A panel of judges Monday sentenced former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to seven years in prison for abusing power and having sex with an underage prostitute.
Judges also barred the flamboyant former prime minister from holding public office. The high-profile case centered on an exotic dancer nicknamed "Ruby the heart-stealer."
Berlusconi's attorney told reporters he plans to appeal the conviction. He said he was not surprised by the verdict, because the former prime minister had not gotten a fair trial. "What happened today is very serious," defense attorney Nicolo Ghedini said, arguing that judges had not appropriately considered court proceedings.
Prosecutors had argued that Berlusconi had sex 13 times with underage dancer Karima el Mahroug and abused his position when he intervened in May 2010 to get her released from jail, where she was being held on charges of theft.
Berlusconi, 76, has denied the charges and others against him.
"It is absurd to suggest I have paid for a rapport with a woman. It is something I have never done, not even once in my life. It is something I find degrading to my dignity," he has said.
El Mahroug has said that she never had sex with Berlusconi and that she lied to him about her age, telling him she was 24.
The underage sex trial verdict is the latest in a string of legal troubles the former prime minister has faced.
Last month, an Italian appeals court in Milan upheld a four-year prison sentence for Berlusconi, who was convicted of tax evasion by a lower court last October.
In that sentence, he was barred from public office for five years.
Berlusconi, who served on and off as prime minister between 1994 and 2011, is arguably one of the most colorful and controversial figures in the lively history of Italian politics. For years, he has been entangled in fraud, corruption and sex scandals that have often reached Italian courts.
In a 389-page document presented to a court in 2011, prosecutors alleged Berlusconi paid el Mahroug and scores of other young women for taking part in "bunga bunga parties" at his private residence.
Using what they say are phone interceptions of the young women as evidence, prosecutors said the women performed stripteases and erotic actions in exchange for money and gifts. Berlusconi says the parties were normal dinner gatherings where no one misbehaved.
Berlusconi denied the charges and accused prosecutors of conspiring against him in a left-wing plot. "Communism never changes in Italy. There are still people who use the penal code as a weapon in their ideological battles," he said last year.
Undaunted, Berlusconi has not only launched an appeal, but in December made two significant announcements: his engagement to 27-year-old Francesca Pascale, and then, his political comeback.
In Italy's February elections, the three-time prime minister appealed to Italian voters by denouncing the unpopular austerity policies of technocrat Mario Monti.
For all his critics, Berlusconi won almost 30% of the vote in February and remains an influential figure in Prime Minister Enrico Letta's fragile coalition government.
Blasts near the finish line of the Boston Marathon killed two people and injured more than 20 others Monday, Boston police said.
"It felt like a huge cannon," a witness told CNN about one of the blasts.
The marathon itself, on its Facebook page, referred to the blasts as bombs. Authorities did not say immediately what caused the explosions.
Massachusetts General Hospital said it was treating 19 injured people; Tufts Medical Center reported that it was treating nine people. Combined, that brings the number of injured to at least 28. Police reported 22 people injured.
The explosions sent smoke billowing into the air at Copley Square, turning a site of celebration into a mess of destruction.
Crowds had gathered in the area to watch the runners.
Out of an abundance of caution, the Lenox Hotel was evacuated, the Boston Globe reported, as authorities looked into possible security concerns.
"We are currently in contact with federal, state and city officials," Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick wrote on Twitter.
Other cities, including New York and Washington, tightened security as a result. Following standard protocol, the White House cleared out an area in front of the West Wing.
"If you see something, say something," Mark Boughton, mayor of Canbury, Connecticut, wrote on Twitter. "All cities will be on a heightened state of alertness per Homeland Security protocols."
Mike Baingon, who works at the Atlantic Fish Company in Boston, said an explosion took place in front of the restaurant and that he was right by the front door at the time.
The explosions occurred at about 2:45 p.m., more than two hours after the first of the race's nearly 27,000 runners had crossed the finish line, CNN Producer Matt Frucci reported.
