US: Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen sentenced to 3 years in jail
Washington: US President Donald Trump’s former long-term personal attorney, Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in jail on Wednesday after pleading guilty to a series of crimes, including campaign finance violations, tax evasion and lying to Congress.
Prosecutors had recommended a “substantial term of imprisonment” for Cohen, and a federal judge in Manhattan, New York, sentenced him to three years in federal prison, reports Xinhua news agency. Cohen’s lawyers are asking that he serve no prison time. Cohen’s sentencing came after he pleaded guilty in cases with prosecutors in the Southern District of New York and with special counsel Robert Mueller’s team over the Russia probe.
Theresa May faces fight for her political life as parliamentary vote to decide fate of Brexit deal
London: British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a fight for her political life this week in a parliamentary vote that will decide the fate of her Brexit divorce deal.
The beleaguered leader’s splintered government appears to be facing a heavy defeat in parliament on Tuesday on the draft withdrawal agreement she signed with Brussels last month. The text defining terms on which the island nation leaves its main trading partner after 46 years is the most important to face the House of Commons in years.
A big loss could spark immediate challenges to May from both within her Conservative Party and the opposition Labour party. It would also leave the tortuous Brexit process in a state of flux – and raise the prospects of a no-deal scenario – less than four months before the March 29 departure date.
Media reports said May was under pressure from her cabinet to try to salvage the deal by delaying the vote and flying to Brussels to seek more concessions ahead of a planned summit with 27 fellow EU leaders on Thursday and Friday. But Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told the BBC on Sunday: “The vote is going ahead.”
May’s team insists that her vision offers the cleanest break between the UK and EU that Brexit supporters could hope for at this late stage. A rejection by parliament “would mean grave uncertainty for the nation with a very real risk of no Brexit,” May told the Mail on Sunday.
She also raised the spectre of an early election and a possible return to power of the opposition Labour Party for the first time since 2010. May said the prospects of Labour leader “Jeremy Corbyn getting his hands on power is a risk we cannot afford to take.” Newspapers have identified more than six current and former ministers in May’s cabinet who are also ready to run for her job should she falter over the coming days.
EU supporters, meanwhile, are pinning their hopes on a European Court of Justice ruling on Monday on whether Britain’s parliament has the right to unilaterally halt Brexit in its tracks. May would have a tough job securing better divorce terms acceptable to the Northern Irish DUP party that has propped up her government for more than a year.
EU President Donald Tusk signalled that no concessions would be made after speaking to May by phone on Sunday. Yet Brussels also wants to see May succeed and avert the economic nightmare that could unfold should Britain break away without any arrangements underpinning future trade. European officials said they might be able to find a way to offer a token concession in Brussels that May could take back to London. But they stressed that such tinkering cannot alter the basis of the withdrawal agreement itself.
The two sides might “work on the (accompanying) protocol or clarify a point that is deemed important so that she can take it back to parliament,” an informed European source told AFP on condition of anonymity. May would then be expected to submit the touched-up version for a second vote at an unspecified date.
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Kingfisher boss Vijay Mallya’s extradition case edges towards ruling
London: Embattled liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya is scheduled to return to Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London on Monday when his extradition trial is listed for a judgment hand-down.
The 62-year-old former Kingfisher Airlines boss, wanted in India on alleged fraud and money laundering charges amounting to an estimated Rs 9,000 crores, has been on bail since his arrest on an extradition warrant in April last year.
He has contested his extradition on the grounds that the case against him is “politically motivated” and the loans he has been accused of defrauding on were sought to keep his now-defunct airline afloat.
“I did not borrow a single rupee. The borrower was Kingfisher Airlines. Money was lost due to a genuine and sad business failure. Being held as guarantor is not fraud,” he said in his recent Twitter post on the issue.
“I have offered to repay 100 per cent of the principal amount to them. Please take it,” he tweeted earlier.
