'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.)


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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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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Starbucks to shut US stores for 'racial-bias education'

Yahoo – AFP, Jennie MATTHEW,  April 17, 2018

Starbucks says it is closing its US stores May 29, 2018 to conduct "racial-bias
education" after an incident in a Philadelphia shop (AFP Photo/KAREN BLEIER)

New York (AFP) - Starbucks will close stores and corporate offices across the United States on May 29 to conduct "racial-bias education," the company announced Tuesday, following outrage over the arrest of two black men in one of its cafes.

It was the latest bid by the behemoth coffee chain to recover from last Thursday's incident in Philadelphia, which was captured on video and went viral, viewed millions of times.

The video posted on Twitter by a Starbucks client shows uniformed police questioning and then handcuffing the two men, who offer no resistance, as a white client repeatedly asks an officer, "What'd they do? What'd they do?"

Starbucks said more than 8,000 stores would be closed on the afternoon of May 29 and training provided to nearly 175,000 employees, and incorporated going forward.

CEO Kevin Johnson, who has also apologized, said the company was "committed to being a part of the solution" and that he had been in Philadelphia "listening to the community, learning what we did wrong and the steps we need to take to fix it."

"Closing our stores for racial bias training is just one step in a journey that requires dedication from every level of our company and partnerships in our local communities," he said.

The curriculum will be designed "to address implicit bias, promote conscious inclusion, prevent discrimination and ensure everyone inside a Starbucks store feels safe and welcome," the company said in a statement.

Philadelphia police said they received a 911 call from a Starbucks worker who said the men were trespassing, after refusing to buy anything. Police said officers had "politely" asked the two to leave before finally arresting them.

They reportedly asked first to use the bathroom, but were told it was only for paying customers.

The two men's lawyer Lauren Wimmer told a CBS affiliate in Philadelphia that they had been waiting for a third man to arrive for a business meeting.

Protestors demonstrate outside a Starbucks on April 15, 2018 in Philadelphia, 
Pennsylvania (AFP Photo/Mark Makela)

Indignities, suspicion

Starbucks declined to prosecute and the men were released.

Ex US president Barack Obama's former attorney general Eric Holder and Bryan Stevenson, a civil rights lawyer who has exonerated innocent prisoners on death row, will be among those experts consulted on the curriculum, Starbucks said.

"Being treated with respect and dignity at a place of public accommodation is an essential aspect of full citizenship," tweeted NAACP Legal Defense Fund, which fights for racial justice and which is also being consulted.

"The reality is that most black Americans regularly face the indignities of being treated with suspicion," it added.

"This is a crucial next step in fighting implicit bias," tweeted Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, another expert consulted.

The woman who posted the video, Melissa DePino, said a Starbucks employee called police because the men had not ordered anything, while they waited for a friend.

"All the other white (people) are wondering why it's never happened to us when we do the same thing," she tweeted.

"The men were sitting there peacefully quietly and they were put in handcuffs and they were walked out of the store, humiliated, embarrassed and put in a patrol car," DePino subsequently told MSNBC television.

The video drew widespread attention. Drummer Questlove of the group Roots tweeted a question: "Waiting in a Starbucks while black is a crime?"

Starbucks has also launched a review of training and practices to make reforms where necessary, and once completed, this will be made available to other companies, including their licensee partners, it said.

The company has more than 25,000 coffee shops around the world.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Senior Amsterdam police officer fired for fraud

DutchNews, April 13, 2018

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Senior Amsterdam police officer Ad Smit has been fired for alleged expenses fraud and leaking confidential information, according to NOS broadcaster on Friday. 

An internal investigation apparently revealed that for years his family dined on police expenses, while from 2009 to 2015, he used public cash to buy hundreds of tickets for football matches, concerts and events. 

He also reportedly arranged free tickets for Amsterdam Arena and the Ziggo Dome for family members, friends and colleagues. Eleven police officers are under investigation for receiving such tickets. 

Smit also reportedly used police systems for private purposes and passed on confidential information. 

