Fraudster Madoff is dying, wants out of prison: Lawyer

first_imgThe Post said the Bureau of Prisons rejected Madoff’s petition for compassionate release in December, with a lawyer for the federal agency saying “in light of the nature and circumstances of his offense, his release at this time would minimize the severity of his offense.”Madoff is appealing that ruling under the terms of a criminal justice reform law passed in 2018.A pyramid, or Ponzi, scheme is a form of fraud in which returns on investments are generated only by bringing in fresh investments from new victims. Cash from new clients is used to pay existing clients until the scheme eventually collapses.Madoff’s fraud was revealed during the financial crisis in 2008 when he was unable to satisfy growing client demands to withdraw their investments, and many lost their savings or were unable to retire.US authorities have seized about $4 billion related to Madoff and aim to return it to tens of thousands of his victims around the world.”I never got a break, why should he get a break? He’s terminally ill? I’m terminally broke,” Gregg Felsen, a 72-year-old who came out of retirement to work as a photographer after his savings were wiped out in the scam and has not received restitution, told the Post.Topics : “The Bureau of Prisons concluded in September 2019 that Madoff has less than 18 months to live because of the terminal nature of his kidney failure,” Sample wrote.The Washington Post reported that Madoff needs a wheelchair and 24-hour care, and is asking for compassionate release so he can mend fences with his grandchildren and die at home.”I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it,” Madoff told the paper in an interview.”You know, there hasn’t been a day in prison that I haven’t felt the guilt for the pain I caused on the victims and for my family,” he said. Bernie Madoff, jailed in the United States for perpetrating the world’s largest fraud, is terminally ill and wants to leave prison to die, his attorney said Wednesday.Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after being convicted in 2009 of orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that saw investors bilked out of an estimated $65 billion.In a letter to a US federal judge, attorney Brandon Sample petitioned for his early release, saying Madoff suffers from “terminal kidney disease, among other serious medical conditions.”last_img read more

Industry Ministry to analyze impact of new taxes on sweetened drinks

first_imgFinance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati explained that the rise in obesity and sugar-related diseases made it necessary for the excise fees on sweetened beverages to be imposed. “We know that there are several diseases caused by overconsumption of sugar, for example, diabetes mellitus, obesity and others. The prevalence of diabetes mellitus and obesity rose almost twofold in the span of 11 years,” the finance minister said during a hearing with House of Representatives Commission XI in Jakarta on Feb. 19, as quoted by kompas.com. She added that the new taxes could raise revenue of up to Rp 6.25 trillion. However, the policy does not apply to products that are made and packaged outside of non-manufacturing factories, exported goods or for honey products and vegetable juices without added sugar, Sri Mulyani said. If imposed, Indonesia will not be the first country to enforce a special tax on sweetened beverages. Read also: Opposition mounts on Vietnam’s plan to impose tax on sweet drinksAccording to a Vietnam News report, the Vietnamese Finance Ministry proposed a 10 percent special consumption tax on sweetened drinks for similar health reasons in 2018. Meanwhile, other countries in Southeast Asia already have a head start. Nonalcoholic carbonated soft drinks are subject to a 20 to 25 percent tax rate in Thailand. Soft drinks in Laos and Cambodia are taxed at a 5 to 10 percent and 10 percent tax, respectively. Singapore has gone a step further by banning advertisements for drinks with high sugar content as part of the country’s “war on diabetes”, the first country in the world to do so. (ydp)Topics : He added that production was projected to be lower, which would impact the growth of the beverage industry. However, the degree of its impact could only be understood after the calculations were made. Referring to the proposed policy from the Finance Ministry, packaged sweetened tea will see an excise fee levied of Rp 1,500 (11 US cents), meanwhile carbonated beverages, energy drinks, concentrated coffee and similar beverages will see a levy of Rp 2,500. The excise is lower for packaged tea because the amount of sugar within these beverages is lower than other sweetened beverages, according to survey results. Read also: Indonesia revives excise plan on plastics, dirty vehicles and sweet drinks The Industry Ministry plans to analyze the impact of the imposition of new taxes on sweetened beverages, proposed by the Finance Ministry, on the beverage industry in Indonesia. The ministry’s acting director of beverages, tobacco and refreshments, Supriadi, said on Friday that it needed to have a quantitative impact analysis, which was currently being carried out by associations and industry players. “What is certain, qualitatively, is that the rise in taxes will lead to a decline in demand as prices rise,” Supriadi said, as quoted by Antara news agency. last_img read more

