• French court orders IMF chief Lagarde to face trial over 'Tapie affair'

    17/Dec/2015 // 183 Viewers

              photo of Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF

     

    A French court has ordered International Monetary Fund (IMF) chief Christine Lagarde to face trial over her role in the payment of some €400 million ($434 million) to French tycoon Bernard Tapie, legal sources said Thursday.

    A statement from Lagarde said that she plans to fight the trial order.

    France’s main prosecutor recommended in September that magistrates drop their investigation into Lagarde.

    The case revolves around a controversial €400 million state payout ordered by an arbitration panel in 2008 for Bernard Tapie, a former politician and businessman, over his sale of sportswear company Adidas. The arbitration panel upheld Tapie's claim that the Crédit Lyonnais bank had defrauded him by intentionally undervaluing Adidas at the time of the sale and that the state – as the bank's principal shareholder – should compensate him.

    It was Lagarde who, in her role as French finance minister at the time, ordered the case to be heard by an arbitration panel instead of proceeding through the regular courts.

    Preferential treatment?

    Critics argue that the state should not have paid compensation to a convicted criminal who was bankrupt at the time and would not have been able to pursue the case in court. Tapie spent six months in prison in 1997 for match-fixing during his time as president of popular French football club, Olympique Marseille.

    Critics also say that Lagarde ensured Tapie received preferential treatment by referring the matter to arbitration due to his financial support for former French president Nicolas Sarkozy – Lagarde’s boss at the time – in his 2007 presidential bid.

    Lagarde has always protested her innocence, denying any wrong doing in the arbitration process, which she says was independent and in the best interests of taxpayers.

    Tapie was placed under formal investigation for committing fraud in late June of 2013. He was ordered to pay back the money starting this month.

    Long-running scandal

    The 'Tapie affair' has entangled several other high-profile figures, including Sarkozy’s ex-chief of staff Claude Guéant, and Stéphane Richard, Lagarde’s former chief of staff at the finance ministry and now chief executive of Orange.

    Lagarde was appointed Managing Director of the IMF in July 2011. Lagarde served as French finance minister from June 2007, and also served as minister for foreign trade for two years. Before entering politics, Lagarde worked as an anti-trust and labour lawyer, serving as a partner with the international law firm of Baker & McKenzie.

    Lagarde’s predecessor at the IMF, French socialist politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn, was forced to resign in 2011 following accusations he sexually assaulted a hotel maid in New York.

     

     

    SOURCE: FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS


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  • Greece intercepts speedboat taking migrants to Italy as crackdown on dangerous sea-crossing continues

    17/Dec/2016 // 2612 Viewers

     

    BRUSSELS (AP) — The Latest on Europe's response to the large numbers of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers who have made their way to the continent (all times local):

    Greek authorities say they have stopped a speedboat off the country's western coast carrying 33 migrants to Italy and arrested a suspected smuggler. Another 19 migrants and three smugglers were stopped in other parts of the country.

    A coast guard statement says the arrests at sea were made late Wednesday following a chase off the western islet of Antipaxos. The detainees' nationalities were not made public.

    Also Thursday, police in northern Greece said they arrested three Bulgarians allegedly carrying 12 Pakistani and Afghan nationals in a small van and a car. The migrants had been picked up near Greece's northeastern border with Turkey.

    Further south, police detained six Pakistanis and an Afghan who were dumped by a highway when smugglers driving them to Athens saw a roadblock ahead.

    The European Union has earmarked hundreds of millions of euros for the northern African nation of Niger as part of its efforts to stop migrants from reaching Europe.

    Niger is a main transit route for people moving from Western Africa to Libya, where many board unseaworthy boats to cross the Mediterranean to Italy in search of better lives.

    The EU's executive Commission announced Thursday that it would provide Niger with 610 million euros ($640 million) in development aid, and a further 140 million euros ($147 million) for nine projects under the bloc's fund for Africa.

    The EU is developing other deals to manage migration with Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria and Senegal.

    Debate has swirled about setting up similar arrangements with Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt and Pakistan but the deals are extremely expensive.


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  • Turkey Coup: More heads to row, over 6000 detained over failed coup

    17/Jul/2016 // 517 Viewers

     


    AFP - Turkish authorities on Sunday pressed on with a ruthless crackdown against suspects in the failed coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with 6,000 people including generals detained in action that has sparked international concern.

