By Thomas Escritt and Harro Ten Wolde AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The seafaring Netherlands prides itself on being a trading nation, reluctant to let politics get in the way of a good deal. But since the downing, allegedly by Moscow-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine, of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 with the loss of 193 Dutch lives, a growing Dutch chorus has called for the country to use its trade power to hit Russia in the wallet. Dozens of Russian firms have chosen to incorporate in the Netherlands to save money on tax, taking advantage of an extensive network of double taxation treaties. The country is also one of Russia's largest trade partners. Rotterdam, the world's fourth largest port, is a major distribution hub for fossil fuels and minerals and was the single largest destination for Russian exports in 2013, importing $70 billion of goods excluding gas, according to the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation. Crude oil accounted for $22 billion of the total, followed by coal and metal ores. Much of it was re-exported, either raw or after refining or processing - Rotterdam is the entry point for a big slice of imports to Germany, Europe's largest economy. "The trade in mineral fuels is very important in the trade relationship between the Netherlands and Russia and that dominates," said Marjolijn Jaarsma of the national statistics agency Statistics Netherlands. "Almost two thirds of that is for re-export," she said. "It's the Rotterdam effect." That suggests the Dutch economy is less dependent on Russian imports than the trade figures indicate. According to a report last year by U.N. agency UNCTAD, the Netherlands was one of the top three jurisdictions, along with Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands, for the "round-tripping" of Russian investment money. Under that technique, money that looks like foreign investment abroad is sent to a low-tax offshore financial center and then comes straight home, giving the owner legal protection against expropriation or arbitrary acts by government. An opinion poll published on Wednesday in the daily De Telegraaf said 78 percent of the Dutch want punitive sanctions taken against Russia even if it harms the Dutch economy. POLITICS BEFORE TRADE? Once the world's greatest maritime power at the center of a 17th century trading empire that spanned the globe, the Netherlands may be minded to turn its back on centuries of tradition and put politics before trade. "Nobody, absolutely nobody gets the better of us," Foreign Minister Frans Timmermans wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday, shortly before the first bodies from the crash arrived back in the Netherlands. One Moscow-based financial source said the Netherlands was popular for structuring Russian offshore investments. "I would expect there are very significant investments going through the Netherlands," the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "There will be a push to look at this… (but) people (will also be) thinking about the business implications - they may lose jobs if Russian investment pulls out," the source said. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has said all options "whether political, economic or financial" are on the table. Lawmakers are taking an increasingly hard line, with several opposition politicians saying targeting Russian offshore companies should be a priority of Dutch policy. Several plan to raise the issue in a parliamentary committee meeting on Friday. Others say it would be wise to wait with sanctions until the bodies of victims are safely returned and investigations are out of the way. "If Russia's complicity or responsibility is proven beyond doubt, every measure, whether economic, trade-related, personal or related to the delivery of weapons should be considered," said Sjoerd Sjoerdsma, foreign affairs spokesman for the liberal D66 party, which according to polls would win an election today. Bram van Ojik, parliamentary leader of the Green party, said the government should make a priority of targeting "mailbox companies" - postal addresses with no permanent employees acting as a front for a much larger business located abroad. "There are thousands of mailbox companies here in the Netherlands and some of their businesses are pretty shady anyway," he said. A hint of the scale of the capital flows generated by such companies comes from the foreign direct investment figures published by the Central Bank of Russia (CBR). Flows to and from the Netherlands are among the most volatile, and in some years orders of magnitude larger than flows to much larger economies like France or the United States. In 2012, the net FDI outflow from Russia to the Netherlands reached $2.6 billion. In 2013, flows were reversed, with a net $3.5 billion flowing from the Netherlands to Russia. The equivalent figures for France were a $1.4 billion outflow in 2012 and a $449 million outflow in 2013. Net Russian FDI outflows to the United States were just $688 million in 2012 and $763 million in 2013. But some politicians cautioned against acting in haste, even putting aside the harm sanctions could cause the Dutch economy. "Not all the bodies are home yet," said Harry van Bommel, foreign affairs spokesman for the left-wing Socialist Party. "There has to be cooperation first of all with recovery of the bodies," he said. "It would be an irresponsible disturbance of this process if now, at this stage, sanctions were introduced." (Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva and Megan Davies in Moscow; Editing by Paul Taylor)
- The Independent
‘I am so proud of you. Keep dreaming with ambition and there is nothing you cannot achieve,’ the vice president writes
- The Independent
Space Force lieutenant colonel fired for ‘loss of trust’ after claiming that ‘Marxists’ had infiltrated the US military
Matthew Lohmeier has been relieved from his post at Space Force after allegedly criticising the US Military for being “Marxist”
Anti-military activists in the town armed themselves following protests against the February coup.
