Tag Archives: politics

Belarus election: Lukashenko, in attempt for survival seek Putin’s help.

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Russian leader agrees to $1.5bn loan with Minsk and says Belarus crisis should be resolved without foreign interference.

Russia has agreed to a $1.5bn loan with Minsk, President Vladimir Putin said at talks on Monday with Alexander Lukashenko, the embattled Belarusian leader, adding that the Belarusian people should resolve the crisis without foreign interference.

Putin, in comments broadcast on television from the talks in Russia’s Sochi, said he thought a proposal by Lukashenko to carry out constitutional reform was logical and timely.

Lukashenko arrived in Sochi to meet Putin on Monday, as protests continued across Belarus seeking the end of his rule following a disputed August 9 election.

His plane landed in the Black Sea region a day after police arrested 774 people at anti-government rallies across the country, including 500 in the capital, Minsk, the Belarusian interior ministry said. At least 100,000 protesters flooded the streets of Minsk on Sunday.

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The meeting, in which Lukashenko thanked Putin for his support, marked the first face-to-face talks between the leaders since the contested Belarusian election.

Putin congratulated Lukashenko on his victory at the time, but later described the vote as not ideal. The Russian president’s actions have so far suggest he has no desire to see the leader of a neighbouring ex-Soviet country toppled by pressure from the streets – even if Lukashenko has often proved a prickly and difficult ally.

Protests, some featuring violence, have gripped the country for five weeks since the vote, with anti-Kremlin placards seen at some rallies

“I’m worried about Russia’s intentions to enforce its interests here. We have to be friends with Russia, but it is not good for neighbouring countries to be involved in our internal problems,” said a protester at Sunday’s rally.

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Katsiaryna Shmatsina of the Belarusian Institute of Strategic Studies told Media known to Noble Reporters Media: “Lukashenko this month has exhausted all the tools he used to apply in the previous years which were used to large scale oppression towards people. People would get beaten and detained and then this would scale down protests. This time this doesnt work.”

On Monday, the UN rights council agreed to host an urgent debate on reports of violence at the hands of authorities during protests.

Lukashenko, 65, last week gave an interview to Russian journalists, including Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Kremlin-controlled channel RT, in which he warned that if his government falls, “Russia will be next”.

Lukashenko, who has ruled the Eastern European nation of 9.5 million people with an iron fist since 1994, has previously blamed the West for fomenting demonstrations in Belarus in hopes of turning it into a “bridgehead against Russia”.

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Reporting from Minsk, NRM said: “Lukashenko has left Belarus for the first time since the political crisis has started and his bargaining position has not improved after this mass rally on Sunday. He was hoping to keep the numbers low to show to President Putin that he has everything under control which obviously didn’t work.

“He needs more support from President Putin then ever before. And Putin is willing to give him his support because Putin really wants to prevent Belarus to fall in the hands of the West and possibly NATO. But that support will come at a price.”

Belarusian opposition politician Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, currently in Lithuania, warned Putin against signing any agreement with Lukashenko.

“She said she was sorry Putin was having a dialogue with an usurper and not with the Belarusian people,” said Vaessen.


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Joe Biden calls Trump Climate Pyromaniac.

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Trump goes to California to meet with wildfire responders, as Biden derides ‘climate denial’.

Biden has condemned Trump’s “climate denial” while calling him a “climate arsonist” moments before the president arrived in wildfire-ravaged California, where he’s set to meet with local and federal responders.

Trump is traveling to California amid wildfires that have ravaged the state [File: John G Mabanglo/EPA]

“If we have four more years of Trump’s climate denial, how many suburbs will be burned in wildfires? How many suburban neighborhoods will have been flooded out? How many suburbs will have been blown away in superstorms?” Biden said.

“If you give a climate arsonist four more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised if we have more of America ablaze? If you give a climate denier 4 more years in the White House, why would anyone be surprised when more of America is under water?” said Biden, before detailing his plans to prioritise renewable energy.

Democrats have said the West Coast fires are clearly related to Climate Change, while Trump has portrayed the blazes as the product of poor forest management.

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[LIVE]

  • United States President Donald Trump heads to fire-ravaged California on Monday, as Democratic Candidate Joe Biden, in Delaware, calls him a “climate arsonist”.
  • Kamala Harris hosts virtual fundraisers with Hillary Clinton, Maya Rudolph and Amy Poehler 
  • Mike Pence campaigns in Janesville, Wisconsin
  • Trump held his first indoor rally in three months on Sunday, prompting rebuke from Nevada governor
  • Monday marks 50 days until the November 3 vote.

#Newsworthy…

Belarus elections: Another opposition detained by ‘men on mask’

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Apparent detention of Maxim Znak, a lawyer and opposition group member, comes after case involving Maria Kolesnikova.

One of the last remaining members of the Belarusian opposition’s Coordination Council at large, lawyer Maxim Znak, has been detained in Minsk by masked men, according to his colleagues.

Znak’s apparent detention came a day after the most prominent opposition figure still in Belarus, Maria Kolesnikova, was detained at the Ukrainian border after she prevented authorities from expelling her by tearing up her passport and jumping out of a car.



Znak, who had worked as a lawyer for jailed presidential hopeful Viktor Babaryko, had been due to participate in a video call but did not show up, instead sending the word “masks” to the group, Babaryko’s press service said on Wednesday.

It said a witness had also seen Znak, 39, being led down the street near his offices by several men in civilian clothes and wearing masks.

Znak was one of the last two members of the Coordination Council’s governing praesidium to remain free [Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters]

Along with Svetlana Alexievich, a 72-year-old Nobel Prize-winning author, Znak was the last of the seven members of the Council’s governing praesidium to remain free.

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Others have been detained or forced to leave Belarus, in an intensifying crackdown by President Alexander Lukashenko’s government over a disputed election.

Previous incident
The Coordination Council was set up by the opposition forces to work towards negotiating a peaceful transfer of power after main opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya rejected Lukashenko’s claim that he had been re-elected to a sixth term in an August 9 vote.

The disputed election has sparked the biggest anti-government demonstrations of Lukashenko’s 26-year rule, with tens of thousands taking to the streets for weeks to demand he resign.

Lukashenko’s security services hit back with waves of arrests, deadly violence against protesters and a campaign of intimidation and expulsion against opposition leaders.

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Meanwhile, Lukashenko is preparing to travel to Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although no date has been set yet.

Putin quickly congratulated Lukashenko on his victory last month and has offered Russia’s support.

