'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. … “

Search This Blog

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

VVD leader in Europe is paid RAI advisor, lobbies for car industry

DutchNews, September 30, 2015

Photo: Moritz Kosinsky via
Wikimedia Commons
Dutch MP Hans van Baalen, who leads the VVD delegation in Brussels, is a paid advisor to the car industry, according to news website F-site

Van Baalen, who has had a modest €4,000 role as advisor to the motoring organisation RAI, now earns €8,000 a year as a supervisory board member at Mercedes-Benz in the Netherlands, the website says. 

Last year Van Baalen called for ‘fewer rules’ for the car industry in an opinion piece in the Volkskrant. He also urged the Dutch government to ensure ‘taboo-free’ negotiations with the US over a trade treaty that will make it easier for car manufacturers to do business in the US and harmonise some rules. 

He wrote the article as VVD leader in the European parliament but did not mention his role with the RAI, which considers European lobbying to be a key task. 

Van Baalen is also on the Mercedes-Benz payroll as a member of the supervisory board. Mercedes-Benz is also active in influencing Brussels policy and opposes tougher environmental roles for car manufacturers. 

According to F-site, Van Baalen’s work conflicts with the strict integrity rules which the VVD applies to its politicians. These state: ‘you will not hold any other positions which could form a risk to you carrying out your job with integrity’. 

Van Baalen told the website he did not consider his independence was under threat. ‘I keep the VVD’s rules. I am not a spokesman for the car industry so there is no problem. And I do declare my earnings to the tax office.’ 

He said he did not consider his comments in the Volkskrant had broken the rules or highlighted a conflict of interest.

Related Articles:



"Recalibration of Free Choice"–  Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) SoulsMidpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth,  4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind)5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical)  8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

The Unthinkable… Politics, A Review

Humans will begin to search for integrity and fairness and it's going to happen in the places you never expect. I said this last week, so this is a review. There'll come a time when you will demand this of your politics - fairness and integrity. So when the candidates start calling each other names, you will turn your back on them and they won't get any votes. They're going to get the point real fast, don't you think? How about that?

Let me give you another potential. This country that I sit in right now [USA] will set the mold for that particular attribute. I have no clock. Watch for the youngsters to set this in motion, and they will, for they are the voters of tomorrow and they do not want the energy of today. To some of them, it's so abominable they won't even register to vote in this energy. You're going to see this soon. That was number five.. ..."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Switzerland approves extradition to US of FIFA's Eduardo Li

Yahoo – AFP, 29 Sep 2015

The Swiss justice ministry approves the extradition to the United States of the
former head of the Costa Rican Football Federation Eduardo Li, pictured on
May 17, 2011 (AFP Photo/Rodrigo Arangua)

Geneva (AFP) - The Swiss justice ministry on Tuesday approved the extradition to the United States of Costa Rican national Eduardo Li, one the FIFA officials whose arrest in May ignited an unprecedented crisis in world football.

"The Federal Office of Justice (FoJ) has approved the extradition of Eduardo Li to the USA. The Costa-Rican citizen has 30 days in which to appeal to the Swiss Federal Criminal Court against the FOJ's ruling," a statement said.

Li, the former head of the Costa Rican Football Federation, was one of seven FIFA officials arrested in Zurich on May 27 following a US indictment on charges that he took bribes while selling football television rights.

"Li massively influenced the competitive situation and distorted the market for media rights in connection with the World Cup qualifying matches," said the FoJ statement.

"Other sports marketing companies were placed at a disadvantage. Furthermore, among other things the Costa Rican Football Federation was prevented from negotiating marketing agreements which might have been more favourable."

The FoJ said that "all of the conditions for extradition" had been fulfilled.

Swiss authorities had already approved the extradition to the US to face the same charges of others arrested in the corruption sting -- former Venezuelan Football Federation president Rafael Esquivel and Uruguayan former FIFA vice-president Eugenio Figueredo, while the former president of the Nicaraguan Football Federation Julio Rocha agreed last month to be extradited back to his home country.

Although not among the seven arrested, FIFA president Sepp Blatter is being investigated by Swiss prosecutors over the sale of World Cup television rights and a $2 million (1.8 million euros) payment to UEFA president Michel Platini.

