Injured Worker In Hard Rock Hotel Construction Crane Collapse To Be Deported

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NBC NEWS)

 

India: 5-judge constitution bench to begin hearing Article 370

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF INDIA’S HINDUSTAN TIMES)

 

5-judge constitution bench to begin hearing Article 370 pleas today

A special bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it had no time to hear the cases since it was busy with another Constitution bench matter.

INDIA Updated: Oct 01, 2019 06:00 IST

HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Hindustan Times, New Delhi
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice N V Ramana, which will hear pleas challenging the August 5-6 nullification of Article 370 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status .
A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice N V Ramana, which will hear pleas challenging the August 5-6 nullification of Article 370 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status .(PTI)

A five-judge Constitution bench led by Justice N V Ramana, which will hear pleas challenging the August 5-6 nullification of Article 370 stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status from Tuesday, will also take up individual petitions on alleged restrictions imposed in the Valley and lack of access to basic facilities.

A special bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said it had no time to hear the cases since it was busy with another Constitution bench matter. A CJI-led bench has been hearing the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid title dispute suit on a daily basis for more than a month now.

The newly constituted bench is scheduled to start hearing the batch of petitions on J&K from October 1. CJI Gogoi said petitions challenging restrictions on the media would also be taken up by the bench headed by Justice Ramana on Tuesday itself.

The Centre on August 5 moved to end special status to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the region into two union territories. A day later, Parliament passed the changes in the form Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, 2019.

Meanwhile, the CJI on Monday disposed of Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko’s habeas corpus petition seeking the release of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah who was on September 16 detained under Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act, that enables detention without trial up to two years.

Solicitor general Tushar Mehta urged the court to even dispose of CPI (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury’s petition against the alleged detention of his party colleague MY Tarigami.

First Published: Oct 01, 2019 04:04 IST

Russian Envoy Insists on Forming Syria’s Constitutional Committee in September

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Russian Envoy Insists on Forming Syria’s Constitutional Committee in September

Wednesday, 11 September, 2019 – 11:30
Syrian refugee women stand in front of their homes at Azraq refugee camp, near Al Azraq city, Jordan (File photo: Reuters)
Moscow – Raed Jabr
Moscow hopes the formation of the Syrian Constitutional Committee will be completed by the end of September, announced Mikhail Bogdanov, the Russian president’s special envoy for the Middle East and African countries and Deputy Foreign Minister.

Bogdanov said that Moscow discussed with a number of foreign ministers, including the Turkish FM, the committee’s formation.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed confidence that forming the committee will be completed soon, noting that the disagreements were on a “name or two” in the third list that the UN should have submitted.

Lavrov noted that Russia was surprised that the formation of the 150-member committee would be disrupted because of differences on one or two names.

Meanwhile, Moscow announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive in Sochi on Thursday to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Last week, Kremlin Aide Yuri Ushakov said Netanyahu’s visit to Russia could take place very soon. The visit is most likely to be held in Sochi, he said.

Russian and Israeli media sources agreed that the discussions will address security coordination in Syria, especially against the backdrop of warnings recently reported by Russian media, regarding Israel’s failure to comply with previous understandings in informing Moscow of the details of military operations in Syrian airspace.

Netanyahu affirmed that he intends to discuss the Iranian presence in Syria, an issue present on the agenda of all Russian-Israeli meetings.

Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry denied reports that Russian aircraft violated the ceasefire by attacking the Idlib de-escalation zone.

“Since the beginning of the cessation of fire regime on August 31 in the Idlib de-escalation zone, Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Force aircraft have not performed any combat missions to hit targets on the ground,” the Ministry said.

The statement comes after Reuters citing several sources that Russian planes had carried out two raids in the strategic Jabal al-Akrad mountain range near the western Latakia coast.

