Sudan army guilty of war crimes, again (while Obama continues to turn a blind eye)

Omar al-Bashir is wanted for war crimes
Satellite images cited as proof that one-third of all civilian buildings in Abyei were burned out during takeover. 

New satellite images provide evidence that northern Sudanese troops have committed war crimes, including ethnic cleansing, in the contested border town of Abyei where the forces took over more than a week ago, according to an advocacy group. 

The Satellite Sentinel Project said in a statement on Sunday that satellite images by DigitalGlobe show that the Sudanese army burned about one-third of all civilian buildings in the north-south border town, used disproportionate force and indiscriminately targeted civilians.

"The totality of evidence from satellites and ground sources points to state-sponsored ethnic cleansing of much of the contested Abyei region,'' the group said.

The Satellite Sentinel Project said the evidence is being sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the UN Security Council for assessment.

Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president, is already wanted by the ICC for war crimes in the Darfur region.

Northern Sudanese tanks rolled into the town of Abyei on May 21, scattering southern troops that were there as part of a joint security unit.

Thousands displaced 

The seizure of Abyei followed an attack on a convoy of northern soldiers by southern forces on May 19 and two days of aerial bombardment of the area by the north.

The northern takeover has displaced tens of thousands of civilians who now live in squalid conditions in southern villages.

On Sunday, Save The Children's UK office warned that a new wave of violent conflict has displaced up to 35,000 children.

The group said in a statement on Sunday that children who have been separated from their families since fighting broke out are at "grave risk'' of being targeted for sexual and physical abuse or recruited into the armed conflict.

Save the Children said it is "desperately worried about those children currently beyond the reach of humanitarian assistance".

George Clooney, the Hollywood actor, urged the UN to protect civilians in Abyei, saying the north's takeover was meant to disrupt the south's upcoming independence in July.

"We now have undeniable proof of the Khartoum regime's war crimes in Abyei. We've captured visual evidence of the Sudan Armed Forces ransacking and razing Abyei town," Clooney said.

Clooney initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project along with John Prendergast, co-founder of the Enough Project, after they travelled to Southern Sudan in October 2010.

Visual evidence 

The Satellite Sentinel Project was established to use satellite images and on-the-ground reports to help deter the resumption of full-scale civil war between Sudan's north and south.

In its statement, the group said the new visual evidence shows that the government of Sudan has committed grave violations of the Geneva Conventions and other war crimes, some of which may also constitute crimes against humanity.

North and south Sudan ended more than two decades of civil war in 2005 with a peace deal that promised both Abyei and the south a self-determination vote.

The south voted overwhelmingly in January to secede and will become an independent nation July 9. Abyei's vote never happened, so its future is being negotiated by the north and south.

Prendergast on Sunday urged Obama administration to punish Sudan by isolating it diplomatically and denying it debt relief. He also asked the Abyei matter to be referred to the ICC.

"What is happening in Abyei is what the international community feared would happen in Benghazi, Libya," he said.

"We're not advocating military intervention, but we do think the Responsibility to Protect doctrine requires more assertive action in support of ongoing emergency diplomacy."

Source: Associated Press

South African president: Gadhafi ready for truce

South African President Zuma (L) meets Gadhafi (R)

TRIPOLI, Libya — Moammar Gadhafi is ready for a truce to stop the fighting in his country, the visiting South African president said Monday after meeting the Libyan ruler, but he listed familiar Gadhafi conditions that have scuttled previous cease-fire efforts. Rebels quickly rejected the offer.

South African President Jacob Zuma said Gadhafi is ready to accept an African Union initiative for a cease-fire that would stop all hostilities, including NATO airstrikes in support of rebel forces. "He is ready to implement the road map," Zuma said.

Zuma said Gadhafi insists that "all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves" to determine the country's future. He did not say Gadhafi is ready to step down, which is the central demand of the rebels. He was speaking to reporters from South African and Libyan TV, which broadcast his remarks late Monday.

In April, Zuma led a delegation of the African Union to Tripoli with an AU proposal for a truce. Gadhafi said he would accept the truce but quickly ignored it and resumed his attacks, while the rebels rejected the cease-fire out of hand because it did not include Gadhafi's exit from power. Since then many cease-fire efforts have failed for similar reasons.

In Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital, rebel Foreign Minister Fathi Baja rejected the African Union plan.