According to the Telegraaf, Smit is protesting his sacking, believing that other people should be investigated too. 

Public prosecutors are investigating the allegations.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pope Francis admits 'grave mistakes' in Chile sex abuse scandal

Yahoo – AFP,  12 April 2018 

Pope Francis admits 'grave mistakes' in Chile sex abuse scandal

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis admitted Wednesday he had made "grave mistakes" in his handling of a sexual abuse scandal in Chile as he looks to quell the latest controversy to rock the Roman Catholic Church.

In a letter to 32 Chilean bishops released by the Vatican, Francis said he intended to summon them to Rome to discuss an investigation into an alleged cover-up by Bishop Juan Barros of abuse by paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

Francis expressed his "shame" and "pain" for the suffering of the victims and pledged to meet them.

"I have made grave mistakes in the assessment and my perception of the situation, especially due to a lack of truthful and balanced information," Francis wrote.

He made no specific mention of Barros, who was appointed Bishop of Osorno in Chile, despite being accused of concealing and even witnessing abuse carried out by Karadima.

A 2,300-page report sent to the pope includes testimony gathered from 64 people in New York and Santiago.

The pope asked the bishops to Rome to discuss the findings of the probe by Archbishop Charles Scicluna and requested their "collaboration and assistance" in finding measures that can "repair the scandal as much as possible and restore justice".

"The present difficulties are also an opportunity to restore confidence in the Church, a confidence broken by our mistakes and sins," Francis wrote.

'Everything is slander'

During a trip to Chile in January, the pontiff had strongly defended Barros, who appeared at public masses celebrated by the Pope in three different Chilean cities, causing a public outcry.

Francis said that he was convinced of Barros' innocence and demanded "proof" of abuse before he would speak out against him.

"There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is slander. Is this clear?" Francis said.

However, he later apologised to the victims and dispatched Scicluna, a renowned Vatican investigator, to Chile to collect evidence. Scicluna returned at the end of February.

Karadima, an influential Chilean priest, was convicted by the Vatican in 2011 of abusing teenage boys and sentenced to a life of penitence. Civil charges against him in the Chilean courts were dismissed because of a lack of evidence.

The president of the Episcopal Conference of Chile, Bishop Santiago Silva, said that the church "had not done enough" in the case.

"Our commitment is that this does not happen again," he added.

Silva said the meeting of Chilean bishops with the pope in Rome would take place on the third week of May.

Scicluna, Archbishop of Malta, was until 2012 a prosecutor in the Vatican Court to investigate cases of paedophilia among priests, making a name for himself with his determination.

He allowed the opening of an investigation into Father Marcial Maciel, Mexican founder of the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the perpetrator of numerous cases of paedophilia.

Since taking over in March 2013, Francis has championed the cause of the marginalised and launched a reform agenda.

But sex abuse scandals have haunted his papacy and the Vatican announced it was reviving its anti-paedophile panel in February.

The pope has often spoken out about sexual abuse, and has vowed zero tolerance towards what he has described as a "great humiliation" for the Catholic Church.

But many victims remain bitter over alleged coverups and Church inaction over the years.


Friday, April 6, 2018

Three quit in protest as #MeToo scandal rocks Nobel literature academy

Yahoo – AFP, Gaël BRANCHEREAU, 6 April 2018

The prestigious Academy has been reeling since it was revealed as part of the
#MeToo campaign in November that several members, as well as members'
wives and daughters, had allegedly been assaulted by the well-known figure
at the centre of the scandal

Three prominent members of the Swedish Academy resigned on Friday in protest at close ties between the institution, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, and a high-profile man accused of sexual assault.

The Academy has been reeling since it was revealed as part of the #MeToo campaign in November that several members, as well as members' wives and daughters, had allegedly been assaulted by the well-known figure at the centre of the scandal.

Sweden's Dagens Nyheter newspaper broke the news, publishing the testimony of 18 women claiming to have been assaulted or raped by one of the most influential figures in Stockholm's cultural scene.

The Academy has since cut all ties with the man, who has not been publicly identified.

