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The HNA Group logo is seen on the gate of HNA Plaza building in Beijing, China July 4, 2018. REUTERS/Elias Glenn
April 19, 2019
By Jennifer Hughes
HONG KONG (Reuters) – Embattled Chinese conglomerate HNA Group has denied accusations of embezzlement and financial irregularity made by a rival group of shareholders in Hong Kong Airlines (HKA) as the two sides fight for control of the struggling carrier.
The allegations were made by Zhong Guosong and Frontier Investment Partner who between them control 61 percent of HKA’s shares. On Tuesday, they declared they had taken control of the carrier and made Zhong, a former HKA director, chairman after an extraordinary shareholder meeting.
The pair said on Wednesday, via a spokesperson, that an investigation had been launched into “the embezzlement of HKA assets and serious financial misappropriation by HNA Group parties.”
In an emailed statement to Reuters on Friday, HNA said that the allegations “are false”.
“HNA Group is committed to the highest standards of integrity in all of its activities and expects the same of all of its representatives,” it added.
HKA’s website still lists Hou Wei as chairman.
Hou joined HKA in September last year after more than four years with HNA-controlled Hainan Airlines, according to his LinkedIn profile.
HNA holds about 29 percent of HKA, having cut its majority holding two years ago.
This week’s battle comes as HKA is struggling to survive. Earlier this month, airline executives told shareholders the company needed at least HK$2 billion ($254.95 million) to avoid the risk of losing its operating license – and that it swung to a loss of about HK$3 billion last year.
Zhong and Frontier representatives at that meeting, however, demanded details of the 2018 accounts and questioned the close ties between HKA and HNA affiliates, which include loans and equity investments by HKA to HNA groups, according to HKA’s 2017 accounts seen by Reuters.
On Thursday this week, the two sides clashed again when Zhong and Frontier accused HNA of storming HKA’s head offices and removing documents – claims denied by an HKA spokesperson.
HKA said later that day that the extra security staff visible in the lobby and foyer of HKA’s offices were to preserve order that had been disrupted by the shareholder dispute.
On Thursday evening, Hong Kong’s Transport and Housing Bureau said it had met with representatives for both sides and was monitoring the situation.
It added that the Civil Aviation Department had stepped up its oversight of HKA’s flight operations to ensure no disruption over the holiday weekend.
(Reporting by Jennifer Hughes, Kane Wu and Julie Zhu; Editing by Himani Sarkar)
Police in Australia are celebrating after they managed to reunite a homeless man with his pet rat, Lucy.
According to the New South Wales Police Force, the homeless man left the rat on a milk crate in Sydney while he went to use a nearby restroom on the afternoon of April 6.
While he was gone, a woman passing by saw Lucy and thought the animal had been abandoned — so she took the rat with her.
NSW police said that it was thanks to Facebook that authorities were able to track down Lucy and reunited the rat with its rightful owner.
In a video posted to Facebook, the unnamed man was presented with the rat to see if it was his missing Lucy. “Let’s have a look at you,” he said, picking up the animal. “Yup, that’s her!”
He proceeded to ask for a kiss, and Lucy obliged.
He thanked the officers and said it felt “wonderful” to have his pet back.
“Rats all folks! Have a wonderful Easter long weekend,” police wrote on Facebook.
Source: Fox News World
CHICAGO – A Chicago man has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the 2012 death of a 7-year-old girl who was shot outside her home.
Jerrell Dorsey was convicted Thursday by a Cook County jury. The 33-year-old Dorsey was one of two gunmen who opened fire on rival gang members on a West Side street in June 2012, striking Heaven Sutton. The girl was shot near a homemade snack stand where she would sell candy.
The man believed to have been the second gunman hasn’t been charged in the shooting. He is awaiting trial for an unrelated attempted murder charge.
Prosecutors say the gunmen had targeted two brothers and shot one in the leg. One brother identified Dorsey as the shooter in grand jury testimony, but recanted on the witness stand this week.
Defense attorney Michael Walsh argued there was no physical evidence tying Dorsey to the crime.
Source: Fox News National
Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso holds a news conference after the G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting at the IMF and World Bank’s 2019 Annual Spring Meetings, in Washington, April 12, 2019. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan
April 19, 2019
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso said on Friday there was no change in the government’s stance that it would go ahead with a planned sales tax hike in October, barring a big economic shock on the scale of the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
Aso made the comment a day after a close aide of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a TV program that the planned tax increase may be postponed depending on the results of the central bank’s next tankan business survey due out in July.
The tax hike to 10 percent from the current 8 percent would secure stable financial resources to pay for the bulging cost of social security for all generations, Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting.
