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Climate: UK university bans beef consumption

Students at a University of London college are saying goodbye to lunchtime pies, mid-lecture beef jerky snacks, and post-exam burgers – for the climate.

UK college Goldsmiths has removed beef products from all campus retailers as part of efforts to fight climate change, the school announced in a media release.

But that wasn’t the only shake-up.

The changes, introduced by the school’s new warden, Professor Frances Corner, would also see students charged a £0.10 levy for bottled water and single-use plastic cups in a bid to discourage use.

Why? Because “declaring a climate emergency cannot be empty words”, Corner said in a statement.

Along with a number of schools in the UK, Goldsmiths officially announced a climate emergency and began implementing changes to cut carbon use and become a carbon neutral organisation.

In addition to the beef ban and plastic levy, it would also be investing in more solar panels across campus, planting more trees, adding more climate change subjects to the curriculum, and switching to 100 per cent clean energy when it was practical to do so.

“I truly believe we face a defining moment in global history and Goldsmiths now stands shoulder to shoulder with other organisations willing to call the alarm and take urgent action to cut carbon use,” Corner said.

“The growing global call for organisations to take seriously their responsibilities for halting climate change is impossible to ignore.”

The college also announced its investment fund would remove its money from companies “that generate more than 10 per cent of their revenue from the extraction of fossil fuels”, the statement explained. It had already removed £2.5 million.

The changes would take effect next month.

US billionaire Jeffrey Epstein commits suicide

Jeffrey Epstein, the disgraced billionaire who was facing federal sex trafficking charges, died by suicide early Saturday in his Lower Manhattan prison cell, three law enforcement officials told ABC News.

Epstein hanged himself, law enforcement sources said. He was transported in cardiac arrest at 6:39 a.m. from Metropolitan Correctional Center to New York Downtown Hospital, according to sources.

Epstein, 66, was set to stand trial next year for allegedly sexually abusing dozens of minor girls in New York and Florida.

His death came less than three weeks after he was found unresponsive in his cell at the federal prison in Lower Manhattan, with marks on his neck that appeared to be self-inflicted, sources told ABC News.

He had been on suicide watch since the July 23 incident.

Epstein was arrested in July of this year for alleged sex trafficking of minor girls at his Upper East Side mansion and his home in Palm Beach, Florida. Some of the charges date back to the early 2000s.

Epstein, 66, pleaded not guilty to the charges. He faced up to 45 years in prison if convicted.

His alleged crimes were thrown back into the spotlight amid renewed scrutiny of the plea deal Epstein reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Miami in 2007, led by then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta. A non-prosecution agreement allowed Epstein, a hedge-fund manager, to plead guilty to two state charges and avoid federal charges for an allegedly broad pattern of similar sexual misconduct. He would serve just 13 months of an 18-month sentence in county jail in Florida.

The alleged victims in that case told ABC News they were not made aware of the details of the plea agreement while it was being negotiated.

The deal is currently under review by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility. Acosta was serving as President Trump’s Labor Secretary amid the controversy over his role in the deal. He later resigned from that position.

On Friday, a federal appellate court in New York unsealed around 2,000 pages of documents from a now-settled civil defamation case between Virginia Roberts Giuffre, an alleged Epstein victim, and British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, a longtime Epstein associate.

Giuffre accused Maxwell of recruiting her while she was working as a locker-room attendant at Mar-A-Lago in 2000 and bringing her to Epstein’s home for a massage. She claims that she eventually became a teen sex slave to Epstein, and a victim of sex trafficking, beginning at age 17, at the hands of both Epstein and Maxwell.

The newly-unsealed documents showed that Giuffre alleged that Epstein and Maxwell directed her to have sex with, among others: Prince Andrew; criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz; former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson; former Senator George Mitchell; a well-known prime minster, who she wouldn’t name; and a foreign man who was introduced to her as a “prince.”

Maxwell has consistently denied Giuffre’s claims.

“Ghislaine Maxwell did not participate in, facilitate, manage or otherwise conspire to commit sex trafficking” as alleged by Giuffre, her attorney wrote in a 2016 court filing.

Maxwell’s attorneys also contend in the newly unsealed court filings that Giuffre had “utterly failed” to substantiate her allegations that Maxwell facilitated her abuse. Giuffre’s claims about having been trafficked to other prominent men, Maxwell’s lawyers wrote, are “patently incredible.”

Mitchell called the allegations “false.”

“I have never met, spoken with or had any contact with Ms. Giuffre,” he said in a statement issued Friday. “In my contacts with Mr. Epstein I never observed or suspected any inappropriate conduct with underage girls. I only learned of his actions when they were reported in the media related to his prosecution in Florida. We have had no further contact.”

Richardson denied the claims.

