Puerto Rico’s new governor is challenged in court: newspaper

FILE PHOTO: Pedro Pierluisi holds a news conference after swearing in as Governor of Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico August 2, 2019. REUTERS/Gabriella N. Baez/File Photo

(Reuters) – The legitimacy of Puerto Rico’s newly-installed governor has been challenged in court, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, adding further drama to who will lead the U.S. territory after weeks of protests.

Pedro Pierluisi, the handpicked successor to disgraced former governor Ricardo Rossello, was sworn in on Friday.

Pierluisi, 60, said his term might be short as the island’s Senate still had to ratify his position.

That vote was expected to happen on Wednesday.

But late on Sunday, Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz sued Pierluisi in a San Juan court, claiming he usurped the office by ignoring a constitutional requirement for the Senate to vote to confirm him, the Journal reported.

Pierluisi, a lawyer who formerly advised the despised, federally-created board supervising Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy, was sworn in even though his appointment had not yet gone before the Senate for a vote.

The lawsuit asks the court to strip him of the title and stop him performing any acts as governor, the Journal reported.

Reuters could not confirm the lawsuit, nor reach Pierluisi or Schatz for comment early on Monday.

At his first news conference as governor last week, Pierluisi acknowledged that Puerto Rico’s Senate was still to meet to vote on whether to confirm his position.

Schatz has previously said that installing Pierluisi before the vote was “unethical and illegal.”

But Pierluisi had countered: “The Senate will have its say and by the end of Wednesday we’ll know whether I am ratified.”.

If he is not ratified then the second in line, the secretary of justice of Puerto Rico, will take over the governorship, he said.

Rossello, a 40-year-old, first-term governor, had tapped Pierluisi as secretary of state, a position putting him first in line as successor.

The island’s leading newspaper El Nuevo Dia subsequently reported that Schatz had rescheduled the session to vote on the appointment for Monday.

Pierluisi’s statement capped a week of political chaos in Puerto Rico after Rossello said he would resign over offensive chat messages that drew around a third of the island’s 3.2 million people to the streets in protest.

The chats between Rossello and top aides took aim at female politicians and gay celebrities like Ricky Martin, and poked fun at ordinary Puerto Ricans.

The publication of the messages unleashed anger building for years in Puerto Rico over the island’s painful bankruptcy process, ineffective hurricane recovery efforts and corruption scandals linked to a string of past governors, including Rossello’s father.

Until an appointment was confirmed by both chambers, Schatz and other senators said the next in line for governor, under law, was Justice Secretary Wanda Vázquez.

(Reporting by Rich McKay; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

North Korean leader’s slain half-brother was a CIA informant: Wall Street Journal

FILE PHOTO - Kim Jong Nam arrives at Beijing airport in Beijing, China, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 11, 2007. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who was killed in Malaysia in 2017, had been an informant for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

The Journal cited an unnamed “person knowledgeable about the matter” for the report, and said many details of Kim Jong Nam’s relationship with the CIA remained unclear.

Reuters could not independently confirm the story. The CIA declined to comment.

The Journal quoted the person as saying “There was a nexus” between the CIA and Kim Jong Nam.

“Several former U.S. officials said the half brother, who had lived outside of North Korea for many years and had no known power base in Pyongyang, was unlikely to be able to provide details of the secretive country’s inner workings,” the Journal said.

The former officials also said Kim Jong Nam had been almost certainly in contact with security services of other countries, particularly China’s, the Journal said.

Kim Jong Nam’s role as a CIA informant is mentioned in a new book about Kim Jong Un, “The Great Successor,” by Washington Post reporter Anna Fifield that is due to be published on Tuesday. Fifield says Kim Jong Nam usually met his handlers in Singapore and Malaysia, citing a source with knowledge of the intelligence.

The book says that security camera footage from Kim Jong Nam’s last trip to Malaysia showed him in a hotel elevator with an Asian-looking man who was reported to be a U.S. intelligence agent. It said his backpack contained $120,000 in cash, which could have been payment for intelligence-related activities, or earnings from his casino businesses.

South Korean and U.S. officials have said the North Korean authorities had ordered the assassination of Kim Jong Nam, who had been critical of his family’s dynastic rule. Pyongyang has denied the allegation.

