'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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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Malaysian transgender conversion plan sparks alarm

Yahoo – AFP, 30 December 2017

Human Rights Watch has previously warned that discrimination against LGBT
people was "pervasive" in Malaysia

A Malaysian state plans to run a conversion therapy course aimed at transgender women, officials said Saturday, sparking alarm among LGBT activists in the conservative Muslim-majority country.

The course would run over several days next year after authorities had completed a survey of the transgender population, a Terengganu state official said.

Participation in the course would be voluntary, Ghazali said, adding that the programme would include medical, psychological and religious experts, as well as transgender women who have "returned to normal lives".

"Transgender women are part of our society.... They are our responsibility," Terengganu executive council member Ghazali Taib told AFP.

"At the end, it is up to them to make a choice. The government's concept is not (to) force. (We) give them a path to make the best choices for their lives," he said.

A Human Rights Watch report in 2017 wrote that discrimination against LGBT people was "pervasive" in Malaysia, where there are laws against sodomy, with offenders facing jail time and whipping.

LGBT activists condemned the government's plans.

"If you ask someone not to be themselves that will have an adverse impact on the health and-well being of the person," Thilaga Sulathireh, co-founder of transgender activist group Justice for Sisters, said.

Leading transgender activist Nisha Ayub said courses such as these would only deepen the community's isolation.

"They're looking more to... corrective therapy, which violates everyone's rights in so many ways," she said.

"If (transgenders)...feel that they cannot change themselves, they will feel like outcasts from society," she added.

There are no official figures on transgenders in Malaysia, though a health ministry document estimated that the country was home to about 24,000 transgender sex workers as of 2014.

Related Articles:


(Photo: Alexandria)

Friday, December 29, 2017

Goldman Sachs says US tax reform to cut earnings by $5 bn

Yahoo – AFP, December 29, 2017

Goldman Sachs reported net profits of $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016,
while the annual total last year was $7.4 billion (AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

New York (AFP) - US banking giant Goldman Sachs said Friday the recently-enacted US tax reform will cut its earnings this year by about $5 billion, mainly because of a tax targeting earnings held abroad.

The tax reform package is expected to "result in a reduction of approximately $5 billion in earnings for the fourth quarter," the company said in a statement.

"Approximately two-thirds of which is due to the repatriation tax."

The one-time hit means a likely loss for the fourth quarter for the banking group when it reports quarterly and annual earnings January 17. Goldman Sachs reported net profits of $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2016, while the annual total last year was $7.4 billion.

US President Donald Trump last week signed into law a sweeping overhaul of the US tax code, in what was his first major legislative victory since taking office nearly a year ago.

The measure is expected to boost corporate profits of banks and other companies over the medium and long term by lowering the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent.

However, several large corporations have signaled that the law will result in a short-term hit on earnings repatriated from overseas. The reform taxes these earnings at 15.5 percent on cash and equivalents and eight percent on real estate and other illiquid assets.

Other large companies that have alluded to large one-time hits in the fourth quarter include Credit Suisse, Barclays and Royal Dutch Shell.

Despite the impact of the repatriation tax, large companies have strongly backed the tax reform, arguing it will boost growth in the long term.

Analysts are generally upbeat about the earnings prospects of large banks heading into 2018 in the wake of US tax reform, as well as the Trump administration's moves to streamline bank regulations, higher Federal Reserve interest rates and solid economic growth.

A note from CFRA Research earlier this month gave a "positive" outlook on diversified banks, saying "the success of the banks passing the 2017 Federal Reserve stress tests opens the door for improved shareholder return through dividend increases and share repurchases."

Shares of Goldman Sachs dipped 0.8 percent to $254.41 in early trading Friday, the last trading day of the year.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Dozens come forward to report abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses

DutchNews, December 28, 2017


Some 80 reports of sexual abuse involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses community have been made over the past month, Trouw said on Thursday.

In total, 50 reports were made to the hotline set up by the Reclaimed Voices foundation, while a further 30 were received by the newspaper after it published a report on the growing scandal earlier this month. 

Frank Huiting, one of the foundation’s founders and himself an abuse victim, told the paper the scale of the problem is only now becoming clear. Most of the complaints have been made by people who have already left the church and this is of particular concern, Huiting said. 

