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What is Iran’s Revolutionary Guard?


U.S. President Donald Trump directed the U.S. Treasury Department to impose additional sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guard as he announced a more aggressive stance toward Iran, including refusing to recertify the nuclear deal with Tehran.

The White House called the Revolutionary Guard, which is separate from Iran’s regular armed forces, a “primary tool and weapon in remaking Iran into a rogue state.” But what is the Revolutionary Guard?

Beginnings

The Revolutionary Guard was founded following Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, in which the shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was overthrown by a cleric-led uprising. The Revolutionary Guard was created to enforce the new Islamic government and operated parallel to the country’s regular armed forces. Once a ragtag force protecting the new regime, it is now the nation’s most powerful security institution.

Expanded force

The Revolutionary Guard has between 120,000 and 150,000 active personnel operating air, land and sea defense capabilities. Its elite Quds Force, which the Treasury Department designated a terrorist organization in 2007, is responsible for external operations. Domestically, the guard controls a large network of paramilitary volunteers, known as the Basij.

Loyal to supreme leader

The Guard only answers to Iran’s supreme leader. After the 1979 revolution, the guard faced possible disbanding, but Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei allowed it to thrive and granted it more powers. Since then, the guard has been loyal to the supreme leader and the group’s powers have since been enshrined in the country’s constitution.

Political and economic actor

While the Revolutionary Guard has expanded militarily, it has also become a force within the political scene. Current and former members of the guard hold important posts in government, including foreign and security policy. The guard also has holdings in media, manufacturing, construction, banking and other sectors of the Iranian economy.

Sponsor of terrorism

In announcing the new sanctions Friday, the U.S. Treasury Department said it was designating the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist entity under a White House Executive Order. It said the group provides “support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban.”
A Ghadr-H missle, center, a solid-fuel surface-to-surface Sejjil missile and a portrait of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei are on display for the annual Defense Week, at Baharestan Square in Tehran, Iran, Sept. 24, 2017. Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard displayed the country’s sophisticated Russian-made S-300 air defense system in public for the first time

Ballistic missiles

The Revolutionary Guard oversees Iran’s ballistic missile program and has fired several missile tests since the nuclear deal in 2015. While the nuclear deal does not forbid missile tests, U.S. officials say they violate the spirit of the agreement. The missiles that have been tested can reach Israel, and in March 2016 the Revolutionary Guard launched a test missile bearing the words “Israel must be wiped out.”

News Courtesy:VOA NEWS

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Catalan Leaders Face Growing Pressure Over Independence Threat


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Leaders in Catalonia are facing increasing domestic and international pressure to abandon plans to declare independence from Spain, ahead of a planned speech by Catalonia’s regional president.

Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont is due to address the regional parliament on Tuesday, and Spain’s government is worried the legislature will vote for a unilateral declaration of independence. Puigdemont has not revealed what his message to lawmakers will be.

Political leaders, both domestically and internationally, urged Catalan leaders on Monday to back down to ease growing tensions in the country.

Barcelona’s mayor Ada Colau speaks during an interview with The Associated Press at the city council in Barcelona, Spain, Sept. 28, 2017.

Major speaks out

Barcelona’s mayor was the latest to speak out against a declaration of independence, saying this would put “social cohesion” at risk. Ada Colau called on all sides to de-escalate tensions to solve “the most severe institutional crisis since the re-establishment of democracy in Spain.”

The head of Spain’s main opposition party, Socialist leader Pedro Sanchez, also called for Catalan leaders to drop an attempt to declare independence, saying “a universal declaration of independence doesn’t have a place in a state ruled by law.”

Germany and France also weighed in Monday against a split. German Chancellor Angela Merkel “affirmed her backing for the unity of Spain,” but also encouraged dialogue, according to her spokesman.

France said it would not recognize Catalonia if the region declared independence. “This crisis needs to be resolved through dialogue at all levels of Spanish politics,” France’s European affairs minister Nathalie Loiseau said.

Tensions have grown in Spain since last week when Catalonia held a regional vote for independence, an election deemed illegal by Madrid. Police cracked down on the vote, firing rubber bullets and storming crowds to disrupt the voting, leading to hundreds of injuries.

A man, wearing a t-shirt reading in Spanish: “Please, talk” chats with a passer-by about the current political situation in Catalonia, in Barcelona, Oct. 6, 2017.