Lukashenko gave an interview this week to Russian journalists, including Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of Kremlin-controlled channel RT, in which he warned that if his government falls, “Russia will be next”.

Anti-Kremlin placards could be seen at a huge protest march in Minsk on Sunday


#Newsworthy…

Belarus elections: Protest leader ‘abducted’

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Unidentified people reportedly detain Maria Kolesnikova in central Minsk as police arrest demonstrators.

Belarusian protest leader Maria Kolesnikova has been abducted by unidentified individuals in central Minsk, according to the Belarusian Tut.By media outlet, citing a witness.

Masked men took her and drove off in a minivan, said Tut.By.

The development on Monday came hours after security forces arrested 633 protesters following a mass anti-government rally on Sunday, the latest since the disputed August election.

Police in Minsk said they had not arrested Kolesnikova, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

Kolesnikova is the last one left in Belarus of three female politicians who joined forces before the August 9 presidential election to challenge longtime leader Alexander Lukashenko.

A vocal critic of Lukashenko, she has played an important role in the country’s post-election political crisis, which has seen weeks of mass protests and strikes by people who accuse the strongman of rigging his re-election, something he denies.

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Before the vote, Kolesnikova teamed up with opposition presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya who later fled to Lithuania, and with Veronika Tsepkalo, who has also since left the country.

Another leading activist, Olga Kovalkova, arrived in Poland on Saturday, saying she had been told she would face arrest if she stayed in Belarus.

Tsepkalo told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media from Poland that her allies in Belarus still did not have any information on Kolesnikova’s whereabouts.

“Hopefully she will be released as soon as possible. I really worry about her,” she said.

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Tsepkalo also said it was “not safe right now for the leaders and as you can see all the leaders are put in prison, detained or had to leave the country”.

“Lukashenko isolates the strongest leaders. During this presidential season, he has put two opposition leaders in prison. My husband is facing up to 15 years behind bars on criminal charges,” she said.

Tsikhanouskaya said the reported abduction of Kolesnikova looked like an attempt by authorities to derail the opposition’s Coordination Council and intimidate its members.

The economy
Earlier on Monday, central bank figures showed Belarus had burned through nearly one-sixth of its gold and foreign exchange reserves, or $1.4bn, in August, as it fought to prop up its rouble currency during the wave of unrest.

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Kolesnikova had announced on August 31 that she was forming a new political party, Together, with the team of jailed opposition figure Viktor Babaryko with whom she had previously worked.

On Sunday, columns of protesters defied a government warning not to march, waving red-and-white opposition flags and shouting “go away” and “you’re a rat”.

Kolesnikova is the last of three female opposition leaders left inside Belarus [Evgeniy Maloletka/AP]

Protests also took place in major cities throughout Belarus.

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and, buoyed by a show of support from traditional ally Russia, has rejected calls for new elections.

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Unprecedented protests broke out when he claimed he had been re-elected with 80 percent of the vote.

Daragh McDowell, principal analyst at the global consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, said economic factors are playing a significant role in the demonstrations, with the country “rapidly running out of money”.

“The IT sector has been repeatedly undermined with the internet shutdowns to disrupt the protesters. We’ve also seen a lot of strikes in the state-owned sector as well. So the Belarussian economy is really on the brink,” McDowell told Al Jazeera.

“The people have lost their fear of Lukashenko, he’s lost a lot of his authority. No matter how many riot police he’s deployed to the streets, it just hasn’t stopped people from continuing to come out.”


#Newsworthy…

Belarus elections: Protesters march harder over Lukashenko’s nay

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Protests against strongman Lukashenko intensify as 100,000 take to the streets of Minsk following disputed re-election.

Tens of thousands of people marched through Minsk on Sunday calling on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down in mass demonstrations that showed no sign of abating nearly a month after an election his opponents say was rigged.

Columns of protesters defied a government warning not to march, waving red-and-white opposition flags and shouting “go away” and “you’re a rat”.

Protests also took place in major cities throughout Belarus, said interior ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova. Crowd sizes for those protests were not immediately reported, but Ales Bialiatski, head of the Viasna human rights organisation, said the demonstration in Minsk attracted more than 100,000 people.

The interior ministry said at least 100 people were arrested. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported several people were injured when police broke up a protest outside a state-run tractor factory.

Video footage shown by local media outlet TUT.BY showed women shouting “shame” at masked members of the security forces who dragged people away into detention. Troops, water cannon, armoured personnel carriers were deployed to the city centre ahead of the march.

“This sea of people cannot be stopped by military equipment, water cannons, propaganda and arrests. Most Belarusians want a peaceful change of power and we will not get tired of demanding this,” said Maria Kolesnikova, a leader of the Coordination Council set up by the opposition to try to arrange a dialogue with the 66-year-old Lukashenko about a transition of power.

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Daragh McDowell, principal analyst at the global consulting firm Verisk Maplecroft, said economic factors are playing a signifcant role in the demonstrations with the country “rapidly running out of money”.

“The IT sector has been repeatedly undermined with the internet shutdowns to disrupt the protesters. We’ve also seen a lot of strikes in the state-owned sector as well. So the Belarussian economy is really on the brink,” McDowell told Media (known to Noble Reporters Media)

“The people have lost their fear of Lukashenko, he’s lost a lot of his authority. No matter how many riot police he’s deployed to the streets, it just hasn’t stopped people from continuing to come out.”

‘Beatings and torture’
Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and, buoyed by a show of support from traditional ally Russia, has rejected calls for new elections.

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Unprecedented protests broke out after Lukashenko claimed re-election with 80 percent of the vote on August 9.

Opposition rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said she won the election, but Lukashenko’s security forces have arrested thousands of protesters, many of whom accused police of beatings and torture.

Several people have died in the crackdown, but Belarusians have been demonstrating across the country for nearly a month, with more than 100,000 people flooding the streets of the capital, Minsk, for four straight weekends.

Dozens of people, including student protesters and journalists covering rallies were arrested this week.

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The interior ministry said in a statement that 91 protesters had been detained on Saturday, and said it would beef up security and take “take all necessary measures to suppress such actions and prevent violations of public order” on Sunday.

Tikhanovskaya, who will travel to Warsaw to meet the Polish prime minister next week, said in a video address on Saturday the momentum of the protests was irreversible.

“Belarusians have already changed, they have awakened and it is impossible to push them back into the former mindset. Remember we are strong as long as we are united,” Tikhanovskaya said.

Tikhanovskaya contested the election after her blogger husband was jailed and barred from running along with several other prominent Lukashenko critics.