Israel: The Haredi establishment’s threat to constitutional democracy and equal rights

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

The Haredi establishment’s threat to constitutional democracy and equal rights: No marginal issue

The sex discrimination against women in public spaces is just the beginning of the havoc the ultra-Orthodox are wreaking on Israeli society

(Facebook)

(Facebook)

Veteran political analyst Anshel Pfeffer has published an incisive analysis of the dynamics now playing out on the right and far-right of the Israeli political spectrum, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu losing those who used to be his natural political partners: Liberman, Bennett, Shaked, Smotrich (“Netanyahu is Running Out of Natural Partners,” Haaretz, August 13, 2019). The Haredi establishment, he notes, is taking up that slack, however much it has been a reliable partner of his until now.

Pfeffer’s otherwise incisive analysis contains an appalling throwaway line about the Haredi establishment, one that expresses an all too common perception: “[Netanyahu] granted them total hegemony in the narrow areas of public policy and communal autonomy they care about.”

Narrow areas?

The ongoing dismissal, in particular on the left, of the threat to constitutional democracy posed by the religious establishment is a serious danger in its own right. Ben Gurion can be excused for not realizing the danger in giving blanket draft exemption to yeshiva students —  65 years ago. There is no excuse for such blindness now.

The Haredi establishment uses institutions of government, like the courts, and certainly, coalition politics, to further its own narrow, sectoral interests, while having no fundamental loyalty to these institutions. Deputy Minister of Health Litzman, who does not take a “deputy” salary, but a full one, and who has used his office richly (pun intended), for Haredi interests, as he defines them (the victims of the Haredi rapists he has protected, according to a pending indictment, are also Haredi), is “Deputy,” rather than full Minister, because his boss, the Gerer rebbe, and he, do not recognize the State of Israel. The State’s payouts, however, they very much recognize.

The threat to public space — in the news just this week, in the ruling of a court against sex discrimination in a public space in Afula — is huge and ongoing. As the Israel Women’s Network and other groups have noted, this is a war of attrition. Newly minted Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich said this himself when, after a flurry of outrage about his call for a theocracy here, he acknowledged that such is not possible now — but that piecemeal steps can be and will be taken. This is why it is so important for Smotrich and his ilk not just to be members of Knesset but ministers, who have  broad discretion, staff, and budgets at their disposal. As with the abortion struggle in the US, piecemeal steps are the means to a larger goal.

If it is acceptable to discriminate against women in public space, we are back to demands for sex discrimination in buses, sidewalks, etc. We already struggle against demands for sex discrimination in universities and in the army, refighting the conclusion long ago reached on the basis of too much sorry experience, that there is no such thing as “separate but equal”; any such demands necessarily and inevitably entail discrimination. The Haredi establishment makes an argument for privilege: its religious “needs” and sexual objectification of women take precedence over equal civil rights. Marginal issue?

The Haredi establishment fully supports immunity legislation for Netanyahu, not only as a quid pro quo for his favors but because Minister of Interior Arye Deri, is under police investigation for serious financial crimes and Deputy Minister of Health Yaacov Litzman is too, with the police investigative unit recommending indictment.

The Haredi establishment backs legislation to gut the authority of the Supreme Court by giving the Knesset the power through simple majority vote to override any Supreme Court ruling. This would end the separation of powers and the very meaning of a Supreme Court as the arbiter of constitutionality.

The Haredi establishment runs a vast patronage system in the yeshivas and in the Chief Rabbinate. Keeping Haredi males illiterate and financially dependent on it is the base of that establishment’s power: perpetuation of this system is its call on the public purse. Its right to continue depriving that population of basic secular education — math, English, civics, history — is therefore, its prime demand, which government after government, yes, Labor-led, too — grants, with the rest of us paying for it with our taxes not once, in ever escalating subsidies, but perpetually, to support a growing, impoverished population. Why do yeshiva students get automatic exemption from army or alternative service and university students do not? Equal rights?

Study after study has shown the inflation of prices we pay for food in order to support the patronage system which is the kashrut kingdom of the Chief Rabbinate.

To dismiss all this as some marginal issue is beyond comprehension and effectively, collusion with the abuse the Haredi establishment hopes to keep perpetuating.

While Netanyahu, increasingly cornered by various dynamics, may be further sidling up to the Haredi establishment, his opposition in the Blue and White party is hardly showing awareness of, or determination about, the threat to constitutional democracy, equal rights, or rational government, posed by the Haredi establishment.

