Розділ: Політика

Democrats Unveil Spending Bill to Fund Government, Aid Ukraine

Democratic lawmakers have unveiled a stopgap spending measure to finance the federal government through December 16, provide additional support to Ukraine and help communities respond to recent natural disasters. 

Both chambers of Congress must approve legislation by Friday, which is the end of the fiscal year, to prevent a partial government shutdown. It represents the last bit of unfinished business for lawmakers before the midterm elections in November. Both sides are eager to wrap up and spend time on the campaign trail, lowering the risk of a federal stoppage. 

The first test vote of the measure’s popularity will take place Tuesday evening in the Senate, where 60 votes will be needed to proceed to a short-term spending measure. It’s going to be hard to reach that threshold with lawmakers from both parties opposing provisions in the measure aimed at speeding up the permitting process for energy projects. 

The bill provides about $12.3 billion in assistance related to Ukraine, including training, equipment, weapons, and direct financial support for the Ukraine government. The assistance would be on top of some $53 billion Congress has already approved through two previous bills. 

The measure excludes the White House call for spending $22 billion to respond to COVID-19, and $3.9 billion to fight against an outbreak of the monkeypox virus. Republican lawmakers were overwhelmingly opposed to the health funding. At least 10 Republican senators would have to support the measure to overcome procedural hurdles and advance in that chamber. 

The most contentious piece of the legislation is Senator Joe Manchin’s plan to streamline the permitting process for energy projects and make it easier for a pipeline project in his home state and Virginia to proceed. 

Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who chairs the Senate Energy Committee, secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to have a vote on the permitting package in return for his support of a landmark law to curb climate change. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York made it clear he intended to include it in the must-pass continuing resolution.

While Republicans have voiced support for streamlining the permitting process for energy projects, some, including Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, are panning the effort.  

“What our Democratic colleagues have produced is a phony fig leaf that would actually set back the cause of real permitting reform,” McConnell said on the Senate floor Tuesday. 

McConnell said he would vote against proceeding to the short-term spending bill if it included Manchin’s legislation and encouraged others to vote no, too, a powerful signal to GOP lawmakers. Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, also said he would vote against the continuing resolution if it’s included. 

“We have made significant progress toward a Continuing Resolution that is as clean as possible. But, if the Democrats insist on including permitting reform, I will oppose it,” Shelby said. 

Top Democratic appropriators also said they were unhappy with the inclusion of Manchin’s proposal, but said keeping the government running took priority. 

“I am disappointed that unrelated permitting reform was attached to this bill. This is a controversial matter that should be debated on its own merits,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. “However, with four days left in the fiscal year, we cannot risk a government shutdown; we must work to advance this bill.” 

The Mountain Valley Pipeline sought by Manchin would run through Virginia for about 100 miles. Manchin’s plan would expedite the pipeline and steer legal challenges to a different federal court. Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia said he opposes an expedited review for the pipeline and will vote against taking up the package, another sign that lawmakers won’t have the 60 votes needed to move forward. 

“We should pass a continuing resolution that is free of the unprecedented and dangerous” pipeline deal, Kaine said. 

The disaster assistance in the bill includes $2.5 billion to help New Mexico communities recover from the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire, the largest wildfire in the state’s history; $2 billion for a block grant program that aids the economic recovery of communities impacted by recent disasters and $20 million for water and wastewater infrastructure improvements previously authorized for Jackson, Mississippi. 

The bill would also provide an additional $1 billion for a program that helps low income households afford to heat their homes. 

There has been wide, bipartisan support for boosting support for Ukraine. The bill includes $4.5 billion to help Ukraine’s government provide basic citizen services and authorizes the president to drawdown $3.7 billion worth of equipment from U.S. stocks to support Ukraine’s armed forces. There’s also money to replenish U.S. stocks of equipment and munitions sent to Ukraine and to provide Ukraine with intelligence support and training. 

“With Russia holding fake elections to annex parts of Ukraine, the Ukrainian people urgently need our support to continue protecting their families and defending global democracy,” said Representative Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee. 

 

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By Polityk | 28/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Senators Urge Biden to Increase Pressure on North Korea

Two Republican senators have expressed concern to the Biden administration at the growing cooperation between Moscow and Pyongyang over Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“We are troubled by news reports that Russia and North Korea are strengthening their relationship, which will aid [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s unjust and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Hagerty said in their letter dated Thursday. 

“North Korea and Russia have recently agreed to dispatch North Korean laborers to areas in Ukraine seized by Russia,” their letter continued. “We also learned that Russia is attempting to purchase millions of artillery shells and rockets from North Korea.”

Rubio and Hagerty urged the Biden administration ”to fully enforce Congressional and multilateral sanctions to increase the pressure on the Kim regime.”

The senators sent the letter  Thursday to Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Rubio is the vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and a senior member of the Committee on Foreign Relations. Hagerty is a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the Committee on Foreign Relations.

In response to the senators’ letter, a spokesperson for the State Department told VOA’s Korean Service on Saturday that “it is important for the international community to send a strong, unified message that the DPRK must halt its unlawful actions, abide by its obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions, and engage in serious and sustained negotiations with the United States.”

North Korea’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The spokesperson continued, “U.N. sanctions on the DPRK remain in place, and we will continue to encourage all member states to implement them, including through diplomacy at the United Nations and with the DPRK’s neighbors.”

VOA Korean Service contacted North Korea’s U.N. mission in New York City requesting comment on the senators’ letter but has not received a reply. The service also contacted the Russian embassy in Washington ​and its U.N. mission in New York City but has not received a reply.

The U.N. Security Council has sanctioned North Korea against exporting arms in multiple resolutions dating back to 2006, and in December 2017, it passed a resolution banning member states from hiring North Korean workers in response to Pyongyang’s launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile a month earlier.

The U.S. and its allies and partners sanctioned Russia, excluding it from the global financial system days after its Feb. 21 invasion of Ukraine.

After setbacks in the war, Moscow has turned to Pyongyang for support.

In July, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia that Moscow was willing to hire North Korean workers to rebuild the Russian-controlled Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk in the Donbas region.

North Korea recognized the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, the two breakaway regions in eastern Ukraine, on July 14.

According to the U.S. State Department, Russia wants to purchase rockets and artillery shells from North Korea as it runs short on weapons.

During a press briefing on Sept. 6, Vedant Patel, deputy spokesperson at the State Department, said, ”The Russian Ministry of Defense is in the process of purchasing millions of rockets and artillery shells from North Korea for use in Ukraine.”

He added, ”This purchase indicates that the Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages due in part because of export controls and sanctions.”

Russian Ambassador to the U.N. Vasily Nebenzya said that the U.S. claim of Moscow’s arms purchase from Pyongyang is “another fake,” according to Tass, a state-owned news agency.

North Korea said on Thursday it has ”never exported weapons or ammunition to Russia” and “will not plan to export them,” it said in the statement released through KCNA.

The North Korean statement did not address sending workers to the Donbas.

North Korea continued to say it ”never recognized” the U.N. Security Council’s ”unlawful sanctions resolutions” imposed against North Korea ”which was cooked up by the U.S. and its vassal forces.”

If Moscow hires workers and buys weapons from North Korea, it would be violating sanctions it imposed on the regime as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. Such transactions would also put North Korea in violation of sanctions designed to prevent Pyongyang from earning much-needed hard currency to finance the development of nuclear missiles and ballistic missiles. 

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By Polityk | 25/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Republicans Quiet as Arizona Democrats Condemn Abortion Ruling

Arizona Democrats vowed Saturday to fight for women’s rights after a court reinstated a law first enacted during the Civil War that bans abortion in nearly all circumstances, looking to capitalize on an issue they hope will have a major impact on the midterm elections.

