Republican Matt Bevin concedes defeat in Kentucky governor’s race

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Republican Matt Bevin concedes defeat in Kentucky governor’s race

(CNN)Kentucky Republican Gov. Matt Bevin conceded defeat on Thursday to Democratic state Attorney General Andy Beshear.

“We’re going to have a change in the governorship based on the vote of the people,” Bevin said at a news conference.
The concession comes after Bevin requested all 120 counties in the state recheck the results from last week’s gubernatorial election. That re-canvass showed Beshear still leading over Bevin.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes said in a statement that Beshear received 5,136 more votes than Bevin.
“I’m not going to contest these numbers that have come in,” Bevin said Thursday.
“I truly wish the attorney general well as the next governor of this state as he assumes these responsibilities,” Bevin said. Bevin said his team has already been working with Beshear’s and that he expects a smooth transition.
“I love the fact that we’re blessed to live in a nation where things do transition in ways that much of the world wishes they had,” he said.
Beshear said at a news conference he appreciated Bevin’s concession, which he noted came quickly after the re-canvass.
“The race is now officially over,” Beshear said, “which means we can look forward and we can move forward.”
Beshear was elected attorney general of Kentucky in 2015 and is the son of Steve Beshear, Bevin’s predecessor.
The governor-elect tweeted: “It’s official – thank you Kentucky. @GovMattBevin and his team have already begun a smooth transition. It’s time to get to work!”
A Democratic victory in Kentucky, a state Donald Trump carried by 30 percentage points in the 2016 election, could be seen as an ominous sign for the President heading into his 2020 reelection bid. The result shows that Trump wasn’t able to carry his preferred candidate over the finish line. Bevin had the strong backing of the President, and Trump held a rally in Lexington, Kentucky, the night before the election.
Bevin, elected governor in 2015, has faced backlash for seeking to undercut the state’s Medicaid expansion and calling teachers “selfish” and accusing them of a “thug mentality” when they protested after he threatened to cut their pensions.
Bevin requested a re-canvass after the results from last week’s election showed Bevin trailing Beshear by more than 5,000 votes.
The re-canvass began on Thursday morning. Unlike a standard recount of votes, a re-canvass is a reprint of the receipts from voting machines to check for reporting or clerical errors. After ballots are scanned, the machine tabulates those votes and prints out a receipt with the total.
During the re-canvass, those receipts were reprinted and checked again to make sure they were reported properly. It’s not uncommon for some clerical errors to occur during the initial vote tabulation.
Kentucky law does not allow for a recount in a gubernatorial general election, but a campaign may request a re-canvass of the votes with the secretary of state. There is no threshold or margin requirement for a re-canvass.
Bevin previously told CNN affiliate WKYT: “It’s not likely to change a lot numerically, but you have to go through this as a first step … to make sure the numbers that were written down and communicated are accurate.” He said his office is also preparing for Beshear to assume the governorship.
“There are very good odds, he could be the next governor — no question about it,” Bevin told WKYT. “Right now, he is numerically ahead and would seemingly be the next governor, and if that is corroborated and held up through this process, I’ll be his number one cheerleader.”
Representatives from both political parties and the media were allowed to be present for the re-canvass.

Author warns that Trump ‘will not exit quietly,’ even if defeated or impeached

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE USA TODAY NEWS)

 

‘Anonymous’ author warns that Trump ‘will not exit quietly,’ even if defeated or impeached

USA TODAY

The anonymous official who has written a scathing account of the presidency of Donald Trump suggests the president might refuse to leave office even if convicted in impeachment hearings or defeated narrowly in the 2020 election – and says Trump is preparing his followers to see either outcome as a “coup” that could warrant resistance.

“He will not exit quietly – or easily,” the author, self-described as a senior administration official, writes in A Warning, a book that builds on an explosive op-ed by the same unnamed author last year. USA TODAY obtained an early copy of the book.

“It is why at many turns he suggests ‘coups’ are afoot and a ‘civil war’ is in the offing. He is already seeding the narrative for his followers – a narrative that could end tragically.”

From ‘Anonymous’:Read key excerpts from inside Trump White House on Putin, Pence, Hillary

As the House of Representatives prepares to open public impeachment hearings Wednesday, the book also says that Trump ordered aides more than a year ago to pursue a “deliberate and coordinated campaign” to obstruct an impeachment inquiry and other congressional investigations. House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff has said he is considering obstruction of Congress as a possible Article of Impeachment.