Two other former FIFA officials, Jack Warner and American Chuck Blazer, have been banned from all football-related activities for life for their roles in the sale of television rights at grossly deflated values.

Warner is fighting extradition to the US from his home on Trinidad and Tobago while Blazer has turned whistleblower and is assisting US authorities.

US authorities have charged 14 people in relation to more than $150 million (134.5 million euros) in bribes given for television and marketing deals.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Germany launches criminal probe against VW's ex-CEO

Yahoo – AFP, Simon Morgan, 28 Sep 2015

Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned after the pollution scandal that
has engulfed the German auto giant (AFP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

Frankfurt (AFP) - German prosecutors on Monday announced a criminal investigation against Volkswagen's former chief executive as the government pressed the embattled auto giant to resolve a pollution cheating scandal that has rocked the auto sector.

The affair will also be on the agenda when the European Union's 28 trade or industry ministers gather in Luxembourg this week for the first high-level meeting in Europe on the VW crisis since it erupted last week.

In Germany, public prosecutors in the northern city of Brunswick said they have launched a criminal probe against Martin Winterkorn, who resigned as VW's CEO after the group revealed that 11 million of its diesel vehicles are equipped with devices that fool official pollution tests.

The scandal has tarnished VW's name, 
left it exposed to up to 18 billion dollars
 (16 billion euros) in US fines, and wiped
a third off its stock market value in a week
(AFP Photo/Francois Nascimbeni)
In his resignation statement, the 68-year-old manager, a renowned perfectionist in the industry, said he was "not aware" of having done anything wrong.

The carmaker's supervisory board also appeared to absolve him initially, insisting that Winterkorn -- who as Germany's highest-paid executive could under normal rules stand to pocket a payout of around 60 million euros ($67 million) -- had not been aware of the fraud.

Chain of responsibility

But prosecutors said they were looking to establish the exact chain of responsibility in the scam, which is snowballing into one of the biggest ever in the European automobile industry and threatening to tarnish Germany's pristine engineering reputation.

"Following a number of legal suits, the public prosecutors in Brunswick have opened an investigation against Martin Winterkorn, the former chief executive of Volkswagen," they said in a statement.

"The investigation will focus on the allegation of fraud by selling vehicles with manipulated emission values," it added.

VW Friday announced it was replacing Winterkorn with the head of VW's luxury sports car brand Porsche, Matthias Mueller.

The new 62-year-old boss faces daunting challenges as he seeks to steer VW out of the wreckage left by the affair.

The German government has given Volkswagen until October 7 to submit measures and a timetable to fix vehicles that have been fitted with the cheating software, a ministry spokesman said Monday.

The devices can switch on pollution controls when they detect the car is undergoing testing. They then switch off the controls when the car is on the road, allowing it to spew out harmful levels of emissions.

Ignored warnings

According to German media reports at the weekend, Volkswagen ignored warnings from staff and a supplier years ago that the emission test rigging software was illegal.

The scandal has tarnished VW's name, left it exposed to up to 18 billion dollars (16 billion euros) in US fines, and wiped a third off its stock market value in a week.

Volkswagen's top-of-the-range automaker Audi said that 2.1 million of its diesel cars worldwide are among the 11 million fitted with the so-called defeat devices. Czech subsidiary Skoda said 1.2 million of its vehicles were affected.

The environmentalist group Greenpeace lashed out at VW's piecemeal communication of the scandal, especially after new CEO Mueller promised a "ruthless" investigation into the affair and a "fresh start".

With the carmaker facing the possibility of having to recall as many as 2.8 million 
vehicles in Germany alone, the direct and indirect costs of the affair are still 
incalculable (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

In addition to Germany, national authorities in several other countries have announced probes. And lawsuits are being filed, including class-action suits in the United States.

VW's diesel vehicles are coming under close regulatory scrutiny worldwide and France has even extended the checks to cars made by other manufacturers.

VW was not immediately available on Monday to comment on the news of the criminal investigation against Winterkorn, or media reports suggesting the group had suspended a number of managers in its R&D division.

Incalculable costs

With the carmaker facing the possibility of having to recall as many as 2.8 million vehicles in Germany alone, the direct and indirect costs of the affair are still incalculable.

