#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Six warships, a helicopter and 400 people are involved in the search: Singapore and Malaysia have dispatched ships, and the US, Australia, France, and Germany have offered assistance:
BBC Asia‘Missing Indonesian submarine has 72 hours of oxygen left, navy says the KRI Nanggala-402 vessel is thought to have disappeared about 60 miles (100km) off the coast of Bali early on Wednesday morning’
1 hour ago
The German-built submarine had been conducting a drill but failed to report back and contact was lost, the navy said.
“We know the area but it’s quite deep,” First Admiral Julius Widjojono told the AFP news agency.
Some reports said contact was lost with the submarine after it was given clearance to dive into deeper waters.
Meanwhile, an oil spill found near where the submarine dived could point to fuel tank damage, or could also be a signal from the crew, the navy said.
The missing vessel is one of five submarines operated by Indonesia. It was made in the late 1970s, and underwent a two-year refit in South Korea that was completed in 2012.
A navy spokesman told the BBC the incident was the first time Indonesia had lost one of its submarines. But similar incidents have happened elsewhere. In 2017, an Argentine military submarine went missing in the southern Atlantic with 44 crew on board.
Its wreck was located a year later and officials said that the submarine had imploded.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: The Chinese ambassador Nong Rong was staying at the hotel but wasn’t there when the bomb went off:
‘Pakistan bombing narrowly misses Chinese ambassador: Pakistan’s Interior Minister told local TV channel ARY News this was a big blast and the Chinese ambassador was also staying at this hotel, but he wasn’t there at the time; he was out at a function’
Posted 10h ago
China’s ambassador to Pakistan had been staying at the hotel, but it’s not clear if he was the target
The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility hours afterward, but authorities are still investigating who is behind it
Balochistan is home to Gwadar Port, considered the flagship project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor under the Belt and Road Initiative
Mr Rong had earlier in the day met provincial Chief Minister Jam Kamal in the city, according to a tweet from the provincial government spokesman.
Provincial Home Minister Ziaullah Lango told reporters he’d spoken with Mr Rong since the explosion.
“I just met him. He is in high spirits,” adding the envoy would complete his visit to Quetta on Thursday.
The province of Balochistan, of which Quetta is the capital, hosts the newly expanded Gwadar deepwater port that is key to a planned $65 billion investment in China’s Belt and Road Initiative economic corridor.
It was not clear whether the envoy or members of his delegation were a target of the attack, but Chinese nationals and their interests in the region have been attacked before by Taliban militants and nationalist insurgents.
Hours after the attack, the Pakistani Taliban in a statement claimed responsibility, saying it was a suicide attack.
The Pakistani Taliban is a separate insurgent group from the Afghan Taliban.
Authorities are investigating to determine whether it was a suicide attack.
It was unclear who was behind the attack since no-one immediately claimed responsibility.
South-western Balochistan province is the scene of a long-running insurgency by secessionist groups like the Balochistan Liberation Front and the Balochistan Liberation Army.
They have for decades staged attacks to press their demands for independence. The Pakistani Taliban and Islamic State group also have a presence there.
Pakistan’s Interior Minister Mr Ahmed quickly blamed neighbouring India for the hotel bombing, although he provided no evidence to back up the allegation.
He told a Pakistani Geo news channel that Pakistan had only one enemy and it was neighbouring India, which he alleged was behind the bombing.
The hotel is frequented by foreigners as it is the city’s only luxury hotel and is considered safe.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: In August, two rigged drones were found in the car of suspected CJNG members:
Mexico cartel used explosive drones to attack police: ‘Officials think the powerful Jalisco New Generation Cartel (CJNG) is behind Tuesday’s attack in the western state of Michoacán’ The drones are thought to be the latest weapons in a deadly war between the drugs cartel and the security forces and vigilantes opposed to them.
20 hours ago
New weapon in a deadly fight
Not much detail has been released about Tuesday’s attack but local media said two drones had been used.
It is believed they were rigged in a similar way to the two drones that were found in the car boot of suspected cartel members.
The drones seized last year had containers taped to them which had been filled with plastic explosives and ball bearings. Experts said they had been set up to be detonated remotely and could have inflicted deadly damage.
The officers injured on Tuesday had been deployed to clear roads leading to the city of Aguililla, in Michoacán, which had been blocked by the cartel to impede the access of the security forces.
Michoacan State Security DepartmentMembers of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel want to control the region, which is where their leader was born
Over the past weeks, hundreds of residents have been fleeing the city in fear as the CJNG and a rival group calling itself United Cartels (Cárteles Unidos), fight for control of the city.
Earlier this month, eight mutilated bodies were found in the area after a particularly deadly fight between the two groups of powerful drug cartels
Aguililla is the birthplace of CJNG leader Nemesio Oseguera Cervantes, also known as “El Mencho”.
“El Mencho” is one of Mexico’s most wanted men and the US Drug Enforcement Administration is offering a $10m (£7.2m) reward for information leading to his capture.
The cartel is believed to have further stepped up its attacks on the security forces in retaliation for the extradition to the United States of El Mencho’s son, Rubén Oseguera González, known as “Menchito” (Little Mencho), on drug trafficking charges and this could become Mexico’s bloodiest year on record
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: And the Iranians were quick to announce that they had launched an attack on what they describe as a Mossad intelligence center in Kurdish Iraq, and caused many casualties among its “Israeli forces.” It was an attempt to persuade both its own people, and the rest of the world, that Iran was able to strike back at once and inflict significant damage on Israel.
Iran, Humiliated By Natanz, Claims It Hit ‘Mossad’ Site In Iraq: The Iranians are smarting from the latest Mossad attack, which destroyed much of its new centrifuge plant, built 50 meters underground, at Natanz. There have been dire threats from Iran about taking its revenge on Israel. The report on the supposed attack is here: “Iranian media spreads report of attack on alleged Mossad center in Iraq,” by Tzvi Joffre, Jerusalem Post, April 14, 2021:
On Tuesday night, a number of semi-official and official Iranian media sources shared a report claiming that an intelligence and special operations center in northern Iraq allegedly belonging to the Mossad was attacked by an “unidentified group.”
The Iranian reports claimed that “Israeli forces” were injured or killed in the alleged attack and promised to release more details and footage “soon.” As of Wednesday [April 14] morning, no further details nor footage has been released.
A report on the alleged incident shared by the semi-official Iranian Fars News Agency claimed that “Iraqi media and sources have repeatedly warned about the activities of Zionist elements” in the Iraqi Kurdistan area.
The report was not confirmed by any official sources, but has been published by the semi-official Fars News Agency, Al-Alam News, which is owned by Iran’s state media corporation, and Press TV, an English-language news network run by the Iranian government.
The Iranian reports gave no details, only reporting that an attack on “an intelligence and special operations center” belonging to Mossad had taken place. According to Iraqi Kurdish sources, such baseless claims about the existence of a “Mossad center” in Iraqi Kurdistan have been made before. In Iran’s brief report, nothing was revealed about the attackers, described only as an “unidentified group.” Nothing was said about where the attack took place beyond “northern Iraq.” Nothing further has been said to support the claim that there have been casualties among “Israeli forces,” even though the Iranian government promised to release “more details and footage.” There has been no release of any footage – not of the building that was supposedly Iran’s target, and not of the killed and wounded Israelis. There was no mention of how the attack took place – was it a bombing, drones, cyberwarfare, Iranian agents on the ground? It was, of course, a fantasy produced by the Iranians to save face, to let their own people and the world know that they had dealt a heavy blow to the Jewish state as retaliation for its attack on the underground facility at Natanz.
