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Reports: Liberal US Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to Retire

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, for 27 years a staunch liberal voice on the country’s highest court, has decided to retire, according to news accounts in Washington. 

The retirement of the 83-year-old Breyer will hand President Joe Biden his first chance at filling an open seat since former President Donald Trump appointed three conservatives that tipped the court’s ideological balance sharply to the right with a 6-3 majority. 

Breyer, according to the news accounts, plans to remain on the court through the end of its current term in June, or until a replacement is named by Biden and confirmed by the politically divided Senate. 

Breyer’s formal retirement announcement is expected on Thursday. 

“There have been no announcements from Justice Breyer,” Biden said. “Let him make whatever statement he’s going to make, and I’ll be happy to talk about it later.” 

Biden, unlike Trump when he ran for the presidency in 2016 and for reelection in 2020, has not released a list of judges he might consider for appointment to the nine-member Supreme Court. 

But during his run for the presidency, following his selection of then-Senator Kamala Harris, of Jamaican and South Asian descent, as his vice president, Biden said he would name the court’s first Black woman. 

Among the names being floated as potential nominees are California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger, U.S. Circuit Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, prominent civil rights lawyer Sherrilyn Ifill and U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs, whom Biden has nominated to be an appeals court judge. 

Breyer’s departure won’t change the court’s ideological balance. Biden, a Democrat, will be making the appointment, and Democrats have the slimmest of majorities in the Senate, relying on Harris for her tiebreaking votes in a chamber split evenly between 50 Republicans and 50 Democrats. 

Republican Senator Lindsay Graham quickly acknowledged that Republicans have no chance of blocking a Biden nominee if all Democrats remain united in support of the president’s nominee. 

“If all Democrats hang together — which I expect they will — they have the power to replace Justice Breyer in 2022 without one Republican vote in support,” Graham said. “Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court.” 

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Breyer “is, and always has been, a model jurist. He embodies the best qualities and highest ideals of American justice: knowledge, wisdom, fairness, humility, restraint.” 

“His work and his decisions as an associate justice on the biggest issues of our time — including voting rights, the environment, women’s reproductive freedom, and most recently, health care and the Affordable Care Act — were hugely consequential,” Schumer said. 

Schumer promised quick action on Biden’s nominee, saying his choice “will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed.” 

While a liberal voice on the court, Breyer has in recent years tried to forge majorities on key rulings with more moderate justices right and left of center. 

He has written two major opinions in support of abortion rights on a court closely divided over the issue and has laid out his growing discomfort with the death penalty in a series of dissenting opinions in recent years. Before he retires, the court, with its conservative majority, could sharply curtail abortion rights in the U.S. in rulings that are expected to be handed down by June. 

Breyer’s views on displaying the Ten Commandments on government property illustrate his search for a middle ground. He was the only member of the court in the majority in both cases in 2005 that barred Ten Commandments displays in two Kentucky courthouses but allowed one to remain on the grounds of the state Capitol in Austin, Texas. 

Some material in this report came from The Associated Press. 

 

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By Polityk | 27/01/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

У ДБР назвали нову дату, на яку викликають Порошенка

ДБР раніше заявило, що Порошенко прибув за викликом 24 січня, але невдовзі поїхав – за словами адвокатів, до них ніхто не вийшов

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By Gromada | 26/01/2022 | Повідомлення, Суспільство

US Bank Freezes Accounts of Afghanistan’s US Embassy

Diplomats of the former Afghan government who have held on to their jobs in the U.S. are grappling with a new problem: their official bank accounts have been suspended. 

Two senior Afghan diplomats, who did not want to be named because the issue is under discussion with U.S. officials, confirmed to VOA that the Citibank accounts of the embassy in Washington and two Afghan consulates in the U.S. have been suspended for more than a month. 

The Afghan mission in Washington does not receive funds from Kabul, because the Afghan capital now under the control of the Taliban, and it has survived thus far through dwindling consular service fees. 