Huge support at the polls

Catalan leaders say 90 percent of those who went to the polls voted to break with Spain. However, opponents of the referendum say the vote did not show the true will of the region because those who want to stay in Spain mainly boycotted the polls.

Police say about 350,000 demonstrators attended an anti-independence protest on Sunday.

On Saturday, thousands of protesters gathered at rallies in Barcelona, Madrid and other Spanish cities to demand dialogue to end the dispute.

An “estelada”, or Catalonia independence flag, hangs from a street light in downtown Barcelona, Oct. 6, 2017.

Banks, businesses may move

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he would not rule out using constitutional powers to take away Catalonia’s autonomous status if the region declares independence.

In an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais published Sunday, Rajoy said that he will consider employing any measure “allowed by the law” to stop the region’s separatists.

The crisis has prompted several major banks and businesses to announce they will move their headquarters out of Catalonia to other parts of Spain so they can be sure they will remain in the European Union common market.

Catalonia, a northeastern region in Spain, has its own language and cultural traditions. It is home to 7.5 million people and accounts for about a fifth of Spain’s economy.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

IS Deprives Thousands of Children of Education in Afghan Province


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Local affiliates of the so-called Islamic State militant group have shut down dozens of schools in a restive district of northern Afghanistan, provincial officials said.

Abdul Hai Yasheen, the director of education in northern Jawzjan province, told VOA that growing IS threats have scared thousands of students away from schools.

“The ongoing clashes in Qoshtepa and Darzab districts have scared the local people. They refrain from sending their children to school, including schools that are in areas under the government control,” Yasheen said.

Yasheen added that thousands of boys and girls in Darzab district have been deprived of a chance to get education.

“Our schools are closed, IS controls parts of the district, there is no education,” Abdul Murad, a Darzab resident told VOA. “IS kills and does not let us send children to school.”

“Twenty five schools are under IS militant’s control and our teachers are unable to go and teach there,” Baz Mohammad Dawar, Darzab district’s chief said. “Parents have been warned by IS not to send their children to school.”

“Over 18,500 students are unable to attend school and that’s a catastrophe,” Dawar added.

At least two schools remain closed in neighboring Khanqah district as well.

The terror group has destroyed much of the education infrastructure in parts of the Jawzjan province.

In July, IS militants destroyed more than a dozen schools in Darzab, including a girls’ high school. The militants warned that an educational curriculum acceptable to IS must be taught in areas that the group controls, according to provincial education officials.

The terror group had also warned girls not to attend school. They make up 40 percent of students in the district’s 47 government-run schools.

Reza Ghafoori, a provincial spokesperson, told VOA that authorities are seeking to resolve the issue through mediation by local leaders who are trying to talk to IS militants to allow children to attend school. The efforts, however, have not yielded a positive outcome yet.

Islamic State’s self-styled Khorasan Province branch (IS-K) emerged in the mountainous areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan more than two years ago. The terror group has recently attracted hundreds of local militants to its ranks in northern Jawzjan and Sar-e-Pul provinces. Qari Hekmat, an ethnic Uzbek and former Taliban commander who switched his allegiance to IS a year ago, is said to lead IS-affiliated groups in the region. A large number of Central Asian fighters affiliated with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), previously associated with al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, have joined the IS cause in the northern provinces.

IS and rival militants from the Taliban frequently fight for control of Darzab and Qoshtepa districts. Recent clashes between the two rival groups have resulted in the death of at least 30 militants from both sides, according to Faqir Mohammad Jawzjani, the provincial police chief in Jawzjan.

“Two days ago, the IS miitants set a school on fire in Qoshtepa and killed two local elders on charges of serving in the local police force,” Jouzjani told Radio Liberty.

The ongoing clashes have led hundreds of families to leave their homes. Most of the fleeing families have taken refuge in the provincial capital Sheberghan and live in dire conditions, according to Radio Liberty.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

A Minute With: Harrison Ford, Ryan Gosling on ‘Blade Runner 2049’


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The long-awaited sequel to the cult classic “Blade Runner,” a 1982 sci-fi thriller, finally hits movie theaters on Friday.

But there is not much that stars Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling can say about “Blade Runner 2049,” for fear of revealing major plot spoilers.

Ford, who reprises his role as an older Rick Deckard, and Gosling as a new ‘blade runner’ Officer K, told Reuters that the film offers a glimpse into the potential impact of a rapidly changing climate and an increasingly isolated society reliant on technology.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Q: The first film touched upon the future or what they envisaged the world to be. Now we’re 30 years on, what elements does this film address which you think will resonate with audiences today?