It took less than a day for the Iraqi Kurds to deny the story. Just a day after the Iranian Fars news agency had reported on that attack on a “Mossad center” in northern Iraq, the Iraqi Kurds announced that there had been no such attack. A spokesman for the Kurdistan Regional Government denied reports of an alleged attack on a Mossad center in northern Iraq as “completely false” on Wednesday morning, stating that this isn’t the first time claims have been made that an Israeli intelligence center is located in Kurdistan, according to Iraqi media.
“The purpose of publishing such reports is clearly a conspiracy against the region and its political process,” added the spokesman.
That unambiguous denial of any such Iranian attack on a “Mossad center” by the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq apparently convinced the Iranians to drop their claim – it was being received with too much skepticism in the region, and outright denial in Iraqi Kurdistan, making Iran look ridiculous.
President Rouhani took a different tack. He said at a televised cabinet meeting that the answer to Israel’s Natanz attack would not take the form of violent retaliation; Iran had another, better way to strike back: “Of course, the security and intelligence officials must give the final reports, but apparently it is the crime of the Zionists, and if the Zionists act against our nation, we will answer it. Our response to their malice is replacing the damaged centrifuges with more advanced ones and ramping up the enrichment to 60% at the Natanz facility.”
Such an “answer,” in the form of uranium enriched to a level of 60%, relieves Iran of the need to strike back violently against the Jewish state, which would only prompt Israel to respond with a far more devastating blow, to which the Iranians would not dare to respond. Enriching uranium to that higher level of purity is a move that will satisfy the Iranian public that “something is being done to answer the Zionists” and yet should not trigger a violent response from Israel. And another calculation by Iran might be this: the Biden Administration, already so disposed to appeasing the Islamic Republic, will want to reward Iran for its “restraint” in its non-violent answer to Israel’s latest devastating blow at Natanz. What better way to reward Iran for holding back than to accede to its demand that some U.S. sanctions be removed before Iran re-commits to any part of the 2015 nuclear deal?
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Weakness is an open-season invitation to bullies. With the Biden Administration in power, US troops abroad are under more risks from jihadists, particularly those linked to Iran.
Iraq: Five injured as jihadis with suspected ties to Iran launch rockets on airbase housing Americans: Shadowy Shiite armed groups aligned with Iran,” demanding a pullout date for American troops in Iraq, are the key suspects Five injured as rockets hit Iraqi air base housing by Mahmoud Saleh, AFP, April 18, 2021:
Two of the rockets fired at Balad airbase, north of Baghdad, crashed into a dormitory and a canteen of US company Sallyport, a security source told AFP.
Two foreign contractors and three Iraqi soldiers were wounded, the source added.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the United States routinely blames Iran-linked Iraqi factions for such attacks on its troops and diplomats.
F-16 fighters are stationed at the Balad airbase, and several maintenance companies are present there, employing Iraqi and foreign staff.
There have been around 20 bomb or rocket attacks against American interests, including bases hosting US soldiers, since US President Joe Biden took office in January.
Dozens of others took place from the autumn of 2019 under the administration of Donald Trump.
Two Americans and an Iraqi civilian have been killed in such attacks since late 2019.
An Iraqi civilian working for a firm maintaining US fighter jets for the Iraq air force was also wounded in one attack.
The Balad base was also targeted earlier this month, without causing any casualties.
The attacks are sometimes claimed by shadowy Shiite armed groups aligned with Iran who are demanding the Biden administration set a pullout date for Iraq as it has for Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, an explosives-packed drone slammed into Iraq’s Arbil airport in the first reported use of such a weapon against a base used by US-led coalition troops in the country, officials said….
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Officers also need to hear from anyone who saw, or has dash cam footage, of a dark blue Citroen C3 leaving the area at speed and understood to have been driving on the wrong side of the road: A 20-year-old man previously arrested on suspicion of murder and a 29-year-old man for conspiracy to murder have been released on bail: A 22-year-old who was also injured remains in a stable condition in hospital. He will be questioned under caution in connection with the killing when medically fit:
WM Police Update: ‘Officers have arrested two more people in Birmingham murder investigation as appeal for information continues after a man shot dead in Birmingham has been named as Gavin Parry’
19th April 2021
Officers have detained the men, aged 21 and 23, earlier today as we continue to actively pursue those involved in the killing of Mr Parry in Western Road last Tuesday (13 April). The pair remain in custody for questioning over the killing of 31-year-old Mr Parry as we continue to appeal for witnesses to the shooting at around 5.30pm: We want to speak to a man who was riding a scooter near the scene at the time and may have vital information to assist our enquiries.
Detective Inspector Jim Mahon, from our homicide team, said: “This is active investigation as we seek to establish exactly what happened in Western Road last week: “ A man tragically lost his life and we believe there are people out there who can help us get the truth. We need anyone with information, however insignificant they feel it may be, to contact us.”
Anyone with any information is urged to contact us via live chat on our website or call 101. If you have information, photos or video footage which could help the investigation you can do so via this dedicated web link: https://mipp.police.uk/operation/20HQ20H24-PO1
We understand you may want to remain anonymous and you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You only need to tell them what you know − not who you are.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Responding to climate change is the common cause of all humanity, Xi has said, adding that it should not be a bargaining chip for geopolitics, a target for attacking other countries, or an excuse for trade barriers:
Feature: Green is gold — Xi Jinping innovates fight against climate change according Xinhua
‘The Chinese president has been paying close attention to ecological and environmental issues and actively championing global actions to fight climate change, he underscores the issue as a long-term strategy vital to his country’s modernization and its people’s well-being’
GREEN IS GOLD
At the beginning of the 1990s, Yucun, an idyllic mountain village in China’s eastern Anji County, Zhejiang Province, decided to end poverty by tapping the potential of its natural resources.
By mining for limestone and manufacturing cement, Yucun became one of China’s richest villages with an annual revenue of more than 3 million yuan (460,000 U.S. dollars).
However, it was not long before the villagers found it a Faustian bargain. Their hometown turned into a real eyesore with its pitted land, turbid rivers and dust haze.
Yucun was not the only village in Zhejiang that had seen its eco-system degrading. To address the ever deteriorating problem, the province committed itself to building an “ecological province” in 2003.
Within three years, Yucun shut down three limestone quarries and a cement factory, which accounted for 95 percent of its annual income, causing much fear amongst the villagers.
A heated debate emerged about the relationship between economic development and environmental protection — a relationship that was inevitably rocky during industrialization across the world.
In 2005, Xi, then secretary of the Zhejiang Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, visited Yucun. He assured the villagers that their move to close those factories was “wise.”
“Mountains and rivers green are mountains of silver and gold,” he said at the village’s simple and humble meeting room.
Nine days later, in a commentary carried by Zhejiang Daily, Xi, using the pen-name “Zhe Xin,” called for pursuing harmony between man and nature as well as harmony between the economy and society, in order to have clear water and green mountains along with “mountains of silver and gold.”
The “two mountains” concept, later developed into Xi’s thought on ecological civilization, has encouraged numerous Chinese cities and villages to pursue high-quality and sustainable growth through protecting the environment and developing green industries.
