Tuesday, July 12, 2016
Top US officials stepped back from prosecuting HSBC for money laundering in 2012 due to concerns inside the Department of Justice that it would destabilise the global financial system, said a Congressional report.
Chancellor George Osborne and other senior UK officials added to pressure by warning the US that charges against the bank could rock markets, says a report by Financial Services Committee of the House of Representatives.
London-based HSBC paid a $1.9bn (£1.5bn, €1.7bn) settlement after being accused by US authorities of letting Mexican drug cartels and Russian criminal gangs use its American operations to launder cash.
But the bank did not face criminal charges, nor were any of the lender's senior officials brought before the courts.
The report said: "George Osborne, Chancellor of the Exchequer, the UK's chief financial minister, intervened in the HSBC matter by sending a letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke... to express the UK's concerns regarding US enforcement actions against British banks."
The letter said that prosecuting HSBC could have "very serious implications for financial and economic stability, particularly in Europe and Asia".
The report, which used internal records from the Department of the Treasury, said the US attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, "misled" Congress about the Justice Department's reasoning for declining to prosecute.
Holder and other top officials decided against criminal charges for HSBC over the recommendations of prosecutors because they had concerns about financial stability, the report said.
The report added senior leadership at the Department of Justice, ultimately overruled criminally charging the bank, even though Holder had testified in front of Congress that "banks are not too big to jail."
Politicians and other groups have criticised the Department of Justice for not sufficiently cracking down on big banks following the 2008 financial crisis.
HSBC's 2012 settlement detailed how Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel and Colombia's Norte del Valle cartel laundered $881m through HSBC and a Mexican unit, and how the bank violated US sanction laws by doing business with customers in Iran, Libya, Sudan, Burma and Cuba.
The agreement with US regulators allowed the bank to avoid pleading guilty to any wrongdoing. If the lender had been proven guilty of criminal actions, it could have lost its lucrative banking charter in the US.
HSBC, US regulators and the UK Treasury declined to comment on the report, called Too Big To Jail: Inside the Obama Justice Department's decision not to hold Wall Street accountable.
Credit to Ibtimes.co.uk
The threat of terrorist smuggling at U.S. ports appears to be increasing, says the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), who wants mechanisms to prevent cyber terrorism and illegal nuclear materials from being trafficked through ports intensified.
Nuclear smuggling can involve small quantities of highly enriched uranium or plutonium that could be used to build an improvised nuclear device. Additionally, radiological materials, such as cesium-137, cobalt-60, and strontium-90, can be combined with conventional explosives to build a radiological dispersal device, often referred to as a dirty bomb.
According to a nuclear and radiological material trafficking database managed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), approximately 2,700 cases of illicit trafficking of such material have been confirmed as of December 31, 2014. These cases were reported by more than 100 countries that voluntarily contribute to IAEA’s database.
Credit to Skywatch.com
Credit to Skywatch.com
Turkish Muslim leader hosted a gathering of Israeli rabbis for the rebuilding of the Third Temple in Jerusalem.
A prominent Turkish Muslim leader hosted a gathering of Israeli rabbis to call for an end of anti-Jewish sentiment in the Islamic world, saying he looks forward to the rebuilding of the Third Temple in Jerusalem.
Adnan Oktar welcomed the delegation, including Rabbi Dov Lipman and Rabbi Ben Abrahamson, for an iftar dinner during Ramadan in Istanbul. The dinner included other Muslims and Christian representatives as well.
Lipman, a senior officer of the World Zionist Organization, said he was very pleased by the friendship and goodwill he experienced.
Oktar hosts a live program on the A9 television channel that included his guests from Israel.
Oktar explained that the days when the Prophet Solomon’s Masjid and Palace (Solomon’s Temple) will be rebuilt in an atmosphere of global peace and tranquility are at hand. Abrahamson, a historian and consultant to the Sanhedrin regarding issues related to Islam, emphasized the rebuilding of the Temple is a very good development for all mankind.
Oktar said Muslims, Jews and Christians share many common values and the current opposition was a ploy of Satan. He said people of reason who are full of love should come together and encourage peace.
When asked what should be done to dispel the tension between Muslims and Jews, Oktar urged the Israeli and Turkish governments to be more courageous, and not be influenced by loveless articles published in the media or concern with loss of votes.
Credit to WND
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/muslim-leader-hosts-rabbis-welcomes-3rd-temple/#11RlYjDbjU7xqRoQ.99
In a widely anticipated, though purely symbolic decision, just over an hour ago a UN tribunal, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, ruled unanimously in favour of the Philippines in its case against China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea. It found that China’s claim to historic rights in most of the South China Sea has no legal basis, dealing a setback to Beijing which, as the WSJ adds, the U.S. fears could intensify Chinese efforts to establish its control by force. And, as was just as expected, China promptly announced it does not accept or recognize the ruling by tribunal, Xinhua reported moments after the decision.
The Philippines first brought the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea at The Hague in 2013, raising 15 instances in which it held China’s claims and activity in the South China Sea had violated international law, writes Hudson Lockett. In 2015 the tribunal decided it had jurisdiction on seven of those, though it said it was still considering the other eight. The tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said China couldn’t claim historic rights to resources in the waters within a “nine-dash” line used by Beijing to delineate its South China Sea claims.
