New York, Sep 10 (AP/UNB) — CBS Chief Les Moonves resigned Sunday, just hours after six more women accused the veteran television executive of sexual misconduct.
The resignation is effective immediately, CBS said in a statement posted on its website Sunday night.
The New Yorker magazine reported the latest allegations included Moonves forcing women to perform oral sex and retaliating when advances were turned away. Moonves acknowledged relations with three of the women but said they were consensual, adding he had never used his position to hurt the careers of women.
The network didn't address the allegations directly, but said Moonves will donate $20 million to one or more organizations that support the #MeToo movement and equality for women in the workplace.
"The donation, which will be made immediately, has been deducted from any severance benefits that may be due Moonves," the statement said.
Moonves again denied the allegations in a statement issued late Sunday night.
"Untrue allegations from decades ago are now being made against me that are not consistent with who I am," he said.
"I am deeply saddened to be leaving the company," Moonves added, calling it "an incredible privilege" to have worked for CBS.
"The best part of this journey has been working alongside the dedicated and talented people in this company," he said.
CBS said the network's chief operating officer, Joseph Ianniello, will take over Moonves' duties as president and CEO until its board of directors can find a permanent replacement. For the time being Moonves' role as chairman will remain vacant.
Hours before his resignation the New Yorker magazine reported sexual misconduct allegations from six additional women against Moonves, who was already under investigation for similar allegations made by six others.
As that investigation progressed it was widely reported that Moonves would leave the network shortly and was negotiating a severance package. CBS indicated Sunday, however, that no severance agreement has been reached.
"Moonves will not receive any severance benefits at this time (other than certain fully accrued and vested compensation and benefits); any payments to be made in the future will depend upon the results of the independent investigation and subsequent board evaluation," the network's statement said.
Moonves joined CBS as head of entertainment in 1995, and has been CEO of CBS Corp. since 2006, leading the CBS network, Showtime and other entities. CBS has spent much of his tenure as the nation's most popular broadcast network, with hits such as "The Big Bang Theory" and "NCIS," and its success has made Moonves one of the highest-paid and most powerful executives in the business.
One of Moonves' accusers, Phyllis Golden-Gottlieb, also reported her accusations to Los Angeles police last year, but they weren't pursued because the statute of limitations had expired. She said Moonves, while an executive at the Lorimar production studio in the late 1980s, pushed her head into his lap and forced her to perform oral sex.
At another time, she said an angry Moonves pushed her hard against a wall. When she resisted later advances, she began to be frozen out at the company, she said.
"He absolutely ruined my career," she told the New Yorker.
Another woman, Jessica Pallingston, said Moonves forced her to perform oral sex on her first day working as his assistant at Warner Bros. productions. Other women told the magazine of unwanted touching or advances.
In a statement to the magazine, Moonves said the "appalling accusations" are untrue, but he acknowledged consensual relations with three of the women before he started working at CBS.
"I have never used my position to hinder the advancement or careers of women," he said. "In my 40 years of work, I have never before heard of such disturbing accusations. I can only surmise they are surfacing now for the first time, decades later, as part of a concerted effort by others to destroy my name, my reputation and my career. Anyone who knows me knows that the person described in this article is not me."
The organization Time's Up, which fights accusations of sexual misconduct, said the women had made "bone-chilling" accusations against Moonves. "We believe them," Times' Up said in a statement early Sunday. The group said the CBS board has a responsibility to rid the company of a toxic culture toward women.
"A $20 million donation is a first step in acknowledging that you have a problem," Time's Up said in a statement directed at CBS after Moonves' departure. "But it is far from a solution."
It urged the network to use all the money it had allocated for Moonves' severance to "instead help women."
"Cleansing the company of this toxic culture demands real systemic change," the group tweeted.
Ianniello, who will be replacing Moonves on at least an interim basis, joined CBS ins 2005 and has been COO since 2013. He has steered top projects such as the CBS All Access and Showtime streaming services.
Paris, Sep 10 (AP/UNB) — Seven people were injured in a knife attack in central Paris late Sunday but police said that terrorism was not suspected.
Two British tourists were among those injured, broadcaster BFMTV and Le Parisien newspaper reported.
Authorities were trying to determine if the attacker, who was arrested, is among the seven injured. Le Parisien said the attacker is an Afghan national.
An overnight police press officer said the attack took place near a cinema in the 19th district of Paris. The officer had no information about the identities of the injured. The Paris prosecutors' office is handling the investigation.
The reports said the man was armed with a knife and a metal bar, and first attacked three people outside the cinema.
