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Barbados says it will remove Queen Elizabeth as head of state


The Caribbean island of Barbados wants to remove Britain’s Queen Elizabeth as its head of state and become a republic, the government has said, reviving a plan mooted several times in the past, Trend reports citing Reuters.

A former colony that gained independence in 1966, Barbados has maintained a formal link with the British monarchy as have other countries such as Canada, Australia and a number of Caribbean nations that were once part of the British empire.

“The time has come to fully leave our colonial past behind,” said Barbados Governor General Sandra Mason, delivering a speech on behalf of the country’s Prime Minister Mia Mottley.

The governor general represents the queen at formal events.

“Barbadians want a Barbadian Head of State. This is the ultimate statement of confidence in who we are and what we are capable of achieving. Hence, Barbados will take the next logical step toward full sovereignty and become a Republic by the time we celebrate our 55th Anniversary of Independence.”

That anniversary will come in November of next year.

Buckingham Palace said the issue was a matter for the people of Barbados. Britain’s Foreign Office said the decision was one for Barbados to take.

“Barbados and the UK are united in our shared history, culture, language and much more. We have an enduring partnership and will continue to work with them along with all our valued Caribbean partners,” a Foreign Office spokeswoman said.

SLAVE TRADE

Barbados would be following the lead of Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica and Guyana in becoming a republic.

All three remain part of the Commonwealth, a voluntary association of 54 countries, mostly former British colonies, that is formally headed by the queen. Barbados would be expected to remain part of the Commonwealth too.

First seized by England in 1625, Barbados stayed in British hands unlike other Caribbean islands that were fought over by the Spanish, British, Dutch, French and Americans.

British colonialists used the land for sugar cane production and the island became a focus of the brutal transatlantic slave trade, as plantation owners shipped over captured Africans as slaves to work in the fields.

According to the Barbados Museum and Historical Society, by the 1670s enslaved Africans outnumbered whites by a ratio of almost 10 to one.

Many Africans did not survive the horrendous sea passage to the Caribbean and they endured appalling conditions on the plantations. Meanwhile slave owners became enormously rich.

Slavery was abolished in Barbados in 1834, and full freedom from slavery was celebrated in 1838.

Today’s population of under 300,000 is overwhelmingly of African descent. Some of Britain’s past influence remains evident: towns have names like Hastings, while the sport of cricket is very popular.

Britain, which is home to a large community of people of Caribbean descent, has recently been going through a reckoning with its role in the slave trade. Several statues of slave traders have been taken down, either by protesters or by the authorities.



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Atlanta protesters return to Wendy’s, State Capitol


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The Atlanta Police Department released the body camera video captured during the fatal shooting death of Rayshard Brooks.

Wochit

ATLANTA — Outrage over the death of Rayshard Brooks continued on a rain-soaked Sunday in Georgia’s capital city, with demonstrators returning to the burnt-out shell of the fast-food restaurant where he was shot by a now-fired police officer.

Brooks’ death is the latest of a Black person at the hands of police in a country still reeling from the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Kentucky, both of which have sparked nationwide protests against racial inequality and police brutality.

His death was ruled a homicide on Sunday night by the Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office, caused by two gunshots wounds to the back.

“They are killing us every day,” said Kenyah Farley, who was among the small group of protesters who marched to the Georgia State Capitol, where there is a prominent statue of a Confederate soldier John Brown Gordon. “Not just in the streets but in the prisons, too. … I don’t want to see another man dead on the street because he was drunk at a freaking Wendys.”

‘It’s got to be the culture’: Atlanta officer fired, video released in shooting of Rayshard Brooks

Brooks, 27, was shot by an officer late Friday outside of a Wendy’s after police responded to a call about him being asleep in his car in the drive-thru lane. He failed a sobriety test and officers tried to handcuff him. Bodycam video shows Brooks wrestling with two white officers and appearing to get a Taser from one of them. 

Brooks was fleeing when he was shot, the video shows.

Sunday, hundreds of protesters joined the dozens who remained in front of the charred restaurant, which was set on fire by protesters late Saturday night and again on Sunday.