The race was halted as was subway service into the area.
Runners east of Massachusetts Avenue were directed to Boston Common; those west of Massachusetts Avenue were directed to Kenmore Square, the state's emergency management agency said.
Troops from the Massachusetts National Guard were assisting police as well.
The mobilization committee of the Ghana Union in Hamburg shall today 30th of June 2013 be visiting the studios of TopAfric radio. They shall be hosted on the popular “Open Your Eyes” weekly program, which comes every Sunday at 8pm, hosted by Kennedy Chidi Adams.
The following: Mr Kubi, Nana Aminado, Nana Kurankye and Miriam Ama Kotoka are going to inform the listeners about the goal and objectives of the committee.
Call 040 25491970 to contribute positively to the welfare of Ghanaians in Germany.
Click to listen:
Kennedy Chidi Adams
It's a common grumble that politicians' lifestyles are far removed from those of their electorate. Not so in Uruguay. Meet the president - who lives on a ramshackle farm and gives away most of his pay.
Laundry is strung outside the house. The water comes from a well in a yard, overgrown with weeds. Only two police officers and Manuela, a three-legged dog, keep watch outside.
This is the residence of the president of Uruguay, Jose Mujica, whose lifestyle clearly differs sharply from that of most other world leaders.
President Mujica has shunned the luxurious house that the Uruguayan state provides for its leaders and opted to stay at his wife's farmhouse, off a dirt road outside the capital, Montevideo. The president and his wife work the land themselves, growing flowers.
This austere lifestyle - and the fact that Mujica donates about 90% of his monthly salary, equivalent to $12,000 (£7,500), to charity - has led him to be labelled the poorest president in the world.
"I've lived like this most of my life," he says, sitting on an old chair in his garden, using a cushion favoured by Manuela the dog. "I can live well with what I have."
His charitable donations - which benefit poor people and small entrepreneurs - mean his salary is roughly in line with the average Uruguayan income of $775 (£485) a month.
In 2010, his annual personal wealth declaration - mandatory for officials in Uruguay - was $1,800 (£1,100), the value of his 1987 Volkswagen Beetle.
This year, he added half of his wife's assets - land, tractors and a house - reaching $215,000 (£135,000). That's still only about two-thirds of Vice-President Danilo Astori's declared wealth, and a third of the figure declared by Mujica's predecessor as president, Tabare Vasquez.
Elected in 2009, Mujica spent the 1960s and 1970s as part of the Uruguayan guerrilla Tupamaros, a leftist armed group inspired by the Cuban revolution.
He was shot six times and spent 14 years in jail. Most of his detention was spent in harsh conditions and isolation, until he was freed in 1985 when Uruguay returned to democracy. Those years in jail, Mujica says, helped shape his outlook on life.
"I'm called 'the poorest president', but I don't feel poor. Poor people are those who only work to try to keep an expensive lifestyle, and always want more and more," he says.
"This is a matter of freedom. If you don't have many possessions then you don't need to work all your life like a slave to sustain them, and therefore you have more time for yourself," he says. "I may appear to be an eccentric old man... But this is a free choice."
The Uruguayan leader made a similar point when he addressed the Rio+20 summit in June this year: "We've been talking all afternoon about sustainable development. To get the masses out of poverty.
"But what are we thinking? Do we want the model of development and consumption of the rich countries? I ask you now: what would happen to this planet if Indians would have the same proportion of cars per household than Germans? How much oxygen would we have left?
"Does this planet have enough resources so seven or eight billion can have the same level of consumption and waste that today is seen in rich societies? It is this level of hyper-consumption that is harming our planet."
Mujica accuses most world leaders of having a "blind obsession to achieve growth with consumption, as if the contrary would mean the end of the world".
As part of its effort to establish social, economic, security and good governance, the Government of Nigeria paid a familiarization visit to Germany to understudy how these important areas of government works.
