Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has called for new elections on Saturday after the release of a video showing his far-right vice chancellor, Heinz Christian Strache discussing government contracts with an alleged Russian investor.
“After yesterday’s video, I must say quite honestly: Enough is enough,” Kurz said. “The serious part of this [video]was the attitude towards abuse of power, towards dealing with taxpayers’ money, towards the media in this country.”
After Kurz’s statement, Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said he supported a snap vote and would talk over next steps with the chancellor again on Sunday, according to the BBC. The leaks had come within days before European Parliament elections.
The video, which took place at a Spanish villa on the island of Ibiza in 2017, appeared to show Strache and Freedom Party member Johann Gudenus speaking with an unnamed woman, who claimed to be a wealthy niece of a Russian Oligarch looking to invest in Austria. The BBC says the woman offered to buy a 50 percent stake in a prominent Austrian newspaper and switch its position to support the Freedom Party. Stache discusses several journalists he says would have to get “pushed” from the paper and five “new people whom we will build up.” In return, Stache said he would award her public contracts.
The chancellor attributed his actions to drinking, and to acting like a “teenager,” saying his behavior had been “stupid” and “irresponsible.” He mentioned he was leaving to avoid further damage to the government.
Both party leaders have attempted to create a balance between Kurz’s mainstream conservative party and Stache’s far-right Freedom Party, but over time that coalition has eroded, leading to Saturday’s boiling point.
Source: Fox News World
Parents and staff members at a Los Angeles elementary school have voted to keep Michael Jackson’s name on its auditorium despite the recent allegations that the pop icon sexually abused young boys.
Gardner Street Elementary School, which the pop icon himself once attended, will continue to pay tribute to Jackson after the majority of school staffers and parents of students voted in favor of maintaining “Michael Jackson Auditorium” as the name of the facility, school officials said last week.
The vote took place in the wake of the recent HBO documentary, “Leaving Neverland,” which featured the disturbing stories of two men – Wade Robson and James Safechuck – who claimed that Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys.
The men first came forward with their stories years earlier in lawsuits. Both had previously denied Jackson sexually abused them, but after having their own children — and after the singer’s death in 2009 — they said they had to face the truth. Their lawsuits were dismissed for technical reasons and their appeals are expected to be argued this summer.
Jackson, who was cleared in 2005 of charges that he molested another boy, admitted that over the years he befriended multiple children. He said he invited some into his bed, but denied molesting any of them.
After the airing of the documentary, a group of parents approached school principal Karen Hollis and asked to take Jackson’s name down from the auditorium, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Other parents objected, arguing that Jackson was never convicted of the alleged crimes and noting that the singer is no longer around to defend himself.
Even Jackson’s estate inserted itself into the fight to keep the name, with a spokesperson urging the school community to respect Jackson’s right to remain innocent until proven guilty, according to the newspaper.
The auditorium was reportedly named for Jackson in 1989, way before Jackson became dogged by controversies and allegations.
Robson, one of the alleged victims, told the Times before the vote that he commends the school for giving parents a choice.
“I commend Gardner Street School for allowing the parents to decide whether or not Michael Jackson’s name should remain on the auditorium,” Robson said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News National
A Nxivm cult member who secretly pleaded guilty last week to charges of racketeering conspiracy admitted to keeping her own personal slave locked in a room for two years, newly unsealed court documents reveal.
“I knowingly and intentionally harbored Jane Doe 4, a woman whose identity is known to me, in a room in the home in the Northern District of New York,” said Lauren Salzman to Brooklyn federal court Judge Nicholas Garaufis last week.
Salzman told the judge she held the woman hostage between March 2010 and April 2012 “and threatened to deport Jane Doe 4 back to Mexico if she did not complete labor requested by myself and others,” court transcripts said.
The 42-year-old defendant also admitted during the proceeding to being a member of Nxivm’s secret inner organization, DOS, which prosecutors have accused of starving and branding women.
At least one DOS member was also coerced into having sex with cult leader Keith Raniere, according to the government.
DOS was pitched as a women’s empowerment group but was actually grooming its members to have sex with Raniere, the feds claim.
“Smallville” actress Allison Mack and Seagram’s heiress Clare Bronfman have also been charged for their roles in Nxivm.
“I’m very sorry for my poor decision-making and decisions that result in the harm to others and not the just victims in this case but to hundreds of members of our community and their friends and families as well,” Salzman said during the hearing.
“I’m very sorry for my poor decision-making and decisions that result in the harm to others and not the just victims in this case but to hundreds of members of our community and their friends and families as well.”
Salzman’s guilty plea last Monday did not appear on any public calendar, and portions of the transcript are redacted — leading to speculation she may cooperate against her fellow cult members at trial.
Salzman faces up 20 years behind bars on charges of racketeering conspiracy, but prosecutors could recommend she face less time under a cooperation agreement.
Salzman’s mother, Nancy Salzman, is the only other Nxian to plead guilty. Nancy Salzman’s lawyers adamantly denied last month that she was cooperating against her co-defendants in any way.
Prosecutors have also said that Mack and the group’s accountant, Kathy Russell, are engaged in plea negotiations. Mack last week lost a bid to push back the trial date, currently set for April 29, as her lawyers continue to attempt to negotiate on her behalf.
The apparent growing wave of guilty pleas come after prosecutors filed a new indictment claiming Raniere sexually abused underage girls and produced child porn.
Lauren Salzman’s lawyer did not immediately return a request for comment.*
Source: Fox News National
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., tweeted her pleasure in reaction to the news that Wells Fargo CEO Tim Sloan will step down from his position Thursday after a 31-year career with the financial institution.
