09-23-2018  2:57 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

PBOT Announces Upcoming Focus Groups

Agency seeks feedback on Lloyd to Woodlawn Greenway, scooters and affordable housing ...

Celebration Tabernacle Church Celebrates 30 Years

The church invites the community to celebrate with them on Sunday, September 23. ...

Portland Center Stage Kicks Off Season with 'The Color Purple'

'The Color Purple' opens Friday, Sept. 21, at The Armory ...

Cop Out: Beyond Black, White & Blue

The August Wilson Red Door Project presents a series of monologues based on conversations with law enforcement ...

NuFuel Program Now Accepting Applications

Program awards grants of 5,000 - 30,000 dollars to cannabis businesses owned by people of color ...

Oregon cancels pot grower's license

BEND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's marijuana regulators have canceled the license of a grower whose operation was linked to a butane honey oil explosion that burned two people.The Bulletin reports the Oregon Liquor Control Commission announced Friday that High Cascade Farms will have its...

Former pastor's sentencing for drug smuggling delayed

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A former Southwest Washington pastor's sentencing on a drug smuggling charge has been delayed over questions about how honest he's been with federal authorities.The Columbian newspaper reports that a federal judge in San Diego was due to sentence John Bishop, former...

No. 2 Georgia clears another SEC hurdle at Missouri, 43-29

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Georgia coach Kirby Smart learned plenty in his days as an assistant under Alabama's Nick Saban.Among those lessons was a tendency to nitpick victories. After the second-ranked Bulldogs beat Missouri 43-29, Smart bemoaned his defense's inability to stop the run and some...

No. 2 Georgia prepared for high-powered Missouri offense

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Georgia's defense has been so good this season it has some opposing quarterbacks in awe."It's almost fun to watch when you're watching tape," Missouri quarterback Drew Lock said this week. "They're extremely athletic in the secondary. They're not going to let you chuck...

OPINION

Fair Housing’s Unfinished 50-Year Journey

Just as President Johnson stated 50 years ago, “We have come some of the way, not near all of it. There is much yet to do" ...

Jim Crow 2018

Jeffrey Boney says Black voting rights are under attack in America ...

Black Wave Sweeping Across the State of Florida

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Black man, saw the Florida primary election from a different lens ...

Black Political Excellence

What's exciting about today's Black political excellence is that it represents a generational changing of the guard ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

The Latest: Pope warns Lithuanians about anti-Semitism

KAUNAS, Lithuania (AP) — The Latest on Pope Francis' trip to the three Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia (all times local):11:15 a.m.Pope Francis is warning against a rebirth of the "pernicious" anti-Semitic sentiments that fueled the Holocaust as he marked the annual...

Militants attack Iran military parade, killing at least 25

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Militants disguised as soldiers opened fire Saturday on an annual Iranian military parade in the country's oil-rich southwest, killing at least 25 people and wounding over 60 in the deadliest terror attack to strike the country in nearly a decade.Women and children...

First black female White House reporter gets Newseum statue

WASHINGTON (AP) — Journalist Alice Allison Dunnigan triumphed over sexism and racism to become the first black woman accredited to cover the White House.In recognition of her achievements, the Newseum unveiled a statue in her honor on Friday.The bronze life-size statue will remain in the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Lauren Daigle wants to break down walls to Christian music

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Three years ago, Lauren Daigle took home three Dove Awards for her debut record, "How Can It Be," and the Louisiana singer-songwriter got her first taste of the weight of genre's expectations on her shoulders. The 2015 album, one of only a few Christian music albums...

Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence, immigration in videos

NEW YORK (AP) — The Black Eyed Peas tackle gun violence at schools and immigration in two new music videos for their song, "Big Love."The trio — it's unclear if Fergie is still part of the group — released the videos Friday. They also announced proceeds from the song will...

Freddy Krueger ready to scare the cast of 'The Goldbergs'

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Freddy Krueger is coming for "The Goldbergs."ABC announced Friday that Robert Englund is reprising his role as the "A Nightmare on Elm Street" slasher for a Halloween episode of the ABC sitcom.The show is keeping with its 1980s setting. The Krueger episode, titled...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Paul Simon wraps up farewell tour back home

NEW YORK (AP) — Paul Simon ended his final concert tour under a moonlit sky on home turf Saturday, telling...

100 years ago, US fought its deadliest battle in France

PARIS (AP) — It was America's deadliest battle ever, with 26,000 U.S. soldiers killed, tens of thousands...

Maldives election begins amid opposition cry of unfairness

MALE, Maldives (AP) — Huge crowds flocked to closely guarded polling stations on Sunday to vote in the...

