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May 21, 2012
G8 pledges to lift 50 million Africans out of poverty

G8 leaders on Saturday pledged to lift millions of Africans out of poverty by promoting investments in sustainable agriculture.

"Today we commit to launch a New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition to accelerate the flow of private capital to African agriculture, take to scale new technologies and other innovations that can increase sustainable agricultural productivity, and reduce the risk borne by vulnerable economies and communities," the Group of Eight major industrial nations said.

"This New Alliance will lift 50 million people out of poverty over the next decade."
The ambitious announcement, contained in a final communique released after a high-profile gathering on a range of topics, came a day after President Barack Obama reached out to the private sector for financial support for the cause.

The initiative also comes as pledges expire from 2009 in L'Aquila, Italy, where the G8 promised more than $20 billion over three years to improve food access to Africans and others hit by the high prices and a global slowdown.
Civil society observers appeared skeptical about the endeavor's success.

"The G8 have offered warm words on food security but have failed to make a specific pledge to simply maintain L'Aquila level financial commitments going forward," said Katie Campbell, senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA. "In failing to deliver this, they have turned their backs on the women smallholder farmers who are so vital to food security in Africa."

Oxfam claimed that input from those directly concerned had not been taken into consideration.
"Poor countries have presented the G8 country-led, sustainable, and coordinated plans for food security and agricultural development, but today the G8 gave them the cold shoulder," Lamine Ndiaye, the group's Pan Africa Head of Economic Justice, said in a statement.

According to the G8 communique, the initiative would, among other things, be guided by "a collective commitment to invest in credible, comprehensive and country-owned plans."

The Norwegian global firm Yara has said it would build Africa's first major fertilizer production facility as part of the initiative. Companies including Pepsi and Dupont have also pledged to invest in Africa's small-scale farmers.

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November 15, 2012


HOUSTON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - BP Plc is expected to pay a record U.S. criminal penalty and plead guilty to criminal misconduct in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster through a plea deal reached with the Department of Justice that may be announced as soon as Thursday, according to sources familiar with discussions.

Three sources, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said BP would plead guilty in exchange for a waiver of future prosecution on the charges.

BP confirmed it was in "advanced discussions" with the Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC).

The talks were about "proposed resolutions of all U.S. federal government criminal and SEC claims against BP in connection with the Deepwater Horizon incident," it said in a statement on Thursday, but added that no final agreements had been reached.

The discussion do not cover federal civil claims, both BP and the sources said.

London-based oil giant BP has been locked in months-long negotiations with the U.S. government and Gulf Coast states to settle billions of dollars of potential civil and criminal liability claims resulting from the April 20, 2010, explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig.

The sources did not disclose the amount of BP's payment, but one said it would be the largest criminal penalty in U.S. history. That record is now held by Pfizer Inc, which paid a $1.3 billion fine in 2009 for marketing fraud related to its Bextra pain medicine.

The DoJ declined to comment.

The deal could resolve a significant share of the liability that BP faces after the explosion killed 11 workers and fouled the shorelines of four Gulf Coast states in the worst offshore spill in U.S. history. BP, which saw its market value plummet and replaced its CEO in the aftermath of the spill, still faces economic and environmental damage claims sought by U.S. Gulf Coast states and other private plaintiffs.

The fine would far outstrip BP's last major settlement with the DoJ in 2007, when it payed about $373 million to resolve three separate probes into a deadly 2005 Texas refinery explosion, an Alaska oil pipeline leak and fraud for conspiring to corner the U.S. propane market.

The massive settlement, which comes a week after the U.S. presidential election, could ignite a debate in Congress about how funds would be shared with Gulf Coast states, depending on how the deal is structured. Congress passed a law last year that would earmark 80 percent of BP penalties paid under the Clean Water Act to the spill-hit states of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Texas.



POTENTIAL LIABILITY

In an August filing, the DoJ said "reckless management" of the Macondo well "constituted gross negligence and willful misconduct" which it intended to prove at a civil trial set to begin in New Orleans in February 2013. The U.S. government has not yet filed any criminal charges in the case.