Gosling: “Overpopulation, global warming, being isolated by technology.”

Ford: “Social inequity.”

Gosling: “The false narratives we create about large groups of people in order to make ourselves feel better about how awful their circumstances are.”

Ford: “The necessity to have a moral structure into which to pour what’s possible and to make judgments about what we use and what we don’t use.”

Q: How would you say this film pushes forward messages about humanity that weren’t covered in the first one?

Ford: Well I would just quibble with the word ‘message’ because it’s an experiential opportunity because you discover your relationship to the ideas in the context of an emotional geography so I think as an audience, it has an opportunity to engage you in a way that is pretty rare.

Q: How did you go about playing your character with ambiguity as it is not always known who is a human and who is a Replicant?

Ford: I don’t think there’s a style to the acting necessarily. There is so much new information coming at you as a character and as an audience that you just want to be still and make sure that you’re reading this right, that you really know what’s going on so the characters are constantly in the midst of a dilemma that is like drinking out of a gardening hose. There is so much happening to them that it’s close to overwhelming for them.

Interview Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Forensic Psychologist Profiles Mass Killers


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Las Vegas Strip shooting site , LasVegas Village and Festival Grounds Pictures taken one week before the beginning of the country music festival from a helicopter Picture Courtesy: Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz/Wikimedia Commons

Studies show mass killings have tripled in the past few years. A massacre Sunday night in Las Vegas left 59 people dead as a gunman in a hotel fired upon thousands of people below who were attending a music festival.

Until that tragedy, last year’s shooting at an Orlando nightclub was the deadliest in U.S. history. Forty-nine people died when a gunman opened fire on club-goers. In 2012, a gunman opened fire at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, killing 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 years old, as well as six others, including the shooter’s mother and staff and teachers at the school.

Mass killers used trucks filled with fertilizer to create an explosion that left 168 people dead at the federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995. The land is now filled with empty chairs, each etched with the name of one of the victims.

That was the worst mass killing until September 2001, when killers crashed airplanes into The World Trade Center’s twin towers in lower Manhattan. As in Oklahoma City, the ground where the towers once stood is now a memorial.

Profiling mass killers

J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist, said mass murderers “typically have more in common” with each other than not.

He said the killers tend to have a history of psychiatric problems, are mostly men, and have rocky intimate relationships.

Meloy said the killings are a quest for status and usually are not, despite killers’ claims, rooted in a cause.

“Oftentimes, the pathway to violence begins with a personal grievance,” Meloy said. “It typically has three components to it. One is there’s some kind of loss. Secondly, there’s the feeling of humiliation. Then thirdly, there’s anger toward and blaming of a person or a group of people who have caused them to have this problem.”

Access to weapons is one factor, but social media is another.

Meloy said social media makes killers notorious and, when an attack is shown online, those seeking notoriety decide to imitate the atrocity and gain notoriety for themselves.

It is an appeal that, unfortunately, Meloy predicts will spawn even more mass killings.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Blasphemy: A Life-and-death Issue in Pakistan


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Blasphemy is an emotive topic in Pakistan, where strong religious sentiments have led in the past to mob violence and worse.

For those accused of blasphemy – which can include anything seen as a deliberate insult to God, Islam or religious leaders – such an offense is literally a life-and-death matter. The relevant section of Pakistan’s penal code recommends either life imprisonment or death for any convicted blasphemer.

The issue has arisen again in Punjab, where a court last week condemned to death a Christian, Nadeem James, based on evidence police gathered from a friend who said James sent him a blasphemous poem via instant-messenger WhatsApp. A prosecutor confirmed the contention by James’s defense lawyer that he never sent any blasphemous material to anyone.

“The accused said … he never sent any blasphemous message through his cellphone,” prosecution lawyer Rana Naveed Anjum told VOA Urdu. “But once something has been alleged against you and there is enough evidence on record corroborating that assertion, then it is hard to deny or overlook such material.”

A fair trial is difficult

A prominent Pakistani human-rights activist, Mehdi Hassan, said the emotive nature of blasphemy makes it difficult to get a fair trial in cases involving religious beliefs.

“In Pakistan, religious might is very influential,” Hassan told VOA, “and that thinking has an impact on police and other departments in such cases.”

Nadeem James’s defense attorney, Anjum Wakeel, has said his client was “framed” by his so-called friend, “who was annoyed by [James’s] affair with a Muslim girl.”