When Xi returned to Yucun 15 years later during an inspection tour in Zhejiang in March 2020, the village has transformed into a place featuring buildings with traditional white walls and black tiles, colorful flower fields and exquisite lotus ponds. The villagers made much more money than in the past thanks to a tourism boom.
The path of green development is correct, Xi said.
The path, wrote the United Nations Environment Programme in a report, “is beyond and does away with traditional development patterns and models, guiding the transformation of the production methods and the lifestyle of the entire society.”
CLIMATE AGENDA IN XIPLOMACY
Xi also proposed the signature concept of “two mountains” when addressing the global audience at the Climate Ambition Summit held online at the end of 2020.
He was calling for pursuing a new approach to climate governance that highlights green recovery in a year when the world was going through not only a COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallouts but also one of the three warmest years on record.
On his diplomatic agenda, Xi has time and again stressed the importance of upholding multilateralism, unity and cooperation to tackle climate change.
Addressing the opening ceremony of the just-concluded Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2021 held in China’s tropical island of Hainan, Xi urged Asian countries to strengthen cooperation on green infrastructure, green energy and green finance, and to make green a defining feature of Belt and Road cooperation.
Earlier this month, at a video summit held with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Xi called on the European Union (EU) to work together with China to strengthen the China-EU green partnership.
Since 2020, Xi has held six phone talks with the French president, in four of which they compared notes on strengthening coordination and cooperation on tackling climate change.
China and European countries have been working closely on the global fight against climate change after the former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration abandoned the Paris Agreement.
Biden has decided to return his country to the landmark global deal on climate change, which was agreed on by almost every country in the world in 2015 after lengthy negotiations in the French capital.
DELIVERING ON PROMISE
At present, the international landscape is evolving more rapidly and COVID-19 is triggering deep reflections on the relationship between man and nature, Xi said, opening his speech at the Climate Ambition Summit.
His country has been seeking to use the pandemic as a springboard into a greener and more resilient future.
Addressing the general debate of the 75th session of the UN General Assembly in September 2020, the Chinese president announced that China aims to have CO2 emissions peak before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.
If successful, according to the Climate Action Tracker, it would lower global warming projections by around 0.2 degrees to 0.3 degrees Celsius.
While environmentalists welcomed the Chinese pledge as a “game-changer” for the climate and a move that could encourage other countries to act faster, some raised doubts about the viability of the targets given that China is an emerging economy still heavily reliant on coal, and asked for concrete action plans.
In its 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025), a key policy document that will heavily influence the nation’s economic development in the next decade and beyond, Beijing outlined last month that energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product (GDP) and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP will be reduced by 13.5 percent and 18 percent over the period, respectively.
Furthermore, an action plan for hitting the peak of carbon emissions by 2030 is expected to be unveiled within the year.
“China, as the world’s largest developing country, will complete the world’s most dramatic reduction in carbon emission intensity, and realize carbon neutrality from carbon peaking in the shortest time in global history,” Xi said at the China-France-Germany video summit.
The low-carbon commitment, it is estimated, requires China to make the transition from reaching its carbon peak to realizing carbon neutrality within 30 years, compared with the 60 years taken by most developed countries.
The task is extremely challenging, Xi said, but China will deliver on its promise ……
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: Yu Zhou sought to exploit U.S. taxpayer dollars intended to fund critical, life-saving research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital through the whole-sale theft of their trade secrets,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “
Hospital Researcher Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring to Steal Trade Secrets and Sell to China: Defendant Will Pay More Than $2.6 Million in Restitution:
‘Yu Zhou, 51, of Dublin, Ohio, pleaded guilty in December 2020 to stealing scientific trade secrets related to exosomes and exosome isolation from Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute for his own personal financial gain. Zhou also conspired to commit wire fraud’
“Zhou’s greed was encouraged and enabled by a series of Chinese Government programs which incentivize thievery in an attempt to supplement China’s own research and development goals on the back of American ingenuity and investment. This successful prosecution should serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to profit from pilfering hard-earned U.S. trade secrets.”
“Yu Zhou willingly took part in the Chinese Government’s long-term efforts to steal American intellectual property,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel for the Southern District of Ohio. “Zhou and his wife executed a scheme over the course of several years to set up businesses in China, steal American research, and profit from doing so. The couple deserves the time it received in federal prison.”
According to court documents, Zhou and his co-conspirator and wife, Li Chen, 48, worked in separate medical research labs at the Research Institute for 10 years each (Zhou from 2007 until 2017 and Chen from 2008 until 2018). They pleaded guilty to conspiring to steal at least five trade secrets related to exosome research from Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Chen was sentenced in February to 30 months in prison for her role in the scheme.
Exosomes play a key role in the research, identification and treatment of a range of medical conditions, including necrotizing enterocolitis (a condition found in premature babies), liver fibrosis and liver cancer.
Court documents detail that Zhou and Chen conspired to steal and then monetize one of the trade secrets by creating and selling exosome “isolation kits.” Zhou’s research at Nationwide Children’s included a novel isolation method in which exosomes could be isolated from samples as small as one drop of blood. This method was vital to the research being conducted in Zhou’s lab – because necrotizing enterocolitis is a condition found primarily in premature babies, only small amounts of fluid can safely be taken from them.
Zhou and Chen started a company in China to sell the kits.
The defendants received benefits from the Chinese government, including the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs and the National Natural Science Foundation of China. Zhou and Chen were also part of application processes related to multiple Chinese government programs, including talent plans, a method used by China to transfer foreign research and technology to the Chinese government.
As part of their convictions, the couple will forfeit approximately $1.45 million, 500,000 shares of common stock of Avalon GloboCare Corp. and 400 shares of common stock of GenExosome Technologies Inc. They were also ordered to pay $2.6 million in restitution.
Chen and Zhou were arrested in California in July 2019 and their case was unsealed in August 2019 when they appeared in federal court in Columbus.
Acting U.S. Attorney Vipal J. Patel for the Southern District of Ohio; Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division; and Special Agent in Charge Chris Hoffman of the FBI’s Cincinnati Division announced the sentence imposed today by U.S. District Judge Sarah D. Morrison.
National Security Division Trial Attorney Matthew J. McKenzie, Assistant U.S. Attorneys S. Courter Shimeall, Peter K. Glenn-Applegate, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Michael Marous are representing the United States in this case.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.22: By piecing together evidence linking the flight details of suspects, NCA officers proved that three attempts to smuggle cash by dual British / Albanian nationals out of the UK totalling £215,960 were connected:
Financial investigators link cases to smash cash courier gang: ‘The individual investigations were led by the NCA, Essex Police and the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU), supported by Border Force’
The probe started in February 2019 after Essex Police seized £100,980 from Ismet Hoxha at Stansted Airport. Investigators at Essex Police identified further individuals and worked in partnership with the other agencies who took the cases forward. This enabled NCA officers to seize £79,980 from Ervin Fejzaj at the same airport in April 2019 and the ERSOU to seize £35,000 from Lema Aliaj at Luton Airport in July 2019.
Working together, specialist financial investigators compared evidence and established that the seizures were connected and that the three had personal, travel and financial links.
The NCA collated travel information and produced schedules covering three years of travel history. This showed travel patterns which were consistent with that of cash couriers removing the proceeds of crime from the UK. Each agency used this evidence at court hearings between June 2020 and January 2021, which resulted in successful forfeiture of the money.