The book’s author is identified only as “a senior official in the Trump administration,” and its forthcoming publication has created a firestorm over both its depiction of a dysfunctional president and the decision by the writer to remain anonymous.

Cover of "A Warning" by an anonymous senior Trump administration official.

“The coward who wrote this book didn’t put their name on it because it is nothing but lies,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said.

Many of the disclosures echo news stories that have portrayed the president as impulsive, sometimes uninformed and regularly willing to defy established norms. There is already no shortage of books by Trump critics, including former FBI director James Comey and others who have served in his administration, that raise questions about the president’s fitness for office.

But The New York Times op-ed in 2018 and the new book, being published next Tuesday by Twelve, have commanded enormous attention because the author had an inside view, often participating in small White House meetings where crucial decisions were made.

The author portrays himself or herself as sharing some policy views with Trump and initially having a positive if wary view of the possibilities of his presidency.

The author says the intended audience for A Warning isn’t those who closely follow politics but rather those who don’t, particularly voters from across the country who were drawn in 2016 to Trump’s promise to shake up the establishment.

Dropping Pence from the ticket?

The book says that Trump “on more than one occasion” discussed with staffers the possibility of dropping Vice President Mike Pence before the 2020 election.

“Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley was under active consideration to step in as vice president, which she did not discourage at first,” the author writes, saying some advisers argued that putting Haley on the ticket would help the president bolster his support among female voters.

In an interview Friday with USA TODAY, Nikki Haley dismissed out of hand the suggestion that she might replace Pence. In her new book, With All Due Respect, Haley offers a generally positive portrait of Trump, and the president rewarded her with a friendly tweet urging his millions of followers to buy a copy.

Pathway of impeachment:How it works, where we are

“Anonymous” depicts Trump as impatient, immoral, cruel, even dangerous as he rejects the limits placed on presidents by Congress and the courts.

As the 2018 midterm elections approached, the book says, the White House counsel’s office began to develop a “contingency plan” to shield the administration if Democrats gained control of Congress, and with that the ability to launch investigations and issue subpoenas. New lawyers were hired and internal procedures revamped, the author writes.

“The goal wasn’t just to prepare for a barrage of legislative requests,” the book says. “It was a concerted attempt to fend off congressional oversight. When Democrats finally took the House, the unspoken administration policy toward Capitol Hill became: Give as little as possible, wait as long as possible. Even routine inquiries are now routed to the lawyers, who have found unique ways to say “We can’t right now,” “Give us a few months,” “We’re going to need to put you on hold,” “Probably not,” “No,” and “Not a chance in hell.”

Trump impeachment inquiry:Early findings and how Republicans are opposing them

The author says the administration’s refusal to comply with congressional requests and even subpoenas “go beyond standard practice and have turned into a full block-and-tackle exercise against congressional investigators across an array of Trump administration controversies.”

On the president’s actions with Ukraine, now the heart of the impeachment inquiry, the author writes that the idea Trump was trying to battle corruption abroad – rather than gain some partisan political advantage at home – was “barely believable to anyone around him.”

But the book provides no significant new information or insights into that episode.

‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards

The author’s agent, Matt Latimer, said the author didn’t take an advance payment for the book and plans to donate a substantial amount of the royalties to nonprofit organizations that encourage government accountability and an independent press.

Among other allegations, the book says:

  • Several top advisers and Cabinet-level officials last year discussed a mass resignation, “a midnight self-massacre,” intended to call attention to what they saw as Trump’s questionable and even corrupt behavior. “The idea was abandoned out of fear that it would make a bad situation worse.”
  • If a majority of the Cabinet called for Trump’s removal under the rules of the 25th Amendment, Pence would have been willing to go along with them. But the author provides no evidence to back up that assertion, and Pence in recent days has strongly denied it.
  • Trump told officials that, if they took illegal actions on his behalf, he would give them presidential pardons. “To Donald Trump, these are unlimited ‘Get Out of Jail Free’ cards on a Monopoly board.”
  • Trump was “particularly frustrated that the Justice Department hasn’t done more to harass the Clintons.” The president suggested to his first Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, that he might “un-recuse” himself from the Mueller inquiry into Russian election interference, presumably so he would feel free to order a more aggressive inquiry into Trump’s 2016 opponent. “You’d be a hero,” the president told him.

