US appeals court to hear arguments on whether to reinstate gag order against Donald Trump

US appeals court to hear arguments on whether to reinstate gag order against Donald Trump
Prosecutors say the restrictions are necessary to prevent Donald Trump from undermining confidence in the court system and intimidating people who may be called to testify against him. (AP)
Short Url
Updated 20 November 2023
Follow

US appeals court to hear arguments on whether to reinstate gag order against Donald Trump

US appeals court to hear arguments on whether to reinstate gag order against Donald Trump
  • Defense lawyers have called the gag order an unconstitutional muzzling of former president’s free speech rights

WASHINGTON: A federal appeals court is hearing arguments Monday on whether to reinstate a gag order against Donald Trump in the federal case charging him with plotting to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
Prosecutors with special counsel Jack Smith’s team will urge a three-judge panel of the Washington-based appeals court to put back in place an order barring the former president from making inflammatory statements about lawyers in the case and potential witnesses.
The prosecutors say those restrictions are necessary to prevent Trump from undermining confidence in the court system and intimidating people who may be called to testify against him. Defense lawyers have called the gag order an unconstitutional muzzling of Trump’s free speech rights and say prosecutors have presented no evidence to support the idea that his words have caused harm or made anyone feel threatened.
The gag order is one of multiple contentious issues being argued ahead of the landmark March 2024 trial. Defense lawyers are also trying to get the case dismissed by arguing that Trump, as a former president, is immune from prosecution and protected by the First Amendment from being charged. The outcome of Monday’s arguments won’t affect those constitutional claims, but it will set parameters on what Trump as both a criminal defendant and leading presidential candidate can and cannot say ahead of the trial.
The order has had a whirlwind trajectory through the courts since US District Judge Tanya Chutkan imposed it last month in response to a request from prosecutors, who cited among other comments Trump’s repeated disparagement of Smith as “deranged.”
The judge lifted it days after entering it, giving Trump’s lawyers time to prove why his words should not be restricted. But after Trump took advantage of that pause by posting on social media comments that prosecutors said were meant to sway his former chief of staff against giving unfavorable testimony, Chutkan put it back in place.
The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit later lifted it as it considered Trump’s appeal.
The judges hearing the case include Cornelia Pillard and Patricia Millett, both appointees of former President Barack Obama, and Brad Garcia, who joined the bench earlier this year after being nominated by President Joe Biden.
The panel is not expected to immediately rule on Monday. Should the judges rule against Trump, he’ll have the option of asking the entire court to take up the matter. His lawyers have also signaled that they’ll ask the Supreme Court to get involved.
The four-count indictment in Washington is one of four criminal cases Trump faces as he seeks to reclaim the White House in 2024.
He’s been charged in Florida, also by Smith’s team, with illegally hoarding dozens of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He’s also been charged in state court in New York in connection with hush money payments to a porn actress who alleged an extramarital affair with him, and in Georgia with scheming to subvert the 2020 presidential election in that state.


Manila cafe sheds light on Palestinian heritage in wake of destruction

Manila cafe sheds light on Palestinian heritage in wake of destruction
Updated 01 March 2024
Follow

Manila cafe sheds light on Palestinian heritage in wake of destruction

Manila cafe sheds light on Palestinian heritage in wake of destruction
  • Cafe Habib is run by Palestinian national Mahmoud Habib and his Filipino-Iraqi wife Nadia
  • Their menu is based on recipes from Habib’s mother in Gaza

Manila: Mahmoud and Nadia Habib opened their cafe in early 2023 to bring a piece of Palestine to the Philippines. Little did they know that the place would soon turn into a center of Gaza heritage and a hub of solidarity in Manila.

Located on Mabini Street, Cafe Habib is light, warm and informal with its white tables, grey sofas and ochre walls showing maps, photos and symbols of Palestinian heritage.

From the beginning, the husband — who is a native of Gaza — and the Filipino-Iraqi wife wanted their restaurant’s ambiance to make Filipinos feel as if they had stepped into a place in Palestine.

“We came up with the concept to create a special place where when customers come in, they will not think they are in the Philippines anymore. We wanted to spotlight Arab culture,” Mahmoud told Arab News.

For Nadia, it is also an attempt to “bring a piece of Palestine to the Philippines” to share its rich heritage, traditions, and flavors.

“The Palestinian-themed cafe became our platform to introduce the Filipino people to the beauty and depth of Palestinian culture. We believed that by immersing them in a unique and authentic experience, we could foster understanding and appreciation,” she said.

