Biden slams GOP while Trump urges voters to reject Democrats

Biden slams GOP while Trump urges voters to reject Democrats
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US President Joe Biden attends a rally for New York incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul and other state Democrats on November 6, 2022 in Yonkers, New York. (Getty Images / AFP)
Biden slams GOP while Trump urges voters to reject Democrats
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Former US President Donald Trump holds a rally ahead of the midterm elections, in Miami, on Nov. 6, 2022. (REUTERS)
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Updated 07 November 2022

Biden slams GOP while Trump urges voters to reject Democrats

Biden slams GOP while Trump urges voters to reject Democrats
  • More than 39 million people have voted early in Tuesday’s races, which will decide control of Congress and key governorships
  • Trump is hoping that a strong GOP showing on Election Day will generate momentum for the 2024 run that he is expected to launch this month

YONKERS, New York: President Joe Biden pilloried Republicans up and down ballots across the nation as election deniers who reveled in political violence, while his predecessor, Donald Trump, urged voters to oppose “growing left-wing tyranny” on the final Sunday before midterm elections that could reshape Washington’s balance of power.
Wrapping up a five-state, four-day campaign swing with an evening rally at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers, New York, Biden championed Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul. She’s locked in a tight race with Rep. Lee Zeldin, who is looking to become the state’s first GOP governor since George Pataki left office in 2006.
The president said hundreds of Republican candidates for state, federal and local office are “election deniers, who say that I did not win the election, even though hundreds of attempts to challenge that have all failed, even in Republican courts.”
Biden said that for the deniers, “There are only two outcomes for any election: either they win or they were cheated.”
Biden said Republicans were willing to condone last year’s insurrection at the US Capitol and that, after the recent attack on Paul Pelosi, husband of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, some in that party made “light of it” or were “making excuses.”
“There’s never been a time in my career where we’ve glorified violence based on a political preference,” the president said.
More than 39 million people have voted early in Tuesday’s races, which will decide control of Congress and key governorships — the first national election since a mob overran the Capitol. Earlier Sunday, as Trump addressed supporters in Miami, a reference to the House speaker prompted chants of “Lock her up!” — a stark reminder of just how far apart each side is.
Trump is hoping that a strong GOP showing on Election Day will generate momentum for the 2024 run that he is expected to launch this month.
“I will probably have to do it again, but stay tuned,” Trump said, teasing an event he has with Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, JD Vance, for Monday. “We have a big, big rally. Stay tuned for tomorrow night.”
Trump also told the crowd that “every free and loving American needs to understand that the time to stand up to this growing left-wing tyranny is right now,” while calling on his supporters to reject the “radical left-wing maniacs” and adding that Hispanics would show up strong for GOP candidates.
Sen. Marco Rubio joined Trump at the rally as he seeks reelection. Not attending the Miami event was Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who is running for reelection against Democrat Charlie Crist and is widely considered Trump’s most formidable challenger if he also were to get into the White House race.
Instead, DeSantis held his own, separate events Sunday in another part of the state where he stuck to the centerpieces of his reelection campaign, including railing against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and “wokeness” in schools and other parts of society. The governor’s counter political programing avoided antagonizing Trump — meaning it didn’t deliver the dueling 2024 events that could be in his and Trump’s near future.
Trump said Sunday that Florida would “reelect Ron DeSantis as your governor.” But he was more confrontational during a Pennsylvania rally on Saturday night, referring to Florida’s governor as “Ron DeSanctimonious.”
It’s a rivalry that’s been simmering for more than a year as DeSantis has taken increasingly bold steps to boost his national profile and build a deep fundraising network.
Trump remains the most popular figure in the Republican Party. Still, many of his supporters are eager for the prospect that DeSantis might run, seeing him as a natural successor to Trump, without the former president’s considerable political negatives.
For national Democrats, meanwhile, the focus is on the fate of their narrow control of the House and Senate, which could evaporate after Tuesday.
New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the Democrats’ House campaign arm, is in a tough contest for his seat. But he insisted Sunday that Democrats are “going to do better than people think on Tuesday,” adding that his party is “not perfect” but “we are responsible adults who believe in this democracy.”
“I think this race is razor-close and I think everybody who cares about the extremism in this ‘MAGA’ movement — the racism, the antisemitism, the violence — needs to get out and vote and that’s not just Democrats, it’s independents and fair-minded Republicans,” Maloney told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referring to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan.
Voters may rebuke the party controlling the White House and Congress amid surging inflation, concerns about crime and pessimism about the direction of the country. History suggests the party in power will suffer significant losses in the midterms.
On a weekend that also featured Democratic rallies by former Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, first lady Jill Biden attended church services while campaigning in Houston on Sunday. Like her husband and his presidential predecessors, she argued that democracy itself was on the ballot.
“So much is at stake in this election,” she said. “We must speak up on justice and democracy.”
Traveling in Chicago Vice President Kamala Harris struck a similar tone, saying, “These attacks on our democracy will not only directly impact the people around our country, but arguably around the world.”
Trump has long falsely claimed he lost the 2020 election only because Democrats cheated and has even begun raising the possibility of election fraud this year. Federal intelligence agencies are warning of the possibility of political violence from far-right extremists.
Ronna McDaniel, the Republican National Committee chairwoman, said Democrats were “inflation deniers,” trying to deflect the other side’s branding of her party as anti-democracy for rejecting the results of 2020’s free and fair presidential election simply because Trump lost it.
“If we win back the House and the Senate, it’s the American people saying to Joe Biden, we want you to work on behalf of us and we want you to work across the aisle to solve the problems that we are dealing with,” McDaniel told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, the nation’s largest union of public employees, has been traveling the country rallying for Democrats. He said, “It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be tough, but we aren’t giving up hope.”
“Clearly people are concerned about the economy,” Saunders said. But he added that voters also are “concerned about the freedoms being taken away from them, whether you’re talking about voting rights or whether your talking about a women’s right to choose.”