"We refuse completely, we don't consider it a political initiative, it is only some stuff that Gadhafi wants to announce to stay in power," he told The Associated Press.

He said he believes Zuma is in Tripoli to negotiate an exit strategy for Gadhafi, though Zuma's office denies that. Baja also said the rebels would launch an offensive against Gadhafi soon.

For decades Gadhafi has identified Libya as an African as much as an Arab nation. He disbursed millions of dollars in aid to African nations and built himself up as a leader of the continent.

Zuma was greeted with all the requisite fanfare by Gadhafi's beleaguered regime. Dozens of Gadhafi supporters, bused in for the welcoming, waved green Libyan flags and chanted slogans denouncing the NATO bombing campaign against Libyan government targets.

NATO temporarily lifted its no-fly zone over Libya to allow Zuma's South African air force plane to land at the main military air base next to Tripoli.

In Rome Monday, an indication that Gadhafi's regime is losing support came from eight top Libyan army officers, including five generals, who defected from Gadhafi's military. They appealed to their fellow officers to join the revolt.

Several senior officials, including at least three Cabinet ministers, have abandoned Gadhafi during the uprising that began in February. Even so, he clings tenaciously to power, and the military units still loyal to him are far superior to the forces available to the rebels.

One of the officers, Gen. Melud Massoud Halasa, estimated that Gadhafi's military forces are now "only 20 percent as effective" as what they were before the revolt broke out in mid-February, and that "not more than 10" generals remain loyal to Gadhafi.

Gen. On Ali On read an appeal to fellow army officers and top police and security officials "in the name of the martyrs who have fallen in the defense of freedom to have the courage" to abandon the regime.

The general, wearing street clothes like his fellow defectors, denounced both "genocide" and "violence against women in various Libyan cities."

An anti-government activist based in Tripoli said that dozens of residents angrily chanted against Gadhafi's rule in a rare demonstration in the Libyan capital on Monday. His claims could not be confirmed because of restrictions placed on reporters in Tripoli. The activist sent reporters a YouTube video showing the men chanting, "There is only one God and Moammar (Gadhafi) is his enemy." The timing and authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed.

The Zuma visit came during relentless NATO bombing runs on Tripoli and other parts of the country, aimed at weakening Gadhafi's military and giving the outgunned rebels a chance in their battle against the longtime ruler.

Though relations between Gadhafi and the African Union have been strained, Zuma has joined other African leaders in accusing NATO of overstepping its U.N. mandate to protect Libyan civilians and calling for an end to the air-strikes.

Zuma's meeting with Gadhafi at his Bab al-Aziziyah compound was attended by only two other people, according to a Libyan official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not at liberty to discuss the talks.

Source: AP News


Jazz Hearted Fridays

Sade Adu: "Nothing Can Come Between Us....

Obama says U.S. will see through Libya mission

US President Barack Obama

DEAUVILLE, France (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Friday that the United States and France were in full agreement on sticking with the NATO-led intervention in Libya until the crisis there is resolved.
Obama, speaking after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy as Group of Eight leaders met for their annual summit in the northern French seaside town of Deauville, said Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had to leave the country.
"We agreed that we have made progress on our Libya campaign but that meeting the U.N. mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Gaddafi remains in Libya, directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people," Obama told a news briefing at the G8 summit.
"We are joined in resolve to finish the job," he said.
A NATO coalition led by France and Britain has been bombing Gaddafi's army bases since March, under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians caught up in a battle with rebel forces intent on ending Gaddafi's 41-year rule.
NATO air strikes on Tripoli overnight left smoke rising from Gaddafi's compound, after Washington said a ceasefire offer from his government was not credible.
In its summit communique, the G8 said Gaddafi had no future in a democratic Libya and demanded his forces cease their use of force against civilians. The communique also said those behind civilian killings would be investigated and punished.
"We are committed to supporting a political transition that reflects the will of the Libyan people," said the statement, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters in advance of publication.
Obama said he and Sarkozy agreed that democratic movements in North Africa and the Middle East made the pursuit for peace between Israelis and Palestinians "more urgent, not less."
He said the two leaders would coordinate closely to get the parties to negotiate to create a Palestinian state that is sovereign and an Israeli state that is secure.