KENTUCKY GOV. MATT BEVIN ACCUSES SECRETARY OF STATE OF FRAUD AFTER SHE DECLARES HE LOST THE ELECTION

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NEWSWEEK)

 

KENTUCKY GOV. MATT BEVIN ACCUSES SECRETARY OF STATE OF FRAUD AFTER SHE DECLARES HE LOST THE ELECTION

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin has accused Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes of fraud for announcing the results of the election live on CNN, and continues to refuse to concede a race that he lost by less than half of a percentage point, says The Hill.

Tuesday night, Bevin lost to Democrat Andy Beshear in a hotly contested race, which was enough to cause him to declare he wouldn’t concede the race, then called for a re-canvassing of voters.

“Kentucky sadly—and it’s not unique to Kentucky—but there’s more than a little bit of history of vote fraud in our state,” Bevin told reporters, adding that his campaign was working on “getting affidavits and other information that will help us to get a better understanding of what did or did not happen.”

He added that there were reports of Kentucky voters being “incorrectly turned away from various voting booths around the state.”

Bevin also accused Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Secretary of State, of committing fraud by announcing the election results live on CNN, mentioning that she is currently the subject of a special state prosecutor’s investigation for allegedly misusing voter records.

“The fact that our secretary of state was on national TV … it was an interesting choice of places for her to go while the roll was being tallied, the votes were being tallied and to call an election,” he said.

“For her to try to jump the gun on this and interject herself into this, it’s something that’s being looked into,” he continued.

Matt Bevin
Accusing the Secretary of State of fraud for announcing election results on CNN, Matt Bevin held firm on his accusation that voter irregularities were the reason for his loss on Tuesday night .JOHN SOMMERS II/GETTY

“This is from a woman, with all due respect to her, is not exactly rock solid as it comes to following the letter of the law,” he said.

“She’s currently under investigation for misuse of voter files herself. Her father has already been convicted of multiple—I think 10—different federal charges related to election fraud specific to her race,” he added.

Grimes is at the center of two legal cases, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader. In one case, Jared Dearing, executive director of the State Board of Elections, has alleged that Grimes’ office illegally obtained the state’s voter registration database and did illegal searches of it.

In the other, Grimes filed a suit alleging that a new law stripped her office of its power over the State Board of Elections. She claims the law made it a misdemeanor for her office to search the database.

Her father, Jerry Lundergan, served as a Democrat in the Kentucky House of Representatives and the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party. In 1989, he was convicted of a felony charge of improperly using his influence, however, that conviction was later thrown out by an appeals court. Last year, he was indicted for making illegal campaign contributions to his daughter during her 2014 race to unseat Sen. Mitch McConnell.

The recanvassing work will be done by November 14, said a board of elections member. The Kentucky State Board of Elections will meet on November 21 to certify the election results.

Bevin’s opponent, Andy Beshear, has 49.2 percent (711,955 votes) to 48.9 percent for Bevin. A Libertarian candidate, John Hicks, received 28,475 votes, or 2.0 percent of the vote. Beshear’s margin of victory ultimately totaled 5,200 votes.

At a news conference held on Wednesday, Beshear said that he hadn’t spoken to Bevin about the recount but that he felt it was “time to move on” from the election, according to CBS News.

Tuesday’s Elections Show Impeachment Might Not Boost GOP As Much As It Hoped

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF NPR NEWS)

 

Tuesday’s Elections Show Impeachment Might Not Boost GOP As Much As It Hoped

President Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky., Monday. His efforts don’t appear to have been enough to carry incumbent GOP Gov. Matt Bevin over the finish line.

Susan Walsh/AP

Tuesday’s statewide elections in Kentucky and Virginia were a big night for Democrats. And the results tell us a few things about national politics, consequential issues and President Trump.

In Kentucky, Democrat Andy Beshear, the son of former Gov. Steve Beshear, claimed victory Tuesday night and narrowly leads incumbent Gov. Matt Bevin by about 5,000 votes. Bevin has not yet conceded the race.

In Virginia, Democrats took over both chambers of the state legislature and now have full control of the state’s political apparatus, a sweeping change from a decade ago when Virginia was considered the nation’s bellwether.

Republicans kept hold of the governorship in Mississippi, but the margin — 5 percentage points — was far smaller than Trump’s 18 points in 2016.