But his identity is generally known by the public as he is a high-profile person in cultural circles.

The alleged sexual assaults occurred between 1996 and 2017, according to Dagens Nyheter.

One of the resigning members Peter Englund said the scandal had deeply divided the Swedish literary world.

"Over time, a crack that appeared has continued to grow," he said in a letter to the Aftonbladet newspaper, adding that the Academy's permanent secretary Sara Danius had been subject to "unjustified" criticism.

The fallout continued Friday as King Carl XVI Gustaf was informed of developments as the director general of the Nobel Foundation Lars Heikensten expressed concern over a "serious and difficult situation".

'Tower of Babel is crumbling'

Along with Englund, members Klas Ostergren and Kjell Espmark decided to step down after the group's normal meeting on Thursday at a Stockholm restaurant.

"It is with great sadness that after 36 years working at the Academy, including 17 as chairman of the Nobel Committee, I feel forced to make this decision," Espmark said in a letter to the media.

"When prominent academy members put friendship ahead of responsibility and integrity, I can no longer participate in its work".

Ostergren condemned "a betrayal of the founder and his great protector", referring to the Academy's founder, Swedish King Gustav III, and inventor Alfred Nobel, who left some of his fortune to the institution.

The three men are lifetime members and cannot technically resign, but there is nothing forcing them to attend meetings.

Of the academy's 18 members, five are no longer active after two women, Kerstin Ekman and Lotta Lotass, went on leave for several years.

Bjorn Wiman, the culture editor of Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter, said the resignations are "a disaster" for an academy "in ruins".

His counterpart at the Aftonbladet newspaper, Asa Linderborg, said "the tower of Babel is crumbling".

The allegations against the man were first revealed as part of the #MeToo campaign exposing sexual misconduct, which began in Hollywood and went on to shake artistic, media and political circles in Sweden, one of the most gender equal countries in the world.

In March, Stockholm's public prosecutor's office announced that part of the investigation, into claims of alleged rapes and assaults between 2013 and 2015, had been called off as the statute of limitation had passed or due to lack of evidence.

Brazil's Lula ignores arrest deadline

Yahoo – AFP, Carola SOLE with Sebastian SMITH in Rio de Janeiro, April 6, 2018

Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva greets supporters at the
metalworkers' union building in Sao Bernardo do Campo, hours before a
deadline he eventually missed to surrender and begin serving a 12-year
prison sentence or face arrest (AFP Photo/Miguel SCHINCARIOL)

São Bernardo do Campo (Brazil) (AFP) - Ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the controversial frontrunner in Brazil's October presidential election, ignored a deadline to surrender and start a 12-year prison sentence for corruption Friday.

Holed up with thousands of cheering supporters in the metalworkers' union building in his hometown of Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, the 72-year-old let the 5:00 pm (2000 GMT) deadline pass without public comment.

The development further heated up the drama over attempts to put behind bars the veteran leftist, who ruled from 2003-2011 and leads in polls ahead of the elections.

He was ordered Thursday by Brazil's top anti-corruption judge, Sergio Moro, to surrender voluntarily to police and begin incarceration in the southern city of Curitiba.

Moro gave him 24 hours, saying the cell, a separate room with its own toilet, was ready, and that Lula would not be handcuffed -- if he came quietly.

It was not clear what the next step would be. However, local media reported that Lula's lawyers were negotiating the surrender.

It would be impossible for police to arrest him by force without the likelihood of major crowd trouble.

Supporters of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rally outside the Metallurgical Union in Sao 
Bernardo do Campo after a judge gave the ex-president 24 hours to surrender and 
begin a 12-year prison term (AFP Photo/MARCELO CHELLO)

Much of the day, Lula had been waiting in hope that the country's top appeals court, the Superior Tribunal of Justice, would temporarily suspend his arrest warrant. However, the petition was rejected shortly before the deadline expired.

Lula was convicted last year of taking a luxury apartment as a kickback from a big construction company. He lost a lower court appeal in January and saw his sentence increased from nine to 12 years.

But to his Workers' Party faithful, Lula is a victim of a right-wing plot to prevent him from returning to power.

