Trump, advisers charged in Georgia for 2020 election overthrow scheme

Trump, advisers charged in Georgia for 2020 election overthrow scheme
Former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Windham High School in Windham, New Hampshire, on August 8, 2023. (AFP/File)
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Updated 15 August 2023
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Trump, advisers charged in Georgia for 2020 election overthrow scheme

Trump, advisers charged in Georgia for 2020 election overthrow scheme
  • All defendants charged with racketeering, used to target organized crime groups and carries penalty of up to 20 years jail
  • Case involves Trump supporters storming US Capitol in attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying Joe Biden’s victory

WASHINGTON: Former US President Donald Trump was hit with a fourth set of criminal charges when a Georgia grand jury issued a sweeping indictment accusing him of trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

The charges, brought late on Monday by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, add to the legal woes facing Trump, the front-runner in the race for the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election.

The sprawling 98-page indictment listed 19 defendants and 41 criminal counts in all. All of the defendants were charged with racketeering, which is used to target members of organized crime groups and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.

Mark Meadows, Trump’s former White House chief of staff, and lawyers Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman were among those charged.

“Rather than abide by Georgia’s legal process for election challenges, the defendants engaged in a criminal, racketeering enterprise to overturn Georgia’s presidential election result,” Willis said at a press conference.

Trump and the other defendants have until noon EDT (1600 GMT) on Friday, Aug. 25, to surrender voluntarily, rather than face arrest, Willis said. She said she intends to try all 19 defendants together.

“This one-sided grand jury presentation relied on witnesses who harbor their own personal and political interests,” Trump lawyers Drew Findling, Jennifer Little and Marissa Goldberg said in a statement.

“We look forward to a detailed review of this indictment, which is undoubtedly just as flawed and unconstitutional as this entire process has been,” Trump lawyers added.

The 13 felony charges against Trump matched those listed on a document that was briefly posted on the court website earlier in the day and reported by Reuters before it disappeared.

Lawyers for those named either declined to comment or did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call, Trump urged Georgia’s top election official, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” enough votes to reverse his narrow loss in the state. Raffensperger declined to do so.

Trump’s supporters stormed the US Capitol four days later in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent lawmakers from certifying Biden’s victory.

The indictment cites a number of crimes that Trump or his associates allegedly committed from before the Nov. 3, 2020, election until September 2022, including falsely testifying to lawmakers that election fraud had occurred and urging state officials to alter the results.

It says the defendants tried to subvert the US electoral process by submitting false slates of electors, people who make up the Electoral College that elects the president and vice president.

BREACHING VOTING MACHINES, HARASSING ELECTION WORKERS

It alleges that defendants breached voting equipment in a rural Georgia county, including personal voter information and images of ballots.

Prosecutors also said the defendants harassed an election worker who became the focus of conspiracy theories.

The indictment reaches across state lines, saying that Giuliani, Meadows and others called officials in Arizona, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to urge them to change the outcome in those states.

The indictment mentions 30 other co-conspirators, though they were not named or charged.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement before the indictment was released, his campaign accused Willis, an elected Democrat, of being a “rabid partisan” who was trying to undermine his reelection bid.

“It is a dangerous effort by the ruling class to suppress the choice of the people,” the statement said.

Trump has already pleaded not guilty in three criminal cases.

He faces a New York state trial in March 2024 involving a hush money payment to a porn star, and a federal trial beginning in May in Florida for allegedly mishandling federal classified documents. In both cases Trump pleaded not guilty.

A third indictment, in Washington federal court, accuses him of illegally seeking to overturn his 2020 election defeat. Trump denies wrongdoing in this case as well, and a trial date has yet to be set.

Georgia, once reliably Republican, has emerged as one of a handful of politically competitive states that can determine the outcome of presidential elections.

Trump persists in falsely claiming he won the November 2020 election although dozens of court cases and state probes have found no evidence to support his claim.

NOT HURTING HIS CAMPAIGN

Strategists said that while the indictments could bolster Republican support for Trump, they may hurt him in the November 2024 general election, when he will have to win over more independent-minded voters.

In a July Reuters/Ipsos poll, 37 percent of independents said the criminal cases made them less likely to vote for him.

Willis’s investigation drew on testimony from Trump advisers including Giuliani, who urged state lawmakers in December 2020 not to certify the election, and Republican state officials like Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp, who refused to echo Trump’s false election claims.

While many Republican officials have echoed Trump’s false election claims, Kemp and Raffensperger have refused to do so.

Raffensperger has said there was no factual basis for Trump’s objections, while Kemp certified the election results despite pressure from within his party.

Trump has been mired in legal trouble since leaving office.

Apart from the criminal cases, a New York jury in May found him liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer E. Jean Carroll and awarded her $5 million in a civil case. A second defamation lawsuit scheduled for January seeks $10 million in damages. Trump denies wrongdoing.

