of Islam.

Abdullah, a cautious reformer who led his kingdom through a turbulent decade in a region shaken by the Arab Spring uprisings and Islamic extremism, died early Friday aged about 90.

Late Saudi King Abdullah bin
 Abdulaziz al-Saud, seen here
on June 27, 2014, has died,
aged around 90 (AFP Photo/
Brendan Smialowski)
He was replaced by his half-brother Salman, who moved quickly to consolidate his hold on power and vowed to maintain a steady course for the conservative kingdom.

Salman joined Gulf rulers and leaders including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for a funeral service at Riyadh's Imam Turki bin Abdullah mosque.

Abdullah's shrouded body was borne on a simple litter by members of the royal family wearing traditional red-and-white checked shemagh head gear.

The body was quickly moved to nearby al-Od public cemetery where it was buried.

Citizens were invited to pledge allegiance to Salman at the royal palace.

Another of the late monarch's half-brothers, Moqren, was named crown prince.

In his first public statement as the new ruler, 79-year-old King Salman vowed to "remain, with God's strength, attached to the straight path that this state has walked since its establishment".
An image grab taken from Saudi state TV
 on January 23, 2015 shows Saudi Arabia's
 new King Salman in his first public
 address, in the Saudi capital Riyadh
 (AFP Photo)

He called in televised remarks for "unity and solidarity" among Muslims and vowed to work in "the defence of the causes of our nation".

Moving quickly to clear uncertainty over the transition to the next generation, Salman named the interior minister, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, as second in line to the throne.

He also appointed one of his own sons, Prince Mohammed, as defence minister.

Officials did not disclose the cause of Abdullah's death, but the late king had been hospitalised in December suffering from pneumonia and had been breathing with the aid of a tube.

Obama hails 'valued' ally

Under Abdullah, who took the throne in 2005, Saudi Arabia has been a key ally of Washington in the Arab world, most recently joining the US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.

President Barack Obama was quick to pay tribute to Abdullah as a "valued" ally.

"The closeness and strength of the partnership between our two countries is part of King Abdullah's legacy," Obama said in a statement shortly after the monarch's death.

US President Barack Obama (L) meets with then Saudi King Abdullah (R) at
 Rawdat Khurayim, the monarch's desert camp northeast of Riyadh, on March 28,
2014 (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

Vice President Joe Biden said on Twitter he would lead a delegation to Saudi Arabia "to pay respect and offer condolences".

Other tributes came in from foreign leaders, with French President Francois Hollande hailing Abdullah as "a statesman whose work profoundly marked the history of his country".

British Prime Minister David Cameron said he was "deeply saddened" and that Abdullah would be remembered for "his commitment to peace and for strengthening understanding between faiths."

As the top producer in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, Saudi Arabia has been the driving force behind the cartel's refusal to slash output to support oil prices, which have fallen by more than 50 percent since June.

But prices surged Friday, amid uncertainty over whether the new king would maintain that policy.

Saudi security forces keep watch during
 the funeral of late Saudi King Abdullah
 bin Abdul Aziz on January 23, 2015 in 
Riyadh (AFP Photo/Ahmad A-Ghamdi)
The International Energy Agency's chief economist said he did not foresee major policy shifts.

"I do not expect any significant change in the oil policy of Saudi Arabia and I expect and hope that they will continue to be a stabilisation factor in the oil markets," Fatih Birol told AFP in Davos, Switzerland.

Royal family stalwart

Saudi Arabia is home to Islam's holiest sites, Mecca and Medina, and its role as a spiritual leader for Sunni Muslims has seen it vying for influence with Shiite-dominated Iran.

Tehran nonetheless offered its condolences, saying Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif would travel to Riyadh to take part in official ceremonies on Saturday.

Behind his thick, jet-black moustache and goatee, Abdullah had a shrewd grasp of regional politics.

Wary of the rising influence of Islamist movements, Saudi Arabia has been a generous supporter of Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi since the army's ouster of Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Egypt declared seven days of official mourning for Abdullah.