Jacque Beer, NCA Regional Head of Investigation South – London East, said: “Money is the lifeblood of organised crime so it is vital that anyone found in possession of huge quantities of cash can prove that it has been obtained legitimately: “ This was not the case for any of these forfeiture cases: “ We will continue to work with partners across law enforcement to tackle the criminality behind illicit cash.”…..Investigators found that the three had flown from the UK more than 80 times within the space of three years, suggesting that large sums of money may have been transported from the UK: Evidence showed all had undertaken travel involving multiple short trips to Europe, often with the outbound and return journeys booked as one-way flights. They had previously travelled on the same flights but sat separately in an attempt to disguise their association.
Ismet Hoxha, a friend of Ervin Fejzaj, claimed he gave Fejzaj much of the cash seized from him: Aliaj is the ex-wife of Fejzaj but gave his address as her current address. The bank withdrawal slip she showed Border Force officers at Luton was the same one shown to officers by her ex-husband at Stansted in April 2019: After his cash seizure, Fejzaj travelled again from Gatwick Airport alone without checked luggage. He was spoken to by Border Force Officers and showed the same banking slip evidence. Investigators subsequently found that his ex-wife made his booking for the trip and that she travelled on the same flight on a separate ticket booked by him. Investigators believe Fejzaj acted as a decoy so that Aliaj could successfully travel without interest from law enforcement:
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: This event is the perfect example of numerous key partners unifying our efforts to counter transnational criminal organizations who look to exploit the maritime environment,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jason Neiman, Seventh District public affairs officer. “By strengthening partnerships, we counter threats together.”
Coast Guard Cutter Tampa offloads $94.6M in cocaine in Miami: ‘A maritime patrol flight spotted the vessel on April 9, and a law enforcement team from the cutter detained three suspects and discovered 87 bales of cocaine all the suspects are reported to be in good health’
U.S. Coast Guard sent this bulletin at 04/20/2021 06:35 PM EDTNews Release
MULTIMEDIA RELEASE: Coast Guard Cutter Tampa offloads $94.6M in cocaine in Miami
Editor’s Note: Click on images to download high-resolution version.
The vessel was destroyed as a hazard to navigation.
The interdiction was the result of multi-agency efforts in support of U.S. Southern Command’s enhanced counter-narcotics operations in the Western Hemisphere, the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) and High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) programs, and the Caribbean Corridor Strike Force (CCSF).
On April 1, 2020, U.S. Southern Command began what was then known as Enhanced Counter Narcotics (CN) Operations in the Western Hemisphere to increase the disruption of drugs. This counter Transnational Criminal Organizations (TCO)/CN operational approach, which has become enduring, supports our objectives to degrade the capabilities of TCOs and save lives. With our increased presence, we have bolstered support to U.S. and partner nation law enforcement by sharing information and intelligence to help expand target packages. Since then, our key partners have been involved in over 60% of drug disruptions since April 2020 (up from 50% in 2019).
Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter, all suspects receive food, water, shelter and basic medical attention. Throughout the interdiction, Coast Guard crew members were equipped with personal protective equipment to minimize potential exposure to any possible case of COVID-19. There were no suspects in these cases reported to have any COVID-19 related symptoms.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: He has been remanded in custody and is due to appear at Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday 21 April).
Man charged with wounding of woman in Piccadilly Gardens: ‘Manuel Marques (12/01/1994) of Hyde Road, Manchester, has been charged with single counts of section 18 assault, and assault of an emergency worker’
Officers were called shortly before 4.55pm on Monday 19 April to a report of a woman injured in Manchester city centre: A 40-year-old woman was found on police arrival with an injury to her forearm which is believed to have been caused by a glass bottle: She was taken to hospital for treatment and has since been discharged.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: Officers have arrested four teenagers on suspicion of murder following the death of a man in Huyton on Monday night, 19th April.
Four arrested on suspicion of murder following death of man in Huyton: ‘The teenagers, two males aged 15, one male aged 14 and a 15 year-old female, are currently in custody where they will be questioned by detectives’
The victim has now been identified as 23 year-old Connor Dockerty from the Litherland area.
His next of kin have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers.
A post mortem revealed he died from multiple stab wounds.
An investigation is ongoing and detectives are continuing to appeal for anyone who has any information to come forward.
Detective Chief Inspector Siobhan Gainer said: “We are continuing to appeal for the public’s help and I want to appeal directly to anyone who was on Kingsway at the time this incident happened to contact us. If you have CCTV, dashcam or video/mobile footage from the Kingsway or Liverpool Road area at around 8pm on Monday night, please get in touch.”
Anyone who would like to upload footage from last night to help with our investigation can use our Major Incident Portal by clicking on ‘Merseyside Police’ and the ‘Kingsway murder Huyton’ icon. They can also message us in confidence via the portal: Public Portal (mipp.police.uk)
Anyone with information can also DM @MerPolCC on Twitter, call 101, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 quoting log 1004 of 19 April.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: More than £1.6m will be returned to the public purse after the National Crime Agency won a forfeiture order over the money which was hidden in a bed:
National Crime Agency wins £1.6m cash forfeiture order in Operation Venetic investigation: ‘On June 13 last year NCA officers working as part of Operation Venetic – the UK’s response to the takedown of encrypted comms platform EncroChat – raided a flat in Kenelm Road, Sutton Coldfield, near Birmingham, allegedly being used by an organised crime group’
Inside a double divan bed was £1,656,040 in cash: The bags were written on with dates and names of EncroChat handles (users’ nicknames) On the left side of the bed the cash had been counted and on the right of the bed were bags of uncounted cash: Also inside the bag were professional electronic cash counting machines, a ledger showing cash collection records, digital scales, a heat sealing machine and plastic pouches likely to have been used sealing one kilogramme blocks of drugs:
Two men aged 45 have been arrested as part of the investigation and released under investigation: And a man aged 37 is wanted as part of the inquiry: Officers found two kilogrammes of cocaine inside his car and £56,000 in his wardrobe when they searched his home:
NCA operations manager Rick MacKenzie said: “The recovery of this money is excellent news for the public purse and crucially deprives an organised crime group of a lot of cash: “ That money can no longer be used to reinvest in more offending. Our investigation continues.”The uncontested forfeiture order was granted on Friday at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: According to court documents, Sergio Pasini, 43, of Ferrera, Italy, and Gianluca Sabbioni, 55, of Sala Bolognese, Italy, two senior diesel managers at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Italy S.p.A. (FCA Italy), a wholly owned subsidiary of Stellantis N.V. — along with a previously charged co-conspirator, Emanuele Palma, 42, of Bloomfield Hills, Michigan — were responsible for developing and calibrating the 3.0-liter diesel engine used in certain FCA diesel vehicles.