Given that the deal will not resolve any civil charges brought by the Justice Department, it is also unclear how large a financial penalty BP might pay to resolve the charges, or other punishments that BP might face.

Negligence is a central issue to BP's potential liability. A gross negligence finding could nearly quadruple the civil damages owed by BP under the Clean Water Act to $21 billion in a straight-line calculation.

Still unresolved is potential liability faced by Swiss-based Transocean Ltd, owner of the Deepwater Horizon vessel, and Halliburton Co, which provided cementing work on the well that U.S. investigators say was flawed. Both companies were not immediately available for comment.

According to the Justice Department, errors made by BP and Transocean in deciphering a pressure test of the Macondo well are a clear indication of gross negligence.

"That such a simple, yet fundamental and safety-critical test could have been so stunningly, blindingly botched in so many ways, by so many people, demonstrates gross negligence," the government said in its August filing.

Transocean in September disclosed it is in discussions with the Justice Department to pay $1.5 billion to resolve civil and criminal claims.

The mile-deep Macondo well spewed 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico over a period of 87 days. The torrent fouled shorelines from Texas to Florida and eclipsed in severity the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

BP has already announced an uncapped class-action settlement with private plaintiffs that the company estimates will cost $7.8 billion to resolve litigation brought by over 100,000 individuals and businesses claiming economic and medical damages from the spill.

Admin
February 21, 2013


LOS ANGELES Mike Tyson sued a financial services firm owned by Live Nation Entertainment on Wednesday, claiming one of its advisers embezzled more than $300,000 from the former heavyweight champ and cost him millions more in lost earnings.

The lawsuit claims that Live Nation and its company SFX Financial Advisory Management Enterprises haven't given the boxer and his wife, Lakiha, a full accounting of their losses. The company returned some of the embezzled money but wanted the Tysons to sign a nondisclosure agreement, which they refused, the suit states.

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The lawsuit seeks more than $5 million in damages for breach of fiduciary duty, negligent hiring, unjust enrichment and other claims.

A spokeswoman for Live Nation Entertainment Inc. said the company had not been served with the lawsuit and could not comment on it.

The lawsuit claims the embezzlement prevented the Tysons from emerging from bankruptcy, and forced them to hire new advisers and turn down lucrative contracts. The couple trusted Brian Ourand, their adviser at SFX, so much that he attended their wedding, the case states.

Ourand, who could not be reached for comment, has since left SFX, according to the lawsuit. The filings claim his conduct has not been reported to regulators.

"Defendants did not secure, protect, safeguard and appropriately apply the Tysons' finances for their intended purposes," the case states, "but instead misappropriated said funds for the benefit and enrichment of SFX/Live Nation.

The former boxer has broadened his career in recent years. He appeared in "The Hangover" and is leading a one-man autobiographical show, "Undisputed Truth."

Admin
September 15, 2013

John Legend, right, and Christine Teigen at the 41st NAACP

NEW YORK (AP) — John Legend is officially off the market.

The R&B crooner's representative says Legend married model Chrissy Teigen on Saturday at the Villa Pizzo in Lake Como, Italy.

Legend, 34, and Teigen, 27, were engaged in 2011.

Legend has won nine Grammy Awards. He released his fourth solo album, "Love In the Future," last week.

Teigen has modeled for Sports Illustrated and is the host of the Vh1 reality competition show, "Model Employee." She also has a food blog.

Legend will launch a U.S. tour next month.

Admin
September 12, 2012
The Charlotte Bobcats hired GM Rich Cho in June of 2011, knowing full well that owner Michael Jordan would act as one of the strongest supporters of a potentially season-canceling lockout that started a month later. Even though the team enjoyed a brief playoff appearance in 2010, the franchise was bleeding money; a direct result of years worth of win-now moves made by Jordan as both personnel boss and eventual owner. As a long-needed rebuilding process took hold in 2011-12, and Jordan took flak from all manner of once-close friends, teammates and former co-workers, questions lingered as to how much MJ would stand aside if Cho dared to overrule the six-time champion on a decision. Owners overrule GMs all the time, and because Jordan and Cho come from such disparate backgrounds, the few that cared enough to pay attention to the Charlotte Bobcats wondered how things would work out once it came time for expected loggerheads.