- The Independent
Mr Kennedy worried that having agenct tailing him was ‘giving the wrong impression’
- Miami Herald
Company culture is not some slogan on a website or a coffee mug.
- The Independent
Biden news - live: President says Covid fight ‘not done yet’ as Cheney warns GOP direction is ‘dangerous’
Follow below for all the latest updates from Washington and beyond
- The Independent
The woman demanded Gates’ wife should read her letter alleging a sexual relationship with him
- The State
Just about everything that needed to happen for the Hurricanes to have a great season did.
Europe's largest budget carrier says pent-up demand has sparked a surge in booking.
- The Independent
Brooklyn Center in Minneapolis votes through sweeping police reform after fatal shootings of Black men
The bill will be named after Daunte Wright and Kobe Dimock-Heisler who were killed during encounters with city law enforcement officers
- The Daily Beast
Drew Angerer/GettyIn the weeks since the feds raided Rudy Giuliani’s apartment and office in late April, close allies have tried to ferry a slew of emergency requests to former President Donald Trump and his advisers.But according to three people familiar with the matter, Trump, as well as several of his legal advisers and longtime confidants, have been hesitant about swooping in to help the embattled Giuliani, who for years worked as Trump’s personal lawyer, a political adviser, and attack dog. Giuliani also served as a major player in the Trump-Ukraine scandal and as a key driver in the former president’s efforts to nullify Joe Biden’s clear victory in the 2020 election.Team Trump’s reluctance to intervene comes at a time when federal investigators have ramped up their probe into whether Giuliani’s Ukraine-related work during the Trump era amounted to an unregistered and illegal lobbying operation on behalf of foreign figures. So far, no charges have been brought against the former New York City mayor as a result of this investigation, which began in 2019. Trump’s silence has led to simmering frustrations among members of Giuliani’s inner orbit, who privately allege that the ex-president’s team is working to convince him to hang Giuliani out to dry in his hour of need.“It’s a question now of whether or not [the former president and his team] want to leave Rudy to fend for himself or if they’re going to take a stand against this,” one person close to Giuliani said last week. “Right now, we don’t know.”Among Giuliani allies’ pleas, the three sources said, have been for Trump to issue a strong verbal or written statement saying Giuliani’s work during the Trump-Ukraine saga was done on behalf of then-President Trump—and therefore not part of an illegal foreign lobbying effort. In other words, Trump’s corroboration would be more than good public relations for Giuliani, it would back up a key pillar of Giuliani’s legal argument that he wasn’t lobbying and is innocent of the allegations.Other asks have included having the ex-president sign on to a legal motion to have federal investigators throw out any seized communications that Giuliani and his lawyers argue are covered by attorney-client privilege. Further, there have been repeated requests that Trump and his team financially aid Giuliani’s ballooning legal defense and help cover the mounting, sizable expenses.Two people close to Trump say they have urged the former president to lay low on the matter and to refrain from making too many statements or commitments on Giuliani and the federal probe. These people have told Trump that it’s unclear what the feds have and that any statement could backfire both on him and on Giuliani. Moreover, various people in Trump’s social and political orbits have been trying to convince the former president for years that Giuliani has been too great a liability for him, and they have suggested that he cut the lawyer loose.Even Parts of Trumpworld Are Like: Rudy, WTF Are You Doing?Many of them still blame Giuliani and his Ukraine shenanigans for getting Trump impeached the first time, and the attorney helped lead the Trumpworld and GOP charge in falsely claiming that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from the 45th U.S. president. In the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, both Trump and Giuliani have been slammed with lawsuit after lawsuit over their roles in firing up the mob that committed the anti-democratic assault.In recent weeks, Trump himself has argued behind closed doors that he wouldn’t want to say Giuliani was doing all of the Ukraine work—which included a trans-Atlantic dirt-digging expedition on the Biden family that led to Trump’s first impeachment—on Trump’s behalf, according to one of the people close to the former president. Trump’s reasoning, this source relayed, is based in the ex-president’s insistence that he didn’t always know what Giuliani was doing during the Ukraine effort or concocting with his Ukrainian pals, several of whom Trump has privately dinged as “idiots.”It is also unclear when or if Trump will ultimately sign on to the desired legal motion, with allies to Giuliani expressing consternation