All this is anything but a marginal issue and, whereever we are on the political spectrum, we minimize it at our peril.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shulamit S. Magnus is a professor of Jewish history and an award-winning author of books on Jewish modernity and on Jewish women’s history.
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About BDS and Congressional and Other Manipulations

So many resolutions in Congress about BDS; ostensibly, these are about being for and against boycotts and the right to boycott though it is clear that, without mentioning BDS or Israel, specifically, that is what all this is about.

For some, it’s hard to follow the moves till now but the various motions and anti-motions are just beginning. All this has become a political live-wire between the Republican and Democratic parties, with the Republicans sensing a juicy opportunity to exploit Democratic division and paint that party as anti-Israel, or even ant-Jewish, facts be damned. When Jews and Israel, the Jewish state, become stand-ins for dividing lines between major parties and segments of popular opinion, it is not good news for the Jews. Some have felt that a choice between Jewish and constitutional, democratic commitments is what is called for in this moment. That is not true, at all.

There is no contradiction between upholding the Constitution and the constitutional right to free speech, including speech with which one disagrees, and supporting the right of individuals, or states, or the Federal government, not to give their private business, or government business, to entities that boycott Israel. Either boycotts are ok or they aren’t. And they are.

The question is selective use of them, and in particular, in this case, the language used in supporting them, and disgusting analogies that are employed, that are intended to serve, and that serve, to demonize Israel. Not to oppose specific policies but to continue an obscene discourse, promoted about no other state or people on earth, about a “right to exist.”

BDS, of course, is marketed as boycotting only Israeli products from over the Green Line but anyone with an honest interest in all this needs also to be aware of the founding history and continued purpose of BDS, which has nothing to do with selective boycott or specific Israeli policies, but with deliberately misleading people about the founding history and continued purpose of BDS. Anyone who wants to dissociate from settlements or products from over the Green Line cannot credibly dissociate from the larger context in which organized efforts to this end are being waged. Which does not mean that individuals can’t follow their consciences about this but that they need to be aware of their bedfellows, whose “conscience” may be running on an entirely different agenda.

Google, “BDS,” if you never have, and see what comes up; try to get the BDS founding charter. See the language used by the organization itself to define its goals; the dishonesty. Here is cut-and-paste, with interpolation by me, in caps:

“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity. (DOES THIS INCLUDE SELF-GOVERNING JEWS?).

“Israel is occupying and colonising (SIC) Palestinian land, (NOTE THE FAILURE TO DESIGNATE WHAT PALESTINIAN LAND IS INTENDED. THAT EXCLUSION IS QUITE DELIBERATE, SINCE THE FOUNDERS OF BDS CONSIDER ALL OF ISRAEL, PRE-1967, TOO, “PALESTINIAN LAND,” AND EQUATE ZIONISM WITH “SETTLER COLONIALISM” OF, E.G., THE BOERS IN SOUTH AFRICA. THE ISSUE IS NOT THE WEST BANK , OR 1967, AS IT IS FOR SO MANY WHO SEEK TWO STATES FOR TWO PEOPLES, THAT IS, A NEGOTIATED END TO THE NATIONALITY/ LAND CONFLICT HERE, BUT ISRAEL ITSELF. WHY DON’T BDS’ FRAMERS JUST COME OUT AND SAY THIS, THAT THE GOAL IS THE END OF ISRAEL? BECAUSE THAT WOULD BE A HARDER SELL TO NICE, LIBERAL PEOPLE, WHILE MISLEADING PEOPLE IS SO MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE), discriminating against Palestinian citizens of Israel and denying Palestinian refugees the right to return to their homes. (OK, IN CASE YOU MISSED IT OR DID NOT WANT TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT IN THE ABOVE COMMENT, HERE IT IS, THE RIGHT OF RETURN AND THE END OF ISRAEL. THIS, WHILE NO SIMILAR CLAIM HAS BEEN OR IS BEING PRESSED IN OTHER NATIONALITY CONFLICTS AND ABOUT OTHER STATES, NOT LEAST, ARAB STATES, CREATED SINCE THE END OF WORLD WARS ONE AND TWO. PALESTINIAN ADVOCATES, TO BE SURE, ARE ENTITLED TO MAKE AN EXCEPTIONAL CASE FOR THEIR CAUSE BUT THE REST OF US SHOULD BE AWARE THAT THAT IS WHAT THIS IS). Inspired by the South African anti-apartheid movement, the BDS call urges action to pressure Israel to comply with international law. (NICE! COMPARE ISRAEL, WITH ARAB MKS, MEMBERS OF THE SUPREME COURT, THE MEDICAL AND UNIVERSITY AND BANKING  ESTABLISHMENTS, ON THE BEACHES AND IN THE SWIMMING POOLS, IN THE BUSES, TRAINS, STREETS, CAFES, THEATERS– WITH APARTHEID SOUTH AFRICA– OR NAZI GERMANY. BY ALL MEANS, DON’T CONFINE THE DISCUSSION TO THE OCCUPATION REGIME ON THE WEST BANK; MAKE IT ABOUT ISRAEL ITSELF. NEEDLESS TO SAY, DON’T SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE CORRUPT, REPRESSIVE, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY (PA), NEVER MIND, HAMAS; OR ABOUT SEVERAL PEACE DEALS THAT THE PA REJECTED, UNDER WHICH THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A PALESTINIAN STATE, WITH A CAPITAL IN JERUSALEM, SEVERAL TIMES OVER, LONG AGO.)

“BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world. Thirteen years since its launch, BDS is having a major impact and is effectively challenging international support for Israeli apartheid and settler-colonialism.” NOTE THE SLEIGHT OF HAND IN THE FINAL WORDS HERE, WHICH CHARACTERIZE ISRAEL’S EXISTENCE AS INHERENTLY ILLEGITIMATE.

Me again, straight up:

It’s a free country and people are free to support, or oppose, boycotts, or other political and economic activities, as they wish. Many liberals are pushing to boycott US states that have recently passed legislation banning abortion. That is their right. And individuals and governments can choose where they give their business: either boycotts are ok or they aren’t; it can’t be had both ways. Telling people they can’t support boycotts, punishing them via employment or other measures, is clearly unconstitutional. It is also politically, stupid.

It is stupid for people who support Israel to align that support with anti-constitutional , anti-democratic, anti-liberal measures. It may be more than just stupid; it offends the Jewish principles of many. But at the least, it is does not serve Israel’s interests, indeed, is very counter-productive to those interests. And to those of Diaspora Jews. This tactic is a set-up  for charges of that old, Jew-hating canard of Jewish “dual loyalty; or for accusations of “self-hatred” and “assimilation.” All this is lose-lose for Jews and we should not allow ourselves to be played like this.

We CAN, and indeed, must walk and chew gum at the same time . This may be, indeed, is, challenging, but not in fact, that complicated.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Shulamit S. Magnus is a professor of Jewish history and an award-winning author of books on Jewish modernity and on Jewish women’s history.
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Sudan: Arab States Welcome Sudan’s Agreement on Constitutional Document

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Arab States Welcome Sudan’s Agreement on Constitutional Document

Monday, 5 August, 2019 – 11:15
Deputy Head of Sudanese Transitional Military Council, Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and Sudan’s opposition alliance coalition’s leader Ahmad al-Rabiah hold up signed copies of the constitutional declaration during a signing ceremony in Khartoum, Sudan August 4, 2019. (Reuters)
Cairo, Jeddah – Sawsan Abu Hussein, Asharq Al-Awsat
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, UAE, Bahrain and GCC, Arab and Islamic organizations welcomed the agreement reached on the constitutional document between Sudan’s Transitional Military Council (TMC) and Forces of Freedom and Change in Sudan.

Saudi Arabia praised the qualitative step, saying it will move the country towards security, peace and stability.

The Kingdom commended efforts exerted by all parties to give priority to the national interest and open a new chapter in the country’s history, according to a source at the Foreign Ministry.