VW has already said it will set aside 6.5 billion euros in provisions in the third quarter. But analysts at DZ Bank suggested it could be 1.0-3.0 billion euros more.

On top of that sum, VW also faces onerous regulatory fines, including up to $18 billion in the United States. And the fallout on customer purchases cannot yet be estimated.

Investors appear to fear that more bad news is still to come.

After losing 34 percent of their value or around 25 billion euros last week, VW shares were again the biggest losers on the Frankfurt stock exchange Monday, where they showed a loss of as much as 9.3 percent in intraday trade. They ended the day 7.5 percent lower.

Related Article:


Swiss authorities probe 7 banks for suspected metals price fixing

Yahoo – AFP, Nina Larson, 28 Sep 2015

Swiss competition authorities are investigating UBS, HSBC, Deutsche Bank 
and four other banks on suspicion of price fixing in the precious metals market
(AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)

Geneva (AFP) - Swiss competition authorities said Monday they were investigating UBS, HSBC, Deutsche Bank and four other major banks for suspected price fixing in the trade of precious metals like gold and silver.

The Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) said it was looking into whether seven banks had colluded to manipulate prices in the precious metals market.

The watchdog said in a statement that it had "opened an investigation against two Swiss banks, UBS and Julius Baer, as well as against the foreign financial institutions Deutsche Bank, HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and Mitsui."

The Swiss Competition Commission says
it is investigating two Swiss banks, UBS 
and Julius Baer, as well as against the
 foreign financial institutions Deutsche
Bank,HSBC, Barclays, Morgan Stanley
and Mitsui (AFP Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)
COMCO, which opened a preliminary probe in February, said it now had indications that the banks had "possibly concluded illegal competition defying deals" in the trade of the precious metals gold, silver, platinum and palladium.

"We think they can have manipulated the price of these precious metals," COMCO deputy chief Patric Ducrey told AFP.

The competition authority said it especially suspected the banks had fixed the prices of bid/ask spreads within the market.

Ducrey said the banks had all been informed of the ongoing probe, and that the investigation would likely conclude in 2017.

Impact unclear

Credit Suisse analyst Cristine Schmid told AFP it was too early to say how the COMCO probe would impact the targeted banks, beyond pushing up their legal costs.

HSBC is one of several banks being 
investigated by Swiss authorities for
price fixing (AFP Photo/Philippe Huguen)
"We would need to know first of all in case the allegations are true for how long this has lasted, what were the volumes affected and what is the average kind of spreads versus market spreads," she said, pointing out that the longer the alleged price agreements would have lasted, "the worse for the banks."

This was not the first time the role of banks in determining the price of precious metals has been questioned.

In August, the European Commission said it was investigating "anti-competitive behaviour in precious metals spot trading."

And in February, US financial media reported that the Justice Department had opened its own investigation into suspected manipulation of precious metals markets by 10 major international banks: HSBC, Bank of Nova Scotia, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Societe Generale, Standard Bank and UBS.

Goldman Sachs, HSBC, Standard Bank of South Africa and the German chemical group BASF have also been under a US investigation since last November over a complaint alleging rigging of the prices of platinum and palladium.

There are moves underway to reform the 
century-old method of gold price "fixing,"
 since the current global benchmark,
 London's Gold Fix, has already been 
tainted by a rigging scandal (AFP
Photo/Sebastian Derungs)
Julius Baer, which was not part of the US investigation, told AFP Monday it would "constructively cooperate" with the COMCO investigation.

UBS, which did not immediately return requests for comment Monday, said in May it had won immunity from criminal fraud charges in the US probe, after agreeing to provide the Justice Department with information about precious metal transactions.

Reform under way

Precious metals have increasingly come under scrutiny after the discovery that other financial benchmarks have been rigged.

Some of the banks under investigation Monday were already hit by massive fines earlier this year after pleading guilty to US charges of conspiring to rig Libor rates, the global commercial interest rate benchmark used to peg millions of rate-sensitive contracts and loans around the world.

Traders operate in the pit at the London 
Metal Exchange in central London, 21 
September 2007 (AFP Photo/Shaun Curry)
That rate is estimated to underpin some $500 trillion worth of contracts.

