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Conrad Black says his good relationship with Trump was secondary to pardon decision – National



Conrad Black says his good relationship with Trump was secondary to pardon decision National


A criminal pardon U.S. President Donald Trump personally delivered to Conrad Black over the phone amounts to complete exoneration, the author and former media mogul said on Thursday.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Black also said he had yet to decide whether to try to regain the Order of Canada of which he was stripped following his now undone conviction in the United States.

WATCH: Conrad Black talks pardon from President Donald Trump, thoughts on Mueller probe

“This completes the destruction of the spurious prosecution of me,” Black, 74, said. “It’s a complete final decision of not guilty. That is finally a fully just verdict.”

On May 6, Trump phoned Black at his home in Toronto to announce the pardon for his 2007 convictions on obstruction of justice and fraud for which he spent more than three years in a federal prison in Florida. The convictions related to what prosecutors called his scheme to siphon off millions of dollars from the sale of newspapers owned by Hollinger Inc., where he was chief executive and chairman.

Under U.S. law, pardon represents full legal forgiveness for a crime.

WATCH: Conrad Black says positive relationship with Trump was not reason for pardon

Black said he initially thought he was being pranked by a brilliant impersonator but quickly realized the person on the other end of the line was Trump himself. The two men have long been acquaintances and Black recently wrote a glowing book called “Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other.” Their relationship, which Black described as good but not intimate, was secondary when it came to the pardon, he said.

“If I was one of these people who slagged him off and accused him of being an asset of the Kremlin and a traitor to the United states and so forth, I would not count on him having bestirred himself to do anything about it,” he volunteered. “To those who say it was just a back-scratching operation and it’s just a payoff to me for being a supporter, I would decline to comment on that.”

Black has always maintained he was the victim of an unjust U.S. criminal justice system. The pardon from the highest legal authority in the United States was a “great comfort,” but Trump went even further: “It was a bad rap and unjust verdict, and I should never have been charged,” Black cited the president as telling him.

WATCH: US President Donald Trump grants pardon to former media mogul Conrad Black

One practical impact of the pardon is that Black is now free to travel to the United States, which he called a “great country.” While he could have applied for a special entry waiver, he never did because of the “outrageous way” the system treated him.

The conversation with Trump, he said, was “most cordial” and the president expressed a wish to see him again. However, Black said his only plans are to spend time in England this summer and visit New York in September. What’s important, he said, is that the pardon signals the end of a long, dark chapter.

“It was a very unpleasant business for a long time. It’s no day at the beach having the government of the United States and its Canadian quislings on your back for years on end. I survived it and we drive on.”

Trump grants pardon for former media baron Conrad Black

On Wednesday, the White House praised Black in a statement as having made “tremendous contributions” to business, and political and historical thought. Black’s pardon application included support from such well-known luminaries as former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh and rock star Elton John.

Black’s conviction led to a rare revocation of his Order of Canada in 2014. He said he hadn’t decided whether he would try to regain it.

“I’ll think about it,” he said. “That whole thing was so disagreeable, I don’t know if I want to reopen it.”

Rideau Hall had no comment.

Similarly, Black said he had yet to decide whether to try to overturn an Ontario Security Commission ban on corporate involvement. The commission, which he referred to as the “Office of Stupidity and Cowardice,” was “absolutely asinine” in how it treated him, he said. The commission also had no comment.

WATCH: Trump grants pardon for former media baron Conrad Black

Black, who renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2001 after a well-publicized fight with then-prime minister Jean Chretien over accepting a British peerage, remains a permanent resident of Canada. He said he might try to regain his citizenship “one of these days” and the presidential pardon should make that easier. After all, he said, he has now been back in Canada seven years without a parking ticket while paying a “lot of taxes.”

“I believe it would not be a controversial or difficult thing to achieve it,” he said of regaining Canadian citizenship. “I suppose there are a few people in this country snorting around in the undergrowth that I shouldn’t be here but I don’t think it’s a widely held view. People will say what they will say. When you’ve been through what I have, you don’t much pay attention what the jackals have to say about things. Why should I care?”


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Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali



Catholic Bishops react to military coup in Mali

Contrary to the expectations of the people, the leadership of the Episcopal Conference of Mali (CEM) has termed the Tuesday, August 18 military coup in the West African nation as “regrettable” and “a big failure for our democracy” and called for a change of mentality if the country has to put an end to coups.

In an interview with ACI Africa Wednesday, August 19, made available to RECOWACERAO NEWS AGENCY, RECONA, the President of CEM, Bishop Jonas Dembélé said that the governance challenges the country is facing can be managed through dialogue.

“The military coup that led to the ousting of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta is regrettable because we are in a state of law and democracy. This is the second time that Mali has had a military coup as a result of the way in which the country is governed. It is a big failure for our democracy even if there were reasons for it,” Bishop Dembélé told ACI Africa.

“It is true that our country has serious challenges including bad governance, the poor management of the economy, corruption, insecurity and so on,” Bishop Dembélé said and probed, “Why is it that we Malians have not managed to engage in dialogue to be able to discuss these problems and face up to these challenges responsibly?”

