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Assault on Capitol Hill, Bannon will have to answer of outrage to Congress
Americas

Assault on Capitol Hill, Bannon will have to answer of outrage to Congress

 Capitol Hill
Capitol HillSteve Bannon goes on trial. So, the House decided, ruling in support of the indictment of the late Trump tactician, guilty of offending Congress for refusing to depose before the inquiry’s commission on the assault to Capitol Hill. The motion passed with 229 votes in favor and against 202. The Democrats voted tightly. Nine Republicans have said yes to the indictment: among them are the vice president of the commission, Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, already isolated from the rest of the party for having sided in favor of the impeachment of Donald Trump.

Greg Pence, brother of former Vice President Mike Pence, whose hanging had been one of the ‘targets of the insurgents, did not vote. The House’s decision has more political than practical value. Speaker Nancy Pelosi will formally inform the Columbia District Prosecutor’s Office for Washington, which will call into question the Grand Jury.

The Justice Department can decide whether to grant the request and initiate a thorough investigation into Bannon. The former Trump strategist, an indictment and conviction, faces up to twelve months in prison or a hundred thousand dollars in a penalty, but it is difficult for anyone to end up in jail. Often such a procedure takes years. However, the Democratic-led Chamber wanted to send a message: whoever refuses to respond to the convening of the Congress risks criminal prosecution.

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 Justice Minister Merrick Garland said his department would look into the case, but he did not indicate his decision during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee. “The department – he explained – will do what it always does in these situations. It will abide by the facts and the law and decide”. Three other people in Trump’s entourage find themselves in the same predicament as Bannon: former presidential chief of staff Mark Meadows, former deputy chief Daniel Scavino, and former Pentagon chief of staff Kash Patel.

No one, at the moment, is willing to show up to testify. But Bannon has a different weight: he would have played a vital role in the assault on Congress. According to the Republican Cheney, the congressional investigation revealed that the former strategist was aware in advance of the plan to besiege Capitol Hill.

Bannon, who followed the January 6 assault from a ‘war room’ set up in a hotel near the White House, also allegedly “played an organizer role.” In a podcast recorded on January 5, Bannon said, “All hell will break loose tomorrow … so many say. Friends, if I were in a revolution, I would be in Washington. Well, now is your time to enter history”. This idea of ​​the Bastille is not new.

Two months earlier, just after the presidential election, Bannon had argued that epidemiologist Anthony Fauci and FBI director Christopher Wray should be beheaded for high treason, meaning by “treason” they did not support Trump across the board. The former president’s adviser added that their heads were to be stuck in two pikes and left hanging outside the White House. Bannon and other witnesses appealed to the ‘executive privilege’ invoked by Trump, who tried to shield any acts and communications that occurred during the dramatic hours of the assault.

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity
Americas

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity

 Brazil Brazil -Brazilian senators probing the country’s COVID-19 outbreak management have removed a recommendation from their report that President Bolsonaro should be charged with homicide and genocide.

Instead, the senators are now alleging him of “crimes against humanity.”

Those leading the congressional probe convened a meeting late on Tuesday to ponder over the report prepared by an opposition Senator, Renan Calheiros. They agreed to remove the genocide and homicide accusations due to technical reasons.

“The decisions were not political, but technical,” opposition Senator Humberto Costa said. “We can’t go into the risk of the report being rubbished by a judge because the definition of the crimes was not accurate.”

It merits mentioning that the draft report needs to earn the Senate committee’s nod and could be altered and vetoed.

It is also pertinent to mention that the senators’ decision, in practice, changes very little for Bolsonaro, who has denied the probe, terming it as politically motivated.

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The 66-year-old leader rejected the accusations on Wednesday, saying that he was “guilty of nothing”.

In Brazil, more than 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 – which is the second-highest death toll after the US.

The decision to go forth with the charges depends mainly on Brazil’s prosecutor-general, who is a Bolsonaro appointee and ally.

The President has downplayed the threat of COVID-19 consistently and touted unproven treatments and misinformation while not adhering to international health guidelines on public activity and mask use.

The 11-member Senate panel probed whether his actions were the cause of many of Brazil’s COVID-19 deaths.

So far, it is improbable that Bolsonaro, the far-right politician, will be tried on any such charges.

However, findings of the congressional probe underline the surging political isolation of Bolsonaro – just a year prior to the next presidential election.

The 1,200-page report was made public on Tuesday.