According to a recent ESPN the Magazine profile, though, it appears as if Jordan truly has handed over the keys. Jordan is off working as the face of the franchise, making up for years of abuse heaped on the city from former NBA owners George Shinn and Robert Johnson, while Cho is behind the scenes and slowly developing the team from the ground up. From a .106 winning percentage-up, actually. From the Mag:

"Every single one of those moves is evidence that Michael is serious about getting out of the way," a rival Eastern Conference GM says. "They are now going to succeed or fail with Rich. And I can guarantee you that Michael has made sure that Rich knows that."

That same executive describes the 47-year-old Cho as a "Moneyball kind of guy," respected around the league for his involvement in the construction of the rosters of both Portland and Oklahoma City. According to Cho, when he left his job as the Trail Blazers GM to come to Charlotte 15 months ago, his marching orders from Jordan were simple and specific -- build through the draft and get free agents to complement the youngsters and put them over the top. The old Jordan, by his own admission, believed that if he cleared enough cap space, he could personally lure the likes of Chris Paul and Dwight Howard. But as he learned last year, even "MJ" appearing on their caller IDs wasn't enough to offset the lure of LA.



It's not so much the lure of Los Angeles as it is the lure of winning. Players like Howard, Paul, Baron Davis, Kevin Garnett and Derrick Rose spend most of their offseason in Los Angeles as it is — it's the fact that the Clippers and Lakers had ready-made winners on hand that was the main selling point. Kowtowing to a star and surrounding him with players he initially wanted, as Howard got in Orlando, isn't enough. You have to build a winner.

And you don't build a winner by drafting off of what ESPN's Ryan McGee called an "MJ March hunch."

That was apparently the case in 2011, just after Cho's hiring, when Jordan was the biggest sway behind drafting Kemba Walker. It certainly was the case in 2006, when Jordan took Adam Morrison. And a February hunch was certainly the reason Jordan let loose with a coveted (and, eventually, unprotected) lottery pick when he dealt for Tyrus Thomas in 2010.

McGee points out that Charlotte's pick in last June's NBA draft, swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, is "Cho's kind of guy." That may very well be true, his all-around upside is significant, but he tends to check all the boxes that Jordan likes to pour over. MKG played deep into March on a prominent major program, and he's an athlete with a work ethic that coaches rave over. Work ethic and heart are well and good, but in some cases (and let's be sure here; we're not referring to Kidd-Gilchrist in this instance) that ethic is in place to cover for failings in other NBA-level areas. Adam Morrison practiced hard, too.

In short, it's an easy sell for Cho. So was the rebuilding, something that had to take place for basketball reasons (you need to bottom out, often times, before you start over) but also was essential for the team to survive financially. As we stated when Sam Vincent criticized Jordan, when Charles Barkley complained about his "yes men," and when Larry Brown whined about his former boss from afar, the real stare-down between the two probably has yet to take place.

It's a good start, though. There will be cap space, there will be more lottery picks, and there will be room to grow past the 45-win ceiling Jordan once encouraged.

And, eventually, there will be a showdown between Jordan and Cho. It's only natural, and we can't wait.

Admin
December 9, 2012
Officials in Nigeria say the mother of the Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been kidnapped.



Professor Kamene Okonjo was taken from her home in Delta State on Sunday

A finance ministry statement said Mrs Okonjo-Iweala had been threatened recently but did not know whether this was linked to the kidnapping.

Nigeria is one of the worst countries in the world for kidnapping, where it is a lucrative criminal enterprise worth millions of dollars a year.

The crime is particularly prevalent in the oil-rich Delta State, although high-profile victims are uncommon.

A security official said it was not clear whether the motive was political or pecuniary.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has led a high-profile campaign to clean up corruption in Nigeria, particularly in a controversial fuel subsidy programme.

She has delayed the payment to fuel importers, seeking better verification of claims for subsidies

But analysts say kidnapping for political reasons is rare in Nigeria.