Spain moves to extend state of emergency as virus deaths soar

first_imgField hospital To ease pressure on hospitals in the Madrid region, soldiers helped move patients over the weekend to a makeshift field hospital set up at a conference center in the Spanish capital.The facility will be fitted with 5,500 hospital beds, which would make it the biggest such coronavirus field hospital in Europe.About 1,300 hospitals beds have so far been set up at the facility and officials plan to move over 300 patients there this weekend, the director of the field hospital, Antonio Zapatero, said in an interview with daily newspaper El Mundo.A photo taken before the first patients arrived showed rows of empty beds covered in white sheets laid out on the concrete floor of the conference center.The Spanish government said Saturday it would distribute another 500,000 masks to healthcare workers, and 800,000 for patients. It also said it had also bought more than 640,000 coronavirus tests.Authorities have called up 52,000 extra workers to help the country’s health service as it struggles to contain the virus, including 14,000 retired doctors and nurses.Around 2,850 soldiers have been mobilized to disinfect airports and ports and other tasks in the fight against the virus. “I know it is a drastic measure…but experts agree that it is an effective measure in the fight against coronavirus,” he told a news conference after holding talks via video conference with the heads of Spain’s regional governments.”We hope that with this measure, which is so drastic, so dramatic, so hard, which without a doubt has consequences on our families, we can bend the [growth] curb of coronavirus.”The announcement comes after Spain reported 394 new deaths caused by the pandemic, raising to 1,720 the official death toll in Europe’s worst-hit country after Italy, a 30 percent increase over the previous day.The number of confirmed cases of the disease rose by 3,646, or 14.6 percent, to 28,572, with Sanchez warning the outbreak would continue to expand in the coming days. ‘Significant problem’The rise in infections is bringing Spain’s health care system to the brink of collapse, especially in the regions of Madrid and Barcelona which account of half of all infections of COVID-19.”There will be stress and a problem in some places. The pressure on the system will be high,” the health ministry’s emergencies coordinator, Fernando Simon, said.”This collapse which is being talked about could happen in some places but it will not be generalized.”Health care workers have for days complained that they are running short of equipment, such as masks.The pandemic claimed the first life of a health care worker in Spain last week, that of a 52-year-old nurse in the northern Basque Country.Doctors, nurses and other health care workers accounted for over 10 percent of all confirmed cases of coronavirus, Simon said.”This is a significant problem for our health care system,” he told a news conference. “We have yet to receive the impact of the strongest, most damaging wave, which will test our material and moral capacities to the limit, as well as our spirit as a society,” he said during a televised address late on Saturday.center_img Spain’s prime minister said Sunday he would ask parliament to extend a state of emergency until April 11 to try to curb the spread of coronavirus after the country recorded 394 new deaths from the disease.A nationwide 15-day state of emergency was first announced on March 14 and it bars people in the nation of around 46 million people from leaving home except for essential outings like buying food or seeking medical care.Sanchez said his cabinet would on Tuesday approve the request to extend the state of emergency for another 15 days, adding he was confident that the assembly would approve it. Topics :last_img read more

