11-12-2018  8:24 pm      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Affordable Housing Faith Forum & Resource Fair

The evening will include a panel discussion and a Q&A session with various experts in affordable housing ...

Black United Fund Sponsors BUF Talks at Intel

Students interested in learning more about Intel are invited to join ...

Beatrice Morrow-Cannady Building Opens

Building will offer 80 affordable housing units and community-serving retail space ...

People For the American Way Congratulates Wisc. Lt. Gov.-elect Mandela Barnes

On Tuesday, Wisconsin elected its first African American lieutenant governor ...

Hazelnut harvest falls short of expectations

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Hazelnut growers in Oregon were anticipating a record-high crop in 2018, although it appears the harvest is coming in short of expectations.The Capital Press reported Monday that the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service predicted 52,000 tons of hazelnuts in...

Oregon firefighters helping at California wildfires

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Firefighters have been sent from Oregon to help suppress the deadly wildfires in California.The Oregon Department of Forestry said Monday that two teams with equipment and personnel were sent from eastern and southern Oregon at the request of California fire...

Tigers squeak out 33-28 victory over Vanderbilt

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — When Missouri kicker Tucker McCann missed a 31-yard field goal to the left with 1:48 remaining in the game, the possibility opened up that Missouri could lose its third last-second contest of the season.The Tigers were up 33-28. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur led Vanderbilt 55...

Tigers and Commodores fight for bowl eligibility

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri had been lacking a signature win in quarterback Drew Lock's final season, losing late on the road against South Carolina and two weeks ago to Kentucky.The moment finally came last week on the road against No. 11 Florida, when the Tigers seemed to put everything...

OPINION

The Beto Effect

Jeffrey Boney weighs in on the man behind the “blue wave” in Texas ...

Our Parents Lied to Us: Names Do Hurt, Particularly When Used by the Political Right

Trump’s language has encouraged an obnoxious, offensive and dangerous behavior among his supporters ...

Politically Correct, or Perfectly Civil

What is wrong with being “politically correct” if it means being perfectly civil, informed, and mindful of others ...

Clean Energy Measure Good For Your Health

Patricia Kullberg, MD, MPH, writes that investing in clean energy is an investment in public health ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Brodeur, O'Ree, Bettman lead inductees into Hockey HOF

TORONTO (AP) — Martin Brodeur, Willie O'Ree and NHL commissioner led the latest group of inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night.Brodeur, the all-time leader in goalie wins and shutouts, was joined in the player's category by Martin St. Louis, Canadian women's star Jayna Hefford...

'Public hanging' remark puts spotlight on Miss. Senate race

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A video of a white U.S. senator from Mississippi making a flip reference to a "public hanging" is incensing voters in a special election runoff, drawing attention to the state's history of lynching and boosting Democrats' hope of pulling off a stunner in the Deep...

Mariners deny fired exec's claims of racism against Latinos

SEATTLE (AP) — The Seattle Mariners are denying claims made by the club's recently fired training and conditioning director, who said team management had disparaged Latino players.The Mariners issued a statement on Monday following the social media postings from Lorena Martin in which she...

ENTERTAINMENT

Viola Davis on 'Widows,' MeToo and expressing her femininity

TORONTO (AP) — To Viola Davis, being naked on screen or onstage means more than having your clothes off. It means ridding yourself of self-consciousness and ego. It means exposing yourself."Oftentimes you do see dynamic acting — there are a lot of really dynamic actors — but...

Could country's new class cause an upset at the CMA Awards?

The Country Music Association Awards tend to be fairly predictable as far as winners go, but could this year be different? Can the new class of country artists upset the longtime favorites on Wednesday? The well-researched music writers of The Associated Press weigh in on predictions.Chris...

'This Is Us' season will answer war mysteries, creator says

LOS ANGELES (AP) — "This Is Us" star Milo Ventimiglia was between scenes on the set in Vietnam, the setting for a critical flashback story about his character Jack's wartime tragedy.Then modern-day reality merged with TV fiction about a decades-old conflict."I'm there in full battle dress,...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Ohtani wins AL Rookie of the Year; Acuna takes NL honor

NEW YORK (AP) — Shohei Ohtani was rewarded for a Ruthian season at the plate — and on the...

A universe of flawed heroes: Stan Lee was ahead of his time

It became easy, in recent years, to dismiss him as the wisecracking grandpa of the American comic book, a...

Bishops delay votes on combating church sex abuse crisis

BALTIMORE (AP) — At the Vatican's insistence, U.S. Catholic bishops abruptly postponed plans Monday to vote...

Migrant caravan moves to western Mexico city of Guadalajara

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — Several thousand Central American migrants heading for the U.S. border arrived...

50 countries vow to fight cybercrime - US and Russia don't

PARIS (AP) — Fifty nations and over 150 tech companies pledged Monday to do more to fight criminal activity...

Pence, Abe discuss trade, NKorea ahead of regional summits

TOKYO (AP) — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday to discuss...

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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