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Macron threatens to withdraw French troops from Mali

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Mr Macron told West African leaders that French soldiers will not be in the region “forever”

President Emmanuel Macron has warned that France would withdraw troops from Mali if political instability there leads to greater Islamist radicalisation.

It follows a second coup in nine months in the West African nation.

Mr Macron warned of the risk of Mali “moving towards” greater Islamist influence.

France has 5,100 troops in the Sahel region which has been a front line in the war against Islamist militancy.

French troops have been supporting forces in Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Chad to battle militants in the Sahel region since 2013.

Mr Macron told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that he had told regional leaders that France would not support countries where there was no democratic legitimacy or transition, and that France had no intention of keeping its troops in Africa forever.

For decades France has provided military support to back leaders of its former colonies in Africa, often sending troops or despatching air strikes to counter armed rebels.

French soldiers on a military vehicle during the visit of the French president in Gao, northern Mali. 13 Jan 2017
French troops are part of Operation Barkhane against militants in the Sahel

What is happening in Mali?

Coup leader Colonel Assimi Goïta was named transitional president by the constitutional court on Friday, two days after he declared himself the interim leader.

He defended the removal of President Bah Ndaw and Prime Minister Moctar Ouane as necessary because they had failed in their duties and were seeking to sabotage the country’s transition.

Soldiers arrested and detained the two men after a cabinet reshuffle that Col Goïta said he was not consulted about.

He also led the coup last August, which saw the elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta forced out of office.

Col Goïta has now promised that a new prime minister would be appointed within days, and that elections would still go ahead next year as planned.

Colonel Assimi Goïta speaks to the press at the Malian Ministry of Defence in Bamako, Mali
Colonel Goïta has led two coups in the last nine months

Meanwhile, regional leaders will on Sunday hold a “consultation” meeting in Ghana, which Col Goïta is expected to attend.

Why is Mali so unstable?

It is difficult to enact reforms quickly – and the vast landlocked country is poor, with large areas underdeveloped.

A coup in 2012 led to militant Islamists exploiting the chaos and seizing the north of the country.

French troops helped regain territory, but attacks have continued as the insurgents have capitalised on the persistent political instability in the region.

This has all led to public confidence waning over the army leaders’ ability to tackle the Islamist insurgency that has spilled into neighbouring Burkina Faso and Niger.

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State Department Worker Committed ‘Corporate Espionage’ for Tens of Thousands in Bribes: Feds


U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

A federal construction contractor that worked for several U.S. agencies bribed a State Department worker to commit “corporate espionage” and steer contracts worth more than $100 million to his company in exchange for tens of thousands of dollars in cash, federal investigators allege in a newly-unsealed search warrant affidavit.

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Iranian-born May Salehi, who was assigned to the State Department’s division of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO), had a security clearance and a mountain of debt, according to the document. To get out of her financial hole, special agents working for the State Department’s Inspector General believe Salehi, 65, illegally helped steer what might have amounted to more than $100 million in State business to a Washington, D.C.-based company as part of a “multifaceted fraud scheme” that spanned several years and at least half a dozen countries.

Salehi began working for the State Department in 1996, according to her LinkedIn profile. A State Department spokesperson told The Daily Beast that Salehi is still employed there. She does not have a lawyer listed in court records, and did not respond to a message seeking comment. No arrests have yet been made, according to the affidavit.

The origins of the case can be traced back to 2014, when Montage, Inc. of Chevy Chase, Maryland, won a $26.1 million State contract to renovate the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, Nigeria. But the project went two years over deadline, and nearly bankrupted the firm, the affidavit states. That’s when something strange happened: Instead of avoiding State Department projects following the Nigeria “debacle,” the affidavit says Montage “transformed its business model so that it relied almost exclusively on State Department projects thereafter—indeed, the exact type of overseas, complex, U.S. embassy/consulate project that Montage had just been nearly decimated by.”

Over the next three years, Montage mysteriously won six major contracts with the State Department to build U.S. embassies or consulates overseas. This “seemingly counterintuitive” development can be “explained by the existence of a State Department insider who had an illegal relationship with Montage,” according to the affidavit. From that point on, roughly 95 percent of Montage’s revenue came exclusively from State Department contracts—$106.5 million of $111.4 million to date—nearly double what it had taken in previously.

Who’s the Mole?

In September 2020, State Department agents raided Montage’s offices on suspicion of, among other things, bank fraud, money laundering, and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials. There, they seized numerous documents, nearly 40 computers, several cell phones, and a 96-terabyte server.

One office was the D.C. headquarters Montage lists publicly as its primary place of business. The second was what investigators describe in the warrant as the company’s “secret” office suite in Chevy Chase, Maryland. The space was purchased through a shell company and had a sign by the door identifying it as the American Society for Addictive Medicine.