Health workers hard hit as Spain’s coronavirus cases rise

first_imgSpain has nearly 4,000 health workers infected with the coronavirus, more than one in ten of total confirmed cases, officials said on Monday as the toll rose in Europe’s second-worst affected country after Italy.Like in other countries hit hard by the virus, nurses, doctors and other health workers say they are not getting enough protective kits. Authorities and companies are scrambling to manufacture, buy and distribute more.As regional authorities try to contain the virus and protect vulnerable groups, soldiers deployed to Barcelona to help build a temporary homeless shelter at the city’s Fira event center. “We have some data we do not like, because we should try to control it, such as having 3,910 health workers affected,” health emergency chief Fernando Simon told a news conference.The number of cases registered in Spain rose to 33,089 up from 28,572 cases on Sunday. This means health workers account for nearly 12% of the total.They and nursing home staff will have priority as Spain rolls out a testing program.The coronavirus death toll has reached 2,182, adding 462 fatalities overnight, the Health Ministry said. Simon said 87% of those who had died were aged 70 or older.Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said a nationwide lockdown, which has kept most Spaniards confined to their homes, was beginning to take a heavy toll on the economy.”Economic activity, which was dynamic until February slowed significantly last week,” she said, adding vital industries like food, electricity and telecommunications continued to function normally.Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo was hospitalized on Sunday with respiratory infection and is awaiting coronavirus test results, the government said on Monday. Results for Calvo, born in 1957, will be released as soon as they are known, the statement said.Two other ministers and the wife of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez have tested positive for the coronavirus over the past weeks.With an extension to April 11 of a nationwide lockdown set to be approved by parliament on Wednesday, Simon urged people to respect rules that ban anyone from leaving their home except to go to work, buy food or go to the pharmacy.”On several occasions it has been said that the peak [of the epidemic] could be reached this week. Reaching the peak does not involve having controlled the problem, it means that you have to redouble your efforts not to take a step backwards,” Simon said.Supermarket group Corte Ingles said it had set up a phone number and email for health workers to do their shopping, with free delivery to their homes. The shelter, to be managed by the Red Cross, will allow up to 1,000 homeless people to isolate themselves in hygienic conditions with access to food and water, Barcelona’s Mayor Ada Colau said.In Madrid, struggling with Spain’s heaviest virus load, the municipal funeral home announced it would stop collecting bodies from Tuesday due to a shortage of equipment. Private funeral homes are operating in the capital city. Unpleasant data  Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia locks virus violators in ‘haunted house’

first_imgTopics : So Sukowati instructed communities to repurpose abandoned houses that were feared to be haunted — tapping widespread beliefs in the supernatural, which play a key role in Indonesian folklore.Five people have been tossed into Sragen’s spooky jails so far.”If there’s an empty and haunted house in the village, put people in there and lock them up,” Sukowati told AFP Tuesday when asked about the rule.Officials in Sepat village chose a long-abandoned house and outfitted it with beds placed at a distance and separated by curtains. So far, the village has locked up three recently-arrived residents who are being forced to spend the remainder of their two-week quarantine in the spooky abode.Among them was Heri Susanto, who said his punishment hadn’t brought him face to face with any ghosts — so far.”But whatever happens, happens,” said Susanto, who came from neighboring Sumatra island.”I know this is for everyone’s safety. Lesson learned.”center_img Fed up with people breaking virus quarantine rules, one Indonesian politician has decided to scare rulebreakers straight by locking them in a “haunted house”.Sragen regency head Kusdinar Untung Yuni Sukowati says she issued the unusual edict this week to deal with an influx of people to the area after lockdowns in the capital Jakarta and other major cities.Some newcomers, however, weren’t respecting orders that they isolate themselves for 14 days to prevent the spread of coronavirus across the region on Indonesia’s densely populated Java island.last_img read more

Neymar faces criminal complaint for homophobia

first_imgThe case was brought by activist Agripino Magalhaes, who said on Instagram he planned to press charges against Neymar and his friends for “criminal homophobia, hate speech and death threats” over comments made in a private conversation on a gaming site.In the audio recording, Neymar, 28, can be heard using slurs against his mother’s new boyfriend, Tiago Ramos, as he and his friends discuss a supposed fight between the couple.Ramos, 22, and Neymar’s mother, Nadine Goncalves, 52, announced in April they were dating.Brazil’s tabloid press was soon running lurid stories about Ramos, a model who is openly bisexual. A Brazilian gay rights activist has filed a criminal complaint against Neymar for homophobia, after the football superstar called his mother’s boyfriend an anti-gay slur in comments leaked to the media.The Sao Paulo prosecutor’s office confirmed to AFP it had received the complaint, which it must now examine to decide whether to open a case against the Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil star.Neymar’s communications team declined to comment on the complaint. Neymar and his friends were discussing rumors that the new couple had had a violent fight, after Ramos was hospitalized last Tuesday with arm wounds sustained at Goncalves’s house, according to police.Neymar said his mother had lied to her family, indicating he did not believe her story that Ramos had tripped on the stairs and cut himself on a pane of glass.One of his friends can be heard saying that they should assault Ramos with a broomstick in the anus.Neighbors reportedly said they heard screaming from a fight at Goncalves’s house the night Ramos was injured.However, Neymar’s communications team said Ramos and Goncalves had testified before police that the incident was a “domestic accident.”center_img Topics :last_img read more