The delegation was led by Mr. Bassey Okon Akpanyung, director of National Planning Commission of Nigeria also known as “Ministry of Planning” solely responsible for formulating medium term and long term economic and development plans for the Nation.
It must however, be noted that both countries run federal systems of Government. Whilst the states in Germany formed the federal Government, In Nigeria the Central Government established the Federal States.
Germany has 16 States, a president who acts solely as a ceremony head, with real executive powers in the hands of the “Bundeskanzler. Nigeria having 36 States and a president with executive powers.
The tour took the delegation to many places including “Bildungswerk” in Wiesbaden, where they understudy the political systems in Germany, and also visited “KFW Entwicklungsbank”.
The delegation also met the Mayor “Burgermeister” of Kusel, Dr Stefan Spitzer and paid a courtesy call on the police head, where they understudy also how the police administration in Germany works and enforces their laws.
Their visit was to facilitate the process of developing a wide range of documents for the effective and efficient operation of the Government of Nigeria's social systems.
The group was in Hamburg, where they met leaders of the African community, which was led by the prominent Nigeria lawyer, Allen Iyare Imasi and Mrs. Sylvaina Gerlich of the Hamburg Integration Council, they discuss social, economic and political issues.
The delegation met with Hon. Jürgen Klimke, (CDU) Member of Parliament representing Hamburg in Berlin, and Mrs. Corinna Nienstedt of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce where they discuss matters pertaining the formulation and implementation of Government policy on matters pertaining to trade & industry in Germany.
The African Press:
“The role of the media in the socio advancement of Nigeria as a country and the African community in Germany is indispensable” says, Desmond John Beddy, CEO of TopAfric. Also at the meeting was Mr. Tony Airhenbuwa, Program Director of TopAfric Radio.
Among the Government of Nigeria delegation are Mr. Ntufam Fidel Ugbo, Esq Secretary NPC, Mr. George Chukwuka Nwalupe, Director Social Development.
The rest are Mr. Rafiu Oyegbude Ibraheem, Ag Director Economic Growth Dept, Mr. Michael Abua Egbudu, P.A to the Secretary to the Commission. Mr. Henry Famakinwa CPO, Infrastructure and Mr. Joseph Dominic Okoh P.A to the HMNPC.
The delegation was accompanied to Germany by Mrs. Hildegard Behrendt -Kigozi who is the head of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Nigeria.
The delegation was received in Hamburg by Mr Andreas Klein of Konrad-Adeneuer-Stiftung
''We are very happy and impressed on things we have seen here in Germany during our tour to understudy numerous areas in governance, we are taking this Knowhow back to Nigeria, to help transform and strengthen good governance”. “Besides the people are very discipline and conscious of time” Said Mr. Bassy Okon Akpanyung.
Kwadwo Yeboah BREMAN / TopAfric.com
13-year-old Bingzhe from Dongguan, Guangdong Province, has been living and sleeping together with a gigantic python ever since he was a baby.
Bingzhe’s father said that the black python has been a family pet for 19 years, Yangcheng Evening News reported. After Bingzhe was born,
the non-venomous constrictor became the boy’s nanny since both of his parents were busy working.Bingzhe was nine months old when the 20kg python started to sleep in
the same bed with the boy. The unlikely pair has been best friends ever since.
They play and have fun together. And during hot summer nights the snake’s cold body is a natural air conditioner for the boy who likes to use it as a pillow.
The pet python is currently 4-meters long and weighs nearly 100 kilograms – big enough to swallow an adult human. But according to the boy’s father, the constrictor is
very tame and has never hurt anyone.
Bingzhe, who hopes to become an animal expert when he grows up, wishes that as the Year of the Snake nears, people won’t eat as much snake meat...
The man behind the massacre was taught to shoot by his mum Nancy, an avid gun collector who possessed five legally-registered firearms
The gunman in the US elementary school massacre was a painfully shy loner who suffered from autism, it was revealed yesterday.
It also emerged that Adam Lanza was taught to shoot by his mum Nancy, an avid gun collector who possessed five legally-registered firearms.