“About damn time. Tim Sloan should have been fired a long time ago. He enabled Wells Fargo‘s massive fake accounts scam, got rich off it, & then helped cover it up. Now—let’s make sure all the people hurt by Wells Fargo’s scams get the relief they’re owed,” posted Warren, who has long crusaded against shady practices from Wall Street and big banks.
The 2020 presidential candidate has been among the most ardent critics of Sloan, 58, and Wells Fargo, which has been besieged by scandals in recent years. He will retire from the lender on June 30 and will be replaced by the firm’s general counsel Allen Parker on an interim basis, Bloomberg reported.
“It has become apparent that the focus on me has become a distraction that impacts our ability to successfully move Wells Fargo forward,” Sloan said on a conference call after the announcement.
Sloan had faced calls for his resignation since taking the helm of the fourth-largest bank in the U.S. in 2016, with the mandate of cleaning it after his predecessor was forced out. Critics, including Warren and other Democrats, didn’t feel Sloan was up to the task after a series of high-profile scandals that included employees illegally opening fictitious accounts in customers’ names to meet aggressive sales goals and overcharging customers for mortgages and auto loans.
Both scandals resulted in Wells Fargo paying penalties totaling billions.
In a series of tweets Thursday, Warren called for an investigation into the CEO for his role in Wells Fargo’s crimes.
“By the way, getting fired shouldn’t be the end of the story for Tim Sloan. He shouldn’t get a golden parachute. He should be investigated by the SEC and the DOJ for his role in all the Wells Fargo scams. And if he’s guilty of any crimes, he should be put in jail like anyone else,” she posted.
At a contentious House Financial Services Committee hearing earlier this month, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez accused Wells Fargo of “financing the caging of children” and suggested it should bear the costs for oil spills and climate change.
During the same hearing, Sloan tried to assuage concerns from lawmakers that he was not acting quickly enough to address the lender’s long list of scandals.
“With all of this experience and the length of time that you have been there, the roles that you have played, you have not been able to keep Wells Fargo out of trouble, you keep getting fined,” panel Chairwoman Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said. “Why should Wells Fargo continue to be the size that it is?”
News of Sloan’s departure was met with cheer from Democrats.
“Tim Sloan needed to go, and he should not take a huge payout with him. But Wells Fargo’s mismanagement is about more than one CEO – this bank needs a complete culture shift,” Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio tweeted Thursday.
“Thank u, next,” tweeted California Rep. Katie Porter.
Some Republicans were just as happy to see Sloan go.
“The bottom line is that we’ve not seen the type of cultural or institutional change so desperately needed at Wells Fargo,” said Patrick McHenry, the top Republican sitting on the House Financial Services Committee.
Sloan will retire with a standard retirement package and has stock options estimated at about $24.5 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Source: Fox News Politics
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos says higher education institutions and K-12 schools are "not fair" when it comes to giving opportunities to students from different financial backgrounds and that the Trump administration is pushing for “equal opportunity for all students” during comments on the college admissions scandal Wednesday.
“This is a matter that all Americans want things to be fair and they’re clearly not,” DeVos said on “The Daily Briefing with Dana Perino.”
“This goes to K-12 education as well, and we don’t have the same opportunities for all students in K-12 education, we don’t in higher education and that’s one of the things that this administration is really advocating for. Equal opportunity for all students.”
DeVos said students need to be considered by colleges and universities on their merit and that the Education Department was investigating how it factors into the investigation.
This is a matter that all Americans want things to be fair and they’re clearly not.
“We are still researching and looking into how the department might interface with this. Obviously this is a Department of Justice operation but we are looking very closely at it and we’ll see if any of the regulations we’re responsible for have been broken,” DeVos told Perino when asked if there was anything her department could do to assure the system wasn’t rigged in favor of the wealthy.
The scam was allegedly masterminded by William Rick Singer of California, who helped parents get their children admitted to top colleges and universities through bribes, according to court documents.
Fifty people have been charged, including more than 30 parents, and nine coaches. Actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman are among those parents charged.
DeVos also talked to Perino about the Department of Education proposing teacher vouchers for professional development.
“We believe that teachers need to have the freedom to decide how they can better develop their own talents and become better teachers themselves,” DeVos said.
A proposed $200 million would go to these vouchers.
DeVos also said part of the proposal included a tax credit that would become scholarships for students across the country, with states deciding whether or not to participate.
Source: Fox News Politics
Actress Lori Loughlin was expected to surrender Wednesday to face charges in connection with a sweeping college admissions bribery scandal involving wealthy individuals and celebrities who allegedly paid millions and carried out fraud to place their children in elite universities.
Federal law enforcement officials went to Loughlin’s home in Los Angeles on Tuesday, but she was working in Vancouver, Canada, according to TMZ. She faces charges of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud, according to a criminal complaint.
Her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, was arrested on the same charges and posted bail Tuesday. Some reports initially said Loughlin was also in court, but later accounts said her husband was alone.
Actress Felicity Huffman — an Academy Award nominee — was also arrested at her home Tuesday for her alleged involvement in the scheme. She appeared in a Los Angeles federal court before posting $250,000 bail and surrendering her passport.
Loughlin has made arrangements to surrender when she returns to Los Angeles, TMZ, the celebrity news site, reported.
Loughlin and Giannulli are accused of agreeing to pay $500,000 in bribes to have their two daughters designated as recruits for the University of Southern California crew team despite that fact that neither child participated in the sport.
More than four dozen people are charged in the nationwide scam, which is alleged to have placed students in top-tier schools like Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, the University of Southern California, UCLA and the University of Texas. A federal investigation into the matter — dubbed "Operation Varsity Blues" – has been ongoing for more than a year.
Loughlin is best known for her role as "Aunt Becky" on "Full House," a comedy series that ran from 1987 to 1995 and was recently revived as "Fuller House."
Source: Fox News National