Saudi Arabia has also played a key role in supporting opposition to Iran-backed President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, allowing US troops to use its territory to train rebel fighters.

A picture released by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) shows a Saudi official 
welcoming Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif (L) upon his arrival in Riyadh
to attend the funeral of King Abdullah on January 23, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Salman is widely expected to follow closely in Abdullah's footsteps, in foreign and energy policy as well as in making moderate reforms to the deeply conservative kingdom.

Abdullah pushed through cautious changes while in power, challenging conservatives with moves such as including women in the Shura Council, an advisory body.

He promoted the kingdom's economic development and oversaw its accession to the World Trade Organization, tapping into the country's massive oil wealth to build new cities, universities and high-speed railways.

'Insensitive to human rights'

But Saudi Arabia is still strongly criticised for a dismal human rights record, including the imprisonment of dissidents. It is also the only country in the world that does not allow women to drive.

"The Saudi regime seems insensitive to human rights and human dignity and unfortunately they are also protected by many Western countries because they have oil and because they are seen as allies in the fight against terrorism," Amnesty International head Salil Shetty told AFP in Davos.

Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud, seen here
in a picture released by the Saudi Press
Agency, is a stalwart of the royal family
credited with transforming Riyadh from a
backwater to a thriving capital (AFP Photo)
Salman is a stalwart of the royal family credited with transforming Riyadh from a backwater to a thriving capital during his half-century as governor.

Since the death in 1952 of the kingdom's founder, King Abdul Aziz bin Saud, the throne has passed systematically from one of his sons to another.

Abdul Aziz had 45 recorded sons. Abdullah, Salman and Moqren were all born to different mothers.

Saudi Arabia has managed to avoid the social upheaval that has shaken many of its neighbours in recent years, thanks in large part to massive public spending.

But the new king will face some major challenges, especially as falling oil prices cut into state revenues.

Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a
press conference on January 15, 2015 in Berlin (AFP Photo/
John MacDougall)

Related Articles:

Monday, January 19, 2015

Half global wealth held by the 1%

Oxfam warns of widening inequality gap, days ahead of Davos economic summit in Switzerland

The Guardian, Larry Elliott, economics editor, and Ed Pilkington,  19 January 2015

The Swiss ski resort of Davos, home to the annual meeting of the World
Economic Forum. Photograph: Christian Kober/Robert Hardi/REX

Billionaires and politicians gathering in Switzerland this week will come under pressure to tackle rising inequality after a study found that – on current trends – by next year, 1% of the world’s population will own more wealth than the other 99%.

Ahead of this week’s annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in the ski resort of Davos, the anti-poverty charity Oxfam said it would use its high-profile role at the gathering to demand urgent action to narrow the gap between rich and poor.

The charity’s research, published today, shows that the share of the world’s wealth owned by the best-off 1% has increased from 44% in 2009 to 48% in 2014, while the least well-off 80% currently own just 5.5%.

Oxfam added that on current trends the richest 1% would own more than 50% of the world’s wealth by 2016.

Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International and one of the six co-chairs at this year’s WEF, said the increased concentration of wealth seen since the deep recession of 2008-09 was dangerous and needed to be reversed.

In an interview with the Guardian, Byanyima said: “We want to bring a message from the people in the poorest countries in the world to the forum of the most powerful business and political leaders.

“The message is that rising inequality is dangerous. It’s bad for growth and it’s bad for governance. We see a concentration of wealth capturing power and leaving ordinary people voiceless and their interests uncared for.”

Oxfam made headlines at Davos last year with a study showing that the 85 richest people on the planet have the same wealth as the poorest 50% (3.5 billion people). The charity said this year that the comparison was now even more stark, with just 80 people owning the same amount of wealth as more than 3.5 billion people, down from 388 in 2010.

Byanyima said: “Do we really want to live in a world where the 1% own more than the rest of us combined? The scale of global inequality is quite simply staggering and despite the issues shooting up the global agenda, the gap between the richest and the rest is widening fast.”

