Pelosi pursues articles of impeachment against Trump, says democracy at stake

Pelosi pursues articles of impeachment against Trump, says democracy at stake
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi responds forcefully to a question from a reporter who asked if she hated President Trump, after announcing earlier that the House is moving forward to draft articles of impeachment against Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, on Dec. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Updated 06 December 2019

Pelosi pursues articles of impeachment against Trump, says democracy at stake

Pelosi pursues articles of impeachment against Trump, says democracy at stake
  • House panel could approve impeachment charges by Dec. 12
  • Trump assails “Do Nothing” Democrats, vows: “We will win!“

WASHINGTON: Warning that US democracy is at stake, House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi directed a congressional committee on Thursday to draft articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, a historic step setting up a fight over whether to oust him from office.
In a dramatic televised statement, Pelosi accused the Republican president of abusing his power and alluded to Britain’s King George III, the monarch against whom the American colonies rebelled in forming the United States in 1776, saying that in the United States, “the people are the king.”
“Our democracy is what is at stake. The president leaves us no choice but to act because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit. The president has engaged in abuse of power, undermining our national security and jeopardizing the integrity of our elections,” said Pelosi, the top Democrat in Congress.
At the heart of the Democratic-led House’s impeachment inquiry is Trump’s request that Ukraine launch an investigation targeting Joe Biden. The former vice president is a top contender for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
“Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and our heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment,” Pelosi said. She had opened the investigation in September.
She was referring to Jerrold Nadler, whose House Judiciary Committee has the responsibility of drawing up the formal charges that would later be voted on by the full House.
Two people knowledgeable about the process said the panel could draft and recommend the articles of impeachment to the House as early as Dec. 12. Democrats said lawmakers would work through the weekend to get them written.
The charges could include abuse of power, bribery, obstruction of Congress and obstruction of justice.

Senate trial
If articles of impeachment are passed as expected, that would lead to a trial in the Senate. Republicans, who control the Senate, have shown little support for convicting and removing him.
Pelosi was asked what it would take for Republicans to support impeachment as she took questions at a Town Hall on CNN on Thursday night. “I can’t answer for the Republicans, they’ve taken an oath to Donald Trump,” she answered.
Trump, who has denied wrongdoing, wrote on Twitter: “The Do Nothing, Radical Left Democrats have just announced that they are going to seek to Impeach me over NOTHING.”
“The good thing is that the Republicans have NEVER been more united. We will win!” Trump said.
Pelosi’s announcement clearly signaled that she believes Democrats have the votes in the 435-seat House to impeach. She acted after receiving overwhelming support in a party meeting on Wednesday night, a source familiar with the meeting said.
The impeachment drama is unfolding at a time of deep partisan divisions across the United States that have widened during Trump’s tumultuous presidency.
The inquiry’s focus is a July 25 telephone call in which Trump asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to open an investigation into Biden and his son Hunter, and a discredited theory promoted by Trump and his allies that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 US election.
Hunter Biden had joined the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma while his father was vice president. Trump has accused the Bidens of corruption. They have denied wrongdoing and the allegations have not been substantiated.