The longer he remained holed up inside the union building, the bigger the crowd grew outside.

"Lula is innocent, Lula for president!" supporters chanted.

Renata Swiecik, an unemployed mother of four who had joined the human shield, urged Lula not to hand himself over.

"We are here to resist to the end. Lula will not be a prisoner in 2018, he'll be president and help the people once more," said Swiecik, 31.

Brazilian Federal Judge Sergio Moro is in charge of the sprawling "Car Wash" 
probe, which has revealed systemic, high-level embezzlement and bribery 
throughout Brazilian business and politics (AFP Photo/Heuler Andrey)

Corruption battle

Lula's imprisonment is being celebrated on the right and among prosecutors supporting the "Car Wash" probe, which has revealed systemic, high-level embezzlement and bribery throughout Brazilian business and politics over the last four years.

To them, Lula epitomizes Brazil's corruption-riddled elite. His conviction is the biggest "Car Wash" scalp by far.

"I want Lula in prison, I want a better future and with him in the leadership we won't have that," said Maura Moraes de Oliveira, 51, who works as a maid in Curitiba.

"Not only Lula should be locked up, but all the corrupt, a complete cleaning."

Operation "Car Wash" was named after the service station where agents initially investigated a minor money laundering scheme in 2014, before realizing that they'd stumbled on a gargantuan web of embezzlement and bribery at state oil company Petrobras and right through the political classes.

Lula, who grew up poor and with little formal education before becoming a trade union leader and politician, has long said he will go down fighting.

In theory, once someone has been convicted and lost a lower court appeal, he or she is barred from running for office under Brazil's clean-slate law.

Still, even in prison, Lula has the right to register as a candidate. It would then be up to the Superior Electoral Tribunal to rule on whether his candidacy could stand.

Although Lula would almost certainly be blocked, he could use the process to maintain his political influence.


S. Korea's Park jailed for 24 years for corruption

Yahoo – AFP, Jung Hawon, April 6, 2018

Judge Kim Se-yoon reads the verdict in the trial of disgraced former President
Park (AFP Photo/Seoul District Court)

Seoul (AFP) - South Korea's disgraced former president Park Geun-hye was jailed for 24 years Friday for corruption, completing a dramatic fall from grace for the country's first woman leader who became a figure of public fury and ridicule.

A trial which lasted more than 10 months and highlighted shady links between big business and politics in South Korea ended with Park being found guilty on multiple criminal charges, including bribery and abuse of power.

Park's successor described the sentencing as a "heartbreaking event" for both the nation and the ex-leader herself.

"The accused abused the power bestowed by the people -- the true ruler of this country -- to cause chaos in national administration," said Judge Kim Se-yoon, delivering the ruling.

Park, 66, was convicted of receiving or demanding more than $20 million from conglomerates, sharing secret state documents, "blacklisting" artists critical of her policies, and firing officials who resisted her abuses of power.

"Despite all these crimes, the accused denied all the charges against her, displayed no remorse and showed an incomprehensible attitude by blaming Choi and other... officials," Kim said, referring to Park's secret confidante and long-time friend Choi Soon-sil.

Park was also ordered to pay a fine of 18 billion won ($17 million).

Updated timeline on the South Korean presidency of Park Geun-hye who was 
removed from power in March 2017 and indicted for bribery and other 
corruption-related charges. (AFP Photo/Gal ROMA)

When the wide-ranging corruption scandal broke last year it prompted massive street protests against Park across the country.

On Friday, the verdict was greeted with public displays of outrage and grief by several hundred Park supporters who had gathered outside the courthouse.

Many protesters sat or lay in the road crying, while others formed a protest rally calling for her release.

"The rule of law in this country is dead today," said Han Geun-hyung, a 27-year-old Park supporter.

Park herself was not in court for Friday's judgement which, in a rare move, was broadcast live on television. She had boycotted most sessions of the trial in protest at being held in custody.

Instead she was informed of her fate at a Seoul detention centre, where she sat in a reception hall with her lawyer awaiting the outcome, Yonhap news agency reported.