“These allegations and inferences are completely false. Governor Richardson has never even been contacted by any party regarding this lawsuit,” Maddy Mahony, a spokeswoman for Richardson, said in a statement. “To be clear, in Governor Richardson’s limited interactions with Mr. Epstein, he never saw him in the presence of young or underage girls. Governor Richardson has never been to Mr. Epstein’s residence in the Virgin Islands. Governor Richardson has never met Ms. Giuffre.”

Giuffre’s allegations were never tested in court because the case was settled prior to trial.

During a detention hearing in July, Epstein came face-to-face with two other accusers. Annie Farmer said she was 16 when Epstein had her sent to New Mexico where he was allegedly “inappropriate” with her. Courtney Wild told the judge she was 14 when Epstein allegedly sexually abused her in Palm Beach, Florida. Both women spoke in support of keeping Epstein locked up without bail.

Epstein appeared to watch them address the judge, but his face showed no emotion.

A federal judge later denied bail for Epstein, after deciding he was too great a flight risk to release from custody.

JUST IN: Major power cut hits UK after National Grid failure

Victoria Station in London

Large parts of the UK are without electricity following a large scale power cut.

Blackouts have been reported in London and the South East, as well as the Midlands and the North East.

UK Power Networks, who control power lines for London and the South East, and Western Power Distribution in Midlands, the South West and Wales both confirmed widespread outages.

The company tweeted on Friday evening: “We’re aware of a power cut affecting large parts of London and South East.

“We believe this is due to a failure on National Grid’s network, which is affecting our customers.”

Northern Power Grid has posted a list of postcodes affected by the power cut. They said they are “aware of an unexpected issue affecting the above postcodes and are working hard to restore power by 1830”.

Kingsbridge Police wrote on Facebook: “There are significant power cuts in Kingsbridge and many surrounding villages. Western Power are aware. Please view their website for up to date information.”

The drop in power is also affecting traffic lights in the capital, Transport for London confirmed.

Radio Clyde News said that “at least 30 sets of traffic lights are out across Glasgow after a number of power spikes caused by the bad weather.”

The drop in power is affecting travel.

Train services in and out of London, including Thameslink, Southern and Gatwick Express are facing delays and cancellations.

 

Traffic lights in the capital are also experiencing some problems and the Victoria Line on the London Underground is suspended, Transport for London confirmed.

They tweeted on Friday evening warning people to be cautious when using the roads.

Thameslink confirmed that the power cut “train services running across the whole network may be cancelled or delayed”.

They added: “Trains are currently at a stand between Farringdon & Bedford. This is having a wider impact to services across the whole network.”

Meanwhile, photos on social media show the Victoria line in complete darkness with one user tweeting “love being stuck on the Victoria line during a power surge” while passengers on train services have been left at a standstill.

Russian president, Putin’s 20-year stint upstaged by long-serving leaders

Vladimir Putin has held power for 20 years but he is still well behind the record terms of Cuba’s late Fidel Castro and North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung.

He is also far from achieving the lengthy stints of many living leaders, with Equatorial Guinea’s Teodoro Obiang Nguema the longest-serving president at 40 years.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II is the longest-reigning monarch at 67 years.

Putin first came to power as prime minister of Russia in 1999, being elected president the following year.

In 2008, after two presidential terms, he handed the role to Dmitry Medvedev and stepped back to become prime minister again.

He returned to the Kremlin in 2012, triumphing at the polls in 2018 for a fourth term as president.

To mark his 20 years in office, here are other world leaders who have managed to stay at the top for more than two decades.

Leading the pack is Cuba’s revolutionary hero Fidel Castro, with 49 years in power. When he handed over in 2008, ill and aged in his early 80s, it was to his brother Raul.

Taiwan’s first president Chiang Kai-shek was in charge on the island and in mainland China for a total of 47 years until his death in 1975.

North Korea’s founder Kim Il Sung ran the reclusive state for 46 years before dying in office in 1994, remaining revered as the “eternal leader”.

Moamer Kadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for almost 42 years but was ousted and then slaughtered in 2011 at the height of the Arab Spring uprisings.

Omar Bongo Ondimba governed oil-rich Gabon for more than 41 years until his death from cancer in 2009.

Albania’s communist dictator Enver Hoxha was in power for 40 years until he died in 1985.

Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang became the world’s longest-serving living leader on August 3, 2019, having siezed power in a 1979 coup.