Republican candidates were silent a day after the ruling, which said the state can prosecute doctors and others who assist with an abortion unless it’s necessary to save the mother’s life. Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor, and Blake Masters, the Senate candidate, did not comment.

Katie Hobbs and Kris Mayes, the Democratic nominees for governor and attorney general, implored women not to sit on the sidelines this year, saying the ruling sets them back more than a century to an era when only men had the right to vote.

“We cannot let (Lake) hold public office and have the power to enact extreme anti-choice policies that she’s spent her entire campaign touting,” Hobbs said during a news conference outside the attorney general’s office. “As Arizona’s governor I will do everything in my power and use every tool at my disposal to restore abortion rights in Arizona.”

The ruling presents a new hurdle for Republicans who were already struggling to navigate abortion politics. It fires up Democrats and distracts attention from Republican attacks on President Joe Biden and his record on border security and inflation less than three weeks before the start of early and mail-in voting, which are overwhelmingly popular in Arizona.

Abortion rights are particularly salient among suburban women, who play a decisive role in close elections in Arizona.

“In Arizona, with a draconian abortion law in effect today, I think you will see suburban women take a real look at Democratic candidates who promise to do something even if it’s not in their power,” said Barrett Marson, a Republican consultant.

Democrats have poured tens of millions of dollars into television advertising focused on abortion rights, and women have been registering to vote in greater numbers than men across the country.

The old law was first enacted among a set of laws known as the “Howell Code” adopted by the first Arizona Territorial Legislature in 1864. It has been periodically re-adopted throughout the state’s history, including in 1901 and as recently as the 1970s.

Lake has spoken positively of Arizona’s territorial ban on abortion, which she called “a great law that’s already on the books.” She has called abortion “the ultimate sin” and has also said abortion pills should be illegal.

Masters called abortion “demonic” during the Republican primary and called for a federal personhood law that would give fetuses the rights of people. He’s toned down his rhetoric more recently, deleting references to a personhood law from his campaign website and dropping language describing himself as “100% pro-life.”

More recently, Masters has said he would support a bill proposed by Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., that would ban abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest or risk to the physical health of the mother. He has also said he supports a different Arizona law that seeks to ban abortions at 15 weeks.

Neither the Lake nor Masters campaign responded to requests for comment.

“Their silence speaks volumes,” said Mayes, the Democratic attorney general candidate. “They know how absolutely unpopular this 1901 law is. They know how indefensible it is. And they know that when Nov. 8 comes the people of Arizona are going to resoundingly reject this extreme abortion ban, this attack on the people of Arizona by voting them down.”

If elected, Mayes said, she would not enforce the abortion law and would direct county prosecutors to do the same. She said she believes it violates the privacy rights guaranteed by the state constitution.

Hobbs said she’d push lawmakers on her first day in office to repeal the abortion ban, a long shot for a legislature that is widely expected to be controlled by Republicans. Failing that, she said she’d support a ballot measure giving the voters the chance to decide in the 2024 election.

Hobbs also said she’d veto any legislation that further restricts abortion.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre condemned the ruling, which she said would have “catastrophic, dangerous and unacceptable” consequences.

“Make no mistake: this backwards decision exemplifies the disturbing trend across the country of Republican officials at the local and national level dead-set on stripping women of their rights,” Jean-Pierre said in a statement. 

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By Polityk | 25/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Lawmakers Assail Iran on Death of Woman in Morality Police Custody 

Key U.S. lawmakers are rebuking Iran for its human rights record in the aftermath of the death of a young woman while held in captivity by the country’s morality police for failing to properly cover her hair with a hijab.

The lawmakers rebuffed claims by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in his speech Wednesday at the U.N. General Assembly that Tehran supports human rights.

Raisi did not mention the death of Mahsa Amini, 22, and the protests that have erupted over her death, but rather assailed what he characterized as oppression, injustice and human rights violations in Western countries, including the United States.

Democratic U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen told VOA’s Persian Service, “What’s happening in Iran, generally, is an outrageous treatment of its people. And then you have this, these attacks on Iranian women … a woman who was killed for not conforming” to a religious edict “with respect to her hair in a veil.”

“It’s just another example of the atrocious human rights record in Iran,” Van Hollen said.

Senator Robert Menendez, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that Raisi, in claiming that Tehran supports human rights, “lives in a parallel, alternative universe” detached from reality.

“The death of this young 22-year-old woman by the morality police in Iran is an example that that is not about human rights,” he said. “It’s not about human rights when Iranian women cannot fully enjoy their place in Iranian society. It’s not about human rights when you use your money not to help feed the people, but to arm different groups who create acts of terrorism.”

Republican Senator Rob Portman said he thought it was “a strange time” for Raisi to claim that Iran supports human rights in the wake of Amini’s death.

“So, the facts are the facts, and the people in Iran know what’s going on,” Portman said.

Democratic Senator Chris Murphy said, “Iran pretends like it’s a democracy, but it isn’t. They don’t have rights. And there’s only so long the people will put up with their desire to be free and to express their opinion to be crushed like it has in Iran.”

“I worry about what’s going to happen to these protesters,” he added. “They’re speaking up. The kind of repression we’ve seen in the past has been brutal. But I’m proud of anybody in this world who speaks up for … their dignity.”

In his speech at the U.N., Raisi condemned abuses by Canada against Indigenous people, the United States for its treatment of migrants and Israel for its relations with Palestinians, while saying nothing of abuses in his own country.

“Human rights belong to all but are unfortunately trampled upon by other governments,” Raisi said. “We believe any oppressive action is a threat to world peace and stability. America cannot stand that some countries are able to stand on their own two feet.”

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By Polityk | 23/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden Hosts South African President for First White House Visit

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa made his first visit to the White House on Friday, where he and US President Joe Biden discussed global security, climate change, trade, food security and health — and African nations’ reluctance to condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from the White House.
Video editor: Kim Weeks

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By Polityk | 17/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Federal Judge Unseals Parts of FBI Affidavit  

Newly released information from the unsealed portions of the legal documents the FBI submitted justifying its reasons to secure a search warrant for former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate shows the Justice Department on June 24 subpoenaed the Trump Organization, demanding video from surveillance cameras located near the estate’s storage room where dozens of boxes filled with classified material were located. 

 

A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday unsealed previously redacted portions of the documents the FBI submitted for the search warrant as part of its investigation of Trump’s handling of classified documents after he left the White House in January 2021.  

 

The affidavit says the Trump Organization handed over a hard drive with the surveillance footage on July 6 in response to the subpoena.  

 

The FBI subpoenaed the company for the footage weeks after agents saw about 50 boxes of records in the storage room, according to the affidavit. 

 

The subpoena came weeks before agents executed a search warrant for Trump’s property on August 8, seizing more than 11,000 documents and 1,800 other items, including more than 100 classified documents.  

 

A heavily redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain the search warrant was released last month, but the Justice Department said it decided to unseal additional portions of the document after Trump lawyers revealed the existence of the grand jury subpoena for the footage.  

 

The FBI is investigating several possible crimes in connection with Trump’s retention of presidential records, including a potential violation of the Espionage Act and obstruction of justice.   

 

The FBI investigation suffered a setback last week after a federal judge ordered the appointment of a special master and temporarily barred agents from using the records, including classified documents.  

 

The Justice Department has said it would appeal the ruling by Judge Aileen Cannon unless she allows agents to regain access to the classified documents and bars the special master from viewing them. The department has given Cannon until Thursday to issue a “partial stay” of her order.   

 

The Justice Department and the Trump legal team have each proposed two candidates to serve as special master.  

 

In a court filing on Monday, the Justice Department indicated it would accept one of the two candidates proposed by Trump lawyers: Raymond Dearie, a federal judge on “senior active” status.  