UK police face calls to prosecute Iranian accused of promoting terrorism

UK police face calls to prosecute Iranian accused of promoting terrorism
Updated 50 sec ago

UK police face calls to prosecute Iranian accused of promoting terrorism

UK police face calls to prosecute Iranian accused of promoting terrorism
  • Sayed Ataollah Mohajerani, a former senior Iranian government official living in London, is accused of backing the fatwa against author Sir Salman Rushdie
  • Human rights lawyers who filed the complaint said UK authorities have an obligation to prosecute international crimes and protect citizens from all forms of terrorism

LONDON: The UK’s Metropolitan police is facing calls to prosecute a former senior Iranian government official accused of endorsing the fatwa against author Sir Salman Rushdie.

Met officers are examining a legal case file that accuses Sayed Ataollah Mohajerani, who lives in London, of violating the Terrorism Act 2006 by promoting terrorism, the Guardian newspaper reported on Monday.

The fatwa against Rushdie, following publication of his 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses,” was issued in February 1989 by Ayatollah Khomeini, who was Iran’s supreme leader at the time. It has never been lifted. In August 2022, Rushdie was stabbed several times and seriously injured while appearing on stage at a literary festival in New York.

A complaint was filed against Mohajerani that same month by Iranian human rights lawyer Kaveh Moussavi and British solicitor Rebecca Mooney, according to the Guardian. It states that Mohajerani was deputy to the Iranian prime minister in 1988 and vice-president for parliamentary and legal affairs between 1989 and 1997, a period of time during which the regime in Tehran ordered the assassinations of hundreds of dissidents in Europe.

Moussavi and Mooney allege that Mohajerani did not attempt to prevent the killings and, since moving to the UK, he has on several occasions lauded as an Iranian national hero Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force, who was killed by a US drone strike in January 2020 in Iraq.

They also say that in his 1989 book, “A Critique of the Satanic Verses Conspiracy,” Mohajerani defended the fatwa against Rushdie and clearly expressed his view that it was religiously justified and irrevocable, and therefore impossible to withdraw.

Mohajerani denied the allegations and said his book is simply a critique of Rushdie’s novel that aims to shed light on its religious origins, the Guardian reported.

“When Salman Rushdie was attacked by an American citizen, I tweeted that I hope Salman Rushdie will recover from this event, and based on William Falkner’s advice, write a novel through concentrating on the beauties and moral values, at the service of human beings,” Mohajerani told the Guardian.

“On the contrary, in ‘The Satanic Verses,’ he added a huge amount of oil to the fire. Hopefully he will find a proper chance to correct himself.”

Mohajerani also said that because of the separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive in Iran, he had no role in the executions of prisoners in 1988.

Moussavi condemned Mohajerani’s defense as being “indicative of his culpability.”

“The idea that this is or was an independent judiciary is plain absurd. That he repeats it confirms again who he really is,” he told the Guardian.

“In law, he was required to protest and do his utmost to stop these crimes and, if unable, he must resign. I doubt very much if his defense counsel will offer these concoctions in a court case, as defense or mitigation.”

Police in London have reportedly said that the complex issues raised by the case file will require significant resources and additional time to investigate.

Mooney, representing the human rights charity Ending Immunity, highlighted the obligations on UK authorities to prosecute international crimes under international law.

“The first duty of the state is to protect its citizens — that requires preemptive, prosecutorial and punitive measures where appropriate,” she said. “That is why we have terrorism laws, including (laws against) promoting terrorism through speech. It is meaningless to have these laws if we do not prosecute.”


UK’s Sunak defends handling of ethics breaches in government

UK’s Sunak defends handling of ethics breaches in government
Updated 19 min 21 sec ago

UK’s Sunak defends handling of ethics breaches in government

UK’s Sunak defends handling of ethics breaches in government
  • Sunak took office just over three months ago, vowing to restore order and probity to government after three years of turmoil under predecessors Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, who quit within weeks after her policies rocked the UK economy

LONDON: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak defended his record on integrity and decisiveness Monday, amid criticism of the way he has handled ethics scandals involving senior Conservatives.
Sunak said he acted “pretty decisively” to fire party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi on Sunday after the government’s standards adviser found that he’d breached ministerial conduct rules by failing to come clean about a tax dispute.
The adviser, Laurie Magnus, found that Zahawi hadn’t told the prime minister that he’d settled a multimillion-pound (dollar) unpaid tax bill, and paid a penalty to the tax office, while he was in charge of the UK Treasury. Magnus said Zahawi’s failure to tell officials about the tax investigation was “a serious failure to meet the standards set out in the ministerial code.”
“What I have done is follow a process, which is the right process,” Sunak said Monday during a visit to a hospital in northeast England. “When all these questions started coming to light about Nadhim Zahawi, I asked the independent adviser to get to the bottom of it and provide me with the facts.”
He said that on the basis of those facts “I was able to make a very quick decision that it was no longer appropriate for Nadhim Zahawi to continue in government.”
Sunak took office just over three months ago, vowing to restore order and probity to government after three years of turmoil under predecessors Boris Johnson — brought down by ethics scandals — and Liz Truss, who quit within weeks after her policies rocked the UK economy.
But critics ask why he did not ask more questions about Zahawi’s tax affairs before appointing him to the key job of party chairman in October, and allege that the government is riddled with bad behavior.
Sunak lost one Cabinet minister, Gavin Williamson, in November over bullying claims, and an investigation is under way into allegations that Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab bullied staff. There is also a separate inquiry into ex-leader Johnson, over claims he secured a loan with the help of a Conservative donor who was later appointed chairman of the BBC by the government.
Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said Sunak “needed a backbone” and should have sacked Zahawi sooner.
“Why do we see our prime minister continuing to prop up such a rogues’ gallery of ministers?” she said.

 


In diplomatic coup, Taiwan president speaks to Czech president-elect

In diplomatic coup, Taiwan president speaks to Czech president-elect
Updated 26 min 56 sec ago

In diplomatic coup, Taiwan president speaks to Czech president-elect

In diplomatic coup, Taiwan president speaks to Czech president-elect
  • In 2016, US President-elect Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Tsai shortly after winning the election, setting off a storm of protest from Beijing

TAIPEI/PRAGUE: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen held a telephone call with Czech President-elect Petr Pavel on Monday, a highly unusual move given the lack of formal ties between their countries and a diplomatic coup for Taipei that is sure to infuriate China.
The two leaders stressed their countries’ shared values of freedom, democracy and human rights during their 15-minute call, their offices said, and Pavel said he hoped to meet Tsai in the future.
Most countries avoid high-level public interactions with Taiwan and its president, not wishing to provoke China, the world’s second largest economy.
Beijing views Taiwan as being part of “one China” and demands other countries recognize its sovereignty claims, which Taiwan’s democratically-elected government rejects.
In 2016, US President-elect Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Tsai shortly after winning the election, setting off a storm of protest from Beijing.
Tsai said she hoped that under Pavel’s leadership the Czech Republic would continue to cooperate with Taiwan to promote a close partnership, and that she hoped to stay in touch with him.
“Bilateral interaction between Taiwan and the Czech Republic is close and good,” her office summarised Tsai as having said.
Pavel, a former army chief and high NATO official who won the Czech presidential election on Saturday, said on Twitter that the two countries “share the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights.”
’ONE-CHINA’ PRINCIPLE
Earlier, China’s foreign ministry had said it was “seeking verification with the Czech side” on media reports that the call was to take place.
“The Chinese side is opposed to countries with which it has diplomatic ties engaging in any form of official exchange with the Taiwan authorities. Czech President-elect Pavel during the election period openly said that the ‘one-China’ principle should be respected,” the ministry said.
Pavel will take office in early March, replacing President Milos Zeman, who is known for his pro-Beijing stance.
Zeman spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping this month and they reaffirmed their “personal friendly” relationship, according to a readout of their call from Zeman’s office.
The Czech Republic, like most countries, has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan, but the two sides have moved closer as Beijing ratchets up military threats against the island and Taipei seeks new friends in Eastern and Central Europe.
The center-right Czech government has said it wants to deepen cooperation with democratic countries in the India-Pacific region, including Taiwan, and has also been seeking a “revision” of ties with China.
In 2020, the head of the Czech Senate visited Taiwan and declared himself to be Taiwanese in a speech at Taiwan’s parliament, channelling the late US President John F. Kennedy’s defiance of communism in Berlin in 1963.

