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US, UK, And Canada Sanction Lebanon’s Former Central Bank Governor Over Corruption Allegations

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According to the US Treasury Department, the BEIRUT, Lebanon — The United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada imposed sanctions on Lebanon’s beleaguered former central bank governor and a handful of close relatives and friends on Thursday.

Riad Salameh, 73, left office on July 31 amid an investigation and criticism of his country’s unprecedented economic disaster.

Salameh and his friends are being investigated in France, Germany, and Luxembourg for alleged financial crimes such as unlawful enrichment and the laundering of $330 million. Paris and Berlin obtained Interpol arrest warrants for Salameh in May, despite Lebanon not extraditing its people.

Salameh abused his position of power, most likely in violation of Lebanese law, to enrich himself and his associates by funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars through layered shell companies to invest in European real estate,” according to a statement from the US Treasury Department.

According to the statement, the United States coordinated the penalties with the United Kingdom and Canada, and assets associated with Salameh will be frozen. Salameh’s son Nady, brother Raja, close associate Marianne Hoayek, and “former partner” Anna Kosakova were also sanctioned by the US. The identical list of people was sanctioned in the United Kingdom except for Nady Salameh, while Canada sanctioned only Salameh, his brother, and Howayek.

On numerous occasions, Salameh has refuted claims of corruption, embezzlement, and unlawful gain. He claims his fortune results from inherited assets, investments, and his prior job as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch.

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The United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada imposed sanctions on Lebanon’s former central bank governor.

Salameh’s lawyer did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment on the punishment.

According to US officials, Salameh reportedly concealed his identity through Panama shell companies and a trust in Luxembourg in a plan in which he purchased shares in a company for which his son Nady worked as an investment advisor. He subsequently sold those shares to a Lebanese bank authorized by the Central Bank, which the US Treasury described as a conflict of interest and presumably violating a Lebanese rule prohibiting central bank personnel from benefitting from private firms.

Raja has been accused of assisting his brother’s fraud using Forry Associates Ltd, a brokerage firm he owns that the US Treasury described as a shell corporation in the Virgin Islands.

Meanwhile, Howayek was accused of moving hundreds of millions of dollars to the Salamehs from her bank account, which was “far more” than her central bank salary could account for.

Nady Salameh was sanctioned as “the publicly registered officer” of Luxembourg-registered firms that purchased tens of millions of dollars in high-end real estate through subsidiary companies in Belgium and Germany.

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The United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada imposed sanctions on Lebanon’s former central bank governor.

Kosakova, who lives in France, was accused of using Forry funds to buy expensive properties in Paris, including residences in high-end neighborhoods and an office building on the touristy Champs-Elysées avenue for the central bank’s “continuity of operations” center.

Salameh is being probed in Lebanon as well. Soon after receiving the Interpol warnings, the Lebanese judiciary confiscated his passport and imposed a travel ban.

Salameh has criticized the European investigation, claiming it is part of a media and political attempt to frame him.

Salameh once praised as Lebanon’s financial stability protector, has been among the authorities most accused of actions that contributed to the country’s economic catastrophe, which has devastated the value of the Lebanese pound against the US dollar by nearly 90% and generated triple-digit inflation.

Lebanon has yet to nominate a new central bank governor, but Wassim Mansouri, a vice governor, has been named acting governor. The crisis-stricken country has been without a president for nearly a year and is governed by a caretaker Cabinet with limited powers.

“The only way to put Lebanon on a path to much-needed economic recovery is for its leaders to stamp out corruption and implement real reforms.” Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the UK’s minister of state for the Middle East, stated in a statement issued by the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office announcing the penalties.

SOURCE – (AP)

Kiara Grace is a staff writer at VORNews, a reputable online publication. Her writing focuses on technology trends, particularly in the realm of consumer electronics and software. With a keen eye for detail and a knack for breaking down complex topics, Kiara delivers insightful analyses that resonate with tech enthusiasts and casual readers alike. Her articles strike a balance between in-depth coverage and accessibility, making them a go-to resource for anyone seeking to stay informed about the latest innovations shaping our digital world.

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Tesla reduces US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models following a rough week.

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Tesla reduced the pricing of three of its five models in the United States by $2,000 late Friday, highlighting the issues facing the electric vehicle firm run by billionaire Elon Musk.

The business reduced the costs of the Model Y, a small SUV that is Tesla’s most popular model and the best-selling electric vehicle in the United States, as well as the versions X and S, which are older and more expensive versions. Prices for the Model 3 car and Cybertruck remained unchanged.