Monarchs aside, others still adding up their time in the top job are:

– Cameroon’s President Paul Biya who has already ruled for 37 years

– Congo-Brazzaville’s Denis Sassou Nguesso now at 35 years, excluding a five-year pause after he lost a 1992 election

– Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, 34 years

– Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, 33 years

– Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has been supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1989

– Chad’s Idriss Deby Itno, 28 years

– Tajikistan’s Emomali Rakhmon, 27 years

– Eritrea’s Isaias Afwerki, 26 years

– Belarussian Alexander Lukashenko, 25 years

– Djibouti’s Ismail Omar Guelleh, 20 years

– Gabon’s Ali Bongo will have been in power for 20 years in October 2019.

Tariffs: China hits back, halts purchase of U.S. produce

China has asked its companies to stop purchasing U.S. farm products in response to Washington’s latest round of tariffs on its exports.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce made this known in a statement.

The ministry added that Beijing would not rule out hiking imports duties on farm products dating back to August 3.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday announced he would hike tariffs on 300 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods to 10 per cent from Sept. 1.

The tariffs are to come on top of the 25-per-cent levies already imposed over the past year on 250 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese products.

When they take effect, all Chinese goods coming into the U.S. will be subject to punitive tariffs.

The Chinese ministry called the latest tariffs a “serious violation” in the ongoing trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

Zuckerberg, Arnault, 8 other billionaires lose $23bn in one day as stock market falls

Monday was the worst day in 2019 for stock markets, and some of the world’s richest people took the biggest hit.

Eighteen billionaires saw their net worth drop by $1 billion or more on Monday. Stocks plummeted as China devalued its currency reportedly to its lowest level against the dollar since 2008. The change followed President Donald Trump’s announcement on Thursday that he would continue to impose tariffs on Chinese imports.

The day’s biggest loser was LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault of France, whose net worth fell by $4 billion, to $91.7 billion. The weakened Chinese currency will make foreign goods, like LVMH’s luxury handbags and perfumes, more expensive to Chinese consumers.

LVMH has otherwise enjoyed a positive year. Shares are up 11% in the last 12 months, in part because Chinese markets have boosted sales at several of its brands, including Givenchy cosmetics and Berluti menswear, according to the company’s half-yearly report. In July, Arnault briefly became the world’s second-richest person, before Bill Gates reclaimed the position.

Other big losers Monday include Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison, whose net worths dropped $2.7 billion and $2.5 billion, respectively.

Even Chinese billionaires are affected, as investors are anxious about an impending trade war. Tencent chairman Ma Huateng’s net worth dropped $1.6 billion in the past day; his conglomerate owns WeChat, the social messaging app used by more than 1 billion people. Meanwhile, Alibaba executive chairman Jack Ma saw his net worth drop by $966 million.

Below are some of the billionaires whose net worth plunged the most on Monday:

Bernard Arnault

Source: LVMH

Down: $4 billion

New net worth: $91.7 billion

Mark Zuckerberg

Source: Facebook

Down: $2.7 billion

Net worth: $67.6 billion

Larry Ellison

Source: software

Down: $2.5 billion

Net worth: $65.4 billion

Warren Buffett

Source: Berkshire Hathaway

Down: $2.1 billion

Net worth: $78.3 billion

Larry Page

Source: Google

Down: $1.7 billion

Net worth: $53 billion

Sergey Brin

Source: Google

Down: $1.6 billion

Net worth: $51.9 billion

Ma Huateng

Source: internet media

Down: $1.6 billion

Net worth: $38.3 billion

Mukesh Ambani

Source: petrochemicals, oil & gas

Down: $1.6 billion

Net worth: $46.2 billion

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers & family

Source: L’Oreal

Down: $1.5 billion

Net worth: $50.7 billion

Bill Gates

Source: Microsoft

Down: $1.4 billion

Net worth: $102 billion

 

Putin warns Trump: We’ll develop new nuclear missiles if you do

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday warned that Moscow would be forced to start developing short and intermediate-range land-based nuclear missiles if the U.S. started doing so after the demise of a landmark arms control treaty.

The U.S. formally left the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty with Russia on Friday after determining that Moscow was violating the treaty and had already deployed at least one banned type of missile, an accusation the Kremlin denies.

The pact banned land-based missiles with a range of between 310 miles and 3,400 miles (500-5,500 km), reducing the ability of both countries to launch a nuclear strike on short notice.

Putin on Monday held a meeting with his Security Council after which he ordered the defence and foreign ministries and Russia’s SVR foreign intelligence service to closely monitor any steps the U.S. took to develop, produce or deploy missiles banned under the defunct treaty.

“If Russia obtains reliable information that the U.S. has finished developing these systems and started to produce them Russia will have no option other than to engage in a full-scale effort to develop similar missiles,” Putin said in a statement.

In the meantime, he said Russia’s arsenal of air and sea-launched missiles combined with its work on developing hypersonic missiles meant it was well placed to offset any threat emanating from the U.S.

It was now essential, he added, for Moscow and Washington to resume arms control talks to prevent what he described as an “unfettered” arms race breaking out.