Two women were charged with poisoning Kim Jong Nam by smearing his face with liquid VX, a banned chemical weapon, at Kuala Lumpur airport in February 2017. Malaysia released Doan Thi Huong, who is Vietnamese, in May, and Indonesian Siti Aisyah in March.

According to the Journal, the person said Kim Jong Nam had traveled to Malaysia in February 2017 to meet his CIA contact, although that may not have been the sole purpose of the trip.

U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un have met twice, in Hanoi in February and Singapore last June, seeming to build personal goodwill but failing to agree on a deal to lift U.S. sanctions in exchange for North Korea abandoning its nuclear and missile programs.

(This story has been refiled to correct “Ki’s” to “his” in paragraph 8)

(Reporting by Mark Hosenball and David Brunnstrom; Writing by Mohammad Zargham; Editing by Sandra Maler)

Cambridge Analytica and British parent shut down after Facebook scandal

(Reuters) – Cambridge Analytica, the firm embroiled in a controversy over its handling of Facebook Inc

Window cleaners work outside the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

Window cleaners work outside the offices of Cambridge Analytica in central London, Britain, March 24, 2018. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls

user data, and its British parent SCL Elections Ltd, are shutting down immediately after suffering a sharp drop in business, the company said on Wednesday.

The company will begin bankruptcy proceedings, it said, after losing clients and facing mounting legal fees resulting from the scandal over reports the company harvested personal data about millions of Facebook users beginning in 2014.

“The siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the Company’s customers and suppliers,” the statement said.

“As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business, which left Cambridge Analytica with no realistic alternative to placing the company into administration.”

Allegations of the improper use of data for 87 million Facebook users by Cambridge Analytica, which was hired by President Donald Trump’s 2016 U.S. election campaign, has hurt the shares of the world’s biggest social network and prompted multiple official investigations in the United States and Europe.

“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company’s statement said.

The firm is shutting down effective Wednesday and employees have been told to turn in their computers, the Wall Street Journal reported earlier.

The Cambridge Analytica sign had been removed from the reception area of its London offices on Wednesday. At SCL’s Washington, D.C. office, a man declined to answer questions from a Reuters reporter.

After the announcement, Britain’s data regulator said it would continue civil and criminal investigations of the firm and will pursue “individuals and directors as appropriate” despite the shutdown.

“We will also monitor closely any successor companies using our powers to audit and inspect, to ensure the public is safeguarded,” a spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner’s Office said in a statement.

Cambridge Analytica was created around 2013 initially with a focus on U.S. elections, with $15 million in backing from billionaire Republican donor Robert Mercer and a name chosen by future Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon, the New York Times reported.

Cambridge Analytica marketed itself as a provider of consumer research, targeted advertising and other data-related services to both political and corporate clients.

After Trump won the White House in 2016, in part with the firm’s help, Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix went to more clients to pitch his services, the Times reported last year. The company boasted it could develop psychological profiles of consumers and voters which was a “secret sauce” it used to sway them more effectively than traditional advertising could.

One unanswered question in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether there was any collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia is whether Russia’s Internet Research Agency or Russian intelligence used data Cambridge Analytica obtained from Facebook or other sources to help target and time messages during the campaign that were anti-Hillary Clinton, pro-Trump and politically and racially divisive.

Bannon was a former vice president of the London-based firm, and Mueller has asked it to provide internal documents about how its data and analyses were used in the Trump campaign, according to sources familiar with the investigation.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington, Andy Bruce in London and Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Writing by John Whitesides; Editing by Patrick Graham and Bill Rigby)

Olympic officials failed to act on Nassar sex abuse claims: report

Larry Nassar, a former team USA Gymnastics doctor who pleaded guilty in November 2017 to sexual assault, listens to victims impact statements during his sentencing in the Eaton County Circuit Court in Charlotte, Michigan, U.S., January 31, 2018.

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. Olympic Committee officials were told in 2015 that an investigation by USA Gymnastics uncovered possible criminal sexual abuse by team doctor Larry Nassar but they failed to intervene, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

USA Gymnastics then-president Steve Penny called Scott Blackmun, the chief executive of the U.S. Olympic Committee, in July 2015 with a request for guidance on how to handle allegations Nassar had sexually abused gymnasts, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter.

Nassar plead guilty to sexual assault in a Michigan court and received a sentence of up to 175 years in prison on Jan. 24.