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Tesla cuts US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models after a difficult week

The reductions dropped the starting price for a Model Y to $42,990, $72,990 for a Model S, and $77,990 for a Model X.

The decision comes a day after Tesla’s shares fell below $150 per share, wiping out all gains earned over the previous year. The Austin, Texas-based company’s stock price has fallen almost 40% this year due to declining sales and growing competition. Discounted sticker prices are intended to entice more car purchasers.

Musk announced early Saturday on X, the social media site that was previously known as Twitter, that the cost of an entry-level Tesla could be as low as $29,490 after accounting for a federal tax credit and gas savings.

Industry observers have been waiting for Tesla to unveil the Model 2, a tiny electric vehicle for approximately $25,000. This month’s media rumors that Musk intended to cancel the project added to uncertainty about the company’s direction, but Musk denied the reports.

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Tesla cuts US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models after a difficult week

The price drops marked the end of a long workweek for Tesla, which said on Monday that it would be laying off 10% of its global workforce, or approximately 14,000 employees. The company also announced the recall of roughly 4,000 of its 2024 Cybertrucks after discovering that the accelerator pedal could become stuck, enabling the vehicle to accelerate accidentally and increasing the danger of a crash.

Musk stated on Saturday that he has postponed a planned weekend travel to India to meet with Prime Minister Narendra Modi due to “very heavy Tesla obligations.” He expressed on X that he was looking forward to rescheduling the visit for later this year.

Tesla is slated to report first-quarter profits on Tuesday.

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Tesla cuts US prices for 3 of its electric vehicle models after a difficult week

The business stated earlier this month that its global sales declined substantially from January to March as competition grew, electric car sales growth stagnated, and previous price cuts failed to attract additional buyers.

Tesla’s quarterly sales fell year on year for the first time in nearly four years.

SOURCE – (AP)

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The House Votes For Possible TikTok Ban In The US, But Don’t Expect The App To Go Away Anytime Soon

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Why Buying TikTok Views is the Best Way to Maximize Followers
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Washington — The House passed legislation Saturday that would prohibit TikTok from operating in the United States if the popular social media platform’s Chinese owner does not sell its stake within a year, but the app is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.

The decision by House Republicans to include TikTok as part of a bigger foreign aid package, a priority for President Joe Biden with broad congressional backing for Ukraine and Israel, accelerated the prohibition after an earlier version had been blocked by the Senate. A standalone bill with a shorter, six-month selling period cleared the House in March with an overwhelming bipartisan majority, as both Democrats and Republicans expressed national security worries about the app’s owner, Chinese technology firm ByteDance Ltd.

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The House Votes For Possible TikTok Ban In The US, But Don’t Expect The App To Go Away Anytime Soon

The updated bill, which passed by a vote of 360-58, now goes to the Senate following discussions that extended the company’s selling timeframe to nine months, with an extra three months conceivable if a sale is in the works.

Legal disputes may extend that period even further. If the law passes, the corporation has stated that it will likely file a lawsuit to block it, claiming that it will deprive the app’s millions of users of their First Amendment rights.

TikTok has fought aggressively against the proposal, encouraging the app’s 170 million U.S. users, many of whom are young, to contact Congress and express their objections. However, the intensity of the backlash enraged politicians on Capitol Hill, where there is widespread worry about Chinese threats to the US and few members use the platform themselves.

“We will not stop fighting and advocating for you,” TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said in a video released on the platform last month, addressing the app’s users. “We will continue to do all we can, including exercising our legal rights, to protect this amazing platform that we have built with you.”

The bill’s rapid passage through Congress is remarkable because it only affects one firm and Congress has adopted a hands-off approach to technology regulation for decades. Lawmakers had failed to act despite efforts to protect children online, preserve users’ privacy, and hold firms more accountable for content put on their platforms, among other things. However, the TikTok ban reflects broad fears among lawmakers about China.

Members of both parties, as well as intelligence officials, have expressed concern that Chinese authorities may force ByteDance to pass over American user data or direct the business to suppress or promote TikTok content that benefits its interests. TikTok has disputed claims that it is being utilized as a tool by the Chinese government and has stated that it has not shared user data from the United States with Chinese authorities.

The US government has not publicly shown evidence that TikTok exchanged US user data with the Chinese government or tampered with the company’s popular algorithm, which impacts what Americans see.

The corporation has good reason to believe that a legal challenge will be successful, as it has already won court battles over its operations in the United States. In November, a federal judge halted a Montana law that would have prohibited TikTok use throughout the state after the business and five TikTok content providers sued.