Their menu features authentic dishes such as falafel, shawarma, and the iconic Palestinian knafeh — crispy filo dough with cheese soaked in syrup and topped with pistachios — all based on recipes that have been in the Habib family for generations.

“These recipes all come from my mother,” Mahmoud said, adding that Nadia also learned to make them during their trips to his home in Gaza.

The last time they visited was in September, just two weeks before Israel launched its latest deadly onslaught that has since killed at least 30,000 people, wounded tens of thousands more, and displaced about 1.5 million.

They saw the destruction and hid from daily bombardment, only managing to return to Manila when Philippine authorities evacuated some of the Filipino-Palestinians from the besieged enclave in November.

Nadia was born and raised in the Philippines, while Mahmoud has been living in the country since 2013, when he arrived to study architecture at the National University.

Upon their return to Manila, they have been trying to reunite with Mahmoud’s family, but until now, it has been to no avail.

“I tried to bring them, but it is very hard,” he said.

It is their cafe, a reminder of Palestine, that keeps the couple strong and gives them space to spread awareness among Filipinos on what is happening in Gaza.

“Speaking up about Palestine is a crucial aspect of our mission, as it lies at the core of why we established this cafe. If customers initiate a conversation about … Palestine, we wholeheartedly engage in the discussion,” Nadia said.

They also helped facilitate the efforts of Filipino peace activists who organized a Gaza solidarity march in November.

“They gave me more power. This shows that our voice goes out to the world, and everyone really has a huge heart,” Mahmoud said.

“I am proud of (this cafe). I am really happy because I’m showing people what Palestine is, who the Palestinian people are.”


Ex-government adviser urges UK PM to apologize to London mayor over Islamophobia

Ex-government adviser urges UK PM to apologize to London mayor over Islamophobia
Updated 01 March 2024
Follow

Ex-government adviser urges UK PM to apologize to London mayor over Islamophobia

Ex-government adviser urges UK PM to apologize to London mayor over Islamophobia
  • Faith expert Colin Bloom calls remarks against Sadiq Khan by MP Lee Anderson ‘offensive’ and ‘disgusting’
  • Rishi Sunak is ‘not showing the leadership the country needs’

LONDON: UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been urged by a former government advisor to apologize to London Mayor Sadiq Khan over comments made by a suspended Conservative MP.

Colin Bloom, who advised the governing Conservatives on faith matters, told the BBC that Lee Anderson’s remarks were “offensive” and “disgusting,” adding that Sunak is “not showing the leadership the country needs.”

Anderson was suspended last week for refusing to apologize after he said in a TV interview that Khan had “given away” London to Islamists who had “got control” of the mayor.

While admitting his words were “a little bit clumsy,” Anderson said he has received “lots of support privately in WhatsApp groups and messages” from Conservative colleagues. He denies that he or his words were racist or Islamophobic.

Bloom, a former executive director of the Conservative Christian Fellowship and director of Christians in Politics, was made a government advisor by former Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019.

Bloom told the BBC’s “Newsnight” program that the “vast majority” of British Muslims are “kind, decent, generous, peaceful people,” and that Anderson’s rhetoric and the muted government response to it are putting people at risk.

Bloom said Sunak needs to apologize to Khan and it is “clearly wrong” for Anderson to have equated the Muslim mayor with being a religious extremist.

Khan has publicly called on Sunak to denounce Anderson’s words as Islamophobic, but while admitting they were “wrong,” the prime minister has so far failed to do so.

A government spokesperson told “Newsnight” that Sunak is “clear there must be zero tolerance for any form of extremism, racism or hatred” in British politics.


Hundreds arrive for Navalny funeral despite Kremlin warning

Hundreds arrive for Navalny funeral despite Kremlin warning
Updated 01 March 2024
Follow