Separate research by the Equality Trust, which campaigns to reduce inequality in the UK, found that the richest 100 families in Britain in 2008 had seen their combined wealth increase by at least £15bn, a period during which average income increased by £1,233. Britain’s current richest 100 had the same wealth as 30% of UK households, it added.

Inequality has moved up the political agenda over the past half-decade amid concerns that the economic recovery since the global downturn of 2008-09 has been accompanied by a squeeze on living standards and an increase in the value of assets owned by the rich, such as property and shares.

Pope Francis and the IMF managing director Christine Lagarde have been among those warning that rising inequality will damage the world economy if left unchecked, while the theme of Thomas Piketty’s best-selling book Capital was the drift back towards late 19th century levels of wealth concentration.

Barack Obama’s penultimate State of the Union address on Tuesday is also expected to be dominated by the issue of income inequality.

He will propose a redistributive tax plan to extract more than $300bn (£200bn) in extra taxes from the 1% of rich earners in order to fund benefits specifically targeted at working families.

However, the odds of the White House having any success persuading Congress to adopt the plan, given the Republicans’ new grip on both chambers, are extremely long. But Obama’s embrace of what he calls “middle-class economics” – as opposed to the trickle-down economics of the Republicans – is likely to ensure that inequality remains a pivotal theme of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Oxfam said the wealth of the richest 80 doubled in cash terms between 2009 and 2014, and that there was an increasing tendency for wealth to be inherited and to be used as a lobbying tool by the rich to further their own interests. It noted that more than a third of the 1,645 billionaires listed by Forbes inherited some or all of their riches, while 20% have interests in the financial and insurance sectors, a group which saw their cash wealth increase by 11% in the 12 months to March 2014.

These sectors spent $550m lobbying policymakers in Washington and Brussels during 2013. During the 2012 US election cycle alone, the financial sector provided $571m in campaign contributions.

Byanyima said: “I was surprised to be invited to be a co-chair at Davos because we are a critical voice. We go there to challenge these powerful elites. It is an act of courage to invite me.”

Oxfam said it was calling on governments to adopt a seven point plan:

• Clamp down on tax dodging by corporations and rich individuals.

• Invest in universal, free public services such as health and education.

• Share the tax burden fairly, shifting taxation from labour and consumption towards capital and wealth.

• Introduce minimum wages and move towards a living wage for all workers.

• Introduce equal pay legislation and promote economic policies to give women a fair deal.

• Ensure adequate safety-nets for the poorest, including a minimum-income guarantee.

• Agree a global goal to tackle inequality.

Speaking to the Guardian, Byanyima added: “Extreme inequality is not just an accident or a natural rule of economics. It is the result of policies and with different policies it can be reduced. I am optimistic that there will be change.

“A few years ago the idea that extreme poverty was harmful was on the fringes of the economic and political debate. But having made the case we are now seeing an emerging consensus among business leaders, economic leaders, political leaders and even faith leaders.”

Friday, January 16, 2015

Deputy state security minister Ma Jian probed for graft

Want China Times, Staff Reporter 2015-01-16

Ma Jian. (Internet photo)

Ma Jian, China's spy chief, has been detained in relation to a graft probe against him, which is said to relate to two disgraced high-profile officials that have also been put under graft probes, reports Duowei News, a media outlet run by overseas Chinese.

News of the probe was first broken by British newspaper The Financial Times on Jan. 12. Ma's absence from a Dec. 30 meeting last year between China's minister of public security Guo Shengkun and Kazakhstani prime minister Karim Massimov was reported by the website of Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po as an indication that Ma might have been put under a probe.

A source cited by The Financial Times said the corruption accusations against Ma are likely due to his connections to Zhou Yongkang, the former CPC Politburo Standing Committee member, and his Yunnan clique. The paper also hinted that Ma was detained due to his links to Ling Jihua, the former head of the CPC United Front Work Department. The two were said have been included in a Chinese government probe into tech conglomerate Founder Group.

