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Sun, 23 Jan 2022
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Iran sentences four to death over banking scandal

An Iranian court has sentenced four people to death for their roles in a billion-dollar banking fraud scandal that forced bank executives out of their jobs and tainted the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, state media reported on Monday.

The embezzlement case, discovered in September 2011, revolved around forged documents allegedly used by the directors of an Iranian investment company to secure loans totaling $2.6 billion to buy state-owned enterprises.

Thirty-nine people were tried for their involvement in the fraud.

"We are typing their sentences now and according to the sentence that was issued, four of the accused in this case were sentenced to death," judiciary spokesman Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejei told the IRNA state news agency.

He did not name the individuals sentenced to death.

Two others were sentenced to life imprisonment and others received sentences ranging from 25 years and down, Mohseni-Ejei was quoted as saying.

Che Guevara

Occupy the Dam: Brazil's Indigenous Uprising

In the Amazonian backcountry, tribes are challenging construction of the world's third-largest dam - by dismantling it. Here's what they can teach us about standing up to power.
© Photos courtesy of International Rivers
Indigenous tribesmen stand firm near the Belo Monte Dam.

Last month, hundreds of indigenous demonstrators began dismantling a dam in the heart of Brazil's rainforest to protest the destruction it will bring to lands they have loved and honored for centuries. The Brazilian government is determined to promote construction of the massive, $14 billion Belo Monte Dam, which will be the world's third largest when it is completed in 2019. It is being developed by Norte Energia, a consortium of ten of the world's largest construction, engineering, and mining firms set up specifically for the project.

The Belo Monte Dam is the most controversial of dozens of dams planned in the Amazon region and threatens the lives and livelihoods of thousands of Amazonian people, plants, and animals. Situated on the Xingu River, the dam is set to flood roughly 150 square miles of already-stressed rainforest and deprive an estimated 20,000 people of their homes, their incomes, and - for those who succumb to malaria, bilharzia, and other diseases carried by insects and snails that are predicted to breed in the new reservoir - their lives. Moreover, the influx of immigrants will bring massive disruption to the socioeconomic balance of the region. People whose livelihoods have primarily depended on hunting and gathering or farming may suddenly find themselves forced to take jobs as manual laborers, servants, and prostitutes


Bomb threats lead to evacuation of 8 Walmarts, 2 in Kansas City area

US, Missouri - At least eight Walmarts across Missouri have been evacuated Friday evening after bomb threats.

Two of the stores are in the Kansas City area.

Two and a half hours after the threats were called in, police declared the scenes as safe.

Bizarro Earth

Mississippi church refuses couple's wedding because they are black

© ABC News
Te'Andrea and Charles Wilson were denied a wedding at Crystal Springs church in Mississippi
A Jackson, Miss., couple's dream of exchanging vows in the church they had been attending was dashed last week when the church pastor told them that some members had complained about the black couple getting married in the predominantly white First Baptist Church of Crystal Springs

Charles and Te'Andrea Wilson said it was devastating to move their wedding to another church only days before the July 21 wedding. Invitations and the printed program had the date and the church's name on them.

Church insiders say five or six members went to the Rev. Stan Weatherford after seeing the couple's wedding rehearsal two days before their Saturday wedding.

The church pastor said he was surprised by the reaction of some church members.


Drunken Gang of Girls Stab 63-Year-Old Man on New York City Subway

© G.N. Miller/New York Post
Cuffed: Police detain some of the women allegedly involved in an attack on a straphanger.
Apparently, courtesy isn't contagious on the No. 6 train.

A drunken, rowdy group of young women stabbed a 63-year-old male straphanger this morning after he had the audacity to suggest they pipe down, authorities said.

"The eight females were acting stupid. He just told them, 'Relax, calm down,' '' one police source said.

Cops said the victim, whose name they have not released, was first assaulted and then stabbed in the left shoulder about 6:15 a.m.

Witnesses pointed out his attackers to cops and all eight women, ages 15 to 20, were arrested leaving the 23rd Street station, officials said.

An MTA bus driver who witnssed the bust said the women were carrying bottles of Corona and mouthed off to cops as they cuffed them, screaming "We didn't do anything!" as they were led away.

The man was in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital, cops said.


Spain Angers Feminists with Plan to Tighten Abortion Law

© Agence France-Presse/Dani Pozo
Women with slogans written on their bodies reading "Yes to life, but I choose" and "Priests and judges out of my body" take part in a protest against a reform of the country's abortion law recently proposed by the Spanish conservative government, at Tirso de Molina Square in Madrid.
Spain's conservative government has provoked a storm among women's groups with plans to tighten abortion laws to make the procedure illegal in cases where the foetus is deformed.

About 100 people took part in a rally in Madrid's central Tirso de Molina square on Sunday to protest against the proposed reform which they argue will take Spain back to the era of the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco.

The crowd, mostly women, chanted "We give birth, we decide" and "Not one step backwards".