The price-setting mechanism to determine benchmark prices for precious metals has also been under reform, amid calls for greater transparency.

Panels of banks have until recently agreed on the reference prices for the precious metals.

But last year, the exchange CME Group and financial information giant Thomson Reuters began providing an electronic system for setting benchmark silver prices, and the London Metal Exchange (LME) did the same for platinum and palladium.

There are also moves under way to reform the century-old method of gold price "fixing," since the current global benchmark, London's Gold Fix, has already been tainted by a rigging scandal and attacked by critics as old-fashioned.

A new method for setting the gold benchmark price is expected to take effect in March.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Singapore moves against Indonesian firms over haze

Yahoo – AFP, 26 Sep 2015

The Fullerton Hotel is blanketed in thick haze, in Singapore, on September 24,
2015 (AFP Photo/Roslan Rahman)

Singapore (AFP) - Singapore has launched legal action that could lead to massive fines against Indonesian companies blamed for farm and plantation fires spewing unhealthy levels of air pollution over the city-state.

Five Indonesian companies including multinational Asia Pulp and Paper (APP) have been served with legal notices, according to a Singapore government statement issued late Friday.

The move followed a bitter diplomatic spat over Indonesia's failure to stop a severe outbreak of smoky haze which has also affected Malaysia and persisted for years.

APP, part of Indonesia's Sinar Mas conglomerate, is one of the world's largest pulp and paper groups and publicly upholds "sustainability" and forest conservation as core principles. Its products include stationery and toilet paper.

APP was asked by Singapore's National Environment Agency to supply information on its subsidiaries operating in Singapore and Indonesia, as well as measures taken by its suppliers in Indonesia to put out fires in their concessions.

The group, which has paper mills in Indonesia and China, did not immediately reply when asked by AFP for comment.

Under a 2014 law called the Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, Singapore can impose a fine of Sg$100,000 ($70,000) for each day that a local or foreign company contributes to unhealthy levels of haze pollution in Singapore, subject to a maximum total of Sg$2.0 million.

Singapore is located near Indonesia's vast Sumatra island, where fires have traditionally been set off by farmers and plantations to clear land for cultivation.

Four other Indonesian companies -- Rimba Hutani Mas, Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and Wachyuni Mandira -- have been told to take measures to extinguish fires on their land, refrain from starting new ones, and submit action plans to prevent future fires.

Sinar Mas is also involved in palm oil production, an industry widely blamed for forest fires in Indonesia.

In its statement issued Friday, the Singapore government said it was "examining how to apply more economic pressure against errant companies," including a review of its own procurement policies.

A soldier inspects a peatland forest on fire in Kampar district, Riau province, 
on Indonesia's Sumatra island, on August 7, 2015 (AFP Photo/Alfachrozie)

Singapore's Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said the haze problem has lasted "for far too long".

"This is not a natural disaster. Haze is a man-made problem that should not be tolerated. It has caused major impact on the health, society and economy of our region," he said in the statement.

Singapore declared emergency shutdowns of elementary and high schools on Friday after the air pollutant index hit "hazardous" levels.

It eased to "moderate" levels on Saturday but a shift in wind direction can quickly change the situation.

The current haze outbreak is the worst since mid-2013. The recurring crisis grips Southeast Asia nearly every year during the dry season.

Singapore officials have reacted with outrage to Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla's comments that Indonesia's neighbours should be grateful for good air quality most of the year, and that Jakarta need not apologise for the crisis.

Indonesia has previously said that Singapore-based companies were among those responsible for the blazes.

About 3,000 troops and police have been sent to Sumatra to fight the fires, with Indonesian authorities saying last week that it would take a month to bring them under control.

Friday, September 25, 2015

FIFA scandal engulfs Blatter and Platini

Yahoo – AFP, Benjamin Simon, 25 Sep 2015

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)

Zurich (AFP) - The FIFA scandal on Friday engulfed Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini, the two most powerful figures in world football, with Swiss prosecutors investigating whether a two million dollar payment from Blatter to the French legend was illegal.

Swiss investigators opened criminal proceedings against FIFA president Blatter and searched his office as they also quizzed UEFA counterpart Platini.