The deputy security minister has been responsible for an anti-spying campaign over the past decade and he was given credit for his role in two recent high-profile cases, of which two senior officials of the Ministry of State Security were busted for spying for foreign countries. Several members of his families have also been investigated, according to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

However, a person named Tang Chao, has attended a seminar held by the country's Supreme Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate as an assistant of the Ministry of State Security on Jan. 7. Hong Kong newspaper Ta Kung Pao said that this suggests Tang is a member of the ministry's party committee.

Zhou was officially placed under an investigation last year. Ling Jihua was stripped of his title on Dec. 31 last year and is being investigated for suspected serious disciplinary violations.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Interpol issues wanted notice for Ukraine's former President Yanukovych

Interpol has issued a global "red notice" for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. The 64-year-old is accused of financial wrongdoing. Russian sources have indicated Moscow would be unlikely to extradite him.

Deutsche Welle, 12 Jan 2015

International police network Interpol said on Monday it had placed Yanukovych on its international wanted list on charges of embezzlement and financial wrongdoing.

Ukrainian authorities said Interpol's publication of the "red notice" - authorizing Yanukovych's arrest - empowered any police force to hand him over to Ukraine.

However, Russia - where Yanukovych has taken refuge since he was ousted from power in February 2014 - is unlikely to extradite him, according to a source familiar with the situation.

Probe into 'The Family'

Yanukovych fled to Russia in February after months of street protests in Kiev over his decision to withdraw from an association agreement between Ukraine and the EU. Yanokovych was said to have been intent instead on strengthening Kyiv's economic and political ties with Moscow.

Pro-Western authorities have accused Yanukovych - as well as a group of relatives and close allies known as The Family - of accumulating huge wealth by robbing state funds and plundering national assets.

Yanukovych, who Russia claims was the victim of a coup, denies that he or members of his family were involved in corruption.

rc/tj (AF, Reuters)

Friday, January 9, 2015

Dutch health service pension fund to pull out of hedge funds

DutchNews.nl, January 9, 2015

Dutch health service pension fund Zorg en Welzijn is to stop investing in hedge funds, the NRC reports on Friday. 

The fund, the second biggest in the Netherlands, said the investments are not only expensive and complex, but do not generate sufficient returns.

In addition, the pension fund criticised ‘the high levels of remuneration in the hedge fund sector and the often limited attention to social and environmental issues’.

Zorg en Welzijn had 2.5 million members and €156bn in assets at the end of last year.

At the end of 2013, the fund had money in 40 hedge funds including Blackstone, Oaktree, Cerberus and Harbinger, although they only represented 2% of its total investment. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Prince Andrew named in US lawsuit over underage sex allegations

In case related to banker Jeffrey Epstein, woman alleges in court filing that she was forced to have repeated ‘sexual relations’ with duke

The Guardian, Paul Lewis and James Ball, Friday 2 January 2015

Prince Andrew, whose close relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein
has long been a source of controversy. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

A woman who claims that an American investment banker loaned her to rich and powerful friends as an underage “sex slave” has alleged in a US court document that she was repeatedly forced to have sexual relations with Prince Andrew.

The accusation against the Duke of York is contained in a motion filed in a Florida court this week in connection with a long-running lawsuit brought by women who say they were exploited by Jeffrey Epstein, a multi-millionaire convicted of soliciting sex with an underage girl after a plea deal.

Prince Andrew and Jeffrey Epstein in New York. Photograph: Jae
Donnelly/News Syndication

The woman, who filed the motion anonymously, alleges that between 1999 and 2002 she was repeatedly sexually abused by Epstein who, she also alleges, loaned her out to rich and influential men around the world.

The document – a motion to expand an ongoing lawsuit relating to prosecutors’ handling of Epstein’s case with two new plaintiffs – alleges that the woman “was forced to have sexual relations with this prince when she was a minor” in London, New York and on a private Caribbean island owned by Epstein.