She now has seven days in which to file an appeal.

Park becomes the third former South Korean leader to be convicted on criminal charges after leaving office, joining Chun Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo, who were both found guilty of treason and corruption in the 1990s.

Supporters of Park stand next to a picture demanding her release outside
the Seoul Central District Court (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-je)

Judge Kim said he had passed a tough sentence to "prevent such an unfortunate event from happening again".

The presidential Blue House said in a statement after the verdict: "Each person must have different feelings about former President Park Geun-hye. But a bleak wind blew through the hearts of all of us today.

"It is a heartbreaking event for the nation as well as for the person's life. A history that is not remembered is bound to be repeated. We will not forget today."

A Korean 'Rasputin'?

Park, the daughter of dictator Park Chung-hee, lost both her parents to assassins. She took office in 2013 as a conservative icon who cast herself in the role of daughter of the nation -- incorruptible and beholden to none.

Less than four years later, she was impeached, stripped of all her powers and ousted from office on the back of months-long mass protests that brought millions on to the streets of Seoul and other cities.

Much of the public anger was focused on Park's relationship with Choi and accusations that she let her friend -- who held no formal position or security clearance -- meddle in state affairs, including high-level appointments and editing official speeches.

Choi is the daughter of a shadowy religious figure who had served as a mentor to Park for decades until his death in 1994. She was tried separately and sentenced in February to 20 years in prison.

The daughter of assassinated dictator Park Chung-hee, Park took office in 2013
 as a popular conservative icon who cast herself in the role of Daughter of the 
Nation -- incorruptible and beholden to none (AFP Photo/Jung Yeon-je)

Condemned in the media for her "Rasputin-like" influence over Park, Choi was convicted of using her presidential ties to squeeze tens of millions of dollars out of major South Korean businesses, including Samsung -- the world's top smartphone maker -- and retail giant Lotte.

'No remorse'

Former leaders Chun and Roh received presidential pardons after each spent around two years in jail -- a privilege that may elude Park for many years, said Jeong Han-wool, an analyst at think tank Hankook Research.

"Given her attitude and public anger over her scandal that remains raw, it will be difficult to create a political environment in favour of her release any time soon," Jeong told AFP.

Park's left-leaning successor Moon Jae-in came to power largely because of the public backlash against Park and her conservative party, dimming hopes for a pardon under the current administration, he added.

Chun Sang-chin, sociology professor at Seoul's Sogang University, said the verdict could also spell bad news for Park's immediate predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who is in custody as prosecutors investigate multiple corruption charges involving him and his relatives.

"This is a good news for people who took to the street with candles but a nightmare for Lee Myung-bak," Chun told AFP.

Park's core supporters have always seen her as a heroically tragic figure who devoted her life to the service of her country despite childhood tragedy.

But for the vast majority of Koreans, she has now been permanently disowned, and will go down in history not as the country's first woman president but the first democratically elected leader to be forced from office.



The path to court: Zuma and the arms deal

Yahoo – AFP, April 6, 2018

South Africa's National Director of Public Prosecutions Shaun Abrahams, pictured,
said there were 'reasonable prospects of a successful prosecution of Mr Zuma'
(AFP Photo/WIKUS DE WET)

Johannesburg (AFP) - Here is a timeline of major events in the corruption charges against South African former president Jacob Zuma:

Red flag

- November 1998: The cabinet approves an arms deal at a price tag of $2.5 billion. On the same day Zuma, then a provincial minister, meets with his personal financial advisor Schabir Shaik and an official from French arms dealer Thomson-CSF. The auditor-general soon raises a red flag over the deal as "high-risk".

- June 1999: Thabo Mbeki is elected president of South Africa with Jacob Zuma as his deputy.

- September 1999: An opposition lawmaker Patricia de Lille alerts parliament that the arms deal could be graft-ridden and calls for an inquiry.

- December 1999: Finance Minister Trevor Manuel seals the deal at 29.9 billion rand.

- February 2000: The serious economic crimes offences police unit known as the Scorpions launch investigations.

