'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, February 29, 2020

You have a virus which is ‘spreading’ in your world …

The Federation of Light channeled by Blossom Goodchild – 2 February 2020

Blossom Goodchild
Blossom: Hello there! Giving it another go, to see if we are able to communicate. So much going on for everyone. So many Energies of all Vibrations flying around and yet, onwards we march! How is it where you are and do you fancy a swap?

Federation of Light: Dearest Blossom. Welcome to you and may our Energies be compatible … Indeed, ALL Energies be compatible in order for us to chat and discuss as we like to do.

You are correct in saying about the different Vibrations. This is what is causing so much upheaval for everyone in these times. As the Vibration of your Planet is lifting into a more deserving position, it is rejecting Vibrational magnetic fields that ‘want to come along for the ride’. The struggle between the Higher and the lower frequencies is an unruly dance conducted by the lower sensations and this is what is causing so much ‘unforgettable’ disturbance.

Why do you say ‘unforgettable’?

Because is it not a term used to ‘remember’ if we look at it that way?

I guess so. Yet, I wouldn’t really want to remember this particular time as it is not one to put in the ‘Fondest memories’ album.

And yet WHEN THS IS ALL OVER … WHEN EVERYTHNG THAT NEEDS TO BE SAID AND DONE IS SAID AND DONE … you WILL remember it and look back fondly upon it because it is recognised as the ending process of the old … as you bring in the New.

The New shall bring such Strength and Happiness to all.

The New shall allow you to FEEL the YOU that you TRULY are.

Everyone, including myself, seems to be feeling so vulnerable. So much is happening to so many … is it absolutely necessary for this to take place on an individual, personal level? So many needing to be in hospital, so many being served up, what I consider to be unnecessary predicaments that are far from pleasant. I mean why does it have to be so personal when the clearing of Energies is ‘in the air’, if you get me?

Yet, you are all One and the same. That which one is experiencing … is experienced for the Whole.

ALL that is taking place in one person’s life is like ‘taking one for the team’. Everything that you are now working through, is ridding the planet of all the ‘stuff’ that HAS TO BE RELEASED in order for the pathway ahead to be clear.

With respect … Haven’t we been doing that for the last few decades and then some?

Keep in mind Blossom, you and everyone else aware of their Light, are not just dealing with a few fibs here and there, or a little bit of jewellery theft.

You are dealing with the dark side of the WHOLE! You are choosing to be part of the removal system of all that has fallen into the pit of misery, greed, hate, … shall we go on?

No need, yet, yes, please do, just out of interest.

Jealousy, lust, pride, deceit. ALL that is below the line of that which is acceptable.

We previously expressed to you that this coming year would be a most interesting one in many forms of itself. One thing after another shall be presented to you as those of lesser Light … much lesser Light … struggle to redeem their status of power and control over the populous.

You have a virus which is ‘spreading’ in your world …

The Corona virus?

This is its given name.

I felt you wanted me to look up the meaning of the word ‘Corona’.  (Gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars … or ‘of the crown’.)

Interesting name. Considering there is much talk of solar flares and the sovereignty of a country that is under much strain due to news that has been leaked out. All that you are told goes much deeper than has so far been offered. Yet, it shall be revealed and there shall be no stopping these condemnations as they flow forth.

So, the virus?

A decoy! Put in place to mask rescue missions of those ‘under the thumb!’

‘Under the thumb’ meaning being controlled or dominated by someone. So, to speak as it is … you are saying the virus was put in place to take the attention away from those of darkness who are about to be ‘caught’.

Correct, Blossom.

Yet, none the less the virus is a real thing that is killing people!

As with many viruses that have been concocted to cause great alarm and fear. There will always be ‘some medical situation’ that is made prominent at a time suitable for undercover agents to slip through the bar and slip away unseen.

So much that is presented in your world is that of a decoy nature. So much!

Then the fear that builds, feeds itself until this particular threat ‘dies down’ and those who created it, sit happily in the knowing that once again their mission was successful.

Most of you who are aware KNOW all this.

May we ask … whenever you have heard about this virus or anything else, or seen it on your news, what have you felt? How have you reacted?