Jeffrey Epstein. Photograph: Sipa Press/Rex

The prince is not a named party to the legal claim, which is directed against federal prosecutors. He has not had any opportunity to respond to the allegations in the legal claim.

The woman is said to have been 17 at the time, considered to be a minor in Florida.

In a 2011 Vanity Fair article, Prince Andrew denied any sexual contact with young women associated with Epstein.

Contacted on Thursday, Buckingham Palace declined to comment on the allegations contained in the court document. A palace spokesperson said the royal household would “never comment on an ongoing legal matter”.

Another close associate of Epstein who is also accused in the lawsuit, Alan Dershowitz, told the Guardian that the woman’s accusations against himself were “totally false and made up”.

The Harvard law professor and esteemed criminal defence attorney who later advised Epstein on how to respond to the FBI’s investigation is accused in the court motion of having sexual relations with the woman when she was a minor and of witnessing the abuse of other minors.

On Thursday he told the Guardian: “There is no more strenuous denial than the one I am giving. I never met her. I don’t know her. I have never had sex with an underage person.”

He added: “This person has made this up out of cloth, maliciously and knowingly in order to extort money from Mr Epstein.”

Dershowitz, who has occasionally written op-ed articles for the Guardian, said he could not comment on the woman’s allegations against Prince Andrew or any other men, but he said her claims against him were demonstrably false and challenged her to file criminal charges against him.

“It is a totally fabricated charge in every possible way,” he said. “It just never happened.”

He said he was considering taking legal action to have Brad Edwards and Paul Cassell, the lawyers who filed the motion, disbarred for “knowingly filing … a false, malicious and defamatory statement in a lawsuit”.

Edwards said: “We have been informed of Mr Dershowitz’s threats of legal action and bar proceedings … we carefully investigate all of the allegations in our pleadings before presenting them.”

In a statement to the Guardian through her lawyers, the woman behind the allegations said she was being “unjustly victimised again”.

“These types of aggressive attacks on me are exactly the reason why sexual abuse victims typically remain silent and the reason why I did for a long time,” she said. “That trend should change. I’m not going to be bullied back into silence.”

The Guardian is aware of the identity of the plaintiff behind the allegations, but is respecting her wish to bring the case anonymously.

Andrew’s close relationship with Epstein – he visited him in New York two years after the American’s release from prison in 2009 – has long been a source of controversy. The Daily Mail reported in 2011 that the prince had broken off contact with the banker.

The duke had previously been accused of meeting Epstein’s young victims and possibly being aware of their sexual exploitation. However, this is the first time he has been named in a court document as a participant in any sexual activity with one of the young women allegedly trafficked by Epstein.

As the claim has only just been lodged, and as the duke is not a named party to it, he has not had the opportunity to formally file a defence or denial to the claims.

In 2006, the FBI opened an investigation into allegations that Epstein had been paying for sex with underage girls at his Palm Beach mansion for years. By the following year federal prosecutors said they had identified 40 young women who may have been illegally procured by Epstein.

In 2008, however, the federal inquiry was dropped after Epstein negotiated a deal with prosecutors in which he agreed to plead guilty to a relatively minor state charge relating to soliciting paid sex with a minor – a 14-year-old girl. He served 13 months of an 18-month sentence and is now a registered sex offender.

Many of his alleged victims have since reached out-of-court settlements with Epstein, who was once considered among the wealthiest investment bankers in the world.

However, two of Epstein’s alleged victims, referred to in court documents as Jane Doe 1 and Jane Doe 2, have brought a lawsuit arguing that federal prosecutors violated a victims’ rights statute by failing to consult them over Epstein’s secret deal.

The pair won a significant legal victory in July last year entitling them to see previously confidential documents from the plea bargain discussions between Epstein’s lawyers and federal prosecutors.

The court document filed this week containing allegations against Andrew is a motion to allow two more alleged Epstein victims, referred to as Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4, to join the action.

