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National Entertainment

Loughlin, Giannulli plead not guilty in college scam

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BOSTON — Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are pleading not guilty to charges they took part in the sweeping college admissions bribery scam, according to court documents filed Monday.

Loughlin and Giannulli said they are waiving their right to appear in Boston federal court for their arraignment and plead not guilty to the two charges against them. The judge must approve their request for a waiver to appear.

The couple is charged with paying $500,000 in bribes to get their daughters admitted to the University of Southern California as crew recruits, even though neither is a rower.

Loughlin, who played Aunt Becky on the sitcom “Full House,” and Giannulli haven’t publicly addressed the allegations against them.

They are among 50 people charged in the nationwide scam, which authorities say also involved rigging college entrance exam scores.

It’s the biggest college admissions case ever prosecuted by the Justice Department. The scandal embroiled elite universities across the country and laid bare the lengths to which status-seeking parents will go to secure their children a coveted spot.

The couple and more than a dozen other parents were hit last week with a money laundering conspiracy charge on top of the mail fraud conspiracy charge they were already facing. Several other indicted parents have also filed court documents entering not guilty pleas.

Fellow actress Felicity Huffman, who starred in ABC’s “Desperate Housewives” and 12 other parents have agreed to plead guilty . Huffman is scheduled to appear in Boston on May 21 to enter her plea.

Rick Singer, the consultant at the centre of the scheme, pleaded guilty to charges including racketeering conspiracy on March 12, the same day the allegations against the parents and coaches were made public in the so-called Operations Varsity Blues investigation.

Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press


Edmonton

LISTEN: TRUDEAU STORY VS. POVERTY: YOU DECIDE

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cam tait

So on this historic day of a United Way campaign kick off we are bombarded by the Trudeau story. .

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Canada takes centre stage in Bannon film based on Huawei exec Meng’s detention

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Steve Bannon

OTTAWA — Canada plays a starring role in a soon-to-be-released film aimed at exposing China’s bid for world domination through technology — produced by one-time Trump strategist Steve Bannon.

The film, “Claws of the Red Dragon,” is fiction, but “inspired by” Canada’s arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and China’s subsequent retaliatory measures, including the detention of two Canadians for alleged espionage and death sentences meted out to two other Canadians convicted of drug crimes.

Bannon has said the movie is aimed at exposing ties between Huawei, which he describes as the “greatest national security threat” to the United States, and China’s communist government, which he maintains is “the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced.”

He’s also been clear that his objective is to stiffen U.S. President Donald Trump’s resolve to shut Huawei out of development of next generation wireless networks over fears the telecommunications giant is controlled by the Chinese government and its equipment could be used to spy on or sabotage other countries.

The film is to be released next month by New Tang Dynasty Television, part of the Epoch Media Group that is closely associated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement and includes the pro-Trump and vehemently anti-Beijing newspaper, The Epoch Times.

The 54-minute movie follows fictional Chinese-Canadian journalist Jane Li as she reports on Canada’s arrest of the chief financial officer of Huaxing Hi-Tech; along the way she “exposes the company’s ties” to the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese military, according to a New Tang Dynasty news release.

The film features a Canadian cast, including Eric Peterson of “Street Legal” and “Corner Gas” fame.

A trailer for the movie, replete with ominous soundtrack, shows Peterson — playing a character named James MacAvoy and bearing an uncanny resemblance to Canada’s former ambassador to China, John McCallum — meeting with a detained Canadian named Michael.

In real life, Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor have been detained in China since December, accused of espionage shortly after Canada detained Meng, who is wanted by the U.S. on charges of fraud related to evasion of American sanctions on Iran.

The trailer also shows Peterson telling someone who looks remarkably like Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that the Chinese “just arbitrarily sentenced a Canadian to death. There’s no telling where this retaliation will end.”

In the New Tang Dynasty news release, Bannon calls the movie “a seminal and timely work exposing the inner workings” of the Chinese Communist Party and Huawei.

“Run by a radical cadre of the Chinese Communist Party, China’s Communism today is the greatest existential threat the West has ever faced,” Bannon says. “Huawei, the technology and telecommunications arm of the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army, is the greatest national security threat we have ever faced, as it is already in the process of a global tech domination via 5G and 6G (wireless networks).”

Bannon told Bloomberg earlier this month that he hopes the film will be screened for Trump at the White House.

“The central issue in the 2020 presidential campaign is going to be the economic war with China: manufacturing jobs, currency, capital markets and technology,” he told the news agency. “Huawei is a key part of that and this film will highlight why it must be shut down.”

Joan Bryden , The Canadian Press

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