"Swiss criminal proceedings against the President of FIFA, Mr. Joseph Blatter, have been opened on September 24, 2015 on suspicion of criminal mismanagement...and -– alternatively -– misappropriation," said a statement from Switzerland's attorney general's office (OAG).

Former FIFA vice-president Jack Warner
 arrives at the Port-of-Spain Magistrates 
court for the extradition hearing against
 him, on September 25, 2015 (AFP Photo/
Alva Viarruel)
Blatter, 79, is standing down because of corruption scandals involving other top officials and Platini had been favourite to win an election to be held in February to succeed him.

The Swiss prosecutor said that "the defendant Joseph Blatter" had been questioned and "the office of the FIFA President has been searched and data seized".

Blatter was questioned as "a suspect". The statement added that Platini had been questioned "as a person called upon to give information".

Platini, 60, has been head of UEFA since January 2007 which made him an automatic FIFA vice-president.

Blatter's lawyer Richard Cullen said in a statement that the FIFA boss was cooperating with Swiss authorities and that a review of the evidence would show "no mismanagement occurred".

Blatter "is suspected of making a disloyal payment of 2.0 million Swiss francs ($2.04 million/1.8 million euros) to Michel Platini, president of Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), at the expense of FIFA," the OAG said.

The alleged payment was made in February 2011 "for work performed between January 1999 and June 2002."

Later Friday, Platini insisted the payment had been for "contractual" work he had carried out.

"Concerning the payment that was made to me, I wish to state that this amount relates to work which I carried out under a contract with FIFA," said the UEFA boss.

"I was pleased to have been able to clarify all matters relating to this with the authorities."

FIFA this month suspended Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke after he 
was accused of involvement in an accord to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup 
at inflated prices (AFP Photo/Sebastien Bozon)

He added: "I also made clear to the Swiss authorities that since I live in Switzerland I am available to speak with them any time to clarify any matters relating to the investigations."

Friday's dramatic turn of events came after a press conference, that Blatter was scheduled to give, was cancelled.

Platini is a former Blatter ally who turned against the veteran Swiss sports baron over the past 18 months as FIFA's troubles mounted.

The investigation is also into Blatter's links with Jack Warner, a former FIFA vice-president now at the centre of a US investigation.

The attorney general said Blatter was suspected of making a deal "unfavourable to FIFA" with the Caribbean Football Union, which Warner used as his power base.

'Properly prepared'

According to Blatter's lawyer Cullen, who is based in Virginia, that contract was "properly prepared and negotiated" by FIFA staff with responsibility for such matters.

A Trinidad court on Friday announced that it would rule on December 2 on whether Warner should be extradited to the United States.

Warner is one of 14 soccer officials and business executives charged by US prosecutors of involvement in more than $150 million in bribes for football broadcasting and marketing deals.

Nearly all of the suspects are from central and South America. Until recent days, FIFA's top leadership had escaped accusations flying around the world body, which earns $5 billion from the World Cup.

Swiss officials arrested seven FIFA officials, who are among the US suspects, on May 27 in Zurich just ahead of the world body's congress.

Blatter was re-elected to a fifth term at the congress despite the storm but then announced on June 4 that he would stand down.

Since then FIFA has announced steps to make reforms but have been shaken by new corruption claims.

A TV crew prepares to film in front of 
the FIFA logo at the FIFA headquarters
 on September 25, 2015 in Zurich (AFP
Photo/Fabrice Coffrini)
FIFA this month suspended Blatter's right-hand man Jerome Valcke after he was accused of involvement in an accord to sell tickets for the 2014 World Cup at inflated prices.

Valcke strongly denied the allegations but FIFA handed over emails from the suspended secretary general that had been demanded by the Swiss attorney general.

He is also under suspicion over what he knew about a $10 million payment from the South African FA to an account controlled by Warner through FIFA in 2008.

US prosecutors believe it was a bribe intended to get Caribbean support for South Africa's bid for 2010 World Cup.

Swiss prosecutors are also looking into FIFA's award of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. Both have strongly denied any wrongdoing in their campaigns to secure the tournaments.