‘An indictment was unsealed today in the Eastern District of Michigan charging two Italian nationals, along with a previously charged co-conspirator, for their alleged role in a conspiracy to defraud U.S. regulators and customers by making false and misleading statements about the emissions controls and fuel efficiency of more than 100,000 diesel vehicles sold in the United States by FCA US LLC: Their responsibilities included calibrating several software features in the vehicles’ emissions control systems to meet emissions standards for nitrogen oxides (NOx), a family of poisonous gases that are formed when diesel fuels are burned at high temperatures, while also achieving best-in-class fuel efficiency targets set by FCA US LLC’
The superseding indictment alleges that Palma, Pasini, Sabbioni, and their co-conspirators, purposely calibrated the emissions control functions to produce lower NOx emissions under conditions when the subject vehicles would be undergoing testing on the federal test procedures or driving “cycles,” and higher NOx emissions under conditions when the subject vehicles would be driven in the real world. Palma, Pasini, Sabbioni, and their co-conspirators allegedly referred to the manner in which they manipulated one method of emissions control as “cycle beating.” As alleged, by calibrating the emissions control functions on the subject vehicles to produce lower NOx emissions while the vehicles were on the driving “cycle,” and higher NOx emissions when the vehicles were off the driving “cycle,” or “off cycle,” the three defendants purposely misled FCA’s regulators by making it appear that the subject vehicles were producing less NOx emissions than they were, i.e., in real world driving conditions. Palma, Pasini, and Sabbioni also allegedly made and caused others to make false and misleading representations to FCA’s regulators about the emissions control functions of the subject vehicles in order to ensure that FCA obtained regulatory approval to sell the subject vehicles in the United States.
The superseding indictment also alleges that Palma, Pasini, and Sabbioni employed “cycle beating” to achieve best-in-class fuel efficiency and make the subject vehicles more attractive to FCA’s potential customers, i.e., by increasing fuel economy and reducing the frequency of a required emissions control system service interval. The superseding indictment alleges that the co-conspirators understood their “cycle beating” calibration would harm consumers who purchased the vehicle, leading them to acknowledge that “there will always be the unlucky customer who will have the misfortune of using our loser cal[ibration].”
Pasini and Sabbioni are each charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Clean Air Act, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and six counts of violating the Clean Air Act. If convicted, Pasini and Sabbioni each face up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count to defraud the United States and to violate the Clean Air Act, up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy count to commit wire fraud, and up to two years in prison for each count of violating the Clean Air Act. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Palma is charged with one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States and to violate the Clean Air Act, one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, six counts of violating the Clean Air Act, and two counts of making false statements to representatives of the FBI and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division (EPA-CID). If convicted, Palma faces up to five years in prison on the conspiracy count to defraud the United States and to violate the Clean Air Act, up to 20 years in prison on the conspiracy count to commit wire fraud, up to two years in prison for each count of violating the Clean Air Act, and up to five years in prison for each count of making false statements. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Kevin O. Driscoll of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Acting U.S. Attorney Saima S. Mohsin of the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Michigan; Acting Assistant Attorney General Jean E. Williams of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD); Special Agent in Charge Timothy Waters of the FBI’s Detroit Field Office; and Special Agent in Charge Lance Ehrig of the EPA-CID’s West-Central Region made the announcement.
Principal Assistant Chief Henry P. Van Dyck and Trial Attorneys Kyle W. Maurer and Jason M. Covert of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, ENRD Senior Trial Attorney Todd W. Gleason, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys John K. Neal and Timothy J. Wyse for the Eastern District of Michigan are prosecuting the case.
An indictment is merely an allegation and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
#AceSportsReport – Apr.21: BBC Sport understands bosses at the Serie A club are preparing for their exit following Tuesday night’s dramatic developments.
European Super League: All six Premier League teams withdraw from competition: Manchester City were the first club to pull out after Chelsea had signalled their intent to do so by preparing documentation to withdraw: The other four sides – Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham – have all now followed suit: Italian side Inter Milan are also set to withdraw as they no longer wish to be involved with the project: How football’s volatile 48 hours unfolded
Chelsea fans protested against their involvement in the European Super League outside Stamford Bridge
30 minutes ago
The 12-team Super League, set up by the seven afore-mentioned teams and Spain’s Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italy’s AC Milan and Juventus was announced on Sunday to widespread condemnation.
“Despite the announced departure of the English clubs, forced to take such decisions due to the pressure put on them, we are convinced our proposal is fully aligned with European law and regulations,” the ESL said on Wednesday, adding it was “convinced that the current status quo of European football needs to change”.
In an interview with Italian newspaper la Repubblica, Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said the remaining clubs will “press ahead” and the project still had “a 100% chance of being a success”.,
“Real Madrid president Florentino Perez is insisting on the idea of keeping the group together to push for change,” says Spanish football expert Guillem Balague.Liverpool owner John W Henry apologises in message to fans
“Barcelona say they agreed to the ESL, but only if the Season Ticket Holders Assembly approve it, which could be their way out.”
Balague also says Atletico Madrid are meeting on Wednesday morning to review their position.
Manchester City confirmed they have “formally enacted the procedures to withdraw” from the Super League.
Liverpool said their involvement in the proposed breakaway league “has been discontinued”.
Manchester United said they had “listened carefully to the reaction from our fans, the UK government and other key stakeholders” in making their decision to not take part.
Arsenal apologised in an open letter to their fans and said they had “made a mistake”, adding they were withdrawing after listening to them and the “wider football community”.
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy said the club regretted the “anxiety and upset” caused by the proposal.
Chelsea confirmed they have “begun the formal procedures for withdrawal from the group” that they only joined “late last week”.
‘Admirable to admit a mistake ‘ – Uefa
Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin welcomed the reversal, adding: “I said yesterday that it is admirable to admit a mistake and these clubs made a big mistake.
“But they are back in the fold now and I know they have a lot to offer not just to our competitions but to the whole of the European game.
“The important thing now is that we move on, rebuild the unity that the game enjoyed before this and move forward together.”
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson posted on Twitter: “I welcome last night’s announcement. This is the right result for football fans, clubs, and communities across the country. We must continue to protect our cherished national game.”
Labour leader Keir Starmer added that this “must be a watershed moment, where we change our game to put fans first again”, while Liberal Democrats leader Ed Davey tweeted: “This must be the start of a fans-led football revolution.”
In a statement, the European Super League said: “Given the current circumstances we shall reconsider the most appropriate steps to reshape the project, always having in mind our goals of offering fans the best experience possible while enhancing solidarity payments for the entire football community.”
English football’s ‘big six’ were part of a group that announced plans to form the breakaway league, which they hoped to establish as a new midweek competition.
It was condemned by fans, football authorities and government ministers in the UK and across Europe by Uefa and league associations.
Around 1,000 fans gathered outside Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge ground before their game against Brighton on Tuesday to protest at their club’s involvement.Chelsea legend Petr Cech pleaded with fans to disperse outside the ground before their match against Brighton
Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward, who was involved in the Super League discussions, has announced he will step down from his role at the end of 2021.
Leading players at some of the six clubs signalled their disapproval of the planned breakaway league.
“We don’t like it and we don’t want it to happen,” read a message that was also posted by many fellow Liverpool players.
After City confirmed their withdrawal, England winger Raheem Sterling posted: “Ok bye.”
Uefa had hoped to stave off the threat of a European Super League with a new 36-team Champions League, which was agreed on Monday.
In announcing their proposals for a Super League that would eventually comprise of 20 teams, the 12-club group said the Champions League reforms did not go far enough.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, who was named as the ESL’s chairman, said the competition was set up “to save football” because young people are “no longer interested” in the game because of “a lot of poor quality games”.
None of the Spanish and Italian sides have yet released a statement after the six Premier League teams pulled out.
What did each club say?
