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Donald Trump accused of abusing his ‘power’ to pressure Ukraine into influencing 2020 presidential election – The Sun


A DRAFT impeachment report last night accused Donald Trump of abusing the “power of his office” to pressure Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election.

The Democratic-led House Intelligence Committee’s 300-page report said the US President had solicited foreign interference effort to dig dirt on White House challenger Joe Biden.

 Donald Trump was accused of abusing the 'power of his office' by pressuring Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election

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Donald Trump was accused of abusing the ‘power of his office’ by pressuring Ukraine into interfering in the 2020 presidential election

Trump had asked the Ukrainian president to investigate Hunter Biden – the son of his main Democratic rival in next year’s presidential election.

He also threatened to withhold £307million in military aid from Ukraine and a White House meeting, if the country refused to help.

‘UNDERMINING DEMOCRACY’

The report said Trump “placed his own personal and political interests” above the US national interest – seeking to undermine democracy and endanger national security.

It added: “The impeachment inquiry…uncovered a months-long effort by President Trump to use the powers of his office to solicit foreign interference on his behalf in the 2020 election.”

The report said Trump’s “scheme subverted US foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security” in favour of “investigations that would help his presidential re-election”.

The document does not recommend his impeachment and removal from office.

But it laid out the framework which Democrats will use to push for impeachment – as well as blasting Trump for obstructing the probe.

House Democrats released the report after the intelligence panel conducted a handful of closed-door meetings with witnesses and five days of public hearings.

If the full House of Representatives eventually votes to approve formal impeachment charges, a trial would be held in the Republican-led US Senate.

An unlikely two-thirds majority of those present would be required to convict and remove Trump from office.

 The US President allegedly solicited foreign interference to dig dirt on White House challenger Joe Biden and his son Hunter

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The US President allegedly solicited foreign interference to dig dirt on White House challenger Joe Biden and his son HunterCredit: Getty
House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff speaks after of release impeachment report detailing ‘overwhelming’ evidence of misconduct


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Ilhan Omar’s Republican opponent in Twitter ban over ‘hanging’ posts | US news


A campaign account for Danielle Stella, a pro-Trump Republican candidate for Congress, was banned from Twitter after it published a violent comment about the Democrat she hopes to unseat next year, Minnesota representative Ilhan Omar.

Stella’s campaign Twitter account, @2020MNCongress, featured at least two posts involving the idea of Omar being hanged, according to the Washington Times, which broke the story of her suspension.

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The tweets concerned an unsubstantiated allegation that Omar – one of the first Muslim women elected to Congress – shared sensitive information with Qatar, which then wound up with Iran.

A spokesperson for Omar previously told the Jerusalem Post of the claim: “Since the day she was elected, Saudi Arabian trolls and mouthpieces have targeted Omar with misinformation and conspiracy theories.”

An initial tweet from Stella’s campaign account reportedly said: “If it is proven [Omar] passed sensitive info to Iran, she should be tried for #treason and hanged.”

The Washington Times said the account “subsequently tweeted the link to an article that aggregated her remark, accompanied by a crude depiction of a stick figure hanging from gallows”.

The @2020MNCongress account cannot be viewed. Text on the page reads “account suspended” and “Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter Rules”.

In a statement, Twitter told the Guardian: “The account was permanently suspended for repeated violations of the Twitter Rules.”

Stella said in a statement: “My suspension for advocating for the enforcement of federal code proves Twitter will always side with and fight to protect terrorists, traitors, pedophiles and rapists.”

The Guardian revealed that Stella has been arrested twice this year over accusations that she shoplifted some $2,300 in goods from Target and $40 in items from a grocery, Stella has maintained her innocence.

She has made claims about Omar before, claiming she broke the law by telling immigrants how to avoid authorities. Lawmakers who don’t “uphold the rule of law”, Stella said, should be kicked out of office.

A spokesperson for Omar did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Since winning election to Congress last year, Omar has attracted rightwing attacks and fringe conspiracy theories as well as outright threats of violence. The congresswoman said this April she faced an increase in death threats after Trump accused her of downplaying September 11.

On 19 November, New York man Patrick Carlineo pleaded guilty in relation to calling Omar’s office and telling a staffer: “Why are you working for her, she’s a [expletive] terrorist. Somebody ought to put a bullet in her skull. Back in the day, our forefathers would have put a bullet in her [expletive].”

Omar, who came to the US as a Somali refugee, appealed for “compassion”.

“As someone who fled a war zone, I know how destabilizing acts of political violence can be,” she said in a letter to the judge. “That his threat of violence relied on hateful stereotypes about my faith only made it more dangerous … it was a threat against an entire religion, at a time of rising hate crime against religious minorities in our country.”

She added: “We must ask: who are we as a nation if we respond to acts of political retribution with retribution ourselves? The answer to hate is not more hate; it is compassion.”