    World leaders including US President Barack Obama have strongly condemned the attempted putsch but also urged Turkey to respect the rule of law in its aftermath, especially after pictures emerged showing the rough treatment of some coup plotters when arrested.

    Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag said on Sunday that around 6,000 people had been detained and the number would rise.

    “The clean-up operations are continuing,” he was quoted as saying by the state-run Anadolu news agency.


     
    According to the government, 161 civilians and regular troops lost their lives when a group within the army sought to overthrow the authorities by seizing key strategic points in Istanbul and Ankara late Friday.

    Over 100 coup plotters were also killed, the military has said.

    The botched coup bid was the biggest challenge to Erdogan’s rule in his 13 years as prime minister and now president. But he successfully mobilised supporters into the streets to face down the plotters.

    Thousands responded late on Saturday to a new call by the president to pour into the squares to celebrate the “victory of democracy” with mass rallies of flag-waving Turks reported in cities including Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir.

    Europe Minister Omer Celik urged people to stay on the streets, writing on Twitter that the “vigil for democracy” continues.

    ‘Respect rule of law’

    The Turkish authorities have made clear they will show no mercy in the wake of the coup, accusing the plotters of acting on behalf of Erdogan’s arch enemy, the US-based preacher Fethullah Gulen.

    Turkish television has shown images of captured suspects forced to lie face down on the tarmac after their arrest while AFP photographers have seen suspects roughly led away pursued by angry mobs.

    NTV television said 34 generals of various grades had been detained so far. They include senior figures like Erdal Ozturk, commander of the third army and the commander of the Malatya-based second army, Adem Huduti.

    In an operation early Sunday, authorities detained the commander of the garrison in the western town of Denizli, Ozhan Ozbakir, along with 51 other soldiers.

    Turkey also detained a senior air force general and other officers accused of backing the failed coup at a key air base used by US forces for raids in Syria.

    Brigadier air force general Bekir Ercan Van was detained along with over a dozen lower ranking officers on Saturday at the Incirlik air force base in southern Turkey.

    Former chief of staff Ilker Basbug told Dogan news agency that Turkey should make a distinction between the coup planners and young soldiers “of 20 years old who may have been mistaken”.

    The crackdown is however not restricted to the military and Anadolu said prosecutors have issued arrest warrants for a total of 2,745 judges and prosecutors across Turkey.

    The entire investigation is being led by Ankara prosecutors and those arrested are suspected of belonging to Gulen’s group, which Turkey dubs the “Fethullahci Terror Organisation”.

    Gulen’s supporters say their group which they call Hizmet (Service) is entirely peaceful.

    Obama has warned Turkey there is a “vital need” for all parties to “act within the rule of law” in the aftermath of the coup.

    French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault warned Erdogan against using the failed putsch as a “blank cheque” to silence his opponents.

    However there was no such concern from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called Erdogan to wish for a “speedy restoration of strong constitutional order”.

    Erdogan and Putin, who were feuding over the shooting down of a Russian jet until last month, will meet in the first week of August, Anadolu said.

    ‘Extradite Gulen’

    Friday’s putsch bid began with rebel F-16 jets screaming low over rooftops in Ankara, soldiers and tanks taking to the streets. Rebel troops also moved to block the two bridges across the Bosphorus Strait in Istanbul.

    Turks have not seen such scenes since 1980 when the military led by general Kenan Evren ousted the government and many had no desire to revive these memories.

    Erdogan has pinned the blame on Gulen, an erstwhile ally he accuses of running a “parallel state”, and called on Obama to extradite the reclusive preacher to face justice.

    “Mr President, I told you myself, either deport or hand over to us this person who lives in 400 acres of land in Pennsylvania,” he told a triumphant rally in Istanbul late Saturday, carefully not referring to Gulen by name.

    In an interview with Haberturk television, Labour Minister Suleyman Soylu went even further, saying, “The United States is behind the coup” and adding it had now to handover Gulen.

    But Gulen has categorically denied any involvement in the plot and suggested it could have been staged by Erdogan himself.

    Meanwhile, Turkey has demanded the extradition of eight people thought to have been involved in the putsch who landed in a Black Hawk military helicopter in Greece.

    The suspects are still in Greece, but the chopper itself is now been flown back to Turkey, a Turkish official said.

    Istanbul authorities have sought to get life back to normal but Washington on Saturday warned citizens against travel to the country due to uncertainty after the coup bid.