The Arsenal board said they did not intend to “cause such distress” and that they joined the Super League because they “did not want to be left behind” and wanted to ensure the club’s future.
“Our aim is always to make the right decisions for this great football club, to protect it for the future and to take us forward,” they added.
“We didn’t make the right decision here, which we fully accept.”
Manchester United said that they “remain committed to working with others across the football community to come up with sustainable solutions to the long-term challenges facing the game”.
Liverpool said the club had “received representations from various key stakeholders, both internally and externally” before reaching their decision and thanked them for their “valuable contributions”.
Levy said that Tottenham felt it was “important” to take part in “a possible new structure that sought to better ensure financial fair play and financial sustainability whilst delivering significantly increased support for the wider football pyramid”.
He added: “We should like to thank all those supporters who presented their considered opinions.”
Chelsea said that after having had “time to consider the matter fully” they had decided that their “continued participation in these plans would not be in the best interests of the club, our supporters or the wider football community”.
Manchester City said they have “formally enacted the procedures to withdraw from the group developing plans for a European Super League”
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: All those arrested have been taken to police stations in London and Hampshire. The Metropolitan Police Service lead the investigation:
The operation involved more than 150 officers from the Metropolitan Police Service, Hampshire Constabulary and Thames Valley Police.
MET Proactive Unit Officers: Arrests have been made as police target county lines networks: ‘A total of eight addresses were targeted simultaneously across London, Hampshire and Berkshire. Three men and two women, aged between 20 and 40 years old, have been arrested on suspicion of offences including conspiracy to supply Class A drugs and modern slavery’
[Officers on this morning’s raids]
Searches of the addresses continue but officers have so far found a machete, Class B drugs and a rapier sword.
The investigation was launched in January this year after officers identified a ring of people involved in widespread drug supply across the southeast of England through county lines.
The early stages of the investigation led officers to believe young children and extremely vulnerable adults were being used to deal drugs along the county lines. They secured evidence to suggest these individuals were being held against their will in order to clear debts owed to the group.
The investigating team worked tirelessly to identify suspects through CCTV, ANPR and extensive cell phone analysis. The operation has so far resulted in four young children and vulnerable people being rescued. They are currently being looked after by specialist officers.
Sergeant Tom Freeman from the Met’s Proactive Gangs Unit, which leads the investigation, said: “This morning’s activity is a culmination of months of hard work by officers across three different police forces. The operation focused on rescuing children and vulnerable people who had no option to do as they were told through fear of violence from those controlling them: “ The evidence we’ve gathered leads us to believe they were being held against their will until they paid off debts they did not create in the first place. Those involved in this activity entirely manipulated the vulnerabilities of these individuals for their own financial gain – a common trait of county lines lineholders: “ We know county lines activity is closely linked to violence we see on the streets of London and other parts of the United Kingdom. Not only have we rescued vulnerable people from violence and exploitation, but by disrupting this drug supply line we’ve destroyed the business model of this group and hopefully prevented violent incidents occurring in the future.”
Inspector Richard Lane from Hampshire Constabulary, which supported the operation, said: “County lines and its associated violence can cause misery in our communities, and it is right that we put significant effort into dismantling these networks and safeguarding vulnerable people who have been exploited in this trade: “ We will continue to work with our partners to identify those responsible and target these drug dealing networks in north Hampshire and across the force area.”
Detective Inspector John Wordsworth, from Thames Valley Police, which aided the operation, said: “County lines drugs has a significant impact on our communities and often those who profit from drugs are exploiting children and vulnerable adults in order to do so: “ We are committed to tackling county lines drugs and this operation should be a reminder that police forces will work together across borders in order to stop this pernicious activity: “ We will also continue to work in partnership to protect those who are exploited by county lines drugs gangs: “ The public also have an important role to play in providing information that can assist us in dismantling county lines drugs lines and also safeguard vulnerable individuals.”
The below were arrested following the warrants:
[A] a 40-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and Class B drugs and on suspicion of money laundering.
[B] a 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
[C] a 38-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
[D] a 37-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
[E] a 20-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to supply Class A and B drugs and on suspicion of securing services from children and vulnerable persons under the Modern Slavery Act 2002.
ICE/ERO Officers have removed a Rwandan citizen for human rights violations: Beatrice Munyenyezi was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for procuring her naturalization based on false statements to immigration officers about her role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Munyenyezi participated, aided, and abetted in the persecution and murder of Tutsi people. Her conviction was the first in the United States for concealing one’s personal participation in the Rwandan genocide.
Munyenyezi was a member of the National Republican Movement for Democracy and Development (MRND), the political party in power during the genocide and its youth wing, the Interahamwe. The Interahamwe ran a militia that played a key role in the genocide. Witnesses testified that Munyenyezi staffed a roadblock near the Hotel Ihuriro in Butare, Rwanda, where she personally inspected IDs and decided who would pass and who would be selected for inevitable death. Some victims were assaulted at the roadblock; others were led to a nearby forest where they were killed.
On March 10, 1998: Munyenyezi entered the United States after making false statements to obtain status; she adjusted her status to lawful permanent resident on January 19, 2001, and on July 18, 2003, became a naturalized U.S. citizen. Agents from ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston field office spent over six years investigating Munyenyezi, traveling to Rwanda nine times to identify and interview witnesses. In 2010, HSI Boston special agents arrested Munyenyezi for unlawful procurement of U.S. citizenship:
“Beatrice Munyenyezi concealed her past to wrongly obtain United States citizenship, obscuring her direct participation in the Rwandan Genocide — an atrocity of immense scale which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women, and children,” said William S. Walker, acting special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations’ Boston field office. “Homeland Security Investigations special agents work tirelessly to investigate and seek prosecution for those who commit human rights violations and seek a safe haven here in the United States.”
On February 21, 2013: Munyenyezi was found guilty of two counts of Unlawful Procurement of Citizenship or Naturalization in the U.S. District Court in New Hampshire, based on false statements on her immigration forms about her membership in the MRND and the Interahamwe. On July 15, 2013, the court sentenced Munyenyezi to 10 years in federal prison. Munyenyezi filed several appeals of her conviction including a petition for review and a petition for writ of habeas corpus. On March 3, 2021, the First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the district court’s denial of her motion to vacate her conviction:
While serving her federal sentence, ICE initiated removal proceedings against Munyenyezi. On March 16, 2020, an immigration judge ordered Munyenyezi removed from the United States to Rwanda and on January 27, 2021 the Board of Immigration Appeals dismissed her appeal of the immigration judge’s order.
“This removal sends a clear message that the United States will not be a hiding place for those who commit heinous human rights violations,” said Caridad Cephas-Kimbrough, acting field office director for ERO New Orleans. “The tireless dedication our enforcement and removal officers and HSI partners put into this case is a testament to their commitment to enforce our nation’s immigration laws and ensure human rights violators like Munyenyezi are held to those laws.”
The criminal prosecution and subsequent appeals were litigated by attorneys in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston and New Hampshire with support from ICE Boston, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor. The removal case was handled by attorneys from ICE New Orleans, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor and Enforcement and Removal Operations. DOJ’s Office of Immigration Litigation also litigated the case.
