Thursday, 7 April 2016

UK Banks Handed Panama Papers Deadline

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has sent a letter to banks and financial institutions in the UK ordering them to check whether they have done business with the law firm Mossack Fonseca, which is at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal.

The leak of financial papers and emails, which were obtained by the German daily newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and passed on to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, was the biggest in history with more than 11.5 million individual files released.
The FCA letter, which was sent to around 20 businesses, instructed institutions to carry out their own investigations into their links to the Panama Papers and report back by next week.
"Beyond April 15 we will require updates on any significant issues or relationships identified and a full response, detailing findings, when your investigation is concluded," the letter reads.
It also reminded recipients that any subsidiaries or branches located outside of Britain are still subject to UK rules and regulations when it comes to monitoring client accounts and researching customers.
The leak is said to indicate that more the 500 banks across the world have worked with Mossack Fonseca to set up nearly 15,600 shell companies, which could allow clients to avoid tax by hiding their money abroad.
Earlier this week HSBC, Credit Suisse and the Royal Bank of Scotland-owned Coutts Trustees all publicly denied they were using complex offshore structures to help their customers commit tax avoidance.
Commenting on the letter, which was written on Tuesday but acquired by the Financial Times on Thursday, the FCA said in a statement that it is working closely with "a number of agencies" to ensure that no wrongdoing has taken place.
"As part of our responsibility to ensure the integrity of the UK financial markets we require all authorised firms to have systems and controls in place to mitigate the risk that they might be used to commit financial crime," it said.
"We have also today [Tuesday] published our annual Business Plan which identifies financial crime and anti-money laundering activity as one of our priorities for the year."
The news comes as it is revealed Prime Minister David Cameron wrote a letter of his own to European Council President Herman van Rompuy in 2013, urging him to differentiate between companies and trusts when drafting anti-money laundering rules.
This is despite warnings that the distinction could create a loophole allowing tax dodgers to continue evading their bills.

Monday, 4 April 2016

When can Leicester City be crowned Premier League champions?

Can Leicester make Premier League history?

Can Leicester make Premier League history?

Leicester could be crowned Premier League champions with three games to spare, if the teams in the title race repeat their results against their remaining opponents from earlier this season.
Claudio Ranieri's side are currently seven points clear at the top of the league with six games to play, with Tottenham in second. Arsenal and Manchester City both have a game in hand on the top two, but are 11 and 15 points adrift respectively.
That means Leicester's home game with Swansea on Super Sunday on April 24 could be an historic moment for the Foxes.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Manchester United 1-0 Everton: Anthony Martial keeps top four hopes alive

Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial celebrates scoring the opening goal

Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial celebrates scoring the opening goal
Anthony Martial scored the winner as Manchester United beat Everton 1-0 at Old Trafford to keep their top four hopes alive.
The striker netted United's 1,000th home Premier League goal in the second half to lift his side up to fifth in the table - just a point behind rivals Manchester City in fourth.
It means Louis van Gaal's side are left with a real opportunity to qualify for next season's Champions League, with seven games left to play.

Teen’s Touching Napkin Note Helps Police Officers Through Dark Days

A teenager left a lasting impression on two police officers after passing them a heartwarming message on a napkin.
The girl casually laid the note down on the table of officer Rance Quinn and his colleague as she left a Chili’s Grill & Bar in Kansas City, Kansas, with her family on Mar. 24, FOX 4 reports.
“Thanks for keeping us safe,” it read.
Quinn was even more stunned to later find out that the girl’s family had covered the officers’ check too. 
He didn’t get the chance to thank the unidentified girl personally. So Quinn shared an image of the napkin on Facebook on Mar. 25, and it went viral after it was shared on the police department’s official Facebook account

“This young lady touched us in a way she might not have realized and before we could react to it the family walked out,” he wrote. “We sat there and talked about what a fantastic gesture.”
Quinn claimed in the Facebook post that “a significant anti-police movement” had built up over the last few years which caused many law enforcers “to want to give up.”
But he said it was this kind of reaction from the public that reminded him his job was worthwhile. “It seems though that the normally silent supporters are speaking out to support the profession,” he added.
The spontaneous acts of kindness in the restaurant towards the two officers didn’t end there. They then spent time with a 5-year-old boy who is deaf and whose mother said had “always wanted to meet a police officer.”
Another woman then approached them and offered to buy lunch. But as it was already paid for, she ended up forcing them to take a gift card, which the officers later passed on to a family in need.
Quinn has carried the napkin around in his pocket ever since. He said it kept it going during difficult days. “We’re human too. We like to feel the love just like everybody else does,” he added.
A video of another police officer in southern California teaching a homeless 11-year-old girl how to play hopscotch also went viral this week.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Why Bush won’t be prosecuted over CIA torture

Protestors outside the White House in Washington DC denounced CIA torture of terror suspects recently.