“In order to avoid chaos with no rules, restrictions or laws, we need to once more weigh up all the dangerous consequences and launch a serious and meaningful dialogue free from any ambiguity,” Putin said.

Boris Johnson appoints 39-year-old British-Nigerian as minister

Boris Johnson, British  prime minister, has named Kemi Badenoch, a UK-born Nigerian, a minister in his cabinet.

Badenoch was appointed minister of children and family affairs.

Born in London to Nigerian parents, the 39 year old spent part of her childhood in Lagos.

She was elected to parliament in 2017, having previously served for the conservatives in the London assembly.

At the parliament, Badenoch talked about her experiences of poverty in Nigeria, including living without electricity or functioning water supply.

She also narrated how she had to do her homework using candles.

Returning to the UK at 16, she studied systems engineering at Sussex University, she also later got a degree in law, and has worked in the IT and banking sectors.

In a tweet, she said her appointment is a huge privilege to make a positive difference.

“I’m humbled to have been appointed a junior minister at the DfE.  A huge privilege to be able to serve and make a positive difference on a number of issues close to my heart. I look forward to working with the ministerial team and everyone at @educationgovuk,” she tweeted.

Kemi Badenoch MP

@KemiBadenoch

I’m humbled to have been appointed a junior minister at the DfE. A huge privilege to be able to serve and make a positive difference on a number of issues close to my heart. I look forward to working with the ministerial team and everyone at @educationgovuk …(1/3)

223 people are talking about this

 

US Supreme Court approves funding for Trump’s border wall

The US Supreme Court has said that President Donald Trump can use $2.5 billion (£2 billion) of Pentagon funds for a section of wall on the southern border.

The court ruled by five votes to four to block a ruling by a federal judge in California that barred the president from spending the money on the wall.

The wall, dividing the US and Mexico, was Mr. Trump’s major campaign promise during the 2016 election.

It is fiercely opposed by Democrats.

The decision by the Supreme Court means that the money will be used for wall projects in California, Arizona and New Mexico.

The court in California had argued that Congress had not specifically authorised the funds to be used for constructing the wall.

In a tweet, Mr. Trump described the ruling as a “big victory”.
On Friday, the US and Guatemala signed a deal, under which migrants from Honduras and El Salvador who pass through Guatemala will be required to stop and seek asylum there first, rather than continuing and trying to enter the United States.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “This evening’s Supreme Court ruling allowing Donald Trump to steal military funds to spend on a wasteful, ineffective border wall rejected by Congress is deeply flawed. Our Founders designed a democracy governed by the people – not a monarchy.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU, has vowed to seek an expedited decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall.”

Gloria Smith, an attorney with environmental group the Sierra Club, which sued to block the funds said: “Today’s decision to permit the diversion of military funds for border wall construction will wall off and destroy communities, public lands, and waters in California, New Mexico, and Arizona.”

Mr. Trump declared an emergency earlier this year, saying he needed $6.7bn to build the wall as a matter of national security. However this figure is far short of the estimated $23bn cost of a barrier along the whole 2,000 miles (3,200km) of border.

Democrats claimed Mr. Trump’s decision to declare an emergency exceeded his powers under the US constitution.

About 20 states, along with groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed lawsuits to try and stop the president using the emergency declaration to bypass Congress.

Environmental groups have also campaigned against building the wall claiming that it could have a negative impact on wildlife.

British PM Johnson names Sajid Javid as finance minister

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson named former interior minister Sajid Javid to take over from Philip Hammond as finance minister in his first cabinet appointment, the government said in a statement on Wednesday.

Javid, a former banker from a modest background, was a contender for the premiership but endorsed Johnson when he failed to get enough support from fellow Conservative MPs.

(AFP)

UK finance minister vows to quit if Johnson becomes PM

British finance minister Philip Hammond said Sunday he would make a point of resigning before Boris Johnson became prime minister, saying he could never agree to his Brexit strategy.

Johnson is widely expected to win the governing, centre-right Conservative Party’s leadership contest on Tuesday and be named as prime minister once Theresa May resigns the premiership on Wednesday.

Hammond has become an increasingly fierce critic of Johnson’s Brexit strategy — leaving the European Union with or without a deal on October 31 — and would never have expected to remain as chancellor of the Exchequer in a Johnson government.

But the fact that the second-most senior figure in the government is making a point of resigning rather than wait to be moved on in the incoming prime minister’s reshuffle is a significant gesture — and an indicator of the opposition Johnson could face in pursuing his Brexit strategy.

“I’m sure I’m not going to be sacked because I’m going to resign before we get to that point,” Hammond told BBC television.