Here are seven lessons from Tuesday night’s results:

1. Impeachment did not help Republicans fire up conservatives in rural areas

Republicans have been saying that impeachment would backfire on Democrats and enthuse Trump’s rural base. But that didn’t pan out Tuesday in Kentucky and Virginia. Democratic voters in urban areas, on the other hand, are clearly fired up.

They showed up, especially in Kentucky, in higher-than-usual numbers, while voters in rural areas didn’t. Trump, who only won 46% of the national popular vote in 2016, needs every last one of the people who voted for him then to come out again, especially as he has done almost nothing to try to win over persuadable voters this time around. Kentucky and Virginia could be warning signs that impeachment, even though the Trump campaign has raised lots of money off it, simply isn’t the issue Republicans hoped it would be with voters.

2. Trump won’t like this

“You can’t let that happen to me!” Trump said at his Kentucky rally Monday night, imploring Kentucky voters to go to the polls for Bevin. He did not want the the narrative to be: “Trump suffered the greatest defeat in the history of the world.”

Well, it wasn’t the greatest defeat in the history of the world. But it is bad news for Trump, despite his campaign dismissing the loss as the result of problems with Bevin’s campaign. So what will the results mean for his mood and state of mind, as congressional investigators keep asking questions in their impeachment inquiry?

3. The suburbs remain a warning sign for Republicans

Republicans want to dismiss the results in Kentucky as Bevin being unpopular and acerbic, and that is a point to consider, especially considering that Republican candidates swept all of the other statewide races, mostly by double-digit margins. But Bevin’s unpopularity does not explain the results in Virginia.

The fact is what we’ve seen in election after election since Trump has been in office is Democrats outperforming prior performances — and that strength has been rooted in the suburbs. Remember, Republicans lost the House in 2018 because suburban voters turned on Trump and the GOP — and Republicans haven’t fixed that problem.

4. Governing still matters

Kentucky is a state Trump won by 30 points. So this should have been a layup for any generic Republican candidate. But Bevin is no generic Republican. He picked fights with all kinds of constituencies in the state.

We’ve seen it time and again — take Kansas, for example — that when a governor governs ideologically, they wind up in political trouble. And the opposite is true, too. The three most popular governors in the country are Republicans in liberal states: Charlie Baker in Massachusetts, Larry Hogan in Maryland and Phil Scott in Vermont. That should be a lesson that the GOP pays attention to.

5. Kentucky likely does not mean much for Mitch McConnell’s and Trump’s chances in the state in 2020

Sure, Bevin was unpopular, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is unpopular in his home state, too. And, yes, Trump was not quite able to drag Bevin across the finish line Tuesday night.

But that does not mean either Trump or McConnell is in trouble in Kentucky next year. Over the past decade, McConnell has often been among the least popular senators with his constituents and yet has comfortably won reelection each time. He and Bevin have different brands in the state, and a McConnell protégé won handily for attorney general.

What’s more, having Trump on the ballot will help McConnell. It’s important to remember that while turnout was up substantially from the last governor’s race in 2015, it was still down about 35% from the presidential election. Expect those numbers to shoot back up in 2020.

6. Virginia is now officially a blue state

My, how times change and can change quickly. The results Tuesday night in Virginia mean Democrats in the state now control the legislature and every statewide elected office — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Virginia has outpaced the rest of the country, is no longer a swing state and is moving to being reliably Democratic. And that shift came in a year when the top trio of elected Democrats in the state faced a variety of scandals that hobbled their ability to campaign for down-ballot candidates.

7. The politics of health care and guns may be moving left

Before Bevin came into office, Kentucky had one of the best-run Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) exchanges in the country. It also expanded Medicaid under Gov. Steve Beshear, a Democrat.

Bevin took a very different approach. He tried to institute work requirements for Medicaid, which would have resulted in tens of thousands of Kentuckians losing health insurance. That was hotly divisive, and his loss Tuesday proves that once you give people the benefit, it is very difficult to take it away.

That has long been the argument Democrats have made in favor of the Affordable Care Act even when it was unpopular. And guess what? As predicted, it has grown more popular, and without an alternative, Republicans have struggled to figure out what to do about it.

In Virginia, guns were a top issue after a raft of mass shootings nationally and in the state. Gun-control groups outspent the National Rifle Association by about $500,000, and Tuesday’s Virginia results showed that with a concerted effort, lots of money and focused activism, the tide could be turning on gun policy.