Maid in Strauss-Kahn case may pursue civil action

NEW YORK – The hotel maid whom Dominique Strauss-Kahn is accused of sexually assaulting has added two attorneys to her legal team as she considers a possible civil action, the attorney already representing her said.
Kenneth Thompson, a former assistant U.S. attorney in New York, and Norman Siegel, a former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, took part in a meeting with the woman and her family on Wednesday afternoon.
"They decided that they should have enhanced representation," Jeffrey Shapiro, who had been the woman's sole attorney until now, told Reuters late on Wednesday. One reason for adding the attorneys was to decide "whether there is a civil case going forward," he said.
Strauss-Kahn has been charged with sexually assaulting and attempting to rape the maid at the upscale Sofitel Hotel in New York on May 14. He was head of the International Monetary Fund and had been considered a contender in France's presidential race until the incident took place.
Shapiro said any civil action against Strauss-Kahn or any other party would need to be filed within one year of the incident. If filed while the criminal case against Strauss-Kahn is pending, it would likely be stayed until the criminal case is concluded, he said.
The two lawyers were added to the team at the urging of male relatives, Shapiro said. There had been no discussion of a civil suit before Wednesday, he said.
Thompson, a partner at Thompson Wigdor & Gilly in New York, successfully prosecuted New York police officers accused of brutality against Abner Louima in 1997. Siegel, who headed the New York Civil Liberties Union from 1985 to 2000, is in private practice in New York.

Source: Reuters


Upon Reflection - Mugabe's Final Stance?

Editor's Monday Viewpoint

It has indeed been painful to watch over the last few years, Robert Mugabe's desperate and somewhat naive (surprisingly for a rather seasoned politician) attempt to hold on to power at all costs. What has been equally shocking is the rather tepid and unbecoming silence of fellow African Heads of State, of countries like Nigeria and South Africa in particular, as the mouth of Harare has unleashed his maniacal reign of terror on the people of Zimbabwe.

The irony of all this is that it was the same Robert Mugabe that put his life on the line, along with other brave Zimbabwean and African freedom fighters, as they fought a vicious war of attrition and ultimately prevailed against the racist minority government of Ian Smith. I still remember quite vividly as an impressionable 11 year old in 1980, as this great African leader visited Nigeria upon assuming the mantle of leadership in Zimbabwe. He was a honorary guest at Nigeria's model Staff College of the time, the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON) of which my aunt was an administrator, at the time.

He seemed soft spoken, humble and statesmanlike and exuded an ample ounce of self-assuredness with a dignity that belied his much vaunted image of a "bush war" general. Over the next decade and a half or so, he (Robert Mugabe) and the likes of Joshua Nkomo, Eduardo Dos Santos, Joachim Chissano and Samora Machel, amongst others, would serve as vital anchors for Nigeria and Africa's determination to rid the continent of the debilitating scourge of apartheid as practiced by the white minority regime in the racist South African enclave of the time.

The afore-mentioned African leaders, along with Robert Mugabe were all comrades of Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress, ANC. Following Mugabe's victory in the battle against Ian Smith and the subsequent independence of Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia under Ian Smith), other Southern African countries such as Namibia soon gained their independence and apartheid itself was ultimately dismantled in 1994 as Nelson Mandela became the first African President of the Republic of South Africa.

This is where it begins to get interesting as Mandela serves only one five-year term and relinquishes power to Thabo Mbeki, perhaps to give an hint to his comrades like Mugabe who did not seem to have a succession plan in mind.

This, in my opinion, was Robert Mugabe's greatest mistake and it has come to haunt him as his enemies have exploited his tyrannical leadership and lack of vision, it seems, to their own benefit. Mugabe, Zimbabwe and indeed Africa would have been best served with a well laid out succession plan that would have ensured the continuation of his initial progressive policies of economic development and national reconciliation.

The descent into anarchy, literally with the seizing of white farmlands and the brutal suppression of opposition to his government have only shown him to be a man lacking in even the most rudimentary form of political intelligence and savvy to the point where this once great country (Zimbabwe) and African giant (Mugabe) have now become the joke of Africa and indeed the whole world.

It remains to be seen how all this will eventually play out, but it is important to note that although Mugabe may be on his last leg, Morgan Tvansgirai, his (Mugabe's) bitter rival and choice candidate of the West, may not be the answer or cure, for the ills that befall Zimbabwe either.


Jon Stewart debunks Ben Stein's claims of DSK's innocence....