- October 2004: Trial of Zuma's adviser Shaik opens.

President Zuma

- June 2005: Shaik is convicted and jailed for 15 years for fraud and corruption. Four years later he is released on medical parole in 2009, the year Zuma becomes president.

Zuma is accused in court of having had a "generally corrupt" relationship with Shaik. Mbeki fires him as deputy president.


Zuma was forced to resign as South African president by his party in the wake of
mounting corruption scandals (AFP Photo/MUJAHID SAFODIEN)

- December 2007: Zuma is elected president of the ruling African National Congress party. Ten days later Zuma is slapped with fraud, corruption, money laundering and racketeering charges.

- April 2009: Acting chief prosecutor Mokotedi Mpshe withdraws charges against Zuma based on the phone conversation of the so-called "spy tapes" that suggest the charges were politically motivated.

- May 2009: Zuma is sworn in as South Africa's president.

Mounting scandal

- April 2016: The inquiry clears all government officials of corruption over the arms deal. But days later, the High Court in Pretoria rules that the 2009 decision to drop the charges was "irrational" and that charges must be reinstated.

- October 2017: The Supreme Court of Appeal rules that Zuma is liable for prosecution.

- February 2018: Zuma is forced to resign as South African president by his party in the wake of mounting corruption scandals.

- March 2018: Prosecutors decide he should face 12 counts of fraud, two of corruption, one of racketeering and one of money laundering.

- April 2018: Zuma appears in Durban High Court for preliminary hearing, with the case adjourned until June 8.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Dutch lawyer is first sentenced in Mueller Russia probe

Yahoo – AFP, April 3, 2018

London-based Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan (L), was sentenced to 30 days
 in jail Tuesday for lying to special prosecutor Robert Mueller over contacts between
the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016 (AFP Photo/ALEX WONG)

Washington (AFP) - A Dutch lawyer with direct knowledge of contacts between Russian intelligence and a top official in Donald Trump's campaign became the first person sentenced in special prosecutor Robert Mueller's sprawling investigation Tuesday.

Alex van der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $20,000 fine after pleading guilty to lying about his contacts with former campaign deputy Rick Gates and a former Russian intelligence official.

Van der Zwaan, a Dutch national with Russian roots and son-in-law of a prominent Russian tycoon, was a lawyer in London for Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 2012 when he carried out work for the Ukraine government through Gates and Gates' close associate Paul Manafort.

In 2016, after Manafort became chairman of Trump's election campaign and took Gates as his deputy, van der Zwaan and Gates both had communications with a person they knew as a former official of Russia's GRU intelligence agency, prosecutors said.

According to the FBI, court documents say, that individual -- identified as "Person A" -- "has ties to a Russian intelligence service and had such ties in 2016."

Van der Zwaan lied to investigators on several occasions about his contacts with both Gates and "Person A," prosecutors said.

After his lies were called out, van der Zwaan began cooperating with investigators, including sharing recordings of his conversations with Gates, "Person A" and with a senior Skadden partner.

While the details of those conversations remain secret, court documents suggest they support the idea of more extensive contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia during the election than the White House has admitted.

Van der Zwaan faced up to five years in jail.

He earned a light sentence based on his cooperation with Mueller's probe, which is focused on whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

US intelligence agencies say President Vladimir Putin himself was behind a hacking and disinformation effort to disrupt the election and boost Trump's chances of winning.

In extracting a guilty plea and cooperation pledge, Mueller's team has kept most of the details of what van der Zwaan told them secret. So it remains unclear whether his information supports collusion allegations.

But the case could add to the pressure the investigation is putting on Trump, his family and top aides.

Mueller's team, formally called the Office of the Special Counsel, said in a filing that "van der Zwaan is in an unusual position of having information related to the office's investigation that is not widely known -- including information that he knows first-hand due to his role in the conduct the office is investigating."