Communist China: Huangpu joins up with eBay

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SHANGHAI CHINA’S ‘SHINE’ NEWS NETWORK)

 

Huangpu joins up with eBay

China International Import Expo

Huangpu District is to establish a cross-border e-commerce platform with eBay to better serve and expand the effect of the upcoming second China International Import Expo.

The district government signed an agreement with the e-commerce giant on Wednesday to develop the platform to offer financial services, build exhibition and trade centers as well as train professionals for cross-border e-commerce trade.

An innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D center to mainly boost e-commerce export trade will be established in Huangpu along with a full industrial chain, said Yang Dongsheng, deputy director with the district.

Shanghai has become the headquarters of eBay’s cross-border trade business across China, Southeast Asia, Russia and Israel as well as east and north Europe, the company said. Its China headquarters are in Huangpu District.

Huangpu endeavors to help local companies expand their overseas businesses through e-commerce platforms. The cooperation is expected to make Huangpu a downtown center for the city’s e-commerce businesses, Yang said.

E-commerce has become a new way for Chinese products to be sold across the world, said Shen Weihua, deputy director of the city’s commerce commission. International pioneers such as eBay are expected to help the city further open up and upgrade its foreign trade, Shen said.

The city’s export e-commerce volume ranks third in the country following Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces.

Local retailers are exporting through e-commerce platforms to over 70 countries. The top destinations are the United States, the UK, Australia, Germany and Canada.

Many local brands, such as Threegun clothing, have become popular with overseas shoppers, according to eBay. Other popular products from Shanghai include those for home decoration, automobile accessories, clothes, cosmetics and sports products.

The city’s exports of home decoration and car accessories have been rising rapidly on cross-border e-commerce platforms this year along with electric appliances.

So, You Think Russia/Putin Only Interfered In The 2016 General Election, Really?

So, You Think Russia/Putin Only Interfered In The 2016 General Election, Really?

 

This letter to you today is just an opinion piece from my thoughts to your eyes, it is for the purpose of getting us all to think a little bit about the chances of, what if.  For those of you who do not know me I am a 63 year old Christian white guy who lives in the state of Kentucky. I believe my political leanings to be a registered Independent who has voted Republican and Democratic in the past but I honestly can’t see me ever voting for a Republican again because of them backing our current President. I consider myself to be a moderate, sort of right down the middle between being a Conservative on some issues and a bit Liberal on others. So, I don’t agree with either extreme to the left nor to the right. In 2016’s Presidential Election I voted for Gary Johnson, not because I thought he had any chance of winning but because I could not get myself to vote for either Hillary or Trump. I feel the same now as I did then, I could not get myself to vote for a person I totally believe to be a very intelligent, hate filled, habitual liar (Hillary) nor for a totally ignorant, hate filled, ego-maniac, habitual liar (Trump).

 

As most everyone whom has an I.Q. above 2 now knows that President Putin of Russia had his people interfering in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Elections in an effort to get Donald Trump elected as our 45th President. But I have a question that I would like for you to ponder, do you honestly believe that the Russians only screwed with the General Election in November of 2016? As over 20 U.S. State Election Boards also said that there is plenty of evidence that they were interfered with from the Russian Government. What I believe is that there is a very good chance that Mr. Trump did not win nearly as many of the State Republican Primaries as he was given credit for. He could never have been the Republican Nominee if he didn’t win enough of the Primaries. So, what if Trump via actual American votes did not win a lot of those Primaries that he was given credit for? Would John Kasich have been the Republican Nominee? Just as if the Democratic National Convention had not had the farce of so called “Super Delegates” I believe that Senator Bernie Sanders would have been the Democratic Nominee, not Hillary. Personally I believe that if Senator Sanders had been the Democratic Nominee that he would have beaten Mr. Trump in the November election. What I am saying is that I believe that the American voters totally got scammed in 2016 and to me it is looking like the Republican Party big wigs of today are bound and determined to make sure that we can have another Russian scam election in November of 2020.

