THE MORUNG EXPRESS
New York designer’s bribery issue could upset political ambitions of Ban Ki-moon NEW YORK, JaNuaRY 13 (REutERs): A scandal that could complicate the South Korean political ambitions of former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon features an unlikely central character: a New York fashion designer whose wedding was broadcast on reality TV and who authorities said falsely touted ties to Middle Eastern royalty. Malcolm Harris, who has dubbed himself on social media the “curator of cool,” was indicted in a U.S. federal court this week along with two of Ban’s relatives in connection with an alleged international bribery scheme. Harris double-crossed the others and walked away with $500,000, prosecutors said. Harris faces arrest on the charges, but it is not clear if U.S. authorities know his whereabouts. He told Reuters in a Facebook message on Thursday that he was hiring a lawyer and would not comment on the allegations or his location. “I would appreciate your patience,” he said. Harris’ husband posted on Instagram this week from Mexico but did not indicate if Harris was with
Ban Ki-moon poised for presidential bid
Former U.N. secretary-general Ban Ki-moon leaves after paying a tribute at the natioanl cemetery in Seoul, South Korea on January 13. (REUTERS Photo)
him. The case has roiled Ban’s plans to run for president of South Korea after completing his term at the United Nations two weeks ago. Ban, who is not accused of wrongdoing, has said he knew nothing of the case and that he plans to decide soon on his political future. [nL4N1F22TP] Harris, 52, moves in different circles. His wedding, held on a fashion runway, was featured in 2012 on the Bravo TV network in an
episode labeled online as “Matrimony Fierce.” He frequently writes on cultural topics for the Huffington Post, where his profile as an independent contributor described him as a “creative consultant, cultural icon, and art world aficionado.” Fashion publications have said his famous friends include Madonna, that he studied at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology and that he has lived in Paris and Tokyo.
sEOul, JaNuaRY 13 (IaNs): Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, upon returning to South Korea, has hinted that he would run in the forthcoming presidential election, underlining his past 10 years of experience as the chief official of the international organisation. He also reiterated his denial over the allegations that he received massive kickbacks from a businessman, The Korea Herald reported. “I have vowed to listen to the people’s opinions and I plan to do so, starting from tomorrow (Friday),” the former top diplomat said at a press conference, following his arrival at Incheon International Airport on Thursday. “Then with a humble heart, I will make a decision that has nothing to do with my private interests. The decision
ALTY Federal prosecutors in Manhattan said Harris ran into trouble after he told false tales about connections to Middle Eastern royalty. Central to the case is a 72-story skyscraper complex in Vietnam built at a cost of $1 billion. In 2014, the South Korean construction firm Keangnam Enterprises Co Ltd, facing a liquidity crisis, was interested in selling the ALLEGED TIES TO ROY- complex, an indictment He sold three dresses to Angelina Jolie, despite having twice hung up on her phone calls after mistakenly thinking it was a prankster, the celebrity TV show Access Hollywood reported in 2009. In 2005, he told the Washington Post that as much as he “adored” the fashion business, he had become fed up with celebrities “mooching” free clothing from designers.
will not take long.” Ban, whose two consecutive terms as the UN’s top official ended on December 31, returned to his home country accompanied by his wife Yoo Soon-taek. He was received at the airport by Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and Incheon International Airport Corporation CEO Chung Il-young. Although he refrained from directly announcing his much anticipated presidential candidacy, Ban once again expressed the will to become part of the country’s leadership. “I have long sought to use my insight and experience as UN Secretary General for the sake of my own country,” Ban said, stressing his prestigious career as the chief official of the world’s most powerful international organisation.
released on Tuesday said. Harris heard about the possible deal through Joo Hyun Bahn, a real estate broker who is a nephew of the former U.N. secretarygeneral and whose father was a Keangnam executive, the indictment said. According to prosecutors, Harris offered to help arrange a sale to a sovereign wealth fund through his claimed connections to Middle Eastern royalty. All he needed, he said, was a commission for himself
and money to pay bribes to a Middle Eastern official, according to the indictment. But Harris had no such connections, and after he persuaded the other men to send $500,000 to his company, Muse Creative Consulting LLC, to pay bribes as a middle man, he kept the money, the indictment said. Harris even forged emails that appeared to be from the Middle Eastern official demanding bribes,
the indictment said. He spent the money on airfare, hotels, lavish meals, furniture, rent for a Manhattan apartment and a six-month lease for a penthouse in the fashionable Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg, the indictment said. Joo Hyun Bahn was arrested on Tuesday and pleaded not guilty. His father, Ban Ki-sang, who is Ban Ki-moon’s younger brother, was also charged and remains at large. Harris, who faces charges that include wire fraud and aggravated identity theft, faces a mandatory minimum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum of 32 years if convicted. The year before the alleged scheme, Harris compared himself in an interview to a character from “Scandal,” a TV drama about a former White House aide who becomes a crisis manager for the rich and powerful. “People come to me when they have the perfect life, but they want to make it better - when they know that there is something missing,” he told Whitewall art magazine in 2013.