 

Dearie and the department’s own candidates — retired federal judges Barbara Jones and Thomas Griffith — have “substantial judicial experience, during which they have presided over federal criminal and civil cases, including federal cases involving national security and privilege concerns,” the filing said.   

 

The Justice Department opposed the Trump team’s other candidate, Paul Huck Jr., former deputy attorney general for the state of Florida, saying he “does not appear to have similar experience.”  

 

Meanwhile, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney, chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, has requested the National Archives to conduct a review of all presidential records from the Trump administration to determine whether any records “may still be outside the agency’s custody and control.”  

 

In a letter requesting the review, Maloney said staffers from the Archives recently told the committee the agency is not certain it has all the records from the Trump White House.  

 

Maloney asked the Archives, the agency that collects and preserves all official government documents, for an initial assessment of its findings by September 27.  

 

The investigation of the missing documents is taking place as the Justice Department appears to be widening its probe of efforts by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election.  

 

The New York Times reported Monday that the Justice Department issued about 40 subpoenas over the past week to various people connected to the Trump administration and his re-election campaign, from low-level aides to senior advisers to the former president.  

 

VOA Justice correspondent Masood Farivar contributed to this article. Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters. 

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By Polityk | 14/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Panel: National Archives Still Not Certain It Has All Trump Records

The National Archives is still not certain that it has custody of all former President Donald Trump’s presidential records even after the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago club, a congressional committee said in a letter Tuesday. 

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform revealed that staff at the National Archives on an August 24 call could not provide assurances that they have all of Trump’s presidential records. The committee’s letter asked the agency to conduct an assessment of whether any Trump records remain unaccounted for and potentially in his possession. 

“In light of revelations that Mr. Trump’s representatives misled investigators about his continued possession of government property and that material found at his club included dozens of ’empty folders’ for classified material, I am deeply concerned that sensitive presidential records may remain out of the control and custody of the U.S. Government,” Representative Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., the chairwoman of the Oversight Committee, wrote in the letter. 

The House committee has jurisdiction over the Presidential Records Act, a 1978 law that requires the preservation of White House documents as property of the U.S. government. The request is the latest development in a monthslong back-and-forth between the agency and the committee, which has been investigating Trump’s handling of records. 

The request also comes weeks after the FBI recovered more than 100 documents with classified markings and more than 10,000 other government documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The search came after lawyers for Trump provided a sworn certification that all government records had been returned. 

Maloney and other Democratic lawmakers on the panel have been seeking a briefing from the National Archives but haven’t received one due to the Justice Department’s ongoing criminal investigation into the matter. 

But the letter notes a call between National Archives staff and the committee on August 24, in which lawmakers were informed that documents could still be missing. 

As a result, Maloney wrote, the committee is asking the agency to conduct an “urgent review” of all of the government records that have been recorded from the Trump White House to determine whether any additional records remain unaccounted for and potentially in the possession of the former president. 

In addition, the committee also asked for the National Archives to get a personal certification from Trump “that he has surrendered all presidential records that he illegally removed from the White House after leaving office.” 

The committee is asking the agency to provide an initial assessment of this review by September 27. 

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By Polityk | 14/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

‘A Seat at the Table’: Alaska Native to Be Sworn In to Congress

On the eve of her first day in Congress, Mary Peltola stood outside what was once the office of the late Alaska Representative Don Young, swarmed by the local and national press, and marveled at the moment. 

“I really hope that Don is getting a kick out of this,” Peltola told The Associated Press in an interview Monday. “I can’t help but think that some things broke my way on account of his great sense of humor.” 

The kicker is that 50 years ago, right before Peltola was born, her parents worked on Young’s first campaign for the only congressional seat in Alaska. Young won and went on to hold it for 49 years before his death in March. 

Last month, on her 49th birthday, Peltola, a Democrat, won the special election to finish out Young’s term, besting a field of candidates that included Republican Sarah Palin, who was seeking a political comeback in the state where she was governor. 

On Tuesday night, Peltola, who is Yup’ik, will make her own history when she is sworn in as the first Alaska Native in Congress and the first woman to hold the seat. She previously was a state lawmaker for 10 years representing the rural hub community of Bethel, Alaska. 

“To have a seat at the table is different,” Peltola said. “But I am just always reminding people that I’m not here to represent just the 16% of Alaskans who are Alaska Natives. I’m here to represent all Alaskans.” 

Two other new members also will be sworn in to office Tuesday evening: Democrat Pat Ryan and Republican Joe Sempolinski of New York. 

Peltola’s campaign has emphasized her dedication to “fish, family and freedom.” Fish are a staple in Alaskan life, and salmon holds particular cultural significance to Alaska Natives. A subsistence lifestyle — relying on fish, wildlife and berries — is essential in rural Alaska, including in many Native communities, where goods must be flown or barged in and costs for basic necessities can be exorbitant. 

Peltola said she sees her few weeks in office as an homage to Young’s service as a more moderate force in an increasingly polarized Congress. Like the often gruff Young, Peltola said she is bringing a sense of humor to the job, along with a history of being a consensus builder with even the most conservative of colleagues. 

After Palin came in second to Peltola in the special election last month, the two women shared a cordial back-and-forth. In a text message, Palin congratulated her and wrote that she was a “real Alaskan chick! Beautiful & smart and tough.” 

Peltola replied, “Your text means the world to me … We really are in this together.” 

The newly elected congresswoman’s time in the Alaska Legislature overlapped with Palin’s time as governor, and the women have remained cordial. Peltola has said that one of the most “unsavory” parts of American politics is negative campaigning. 

But staying above the fray could prove difficult. Peltola is on the ballot in November to serve a full two-year term, again facing off against Palin, Republican Nick Begich and Libertarian Chris Bye, all of whom advanced from last month’s open primary. 

That’s partly why Peltola said she doesn’t plan to get too comfortable in her new office, which Young, a Republican, adorned with the heads of bucks and bears and large rifles in a nod to his love of hunting. Now those walls are bare. 

“It didn’t make sense to really become too entrenched, or decorate, or set up shop,” Peltola said. “I really just feel like I’m camping here until the term is over. And then being open and seeing what happens next.” 

 

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By Polityk | 14/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Native American News Roundup: Sept. 4–10, 2022

Here is a look at Native American-related news around the U.S. this week:

Homeland Security Department Establishes Tribal Advisory Council

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is creating an advisory council to collaborate on homeland security matters relating to tribal nations and Indigenous communities including emergency management, law enforcement, cybersecurity, domestic terrorism, targeted violence, and border security.

“The inaugural Tribal Homeland Security Advisory Council is a result of sustained engagement to improve nation-to-nation relationships and comes at a time of critical importance,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “I look forward to building a new council that will provide timely advice and recommendations directly from Indian country regarding how we can better work together to improve homeland security.”

Individuals will be considered for membership based on their qualifications to serve as representatives of a tribal nation or tribal organization.

According to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), nearly 40 tribes are located directly on or near America’s borders with Mexico and Canada and are thus directly involved in combating illegal immigration, smuggling and terrorism; further, a high number of oil and gas pipelines, missile sites, dams and nuclear facilities sit on tribal lands.

“While state governments have received billions of taxpayer dollars for homeland security program infrastructure development and enhancement, tribes have yet to receive equitable assistance to perform the same functions,” NCAI states on its website.

DHS Establishes First-Ever Tribal Homeland Security Advisory Council

DOI Finalizes Replacements for Demeaning Place Names

For generations, a gap in the Santa Teresa Mountain Range in Graham County, Arizona has carried a name that uses an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur for Indigenous women.

From now on, however, it will be known as Rattlesnake Saddle. It is one of 650 geographic features in the U.S. with names that include a derogatory word. But all that is about to change with the Interior Department announcing Thursday that its Board on Geographic Names has voted on final new names for all these features and locations.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Secretary Deb Haaland, who in late 2021 ordered the names be changed.