Trump urges slowdown in COVID-19 testing, calling it a ‘double-edge sword’

first_imgA White House official said Trump was joking about his call for a slowdown in testing.”He was obviously kidding. We are leading the world in testing and have conducted 25 million + in testing,” the official said.Trump said his actions in blocking travelers from China and Europe had helped save “hundreds of thousands of lives.” But he said the “radical fake news” media had not given him credit for doing what he called “a phenomenal job” responding to the outbreak.In fact, several US states are reporting troubling spikes in coronavirus infection rates, mainly in the South and West, as Trump addressed America’s largest indoor gathering in months. US President Donald Trump on Saturday told thousands of cheering supporters he had asked US officials to slow down testing for the novel coronavirus, calling it a “double-edged sword” that led to more cases being discovered.Trump said the United States had now tested 25 million people, far more than other countries.”When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people you’re gonna find more cases. So I said to my people slow the testing down, please,” Trump told a campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where many supporters were not wearing face masks. Health experts say expanded diagnostic testing accounts for some, but not all, of the growth in cases. They also call it a key tool in fighting the spread of the disease, which had been detected in at least 2.23 million people across the United States as of Saturday.COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has killed more than 119,000 Americans to date, according to Reuters’ running tally. A mounting volume of infections is elevating hospitalizations in some places.In his remarks, Trump used terms such as “Kung Flu” virus and “Chinese virus” to refer to COVID-19. “That name gets further and further away from China, as opposed to calling it the Chinese virus,” he said.Trump’s response to the outbreak has sapped his popularity.The US president initially dismissed the threat of the coronavirus, and sparred with state governors as they tried to slow its spread. His approval ratings have dropped in recent weeks, and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden now has a 13-point lead over Trump.Seventy-six percent of Americans remain concerned about the spread of COVID-19, according to the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll. Topics :last_img read more

Giant rainbow flag unfurled in front of Taiwan autocrat’s memorial hall

first_imgAn international crowd of more than 200 people waving rainbow flags and masks, some singing and dancing, marched up to the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, where a small group briefly displayed the flag in front of the building, which houses a giant statue of Taiwan’s late leader.After scattered shouts of “Fuck you, Chiang Kai-shek”, the crowd marched back down the steps, accompanied by a handful of police, blowing whistles to stop people lingering.Chiang, who died in 1975, was lauded in life as an anti-communist hero, especially in the United States, but many Taiwanese revile him as a despot who imprisoned and killed opponents during a reign of terror.Darien Chen, who represented Taiwan at Mr. Gay World 2013 and organized Sunday’s event, said they were holding high the banner for the rest of the world, with hundreds of events cancelled in the traditional Pride month.”With the rest of the world under the peak of the epidemic, only Taiwan can do this,” Chen told Reuters. “Of course we won’t give in, and we must continue with this flame of hope and stand up for the world, to hold the only parade in the world in this Pride month.”Taipei holds its main Pride parade in late October when the weather is cooler.  Topics : Hundreds of people thronged a central square in Taiwan’s capital Taipei for a Pride event on Sunday, unfurling a giant rainbow flag in front of the main memorial hall for late autocratic leader Chiang Kai-shek before being ushered away by police.Proudly democratic Taiwan is a bastion of liberal values in a part of the world where in many countries homosexuality remains illegal or taboo. Taiwan legalized same sex marriage last year, the first in Asia.The “Taiwan Pride Parade for the World” billed itself as a show of solidarity with countries unable to hold LGBTQ celebrations due to restrictions on public events to stop the spread of the new coronavirus. The pandemic is under control in Taiwan.last_img read more