The consulates have run out of new passports but continue to renew expired passports. Because checks issued to cover passport renewal can no longer be made out to the Afghanistan Embassy, the remaining staff members deposit blank money orders into personal bank accounts, then meet at the end of each month to tally embassy revenue. 

“We’ve held talks with the Department of State, but so far there has been no breakthrough,” one Afghan diplomat said, adding that U.S. officials had advised the diplomats against discussing the matter publicly. 

While the government they represented collapsed more than five months ago, about 90 Afghan diplomats remain in four diplomatic posts in the U.S., including the Afghanistan Permanent Representative at the United Nations in New York. 

Suspension of their official bank accounts has adversely impacted the embassy’s financial transactions, including salaries, rent and health care insurance payments, the diplomats said. 

When asked about the status of the mission’s accounts, a State Department spokesperson told VOA, “There has been no change in the accreditation status of Afghan mission members,” but declined to comment on the account suspensions. 

A spokesman for Citibank also declined to comment. 

Policy confusion? 

The United States does not recognize the Taliban’s self-declared Islamic Emirate as the official government of Afghanistan, but U.S. officials have met with Taliban officials in Qatar, Norway and elsewhere. 

“As we seek to address humanitarian crisis together with allies, partners, and relief [organizations],” U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan Thomas West said before holding talks with the Taliban foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, in Oslo on Sunday. “We will continue clear-eyed diplomacy with the Taliban regarding our concerns and our abiding interest in a stable, rights-respecting and inclusive Afghanistan.” 

Analysts say the U.S. approach has led to confusion among Afghans who are trying to sort out visa and logistical issues, leaving them in legal limbo. 

“Not thinking through the ramifications and implications of having these two parallel governance structures going at the same time is a completely flawed approach,” said Candace Rondeaux, an expert at the Washington-based New America think tank. 

“I think the U.S. has been confused on Afghanistan for a long time,” said Jennifer Murtazashvili, an expert with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, adding that the U.S. will need a functioning Afghan mission to handle consular services for the tens of thousands of Afghans who are being brought to the U.S. since the collapse of the former Afghan government. 

The loss of the bank accounts is the latest blow to the Afghan diplomatic mission, which has already been laboring under severe financial restrictions. 

Calls to the embassy are directed to a voice message system as all local staff have been laid off, and diplomats say they have been working on-and-off on a voluntary basis and without pay for two months. 

The embassy in Washington, like many other Afghanistan diplomatic missions around the world, has refused to work with the Taliban foreign ministry, and diplomats say they represent the former Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. 

Despite repeated Taliban pleas for recognition of the Islamic Emirate as the de facto government of Afghanistan, no country has yet officially taken steps to recognize the regime. 

Diplomats seeking asylum 

At least three Afghan diplomats who worked at the embassy in Washington have sought asylum in Canada and the rest are exploring long-term options, the two diplomats said. 

“Obviously, we cannot return to Afghanistan,” one of the diplomats said, adding that his diplomatic visa is set to expire in December. “We are seeking a solution for the future of all our diplomats here.” 

Anticipating their move, the U.S. Citizenship, Immigration and Customs agency has announced specific steps for the Afghan diplomats to change their status in the U.S. 

“If you are an Afghan national who entered the United States as an A-1, A-2, G-1, or G-2 nonimmigrant; were performing duties that were diplomatic or semi-diplomatic on July 14, 2021; and are seeking a Green Card under Section 13, you may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, without a fee,” reads a public notice at the USCIS website. 

State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching contributed to this story. 

 

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By Polityk | 26/01/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden Calls Fox News Reporter at White House a Stupid SOB

President Joe Biden responded to a question about inflation by calling a Fox News reporter a vulgarity. 

The president was in the East Room of the White House on Monday for a meeting of his Competition Council, which is focused on changing regulations and enforcing laws to help consumers deal with high prices. Reporters in the room shouted questions after Biden’s remarks. 