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She left Belarus under pressure from authorities and took shelter in EU member Lithuania.

On Friday, Tikhanovskaya addressed a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by video link, calling for sanctions against those responsible for the alleged electoral fraud and rights violations.

The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have blacklisted Lukashenko and 29 high-ranking officials in his administration, but other European Union members appear reluctant to target the Belarus strongman personally.

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In an interview published in the Financial Times on Sunday, Lithuania’s foreign minister urged the European Union to impose sanctions on Belarus and counter Russia’s influence or risk undermining the credibility of its foreign policy.

“Sometimes we react too late and our measures are fragmented and aren’t making any impression on society or the people in power,” Linas Linkevicius said.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have imposed travel bans on Lukashenko and 29 other Belarusian officials without waiting for the rest of the EU to act, signalling impatience with the West’s cautious approach.

Russia has said it will respond to any Western attempts to “sway the situation”, and President Vladimir Putin has raised the possibility of sending military support.

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Putin has been eager to unify Russia and Belarus, and Moscow has accompanied its recent offers of economic and military aid with calls for tighter integration.

Lukashenko has in the past ruled out outright unification and sought to play Moscow against the West, but his options now are limited.

On Thursday, Lukashenko hosted Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and replaced the chief of the KGB security service in what some analysts said might have been done under pressure from Moscow.

The embattled leader said Russia and Belarus had agreed on issues they “could not agree earlier”, and he planned to “dot all the i’s” with Putin in Moscow in the next few weeks.


#Newsworthy…

Belarus elections: Protesters hit hard on Lukashenko’s resignation.

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Protests against strongman Alexander Lukashenko intensify as he refuses to quit following disputed re-election.

BaThousands of Belarusians have staged a peaceful new march, keeping pressure on strongman Alexander Lukashenko who has refused to quit after his disputed re-election and turned to Russia for help to stay in power.

Holding red-and-white flags and placards, protesters including many students took to the streets of the capital Minsk on Sunday despite authorities mounting a massive show of force and detaining some demonstrators.

Troops, water cannon, armoured personnel carriers and armoured reconnaissance vehicles were deployed to the city centre ahead of the march and metro stations in Minsk’s centre were closed.

Unprecedented protests broke out after Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet nation for 26 years, claimed re-election with 80 percent of the vote on August 9.

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Opposition rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya says she has won the vote but Lukashenko’s security forces have arrested thousands of protesters, many of whom accused police of beatings and torture.

Several people have died in the crackdown but Belarusians have been demonstrating across the country for nearly a month, with more than 100,000 people flooding the streets of the capital, Minsk, for three straight weekends.

Dozens of people, including student protesters and journalists covering rallies, were arrested this week.

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On Saturday, about 4,000 people took to the streets and more than 90 people were arrested, the interior ministry said.

Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political novice, urged supporters to turn up for Sunday’s “March of Unity” set to begin at 11:00 GMT.

“Remember we are strong as long as we are united,” she said in a short video address.

Women in Minsk hold signs as they rally against police brutality during protests to reject the presidential election results [Reuters]

Tikhanovskaya contested the election after her blogger husband was jailed and barred from running along with several other prominent Lukashenko critics.

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She left Belarus under pressure from authorities and took shelter in EU member Lithuania.

On Friday, Tikhanovskaya addressed a meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) by video link, calling for sanctions against those responsible for the alleged electoral fraud and rights violations.

The Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have blacklisted Lukashenko and 29 high-ranking officials in his administration but other European Union members appear reluctant to target the Belarus strongman personally.

Russia has said it will respond to any Western attempts to “sway the situation” and President Vladimir Putin has raised the possibility of sending military support.

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Putin has been eager to unify Russia and Belarus, and Moscow has accompanied its recent offers of economic and military aid with calls for tighter integration.

Lukashenko has in the past ruled out outright unification and sought to play Moscow against the West but his options now are limited.

On Thursday, Lukashenko hosted Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and replaced the chief of the KGB security service in what some analysts said might have been done under pressure from Moscow.

The embattled leader said Russia and Belarus had agreed on issues they “could not agree earlier” and he planned to “dot all the i’s” with Putin in Moscow in the next few weeks.


#Newsworthy…

OndoDecide’20: APC Govs, leaders on their heels as Akeredolu flag off re-election campaign. [Nigeria]

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Governors of the All Progressive Congress (APC) stormed Akure, the Ondo state capital on Saturday as Rotimi Akeredolu kicked off his re-election campaign ahead of the November poll.

Some of the Governors present in Akure were Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state, Abdullahi Ganduje of Kano state, and Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state.

However, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who was expected to flag-off the campaign was absent.

Also absent was the National Leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.

The party’s flag was presented to Akeredolu by acting National Chairman and Yobe state Governor, Mai Mala Buni.

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“Ondo State is receiving first-class governance,” Sanwo-Olu said during his speech. “Ondo state is receiving a progressive man that has brought about real development.”

Akeredolu has “confirmed all promises,” Fayemi said as he urged the crowd at the campaign event to return the Governor for a second term. “Four more years of APC is four more years of development.”

Speaking in Yoruba, Akeredolu warned his supporters that “there is work to do” in order to prevent contesting parties from rigging the election.

Also present at the event was the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi.

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“The turnout here is an indication that he is done well for the people of Ondo state,” the Minister said, “and that there is a very great likelihood that he will be re-elected. And I believe that when he is re-elected, he will perform better than what he has done now, despite the limited resources he has.”

APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu was with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Akure, the Ondo State capital on September 5, 2020, before the campaign kickoff event took place.

‘The masses are with us’
Meanwhile, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party postponed the flag-off of its campaign for candidate Eyitayo Jegede till September 12; it was originally scheduled for today.

Instead, the PDP campaign team met in Ibadan to strengthen strategy for the November 10 election.

Jegede, after the meeting, said the APC stood no chance.

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“The people of Ondo state have now seen the negative effects of APC administration,” he said.

“If they are sure of their position, then they should not have threatened violence, they shouldn’t have said they are relying on federal might, which is what they have been saying all along.

“The masses are with us and they should not impose any violence on the state; let’s have a free and fair election, any day, any time APC will go down.”

The National Organising and Mobilising Secretary of the PDP, Sen. Austin Akobundu, also said the PDP will not take anything for granted in its quest to reclaim Ondo state.


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Joe Biden includes former rival ‘in his team’

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The former US vice president is also adding senior officials who served under US President Barack Obama to his team.

Joe Biden’s United States presidential campaign has added former Democratic primary rival Pete Buttigieg, along with senior officials who served under President Barack Obama, to an expanded White House transition team.