This video (below) is a masterpiece. In his usual easy style, filled with timely quips and the usual array of "incontrovertible" evidence, Jon Stewart debunked Ben Stein's defense of alleged rapist and former IMF Chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK).
Stewart goes on to show that Economists are truly the "randiest professionals going."


Romney phone bank raises $10.25M in a single day

GOP Hopeful Mitt Romney
LAS VEGAS – Mitt Romney, the all-but-declared Republican presidential contender, who has kept his head low for much of the year as he collected cash, raised $10.25 million in a single day Monday after bringing together his network of wealthy donors to dial for dollars in a city with no shortage of them. 
It's a hefty one-day total that Romney's team hopes will show his strength in the emerging GOP field.
Romney's phone bank fundraiser at the Las Vegas Convention Center, much like one during his first attempt at the Republican nomination, was the centerpiece of a series of fundraising events that included a conference call with volunteers who were asked to solicit their friends and neighbors for donations.
"This is a big kickoff for us, for our fundraising effort. It's kind of a celebration," Romney told the more than 400 supporters tuned in to watch him host a brief town hall-style broadcast on Facebook. "It's important to me that we get that started, the ball rolling today."
In truth, the former Massachusetts governor has spent the better part of the year raising money for a campaign he has yet to officially launch.
He's held few political events in recent months, focusing almost entirely on private meetings with donors nationwide. He wants to emerge from the fundraising quarter that ends June 30 having far outraised his rivals, and displaying financial fortitude in hopes that Republicans will choose him to challenge President Barack Obama. The Democrat shattered fundraising records in 2008 and could raise as much as $1 billion for his re-election campaign.

A wealthy former businessman and a Mormon, Romney is trying to tap into Wall Street and Mormon donors as well as line up support from influential contributors who fueled the campaigns of George W. Bush and John McCain.

It's unclear whether he will invest any of his own fortune into his second campaign.
During his 2008 run for the GOP nomination, Romney used more than $40 million of his own money to pay for campaigns in Iowa and New Hampshire. Victories there never materialized, and Romney ended up losing the nomination to McCain.
Romney launched that bid with a phone bank fundraiser in Boston in which 400 supporters and Romney raised more than $6.5 million. But while that event was open to reporters, Romney's camp was much more guarded this time in Las Vegas. Aides refused to allow reporters into the phone bank room, and they wouldn't say how much his second White House bid would cost.
Volunteers who paid their own way to Las Vegas began trickling into the convention hall before sunrise to dial contacts on the East Coast who were already starting their work day.
Romney spent part of his day crisscrossing the phone bank room, which was flanked by two oversize American flags. Hundreds of volunteers called their contacts for credit cards numbers and contribution pledges. A sign read: "Believe in America."
Here (below) is the list of some of Romney's donors from 2008.... don't expect it to change much from that for the 2012 race for the White House:
Goldman Sachs $234,275
Citigroup Inc $178,200
Merrill Lynch $173,025
Morgan Stanley $170,350
Lehman Brothers $144,100
UBS AG $123,850
Bain Capital $123,150
Bain & Co $121,475
Marriott International $121,150
Kirkland & Ellis $109,400
Compuware Corp $103,550
Credit Suisse Group $102,600
Huron Consulting $102,050
The Villages $102,000
PricewaterhouseCoopers $92,250
JPMorgan Chase & Co $84,300
Affiliated Managers Group $82,112
Cerberus Capital Management $79,450
American Financial Group $78,350
Wachovia Corp $77,200


Breaking news: IMF Chief Strauss Kahn on suicide watch....

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was arrested over the weekend on sexual-assault charges, has been placed on suicide watch at the Rikers Island jail facility in New York, WNBC reported Tuesday, citing a source.
A Rikers Island medical official ordered the watch as a precaution, WNBC cites its source as saying. Under the watch, Strauss-Kahn's cell is checked every 15 to 30 minutes, and he is supposed to wear shoes without laces.
The WNBC report was initially relayed by CNBC.
-Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2900