(Reporting by Tetsushi Kajimoto; Editing by Chris Gallagher)
CHICAGO – Two ranking executives inside the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office have submitted their resignations — including State’s Attorney Kim Foxx’s chief ethics officer, April Perry, whom Foxx cited as the person who advised her to “recuse” herself from the Jussie Smollett case that has rocked the Chicago office, Fox News learned Thursday.
Mark Rotert, the director of the office’s Conviction Integrity Unit, has also submitted his resignation, according to a Foxx spokesperson. Perry and Rotert are scheduled to work their last days on the job in May.
“While I feel lucky to have been able to spend the last 15 years of my career in public service, I am looking forward to my next endeavor in the private sector where I have the opportunity to continue to work toward increasing the safety of our community,” Perry wrote in an April 15 letter obtained by Fox News.
Chicago’s top prosecutor has been criticized for how she handled Smollett’s criminal case — including her questionable recusal and how her office suddenly dropped the charges against the 36-year-old “Empire” actor on March 26.
A grand jury indicted the actor on 16 counts in early March. Foxx’s office dropped the charges about three weeks later, explaining that Smollett was offered “deferred prosecution” because he forfeited his $10,000 bond and performed some community service. Much of the legal community has rebuked Foxx’s explanation including the National District Attorneys Association and the Illinois Prosecutors Bar Association which concluded that Foxx “fundamentally misled the public” and should have recused her entire office from the case.
Last February, during the height of the investigation into Smollett’s claim that he was a victim of a hate crime, the state’s attorney’s office released a statement saying Foxx recused herself from investigating Smollett “out of an abundance of caution” because Foxx had discussed the case with a Smollett family member. “Shortly after the incident occurred in late January, State’s Attorney Foxx had conversations with a family member of Jussie Smollett about the incident and their concerns, and facilitated a connection to the Chicago Police Department who were investigating the incident,” a statement from the office read.
In media interviews, Foxx revealed it was Perry who advised her to recuse herself and touted Perry as the office’s first ethics officer. However, her office later had to clarify that Foxx recused herself only in the “colloquial” sense — not what was accepted as the standard legal recusal which would involve her entire office, and the appointment of a special prosecutor.
On March 8, it became public that Smollett was indicted on 16 felony counts for allegedly lying to police over a staged assault against himself earlier this year — after discussing the move with Perry.
Foxx has stood by her office’s decisions. She invited the Cook County inspector general’s office to investigate the case, and the IG confirmed to Fox News that it was.
President Trump said last month he’s asked for a federal review of Foxx’s decisions.
Rotert, meanwhile, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the Smollett controversy “had absolutely zero percent to do with my decision.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News National
The Department of Homeland Security is considering a proposal to label fentanyl as a weapon of mass destruction, according to a new report.
Task & Purpose, a military news outlet, obtained a DHS memo circulated in February that outlined the idea to use the WMD terminology and guidelines to regulate the highly potent, synthetic opioid that has killed scores of people in recent years.
James F. McDonnell, the DHS assistant secretary for countering weapons of mass destruction, wrote a memo in February to then-Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen with the idea.
“Fentanyl’s high toxicity and increasing availability are attractive to threat actors seeking nonconventional materials for a chemical weapons attack,” McDonnell wrote.
“In July 2018, the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate assessed that ‘. . . fentanyl is very likely a viable option for a chemical weapon attack by extremists or criminals.”
McDonnell added classifying fentanyl as a WMD could also help DHS’s efforts at the border and other ports of entry to stop the flow of drugs entering the United States.
“[Counter-WMD] Office efforts will focus on quantities and configurations that could be used as mass casualty weapons,” he wrote in the memo. “However, many activities, such as support to fentanyl interdiction and detection efforts, would tangentially benefit broader DHS and interagency counter-opioid efforts.”
“Within the past couple years, there has been a reinvigorated interest in addressing fentanyl and its analogues as WMD materials due to the ongoing opioid crisis.”
Close to 50,000 people in the U.S. died in 2017 of opioid overdoses, according to the Centers for Disease Control. More than 28,000 of those deaths were caused by synthetic opioids.
Much of the fentanyl in the U.S. comes from China, which recently classified all varieties of the drug as controlled substances.
Source: NewsMax America
FILE PHOTO – The Nintendo booth is shown at the E3 2017 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 13, 2017. REUTERS/ Mike Blake
April 19, 2019
By Sam Nussey
TOKYO (Reuters) – Nintendo Co Ltd shares jumped 17 percent in morning Tokyo trade on Friday, a day after China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd won a key approval to begin selling Nintendo’s Switch console in the world’s largest video games market.
That is the biggest percentage gain since July 2016, when enthusiasm for Nintendo-backed smartphone game Pokemon Go sent the stock rocketing. Friday’s jump sent the shares to their highest price since October and pushed the year-to-date gain to 32 percent.