Well, to be honest … I very rarely watch the news, yet, if someone mentions it, I feel very unsympathetic, for I know it is just a ploy. Even though people are dying, I feel unattached somehow. It is just another part of the game and I am on the winning team. Of course, the I AM THE LIGHT. I AM THE LOVE. I AM. mantra comes into play at all times. For that which I cannot fully understand or accept is so very much ‘eased in strength’ by doing so. Saying this mantra allows me to stop questioning and pondering about it all and just BE (the Light and the Love.) Over and over again in every situation I say it and I know many, many are doing the same.

Yet, what you do not know, is the difference it is making to yourselves, each other and your Planet. When you continue to do so, you realise that you are not ‘falling for/under the spell’ that is deliberately designed to trap you. YOU ARE FREE OF IT … just by saying/feeling these few simple, yet so very Powerful words.

Dearest Blossom and all Souls of Earth who are struggling through these times … let the strength that lies within the coding of this mantra, guide you safely home. Use it as you are doing throughout … not just your daily circumstances … yet, use it throughout your Entire Being.

Let it become you. For you are THE LIGHT. THE LOVE. THE I AM presence in human form. Here to make the change into your Brighter world.

The particular Energies that are around at the moment shall subside and settle for a short time, yet, then, Dearest Ones …  A STORM OF GREAT MAGNITUDE SHALL BREAK and THEN shall you gather forces to see yourselves through.

I am assuming you mean storm, metaphorically?

Yes. Yet, when it arrives you will know why we used this as its sign.

Is this to come soon? I don’t believe I just asked that! I should know so much better.

We cannot give dates as you know. This ‘storm’ is a build up of events … and as each one ‘becomes exposed’ … the bigger the uproar which then leads to ‘the final straw’ … for want of an easy way of description.

Yet, it is to be this year?

We feel quite sure of this … yet, as you know Blossom … nothing is written in stone.

This year is to be the year of all years from the point of view of changes on a massive scale.

We trust your hats are firmly secured …

They will obviously need to be … judging from all that is going on for everyone in one way or another at the moment. It’s a strange feeling of surrendering to what is. No point in fighting it. It seems to be a one day at a time scenario and then I get into bed and the minute I close my eyes, my mind says, I AM THE LIGHT. I AM THE LOVE. I AM … Happy to have got through another day … somehow. Yet, knowing also, this is just the beginning.

You Know your strength. Each one of you can FEEL it from deep within. You can FEEL now that al the preparation you have ‘endured’ was leading up to these times, as you walk into the unknown/known segments of this journey of your lives.

We LOVE you. We are excited to watch the Glorious outcome unfold.

And so many Love you. Hope to bump into you one day … perhaps hitch a ride? In Gratitude. In Loving service. I AM.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

UK politicians 'turned a blind eye' to child sexual abuse for decades

A report into sexual abuse against children by British politicians says that Westminster "actively shielded" suspects from investigation. One of the alleged perpetrators was the private secretary to Margaret Thatcher.

DW, 25 February 2020

Politicians Cyril Smith and David Steel in 1981 (picture-alliance/PA Wire)

British politicians turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children and actively covered up allegations over decades, an independent inquiry found on Tuesday.

The inquiry did not find evidence of an organized pedophile network. The inquiry examined the years between the 1960s and the 1990s.

The report found there had been "significant failures by Westminster institutions in their responses to allegations of child sexual abuse."

"This included failure to recognize it, turning a blind eye to it, actively shielding and protecting child sexual abusers and covering up allegations," the report's summary said.

Former Liberal leader David Steel, one of the most influential Liberal politicians of the twentieth century, announced his resignation from the centrist Liberal Democrat party and the House of Lords later on Tuesday. Steel was condemned in the report for failing to act despite knowing about cases of child sexual abuse.

Margaret Thatcher was among those who turned a blind eye to allegations
of child sexual abuse

Politicians 'protected from prosecution'

The 173-page report named several members of parliament, including Peter Morrison and Cyril Smith as being "known or rumored to be active in their sexual interest in children and were protected from prosecution in a number of ways."

Morrison was the private secretary to Margaret Thatcher, the British prime minister in the 1980s.