‘This group have no barriers [to making a complaint] and have often looked for help already,’ he said. ‘But we hear very little from within the church itself.’ 

Justice minister Sander Dekker has already said that the church should look to the example of the Catholic church to dealing with complaints about sexual abuse.

In total, 3,712 people have reported being victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church to a special hotline set up in 2010. 

There are some 30,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses in the Netherlands. Members of the foundation are due to meet ministers to discuss the situation at the end of January. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

'Forgive me,' ex-Peru leader Fujimori says after pardon protests

Yahoo – AFP, Carlos MANDUJANO, Francisco JARA, 26 December 2017

Protesters in Lima holding posters showing the victims of ex-Peruvian president
Alberto Fujimori, who was granted a pardon by current President Pedro Pablo
Kuczynski over Christmas

Peru's ailing former leader Alberto Fujimori on Tuesday asked the public for forgiveness, two days after receiving a presidential pardon that sparked street protests.

"I am aware that the results of my government were well received on one side, but I admit that I have let down other compatriots, and I ask them to forgive me with all my heart," Fujimori said in a Facebook video filmed from his hospital bed.

The 79-year-old had been serving a 25-year sentence for corruption and human rights abuses committed during his time in office from 1990 to 2000.

He was transferred from prison to a hospital on Saturday after suffering from low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat, the latest in a string of hospitalizations.

In the video, Fujimori lay propped up on a hospital bed wearing a white gown, with a blood pressure cuff on his right arm and another monitor clasped to his left index finger. He talked over the constant background beeping of a monitoring device.

He said the pardon "took me by surprise" and provoked "a mix of feelings -- great joy and sorrow."

President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski ordered the pardon of Fujimori and seven other prisoners Sunday on humanitarian grounds, placing himself in the middle of a political crisis just days after he avoided impeachment.

A supporter of Peru's ex-president Alberto Fujimori gathers with others outside 
the Lima hospital where he was admitted, before being pardoned

The move set off street protests in Lima, and police fired tear gas and clashed with demonstrators who marched Monday against the pardon and demanding that Kuczynski step down.

The president defended his decision in a televised message to the nation.

"I am convinced that those of us who feel democratic should not allow Alberto Fujimori to die in prison, because justice is not revenge," Kuczynski said in his address Monday night.

"It is about the health and chances of life of a former president of Peru who, having committed excesses and grave errors, was sentenced and has already completed 12 years" in prison, he said.

Anti-riot police deployed to prevent demonstrators from heading to the clinic where Fujimori is hospitalized, firing tear gas canisters and erecting barricades to disperse them.

"Out, out PPK! Out, out PPK!" demonstrators chanted in reference to the current president, who had promised during his electoral campaign last year that he would not free Fujimori.

"Fujimori, murderer and thief. No to the pardon!" read a sign held by the protesters, some of whom also carried a giant Peruvian flag.

Relatives of victims of Fujimori's brutal rule took part in the march.

"We are here as relatives to reject this illegal pardon, because it does not correspond to the gravity of the crimes," Gisella Ortiz, from a group of victims' families, told reporters.

Peru's president Alberto Fujimori hands a weapon to a man in 1991 for use in
the battle against the Shining Path leftist rebels

A 'vulgar' process

The pardon from Kuczynski came after Fujimori's son Kenji drained votes away from a parliamentary bid Thursday to impeach Kuczynski on suspicion of corruption, sparking speculation the pardon was political.

"The president's word is totally devalued and he will not be supported again," political analyst Arturo Maldonado told El Comercio newspaper.

"Instead of reaffirming that in a state of law there is no special treatment for anyone, the idea that the liberation was a vulgar political negotiation in exchange for keeping Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in power will remain forever."

A doctor at the Centenario Clinic, Alejandro Aguinaga, told reporters that Fujimori's condition was "delicate" and there was no prospect of his leaving soon from the facility where he is in intensive care.

The former leader has spent more than a decade imprisoned for ruthlessly cracking down on political rivals and for ordering dozens of murders and overseeing other brutal tactics.

Despite his conviction for human rights abuses, however, Fujimori retains a level of popularity in Peru for having defeated left-wing guerrillas and for stabilizing the economy after a period of crisis.

That dichotomy has come to the fore with the pardon: dozens of supporters have gathered in front of the hospital caring for him, while opponents demonstrated in Lima against him.

