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Court orders Trump to hand over 8 years of tax returns

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 A federal judge has paved the way to forcing U.S. President Donald Trump to hand over eight years of tax returns to a Manhattan district attorney, as the court rejected the idea that the sitting occupant of the White House cannot be investigated.

Judge Victor Marrero of Manhattan federal court found that there were no grounds for an argument from Trump’s legal team that an investigation would impede the president’s ability to carry out his constitutional duties.

Lawyers for Trump plan to appeal the ruling, CNN and The New York Times reported.

The ruling rejects the idea that the president is totally immune from all criminal processes, saying that no one is above the law, while also noting that Trump effectively sought to shield his family, not only himself.

Opponents have long sought the wealthy real estate mogul’s tax returns, and Trump, breaking with decades of tradition, refused to release the documents when he ran for high office.

Manhattan district attorney Cyrus R Vance Jr is seeking the tax returns as part of an investigation into alleged hush money payments to two women, including the adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Vance’s case involves Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer who is now in jail, and whether any illegal campaign contributions were made as part of his efforts to pay Daniels.

Trump has denied having an affair with the actress.

Vance is a Democrat, and his efforts are being painted by the Trump side as an effort by political opponents to go after the president.

YEE

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim

Foreign

Spanish dictator, Franco left legacy of $1.9m to wife, daughter – reports

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Dictator Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975, left the legacy of more than $1.9 million to his wife, Carmen Polo, and daughter Carmen, according to El Mundo newspaper.

El Mundo released the late leader’s will for the first time on Monday.

The will was drawn up on Feb. 20, 1968, more than 7 years before the dictator’s death.

According to the document, the main portion of Franco’s fortune was in real estate, namely the famous Pazo de Meiras castle in the Spanish province of A Coruna.

The estate, together with the adjacent areas, was estimated to be worth about $1 million, while the total value of Franco’s property constituted about $1.7 million.

Other assets included cash accounts and shares in several companies.

Franco’s famous Mercedes car, given to him by Hitler on the dictator’s 50th anniversary in 1942, was transferred to the Spanish National Legacy Foundation by a court decision.

In late October, the remains of the Spanish leader were removed from the basilica of the Valley of the Fallen, a national monument carved into a mountain about 30 miles from Madrid.

They were moved to the Mingorrubio-El Pardo municipal cemetery in Madrid where they were reburied next to his late wife.

The exhumation was one of the first decisions by the socialist government, headed by Pedro Sanchez, who took office in June 2018. (Sputnik/NAN)

Edited by Emmanuel Yashim/Tajudeen Atitebi

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UN report says 7m children deprived of liberty

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An estimated 7 million children are not free as they are kept in prisons, police custody, migration detention centres, homes for the disabled, and welfare institutions every year, according to a UN human rights study.

The authors said on Monday that their conservative estimate went against the Convention on the Rights of the Child, a UN pact among nearly 200 countries, which only allows detention below the age of 18 as a short-term measure of last resort.

Although progress has been made in recent years to tackle the problem, much more needs to be done to get children out of large institutions and to end the detention of underage migrants, said Manfred Nowak, the Austrian rights scholar who led the study.

“It is our responsibility to give children in detention back their childhood,” he wrote.

The report warned that psychiatric disorders among children could increase tenfold during detention, and that released children died much younger than those who had never been detained.

Nowak’s team found that at least 410,000 children were held every year in prions and pre-trial detention, while 1 million were held in police custody.

In addition, eighty countries are detaining a total of 330,000 migrant children.

A further 5.4 million children live in welfare institutions, which “by their very nature, are unable to operate without depriving children of their liberty,” the report said.

The rights experts also looked at conflict zones such as Syria and Iraq, where tens of thousands of children of alleged Islamic State extremists are confined to camps.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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FAO pledges support for prudent use of antimicrobials in Africa

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Monday pledged support to enhance the prudent use of antimicrobials in Africa’s farming systems.

Scott Newman, Senior Animal Health and Livestock Production Officer at FAO Regional Office for Africa, said the support will help reduce antimicrobial resistance in agricultural systems and the environment.

“The misuse of these drugs, associated with the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant micro-organisms, places everyone at great risk and poses a threat to public health, sustainable food production and potentially to biodiversity and ecological systems,’’ Newman said.

He said that the sheer magnitude and complexity of the antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial pollution calls for a coordinated and integrated approach to eradicating the challenge.

Newman urged a multi-sectoral approach inclusive of the public and animal health sectors, the agricultural production sectors, environment and ecosystem sectors to contain antimicrobial resistance.

He noted that antibiotics in the environment can affect the overall composition and diversity of the microbial community crucial for the performance of important ecological functions such as nutrient cycling, decomposition and primary productivity in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Antibiotics present in the environment at low concentrations can accumulate in human populations through long-term exposure to drinking water, food or consumer goods with unknown health consequences, according to Newman.

He said that antimicrobials play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of humans, farm animals (aquatic and terrestrial) and plants.

“We are supporting responsible use of antimicrobials because their use is essential to food security, human well-being and to animal welfare.’’

He urged African countries to improve awareness on antimicrobials, develop the capacity for surveillance and monitoring, strengthen governance and promote good practices in food and agricultural systems, including the prudent use of antimicrobials.

Due to the dangers posed by antimicrobials, FAO, World Health Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme developed the tripartite work plan on antimicrobials targeting 10 countries including Kenya, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Zimbabwe in support of the Global Action Plan on antimicrobials. (Xinhua/NAN)

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Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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S. Sudan group urges respect for nation’s independence amid political changes in Sudan

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Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement said its independence from Sudan in July 2011 was a choice made by the people and should be respected by the political elite.

Spokesman for the Southern Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, Puok Both Baluang made this known to Sputnik on Monday.

The comment was made against the backdrop of recent developments in neighboring Sudan, as Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok took office in August after being appointed by the Sovereign Council, Sudan’s ruling authority.

On Sept. 12, Hamdok visited South Sudan on his first official visit as the head of the government.

“The secession of South Sudan, or rather its independence from great Sudan in July 2011, resulted in the full will of the Southern Sudan people, their absolute choice through a historic referendum,” Baluang said.

He added that the political elites could only respect the will of the people and their right on the self-determination.

“We highly respect and appreciate the voices, especially from our brothers in the northern part of Sudan, which recently started calling for the reunification of the two states, following the recent political transformations in neighboring Sudan,” the spokesman noted.

He stressed that the countries could achieve the desired economic and political power by strengthening trade relations through partnership agreements.

South Sudan separated from Sudan in 2011 after conducting a referendum.

Despite the generally peaceful separation, there are several disputed territories between the two countries, including the Abyei Area, the Kafia Kingi region, and the town of Heglig. (Sputnik/NAN)
YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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UK lawmaker blames HSBC, others over corruption in S. Africa under president Zuma

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British lawmaker Peter Hain said corruption under South Africa’s former president Jacob Zuma was enabled by international banks, companies, and governments which should now seek to recover the loot they helped to launder.

Hain made this known on Monday in his submission to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

HSBC, Standard Chartered, and India’s Bank of Baroda, as well as their senior directors, were “directly culpable” in the looting of South Africa’s treasury under Zuma.

The British lawmaker was invited to give evidence because he had already named several corporates he was investigating under parliamentary privilege in 2017 as complicit in state capture.

HSBC said that it fully supported the commission’s inquiry, while Standard Chartered said that there was no evidence linking it to the Guptas directly.

Bank of Baroda did not respond to a request for comment.

“They’re all up to their neck in this.

“They continued because of course the corporates concerned, including the banks, were making money out of it.

“The Guptas could not have amassed this illicit wealth without the corporates and the banks … being their little helpers,” Hain told the inquiry.

Zuma, who was removed as president in 2018 over corruption allegations, is facing a judicial inquiry.

He has agreed to cooperate but has dismissed the probe as prejudiced.

Part of its brief is to investigate accusations that the Guptas – prominent businessmen brothers Atul, Ajay and Rajesh — influenced Zuma over political appointments and state contracts.

Hain, a labour lord, and former anti-Apartheid activist called on the banks, global corporates, and foreign governments to cooperate better so that all those involved are brought to justice.

In his submission, he said that a number of international banks helped the Guptas cloak the source of their funds – by allowing them to open and maintain bank accounts.

He added that the banks maintained bank accounts even after allegations of their involvement in corruption became public, and also by allowing them to transfer illicit funds into these accounts.

“The warning signs were there and they did very little about it,” he said of the banks.

He added that when he had tried to question the banks after he had named them in parliament as complicity he “found a great reluctance, citing … client confidentiality, which is the excuse they hide behind….

“The international banks, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and Bank of Baroda are hiding behind this principle to conceal their complicity.”

The role of global finance in facilitating corruption, fraud, and money laundering has come under increasing scrutiny over the past decade.

However, the fight against financial crime is mostly dealt with by national authorities, who often fail to cooperate effectively.

Among his recommendations are to improve transparency around the beneficial owners of companies.

He also proposes better programmes for auditing the due diligence conducted by banks to ensure that they complied with anti-money laundering laws and stiffer penalties for individuals and organisations that failed to do so.

A HSBC spokeswoman said that the bank would continue to investigate any potential links to the Guptas or Gupta-related individuals and companies should new information come to light.

“This is no easy task given the lengths to which the Guptas have gone to disguise their activity,” she said.

A spokesman for Standard Chartered said: “We have found no evidence that we banked the Guptas directly, but we closed all accounts we identified as linked to their business interests by early 2014.”

It declined to comment further on the grounds of client confidentiality.

The Guptas also denied the accusations, saying that they had been victims of a political attack.

They have since closed their South African operations in mining, media, and technology.

According to Hain’s report, they currently reside in Dubai.

The British lawmaker called on the Dubai authorities to extradite them to South Africa to face questioning over the allegations.

(Edited by Fatima Sule/Emmanuel Yashim)

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French probe finds 184 alleged victims of doctor facing rape charges

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French investigators following up on the case of a doctor facing child rape and sex abuse charges have found 184 more persons, who want to file complaints against him, prosecutors said.

Of those, 181 were under age at the time of the doctor’s alleged actions, La Rochelle prosecutor Laurent Zuchowicz said in a statement.

Zuchowicz did not say what offences the complainants mentioned.

They were identified thanks to items found when the doctor’s home was searched in the initial investigation.

Most of the alleged victims lived in the western Britanny region, the prosecutor said.

Edited by Fatima Sule/Sadiya Hamza

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