“Our leaders, our people lack transparency, they hate those who speak the truth and advocate for good governance. This mentality must change for our country to move on,” the Prelate told ACI Africa August 19.

Bishop Dembélé who is a frontline member of RECOWA-CERAO urged the military officials “to ensure a return to democracy as promised but most especially ensuring the new leadership of the country put the people first and tackle the security challenges facing the nation.”

Asked about the role of the Church in the current crisis, the 57-year-old Prelate noted, “For us the Catholic Church in Mali, our role is to preach peace; our role is to preach dialogue. We shall continue in this path of dialogue for peace just like Cardinal Jean Zerbo and some religious leaders initiated.”

“In a state of law, power is not in the hands of certain individuals but to the people. The anger of our people led to this crisis, but we must work for peace and reconciliation in Mali,” Bishop Dembélé said.

He continued in recollections, “The Bishops in Mali have always issued messages before every election in our country sounding the alert and inviting the government to organize transparent elections, ensure good governance and better management of resources.”
“But it seems our messages are never taken into consideration that is why we find ourselves in this situation today,” the Local Ordinary of Kayes Diocese told ACI Africa and added, “If the opinion of the Episcopal Conference of Mali is needed to mediate in bringing back stability and peace in the country, then we are ready.”

As a way forward, the Bishop urged the people of God in Mali to “seek the path to conversion” and to accept dialogue in the spirit of truth and honesty.
“We all want change in our

country, but this change can only be possible if individually we seek the path to conversion. It is for Malians be they Muslims or Christians or members of traditional religion, to do an examination of conscience and accept personal and community conversion in order to engage in sincere dialogue,” he said.

The Malian Prelate added, “Now there is this coup d’état to demand change we really wonder where change should come from. As long as we don’t change our behavior, our mentality, we will always have a repeat of the current situation.”

On Tuesday, August 18, President Keita announced his resignation and dissolved parliament hours after mutinying soldiers detained him at gunpoint, Aljazeera reported.
“For seven years, I have with great joy and happiness tried to put this country on its feet. If today some people from the armed forces have decided to end it by their intervention, do I have a choice? I should submit to it because I do not want any blood to be shed,” President Keita said August 18 during the televised address to the nation.

Rev. Fr. George Nwachukwu

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Harris accepts VP nomination



Harris accepts VP nomination

Senator Kamala Harris formally accepted the Democratic nomination for vice president on Wednesday following a scathing speech by former President Barack Obama, who said the fate of the nation” depends entirely on the outcome of this election.”

Both Mr. Obama and Harris stressed the importance of voting, with Harris saying “we’re all in this fight together.” Harris sounded an optimistic note by highlighting her personal history and the promise of America, saying she was “so inspired by a new generation.”

“Make no mistake, the road ahead will not be not easy,” she said. “We will stumble. We may fall short. But I pledge to you that we will act boldly and deal with our challenges honestly. We will speak truths. And we will act with the same faith in you that we ask you to place in us.” She called Mr. Trump a “predator” in a speech that came after Mr. Obama issued his most forceful rebuke of his successor to date, saying Mr. Trump “hasn’t grown into the job because he can’t.”

“This president and those in power — those who benefit from keeping things the way they are — they are counting on your cynicism,” Mr. Obama said. “They know they can’t win you over with their policies. So they’re hoping to make it as hard as possible for you to vote, and to convince you that your vote doesn’t matter.

That’s how they win. That’s how they get to keep making decisions that affect your life, and the lives of the people you love. That’s how the economy will keep getting skewed to the wealthy and well-connected, how our health systems will let more people fall through the cracks. That’s how a democracy withers, until it’s no democracy at all.”

Mr. Obama and Hillary Clinton, speaking earlier in the night, both said they had hoped Mr. Trump would rise to the occasion. But they both stressed what they called his failures while in office, with Mr. Obama saying Mr. Trump has shown “no interest in treating the presidency as anything but one more reality show that he can use to get the attention he craves.”

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Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself



Mali coup leaders vow to hold elections as history repeats itself

The Malian soldiers who forced President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita to resign in a coup promised early Wednesday to organize new elections after their takeover was swiftly condemned by the international community.

In a statement carried overnight on state broadcaster ORTM, the mutinous soldiers who staged Tuesday’s military coup identified themselves as the National Committee for the Salvation of the People led by Colonel Major Ismael Wagué.

“With you, standing as one, we can restore this country to its former greatness,” Wagué said, announcing that borders were closed and that a curfew was going into effect from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m

The news of Keita’s departure was met with jubilation by anti-government demonstrators in the capital, Bamako, and alarm by former colonial ruler France and other allies and foreign nations.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled a closed meeting Wednesday August 19, 2020 afternoon to discuss the unfolding situation in Mali, where the U.N. has a 15,600-strong peacekeeping mission. Keita, who was democratically elected in a 2013 landslide and re-elected five years later, still had three years left in his term.

But his popularity had plummeted, and demonstrators began taking to the streets calling for his ouster in June.

West African regional bloc ECOWAS had sent mediators to try and negotiate a unity government but those talks fell apart when it became clear that the protesters would not accept less than Keita’s resignation.

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