The enforcement efforts targeting Munyenyezi were supported by ICE’s Human Rights Violators and War Crimes Center (HRVWCC). Established in 2009 to further ICE’s efforts to identify, locate and prosecute human rights abusers in the United States, the HRVWCC leverages the expertise of a select group of agents, attorneys, intelligence and research specialists, historians and analysts who direct the agency’s broader enforcement efforts against those who are known or suspected to have participated in persecution, war crimes, genocide, torture, extrajudicial killings, female genital mutilation, and the use or recruitment of child soldiers.
Since 2003: ICE has arrested more than 460 individuals for human rights-related violations of the law under various criminal and/or immigration statutes. During that same period, ICE obtained deportation orders and/or physically removed from the United States 1,064 known or suspected human rights violators. Additionally, ICE has facilitated the departure of an additional 172 such individuals from the United States:
Currently: HSI has more than 155 active investigations into suspected human rights violators and is pursuing more than 1,675 leads and removal cases involving suspected human rights violators from 95 different countries. Since 2003, the HRVWCC has issued more than 77,000 lookouts for individuals from more than 110 countries and stopped over 333 human rights violators and war crimes suspects from entering the U.S:
Members of the public who have information about foreign nationals suspected of engaging in human rights abuses or war crimes are urged to call the ICE tip line at 1-866-DHS-2423 (1-866-347-2423). Callers may remain anonymous. To learn more about the assistance available to victims in these cases, the public should contact ICE’s confidential victim-witness toll-free number at 1-866-872-4973.
ICE continues to implement interim civil immigration enforcement priorities directed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to focus its limited resources on threats to national security, border security, and public safety. ICE carries out its duty to enforce the laws of the United States in accordance with the Department’s national security and public safety mission.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: A couple of days ago, Morgan Stanley warned that China’s new digital renminbi – the first “central bank digital currency” (or CBDC) –could cement its status as the next reserve currency:
Facebook Plans To Launch Stablecoin That Will Compete With Dollar Early Next Year: Morgan Stanley warned China new digital currency could arrive next year ….
Morgan Stanley: If A CBDC Gains Acceptance For International Transactions, It Could Become The New Reserve Currency
By Chetan Ahya, Morgan Stanley’s Chief Economist and Global Head of Economics
Central Bank Digital Currencies – The Next Disruption: We do not usually associate disruption with central banks. But a major move to introduce central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) could actually disrupt the financial system:
CBDCs are a new form of digital cash intended to serve as a substitute for physical cash. They will be a liability of the central bank, which will maintain them in a centralized ledger. CBDCs should not be confused with cryptocurrencies, which either are pegged to an underlying asset or backed by a public blockchain. Cryptocurrencies are not a viable form of digital cash for payments on a large scale, given the high computational and energy intensity of the validation process using distributed ledger technologies. However, they will continue to perform other functions. For instance, investors may perceive that cryptocurrencies can be a store of value (akin to precious metals) to hedge against the effects of central banks’ aggressive monetary easing.
Efforts to introduce CBDCs are gaining momentum, with as many as 86% of the world’s central banks exploring digital currencies. China has launched pilot trials in a number of cities, the ECB recently concluded a public consultation on a digital euro and will make a decision this summer, and the Boston Fed is set to release its initial research in the fall.
What explains this sudden concerted interest? We see three main reasons:
Monetary sovereignty: Private payment networks have proliferated rapidly. As they gain market share, these networks can become the primary means of transaction for many users. The central banks’ concern is that money will circulate almost exclusively within the networks, posing a threat to central bank control of the monetary system.
Financial stability: Any potential failure by a private provider of digital money could disrupt the payment system and lead to financial stability risks. While regulators have taken steps to mitigate these risks, they cannot eliminate them. In contrast, the central bank both creates and holds a CBDC, hence will be able to guarantee its reliability as a medium of exchange for transactions.
Financial inclusion: The rise of private, narrow money networks risks excluding segments of the general public, e.g., the unbanked population. A CBDC, just like physical cash, can be made broadly available and may even foster greater financial inclusion.
With these objectives in mind, we think that central banks will implement consumer-facing retail digital currencies, accessible to the public through financial intermediaries and running on a centralized ledger system controlled by monetary authorities.
Nevertheless, when something as fundamental as what you use to make payments changes, the effects can be far-reaching.
Commercial banks will face the risk of disintermediation. Once CBDC accounts are launched, consumers will be able to transfer their bank deposits there, subject to limits imposed by the central banks. Moreover, the technological infrastructure of CBDCs will make it easier for new non-bank entities to enter the payments space and accelerate the transition towards digital payments. These factors will increase competitive pressures on commercial banks.
In a digital economy, data provide a competitive edge. We see a tug-of-war playing out between consumers who are privacy-conscious and want to keep their transactions anonymous and fintech companies that will innovate and incentivize consumers to get onto their platforms in order to acquire transaction data. If the fintechs’ efforts succeed, network effects could proliferate, allowing fintechs to take market share from banks.
CBDCs also have the potential to disrupt the international payments system. If a country’s CBDC gains acceptance for international transactions, significant advantages could accrue to the issuer country in financing costs and control over financial transactions, similar to the US dollar’s privileged role today. Some central banks like the ECB and the PBOC see the move towards digital currency as an opportunity to raise the international status of their currencies and increase their use in cross-border payments. On the other hand, emerging markets want to limit the use of foreign digital currencies in their economies (e-dollarization).
Innovations are typically viewed with caution and their disruptive potential is usually underestimated. While central banks’ CBDC initiatives are not intended to disrupt the banking system, they will likely have unintended disruptive consequences. The pace of disruption will hinge on how quickly network effects take hold in a CBDC system. The more widely digital currencies are accepted, the more opportunity for innovation and the greater the scope for disruption to the financial system.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: This is the way some extremist Israeli settlers extended their greetings to Palestinian Muslims in this blessed month. Israeli police also escalated their harassment, firing tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians. One Israeli policeman was filmed beating up a Palestinian at the Damascus Gate. Who stopped him? Nobody.
Jerusalem: On verge of exploding thanks to Israel’s fires: Firefighters have to be at the ready at all times and cannot afford to take holidays. Right now, the new US administration and major European powers are watching from the sidelines: The final bonfire is over Palestinian elections: The Israeli government is determined not to allow any Palestinian political activity in East Jerusalem, even though Palestinian elections were permitted under the Oslo Accords: Palestinians in East Jerusalem voted in 1996, 2005 and 2006. Even then, Israel compelled them to vote by post to indicate that they were voting from abroad. Of course, the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem have no right to vote in Israeli general elections, and now they may even be denied the right to vote for the emaciated and semi-powerless body that is the PA: Arab News Sources:
The second possible candidate for PA president is Marwan Barghouti: Like Dahlan, in a face-off with Abbas he would win 60% of the vote. He’s a member of one of the largest and most powerful clans in the West Bank; there are Barghoutis everywhere. Marwan Barghouti has only one handicap – it’s the very thing that makes him so popular. He’s currently serving five life sentences (plus 40 years) for being involved in murdering five Israelis. Abbas may try to disqualify him, insisting that if Barghouti won, he could not govern from an Israeli prison. But that’s not necessarily the case. Politicians have been known to govern from jail. Americans may remember James Michael Curley, who served as Mayor of Boston for two years from his prison cell. Barghouti has made sure that his wife is running for the Palestinian Legislative Council:
He could govern by employing her, and a group of male Barghoutis, along with Nasser al-Kidwa, as his proxies. They could be sent directives from his prison cell. He could even use the Internet to broadcast his messages to his people. It’s not crazy — Marwan Barghouti would be “working from home.” Barghouti, it turns out, much to the chagrin of Mahmoud Abbas, has decided to run: A report on this new challenge to Mahmoud Abbas is here: “Marwan Barghouti to run in PA presidential election,” by Khaled Abu Toameh, Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2021:It all kicked off with the Israeli decision to ban all seating on the stairs at the main entrance to the Muslim Quarter at the Damascus Gate. This is a major gathering place for Palestinians on Ramadan evenings.