Hundreds arrive for Navalny funeral despite Kremlin warning

Hundreds arrive for Navalny funeral despite Kremlin warning
  • Funeral ceremony comes two weeks after opposition figure died in an Arctic prison
  • His supporters accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of murdering his top critic
MOSCOW: Hundreds of mourners gathered near a church in southern Moscow on Friday, braving the prospect of arrests to pay their respects to late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
The ceremony comes two weeks after Navalny died in an Arctic prison. His supporters accuse Russian President Vladimir Putin of murdering his top critic.
The Kremlin, which has denied involvement in Navalny’s death, on Friday warned against “unauthorized” protests around the funeral.
Under grey skies, hundreds of mourners still queued near the Mother of God Quench My Sorrows church in Maryino, where the service is scheduled to start at 2:00 p.m. (1100 GMT).
“People like him shouldn’t be dying: honest and principled, willing to sacrifice themselves,” said Anna Stepanova, who came to pay homage.
The French and German ambassadors were also in the crowd.
Fences had been put up around the church, but the passage was left open despite a heavy law enforcement presence and anti-riot police trucks.
“What are they afraid of? Why so many cars?” Stepanova said.
“They are so afraid themselves,” she said. “The people who came here, they are not scared. Alexei wasn’t either.”
The opposition leader’s team said the coffin was on its way to the church, where it will be displayed in an open casket in line with Orthodox practices.
Two hours later, the burial is set to take place at the Borisovo cemetery, a short walk from the banks of the Moskva River.
“Any unauthorized gatherings will be in violation of the law and those who participate in them will be held responsible,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said according to TASS.
Some 400 mourners have been detained at memorials for Navalny since his death, rights organization OVD-Info has said.
The dissident’s widow, Yulia Navalnaya, earlier said she feared the funeral could be disrupted by further arrests.
“I’m not sure yet whether it will be peaceful or whether the police will arrest those who have come to say goodbye to my husband,” Navalnaya told the European Parliament this week.
She has directly blamed Putin for his death.
Western governments have been quick to hold the Kremlin responsible but have stopped short of making direct accusations of involvement.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, has criticized the accusations made by her and some Western leaders as “vulgar.”
Navalny had shot to prominence through his anti-corruption campaigning, exposing what he said was rampant graft at the top of Putin’s administration.
He was arrested in January 2021 when he returned to Russia after being treated in Germany for a poisoning attack.
“Alexei was tortured for three years,” Navalnaya told lawmakers in Brussels.
“He was starved in a tiny stone cell, cut off from the outside world and denied visits, phone calls, and then even letters.”
“And then they killed him. Even after that, they abused his body,” she said.
His body was held in a morgue for eight days before being returned to the family, which Navalny’s team believed to be a bid to cover up responsibility for his death.
His family and his team have also accused authorities of trying to prevent a dignified public burial, fearing it could turn into a flashpoint for dissent.
Navalny’s team said local investigators had threatened to bury him on the prison grounds if his mother did not agree to a “secret” funeral.
Once the body was released, allies struggled to find a place that would agree to hold a funeral ceremony, as well as hearse drivers.
And a civil ceremony allowing the general public to pay their respects to the body — common in Russia — has not been allowed.
Navalnaya has vowed to continue his life’s work and urged to “fight more desperately, more fiercely than before.”
In the crowd near the church, some seemed to agree.
“A person has died, but his idea will live on thanks to those who have gathered here,” said Alyona, a 22-year-old archaeologist who came to pay her respects.

Safety lapses blamed for Bangladesh fire as toll rises to 46

Safety lapses blamed for Bangladesh fire as toll rises to 46
Updated 01 March 2024
Follow

Safety lapses blamed for Bangladesh fire as toll rises to 46

Safety lapses blamed for Bangladesh fire as toll rises to 46
  • Blaze made worse by numerous cooking gas cylinders stored haphazardly in stairwells and restaurant kitchens

DHAKA: Bangladesh firefighters said Friday that glaring safety lapses were responsible for a Dhaka restaurant blaze that killed 46 people, with more deaths likely among those rushed to hospital in critical condition.

Thursday night’s fire began at a popular biryani restaurant at the bottom of a seven-floor commercial property in the capital’s upscale Bailey Road neighborhood.

The entire building, home to several other eateries, was soon engulfed by flames that took fire crews two hours to bring under control.

Fire service operations director Rezaul Karim said the blaze had been made worse by numerous cooking gas cylinders stored haphazardly in stairwells and restaurant kitchens.

“People heard the explosions of several gas cylinders during the fire,” he said.

Main Uddin, the national fire services chief, said the building lacked safety measures.

“It did not have at least two staircases or a fire exit,” he said. “Most of the people died from suffocation.”

Fire officials earlier told reporters they suspected the inferno began when one of the gas cylinders accidentally caught fire.

Police inspector Bacchu Mia said that two more people had succumbed to their wounds on Friday while being treated in hospital.

“The death toll is now 46. Two people have died from injuries — one at the Dhaka Medical College Hospital and another at the Police Hospital,” he said.

Around 15 people remained in critical condition, he added.

At a hospital treating the wounded, 30-year-old Asif Pathan said that his cousin MinHajj Khan had been dining at the restaurant when the fire broke out and was killed.

“His friend escaped by jumping through the window, but MinHajj couldn’t,” Pathan said. “His body has turned into charcoal.”

Pathan said he was waiting for the hospital to conduct DNA tests to confirm the identity of his cousin’s body before it was released to his family.