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Trump reportedly knew of whistleblower complaint when he released Ukraine aid – live


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3.33pm GMT

Democratic representative Stephen Lynch — a member of the House oversight committe, which helped conduct closed-door depositions in the impeachment inquiry — argued in a CNN interview this morning that the testimony from the public hearings has established clearly impeachable behavior on the president’s part.

“If this is not impeachable conduct, then nothing is,” Rep. Stephen Lynch says to @jimsciutto about the impeachment inquiry. “…There’s a greater danger leaving this President in office than taking him out through the legal impeachment process.” https://t.co/QR1x8IYryf pic.twitter.com/ufUbsIktSA

3.07pm GMT

Officials are still unclear about what caused the airspace violation that triggered yesterday’s brief lockdown at the White House and the Capitol, but one Capitol Police source said a “slow-moving blob” on the radar had sparked concern.

CNN has more:

Senior national security officials across the agencies convened to coordinate and monitor the situation after the mysterious ‘blob’ was seen on radar at the Capitol Police command center flying just south of the National Mall, according to a law enforcement source.

Military aircraft were scrambled in response.

Continue reading…



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Hong Kong protesters pin hopes on the ballot box after weeks of violence | World news


Clarisse Yeung believes the road to full democracy in Hong Kong will pass through a dog park. Specifically a dog park that she has promised to build if her coalition sweeps local elections today.

The district council elections held in Hong Kong every four years are normally a sleepy affair, with low turnout, mostly because councillors have very limited powers and budget, as well as a reputation for graft.

But this year’s poll has come to be seen as a de-facto referendum on the nearly six-month-old protest movement, sparked by opposition to an extradition law that would have destroyed Hong Kong’s legal protections, but which has morphed into a broader pro-democracy campaign.

Yeung, an energetic young artist, says she spent a dispiriting four years as the sole opposition member of a 13-strong council controlled by pro-Beijing representatives in central Wan Chai, battling inertia and outright opposition to even modest plans for the neighbourhood, from pet-friendly gardens to better buses.

Now she hopes a wave of protest-driven outrage, which has mobilised both voters and candidates, combined with her track record of commitment to local issues, could swing control of the council.

“I had been questioning if I should run again. It’s been so heavy, being the only pro-democracy representative in Wan Chai,” she said, as she campaigned on a street corner with a band of supporters, handing out leaflets, stroking dogs and chatting to toddlers. “I’m glad all these friends are coming out after the [protest] movement: they are my hope.”

While Hong Kong enjoys civil rights such as freedom of assembly and the press, its residents do not choose their leader, or all members of its mini-parliament, the legislative council. The district council poll is the only direct election.

For the first time, pro-democracy candidates are challenging every one of the 452 wards up for grabs, and have coordinated campaigns so they don’t split the vote. Former one-person campaigns are newly flush with volunteers. Young people in particular have raced to register to vote, to volunteer on campaigns and even to run for office themselves.

Yeung has taken advantage of this city-wide political awakening to recruit nine other candidates to stand in neighbouring wards on a “kickstart Wan Chai” platform. They range from a graphic designer to the veteran former policewoman Cathy Yau, who resigned her post in June as the protest movement kicked off, shocked by colleagues’ brutality.

Louis Mak, who gave up his job as a data analyst to campaign, canvassing in Canal Road, Wan Chai district.



Louis Mak, who gave up his job as a data analyst to campaign, canvassing in Canal Road, Wan Chai district. Photograph: Miguel Candela/The Observer

All are novice candidates, and many decided to stand only in the past few months, despite the very real threat of physical violence; several pro-democratic candidates have been attacked, with one losing his ear after an attacker bit him and stabbed others. A pro-Beijing candidate was also stabbed. The attacks have led to fears about voter intimidation or fraud, particularly after authorities announced riot police would guard all polling stations. In a hint at the febrile atmosphere, the government sent out an official press release stating “the ballot is secret”, apparently to counter rumours that facial recognition software might be used, and voters would be filmed.

“I always wanted to go into politics eventually, after becoming expert in my field. But I was inspired by the protests, and realised I can’t wait any longer,” said Louis Mak, a data analyst who has given up his job to campaign full time for the Canal Road ward.

“Maybe in four years or eight years, we won’t have real elections any more. China may take actions against our civil society. And so that’s why I have stood in this election.”

Deep pockets, a powerful electoral machine, lack of voter interest and a fractured opposition have meant pro-Beijing parties control all but one of the city’s 18 district councils.

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In Wan Chai, the battlegrounds are tiny, densely populated areas, and the margins small. Mak says his district is just a couple of blocks, where the winner in 2015 claimed victory with 1,000 votes and a margin of 200.

Mak put his chance of winning office at “around 50-50”, and is campaigning more than 10 hours a day. “We have to pull voting rates up to historical levels so we can take over Wan Chai.”

Pro-Beijing politicians have been open about concerns they might be swept from power. One of the most prominent, the lawmaker Regina Ip, warned against voting for pro-democracy candidates in a column in the South China Morning Post. “Hong Kong’s story doesn’t have to end in tragedy”, she told readers.