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  • Appointments: Buhari does not care more about northerners than southerners - Sani

    17/Jul/2016 // 731 Viewers

     

    PARIS, JULY,17, 2016: (DGW) FORMER National Publicity Secretary of Arewa Consultative Forum and the spokesperson for the northern delegates to the 2014 National Conference Anthony Sani has risen to Buhari's defence over the recent  religion-inspired killings in the country adding that Buhari does not care more about northerners than southerners.

    He said this while reacting to allegations by the Christian Association of Nigeria that Buhari should be blamed for the unprovoked killing of Christians in the northern part of Nigeria the very recent one being the cold-blooded murder of Christian women preacher in Abuja suburbs.

    He said, “The blame is misplaced. My advice to CAN is not to help promote cleavages of the nation along religious lines.

    “Please read the import of what President Obama said about the recent killings in Orlando, Charleston Church and that of Dallas, as well as the condemnation of Trump by Americans for being divisive.

    “I noticed northern CAN was the one which complained, but does it make sense to posit that Mr. President would make appointments without consulting the Secretary to the Government of Federation and the Speaker of the House of Representatives who are northern Christians and seminal members of the government?”

    Sani however, noted that he was not bothered about how appointments were made, adding that it didn’t really matter to him which region one was appointed from in as much the person performed credibly.

    “But my response still stands. I have not bothered to analyse the appointments by religion because of my attitude that it does not matter the colour of the cat provided it can catch the rats.

    “But I read the submission by one Senator Adeyeye who said there are 18 Christian ministers and 18 Muslim ministers.

    “He also said while it is true that the appointments for security heads favour the North, since only the Chief of Defence Staff and Chief of Naval Staff are from the South, in the case of portfolios for development it favours the South; considering only agriculture and education ministers are northerners.

    “He also said there were more Christian senators.

    “In any case, when the time for accountability comes, Nigerians would rate the regime on issues of real concern to ordinary Nigerians and not how the regime was able to balance appointments by religion, by ethnicity, by region, by gender and by age.”

     


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  • Exporting western democracy to Iraq, Libya is wrong - Pope Francis criticizes the West

    17/May/2016 // 537 Viewers

     


    ROME (Reuters) - Pope Francis criticized Western powers for trying to export their own brand of democracy to countries such as Iraq and Libya without respecting indigenous political cultures, according to an interview published on Monday.

    Speaking to France's Roman Catholic newspaper, La Croix, Francis also said Europe should better integrate migrants and praised the election of the new Muslim mayor of London as an example of where this had been successful.

    "Faced with current Islamist terrorism, we should question the way a model of democracy that was too Western was exported to countries where there was a strong power, as in Iraq, or Libya, where there was a tribal structure," he said.

    "We cannot advance without taking these cultures into account," the pope said.

    "As a Libyan said recently, 'We used to have one Gaddafi, now we have fifty", Francis said in reference to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi who was deposed and killed in 2011.

    Francis has frequently attacked what he calls "cultural colonialism", in which Western countries seek to impose their values on developing ones in return for financial aid.

    The pope said that "ghettoising" migrants was not only wrong but was also misguided in the fight against terrorism.

    He cited the militant attacks in Brussels in March when three suicide bombers killed 32 people, in which "the terrorists were Belgians, children of migrants, but they came from a ghetto".

    By contrast, the pope praised this month's election of Sadiq Khan as the first Muslim mayor of London.

    "In London, the new mayor was sworn in in a cathedral and will probably be received by the queen. This shows the importance for Europe to regain its ability to integrate," Francis said.

    Ten days ago, the pope lambasted Europe over what he sees as its inadequate response to the influx of migrants fleeing war and poverty in the Middle-East and Africa.


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  • UK-bound flight grounded over bomb scare

    17/May/2016 // 375 Viewers

     

    A Ryanair flight from Norway to Manchester was evacuated before take-off due to “suspicious behaviour” of two passengers, police have said.

    Sky News reports that Norwegian police spokesman, Anders Stroemsaether, told public broadcaster NRK that the incident at Rygge airport, near Oslo, happened during boarding when the two passengers were overheard arguing in an airport toilet.

    He said other passengers heard the word “bomb” being used and told the captain as they boarded the aircraft.
     
    The captain informed police who evacuated the plane and took the two passengers in for questioning.

    A bomb squad searched the aircraft but found nothing suspicious.