While dismissing that his intervention has anything to do with the extradition case, it came just days before Judge Emma Arbuthnot is expected to present her ruling in the case.
The trial, which opened at the Magistrates’ Court on December 4 last year, has gone through a series of hearings beyond the initial seven days earmarked for it.
It opened with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) team, led by Mark Summers, laying out the Indian government’s prima facie case of fraud and money laundering against Mallya.
Summers sought to establish a “blueprint of dishonesty” against the businessman and that there are no bars to his extradition on human rights grounds.
Mallya’s defence team, led by Clare Montgomery, deposed a series of experts in an attempt to prove that the erstwhile Kingfisher Airlines’ alleged default of bank loans was the result of business failure rather than “dishonest” and “fraudulent” activity by its owner.
The court was also told that a consortium of Indian banks, led by State Bank of India (SBI), had rejected an offer by the liquor baron in early 2016 to pay back nearly 80 per cent of the principal loan amount owed to them.
While the CPS argued that Mallya never intended to repay the loans he sought in the first place because his airline’s demise was inevitable, the defence tried to establish that Kingfisher Airlines was suffering from consequences of a wider global financial crisis around 2009-2010 and that its failure was a result of factors beyond the company’s control.
“There are clear signs that the banks seem to have gone against their own guidelines [in sanctioning some of the loans],” Judge Arbuthnot had noted during the course of the trial.
In relation to the defence’s attempts to dispute Indian prison conditions as a bar to Mallya’s extradition on human rights grounds, the judge had indicated to the CPS that she did not require any further information in reference to the prison conditions awaiting Mallya at Barrack 12 of Mumbai’s Arthur Road Jail after seeking a video of the cell.
“If the judge is satisfied that all of the procedural requirements are met, and that none of the statutory bars to extradition apply, he or she must send the case to the Secretary of State for a decision to be taken on whether to order extradition,” explains Pavani Reddy, a UK-based legal expert and Managing Partner of Zaiwalla & Co.
The judge’s decision on whether to send Mallya’s case to UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid can be appealed with the UK High Court’s permission, with the person to be extradited entitled to make an application for permission to appeal to the High Court within 14 days of the date of the Chief Magistrate’s ruling.
On the other hand, the Indian government would also have 14 days to file leave to appeal to the High Court, seeking permission to appeal against a decision not to extradite.
“In case the concerned individual does not file an appeal, and Secretary of State agrees with the magistrate’s decision, then the individual must be extradited from the UK within 28 days of the Home Secretary’s extradition order.
“This will also apply if an appeal lodged by either party in the High Court is unsuccessful, but the 28 days will commence from the date when the appeal hearing was concluded,” said Reddy.
If the judgment goes ahead as scheduled on Monday, it would mark a significant point in this high-profile extradition trial that has lasted over a year.
Pakistani news anchor saving his life from fire on live TV will give you goosebumps; watch video
The news production in a news channel is a tough job and it becomes tougher when some unexpected issues occur in the studio. Such an event occurred recently in the studio of Pakistani news channel when an anchor saved his life from a live ball of fire.
The incident occurred when the news anchor was discussing the issue of terrorism with a panelist. Suddenly a big sound was heard during live broadcast, after which a live ball of fire hit the news anchor. Saving his life, the anchor ran away from his seat. The video become a buzz on social media. Have a look at the video below.
What just happened with this news anchor? pic.twitter.com/RoYLekEit0
— Naila Inayat (@nailainayat) December 5, 2018
From the video, it looks like there was a case of short circuit during the live broadcast which lead to the event. Such odd events on Pakistan news channels, however, are not new. Earlier, a news channel made a huge mistake by referring China’s capital ‘Beijing’ as ‘Begging’ while telecasting the live speech of Pakistan’s Prime Minster Imran Khan.