“I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

The list of new names and a location map can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey website.

Interior Department completes removal of “sq___” from federal use

Wisconsin Judge Sides With Chippewa Band in Pipeline Dispute

The Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa received both good and bad news this week.

A federal judge in Wisconsin ruled late Wednesday the tribe had the right to revoke permission for an oil and gas pipeline to cross through the Band’s reservation.

He also ruled that the band is entitled to monetary compensation, though he did not elaborate.

But he ruled against shutting down the pipeline altogether, saying the 60-year-old pipeline can continue to flow while operators work to reroute it.

In 2019, the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa sued the Canadian energy firm Enbridge Inc., claiming a 40-mile (64 km.) section of the company’s Line 5 pipeline was “a grave public nuisance” and threatened the tribe’s water supply.

The Bad River Reservation spans 125,000 acres (50,585 hectares) on the south shore of Lake Superior and is home to a network of rivers, streams, and wetlands which in turn are home to 44 species of flora and fauna that are federally and/or state recognized as threatened or endangered.

The decision comes one month after the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources received reports of contamination just outside the reservation. Enbridge says they believe the contamination was from a historical leak and was not ongoing.

And it comes just days after Ottawa invoked the 1977 Transit Pipelines Treaty to prevent U.S. courts from shutting down the Line 5 pipeline, which carries crude oil and natural gas from Alberta to Ontario through the U.S.

Wisconsin judge rules against Enbridge in dispute over Line 5 pipeline

 

South Dakota Must Take Steps to Give Tribe Voter Access

Parties reached settlement in a lawsuit this week which will require the state of South Dakota to make it easier for Native Americans to participate in elections.

As VOA has previously reported, Native Americans in South Dakota and other states have long complained about barriers to voting.

The National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) requires all public assistance agencies and motor vehicle departments provide voter registration forms, but South Dakota tribes complain these forms aren’t always available, or if they are, registrations are not always processed.

In September 2020, the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Sioux Tribe filed a federal court complaint against the South Dakota secretary of state for failing to offer voter registration services.

In May 2022, the court denied a motion by the state to dismiss the case, and days later ruled in favor of the tribes, finding that South Dakota had committed numerous violations of the NVRA.

According to a settlement agreement reached Wednesday, the state must now appoint a voting rights coordinator and train and monitor state agencies to ensure they comply with the law. The state will also reimburse the tribes’ legal fees.

Rosebud Tribe, secretary of state settle over voting registration act

Commerce Department to Boost Development at Fort Apache Reservation

The U.S. Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration has awarded a $4.7 million grant to the Fort Apache Heritage Foundation, Inc., to support the expanding small business on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona, home to the White Mountain Apache Tribe.

The funds will go toward renovating and converting a residential building into office and commercial space for tribal startup businesses. Local sources will match the grant with more than $406,000.

“Tribal communities were disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Y. Castillo. “This project will help the White Mountain Apache Tribe of the Fort Apache Reservation plan for future business development and economic growth, creating opportunities for job creation for Tribal members.”

This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Indigenous Communities program, which is allocating $100 million in funding specifically to aid tribal governments and Indigenous communities to recover from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $4.7 Million in American Rescue Plan Funds to Support Small Businesses on Fort Apache Indian Reservation

South Dakota’s First Ever Indigenous-Run School Opens in Rapid City

This week saw the grand opening of the first Indigenous-led, community-based elementary school in Rapid City, South Dakota. The Oceti Sakowin Community Academy is designed to provide students with an inclusive and diverse education grounded in the language, culture and traditions of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires, the collective name of the Lakota, Dakota and Nakota people.

A community grand opening included prayer and drum songs welcoming the school’s first class of 35 kindergartners. The school will add one more grade level each year up to the 12th grade level.

“The government tried to beat our language out of us, assimilate and erase us,” said Nick Tilsen, president and CEO of NDN Collective, which founded the school in partnership with NACA Inspired Schools Network (NISN) in Albuquerque, New Mexico. “They were unsuccessful. Today, we launch this school – not only as an act of resistance, but an act of power.

School founder Mary Bowman, who is Hunkpapa Lakota from the Standing Rock Reservation, welcomed the children to the classroom Wednesday.

“It was a really great day,” she told VOA. “I think the kids really enjoyed themselves!”

Bowman said the school will operate according to South Dakota Education Department standards.

“It’s just the materials that we’re using that will be different,” she said. “We’re piloting a literacy program from the Native American Community Academy in Albuquerque, and all the books in the curriculum are by Indigenous authors.”

South Dakota legislators have tried to get state funding for charter schools which could address the specific cultural needs of Native American children in the state, but their efforts have so far failed.

“South Dakota is a very Republican state and they’ve been wildly oppositional and resistant to school choice,” said Sarah White, an Oglala Lakota citizen and founder and executive director of the South Dakota Education Equity Coalition. “And the main concern expressed by opposition has been funding and the scarcity of resources. They believe that [public] schools will lose money.”

Opponents also worry that charter schools could promote unorthodox teaching methods.

Rapid City’s first Indigenous-led school opens

Archaeologists: Ancestral Muscogee Among World’s Oldest Democracies

It is commonly held that democracy and democratic institutions are a Western European innovation inherited from ancient Greeks. But a team of archaeologists working in the U.S. state of Georgia say they have evidence that today’s Muskogee tribal council is one of the oldest and most inclusive democratic institutions in the world.

When the Georgia Power Company announced plans to dam the Oconee River in the 1970s, archaeologists scrambled to conduct surveys of the valley which was once the homeland of the Ancestral Muskogee. Researchers catalogued more than 3,000 sites but excavated and removed artifacts from only a few of them, including the remains of a 1,500-year-old plaza once surrounded by earthen mounds and large circular buildings used as council houses.

“Council houses were the hub of political life within communities and often across regions,” explain the study authors, who included historians and cultural preservationists from the Muscogee Nation, now based in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. “And although council houses were, in part, a bridge to ceremonial worlds, they were key forums in which to discuss and debate the collective good and governance.”

“Democracy and democratic institutions in particular are not solely the purview of Western societies,” notes the study, acknowledging that science has only now begun to realize what Native Americans have been saying for years: that Native American tribes practiced inclusive decision making in what is now Canada, the U.S. and Mexico long before Europeans.

Indigenous Americans ruled democratically long before the US did

Indigenous TikTok User Shares as He Learns

It was only two years ago that 20-year-old Zane Lerma-Switzer discovered who his father was.

“He was never in my life, so I never had a chance to find out who I was, where I came from,” he told VOA.

In 2020, Lerma-Switzer took a DNA test, which identified him as 50% Indigenous; and connected him to a close genetic match who turned out to be a first cousin.

“And she revealed that she and the rest of the family live in a small mountain village called Chicueyaco, in the state of Puebla in Mexico, and it turns out I’m Nahua.”

The Nahua are a people who dominated Southern Mexico and Central America until the Spanish invaded in 1519. Today, they are the largest Indigenous group in Mexico and still speak dialects of Nahuatl, an Aztecan language once spoken across Mexico and Central America (hear the language spoken in the video, below).

 

His discovery triggered a passion to learn more— not just about his Nahuan ancestors, but Indigenous peoples across the Americas. In 2021, he took to TikTok as @indigenouszane, posting short informative videos on Indigenous histories, languages and cultures which have earned him tens of thousands of followers and millions of “likes.”

“My goal is to reach everyone, no matter whether they are non-Native or if they’re Native,” Lerma-Switzer said. “I do feel there are a lot of Natives that don’t even know their own history due to colonization.”

He said he recently obtained his first passport and is working up to 70 hours a week in a local pharmacy to save enough money to travel to Mexico next year.

“That is my No. 1 goal as of now,” he said. “That’s the only reason I work all these hours—it’s to visit my family and visit the culture I never knew I had.”