Prosecutor Anjum agreed that James told investigators he had been framed.

Feelings ran high in the case, and the trial was held in secret, in a prison, because James and members of his family had been receiving threats, some of them by local clerics.

‘Blasphemy’ can mask personal disputes

Blasphemy remains one of Pakistan’s most controversial laws. Rights groups say accusations of blasphemy are subject to abuse, and are made to settle personal disputes or vendettas.

Activist Mehdi Hassan said the country’s political parties should play a more active role and press Pakistani society to curb the misuse of these laws.

“To address this problem as a long-term solution, political parties should play a role, because democracy gives a level playing field to everyone,” Hassan told VOA.

Referring to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the revered founder of modern-day Pakistan, Hassan added: “We have to remember what Mr. Jinnah said, ‘Religious beliefs are the personal matter of an individual.'”

Jinnah was a lawyer and political figure prior to the partition of the Indian subcontinent that broke up the British Raj and created India and Pakistan as separate states in 1947. He served as Pakistan’s first governor-general until his death a year later.

A history of violence

Past blasphemy cases have stirred public anger that spiraled into mob violence and killings.

In April of this year, Mashaal Khan, a journalism student at Abdul Wali Khan University in Mardar, Pakistan, was beaten and shot dead by fellow students angered by accusations that he had posted blasphemous content online. In 2014, an angry mob in Punjab beat a Christian couple to death over blasphemy accusations, and in a high-profile case in 2011, Punjab Governor Salman Taseer was killed by his bodyguard after Taseer proposed reforms for the blasphemy laws.

Despite criticism, Pakistan’s government has been advocating strict enforcement of blasphemy laws. In April the government used newspaper advertising and text messages on mobile phones to warn millions of Pakistanis not to post, share or upload “blasphemous” material online. Anyone encountering such material was asked to report it to the authorities.

According to a recent Human Rights Watch report on Pakistan, ten Muslims and five non-Muslims were arrested in 2016 on blasphemy charges, and at least 19 people convicted of blasphemy were sentenced to death and are being held in prison.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Myanmar Leader’s Silence on Rohingya Disappoints, Angers


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For more than 20 years, Aung San Suu Kyi has stood as a human rights icon. Known as “The Lady,” she was admired and respected around the world as she endured house arrest and the repression of Myanmar’s military government.

Myanmar’s de facto leader has received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Sakharov Prize and the U.S. Presidential Medal of Freedom. She has been showered with honorary degrees and memberships.

Now there’s a petition to revoke her Nobel (the Nobel committee says that’s not possible) and a growing chorus of criticism. Even fellow Nobel laureates, including the Dalai Lama, retired Bishop Desmond Tutu and Malala Yousafzai, have called on her to say something to condemn the violence against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority group.

Minimal response

The United Nations has called the violence against the mostly Muslim Rohingya ethnic cleansing.

Others call it genocide.

Indian Muslims shout slogans during a protest against the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, in New Delhi, India, Sept. 13, 2017. The protesters criticized Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, asking whether she was given a Nobel Peace Prize for promoting peace or for persecuting Rohingya Muslims.

But Aung San Suu Kyi has said little. Her first statements were to say that the world was being misled about the issue. Nearly two weeks after scores of Rohingya villages had been destroyed, she said her government would protect all the country’s residents and would implement a U.N.-backed plan for ending the discrimination and abuse the Rohingya endure.

But nothing more.

“Her silence in this case — that is increasingly recognized as crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing or, by the scholars, genocide — silence is complicity,” Maung Zarni, a Myanmar rights activist said via Skype from Britain.

While other critics aren’t quite as harsh, the frustration at her silence is profound.

“I suppose the disappointment comes from that someone who knows how abusive the military is has failed to call them out,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, the South Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

It’s not just that Aung San Suu Kyi hasn’t condemned the violence, said John Packer, director of the Human Rights Research and Education Center at the University of Ottawa in Canada. Packer, who has spent years researching rights in Myanmar, noted that she has also used the language the military has used to justify its actions in Rakhine.

That includes referring to the Rohingya, who have been denied citizenship since 1982, as Bengalis, which reinforces the government’s position that they are illegal migrants from Bangladesh. Almost all of them, Packer said, are from families that have been in Myanmar for generations, going back hundreds of years.

Burmese residents living in Japan, who support Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi, stage a rally against ethnic Rohingya, in front of United Nations University in Tokyo, Sept. 13, 2017.