Jane Doe 3 – the woman who made the accusations against Andrew – claims her contact with Epstein began when she was approached at the age of 15 by Ghislaine Maxwell, the daughter of the late media mogul Robert Maxwell and a close friend of Epstein.

The motion alleges that Maxwell “was one of the main women whom Epstein used to procure under-aged girls for sexual activities”. With Maxwell’s assistance, the document alleges, Epstein converted the girl into a “sex slave”, repeatedly abusing her in his private jet or his lavish residences in New York, New Mexico, Florida and the US Virgin Islands.

“Epstein also sexually trafficked the then-minor Jane Doe, making her available for sex to politically connected and financially powerful people,” the court document alleges. “Epstein’s purposes in ‘lending’ Jane Doe (along with other young girls) to such powerful people were to ingratiate himself with them for business, personal, political, and financial gain, as well as to obtain potential blackmail information.”

The motion alleges that Maxwell was “a primary co-conspirator in his sexual abuse and sex trafficking scheme” and that she also participated in the abuse.

The document goes on to allege: “Perhaps even more important to her role in Epstein’s sexual abuse ring, Maxwell had direct connections to other powerful individuals with whom she could connect Epstein. For instance, one such powerful individual Epstein forced Jane Doe #3 to have sexual relations with was a member of the British royal family, Prince Andrew (aka Duke of York).”

The document lists three locations where the woman alleges she was forced to have sexual relations with Andrew: Maxwell’s London apartment, Epstein’s private Caribbean island in what was allegedly “an orgy with numerous other under-aged girls”, and an undisclosed location in New York.

Requests made to representatives of Ghislaine Maxwell for comment had not been returned at the time of publication, but she has previously strenuously denied any involvement in procuring young girls for Epstein or any of his associates. In 2011 a spokesperson for Maxwell said she had never been contacted by any law enforcement agency in connection with the allegations.

The new motion alleges that Epstein instructed the girl “to give the prince whatever he demanded” and also instructed her to “report back on the details of the sexual abuse”.

The woman’s lawyers allege in their motion that, in addition to facilitating her alleged encounters with the prince and Dershowitz, Epstein trafficked her to “many other powerful men, including numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known prime minister, and other world leaders”.

• After this article was published, Buckingham Palace issued a statement, saying: “This relates to long-running and ongoing civil proceedings in the United States to which the Duke of York is not a party. As such we would not comment in detail. However, for the avoidance of doubt, any suggestion of impropriety with underage minors is categorically untrue.”

Related Article:

Senior Chinese diplomat in corruption investigation

A senior foreign diplomat for China, Zhang Kunsheng, has been removed from his position. It comes amid China's highly-publicized crackdown on corruption.

Deutsche Welle, 2 Jan 2015

China's Foreign Ministry issued a two-sentence statement on Friday announcing that Assistant Foreign Minister Zhang Kunsheng (pictured right) had been removed from his post.

Zhang, one of four officials with the title, was "suspected of violating discipline," a phrase which is commonly used as a euphemism for corruption. Although an investigation had been launched, it was not clear who was conducting it or what exactly Zhang was alleged to have done. His responsibilities have been temporarily taken over by ministry spokesman Qin Gang.

As China's four assistant foreign ministers rank below the minister and six vice ministers, Zhang, who was in charge of the protocol department, has become the highest-ranking diplomat to be caught up in the country's highly-publicized campaign to stamp out corruption.

Corruption crackdown

Shortly after he took office two years ago, China's President Xi Jinping launched a campaign against corruption, in which he vowed that both low-level "flies" and high-ranking "tigers" would be caught. China's corruption problem was said to be so bad that it could affect the ability of the Communist Party to maintain power. The campaign has netted several powerful figures, including Zhou Yongkang who was formerly one of the nine most senior politicians in China.

China's foreign ministry was the subject of another scandal last year, in which the country's ambassador to Iceland, Ma Jisheng, vanished amid reports that he had allegedly spied for Japan. China's government has yet to say what happened to him.

se/ksb (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)