Fujimori's daughter Keiko, a congresswoman who was narrowly beaten to the presidency by Kuczynski in elections last year, hailed her father's pardon as "a great day for my family and for Fujimorists -- finally my father is free."



Saturday, December 23, 2017

Israelis protest corruption in Netanyahu's government for fourth week

For the first time right-wing government allies joined anti-corruption rallies in Israel. Netanyahu is being investigated in two corruption probes that could take down his government.

Deutsche Welle, 24 December 2017


Several thousand Israelis protested against corruption in Tel Aviv for the fourth consecutive Saturday and called for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to step down.

In Jerusalem, hundreds of protesters also attended a right-wing anti-corruption rally with speakers including former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon.

Corruption "is a greater danger than the Iranian threat, (Lebanese movement) Hezbollah, (Palestinian movement) Hamas or the Islamic State" group, Yaalon said. "Corruption is a disease, a disease that must be healed by electing and appointing honest people."

It was the first time right-wing protesters in Jerusalem, some supporters of Netanyahu's Likud Party, joined anti-corruption rallies that have so far been attended mostly by leftist and centrist critics of the right-wing prime minister.

Former defense minister Moshe Yaalon
addresses a right-wing demonstration
 against corruption.
Netanyahu has been questioned seven times in the past year in two corruption probes, which he says are part of a witch hunt carried out by his opponents.

If indicted, the four-term prime minister would be under pressure to resign or call new elections.

Corruption allegations swirling around Netanyahu

The first investigation, known as Case 1000, involves allegations that Netanyahu received cigars, champagne, cash and other gifts from Israeli-born Hollywood mogul Arnon Milchan and Australian billionaire James Packer. The case also implicates his wife Sara and son Yair.

Netanyahu has said the gifts were tokens of friendship, and that no favors were done in exchange.

The second investigation, known as Case 2000, involves allegations that Netanyahu sought to negotiate positive coverage with the owner of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper in exchange for cutting circulation of the pro-Netanyahu Israel Hayom.

The free circulation Israel Hayom has become Israel's largest newspaper and is backed by US casino magnate and major political donor Sheldon Adelson.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the chance of an indictment against Netanyahu in Case 2000 increased after the prime minister's former aide, Ari Harow, turned state's witness.

Police have seized Harow's phone, which had recordings of conversations between Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of Yedioth Ahronoth.

Several people close to Netanyahu have been implicated in other corruption scandals, including the so-called "Submarine Affair" and another involving the Communications Ministry and telecom giant Bezeq.

Anti-government protests drawing upwards of 10,000 protestors started in Tel Aviv earlier this month after Netanyahu's allies drew up legislation that would block Israel's police from publishing findings and issuing recommendations to the prosecutor's office on indictments related to public officials.

Under pressure, Netanyahu was forced to make changes to the controversial draft bill critics say is designed to shield him from ongoing corruption investigations.

cw/bk (AP/AFP)

Brazilian president's pardons ignite corruption row

Yahoo – AFP, 23 December 2017

Brazilian president's pardons ignite corruption row

President Michel Temer was accused Saturday of handing Brazilians convicted of corruption a get out of jail card with changes to the traditional collective Christmas pardon.

Temer, who has been charged with corruption himself, issued the annual decree Friday, expanding the categories of prisoners eligible for early release.

The main shift was to lift the previous exclusion on all those serving sentences of more than 12 years. Under Temer's changes, the length of sentence no longer matters and a prisoner also needs only to have served 20 percent of the sentence to qualify, rather than 25 percent as under the previous rules.

"It's a Christmas party for the corrupt," lashed out Deltan Dallagnol, one of the chief prosecutors in operation "Car Wash," as the biggest anti-corruption probe in Brazilian history is known.

"Practice corruption with only 20 percent of the consequences," he said on Facebook.

Dallagnol referred to the case of construction tycoon Marcelo Odebrecht who was released this week into house arrest as part of a steep reduction of his sentence in exchange for providing devastating testimony to "Car Wash" investigators.

Originally, Odebrecht had been sentenced to more than 19 years in prison, but saw that cut to 10 years, with only two and a half behind bars and a transfer now to his luxury Sao Paulo house.