Protesters line Interstate 85 in Atlanta on Sunday night near the Wendy’s restaurant where Rayshard Brooks was shot and killed by police. (Photo: Conor Hughes, USA TODAY Network)

Protesters who tried to block the road near the Wendy’s on Interstate 85 were cleared by police using pepper spray. As rain began to clear up, jail buses joined police dressed in riot gear under a bridge on the interstate.

The demonstrators took shelter at a nearby gas station, chanting “Black Lives Matter!” while under the canopy

Saidah Kimerman arrived at what remained of the Wendy’s at about 6 p.m., joined by her 13-year-old daughter Marcroee. She said she wanted her daughter to see what had happened there and to experience the protests that followed firsthand.

“We’ve been hearing these stories for years and years and years,” the mother said. “I really hope these kids see this. I tell them all the time, it’s going to be them that helps to build a new world.”

Who was Rayshard Brooks? Father of 4 celebrated daughter’s birthday hours before police shot him in Atlanta

Away from Wendy’s, hundreds of protesters holding signs, raising their fists and chanting “No justice no peace!” marched peacefully to Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta. There was virtually no police presence during the march.

Only a few protesters showed up to the Capitol building, where state police had one street blocked off. No protesters came near the law enforcement officers.

On Saturday, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said she didn’t believe the shooting of Brooks was a “justified use of deadly force” by the former officer. Atlanta Police Department Chief Erika Shields resigned in the wake of the shooting. 

Sunday, the department announced that Garrett Rolfe, a seven-year veteran, had been fired. Officer Devin Brosnan, on the force for less than two years, was placed on administrative duty.

The NAACP called for a Monday protest: The “March on Georgia” is scheduled for 9 a.m. 

“It is unconscionable that a country still feeling the sting of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, would be sitting here addressing another wound dealt to us by the those who have sworn to protect and serve,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said in a statement. 

He added, “Until this nation is willing to address the systemic racism that has been allowed to manifest itself in police brutality, criminal justice, education, voting rights, economic wealth-gaps, and every other imaginable area that affords us an equal and sustainable life, America remains in breach of contract with the Black community.”

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El Salvador Supreme Court orders state of emergency suspended | El Salvador News


El Salvador’s Supreme Court said on Monday that it had ordered the immediate suspension of the state of emergency declared by President Nayib Bukele over the coronavirus.

Salvadoran President Nayib Bukele on Saturday night declared a state of emergency to extend coronavirus measures without approval by congress, touching off a torrent of criticism that the move had been unconstitutional.

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Salvadoran legislators and prosecutors said Bukele’s Saturday announcement had overstepped his powers.

Less than a year into his administration, Bukele, a brash 38-year-old leader, has repeatedly angered rights groups, who say he has shown authoritarian tendencies. In February, Bukele and a group of soldiers armed with automatic weapons briefly occupied congress. Last month, he released startling photos of hundreds of jailed gang members stripped to underwear and pressed together in formation, horrifying advocates.

El Salvador prison

Inmates lined up during a security operation under the watch of police at the Izalco prison in San Salvador, El Salvador [Handout/El Salvador President Press Office/AP Photo] 

Congress approved an emergency declaration in March to respond to the coronavirus pandemic, but after an extension in April, the measure was due to expire on Sunday. Legislators planned to discuss an extension when they reconvened on Monday.

Shortly after Bukele issued his decree on Saturday, the Salvadoran attorney general said in a statement that it would file a suit alleging that the move was unconstitutional with the country’s top court. But Bukele, who swept to the presidency last year with an outsider candidacy, maintained he was well within his rights.

“All presidents in the democratic history of our country have had the power to declare a state of emergency and have exercised it, without legislative approval,” he wrote in a post on Twitter on Sunday. “Will a president be prevented for the first time from exercising that vital power?”

Bukele’s administration maintains that a civil protection law authorises the president to declare a state of emergency if congress cannot hold a session.

They contend that the risk of the coronavirus spreading further in El Salvador justifies the measures. The country has 1,413 confirmed cases of the virus and 30 deaths. Health experts say the country’s health system is not equipped to handle a surge in cases.