Bomb threat at CNN office: Anchor evacuated in middle of live show
News orgnaisation CNN’s office at New York, United States was evacuated following a bomb scare. A call was received regarding a bomb threat after 10:30 pm on Thursday, due to which New York Police department (NYPD) led an evacuation procedure. The bomb threat was made at CNN’s Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle, Manhattan. A bomb squad of NYPD is investigating the scene.
CNN news Anchor Don Lemon had to leave his live show as police started the evacuation operation. He informed on Twitter about the bomb scare. “We were evacuated in the middle of my live show. Bomb threat. We’re running taped programming. NYPD is investigating. Stay tuned,” he wrote on Twitter.
Another CNN reporter Brian Stelter informed about the evacuation operation. “The NYPD is investigating a bomb threat near CNN NYC’s office at Columbus Circle. Due to the threat, the office has been evacuated. Right now CNN is airing taped programming due to the disruption”, he wrote.
The suspected bomb threat call allegedly came after US President Donald Trump made an attack on media by tweeting, “Fake news – enemy of the people!”.
More updates on the matter are awaited.
Julian Assange should leave Ecuador Embassy only if British govt guarantees his life, says President Moreno
Quito [Ecuador]: Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno said on Thursday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London only if the United Kingdom guarantees that the 47-year-old Australian will not be extradited to a third country where he could face a death penalty.
“If the British government guarantees his life, I think it’s in his best interest to hand himself over to the authorities,” CNN quoted Moreno as saying. Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, wanted to escape extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges, which were later dropped. He has been staying in the embassy amid the fear of being extradited to the United States if he attempted to leave.
The Ecuadorian President added that he would prefer if Assange surrendered because of the cost Quito has been paying after granting asylum to him. “We will protect Assange’s rights. This is why we are looking for a solution, but this needs to be an agreed solution,” he further said.
Moreno underlined that Assange should not be scared that he could be transferred to a country where he could face the death penalty. “According to the British government, they would never extradite a person to a country where his life is at risk. He will spend a few months in jail, and after that, it’s freedom,” he said. An arrest warrant by the UK government has been issued to Assange over violating bail conditions by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
Last month, Assange was charged in the US, as unsealed court documents had inadvertently revealed his name. The New York Times reported that the information was contained in a court filing in an unrelated case. The Justice Department prepared an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder in which prosecutors inadvertently mentioned charges against him.
The WikiLeaks founder has been under the scanner for several years due to its publication of thousands of secret government documents. This comes as special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating the alleged links between US President Donald Trump’s associates and Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. According to The New York Times, WikiLeaks had published the documents from Democrats during the presidential polls, which were allegedly stolen by Russian intelligence officers.
written by FPJ Bureau
Did George W. Bush slip candy to Michelle Obama again?
Washington: Looks like George W. Bush had another sweet treat in store for former first lady Michelle Obama, three months after he offered her a piece of candy at Senator John McCain’s funeral in Washington. Michelle, accompanied by her husband and former United States president Barack Obama, arrived at the National Cathedral for the state funeral of US’ 41st president George H.W. Bush.
The Obamas, who were seated in the front row along with US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, were greeted by Bush. The grieving son then dug into his pocket to bring out a small item that appeared to be a candy and offered the same to the former first lady, who looked visibly elated to receive the same.
The moment was a déjà vu for Twitterverse, who recalled a similar interaction between the two during late Senator McCain’s funeral. However, Michelle, in an interview, clarified that it was a cough drop that was offered to her. “I didn’t realize at the time that anybody noticed what we were doing. President (George W) Bush and I . we are forever seat mates because of protocol, that’s how we sit at all the official functions so he is my partner in crime at every major thing where all the formers gather,” The Hill quoted Michelle as saying during an interview in October this year, a month after the light-hearted interaction took place.
World leaders and scores of mourners gathered in Washington to bid goodbye to the 41st US President at the state funeral on Wednesday. The late former president’s casket was taken from Capitol Rotunda to the Washington National Cathedral in a motorcade, while complete state honours were accorded, including a 21-gun salute and cannons.