His testimony and that of fellow company executives was used to go after scores of politicians who allegedly took bribes.

Temer's decree will undermine prosecutors' bargaining power in such cases, Dallagnol said.

"If Marcelo Odebrecht could have seen this Christmas pardon from President Temer, he'd never have struck a plea bargain!" Dallagnol tweeted.

"Open season for corruption continues. They defraud bids. They embezzle from health, education and security! Come, steal, and head off!! That's the message."

Accused of corruption, Temer is the first sitting president to face criminal charges. Congress, where many members are also facing corruption probes, twice voted against putting him on trial.

Responding to the outcry, Justice Minister Torquato Jardim held a press conference in the capital Brasilia Saturday, telling journalists that Temer's expansion of the pardons was done for completely different reasons.

"The prisons are overcrowded. That is a reality we cannot ignore. Those who will be let out did not commit heinous crimes and are not considered serious threats," the Correio Braziliense newspaper quoted him as saying. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

JPMorgan 'seriously breached anti-money laundering regulations': Switzerland

Yahoo – AFP, 21 December 2017

JPMorgan broke anti-money laundering rules in 1MDB deals: Switzerland

JP Morgan Chase's Swiss unit "seriously breached anti-money laundering regulations" in its dealings with Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB, the Swiss financial markets watchdog found Thursday.

The US bank's subsidiary "failed to adequately identify the increased money laundering risks in some of the business relationships related to this case", the FINMA body said, referring to a money-laundering scandal that has shaken the Malaysian political establishment.

"The bank seriously breached anti-money laundering regulations by failing to screen adequately transactions and business relationships booked in Switzerland associated with the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB and one of its business partners," FINMA said in a statement.

Despite its findings, FINMA said it would not seek legal proceedings against any individuals and there would be no fines against JP Morgan.

The US Justice Department alleges in civil lawsuits that $4.5 billion was looted from 1MDB in an audacious campaign of fraud and money-laundering.

The scandal has rocked the administration of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, the founder of 1MDB, who must call elections by mid-2018. He has responded by purging critics from his government and curbing domestic investigations.

Celebrities have been sucked into the scandal, with the Justice Department alleging stolen 1MDB money was used to buy jewelry worth millions of dollars for Miranda Kerr as well as gifts for Leonardo DiCaprio.

Authorities in several countries as still investigating the complex deals involving the Malaysian fund and other entities.

In April 2016 1MDB defaulted on $1.75 billion in bonds after missing an interest payment of $50 million.

While JP Morgan Chase's Swiss unit has escaped fines, FINMA said Thursday it will now conduct an in-depth review of the bank's anti-money laundering systems.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Transit passenger arrested at Schiphol with suitcase of rhino horns

DutchNews, December 19, 2017

Photo: Public prosecution department 

Officials at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport have discovered five rhino horns and four other items thought to be made of rhino horn in the luggage of a Chinese transfer passenger. 

The man, a 30-year old Chinese national was traveling from South Africa to Shanghai. He has been arrested and remanded in custody for two weeks. 

Customs officials put the value of the haul at some €500,000. 

Some 80% of the world’s remaining rhinos live in South Africa and poaching is a serious problem. Last year, over 1,000 rhinos were killed for their horns which are said to have medicinal powers. 

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lafarge ex-CEO denies knowing of Syria payments until late

Yahoo - AFP16 December 2017

Former Lafarge CEO Bruno Lafont has been charged with "financing a
terrorist organisation and "endangering the lives of others"

A former CEO of French-Swiss cement maker LafargeHolcim said he was made aware of payments to the Islamic State group in August 2014, contradicting an account by another top executive, a source close to the case said Saturday.

Lafarge is accused of paying the terrorist group and other militants $12.9 million between 2011 and 2015 so that the company's factory in Jalabiya, northern Syria, could continue to operate despite the war.

According to a report commissioned by LafargeHolcim and seen by AFP, Lafarge's Syrian subsidiary Lafarge Cement Syria (LCS) paid out some $5.6 million (4.7 million euros) between July 2012 and September 2014.

Of this, more than half a million dollars went to IS, according to an April report by US consultants Baker McKenzie.

Last week, Bruno Lafont -- chief executive from 2007 to 2015 when the company merged with the Swiss building supplies company Holcim, before serving as co-chairman of LafargeHolcim until April this year -- was charged with "financing a terrorist organisation and "endangering the lives of others".