Lanza, 20, described by friends as a “nerd”, a “genius” and a “Goth”, spent his school days doing everything he could to avoid attention.
But on Friday morning he became one of America’s most infamous mass killers. After blasting his mum in the face he drove to Sandy Hook School in Newtown, Connecticut, where she was a teacher, and embarked on his rampage before shooting himself dead.
Yesterday police radio recordings revealed that the killing spree, which claimed the lives of 20 children aged around six, and six adults, at the school, was over in a matter of minutes.
And US TV said that the day before the massacre Lanza had had an “altercation” with four teachers. He went on to kill three of them. The fourth, who was not at school on Friday, was being interviewed by police yesterday.
It is thought that the break-up of his parents’ marriage seriously affected Lanza. And his relationship with his brother Ryan, 24, was so strained they hadn’t spoken in two years.
Neighbour, Ryan Kraft, 25, said Lanza was prone to extreme moods and his parents’ separation had hit him and his brother hard.
“He would have tantrums,” said Mr Kraft. “They were much more than the average kid. The kids seemed really depressed by the break-up.”
Former classmates yesterday told how Lanza found it so painful to speak he would spit out his words. He would sit close to the door of his English class so he could easily slip out. Olivia DeVivo, now a university student, said she remembered hearing him talking about aliens and “blowing things up”.
Following the massacre, she spoke to friends back in Newtown. “They weren’t surprised,” she said. “They said he always seemed like he was someone who was capable of that because he just didn’t really connect with our high school. I think he went so unnoticed that people didn’t even stop to realise that maybe there’s actually something else going on... maybe he needs some kind of mental help. ”
Matt Baier, another university student, recalled how uncomfortable Lanza had been in social situations. He said they had been told he had Asperger’s syndrome, a milder form of autism.
“It’s not like people picked on him for it,” said Matt. “From what I saw, people let him be.”
Mother-of-one Kathryn Urso said her son described Lanza as a Goth who was very thin and “remote”. She said: “He wore black clothing and his face was white. He and his brother hung around with a weird little gang.”
Former classmate Joshua Milas said of Lanza: “We would hang out, and he was a good kid. He was smart. He was probably one of the smartest kids I know. He was probably a genius.”
Lanza’s aunt Marsha Lanza said he was raised by kind, nurturing parents who would not have hesitated to seek mental health help for him if he had needed it. She said: “If her son had needed counselling, Nancy wasn’t one to deny reality.”
Lanza shot Nancy before heading to the school carrying his brother Ryan’s ID. Ryan was at work when he saw the TV news mistakenly reporting that HE had killed 30 people at an elementary school in Connecticut.
Ryan told his boss at Ernst and Young: “I need to go,” then walked out of the office in New York’s Times Square.
Thirty minutes later, New York police stormed the office. Between leaving the office and being taken in for questioning, Ryan defended himself in a series of angry Facebook posts.
At that point he seemed unaware that his brother had gunned down his mother, 20 children and six adults before taking his own life.
“Everyone shut the f*** up it wasn’t me,” he insisted on his Facebook page on Friday. “I’m on the bus home now it wasn’t me. IT WASN’T ME I WAS AT WORK IT WASN’T ME.”
Brett Wilshe, a friend of Ryan’s, said that he’d sent him a Facebook message on Friday asking what was going on and if he was all right. According to Brett, Ryan said: “It was my brother. I think my mother is dead. Oh my God.”
It emerged last night that two days before the massacre Lanza tried to buy a rifle at a store in Danbury, Conneticut. But he was barred because the state has a waiting period for gun sales.
Dan Holmes, owner of a landscaping firm, revealed that is was mum Nancy who taught her sons to shoot.
“She said she would often go target shooting with her kids. She took her two sons to the gun ranges quite a lot to practise their aim.
“She was a really great shot from what she told me. Nancy had an extensive gun collection, which she was really quite proud of.”