Maldives election begins amid opposition cry of unfairness

MALE, Maldives (AP) — Huge crowds flocked to closely guarded polling stations on Sunday to vote in the...

Swiss vote on bids to improve food quality, protect farmers

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss voters on Sunday were deciding on two separate proposals aimed at protecting Swiss...

Pope honors victims of Soviet and Nazi crimes in Baltics

KAUNAS, Lithuania (AP) — Pope Francis paid tribute Sunday to Lithuanians who suffered and died during...

By The Skanner News

TUNIS, Tunisia (AP) -- Tunisia's former ruler and his wife were convicted in absentia on embezzlement and other charges on Monday after $27 million (euro18.97 million) in jewels and public funds were found in one of his palaces.

Five months after being forced from power, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Leila Trabelsi were sentenced to 35 years each in prison and fined tens of millions of dollars in the first of what is sure to be a long string of trials.

However, the trial in some ways failed to live up to its billing. With the 74-year-old Ben Ali not present for his judgment, there was a sense of frustration among many. The couple went into exile on Jan. 14 in Saudi Arabia, which failed to respond to an extradition request.

Monday's convictions followed a day-long hearing before the Tunis criminal court.

The ex-president was fined 50 million dinars (about $36 million) and his wife 41 million dinars for embezzlement of public funds and misappropriation.

The trove of jewels, some which the court said had "historic value," and the money were found in a palace in the picturesque town of Sidi Bou Said, outside Tunis, following Ben Ali's departure.

The verdict in a second affair stemming from the discovery of weapons and drugs in the official presidential palace in Carthage, this one targeting only Ben Ali, was postponed. Public defenders assigned to Ben Ali said Monday that they needed time to study the file. The trial was to resume June 30.

Ben Ali vigorously denied the charges in a statement through his French lawyer, calling the proceedings a "shameful masquerade of the justice of the victorious."

"I devoted my life to my country and aspire, at the twilight of my existence, to conserve my honor," Ben Ali said in the statement, referring to his years as interior minister and his 23 years as president.

Ben Ali, and in particular his widely detested wife's Trabelsi clan, are widely accused of treating Tunisia as their personal property to amass money, privilege and power.

An official for the Ministry of State Domains, Mohamed Adel Ben Ismail, has evaluated the fortune amassed by Ben Ali and the Trabelsi clan at a quarter of the value of the Tunisian economy.

The much despised Trabelsi family, alleged to have operated as a mafia, had vast control over the economy of this North African country with stakes in everything from tourist hotels to banks or car dealerships and radio and television.

However, the total value of assets in Tunisia and abroad of Ben Ali and his wife are not known. The Swiss were among the first nations to seize the families' assets and prosecutors said in January they had launched a money laundering investigation into the family's accounts.

Blocked accounts for Ben Ali and some 40 members of his entourage contained tens of millions of Swiss francs, according to the Swiss prosecutors office said.

French judicial authorities are also working to identify any assets, and eventual misdeeds, in France.

According to the act of accusation read at the trial, Ben Ali's monthly stipend skyrocketed during his time in power, which began in 1987 after a bloodless palace coup. Receiving 2,000 dinars per month in 1987, he was taking in nearly 4.7 million dinars by 1998 "with no (fiscal) controls."

The court also accused him of ordering up special privileges "in violation of rules" for the Trabelsi clan and the Ben Ali family.

Ben Ali "vigorously denies" accusations against him, according to a statement issued a day before the trial by his French lawyer, Jean-Yves Le Borgne, who was not allowed by Tunisian law to assist in the proceedings.

More serious charges, including plotting against the security of the state and murder, will be dealt with at future trials. Judicial authorities say that Ben Ali and his entourage are implicated in 93 civil affaires and 182 others that fall under military jurisdiction.

He is expected to have to answer for the deaths of 300 people during the uprisings. Numerous cases are likely to be joined together.

Monday's trial was a veritable media show and included, for the first time, TV cameras in the packed courtroom.

One public defender of the ex-president justified his defense of Ben Ali before the court. Abdessatter Massoudi said he accepted the job of defending Ben Ali - refused by at least one other public defender - "to honor the profession and ensure the basis for a balanced trial."

Backed by his powerful party that controlled all sectors, Ben Ali governed with an iron fist, suppressing dissent and quashing all freedom of expression. Ben Ali's regime unraveled with a monthlong uprising around the country triggered by the fatal self-immolation of an unemployed man in the rural heartland. That sparked protests that moved through the countryside to Tunis, the capital, and failed to die down despite concessions from the president. In a surprise move a day after a third televised speech aimed at appeasing the restive population he left for exile.

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