Maid who accused IMF Chief is African immigrant from Guinea

Accused IMF Chief - Dominique Strauss Kahn 
NEW YORK – The hotel maid accusing IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her as she went to clean his suite is telling the truth, has "no agenda" and did not know even know who he was until after the fact, her lawyer said Tuesday.
The woman is an immigrant from the West African nation of Guinea with a 15-year-old daughter, lawyer Jeffrey Shapiro said.
Her story of being attacked by Strauss-Kahn in the Sofitel hotel suite near Times Square is "consistent" because she is telling the truth, he said.
"There is no way in which there is any aspect of this event which could be construed consensual in any manner," Shapiro said. "This is nothing other than a physical, sexual assault by this man on this young woman."
He continued: "It's not just my opinion that this woman is honest. The New York City Police Department reached the same conclusion." He added, "This is a woman with no agenda."
The 62-year-old Strauss-Kahn is jailed in New York on charges including attempted rape after being denied bail on Monday.
Defense attorney Benjamin Brafman has said defense lawyers believe the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter."
He wouldn't elaborate but said "there are significant issues that were already found" that make it "quite likely that he will be ultimately be exonerated."
The maid has not been identified, and The Associated Press generally does not name people alleging sexual assault.
She arrived seven years ago in the United States from Guinea under "very difficult circumstances," Shapiro said, and lives in the city with her 15-year-old daughter.
Shapiro said the woman didn't know that Strauss-Kahn was managing director of the International Monetary Fund and did not know of him in the hotel.
"She did not know who this man was until a day or two after this took place," Shapiro said. "She had no idea who the man was."
The 32-year-old maid told authorities that she thought the suite was empty but that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway, pulled her into a bedroom and dragged her into a bathroom, police said.
He grabbed her breasts, tried to pull down her pantyhose, grabbed at her crotch and forced her to perform oral sex, according to a court complaint. She broke free, escaped the room and told hotel staffers what had happened, authorities said. She was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Other allegations of sexual misbehavior by Strauss-Kahn have begun to circulate since his arrest.
A person close to an IMF employee who had a brief affair with Strauss-Kahn said Tuesday that the woman warned the organization about his behavior toward women in a letter sent three years ago.
The woman, Hungarian-born economist Piroska Nagy, voiced "doubts about Dominique Strauss-Kahn's suitability for running an international institution," according to the person, who was familiar with the letter's content but declined to be identified, citing the sensitivity of the matter.
Nagy, who had worked at the IMF for decades, left the organization after the affair with Strauss-Kahn in 2008. Although the relationship has long been public knowledge, and an IMF-commissioned investigation into the case cleared Strauss-Kahn of wrongdoing, it is back in the news after the 62-year-old Frenchman's incarceration on sex crimes charges in New York.
The New York Times published an excerpt of the letter, along with an account that alleged Nagy had been aggressively pursued by her boss, who sent her sexually explicit messages and at one point even had her summoned from the bathroom to speak to him.
In France, a lawyer for a 31-year-old novelist said she is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing him of sexually assaulting her nine years ago.
A French lawmaker accused him of attacking other maids in previous stays at the same luxury hotel. And in New York, prosecutors said they are working to verify reports of at least one other case, which they suggested was overseas.

Source: AP News

Stewart debates O’Reilly over rapper Common's visit to the White House

In the latest installment of the Fox News-fueled controversy involving the rapper Common's appearance last week at a White House poetry reading, Bill O'Reilly had challenged Comedy Central's Jon Stewart to debate the issue on his 8 p.m. Fox show, "The O'Reilly Factor."
Stewart obliged and what viewers witnessed, was an exchange that took us back to the days when Americans did actually have civil conversations, without vilifying each other.
I will leave it to you to draw your own conclusions as to the "outcome"..... assuming one was warranted, since it would obviously be more realistic to agree to disagree, with civility, on this issue.

Here is the video below:


IMF chief jailed without bail in NY hotel-sex case

Dominique Strauss-Kahn
NEW YORK – Haggard and unshaven after a weekend in jail, the chief of the International Monetary Fund was denied release on bail Monday on charges of trying to rape a hotel maid as allegations of other, similar attacks by Dominique Strauss-Kahn began to emerge.
In France, a lawyer for a novelist said the writer is likely to file a criminal complaint accusing Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her nine years ago. A French lawmaker accused him of attacking other maids in previous stays at the same luxury hotel. And in New York, prosecutors said they are working to verify reports of at least one other case, which they suggested was overseas.
Strauss-Kahn's weekend arrest rocked the financial world as the IMF grapples with the European debt crisis, and upended French presidential politics. Strauss-Kahn, a member of France's Socialist party, was widely considered the strongest potential challenger next year to President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Making his first appearance on the sex charges, a grim-looking Strauss-Kahn stood slumped before a judge in a dark raincoat and open-collared shirt. The 62-year-old, silver-haired Strauss-Kahn said nothing as a lawyer professed his innocence and strove in vain to get him released on bail.
The judge ruled against him after prosecutors warned that the wealthy banker might flee to France and put himself beyond the reach of U.S. law like the filmmaker Roman Polanski.
"This battle has just begun," defense attorney Benjamin Brafman told scores of reporters outside the courthouse, adding that Strauss-Kahn might appeal the bail denial.
Strauss-Kahn is accused of attacking a maid who had gone in to clean his penthouse suite Saturday afternoon at a luxury hotel near Times Square. He is charged with attempted rape, sex abuse, a criminal sex act, unlawful imprisonment and forcible touching. The most serious charge carries five to 25 years in prison.
Strauss-Kahn, who has headed the international lending agency since 2007, was in New York on personal business and was paying his own way, so he cannot claim diplomatic immunity, the IMF said. He could seek that protection only if he were conducting official business, spokesman William Murray said. The agency's executive board met informally Monday for a report on the charges against Strauss-Kahn, its managing director.
The French newspaper Le Monde, citing people close to Strauss-Kahn, said he had reserved the $3,000-a-night suite at the Sofitel hotel for one night for a quick trip to have lunch with his daughter, who is studying in New York.
The 32-year-old maid told authorities that she thought the suite was empty but that Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway, pulled her into a bedroom and dragged her into a bathroom, police said.
He seized her breasts, tried to pull down her pantyhose, grabbed at her crotch and forced her to perform oral sex on him during the encounter at about noon, according to a court complaint. She ultimately broke free, escaped the room and told hotel staffers what had happened, authorities said. She was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
"The victim provided a very powerful and detailed account of the violent sexual assault," Assistant District Attorney John "Ardie" McConnell said. He added that forensic evidence may support her account. Strauss-Kahn voluntarily submitted to a forensic examination Sunday night.
Brafman said defense lawyers believe the forensic evidence "will not be consistent with a forcible encounter." Defense lawyers wouldn't elaborate, but Brafman said "there are significant issues that were already found" that make it "quite likely that he will be ultimately be exonerated."
Prosecutors asked the judge to hold Strauss-Kahn without bail, noting that he lives in France, is wealthy, has an international job and was arrested on a Paris-bound plane at Kennedy Airport. He had left the Sofitel hotel before police arrived, leaving his cellphone behind, and appeared hurried on surveillance recordings, authorities said.
At one point, Strauss-Kahn called the hotel "in a panic" about the phone, a law enforcement official said Monday.
Hotel security officers hadn't found a phone, but they were instructed by NYPD investigators to set a trap by informing him they had it and asking where they could get it to him, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation had not been completed.