    Police said on Twitter that the two passengers were discharged after being interviewed.

    “After questioning of witnesses and those brought in, the police have concluded that the situation is a result of a misunderstanding,” police said.

    Ryanair put on a replacement flight from Rygge to Manchester at midnight on Sunday.

    The incident came just hours after a fake bomb was found at Manchester United’s football stadium, prompting police to call off a Premier League match.

    Police later said it was a training device that was left inside the stadium following an earlier security exercise.


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  • England, Wales hit record high in 2015 abortion rate

    17/May/2016 // 263 Viewers

     


    Official figures in England and Wales show that the number of abortions carried out in 2015 was the highest in five years as the number of pregnancy terminations among women in their 30s and 40s is on the rise.

    According to an annual statistics report released by the UK Department of Health on Tuesday, 185,824 abortions were carried out on women and girls in England and Wales last year, that was 1,253 (0.7%) more than the 184,571 performed in 2014, and the largest number since the 189,931 carried out in 2011.

    “Since 2005 the rates for women aged 30 to 34 have gone up from 14.5 per 1,000 women in 2005 to 17.1 in 2015, and rates for women aged 35 or over have gone up from 6.8 per 1,000 women in 2005 to 7.8 in 2015,” the report said.

    It also added that almost four in 10 terminations are now carried out on women that have undergone the procedure before.

    The figures further indicate that 833 women traveled from Northern Ireland, the only part of the UK where abortion is still illegal, to England or Wales to have a termination in 2015.

    The report has been met with a backlash from the UK anti-abortion groups, which have voiced discontent over the issue.

    Meanwhile, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service confirmed the report saying, “The last decade has seen a considerable rise in the proportion of women having terminations who are either in a relationship or married,” adding that, “Last year 70% of women ending a pregnancy were either married or had a partner – a big rise from 48% in 2005.”

    Among teenage girls, 1,853 under the age of 16 had an abortion last year, including 509 who were under 15 and 79 who were under 14, it added.

    English experts say a majority of abortions in the country are now carried out medically using a pill, and that has increased the numbers being carried out before 10 weeks.- Press TV


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  • More than 240 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean this week

    17/Nov/2016 // 657 Viewers

     

    More than 240 migrants died or went missing in the Mediterranean this week, humanitarian groups said on Wednesday, as another 580 people were pulled from overcrowded boats.

    On Monday a rubber boat ripped and flipped over with about 150 on board, U.N. refugee agency spokesman Iosta Ibba quoted some of the 15 survivors as saying when they arrived in Catania on Sicily’s east coast.

    “The survivors made it by hanging on to the pieces of the boat that stayed afloat,” Ibba said. “They were in the water for several hours, some said about 10 hours, before an oil tanker picked them up.”

    On Tuesday, 23 people were brought to safety by another tanker after a rubber dinghy carrying about 122 deflated, said SOS Mediterranee, which operates rescue ship Aquarius. Four bodies were recovered.

    “We waited in the water, grabbing hold of whatever floated, but most people drowned, including my little brother. He was 15 years old,” one survivor in apparent shock told the Aquarius crew.

    On Wednesday, one body was picked up, the Italian coastguard said, while 580 were brought to safety. Six other bodies were recovered on Monday and Tuesday, and witnesses saw a man drown without being able to recover the body.

    The sea between Libya and Italy has become the most dangerous migrant crossing in the world, with the death toll surging to more than 4,270 this year compared to 3,777 in 2015, the International Organisation for Migration says.

    “The boats are increasingly unseaworthy, and are always more crowded,” said the U.N.’s Ibba. “Many tragedies are also tied to bad weather.”

    Almost 500 migrants arrived at the port of Catania on Wednesday, including those from Monday’s shipwreck, as the influx of refugees heading to Europe showed no signs of abating.

    Hundreds of people, mostly men from sub-Saharan Africa, huddled under grey blankets on the deck of the Italian coastguard vessel Diciotti as they started to disembark in pouring rain, reports Reuters.

    There were a record 27,383 arrivals in Italy in October, according to the Interior Ministry. As of November 16, arrivals were already more than double the same month last year amid worsening sea conditions.

    Some 167,000 migrants have reached Italy by boat so far this year, exceeding the total for all of 2015 which stood at 154,000, and quickly approaching 2014’s record of 170,000.