The group's former Syria chief Christian Herrault and Eric Olsen, who took over from Lafont as CEO after the company merged with Switzerland's Holcim, were also charged with the same crimes.

Investigators contend that Lafont was aware of the millions of dollars being paid to various armed groups including IS.

The three men have been in detention since December 6.

According to the source, Lafont told judges in a hearing that Herrault announced "an agreement with Daesh (IS)" during a board meeting in August 2014.

"I did not comment at the time, except to say that the deal was not a good idea," Lafont said, adding that he then decided to close the plant.

It would eventually fall into the hands of the Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi group a few weeks later, on September 19, 2014.

'Regularly informed'

Herrault acknowledged earlier this year that Lafarge was involved in a "racket", but that he kept Lafont "regularly informed", according to the commissioned report.

Herrault apparently told Lafont about what was going on in Syria beginning in summer 2012 and of the jihadist payments in September-October 2013.

Herrault told judges he paid IS "the sum of 5 million Syrian pounds ($20,000) monthly from November 2013," because "all the stakeholders have to make sure that this investment lasts and works".

"There are many things I did not know and that may have been hidden from me," Lafont told the judges.

The former CEO denied having wanted to stay in Syria at all costs only for a "commercial" reason, seeing as the group had spent $680 million on its Jalabiya factory a few years earlier.

"Obviously an asset of that amount is taken into account but it is not the only thing taken into account," Lafont said. "A cement factory is very difficult to dismantle (and) our custom is to not let people down".

Lafont told judges he realised in July 2013 that the situation in Syria had worsened and that the company needed an exit strategy.

"Mr. Lafont never expressed doubts or any intention of closing the factory to Mr. Herrault from that date and until August 2014," Herrault's lawyer Solange Doumic said.

Lafont's lawyer was unavailable for comment.

Lafarge hung on for another 14 months, after most French companies had left as IS made major territorial gains.

Three former officials at the Jalabiya factory were also charged in the case last week.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Israel drug giant Teva to slash 14,000 jobs globally

Yahoo – AFP, Mike Smith, December 14, 2017

Staff of Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva gather outside its plant in Ne'ot Hovav,
near Beersheba, on December 14, 2017, as management prepares to announce
massive job cuts (AFP Photo/MENAHEM KAHANA)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israeli pharmaceutical giant Teva announced Thursday it plans 14,000 job cuts globally over two years as the ailing firm unveiled sweeping restructuring plans while facing low prices for generic drugs and heavy debt.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the world's largest producer of generic drugs, said its reductions would be across-the-board and in all its locations.

Its job cuts would amount to more than one quarter of Teva's global workforce of over 55,000.

Closures or divestments of manufacturing plants were planned for the United States, Europe, Israel and elsewhere.

"There's not any function where we don't have a reduction," Kare Schultz, who took over as Teva president and chief executive in November, said during a conference call to discuss the restructuring.

"Geographically, it's everywhere. So it's a very broad set of actions we're taking."

Teva also said it was suspending dividends on ordinary shares and its annual bonus for 2017 will not be paid "due to the fact that the company's financial results are significantly below our original guidance for the year."

Teva has been saddled with debt after its $40 billion acquisition of the generics arm of rival Allergan was completed last year.

The acquisition has been accompanied by low prices for generics, particularly in the United States, a major market.

Teva expects to save $3 billion by the end of 2019 with the two-year restructuring plan.

There has been deep concern over job cuts in Israel, where the company employs some 7,000 people and receives generous tax breaks.

On Wednesday, Israel's powerful Histadrut trade union confederation called a nationwide strike for Sunday following reports of the job cuts.

Teva factory workers on Thursday walked off the job and protested, including by blocking roads.

'Pay the price'

According to Histadrut head Avi Nissenkorn, some 1,750 workers will be laid off in Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said in a statement he had spoken with Schultz and asked that Teva do what it could to diminish the damage to employees in Israel.

Netanyahu also told Schultz he must do whatever possible to retain Teva's identity as an Israeli company, and Schultz said he would, a statement from Netanyahu's office read.

According to Nissenkorn, Teva has received $6.2 billion in tax reductions since 2006.

"I think their plan is exaggerated," he said.