‘Serious setback’

Legislators and civil society groups urged an investigation to determine whether Bukele had exceeded his powers.

“What would an autocrat do if Congress did not pass a law on his behalf? I would issue a decree. This has just been done by the young Salvadoran leader (Nayib Bukele) with the state of emergency. Another serious setback,” Jose Vivanco, executive director for the Americas for US-based Human Rights Watch, wrote on Twitter.

In recent days, Salvadorans in the capital have protested measures taken during the quarantine, which they say have led to job losses and hunger. To avoid breaking social distancing rules, they voice their discontent by banging pots, honking the horns of their vehicles and playing loud music.

Fabricio Benitez, a 26-year-old musician who lives with his parents and sister on the outskirts of San Salvador, said that his father, a soil engineer, lost his job a month ago after his company’s operations were affected by the pandemic.

“We are subsisting on fairly scarce funds, and we have not benefitted in any way from government programmes,” Benitez said on Friday as he played the Salvadoran national anthem on his viola.


SOURCE:
Reuters news agency



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Trump ousts State Department watchdog



Trump’s move infuriated Democrats who say he’s trying to circumvent oversight of his administration, undermining the ability of other branches to hold him accountable. The move follows Trump’s anger at being impeached, but it also comes as the White House struggles to combat the coronavirus pandemic just months before the presidential election.

“The president’s late-night, weekend firing of the State Department inspector general has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,” Pelosi said in an statement. “Inspector General Linick was punished for honorably performing his duty to protect the Constitution and our national security, as required by the law and by his oath.”

Rep. Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, called Linick’s dismissal an “outrageous act of a president trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the secretary of State, from accountability.”

Engel claimed: “I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.”

A Democratic congressional aide said Linick had launched an investigation into Pompeo’s alleged misuse of a political appointee to perform personal tasks for him and Mrs. Pompeo. The State Department did not respond to an inquiry about the allegation.

Linick played a minor role in the House of Representatives’ impeachment proceedings against Trump, ferrying a trove of documents to lawmakers that had been provided to the State Department by Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer.

A State Department spokesperson said that Amb. Stephen Akard, a former career Foreign Service officer, “will now lead the Office of the Inspector General at the State Department” in an acting capacity.

Akard had in 2017 been nominated to serve as the director general of the Foreign Service, a high-ranking human resources role.

That nomination upset veteran U.S. diplomats, who said Akard lacked the long tenure of service usually required for such a prestigious position. The American Academy of Diplomacy even wrote an unusual letter opposing his nomination.

Akard’s nomination as director general was eventually withdrawn, but he was later tapped for a different role, leading the Office of Foreign Missions, for which he was confirmed in September 2019.

Before joining the Trump administration, Akard was chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corporation under then-governor Pence.

Linick is well-respected at the State Department, and his office stays busy, regularly churning out a range of inspections, audits and other types of reports.

His departure is likely to further deepen morale problems that have festered at State since the start of the Trump administration, when many career diplomats found themselves shunted aside and cast as a “deep state” bent on undermining Trump.

Two of Linick’s most-read reports over the past year involved alleged retaliation by Trump political appointees against career employees.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called Linick’s ouster “shameful.”

“Another late Friday night attack on independence, accountability, and career officials,” Menendez tweeted. “At this point, the president’s paralyzing fear of any oversight is undeniable.”

Trump has removed a number of federal watchdogs in the last few months, including Health and Human Services Inspector General Christi Grimm, who issued a report critical of the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic; and the intelligence community’s inspector general, Michael Atkinson, whose handling of a whistleblower report ultimately led to Trump’s impeachment.

Separately, Trump also notified Congress on Friday of his intent to nominate Eric Soskin, a Justice Department trial counsel who has been involved in some hot-button immigration and civil rights cases, to be inspector general of the Department of Transportation. Soskin has worked in the Justice Department’s federal programs division as senior trial counsel for 14 years, according to a White House announcement.

Calvin Scovel retired as DOT inspector general earlier this year, after 13 years in the job.