Save the Children demands higher UN budget to tackle crimes against children Obama surprises Vice President lONDON, JaNuaRY 13 cent of humanitarian funding mark until 2015, said “in- man rights official urged 17,000 children into armed Biden with Medal of Freedom (tHOmsON REutERs is spent protecting or educat- dependent special courts” Greece to stop detaining ref- forces in South Sudan. “What
FOuNDatION): The head of Save the Children International Helle Thorning-Schmidt on Thursday demanded increased U.N. funding to investigate crimes against children, as she condemned violations of their rights worldwide. “More than 50 percent of those affected by war are children,” she said in a speech at the London School of Economics. “But less than 5 per-
ing them. This has to change.” Her speech came as the ceasefire between government and rebel forces in Syria – where some 8 million children are threatened by war - neared the end of its second week. The United Nations-led mechanism for monitoring and reporting crimes against children was “chronically underfunded” she said. Thorning-Schmidt, who was prime minister of Den-
might be a new way to hold peacekeepers to account in warzones, in the absence of functioning legal systems. She used her speech to criticise European governments who hold child refugees in “detention-like conditions”, saying that Save the Children has had to scale up its humanitarian work in Europe since the beginning of the refugee crisis. Last May, a top U.N. hu-
ugee and migrant children, some of whom are locked in police cells for weeks. “Detention is never in a child’s best interest,” Thorning-Schmidt said in a copy of the speech. “And is in clear contravention of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.” She pointed to forced displacement as one of the biggest dangers facing children in war zones, and condemned the recruitment of
we are seeing are new and worrying incarnations of long perpetrated violations of children’s rights,” she said. T h o r n i n g -S c h m i d t ’s speech comes one month after 7-year-old Syrian girl Bana Alabed was evacuated from Aleppo where her tweets of life in the war-torn Syrian city went viral. After being led safely from the rebel-held eastern part of Aleppo, she and her family arrived in Turkey in December.
Australia’s health minister resigns in expenses scandal sYDNEY, JaNuaRY 13 (REutERs): Australian Health Minister Sussan Ley said on Friday she had resigned from her Cabinet position amid an expenses scandal that has proved to be an embarrassing start to the year for embattled Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Ley’s resignation from Cabinet will force a reshuffle on Turnbull, the first since he took power in 2015. A Newspoll on Monday found Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten to be the most unpopular pair of political leaders in 20 years. Keen to temper the political fall-out from Ley’s resignation, Turnbull said his government would implement an indepenSussan Ley speaks during a media conference in Syd- dent body to monitor and adjudicate on expense claims by memney. (REUTERS File Photo)
Malaria infection depends on number of parasites, not bites lONDON, JaNuaRY 13 (IaNs): Researchers have, for the first time, found that the chances of a person developing malaria infection is determined by the number of parasites each individual mosquito carries, not the number of mosquito bites a person receives. Malaria is spread when mosquitoes bite humans and release microscopic parasites, which live in the salivary glands of the mosquitoes, into the person’s bloodstream. The parasites then travel to the liver, where they mature and multiply for 8-30 days before spreading throughout the bloodstream and causing the symptoms of malaria. The study, led by researchers at Imperial College London, showed that RTS,S -- the only registered malaria vaccine -- becomes less effective when mice or humans were bitten by mosquitoes carrying a greater number of parasites. This explains why the vaccine is effective only around 50 per cent of the time as well as any protection rapidly drops off after three years. It may be because the vaccine can only kill a certain proportion of the parasites and is overwhelmed when the parasite population is too large, the researchers said. “The study has shown that the concept of relying on the number of bites alone to predict malarial burden is flawed and has probably hampered the successful use of control measures and the development of effective vaccines,” said Andrew Blagborough from Imperial College London. The findings are extremely important and should be taken into account while developing vaccines for malaria and other vector-borne diseases, Blagborough added. The study was published in the journal PLOS Pathogens.
bers of Australia’s parliament. “Australians are entitled to expect that politicians spend taxpayers’ money carefully, ensuring at all times that their work expenditure represents an efficient, effective and ethical use of public resources,” Turnbull told reporters in Sydney. Turnbull already faces a tough year ahead, with a fractious upper house Senate stymying his legislative agenda, mainly focused on spending cuts and tax reforms meant to balance the national budget, after an unconvincing election win last year. He is also facing growing discontent within his own party, with resentment still simmering after he toppled previous leader Tony Abbott in a party-room coup in 2015. Ley
is a high-profile casualty of a scandal that is engulfing Turnbull’s conservative government amid growing revelations that several Cabinet ministers had claimed expenses for trips that had coincided with personal activities. Ley, who is also the minister for aged care and sport, had been fighting calls for her to resign after it was revealed she had made expense claims for several visits to the Gold Coast, a holiday destination in Queensland state, including one when she said she purchased an investment property on impulse. Ley said in an emailed statement she believed she did not break any rules by claiming expenses for the trips but had decided to resign after embarrassing the government.