That was the most significant element of an unprecedented legal challenge to China’s claims that was brought in 2013 by the Philippines, one of five governments whose claims in the South China Sea overlap with China’s under the nine-dash line.
In a second blow for Beijing, the tribunal decided that China wasn't entitled to an exclusive economic zone, or EEZ, extending up to 200 nautical miles from one island in the Spratlys archipelago, Itu Aba, which is claimed by China and currently controlled by Taiwan. The clearly politically-motivated decision, based on a U.N. convention on maritime law, comes after several years of escalating tension in the region as China has alarmed the U.S. and its allies by using its rapidly expanding naval and air power to assert territorial claims and challenge U.S. military supremacy in Asia.
The Philippines case is seen as a test of China’s commitment to a rules-based international order which the U.S. and its allies say has been undermined by Beijing’s recent military activities, including construction of seven fortified artificial islands in the South China Sea. The ruling on Itu Aba is important because the U.N. maritime convention allows countries to build artificial islands in their own EEZs, and all of the seven structures China has built lie within 200 nautical miles of Itu Aba, which Taiwan calls Taiping Island. It also means that China has no legal claim to an EEZ overlapping that of the Philippines.
In a statement published on a verified social media feed just before the ruling, China’s Ministry of Defense said the decision wouldn't affect its approach in the South China Sea.
“No matter what the result of the arbitration, the Chinese military will unswervingly protect the nation’s sovereignty, security and maritime rights, resolutely protect the safety and stability of the region, and face down all manner of threats and challenges,” it said. After the ruling, the ministry referred to the comment as its official statement.
China didn’t take part in the tribunal, which it said had no jurisdiction on the case, and Chinese officials have said repeatedly in recent weeks that Beijing won't comply with the ruling.
Credit to Zero hedge
With the head of the Russian Aerospace Forces Viktor Bondarev earlier citing the development of the country's sixth-generation fighter jet, it is worth reflecting on the feasibility of this project on the whole.
The debate on the development of a sixth-generation fighter jet has lasted since head of the Russian Aerospace Forces Viktor Bondarev said in March that the work on the creation of such a warplane is already underway in Russia, according to RT.
Historically, jet fighters are often categorized in generations so as to underscore improvements related to aircraft design, avionics and weapon systems.
Most experts believe that right now, there are five generations of jet fighters embracing the period from 1950, when high-speed subsonic planes were created, to nowadays.
Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor
As for the fifth-generation warplanes, they are only represented by the US Air Force's F-22 Raptor, with Russia's T-50 PAK FA, the US's F-35, China's J-20 and J-31 as well as Japan's Mitsubishi ATD-X currently performing flight tests.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Mikhailov of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation said that the sixth-generation fighter, which he said is expected to be created by 2025, will be able to fly at hypersonic speeds, according to RT.
China's J-20 stealth fighter
While Mikhailov said that the requirements for the sixth- generation plane are yet to be formulated, some experts believe that such jet fighters should overcome the Mach 5 threshold in terms of speed and be able to conduct long-range flights without refueling.
At the press conference on Russia's future jet, Bondarev, for his part, said that the plane, which will be made of composite materials, would have both a manned and an unmanned version. He added that drone equipment is "much more functional and low-maintenance," and "can withstand any g-force," referring to the human body's inability to survive plane maneuvers, leading to death or loss of consciousness.
J-31 Stealth Fighter
Importantly, experts said, the sixth-generation jet fighter should be a multi-purpose super maneuverable plane, carrying out tasks as an interceptor, a bomber and a ground attack aircraft armed with hypersonic missiles and equipped with stealth technology.
As for the United States, the idea of creating the sixth- generation warplane has been floated by the Pentagon since 2010, and a new such fighter codenamed F-X should reportedly enter service after 2030.
A prototype of the first Japan-made stealth fighter X-2 Shinshin, formerly called ATD-X
Unlike the Russian-made sixth-generation plane, the F-X may be equipped with powerful batteries and electric motors. Such a hybrid would take advantage of a jet engine's speed and use electric generators so as to give power to directed-energy weapons, including lasers. It would also fly at low speeds, according to RT.
Needless to say, the concept of such a plane is just being developed by a number of US companies, including Lockheed and Boeing, which have reportedly made major breakthroughs in the matter.
In this regard, RT quoted military expert Alexey Ramm as saying that speaking of the Russian sixth-generation jet fighter's main targets is irrelevant given that such a warplane has yet to be created.
"If we proceed from the assumption that the sixth-generation plane will be tasked with fighting the F-22 and the F-35, we should bear in mind that the tasks should be implemented by the T-50 plane," he said.
Ramm added that only after the T-50 plane enters service will it be possible to make any conclusions about the feasibility of the Russian sixth-generation jet fighter.
In February 2016, it was reported that the fifth generation T-50 fighter jet, also known as the PAK FA, is set to enter service with the Russian Armed Forces later this year. The plane is expected to be equipped with highly advanced X-74M2 cruise missiles.
Credit to sputniknews.com