Virus exposes cracks in Brazil’s public health system

first_imgVirus highlights inequalities Paradoxically, even as the federal government faces accusations of under-funding the public health system, it indirectly finances the private health system via tax breaks for those who can afford private health insurance.”No other country with a universal health care system funds the private sector like that,” said Lima.”That money could be spent on financing the SUS instead,” said Werneck, who has a doctorate in public health and epidemiology from Harvard.More than 70 percent of Brazil’s 212 million people depend exclusively on the SUS.Its track record has not been good during the pandemic: the rate of recovery for COVID-19 patients hospitalized in the private system is 50 percent higher than for those in the public system.”The pandemic has deepened inequality: the poorest are most exposed, because they often live in inadequate sanitation conditions, have more chronic illnesses and have more problems getting a hospital bed,” said Werneck.”If the SUS were better-funded, the response to COVID-19 would have been much better,” he added.”But if the public system didn’t exist, the tragedy would have been even bigger.” Chronic condition But corruption alone, though a “serious problem,” does not explain the cruel lack of resources for the public health system, said Guilherme Werneck, vice president of the Brazilian Collective Health Association (ABRASCO).”The constitution says the state has a duty to guarantee access to health care, but funding for the SUS is extremely, chronically insufficient,” he said.A 2019 report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found Brazil was among the countries making the least public investment in health care, with per-capita spending 30 percent below the average for developed and emerging countries.Brazil spends just four percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on public health, less than half the level in countries such as Germany, France and Britain.”Since the SUS was created 30 years ago, health has never been a strategic priority on the national agenda,” said Luciana Dias Lima, a researcher at leading public health institute Fiocruz.Far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s administration “is not engaged enough” in coordinating the public health services, she said. “We need more hospital beds, staff and a wider range of medicines,” he told AFP.Several of his colleagues have been infected with the virus, taking them out of commission for two weeks — sometimes without being replaced.”The health care professionals on the front line are demotivated, underpaid and feel undervalued,” he said.He also noted that systemic corruption is another major problem.”It stretches all the way from political leaders embezzling funds for supplies to patients pretending to be sick so they can get a doctor’s note for work,” he said.Brazil has been rocked by numerous scandals related to the pandemic, including over-billing for emergency ventilator purchases and field hospitals that were budgeted for but never built. It was created when Brazil adopted a new constitution to steer it out of its 1964-1985 military dictatorship.The constitution states that “health is a universal right and a duty of the state.”The SUS is one of the only systems in Latin America to offer universal coverage, meaning free access to health care for the entire population — in theory, at least.”On paper, the SUS is a perfect system. But in reality, we have a lot of problems,” said Fred Nicacio, an emergency room physician in the southeastern city of Bauro.center_img Topics : Brazil’s public health care system, considered among the world’s most advanced when it was launched, is being pushed to the brink by the coronavirus pandemic, which has exposed the impact of years of under-funding and mismanagement.As Brazil closes in on 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 — the second country in the world to reach that bleak milestone, after the United States — the public health care system is struggling to care for those who depend on it.Launched in 1988, the so-called SUS — for Sistema Unico de Saude, or Single Health System — was modeled on Britain’s National Health Service (NHS).last_img read more

Brazil’s Bolsonaro threatens to punch reporter in the mouth

first_imgBrazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Sunday threatened to punch a reporter repeatedly in the mouth after being asked about his wife’s links to an alleged corruption scheme.”I so want to pound your mouth with punches,” the far-right president said when a reporter from O Globo, posed the question.The reporter was part of a group that met Bolsonaro after his regular Sunday visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Brasilia. The president ignored protests from other journalists after the remarks and left without making further comments. Soon after the president’s outburst O Globo issued a statement repudiating his “aggression … towards a journalist from our newspaper that was carrying out his job in a professional manner.”Such intimidation “shows that Jair Bolsonaro does not acknowledge the duty of a public servant … to be accountable to the public.” Topics :center_img The O Globo reporter asked about a report in the magazine Crusoe linking First Lady Michelle Bolsonaro to Fabrício Queiroz, a retired police officer, friend of the president, and former adviser to her son Flavio Bolsonaro, who is now a senator.Queiroz and Flavio Bolsonaro are under investigation for a scheme that allegedly swindled pay from government employees when the younger Bolsonaro was a regional lawmaker in Rio de Janeiro, and before Jair Bolsonaro became president in January 2019.According to the magazine, Queiroz deposited funds in Michelle Bolsonaro’s bank account between 2011 and 2016.The first lady has said nothing about the case.last_img read more