There is another possible way for Abbas to remain as president, aside from cancelling the elections: That is to declare that “because of his genuine remorse for his long-past defalcation, and because he has earned gratitude for persuading the UAE to deliver 50,000 dose of coronavirus vaccine to the Palestinian people, Mohammad Dahlan is hereby declared eligible to run for president of the Palestinian Authority.” Then Abbas can hope that his two rivals will split almost evenly the 60% of the electorate that is against him, while he wins with a plurality of 40%. It’s not impossible, when you’re dealing with Mahmoud Abbas, President-For-Life:
Israeli riot police deploy water cannon during clashes with Palestinians close to the Damascus Gate on Sunday, April 18, 2021. (Screengrab: Twitter)
Restrictions on Palestinian numbers have also exacerbated tensions. Israel allowed only 10,000 people to enter Jerusalem from the West Bank, compared to many times that amount in recent years: On the first Friday in Ramadan, only 70,000 Muslims were able to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque. Despite Israel’s hollow claim that it allows freedom of worship in the city, it routinely restricts numbers and most Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza cannot go to Al-Aqsa:
The Israeli authorities also decided to cut the wires to the loudspeakers at the mosque in yet another deliberately inflammatory move: This year is even tougher and Israel has demanded that all Palestinians entering Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank have to have been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease. Of course, if Israel had carried out its clear international legal and moral duty of vaccinating Palestinians under its military rule, the story would be different:
Ramadan used to be a time when Israel showed some degree of reverence and respect toward Palestinians: This custom is being torn up. As a result, Jerusalem is on the verge of exploding. What we have, therefore, is a highly combustible situation in this, the world’s most combustible city. Even a passing knowledge of the history of this great city tells us that small clashes can soon lead to a dangerous explosion.
Three major bonfires are being lit. The first and perhaps most dangerous is that Israel is tearing up the delicate status quo that governs Al-Haram Al-Sharif: For starters, it is allowing Jews to pray openly on the platform. They boast of this by broadcasting it on YouTube. This included the uber-racist Kahanist and newly elected member of the Knesset, Itamar Ben Gvir. The status quo arrangements for the holy sites do not permit Jewish prayer on the platform. According to the agreement, as acknowledged publicly even by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Al-Haram Al-Sharif is exclusively a Muslim place of worship, which all Israeli prime ministers have accepted since 1967: Palestinian Muslims fear the “Hebronization” of Al-Haram Al-Sharif, whereby the platform is divided into both a mosque and a synagogue with less access for Muslims. This is what happened at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron. That was sensitive enough, but tampering with the status quo in Jerusalem escalates the situation a hundredfold:
What makes it different this year is that no outside powers are saying anything. If this was happening in the days of John Kerry as US secretary of state, for example, he and his colleagues would be working the phones between Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to calm the tensions. The trouble is that Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan are no longer on speaking terms. Tensions between the two have rarely been higher.
The second bonfire is the serious attempt to bring about mass evictions of Palestinians in key areas of Jerusalem. Since the last major evictions of Palestinians on June 10, 1967, Israel has managed to insert more than 220,000 Israeli settlers into occupied East Jerusalem, but without the mass displacement of Palestinians. Much of this is happening in the shadow of the Old City, notably in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan. Settlers have used the Israeli legal system to obtain eviction orders for dozens of families. Many of these families are UN-registered refugees who were given the land after the Nakba, when Israel confiscated theirs:
This legal system was designed to enable Israeli Jews to kick out Palestinians and the settler groups are using this to the full. It may be slowed down with appeals and the like, but ultimately it leads to one destination: Mass evictions of Palestinians as part of the broader plan to downscale the Palestinian presence in the city:
The Israeli authorities have also ramped up home demolitions in the Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem. They can do this because they have denied more applications from Palestinians for building permits, meaning that Palestinians have no choice but to build without them. More than half of all Palestinian homes in the city are built with no permit:
What we have is a highly combustible situation in this, the world’s most combustible city.
Israeli forces have arrested Palestinians engaged in any form of electioneering, including three candidates who were planning to hold a news conference. All of this leads some to believe this will be an excuse for PA President Mahmoud Abbas to postpone the May 22 legislative elections. This would delight the Israeli government, which has no desire to see Palestinian democracy at work, especially if it means Hamas has a chance at a share of power. The pyromaniacs have taken over the firefighting. The Israeli authorities, instead of restraining extremist settler groups such as Elad and the Temple Mount Faithful, are actively pursuing their agendas. Do not be surprised, therefore, if full-scale riots return to the streets of this extraordinary city. The world had better wake up.
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view
#AceNewsReport – Apr.21: The coroner recorded a conclusion that Mr Nash was unlawfully killed: Mr Nash wrote and illustrated children’s books, including The Winter Wild:
James Nash killing: Gunman ‘accused author of Russia #COVID19 plot’ he was attacked in his garden in Upper Enham, Hampshire, on 5 August and died three days later’ & the gunman, Alex Sartain, died in a motorbike crash while being pursued by police on the same day according to BBC News
18 minutes ago
Hampshire Coroner’s Court was told Mr Sartain’s mental health problems dated back to 2008 and his father had tried to raise concerns with a GP in June last year but “only got as far as the receptionist”.
OtherAlex Sartain used a homemade shotgun during the attack
John Sartain said his son had become paranoid that Mr Nash, his next-door neighbour, was trying to control him.
The inquest was told Mr Sartain, 34, had been heard “muttering” in the days before the attack about Mr Nash working for Russian president Vladimir Putin and being involved in a conspiracy to “spread Covid”.
The hearing was told that Mr Sartain also believed he was being tracked by the “CIA, MI6 and SO19”.
On the day of the attack, Mr Nash was working in his front garden when raised voices were heard by his wife Sarah Nash – who had been on a video call indoors – followed by a bang.
“As soon as I opened the front door I could see a man in full black leathers stamping on the face of my husband who was flat out on his back,” Mrs Nash said.
The author had managed to deflect the gunshot with his hand but died from head injuries, the inquest heard.Parts of Upper Enham were cordoned off following the shooting
Mr Sartain had previously been sectioned under the Mental Health Act and was under the care of a community mental health team until April last year, it was heard.
Coroner Jason Pegg said a letter discharging him into the care of a GP was sent by the community mental health team to the Adelaide Medical Centre in Andover.
“That discharge letter… was never seen by the GP. Instead the letter was received by the administration staff at the practice and never passed on as perhaps it should have been,” he added.
The coroner added that it “cannot be ascertained” whether Mr Sartain would have been detained in June if his father’s concerns had been passed on by the GP’s receptionist.
He said he would not be taking the matter further as a new partnership was now running the surgery and practices had changed.
An inquest into the death of Mr Sartain will be held on Wednesday.
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