The report highlighted that Thatcher was aware of Morrison having a "penchant for small boys" but did nothing about it. Similarly, David Steel was aware that Cyril Smith was a serial sex offender but did nothing about it, later recommending him for a knighthood.

The inquiry also found that the police knew enough to prosecute Smith in the 1970s, but were thwarted by senior policemen who thought such a move would be "too political."

Inquiry continues

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up in 2017 and is expected to take five years to be completed.

The inquiry is one of the largest and most expensive ever undertaken in Britain. The Westminster investigation is one of several investigations underway.

“We hope this report and its recommendations will lead political institutions to prioritize the needs and safety of vulnerable children," said Chair Alexis Jay

Monday, February 24, 2020

Harvey Weinstein convicted of sexual assault and rape in 'new era' for #MeToo

Yahoo – AFP, Peter HUTCHISON, February 24, 2020

Harvey Weinstein arrives at the Manhattan Criminal Court where he would be
convicted on two charges of sexual assault and rape (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

New York (AFP) - Harvey Weinstein was convicted Monday of sexual assault and rape but cleared of the most serious predatory sexual assault charges, a verdict hailed as a historic victory by the #MeToo Movement against sexual abuse.

The jury of seven men and five women, delivering their decision before a packed New York courtroom, found the once powerful Hollywood producer guilty of criminal sexual acts in the first degree and rape in the third degree.

However, the 67-year-old Oscar-winner whose films included "Shakespeare In Love" was found not guilty of first-degree rape and predatory sexual assault, charges that could have seen him jailed for life.

He instead faces up to 29 years in prison on the two felony convictions.

The ashen-faced defendant, who attended the trial hunched over a walker, showed little emotion in the moments after the verdict was delivered. He was later taken into custody pending sentencing, which was scheduled for March 11.

Harvey Weinstein lawyer Donna Rotunno vowed an appeal of the two guilty 
charges against the disgraced film producer (AFP Photo/Angela Weiss)

His lawyer Donna Rotunno vowed an appeal, saying "the fight is not over" and applauding Weinstein for taking the decision "like a man."

The mixed verdict offered a large measure of vindication for the dozens of women who made allegations against him.

It was the most high-profile sex assault conviction in the United States since Bill Cosby was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman 15 years prior.

The Time's Up foundation, formed in the wake of the Weinstein case, celebrated the outcome as marking "a new era of justice."

"Abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back," it said in a statement.

Manhattan's top prosecutor Cyrus Vance praised the women who testified against him as having changed "the course of history."

Filmmaker Quentin Tarantino and former producer Harvey Weinstein, once the
 toast of Hollywood but now disgraced for sex crimes, shown here in 2016 (AFP Photo/

"This is the new landscape for sexual violence survivors. This is a new day," Vance told reporters outside the New York courthouse.

"We all owe an immense debt to you, who had the courage beyond measure to speak your story to the world, to the courtroom, at great personal risk, and in great personal pain."

'Public service'

More than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct since allegations against him ignited a global reckoning against men abusing positions of power in October 2017.

But with many claims too old to prosecute, the jury considered charges related to just two: ex-actress Jessica Mann and former production assistant Mimi Haleyi.

The predatory sexual assault charges included testimony from "The Sopranos" actress Annabella Sciorra, who said Weinstein raped her in her New York apartment in the winter of 1993-94.

Former Actress Jessica Mann arrives for the trial of Harvey Weinstein at the 
Manhattan Criminal Court, on January 31, 2020 (AFP Photo/Johannes EISELE)

Six women took the stand to say they had been sexually assaulted by Weinstein.

They were subjected to ferocious cross-examination as Weinstein's defense team argued that his relationships were consensual and transactional.

The prosecution cast Weinstein as a conniving predator who demanded sex in exchange for access to a film universe where he reigned, but presented no forensic evidence or witness accounts.

The state's case instead rested on asking the jury to believe the women.

Ashley Judd, who has said Weinstein destroyed her film career after she rejected his sexual advances, tweeted thanks after the verdict dropped: "For the women who testified in this case, and walked through traumatic hell, you did a public service to girls and women everywhere, thank you."