Biden added four new co-chairs to the team led by his longtime ally Ted Kaufman: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, former Obama economic adviser Jeffrey Zients, Louisiana Representative Cedric Richmond and his campaign adviser, Anita Dunn.

He also named Buttigieg, a military veteran and former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, to the advisory board, together with former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, and Susan Rice, national security adviser to Obama who was on the shortlist to be Biden’s running mate.

“We are preparing for this transition amid the backdrop of a global health crisis and struggling economy,” Kaufman said.

“This is a transition like no other, and the team being assembled will help Joe Biden meet the urgent challenges facing our country on day one.”

Kaufman said the expertise of advisory board members will help Biden respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, which continues to ravage the US, and the economic recession.

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Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, who has been advising Biden on the pandemic response, has also joined the transition team.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg has been added to Joe Biden’s transition team [File: Richard W Rodriguez/AP]

Zients was tasked with taking over after the botched roll-out of the Obamacare enrollment website in 2013.

Lujan Grisham has a background in health and aging and has led her state’s coronavirus response.

Other new transition team members include Teresa Romero, president of the United Farm Workers; Lonnie Stephenson, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; and Tony Allen, president of the historically black Delaware State University.


#Newsworthy…

Montenegro’s Bosniaks in ‘fear & anxiety’ after election.

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Bosniak minority has been targeted in series of attacks after election ends in a new majority dominated by nationalists.

Bosniak citizens of Montenegro say fear and anxiety pervades their communities after a series of attacks and vandalism targeted the minority population following the country’s parliamentary election, which ushered in a new majority government dominated by right-wing nationalists.

The intense election campaign pitted President Milo Djukanovic’s pro-Western Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS) against the right-wing “For the Future of Montenegro” (ZBCG) bloc, comprised mainly of Serb nationalist parties that seek closer ties with Belgrade and Moscow.

ZBCG, combined with two other opposition alliances, achieved a razor-thin majority grabbing 41 out of 81 seats in parliament, bringing the DPS rule to an end after leading the NATO-member country for 30 years.

The campaign largely focused on a dispute over a law on religious rights introduced in late 2019, staunchly opposed by the Serbian Orthodox Church (SPC).

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The SPC argued the law allows the state to confiscate its property in order to set up a separate church, sparking protests over the last 10 months supported by the opposition. The government has denied the allegation.

Opposition supporters celebrate after parliamentary elections in front of the Serbian Orthodox Church of Christ’s Resurrection in Podgorica, Montenegro [Risto Bozovic/AP]

Attacks and provocations against Bosniaks began as soon as exit poll results were released last Sunday and opposition supporters began celebrating on the streets.

Bosniaks are the third largest ethnic group in the small Adriatic nation of 622,000 after Montenegrins and Serbs.

Two Bosniaks, a young man and his father, were attacked at a cafe in the city centre of Pljevlja on Sunday evening

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Abid Sabanovic, 22, from the town of Pljevlja told Noble Reporters Media‘s known Media some far-right supporters drove through Bosniak neighbourhoods with the sole aim of provoking residents there.

“These parts of the city aren’t situated on the main roads so there was no reason to go there,” Sabanovic said, adding the supporters were singing ultranationalist Chetnik songs about Draza Mihajlovic – a World War II-era Chetnik Serb figure .

“Such lyrics have nothing to do with the election, rather they represent an expression of nationalism,” Sabanovic said, adding there is “fear, anxiety” among Bosniaks.

Mihajlovic was the leader of the Serb nationalist Chetnik movement, many members of which collaborated with Nazi forces. According to historians, Chetnik forces killed tens of thousands of Bosniaks, Croats and other non-Serbs in the former Yugoslavia.

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History repeated itself in the early 1990s when Serb forces identifying with the Chetnik movement committed genocide and war crimes in Bosnia and Herzegovina, killing Bosniaks and Croats to make way for a Greater Serbia.

Bosniaks in neighbouring Pljevelja, situated 40km east of the Bosnian border, were not exempt from violence either. In 1992, with the outbreak of war in neighbouring Bosnia, authorities persecuted and killed Bosniaks in and around Pljevlja.

By July of that year, more than a dozen Bosniak villages near Pljevlja were “ethnically-cleansed”, and in September a series of 27 explosions targeted Bosniak stores and homes. Mosques were destroyed.

“It’s not surprising [they were singing ultranationalist songs] considering that both the SPC and the leading opposition party nurture ultranationalism and the Chetnikism,” Sabanovic said.

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Threats of genocide
On Tuesday, unknown assailants broke the windows of the Islamic community’s local office in Pljevlja and left a note reading: “Plevlja will be Srebrenica”, referring to the genocide against Bosniaks committed by Serb forces in July 1995 in Srebrenica, Bosnia.

The attacks continued until Thursday when the head imam in Pljevlja posted photos on Facebook showing graffiti scrawled on the brick wall and windows of a property reading “Turks” and “Srebrenica”.

An opposition supporter holds up a flag reading Russia after general elections in Podgorica, Montenegro [Savo Prelevic/AFP]

Also drawn was the 4S cross, an old Serbian symbol used by Serbian far-right nationalists.

Photos were shared on social media of messages written on roads and signs in a village near Pljevlja reading: “Move out Turks”, “Srebrenica”, 4S and “92”.

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“Some are really afraid. We often hear from elders how this all reminds them of 1992 when the terror against the Bosniak population of Pljevlja reached its peak,” Sabanovic said.

“Some are avoiding going out on the streets, which is understandable because there were a few instances where security for Bosniaks or their properties were threatened. It’s purely an expression of power.”

Policy analyst Ljubomir Filipovic from Budva told Al Jazeera the violence makes not only Bosniaks, but all progressive people worried about the future of Montenegro.

“The biggest group in the opposition is a xenophobic and Islamophobic community, which was supported by a 10-months long campaign that was portraying ethnic and religious minorities as the ‘regime collaborators’, thus creating a prelude to the violence that is taking place in the Montenegrin streets these days,” Filipovic said.

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Defending mosques?

On Wednesday, leader of ZBCG Zdravko Krivokapic stood with priests of the SPC in front of Pljevlja’s main mosque and site of attacks, holding a banner reading: “We don’t give up holy sites!” in support of the mosque, regional media reported.

Regarding the attack on Pljevlja’s mosque, Krivokapic said at a news conference the same day, “We will defend mosques just as we defended monasteries.”

