China’s ruling Communist Party has put former security chief Zhou Yongkang — one of its most powerful men — under investigation.
Zhou had been a patron of Bo Xilai, who he is said to have backed for a slot on the PSC. Bo was jailed for life in September 2013 for corruption and abuse of power. Bo’s fall from grace, and that of his convicted murderer wife Gu Kailai, was China’s most dramatic political scandal since the trial of the Gang of Four after the Cultural Revolution. It was inevitable the Bo investigation would soon ensnarl Zhou too.

Zhou, 71, was born in the eastern industrial city of Wuxi in 1942, the son of a senior Communist defence procurement bureaucrat. Three years after entering Suzhou Middle School in 1958, he enrolled in the Beijing Petroleum Institute, now called the China University of Petroleum. He got his start in the 1970s as a technician for the Liaohe Oil Exploration Bureau in the northeastern province of Liaoning, home to China’s third-largest oil field.

In ordering the investigation of Mr. Zhou, Xi has broken with an unwritten understanding that members of the Standing Committee will not be investigated after retirement.
Two of Zhou’s former secretaries – Yu Gang and Ji Wenlin – and one of his former security guards, Tan Hong, faced charges over accepting bribes. Xinjiang’s former No 2 party official, Yang Gang, faced similar charges.
Mr. Zhou’s son, a sister-in-law and his son’s mother-in-law held assets worth some $1 billion, much of it in the oil and gas sector that was Mr. Zhou’s political fiefdom.
3/31/2014 China has seized at least $14.5 billion of assets from family and associates of the country’s former security chief Zhou Yongkang in the biggest corruption scandal since the Communist Party came to power in 1949
More than 300 of Zhou’s relatives, political allies and staff have been taken into custody or questioned.
The amount of money involved vastly exceeds the $2.7 billion of assets said in 2012 to be controlled by the family of former Chinese Premier Wen Jiaobao.
If the reported $14.5 billion of assets were ultimately owned by Zhou and excluded debt, his fortune would rank at No. 69 on Forbes magazine’s latest tally of the world’s billionaires.
1 September 2013 Jiang Jiemin is also the subject of a corruption investigation. Until March Mr Jiang was head of the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), which has faced a number of corruption allegations. Another four CNPC executives were under investigation for corruption.

Historian Zhang Lifan said the investigation into Zhou showed factional struggles within the party were intensifying.

“We need to watch whether the struggle stops with Zhou. Xi might have won the ultimate victory, and it could stop there,” Zhang said. “After all, such a struggle is hurting the party, too, because it reveals to the public so many ugly things.”

[October 4 2011 Financial contagion from Chinese export dip

Yuan contagion

Yuan contagion

Now Beijing is expanding the use of the RMB in other financial centers, to allow for foreign holdings of the currency to be used for direct investment in China. According to Arvin Subramanian of the Financial Times, “the process is micro-managed, interventionist, and enclave-based – not a day seems to pass without some foreign entity, or country being granted greater but selective access to the renminbi.” Last week, the Financial Times reported that “China is for the first time to give formal backing to moves by British banks to turn the City of London into an offshore trading center for the renminbi.” Furthermore, the Economist reports that “in Singapore, banks now offer yuan deposits and bond funds. Its central bank is one of a dozen that have agreements with the Peoples Bank of China to swap their currencies for yuan.” here

As Premier Wen Jiabao famously put it back in 2007, the country’s growth is “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” In such a crisis, China’s economic weight would become a liability. The IMF estimates that the impact of Chinese demand on the world’s largest economies has more than doubled over the past decade. A deteriorating outlook for Chinese imports could send commodity prices plummeting, precipitating heavy losses for investors and risking financial contagion. more


Michelle Williams July 15 2011 nyc

Michelle Williams July 15 2011 nyc

“It really ranks strongly with me because the subject matter is so personal,” said Harvey Weinstein, who is distributing Sarah’s Key through his Weinstein Company. “This is a story that educates… but it’s a real thrilling movie, and one of the movie’s that I’m most proud.”

injuries Dina Shacknai said she got from Jonah Shacknai's dog.

injuries Dina Shacknai said she got from Jonah Shacknai's dog.

Millionaire Jonah Shacknai and his ex-wife, Dina, involved police in marital spats at least three times before divorcing but said that those incidents were “not reflective of the totality” of their marriage.

A joint statement from the former couple, issued Monday, rebutted reports that episodes of domestic abuse were frequent throughout their relationship.
But based on reports from police in Paradise Valley, Ariz., the two apparently went through a very difficult divorce. The documents, dating back to 2007, contain claims of violence on both sides — though no charges were ever filed.