 


Probed in Brazil, Bolsonaro seeks six more months in US

Jair Bolsonaro. (AFP file photo)
Jair Bolsonaro. (AFP file photo)
Updated 32 min 42 sec ago

Probed in Brazil, Bolsonaro seeks six more months in US

Jair Bolsonaro. (AFP file photo)
  • The new government has ordered a probe of Bolsonaro, who for years has sought to cast doubt on Brazil’s electronic voting system, which has historically won praise around the world

MIAMI: Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, who is under investigation for his supporters’ storming of government buildings, is seeking a six-month visa to remain in the United States, his lawyer said Monday.
Bolsonaro flew to Florida in late December as his term ended rather than watch the inauguration of his leftist successor President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
He is understood to have entered on a visa for visiting world leaders, which expires on Tuesday as he is no longer on official business.
AG Immigration Group, a California-based law firm known for its work with Brazilians, said that Bolsonaro has requested a six-month visa to stay in the United States.
“We look forward to achieving the highest level of satisfaction and desired results for our client,” it said in a statement.
Bolsonaro had previously told CNN Brasil that he had planned to return by the end of January, and was considering moving his departure earlier for health reasons.
The far-right leader was injured in a knife attack in 2018. He has suffered ongoing health complications from that assassination attempt, and received hospital care during his stay in Florida.
But Bolsonaro has since come under scrutiny over the January 8 riot in the capital Brasilia by his supporters who refused to accept Lula’s victory.
The new government has ordered a probe of Bolsonaro, who for years has sought to cast doubt on Brazil’s electronic voting system, which has historically won praise around the world.
Bolsonaro’s last justice minister, Anderson Torres, was also visiting the United States during the riot and was arrested on his return.

Thousands of Bolsonaro backers broke into the presidential palace, Congress and Supreme Court buildings in Brasilia in an unsuccessful attempt to seek the overthrow of Lula.
The State Department did not immediately comment on Bolsonaro’s application. Visa records are confidential under US law.
Several lawmakers of Biden’s Democratic Party have publicly called on the administration to send Bolsonaro back to Brazil, saying he no longer had a right to stay in the United States as a visiting head of state.
“The United States must not provide shelter for him, or any authoritarian who has inspired such violence against democratic institutions,” said a letter signed by lawmakers including Representative Gregory Meeks, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Joaquin Castro, a prominent progressive Democrat.
Brazilians require visas to enter the United States including as tourists.
Bolsonaro was one of the closest international allies of Donald Trump, another former president living in Florida who has made baseless allegations about electoral fraud.
The Brasilia riot mirrored the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol by Trump supporters who did not accept his defeat to President Joe Biden.
Steve Bannon, a far-right populist strategist who worked for Trump, has developed close ties with Bolsonaro’s supporters and raised questions about last year’s Brazilian election.
Bolsonaro, however, has largely kept a low profile since flying to Florida. He has been staying near Disney World at the Orlando home of Brazilian former martial arts champion Jose Aldo and was photographed eating fried chicken alone at a KFC restaurant.

 


New York case against Trump over hush money to porn star goes to grand jury Monday

New York case against Trump over hush money to porn star goes to grand jury Monday
Updated 39 min 56 sec ago

New York case against Trump over hush money to porn star goes to grand jury Monday

New York case against Trump over hush money to porn star goes to grand jury Monday
  • Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison in federal court in New York for orchestrating hush payments to Daniels and another woman

NEW YORK: A grand jury is hearing evidence in New York over former President Donald Trump’s role in hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels during his 2016 presidential campaign, two sources with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
A grand jury could lay the groundwork for possible criminal charges against the former president by the Manhattan district attorney’s office.
Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified before the grand jury, one source told Reuters. Pecker was seen entering the lower Manhattan building where the grand jury is empaneled, according to the New York Times, which first reported on the grand jury on Monday. Pecker could not immediately be reached for comment.
The publisher had offered to help Trump by buying rights to unflattering stories and never publishing them.
The moves are an indication that the district attorney, Alvin Bragg, is closer to a decision on whether to charge Trump.
Bragg’s office declined to comment on the Times report.
Daniels said she had a sexual liaison with Trump and received $130,000 before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for not discussing her encounter with Trump, who denies it happened and in 2018 told reporters he knew nothing about a payment to Daniels.
Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison in federal court in New York for orchestrating hush payments to Daniels and another woman, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said she had a months-long affair with Trump before he took office.
McDougal has said she sold her story for $150,000 to American Media Inc. (AMI), but it was never published. The incident involved a practice known as “catch and kill” to prevent a potentially damaging article from being published.
Pecker, AMI’s former chief executive officer and a longtime friend of Trump and Cohen, told prosecutors of their hush-money deals with McDougal and Daniels before the 2016 US election won by Trump, the Wall Street Journal reported in 2018.