US President Barack Obama presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Joe Biden in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington on January 12. (REUTERS Photo)
WasHINGtON, JaNuaRY 13 (REutERs): U.S. President Barack Obama surprised Vice President Joe Biden on Thursday by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction in an emotional White House ceremony that celebrated their partnership over eight years in office. “This is an extraordinary man,” Obama said of his friend and running mate at a surprise ceremony with staff, family and friends of the vice president. “For the past 8 years, he could not have been a more devoted or effective partner in the progress that we’ve made.” Biden, who was unaware that the ceremony would take place, became visibly moved when Obama said he would bestow on him the highest civil honor in the United States. It will be the last such award that Obama gives be-
fore he and Biden leave office on Jan. 20. “I had no inkling,” Biden, 74, said after receiving the medal. “I get a lot of credit I don’t deserve,” he said, proceeding to give a roughly 20-minute impromptu speech thanking Obama and honoring the extended Biden family. Biden and Obama became close friends during their time in the White House. Biden was a U.S. senator from Delaware when Obama chose him to be his running mate in his 2008 presidential campaign. The vice president told an anecdote about Obama offering to help the Bidens financially during Biden’s son Beau’s illness. Beau Biden died of brain cancer at age 46 in 2015. First lady Michelle Obama and the Obamas’ daughters, Malia and Sasha, also attended the ceremony.
Chinese tabloid says US needs to ‘wage war’ to block off South China Sea islands BEIJING, JaNuaRY 13 (REutERs): Blocking Chinese access to islands in the South China Sea would require the U.S. to “wage war”, an influential sHaNGHaI, JaNuaRY 13 (RE- the system’s powerful radar will comChinese state-run tab- utERs): China and Russia have agreed promise their security and do nothing to loid said on Friday, af- to take further unspecified “countermea- lower tensions on the Korean peninsula. ter U.S. Secretary of State sures” in response to a U.S. plan to deploy China and Russia said in October nominee Rex Tillerson an anti-missile system in South Korea, they would hold a second drill this year. suggested the strategy on state news agency Xinhua reported on “China and Russia urged the United Wednesday. States and South Korea to address their Friday. Tillerson told his conThe countermeasures “will be aimed security concerns and stop the deployfirmation hearing before at safeguarding interests of China and ment of THAAD on the Korean Peninthe U.S. Senate Foreign Russia and the strategic balance in the sula,” Xinhua quoted the statement as Relations Committee that region”, Xinhua said, citing a statement saying. he wanted to send a signal released after a China-Russia security North Korea’s drive to develop nucleto China that their access meeting. ar weapons capability has angered Chito islands in the disputed China and Russia held a joint anti- na, Pyongyang’s sole major diplomatic South China Sea “is not go- missile drill last May after Washington and economic supporter. However, Beiing to be allowed”. He did and Seoul began discussions over install- jing fears THAAD and its radar have a not elaborate. ing the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area range that would extend into China. The United States would Defense (THAAD) system to counter any On Thursday, South Korea’s trade have to “wage a large-scale North Korean threats. minister said the South might complain war” in the South China sea THAAD is now due to be deployed to China about actions perceived to have to prevent Chinese access on a South Korean golf course, unsettling been taken in retaliation for its decision to the islands, the Global Moscow and Beijing, which worry that to deploy the U.S. anti-missile system. Times said in an English language editorial. The paper, which is nationalist editorials, is ship paper. It does not re- bone up on nuclear power strategies if he wants to known for writing strong- published by the ruling flect Chinese policy. “Tillerson had better force a big nuclear power ly-worded, hawkish and Communist Party’s flag-
China and Russia agree on more ‘counter measures’ against US anti-missile system
to withdraw from its own territories,” the paper added. The editorial also said that Tillerson, an Exxon Mobil Corp chairman and former chief executive, was the most likely of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet picks to be vetoed by congress. “It is suspected that he merely wanted to curry favour from senators and increase his chances of being confirmed by intentionally showing a tough stance toward China,” it said. The paper did not elaborate on either point. A similar article was also carried in the paper’s Chinese language website that receives thousands of hits every day. There are also legal questions of any U.S. attempt to block China’s access, the editorial said, asking if this might mean that Vietnam and Philippines also should be de-
nied entry. China claims most of the energy-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in shipborne trade passes every year. Neighbours Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims. The United States has previously called on China to respect the findings of the arbitration court in The Hague earlier this year which ruled in favour of the Philippines, rejecting China’s territorial claims in the strategic waterway. Democratic President Barack Obama’s administration conducted periodic air and naval patrols to assert the right of free navigation in the South China Sea. These have angered Beijing, but seeking to blockade China’s manmade islands would be a major step further and a step that Washington has never raised as an option.