 

Another side thought for you, something I just thought of while writing this letter to you. Thinking back to the 2016 General Election, it was a given that the Democrats would win the Congressional Elections but the question was by how much. A bigger question was how many Senatorial Seats would the Republicans lose to the Democrats. Turns out that the Democrats didn’t win near as many Congressional Seats as most Annalists thought they would and the Republicans actually picked up a few Senatorial Seats, not lose them. You know if a person wins the White House from one Party but the opposite Party rules both the House and the Senate the President will be vastly limited in getting anything his Party wants passed into law. So, how many Senate and Congressional Seats did the Republicans ‘win’ that they actually did not win with the American peoples votes? Looking at this issue through an “Independents” glasses it becomes obvious why the Republican Party’s Leadership isn’t concerned about “the Russians” interference. This letter is simply meant as ‘food for your thoughts’.

Tunisian Judiciary Rejects All Appeals Against Presidential Elections Results

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

 

Tunisian Judiciary Rejects All Appeals Against Presidential Elections Results

Tuesday, 24 September, 2019 – 11:00
Presidential candidate Kais Saied speaks as he attends a news conference after the announcement of the results in the first round of Tunisia’s presidential election in Tunis, Tunisia September 17, 2019. Reuters/Muhammad Hamed
Tunis – Mongi Saidani
The Administrative Court in Tunisia rejected six appeals by former presidential candidates who lost in the first round of elections, limiting the second round to candidates Kais Saied (Independent) and Nabil Karoui for Qalb Tounes (Heart of Tunisia Party).

Tunis Administrative Court’s spokesperson Imed Ghabri told Asharq Al-Awsat that Seifeddine Makhlouf, Abdelkrim Zbidi and Slim Riahi’s demands were rejected for not meeting the formal requirements to file the appeal.

Neji Jalloul, Hatem Boulabiar and Youssef Chahed’s demands were also rejected.

Thus, the administrative court, which specializes in resolving electoral disputes, has initially legitimized the results of the first round of the presidential race, pending the possibility of appeal by appealing candidates.

The appeals submitted against the results of the first round accused the winning candidates of relying on political publicity in the election campaign as well as violating the rules of the campaign.

While announcing the election results on Sunday, Independent High Authority for Elections (IHAE) President Nebil Baffoun said violations committed are not election crimes and don’t affect the results announced.

The first round of the presidential elections resulted in the victory of law professor Saied, who was ranked first among 26 candidates and won 18.4 percent of the votes, and Karoui, ranked second with 15.6 percent of the votes.

They will both compete during the second round, which is scheduled to be held on October 6 or 13.

On the other hand, Chahed suggested forming an alliance with Zbidi, the resigned defense minister who is backed by Nidaa Tounes party, following their loss in the first round of the elections.

Observers say both parties need one another to return to the competition in the parliamentary elections, during which power-sharing will be determined for the next phase.

Israel: Wounded Netanyahu in desperate battle for political survival after poll blow

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE LONDON GUARDIAN)

 

Israel: Wounded Netanyahu in desperate battle for political survival after poll blow

Israel’s president to meet PM and opposition leader Benny Gantz in bid to resolve election stalemate
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and President Reuven Rivlin
 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and President Reuven Rivlin. Photograph: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP/Getty Images

Israel’s president is set to begin two days of consultations with political parties after a deadlocked election last week plunged the country into uncertainty over who will lead the next government.

Near-final results from Tuesday’s poll showed the opposition chief, Benny Gantz, marginally ahead of the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, with his Blue and White party taking 33 seats out of parliament’s 120. The ruling Likud party has 31.

Critically, neither side appeared able to forge a majority government, even with support from allies in smaller parties.

On Sunday afternoon President Reuven Rivlin will meet both leaders in an attempt to break the stalemate or face the possibility of a potential third round of elections in less than a year. Rivlin holds a largely ceremonial post but is also responsible for choosing the candidate he believes has the best chance of forming a government. Usually, the decision is clear, and often goes to the leader of the largest party, but the muddied result has created an impasse.

Despite being Israel’s longest-serving leader and having a reputation for political sorcery, Netanyahu is fighting a tough battle. On Thursday he acknowledged his plan had failed. “During the elections, I called for the establishment of a rightwing government,” Netanyahu said in a video message. “But unfortunately the election results show that this is not possible.”

After leading the country for 10 consecutive years, Israeli media has questioned whether his era was over. His biographer, Anshel Pfeffer, wrote that, while he may still cling on, “the Netanyahu magic has been broken”.

Fearing defeat, the prime minister has called for his opponent to join him in a unity government, hinting that he might be willing to accept a power-sharing arrangement with Gantz. There is a precedent in Israel for political rivals to serve together after Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres rotated the role of prime minister in the mid-1980s. However, Gantz, a former military chief, swiftly rejected Netanyahu’s offer and said he should lead because his alliance won the most seats. “We will not be dictated to,” he warned.