Andrew Desiderio, Kyle Cheney and Brianna Gurciullo contributed reporting.



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Republicans Plan Legislative Blitz to Back Trump State of the Union Agenda



Republicans in the House are planning a full-scale offensive to back up the agenda President Donald Trump presented during Tuesday’s State of the Union address.

Beginning with a measure on Thursday from Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-VA), Republicans will offer legislation and other measures to support the American successes Trump laid out in his historic address on Tuesday night.

Riggleman presented a resolution for Congress to support Trump’s “Best is Yet to Come” policy blueprint on Thursday, which explicitly highlights the vision Trump detailed in the SOTU.

“Supporting policies that are a part of the ‘Best is Yet to Come’ blueprint, outlined by President Trump during his historic, optimistic State of the Union Address,” the resolution’s text states, specifically quoting several passages from Trump’s address.

The resolution states in part:

Whereas on February 4, 2020, President Trump noted that, “The unemployment rates for African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans have reached the lowest levels in history. African-American youth unemployment has reached an all-time low.”

It continues, quoting several lines directly from the SOTU address, including: Millions of Americans coming off food stamp rolls; jobs and investment “pouring into 9,000 previously-neglected neighborhoods thanks to Opportunity Zones”; the administration’s promise to stand against socialism and stand up for freedom; the vow to continue “building an inclusive society” by “making sure that every young American gets a great education and the opportunity to achieve the American Dream”; the administration’s commitment to the “One Trillion Trees Initiative”; the administration’s end of the catch-and-release of illegal immigrants; and the administration’s commitment to uphold religious liberty and the “Constitutional right to pray in public schools,” among other examples.

The resolution asks Congress to support policies “that further expands the booming economic growth outlined by President Trump in his State of the Union address” and to embrace the “‘Best is Yet to Come’ policy blueprint for the people of the United States” as outlined in the SOTU.

“This agenda is an optimistic plan to continue the record-setting economic growth we are seeing and provide solutions to problems that ail American citizens,” Riggleman said on the House floor on Thursday.

“It is imperative that Congress step forward and support this agenda as I do,” he added.

“[It’s] an agenda that dramatically lowers prescription drug processionals and raises wages for hardworking Americans. An agenda that will build an inclusive society and make sure every young American has the opportunity to achieve the American dream,” he continued, citing the historically low national unemployment rate of 3.5 percent.

“It is clear the economic policies the president has implemented are working. The ‘Best is Yet to Come’ blueprint will continue this growth and build upon it,” Riggleman said.

“The American economy is stronger than ever, and we should work to continue this growth,” he added.

Nevertheless, by advancing the Previous Question on Thursday, House Democrats effectively rejected consideration of the resolution, making it clear on Tuesday night and thereafter that, despite the successes for Americans on a variety of policy fronts, they intend to continue their historic opposition to Trump and his agenda due to personal animosity.

“President Trump delivered an incredible speech with policy goals that can unite the country and grow our economy, and House Republicans want to help him follow through on those goals,” a House GOP aide told Breitbart News in an exclusive statement.

“Everyone in America needs to understand that the Democrats from districts where President Trump won continuously vote for the agenda of AOC and Pelosi instead of supporting our president,” the aide added.

The Democrats’ latest and most severe effort to undercut Trump — the push to impeach him — failed in grand fashion in the U.S. Senate the day after his SOTU address. The Senate voted by substantial margins to acquit the president on all charges brought by the House, which impeached him for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

With less than a year from the November elections, Republicans in the House are intensifying efforts to contrast their backing of the Trump agenda with the Democrats’ far-left, socialist vision. In the coming weeks and months ahead, the GOP will embark on a full-scale effort to differentiate themselves from what President Trump calls the “Do-nothing Democrats” and offer different pieces of legislation to support tenants of the “Best is Yet to Come” blueprint in coming weeks.

The GOP needs to take back a net of 18 seats from Democrats in this year’s congressional election in order to retake the House majority from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and the Democrats. There are 30 districts currently represented by Democrats that Trump won in 2016 and another 20 districts, roughly, that Republicans believe are competitive this cycle.