The Bush family, led by George W. Bush, was present at the Capitol Rotunda, hands over their hearts, as his casket was loaded onto the hearse. Thousands of citizens lined the streets in remembrance of the stalwart as the Presidential hearse passed the lanes of Washington on December 5, the national day of mourning across the country.
The stalwart, who passed away on November 30, is known for his contributions towards the nation as the 41st President of the United States of America, including steering the nation’s foreign policy in the wake of the disintegration of the USSR in 1991 while ushering in a ‘new world order’.
16 bodies found after attack in Indonesia’s Papua
Wamena (Indonesia): Indonesian security forces have retrieved the bodies of 16 people in the aftermath of a massacre by suspected separatist rebels in restive Papua province, the military said on Thursday.
The confirmed deaths, believed to be of construction workers, mark the deadliest bout of violence in years to hit a region wracked by a low-level independence insurgency. The bodies will be evacuated to the town of Timika from the remote district of Nduga, a mountainous region where the attack happened Sunday, local military commander Binsar Panjaitan said. “The latest information is that 16 bodies have been found,” Panjaitan told reporters in Papua.
The dead had not been identified and the military did not supply details about how they were killed. An earlier eyewitness account supplied by the military detailed the killing of at least 19 people, including in execution style shootings or having their throat slit. Previous local media reports put the number of dead between 24 and 31. On Thursday, the military warned that it was not yet clear whether all the dead worked for a state-owned contractor that has been building bridges and roads as part of efforts to boost infrastructure in the impoverished region.
Another 15 people — including seven employees of the contractor — have been evacuated from the area. Many in Papua view Indonesia as a colonial occupier and its building work as a way to exert more control over a region that shares a border with Papua New Guinea, an independent nation. Police and military teams sent to the area have come under rebel gunfire with one soldier killed and two wounded since Monday, according to authorities.
On Wednesday, the military supplied an account from one survivor identified by his initials “JA” who claimed about 50 rebels entered the workers’ camp on Saturday and led them away with their hands tied behind their backs. The following day, the rebels shot dead a group of workers, while some tried to escape, the account said. The attackers allegedly recaptured six workers and slit their throats, according to the uninjured witness, who said at least 19 employees had been killed in all.
A Facebook account purportedly run by the National Liberation Army of West Papua (TPNPB) said the armed group had killed 24 workers on the orders of regional commander Ekianus Kogoya. Indonesia routinely blames separatists for violence in Papua and foreign media need permission to report there, making it difficult to obtain reliable information. Papua declared itself an independent nation from the Dutch in 1961, but neighbouring Indonesia took control of the resource-rich region two years later on the condition it hold an independence referendum. It officially annexed Papua in 1969 with a UN-backed vote, widely seen as a sham.
US woman sues Hilton Worldwide for USD 100 million over nude shower video
New York: A Chicago woman is suing Hilton Worldwide for $100 million saying that she was filmed naked in the shower by a hidden camera while a hotel guest — in footage uploaded with her name onto multiple porn sites. The unnamed plaintiff sued the hotel giant for negligence citing “severe and permanent psychological injuries,” “severe mental anguish, emotional distress and other damages” such as medical expenses and loss of earnings.
The woman was a guest at a Hampton Inn and Suites hotel in Albany, the capital of New York state, in July 2015 while taking a bar exam after graduating from law school. She was recorded, fully nude, while taking a shower by a hidden video camera, the 19-page lawsuit claims. But she was blissfully ignorant until September 2018, more than three years later, when she received an email saying “this is you right?” with a link to the video on a porn site published with her full name.
The same person, claiming “I’m a perv,” then sent multiple threatening emails, professing to know where she went to university and where she worked. When the threats went unheeded, the video appeared on a string of other porn sites. Colleagues, friends and former classmates received a new version of the video, sent from a fake email address set up in her name. The extortionist then demanded an immediate hush payment of $2,000 followed by $1,000 a month for a year, the lawsuit claims, also alleging that other people were recorded in the same room at the same Hampton Inn.
