2012 – Happy New Year 2012 from the Victoria’s Secret Angels

Victoria’s Secret Angels Erin Heatherton, Adriana Lima, Candice Swanepoel, Lindsay Ellingson, Doutzen Kroes and Lily Aldridge let you in on their resolutions and a sexy little New Year’s tradition.

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Study – Open Source Center Chinese Premier Promotes Cyberspace Agenda

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Authoritative PRC media reports of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s live online appearances illustrate authorities’ expanding use of the Internet to set and control policy discourse in Chinese-language virtual space. They also suggest ongoing efforts to manage leaders’ images and portray them as accessible and soliciting online public opinion. While some apparent missteps suggest a cautious, evolving approach to interactive Internet media in relation to top leaders, reported leadership statements indicate sustained attention to the goal of incorporating new technologies into the propaganda system.

Recent online appearances by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on authoritative PRC media platforms indicate that Beijing continues to expand its use of Internet media to broadcast unique programs communicating the government’s view and signaling its policy preferences as part of its overall media strategy.

  • On Saturday 27 February, in the run-up to the annual meeting of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), Wen appeared in a live “web chat” — his second — jointly hosted by Xinhua Wang, the internet portal of PRC official news agency Xinhua, and by Zhongguo Zhengfu Wang (www.gov.cn), the PRC central government website. The two sites also posted feature pages with reports, video, and transcripts of the chat. Xinhua billed the event in advance as Wen’s “annual dialogue with netizens” (27 December 2009).
  • Wen’s 27 February 2010 online appearance followed his first live “web chat” (zaixian fangtan), held by Zhongguo Zhengfu Wang on 28 February 2009. Xinhua later described that chat as the first of the “top ten events” of 2009 (29 December 2009).
  • On 27 December 2009, Xinhua Wang broadcast an exclusive online interview of Wen held inside the Zhongnanhai central leadership compound, in which — like the web chats — Wen presented the Chinese leadership’s views by “answering netizens’ questions.”

Suggesting an attempt to portray Wen as accessible and soliciting public opinion, in his live online appearances Wen answered selected questions ostensibly submitted by Internet users. Reports portrayed the live online events as direct and sincere communication between Wen and the public as represented by Internet users, who are sometimes referred to in PRC media as “netizens” (wang min) or “net friends” (wang you).

  • The moderator of Wen’s 27 February web chat claimed to have selected questions from among 190,000 submitted online by Internet users and 70,000 submitted via cell phone instant message (SMS) by users of the joint Xinhua Wang — China Mobile online newspaper, according to the chat transcript (Xinhua Wang). The moderator described “net friends” worldwide as “eagerly looking forward” to “meeting” Wen based on the “deep, positive impression” created by the 2009 web chat, in which Wen was said to  have answered Internet users’ questions in a “frank and honest way.”
  • Wen and the moderator worked to create personal emotional appeal throughout the chat, starting with the language of Wen’s opening remarks emphasizing his sense of duty to “the people” and his desire to have a sincere “heart-to-heart” exchange (Xinhua Wang). Wen claimed that he “follows the various issues raised by netizens on the Internet very closely.”
  • Similarly, a Xinhua report on the February 2009 web chat quoted Wen as saying that the government needs to solicit “questions about governance from the people” (28 February 2009).
  • Jiefangjun Bao Online, website of the daily newspaper of the Central Military Commission, touted “zero distance” between netizens and the PRC leadership and described Wen as a “super net friend” in a report on the 2009 web chat (10 March 2009).

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FBI – Former Chief Executive Officer of Construction Supply Company Convicted in Bank Fraud Scheme

BROOKLYN, NY—Following three weeks of trial, a federal jury in Brooklyn today returned guilty verdicts against Courtney Dupree, the former chief executive officer at GDC Acquisitions, on charges of bank fraud, false statements, and conspiracy to commit bank fraud. These charges arose out of the defendant’s scheme to defraud Amalgamated Bank, GDC’s asset-based lender, of $21 million in fraudulent loans. When sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kiyo Matsumoto, the defendant faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison on the most serious charge. The jury also acquitted Thomas Foley, GDC’s former chief operating officer.