over how the ex-president and his lawyers have not jumped at the opportunity.On Sunday, Robert Costello, Giuliani’s longtime attorney, said, “We do not know what, if anything, President Trump will do,” when asked by The Daily Beast whether Trump’s legal team would intervene in the effort to scuttle the search warrant. Costello said Giuliani’s attorneys have not formally asked Trump’s legal team to do so. “They can make up their own minds,” he said.He added that neither he nor his client has asked Trump to make a statement since federal agents seized Giuliani’s electronic devices.Alan Dershowitz, a celebrity lawyer who served on Trump’s legal team during the first impeachment trial, is now actively counseling Giuliani and his attorneys. “I’ve said to them that it would be very good to get people [including Trump] whose materials might have been seized to... become part of the [motion],” Dershowitz said in a brief interview.The two sources close to the former president each said Trump has repeatedly expressed sympathy for Giuliani’s ongoing woes but has not committed to overtly assisting his personal lawyer yet. Another person familiar with the situation told The Daily Beast that Giuliani has said he remains convinced that Trump won’t abandon him and will step up when the time is right.Over the decades and during his presidency, however, Trump has cemented a reputation for regularly turning his back on close allies and one-time loyalists, including when legal or political pressures became too hot for him. Chief among these former allies is one of Giuliani’s bitter rivals, Michael Cohen, another former personal lawyer and fixer of Trump’s. Cohen turned on his former boss after he felt abandoned by Trump following a 2018 federal raid and has since become an enthusiastic witness for federal investigators who’ve been looking into Trump and his business empire.‘Dead to Each Other’: Team Trump Prepares to ‘Bury’ Michael Cohen, ‘Weakling’ and ‘Traitor’When federal agents executed a search warrant on Cohen’s office in 2018, Trump intervened in the case and hired attorneys who argued that they should be allowed to review seized materials for privileged attorney-client materials before prosecutors could. Whether Trump will intervene similarly in a case involving the warrant against Giuliani remains to be seen.Trump did jump in to help some advisers after the authorities came knocking, including Steve Bannon, Roger Stone, and Paul Manafort, all of whom received presidential pardons within the final month of Trump’s term in the White House. In December, The New York Times reported that the then-president had discussed with people close to him the prospect of issuing a pre-emptive pardon to Giuliani and “talked with Mr. Giuliani about pardoning him as recently as [late November].” Ultimately, Giuliani did not receive a pre-emptive pardon, and he has denied that he had a conversation with Trump about the possibility.Giuliani has repeatedly argued that his efforts to oust Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch as U.S. envoy to Ukraine were carried out solely on behalf of his client, President Trump. A statement from Trump would help buttress Giuliani’s public case, but it wouldn’t necessarily help him in court.“Nothing Donald Trump may say publicly to help Giuliani is likely to get into evidence,” David H. Laufman, a partner at Wiggin and Dana and a former chief of the Justice Department’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section, which oversees FARA prosecutions, told The Daily Beast. “Giuliani’s attorney will be able to cross-examine the government’s witnesses if he’s charged, and Giuliani always has the option of testifying in his own defense. But any press statements by Donald Trump to the effect of ‘Hey, he was just working for me’ almost certainly aren’t coming into evidence.”“In the highly improbable scenario that Trump testified for Giuliani, the notion of Giuliani trying to use the attorney-client privilege as a shield would go out the window. The privilege is held by Trump, not by Giuliani,” Laufman continued.Long before the search of Giuliani’s apartment, Trump appeared hesitant to say outright that his attorney’s work in Ukraine was conducted solely on the president’s behalf. During the peak of the impeachment inquiry in the fall of 2019, former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked Trump what Giuliani was up to in Ukraine.“I knew he was going to go to Ukraine and I think he canceled the trip. But you know, Rudy has other clients other than me. I’m one person that he represents,” Trump said.Asked if he’d told Giuliani to travel to Ukraine, Trump said: “No.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Got a tip? Send it to The Daily Beast hereGet our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Business Insider
Bill Gates crafted a public image as a likable, nerdy do-gooder. Office affairs, 'uncomfortable' workplace behavior, and Epstein ties reveal cracks in his facade.
Gates' image as an amiable, generous philanthropist does not gel with new information on his links to Epstein and dubious office romances.