Annabella Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime 
but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge 

Next stop, LA

Weinstein, who has always said his sexual relations were consensual, was charged with raping former actress Mann in the DoubleTree hotel in midtown Manhattan in 2013.

He was also charged with forcing oral sex on former production assistant Haleyi at his New York apartment in July 2006 while she was on her period.

The charges of predatory sexual assault, a serious sex crime committed against more than one person, were the most grave and carried a sentence of life in prison.

For the jury to convict Weinstein of that they would have had to believe either Mann or Haleyi plus Sciorra.

Main developments leading to the sex crimes trial of Harvey Weinstein (AFP Photo/

Sciorra's allegation was too old to be prosecuted as an individual crime but she was included in the indictment to bolster the predatory sexual assault charge.

Ex-model Lauren Young had also told the court that Weinstein sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2013 when she was a 22-year-old aspiring actress.

Eyes now turn to Los Angeles, where Young's allegations form part of a separate sex crimes investigation against Weinstein being carried out by prosecutors in the California city.

Los Angeles prosecutors accuse him of raping an Italian model in February 2013 and of assaulting Young the following night.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sanders wins big in Nevada but some Democrats worry

Yahoo – AFP, Andrew MARSZAL with Brian Knowlton in Washington, February 23, 2020

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders waves as he leaves the stage with
his wife Jane Sanders after speaking during a rally in El Paso, Texas on February 22,
2020 (AFP Photo/Paul Ratje)

Las Vegas (AFP) - Bernie Sanders' landslide victory in Nevada's Democratic nominating contest has scattered his moderate challengers and injected his White House campaign with a fresh burst of momentum as he drives into the next crucial battlegrounds.

With his strong result Saturday, the Vermont senator demonstrated an ability to broaden a coalition beyond the narrow limits of leftist voters, undercutting the argument from several moderates that he would not be able to bridge the divide between progressives and centrists.

"He showed last night that he can energize our core base," Howard Dean, a former presidential aspirant himself and former head of the Democratic National Committee, told CNN.

By early Sunday, Sanders was comfortably ahead in Nevada with 60 percent of precincts reporting.

The 78-year-old senator was leading the Democratic pack with 46 percent of the vote, followed far behind by former vice president Joe Biden at 19.6 percent and Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, at 15.3 percent.

Senators Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar trailed at, respectively, 10.1 percent and 4.8 percent.

Democratic presidential hopeful and former vice president Joe Biden takes a 
selfie with supporter Margarita Rebollal after speaking at a Nevada caucus event 
on February 22, 2020, in Las Vegas (AFP Photo/Ronda Churchill)

'Incredibly impressive'

Sanders was quick to claim victory, saying his "multi-generational, multi-racial coalition" was "going to sweep this country."

Dean said the senator's result in a state far more typical of America's demographic variety than the two earlier-voting states was "incredibly impressive."

But he quickly added that a more definitive result will come only after voters in 14 states cast ballots on March 3, or "Super Tuesday."

Before that comes South Carolina, which votes on February 29.

Biden's once-strong prospects had faded sharply for weeks, but he said Saturday that he felt "really good" about his second-place showing in Nevada and shouldn't be counted out.

His team is banking on a strong showing in South Carolina, where Biden has enjoyed support among a majority-black Democratic electorate.

But after Sanders came in virtually tied for first in Iowa and then won in New Hampshire, his undeniable victory in Nevada places him squarely in the driver's seat, at least for now.

He leads national polls by an 11 point margin over Biden and by 13 points over Mike Bloomberg, the former New York mayor who skipped the early voting states to focus on Super Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump, seen with First Lady Melania Trump as they prepared 
on February 23, 2020 to leave the White House on a two-day trip to India, has dismissed 
Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders as a radical leftist (AFP Photo/SAUL LOEB)

Some Democrats worry

Sanders's progressive policies, including universal health care, higher taxes on the wealthy and an increase in the minimum wage, have struck a chord with millions of Americans.

But some Democrats say those policies will make him an easy target for President Donald Trump as a radical leftist, and that if he heads the Democratic ticket in November the party could face sweeping losses.

Trump on Saturday issued a sarcastic-sounding congratulations on Twitter to the man he calls "Crazy Bernie."