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The House Votes For Possible TikTok Ban In The US, But Don’t Expect The App To Go Away Anytime Soon

In 2020, federal courts blocked then-President Donald Trump’s executive order to ban TikTok after the firm sued, claiming that the order violated its free speech and due process rights. His administration arranged a deal in which US businesses Oracle and Walmart would have acquired a significant share in TikTok. The transaction fell through for a variety of reasons, including China’s tougher export curbs on technology companies.

Dozens of states and the federal government have imposed TikTok restrictions on official equipment. The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed a lawsuit last year, claiming that Texas’ restriction violated academic freedom because it applied to public universities. In December, a federal judge decided in favor of the state.

The software has received support from organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union. “Congress cannot take away the rights of over 170 million Americans who use TikTok to express themselves, engage in political advocacy, and access information from around the world,” Jenna Leventoff, a lawyer for the group, stated

According to AdImpact, an advertising tracking service, TikTok has spent $5 million on television ads opposing the law since mid-March. The advertisements have featured a variety of content creators, including a nun, touting the platform’s benefits in their life and claiming that a prohibition would violate the First Amendment. The corporation has also urged its customers to contact Congress, with some lawmakers receiving profanity-laced calls.

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The House Votes For Possible TikTok Ban In The US, But Don’t Expect The App To Go Away Anytime Soon

“It is unfortunate that the House of Representatives is using the cover of important foreign and humanitarian assistance to once again jam through a ban bill that would trample the free speech rights of 170 million Americans, devastate 7 million businesses, and shutter a platform that contributes $24 billion to the U.S. economy, annually,” Alex Haurek, a spokesperson for the organization, said.

California Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna voted against the bill. He believes there could have been less restrictive ways to pursue the corporation that would not end in a blanket ban or jeopardize free speech.

“I don’t think it will be well received,” Khanna remarked. “It’s a sign of the Beltway being out of touch with where voters are.”

Nadya Okamoto, a TikTok content creator with approximately 4 million followers, stated that she has been speaking with other creators who are expressing “so much anger and anxiety” about the bill and how it will affect their life. The 26-year-old, whose company “August” offers menstrual goods and is recognized for her activism for de-stigmatizing monthly cycles, earns the majority of her money via TikTok.

“This is going to have real repercussions,” she told me.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Trump Forced To Listen Silently To People Insulting Him As He Trades A Cocoon Of Adulation For Court

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NEW YORK — He appears “selfish and self-serving,” according to one woman.

“The way he carries himself in public “leaves something to be desired,” observed another.

Another individual claimed that his “negative rhetoric and bias” are the most destructive.

Over the last week, Donald Trump has been forced to sit in a chilly New York courthouse and listen to a parade of possible jurors in his criminal hush money trial give their unvarnished opinions of him.

It’s been a striking difference for the former president and likely Republican nominee, who is used to spending his days in a cocoon of screaming crowds and frequent praise. Now a criminal defendant, Trump will spend the next few weeks exposed to severe constraints that limit his ability to control everything from what he can say to the temperature of the room.

“He’s the target of mockery. It is his nightmare. He is unable to control the script. He is unable to control the cinematography. He has no control over what others are saying about him. And the outcome may go in a way he does not desire,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biography and critic.

While Trump is occasionally confronted by protesters, he largely avoids criticism. After leaving the White House, Trump relocated to his Mar-a-Lago beachfront club in Palm Beach, Florida, where he is surrounded by devoted paid staff and dues-paying members who have paid tens of thousands of dollars to be near him.

Trump frequently visits his adjacent golf course, where he is “swarmed by people wanting to shake his hand, take pictures of him, and tell him how amazing he is,” according to Stephanie Grisham, a longtime adviser who parted with Trump following the Capitol storming on Jan. 6, 2021.

When he returns to Mar-a-Lago in the afternoon, members eating lunch on the patio frequently stand and applaud. He gets the same standing ovation at dinner, which frequently ends with Trump playing DJ on his iPad, blaring jams like “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” by James Brown.

Grisham, who spent extended amounts of time traveling with Trump and at Mar-a-Lago during his 2016 campaign and acting as White House press secretary, portrayed staff as perpetual cheerleaders who told Trump what he wanted to hear. To avert angry outbursts, they requested motorcade routes that bypassed protestors and left a stack of favorable press clips on the Oval Office’s Resolute Desk each morning.

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Trump Forced To Listen Silently To People Insulting Him As He Trades A Cocoon Of Adulation For Court

Trump now faces a trial that could lead to felony convictions and prison time. And he’ll have to listen to more critics without the ability to respond verbally, which he enjoys doing.