“We take the safety and wellbeing of our guests incredibly seriously, and find the details included in the civil filing distressing,” said a spokesperson for Hilton, the parent company of Hampton Inn. “We commit to supporting the independent ownership and management of the property as they investigate, respond and cooperate with any law enforcement investigations,” the statement added.
A spokesperson for the Hampton Inn in question said they were “shocked and stunned to learn of the allegations” late Monday, saying that no recording devices “of any kind” had been discovered at the property. “The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority, and we emphatically do not condone any form of this type of invasion of privacy,” the property said in a statement. “Recently, the hotel underwent a complete renovation. During that process, no recording devices of any kind were uncovered,” it added, promising to work with authorities to find and hold accountable the perpetrator.
First baby born via uterus transplanted from dead donor
Paris: In a medical first, a mother who received a uterus transplant from a dead donor gave birth to a healthy baby, researchers reported on Wednesday. The breakthrough operation, performed two years ago in Brazil, shows that such transplants are feasible and could help thousands of women unable to have children due to uterine problems, according to a study published in The Lancet medical journal.
The baby girl was born in September 2016 in Sao Paolo. Until recently, the only options available to women with so-called uterine infertility were adoption or the services of a surrogate mother. The first successful childbirth following uterine transplant from a living donor took place in 2013 in Sweden, and there have been 10 others since then. But there are far more women in need of transplants than there are potential live donors, so doctors wanted to find out if the procedure could work using the uterus of a woman who had died.
Ten attempts were made — in the United States, the Czech Republic, and Turkey — before the success reported Wednesday. Infertility affects 10- to 15 per cent of couples. Of this group, one in 500 women have problems with their uterus — due, for example, to a malformation, hysterectomy, or infection — that prevent them from becoming pregnant and carrying a child to term. “Our results provide a proof-of-concept for a new option for women with uterine infertility,” said Dani Ejzenberg, a doctor at the teaching hospital of the University of Sao Paulo.
He describing the procedure as a “medical milestone”. “The number of people willing and committed to donate organs upon their own death are far larger than those of live donors, offering a much wider potential donor population,” he said in a statement. The 32-year-old recipient was born without a uterus as a result of a rare syndrome. Four months before the transplant, she had in-vitro fertilisation resulting in eight fertilised eggs, which were preserved through freezing.
The donor was a 45-year-old woman who died from a stroke. Her uterus was removed and transplanted in surgery that lasted more than ten hours. The surgical team had to connect the donor’s uterus with the veins, arteries, ligaments, and vaginal canal of the recipient. To prevent her body from rejecting the new organ, the woman was given five different drugs, along with antimicrobials, anti-blood clotting treatments, and aspirin.
After five months, the uterus showed no sign of rejection, ultrasound scans were normal, and the woman was menstruating regularly. The fertilised eggs were implanted after seven months. Ten days later, doctors delivered the good news: she was pregnant. Besides a minor kidney infection — treated with antibiotics — during the 32nd week, the pregnancy was normal. After nearly 36 weeks a baby girl weighing 2.5 kilogrammes (about six pounds) was delivered via caesarean section.
Mother and baby left the hospital three days later. The transplanted uterus was removed during the C-section, allowing the woman to stop taking the immunosuppressive drugs. At age seven months and 12 days — when the manuscript reporting the findings was submitted for publication — the baby was breastfeeding and weighed 7.2 kilogrammes.
“We must congratulate the authors,” commented Dr. Srdjan Saso, an honorary clinical lecturer in obstetrics and gynaecology at Imperial College London, describing the findings as “extremely exciting”. Richard Kennedy, president of the International Federation of Fertility Societies, also welcomed the announcement but sounded a note of caution. “Uterine transplant is a novel technique and should be regarded as experimental,” he said.