Asked if the Democrats' majority in the House of Representatives might be threatened if Sanders turned out to be Trump's rival in November, one powerful South Carolina Democrat said that it might.

It "would be a real burden for us in these states or congressional districts that we have to do well in," said James Clyburn, the House Democratic whip.

"In those districts, it's going to be tough to hold onto these jobs if you have to make the case for accepting a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist."

Buttigieg, while congratulating Sanders on his Nevada victory, offered a stern warning against picking someone who he said sees "capitalism as the root of all evil" to go up against the populist president.

Democratic presidential candidate Mike Bloomberg, a former New York mayor, has 
set a record for personal campaign spending; here he speaks on February 20, 2020 
at an event in Salt Lake City, Utah (AFP Photo/GEORGE FREY)

Looking to Super Tuesday

Buttigieg's campaign on Sunday called on the Nevada Democratic Party to rectify what it said were "material irregularities" in the vote count and to hold off on releasing final results.

Given the size of Sanders' lead, the request was not expected to provoke the same drama as the earlier confusion in Iowa over that state's results.

Regardless, pressure seems certain now to grow on some lower-polling Democratic moderates to withdraw to allow others to coalesce around a centrist who might fare better against Trump.

Republican campaign advisor Mark McKinnon, speaking on CNN, predicted that some lagging candidates will be flushed out of the race after Super Tuesday.

But the centrist alternatives face steep challenges, he added: Bloomberg performed notably poorly in Wednesday's Democratic debate, and "Biden does not have the resources."

Progressive candidate Elizabeth Warren vowed on Saturday to stay in the race despite a third straight mediocre showing.

She renewed her attacks on Bloomberg, accusing him of trying to "buy this election."

Bloomberg has plowed a record $438 million of personal funds into his campaign.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Wells Fargo to pay $3 bln to settle fake accounts scandal: US govt

Yahoo – AFP, Luc OLINGA, February 21, 2020

Wells Fargo has set aside $3.9 billion to settle legal disputes, including those
related to its business practices (AFP Photo/SPENCER PLATT)

New York (AFP) - Wells Fargo has agreed to pay US regulators $3 billion to settle three investigations into the bank's damaging fake accounts scandal, the Department of Justice said on Friday.

The fine settles criminal and civil liability in the case in which the nation's fourth largest bank between 2002 and 2016 pressured employees to meet unrealistic sales goals that led to creating millions of accounts or credit cards without consent.

Wells Fargo admitted it collected millions in fees and interest, harmed the credit ratings of certain customers, and misused personal information, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The Securities and Exchange Commission said $500 million of the total will be returned to investors.

"When companies cheat to compete, they harm customers and other competitors," Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael D. Granston said in a statement.

After shifting its strategy in 1998 to emphasize increased sales, the Justice Department said bank employees resorted to unlawful means to move financial products such as fraud, identity theft and the falsification of bank records.

Within Wells Fargo the practice was referred to as "gaming," the Justice Department said.

"Today’s announcement should serve as a stark reminder that no institution is too big, too powerful, or too well-known to be held accountable and face enforcement action for its wrongdoings," said Andrew Murray, US Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Employees went as far as "forging customer signatures to open accounts without authorization, creating PINs to activate unauthorized debit cards, moving money from millions of customer accounts... opening credit cards and bill pay products without authorization," among other tactics, prosecutors said.

Bank executives were aware that this was going on, and an internal investigator in 2004 referring to it as a "growing plague." But nothing was done to stop it.

"The following year, another internal investigator said the problem was 'spiraling out of control,'" prosecutors said.

Prosecution deferred

Under the terms of the Justice Department agreement, Wells Fargo acknowledged the allegations and agreed not to commit similar offenses for three years, in exchange for prosecutors waiving filing charges.

The San Francisco-based bank can easily absorb the fine because it had set aside $3.9 billion at the end of June last year to settle legal disputes, including those related to its business practices.

US authorities last month fined John Stumpf, who served as Wells Fargo's chief executive from 2005 to October 2016, $17.5 million and banned him for life from the banking sector.

Two CEOs and other senior executives at the bank have lost their jobs amidst the probe into the scandal and outrage over claims the bank was slow to correct it.