An opposition landslide would have little immediate political effect, as the councils are fairly toothless. But longer term, it could slightly shift the balance of power, because district councils have a role in arcane, complex elections to choose the city’s leader and part of its legislature.

Another well-known establishment politician defending a seat in Wan Chai said he remained optimistic, but admitted that a loss would be devastating.

“The people here are the pillars, the ones who uphold the establishment. If we lose this constituency that means something is really, really wrong and troubled in HK,” said the lawyer Paul Tse, who also holds a seat in the city’s legislative council. “It sounds very serious, but it’s very difficult to have so many people against the government.”

At one point there were widespread fears that the poll would be delayed amid unrest and unprecedented disruption. But China appears to have decided that would be so inflammatory in a city already on edge,that a possible drubbing at the ballot box is the lesser of two evils.

“Its not the right sort of atmosphere for a fair election, but in a way we are constrained,” Tse said. “If we don’t do the election they will blame us for being afraid.”

Candidates Arthur Yeung (blue jacket) and Tse Wai Chun Paul canvassing for votes in Broadwood district.



Candidates Arthur Yeung (blue jacket) and Tse Wai Chun Paul canvassing for votes in Broadwood district. Photograph: Miguel Candela/The Observer

But where Tse sees a canker at the heart of Hong Kong, his challenger in the prosperous Broadwood district – part of the “Kickstart Wan Chai’” slate – sees hope.

Arthur Yeung, who is no relation to Clarisse, turned 24 the day before the poll. He spent his birthday at a campaign stand on the main road, waving to drivers, thrusting leaflets through windows and chatting to any who stopped.

Dawn and her dog Chicco, his collar bearing a rosette supporting Yeung, campaigned beside him for hours. “I want to support youth, and passion for change,” she said.

Yeung always hoped to run for office and spent much of the last year in Broadwood organising against an unpopular development, canvassing support for Clarisse’s dog park plans – easy in an area famous for dog lovers – and running other grassroots projects.

But until the protests kicked off, most of his friends thought he was crazy. Councils were widely seen as irrelevant, incompetent, self-serving political machines. There is even a Cantonese shorthand for the corruption, a list of the local delicacies that candidates ply supporters with to secure votes.

Dawn with her dog Chicco who is in favour of a proposed dog park supports candidate Arthur Yeung.



Dawn with her dog Chicco who is in favour of a proposed dog park supports candidate Arthur Yeung. Photograph: Miguel Candela/The Observer

“Half a year ago, people would say to me: ‘Why don’t you get a normal job,’” he says with a wry smile. “Now they say: ‘You are very inspiring to our generation. Your mission is very clear and passionate, so thank you for bringing some good things for Hong Kong’. Its a very big change.”



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All new phones and computers in Russia must have secret government software installed in crackdown – The Sun


EVERY new phone and computer in Russia must have secret government software installed in a scary crackdown on freedom.

Russia’s lower house of parliament also today passed a bill granting government officials the right to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents.

 Who's watching over you in Russia? President Vladimir Putin's government will fine companies flouting the new law

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Who’s watching over you in Russia? President Vladimir Putin’s government will fine companies flouting the new lawCredit: AFP
 Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products

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Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products

Tass in Russia said that the State Duma adopted a bill on the pre-installation of Russian software on smartphones, computers, and televisions with “smart-TV function of applications targeted at the Russian audience”.

Politicians said the bill would “help promote Russian programmes in the information technology market”.

The new law will come into force on July 1, 2020.

Reuters explained earlier this month that the legislation would allow the government to designate certain locally-produced software as mandatory for devices sold in the country.

The lower house of parliament said the bill would also benefit Russian consumers, as it would spare them having to download domestic software after buying new technology.

FINE THREAT

The bill imposes fines for companies that sell devices without pre-installed Russian software of up to 200,000 roubles (US$3,155) starting from January 2021.

Russia’s cellphone market is dominated by foreign companies Apple, Samsung and Huawei products.

In August, Russian internet group Mail.ru said it was in talks with Huawei about the possibility of having its software pre-installed on the Chinese firm’s devices.

Moscow is trying to expand control over the internet and reduce its dependence on foreign companies and countries.

Last month, Russian internet giant Yandex expressed concerns over a draft law limiting foreign ownership in Russian IT companies to 50 per cent.

BLOGGERS MUST REGISTER

Foreign bloggers, journalists and social media users were also targeted by Russia’s lower house of parliament today.

The Associated Press reports that a bill has given the green light, allowing bureaucrats to register bloggers, journalists and social media users as foreign agents in Russia.

The State Duma on Thursday almost unanimously approved a bill which extends an existing law involving foreign-funded media outlets.

That was adopted in 2017 in response to the decision by the US Justice Department to label the Russian state-funded RT television a foreign agent.

The new law can apply to anyone who distributes content produced by media outlets registered as foreign agents and receives payments from abroad.

The move has been criticised by many in Russia for restricting freedom of expression in Russia even further and allowing the authorities to crack down on dissent.

 





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