A Finance Ministry statement added: " "This is obviously a very difficult time for the entire Okonjo family. But the family is hopeful of a positive outcome as it fervently prays for the quick and safe return of the matriarch."

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala was one of the leading candidates to take over the World Bank this spring. She was previously the institution's managing-director but lost out to the Korean-American, Jim Yong Kim.

Admin
April 8, 2013

The couple toured Havana, Cuba on April 4.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z looked crazy in love celebrating their fifth anniversary in Cuba last week, but not everyone is smitten over their decision to travel to the embargoed country.

Two Republican members of Congress have asked the U.S. Treasury Department for an investigation into whether the musical power couple – and parents to 1-year-old daughter Blue Ivy – had the required government permission to travel to the communist country.

In a letter written by U.S. Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart – who represent districts in South Florida, where there's a high Cuban-American population – they asked Office of Foreign Assets Control director Adam Szubin for information about the license the couple received, the purpose of their travel, and who approved the trip.

"Despite the clear prohibition against tourism in Cuba, numerous press reports described the couple's trip as tourism, and the Castro regime touted it as such in its propaganda," the letter stated.

It's true that the couple – who have long been President Obama supporters, so it has not gone unnoticed that they are being singled out by Republicans – looked like tourists as they strolled the streets of Old Havana on April 4, which was their anniversary. In addition to visiting historical landmarks – while Beyonce snapped photos with her camera, perhaps for Tumblr – they reportedly visited a dance troupe, dined out at a high-level restaurant, and did some dancing of their own.

The couple now faces inquiries from Congress into their trip. Penalties for violating the ban can include fines of up to $250,000 (a drop in the bucket for Forbes' Highest-Paid Celebrity Couple, who earned an estimated $78 million last year), but also prison time. However, thousands of Americans travel to Cuba each year – usually by way of other countries — and few are prosecuted.

Reps for Jay-Z and Beyoncé have not yet responded to omg!'s request for comment, and Beyonce, who is gearing up for a world tour, has already seems moved on to other things. On Sunday, she released a video for Chime for Change, which is Gucci's campaign to promote women's empowerment, in which she talked about the most influential woman in her life: her mom.

Admin
July 28, 2014


Dollar Tree buying peer Family Dollar Stores for approximately $8.5 billion

NEW YORK (AP) — Dollar Tree is buying rival discounter Family Dollar, giving it a wider reach in the intensifying fight for deal-seeking customers.

The $8.5 billion deal will give Dollar Tree more than 13,000 stores in the U.S. and Canada. The current leading discounter, Dollar General Corp., has more than 11,300 stores in the U.S.

Dollar stores have struggled as major retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Kroger have stepped up their courtship of lower-income customers by opening smaller store formats that compete more directly with such discounters. Sales are also suffering because the lower-income customers who go to dollar stores still haven't recovered from the recession and its aftermath because of persistent job instability and slow wage growth.

Family Dollar shuttered stores and cut prices as result, and had been conducting a strategic review since the winter. Last month, investor Carl Icahn urged the company to put itself up for sale. Icahn has built up a stake in the company of more than 9 percent, according to regulatory filings.

On Monday, Dollar Tree CEO Bob Sasser noted that his company and Family Dollar have different business models. While all items sold at Dollar Tree cost just a dollar, Family Dollar charges a broader range of prices, which allows it to sell a greater variety of items including brand-name products such as Kraft cheese or Tide laundry soap.

As such, Sasser said the two chains "co-locate really well" and offer complementary merchandise.

The companies did not say if any Dollar Tree or Family Dollar stores would be closed. Dollar Tree will continue to operate under the existing Dollar Tree, Deals, and Dollar Tree Canada store banners. It will keep the Family Dollar brand as well.

Stockholders of Family Dollar Stores will receive $59.60 in cash and the equivalent of $14.90 in shares of Dollar Tree for each share they own. The companies put the value of the transaction at $74.50 per share, which is an approximately 23 percent premium to Family Dollar's Friday closing price of $60.66.

Including debt and other costs, the companies estimate the deal to be more than $9 billion.