Charlie Scharf, who took over as CEO last October, has promised to revive the bank, whose 2019 results have been hit by the scandal.

The bank already has paid out $4 billion in financial penalties related to its business practices.

Monday, February 17, 2020

US farmer wins damages over Bayer AG, BASF herbicide

Yahoo – AFP, February 17, 2020

Farmer Bill Bader claimed the companies encouraged farmers to use the dicamba
weedkiller irresponsibly (AFP Photo/INA FASSBENDER)

Washington (AFP) - A US jury has awarded $265 million to a Missouri farmer who blamed herbicide from chemical giants Bayer AG and BASF for destroying his peach orchards, in a case set to bolster 140 other lawsuits.

Jurors in federal court in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, made the ruling on Saturday after peach farmer Bill Bader claimed the companies encouraged farmers to use the dicamba weedkiller irresponsibly.

Bloomberg News reported that the case was the first US trial over dicamba herbicide, which is alleged to have wrecked crops across America's Midwest by drifting onto plants that were unable to resist it.

Much like Roundup, another much-criticized herbicide marketed by Monsanto, dicamba has been on the market many years.

Use of the chemical jumped after Monsanto -- which was bought by Germany's Bayer in 2018 -- introduced seeds that can resist the weed-killer.

But the product has been blamed for polluting around four percent of US soybean fields in 2017. A common complaint is that the herbicide spreads to nearby areas.

The fight over dicamba comes in the wake of a case in which Bayer was ordered by a California jury to pay $290 million for failing to warn a dying groundskeeper that Roundup might cause cancer.

In January, reports suggested Bayer could stump up $10 billion in a settlement with tens of thousands of US plaintiffs suffering from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The cancer sufferers say they developed the disease after exposure to glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup.

Bayer, which has argued that dicamba is safe for crops as long as users follow instructions, was reported to be planning to appeal Saturday's ruling, while BASF was not available for comment.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Macron's candidate for Paris mayor quits race over sex tape

Yahoo – AFP, Ambre TOSUNOGLU, February 14, 2020

A website published a sex video and messages addressed to a woman which was said
to have come from the former government spokesman (AFP Photo/Lionel BONAVENTURE)

Paris (AFP) - Emmanuel Macron's candidate for Paris mayor, Benjamin Griveaux, withdrew from the race over a leaked sex video Friday, in a blow to the French president's party ahead of March local elections.

The 42-year-old MP said he opted to retreat to protect his family after a website published video excerpts of a man masturbating, accompanied by screengrabs of racy text messages, which it said came from the former government spokesman.

The images then spread on social media.

His swift exit marked a rare moment in a country where a politician's private life has long been considered out of bounds for the media, although there has been a hint of changing times.

France's interior minister vowed legal consequences for the unauthorised posting of the video, which was claimed by a controversial Russian activist and performance artist.

"After despicable attacks, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy," Griveaux said at AFP headquarters in Paris. "My family does not deserve this. No-one should ever be subjected to such abuse."


Russian performance artist Pyotr Pavlensky told AFP he had put the video online in order to expose the ex-candidate's "hypocrisy", warning he planned to post more material on a newly-created "political porn platform".

"Benjamin Griveaux started his campaign with a monstruous lie, a disgusting hypocrisy, he used his family, his wife, his children to create a political image and present himself as an icon for all the fathers and husbands of Paris," he said.

Pavlensky made global headlines in 2013 after nailing his scrotum to Red Square in Moscow, and two years later doused the doors of the FSB secret police headquarters with petrol and set them on fire.

Even after winning asylum in France in 2017, Pavlensky and his partner in 2018 set fire to the entrance to the Bastille branch of France's central bank.

Having earlier told the Liberation newspaper that he got the images from a "source" who had a consensual relationship with Griveaux, he refused to divulge any further details about the video's origins.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner emphasised it was illegal to post videos without the consent of their author and warned violations could be punished by significant fines and up to two years' imprisonment.

Griveaux is a close political ally of Emmanuel Macron (AFP Photo/Thibault Camus)

'How low will we sink?'

The ambitious Griveaux helped found the president's Republic on the Move (LREM) party, but recent polls showed him trailing in third place in Paris, which Macron won comfortably in the 2017 presidential election.