"It seems to us to be a throwback to the Franco dictatorship and we are not willing to accept under any circumstances measures that will take away our rights," said Justa Montero, member of the Feminist Assembly, one of the women's groups that organised the protest.

The government announced Friday it would alter an abortion law introduced by its Socialist predecessors in 2010 which gave women the legal right to abortion on demand for up to 14 weeks of pregnancy.

The 2010 law also allowed women the legal right to abort up to the 22nd week of pregnancy in cases where the mother's health is at risk or the foetus shows serious deformities.

In cases of extreme malformation of a foetus, an abortion could be carried out at any time if approved by an ethics committee.


Oregon Man Sentenced to 30 Days in Jail for Collecting Rainwater on His Property

© The Associated Press
A rural Oregon man was sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail and over $1,500 in fines because he had three reservoirs on his property to collect and use rainwater.

Gary Harrington of Eagle Point, Ore., says he plans to appeal his conviction in Jackson County (Ore.) Circuit Court on nine misdemeanor charges under a 1925 law for having what state water managers called "three illegal reservoirs" on his property - and for filling the reservoirs with rainwater and snow runoff.

"The government is bullying," Harrington told CNSNews.com in an interview Thursday.

"They've just gotten to be big bullies and if you just lay over and die and give up, that just makes them bigger bullies. So, we as Americans, we need to stand on our constitutional rights, on our rights as citizens and hang tough. This is a good country, we'll prevail," he said.

The court has given Harrington two weeks to report to the Jackson County Jail to begin serving his sentence.


Massachusetts Father Shoots Children Before Killing Himself

© The Associated Press/John Ferrarone
The Benway house on Main Street in Oxford, Massachusetts.
Prosecutors say Daryl Benway killed his daughter and injured his son at the home he had shared with recently separated wife

A man who had recently separated from his wife shot his two children, killing his seven-year-old daughter, before turning the gun on himself, prosecutors said.

A family member called police Saturday night after finding the bodies of 41-year-old Daryl Benway and his daughter, Abigail, in the master bedroom of their two-story Oxford home, Worcester County district attorney Joseph Early said.

Benway's nine-year-old son, Owen, was found shot in the head in the kitchen and was taken to UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center in serious condition. Owen has been in pediatric intensive care, a spokesman for Early said Sunday. He said he had no additional information about Owen Benway's condition, and a hospital spokeswoman would not comment.


Nepal to Crack Down on Witchcraft Accusations

© Kiran Chapagain/Khabar
Sunita Pudasaini, the alleged victim of a brutal beating by relatives who accused her of witchcraft, discusses her ordeal as her daughter listens. The case has prompted the government to consider a new law stipulating tough penalties for false accusations.
Sunita Pudasaini never imagined she would ever again be accepted after being accused of practicing witchcraft in Jorpati, outside Kathmandu.

Now, four months after being physically tortured in March because of the allegation, she has been welcomed back by her community. She is lucky. Often, women branded as witches have immense difficulty overcoming the stigma.

"I am leading a normal life after the incident," the 37-year-old widow and mother of two daughters told Khabar South Asia. "It became possible due to care and love I received from the government, my neighbours, relatives and human rights activists."

The government has paid her Rs 200,000 ($2,259.62) in compensation for her suffering, while public prosecutors have filed a local court case against two of her relatives, said to have been behind the allegations. According to Pudasaini, they beat her almost to death after accusing her of magical interference to prevent another couple - also her relatives - from conceiving a child.

"I had been to the house of my relatives on that day (March 23rd)," she told Khabarr. "The couple was also invited there. They all of a sudden started attacking me physically and caused serious injuries on my eyes.

"They then left me, believing that I was dead."

Having temporarily lost her eyesight due to the beating, Pudasaini said her sight is now returning.

Red Flag

World Social Inequality More Pronounced Than Ever

social inequality graphic
© dreamstime.com
The super-rich are currently hiding away wealth estimated between $21 trillion and $32 trillion in tax havens such as Switzerland and the Cayman Islands. This is the conclusion published last weekend by the Tax Justice Network, an NGO based in London. The author of the study is James Henry, a former chief economist at the McKinsey consulting firm and an expert on tax havens.

Henry bases his projections on data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations and various national central banks. His study was limited to financial assets, and excluded tangible assets such as real estate, gold, jewellery or other possessions.

The figures reveal that "high net worth individuals" (defined as those with assets of over $50 million) have stashed away much larger sums in tax havens than previously thought. The report also shows that the concentration of global wealth in ever fewer hands has rapidly accelerated.

In 2005, the estimated offshore assets of the super-rich amounted to $11.5 trillion. Since then this total has doubled or tripled. Today the top 10 percent of the world's population control 84 percent of assets, while the bottom 50 percent have access to just 1 percent. According to the study, the top of the pile - 92,000 people who constitute an infinitesimal fraction of the world's population - have hidden financial assets amounting to more than 9 trillion dollars, an average of nearly $100 million apiece.