US attorney general Loretta Lynch made it clear this month that her department's inquiry was growing and more major charges could be expected.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

VW just the latest scalp for independent campaigners

Yahoo – AFP, Aurélia End, 24 Sep 2015

The revelations shaking Volkswagen can be traced to the work of the US-based
group International Council on Clean Transportation (AFP Photo/John Macdougall)

Paris (AFP) - Volkswagen's worldwide pollution cheating has been exposed in large part thanks to independent campaigners, a growing force in the scrutiny of multinationals whose activities can escape the gaze of official regulators.

The revelations shaking Volkswagen, the world's biggest automobile manufacturer by sales with a workforce of 590,000 people, can be traced to the work of the US-based group International Council on Clean Transportation, which has a worldwide staff of 27.

Working with engineers at West Virginia University, they uncovered significantly higher levels of pollution spewing out of the exhaust pipes of cars on the road than those recorded in official tests.

Drew Kodjak, executive director of the non-profit group, said the discrepancies were found for cars in Europe.

"It's up to the regulators in Europe to figure out whether or not there's a defeat device," he said in an interview with AFP this week.

"In the United States, our research triggered further investigation, but the defeat software was uncovered by the regulators."

Non-governmental organisations have become key to exposing such scandals, said Yann Louvel, coordinator of BankTrack, a network of organisations and people worldwide tracking banks' activities.

Working with engineers at West Virginia University, the International Council 
on Clean Transportation uncovered significantly higher levels of pollution spewing 
out of the exhaust pipes of cars on the road than those recorded in official tests
(AFP Photo/Damien Meyer)

List of targets grows

The list of multinationals feeling the heat from campaign groups is growing.

French construction group Vinci has been attacked by Paris-based Sherpa, self-described defender of the victims of economic crimes, over working conditions at its construction sites for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Vinci has denied the allegations and sued for defamation.

Non-governmental organisations pursued Western brands over the conditions in clothes factories overseas after the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed more than 1,100 people. The campaigns helped to push companies to contribute to a $30 million a victims' compensation fund.

Food giants have been forced to review their palm oil operations following campaigns by environmental groups warning of the dangers of deforestation.

After coming under heavy criticism, Apple in 2012 asked labour watchdog Fair Labor Association to assess the conditions for workers at factories of its major Chinese supplier Foxconn.

Non-governmental organisations, or NGOs, have also alerted national authorities to the ways multinationals such as Starbucks or Google are able to enjoy low tax rates.

'How could they miss it?'

"NGOs have become more professional and stronger," said Oxfam charity campaigner Nicolas Vercken.

After coming under heavy criticism, Apple in 2012 asked labour watchdog Fair
 Labor Association to assess the conditions for workers at factories of its major 
Chinese supplier Foxconn (AFP Photo/Voishmel)

"Ten years ago when we asked for a meeting with the French foreign ministry they expected us to come asking for money for a humanitarian catastrophe," Vercken said.

"Today they see us for our expertise or because we are seen as a possible nuisance," he said.

The rising professionalism of campaign groups was illustrated by the Volkswagen scandal: the International Council on Clean Transportation is staffed by former automobile industry managers, bristling with diplomas and sporting ties.

Sherpa, for example, relies on its network of lawyers and legal experts to bring corporations to court with sophisticated legal arguments, said its director, Laetitia Liebert.

Like other NGOs, Sherpa uses social networks to lend "strength, leverage and protection" when it targets big companies, she said.

For BankTrack's Louvel, the Volkswagen scandal shows the important role played by NGOs.

"But you also wonder how the traditional regulators could have missed it," he said.

"It's worrying given the small resources that NGOs have," Louvel said. "It is a bit easy to rely on us."

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

VW chief quits as cheating scandal snowballs

Yahoo – AFP, Odd Andersen with Simon Morgan in Frankfurt, 23 Sep 2015

Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn has headed the German
auto giant since 2007 (AFP Photo/Daniel Roland)

Wolfsburg (Germany) (AFP) - Volkswagen chief executive Martin Winterkorn resigned Wednesday over a pollution cheating scandal that has sparked a US criminal investigation and worldwide legal action with unfathomable financial consequences for the auto giant.

"I am shocked by the events of the past few days. Above all, I am stunned that misconduct on such a scale was possible in the Volkswagen Group,"Winterkorn said in a statement issued by the carmaker.