“Assuming that Boris Johnson becomes the next prime minister, I understand that his conditions for serving in his government would include accepting a no-deal exit on the 31st of October. That is not something that I could ever sign up to.

“It’s very important that the prime minister is able to have a chancellor who is closely aligned with him in terms of the policy, and I, therefore, intend to resign to Theresa May before she goes to the palace to tender her own resignation on Wednesday.”

May will head to Buckingham Palace in London on Wednesday to see Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state, and relinquish her office.

Johnson’s rival for the premiership is Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, who has said that Britain should prepare for a no-deal Brexit if a deal seems unlikely by the end of September.

Hunt would be prepared to delay Britain’s departure date if a deal seemed within reach but is also prepared to take Britain out of the EU without a divorce deal.

Hunt has not said who he wants running the Treasury should he win the leadership contest.

 

Johnson bracing to become Britain’s Brexit PM

Boris Johnson is expected to become Britain’s next prime minister this week, vowing to deliver Brexit on October 31 come what may, in the face of fierce opposition in parliament.

The former London mayor is the runaway favourite to win the governing Conservative Party’s leadership contest and replace Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday.

The postal ballot of 160,000 grassroots party members is expected to return Johnson, 55, as the new Conservative leader over Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt when the result is announced on Tuesday.

Any remaining ballots must be delivered by the Monday 5:00 pm (1600 GMT) deadline. Bookmakers give Hunt around a one in 15 chance of victory.

While Johnson spent a relatively trouble-free Saturday, Hunt, his successor in the Foreign Office, was dealing with Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker in the Gulf.

– Threat to majority –

The centre-right Conservatives command a razor-thin majority in parliament’s lower House of Commons and Johnson’s opponents — both within and outside the party — are keen to scupper his leadership.

Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the European Union on October 31, with or without a divorce deal.

Opponents of Brexit, and especially of a no-deal departure, are plotting moves against Johnson.

Some Conservatives have hinted they are prepared to bring down their own government rather than accept leaving the EU without a deal.

Justice Secretary David Gauke said he would quit the government if Johnson became prime minister.

He told The Sunday Times newspaper that a no-deal Brexit would trigger national “humiliation”.

The broadsheet reported that up to six europhile Conservative MPs were considering defecting to the centrist, pro-EU Liberal Democrats should Johnson win — leaving him without a Commons majority.

– ‘Right side of history’ –

Pro-EU protesters rallied in central London on Saturday in anticipation of Johnson taking office.

The “No to Boris, yes to Europe” protest saw a giant balloon of Johnson — inspired by the similar blimp of US President Donald Trump — flying outside parliament.

“I want to be on the right side of history. I think anybody who considers Brexit to be a good solution, really hasn’t considered the facts,” demonstrator Tamara Bishop told AFP.

Claire Payton said of Johnson: “He’s going to be absolutely appalling.”

Michael Fowler, wearing an EU-flag beret, added: “He is a chancer that will say anything, promise anything and then do whatever suits him. Which might be completely the opposite to what he’s promised.”

– ‘Good relationship’: Trump –

Trump said he spoke to Johnson on Thursday.

“He is going to do a great job,” the president said Friday.

Trump renewed his criticism of May, saying she had done “a very poor job” with Brexit and predicted that Johnson would fix the “disaster”.

“He’s a different kind of a guy, but they say I’m a different kind of a guy too. We get along well. I think we’ll have a very good relationship,” Trump told reporters.

After a month-long campaign, the winner of the contest will be announced on Tuesday as the new Conservative Party leader.

May will answer questions in parliament as prime minister for the final time on Wednesday before heading to Buckingham Palace to tender her resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, the head of state.

The sovereign will then invite the new Conservative leader to form an administration.

May, who took office following the seismic 2016 Brexit referendum, has vowed to be “absolutely” loyal to her successor.

She will remain in parliament as the MP for her Maidenhead constituency in southern England.

“It is important that we have a Conservative government, particularly given the nature of the opposition we have,” she told the Daily Express newspaper.

The Labour main opposition is riven with in-fighting over Brexit, anti-Semitism and veteran leftist Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

“I will be doing everything I can to make sure that we have a Conservative government,” said May.

The 62-year-old added that initially she would “take some time off, have a holiday and adjust to the new world”.

Drug kingpin El Chapo sentenced to life in prison

Once one of the world’s most powerful and notorious criminals, Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was jailed for life Wednesday — the mandatory sentence for a host of crimes spanning a quarter-century.

Guzman, the 62-year-old former co-leader of Mexico’s mighty Sinaloa drug cartel, was convicted in February in US federal court on a variety of charges, including trafficking hundreds of tons of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and marijuana to the United States.

The much-anticipated sentencing hearing in a New York courtroom caps a dramatic legal saga and saw Guzman deliver what will likely be his final public words before he is taken to a supermax federal prison in Colorado for the rest of his days.