There, agents encountered Montage founder and principal Sina Moayedi. In the affidavit, Special Agent Christopher Swenson states he told Moayedi that if he happened to have “information about a Government insider, that it would be something we would be very interested to hear.”

“Moayedi’s demeanor and expression changed immediately, as he raised his head and made direct eye contact with me, stating in substance, ‘I think I understand what you’re asking: You want to know if I’m paying someone in the State Department?’” the agent recalled.

Investigators suspected Moayedi had forged business licenses and credentials for Montage employees he said would be working on government projects. A resume he submitted to the State Department for a project manager on one job claimed the employee had “years of full-time complex work in the construction field in various capacities.” However, the affidavit states the person “had actually sold meat as a door-to-door salesman, was a landscaper, and built swimming pools for several years during the same time period.”

Agents interviewed two unnamed Montage executives, who blamed the company’s troubles on its former CFO, claiming he had embezzled money from the firm. But when they visited the ex-CFO at his home in Maryland, a different story emerged.

During the interview, Swenson read the former CFO an email in which a Montage bookkeeper painted him as an alcoholic, and said he had mental health problems. The CFO had covered up his alleged theft by “creating an entire phony universe of Quickbooks, payroll, receivables, payables and bank account statements,” the bookkeeper claimed in the message, and said the CFO “took payroll under assumed names.”

Upon learning that he was being set up as Montage’s fall guy, the former CFO turned on Moayedi, describing him as a “master forger” who electronically altered bank balances, forged resumes, and kept at least four sets of books that Moayedi not only used to dupe lenders but also to significantly reduce his own personal tax burden.

That’s when the CFO dropped a bombshell. He told agents that Moayedi “had cultivated a career employee at the State Department” and paid this person “bribes in exchange for intelligence regarding Government contracts,” the affidavit states. The CFO didn’t remember the State Department insider’s name, but recalled that she was a female “Iranian friend” of Moayedi’s whom he met through a “community group relating to Iranian heritage.”

The CFO told agents that he had met the insider at a pre-bid conference for a State Department project in Slovenia a few years back. She had also helped Moayedi and Montage win a State Department contract in the Caribbean in exchange for a $60,000 kickback, the CFO said. To hide the transaction, the CFO claimed Moayedi cut a check which the CFO cashed and provided to a middleman, who passed the cash to the corrupt State Department employee. To further obfuscate the truth, the insider was told to give the middleman a $2,000 Persian rug in exchange for the cash “in case ‘anyone asked’” about it.

Follow the Money

A search of State Department travel records identified the insider as May Salehi, an engineer in the State Department’s OBO Project Development and Coordination Division. Passport records confirmed that Salehi, who lived less than a mile from Montage’s “secret” office, was in fact born in Iran.

Salehi’s position requires a security clearance, so investigators analyzed her official paperwork for clues. One red flag involved Salehi’s 2007 divorce, which took place shortly after she secured a $1.5 million mortgage for a home in Great Falls, Virginia. The mortgage payments on the house ran approximately $10,000 a month—exceeding Salehi’s gross salary at the time of $9,333 a month. Another detail that raised agents’ suspicions was a Porsche Boxster convertible Salehi purchased in 2014, paying off $15,000 of a 60-month, $25,000 loan in a lump-sum the following year.

<div class="inline-image__credit">U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia</div>
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

A review of phone records found that Salehi had “significant, sudden telephonic contacts with Moayedi in the precise period that Montage’s fortunes suddenly changed,” the affidavit says. Financial records subpoenaed by investigators turned up numerous transactions, each worth tens of thousands of dollars, including one with a memo line that read, “Final payment for Anna’s house.”

Investigators then dug into Salehi’s State Department email account. They found that Salehi “likely knew of Montage and Moayedi (in her professional capacity) by 2006, as Montage was bidding State Department projects at that time in New Delhi, India and Abuja, Nigeria,” the affidavit says, noting that agents found at least one official document in her email archive listing Sina Moayedi as Montage’s point of contact. She had also forwarded numerous internal State project documents from her work email to her personal email, all of which pertained to contracts Montage later won. Many of them were sent at odd intervals, furthering investigators’ suspicions.

“In particular, forwarding trip reports so long after the conclusion of the trip itself tends to negate any suggestion that Salehi was merely ‘taking her work home with her,’ and therefore forwarded these emails for the purpose of finishing up State Department business from home,” states the affidavit. “On the other hand, transferring these documents from her State Department account to Salehi Personal Email Account-1 would have certain benefits for someone engaged in selling Government information. For example, such transfers would allow Salehi to print hard copies for later dissemination without any State Department oversight.”