Fox News’ Peter Doocy asked Biden about inflation, which is at a nearly 40-year high and has hurt the president’s public approval. Doocy’s network has been relentlessly critical of Biden. 

Doocy called out, “Do you think inflation is a political liability ahead of the midterms?”

Biden responded with deadpan sarcasm, “It’s a great asset — more inflation.” Then he shook his head and added, “What a stupid son of a bitch.”

The president’s comments were captured on video and by the microphone in front of him. Doocy laughed it off in a subsequent appearance on his network, joking, “Nobody has fact-checked him yet and said it’s not true.” 

Doocy told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that Biden called him later to the clear the air. Doocy said Biden told him, “It’s nothing personal, pal.” 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The White House has insisted repeatedly that it is focused on curbing inflation, with Biden reorienting his entire economic agenda around the issue. But the president has also shown a willingness to challenge a media that he deems to be too critical, especially Fox News and Doocy. 

At his news conference last week, Biden said to Doocy with sarcasm, “You always ask me the nicest questions.” 

“I have a whole binder full,” the reporter answered. 

“I know you do,” Biden said. “None of them make a lot of sense to me. Fire away.” 

 

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By Polityk | 26/01/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Judges Approve Special Grand Jury in Georgia Election Probe

Judges have approved a request for a special grand jury by the Georgia prosecutor who’s investigating whether former President Donald Trump and others broke the law by trying to pressure Georgia officials to throw out Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. 

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis last week sent a letter to county superior court Chief Judge Christopher Brasher asking him to impanel a special grand jury. Brasher issued an order Monday saying the request was considered and approved by a majority of the superior court judges. 

The special grand jury is to be seated May 2 for a period of up to a year, Brasher’s order says. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is assigned to supervise and assist the special grand jury. 

Willis wrote in her letter to Brasher that her office “has received information indicating a reasonable probability that the State of Georgia’s administration of elections in 2020, including the State’s election of the President of the United States, was subject to possible criminal disruptions.” She said her office has “opened an investigation into any coordinated attempts to unlawfully alter the outcome of the 2020 elections in this state.” 

The special grand jury “shall be authorized to investigate any and all facts and circumstances relating directly or indirectly to alleged violations of the laws of the State of Georgia, as set forth in the request of the District Attorney,” the order says. 

Willis has declined to speak about the specifics of her investigation, but in an interview with The Associated Press earlier this month, she confirmed that its scope includes — but is not limited to — a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger; a November 2020 phone call between U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger; the abrupt resignation of the U.S. attorney in Atlanta on Jan. 4, 2021; and comments made during December 2020 Georgia legislative committee hearings on the election. 

In a statement last week, Trump called his call to Raffensperger “perfect” and said he did not say anything wrong. Graham has also denied any wrongdoing. 

Special grand juries, which are not used often in Georgia, can help in the investigation of complex matters. They do not have the power to return an indictment but can make recommendations to prosecutors on criminal prosecutions. 

Willis wrote in her letter that the special grand jury is needed because it can serve for longer than a normal grand jury term, which is two months in Fulton County. It also would be able to focus on this investigation alone, allowing it to focus on the complex facts and circumstances. And having a special grand jury would mean the regular seated grand jury would not have to deal with this investigation in addition to their regular duties, Willis wrote. 

Willis’ investigation became public last February when she sent letters to top elected officials in Georgia instructing them to preserve any records related to the general election, particularly any evidence of attempts to influence election officials. The probe includes “potential violations of Georgia law prohibiting the solicitation of election fraud, the making of false statements to state and local government bodies, conspiracy, racketeering, violation of oath of office and any involvement in violence or threats related to the election’s administration,” the letters said. 

 

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By Polityk | 25/01/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Спецпризначенці СБУ вчилися звільняти заручників із «захопленого» літака

За легендою навчань, «умовні «терористи» захопили заручників у літаку та вимагали його приземлення», ще одна група «захопила» диспетчерську вежу

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By Gromada | 24/01/2022 | Повідомлення, Суспільство
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