“Since the government of the United States is going to send me to a prison where they will never hear my name, I take this opportunity to tell them: there was no justice here,” he said, wearing a grey suit, lilac shirt, purple tie and publicly sporting his moustache for the first time stateside.

READ ALSO: Couple falls from ninth floor during lovemaking

The charges, which also include money laundering and weapons-related offences, carried a mandatory life sentence.

US Federal Judge Brian Cogan tacked a symbolic 30 years on the sentence and ordered Guzman to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture — an amount based on a conservative estimate of revenues from his cartel’s drug sales in the United States.

So far, US authorities have not recovered a dime.

– ‘Great torture’ –

In the courtroom in Brooklyn, Guzman said prayers from his supporters had given him “strength to endure this great torture,” which he said has been “one of the most inhuman that I have ever experienced… a lack of respect for my human dignity.”

When entering and prior to leaving the room, he touched his heart and blew a kiss to his wife Emma Coronel, who wore a black and white suit and was perhaps seeing her husband for the last time.

Complaining bitterly that he was unable to hug his twin daughters, who did not attend the hearing, Guzman said that “the United States is no better than any other corrupt country that you do not respect.”

– ‘Overwhelming evil’ –

Guzman — whose moniker “El Chapo” translates to “Shorty” — is considered to be the most influential drug lord since Colombia’s Pablo Escobar, who was killed in a police shootout in 1993.

 

During the epic three-month trial in New York, jurors heard evidence from 56 government witnesses, with many describing in exacting detail the cartel boss beating, shooting and even burying alive those who got in his way, including informants and rival gang members.

Prosecutors won their request to tack on a symbolic extra 30 years in prison for the use of firearms in his business, portraying Guzman as “ruthless and bloodthirsty.”

Cogan said he imposed the additional sentence because the “overwhelming evil is so severe.”

A Colombian woman who prosecutors say survived a hit ordered by the kingpin tearfully read a statement in court Wednesday, saying Guzman had caused her psychological damage.

“I am a miracle of God because Mr. Guzman tried to kill me,” she said. “I paid a high price — I lost my family, my friends, I became a shadow without a name.”

“I had everything and I lost everything, even my identity.”

– ‘Alcatraz of the Rockies’ –

Guzman launched his career working in the cannabis fields of his home state of Sinaloa. Now, he is likely to live for the rest of his life at the “Alcatraz of the Rockies” — the supermax federal prison in Florence, Colorado.

Current inmates include convicted “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski, Oklahoma City bomber Terry Nichols, the British “shoe bomber” Richard Reid and the Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who is awaiting execution.

Since his extradition from Mexico in 2017, Guzman has been held in solitary confinement at a high-security prison in Lower Manhattan.

He repeatedly complained about the conditions of his detention via his attorneys — notably that his windowless cell is constantly lit.

Speaking to AFP prior to the proceedings, Guzman’s lawyer William Purpura said: “I think he is in a good state of mind right now.”

“I think he’s had enough of being here and the way he’s been housed,” Purpura said.

“And I think he’s looking forward to the move to where he’s going to go, and looking forward to his appeal.”

Another attorney, Eduardo Balarezo, said that “Joaquin’s conviction and incarceration for drug trafficking will change nothing in the so-called war on drugs.”

New York’s special narcotics prosecutor Bridget Brennan acknowledged that taking El Chapo out of the equation did not diminish the Sinaloa cartel’s influence.

“We believe that’s the one that supplies most of the drugs coming into the US,” she told AFP.

 

US ‘suspects’ Iran seized UAE based oil tanker in Strait of Hormuz

The US said it suspects Iran has seized an oil tanker that drifted into Iranian waters as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz.

Ship tracking data shows the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker Riah, which is based in the UAE, stopped transmitting its location on Saturday.

The incident is the latest involving shipping in the region where tensions between Iran and the US have escalated in recent months. Iran has been accused of planting mines on several tankers as Washington ramps up economic and military pressure on the regime over its nuclear program and aggressive foreign policy in the region.

Iran also threatened to retaliate against shipping after British forces this month helped seize an Iranian tanker near Gibraltar as it attempted to deliver oil to Syria.

A US defense official told AP that Riah is in Iranian territorial waters near Qeshm Island, which has a Revolutionary Guard base on it. He said the US “has suspicions” Iran seized the vessel.

“Could it have broken down or been towed for assistance? That’s a possibility,” the official said. “But the longer there is a period of no contact … it’s going to be a concern.”

The Riah, a 58-meter oil tanker, traveled from a port near Dubai through the Strait of Hormuz toward Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast. After 11 p.m. Saturday something happened to the vessel, according to tracking data.

Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told AP that the tanker had not switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

“That is a red flag,” Raja said.

An Emirati official told Al Arabiya that the oil tanker is not owned or operated by the UAE and has not sent a distress call.

“We are monitoring the situation with our international partners,” the official said.

The ship’s registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told AP it had sold the ship to another company.

Iranian officials have not said anything publicly about the ship.

Minister resigns in luxury dinners scandal

A senior French cabinet minister resigned on Tuesday after reports accused him of extravagant spending, including on luxury dinners, but lashed out at what he termed a “media lynching.”

Environment Minister Francois de Rugy has been under unrelenting pressure for a week after the Mediapart website accused him of hosting friends to opulent meals, complete with lobster and vintage wines, while he was speaker of parliament.

“The attacks and media lynching targeting my family forces me to take the necessary step back,” said de Rugy, who also held the post of minister of state which made him the number two in government after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe.

“The effort required to defend my name means that I am not able to serenely and efficiently carry out my mission. I presented my resignation to the prime minister this morning,” he added.

Luxury dinner items

Rugy lashed out at Mediapart, which has repeatedly published stories that have rattled the French elite since it was established in 2008.

He said he had filed a legal complaint against the left-wing publication for “defamation”, accusing it of a desire “to harm, smear and destroy.”

President Emmanuel Macron, in his first reaction to the revelations, on Monday said he had asked Philippe for “full clarity” as he took decisions not “based on revelations but facts”.

Macron, who is keen to promote his green credentials, has struggled to find a long-term occupant for the environment ministry.

De Rugy last year succeeded Macron’s first appointment to the job, Nicolas Hulot, a celebrity environmentalist who quit after saying that his cabinet colleagues were doing too little to tackle climate change.

Peru ex-president Toledo arrested in U.S

Former Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo was arrested in the United States under an extradition order on Tuesday, the South American country’s public ministry said in a post on its official Twitter account.

Toledo, considered a fugitive in Peru, has refused to heed orders by local judges to spend up to 18 months in pre-trial detention in connection with a massive bribery probe related to Brazilian construction company Odebrecht.

Toledo has denied any wrongdoing.

IMF boss, Christine Lagarde resigns

Christine Lagarde will resign from the International Monetary Fund on September 12 as she awaits final word on her nomination to the presidency of the European Central Bank, she announced Tuesday.

Her departure allows the IMF board to begin the search for her replacement.

“With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the fund, as it will expedite the selection process for my successor,” Lagarde said.

EU leaders early this month picked Lagarde to succeed ECB chief Mario Draghi, whose single, eight-year term ends in November.

Lagarde stepped away from the IMF leadership post she has held since 2011, sparking a wave of speculation about who would replace her.

The IMF board tapped her number two, American David Lipton, to serve as interim managing director, but by tradition, a European always leads the fund while an American runs its sister institution, the World Bank.

“With this decision by Managing Director Lagarde, the IMF Executive Board will initiate promptly the process of selecting the next managing director and will communicate in a timely fashion,” the IMF board said in a statement.

Early candidates mentioned as possible successors to Lagarde include Mark Carney, a Canadian who also holds British and Irish citizenship and whose term as leader of the Bank of England is up in January; French politician Pierre Moscovici, who is the EU finance commissioner, and former British finance minister George Osborne.

(AFP)

South Africa grants Ghana visa-free entry, excludes Nigeria

 

The Department of Home Affairs says the country’s new eVisa system will launch in November 2019, and it has added new nations to the list of countries that can enter South Africa visa-free.

According to a report by Business Tech and tweeted via the unverified Twitter handle of Home Affairs @HomeAffairsSA on Wednesday, seven new countries can now visit South Africa visa-free.

The report quoted the South African Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, as having announced that seven new countries will be added to the list of nations that are able to come to South Africa without a visa.

“Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that tourism is very important for job creation,” he said.

“Out of the 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, the Department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. Of these, 16 are in our continent and are SADC (Southern African Development Community) members and 59 are from all over the world.”

The department announced that the following countries will now be able to enter the country, visa-free:

Qatar, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Cuba,

Ghana, Sao Tome and Principe

The minister said his office will immediately enter into discussions with the countries about how a visa-free regime will work, with “homework” still needing to be done for countries like China, India and Nigeria.

“While we are busy tackling the matter of the three countries, we shall, this financial year, increase two and a half times the number of people who work for Home Affairs to process visas in both China and India.

“We shall double the number of people who process visas to our country in Nigeria,” he said.

A department spokesperson said that the countries announced by the minister only apply to inbound visas (citizens from the listed countries visiting South Africa), and that outbound visas (South Africans visiting the countries listed) need to be negotiated on a country-by-country basis.

The department noted that some countries, such as Qatar and Ghana, already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa.