New at governing

There are those, however, who urge patience with Aung San Suu Kyi.

They argue that her National League for Democracy has run Myanmar’s government for only a few years, and that the military, which ruled for more than 50 years, retains a great deal of power. The country, also known has Burma, has weak institutions and battles high levels of corruption.

Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, has been critical of Aung San Suu Kyi’s stance on the Rohingya but says much of the international criticism is misplaced.

“Constitutionally, she has no power to stop this. But she has moral authority,” he said. He thinks more pressure should be applied to Myanmar’s top general, Min Aung Hlaing. “He is literally calling the shots.”

But aside from the military, powerful nationalist Buddhist monks and many in the ethnic Bamar majority group favor the crackdown on the Rohingya.

Thus, pressuring Aung San Suu Kyi, some experts say, could undermine a fragile democracy.

“She is fighting alone and under great restraints,” global policy analyst Tej Parikh wrote in Foreign Affairs magazine in May.

Muslim women hold posters of Wirathu, the leader of Myanmar’s nationalist Buddhist monks, Myanmar’s State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and President Htin Kyaw, with writings that read “The waste of humanity” during a rally against persecution of Rohingya Muslims outside Myanmar’s Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, Sept. 7, 2017.

Substantial control

Maung Zarni doesn’t buy that argument.

“You talked about how little power she has. Well, she controls five other ministries that are directly involved in the genocidal process. Because genocide isn’t just simply killing 100,000 people in two weeks,” he said. “She controls the religious affairs, she controls the immigration ministry, she is the de facto head of the government, and she is also foreign minister.”

Ganguly at Human Rights Watch said, “This is someone who stood up to the very same abusive army” for so many years as a political dissident. “For her to not call them out is shocking for everyone.”

Ultimately, Aung San Suu Kyi must speak, Packer at the Human Rights Research Center said.

“She has to come out and say this is not where we are going … we protect people’s lives, their homes.”

VOA’s William Gallo contributed to this report.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Iraq Says Holding 1,300 Women, Children, Families of IS Fighters


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Iraqi authorities said Sunday they are holding more than 1,300 foreign women and children, the families of suspected Islamic State jihadists, at a camp for displaced people and expect to repatriate them to their home countries.

The women and children, most from Russia, Turkey and Central Asia with some from European countries, surrendered to Kurdish forces at the end of August after Iraqi fighters drove Islamic State from the northern town of Tal Afar, near Mosul.

Iraqi officials said they are verifying the nationalities of the women, many of whom no longer had their original passports or other international documents.

As Kurdish forces assumed control of Tal Afar, they handed over the women and children to Iraqi forces, while keeping the men, all assumed to be fighters, in their custody.

The Norwegian Refugee Council, which is supporting 541 of the women and their children, said in a statement that Iraq “must swiftly move to clarify its future plans for these individuals.  Like all those fleeing conflict, it is imperative that these individuals are able to access protection, assistance, and information.  They are in de-facto detention.”

One 27-year-old French woman of Algerian descent told Reuters, “My mother doesn’t even know where I am.”  She said she had been tricked by her husband to come with him via Turkey into Syria and then Iraq when he joined Islamic State last year.

“I had just given birth to this little girl three months before,” she said, holding the infant. “He said, ‘Let’s go for a week’s holiday in Turkey.’  He had already bought the plane tickets and the hotel.”

After four months in Mosul, she said she ran away from her husband to Tal Afar in February.  She was hoping to make it back to France, but he found her and would not let her leave.  She cried as she recounted how her five-year-old son was killed by a rocket in June while playing in the streets.

“I don’t understand why he did this to us,” she said of her husband, who she said was killed fighting in Mosul.  “Dead or alive, I couldn’t care less about him.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Brazilian Ex-president Silva Complains of ‘Witch Hunt’


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Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva told a Brazilian court Wednesday that the corruption charges against him stem form a witch hunt and questioned the impartiality of the judge.

Silva’s deposition in the southeastern city of Curitiba was the second time he faced off with Judge Sergio Moro, who oversees the country’s sprawling investigation into bribes to politicians in return for favors to companies.

In May, Brazil’s former leader also struck a defiant note in court for another case and Moro eventually found him guilty, sentencing him to 9 years in prison. Silva is appealing that conviction.

“I am going to get home tomorrow and eat lunch with eight grandchildren,” Silva said. “Can I look my children in the eye and tell them that I testified in front of an impartial judge?”