Stockholm, Sep 10 (AP/UNB) — Voters handed Sweden's ruling party its worst-ever election result Sunday and delivered a parallel lift to a far-right party with white supremacist roots, leaving the ideological outline of the Scandinavian country's next government uncertain.
After a campaign dominated by debates over immigration, the center-left Social Democratic Party emerged with the greatest share of the vote — 28.4 percent as the count neared completion — yet looking at holding fewer parliament seats and having its mandate to govern questioned.
The potential for an immigration backlash to result in a big boost for the far-right Sweden Democrats inspired fear among many Swedes before the election. It received a little more than one in six votes, or 17.6 percent. Its showing was not as strong as the one-in-five polls had predicted, but good for a third-place finish that had the party's leader telling supporters, "We won."
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, who brought the Social Democrats to power in 2014, said he intended to remain in the job. The leader of the Moderates party that came in second, Ulf Kristersson, already had called on Lofven to resign and claimed the right to form Sweden's next government.
Sounding somber and firm, Lofven told his supporters the election presented "a situation that all responsible parties must deal with," adding that "a party with roots in Nazism" would "never ever offer anything responsible, but hatred."
"We have a moral responsibility. We must gather all good forces. We won't mourn, we will organize ourselves," he said.
Final election returns were expected later in the week. The preliminary results made it unlikely any party would secure a majority of 175 seats in the 349-seat Riksdag, Sweden's parliament. It could take weeks or months of coalition talks before the next government is formed.
Both the left-leaning bloc led by the Social Democrats and the center-right bloc in which the Moderates is largest of four parties have said they would refuse to consider the Sweden Democrats as a coalition partner.
Sweden — home to the Nobel prizes and militarily neutral for the better part of two centuries — has been known for its comparatively open doors to migrants and refugees. Sunday's general election was the first since the country of 10 million took in a record 163,000 refugees in 2015 as mass migration to Europe rose dramatically.
Lofven eventually said Sweden no longer could cope with the influx and immigration laws were tightened.
Like other far-right parties in Europe, the Sweden Democrats worked to soften its neo-Nazi image in the lead-up to the election. The party symbol was switched from a flame thrower to a flower. Members known for making pro-Third Reich statements were pushed out.
It made its first mark in politics with municipal council seats in 2006, and since then slowly helped revise long-accepted social norms for what Swedes could say openly about foreigners and integration without being considered racist.
At the Swedish Democrat's election eve rally Saturday, party leader Jimmie Akesson criticized Lofven's government for "prioritizing" the needs of new immigrants the ones of Swedish citizens.
Akesson was jubilant as he addressed supporters a day later, declaring the estimated 14 parliament seats the Social Democrats picked up a victory other parties could not ignore in coalition negotiations.
"This party has increased and made the biggest gains. Everything is about us," Akesson said. "I am ready to talk with others"
Turnout in the election was reported at 84.4 percent, up from 83 percent in 2014.
Moscow, Sept 9 (AP/UNB) — Opponents of a Russian government move to increase the age for collecting state retirement pensions held protests throughout the country on Sunday and scores of arrests were reported.
The protests were called by Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption activist who is President Vladimir Putin's most prominent foe. Navalny is serving a 30-day jail sentence connected with an unsanctioned protest in January unrelated to the pension proposal, which was introduced in June.
Opposition to the proposal spans the political spectrum. Protests organized by the Communist Party were held across Russia earlier this month.
The plan calls for the pension age to be raised five years — to 65 for men and 60 for women.
Olga Sokolova, a 52-year-old factory worker, said she was "dumbfounded" when the proposal came, because she had hoped to retire from her physically taxing job at 55, the current pension age for women.
"I can't keep being afraid anymore," she said of her decision to risk detention by showing up at a protest in Moscow's Pushkin Square that attracted several hundred people. Protesters in Moscow chanted "Russia without Putin" and held signs including "Putin, when will you go on pension?
Demonstrations also were held in cities in Siberia and the Far East as well as St. Petersburg. Photos on social media indicated most of them were attended by 100 or more protesters, but the crowd in St. Petersburg appeared to exceed 1,000. An Associated Press journalist counted at least 30 people detained at the St. Petersburg protest, which was adjacent to the Finlad Station rail terminal.
News reports and tallies from the OVD-Info organization that monitors political repressions showed at least 40 arrests connected with the protests elsewhere, including 12 each in the cities of Khabarovsk and Tomsk.
A lawyer for Navalny's Anti-Corruption Fund was arrested in Moscow before the rally.
Raising the pension is opposed both by older people, who fear they won't live long enough to collect significant benefits, and by younger Russians worried that keeping people in the workforce longer will limit their own employment opportunities.