Security aid
Democrats have accused Trump of abusing his power by withholding $391 million in security aid to Ukraine — a vulnerable US ally facing Russian aggression — as leverage to pressure Kiev into conducting investigations politically beneficial to Trump.
Republicans accuse Democrats of trying to overturn the results of the 2016 election. They have described Trump’s actions as aimed at weeding out corruption in Ukraine, not getting political dirt on Biden.
They also argue the inquiry has failed to produce first-hand evidence showing Trump made US aid to Ukraine or a White House meeting for its president contingent on Kiev pursuing the investigations.
On Wednesday, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing in which three constitutional law experts called by Democratic lawmakers said Trump had committed impeachable offenses. A fourth expert called by Republicans called the inquiry slipshod and rushed.
Nadler has given Trump until 5 p.m. (2200 GMT) on Friday to say whether he or his legal counsel will participate in upcoming proceedings by calling witnesses, introducing evidence and making a presentation. Nadler has given committee Republicans the same deadline to request witnesses.
Judiciary Democrats said the report by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller documenting Russian interference in the 2016 election could be part of testimony they hear on Monday from a committee lawyer, who is presenting evidence along with a Democratic lawyer from the House Intelligence Committee. Republican committee lawyers are also expected to testify.
Including material from Mueller’s report in an article of impeachment would demonstrate a pattern of behavior involving foreign interference in US elections, House Judiciary Democrat Pramila Jayapal said.
“What we have to think about is what gives us the strongest trial in the Senate,” she told reporters.
The US Constitution empowers the House to impeach a president for “treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”
No US president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. Republican Richard Nixon resigned in 1974 after the House began the process in the Watergate corruption scandal.
Two other presidents were impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate.
In 1998, a Republican-led House passed articles of impeachment against Democratic President Bill Clinton, charges arising from a sexual relationship he had with a White House intern. The other president impeached by the House but left in office by the Senate was Andrew Johnson in 1868, three years after the US Civil War.
Asked if he worried that impeachment would tarnish his legacy, Trump told reporters at the White House: “No, not at all, not at all. It’s a hoax, it’s a big fat hoax.”


Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID

Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID
Updated 53 min 24 sec ago

Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID

Greece slaps restrictions on two tourist islands to curb COVID
  • The Mediterranean country is also battling a wave of wildfires during a protracted heatwave
  • Restrictions will come into effect from Friday and run until Aug. 13

ATHENS: Greece imposed a night time curfew and banned music on two popular tourist islands on Thursday to contain the spread of COVID-19, its civil protection deputy minister said.
The Mediterranean country, which is trying to rebuild a tourist sector hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, is also battling a wave of wildfires during a protracted heatwave.
Restrictions will come into effect from Friday and run until Aug. 13 after a recommendation by the committee of infectious disease experts advising the Greek government.
The areas affected are the island of Zakynthos in western Greece, where the epidemiological load worsened by 69% from a week earlier, and the city of Chania in Crete where it rose 54%.
The restrictions include a night time curfew and a complete 24-hour ban on music at all entertainment venues.
"We call on the residents and visitors in these areas to fully comply with the measures to limit the spread of the virus," the Civil Protection agency said.
Greece reported 2,856 COVID-19 infections on Wednesday and 16 related deaths, bringing the total since the first case was detected in February 2020 to 503,885 and 13,013 respectively.
Last month, Greece's south Aegean islands were marked dark red on the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control's COVID-19 map after a rise in infections, meaning all but essential travel was discouraged.


Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border

Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border
Updated 05 August 2021

Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border

Russia-led drills begin on Afghanistan border
DUSHANBE: Russia on Thursday kicked off military drills near the border with Afghanistan, as Kabul struggles to peg back a Taliban offensive after the withdrawal of US-led troops.
Moscow has positioned itself as bulwark against potential spillover from Afghanistan into Central Asia, where three former Soviet republics share borders with the conflict-wracked country.
The joint exercises at the Kharb-Maidon training ground just 20 kilometers from the Tajik border with Afghanistan involve 2,500 troops from Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, Russia’s Central Military District said in a statement.
The drills that will continue until August 10 are being held in parallel to joint Russian-Uzbek maneuvers featuring 1,500 troops in Uzbekistan’s Termez near the border with Afghanistan.
Russia maintains military bases in both Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia’s two poorest countries.

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash
Updated 05 August 2021

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash

India to deploy ‘neutral force’ after deadly internal border clash
  • Six police officers dead and dozens injured in July 26 border clash
  • The two states have been wrangling over their border for decades

NEW DELHI: India will deploy a “neutral force” at the frontier of two states in its north-east, after their long-running border dispute escalated into a deadly showdown, officials said Thursday.

The July 26 clash on the border between Assam and Mizoram left six police officers dead and dozens injured, in a major embarrassment to the central government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

In a joint statement released Thursday, the governments of both states said a “neutral force” would be deployed by the Indian government in disputed areas.

“For this purpose, both the states shall not send their respective forest and police forces for patrolling, domination, enforcement or for fresh deployment to any of the areas where confrontation and conflict has taken place,” the statement read.

Mizoram was part of Assam until 1972 and became a state in its own right in 1987.

The two states have been wrangling over their border for decades, but such deadly escalations are rare.

The government of Mizoram Thursday also expressed regret — for the first time since the clashes — over the death of the six police from Assam.

Last week, the chief ministers of both states tweeted that they would seek an amicable approach to the dispute.

Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma belongs to Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party while Mizoram chief minister Zoramthanga heads the Mizo National Front — an ally of the ruling BJP alliance.

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UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families

UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families
Updated 05 August 2021

UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families

UK govt aims to relocate 2,500 Afghan translators and families
  • Regular reprisals against Afghan interpreters and their families have escalated as the Taliban have seized vast swathes of the countryside

LONDON: The UK government said on Wednesday it aimed to resettle hundreds more Afghan translators and their families, after criticism from former military top brass it was not doing enough.

Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Home Secretary Priti Patel said they were committed to relocating the families of 500 staff who supported British troops in Afghanistan “as soon as possible” — some 2,500 individuals in total.

The pledge came after published criticism from senior defense figures, urging a review of the relocation scheme in the face of escalating violence in Afghanistan and threats to former local staff.

“There has been considerable misreporting of the scheme in the media, feeding the impression the Government is not supporting our former and current Afghan staff,” Wallace and Patel wrote.

“This could not be further from the truth and since the US announced its withdrawal we have been at the forefront of nations relocating people,” they added.

In response to pressure following the announcement of a US military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the UK accelerated its relocation scheme for Afghan local staff in May.

Since the expansion was announced, 1,400 Afghan staff and their families had been relocated, equalling the total number resettled in Britain since 2014.

Six former heads of the UK armed forces and other senior military figures voiced concern in a letter to The Times last week that Afghan staff had been rejected for relocation because of security concerns.

Often these individuals were deemed ineligible because they were dismissed from service.

The ministers asserted they needed to ensure a “balance between generosity and security” and would now offer relocation to 264 members of Afghan staff who were dismissed for a “relatively minor administrative offense.”

Of these, they said, 121 individuals in that category have already been offered relocation.

The Taliban on Wednesday claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s deadly bomb and gun attack on the capital, Kabul, amid a wider assault by the Islamist group on a string of provincial capitals.

Regular reprisals against Afghan interpreters and their families have escalated as the Taliban have seized vast swathes of the countryside in the weeks following the withdrawal announcement.

As humanitarian displacement from the conflict increases, the UK also said it would make further changes to its rules to allow former Afghan staff and their families to make applications for relocation outside Afghanistan.


Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics

Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics
Updated 05 August 2021

Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics

Tokyo logs record 5,042 cases as infections surge amid Olympics
  • Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases for a total of 970,000
  • Some experts have called for a current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide
TOKYO: Tokyo reported 5,042 new daily coronavirus cases on Thursday, hitting a record since the pandemic began as the infections surge in the Japanese capital hosting the Olympics.
The additional cases brought the total for Tokyo to 236,138. Nationwide, Japan reported more than 14,000 cases on Wednesday for a total of 970,000.
Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since mid-July, and four other areas have since been added and extended until Aug. 31. But the measures, basically a ban on alcohol in restaurants and bars and their shorter hours, are increasingly ignored by the public, which has become tired of restrictions.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied that the July 23-Aug. 8 Olympics have caused a rise in infections.
Alarmed by the pace of the spread, some experts have called for a current state of emergency in Tokyo and five other areas to be expanded nationwide.
Instead, Suga on Thursday announced a milder version of the emergency measures in eight prefectures, including Fukushima in the east and Kumamoto in the south, expanding the areas to 13 prefectures.
Experts at a Tokyo metropolitan government panel cautioned that infections propelled by the more contagious delta variant have become “explosive” and could exceed 10,000 cases a day in two weeks.