On the call, Penny told Blackmun he planned to alert law enforcement after a gymnast described what appeared to be a sexual assault by Nassar, the newspaper reported.

Blackmun told Penny to “do what he had to do,” but provided no further guidance to USA Gymnastics in the months to come on how to handle the matter, it said.

Blackman told the Journal that he had urged Penny to turn over the case to law enforcement, and that the USOC’s own upcoming investigation would examine what individuals knew about Nassar and when, the newspaper said.

In response to The Wall Street Journal Story, the USOC reiterated in an email to Reuters it was launching an independent probe “to determine what complaints were made, when, to whom, and what was done in response.” USA Gymnastics did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Many of Nassar’s victims have criticized the USOC for failing to remove him sooner. That has come as part of wider outrage at USA Gymnastics, the sport’s governing body in the United States, and Michigan State University, where Nassar was employed and abused many of his victims.

Under pressure from the USOC, the entire board of USA Gymnastics resigned last week. The president and athletic director at Michigan State University also stepped down.

The Journal said that Penny, who resigned from his post last year, followed up later in 2015 with an email to USOC Chief Security Officer Larry Buendorf that described Nassar’s questionable treatment of three gymnasts and outlined USA Gymnastics’ handling of the matter.

USA Gymnastics has said it contacted the Indianapolis office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation on July 27, 2015, which instructed it not to comment on the matter so as not to compromise its investigation, the newspaper said.

(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay)

U.S. weighs ban on trade in Venezuela debt: U.S. official

President Donald Trump waves to Marines as he departs Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Yuma, Arizona. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration is considering additional sanctions against Venezuela’s government, including a ban on trading the country’s debt, a U.S. administration official with knowledge of discussions said on Wednesday.

“It is just one option that is being talked about,” the official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on Tuesday the possibility that the United States could prohibit trading of some Venezuelan bonds, said one option would be a ban on trading of new debt issued by Venezuela or its state-owned entities, with an exemption for debt issued under the authority of the National Assembly that Maduro has stripped of power.

Venezuela bonds fell on Wednesday.

The Trump administration has imposed sanctions against Maduro and senior officials in his administration to punish them for what the United States sees as their role in undermining democracy in the oil-producing country.

On Aug. 9, Washington imposed sanctions against eight more individuals, including the brother of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, speaking in Miami on Wednesday, said the Trump administration was ready to do more.

“You may be assured that under the leadership of President Donald Trump, the United States will continue to bring the full measure of American economic and diplomatic power to bear until democracy is restored in Venezuela,” Pence said, urging Latin America to also do more to pressure Maduro’s government.

“The United States has already issued three rounds of targeted sanctions against Maduro and his inner circle, and there is more to come,” Pence said.

Venezuela’s government has around $2 billion in available cash to make $1.3 billion in bond payments by the end of the year and to cover imports of food and medicine, Reuters reported in August.

The funds that could be used for debt payment include $1.3 billion in cash and IMF Special Drawing Rights held in central bank reserves, and $700 million in separate accounts that the central bank lists as “other financial assets,” according to a report by local firm Financial Synthesis.

(Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Lesley Wroughton; editing by Mohammad Zargham)

U.S. may accuse North Korea in Bangladesh cyber heist: WSJ

Federal Reserve and New York City Police officers stand guard in front of the New York Federal Reserve Building in New York, October 17, 2012. REUTERS/Keith Bedford/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors are building potential cases that would accuse North Korea of directing the theft of $81 million from Bangladesh Bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York last year, and that would charge alleged Chinese middlemen, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation believes that North Korea is responsible for the heist, an official briefed on the probe told Reuters. Richard Ledgett, deputy director of the U.S. National Security Agency, publicly suggested on Tuesday that North Korea may be linked to the incident, while private firms have long pointed the finger at the reclusive state.

The Journal, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that prosecutors believe Chinese middlemen helped North Korea orchestrate the theft from Bangladesh’s central bank, which was among the biggest bank robberies in modern times.

The current cases being pursued may not include charges against North Korean officials, but would likely implicate the country, the newspaper reported, with the United States accusing a foreign government of orchestrating the heist.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman declined to comment.

FBI offices in Los Angeles and New York have been leading an international investigation into the February 2016 incident, in which hackers breached Bangladesh Bank’s systems and used the SWIFT messaging network to request nearly $1 billion from its account at the New York Fed.