"Volkswagen needs a fresh start -- also in terms of personnel. I am clearing the way for this fresh start with my resignation."

Volkswagen has admitted that as many
 as 11 million cars are equipped with 
software capable of fooling pollution
tests (AFP Photo/Odd Andersen)
The stock market barely flinched at the news.

Following a two-day free fall that had axed 35 percent -- or 25 billion euros ($28 billion) -- off the company's market value on Monday and Tuesday, the shares had bounced back on Wednesday closing 5.19 percent higher at 111.50 euros after Winterkorn's announcement.

Even if the haemorrhage on the markets may have abated, Volkswagen, the world's largest auto manufacturer by sales in the first half of this year, still faces a growing tangle of legal threats after it admitted that as many as 11 million of its diesel cars worldwide are equipped with software capable of fooling official pollution tests.

In addition to investigations from France to South Korea, public prosecutors in Germany also said they were examining information and evaluating legal suits already filed against the company by a number of private individuals to decide whether to launch a full criminal inquiry against those responsible at VW.

Winterkorn 'takes responsiblity'

A day after Winterkorn had offered his "deepest apologies", the 68-year-old said he accepted his "responsibility for the irregularities that have been found in diesel engines".

But he also insisted: "I am not aware of any wrongdoing on my part."

His widely predicted departure came after a meeting of the supervisory board's six-member steering committee in Wolfsburg.

A new chief executive is to be named Friday, and other personnel changes were expected, the board said.

According to the US authorities, VW has admitted that it equipped about 482,000 cars in the United States with sophisticated software that covertly turns off pollution controls when the car is being driven.

It turns them on only when it detects that the vehicle is undergoing an emissions test.

With the so-called "defeat device" deactivated, the car can spew pollutant gases into the air, including nitrogen oxide, in amounts as much as 40 times higher than emissions standards, said the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The EPA, which announced the allegations Friday along with California state authorities, is conducting an investigation that could lead to fines amounting to a maximum of more than $18 billion.

The US Department of Justice has also launched a criminal inquiry led by its environment and natural resources division, a source told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Volkswagen Golf at the company's assembly plant in Wolfsburg, central Germany
(AFP Photo/Tobias Schwarz)

The California Air Resources Board, too, is investigating Volkswagen's pollution violations.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said he had launched his own probe of Volkswagen and would work on it with prosecutors from other states across the United States.

Billions in provisions

Private law firms are lining up to take on the German company, with a class action suit already being filed by a Seattle law firm.

VW has halted all diesel vehicles sales in the United States during the investigations.

The scale of the exposed deception expanded dramatically Tuesday when Volkswagen said that as many as 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide may have the same "anomalies."

The full impact on the reputation of Volkswagen, which was founded in 1930 to build an affordable family car, is hard to measure.

The scandal has already hit the share price of other car makers, buffeting international stock markets.

Volkswagen, whose parent company also owns brands including Audi, Skoda and Lamborghini, has set aside 6.5 billion euros in provisions for the third quarter to cover the potential costs of the revelations.

While the scandal has been restricted to Volkswagen so far, environmental protection groups, particularly in Germany, suspect other car makers may be using similar technology.

The European carmakers' association ACEA said that while it recognised the gravity of the affair, "there is no evidence to suggest that it's a problem across the whole industry."

And the German carmakers' federation VDA insisted that diesel engine technology itself was not in question.

A Volkswagen Golf TDI diesel car undergoes an emissions inspection at a garage
in Frankfurt, eastern Germany, on September 21, 2015 (AFP Photo/Patrick Pleul)

'Extremely troubling'

But the EPA has said it will screen for defeat devices in other manufacturers' diesel vehicles now on the road, although it declined to identify which brands would be tested.

German Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt said a special commission of inquiry had travelled to VW's headquarters on Wednesday.

France, Britain and other nations have called for a Europe-wide investigation.

South Korean officials summoned VW representatives for explanations on Tuesday, saying tests would be started by "no later than next month."

The United Nations has described the revelations as "extremely troubling."

The German company is likely to face tough questioning in the US House of Representatives' energy and commerce committee, which announced plans for a hearing in the coming weeks.

Related Article: