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Hong Kong billionaires in hot water

October 14, 2012 Leave a comment

Big News Network.com Saturday 13th October, 2012


In Hong Kong, the billionaire Kwok brothers have been given an adjournment in their high profile corruption trial.

The tycoons, Thomas and Raymond Kwok, were arrested in march by the Independent Commission Against Corruption which had been given the go-ahead to deal with widespread corruption.

The adjournment came when the prosecution called for more time to gather evidence.

The Kwok’s run Sun Hung Kai Properties which is listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange. It is the world’s second-largest property developer by stock-market value.

The brothers are charged with a total of eight offences including conspiracy to offer advantages to a public servant.

A top government official, Rafael Hui, has also been charged along with two other people, Thomas Chan, an executive in charge of land acquisition at Sun Hung Kai, and Francis Kwan, a former banker.

It has been alleged payments and unsecured loans totalling around US$5 million were made.

 

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The Freeh Report and Joe Paterno, Part One


July 18th, 2012 |

Part One: The Philadelphia Inquirer Mangles the Flawed Freeh Report

What do you do when reporters from a major metropolitan daily newspaper—in this case, The Philadelphia Inquirer—demonstrate that they are completely incapable of reading a published report—in this case The Freeh Report—and providing their readers with a coherent summary of its contents? What do you do when the egregious misreading of that report by these reporters presents its readers a very false picture of how officials at Penn State handled Mike McQueary’s allegations of child molestation by Jerry Sandusky in February 2001? Perhaps you would recommend that the Philadelphia Inquirer receive the “death penalty” and not be permitted to publish its sludge for a full year!

Readers of my website might recall that, on 9 February 2012, I wrote a scathing critique titled “Incompetent Journalists at the Philadelphia Inquirer Slandered Joe Paterno”. Especially outrageous was the Inquirer’s 4 December 2011 editorial, which asserted: “Instead of alerting authorities, university officials and staff participated in what has all the markings of a cover-up. Their dismissal of the reported rape of a boy in a locker-room shower as mere ‘horsing around’ was an outrageous example of a mind-set that the university must now eradicate…”

As we now know, thanks to my investigation into that “reported rape,” the Editorial Board’s outrage was misplaced, directed at a pseudo-event created by the person who falsely summarized McQueary’s testimony in the grand jury presentment. As I made very clear in my article, “Three False Assertions by the Grand Jury turned the Press and Public against Joe Paterno and Penn State,” McQueary’s first-hand sworn testimony contradicted the summary of his testimony found in the widely reported grand jury report.

McQueary’s first-hand testimony contained his assertion that he “did not see insertion,” He also insisted that he never used the words “anal” or “rape”– since day one. Finally, McQueary testified that he never used the words “anal intercourse,” “anal sex,” or “rape” when reporting what he saw to Paterno, Curley and Schultz. In fact, the jurors who convicted Sandusky multiple times found him not guilty of the charge of anal rape of Victim 2.

The Philadelphia Inquirer never took any steps to correct the record, notwithstanding my repeated emails to its reporters, columnists and editors.

Nevertheless, one longs for the abysmally poor journalism practiced by the Inquirer then, especially after reading the garbage that is found under the Inquirer’s front page headline for Sunday, 15 July 2012: “The Penn State Paper Trail.”

Consider the first two paragraphs of that article: “Three days after Mike McQueary saw Jerry Sandusky molesting a boy in a shower in 2001, two top administrators at Pennsylvania State University had begun to craft a plan.”

“They would not notify authorities.”

The reporters who reached this conclusion—Jeremy Roebuck and Craig R. McCoy—cited a memo dated 2/12/2001, written by Penn State Vice President Gary Schulz as proof. The memo states: “Talked with TMC [Athletic Director Tim Curley] reviewed 1998 history.
– agreed TMC will discuss with JVP [Joe Paterno] + advise we think TMC should meet w JS [Jerry Sandusky] on Friday.
– unless he ‘confesses’ to having a problem, TMC will indicate we need to have DPW [Dept. of Public Welfare] review the matter as an independent agency concerned w child welfare
– TMC will keep me posted.”

If this memo supposedly proves that “They would not notify authorities,” my first questions for Messrs. Roebuck and McCoy are these:

1. What were the chances of Jerry Sandusky actually confessing?

2. Has Sandusky ever confessed?

3. If the probability of gaining his confession was extremely low, doesn’t that mean (according to the very memo you cite) that the next step would be to tell Sandusky that this matter will be turned over to the Department of Public Welfare?

4. Is there any evidence in the memo to indicate that Schulz and Curley had no intention of carrying out their threat?”

5. If the Schultz’s 12 February 2001 memo proves, as you allege, that “They would not notify authorities,” why did Schultz call the University’s outside legal counsel on 11 February 2001 to discuss “Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse? Why waste the time, if you have no intention of reporting the abuse?

Here’s another set of questions:

1. When you wrote, “The decision not to contact authorities was made final two weeks later in a flurry of e-mails among Curley, Schultz and then university president Graham B. Spanier,” did you actually read those e-mails before you went off the deep accusatory end?

After all, Schultz’s hand written notes for a meeting on 2/25/01 include the steps that are to be taken concerning Sandusky: “3) Tell chair of Board of Second Mile 2) Report to Dept. of Welfare. 1) Tell JS to avoid bringing children alone into Lasch Bldg who’s the chair??”

2. Is there anything in those notes that indicates Schultz, Curley and Spanier decided not to report to the Department of Welfare?

The next day’s e-mail from Schultz to Curley says: “Tim, I’m assuming that you’ve got the ball to 1) talk with the subject ASAP regarding the future appropriate use of the University facility; 2) contacting the chair of the Charitable Organization; and 3) contacting the Dept. of Welfare.”

3. Is there anything in that e-mail, which indicates that Schultz, Curley, and Spanier had made the decision not to report to authorities?

4. Again, I ask, did you actually read the material you reported on?

Readers who actually think about what they are reading will have noticed that Schultz’s notes for 2/25/01 and his e-mail of 2/26/01 contain no reference to any confession by Jerry Sandusky. They simply state a plan of action, which includes reporting to the Department of Welfare—as Pennsylvania State law requires. To that extent, these notes and e-mail actually sever the link that Messrs. Roebuck and McCoy attempt to create between Schultz’s notes of 2/12/01 and the “flurry of e-mails” two weeks later which “made final” their decision not to report Sandusky to the authorities.

In fact, it’s Curley’s e-mail to Schultz and Spanier on 2/27/01 which reintroduces the idea of a confession by Sandusky. As will be shown below, Curley is uncomfortable about going to everyone but Sandusky, “the person involved.” Here’s the relevant portion of Curley’s e-mail:

“After giving it more thought and talking it over with Joe yesterday—I am uncomfortable with what we agreed were the next steps. I am having trouble with going to everyone, but the person involved. I think I would be more comfortable meeting with the person and tell him about the information we received. I would plan to tell him we are aware of the first situation. I would indicate we feel there is a problem and we want to assist the individual to get professional help. Also, we feel the responsibility at some point soon to inform his organization and [sic] maybe the other one about the situation. If he is cooperative we would work with him to handle informing the organization. If not, we do not have a choice and will inform the two groups. Additionally, I will let him know that his guests are not permitted to use our facilities. I need some help on this one. What do you think about this approach?”

Curley’s e-mail not only reintroduces the idea of a confession by Sandusky, but also implies that if Sandusky agrees to get professional help the Department of Welfare would not be notified. Spanier and Schultz not only agree with Curley’s proposal, but also praise it for being “humane.”

Thus, all three seemed prepared to violate Pennsylvania’s law to report allegations of sexual abuse if Sandusky admitted his problem and agreed to seek professional help. Presumably, that plan was designed to prevent more “incidents” like those of ’98 and ’01 while rescuing a friend. (I condemn this approach, but understand it.)

In fact, Spanier admits: “The only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we become vulnerable for not having reported it. But that can be assessed down the road.”

But, again, I must ask: What is the probability that Sandusky will confess and agree to professional help. I believe that it was a lead pipe cinch that Sandusky would not confess.

Consequently, if Messrs. Spanier, Curley and Schultz stick to Curley’s revised plan, , these officials must report McQueary’s allegation to the Department of Welfare when Sandusky fails to confess.

Yet, that’s not the conclusion reached by the authors of the Freeh Report. In its grotesquely erroneous “gotcha” moment, the report asserts: “A reasonable conclusion from Spanier’s email statement that “[t]he only downside for us is if the message isn’t ‘heard’ and acted upon, and we then become vulnerable for not having reported it” is that Spanier, Schultz and Curley were agreeing not to report Sandusky’s activity.”

No, that’s not a reasonable conclusion! Absolutely not! It totally ignores that part of Curley’s plan to report to the Department of Welfare in the extremely probable event that Sandusky refuses to confess and seek treatment.

Clearly, the Freeh Report has overreached. And I can’t avoid the suspicion that this overreach led to another—the barely supported conclusion that the need “to avoid the consequences of bad publicity” explains the cover up.

Nevertheless, it’s worth noting that the Freeh Report’s erroneous “gotcha” moment—which specifically identifies the day when the cover-up by Spanier, Schultz and Curley commenced—excludes Joe Paterno.

Perhaps as a silver lining in its dark cloud of journalistic malpractice, Messrs. Roebuck and McCoy also have little to say about Joe Paterno. Appropriately so. Nevertheless, they appear to not only have swallowed the unreasonable gotcha conclusion reached by the Freeh Report, but also to have attempted to work backward from that false conclusion in order to demonstrate that the decision not to report actually can be traced back to Schultz’s notes dated 2/12/01. It’s shoddy journalism at its worst!

An unbiased reading of the sketchy evidence would indicate that the decision not to report McQueary’s allegations to the Department of Welfare occurred after 7 March 2001, the day Curley actually met with Sandusky.

The available evidence suggests that Curley never confronted Sandusky and Sandusky confessed to nothing. Worse, Sandusky (brazenly?) offered to give Curley the name of the boy who was in the Lasch building shower with him that night—and Curley refused to take it.

If this information is correct (a very big “if”), then, according to the plan all three agreed to, one of them was obligated to report Sandusky to the Department of Welfare. But that didn’t happen and we still do not know why—even after the publication of the Freeh Report.

In the Freeh Report [p. 77], Spanier claims that Curley subsequently told him that Sandusky had confessed and agreed to get professional help. But, we know that didn’t happen, so somebody’s lying.

Moreover, in that same Freeh Report [p. 78], the lawyer representing the Director of the Second Mile charity claims that Curley told his client that “nothing inappropriate occurred.” That’s the story being told by Spanier, Schultz and Curley today – and they’re sticking to it.

(Personally, I find it difficult to believe that both Curley and Schultz came to the conclusion that “nothing inappropriate occurred,” especially after Joe Paterno reported to them McQueary’s allegations of something sexual between Sandusky and a young boy, and especially given the fact that both of them knew about the investigation of Sandusky in 1998. Paterno’s report, alone, should have triggered an automatic message to the Department of Welfare.)

Let’s hope that the trial of Curley and Schultz brings resolution to that assertion.

Source article:
http://www.walter-c-uhler.com/?p=541

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Colorado Springs under threat as 32,000 flee Waldo fire


27 June 2012 Last updated at 21:31 ET

media images

Gov John Hickenlooper said “there is nothing firefighters could do when you get this kind of weather”

More than 32,000 people have fled Colorado‘s second-biggest city because of raging wildfires that have hit six other US states.

Traffic and smoke choked the streets as people left Colorado Springs and a nearby US Air Force Academy.

Evacuation orders were issued for much of the city as the fire doubled in size to over 24 sq miles (62 sq km). Some 800 firefighters have been deployed.

President Barack Obama is to tour the affected areas on Friday.

Just weeks into the annual wildfire season, there are also fires in Montana, Wyoming, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Utah.

In Utah, a body was found in the ashes of a fast-moving wildfire to the south of Salt Lake City.

‘Epic firestorm’

At a press briefing on Wednesday morning, officials in Colorado said fire crews had worked through the night. But the blaze was only 5% contained.

Continue reading the main story

“Start Quote

As we were driving, the ash was falling out of the sky”

Hillory Davis Colorado Springs resident

Weather conditions were not favourable.

Dry, hot temperatures are expected to continue across much of the US this week, with little chance of rain.

“We do expect all of our lines to be challenged today,” incident commander Richard Harvey said, adding that erratic winds could make their job harder.

One Colorado Springs hospital said it had treated about 20 patients in the last 24 hours for respiratory-related illnesses, a local newspaper reported.

The Waldo Canyon Fire, which began on Saturday, has been fanned towards Colorado Springs by winds of up to 65mph (104km/h).

A helicopter drops water on the Waldo Canyon fire burning behind the US Air Force Academy, west of Colorado Springs, 27 June 2012

A helicopter drops water on the Waldo Canyon fire burning behind the US Air Force Academy

“It was like looking at the worst movie set you could imagine,” Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper said after surveying the fire from the air on Tuesday.

“It’s almost surreal. You look at that, and it’s like nothing I’ve seen before.”

Heavy ash and smoke was billowing from the hillsides west of Colorado Springs and southbound traffic was temporarily closed on Interstate 25, which runs through the city.

Fleeing residents covered their faces with T-shirts to breathe through the smoke.

Smoke from the Waldo Canyon fire drapes the foothills on 27 June 2012 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The fire is threatening many homes in the densely populated Colorado Springs area

“It took us an hour to drive a mile because of the traffic. It was really tense. As we were driving, the ash was falling out of the sky. We couldn’t see the street because of the smoke,” Colorado Springs resident Hillory Davis, 22, told the BBC.

Meanwhile, Richard Brown, the Colorado Springs fire chief, described the blaze as a “firestorm of epic proportions”.

The city of 419,000 people is Colorado’s second largest, situated just off the main north-south highway.

It is home to the sprawling campus of the US Air Force Academy, the top school for cadets joining the Air Force.

On Wednesday afternoon, academy officials said the fire had spread to about 10 acres of the campus. Some 2,100 people were evacuated from base housing overnight.

Firefighters from the Air Force and local crews were trying to stop the blaze reaching the academy.

Elsewhere in Colorado, the High Park fire in the west of the state has been burning for weeks and remains barely half contained, although fewer homes are under imminent threat.

In pictures: Colorado wildfires

27 JUNE 2012, US & CANADA

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Categories: Top Stories, U.S., US News

Battling Job Barriers with a Tube of Lipstick

August 19, 2011 Leave a comment

Released: 8/18/2011 8:00 PM EDT
Source: University of Cincinnati

Newswise — Generations of American women have turned to door-to-door sales when a male-dominated workforce and lack of education prevented them from entering the workforce. They were known as the Tupperware Lady or the Avon Lady as they showed off their newest products to the “Lady of the House.”

New research out of the University of Cincinnati finds it’s a strategy that is now bringing success to some women in third world countries facing discrimination in the formal job market. Erynn Masi de Casanova, a UC assistant professor of sociology, will present her research on Aug. 21 at the 106th annual meeting of the American Sociological Association in Las Vegas.

Casanova’s research into women turning to direct sales in urban Ecuador resulted in her first book, “Making Up the Difference: Women, Beauty and Direct Selling in Ecuador,” which was published by the University of Texas Press in June. Her field work included face-to-face interviews with 40 women that she conducted between 2007 and 2008, as well as general contacts with more than 100 women in urban Ecuador.

She explains that gender discrimination was not really a big complaint among the women because the labor market is so segregated by gender. “However, they said they felt that if they were over the age of 25, or if they were considered unattractive or had darker skin, they felt those factors kept them out of the formal labor market,” says Casanova.

For women who had earned a college degree, professional jobs were hard to get once they became mothers, due to the time demands. All of them were looking for an alternative to the low-paying, exploitative jobs like cleaning houses or watching children, says Casanova.

Not working was not an option, says Casanova, who adds that some of the women held other side jobs in addition to direct selling, such as running a little restaurant or store in their home. The women are also the primary caretaker of the home and family.

In addition to adjustable hours outside the 9 to 5 workday, direct selling was also appealing because of the demand for the product, even in a developing country dominated by low-income families. “Everybody wants to look good. Everybody wants to smell good. Everybody wants to have nice skin. Those are demands that cut across all income levels,” says Casanova. Plus, clients could pay for their products in installments, which was ideal for customers who could not afford to pay full price at a department store cosmetics counter.

“In a time of heightened unemployment in both rich and poor countries, and the expansion of informal work such as direct selling, the work strategies and experiences of these Ecuadorian women offer valuable insight into the challenges faced by women who want and need to work,” says Casanova.

“I was also surprised that men took a very active role in direct selling, either alongside their wife or a female relative, or on their own. They saw opportunities in direct selling as well, either to purchase a product that they could not otherwise afford or to make a little extra money,” says Casanova.

Casanova’s book received the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) Sarah A. Whaley Award for the book’s examination of women and labor. In addition to her appointment in the UC Department of Sociology, she is a faculty affiliate of the UC Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences.

Categories: Business/Markets

Cancer-stricken WTC worker gets $0 settlement check

August 1, 2011 1 comment

Then they took a 33.3 percent fee of $2,124.

They also subtracted $352, a fee to the lawyer who referred him.

The remaining $4,950 was withheld for unspecified “liens,” the letter says. Galvis thinks this was repayment of workers’ compensation for aid.

“I have hit rock bottom,” said Galvis, who is jobless and $30,000 in debt. “I was expecting a check, and you can imagine how I felt when I opened it. I couldn’t believe it. I thought it was a joke.”

The father of two, who lives in Glendale with his fiancée and her two kids, said he had to sell his car and relies on relatives for rent. “I get collection agencies whenever I open the mail. What little credit I had I don’t have anymore,” he said.

Galvis said he arrived in New York from Bogota, Colombia, in February 2001. Hired by contractors clearing dust and rubble from Merrill Lynch offices next to Ground Zero, Galvis said he toiled 16 hours a day for six months in a jumpsuit and paper mask that would tear when he sweated. At $8 an hour, he made close to $800 a week.

In May 2005, a friend gave him a business card passed out by the law firm. A representative came to his home.

“The man told me that more than likely I will get sick and I would get 60 percent of whatever he won,” Galvis said. “He even mentioned the words ‘millions of dollars.’ ”

In April 2010, he got a $10,000 offer. A letter from the law firm said he could expect about $5,000 after expenses and fees. It warned that if his case went to trial and he lost, he could owe the firm up to $100,000 in costs. He took the settlement.

His claim cited chronic rhinosinusitis and sleep disorders. He was diagnosed with throat cancer last August and began chemotherapy and radiation. But it was “too late” to adjust his claim.

“It was our pleasure to represent you in this matter,” the law firm says in a note that arrived with the zero-dollar check.

It was no pleasure for Galvis.

“I think they are taking advantage of the ignorance of people such as myself,” he said.

The total Merrill settlement came to $18 million for about 400 clients, documents show.

Galvis is one of nearly 10,000 Ground Zero workers represented by Napoli Bern, which led talks for a separate settlement with the city for $712 million.

Anger is also stirring among those clients, who have started getting checks for 40 percent of their total awards. Several told The Post the payouts were less than those estimated by Napoli Bern. Some said they felt duped.

Submitted by dan fey

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Categories: Health, US News

Pick Your Poison

June 7, 2011 4 comments

Joel S. Hirschhorn

One of the hardest truths to accept is that for most sources of pain hitting humans there seems to be nothing effective for government to do. Nowadays, those of us who do not gobble various distractions but work to stay connected to reality see two dreadful conditions. Nature seems mad as hell. People are dying or suffering from earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, extreme heat, huge snow storms and more. While some idiots keep trying to deny the reality of global climate change, those of us who have lived a long time see firsthand that killer weather events are more prevalent than ever.

While you may be fighting your paranoia about being victimized by foul weather the other ugly reality already devastating the lives of so many people is a dismal set of economic conditions. Contrary to all the usual lies by politicians about the economic recovery, a mountain of data shows non-delusional people that only the wealthy have escaped economic pain.

According to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts poll, 55 percent of Americans still rate the national economy as poor, and just 47 percent believe their kids will have a higher standard of living than they enjoy. If more people paid closer attention to the facts, those percentages should be more like 80 or 90 percent.

The US has recovered just 1.8 million of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the downturn versus an average 5.3 million job gains in the same period of the 1970s and 1980s recoveries. The number of people with jobs has barely changed since June 2009 — up just 0.4 percent. Many economists say the turnaround shows no signs of generating the 300,000 to 400,000 monthly payroll additions needed to rapidly lower the unemployment rate. There are probably about 50 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or no longer trying to get decent jobs, or who are close relatives of them. The rise of the official unemployment rate in May, 2011 (the real level is twice as high) and a paltry new number of jobs just rubbed salt in the wound. There simply is no basis for believing that many millions of new, good jobs will be created for many years.

Add the latest news that the housing market has turned even worse again, leading to the distressful conclusion that a double-dip recession has hit housing, which portends even wider economic pain. Single family home prices dropped in March, 2011 to their lowest level since April 2009. Millions of home foreclosures will be followed by even more. Of all homes with mortgages 23 percent are worth less than what is owed.

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How China should rule the world

March 23, 2011 4 comments

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9ba6d850-54c2-11e0-b1ed-00144feab49a.html#axzz1HNvmWUOA
FT: How China should rule the world
China surely recognises that the accumulation of huge official claims on “safe” foreign liabilities must be matched by a corresponding supply. Unfortunately, the demand is now met via destabilising fiscal and external deficits in the US. China could help itself by accelerating liberalisation of capital outflows and increasing exchange rate flexibility.

Furthermore, China needs to develop a strategy for reform of the global monetary system that fits with its interests in managing the interface between its domestic development and global stability. One desirable move would be towards co-ordination of exchange rate management with other export-oriented emerging economies. It is also in China’s interests to secure a pragmatic accommodation with its partners in the discussions within the Group of 20 leading economies. This should focus on indicators of disequilibrium, methods of adjustment and liquidity provision for countries in difficulties.

As for finance, China’s objectives must be: first, to create a domestic system capable of supporting its own economic development; second, to help promote a global system that supports a tolerably stable world economy; and, third, to protect the former from the excesses of the latter. In achieving this difficult reconciliation China’s policies should be guided by the understanding that, in the long run, its financial system will be the hub of global finance. Yet the transition to full integration will be not only lengthy but also complex and fraught, with full integration of banking particularly dangerous.

Finally, let us look at access to resources. For the first time in its long history, China is dependent on access to imports of industrial raw materials. It is already the world’s largest importer of most raw materials. For China, policy in this area is of potentially the highest importance. Its immediate interest is to gain access to the world’s resources on favourable terms. It has decided, quite reasonably, to use its cheap capital and labour to secure this end. That is not only in China’s own interests but in those of other consumers. Since resources have global prices, any increase in supply is to the benefit of all consumers.

Nevertheless, it would be helpful if a consensus could be reached on the terms of investment and trade in natural resources. One aim should be to ensure that commodity-exporting countries – particularly poor ones, with limited capacity for governance – benefit from foreign investment and exports of natural resources. China will be a central player in securing such agreements. Above all, the world needs to agree that the underlying principle must remain those of free trade in open world markets. Prices need to be set in global competition, with, of course, the possibility of long-term contracts.

As China grows, its impact on the world expands exponentially. It must reconcile the imperatives of its rapid development with the need to take full account of its impact on the world. It will have to develop its own agenda, one that secures its linked objectives of rapid development at home and stability abroad. It will not be easy. China has no alternative.

submitted by dan fey

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Categories: Business/Markets, World