"The reform is a robbery of my parents and grandparents. We're stealing our future, too. Right now the only thing we can do is protest," 24-year-old Igor Panov said at the Moscow demonstration.
Putin's trust rating in public opinion polls dropped notably after the proposal was put forward and last month offered some concessions, including dropping the age for women from 63 to 60.
But Putin and government officials say the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancy in Russia could exhaust pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.
Istanbul, Sept 9 (AP/UNB) — Turkey's arrests of an American pastor and other Western citizens have thrust its troubled judicial system to the forefront of ties with allies, reinforcing suspicions that the Turkish government is using detainees as diplomatic leverage.
Turkey scoffs at the idea that it treats detained foreigners as foreign policy pawns, and points the finger at the U.S. for cases against Turks in American courts. Turkey's top appeals court judge weighed in this week, saying only "independent" courts can free pastor Andrew Brunson.
The reality is more complex in a nation where President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tightened his grip on the state, including a judiciary purged of thousands of judges and prosecutors after an attempted coup in 2016. Constitutional changes have since expanded Erdogan's control of judicial appointments, undermining Turkey's avowals that it wants to mold impartial courts.
There is no evidence that jailed foreigners in Turkey were arrested to be used as "hostages," and Erdogan could genuinely believe they were acting on behalf of foreign governments against Turkey, said Nicholas Danforth, an analyst at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington.
"In taking and holding prisoners to combat the West's presumed hostility, Ankara ends up creating the kind of hostility it imagines," Danforth wrote in a blog post last week.
Recent Turkish court rulings seemed to align with diplomatic outreach to Europe. Two Greek soldiers held for months were freed; Taner Kilic, an Amnesty International representative, was released; and a judge lifted a travel ban on a German of Turkish descent accused of terror offenses.
Conversely, the courts ruled against freeing Brunson, who is accused of links to Kurdish rebels and the 2016 coup plotters, after U.S. economic penalties deepened the Turkish currency's slide.
A coincidence? Some analysts don't think so.
"As the crisis with the U.S. heated up and as the economic crisis heated up, Erdogan saw a need to speed up the process of normalization with Europe," said Howard Eissenstat, an associate professor of Middle East history in Canton, New York.
Eissenstat, also a fellow at the Washington-based Project on Middle East Democracy, speculated that President Donald Trump's focus on freeing Brunson had backfired, encouraging Turkish officials to think: "'This guy's really valuable and we can get a lot for him.'"
For Turkey, "a lot" would be the extradition of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives in Pennsylvania and denies Turkish allegations that he engineered the coup attempt, which killed nearly 300 people.
Turkey has also criticized the case against Mehmet Hakan Atilla, an official at Turkey's state-controlled Halkbank who was jailed in the U.S. for helping Iran avoid American sanctions.
Last year, Erdogan floated a possible trade in which the U.S. sends Gulen to Turkey in exchange for the release of Brunson, now under house arrest in the city of Izmir. However, comments on Monday by Ismail Rustu Cirit, the Turkish judge, reflected an official view that Turkey's sovereignty in the matter is paramount.
"The only and absolute power that can rule on the arrest of a foreign citizen in Izmir and decisions about his trial are the independent and impartial courts," Cirit said.
The European Union has urged Turkey to guarantee the impartiality of its courts, a key requirement in an EU candidacy bid that stalled years ago.
Judicial reforms more than a decade ago, in the early years of Erdogan's rule, reduced the power of the military and moved Turkey closer to European standards. But backsliding followed, amid increasing accusations that the ruling party was using the courts to muzzle opponents.
In another twist, internal conflict erupted at the end of 2013 when prosecutors launched an investigation of alleged corruption at the top of the government, a move described by Erdogan's camp as a power grab by Gulen supporters.
Detainees remain an irritant between Germany and Turkey, which freed Die Welt journalist Deniz Yucel and activist Peter Steudtner. But Turkey still holds a number of Germans for what Berlin considers political reasons.
Turkey, meanwhile, has bemoaned a Greek court's decision to grant asylum to some servicemen who fled to Greece a day after Turkey's coup attempt. In a reverse scenario, Turkey would never "shelter" coup plotters acting against Greece, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said.
Turkey doesn't have "very much" to show for what may be opportunistic attempts to use detainees as leverage with other countries, according to Eissenstat.
He said there could be a parallel with similar cases in Iran or the former Soviet Union, in which "local officials would sometimes make decisions and then the central government would decide, 'OK, how does this fit into a larger policy?'"