Dan recalled how once she’d showed him a high-end rifle she owned, adding: “She loved her guns.” Weapons belonging to Nancy, including a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223 caliber rifle, were found at the school.
After his parents’ divorce in 2008, Lanza’s father Peter, a tax executive, moved to Stamford, and in January 2011 married a librarian.
His mother Nancy kept their home in Newtown, a city once listed as the fifth safest in America, in a prosperous enclave five miles from the school.
Meanwhile, Newtown’s Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson said last night that Nancy was not a full-time staff member at Sandy Hook school and she had personally never met her.
I know a lot of our people will be annoyed by this article. But I’m not talking about shooting, cutting or stabbing. No, I’m talking about economic war! If not now, then when? God knows the Asians declared an economic war on blacks decades ago and their success has been phenomenal. They literally came up with a plan to take every dime out of the black Community. And that’s exactly what they did. They never have nor do they intend to give it back either.
"Asians who set up businesses in the world don’t care to entice black Folks. Because we are their food; their economic slaves. Slaves that have fattened the pockets of generation of Asians while contributing to the economic demise of our own people. Their main objective is to exploit us the blacks and take our money out of our community". said an old man in Mumelmannsberg (a subdivision in Hamburg, Germany).
Because of this mind boggling questions which have no answer, TopAfric went the extra mile in and around Hamburg to find the reasons why black people like buying from the Asian shops rather than their own Afro shops.
Some of the blacks who spoke on condition of anonymity said the reason is simple that some of the black Afro shops sell their product exuberantly. The prices are unreasonable high and it does not entice them to buy from the black Afro shops.
Also comparing the same product in the Asian shops and the Black shops one can find out that buying from the Asian shop is much better than buying from the Afro shops.
A woman who spoke to TopAfric said the reason why she buys most of her products from the Asian Shop is because most Afro shops want to make enormous profits on all products they sell but the Asians are content with the little profit they get on each item.
She also said she will continue to buy from the Asians because on her assessment their product always looks fresher than the Afro shops.
TopAfric's findings also revealed that black women spend thousands of Euros a year on hair products sold by the Asians.
According to the owner of one of the busiest Asian shops located in Hammer brook -Hamburg, where a lot of blacks frequent, "it is very true that most of our customers are black". Comparing their prices to the black shops, you find out that theirs are cheaper than the black shops. That is the main reason and there is no secret behind why blacks like doing business with them.
A research conducted by TopAfric.com indicates that Asians control 80% of the distribution of black hair products in Germany.They tightly control both retail and wholesale distribution. And as we speak, they are closing in on the remaining handful of black manufacturing companies that have managed to stay afloat. How were they able to get this monopoly? During the late 1960′s the Korean and American governments came up with a plan to help the Asian impoverished/war torn people survive by selling to blacks.
"Black folks have very little understanding of economics. Black women attend church every Sunday with fresh Asian hair on their heads, sending millions of Asian children to college while their own kids end up in prison. No preacher to date has said “stop letting the Asians exploit you.” No preacher has suggested a boycott or lawsuit or trying to break this monopoly." fumed a German who added his voice to why blacks buy more from the Asian shop.
Going on further he told Topafric .com that looking at the nature of their products it always passed the quality control test before selling to their customers.
On the issue of blacks patronizing their product, he commended the blacks for having faith in their business and their products and asked that they will be very happy to do business with the blacks always. Maybe we will extend our business to Ghana and all the African countries.
Kwadwo Yeboah BREMAN / TopAfric.com
NEWTOWN, Connecticut (Reuters) - Twelve girls and eight boys. One had celebrated her seventh birthday just four days before her death. They were Charlotte and Jack, Noah and Grace.
Dressed in "cute kid stuff," all 20 died when a heavily armed 20-year-old gunman forced his way into their school, Sandy Hook Elementary, and shot them and six women in an act of violence that has shattered their once-tranquil suburban town.