    Italy has borne the brunt of new arrivals since the implementation in March of an agreement between Turkey and the European Union for Turkey to curb the flow of migrants and refugees sailing from its shores to reach Greece.


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  • London Islamic Mayor’s Warning To Trump: Let Muslims Into America Or Face Terrorist Attacks

    17/Nov/2016 // 354 Viewers

     

    When we as Americans think of terrorist enclaves, we automatically think of ISIS strongholdsin the Middle East, places like Syria, Libya, and Ramadi, and seldom of a place like London.

    And yet London is indeed a Muslim radical enclave of not only hidden terrorist cells, but more openly of British legislators and elected officials, who have publicly warned and perhaps are even calling for attacks on one of our own presidential nominees, namely Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.

    The new Muslim mayor of London Sadig Khan has issued a warning to Donald Trump: Moderate your stance on Muslims, or they will launch more attacks against America.

    There’s no doubt Britain like many European countries have capitulated for decades on the continued and growing threat of Muslim migrations into their countries, and turning a blinds eye to the radicalization taking place.

    Their refusal to acknowledge that Muslims prefer subjection rather than assimilation of their host country, thus the creation of the new mayor of London, Mayor Sadiq Khan.

    Trump recently praised Sadiq Khan for winning London’s mayoral race, and said he would be willing to create an exception in his policy restricting Muslim entry into the United States in order to allow Khan to visit. But in a statement Tuesday, Khan dismissed Trump’s invitation, and also denounced his views on Islam as “ignorant,”

    Moreover Khan has some serious and troublesome history some of which includes his defense of Islamist extremist Azzam Tamimi, and his platform-sharing with Suliman Gani, a south London imam who has urged female subservience to men, and called for the founding of an Islamic state.


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  • In the Eternal City, Coen and McDormand reveal secret to enduring marriage

    17/Oct/2015 // 199 Viewers

    ROME (AFP) - 

    One of Hollywood's most enduring couples, acclaimed actress Frances McDormand of "Fargo" fame and her director husband, Joel Coen, revealed the secret to a strong marriage on Friday.

    Like good movies a good marriage comes down to storytelling, McDormand, 58, told reporters on the opening day of the Rome film festival, flanked by 60-year-old Coen of the renowned Coen brothers film-making duo.

    The two met in New York in 1983 when McDormand auditioned for the Coen brothers' debut feature Blood Simple. Before McDormand auditioned, Coen confessed that they "were losing hope of finding anyone for the role."

    With jokey ease, McDormand reminded her husband that she initially said she couldn't make the callback audition because she had "promised to watch her then boyfriend make his two-line debut on a TV soap."

    "That's why you hired me," she jokes, "because I said no." Coen admits that although this may be partly true, it was her talent as an actress that got her the part.

    Since then, McDormand has appeared in many of the Coen brothers' films, including the 1996 crime thriller "Fargo", for which she won an Academy Award.

    Coen reveals that after their first collaboration he always had his wife - whom he calls 'Fran' - in mind when creating female roles.

    Then came the question about the recipe for a happy marriage. "No pressure, darling,"McDormand said, turning to her partner of 32 years.

    After contemplating his response for a moment, Coen declared he would "plead the 5th amendment," asking his wife instead to answer.

    "I think it's having different stories to tell each other," she said. "Although we have often collaborated on films, we have both had really autonomous careers and so we have always had new things to tell each other."

    She also referred to the 21 years spent raising their son, calling it "the most exciting part" of the relationship.

    Over her long career, McDormand has played a number of romantic leads, which led to another personal question: Had jealousy ever crept into the relationship?

    "I think people who are not in the film industry always think that would be an issue," says Coen, shrugging off the assumption. "But when you work in the industry, you know how these scenes get constructed. It's make-believe and it's your job to make it believable."

    McDormand, on the other hand, says that, although she has never been jealous, she has been envious of her husband. "I envied the power he had over his career because his work is self-generated whereas in my job you always have to wait around for someone to give you the role".

    The role of a producer is "a bit more complicated" said McDormand, who both produced and led the cast of the 2014 HBO mini-series "Olive Kitteridge".

    The pair are now preparing for the release of the Coen Brothers' latest period comedy "Hail, Caesar!", which stars McDormand among a star-studded cast and is set for release in 2016.

    In the meantime, the couple say they are looking forward to entering "yet another new phase of their relationship" now their son Pedro has grown up.


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