Strauss-Kahn told them he was about to board a flight — unknowingly tipping off authorities to his whereabouts, the official said.
Prosecutors said they couldn't force Strauss-Kahn's return from France if he went there.
"He would be living openly and notoriously in France, just like Roman Polanski," said Chief Assistant District Attorney Daniel Alonso, referring to the film director long sought by California authorities for sentencing in a 1977 child sex case. Swiss police arrested him in 2009, but he was freed last year when Switzerland declined to extradite him to the United States.
Defense lawyers suggested bail be set at $1 million and promised that the IMF managing director would remain in New York City. His lawyers said Strauss-Kahn wasn't trying to elude police Saturday: The IMF head rushed out of the hotel at about 12:30 p.m. to get to a lunch date with a family member, then caught a flight for which he had long had a ticket, according to Brafman and fellow defense lawyer William W. Taylor.
"This is not a case of someone who commits a crime, runs to the airport and jumps on the first available plane," Brafman said.
Still, Criminal Court Judge Melissa C. Jackson said the fact that Strauss-Kahn was on a plane when arrested "raises some concerns." She ordered him jailed at least until a court proceeding on Friday.
Strauss-Kahn makes an annual tax-free salary as head of the IMF of $420,930, plus an annual "scale of living" allowance of $75,350, according to a 2007 IMF press release.
According to the 2000 biography "Les Vies Cachees de DSK" by Vincent Giret and Veronique Le Billon, Strauss-Kahn's wife, Anne Sinclair, was one of France's highest-paid TV journalists before she gave up her job to avoid a possible conflict of interest when her husband became a government minister in 1997. The biography says Sinclair is also a wealthy heiress, whose grandfather Paul Rosenberg was a prominent modern art dealer before the Second World War.
French newspapers have inventoried the couple's real estate holdings, which reportedly include a six-room apartment in Paris' chic 16th arrondissement; a 240-square-meter apartment on the luxurious Place des Vosges; a home in Marrakech, and a house in Washington.
Strauss-Khan will be held in protective custody in the city's Rikers Island jail because of his high profile, said city Correction Department spokesman Stephen Morello. Unlike some inmates, who share 50-bed barracks, Strauss-Kahn will have a single-bed cell and eat all his meals alone there. Also, when he is outside his cell, he will have a guard escort.
Meanwhile, a lawyer for 31-year-old French novelist Tristane Banon said she will probably file a complaint alleging Strauss-Kahn sexually attacked her in 2002. Lawyer David Koubbi told French radio RTL that Banon hadn't pressed her claim earlier because of "pressures" but would do so now because "she knows she'll be taken seriously."
The Associated Press is identifying Banon as an alleged victim of sexual assault because she has gone public with her account.
Banon's mother, Anne Mansouret, a regional Socialist official in Normandy, said she had advised her daughter at the time against pursuing her claim.
A French lawmaker from a rival political party also alleged, without offering evidence, that Strauss-Kahn had victimized several maids during past stays at the Sofitel near Times Square.
The hotel issued a statement calling conservative lawmaker Michel Debre's claims "baseless and defamatory." Sofitel management "has had no knowledge of any previous attempted aggressions," the hotel said, adding that it had set up a hotline for workers to report incidents more than a year ago.
McConnell, the assistant district attorney, said in court Monday that New York authorities are working to verify at least one other case of "conduct similar to the conduct alleged." When the judge asked whether the potential other incident occurred in the United States, McConnell said he "believed that was abroad."
Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said they had no immediate response to the allegations emerging from overseas.
In France, defenders of Strauss-Kahn, a former finance minister who had topped the polls as a possible candidate in presidential elections next year, said they suspected he was the victim of a smear campaign.
The 187-nation IMF provides emergency loans to countries in severe distress and tries to maintain global financial stability.