Nintendo’s U.S.-listed shares rose 12 percent overnight after the Chinese province of Guangdong allowed Tencent to distribute the Switch console with a test version of the “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” game.
It remains unknown when the console may go on sale in China, with games needing to clear a separate approval process.
Gaming industry leader Tencent is trying to recover from a lengthy game approval freeze in China last year. The firm is listed in Hong Kong, where financial markets are closed on Friday for a public holiday.
The freeze resulted in a backlog which “means it is uncertain whether a strong line-up of launch titles can coincide with the hardware launch,” said market analyst Gu Tianyi at gaming industry analytics firm Newzoo.
Tencent is likely to release its own popular titles such as Honor of Kings on the Switch in China, he said. The international version of the game, Arena of Valor, is available overseas on the Switch.
With China dominated by PC and mobile gaming, analysts hope the news may lead to Tencent and Nintendo teaming up in mobile, where Nintendo has been expanding its range of partnerships.
The Kyoto-based games maker has previously been hampered by Chinese regulations and the search for a partner in its efforts to bring the hybrid home-portable Switch console to China, holding back the development of console gaming there.
Nintendo shares sold off toward the end of last year over concerns about weakness in its Switch games pipeline. Media reports saying Nintendo will launch a low-price Switch version have helped bolster sentiment in recent weeks.
(Reporting by Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Pei Li; Editing by Paul Tait and Christopher Cushing)
About one in 10 U.S. counties grew last year because of immigration, bolstering communities amid a birth rate decline, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Citing new census figures released Thursday, the Journal reported the share of U.S. population growth attributable to immigrants hit 48% for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, up from 35% in fiscal 2011.
The rise comes as separate figures showing the general fertility rate in 2017 for women age 15-44 was 60.2 births per 1,000 women — the lowest since the government began tracking it more than 100 years ago, the Journal reported.
“We have a situation where U.S. fertility rates are really low and we’re not actively adding to the workforce through natural increase,” Aparna Mathur of the conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute told the Journal.
“We cannot afford to talk about immigrants as bad for the U.S. economy.”
For the last fiscal year, 298 of the nation’s 3,142 counties grew primarily because of immigration instead of a surplus of births over deaths, and from people moving around the country, according to the new Census Bureau figures.
That is up from 247 counties in 2011, the earliest data in the figures released Thursday.
These counties include parts of large metro areas as well as some of their suburban counties.
Fourteen states and the District of Columbia drew on immigration for more than half of their growth last fiscal year, including Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the Journal reported.
In 44% of U.S. counties last fiscal year, the population fell from the year before, according to the new Census Bureau county population estimates.
Source: NewsMax America
While many analysts are advising Democrats to move on from Mueller report and the issue of collusion, The Federalist senior editor Mollie Hemingway said Thursday it will be hard for America to move on because it’s been “held hostage” by the idea of President Trump colluding with Russia.
“The country was basically held hostage by a collusion theory, a theory that the president of the United States was a foreign agent. This undermined the administration of our government. It totally sidelined the Department of Justice, it hampered our ability to do foreign policy. It was a very negative thing,” Hemingway told “Special Report with Bret Baier.”
“There needs to be accountability. We are being given indications there will be accountability for this.”
After two years, a redacted version of Mueller’s report was released Thursday showing investigators did not find proof of collusion between the 2016 Trump campaign and Russia but revealed an array of controversial actions by the president that were examined as part of the investigation’s obstruction probe.
Democrats criticized Barr and demanded an unredacted version of the report while Republicans demanded an investigation into how the Russia collusion narrative began.
Hemingway said the idea that people would just “move on” was “absurd.”
“The American people tolerated this investigation because they were told there was reason to believe the president was a traitor. The idea that we are just going to quickly move on from this like ‘OK, I guess it was our bad, there was no collusion,’ but now we’re trying to go on obstruction is patently absurd,” Hemingway said.
Source: Fox News Politics
A video of the kind gesture, which appeared to be shot from inside a vehicle following behind, was shared on Facebook Tuesday by the Raytown Fire Protection District and showed the responders pushing the wheelchair down the road.
“What happens when a Fire Truck comes upon a citizen who’s electric wheelchair has stopped working. You get out and help them home,” the post said.
The man, who is a veteran, received the assistance after his chair got caught in the ground while he was visiting a pond in the area, Deputy Chief Mike Hunley told The Kansas City Star. Attempts by people on the scene to help him were reportedly unsuccessful so the fire department was called.
“Our guys responded out there and basically lifted a wheelchair with him in it up out of the rut he was stuck in,” Hunley said. “He apparently had been trying to get himself out with the wheelchair and had expended the battery so it was pretty drained.”
The firefighters were reportedly able to get the man home so he could power up his wheelchair.
Source: Fox News National