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Russian governor resigns over deadly mall blaze

Yahoo – AFP, Anna SMOLCHENKO, April 1, 2018

At least 64 people including 41 children died in the mall fire in Siberia
last weekend (AFP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

Moscow (AFP) - The longtime governor of a Russian region where a huge mall inferno killed dozens of people -- most of them children -- resigned on Sunday after bitter criticism over his response to the tragedy.

Aman Tuleyev, who had been at the helm of the coal-mining region of Kemerovo since 1997, said in a video address that he could no longer remain at his post with "such a heavy burden" and that quitting was "the only right choice".

The Kremlin swiftly said that President Vladimir Putin had accepted his resignation.

Tuleyev's move is unusual as top officials in Russia rarely resign over failings in the emergency response to deadly tragedies.

But the huge fire which ravaged a shopping centre in the Siberian industrial city of Kemerovo last Sunday, killing at least 64 people including 41 children, plunged Russia into shock.

Some parents lost all their children, and the youngest victim was a two-year-old boy.

Many people who lost relatives have said they perished because of inaction by firefighters and police lacking the necessary equipment and skills, while some said a cinema door was locked, trapping children inside.

Kremlin about-face

Tuleyev, who himself lost a young relative in the blaze, came under heavy criticism for failing to visit the scene of the tragedy in the first few days or meet with angry relatives.

Putin had initially refused to sack the 73-year-old governor despite a rare protest which saw thousands of people pack a square in Kemerovo on Tuesday, the same day Putin travelled to the scene of the tragedy.

Aman Tuleyev, shown with Putin after a mine explosion in 2010, was one of 
Russia's longest-serving top governors (AFP Photo/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY)

Tuleyev apologised to the president over the rally -- where protesters also called for Putin's resignation -- calling its organisers troublemakers.

Officials have said that multiple safety rules were violated, the fire alarm system was not working and staff did not follow correct emergency procedures.

The four-storey shopping mall was redeveloped several times and previously housed a sweet factory.

Seven people have been arrested in the aftermath of the blaze, investigators said.

The ailing Tuleyev had long been expected to leave the post.

The Kemerovo region of around 2.7 million people has traditionally been considered one of Russia's most troubled areas and some have feared that Tuleyev's departure could spark a leadership crisis there.

Tuleyev, who first became governor in the era of president Boris Yeltsin in 1997, is one of Russia's longest-serving top officials.

A makeshift memorial has been set up in tribute to the victims of a deadly shopping 
mall fire in the Siberian city of Kemerovo (AFP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

He was credited with helping pacify the region which was beset by miners' strikes in the turbulent 1990s but had come to symbolise the worst excesses of authoritarianism in his later years, critics say.

'Hated by everyone'

Lev Shlosberg, a former lawmaker and rights activist, said Tuleyev "had become senile", adding that the tragedy had clearly shown that Russia turned into a "mafia" state.

"This is not an emotional or symbolic but a very concrete state of the authorities: they do not represent people and absolutely do not defend the interests of citizens because they do not depend on them in any way and do not hear them," he wrote in a blog.

"The life of an ordinary man in a mafia state costs nothing."

"Tuleyev is an example of how one climbs down from the throne after failing to leave on time: disgraced and hated by everyone, with stains of blood and someone else's tears," one commentator said on Twitter.

Opposition politician Vladimir Milov said it would take "decades" for the region to recover from Tuleyev's 21-year rule.

Thousands of people packed a square in Kemerovo to protest over the Russian 
authorities' response to the deadly mall fire (AFP Photo/Dmitry Serebryakov)

Sergei Tsivilyov, who has been Tuleyev's deputy since March, has been appointed acting governor, the Kremlin said.

Tsivilyov is a business partner of one of Putin's closest lieutenants, Gennady Timchenko, who has been under sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict.

Tsivilyov's behaviour in the aftermath of the blaze has raised eyebrows.

Igor Vostrikov, a man who lost his wife, sister and three children aged two, five and seven years, accused the authorities of treating people "like dirt".

Tsivilyov responded by accusing him of a "PR stunt" but later went down on his knees in front of the crowd massed in Kemerovo, asking for forgiveness over the fire.

Polls to elect a new governor will be held in September.