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Sands China deals probed by U.S. for possible bribery violations-WSJ

U.S. authorities are investigating Macau casino operator Sands China Ltd, controlled by Las Vegas gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson, on possible violations of anti-bribery regulations, the Wall Street Journal said on Friday.

The U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Sands China violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Journal reported, citing documents and sources.

The investigation comes after allegations made by the former head of its Macau operations, Steve Jacobs, in a wrongful-termination lawsuit. Jacobs was ousted after he questioned the company's relationship with a politically connected Macau lawyer, the paper said.

The U.S. government and the company itself are also conducting investigations into at least three transactions in China, the paper reported, citing documents from the audit committee of the Sands board of directors.

The transactions include a $50 million payment for real estate for the Adelson Center, a business development operation that was never opened. Also under scrutiny is Sand's sponsorship of a Chinese basketball team and a contract for ferry service between Macau and Hong Kong, the paper said.

OFA Calls for SEC Investigation into Romney's SEC filings

OFA Calls for SEC Investigation into Romney's SEC filings, and points out how Romney made millions while hard-working Americans and the 99% were fired and their jobs shipped overseas.

6 Brands Playing Footsie with Conservatives and Paying the Price

 

Chick-fil-A might have gotten a nice, one-day sales boost with "Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day," but tying a national brand to aging white bigots is not a winning strategy – and the numbers prove it. Executives. directors and managers of American corporations take note: If your company is playing footsie with right-wing ideologues it can harm your company and your career. People are seriously fed up with companies that support and fund these right wingers, and brand-equity tracking surveys prove it. Here are 6 examples of companies and organizations that have flushed their brands down the right-wing toilet.

1. Chick-fil-A Brand Damage

OFA Call For Investigation: God Loving’ Conservative Sticks A Gun In The Face Of Liberals

The Being Liberal Facebook fan page had a shocking surprise posted to its wall Friday evening. I’ll let the post from Kevin Kordes of Gravois Mills, MO speak for itself.

 

Kordes’ Facebook page (while it lasts) lists him as,

Koch Brothers, GOP Mega Donors, Help Bankroll Religious Conservative's 2012 Efforts

A conservative group led by longtime political activist Ralph Reed has budgeted $10 million for a major 2012 election push to turn out the religious right and block a second term for President Barack Obama, a top executive with his organization told the Huffington Post.

The Faith and Freedom Coalition's effort, which will include voter registration drives at NASCAR races in Florida, Virginia and other key swing states, is part of a much broader attempt to reactivate millions of socially conservative voters to not only defeat Obama but help some favorite conservative congressional candidates.

Concerned Women for America, a Christian advocacy group, already has run $6 million in ads in six battleground states including New Hampshire and Wisconsin, warning that the White House-backed health care law might limit patient care and increase the federal deficit.

The Pennsylvania-based Let Freedom Ring quietly cobbled together a nonpartisan 2,000-member pastor network to spur voter registration efforts and is planning a multi-million dollar ad drive this fall focused on social, economic and foreign policy issues, according to Colin Hanna, president of the organization.

USC professors' book full of surprises for right-wing publisher

Promoters of ideological campaigns just love college professors.

That may sound implausible, but it's not so hard to understand: Attaching a professor's name to your cause confers instant credibility and projects objectivity, there are lots of professors around, and their professional work may be so technical and abstruse that no one will know if they really do support your position. As a result, it's a rare campaign that won't at one point or another publish a list of faculty members, jangling with PhDs, backing it up.

One wonders if that explains the strange relationship between the right-wing multimillionaire Joe Ricketts and Selahattin and Ayse Imrohoroglu, a Turkish-born husband-and-wife team of economists at the University of Southern California.

Foster Friess, former Santorum backer, to trim Super PAC donations

Wyoming millionaire Foster Friess said on Wednesday that he plans to tamp down on donating to Super PACs before the fall election, saying he’d open the spigot more sparingly and selectively across a wider range of candidates and private charities to whom he could give money anonymously.

“I’m going to reduce the amount of money I’m giving to Super PACs for (Mitt) Romney, and I’m going to increase the amount of money I give to support his and other candidacies – the governors, the senators,” Friess said.

“The Super PAC money is going to be like $10,000 here, $5,000 here, $10,000 here,” he added.

Donations to the tune of $2.3 million to the Super PAC supporting Rick Santorum during Republican primaries vaulted Friess into national headlines, which he says he and his wife didn’t appreciate.

“I enjoy anonymity,” he said on Wednesday during an interview with NBC News.

Belarus, Sweden kick out ambassadors as teddy bear war heats up

Sweden and Belarus are locked in a diplomatic war over hundreds of cute, fuzzy teddy bears — a threat so menacing that two Belarusan generals have been fired and the countries have rejected each other's ambassadors.

 

The strife over the stuffies began July 4 — which is also Belarus' Independence Day. 

A light plane flew over Minsk from Sweden and dropped 879 teddy bears, which carried pro-democracy messages. Sweden has long been open about its desire to see democracy take root in Belarus, a former Soviet republic led by a Soviet-style strongman, Alexander Lukashenko. 

Belarus didn't publicly acknowledge the airdrop until last week, when Lukashenko criticized military authorities for allowing the plane to enter Belarusan air space and carry out its "provocation."