Putting a focus on policy solutions for Americans — as the president has — could help Republicans contrast their push to help the country with Democrats’ efforts to undermine economic — and other wins — for voters out of partisan spite of Trump.





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Algeria holds state funeral for army chief | Algeria News


The state funeral for Algeria’s army chief is taking place, despite protesters defying calls for three days of mourning.

Lieutenant General Ahmed Gaid Salah suffered a heart attack on Monday.

The 80-year-old’s body was transferred to the People’s Palace where the newly elected president paid his respects.

Salah was regarded as the most powerful man in the country after longtime President Abdelaziz Bouteflika resigned in April.

 

Al Jazeera’s Laura Burdon-Manley takes a look back at his life.





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College Football Playoff seeding announced: LSU vs. Oklahoma and Ohio State vs. Clemson


When determining this year’s playoff field — LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Clemson were all locked as the teams set to reach the College Football Playoff (CFP). The only question remaining for selection committee members was what the seeding would be.

Ohio State entered Saturday as the No 1 seed. However, LSU’s beatdown of the No.4 ranked Georgia Bulldogs in the SEC championship game allowed them to leapfrog the Buckeyes and claim the top spot.

LSU players celebrate after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

LSU players celebrate after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Both teams were undefeated during the regular season, with Ohio State adding to their 19-game winning streak by defeating No. 10 ranked Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game on Saturday.

LSU QB JOE BURROW COMPLETES ‘SELFIE’ PASS VS. GEORGIA IN SEC TITLE GAME

Ohio State players celebrate the team's 34-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, early Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Ohio State players celebrate the team’s 34-21 win over Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, early Sunday, Dec. 8, 2019, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Due to their stronger win on Saturday and decided by the CFP selection committee members on Sunday — No. 1 LSU is set to face No. 4 Oklahoma in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl in Atlanta. No. 2 Ohio State will play No. 3 Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz.

“Our goal was to go to the SEC Championship and win it; that was one of our goals,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron told ESPN on Sunday. “… But we’re not done yet. That wasn’t our final destination. I’m very proud of our offense, I’m very proud of our defense and all our coaches, but we still have some work to do.”

The semifinal games are scheduled to take place on Dec. 28. The winners will advance to the College Football Playoff National Championship game on Monday, Jan. 13, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Jan 8, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Detailed view of the 2019 College Football Playoff championship trophy at a press conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Clemson defeated Alabama 44-16 to win its second national title in three years. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports - 11961694

Jan 8, 2019; San Jose, CA, USA; Detailed view of the 2019 College Football Playoff championship trophy at a press conference at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center. Clemson defeated Alabama 44-16 to win its second national title in three years. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports – 11961694

Based on their records, this field projects as one of the strongest in the history of the College Football Playoff. For the first time ever, there are four Power 5 conference (ACC, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) champions represented in the playoff field and three of those teams are undefeated.

OHIO STATE RALLIES TO BEAT WISCONSIN 34-21 FOR BIG TEN CROWN

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) is seen following the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Clemson won 62-17. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (16) is seen following the Atlantic Coast Conference championship NCAA college football game in Charlotte, N.C., Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019. Clemson won 62-17. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

The Oklahoma Sooners were the only team to lose a game this season.

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks (26) celebrates with offensive lineman Creed Humphrey (56) after rushing for a touchdown against Baylor during the first half of an NCAA college football game for the Big 12 Conference championship, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

Oklahoma running back Kennedy Brooks (26) celebrates with offensive lineman Creed Humphrey (56) after rushing for a touchdown against Baylor during the first half of an NCAA college football game for the Big 12 Conference championship, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)

LSU is a 10-point favorite over Oklahoma, while Clemson — the previous champion — is a 2-point favorite against Ohio State, according to the opening lines at Caesars Sportsbook.

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ESPN’s Football Power Index projects Ohio State as having a 35 percent chance to win the title. LSU is second at 29 percent with  Clemson right behind them at 28 percent. Oklahoma has the lowest projected chance to win the title at just 9 percent.



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