According to the latest Henley Passport Index, South Africans can visit 99 countries around the globe visa-free.

Also speaking at the department’s budget vote, deputy minister of Home Affairs, Njabulo Nzuza said that the department is moving forward with the implementation of the country’s e-Visa regime.

“This regime will place technology at the centre of our operations by making it easy, yet secure, to enter South Africa,” he told Business Tech.

The e-Visa system will allow tourists and visitors to South African apply for their visas online. These applications will then be sent to a central adjudication and approval office, while the prospective visitors “sit at the comfort of their own home.”

The new system will also open South Africa as a desirable destination through the ease of its visa systems, the deputy minister said, adding that it will have huge tourism growth implications for the country.

Brexit: Trump calls Theresa May ‘foolish’

President Trump on Tuesday said Prime Minister Theresa May was “foolish” in her handling of Brexit, as he doubled down on the feud with Britain’s ambassador to the U.S. Kim Darroch — whom he called “wacky,” “stupid” and a “pompous fool.”

“The wacky Ambassador that the U.K. foisted upon the United States is not someone we are thrilled with, a very stupid guy. He should speak to his country, and Prime Minister May, about their failed Brexit negotiation, and not be upset with my criticism of how badly it was handled,” he tweeted.

He then turned his ire toward May, who is leaving office later this month after resigning over her handling of Britain’s departure from the E.U. Britain was scheduled to leave the bloc in March, but that timeline has been pushed back until October amid repeated failures to get her withdrawal agreement, negotiated with European leaders, through Parliament.

“I told @theresa_may how to do that deal, but she went her own foolish way-was unable to get it done. A disaster!” Trump said, apparently referring to past advice that she sue the E.U. “I don’t know the Ambassador but have been told he is a pompous fool.”

The outburst came amid an escalating diplomatic spat over the leak of diplomatic cables in which Darroch called Trump’s administration “diplomatically clumsy and inept” and said he doubted it would become “substantially more normal.”

The memo was one of several cables published by the U.K.’s Mail on Sunday in which Darroch made negative statements about the U.S. government, in which he said that Trump could be at the mercy of “dodgy Russians,” and that Trump’s presidency could “crash and burn” and be at “the beginning of a downward spiral.” He also reportedly indicated that Trump could win re-election, warning that he could shrug off scandals and “emerge from the flames, battered but intact, like [Arnold] Schwarzenegger in the final scenes of ‘The Terminator.”

US wants military coalition to safeguard waters off Iran, Yemen

The United States hopes to enlist allies over the next two weeks or so in a military coalition to safeguard strategic waters off Iran and Yemen, where Washington blames Iran and Iran-aligned fighters for attacks, the top US general said on Tuesday.

Under the plan, which has only been finalized in recent days, the United States would provide command ships and lead surveillance efforts for the military coalition. Allies would patrol waters near those US command ships and escort commercial vessels with their nation’s flags.

Marine General Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, articulated those details to reporters following meetings on Tuesday about it with acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

“We’re engaging now with a number of countries to see if we can put together a coalition that would ensure freedom of navigation both in the Straits of Hormuz and the Bab Al-Mandab,” Dunford said.

“And so I think probably over the next couple of weeks we’ll identify which nations have the political will to support that initiative and then we’ll work directly with the militaries to identify the specific capabilities that’ll support that.”

Iran has long threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which almost a fifth of the world’s oil passes, if it was unable to export its oil, something US President Donald Trump’s administration has sought as a way to pressure Tehran to renegotiate a deal on its nuclear program.

But the USproposal for an international coalition to safeguard shipping in the Strait, at the mouth of the Gulf, has been gaining momentum since attacks in May and June against oil tankers in Gulf waters. Last month, Iran shot down a US drone near the Strait, prompting President Donald Trump to order retaliatory air strikes, only to call them off.

Although US officials had publicly discussed plans to safeguard the Strait, Dunford’s disclosure that the coalition would also seek to bolster security in the Bab Al-Mandab off Yemen appeared to be a new element.

The US, as well as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have long fretted over attacks by Iran-aligned Houthi fighters in the narrow Bab Al-Mandab waterway, which connects the Red Sea with the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

Nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily through the Bab Al-Mandab to Europe, the US and Asia plus commercial goods.

Dunford said the US would provide “command and control” ships but said the goal would be for other countries to provide vessels to patrol waters between those command ships.

The third part of the mission would involve coalition members escorting their countries’ commercial vessels. “The expectation is that the actual patrolling and escorts would be done by others,” he said.

Dunford said the size of the campaign could be adjusted based on the number of countries that commit to it.

“This will be scaleable, right? So with a small number of contributors, we can have a small mission. And we’ll expand that as the number of nations that are willing to participate identify themselves,” he said.