"The number of workers set to be sent home should be reduced, and not less importantly, all the factories in Israel should be saved."

Teva has faced a convergence of factors that have put it in difficulty.

Beyond low prices for generics in the United States, its multiple sclerosis drug Copaxone is facing competition after US regulators approved a generic version of it.

While Teva has focused on generics, it also produces speciality drugs.

Its restructuring will include evaluating products to determine whether they should be discontinued, the firm said.

Schultz, who is Danish, has sought to turn around the fortunes of a company that in the past represented more than one percent of Israel's gross domestic product.

In late November, the company announced a new organisational and leadership structure, including combining its speciality and generics commercial businesses into one.

But the cutbacks have led to strong criticism in Israel.

"Teva is giving us a painful lesson in ingratitude and rudeness," Israeli Labour party lawmaker Itzik Shmuli said.

"After having benefited from billions in tax breaks, they are laying off. The crisis is real, and it is mostly due to mindless management. Now they want workers to pay the price."

Monday, December 11, 2017

US judge clears way for transgender military recruits to enlist

Yahoo – AFP, Thomas WATKINS, December 11, 2017

Protesters demonstrated in front of the US Army career center in Times Square,
New York in July when the US moved to block transgender recruits (AFP Photo/
Jewel SAMAD)

Washington (AFP) - A US federal judge Monday denied a request from the Trump administration to delay allowing transgender people to join the military, clearing the way for them to sign up from January 1.

The move will be seen as a blow to President Donald Trump, who in July sent out three tweets saying that transgender troops could not serve "in any capacity," citing "tremendous" medical costs and disruption.

Those messages, later followed by a formal White House memorandum, set off a roar of protest -- with several service members and rights groups quick to sue. Already two federal courts have ruled against Trump's proposed ban.

Under a new policy originally announced last year by the Obama administration, the Pentagon was first supposed to start accepting transgender recruits on July 1 this year, but Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis pushed that back by six months to January 1 pending further review of the matter.

Then last week, the Justice Department asked a federal court to further delay the January date while the legal battle plays out.

But US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly ruled Monday that the government had not shown it would be "irreparably harmed" if the military begins to accept transgender individuals on January 1.

Government lawyers cited Lernes Hebert, an acting deputy assistant secretary of defense, as saying that meeting the January deadline would "impose extraordinary burdens on the department and the military services" because "there are considerable requirements associated with implementing this significant and complex policy change."

Kollar-Kotelly said she was not convinced.

In her ruling, she wrote that the government had failed "to acknowledge the considerable amount of time defendants have already had to prepare for the implementation of this particular policy."

"Defendants have had the opportunity to prepare for the accession of transgender individuals into the military for nearly one and a half years," the judge wrote.

'Planning to prepare'

Pentagon spokesman Major David Eastburn said the military was getting ready for the January 1 deadline, in accordance with federal court rulings.

"DoD is planning to prepare to assess transgender persons into the military effective 1 January," Eastburn said.

The number of transgender troops among America's 1.3 million active duty service members is small, with estimates topping out at 15,000.

Trump's July 26 tweets caught observers and many in the military off guard, coming with little apparent coordination with the Pentagon.

The president's policy shift meant that transgender troops who were encouraged to come out under one administration suddenly faced getting booted under another -- opening up a legal quagmire for the Pentagon.

Several senior military officials voiced unease over the policy shift, and the head of the Coast Guard soon said he would not "break faith" with transgender personnel.

Trump has said he did the Pentagon a "great favor" by banning transgender troops, saying the issue had been "complicated" and "confusing" for the military.


Trump's accusers 'should be heard': Haley

Yahoo – AFP, December 11, 2017

US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said "women who accuse anyone should be
 heard", when asked about sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump
(AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

Washington (AFP) - Women who accused President Donald Trump of sexual misconduct "should be heard," US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Sunday, in an apparent divergence from the White House line.

Trump -- who was infamously caught on tape boasting about groping women -- has faced more than a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct, which he and the White House have rejected.

"Women who accuse anyone should be heard. They should be heard and they should be dealt with," Haley said on CBS' Face the Nation when asked how Trump's accusers should be assessed.

The official line from the White House has been that Trump's election victory was the final word on the accusations.