A review of Salehi’s search history on her State Department computer revealed further evidence against her. According to the affidavit, Salehi searched for “SCI clearance,” “herb for anxiety,” “Kratom herb for anxiety,” “Montage construction company litigations,” “what is litigation,” YouTube videos about litigation, and “Shiva Hamidinia,” who was Montage’s longtime legal counsel. Investigators subpoenaed cell phone records from a Montage employee and found a text from Moayedi that said: “Nela please conf call me 1/2 through your meeting with Shiva and May.” Agents also discovered Salehi’s contact info within Moayedi’s cell phone contacts and his Telegram, Skype, and iCloud accounts.

The feds now want to seize further documents they believe will bolster the government’s case against Salehi.

“[A]mong the materials we are requesting permission to seize are Salehi’s tax-related documents and filings, which are likely to contain either (implicit) admissions of her having received bribe payments, or false statements in an attempt to conceal the bribery scheme, just as she appears to have done in her State Department financial disclosure forms,” the affidavit says.

<div class="inline-image__credit">U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia</div>
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Investigators asked a judge to let them search Salehi herself, including “any and all clothing and personal belongings, backpacks, briefcases, purses, bags, and electronic devices that are within Salehi’s immediate vicinity and control, wherever Salehi is located within the federal judicial district of the District of Columbia.”

According to court filings, agents executed two warrants at 6:12 a.m. on May 20 and seized Salehi’s Apple Watch, three iPhones, a Macbook Pro, a micro SD card, a Dell laptop, an iPad, and a letter-size manila folder with a gray folder inside.

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Victim’s mother believes Pearl V Puri innocent, alleged audio leak of conversation with Ekta Kapoor


Ekta Kapoor in support of Pearl V Puri. (Photo Credits: ektarkapoor/Instagram)

Ekta Kapoor in support of Pearl V Puri. (Photo Credits: ektarkapoor/Instagram)

Mumbai’s Vasai Court has sent Pearl V Puri to 14-day judicial custody. Meanwhile, an audio of Ekta Kapoor is becoming increasingly viral on social media. However, News18 does not confirm this video.

Mumbai. ‘Naagin 3‘ fame Pearl V Puri was arrested by the police. Pearl V Puri has been arrested by Mumbai Police under the POCSO Act for raping a minor. Mumbai’s Vasai Court has sent Pearl to 14-day judicial custody. After Pearl’s arrest, many TV stars including Ekta Kapoor have come out in their support, meanwhile an alleged audio of Ekta Kapoor is becoming increasingly viral on social media. However, News18 does not confirm this video. Custom Keto Diet Review

In this viral audio Ekta Kapoor Viral Audio Talking to the mother of the victim. In the audio, Ekta Kapoor is requesting the victim’s mother to tell the truth to everyone. Talking to Ekta Kapoor in the audio, the victim’s mother is saying that Parv V Puri is innocent. Her husband has leveled this allegation to tarnish the image of Pearl V Puri. Ekta Kapoor is asking the victim’s mother why she has kept silence till now. In response, the victim’s mother is saying that she is silent because of her husband. I have also disclosed this to the victim as to why she is not able to support Pearl V Puri. While she wants to save Pearl V Puri.

Ekta feels that the victim’s mother should speak the truth. Pearl V Puri’s career will be ruined because of one allegation. Let us tell you that the investigation of Pearl V Puri’s connection with this case is going on, but many TV stars feel that this allegation against Pearl is false. Many stars including Ekta Kapoor, Surbhi Jyoti, Karishma Tanna, Anita Hassanandani, Nia Sharma, Rakshanda Khan, Nikki Sharma, Ali Goni and Divya Khosla Kumar have stood in support of the actor. Group joins the United Nations Global Compact


SINGAPORE, June 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Group, leading global travel services provider, has joined the United Nations Global Compact to inspire change. Since 17th May 2021, Group has been committed to the UN Global Compact corporate responsibility initiative and its principles in the areas of human rights, labour, the environment and corruption. Group has joined the UN Global Compact’s corporate responsibility initiative, representing its ongoing commitment to and pursuit of sustainable and socially responsible goals. Group has joined the UN Global Compact in its aim to mobilize a global movement to create an improved world for everyone. To make this happen, the UN Global Compact will support Group to do business responsibly by aligning strategies and operations with its ten principles on human rights, labour, environment, and anti-corruption, as well as take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, with an emphasis on collaboration and innovation.

“We are very pleased to have joined the UN Global Compact in its mission to achieve a better world. In recent years, the travel industry has led efforts to unite for common causes, which is why joining the UN Global Compact to align strategies and operations was an obvious decision for our company. It has always been my firm belief that travel is such a positive force for deepening understanding between peoples and nations. We will continue in the pursuit of common aims, to look at more ways we can be more sustainable, resilient, and create a better future for our communities and societies.” said Jane Sun, CEO of Group. Group’s participation in the UN Global Compact is an obvious next step for the travel group which has previously led the travel industry with its efforts supporting various Sustainable Development Goals. These include but are not limited to promoting undeveloped destinations to boost local socioeconomic growth, assisting in carbon offsetting, empowering women, and working with the Edesia project to donate food to young children suffering from malnutrition in West African countries.