The verdicts were announced by Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York.

GDC, based in Long Island City, Queens, is a holding company that owns various subsidiaries, including JDC Lighting, a lighting distributor; Unalite Electric and Lighting, a lighting maintenance company; and Hudson Bay Environments Group, a furniture distributor. The evidence included the testimony of GDC’s former chief financial officer and two GDC accountants, all three of whom had previously pleaded guilty to fraud charges arising from the scheme. At trial, the government proved Dupree and others gave Amalgamated Bank false financial information for GDC in which they had fraudulently inflated the company’s accounts receivables in order to obtain initially, and then maintain, credit lines totaling approximately $21 million. For example, the defendant represented to Amalgamated Bank in writing in November 2009 that GDC had $25.2 million in accounts receivables when, in fact, it had only $9 million. The evidence proved that the conspirators inflated the accounts receivables by a variety of means, including by recording fake sales that had never taken place in the corporate books. According to the trial testimony, the scheme unraveled when one of the accountants turned himself into the FBI and cooperated in the government’s investigation in an undercover capacity for approximately two months.

“The defendant Courtney Dupree defrauded an FDIC insured bank out of millions of dollars by lying about his company’s financial condition,” stated U.S. Attorney Lynch. “Executives who abuse positions of influence and trust should expect to be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.”

U.S. Attorney Lynch extended her grateful appreciation to the FBI and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the agencies responsible for leading the government’s criminal investigation.

The government’s case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys David C. Woll and Michael L. Yaeger, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Morris.

This case was brought in coordination with President Barack Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. President Obama established the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. The task force includes representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities, inspectors general, and state and local law enforcement who, working together, bring to bear a powerful array of criminal and civil enforcement resources. The task force is working to improve efforts across the federal executive branch, and with state and local partners, to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, combat discrimination in the lending and financial markets, and recover proceeds for victims of financial crimes. For more information about the task force, visit http://www.stopfraud.gov.

FRAUD – Confidential People’s Bank of China Report on Billions in Theft by Government Officials

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This report was originally released by the Chinese central bank before later being removed. For more explanation of the report and its contents, see:

 

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China’s rulers say corrupt cadres are the nation’s worst enemy. Now, according to a report that was given widespread coverage this week in local media, Beijing says that enemy resides overseas, particularly in the U.S.

The 67-page report from China’s central bank looks at where corrupt officials go and how they get their money out. A favored method is to squirrel cash away with the help of loved ones emigrating abroad, schemes that often depend on fake documents.

News of the study got prominent notice this week in Chinese media. A sample headline from page one of the Shanghai Daily on Thursday: “Destination America For China’s Corrupt Officials.”

The reports said the study was posted to the website of China’s central bank. While the document remains widely available in Chinese cyberspace, the report – dated June 2008 and identified as “confidential” – no longer appears on the People’s Bank of China website.

The central bank didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Though the report reads like an academic study, it doesn’t cite a clear conclusion.

Instead, it is broken into two main sections, the first starting with estimates that up to 18,000 corrupt officials and employees of state-owned enterprises have fled abroad or gone into hiding since the mid-1990s. They are suspected of pilfering coffers to the tune of 800 billion yuan, or $123 billion — a sum that works out to 2% of last year’s gross domestic product.

Destination America for China’s corrupt officials:

America is the destination most favored by high-ranking corrupt Chinese officials fleeing the country with large sums of money, according to a report by China’s central bank.

Other popular destinations include Australia and the Netherlands.

Those unable to get visas for Western countries opt for temporary stays in small countries in Africa, Latin America and eastern Europe while they wait for a chance to move to more developed countries, the People’s Bank of China report said.

Low-ranking officials usually escape to neighboring countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Mongolia and Russia, it said.

The report cited research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences which revealed that about 16,000 to 18,000 government employees, police officers, judicial officers, senior managers of government institutions and state-owned companies, as well as employees of Chinese organizations in foreign countries, had escaped abroad or gone missing since the middle of the 1990s.

The money they carried with them is said to add up to 800 billion yuan (US$123 billion).