Israel has held two elections in five months after Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition following a similar result in April. Rather than give the opposition a chance to do so, he instead pushed to dissolve the Knesset, triggering repeat elections and giving himself another opportunity.

The gamble has left him in an apparently worse position and the stakes are much higher. In two weeks’ time he will face pre-trial hearings for three corruption cases against him. A majority in the Knesset could give Netanyahu – who denies any wrongdoing – immunity from prosecution.

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Israeli secular nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party
Pinterest
 Avigdor Lieberman, whose party took eight seats, could emerge as kingmaker. Photograph: Jalaa Marey/AFP/Getty Images

At the centre of the impasse, and the man with the key to ending it, is Israel’s apparent kingmaker – the far-right ultra-nationalist Avigdor Lieberman. The staunch secularist took eight seats, but his refusal to join a government with Jewish religious groups has added further blocks.

Politicians from an alliance of the country’s minority Arab population could also play a role, after they became the third-largest bloc in the Knesset. Ayman Odeh, the head of the group, has said that he may back Gantz, but even that would not give the opposition figure a majority.

If Sunday’s talks prove fruitless, Rivlin’s office said he might invite Netanyahu and Gantz back for more consultations. The president is obliged by law to choose a candidate by 2 October, who will then have up to six weeks to form a government. If that person fails, the president can task another, but the process could break down and force the holding of a third election.

Rivlin has said he will do everything in his power to avoid such a costly scenario that would paralyse Israeli politics right into 2020. Yet some say it looks increasingly likely.

“These are early days indeed to try to make sense of what government may emerge from the migraine-inducing complexity of Israel’s elections,” wrote David Horovitz, founding editor of the Times of Israel. “But the outcome everybody professes to want to avoid is already starting to loom in the distance.

“If Netanyahu sees it as his last hope, and Gantz thinks he’ll emerge from it stronger, we may yet have to go through this all again.”

Trump-Ukraine suspicions raise specters of collusion and impeachment

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER)

 

Trump-Ukraine suspicions raise specters of collusion and impeachment

Presidential impeachment looms, and perhaps even removal, because Donald Trump may have colluded after all.

Or, to use the correct legal terminology, maybe the president tried to engage in a “conspiracy” with a foreign government, to wit, an effort to use American assets in a quid pro quo arrangement to directly affect a national election and both nations’ systems of criminal justice.

This is what House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff of California and other Democrats suspect with regard to a whistleblower’s complaint that reportedly was “prompted by President Trump’s interactions with a foreign leader.”

The evidence already indicates a significant likelihood that the suspicions are correct. If — repeat, only if — the reports do prove true, then Trump is in massive trouble.

Granted, Schiff himself is hardly a reliable interpreter of events. He’s a far-left ideological enemy of Trump’s, a publicity hound prone to grandstandinggullibility, and prevarication. Still, even political hacks sometimes stumble upon important information.

What’s known is this: First, former Vice President Joe Biden is suspected by many in Trump world of having used undue influence to kill a Ukrainian investigation into potential illegalities by his son, Hunter. If Biden did so, that would almost surely be illegal and would by all reasonable standards make him unfit for the presidency.

It is not, however, obvious that Biden did what is suspected. Trump and his attorney Rudy Giuliani, though, obviously want Ukraine to r-open the investigation into Biden. It long has been evident that Trump world believes that among the current Democratic presidential candidates, Biden would be his most serious challenger. If Ukraine finds Biden actually did something wrong, or even if they publicly are investigating him, Trump’s reelection prospects surely would improve.

Hence, Giuliani’s now-admitted efforts to ask Ukraine’s current regime to ensnare Biden in a major investigation. If Giuliani did so at Trump’s request, which is certainly not far-fetched, that alone would be dicey behavior. As the United States is a key ally for Ukraine’s very survival, any implied pressure on it from someone acting for the president, on behalf of the president’s political interests, would be ethically questionable.

Yet Trump is now suspected of doing even worse, than that. A whistle blower filed a report to the inspector general for the U.S. intelligence community — a complaint the White House is withholding from Congress, but whose existence if not exact details are known — alleging an “urgent” matter arose from a “promise” Trump made in a phone call with a foreign leader. Available evidence makes it almost certain that the complaint involved July 25 call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, at a time when Trump was delaying a $250 million military assistance package for Ukraine already approved by U.S. law.