Miami Vice: from nightlife center to a bad neighborhood
Americas

Miami Vice: from nightlife center to a bad neighborhood

 Miami Miami – Residents in South Beach, Miami’s south beach, are in turmoil. The owners of historic venues are exhausted by riots, accidents, crime incidents that frighten customers, and blaring music has created more than one problem. So, the mayor wants to limit gatherings and cut clubs to restore order and silence. The decision sparked controversy and protests.

But there’s more: the police intervention, which just a few months ago arrested a thousand people for violating the curfew imposed by the Covid pandemic, has led to accusations of racism because most of the partygoers are African Americans and Latinos. In a newspaper report, Ruban Roberts of the NAACP African American rights organization accused the police and mayor of treating blacks as “second-class tourists.”

That is the classic story where everyone seems to be correct, and everyone seems to be wrong. For years South Beach had been a dark, empty, and abandoned place, ideal for some showdown or burning cars to light up the night. Then the Miami Vice TV series and news episodes, such as the assassination of the designer Gianni Versace, transformed the southern Miami neighborhood into a reference point for nightlife.

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In the last thirty years, South Beach has flourished again, with its eight hundred art deco buildings, the historic districts of Collins Avenue, Flamingo Park, Ocean Drive, full of bars and restaurants, lakes for canoeing, the port for mooring ships cruise from which thousands of tourists descend with the desire to go salsa dancing at Mango’s Tropical Cafe. But in recent times, the weekend mega parties have extended throughout the year, with ocean gatherings and blaring music, in addition to shootings.

 “We cannot accept that this is normal – commented the mayor, Dan Gelber – the entertainment district has become the magnet of crime and disorder, and even if it produces revenues, it is not worth the problems it brings.” Last month, police stepped up patrolling the area, but the mayor has already made it clear that an effort of this size cannot be sustained for long.

Permanent measures are needed. The proposal to revise the show plan to make room for family appointments and symphonic concerts caused laughter and protests. The idea of ​​cutting club and bar licenses does not convince everyone. Tom Glassie, the longtime owner of the Avalon Hotel, has asked to safeguard the area’s affluent patrons.

Still, others, such as the owners of the Mango and the legendary Clevelander hotel, do not want to take the risk of turning South Beach into a retirement zone. A class clash is also underway: the customers of the exclusive hotels Fontainebleau, Delano, and Faena are demanding quiet, but the same is valid for the clubs aimed at the middle class, indicated as the cause of everything.

“If you can’t afford to pay 200 dollars for dinner for two – they explain – you don’t have to have a Michelin-starred restaurant to eliminate crime”. The police argue that the most significant “problems” are not created by college students but by people who often come out of Florida and are looking for trouble. Many are African Americans and Latinos, and this ends up raising the temperature of the social conflict.  Ken Koppel, head of a committee of four hundred residents, says tourists are often “drug dealers walking around armed, with no respect for the cops.” Who wants to pay massive amounts, he adds, to live in an armored neighborhood? The situation is too tangled even for a hypothetical sequel to Miami Vice with Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, now seventy-year-olds

Biden vows to act against the sweeping controversial Texas Abortion Law, launches federal effort in response
Americas

Biden vows to act against the sweeping controversial Texas Abortion Law, launches federal effort in response

Texas has implemented the most hardline abortion law in the United States of America that bans mostly all abortions. After the Supreme Court of the US denied blocking the controversial law in an emergency move with judges voting 5-4 against the motion to protect rights of women, President Joe Biden has assured to protect the abortion right of women. 

The Conservatives dominated the Supreme Court’s decision of denying to freeze the Texas law which would have meant that law would only remain in books, for now, has frustrated activists.

Furthermore, Biden avoiding mention of the term ‘abortion’ in past public remarks and statements too has been the reason of frustration among activists. They say it reflects how the basis of women’s rights, the right to abortion, has taken a backseat among agendas for the Biden administration. 

Taking a hint from criticism, Biden on Thursday harshly criticized the Texas abortion law calling it an “unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights.” He further fiercely called out the “bizarre scheme” of the law that allows private citizens to file civil suits against anyone who helps a pregnant woman seeking an abortion.

Calling this scheme to have the potential to release “unconstitutional chaos”, President Biden said, “Complete strangers will now be empowered to inject themselves in the most private and personal health decisions faced by women.” 

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In an attempt to protect abortion rights, Biden said he is launching a complete government effort from within the White House to respond and counter the law. He has given the task to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department “to see what steps the Federal Government can take to ensure that women in Texas have access to safe and legal abortions”.     

How can the Biden administration counter the Texas law?       

Biden is under growing pressure to react more aggressively as the abortion law comes into effect after six weeks. As President Biden and top Democrats scramble to chalk out the strategy for countering the repressive law, the options available are rather thin. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced on Thursday that within weeks Democrats would be voting to pass Women’s Health Protection Act. This bill would ensure women the right to access abortion also permit medical practitioners to perform procedures for abortion.

“Upon our return, the House will bring up congresswoman Judy Chu’s Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine into law reproductive healthcare for all women across America,” Pelosi said. 

Liberal Democrats are urging Biden to strike down restrictions on access to abortions and also the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funding for most abortions.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Kathy Hochul Takes Charge in Crisis Mode as New York’s new governor
Americas

Kathy Hochul Takes Charge in Crisis Mode as New York’s new governor

In the recent turn of events, Kathy Hochul has been announced as New York’s 57th governor. She will be the first woman ever to hold the position. This happened after the disgraced Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation goes into effect and he hands over the reins of state government.

Hochul has been Cuomo’s lieutenant governor since 2015 and now will take over the complicated machinery and immense power of state government. During her term as well, she is expected to face enormous challenges as she assumes authority over an executive chamber mired in scandal and a state struggling with myriad crises created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few of the issues, to begin with, are naming her lieutenant governor, rise in Covid cases due to the Delta variant inspite of the solid vaccination rate, New York’s precarious economy and educational reopenings and expiration of the eviction moratorium.

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The 62-year-old governor Hochul will have to repair the damage of her predecessor Cuomo who resigned from the position in a wake of the scandal. Many believe that Hochul has to come in and heal Albany somehow after decades of corruption and bullying. She has to take the front charge in the toxic environment which includes sexual harassment and assault that’s just rampant and out in the open now.

Ex-Governor Cuomo had to step down after serious sexual allegations were reported against him by 11 women. Along with this, he was also facing a legislative investigation into whether he misled the public about COVD-19 deaths in nursing homes to protect his reputation as a pandemic leader. It is said that he improperly got help from state employees in writing a pandemic book that net him $5 million.

Current Governor Hochul is a resident of the Buffalo area and says that she is prepared and pledged to run a “completely ethical” administration and change the culture that enabled the governor’s harassment, and promised transparency with regards to data on nursing home resident deaths.

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).

Biden defends US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31, touts US of achieving objectives
Americas

Biden defends US troops withdrawal from Afghanistan by August 31, touts US of achieving objectives

 On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced that United States would be withdrawing all of its troops from Afghanistan by August 31. Pledging that he would not send another American generation to Afghanistan, Biden said, “Our military mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31.” The earlier deadline of troops withdrawal was set as September 11, but Pentagon has confirmed that more than 90% of withdrawal operation has already been completed.

Speaking after the announcement, Biden fiercely defended his decision of ending 20 years of American war in Afghanistan stressing that the country can no longer afford any more loss of human life and the mission that has slid off the initial course clearly. President Biden said in White House’s East Room in his remarks, “Let me ask those who want us to stay: How many more? How many thousands more American daughters and sons are you willing to risk? And how long would you have them stay?”

Before President Biden made the announcement on Thursday afternoon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “We’re not going to have a ‘mission accomplished’ moment in this regard. It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily.”

President Biden said senior defense officials are in agreement that moving as swiftly as possible in the operation was the most effective way to protect US troops and ensure their safe return. He added that in the withdrawal no American service member had been lost. Last week US troops left their main airbase in Bagram, north of Kabul, in middle of night even without informing the Afghan military who had to overtake the critical airbase.

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Retired Maj Gen James “Spider” Marks says that he does not see any future of Afghanistan other than a civil war specially as Taliban are surging their control in vital regions of the country.

Biden noted that during the 20 year long war in Afghanistan, 2,448 American lives had been lost with another 20,722 wounded. He reiterated that any troop staying back in Afghanistan would mean more US casualties. “I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” the president said. “We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” he added. “And it’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”

President assured that US would continue to provide any humanitarian and civilian assistance in Afghanistan along with defending rights to children and women in the country.

Supporters of Peru’s competing presidential candidates take to roads amid election frenzy
Americas

Supporters of Peru’s competing presidential candidates take to roads amid election frenzy

Supporters of Peru’s competing presidential candidates – rightwinger Keiko Fujimori and socialist Pedro Castillo – have resorted to the streets after the closely contested 6 June election has taken a legal route.

A new judge, on Saturday, was sworn into the panel overseeing disputes as Lima’s streets filled up with protesting supporters.

Left-wing union leader Castillo has declared his victory after securing 50.12 per cent votes in the presidential run-off. These are about 44,000 votes more than right-wing Fujimori according to the full vote count.

Thousands of Castillo supporters walked on Saturday towards Plaza San Martín in the capital Lima. They carried giant banners of the socialist candidate, demanding for his win to be confirmed.

On the other hand, the daughter of ex-President Alberto Fujimori has claimed voter fraud. Her camp has asked the Jury of National Elections (JNE) to review thousands of ballots. Castillo’s Free Peru party has denied her allegations of fraud. Castillo’s supporters cite international observers who said that the elections were carried out without any serious irregularity. The US state department has also described the process as a “model of democracy”. These reports bring a sense of comfort to Castillo’s supporters.

The country’s electoral process dived into further uncertainty this week after one of the four magistrates of the jury reviewing the ballots quit after disagreeing with the other officials over requests to nullify votes.

The leftist, Fujimori, has been making claims of fraud but with little evidence.

It has been 20 days but the country still hasn’t been able to officially decide its president. The police are trying hard to keep the rival groups apart. On Saturday, the jury reformed to allow the process to restart. JNE President Jorge Salas said, “Electoral justice should not be paralysed or blocked, and cannot be halted in this phase of the process”.

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Fujimori’s return to jail deferred as Judge rules in her favour
Americas

Fujimori’s return to jail deferred as Judge rules in her favour

A request to place Keiko Fujimori in pre-trial detention was dismissed by a judge in Peru on Monday.

She faces corruption charges and has lately seen a narrow election defeat.

Fujimori has spent about 16 months in pre-trial detention. As of now, her trial would be deferred until the end of her term if she is named the winner of the recently held presidential elections.

She was released from detention in May last year in view of the coronavirus outbreak, on a condition that she will not leave the country or establishing communication with co-defendants or witnesses from the trial.

The right-wing candidate is lingering behind her rival Pedro Castillo, however, the official result is awaiting the review of contested ballots.

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A Peruvian judge has rejected a prosecutor’s request to let presidential election candidate Keiko Fujimori back to remand prison for allegedly not complying with her bail conditions for the charges of money laundering that she faces.

She is alleged to have received $1.2m from a Brazilian construction company named Odebrecht to fund her previous presidential campaigns in 2011 and 2016.

Fujimori is the eldest daughter of the imprisoned ex-president Alberto Fujimori.

Prosecutor José Domingo Pérez asked Judge Víctor Zúñiga that she, Fujimori, breached bail restrictions by establishing contact with a witness in the case.

The judge, however, found the claim was “without evidence” since she had not been given a prior warning. He then extended Fujimori’s bail.

Fujimori, for her part, said that the prosecutor’s request was “arbitrary, unjust, and disproportionate” as many of her supporters demonstrated outside.

The prosecutor who was seeking Fujimori’s return to jail for violating her parole conditions and said that he would appeal the judge’s ruling.

According to unofficial results, Fujimori has also failed to win her most recent presidential opponent, but only by a margin of around 44,000 votes.

Pedro Castillo claims victory in Peru’s presidential run
Americas

Pedro Castillo claims victory in Peru’s presidential run

Pedro Castillo, Peru’s left-wing candidate, declared his victory in the presidential election after a lengthy vote count resulted in a narrow lead tilting towards him.

His right-wing rival, Keiko Fujimori, pledged to fight the result and is yet to concede.

The counting finished with Castillo 44,058 votes ahead of Fujimori on Tuesday. Fujimori has made allegations of fraud and has tried to get some votes annulled but has little proof to substantiate. Castillo, on the other hand, announced his win on Twitter as he thanked his supporters.

“A new era has begun,” Castillo said. “Millions of Peruvians have held up in defence of their dignity and justice.”

The 51-year-old rural school teacher, Castillo, garnered 50.12% to Fujimori’s 49.87%, as per ONPE election body.

The JNE jury is to call the final winner.

Fujimori asked her supporters in Lima on Tuesday to keep fighting and “defend Peru’s democracy.” Some notable Fujimori supporters even called for fresh elections to be held.

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Castillo’s Free Peru Party has nudged down the allegations of fraud in the election. His running mate for vice president, Dina Boluarte, termed the call for a  new election as an attempt to “generate violence.”

Castillo vowed earlier in the day that he would not allow his rivals to deny the will of the people and annul the elections, which has seen advocates on both sides take to the roads in recent days.

Castillo told the press at the Lima headquarters that he would respect the decision of the electoral authorities and requested them to end the ambiguity by confirming the result quickly.

The sudden rise of the 51-year-old former teacher has knocked Peru’s political and business elite and is set to have a meaningful effect on the vital mining industry of the world’s second-largest copper producer. Castillo is planning sharp tax increases on the sector.

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