New York- The release of the report on CIA torture of suspected terrorists after the 9/11 attacks has been followed by calls for the torturers - and top members of former president George W Bush’s national security team - to be prosecuted. The chances of that happening, however, are slim.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said perpetrators “cannot simply be granted impunity because of political expediency”. His words were echoed by other UN experts and watchdogs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Despite the Senate Intelligence Committee’s revelations about waterboarding and week-long bouts of water-soaked sleep deprivation in the CIA’s Rendition, Detention and Interrogation programme, the reality of seeing Bush-era leaders in the dock seems distant.

The body most directly responsible for prosecuting US officials is in Washington is the Department of Justice, but its officials say they have pursued two probes into mistreatment of detainees since 2000 and found the evidence was not sufficient to obtain a conviction. Reviewing this week’s Senate report did not offer new information to reopen cases, officials said.
US President Barack Obama has spoken of the need to “leave these techniques where they belong - in the past”, indicating he will not push for accountability.

Political pressure
Rights campaigners say US courts are the ideal venues for trials, because they can demand evidence from American officials and because potential defendants - such as Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - live in the United States.

“There’s lots of new evidence in this Senate report, the justice department should take another look,” Kathy Roberts, a lawyer with the Centre for Justice and Accountability, told Al Jazeera. “They shouldn’t be swayed by the political pressure they no doubt feel.”

When national courts are unwilling or unable to prosecute cases, the Netherlands-based International Criminal Court can step in. The US, however, is not a state party to the court, denying the ICC jurisdiction.
Some options remain. The ICC prosecutor had previously opened a preliminary investigation into US treatment of detainees in Afghanistan, which is an ICC member.

A potential case would have to meet stringent criteria, though. While torture is a war crime, the 119 detainees described in the Senate report may not warrant prosecution by a court designed to handle the world’s worst crimes.
“It would be a low number to trigger an ICC investigation,” Richard Dicker, an HRW lawyer, told Al Jazeera.

When the ICC was founded, Washington struck deals with allies to ensure that US citizens would not face extradition to the court. In 2002, Bush signed the American Service-Members’ Protection Act, dubbed the “Hague invasion clause”, authorising the use of military force to liberate Americans in ICC detention.
“The US has immunised itself from scrutiny by the ICC,” HRW researcher Reed Brody told Al Jazeera.

Universal jurisdiction
Some courts in Belgium, Spain, France and other European countries can prosecute severe rights abuses committed overseas. Famously, a Spanish court’s indictment led to the arrest of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in London in 1998.

Lawyers have sought prosecutions against Bush-era officials for war crimes in multiple European courts. In February 2011, Bush cancelled a trip to Switzerland, where alleged torture victims were planning to file a criminal complaint against him.
But Washington fights back. In 2003, Rumsfeld threatened to pull NATO’s headquarters out of Brussels because of a Belgian prosecution case against General Tommy Franks, the commander of US forces in Iraq, over cluster bombs killing civilians.

European states have repealed laws after cases become politically damaging. “From WikiLeaks, we know the US leaned on Spain to ensure that a case over Guantanamo Bay detention centre didn’t go anywhere,” said Brody, referring to the web publication of classified US documents.

Melina Milazzo, a policy counsel for the Centre for Victims of Torture, said the Senate’s 500-page report summary, and the unredacted details in the 6,700-page full version, which remains secret, may be valuable to European lawyers.
If I were a senior Bush administration official who was well-known to have engaged in this programme and advocated the use of torture, I would limit my vacations to the territory of the United States,” Milazzo told Al Jazeera.
Pardon me?
Similar cases could follow the Senate report on interrogation practises from 2001-07. “CIA rendition relied on the cooperation of foreign governments,” said Milazzo. “You’ll see many more cases coming up around the notion of complicity of European countries.”

This happened in Geneva last month. The UN’s anti-torture panel criticised US interrogation techniques under Bush and said Washington was not fully complying with the international anti-torture treaty. However, UN committees are often toothless and ignored.

Anthony Romero, director of the American Civil Liberties Union, called on Obama to pardon Bush and his top brass for permitting the use of torture. Granting a pardon “to torturers still makes my stomach turn”, Romero wrote in The New York Times, but it would set a precedent of criminality.

Other rights campaigners disagree. “It’s a clever idea, but we should be able to establish that torture is a crime without having to pardon one of its most important alleged perpetrators,” Roberts said.

The likelihood of seeing Bush-era torture planners in court remains small, but rights campaigners
are upbeat.
At the very least, publishing secret CIA torture techniques marks a breakthrough in government transparency - even if it doesn’t lead directly to justice for victims, they say.

“If you had told me 20 years ago that cases would be brought against sitting heads of state for war crimes and genocide, I would have thought you were reading from a science fiction novel,” said Dicker.
“I wouldn’t suggest these prosecutions are likely now, but you can never say never.”


CIA Director John Brennan has defended the agency’s post-9/11 interrogation methods but admitted some techniques were “harsh” and “abhorrent”.
Speaking at CIA headquarters, he said some officers acted beyond their authority but most did their duty.

A scathing Senate report two days earlier said “brutal” methods like waterboarding were ineffective.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, whose committee produced the report, said torture should now be banned by law.

In his comments Mr Brennan asserted the CIA “did a lot of things right” at a time when there were “no easy answers”.

“Our reviews indicate that the detention and interrogation programme produced useful intelligence that helped the United States thwart attack plans, capture terrorists and save lives,” Brennan told a rare CIA news conference in Virginia.

But we have not concluded that it was the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (EITs) within that programme that allowed us to obtain useful information from detainees who were subjected to them, he added.
“The cause-and-effect relationship between the use of EITs and useful information subsequently provided by the detainee is, in my view, unknowable.”
While he was speaking, Senator Feinstein was rejecting his arguments on Twitter.

One tweet said: “Brennan: ‘unknowable’ if we could have gotten the intel other ways. Study shows it IS knowable: CIA had info before torture. #ReadTheReport”.

Mr Brennan was a senior CIA official in 2002 when the detention and interrogation programme was put in place.
George W Bush, who was US president at that time, has not commented on the report, but his Vice-President Dick Cheney strongly rejected criticism of the CIA’s techniques.

“The men and women of the CIA did exactly what we wanted,” he told Fox News.
“We said we’ve got to go use enhanced techniques … and we’re going to find out. We’ve got Khaled Sheikh Mohammed who’s the mastermind of 9/11 and he is in our possession, we know he’s the architect. And what are we supposed to do? Kiss him on both cheeks and say please tell us what you know? Of course not,” Cheney said.

South Africans celebrate Miss World win

                                                        Rolene Strauss the crowned Miss World 2014

Johannesburg. South Africans are celebrating after Rolene Strauss was crowned as Miss World 2014, becoming the third South African to win the title.
President Jacob Zuma said Ms Strauss had “demonstrated the capability of South Africans to shine on the world stage”.
The 22-year-old medical student was named in London, with an estimated global audience of one billion. Her victory is trending on Twitter in the country, with many users posting #proudlySouthAfrican.
Miss Strauss said she wants to use the platform to raise awareness about the importance of education in South Africa.
“We are very proud that our very own has earned this prestigious title after months of hard work and dedication,” Mr Zuma said in a statement.

Who is Strauss?

born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, Rolene Strauss was crowned Miss South Africa 2014 on March 30, 2014. Strauss is a medical student from the University of the Free State. She’s postponing her studies to fulfill her duties as the reigning Miss South Africa.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

EAC leaders sign agreement on air space

L-R: Uganda’s President Museveni, Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta and Rwanda’s Paul Kagame pose for a group photo after the opening of the Northern Corridor Integration project at Safari Hotel Nairobi on Thursday


Regional leaders of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan have signed a pact on the management of the Northern Corridor Air Space bloc, which they said will contribute significantly to the development of infrastructure for transmission, power trade, and reduce the cost of air travel in the region.

In a joint communiqué, the heads of State issued after the Northern Corridor Integration Projects Summit in Nairobi on Thursday, appreciated the conclusion of the Power Purchase and Wheeling Agreements and the signed Memorandum of Understanding on the management of the Northern Corridor Air Space bloc.

State Minister for Transport Stephen Chebrot signed on behalf of Uganda, while Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure Micheal Kamau signed on behalf of Kenya, Mr James Musoni for Rwanda and Mr Kwong Danhier Gatluak on behalf of South Sudan.

The regional leaders also directed the minister of Infrastructure of Rwanda to convene a meeting of airline industry stakeholders to conclude the negotiations on the 5th Freedom Traffic Rights on the Entebbe-Nairobi-Juba route by December 31, and address the outstanding issues to reduce the cost of air travel in the region. The minister was asked to give a report at the next summit.

The representatives

Ethiopia was represented at the summit by Mr Habtamu Baye Chekole, Special Envoy to the Ethiopian President, Tanzania by its East African Co-operation minister, Mr Samuel Sita, while Burundi was represented by Ms Leontine Nzeyima.

The East African Community Secretary General, Mr Richard Sezibera attended. The heads of State condemned the heinous acts of terror by the Al Shabaab in Mandera.

Earlier in his opening remarks, President Uhuru Kenyatta said if Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Sudan continue their commitment, East Africa will be prosperous and secure for all in the region.

The summit recognised the gains realised from the operationalisation of the Single Customs Territory and on Information Communication and Technology.

They reiterated the importance of comprehensive and speedy operationalisation of One Network Area in Uganda. The summit further directed the ministers to operationalise the One Network Area for SMS, Data and Mobile Financial.