He added the opposition was not behind the Islamophobic attacks, rather it was “the result of the work of the regime system”, referring to Djukanovic’s DPS, Serbian media reported.

But Sabanovic said as long as pro-Serb leaders do not distance themselves from Chetniks and their ideology – which aims for a homogenous Serbia without minorities – their “defence” of Islamic holy sites cannot be taken seriously.

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“An MP of the Democratic Front [part of the ZBCG bloc] has the title of a Chetnik ruler … We know [the SPC’s most senior bishop in Montenegro] Amfilohije spoke publicly about friendship with [Bosnian Serb convicted war criminal] Radovan Karadzic, the executioner of Bosniaks in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Sabanovic said.

“In 2014, [Amfilohije] spoke about how Islam is a false religion and Muslims are false people [and] that Montenegrins are a creation of communism.

“For the SPC, their banner in front of the mosque has no significance if the genocidal ideology which nearly exterminated the Bosniaks of Pljevlja villages and other parts of Sandzak and eastern Bosnia … is not condemned,” Sabanovic said.

“They only turn out to be hypocrites who obviously only care about scoring cheap political points.”


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Trump rides back on ‘2-times’ vote suggestion

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President urges people who vote by mail to go to polling places and vote again if their ballots have not been counted.


United States President Donald Trump said on Thursday that people who vote early by mail should show up at polling places and vote again if their ballots have not been counted, a walk back from previous comments a day earlier when he suggested residents vote twice to test the mail-in system.

Trump has repeatedly asserted, without evidence, that mail-in voting – expanded by some states because of the coronavirus pandemic – would increase fraud and disrupt the November 3 election, although experts say voter fraud of any kind is extremely rare in the United States.

The president said people could mail in their ballots as early as possible and then follow up with a trip to the polls to see whether their mail-in vote was tabulated.

“If it has you will not be able to Vote & the Mail In System worked properly,” Trump said in a lengthy tweet.

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“If it has not been Counted, VOTE (which is a citizen’s right to do).”

If the mail-in ballot gets to election officials after a person votes at the polls, the in-person vote will be ignored, he said.

“YOU ARE NOW ASSURED THAT YOUR PRECIOUS VOTE HAS BEEN COUNTED, it hasn’t been ‘lost, thrown out, or in any way destroyed’.”

Trump first made the suggestion during his trip on Wednesday to Wilmington, North Carolina.

“Let them send it in and let them go vote,” he said in an interview with WECT-TV. “And if the system is as good as they say it is then obviously they won’t be able to vote” in person.

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Voting more than once in an election is illegal and in some states, including North Carolina, it is a felony not only to vote more than once but also to induce another to do so.

Ballots are due to be mailed in North Carolina on Friday.

The state’s Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat, wrote on Twitter that Trump, a Republican, had “outrageously encouraged” North Carolinians “to break the law in order to help him sow chaos in our election”.

Stein wrote: “Make sure you vote, but do NOT vote twice! I will do everything in my power to make sure the will of the people is upheld in November.”

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Trump’s campaign and the White House also denied that he meant to tell people to vote twice.

“The president is not suggesting anyone do anything unlawful,” White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany told Fox News on Thursday. “What he said very clearly there is make sure your vote is tabulated and if it is not, then vote.”

Felonious double voting
The Democratic National Committee accused Trump of encouraging voter fraud and said the president was undermining confidence in the fairness of the election.

“Let’s be clear: Voting by mail is a safe and secure way for Americans to participate in our democracy – and Trump should be working to make it easier to vote, not harder,” Reyna Walters-Morgan, the DNC’s director of voter protection, said in a statement.

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Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, said a person would not be able to cast two ballots, regardless of if they voted by mail or in-person first. The first vote that is received and processed is the one that counts, he said.

“Voting twice in an election is a felony,” Gannon said. “If you put a ballot in the mail, and it hasn’t arrived yet, and then you vote in-person before your absentee ballot has arrived, your in-person vote will count.”

He said if an absentee ballot showed up after a person had voted in-person, it would not be counted.

Many Americans vote by mail because they cannot make it to the polls in person. Nearly one in four voters cast presidential ballots by mail in 2016.

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The coronavirus pandemic is expected to result in a record number of mail-in ballots this year as voters seek to avoid the risk of infection. Experts have cautioned the expected surge means a winner may not be clear on election night given the time it will take to count and verify all the ballots.

Trump campaigned on Wednesday in North Carolina, known as a battleground state because its population can swing either to Republicans or Democrats and play a decisive role in presidential elections.

National opinion polls suggest Trump, 74, is trailing his Democratic rival Joe Biden, 77, the vice president under then-President Barack Obama. Democrats accuse Republicans of trying to suppress the vote to help their side.

However, the race is much tighter in battleground states, which are crucial for both candidates.


#Newsworthy…


US Election: Facebook set to limit ‘political proclamation’

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Facebook and other social media companies are being scrutinised over how they handle misinformation.


With just two months left until the United States presidential election, Facebook says it is taking more steps to encourage voting, minimise misinformation and reduce the likelihood of post-election “civil unrest”.

The company said on Thursday it will restrict new political advertisements in the week before the election and remove posts that convey misinformation about COVID-19 and voting.

It will also attach links to official results to posts from candidates and campaigns that declare premature victories.

“This election is not going to be business as usual. We all have a responsibility to protect our democracy,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a post. “That means helping people register and vote, clearing up confusion about how this election will work, and taking steps to reduce the chances of violence and unrest.”

Facebook and other social media companies are being scrutinised over how they handle misinformation, given issues with President Donald Trump and other candidates posting false information and Russia’s continuing attempts to interfere in US politics.

Facebook has long been criticised for not fact-checking political ads or limiting how they can be targeted at small groups of people.

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The US elections are just two months away, and with Covid-19 affecting communities across the country, I’m concerned…

With the nation divided, and election results potentially taking days or weeks to be finalised, there could be an “increased risk of civil unrest across the country”, Zuckerberg said.

In July, Trump refused to publicly commit to accepting the results of the upcoming election, as he scoffed at polls that showed him lagging behind Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Trump has also made false claims that the increased use of mail-in voting because of the coronavirus pandemic allows for voter fraud. That has raised concerns over the willingness of Trump and his supporters to abide by election results.

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Asked in an interview on Media (known to Noble Reporters Media) aired on Thursday if he had personally engaged with Trump on his posts about voting, Zuckerberg said he did not think he had recently.

But Zuckerberg said he had had “certain discussions with him in the past where I’ve told him that I thought some of the rhetoric was problematic”.

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, DC, US [File: Erin Scott/Reuters]

Under the new measures, Facebook says it will prohibit politicians and campaigns from running new election advertisements in the week before the election. However, they can still run existing advertisements and change how they are targeted.

Posts with obvious misinformation on voting policies and the coronavirus pandemic will also be removed, the company said.

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Users can only forward articles to a maximum of five others on Messenger, Facebook’s messaging app. The company will also work with the Reuters news agency to provide official election results and make the information available both on its platform and with push notifications.

After being caught off-guard by Russia’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, Facebook, Google, Twitter and other companies put safeguards in place to prevent it from happening again.

That includes taking down posts, groups and accounts that engage in “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and strengthening verification procedures for political advertisements.

Last year, Twitter banned political advertisements altogether, while Alphabet’s Google limited the ways in which election advertisers could micro-target voters.

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Zuckerberg said Facebook had removed more than 100 networks worldwide engaging in such interference over the last few years.

“Just this week, we took down a network of 13 accounts and two pages that were trying to mislead Americans and amplify division,” he said.

But experts and Facebook’s own employees say the measures are not enough to stop the spread of misinformation – including from politicians and in the form of edited videos.

Facebook had previously drawn criticism for its advertisement policy, which cited freedom of expression as the reason for letting politicians like Trump post false information about voting.


#Newsworthy…


US Election: Trump, Joe Biden fold campaigns amid national crisis.

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The candidates kicked off the US general election campaign season this week, reflecting the presidential race’s urgency.


United States President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden have ramped up their campaigns this week, with the former vice president returning to the campaign trail and both candidates holding their first duelling events since their party’s conventions wrapped up.

The campaign blitz represents the urgency of the race for both candidates and comes before the Labor Day holiday on September 7, which historically marks the beginning of the most aggressive general election campaigning.

Amid a coronavirus pandemic that has, in terms of confirmed cases and deaths, hit the US harder than any country in the world, and continued racial unrest in cities across the US that has at times turned violent and deadly, both campaigns have been jockeying to control the narrative.

That began on Monday when Biden, returning to the trail for the first time after taking a removed approach to campaigning amid the pandemic, sought to rebut claims by Trump that “radical left” Democrats were allowing “agitators” and “rioters” to overrun cities and suburbs.

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Instead he presented Trump as a leader whose ineptitude in handling the health crisis has posed a far more pressing security concern to Americans.

During an event in Wilmington, Delaware on Wednesday, in which Biden took questions from reporters for the first time since the Democratic convention, the candidate called safely re-opening schools during the pandemic a “national emergency” while charging Trump “still doesn’t have a real plan” for the crisis.

He also said the police officers involved in the shootings of Breonna Taylor in Louisville Kentucky and Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin should be charged.

Biden is set to visit Kenosha, which is in the key battleground state of Wisconsin, on Thursday, just two days after Trump made a controversial trip to the city, despite pleas from local and state officials that he stay away for fear that his visit would agitate unrest.

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Trump used the trip to highlight his “law and order” message that has become increasingly central to the campaign, decrying property damage and attacks on police during protests as “domestic terror”.

Donald Trump and Joe Biden bolstered their campaigns this week, holding their first duelling events since their parties’ recent conventions [The Associated Press]

“American warriors did not defeat fascism and oppression overseas only to watch our freedoms be trampled by violent mobs here at home,” Trump said on Wednesday during a World War II memorial event in Wilmington, North Carolina in an address that appeared was rushed due to lightning.

With 61 days until the November 3 election, both candidates on Wednesday also announced plans to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the September 11 attacks in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where a hijacked plane crashed in a field, apparently as it was being diverted to Washington, DC.

It was not immediately clear whether their visits to the memorial in Shanksville will overlap, but the visits will likely be the closest that the candidates have been to one another in months.


#Newsworthy…

US Senate Primary: Joe Kennedy III Suffers defeat from Markey in Massachusetts

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It was the first time a Kennedy has lost a race for Congress in Massachusetts.


United States Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts defeated US Representative Joe Kennedy III in Tuesday’s hard-fought Democratic primary, harnessing support from progressive leaders to overcome a challenge from a younger rival who is a member of America’s most famous political family.

It was the first time a Kennedy has lost a race for Congress in Massachusetts.

Markey appealed to voters in the deeply Democratic state by positioning himself as aligned with the liberal wing of the party. He teamed up with a leading progressive, New York Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the Green New Deal climate change initiative – and at one point labelled Kennedy “a progressive in name only”.

That helped Markey overcome the enduring power of the Kennedy name in Massachusetts. The 39-year-old congressman sought to cast the 74-year-old Markey as someone who is out of touch after spending decades in Congress, first in the House before moving to the Senate.

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At a victory celebration in his hometown of Malden, Massachusetts, Markey ticked off a series of priorities, from support for the Black Lives Matter movement to a call for Medicare for All, to combating climate change, a signature issue for Markey.

Democratic US Representative Joe Kennedy III during a campaign stop in Boston, Massachusetts [AP Photo/Steven Senne] [Daylife]

“Every other problem is linked to it. No solution to any challenge will be successful unless we address it. There will be no peace, no justice and no prosperity unless we stop the march to climate destruction,” he said. “We must pass a Green New Deal.”

To make good on those pledges, Markey said Democrats have to take back control of the US Senate and overthrow President Donald Trump in November.

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“He is the most corrupt, most racist, most incompetent president in American history,” Markey said. “We must banish his agenda of division and destruction to the history books.”

Earlier on Tuesday evening Kennedy said while the results are not the ones he had hoped for, he would work for Markey’s re-election.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez announcing the introduction of public housing legislation as part of the Green New Deal in Washington, US [File: Erin Scott/Reuters]

“The senator is a good man. You never heard me say otherwise,” Kennedy told supporters at an outdoor rally.

In the waning weeks of the campaign, Kennedy leaned into his family’s long political legacy in Massachusetts. His pedigree includes former President John F Kennedy (JFK); former US Senator and US Attorney General Robert F Kennedy, his grandfather; and former US Senator Edward Kennedy, who held a Senate seat in Massachusetts for nearly half a century until his death in 2009.

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Green New Deal

Markey countered by leaning into his own family story – growing up in the working-class city of Malden with a father who drove a truck for the Hood Milk company.

In one campaign video, Markey also paraphrased a famous JFK quote, saying: “We asked what we could do for our country. We went out, we did it. With all due respect, it’s time to start asking what your country can do for you.”

Representative Joe Kennedy III, left, elbow-bumps Senator Edward Markey after their debate for the Democratic primary for senator from Massachusetts, in Springfield, Massachusetts [Matthew J Lee/Pool/The Boston Globe via AP]

Markey also was not shy about talking about the Kennedy family, at one point pressing Kennedy to tell his father – former US Representative Joe Kennedy ll – to stop supporting a political action committee that was running ads against Markey.

“I’m sure your father is watching right now,” Markey said. “Tell your father right now that you don’t want money to go into a super PAC that runs negative ads.”

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Kennedy said he had “no idea” if his father was helping fund the PAC.

Late in the race, Kennedy landed a major endorsement when Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi formally backed his candidacy.

While Markey, who served with Pelosi in the House for decades, congratulated Kennedy, Pelosi’s decision angered some of Markey’s younger progressive supporters. Markey had earlier won the endorsement of Ocasio-Cortez and fellow Massachusetts Democratic US Senator Elizabeth Warren.

“Ed Markey wasn’t afraid. He offered his expertise & partnership. He wasn’t scared of big policy & didn’t use kid gloves. It’s great to watch him overcome the odds and win tonight,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Tuesday night.

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The coronavirus upended the way both candidates could campaign – limiting more traditional means of electioneering like knocking on doors, shaking hands or holding big rallies.

US Senator Ed Markey, during a campaign stop in Boston [AP Photo/Steven Senne]

Instead, the campaigns were largely waged online with virtual rallies, virtual endorsements, virtual fundraisers and virtual roundtable events to discuss issues. Eventually, as Massachusetts began to suppress the virus and emerge from a near lockdown, the candidates began to take their campaigns on the road with social distancing and face masks.

The showdown drew criticism from some Democrats nationally who feared it would siphon time and money away from defeating Trump and winning control of the Senate. It also was not cheap, with both Kennedy and Markey raising and spending millions.

Markey now faces a general election contest where he is considered a strong favourite against the Republican primary winner, Kevin O’Connor, in November.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, AP NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Court abort release of Trump’s tax return.

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A hearing on the merits of Trump’s latest appeal will be held before the November election.


A federal appeals court on Tuesday blocked a New York prosecutor from obtaining Donald Trump’s tax returns while the president’s lawyers continue to fight a subpoena seeking the records. The three-judge panel ruled after hearing brief arguments from both sides.

Trump’s lawyers had asked for a temporary stay while they appeal a lower-court ruling that granted Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr’s office access to Trump’s tax returns. A lawyer for Vance’s office had argued that further delays would only impede their investigation.

“The question at this juncture is quite simple but also quite important,” Trump lawyer William Consovoy said. “Will the president be given an opportunity to appeal that ruling before his personal records are disclosed to the grand jury and the status quo is irrevocably changed?”

A hearing on the merits of Trump’s latest appeal will be held on September 25 after both sides agreed to an expedited schedule – meaning it is possible the matter could be decided before November’s election.

US President Donald Trump during a visit to Mary D Bradford High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin, US [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Trump’s lawyers appealed to the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals last month after a district court judge rejected their renewed efforts to invalidate a subpoena issued to his accounting firm. Judge John M Walker Jr said at Tuesday’s hearing that the subpoenas cover 11 entities engaged in business dealings as far away as Europe and Dubai.

Trump has blasted the long-running quest for his financial records as a “continuation of the most disgusting witch hunt in the history of our country” and predicted the case would again end up before the Supreme Court.

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The Supreme Court ruled last month that the presidency in itself does not shield Trump from Vance’s investigation, but the high court returned the case to US District Judge Victor Marrero’s courtroom to allow Trump’s lawyers to raise other concerns about the subpoena.

US President Donald Trump holding a campaign rally in Londonderry, New Hampshire, US [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Trump’s lawyers then argued that the subpoena was issued in bad faith and overly broad, might have been politically motivated and amounted to harassment. Marrero rejected those claims. Consovoy told the judges Tuesday that the investigation was an “arbitrary fishing expedition”.

Carey Dunne, of the district attorney’s office, said Trump and his lawyers have long misrepresented the scope of the investigation as focusing primarily on hush-money payments that were paid to protect Trump from adultery allegations. Vance’s lawyers have said they are legally entitled to extensive records to aid a “complex financial investigation”.

“The president has complained at every turn that we’ve not announced what the grand jury is looking at as if that itself is bad faith,” Dunne said. “But of course, what the grand jury is looking at is secret. We’re not allowed to make that public, which is what has led to his speculation about the grand jury scope. But none of this speculation is plausible.”

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Even if Vance does get Trump’s tax records, those would be part of a confidential grand jury investigation and not automatically be made public.

Vance, a Democrat, began seeking the Republican president’s tax returns from his longtime accounting firm more than a year ago, after Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen told Congress that the president had misled tax officials, insurers and business associates about the value of his assets.

President Donald Trump speaking from the South Lawn of the White House on the fourth day of the Republican National Convention in Washington, DC [AP Photo/Alex Brandon]

Congress is also pursuing Trump’s financial records, though the Supreme Court last month kept a hold on the banking and other documents that Congress has been seeking and returned the case to a lower court.

Trump is the only modern president who has refused to release his tax returns. Before he was elected, he had promised to do so.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, AP NEWS AGENCY


#Newsworthy…

Jacob Blake: Trump pushes ‘law and order’ in Kenosha.

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The US president visited the Wisconsin city, where Jacob Blake was shot by police, despite pleas from local officials.


United States President Donald Trump decried violence at recent racial justice protests as “domestic terror” while denying there is systemic racism within US law enforcement during a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin.

On Tuesday, the president arrived in the city, where protests have continued since police shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back during an encounter on August 23. Local officials and members of Blake’s family had requested that Trump stay away for fear he would further agitate the situation, which has at times turned violent with property damage and two protesters killed last week.

“We don’t need more pain and division from a president set on advancing his campaign at the expense of our city,” Justin Blake, an uncle, said in a statement as the family of Jacob Blake, who was paralysed in the shooting, held a “community celebration” during Trump’s visit.

“We need justice and relief for our vibrant community,” he said.

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After landing in Wisconsin, a key battleground state in the upcoming election, Trump toured the charred remains of a block besieged by violence and fire and spoke to the owners of a century-old furniture store that had been destroyed.

While meeting with local law enforcement, he blasted Democrats for what he described as enabling the violence and again took credit for deploying the US National Guard to the city, even though Wisconsin’s governor activated the troops and sought reinforcements from other state forces without the involvement of the federal government.

“These are not acts of peaceful protests, but really domestic terror,” Trump said during a round table with law enforcement, referring to objects being thrown at police officers and property damage.

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“Reckless far-left politicians continue to push the destructive message that our nation or our law enforcement are oppressive or racist, they’ll throw out any word that comes to them,” he added.

Supporters of both President Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter came out for Trump’s arrival in Kenosha [File: Morry Gash/The Associated Press]

The visit comes amid weeks of racial justice protests across the country that began after the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota in May. Several high-profile killings of Black citizens have since fuelled the discord.

Trump’s campaign has seized the moment to push a “law and order” message that says US cities and suburbs are under threat of being swallowed by “looters”, “rioters” and “agitators”.

Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic opponent in the November election, has accused the president of stoking tensions for political gain and drawing attention away from the coronavirus.

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“Fires are burning. We have a president who fanned the flames, rather than fighting the flames,” Biden said during a visit to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania amid his return to the campaign trail on Monday.

Biden’s team has considered a visit to Kenosha and has indicated that a trip to Wisconsin was imminent but has not offered details.

The NAACP said Tuesday neither candidate should visit the city as tension simmers.

‘Bad apples’
During the trip on Tuesday, Trump also vowed to build up law enforcement in the country, pledging $1m to the local police force in Kenosha, $4m to help rebuild businesses in the city, and $42m to promote overall public safety in the state.

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Trump’s victory in Wisconsin in 2016 was key to his Electoral College win and remains significant going into November’s election.

Responding to reporters’ questions, Trump denied that there were problems of systemic racism within US law enforcement, instead blaming recent incidents on “bad apples” or good cops who “choke” in decisive moments.

“Other people are calling for structural change, and then you can take the people of Kenosha who aren’t here and you won’t see and they aren’t protesting,” he told reporters. “They want to see change also, they want to see law and order. That’s a change they want.”

United States President Donald Trump toured an area damaged during demonstrations after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin [File: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press]

The visit also comes a day after Trump appeared to defend 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two protesters last week in Kenosha and wounding a third man.

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Is Trump’s message winning? | The Bottom Line
In widely circulated mobile phone footage taken before the shootings, Rittenhouse, who came to the protest armed with a semiautomatic rifle, said he was there to protect property.

On Monday, Trump gave a version of events that appears to diverge from prosecutors’ accounts, saying Rittenhouse was “trying to get away” when he fell “and then they very violently attacked him”.

Prosecutors have said Rittenhouse allegedly shot one man during a confrontation in a parking lot, and was then pursued by protesters who attempted to disarm him.

That is when he fell and then opened fire, killing the second man and wounding a third.


#Newsworthy…

Jacob Blake: Donald Trump visits Kenosha, Wisconsin.

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The visit to the current hotspot of racial unrest comes after Trump defended a gunman accused of killing two protesters.


United States President Donald Trump has plunged head-first into the latest hotspot in the country’s continuing racial justice unrest with a visit to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the city where Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man, was paralysed after being shot in the back seven times by police.

Tuesday’s visit comes despite urging from local officials, including the state’s governor, that the president’s presence would further agitate the days of unrest that have followed the August 23 shootings and which, at times, have turned violent.

“I am concerned your presence will only hinder our healing,” wrote Governor Tony Evers in a letter to Trump earlier this week.

The president will meet with law enforcement and survey “property affected by recent riots”, according to the White House. Trump said on Monday he will not meet Blake’s family. He said he spoke to Blake’s mother’s pastor to set up a phone call with the family but demurred because “they wanted to have lawyers involved and I thought that was inappropriate”.

However, shortly before leaving Washington for Kenosha, Trump told reporters his team was still “making that determination” on a meeting with the family.

The Blake family instead plans to hold a counter-event near where Blake was shot, about two miles from where Trump will be touring the city.

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On Monday, when asked about concerns his visit could make matters worse, Trump responded: “Well it could also increase enthusiasm, and increase love for our country.”

The controversial visit fits into Trump’s larger message that Democratic opponent Joe Biden has sided with “anarchists” and “rioters” amid the unrest. The president, in recent weeks, has increasingly sought to focus attention on what he calls the threat to American cities and suburbs, and away from the coronavirus pandemic.

The governor of Wisconsin has said Trump’s visit to Kenosha will ‘hinder our healing’ [Morry Gash/The Associated Press]

Protesters killed
Trump’s visit also comes a week after two protesters were shot and killed during the demonstrations in Kenosha.

Kyle Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old from Illinois who had come to the demonstration armed with a semi-automatic weapon, was later arrested and charged for the killings, as well as for non-fatally shooting a third man.

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Trump on Monday appeared to defend the teenager – who had said in a widely circulated mobile phone video footage, recorded before the killings, he had come to Kenosha to protect properties.

Police say Rittenhouse fatally shot one man during a confrontation and the teenager fell while being chased by people trying to disarm him. That’s when he allegedly shot and killed a second man.

“That was an interesting situation,” Trump told reporters. “He was trying to get away from them, I guess, it looks like, and he fell. And then they very violently attacked him … He was in very big trouble. He would have been – he probably would’ve been killed.”

Biden, who on Monday returned to the campaign trail for the first time since the Democratic convention, accused Trump of fomenting the violence for political gain.

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He swiftly rebuked Trump’s defence of Rittenhouse in a statement late on Monday.

“Tonight, the president declined to rebuke violence,” said Biden. “He wouldn’t even repudiate one of his supporters who is charged with murder because of his attacks on others. He is too weak, too scared of the hatred he has stirred to put an end to it.”

Battleground state
Wisconsin also remains politically significant for Trump.

The battleground state was key to Trump’s slim 2016 Electoral College victory. While Biden remains up in national polls, his lead has been narrowing as national attention has moved away from the coronavirus and towards the unrest.

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However, Biden continues to lead Trump in Wisconsin polling averages, according to Media (new to Noble Reporters Media).

Trump has sought to take credit for the deployment of National Guard forced to Kenosha, although the reinforcements were requested by the state’s governor. Trump also said he increased other federal forces in the area.

On Monday, Trump said he was heading to the state “to see the people that did such a good job for me”, later telling Media (known to Noble Reporters Media): “I am a tremendous fan of law enforcement and I want to thank law enforcement.”

Before leaving for Kenosha on Tuesday, he added: “One of the reasons I’m making the trip today and going to Wisconsin is because we’ve had such a big success in shutting down what would be, right now, a city that would have been, Kenosha, a city that would have been burnt to the ground right now.”

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, NEWS AGENCIES


#Newsworthy…