Nalepa was employed as a technician at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center

Nalepa was employed as a technician at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center

Jonah's son was with Rebecca,  unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing

Jonah's son was with Rebecca, unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing

Rebecca Nalepa was found in the courtyard of the mansion on July 13. The Sheriff’s Department has said it cannot yet conclude whether her death was suicide or a “criminal event.”
Separately, the Coronado Police Department is investigating the death of 6-year-old Max Shacknai, the son of the owner. The boy fell down the stairs at the mansion on July 11 and was rushed to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where he died July 17.
The Coronado police have tentatively labeled the boy’s death accidental. Investigators have said they have found no connection between the two deaths.
Until 2010, Nalepa, who also went by her maiden name, Rebecca Zahau, was employed as a technician at Horizon Eye Specialists & Lasik Center, which has four Valley offices.

Two days before her death, Jonah Shacknai’s 6-year-old son was seriously injured in a fall down a stairway in the main home, known locally as the Spreckels Mansion. Curran said there was no evidence the incident was related to Nalepa’s subsequent death.

Shortly after 10 a.m. Monday, officers and medics responding to an emergency call made by a woman at the estate found the child unconscious, without a pulse and not breathing, Coronado Police Chief Lou Scanlon told reporters.

The boy was taken to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. His condition has not been made public.

The injured youngster’s grandmother told the Arizona Republic he was with Nalepa at the time of the accident.

The man who made the emergency call about Rebecca, Adam Shacknai, told investigators he found Nalepa hanging from a second-floor bedroom balcony over a central courtyard and cut the rope or cord attached to her neck to get her down
A well-known San Diego defense attorney arrived at the mansion Wednesday night and told the media at the crime scene that he represented someone involved in the case.

Paul Pfingst, who was the San Diego County district attorney from 1995 to 2008, would not identify his client. However, he specifically said his client was not Jonah Shacknai.

Rally for Ophelia

Rally for Ophelia

Calling on authorities to continue his prosecution, the women’s rights groups and other community leaders say they want the local district attorney ‘to do his job’ and let the alleged victim have her day in court.

‘There appears to be enough compelling physical evidence in support of the victim’s allegations for the District Attorney’s office to move forward with the pursuit of this case.

Nalepa found hanging over a balcony and cut  down to a courtyard

Nalepa found hanging over a balcony and cut down to a courtyard

The woman, Rebecca Nalepa, 32, was found nude, with a rope around her neck and her hands and feet bound at Shacknai’s home at the former Spreckels Mansion, 1043 Ocean Boulevard, Capt. Tim Curran of the San Diego Sheriff’s Department homicide unit said today at a briefing. Shacknai’s brother, Adam, told police he saw Nalepa hanging over a balcony and cut her down to a courtyard, Curran said. Nalepa was the girlfriend of Jonah Shacknai, the founder and chief executive officer of Medicis Pharmaceutical Corp.

“This is a very bizarre death, no question about it,” Curran said.

Jonah Shacknai was apparently not in the house when Nalepa was found, Curran said. He had been spending considerable time at a San Diego hospital where his 6-year-old son was recovering from an apparently unrelated tumble down a staircase.

A Rose for Ophelia

A Rose for Ophelia

Clues as to how Ophelia may have ended up looking for work at the Sofitel are in her application papers. The application asks how the applicant had learned of the hotel; the woman checked a box for “Agency.” In the “references” portion of the application, the woman put down a worker with the International Rescue Committee (IRC), an agency that assists refugees with employment, among other things. When contacted about the accuser, IRC declined comment, citing policy not to talk about individual cases. The New York Post’s “scoop” on Dominique Strauss Kahn’s accuser is getting fishier, to the extent that’s possible. The paper appears to have had documentation challenging the reliability of its only source in a story alleging that the accuser had worked as a prostitute. here In civil cases, where the loser is liable for money damages, the standard is a “preponderance of the evidence” — essentially, that it was more likely than not that the defendant was responsible.

This distinction can be particularly appealing to a witness who, like Strauss-Kahn’s accuser, has credibility problems.
The hotel maid in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case filed a libel suit against The New York Post over a series of articles it published during the Fourth of July weekend claiming that she was a prostitute.
At a hearing to seek changes to his bail conditions, prosecutors said the credibility of the woman at the center of the case had been thrown into question. As a result, the court agreed to let Strauss-Kahn be freed and his bail and bond returned. He agreed to return to court as needed, including for a July 18 hearing.
“I understand that the circumstances of this case have changed substantially and I agree the risk that he would not be here has receded quite a bit. I release Mr. Strauss-Kahn at his own recognizance,” Justice Michael Obus told the court.
A clue: the unexplained retreat of lawyers Jeffrey Shapiro and Norman Siegel, originally chosen by the presumed victim, in favor of media-savvy Kenneth Thompson, whose angle on the case was that it pitted the rich and powerful against the poor without a voice. His client, he said, was “standing up for all women and children around the world who have been sexually assaulted or sexually abused.”
Strauss-Kahn smiled as he walked out of the court. He still faces felony charges of attempted rape and sexually assault. The head of the Manhattan district attorney’s Sex Crimes Unit for almost a decade stepped down on June 29 after unrelated concerns about a TV documentary.

French Activists’ Website