As part of its ongoing efforts, Group donated over three million surgical masks to nations in need and most recently donated 400 oxygen generators to India to provide support during the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Furthermore, Group pledged to support UN’s Women’s Empowerment Principles and instills these principles at all levels of its organization. At Group, currently female employees make up over 50% of the workforce, 41% of mid-level managerial positions and over 30% of executive posts. It has implemented various policies, ranging from support for expectant and new mothers, to generous paid leave, and the flexibility to work at home, to help capable women achieve their highest potential in their career without having to compromise on family life. Whilst these industry-leading steps have seen significant success, the company is committed to continuing to improve the status of women in the workplace.

About Group: Group is a leading global travel service provider comprising of, Ctrip, Skyscanner, and Qunar. Across its platforms, Group enables local partners and travelers around the world to make informed and cost-effective bookings for travel products and services, through the aggregation of comprehensive travel-related information and resources, and an advanced transaction platform consisting of mobile apps, websites and 24/7 customer service centers. Founded in 1999 and listed on NASDAQ in 2003 and HKEX in 2021, Group has become one of the best-known travel brands in the world, with the mission to “pursue the perfect trip for a better world”. Group PR, Group Logo (PRNewsfoto/ Group) Group Logo (PRNewsfoto/ Group)


Happy Birthday: When Angelina Jolie shared special moments with Shahrukh Khan

Shah Rukh Khan will next be seen in Siddharth Anand's 'Pathan' (file photo)

Shah Rukh Khan will next be seen in Siddharth Anand’s ‘Pathan’ (file photo)

There are millions of fans of Angelina Jolie all over the world. Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan is also his big fan. Shahrukh got a chance to share the stage with him during an award show.

New Delhi: Shah Rukh Khan is one of the most popular stars in the world. It is no surprise that he has worked shoulder to shoulder with top stars across the globe. Today on Angelina Jolie’s birthday, we take a look back at the time when the Hollywood star shared her special Bollywood moment with the King of Bollywood. Let us tell you that today is the birthday of Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie. On this occasion, all the fans of the actress are congratulating her.

She was seen together with the film ‘Maleficent’ star SRK on the stage of a popular award show in 2000. Dressed in an orchid pink gown, Angelina stepped onto the stage holding Shah Rukh’s hand. The actress gave the Best Actress award to Aishwarya Rai for her superb performance in Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’. Salman Khan and Ajay Devgan were also in the lead roles in this film.

(Photo Credits: Youtube/calchemister)

Shahrukh Khan has had a crush on Hollywood beauty for a long time. If reports are to be believed, he once said that he would not think twice before signing a film with Angelina. Meanwhile, on the work front, Shah Rukh Khan will next be seen in Siddharth Anand’s ‘Pathan’ where he will be reuniting with his ‘Om Shanti Om’ and ‘Chennai Express’ costar Deepika Padukone. John Abraham will also be in an important role in the film. The makers of the film have also roped in Salman Khan for a special cameo. Apart from this, Shah Rukh also has a film based on Rajkumar Hirani’s immigration. He will also play a special role in ‘Brahmastra’ and ‘Rocketry: The Nambi Effect’. Angelina Jolie, on the other hand, will next be seen in ‘Eternals’. The film is supported by Oscar winning director Chloe Zhao.

Director Hansal Mehta’s father dies, information given through social media

Hansal Mehta's father has passed away.  (Photo Credits: Twitter: @mehtahansal)

Hansal Mehta’s father has passed away. (Photo Credits: Twitter: @mehtahansal)

Hansal Mehta has written an emotional post on Twitter, sharing a photo with his father, with which he has said goodbye to his father. The filmmaker has written a very emotional message in his post about father Deepak Subodh Mehta (Hansal Mehta’s Father Passes Away).

Mumbai: Filmmaker Hansal Mehta’s father Deepak Subodh Mehta has passed away. The filmmaker has informed about the death of his father through social media. However, Hansal Mehta has not given any information about the reason for his death. He has written an emotional post on Twitter, sharing a photo with his father, with which he has said goodbye to his father. The filmmaker has written a very emotional message in his post about father Deepak Subodh Mehta (Hansal Mehta’s Father Passes Away).

Sharing a photo with his father, Hansal Mehta wrote in his post- ‘I always thought that he would overtake me. But, I was wrong. See you on the other side Pappa. The most handsome man in the world and the most gentle and generous person I have ever met. Thank you papa for your unconditional love. Thank you my legend, my hero.’