Troy man takes off on TikTok making videos on Indigenous American culture

British Network Showcases Film by Ho-Chunk/Pechanga Visual Artist

Britain’s BBC News website this week is streaming a short film by visual artist Sky Hopinka, a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Wisconsin and a descendant of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño people of Southern California.

In a 16-minute film called “Kicking the Clouds,” Hopinka interviews his mother about their family history after being given a 50-year-old audio recording of his grandmother learning to speak the highly endangered Luiseno language from her mother.

“After being given this tape by my mother, I interviewed her and asked about it, and recorded her ruminations on their lives and her own,” Hopinka states on his website. “The footage is of our chosen home in Whatcom County, Washington, where my family still lives, far from our homelands in Southern California, yet a home nonetheless.”

The BBC is featuring the film as part of its online LongShots film festival, which highlights short documentaries from promising new filmmakers across the globe.

Hopinka’s work has been featured in several important film festivals, including Sundance, the New York Film Festival, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

To see Hopinka’s film, click here: LongShots: Kicking the Clouds.

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By Polityk | 10/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden, Democrats Pin Hopes on Midterm Election Strategy

Two months before midterm elections, U.S. President Joe Biden and other Democrats are coalescing on a strategy they hope will help them maintain their slim majority in Congress: spotlighting legislative accomplishments while politically singling out loyalists of former President Donald Trump. White House Bureau Chief Patsy Widakuswara reports.

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By Polityk | 10/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Lawmakers Set to Tackle Tough Funding Questions Ahead of Midterms

U.S. lawmakers are getting back to work after a monthlong summer recess as the Senate returns this week and the House of Representatives comes back into session next week.

With narrow control of both chambers and some significant items already checked off President Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, Democrats are aiming to pass several key new pieces of legislation. But they have only a handful of weeks before Congress recesses again so that members can campaign ahead of the November 3 midterm elections.   

 

Government funding  

 

In what has now become almost a yearly routine, U.S. lawmakers will not reach an agreement on spending bills by the September 30 deadline when government funding runs out. Democrats and Republicans normally agree on a short-term continuing resolution, or CR, to keep the government operating. It remains to be seen, though, whether that CR will cover the rest of the calendar year or possibly even further out.   

 

Passage will also depend on whether the parties can agree on Biden’s request for $47 billion in additional funding, an amount that includes a new $13 billion tranche for U.S. military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine and $22.4 billion for continuing efforts to combat COVID-19.   

 

“Ukraine needs more help. We want to give it to them. And on monkeypox and COVID, we need to be prepared. We’ve always been prepared in this country. And it’s disgraceful that Republicans are playing political games with this when the health of the nation is at stake,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters Wednesday.   

 

Republicans are reluctant to approve Democrats’ new funding request, arguing the money should instead come out of unused COVID funds.   

 

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters, “The cleaner the CR, the better. Ukraine is obviously a priority for most of us on both sides of the aisle. We’ll see what they’re requesting and how much of it is actually designed to help Ukraine wage war.”   

 

Same-sex marriage  

The U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson decision earlier this summer, which overturned the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, triggered a wave of legislation that would provide protection for other rights on the federal level.   

 

Democratic Senators Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema are working to secure the Republican support needed to clear a 60-vote threshold to pass a bill protecting same-sex marriage. In June, the House passed similar legislation with the support of 47 Republicans.   

 

“A vote about marriage equality will happen on the Senate floor in the coming weeks, and I hope there will be 10 Republicans to support it,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. 

“We prefer to do it as a separate bill,” Schumer said, leaving open the possibility it could be added to the CR, which would raise the stakes for Republicans by forcing them to shut down the government in order to block it.

January 6 investigation

The select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol is set to resume hearings this month. Originally scheduled to run for only seven hearings earlier this summer, lawmakers extended their public investigation into former President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the worst attack on the Capitol in two centuries.   

 

Republican Representative Liz Cheney – who lost her primary bid to seek re-election to her congressional seat in August – has already said Trump should face charges for his actions. The committee is expected to hear new evidence that has come to light because of its work earlier this summer.   

 

The Senate also could pass the Electoral College Reform Act clarifying the role of the vice president in certifying the results of a presidential election. The bipartisan legislation is aimed at preventing misuse of an 1887 law that came under scrutiny following the attack on the Capitol.   

 

Other agenda items   

Additionally, Democrats are expected to continue confirmation of Biden’s judicial nominees. And the so-called “Gang of Eight” top Democratic and Republican leaders from the Senate and the House could receive a classified briefing on Trump’s possession of classified documents at his residence in Mar-a-Lago.   

 

With Democrats gaining ground on Republicans in several key midterm races around the country, Schumer could decide to cancel the Senate’s two-week session in October in order to give members more time to campaign in their home states.

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By Polityk | 08/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden Tackles ‘Soul of the Nation’ in Prime-Time Speech

US President Joe Biden used the word “democracy” dozens of times in an impassioned speech on what he sees as the dangerous junction the US faces because of Trump-backed Republicans who he says pose a threat to American democracy. And Biden made clear who he sees as responsible. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Washington.
Video Editor: Barry Unger

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By Polityk | 02/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden Calls Out Threat to Democracy, Urges Americans to ‘Stand Up for It’

The United States is at a dangerous junction in its battle to maintain democracy, President Joe Biden believes — and in a rousing speech from Philadelphia on Thursday night, he laid the blame at the feet of one man.

“There’s no question that the Republican Party today is dominated, driven and intimidated by Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, Make America Great Again. “And that is a threat to this country.”

Biden drew a dark picture of his opponents’ vision for America as he spoke in front of the hall where the nation’s founders wrote and debated both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, nearly 250 years ago.

He spoke for 25 minutes, and in that time, said one word no fewer than 25 times: democracy.

He used the word as a cudgel against Trump-aligned Republicans who echo Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen; who work to suppress voter turnout in key states; and who participated in the violent insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

“History tells us that blind loyalty to a single leader and a willingness to engage in political violence is fatal to democracy,” he said “For a long time, we’ve told ourselves that American democracy is guaranteed. But it’s not. We have to defend it. Protect it. Stand up for it.”

In a refutation delivered ahead of the speech, House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy accused Biden of divisiveness and blamed Democrats for rising inflation, crime and government spending.

“In the past two years, Joe Biden has launched an assault on the soul of America, on its people, on its laws, on its most sacred values,” he said. “He has launched an assault on our democracy. His policies have severely wounded America’s soul, diminished America’s spirit and betrayed America’s trust.”

Biden’s condemnation earned him hecklers, who shouted obscenities in his direction as he spoke. Going momentarily off-script, he responded.

“Those folks over there, they’re entitled to be outrageous,” he said. “This is a democracy.”

But he also used the word to reflect what he believes is a better future, led by his party, whose recent legislative gains he touted as proof. Since taking office, Biden has shepherded through major legislation that his administration says will bring about economic recovery, massive infrastructure improvements, gun safety, affordable health care, clean energy and climate change reduction.

“Together, together, we can choose a different path,” he said. “We can choose a better path forward to the future. A future of possibility, a future to build a dream and hope – and we’re on that path moving ahead.”

This is Biden’s second visit to the Keystone State this week. Pennsylvania is a competitive state in what is shaping up as a battleground between Biden’s Democrats and Trump’s Republicans in midterm elections later this year.

Earlier in the day, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed that this was not intended as a stump speech.

“This is so much broader, so much bigger than any one party, than any one person,” she said. “And it’s an optimistic speech, again, about where we are as a nation and where we can go. And it’s about the fundamental struggle around the globe between autocracy and democracy and how democracy is a critical foundation for this country to move forward.”

Analysts question that, as Biden’s recent legislative victories and priorities don’t overlap much with the themes of his speech.