"They were first-graders," said Connecticut Chief Medical Examiner Dr. H. Wayne Carver II, before releasing the names of all the victims of the school shootings on Saturday.
Asked to describe the attack, Carver, who oversaw the autopsies of all the victims and conducted many himself, called it "the worst I have seen."
The shooter, identified by law enforcement officials as Adam Lanza, killed his mother Nancy on Friday, then drove to the school where he gunned down another 26 people before taking his own life in one of the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history.
He fired a rifle, shooting his victims multiple times. Parents identified their children through pictures, a process intended to minimize their shock, Carver said.
Police did not officially identify Lanza or his mother.
Members of the close-knit community went into public mourning on Saturday as the depth of the tragedy became clear.
"I don't know how to get through something like this," said Robbie Parker, a 30-year-old physician's assistant whose 6-year-old daughter Emilie was among the dead.
"My wife and I don't understand how to process this and how to get our lives going," Parker told reporters. Emilie, the oldest of his three children, Parker said, "could just light up a room."
While Americans have seen many mass shootings in the past decades, the victims have rarely been so young. On Saturday, some Democratic lawmakers called for sweeping new gun-control measures, a move certain to run up against stiff opposition from the nation's powerful pro-gun lobby.
President Barack Obama, who a day earlier was moved to tears on national television by the tragedy, called for "meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this," but stopped short of specifically calling for tighter gun-control laws.
CHRISTMAS TREE MEMORIAL
Townsfolk packed into the church memorial services held throughout the day. On Saturday night, the pews at St. Rose of Lima were packed with parishioners standing at the rear of the church.
At least one person was missing - 6-year-old Olivia Engel, who was to have had a role in the Nativity concert.
"She was supposed to be an angel in the play," said Revered Robert Weiss. "Now she's an angel up in heaven."
Town fire officials set up 26 Christmas trees, decorated with stuffed animals, near the school as a memorial to the victims - many of whom were children who may have been hoping for such toys as their own holiday presents. Churches held memorial services.
"Those innocent little boys and girls were taken from their families far too soon," said Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy. "Let us all hope and pray those children are now in a place where that innocence will always be protected."
One of the victims, Josephine Gay, had celebrated her seventh birthday on Tuesday.
Rabbi Shaul Paver said he had spent time with Veronika Pozner, whose 6-year-old son Noah, was among the victims.
"She said that she didn't know how she was going to go on, and we encouraged her to focus on her other four children that need her and not to try to plan out the rest of her life, just take a deep breath right now," Paver said.
The adult victims, some of whom died defending the students, ranged in age from 27 to 56. Carver, the medical examiner, said all the bodies had examined had been shot with a rifle. He said he and his staff had not yet examined the shooter or his mother.
Police earlier said they had assembled "some very good evidence" on the killer's motives.
"Our investigators at the crime scene ... did produce some very good evidence in this investigation that our investigators will be able to use in, hopefully, painting the complete picture as to how - and more importantly why - this occurred," Connecticut State Police Lieutenant Paul Vance told reporters.
Yale-New Haven Hospital opened a crisis-intervention center in the wealthy suburb of 27,000 people about 80 miles from New York City.
The killer's mother, Nancy Lanza, legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock, both handguns commonly used by police, and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials, who also said they believed Adam Lanza used at least some of those weapons.
The death toll exceeded that of one of the most notorious U.S. school shootings, the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, where two teenagers killed 13 students and staff before fatally shooting themselves.
Around the nation communities took small steps to mark the tragedy.
At Virginia Tech, a Blacksburg, Virginia university where in 2007 a gunman killed 32 people in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history, an announcer extended sympathies to the residents of Newtown before a basketball game.
"This campus ... shares a deep sense of grief," the announcer said. "We share that pain and we open our hearts to that community."
(Additional reporting by Edward Krudy, Edith Honan, Chris Kaufman, Dave Gregorio, Colleen Jenkins and Chris Francescani; Writing by Scott Malone and Daniel Trotta; Editing by Will Dunham and Eric Walsh)