- The Week
"We have tackled many strange stories on 60 Minutes, but perhaps none like this," CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker said on Sunday night's show. "It's the story of the U.S. government's grudging acknowledgment of unidentified aerial phenomena, UAP, more commonly known as UFOs. After decades of public denial, the Pentagon now admits there's something out there, and the U.S. Senate wants to know what it is." A declassified report from the directorate of national intelligence and the Pentagon is due to be handed over to the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. Whitaker offered a preview, speaking with some familiar voices in the UAP sphere — Luis Elizondo, former head of the Pentagon's Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP); retired Navy Cmdr. Dave Fravor, whose F/A-18F squadron encountered a UPA off California in 2004; Christopher Mellon, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for intelligence — and some new ones, like Lt. Cmdr. Alex Dietrich, who viewed the UAP with Fravor. 60 Minutes showed some declassified footage previously leaked to The New York Times by Mellon and Elizondo. "It's bizarre and unfortunate that someone like myself has to do something like that to get a national security issue like this on the agenda," Mellon said. Everyone Whitaker spoke with underscored that unidentified means just that, not yet identified, there's no evidence these phenomena are extraterrestrial, and they are a potential national security risk no matter who created them because the technology seems far beyond what the U.S. can currently produce. Mellon said the UFOs are not secret U.S. government technology, and "I can say that with a very high degree of confidence in part because of the positions I held in the department, and I know the process." Former Navy pilot Lt. Ryan Graves told Whitaker that fellow pilots began seeing UAPs hovering over restricted airspace off Virginia Beach in 2014, after upgrades to their radar, and continued seeing UAP's off the Atlantic Coast "every day for at least a couple years." 60 Minutes Overtime had more of the interview with Fravor and Dietrich, and you can watch that below. More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Liz Cheney's ousterPoll: Most GOP voters think 2020 election was illegitimate, but lawmakers should prioritize other issuesVaccinating the world
- Associated Press
Shannon Keeler was enjoying a weekend getaway with her boyfriend last year when she checked her Facebook messages for the first time in ages. The messages rocketed Keeler back to the life-shattering night in December 2013 when an upperclassman at Gettysburg College stalked her at a party, snuck into her dorm and barged into her room while she pleaded with him and texted friends for help. Eight years later, she still hopes to persuade authorities in Pennsylvania to make an arrest, armed now with perhaps her strongest piece of evidence: his alleged confession, sent via social media.
- The Week
Melinda French Gates started talking with divorce lawyers in late 2019, not long after The New York Times reported that Bill Gates had more interactions with pedophile and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein that she had known about, the Times and The Wall Street Journal report. But it was also in late 2019 that Microsoft's board became aware of a letter from a Microsoft engineer who said she had been in a sexual relationship with Bill Gates years earlier, the Journal reported Sunday evening. The couple announced their divorce May 3, after 27 years of marriage. Microsoft board members hired a law firm to investigate the woman's allegations and deemed the relationship inappropriate, and by early 2020 "some board members decided it was no longer suitable for Mr. Gates to sit as a director at the software company he started and led for decades," the Journal reports. "Mr. Gates resigned before the board's investigation was completed and before the full board could make a formal decision on the matter." He had just been re-elected to the board in December 2019, three months before his March 13, 2020, resignation. "There was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably," Bridgitt Arnold, a spokeswoman for Bill Gates, said in a statement. "Gates' decision to transition off the board was in no way related to this matter. In fact, he had expressed an interest in spending more time on his philanthropy starting several years earlier." Melinda Gates had been upset with her future ex-husband on and off for years, including over a sexual harassment settlement Bill Gates had facilitated for the couple's longtime financial adviser, the Times reports. "In some circles, Bill Gates had also developed a reputation for questionable conduct in work-related settings," and on at least a few occasions he had "pursued women who worked for him at Microsoft and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation." "It is not clear how much Ms. French Gates knew about her husband's behavior or to what degree it contributed to their split," the Times reports. Arnold, the spokeswoman, told the Times "it is extremely disappointing that there have been so many untruths published about the cause, the circumstances and the timeline of Bill Gates' divorce." She added, "The rumors and speculation surrounding Gates' divorce are becoming increasingly absurd, and it's unfortunate that people who have little to no knowledge of the situation are being characterized as 'sources.'" More stories from theweek.com7 scathingly funny cartoons about Liz Cheney's ousterPoll: Most GOP voters think 2020 election was illegitimate, but lawmakers should prioritize other issuesVaccinating the world
- Business Insider
Meet Michael Larson, the man who has managed Bill Gates's fortune for decades and was reportedly accused of sexual harassment in 2017
The New York Times reported the accusations against Larson were a point of contention between Bill and Melinda Gates.
- Business Insider
Microsoft board members opened investigation into Bill Gates after a staffer said the pair had engaged in a sexual relationship, report says
A representative for Gates told The Wall Street Journal "there was an affair almost 20 years ago which ended amicably."
- Business Insider
Billionaire Mark Cuban says he holds 3,250 dogecoin that he bought with his son - and earns added inflows from Dallas Mavericks sales
The "Shark Tank" host said since dogecoin is mined on a fixed schedule, it could grow to become a feasible payment mechanism.
- Business Insider
Bill Gates was dismissive toward Melinda Gates at work and pursued female employees at Microsoft and the Gates Foundation: NYT report
Six current and former employees of Gates and his endeavors told The New York Times he fostered an uncomfortable workplace.
- Associated Press
Shannon Keeler was enjoying a weekend getaway with her boyfriend last year when she checked her Facebook messages for the first time in ages. The messages rocketed Keeler back to the life-shattering night in December 2013 when an upperclassman at Gettysburg College stalked her at a party, snuck into her dorm and barged into her room while she pleaded with him and texted friends for help. Before and after the attack, Keeler followed the protocols designed to prevent campus sex assaults or address them when they happen.