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Court says Sam Bankman-Fried ran FTX as a ‘personal fiefdom’

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A US bankruptcy court heard that troubled cryptocurrency startup FTX was “managed as a personal fiefdom of Sam Bankman-Fried.”

According to a lawyer overseeing the bankruptcy procedures, the former FTX CEO ran a company formerly valued at $32 billion (£27 billion).

He said that the true situation of FTX’s finances was only now becoming clear.

He further claimed that Mr Bankman-team Fried’s spent around $300 million on vacation houses and property for senior workers.

Only now are we realizing that “the emperor had no clothing,” according to attorney James Bromley, who describes the scenario as “one of the most dramatic and difficult falls in corporate America’s history.”

FTX was a cryptocurrency exchange that allowed users to purchase Bitcoin and other cryptocoins in return for regular currencies. Many clients treated their FTX digital wallets like bank accounts, believing that their monies were secure.

Judge John T Dorsey was given a full history of FTX and how it grew swiftly, switching nations many times throughout the course of its seven-year existence.

The court was shown a chronology of how it rose to become the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange before failing in just eight days as information about the company’s lack of financial soundness became public.

Mr Bankman-Fried resigned, and the firm filed for bankruptcy, requesting the court’s assistance in resolving its debts.

More than a million investors had cryptocurrencies held on the FTX market and are owed money that they may never see.

According to company records, FTX customers were located in 27 different countries, with the Cayman Islands, Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom, and China having the highest proportion of users.

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Covid: Protests In China Widen Against Strict Lockdown Measures

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Protests in China have increased in response to the government’s tough Covid regulations, with some citizens publicly venting their rage at Communist Party leaders.

Thousands of demonstrators came to Shanghai’s streets, and protesters were seen being bundled into police cars.

Students have also demonstrated at Beijing and Nanjing universities.

The current upheaval followed a protest in the isolated northwestern city of Urumqi, where lockdown measures were blamed after a tower block fire killed ten people.

While Chinese authorities denied that Covid restrictions were to blame for the deaths, officials in Urumqi issued an extraordinary apology late Friday, promising to “establish order” by gradually removing restrictions.

Some protesters were seen lighting candles and putting flowers for the deaths in Shanghai, China’s largest metropolis and a worldwide financial powerhouse in the country’s east.

Others could be heard yelling slogans like “Xi Jinping, step down” and “Communist Party, step down.” Some people also carried blank white banners.

Such demands are exceptional in China, where any open criticism of the government or the president can result in severe punishment.

One protester said he was “shocked and a little excited” to see so many people out on the streets, and that it was the first time he’d seen such widespread dissent in China.

He claimed that lockdowns had made him feel “sad, angry, and helpless,” and that he had been unable to see his ailing mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment.

According to a female protester, when police officers were asked how they felt about the protests, the response was “the same as you.” “They wear their uniforms, therefore they’re performing their job,” she explained.

Others reported violence, with one demonstrator telling the Associated Press that one of his friends was beaten by police on the scene, while two others were pepper sprayed.

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Equatorial Guinea President to Continue 43-year-rule

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In Equatorial Guinea, the world’s longest-serving president was re-elected to continue reigning over his dictatorial rule.

Officials stated six days after the poll that Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, 80, received over 95% of the ballots cast.

“The results confirm us right again,” the president’s son, Vice-President Teodoro Nguema Obiang Mangue, stated. “We’re still a wonderful party.”

Although some opposition candidates ran, none were anticipated to win.

President Obiang holds sway over the oil-rich Central African nation, with family members holding important government positions.

He took control after a military takeover in 1979 and has survived multiple coup attempts.

When he took over from his predecessor and uncle, Francisco Macias Nguema, he instituted minor changes but maintained Nguema’s total power over the country.

Political opposition is hardly tolerated and greatly hampered by a lack of a free press, as the government owns or controls all broadcast media.

President Obiang, who has repeatedly refuted allegations of human rights violations and election cheating, is said to plan to utilize his sixth term to improve his worldwide reputation.

The administration abolished the death sentence in September, which was applauded by the United Nations.

Equatorial Guinea has a history of falsified election outcomes, according to critics.

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France vote for right to abortion in constitution

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The National Assembly of France has endorsed a proposal to codify the right to abortion in the country’s constitution, motivated partly by rising restrictions abroad.

A strong majority of lawmakers voted to include a clause guaranteeing “the effectiveness and equal access to the right to stop pregnancy freely.”

The measure, according to left-wing MP Mathilde Panot, is intended to protect against the “backsliding” observed in the United States and Poland.

However, the bill’s passage will be difficult.

The Senate, which rejected a similar plan last month, is deemed unlikely to support the latest amendment. The Senate is dominated by right-wing parties, which maintain that abortion rights are not under threat in France.

A constitutional amendment would also require a referendum, however polls show that more than 80% of French citizens support it.

Ms Panot’s amendment was approved with the support of MPs from Emmanuel Macron’s ruling Renaissance party, but a reference to the right to contraception was removed.

Aurore Bergé, a Macron MP, was scheduled to offer her own abortion proposal next week but withdrew it after telling MPs how her mother had experienced an abortion without anaesthesia before it became legal in 1974.

“The issue of abortion access and protection is not a whim; it should not be politicized; it is not a matter of party politics,” she stated.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti also supported the amendment and complimented the “historic” vote.

Similar to neighboring Spain, the French parliament agreed in February to expand the legal term for abortion from 12 to 14 weeks. It is lower in Sweden, the Netherlands, England, Wales, and Scotland than in the rest of Europe.

Ms Panot dedicated the vote on Thursday to women in the United States, Poland, and Hungary. Her push to change the constitution was sparked by a vote in the United States Supreme Court to end the national guarantee of abortion access, effectively overturning the landmark Roe v Wade decision in 1973.

Thirteen US states have since begun to enforce abortion bans, and voters in states such as California supported proposals this month to enshrine the right to abortion in their state constitutions.

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