Source: AP News


Irony of ironies: IMF chief charged with attempted rape, sexual assault

IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Khan a sexual predator?

NEW YORK – The leader of the International Monetary Fund and a possible candidate for president of France was arrested Sunday in connection with the violent sexual assault of a hotel maid after being yanked from an airplane moments before it was to depart for Paris, police said.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, 62, was arrested on charges of a criminal sex act, attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment and was awaiting arraignment. He had been taken off the Air France flight at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday afternoon by officers from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and was turned over to New York police, said Paul J. Browne, New York Police Department spokesman.
His lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, did not immediately respond to phone or email messages seeking comment from The Associated Press. "We have not yet been able to meet with our client and we may have more to say tomorrow," Brafman told The New York Times late Saturday.
France woke to the bombshell news Sunday to surprise and a degree of caution. Online commentators questioned whether the incident could have been part of a smear campaign by the unpopular President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose political fortunes have been flagging, against his primary rival in the race for next year's presidential elections.
The incident could completely shake up the race for president next year, and throw the long-divided Socialists back into disarray about who they could present as a challenger to Sarkozy.
"It's a cross that will be difficult for him to bear," said Dominique Paille, a political rival to Strauss-Kahn on the center left, on BFM television.
"It's totally hallucinating. If it is true, this would be a historic moment, but in the negative sense, for French political life," Paille said. Still, he urged, "I hope that everyone respects the presumption of innocence. I cannot manage to believe this affair."
The 32-year-old woman told authorities that she entered Strauss-Kahn's suite at the luxury Sofitel hotel not far from Manhattan's Times Square at about 1 p.m. Eastern time (1600 GMT) Saturday and he attacked her, Browne said. She said she had been told to clean the spacious $3000-a-night-suite suite, which she had been told was empty.
According to an account the woman provided to police, Strauss-Kahn emerged from the bathroom naked, chased her down a hallway and pulled her into a bedroom, where he began to sexually assault her. She said she fought him off, then he dragged her into the bathroom, where he forced her to perform oral sex on him and tried to remove her underwear. The woman was able to break free again and escaped the room and told hotel staff what had happened, authorities said. They called police.
When detectives arrived moments later, Strauss-Kahn had already left the hotel, leaving behind his cellphone, Browne said. "It looked like he got out of there in a hurry," Browne said.
The NYPD discovered he was at the airport and contacted Port Authority officials, who plucked Strauss-Kahn from first class on the Air France flight that was just about to leave the gate.
The maid was taken by police to a hospital and being treated for minor injuries. John Sheehan, a spokesman for the hotel, said its staff was cooperating in the investigation.
Strauss-Kahn, a married father of four, was briefly investigated in 2008 over whether he had an improper relationship with a subordinate female employee. The IMF board found his actions "regrettable" and said they "reflected a serious error of judgment."
William Murray, a spokesman for the IMF in Washington, said the IMF had no immediate comment. Strauss-Kahn's offices in Paris couldn't be reached when the news broke overnight in France. One of his allies, Jean-Marie Le Guen, expressed doubt about the incident.
"The facts as they've been reported today have nothing to do with the Dominique Strauss-Kahn that we know," Le Guen said on BFM television. "Dominique Strauss-Kahn has never exhibited violence toward people close to him, to anyone."
Strauss-Kahn was supposed to be meeting in Berlin on Sunday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about aid to debt-laden Greece, and then join EU finance ministers in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday. The IMF is responsible for one-third of Greece's existing loan package, and his expected presence at these meetings underlined the gravity of the Greek crisis.
Strauss-Kahn took over as head of the IMF in November 2007. The 187-nation lending agency is headquartered in Washington and provides help in the form of emergency loans for countries facing severe financial problems.
Strauss-Kahn won praise for his leadership at the IMF during the financial crisis of 2008 and the severe global recession that followed.
More recently, he has directed the IMF's participation in bailout efforts to keep a European debt crisis which began in Greece from destabilizing the global economy.
In October 2008, Strauss-Kahn issued an apology to the IMF staff after accusations that he had a sexual relationship with an IMF subordinate.
"While this incident constituted an error in judgment on my part, for which I take full responsibility, I firmly believe that I have not abused my position," Strauss-Kahn wrote in an email to IMF staff.
The board found that the relationship was consensual. The IMF employee left the fund and took a job with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Before taking the top post at the IMF, Strauss-Kahn had been a member of the French National Assembly and had also served as France's Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry from June 1997 to November 1999.
He had been viewed as a leading contender to run on the Socialist Party's ticket to challenge the re-election of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Strauss-Kahn, dubbed DSK in France, was seen as the strongest possible challenger to Sarkozy in next year's presidential elections. Strauss-Kahn has not declared his candidacy, staying vague in interviews while feeding speculation that he wants France's top job.
The New York accusations come amid French media reports about Strauss-Kahn's lifestyle, including luxury cars and suits, that some have dubbed a smear campaign.
He sought the Socialist Party's endorsement in the last elections, in 2007, but came in second in a primary to Segolene Royal. Royal, the first woman to get so close to France's presidency, lost to Sarkozy in the runoff.
After Sarkozy won, the new president championed Strauss-Kahn as a candidate to run the IMF. Sarkozy's backers touted the move as a sign of the conservative president's campaign of openness to leftists — but political strategists saw it as a way for Sarkozy to get a potential challenger far away from the French limelight.
Royal, who continues to harbor presidential ambitions of her own, remained prudent Sunday about the allegations.
"He has the right to the presumption of innocence," she said on Europe-1 radio. "My thoughts go to his family and his loved ones and to the man who is going through this. Let's not transform this event in a political soap opera for the moment. It would be indecent."
The global financial crisis thrust Strauss-Kahn into an unexpectedly prominent role and boosted his global standing in time to consider a 2012 French presidential bid.
He is credited with preparing France for the adoption of the euro by taming its deficit and persuading then-Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to sign up to an EU pact of fiscal prudence.
A former economics professor, Strauss-Kahn joined the Socialist party in 1976 and was elected to parliament in 1986 from the Val-d'Oise district, north of Paris. He went on to become mayor of Sarcelles, a working-class immigrant suburb of Paris.
His first government post was industry minister under former President Francois Mitterrand. As finance minister, he reduced France's debt repayments through a raft of privatizations including the sale of shares in France Telecom SA and Air France.