Trump subsequently allowed the aid to go forward.

In sum, Democrats suspect Trump conditioned the aid delivery on Ukraine’s willingness to investigate Biden.

Every bit of circumstantial evidence so far, including Giuliani’s similar mission and including a Ukrainian official summary of that July 25 phone call, makes that suspicion entirely plausible. If so, it would be a serious conspiracy indeed.

Substitute “Ukraine” for “Russia,” in this sentence from special counsel Robert Mueller’s explanation (p. 66) as to what potential crime he was investigating: “coordination or conspiracy … with respect to Russia providing assistance to the campaign in exchange for any sort of favorable treatment in the future.” In the new Ukraine case, the suspected quid pro quo is obvious and far worse than what Mueller investigated. If the president uses U.S. taxpayer-financed military supplies as, in effect, a bribe to induce a foreign government to harass the president’s domestic opponent, it’s a horrible crime.

If it is true, this is a scandal much worse than Watergate. If it’s true, Trump must be removed from office.

China: British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SHANGHAI CHINA NEWS AGENCY ‘SHINE’)

 

British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

AFP
British PM in limbo after MPs reject his Brexit plan, elections

AFP

A handout photograph released by the UK Parliament shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gesturing as he reacts to main opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn during his first Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons in London on September 4, 2019.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government was left in limbo on Wednesday after MPs voted to derail his Brexit plan and rejected his call for an early election to break the political deadlock.

Just six weeks after taking office, Johnson lost his majority in the House of Commons as his own MPs joined opposition parties to stop him taking Britain out of the EU next month without a deal.

On Wednesday evening, they approved a bill that could force Johnson to delay Brexit to January or even later if he cannot agree exit terms with Brussels in time.

Johnson says he does not want a “no deal” exit on October 31 but says he must keep that option open in order to get an agreement.

He said the bill, which was being debated in the upper House of Lords into the night, “destroys the ability of government to negotiate” — and said he had no option to call an election to win a new mandate.

“If I’m still prime minister after (the vote on) Tuesday October 15 then we will leave on October 31 with, I hope, a much better deal,” he told MPs.

Labour rejects ‘cynical’ move

But in yet another twist in the tortuous Brexit process, the opposition Labour Party refused to vote for the election, which requires the backing of two-thirds of MPs.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while he wanted an election, he would not support the prime minister’s “cynical” call until the law blocking “no deal” was implemented.

The default legal position is that Britain will leave the EU on October 31 unless it delays or asks to stay in the bloc.

Corbyn said: “Let this bill pass, then gain royal assent, then we will back an election so we do not crash out with a no-deal exit from the European Union.”

Johnson accused Corbyn of being frightened of losing, but urged the opposition to reconsider over the next few days.

For now, he is unable to pursue his Brexit plan — the central focus of his leadership — or call an election that might change the situation.

Across the Atlantic, US President Donald Trump earlier offered his support, telling reporters: “Boris knows how to win. Don’t worry about him. He’s going to be OK.”

‘Sham’ negotiations

Johnson took office in July, three years after the 2016 referendum vote to leave the EU, promising to deliver Brexit whatever happens.

He says he wants to renegotiate the divorce deal his predecessor Theresa May agreed with Brussels, while at the same time stepping up preparations for a disorderly exit.

Johnson insisted his team was making “substantial progress.”

But the bloc has so far refused to reopen the text, and a senior EU source poured cold water on the idea that a deal could be struck at next month’s Brussels summit.

The European Commission says Britain has yet to come up with any alternative for the most controversial element of the current deal, the so-called “backstop” plan for the Irish border.

Corbyn said the negotiations Johnson talked about “are a sham — all he’s doing is running down the clock.”

The European Commission also said the risk of a “no deal” exit has increased, a prospect many fear because of the economic damage risked by severing 46 years of UK-EU ties overnight.

Sheyi blog

#mine-oluwaseyi

Willing Yourself To Win

Life, love and destiny.

David Marx:Book Reviews

A menagerie of groovy reads for inspired folk

One Endless Road

Overlanding the Americas

just B more

Helping locals find and support locals.

Trouncing Around

Culture. Travel. Photography. New Perspectives.

%d bloggers like this: