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Afghan clerics’ assembly urges recognition of Taliban govt

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ISLAMABAD — A three-day assembly of Islamic clerics and tribal elders in the Afghan capital concluded Saturday with pledges of support for the Taliban and calls on the international community to recognize the country’s Taliban-led government.

The meeting in Kabul was tailored along the lines of Afghanistan’s traditional Loya Jirgas — regular councils of elders, leaders and prominent figures meant to deliberate Afghan policy issues.

But it appeared that the overwhelming majority of attendees were Taliban officials and supporters, mostly Islamic clerics. Women were not allowed to attend, unlike Loya Jirgas held under a U.S.-backed government in the past.

The former insurgents, who have kept a complete lock on decision-making since taking over the country last August, touted the gathering as a forum to hear a range of voices on issues facing Afghanistan.

According to Mujib-ul Rahman Ansari, a cleric who attended the gathering, an 11-point statement released at the end urges countries in the region and the world, the United Nations, Islamic organizations and others to recognize a Taliban-led Afghanistan, remove all sanctions imposed since the Taliban takeover and unfreeze Afghan assets abroad.

Ansari said that more than 4,500 Islamic clerics and elders who attended renewed their allegiance and loyalty to the Taliban’s supreme leader and spiritual chief, Haibatullah Akhundzada.

In a surprise development, the reclusive Akhundzada came to Kabul from his base in southern Kandahar province and addressed the gathering on Friday. It was believed to be his first visit to the Afghan capital since the Taliban seized power.

In his hour-long speech carried by state radio, Akhundzada called the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan a “victory for the Muslim world.”

His appearance added symbolic heft to the gathering. The Taliban are under international pressure to be more inclusive as they struggle with Afghanistan’s humanitarian crises.

The international community has been wary of any recognition or cooperation with the Taliban, especially after they restricted the rights of women and minorities — measures that hark back to their harsh rule when they were last in power in the last 1990s.

Saturday’s 11-point resolution called on the Taliban government to pay “special attention and to ensure justice, religious and modern education, health, agriculture, industry, the rights of minorities, children, women and the entire nation, according to Islamic holy law.”

The Taliban adhere to their own strict interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia.

Akhundzada, who rose from a low-profile member of the Islamic insurgents to the leader of the Taliban in a swift transition of power after a 2016 U.S. drone strike killed his predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, also offered prayers Friday for earthquake victims.

The powerful quake in June killed more than 1,000 people in eastern Afghanistan, igniting yet another crisis for the struggling country. Overstretched aid groups already keeping millions of Afghans alive rushed supplies to the quake victims, but most countries responded tepidly to Taliban calls for international help.



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Michael Avenatti sentenced to 14 years in prison for cheating clients out of millions

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Michael Avenatti was sentenced to 14 years in prison on Monday for cheating four former clients out of millions of dollars and trying to obstruct the IRS from collecting payroll taxes from a coffee shop that he owned. 

It caps off a stunning fall from grace for the former attorney, who is already serving five years in prison for stealing book proceeds from porn actress Stormy Daniels and trying to extort Nike out of $25 million. 

The 14-year sentence handed down on Monday will run consecutively to the five years that he is already serving in previous cases, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ruled. 

Michael Avenatti speaks to members of the media after leaving federal court on Feb. 4, 2022, in New York.

Michael Avenatti speaks to members of the media after leaving federal court on Feb. 4, 2022, in New York.
(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

Avenatti, who addressed his victims in court on Monday, was also ordered to pay $7 million in restitution. 

MICHAEL AVENATTI SENTENCED TO 4 YEARS IN PRISON FOR DEFRAUDING STORMY DANIELS

“I am deeply remorseful and contrite,” Avenatti said in court before the sentencing. “There is no doubt that all of them deserve much better, and I hope that someday they will accept my apologies and find it in their heart to forgive me.”

Prosecutors laid out in a 36-count indictment how Avenatti collected a $4 million settlement from Los Angeles County for a man who was paralyzed from injuries he sustained while in custody of law enforcement. Avenatti used the funds for his coffee business and personal expenses, paying the man “advances” of no more than $1,900 at a time. 

MICHAEL AVENATTI’S BID TO BE SENTENCED REMOTELY DENIED: STORMY DANIELS QUIPS, ‘SEE YA THERE, B—-!’

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, left, stands with her former lawyer Michael Avenatti during a news conference.

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels, left, stands with her former lawyer Michael Avenatti during a news conference.
(AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

Avenatti obtained a $3 million settlement for another client in early 2017 and used most of the money for a private jet, then lied to the client by saying the settlement would be paid out in monthly payments over several years. 

US PROSECUTORS TARGET AVENATTI’S $4.5 MILLION JET FOR CIVIL FORFEITURE

Prosecutors also said that Avenatti stole from clients whom he represented in an intellectual property claim and another business dispute. 

For the tax fraud charge, Avenatti failed to pay more than $3 million in payroll taxes related to his coffee business then tried to stop the IRS from collecting the unpaid taxes. 

Michael Avenatti speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. 

Michael Avenatti speaks at the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. 
(Chris Zoeller/Globe-Gazette via AP)

Prosecutor Brett Sagel characterized Avenatti as a serial fraudster. 

“He didn’t turn to his criminal actions by desperation, by need, by the inability to do anything else,” Sagel told the court. “Despite the significant advantages that this defendant had — a first-rate education, a thriving legal career — he chose to commit the deplorable acts in this case time and time again.”

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Prosecutors agreed to drop remaining charges after Avenatti pleaded guilty to five counts earlier this year. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 





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World Cup 2022: Fifa opens disciplinary proceedings against Uruguay FA and four players

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Host nation: Qatar Dates: 20 November-18 December Coverage: Live on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, BBC Radio 5 Live, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru, BBC Sounds and the BBC Sport website and app. Day-by-day TV listingsFull coverage details

Fifa has opened disciplinary proceedings against Uruguay’s football association and four players over their conduct at the end of their final World Cup group game against Ghana.

Uruguay beat Ghana 2-0 but went out on goals scored, finishing third behind South Korea in Group H.

Uruguay’s players reacted furiously at full-time, confronting the referee and appearing to manhandle an assistant after they failed to award a penalty after a coming together between Darwin Nunez and Alidu Seidu.

Jose Maria Gimenez, Edinson Cavani, Fernando Muslera and Diego Godin all face potential punishments for breaches of Fifa’s disciplinary code relating to offensive behaviour and misconduct.

More to follow.

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Get your daily dose of Fifa World Cup reaction, debate & analysis with World Cup Daily on BBC Sounds

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England cruises past Senegal 3-0 to reach World Cup quarterfinals

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England reached the quarterfinals of the World Cup for a second tournament in a row thanks to a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Senegal.



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