Moro responded that he could, but Silva retorted: “That wasn’t what happened in the other case.”

In the case at hand Wednesday, the former president is accused of corruption for allegedly accepting an arrangement in which construction giant Odebrecht would buy a piece of land that was supposed to be the site of new headquarters for Silva’s Instituto Lula.

Several other charges are pending for Silva, who has denied any wrongdoing and says the accusations are politically motivated.

“This is a witch hunt,” he told the court.

Last week, Silva’s former finance minister, Antonio Palocci, who has been in jail for a year, corroborated the accusation in this case. In court Wednesday, Silva said he “pitied” Palocci and said he was lying to save his own skin.

Supporters of Silva, many wearing the trademark red of his Workers’ Party, gave him a rock star’s welcome as he made his way through the crowd to enter the court.

“We have to be in the streets, we have to protest because we can’t accept losing a great leader of the country,” said one, Richard Fogabia, adding that he thought the proceedings were a show trial.

Another demonstration was staged in support of Moro.

The judge and Silva are two of the major players in the near-operatic drama that is the “Car Wash” investigation: Each has his own staunch supporters and bitter detractors.

‘Unjust, absurd and regrettable’

Silva is just one of the senior politicians caught up in the probe, which is the largest in Brazil’s history and has jailed several executives as well.

Odebrecht was one of the companies at the center of the bribery scheme, But the focus has more recently switched to JBS, the world’s largest meatpacker, whose executives have confessed to doling out millions to secure legislative and political favors.

In exchange for their testimony, JBS chief executive Wesley Batista and his brother Joesley, the company’s former chairman, have received immunity from prosecution. But prosecutors are now looking into those deals.

On Wednesday, police arrested Wesley Batista amid allegations that he and his brother used their own plea bargains to gain an advantage in financial markets.

Executives from JBS have provided evidence for some of the most serious allegations, including claims that President Michel Temer arranged to receive millions in payouts in exchange for helping the meatpacker. Temer denies wrongdoing.

In recent days, prosecutors have questioned whether Joesley Bastista and other executives may have withheld some information, violating their plea deals.

Pierpaolo Cruz Bottini, a lawyer for the Batista brothers, called the arrest “unjust, absurd and regrettable.” He said his clients had cooperated with authorities at every step and suggested they were being targeted by some within the government for having reached plea bargains.

A warrant for Joesley Batista’s arrest was also issued, but the executive has been in custody since Sunday following the questions about his plea testimony.

Wednesday’s accusations focused on the company’s activity in the weeks before their plea deals became public.

Police investigator Victor Hugo Rodrigues Alves said the Batistas knew the plea bargains would affect stock prices and cause the Brazilian real to weaken against the U.S. dollar and he alleged they used that to their advantage.

Between late April and mid-May, while negotiating their plea bargains, the brothers made large purchases of dollars on the futures markets, Rodrigues Alves said. During that period, their holding company also sold hundreds of millions of dollars in JBS shares.

“The victims are not just JBS shareholders,” Rodrigues Alves said. “In a large context, the country is a victim, as the crimes shook the confidence of the market.”

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Monkey Selfie Case Settled


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In the end, there was no monkey business.

British photographer David Slater has reached an agreement with the animal-rights group PETA over a selfie shot by a crested macaque.

Slater had left his camera unattended while on a trip to Indonesia in 2011 when a monkey named Naruto decided to take a selfie. The image of the amber eyes staring into the lens with a toothy grin became a huge favorite on the internet and an iconic image on Slater’s business website.

PETA takes up cause for monkey

Then in 2015 People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals filed a suit claiming Naruto owned the copyright to selfie photos it had shot with a photographer’s camera. The group sought financial control of the use of the photograph on behalf of the monkey.

Slater’s side argued the British copyright obtained for the photos by his company, Wildlife Personalities, should be honored worldwide.

On Monday, lawyers for PETA and Slater announced a deal, under which Slater would donate 25 percent of any future revenue from the images to charities dedicated to protecting crested macaques in Indonesia.

No copyrights

The attorneys asked the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to dismiss the case and throw out a lower-court decision that said animals cannot own copyrights.

Andrew Dhuey, an attorney for Slater, declined to comment on how much money the photos have generated or whether Slater would keep all of the remaining 75 percent of future revenue.

There was no immediate ruling from the 9th Circuit on the dismissal.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

 

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