Americas

Brazil’s top court to probe Bolsonaro’s allegations of voting fraud
Americas

Brazil’s top court to probe Bolsonaro’s allegations of voting fraud

Brazil’s top electoral court ( TSE ) has announced to open an investigation into President Jair Bolsonaro’s allegations of fraud in next year’s elections.

Bolsonaro is expected to be seeking a second term in the 2022 polls. He, however, has repeatedly said the country’s electronic voting system is exposed to manipulation.

His critics say that he, like former U.S. President Donald Trump, is sowing seeds of doubts with his unfounded claims to pave him the way for not accepting defeat in 2022.

The TSE decided to ask the Supreme Court to investigate whether Bolsonaro’s allegations fell into the category of a crime – as he attacked the electoral system on social media and threatened Brazil’s democratic procedure.

Bolsonaro also accused the court’s members of the conspiracy in maintaining a voting system that would benefit former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva return to power.

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Bolsonaro has called for the adoption of printed receipts that can be counted if an election result stands disputed. He said a paper trail would change the current all-electronic voting system. Bolsonaro also announced not to accept the result of next year’s presidential election if the system is not changed.

Supporters of the president, over the weekend, demonstrations in several cities backing his proposal.

On Monday, a group of 18 active and former Brazilian Supreme Court justices said the election system is free of fraud.

The judges said in a statement, “Brazil has eliminated a history of election fraud”.

They maintained that since the electronic voting system was adopted in 1996, the country has never had a documented fraud case in any election.

The judges countered Bolsonaro by saying that printed ballots are less safe than electronic voting, and the chance of fraud would be higher if Brazil gets back to hand-operated counting of 150 million printed ballots.

A congressional committee is set to vote on the proposal to introduce paper ballots on Thursday.

US Senate works to push $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill
Americas

US Senate works to push $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill

The new infrastructure bill can impact the lives of several people. The $1 trillion infrastructure agreement between the Republicans and Democrats has a $500 billion spending and can impact Americans drastically. Since it has several goodwill projects under it, thus it can benefit people both the current and future generations. It includes working towards fast internet, clean drinking water, more roads, bridges, and public transit. Furthermore, it can reconnect communities that were previously divided by badly connected highways. 

In addition to these, the bill proposes a $7.5 billion funding for nationwide electric vehicles. Moreover, $21 billion for cleaning up the environment including abandoned gas wells, mines, and brownfield sites. Additionally, it gave the confirmation that $205 billion is redirecting to coronavirus relief funds. 

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Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema said that they have most of the text done so, they will update it as we get those last pieces finalized. He is also of the opinion that they do not want to overbuild the charging infrastructure and not have the vehicles to be using it. It is better to pay for new charging stations in rural communities since it is the only thing holding back people from buying electric vehicles now, are their concerns overcharging.

The US Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer mentioned that it’s been decades since such a “significant standalone investment” has been passed by Congress. He added that he hopes to pass both the bipartisan infrastructure bill and a budget resolution before the August recess. The infrastructure bill includes $110 billion for roads and bridges, $39 billion for public transit and $66 billion for rail. The government also plans to spend $55 billion for water and wastewater infrastructure and $17 billion for ports and $25 billion for airports to reduce congestion and maintenance backlogs.

Trouble for Donald Trump: DOJ orders IRS to hand over Trump’s tax returns to Congress
Americas

Trouble for Donald Trump: DOJ orders IRS to hand over Trump’s tax returns to Congress

 Yet another trouble in Trump’s paradise. Since former President Donald Trump has left the office, his old deeds are coming back to bite him. His entire presidency was highlighted with allegations and also him admitting to the fact that he has been evading taxes. His defense was pretty solid and logical for him – “all successful businessmen do that” But now he can’t escape that. On Friday, the US Department of Justice ordered the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) to hand over Trump’s tax returns to House committee. DOJ cited that House panel has “invoked sufficient reasons” for requesting the returns.

This is second major blow to Donald Trump in matter of hours. A DOJ memo released shows that the former president had pressured top officials to label the 2020 Presidential Election falsely as corrupt in a bid to overturn his election defeat and then “leave the rest to me”. The released memos are sufficient to acknowledge that there was no corruption or illegal means to the results of election that rendered Joe Biden as the next president of USA.

Nancy Pelosi celebrates the move by DOJ

Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker who is known to challenge Trump quite vividly, has applauded orders by DOJ to IRS. “Today, the Biden administration has delivered a victory for the rule of law, as it respects the public interest by complying with Chairman [Richard] Neal’s request for Donald Trump’s tax returns,” Pelosi said in a statement.

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“Access to former President Trump’s tax returns is a matter of national security. The American people deserve to know the facts of his troubling conflicts of interest and undermining of our security and democracy as president.”

Donald Trump and his tax returns secrecy

It is a tradition in US that all candidates running for President disclose their tax returns, though not required by law. But Donald Trump kept his returns out of open sight citing they were under IRS audit when he was running for the office in 2016. But he still did not release them during his four years tenure in the White House.

In 2018 when Democrats took control of the House, the round ups for Trump’s tax returns records came to a priority as they sought to retrieve the records. This was while Robert Mueller investigation opened of links between Trump and Moscow, and Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The memo released by DOJ on Friday said that Neal, the Massachusetts congressman who is chair of the ways and means committee, had “invoked sufficient reasons for requesting the former president’s tax information”. The 39 page memo was signed by Dawn Johnsen, who is acting head of DOJ Office of Legal Council (OLC).

Bolsonaro for printed ballots in next year’s presidential run
Americas

Bolsonaro for printed ballots in next year’s presidential run

Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has pleaded, on Thursday, for the adoption of printed ballots that can be counted.

He said that it is important to avoid fraud in the country’s electronic voting system in next year’s election.

He, in his weekly social media webcast, said, “I want elections next year, but democratic, clean, and sincere elections”.

Bolsonaro also showed a series of video clips as alleged evidence of past fraud – saying that democracy in Brazil was at risk.

His critics say that the far-right president is seeking to adopt a path like his political guru, former US President Donald Trump. They see him sowing election doubts to pave the way for him not to accept defeat in next year’s elections.

Bolsonaro’s popularity is declining after overseeing the world’s second-deadliest coronavirus outbreak. The latest opinion polls show that he is far behind former leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, though he has not officially announced that he will run for next year’s presidential race.

Bolsonaro has pressed for months that Brazil should use the paper ballot, even though not gained much traction has been gained in Congress by a constitutional amendment changing the electoral system.

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He promotes a mixed system in which voters submit ballots at electronic urns. This methodology also prints out votes that can be counted in case results are challenged.

The TSE – Brazil’s top electoral authority – has denied unfounded allegations by Bolsonaro that there was fraud in the 2014 election. It clarified electronic voting can be audited well.

The escalation in Bolsonaro’s claims of electoral fraud comes at a fraught time – a few days after a bombshell newspaper report that Brazilian defence minister had laid forth a threat that the next year’s election won’t take place unless printed ballots were used. The claim has not been verified as yet.

US President Joe Biden to announce mandatory vaccine for state employees
Americas

US President Joe Biden to announce mandatory vaccine for state employees

Joe Biden abandons the delay. Following the example of the Department of Veterans Affairs – the first federal agency to have decided, on Monday, the obligation to vaccinate its 115 thousand employees within the next eight weeks, under penalty of dismissal or salary cuts – it is preparing to impose the anti-Covid vaccine on all 2 million federal employees. The president will almost certainly announce it today, with a speech where it is anticipated, “he will also reveal the next steps to immunize America more and more.” In short: events seem to have overcome the fear that, according to the New York Times, has so far held back the White House over actions by the more openly no vax Southern states, ready to eliminate, out of spite, the mandatory nature of common vaccines for children.

Although there have been 35 million infections and 627 thousand deaths here in 16 months, the country is now grappling with the fourth wave. It had passed through the Delta variant from 3,400 cases per day on 4 July – when Biden hoped to declare “l ‘independence from the virus’ – to 108 thousand yesterday. Despite that, the green pass is unthinkable here. The federal government cannot enforce it. And states like Florida and Texas are quick to outlaw even the mere request for proof of vaccination. In the meantime, everyone intervenes where they can: starting with private individuals and individual states.

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In this sense, say, New York is moving. On Monday, Bill de Blasio, the mayor of that Big Apple, which in the spring of 2020 was America’s first outbreak, in front of a 400 percent jump in infections, imposed the mandatory serum on all municipal employees. Three hundred thousand people, including police officers – the least immunized, only 42 percent – and teachers, unleashing the violent wrath of the unions, despite the promise of a $ 100 bonus to those who let themselves be injected.

Governor Andrew Cuomo also intervened to give him a hand: extending the obligation to all state public employees. California Gavin Newsom was also just announced: commitment to all state employees and health workers to be immunized by 2 August. A race against time: while the diehards are already reporting a rain of appeals.

“No vax, No service,” wrote in large letters at the entrance of many restaurants in Atlanta. An opinion shared by the San Francisco bartenders: where, from today, hundreds of bars belonging to the Bar Owner Alliance can only be entered by showing proof of vaccination or a negative swab taken in the last 72 hours. A measure, they say, imposed by the exponential increase in infections, also among workers already vaccinated. Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, at least 400 universities will admit only students, teachers, and staff who have made the two doses in their perimeter. As indeed many private hospitals already.

The trend, which is spreading above all in those states that are of democratic orientation, is already profiling a new element of division. The wave of contagions among unvaccinated people shows two Americas, and neither seems to tolerate each other anymore.

Slain Haitian President’s security official taken into custody
Americas

Slain Haitian President’s security official taken into custody

A security official of slain Haitian President Jovenel Moise was taken into custody by police on suspicion of involvement in the assassination plot.

The arrested top official served as general security coordinator when Jovenel Moïse was assassinated.

Jean Laguel Civil now joins more than two dozen suspects detained by Haiti National Police as the probe, into the July 7 attack at Moïse’s private home, progresses.

On July 7, in the middle of the night, Jovenel’s private residence in Port-au-Prince was mobbed by a group of more than 20 mostly Colombian mercenaries.

Reynold Georges, Civil’s attorney, called his client’s arrest politically motivated even though it wasn’t immediately clear if Civil had been charged with anything.

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The arrest of the Presidential Security Coordinator Jean Laguel Civil comes nearly three weeks after Moise was killed.

Civil’s arrest followed the detention of another member of Moise’s security detail, Dimitri Herard.

A July 10 memo signed by Herard narrating out the events of the assassination night was leaked on social media on Tuesday. Its authenticity, however, could not be confirmed.

In the three-page document, Herard said that he had received a call for help from Moise at about 1:39 a.m. on July 7. He, then, made for the president’s residence and ordered reinforcements.

Herard said he received information of “many detonations” near Moise’s home and advanced towards it with other officials. Near the entrance, they were faced by men draped in black who ordered them to retreat – saying the group formed a part of an operation by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Herard’s group was outnumbered heavily and concerned that the men might have held the president, his group retreated. They, then, as per the memo, began planning an assault on their adversaries but learnt just after 3 a.m. that the president was dead.

Three Colombians, in the ensuing battle on the afternoon of July 7, were killed as a result.

US forces to end combat in Iraq by year end
Americas

US forces to end combat in Iraq by year end

 United States of America President Joe Biden has announced that US combat forces in Iraq are going to end their mission in Iraq by end of this year. The announcement followed Biden’s meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi at White House. The US troops will however continue to provide advise and train the Iraqi military according to the arrangement.

At present there are 2.500 US troops in Iraq that are helping the forces in country to combat remaining Islamic State group. The number of troops will remain same in Iraq but their active role will end in combat mission – a move likely to help PM Mustafa al- Kadhimi.  

Pressure over US presence in Iraq

Qasem Soleimani, the Iranian general and leader of Iran backed Shia Muslim militia, was killed in a US drone attack last year in Baghdad. Since then Iran aligned political parties in Iraq have been pressurizing US forces withdrawal from country. This is despite continuing threat from the Sunni jihadist group in Iraq.

US has meanwhile accused Shia Muslim militia, backed by Iran, of carrying out drone and rocket attacks on Iraqi military bases histing the US led coalition forces. This is attempt to pressurize the forces to leave.

President Biden brings end to another overseas US war

This marks another overseas US war to an end by President Joe Biden. US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan was ordered by Biden. Both wars, in Iraq and Afghanistan, had begun under former President George W Bush. In 2003, US forces had invaded Iraq to eliminate President Saddam Hussein.

In 2011 US forces withdrew, only to return back three years later at Iraqi government request when IS group overran large parts of the country. “Our role in Iraq will be dealing with being available to continue to train, to assist, to help and deal with ISIS as it arrives,” Biden added at the meeting. “But we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission.”

During meeting with Iraqi PM at White House, President Biden said “Our counter-terrorism co-operation will continue even as we shift to this new phase.” Mr Kadhimi responded, “Today our relationship is stronger than ever. Our co-operation is for the economy, the environment, health, education, culture and more.”

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One Sheriff deputy killed and one injured during a shootout in a California home
Americas

One Sheriff deputy killed and one injured during a shootout in a California home

One sheriff deputy got killed on a Sunday afternoon standoff, and one got injured during a shooting at home in California. 

Wasco Mayor Alex Garcia stated, “while replying to a standoff here in Wasco, one of our valiant Kern County Sheriff’s Deputies was killed in a standoff, and one was shot and injured.” 

Kern County Lt. Joel Swanson told CNN, Law enforcement had reacted to the home on a report of shots. At the point when officials showed up, somebody at the house started shooting at them. Then, at that point, authorities contacted a SWAT team.

The suspect took shots at SWAT officers as they moved toward the home, injuring two officers. After few hours of gunfire exchange, the suspect was struck. Currently, he is hospitalized, Swanson reported. 

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A lockdown was imposed as the SWAT team was called and moved toward the house before 3 p.m., Swanson added. As they drew closer, the suspect started shooting and struck the two law enforcement Sheriffs, the lieutenant added.

Gunshots were heard in the background as deputies drove to the scene; Swanson added and heard reports of possible gunfire on victims inside the home.

The suspect’s identity has not been revealed yet by the police, stating the probe is in progress.

The Kern County District Attorney’s office, in a tweet, stated, “Our most profound sympathies to family, companions and individual agents of the KC Deputy Sheriff who was killed during a standoff today. We pray to God for a quick recovery of the second injured deputy. A colossal loss for @KernCoSheriff and our neighborhood. Our hearts are shattered.”

Dunn Of Tight Biden Inner Circle Takes Breather Back Into Private Life
Americas

Dunn Of Tight Biden Inner Circle Takes Breather Back Into Private Life

Anita Dunn, one of the top advisers in Biden’s office has resigned, sources have confirmed. Dunn has surprisingly decided to return to her Democratic consulting company in August. It seems the accusations on her of crossing purposes has been too much to take after all.

Dunn has been instrumental in prepping up the president for every media interaction up until now. Dunn is known to be a hard master in strategy and grudge control and has been buttressing most of Mr. Joe Biden’s disaster management strategies.

She provided direction when his campaign was failing for example in the Iowa caucuses. In the West Wing, at the White House, she has been prominent in shaping every major policy push so far, not to forget her sidelining Julian Castro for snubbing the president in a public debate, questioning his ‘metal acuity’.

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It is going to be big blow to Biden’s inner circle as the Covid-19 new variant precariously eats into the lives of the unvaccinated and threatens the stability of his infrastructure deal as well.

According to David Plouffe, a former Obama campaign manager, Ms. Dunn was disciple and anchorage personified, something you need all the time in the volatility that American lives, politics and therefore White House has to constantly deal with.

An advocate for women empowerment, she has been known to push for women representation in the West Wing. She has stood firm on the stance that while discharging her office duties, she has never mingled her company’s functioning, it is worth noting that indeed her company was hired to handle the $2.2 million direct mail contract for the Biden campaign. Senior White House official have highlighted that Ms. Dunn would be subject to post government restrictions that apply to former federal employees. That includes a two-year restriction on whom she contacts on matters in which the government has a “substantial interest” that was pending under her official responsibility in the White House. Strangely, even though she goes back to private life, her influence with Biden might still continue due to the trust that the President places in her abilities.  

New Zealand Uses Hard Line Suspends Travel Bubble With Australia
Americas

New Zealand Uses Hard Line Suspends Travel Bubble With Australia

Sydney has declared an emergency due to ongoing Covid-19 outbreak while the government has now extended a ban on the travel bubble across the nation for atleast eight weeks.  This means it has suspended all travel from Australia too.

The Delta variant is said to be spreading precariously everywhere. A formal statement by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says that “We have always said that our response would evolve as the virus evolved. This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but it is the right decision to keep New Zealanders safe.”

The travel bubble was a concept that has been used in Asia and UK as well. It has now been paused for New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia too.

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Scheduled airline capacity between Australia and New Zealand had gone up by 44 percent in 2019, according to authentic data shared by aviation analytics firm Cirium. This was well below the initial forecasts of more than 70 percent.

Initially, the travel bubble was introduced as a test free and quarantine free arrangement between the countries. But with New Zealand introducing the testing requirements, the travel plans have become expensive to and fro.

The New Zealand government said for the next week there will be managed return flights for New Zealanders from all Australian states and territories that will require proof of a negative pre-departure test. Passengers arriving from Sydney will be required to spend two weeks in government-managed quarantine. The new Delta variant is becoming tougher to deal with and is spreading much faster than the previous ones. Air bubble travel arrangements have not yielded the results as expected as countries have changed and altered travel guidelines frequently. Travel link between Singapore and Hong Kong, first mooted last year, has never actually gotten underway. Talks between Australia and Singapore are still ongoing as well.

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