Michael Cohen, his former lawyer and fixer, and Stormy Daniels, the porn actor who claims she had sex with Trump, are likely to testify at the trial. Both have criticized him in interviews, books, and on social media.

Trump campaign spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt stated that Trump demonstrated during his first week in court that “he will remain defiant in the face of this unprecedented political lawfare” and that “it is clear that his support from the American people will only grow as they watch Joe Biden, Alvin Bragg, and the Democrats putting on this bogus show trial six months before the election.”

New Yorkers who claimed they couldn’t view the issue objectively were excused during jury selection. However, one of the women who had the strongest opinions of him will be among those who decide his fate on 34 charges of fabricating business records.

“I don’t like his persona, or how he presents himself in public,” said the woman, who has resided in upper Manhattan for the past 15 years. The woman stated she disagreed with some of Trump’s policies, which she deemed “outrageous.”

“He just seems very selfish and self-serving, so I don’t really appreciate that in any public servant,” she added. She went on to say that while she doesn’t “know him as a person,” because of the way he “portrays himself in public, it just seems to me it is not my cup of tea.”

Trump’s legal team objected to her responses, but they had exhausted their legal options by the time she came up for selection.

Judge Juan Manuel Merchan has withheld the identities of prospective jurors due to safety concerns.

On Friday, one prospective juror, who claimed to have attended the 2017 Women’s March to oppose Trump’s inauguration, expressed concern about his influence on his base.

“I think his rhetoric at times enables people to feel as if they have permission to discriminate or act on their negative impulses,” she said, giving examples of people making homophobic or racist remarks. Nonetheless, she stated that she did not have strong feelings for the previous president and was unsure of his current policy beliefs.

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Trump Forced To Listen Silently To People Insulting Him As He Trades A Cocoon Of Adulation For Court

Another individual said he grew up admiring the former president and business magnate’s real estate portfolio and fantasized of one day living in Trump Tower. However, he has grown to reject Trump’s “negative rhetoric and bias against people that he speaks about.”

At other times, lawyers read aloud social media messages by prospective jurors mocking Trump and celebrating his defeats.

The judge dismissed one prospective juror, an older white lady, after Trump’s legal team discovered years-old social media remarks describing Trump as a “racist, sexist” narcissist.

One of Trump’s attorneys described the posts as “vitriolic.”

“She harbors a deep hatred for him,” the lawyer, Susan Necheles, stated. “She said that ‘I wouldn’t believe Donald Trump if his tongue were notarized'” and that he was “anathema” to all she had ever learned about love.

When confronted with the posts within the courtroom, the juror stated that she understood why they might be relevant to the defense, but her opinions had shifted. “Election policies can get pretty spicy and Mr. Trump can get pretty spicy,” she went on to say.

Merchan, the judge, also dismissed a man who in 2017 made a Facebook post praising the legal defeat of one of Donald Trump’s policies. “Get him out and lock him up!” the message stated in part.

The court regulations compel Trump to be present throughout the trial. He cannot storm out of the courtroom, as he did in a recent slander suit. He is also prohibited by a gag order from criticizing any of the jurors, including on his Truth Social page.

Merchan has already chastised him for speaking aloud and gesticulating when one juror was answering questions.

“I will not tolerate any jurors being intimidated in this courtroom,” added Merchan, who had previously warned Trump that he might face jail time for disrupting proceedings in court.

Trump’s judgments in court were not all negative, with a startling proportion of possible jurors stating that they had no strong feelings about one of the world’s most well-known and polarizing figures.

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Trump Forced To Listen Silently To People Insulting Him As He Trades A Cocoon Of Adulation For Court

In fact, the process appeared to yield more supporters than one might expect in a borough where President Joe Biden received 87% of the vote in 2020.

One potential juror, who spoke glowingly of Trump on Thursday, said he was “impressed” by Trump’s successful business career.

“I mean, he was our president, which is pretty extraordinary. He is a businessman in New York. He has built his own path, and he has made history in terms of where he began and where he has progressed,” said the man, who saw his own story similarly.

On Tuesday, another man expressed remorse that he couldn’t balance the trial with his profession.

“Your Honor, as much as I would love to serve for New York and one of our great presidents, I could not give up my job for six-plus weeks,” he told the crowd.

Many claimed to have read his book, “The Art of the Deal.”

Even the woman who opposed his demeanor but ended up on the jury recognized his attraction to voters.

“His public demeanor can sometimes be questionable. At the same time, I can connect to occasionally being unvarnished,” she remarked. “I’ve seen him speak to many individuals in America. I believe there is something to be said about that.

SOURCE – (AP)

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