The source reiterated the Kingdom’s full commitment to support Sudan stemming from the close ties between the two countries and peoples.

Egypt also welcomed on Sunday the agreement for a new period of the transitional government, describing the deal as an important step to achieving security and stability in Sudan.

The Foreign Ministry asserted its full support to the choices and aspirations of the Sudanese people as well as the state institutions.

Recent steps that were taken in Sudan, including the agreement on the constitutional declaration and the agreement to form a civilian government, prove that Sudan is back on the constitutional path, read the statement, noting that the suspension of Sudan’s membership in the African Union should be lifted.

Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the initial signing of the constitutional declaration, underlining the importance of the step in further establishing peace and stability in the country and realizing the aspirations of the Sudanese people in achieving progress and prosperity.

Bahrain appreciated the keenness of all parties on protecting the greater interest and for the efforts exerted to reach this agreement, according to the statement.

The Ministry reiterated Bahrain’s firm stance of solidarity with Sudan, especially during this crucial stage in history and its support for all that enhances Sudan’s interests and benefits its people.

For his part, UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said Sudan was turning over the page of the former regime and Muslim Brotherhood.

“Sudan is turning the page of the rule of Al-Bashir and the Muslim Brotherhood into a new era in its political history by turning to civil rule,” Gargash said on Twitter.

The Minister noted that the path to a state of institutions, stability and prosperity will not be filled with roses, asserting UAE’s confidence in Sudan and its people.

Also, GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani praised the signing of the constitutional document saying it is an important historic step to establish stability, security and peace in Sudan.

Zayani called upon the Sudanese people and all national forces to strengthen confidence and consensus, unite ranks and efforts, uphold national unity and embark on building a democratic and civil state in accordance with the principles of justice to achieve the aspirations of the Sudanese people.

OIC Secretary-General Yousef al-Othaimeen also welcomed the signing between the TMC and the Forces, which paves the way for handing over the administration of the country to a transitional civilian government.

Othaimeen stressed that this agreement is an important step in the course of the political process and the fulfillment of the requirements of the transitional period.

The Sec-Gen reiterated that OIC stands by Sudan at this delicate stage to achieve the aspirations of its people for security, peace, stability and development.

Sudan: Agreement on Constitutional Declaration for Civil Governance

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Sudan: Agreement on Constitutional Declaration for Civil Governance

Sunday, 4 August, 2019 – 09:45
Sudanese people celebrating after reaching an agreement between the Transitional Military Council and “Forces of Freedom and Change” on Saturday August 3, 2019 (AFP)
Khartoum – Ahmed Younes
Parties in Sudan have reached a final agreement on the constitutional declaration of governance for the transitional period.

People celebrated the agreement reached on Saturday which was also welcomed at Arab, international and domestic levels.

Sudan has now entered a new era in its political history. It has shifted to civil governance after the 30-year-rule by ousted President Omar al-Bashir, seven months of popular protests and four months of negotiations between the Forces of Freedom and Change (FFC), which led the popular movement and the Transitional Military Council.

The technical committee held meetings in the capital, few hours after African Union mediator for Sudan Mohamed Hassan Lebatt announced reaching the agreement on the constitutional declaration.

The meetings were aimed at setting a timetable for the arrangements to sign the agreement between the military council and the FFC.

“The two sides fully agreed on a constitutional declaration outlining the division of power for a three-year transition to elections, Lebatt said in a press statement.

The two sides reached a preliminary agreement last month following pressure from the United States and its Arab allies, amid growing concerns the political crisis could ignite a civil war. That document provided for the establishment of a joint civilian-military sovereign council that would rule Sudan for a little over three years while elections are organized.

A military leader would head the 11-member council for the first 21 months, followed by a civilian leader for the next 18 months.

There would also be a Cabinet of technocrats chosen by the protesters, as well as a legislative council, the makeup of which would be decided within three months.

FCC spokesman Madani Abbas Madani said in a press conference on Saturday that the document signed is set to establish a parliamentary rule giving the executive branch and the prime ministry great authority.

“Achieving peace in the country is one of the priorities of the transitional period and opens the door to the establishment of a state of freedom and justice,” Madani stressed.

FFC legal affairs negotiator Ebtisam al-Sanhouri, for her part, said the constitutional declaration sets the stage for a parliamentary system with a civilian prime minister.

The premier will be nominated by the protest movement and confirmed by the new sovereign council, which will have a civilian majority, Sanhouri explained.

The declaration also envisages the appointment of a 300-member legislative assembly to serve during the transitional period, she said, adding that the protest movement will be allocated 201 of the 300 seats.

The pro-democracy movement would choose 67 percent of the legislative body, with the remainder chosen by political parties that were not part of Bashir’s government, Sanhouri noted.

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BROOKINGS BRIEF)
(Moscow Mitch The Trumpian Bitch?) oped: oldpoet56)

Why won’t the Senate protect American elections?

Darrell M. West and Raj Karan Gambhir

Editor’s Note:This post is part of “Cybersecurity and Election Interference,” a Brookings series that explores digital threats to American democracy, cybersecurity risks in elections, and ways to mitigate possible problems.

Cybersecurity & Election InterferenceThe United States is at risk of serious foreign intervention and disinformation in the 2020 elections. When asked during his testimony to the House Judiciary Committee whether Russia could interfere in the 2020 elections, Robert Mueller responded that they are “doing it as we sit here.” The very next day, the Senate Intelligence Committee reported that “the Russians had attempted to intrude in all 50 states” during the 2016 election. A blog post by Brookings Institution Fellow Margaret Taylor furthermore shows that our European allies have experienced similar Russian activities over the last few years in their national elections, the Brexit campaign, and European Union parliamentary races. Even as the scope of Russian intent and ability becomes increasingly clear, Senate Republicans have done nothing to address this problem.

It is not as if there aren’t good ideas to protect American elections. Four major pieces of election security legislation have been introduced over the last two years: the Secure Elections Act (introduced by Senators James Lankford (R-OK) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)); Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act (introduced by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)); Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)); and Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA19)).

As noted below, the bills demonstrate relative bipartisan agreement over several key remedies. A number of members have proposed providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission, sharing election security expertise with the states, providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems, sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference, authorizing retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections, and requiring intelligence agencies to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections. A version of these ideas already has been approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on a 225 to 184 vote, but has been repeatedly blocked from a Senate vote by Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-KY). Calling the bill “highly partisan,” McConnell blocked a unanimous consent vote on the bill just hours after Mueller’s testimony.

This Senate inaction brings to mind Albert Einstein’s infamous definition of insanity as repeating the same behavior but expecting a different outcome. With no beefing up of election defenses and high odds of continuing foreign interference, 2020 will likely see the same problems of 2016: campaigns that sow discontent and play on societal divisions, active efforts to undermine electoral legitimacy, and widespread public doubts following the campaign about the integrity of the election process itself. Americans will wake up on Wednesday, November 4, 2020 wondering how the U.S. electoral process again fell prey to foreign interference and why political leaders failed to defend our vital democratic processes.

Providing additional funding for the Election Assistance Commission

In looking across the proposed bills, there are a number of promising ideas designed to secure U.S. elections. One of them advanced in the Secure Elections Act is the creation of an Election Assistance Commission grant program that provides funding for states and localities to secure electoral processes and upgrade equipment. The idea is that since elections largely are administered at the state and local level, additional funding for those entities would enable them to update their equipment, install the latest cyber-security protections, and make sure that vital infrastructure is protected during the election.

Sharing election security expertise

Several of the proposed bills give the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) a major role in advising the states, offering them technical expertise, and being proactive in dealing with possible cyber-threats. Since this department works to counter terrorism and maintain vital infrastructure, the department has expertise to evaluate hardware and software for cyber-security risks. Armed with that information, it could provide help to state and local agencies charged with administering the upcoming elections.

Providing paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems with an audit trail

A number of local jurisdictions have moved to electronic voting machines in recent years, although in most cases, this equipment is not connected to the internet in order to minimize opportunities for hacking. However, there still could be software bugs that distort the vote or systematically under-count certain areas. Given that possibility, it is important to have paper ballot backups of electronic voting systems and the possibility of conducting an audit if any irregularities are spotted. That way, voters can feel confident their votes will be counted and there are mechanisms to evaluate the vote in case anything is contested.

Sanctioning financial institutions that support foreign interference

The Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act establishes financial sanctions that could be applied against countries, financial institutions, or individuals that “facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of Putin.” The idea is that Russians could be discouraged from malicious behavior if they think there will be serious consequences.

Authors

In addition, the bill “would give prosecutors additional authorities to pursue federal charges for the hacking of voting systems and create a National Fusion Center to respond to hybrid threats of disinformation and other emerging threats from Russia”. There are provisions that specifically would impose sanctions for “Russian interference in democratic processes.”

Authorize retaliatory actions against any nation interfering in American elections

The Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines (DETER) Act would allow the President to impose sanctions against any country identified as a threat. Among the actions that could invite retaliation “include a foreign government or agent purchasing political advertisements to influence an election” or “using social media to spread false information, hacking and releasing or modifying election- or campaign-related information or hindering access to elections infrastructure, such as websites for polling places.”

Requiring intelligence agency leaders to determine whether any foreign agents interfered in American elections

The DETER Act would mandate that the director of national intelligence determine within 30 days of the national election whether “the government of a foreign country, or any person acting as an agent of or on behalf of that government, knowingly engaged in interference in the election.” Under threat of sanction, foreign agents specifically would not be allowed to “spread significant amounts of false information to Americans. They also cannot hack, leak or modify election and campaign infrastructure, including voter registration databases and campaign emails.”

Why the Senate inaction in the face of a clear foreign danger?

A number of arguments have been made to justify the votes of those who opposed the House bill or are supporting Senate inaction. One is a state’s rights argument suggesting that the federal government should not have a major role in electoral security given the country’s history of state and local control of balloting. While it certainly is important to maintain state and local control of elections, providing federal assistance to upgrade voting machines does not violate existing legal or constitution provisions. There is a long history of the federal government paying for voting equipment and offering technical assistance. Many states lack funding for voting machines and the federal government often has funded upgrades and improvements. There is ample precedent for national authorities to protect vital infrastructure in the face of foreign threats.

Another rationale concerns the financial cost of electoral security. The idea is at a time when America is running a trillion-dollar budget deficit, it should avoid unnecessary expenditures. Rather, lawmakers should focus on vital priorities and critical infrastructure. Yet electoral security should fall within each of those principles. Having secure elections is essential to democracy. There is no excuse for not spending several hundred million dollars (a very small portion of the overall federal budget) on meaningful steps to protect American elections. Democracy is too important to be risked for a relatively small amount of money.

Short of these criticisms, it is hard to see any justified reason not to enact some type of electoral security measures. As is clear to all who study American elections and have heeded the warnings of our European allies, the intelligence community, and the Special Counsel—the Russian threat is real. Given these dire circumstances, it is difficult to fathom why Senate leadership is refusing to allow a vote on such important legislation, and therefore risking the integrity of the democratic process. Americans should demand Senate action to protect U.S. elections from foreign interference.

Brazil: Celso de Mello says Bolsonaro violates Constitution and claims to be thinking about Lula case

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF BRAZIL’S 247 NEWS)

 

Celso de Mello says Bolsonaro violates Constitution and claims to be thinking about Lula case

Dean of the Supreme Court, Minister Celso de Mello says that Jair Bolsonaro offended the separation of powers and transgressed the Brazilian constitution by reissuing the provisional measure on demarcation of land. He also claimed to be reflecting on the Lula case. “I have been studying a lot because it is an issue that concerns not only this specific case but the rights of the people in general,” he said.

247 – Dean of the Supreme Court, Minister Celso de Mello, gave an interview to journalist Rafael Moraes Moura, published in the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, in which he spoke about the crimes committed by Jair Bolsonaro and also mentioned the case of the former president. Lula, who has been held as a political prisoner since April last year. 

“Respect for what is contained in the Constitution of the Republic is fundamental. This respect is the evidence, is the demonstration of the degree of civility of a people. At a time when the largest authorities of the country, such as the President of the Republic, disregard the Constitution, although there is a clear and express prohibition on the reissue of an interim measure expressly rejected by the National Congress, this is indeed unacceptable because it deeply offends a nuclear postulate of our constitutional system, which is the principle of separation of powers. absolutely no one is above the supreme authority of the Constitution of the Republic, “he said of the demarcation of land, which Bolsonaro attempted to transfer from Funai to Agriculture.

The dean also spoke on the case of former president Lula, who has pointed to the suspicion of former judge Sergio Moro in the case. “I’ve been studying a lot, because it’s a question that concerns not only this particular case, but the rights of the people in general. I still keep thinking, reflecting. I usually usually do a lot of research, read a lot, think a lot for then, from then on, definitively forming my conviction and composing my vote, “said the dean, who said he was” still in the process of reflection. ” 

UAE Hopes for Foundation of Sudan Constitutional System

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

UAE Hopes for Foundation of Sudan Constitutional System

Friday, 5 July, 2019 – 10:00
UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash. Reuters file photo
Asharq Al-Awsat
The United Arab Emirates congratulated Sudan on Friday after its military council and opposition reached a power-sharing deal.

“We hope that the next phase will witness the foundation of a constitutional system that will strengthen the role of institutions with broad national and popular support,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said in a Twitter post.

He said the UAE would stand with Khartoum in “good times and bad times.”

Sudan’s ruling generals and protest leaders reached an agreement on the disputed issue of a new governing body, in a breakthrough power-sharing accord aimed at ending the country’s months-long political crisis.

“The two sides agreed on establishing a sovereign council with a rotating military and civilian (presidency) for a period of three years or little more,” African Union mediator Mohamed El Hacen Lebatt told reporters.

It just got more difficult for the Congress To Not Impeach Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Robert Mueller ended his two-year stint as special counsel with a bang disguised as a whimper: In a 10-minute statement announcing his resignation and the closure of the special counsel’s office, the former FBI director sent a very clear message to anyone listening: I didn’t charge Donald Trump with obstruction because I couldn’t.

 “The Special Counsel’s Office is part of the Department of Justice and, by regulation, it was bound by that Department policy,” said Mueller, referencing an Office of Legal Counsel ruling that a siting president cannot be indicted. “Charging the President with a crime was therefore not an option we could consider.”
And just in case you missed what Mueller was driving at with that quote, he was even more explicit later in his remarks. “The [OLC] opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing,” Mueller added.
So, to summarize:
  1. Mueller says the special counsel’s hands were tied by the OLC opinion when it came to charging Trump with obstructing the Russia probe.
  2. Mueller notes that “the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting president of wrongdoing.”
Oh, whatever could he mean????
To date, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has held off the increasing number of voices within the House Democratic caucus calling for impeachment, insisting that Trump wants to be impeached because it will turn him into a victim and allow him to make the election about alleged Democratic overreach rather than about health care, immigration and so on.
It’s a sound political stance — one reinforced by CNN polling that shows that almost 6 in 10 Americans don’t want to see Trump impeached and more than 4 in 10 who think Democrats have already done too much investigating of the President.

 

THE POINT — NOW ON YOUTUBE!

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But polling doesn’t stand in for principle or political pressure. And Pelosi is going to be strongly pushed on both of those fronts now that Mueller said what he said. The question is whether — and how — she can withstand this increased pressure.
In a statement soon after what may be Mueller’s final appearance on the national stage, Pelosi stood her ground, emphasizing that it’s just a fraction of the total number of House Democrats calling for impeachment. “I think it’s like 35 of them out of 238, maybe it’s 38 of them out of 238 who have said they wanted to be outspoken on impeachment,” she said.
“Nothing is off the table,” Pelosi added. But “we are investigating and we are litigating and we are going to, as we go down the path, make a decision based on the strongest possible case to get the best results for the American people.”
The Point: Pelosi is holding strong — for now. But how long can she keep it up in the wake of the Mueller statement?
Linda Tauhid

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