Macron tapped Griveaux to be the LREM's Paris mayoral candidate, causing a rift in the party that led to the president asking rival Cedric Villani to step aside.

Villani refused, triggering his exclusion from the ruling party.

But with France unused to the sort of political sex scandals that have ended so many careers in Britain, there was near universal support from across the spectrum for Griveaux.

Villani said the "undignified attack" that led to Griveaux's withdrawal was a "serious threat to our democracy" and offered his support to the former candidate, his wife and children.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe expressed sympathy for Griveaux while government spokeswomen Sibeth Ndiaye bemoaned a "campaign of the lowest common denominator where all blows are allowed".

Socialist Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who leads the race in opinion polls, called for "the respect of privacy and of people".

Socialist figure and former culture minister Aurelie Filippetti wrote on Twitter: "How low will we sink in shame and abomination? We don't leave men to the dogs now but to rats in the lowest depths of the sewers."

Striking a different tone was far-right National Rally leader Marine Le Pen who said Griveaux had behaved "irresponsibly" while saying he could have been the victim of a "set-up".

'Better without me'

Wresting control of the capital would be a huge prize for Macron as he seeks to consolidate his base ahead of an expected re-election bid in 2022.

It would also help offset heavy losses he is expected to face in rural areas, where his policies have met fierce resistance and fired up the "yellow vest" protest movement.

His majority in parliament has also been hit by what the government admitted was a huge mistake when it voted down a proposed bill extending paid leave from work for parents who have lost a child.

One of Macron's closest political allies, Griveaux resigned as a junior minister and government spokesman in March last year to run for mayor.

Griveaux told AFP he had discussed the issue with Macron late Thursday, and that the president offered his support "whatever my decision".

As for the LREM's project for Paris, he said it would continue "better without me".

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Israel blasts UN list of settlement-linked firms

Yahoo – AFP, February 12, 2020

Israeli settlements such as Modiin Illit violate international law and the international
community has long seen them as an obstacle to peace (AFP Photo/ABBAS MOMANI)

Jerusalem (AFP) - Israel on Wednesday rejected as "shameful" the UN's publication of a list of 112 companies that do business in its settlements, while the Palestinians cheered its long-delayed release as a "victory for international law".

The list published by the United Nations' human rights office includes a range of large international firms including Airbnb, TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Motorola Solutions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at retaliation.

"Whoever boycotts us will be boycotted," a statement from his office quoted him as saying.

"We strongly reject this contemptible effort."

Foreign Minister Israel Katz labelled the move "a shameful surrender to pressure from countries and organisations who want to harm Israel."

He noted that multiple countries had expressed concern about the list, produced by the office of UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet on a mandate from a 2016 Human Rights Council resolution.

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which advocates a wide-ranging embargo of Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, welcomed the list.

"The publication of this database is a very significant first concrete step by any UN entity towards holding to account Israeli and international corporations that enable and profit from Israel's illegal settlements, which constitute a war crime," it said in a statement.

But it said the database was incomplete and called for all companies with a role in Israel's "apartheid regime" and "grave violations of Palestinian rights under international law" to be included.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki applauded the publication as a "victory for international law and diplomatic efforts."

Chief negotiator Saeb Erekat called the long-delayed report a "crucial first step to restore hope in multilateralism and international law."

"This announcement enhances and consolidates the credibility of the Human Rights Council and international organisations in the face of the fierce attack and the intense pressure that the Trump administration places on these institutions," Erekat added.

US President Donald Trump, a close ally of Israel's rightwing government, reportedly pressed the UN to shelve the report.

About 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, which are considered illegal under international law.

The Yesha Council which represents settlers said the list showed the UN had "once again proven to be a biased, non-neutral body that acts against the State of Israel".

Israeli officials have voiced concern that the UN list would be used to justify a large-scale boycott of the country's private sector.

They have also more broadly questioned the legitimacy of the Human Rights Council.

Israel is the only country subject to a dedicated agenda item at the Council, meaning the Jewish state's conduct is automatically discussed at each session.

The United States, which no longer considers settlements illegal, has withdrawn from the council, in part over its treatment of Israel.