Family Dollar stockholders will own somewhere between 12.7 percent and 15.1 percent of Dollar Tree's outstanding common shares at closing. Shares spiked more than 24 percent and were headed for an all-time high before the opening bell Monday.

Shares of Dollar Tree neared an all-time high.

The combined Dollar Tree-Family Dollar chain will have sales of more than $18 billion. Family Dollar Chairman and CEO Howard Levine will still lead those stores and report to Sasser.

Dollar Tree plans to finance the deal with available cash, bank debt and bonds.

The boards of both companies have unanimously approved the deal, which is expected to close by early next year. It still needs approval from Family Dollar shareholders.

Shares of Family Dollar Stores Inc., based in Charlotte, North Carolina, surged $14.89 to $75.55 in premarket trading. The record high during regular trading is $75.29.

Shares of Dollar Tree Inc., based in Chesapeake, Virginia, jumped 10 percent, or $5.50 to $59.72. The all-time high for that stock is $60.19.

Admin
October 9, 2012
NEW YORK -- The U.S. attorney in Manhattan has accused Wells Fargo of defrauding a government-backed mortgage insurance program, in another major civil case brought in the wake of the housing bust and financial crisis.



The mortgage-fraud suit, filed by U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, seeks "hundreds of millions of dollars" in damages for claims the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has paid for defaulted loans "wrongfully certified" by Wells Fargo.

The suit alleges the San Francisco banking giant falsely certified loans insured by the government's Federal Housing Administration.

“As the complaint alleges, yet another major bank has engaged in a longstanding and reckless trifecta of deficient training, deficient underwriting and deficient disclosure, all while relying on the convenient backstop of government insurance," Bharara said in a statement.

Adding "accelerant to a fire," Bharara said, was Wells Fargo's bonus system that rewarded employees based on the number of loans it approved.

The lawsuit alleges the bank failed to properly underwrite more than 100,000 loans it certified to be eligible for FHA insurance. When Wells Fargo discovered problems with the loans, it failed to notify HUD, which administers the FHA program, as required, the suit said. The action alleges more than 10 years of misconduct.

"The extremely poor quality of Wells Fargo's loans was a function of management’s nearly singular focus on increasing the volume of FHA originations -- and the bank’s profits -- rather than on the quality of the loans being originated," Bharara's office said in a statement.

Wells Fargo denied the lawsuit's allegations, saying it acted in good faith and in compliance with government regulations.

"Many of the issues in the lawsuit had been previously addressed with HUD," Wells Fargo said in an emailed statement. "Wells Fargo is the leading FHA lender and has acted as a prudent and responsible lender with FHA delinquency rates that have been as low as half the industry average. The Bank will present facts to vigorously defend itself against this action. Wells Fargo is proud of its long involvement in the FHA program, which has helped so many people obtain affordable mortgages and become homeowners."

The Wells Fargo case is the fifth such mortgage-fraud case against a major lender brought by Bharara's office.

Three of those cases settled this year: CitiMortgage Inc. for $158.3 million, Flagstar Bank F.S.B. for $132.8 million, and Deutsche Bank and MortgageIT for $202.3million. A lawsuit against Allied Home Mortgage Corp. is pending.

A separate mortgage-fraud task force led by the New York attorney general brought an unrelated lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase & Co. last week.

Wells Fargo stock fell on news of the lawsuit. The bank's share's lost 70 cents, or 2%, to $35.10 in Tuesday trading.

Admin
January 5, 2013
A Kenyan man has been charged after allegedly pretending to be an assistant commissioner of police for five years.


Joshua Waiganjo denied all the charges

Joshua Waiganjo is said to have sacked and recruited police officers in Rift Valley province during this time.

He denied two counts of impersonating a police office, one of illegal possession of police uniforms and one of robbery with violence.

He was reportedly uncovered after flying on a police helicopter to investigate a massacre of officers.

In November, at least 42 police officers were killed by cattle rustlers in the Suguta valley - the most deadly attack on police in the East African nation's history.

After pleading not guilty on all four charges, the case was adjourned to allow Mr Waiganjo to seek medical treatment for diabetes, local media report.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe told Nairobi's Capital FM that Mr Waiganjo had not been paid a salary by the police service.