"I think we heard from them prior to the election. And I think any woman who has felt violated or felt mistreated in any way, they have every right to speak up," Haley said.

When asked if the vote meant the issue was settled, Haley responded: "That's for the people to decide. I know that he was elected, but ... women should always feel comfortable coming forward, and we should all be willing to listen to them."

Accusations of rape and sexual harassment against now-disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein have opened the floodgates, prompting scores of women to speak up not just about abuse in the entertainment industry, but also in Washington.

Three members of Congress have resigned over sexual misconduct allegations in recent days, and US Senate candidate Roy Moore has seen a race he was once expected to handily win become contested following accusations that he molested minors decades ago.

Moore has denied the allegations.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Franken resigns from US Senate after sexual misconduct claims

Yahoo – AFP, Michael Mathes, December 7, 2017

Senator Al Franken, shown with his wife Franni Bryson (L) as they arrived
 at the US Capitol, has said he will resign in the coming weeks, but added he
was shocked at the allegations against him (AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

Washington (AFP) - US Senator Al Franken said Thursday he will resign in the face of multiple accusations of sexual misconduct against him, becoming the second prominent Democrat to be forced out in a week over the snowballing harassment allegations convulsing the country.

Franken -- a former comedian who made his name on the popular late-night show "Saturday Night Live" -- announced his decision in an emotional yet somewhat defiant address from the floor of the Senate, where dozens of his colleagues had demanded he step down.

The once-popular 66-year-old Minnesota lawmaker apologized last month after acknowledging one incident of misconduct, vowing to work to regain public trust.

But with six other women now reportedly coming forward to accuse Franken of touching them inappropriately, a chorus of Democratic senators said it was time for him to go.

"Serving in the United States senate has been the great honor of my life," Franken said, with only a handful of his colleagues in attendance.

"I know in my heart that nothing I have done as a Senator -- nothing -- has brought dishonor on this institution," he added, noting he was shocked at the allegations against him, and painting himself as "a champion of women."

"Nevertheless, today I am announcing that in the coming weeks, I will be resigning as a member of the United States Senate."

Franken also took a parting shot at Donald Trump -- who himself has faced multiple allegations of sexual harassment -- and at Alabama Senate hopeful Roy Moore, who has received the president's endorsement despite being accused of molesting several teenaged girls.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) unveiled bipartisan legislation to help
prevent sexual harassment (AFP Photo/ALEX WONG)

"I, of all people, am aware that there is some irony in the fact I am leaving while a man who bragged on tape about his history of the sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party," Franken said.

The first allegation against Franken -- for which he has apologized -- was made by sports broadcaster and former model Leeann Tweeden, who said he forcibly kissed her, and touched her without consent as she slept, during a 2006 tour entertaining US troops deployed in Afghanistan.

But several other women have since come forward to say he groped them, triggering the revolt by female lawmakers against their own colleague.

'Moment of reckoning'

In a well-coordinated social media attack, 12 of the Senate's 16 Democratic women took to Twitter or Facebook to demand Franken's resignation.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand's Facebook post sounded the opening salvo Wednesday, as she declared that the nation -- and Congress -- faced a "moment of reckoning" regarding sexual misconduct.

"We should demand the highest standards, not the lowest, from our leaders," she said.

Seventeen male colleagues followed, including top Democrat Chuck Schumer, who heaped major pressure on Franken by issuing a statement saying he should step down "immediately."

It marked a dramatic and sudden show of unity against one of their own in the 100-member chamber, where the Republicans hold a slim majority.

"We must commit to zero tolerance," Senator Heidi Heitkamp said in a tweet. "And that means Senator Franken should step down."

With support from fellow Democrats vanishing, Franken had a stark decision to make: heed the calls to leave, and allow the party to close ranks and try to gain the moral high ground amid a tidal wave of sexual harassment allegations that have lashed the political world -- or stay and fight.

Wave of accusations

Franken's resignation came just two days after Democrat John Conyers, the longest-serving member of Congress, left the House of Representatives after several female former staffers accused him of sexual misconduct.

And it follows a wave of accusations of harassment against titans in the worlds of entertainment, the media and politics, which began with claims targeting movie mogul Harvey Weinstein earlier this year.

Rocked by the unfolding scandals, the Senate and House both voted to make anti-harassment training mandatory for all lawmakers and staff.