“We’re beginning to see what issues that Democrats see as being advantageous: guns are one, democracy is another,” said William Howell, a professor of American politics at the University of Chicago. ”And it’s interesting, too, that he didn’t do much legislatively on either of those domains. And yet those are the ones he’s talking about, but not with an eye towards passing policy now but with an eye towards reshaping the composition of Congress.”

Historians who study presidential rhetoric say Biden’s tone has shifted noticeably as the November polls have gotten closer.

“I believe the sharper rhetoric from the president and other Democrats is working,” said Jeremi Suri, a history professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “There’s evidence that many independent voters – not Trump voters, many independent voters – particularly women, even in conservative states, like Texas and Kansas, are fed up with Republican obstructionism. And quite frankly, they’re fed up with the news of law-breaking by the former president. The more Trump is in the news, the better the Democrats look.”

After the speech, Suri noted that Biden’s words may now put his opponents on a back foot.

“Biden’s speech forces Republicans like [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell and McCarthy to either defend or renounce MAGA Republicans — no way to avoid the issue when commenting on this speech,” he said.

But on this night in Philadelphia — as the president urged Americans to “vote, vote, vote” — he closed with a picture of the country he sees.

“We are the United States of America, the United States of America,” he said, stressing the word “united.” “And may God protect our nation. And may God protect all those who stand watch over our democracy. God bless you all. Democracy. Thank you.”

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By Polityk | 02/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

House Committee Reaches Deal to Obtain Trump Financial Records

A House committee seeking financial records from former President Donald Trump has reached an agreement that ends litigation on the matter and requires an accounting firm to turn over some of the material, the panel’s leader announced Thursday. 

The long-running case began in April 2019, when the House Committee on Oversight and Reform subpoenaed a wealth of records from Trump’s then-accounting firm, Mazars USA. The committee cited testimony from Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, that it said had raised questions about the president’s representation of his financial affairs when it came to seeking loans and paying taxes. 

Under the agreement, Trump has agreed to end his legal challenges to the subpoena and Mazars USA has agreed to produce responsive documents to the committee as expeditiously as possible, said Representative Carolyn Maloney, the New York Democrat who heads the committee. 

“After numerous court victories, I am pleased that my committee has now reached an agreement to obtain key financial documents that former President Trump fought for years to hide from Congress,” Maloney said. 

Several investigations

Trump is facing investigations on several fronts, including the storage of top-secret government information discovered at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home and whether the former president’s team criminally obstructed the inquiry. In Georgia, prosecutors are investigating whether he and allies illegally tried to interfere in the 2020 presidential election. Meanwhile, congressional committees are following through on investigations that began when he was president. 

The settlement over Mazars followed a July decision by a federal appeals court in Washington that narrowed what records Congress is entitled to obtain. The court said the committee should be given records pertinent to financial ties between foreign countries and Trump or any of his businesses for 2017-18. 

The appeals court also ordered Mazars to turn over documents between November 2016 and 2018 relating to the Trump company that held the lease granted by the federal government for the former Trump International Hotel, located between the White House and the Capitol. 

In the decision, the court said Trump’s financial records would “advance the committee’s consideration of ethics reform legislation across all three of its investigative tracks,” including on presidential ethics and conflicts of interest, presidential financial disclosures, and presidential adherence to constitutional safeguards against foreign interference and undue influence. 

The House investigation dates to February 2019, when Trump’s former personal attorney, Cohen, testified to the committee that Trump had a history of misrepresenting the value of assets to gain favorable loan terms and tax benefits. 

Cohen served time in federal prison after pleading guilty in 2018 of tax crimes, lying to Congress and campaign finance violations, some of which involved his role in orchestrating payments to two women to keep them from talking about alleged affairs with Trump. 

But his testimony prompted the committee to seek key financial documents from Mazars, and in April 2019, the committee issued its subpoena to Mazars seeking four targeted categories of documents. 

The following month, Trump sued to prevent Mazars from complying with the subpoena. The case has been winding its way through the court system since. 

Mazars cuts ties

Mazars earlier this year said it had cut ties with Trump and warned that financial statements the firm had prepared for Trump “should no longer be relied upon” by anyone doing business with him. 

Another House panel, the Ways and Means Committee, has been seeking Trump’s tax returns and waging its own litigation. In that case, a three-judge appellate court panel agreed last month with a lower court’s decision that the Treasury Department should provide the tax returns to the committee. 

The Justice Department, under the Trump administration, had defended a decision by then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to withhold the tax returns from Congress. Mnuchin argued that he could withhold the documents because he concluded they were being sought by Democrats for partisan reasons. A lawsuit ensued. 

After Joe Biden took office as president, the committee renewed the request, seeking Trump’s tax returns and additional information from 2015 to 2020. The White House took the position that the request was a valid one and that the Treasury Department had no choice but to comply. Trump then attempted to halt the handover in court.

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By Polityk | 02/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

US Judge Defers Ruling on Appointing Special Master for Trump Records

A federal judge on Thursday deferred a ruling on former President Donald Trump’s request for an independent review of records seized from his Florida home by the FBI during a search last month.   

Trump’s lawyers last week asked U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon of the Southern District of Florida to appoint a special master to determine if the documents contain any privileged material that should be returned to the former president.    

The Justice Department opposed the request, saying it has conducted its own review of the materials and that appointing a special master would impede its investigation into Trump’s handling of classified records. A special master is an independent third party who is appointed by a court in sensitive cases to review materials potentially covered by attorney-client or other privilege to ensure investigators do not improperly view them. 

Cannon indicated last weekend that she was inclined to grant Trump’s request, but after hearing arguments by Trump lawyers and government prosecutors, she said she would issue a ruling “in due course.”  

At issue is the status of more than 100 classified documents found during the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate as part of a federal investigation into how government documents ended up there.   

Under the Presidential Records Act, Trump was required to hand over his White House records to the National Archives at the end of his term in office in January 2021.   

The FBI is investigating potential crimes in connection with Trump’s retention of the documents, including violations of a part of the Espionage Act that makes it a crime to gather, transmit or lose national defense information.  

The investigation began after Trump’s representatives sent 15 boxes of materials to the National Archives in January 2022, almost a year after he left office, and the government records agency alerted the Justice Department that they had identified more than 100 classified documents.  

Seeking to prevent the FBI from examining the trove of documents found at Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s lawyers last week asked Cannon to appoint a special master, claiming the documents may be subject to attorney-client privilege or executive privilege. 

The Justice Department opposed the request in a 36-page court filing on Tuesday, saying its privilege review team had identified a small number of documents subject to that attorney-client privilege.  

On Thursday, DOJ lawyers said in court that the team had found 64 sets of potentially privileged materials that amounted to more than 500 pages.  

The Justice Department has said the records kept at Mar-a-Lago included documents classified as top secret and special access program.  

The U.S. intelligence community is conducting a damage assessment of Trump’s retention of the documents, and the Justice Department says appointing a special master would “significantly harm important governmental interests, including national security interests.”  

Rejecting Trump’s claim of executive privilege over the documents, the Justice Department said the documents belong to the government, and as a former president, he has no right to keep them. 

Any independent review of the documents, the Justice Department said, should be limited to attorney-client privilege and completed by September 30.   

In its Tuesday filing, the Justice Department said that it obtained a search warrant for Trump’s residence after learning that government records “were likely concealed and removed” from a storage area at Mar-a-Lago and that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation.”  

Trump’s legal team pushed back on Wednesday.   

Calling the search “unprecedented, unnecessary and legally unsupported,” the Trump lawyers accused the Justice Department of mounting “an all-encompassing challenge to any judicial consideration, presently or in the future, of any aspect of its unprecedented behavior in this investigation.”  

