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Barcelona's Argentine soccer player Lionel Messi (C) arrives to court with his father Jorge Horacio Messi (3rd R) to stand trial for tax fraud in Barcelona, Spain, June 2, 2016.  REUTERS/Albert Gea

A few bypassers applauded the arrival of the Argentina and FC Barcelona player while several people shouted at him, but in contrast to when he appeared at a local court in 2013 to give evidence, there were no Barcelona supporters present.

Messi and his father, Jorge Horacio Messi, entered the court immediately without speaking to reporters.

The trial began on Tuesday although Messi missed the first and second day, which he was not obliged to attend, citing a back injury sustained in Argentina’s international friendly with Honduras last Friday.

Lionel and Jorge Horacio Messi are accused by the Spanish tax office of defrauding the government of 4.2 million euros ($4.7 million) between 2007 and 2009.

They could face jail terms of up to 22 months if found guilty, although it is customary in Spain that offenders of non-violent crime with a sentence of under two years do not serve time in jail.

The case centres on the player’s image rights and a web of shell companies allegedly used to evade taxes on income from those rights.

Tuesday’s hearing showed that Spain’s tax office made 20 inspections of Messi during its three-year investigation.

According to the prosecutors’ office, revenue was hidden using shell companies in Uruguay, Belize, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Messi and his father paid five million euros to the tax authorities as a “corrective” measure after being formally investigated in June 2013.

Spain’s tax office has also begun investigating the finances of Messi’s Barcelona team-mates Neymar Jr, Javier Mascherano and Adriano.

Mascherano accepted a one-year prison sentence for tax evasion as part of a plea bargain in January, although is not expected to serve time in jail.

Messi moved to Barcelona from his birth place of Rosario, Argentina in 2000, becoming a Spanish citizen in 2005.

He is 10th on Forbes Magazine’s list of the world’s highest-earning athletes over the past decade, with an estimated income of $350 million.

Messi has scored 453 goals in 531 appearances for Barca in all competitions.

He has also won eight La Liga titles, four King’s Cups and four Champions League crowns with Barca, leading them to a league and cup double last season.

Messi is also captain of Argentina and will rejoin the team immediately after his court appearance to prepare for the Copa America in the USA, playing their first game against holders Chile on Jun. 7.

reuters.com

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Saudi Arabia Bans Religious Pilgrims From Visiting Mecca Or Medina

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Saudi Arabia has banned religious pilgrims from visiting Mecca or Medina to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the Kingdom.

In a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from the Kingdom, it was disclosed that they had been following developments of the virus for some time.

In order to support countries impacted by the virus the Kingdom said they would be implementing ‘approved international standards’ in the form of a temporary ban on pilgrimages.

They also temporarily suspended entry into the Kingdom for the purpose of Umrah and visiting the Prophet’s Mosque.

The statement also revealed that the Kingdom would be suspending Saudi nationals and citizens of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council with national identity cards from travelling to and from the Kingdom, with the exception of Saudis who are abroad.

‘The Kingdom affirms that these procedures are temporary, and is subject to continuous evaluation by the competent authorities.’

‘The Kingdom renews its support for all international measures taken to limit the spread of the virus.

‘The Foreign Ministry calls on citizens not to travel to countries where the new Coronavirus (COVID) is spreading. We ask God Almighty to spare us all humanity, all harm.’

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Former FedEx Receptionist Becomes The Company’s First Black Female CEO

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Fedex has named its newest CEO and she’s Ramon Hood, a woman who began as a receptionist at the same company.

Today, Hood is the first Black woman to become CEO in the company’s history.

The company announced Wednesday, February 26, that former VP of operations, strategy, and planning is now CEO, bringing more than 28 years of company experience to her role. She will be overseeing the Custom Critical division.

She started with the company as a receptionist in 1991 when the company was still called Roberts Express.

Reacting to becoming the company’s CEO, Hood said: “I wasn’t thinking this was going to be my career and I’d be here for 28 years. I was a young mother. I wanted a job that had a stable shift that would allow me to do (college) courses as appropriate.”

Over the years, Hood has been responsible for innovative ideas that made her stand out from her peers. She climbed up the ladder of success in the company from heading subsidiary FedEx Truckload Brokerage to obtaining an officer position at FedEx Supply Chain in 2016. She then returned to FedEx Custom Critical for an executive position. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Walsh University and Executive MBA from Case Western Reserve University.

Former FedEx receptionist becomes the company?s first black female CEO

In the early days as CEO, Hood is looking to gain useful insight from employees, customers and independent contractors driving for Custom Critical. She has created her famous “Ramona Roundtables,” which she is wrapping up this month and involved her talking with small groups of employees.

“The next thing I’ll be doing is going out and spending time with customers and independent contractors,” Hood said. “I’m defining that as my ‘listen and learn tour.’ ”

She also mentions that under her leadership, Custom Critical will be agile in addressing customer needs and using technology, all while “looking at things in ways we haven’t in the past.”

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Trump Files Libel Lawsuit Against The New York Times Over ‘False And Defamatory Statements’ On Russia

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US President, Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign has filed a libel lawsuit against The New York Times alleging the newspaper “knowingly published false and defamatory statements” connecting Trump to Russia in a March 2019 opinion piece, taking his war with the media to different heights.

Opinion pieces by The New York Times are published in The Times’ opinion section, which is separate from the organization’s newsroom and has a different leadership and control.

The March 2019 piece at the center of the defamation lawsuit was written by Max Frankel, a former executive editor of The Times, and was titled “The Real Trump-Russia Quid Pro Quo.”

In the opinion piece, Frankel wrote “there was no need for detailed electoral collusion between the Trump campaign and Vladimir Putin’s oligarchy” as the Trump campaign and Putin “had an overarching Quid Pro Quo deal: the quid of help in the campaign against Hillary Clinton for the quo of a new pro-Russian foreign policy, starting with relief from the Obama administration’s burdensome economic sanctions.”

The Trump campaign’s lawsuit alleges that The Times was “well aware when it published these statements that they were not true.” and that The Times published the opinion piece “knowing it would misinform and mislead its own readers” because the newspaper harbors “extreme bias and animosity” toward Trump.

Trump files libel lawsuit against The New York Times over

The Trump campaign also added as evidence, previous articles published by The Times about the meeting Donald Trump Jr. participated in with a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower. The campaign in it’s lawsuit noted that The Times had been provided a statement from Trump Jr. in which he said the meeting “provided no meaningful information.” but that The Times still went ahead to publish Frankel’s opinion piece ahead of the release of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report into Russian interference in the 2016 election because the media house knew it “was likely to exonerate the Campaign from allegations of collusion.”

“Once the Mueller Report was released, The Times knew that any claims of conspiracy would not be credible,” the lawsuit said. “Thus, by publishing the Defamatory Article in March 2019, The Times sought to damage the Campaign before the Mueller Report would be released debunking the conspiracy claims.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for The Times reacted to the lawsuit, saying, “The Trump Campaign has turned to the courts to try to punish an opinion writer for having an opinion they find unacceptable.”

“Fortunately, the law protects the right of Americans to express their judgments and conclusions, especially about events of public importance. We look forward to vindicating that right in this case.”

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