Trump is due to face trial in October in a civil case in New York that accuses him and his family business of fraud to obtain better terms from lenders and insurers.

Trump’s company was fined $1.6 million after being convicted of tax fraud in a New York court in December.


Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
Updated 17 April 2024
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Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks

Italy PM Meloni visits Tunisia for migration talks
  • Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year

TUNIS: Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with officials in Tunis Wednesday to discuss what she called a “new approach” to irregular migration and economic cooperation with Tunisia.
The hard-right leader’s visit, the fourth in less than a year to the north African country, came as her government pledged to curb irregular migrant arrivals in Italy.
Meloni met with President Kais Saied, who said after the meeting Tunisia must not become “a country of transit or settlement” for migrants from other African countries, according to a statement from his office.
In a video address released after her discussions with Saied, Meloni also said “Tunisia cannot be a country of arrival for migrants” from the rest of Africa.
She vowed to “involve international organizations to work on repatriations” of migrants while insisting on more European investment in African nations.
Ahead of the visit, an Italian official had told AFP that “cooperation on migration remains a central aspect of the relationship between Italy and Tunisia.”
“It remains essential that Tunisian authorities continue their action to combat human trafficking and contain illegal departures,” the official added.
Meloni’s latest visit to Tunisia came as part of her so-called Mattei Plan, a program aiming to posit Italy as a key bridge between Africa and Europe.
She said the fight against irregular migration required development for African countries and investments.
“Italy will continue to try to advance this new approach which it is promoting at a European level,” she said.
But critics say the plan would funnel energy north while exchanging investment in the south for deals aimed at curbing migration.
Three agreements were signed Wednesday: a 50-million-euro ($53-million) aid for energy projects, credit for small- and medium-sized businesses, and a university cooperation agreement.
Meloni also said Italy would encourage regular migration by granting 12,000 residence permits to Tunisians trained in specific fields.
Tunisia is a major transit point for thousands of sub-Saharan migrants hoping to reach Europe every year, with Italy as a frontline for their arrivals.
Almost 70,000 migrants were intercepted trying to cross the Mediterranean from Tunisia to Italy last year, according to Tunisian authorities.
Meloni visited Tunisia three times over the summer of 2023, twice with the European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.
The visits resulted in the European Union’s signing of an agreement in July to provide financial aid to debt-ridden Tunisia in return for its commitment to curb migrant departures.
The agreement provided 105 million euros to curb irregular migration — which the EU has started paying — added to 150 million euros in budgetary support.
European Parliament lawmakers criticized the agreement, citing a deterioration of human rights and freedoms in the north African country.
They also criticized Saied’s increasing authoritarian rule after his sweeping power grab in 2021.
Last month, the EU signed a similar deal with Egypt worth 7.4 billion euros on energy and migration.


Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
Updated 17 April 2024
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Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel

Google employees arrested after protesting against $1bn contract with Israel
  • 'Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza,' No Tech For Apartheid group said

LONDON: Several Google employees were arrested on Tuesday for taking part in a 10-hour sit-in at the company’s offices in New York and California.

The protest, organized by members of the No Tech For Apartheid movement, was meant as a challenge to the tech giant’s involvement with the Israeli government. It centered on a $1 billion cloud computing contract between Google, Amazon and the Israeli government and military, known as Project Nimbus.

The project involves creating a secure Google cloud setup in Israel to facilitate data analysis, AI training and other computing services, Time magazine reported.

According to leaked documents reported by American news organization Intercept in 2022, the project includes advanced features like AI-enabled facial detection and automated image categorization.

During the sit-in, a livestreamed video captured a security worker telling protesters at Google’s California office that they were on administrative leave and cautioned them about trespassing.

Social media videos showed police removing nine protesters from the premises. Similar actions were recorded at the company’s New York office.

A statement from the No Tech For Apartheid group said: “Google workers do not want their labor to power Israel’s genocide of Palestinians in Gaza. The time is now to rise up against Project Nimbus, in support of Palestinian liberation and join calls to end the Israeli occupation.”

Last month, a Google employee from the group interrupted a talk by the company’s Israel chief, accusing the company of “powering genocide.” He was later fired.

A Google spokesman told the Telegraph: “These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don’t work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a couple of our locations.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies and we will investigate and take action.

“These employees were put on administrative leave and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”


Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
Updated 17 April 2024
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Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order

Man guilty of attacks near UK mosques given hospital order
  • Abbkr has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits

LONDON: A man convicted of attempted murder after deliberately setting fire to two elderly men shortly after they left mosques in the UK was on Wednesday handed an indefinite hospital order.
Mohammed Abbkr, from Edgbaston in Birmingham, central England, deliberately set fire to Hashi Odowa, 82, and Mohammed Rayaz, 70, in February and March last year.
Abbkr, originally from Sudan, was convicted of two counts of attempted murder last year at Birmingham Crown Court in central England.
Judge Melbourne Inman told Abbkr, who has paranoid schizophrenia and believed he was controlled by people possessed by evil spirits: “You threw petrol over your victims and then set them alight — the attacks were horrific.”
“The two victims in this case were, on any rational view, chosen at random,” the judge told Abbkr, who watched the proceedings by video-link from Ashworth high security hospital in northwest England.
“You, however, genuinely believed each of them was one of those trying to take control of you.
“I am wholly satisfied that you committed both of these offenses at a time when you were suffering a severe mental illness.”
Abbkr sprayed petrol on the two men outside or near mosques they had attended and then set them alight. The attacks took place in west London on February 27 and Birmingham on March 20.
Odowa, who was attacked in London, was treated for severe burns to his face and arms. The Birmingham attack left Rayaz hospitalized with severe injuries.


70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
Updated 17 April 2024
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70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains

70 killed as Afghanistan hit by heavy rains
  • Rains between Saturday and Wednesday triggered flash floods in most Afghanistan provinces
  • Fifty-six people injured, over 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed, says Afghan official 

KABUL: Around 70 people have been killed by heavy rains lashing Afghanistan over the past five days, the government’s disaster management department said Wednesday.
Afghanistan was parched by an unusually dry winter which desiccated the earth, exacerbating flash-flooding caused by spring downpours in most provinces.
Disaster management spokesman Janan Sayeq said “approximately 70 people lost their lives” as a result of rains between Saturday and Wednesday.
Fifty-six others have been injured, he said, while more than 2,600 houses have been damaged or destroyed and 95,000 acres of farmland wiped away.
Giving a smaller death toll last week, Sayeq said most fatalities at that point had been caused by roof collapses resulting from the deluges. 
Neighbouring Pakistan has also been hammered by spring downpours, with 65 people killed in storm-related incidents as rain falls at nearly twice the historical average rate.
The United Nations last year warned that “Afghanistan is experiencing major swings in extreme weather conditions.”
After four decades of war the country ranks among the nations least prepared to face extreme weather events, which scientists say are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change.
At least 25 people were killed in a landslide after massive snowfall in eastern Afghanistan in February, while around 60 were killed in a three-week spate of precipitation ending in March.


President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
Updated 17 April 2024
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President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia

President Widodo urges Apple CEO to open manufacturing facility in Indonesia
  • Country has ‘endless’ investment ability, Tim Cook says on visit to Jakarta
  • Tech giant announces opening of new Apple Developer Academy in Bali

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Wednesday met the head of tech giant Apple and urged him to open a manufacturing facility in the country.

CEO Tim Cook was in Jakarta following a trip to Hanoi, where the company announced plans to increase spending on suppliers in Vietnam, its most important manufacturing hub outside China.

Before the meeting between Widodo and Cook, Apple announced plans to boost its investment in Indonesia and said it would open a new Apple Developer Academy — facilities designed to nurture local talent in the tech sector — in Bali, its fourth in the country.

“The meeting with Tim Cook focused on exploring strategic plans, including the opportunity of Apple expanding to Indonesia and further integration into the global supply chain,” Widodo said in a statement.

“I invited Apple to establish an innovation hub with potential universities in Indonesia for human resources development. I also urged Apple to develop a manufacturing facility in the country.”

Apple currently does not have a manufacturing facility in Indonesia but opened its first developer academy there in 2018.

The new facility takes the company’s total investment in Indonesia to 1.6 trillion rupiah ($98.4 million), according to Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita.

“After this, the Ministry of Industry will conduct a business-matching program. We already have a list of the components (that Apple needs) and mobile components that are already produced in Indonesia, so perhaps there can be a partnership,” he said.

Apple has based much of its key manufacturing of iPads, Airpods and Apple Watches in Vietnam, and more recently India, as it explores ways to diversify its supply chains away from China.

Home to more than 270 million people, Indonesia has a young, tech-savvy population with more than 100 million people aged under 30.

According to figures from Statista, as of January, Apple had an 11.5 percent share of Indonesia’s mobile phone market, behind Oppo (18 percent) and Samsung (17 percent).

“We talked about the president’s desire to see manufacturing in the country and it’s something that we will look at,” Cook told reporters after meeting Widodo.

“I thought we had a great conversation and I really appreciated the time with him. It was a dialogue about how much potential there is in the country and our commitment to the country.”

Cook later met president-elect, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto, who will take over from Widodo in October.

“I think the investment ability in Indonesia is endless, I think that there’s a lot of great places to invest and we’re investing,” Cook said. “We believe in the country.”