The government, they said, “has filed an extraordinary document with this Court, suggesting that the DOJ, and the DOJ alone, should be entrusted with the responsibility of evaluating its unjustified pursuit of criminalizing a former President’s possession of personal and Presidential records in a secure setting.”  

What the FBI found during the search, they wrote, “was to be fully anticipated.”   

“Simply put, the notion that Presidential records would contain sensitive information should have never been cause for alarm,” the Trump legal filing said. 

In the weeks since the August 8 search of his residence, Trump has taken to his social media platform, Truth Social, to claim that the action was politically motivated. 

 

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By Polityk | 02/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Peltola Beats Palin, Wins Alaska House Special Election

Democrat Mary Peltola won the special election for Alaska’s only U.S. House seat on Wednesday, besting a field that included Republican Sarah Palin, who was seeking a political comeback in the state where she was once governor.

Peltola, who is Yup’ik and turned 49 on Wednesday, will become the first Alaska Native to serve in the House and the first woman to hold the seat. She will serve the remaining months of the late Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young’s term. Young held the seat for 49 years before his death in March.

Peltola’s victory, coming in Alaska’s first statewide ranked choice voting election, is a boon for Democrats, particularly coming off better-than-expected performances in special elections around the country this year following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. She will be the first Democrat to hold the seat since the late U.S. Rep. Nick Begich, who was seeking reelection in 1972 when his plane disappeared. Begich was later declared dead and Young in 1973 was elected to the seat.

Peltola ran as a coalition builder while her two Republican opponents — Palin and Begich’s grandson, also named Nick Begich — at times went after each other. Palin also railed against the ranked voting system, which was instituted by Alaska voters.

The results came 15 days after the Aug. 16 election, in line with the deadline for state elections officials to receive absentee ballots mailed from outside the U.S. Ranked choice tabulations took place Wednesday after no candidate won more than 50% of the first-choice votes. Peltola was in the lead heading into the tabulation rounds.

Wednesday’s results were a disappointment for Palin, who was looking to make a political comeback 14 years after she was vaulted onto the national stage when John McCain selected her to be his running mate in the 2008 presidential election. In her run for the House seat, she had widespread name recognition and won the endorsement of former President Donald Trump.

But critics questioned her commitment to Alaska, citing her decision to resign as governor in July 2009, partway through her term. Palin went on to become a conservative commentator on TV and appeared in reality television programs, among other pursuits.

Palin’s defeat in the special election doesn’t necessarily mean she has lost her shot for the U.S. House seat. Along with Peltola and Begich, she is among the candidates vying for a full two-year term that will be decided in the November general election.

Palin has insisted her commitment to Alaska never wavered and said ahead of the special election that she had “signed up for the long haul.”

Peltola, a former state lawmaker who most recently worked for a commission whose goal is to rebuild salmon resources on the Kuskokwim River, cast herself as a regular Alaskan. “I’m not a millionaire. I’m not an international celebrity,” she said.

Peltola has said she was hopeful that the new system would allow more moderate candidates to be elected.

During the campaign, she emphasized her support of abortion rights and said she wanted to elevate issues of ocean productivity and food security. Peltola said she got a boost after the June special primary when she won endorsements from Democrats and independents who had been in the race. She said she believed her positive messaging also resonated with voters.

Alaska voters in 2020 approved an elections process that replaced party primaries with open primaries. Under the new system, ranked voting is used in general elections.

Under ranked voting, ballots are counted in rounds. A candidate can win outright with more than 50% of the vote in the first round. If no one hits that threshold, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. Voters who chose that candidate as their top pick have their votes count for their next choice. Rounds continue until two candidates remain, and whoever has the most votes wins.

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By Polityk | 01/09/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Democrats’ Chances in November Elections Seen as Improving

When Democrats took over the presidency and scored razor-thin majorities in both houses of Congress in 2021, the general expectation was that their hold on Washington’s levers of power came with an expiration date.

Conventional wisdom and U.S. election history suggested that in the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans were likely to take over the House, the Senate, or both. 

 

Now, though, it’s beginning to look like President Joe Biden and his fellow Democrats may have at least a chance to buck history and extend their control of the federal government for another two years.

To be clear, the odds are still in favor of Republicans taking over at least part of the federal legislative apparatus after the elections in November. Historically, the party of the sitting president tends to lose seats in Congress during midterms. The net loss of even one seat in the 50-50 Senate would flip it to Republican control, and in the House, the Democrats’ current nine-vote majority could easily disappear.

 

On top of that, the country is still adjusting to high price inflation, which has driven the cost of living up for most Americans. And Biden’s low job approval ratings in public opinion polls remain a drag on his party, though the approval numbers have ticked up in recent weeks. 

 

Tempering expectations 

However, a number of factors — some completely out of the Democrats’ control — have combined to boost the party’s public support, raise Biden’s abysmal poll numbers and create a sense of momentum for the party that was absent during much of the past year. Among them are a controversial Supreme Court ruling on abortion rights, a string of legislative and policy accomplishments, unexpectedly poor showings by some key Republican nominees and a decline in gasoline prices from high levels earlier in the year.

 

Democrats have even notched successes in special elections in recent months, including some in districts where Republicans were expected to perform well, leading experts to wonder if those elections presage a weaker-than-expected performance by Republican candidates in November.

 

“That sound you hear is the crash of expectations of big GOP [Republican] gains in the House this fall,” the Cook Political Report wrote last week, after a Democratic candidate unexpectedly won a House race in New York’s 19th Congressional District.

 

‘A decent summer for Democrats’ 

“It’s been a decent summer for the Democrats,” Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, told VOA. “It looks a little bit better for them than it did.”

 

“In the House, I still think the Republicans are in good shape,” he said. “In the Senate, a couple of months ago, I thought it was really close, but that it would break toward the Republicans. I’m less sure of that now. The Senate is more of a clear toss up.”

 

In a recent Fox News interview, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel downplayed talk of a “red wave” that would sweep Republicans into power in November. 

 

“I’ve been saying forever that I hate the phrase ‘red wave,’” she said. “We have to earn every single seat in the House and the Senate to take it back.”

Roe v. Wade

One of the most significant factors at play in the midterm elections has nothing to do with the president or Congress. The decision by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, the nearly 50-year-old ruling protecting a woman’s right to an abortion, appears to have energized Democrat-leaning voters and could motivate other voters to support Democrats over Republicans in upcoming elections.

 

The decision was highly controversial — a large majority of Americans support some form of abortion rights — and was handed down by a court that is currently dominated by six conservative justices, all of whom were appointed by Republican presidents. In the aftermath of the rulings, multiple states across the country have instituted total and near-total bans on the procedure, with others expected to take similar action in the future.

 

William A. Galston, a senior fellow in the Brookings Institution’s Governance Studies program, told VOA that of all the factors affecting November election expectations right now, “The most important was the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and the public’s reaction to that decision. It had the effect of mobilizing a lot of Democrats and independents and even Republicans who were not pleased with the decision.” 

 

He added, “All of the survey evidence that I’ve examined suggests that it’s an issue working in favor of the Democrats and against the Republicans in this cycle.”

 

The Democratic Party platform — an expansive policy document issued every four years — has long supported abortion rights. While some elected Republicans back a woman’s right to abortion, the Republican Party’s platform has consistently opposed abortion.

 

Legislative and policy victories 

Another factor working in Democrats’ favor is a string of legislative victories notched this summer after months of stalemate in Congress. In recent months, Biden has signed a bipartisan gun control measure; a bipartisan bill expanding federal investment in semiconductors and other technology; and in August, a law making the largest federal commitment to fighting climate change in history.

 

Also in August, the president announced a major policy decision that forgave student loan debt owed by millions of Americans, worth up to $20,000 per borrower.

 

Neither the laws he signed nor the student debt relief he initiated went as far as many in his party wanted, but all of them constituted victories in policy areas very important to large swaths of the Democratic Party. 