The branch of the U.S. central bank rejected most of the requests but filled some of them, resulting in $81 million disappearing into casinos and other entities in the Philippines. A top police investigator in Dhaka told Reuters in December that some Bangladesh Bank officials deliberately exposed its computer systems, enabling the hackers to get in.

The incident exposed bungling and miscommunication between central banks, and left the Fed, Bangladesh, SWIFT, and the Philippine lender that initially received the funds trading blame for months.

SWIFT – or the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication that serves as the backbone of global finance – has since revealed that its messaging system has been targeted in a “meaningful” number of other attacks last year using a similar approach as in the Bangladesh incident.

Last week, SWIFT said it planned to cut off the remaining North Korean banks still connected to its system as concerns about the country’s nuclear program and missile tests grow.

The Journal reported that federal investigators are focusing on Chinese individuals or businesses who allegedly helped North Korea orchestrate the heist, and that the U.S. Treasury is considering sanctions against these alleged middlemen.

The New York Fed and SWIFT declined to comment.

(Reporting by Jonathan Spicer and Joseph Menn; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and James Dalgleish)

Could this be the Beginning of a Complete World Collapse?

A Day of Chaos on Wall Street today!  As this is being written, the New York Stock Exchange had been closed for over 4 hours.  The Greek Government is scrambling to fix their financial disaster and headlines are screaming out that the real crisis in the financial news is that China is headed for a crash much like what happened to us in 1929. As I have watched the news today, riveted by what is happening all over the country, all I could do was sit and connect the dots. Could the world’s financial system be taking the first major step towards a complete collapse?

This morning, United Airlines had to suspend and cancel flights all over the country because of a “computer glitch”; The Wall Street Journal’s Website went down because of a “computer glitch”.   All of these computer glitches and I have a hard time NOT connecting them together. And if these incidents are related, then it had to be by something evil.

There is massive flooding all over the country and power outages occurring because of them. We are also suffering from drought and threats of disease that are wiping out some of our food supply.  The warning signs are continuing to flash brighter.

Last night I received a phone call from a recent prophetic guest and wonderful friend, John Kilpatrick.  He told me that, “The next 90 days will be more important than the last 54 years of your ministry all together!”  He went on to warn me, “Do not be distracted as the next months are crucial!  Your voice must be diligent and clear in the next 90 days!”

Time after time, our prophetic guests have told us all that we need to be preparing NOW!  It IS time to get ready for what is to come!  John Shorey, Rick Joyner, Joel Richardson, Carl Gallups and Rabbi Jonathan Cahn are among those that have just recently been warning the world of what is to come!  I cannot help but think of their words as this day unfolds.  We will see more of these days of uncertainty, we will see more chaos.

According to Joe Grano, Chairman and CEO of Centurion Holdings LLC and former chairman of Homeland Security Advisory Council: “The two places America is most vulnerable is our financial systems and our energy grid. And the biggest warning light is that our enemies not only can shut down our financial system but also our grid.”

I am committed to bringing you as much information that I can as the days unfold.  We are going to be working on this together!  On our next broadcast, we will be talking about these world shaking events and piecing them together on the show.  We will be discussing the many events that are coming together in this world and what we can begin expecting in the days to come. Today we began construction on our new Roku network “breaking news” facility. We are so eager to finish this new building so that we may bring you the cutting edge news as soon as it is breaking.

The Lord is speaking to all of us in so many ways.  We want to hear from you if you feel He is speaking to you!  Please send us information that you find and news that you feel is important during these prophetic days.  We want to hear from you!  Please email us at newsteam@jimbakkershow.com.

God Bless you.

Love,

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NYSE repoens after trading stopped amid United Airlines, WSJ.com tech issues

Trading was halted for more than two hours on the New York Stock Exchange floor Wednesday after an internal technical issue was detected – which then set off speculation that a cyber-glitch at United Airlines and a temporary online outage at the Wall Street Journal newspaper were connected.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said President Obama had been briefed on the glitch that took out trading on the floor of the NYSE by White House counterterrorism and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco and chief of staff Denis McDonough.

He also said despite indications that it was not a cyber-breach, the administration was “keenly aware of the risk that exists in cyber space right now.”

Source: FOX News – NYSE repoens after trading stopped amid United Airlines, WSJ.com tech issues