Members of the public helped fire crews carry hoses and rescue survivors who clambered down the outside walls to safety as firefighters fought to bring the blaze under control.

“We were at the sixth floor when we first saw smoke racing through the staircase. A lot of people rushed upstairs,” Sohel, a restaurant manager who gave only his first name, said.

“We used a water pipe to climb down the building. Some of us were injured as they jumped.”

At one point at least 50 people were on the rooftop waiting to be rescued by fire cranes, Kamruzzaman Majumdar, an environmental science professor who was among the stranded, wrote in a Facebook post.

Police investigators were seen walking inside the gutted building and documenting the wreckage on Friday morning, hours after the government ordered an investigation into the fire’s origins.

Hundreds of anxious family members rushed to the nearby Dhaka Medical College Hospital overnight as ambulances brought the dead and injured to the clinic.

Explosions and fires are frequent in buildings and factories across Bangladesh, where safety standards are lax and corruption often allows them to be ignored.

Deadly blazes are typically sparked by gas cylinders, faulty air conditioners and bad electrical wiring.

Bangladesh’s worst fire took place in 2012, when a blaze ripped through a garment factory on Dhaka’s outskirts, killing at least 111 people and injuring more than 200 others.


Maverick left-winger Galloway, an advocate of a free Palestine, wins in English town

Maverick left-winger Galloway, an advocate of a free Palestine, wins in English town
Updated 01 March 2024
Follow

Maverick left-winger Galloway, an advocate of a free Palestine, wins in English town

Maverick left-winger Galloway, an advocate of a free Palestine, wins in English town
  • The maverick won over many of Rochdale’s Muslim community by attacking both Labour and Britain’s governing Conservatives for supporting Israel in its war against Hamas
  • His victory underlines the divisions in Britain over the Israel-Hamas war, which is in its fifth month and has brought protesters onto British streets in support of both sides

LONDON: Veteran left-wing political maverick George Galloway won a vote to become the new lawmaker for the English town of Rochdale on Friday, vowing to be a thorn in the side for the opposition Labour Party before a national election it is tipped to win.

After running a pro-Palestinian campaign, Galloway won over many of Rochdale’s Muslim community by attacking both Labour and Britain’s governing Conservatives for supporting Israel in its war against Hamas, making a foreign conflict the major issue — unusual in a by-election when local concerns usually dominate.
Elected to parliament for the seventh time, Galloway will be an irritant to Labour, a party he once belonged to before being ejected for criticizing then-prime minister Tony Blair over the Iraq War. He even went so far as saying the assassination of Blair would be “morally justified” for Britain’s involvement.
His victory underlines the divisions in Britain over the Israel-Hamas war, which is in its fifth month and has brought protesters onto British streets in support of both sides.
More than 30,000 people have been killed during Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, Palestinian health authorities say. This follows an attack by Hamas militants in southern Israel on Oct. 7, when Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 254 taken hostage.
British lawmakers have faced threats to do more to bring an end to the fighting in Gaza.
With the national election later this year, Galloway’s return to parliament will be short-lived but explosive. He has accused Labour leader Keir Starmer of being in the “pocket of Israel.”
Galloway won 12,335 votes compared with 6,638 for second-placed David Tully, an independent candidate. The former Labour candidate, Azhar Ali, came fourth after the opposition party pulled its support from him after he was recorded espousing conspiracy theories about Israel.
“(Labour leader) Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza,” Galloway said in his victory speech.

Turnout was low at 39.7 percent.
It will be the first time Galloway’s left-wing Workers Party of Britain has been represented in parliament.
For some in Rochdale, a former cotton mill town near to Manchester, the so-called by-election, triggered by the death of Labour lawmaker Tony Lloyd last month, had failed to offer them a clear choice of someone determined to help their town, ranked in the top 5 percent most deprived English local authorities in 2019.
Galloway also campaigned to reinstate maternity services in Rochdale but it was his message on Gaza that rang loudest.
He has vowed to speak out on Gaza in parliament, challenging Labour, which initially gave full backing to Israel following the Oct. 7 attack. The party has since shifted its position to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.
It is a headache Starmer could do without. He has struggled to maintain party unity over its position on Gaza. He avoided having to put the divisions on show last week when his party was allowed to put forward its own stance on a ceasefire.
Galloway, a colorful figure who became well known after he impersonated a cat on a reality television show in 2006, will try to exploit Labour’s divisions.
“I will go into the House of Commons like a tornado... if you elect me. (Prime Minister) Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will be terrified as they see me coming through the doors,” he told voters, according to the Times newspaper.