 

Inexperienced nominees 

Particularly in the battle for control of the Senate, Republicans may have hurt their own cause by nominating candidates seen by many as radical, extremely inexperienced or both. This potential problem is especially obvious in a number of states where races were expected to be highly competitive.

 

In Pennsylvania, for example, Republicans nominated Mehmet Oz, a physician and television personality with no political experience to run against John Fetterman, the state’s popular lieutenant governor. Oz has never held elected office, and only moved to the state of Pennsylvania in late 2020, seemingly to make his Senate run possible.

In Ohio, Republicans nominated J.D. Vance, a venture capitalist and author, to run against Representative Tim Ryan. Among other controversial positions, Vance has advised former President Donald Trump that if he returns to the White House he should “Fire every single mid-level bureaucrat, every civil servant in the administrative state, [and] replace them with our people.” Acknowledging that such an action would be illegal, Vance called on Trump to do it anyway.

 

In Arizona, the Republican nominee Blake Masters is facing off against incumbent Senator Mark Kelly. Masters has a history of making highly controversial statements. He has endorsed the falsehood that Trump actually won the 2020 election, and he has appeared to endorse the “Great Replacement” theory, which holds that there is a conspiracy in place to dilute the voting power of white Americans through immigration.

 

All three Republican candidates have performed poorly and trail in polls. 

 

Candidate quality 

Galston said that nominating weak candidates in Senate races is much more dangerous than in House contests, where gerrymandering has made the overwhelming majority of seats safe for one party or the other, almost regardless of the nominee.

 

“Candidate quality matters a lot more in the Senate than it does in the House,” Galston said. “In the House, individuals are less well known, and it’s much more of a generic ballot, where if you’re Republican, the chances are very, very strong that you’ll vote for the Republican in the House race.” 

 

However, he added, “Senators are a lot more visible. They’re better known. And, especially if candidates are trying to win a Senate seat for the first time, how they present themselves to the public makes a big difference.”

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By Polityk | 31/08/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden Talks Tough on Guns and Crime

U.S. President Joe Biden visited the swing state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday to defend his record on gun safety and unveil his $37 billion “Safer America” crime prevention plan that the White House said will “save lives and make communities safer.”

“When it comes to public safety in the United States, the answer is not defund the police. It’s to fund the police,” Biden said, distancing himself from calls by some members of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party to take away police departments’ funding.

Biden called out Republicans for opposing his proposal to restore a ban on assault-style weapons, including firearms similar to the AR-15 that have been used in recent mass shootings.

“It’s time to hold every elected official’s feet to the fire and ask them, are they for banning assault weapons, yes or no?” he said. “If the answer is no, vote against them.”

Biden is traveling to rally support for Democrats ahead of the November 8 elections in which Republicans hope to retake control of Congress, and tout recent legislative victories, including the narrow gun safety legislation passed in a rare bipartisan move earlier this year after mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and in Uvalde, Texas.

According to a recent Pew Research survey, 63% of Americans say they would like to see Congress pass another round of legislation to address gun violence.

However, Republicans accuse the president of pushing politically divisive measures that would damage Americans’ right to bear arms — protected under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution — without making the nation safer. Polls show that gun ownership is higher among Republicans than Democrats in the U.S.

Through his plan, Biden wants Congress to spend $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years. Another $3 billion would go to clearing court backlogs and resolving cases involving murders and guns, and $5 billion more would support programs that could help stop violence before it occurs.

In addition, he wants $15 billion to provide grants to initiatives aimed at preventing violent crime or creating public health responses to nonviolent incidents.

In the aftermath of mass killings across the country, Biden and Democrats see an opportunity to claim the mantle of being a force for order, stability and public safety, said William Howell, the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

“I don’t think that there’s an opportunity here for them to flip the script to actually gain an advantage,” Howell told VOA. “But those have been long-standing domains in which Republicans have owned the issue, and this is an effort on the part of Biden to push back.”

Biden has urged Congress to do more on gun safety, including ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, enforce universal background checks for all gun sales and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from lawsuits.

Escalation of campaign rhetoric

In a significant escalation of campaign rhetoric ahead of the midterm elections, Biden attacked Republicans for their defense of the perpetrators of the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol and their response to the FBI search of former President Donald Trump’s home.

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress,” Biden said, referring to Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan. “Don’t tell me you support law enforcement if you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th. You can’t be pro law enforcement and pro insurrection. You can’t be a party of law and order and call the people who attacked the police on January 6 patriots,” he said.

Biden called out Republican verbal attacks on FBI agents and their families following the search on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, earlier this month, part of an investigation into the handling of presidential documents, including classified material.

“It’s sickening to see the new attacks on the FBI, threatening life of law enforcement agents and their families for simply carrying out the law and doing their job,” Biden said.

It’s the first time the president has waded into the politically sensitive subject of the Mar-a-Lago search amid Republican accusations that he is politicizing the investigation.

Howell said Biden is trying to claim the mantle of the great defender of democracy, to stand up for the rule of law, protect norms of governance and abide by restrictions on executive power.

However, it could be seen as an effort for a political vendetta against Trump, who during his 2016 presidential campaign led crowds to chant “lock her up” against then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

It’s a tricky space to navigate, Howell said. “To at once stand up for the rule of law but then not to be seen as using the power of government, using the power of the Justice Department, in order to prosecute enemies.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Biden will be back in Pennsylvania on Thursday to deliver a prime-time speech on “the continued battle for the soul of the nation” at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, where he will speak about the nation’s core values and standing in the world.

“He will talk about the progress we have made as a nation to protect our democracy,” she told reporters Tuesday. “How our rights and freedoms are still under attack and how we will make clear who is fighting for those rights, fighting for those freedoms and fighting for our democracy.”

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By Polityk | 31/08/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Biden to Talk Tough on Guns and Crime

U.S. President Joe Biden heads to the city of Wilkes-Barre in the swing state of Pennsylvania on Tuesday to push his “Safer America” crime prevention plan and defend his record on gun safety. 

The White House said Biden will call out Republicans for opposing his proposal to restore a ban on assault-style weapons, including firearms similar to the AR-15 that have been used in recent mass shootings. 

“A majority of Americans support this. … The NRA [National Rifle Association] opposes it,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday. “So, we’re going to hear from the president about the importance of making sure we protect our communities.” 

After mass shootings in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, Democrats and Republicans worked together in a rare bipartisan move to pass narrow gun safety legislation earlier this year. According to a recent Pew Research poll, 63% of Americans say they would like to see Congress pass another round of legislation to address gun violence. 

Biden also wants Congress to do more, including ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, enforce universal background checks for all gun sales and eliminate gun manufacturers’ immunity from lawsuits.  

Republicans accuse the president of pushing politically divisive measures that would damage Americans’ right to bear arms — protected under the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — without making the nation safer. Polls show that gun ownership is higher among Republicans than Democrats in the U.S.  

Biden has laid out a $37 billion plan for addressing crime and boosting law enforcement resources. He wants Congress to spend $13 billion to help communities hire and train 100,000 police officers over five years. Another $3 billion would go to clearing court backlogs and resolving cases involving murders and guns, and $5 billion more would support programs that could help stop violence before it occurs. 

In addition, Biden is looking for $15 billion to provide grants to initiatives for preventing violent crime or creating public health responses to nonviolent incidents. 

Some information in this report came from The Associated Press.

 

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By Polityk | 30/08/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика

Redacted Affidavit Shows Fears of Endangering Sources Drove Mar-a-Lago Search

A redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for the Florida residence and club of former President Donald Trump reveals that the Justice Department was concerned that human intelligence sources could be put in danger. VOA Senior Diplomatic Correspondent Cindy Saine has more.

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By Polityk | 27/08/2022 | Повідомлення, Політика
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