After that, action was swift: Lukashenko fired the generals in charge of air defense and the border patrol Tuesday, and authorities arrested two civilians — a journalism student who put pictures of the teddy bears on his website and a property manager who offered an apartment to the plane's Swedish pilots, two pro-democracy advertising agents.

Former Governor Don Siegelman Sentenced To 78 Months

Former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman has been resentenced to 78 months in prison for his corruption conviction.

U.S. District Judge Mark Fuller issued the ruling shortly after 2:30 p.m.  The hearing started Friday at 9 a.m.  Defense attorneys called several character witnesses to the stand, who asked for leniency for Siegelman.  Siegelman also took the stand and begged the judge for mercy.

Fuller went closer to the maximum sentence, though, which would have been 88 months, based on a formula for the various counts and charges in the 2006 trial.

Siegelman will get credit for the nine months he had previously served.

In addition to Siegelman’s prison time, the judge also issued the following punishments:

  • A $50,000 fine
  • Three years supervised probation, once Siegelman is released
  • 500 hours of community service

 

Siegelman showed no emotion as the sentence was read.  The defense immediately objected, saying the sentence was “cruel and unusual punishment.”

Pussy Riot Trial: Anti-Putin Feminist Rockers Court Case At A Glance

Three Russian feminist rockers rejected charges of hooliganism for performing a "punk prayer" in Moscow's main cathedral against Vladimir Putin's return as president as a trial against them opened in earnest on Monday. The charges could carry a punishment of up to seven years in prison.

The three members of the Pussy Riot band – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 23, Maria Alekhina, 24, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29 – have been in custody for five months since their February stunt. Their prosecution has caused a sharp public divide and drawn protests from rights groups who have declared them prisoners of conscience.

The trial began July 20 but the first sessions were devoted to procedural issues. On Monday, with the court turning to the substance of the case, Tolokonnikova and other defendants said in statements read by their lawyer that their goal was to express their resentment over Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill's support for Putin's rule.

Frank Vandersloot bashed by Obama campaign now target of two federal audits

An Idaho businessman singled out by the Obama campaign for giving $1 million in support of Mitt Romney is now the focus of IRS and Labor Department audits.

Frank VanderSloot, in an interview with FoxNews.com on Tuesday, said he received the initial audit notice from the IRS last month. Two weeks later, he got one from the Labor Department stating the agency would be looking into records related to foreign employees working at his Idaho Falls cattle ranch.

It might all be a coincidence, he said -- but the timing was peculiar. 

VanderSloot gave the pro-Romney money last year to the super PAC “Restore of Future.” Then in April, he was identified along with seven other donors on an Obama campaign website as “wealthy individuals with less-than-reputable records.”

At the time, VanderSloot spoke out and accused the campaign of targeting him unfairly. Then came the audits. 

“It seems coincidental, but who knows,” VanderSloot told FoxNews.com Tuesday. “The problem is the president made the list, and 61 days later I get the first letter. One has to ask: Is the fact I’m being shot at the result of having a target on my back? … Was the list made with that intent?”

Bernie Sanders Exposes the 26 Billionaires who are Buying the 2012 Election

In his new report, America For Sale: A Report on Billionaires Buying the 2012 Election, Sen. Bernie Sanders named names and called out the billionaires who using Citizens United to buy our democracy.

In front of a Senate panel today, Sen. Bernie Sanders outed the 26 billionaires who are members of 23 billionaire families that are using Citizens United to buy elections.Sen. Sanders estimated that these 26 billionaires are the tip of the iceberg. “My guess is that number is really much greater because many of these contributions are made in secret. In other words, not content to own our economy, the 1 percent want to own our government as well.”

Sanders explained how the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision put the government up for sale, “What the Supreme Court did in Citizens United is to say to these same billionaires and the corporations they control: ‘You own and control the economy, you own Wall Street, you own the coal companies, you own the oil companies. Now, for a very small percentage of your wealth, we’re going to give you the opportunity to own the United States government.’”

UK PM's ex-aide, Murdoch protege face charges in phone-hacking scandal

British authorities on Tuesday charged an ex-aide to the British prime minister, a former protege of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and six others in the ever-widening phone-hacking scandal. Prosecutors accused those charged of key roles in a lengthy campaign of illegal espionage that victimized hundreds, including top celebrities Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.

The announcement was a major development in a saga that has transfixed and at times horrified Britons and one that shows no signs of ending. A senior police official told The Associated Press earlier this week that her force was investigating more than 100 claims including computer hacking and illegal access to medical records stemming from the scandal.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that Andy Coulson, Cameron's communications director for four years until 2011, and Rebekah Brooks, who oversaw Murdoch's News International, would face charges of conspiracy to intercept communications.

Pussy Riot Trial: Anti-Putin Feminist Punks On Trial In Moscow

A Moscow court on Friday launched the trial of three feminist rockers who face a possible seven years in prison for performing a "punk prayer" against Vladimir Putin from the pulpit of Russia's largest cathedral.

The case of the three members of the band Pussy Riot has deeply divided Russia, pitting advocates of openness against the forces of order and the powerful Russian Orthodox Church. The three had been held in jail for more than four months without a single court hearing.