วันพุธที่ 20 กุมภาพันธ์ พ.ศ. 2562

US NGO against Trump’s southern border wall plan

US NGO against Trump’s southern border wall plan

A leading human rights Non-Governmental Organisations in the United States believes President Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency over a southern border wall is based on distorted narratives and facts.

This comes as 16 states, including California, New York and Hawaii filed suit against the Trump administration on Monday in a bid to halt attempts to open further funding for the project that had already been curtailed by Congress.

The lawsuit seeks to block what it calls the Trump Administration’s “unauthorized construction of the border wall and any illegal diversion of congressionally appropriated funds”.

As expected, the President’s controversial emergency declaration seeking to circumvent Congress to secure an additional 6.7 billion dollars for his wall is likely to be settled by the Courts.

“We’ll be ready soon. We just have to read the declaration. We have to find out how far it goes in trying to usurp powers that only can be done through a legitimate declaration of a national emergency. But we will use every argument that’s put before us through this frivolous declaration to ensure that we protect not just the people. But the laws, the people of the state and the country, but the laws of this country as well,” says Californian Attorney General Xavier Becerra .

Legal experts have said the court cases could also focus on Presidents Trump’s own words that appeared to undermine the very emergency he was declaring.

“I want to do it faster. I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn’t need to do this. But I’d rather do it much faster. And I don’t have to do it for the election. I’ve already done a lot of wall for the election 2020. And the only reason we’re talking about this is because of the election. Because they (Democrats) want to try and win an election which it looks like they’re not going to be able to do. And this is one of the ways they think they can possibly win, is by obstruction and a lot of other nonsense. And I think that I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”

The lawsuit is filed in the US District Court in northern California in what the plaintiffs call an attempt to block the misuse of presidential power.

“As the president said himself, he didn’t have to do this. There’s no emergency here for the nation. He’s just using this as his cover to try to move this further. And at the end, he also made it very clear he’s depending on what he hopes is a conservative Supreme Court that will back his political play to be able to do this. But I think his advisers … I think Republicans in Congress have said to him ‘this is treacherous territory you’re now taking us on’. And I hope that smarter heads prevail in Congress – bipartisanly – so that we stop the president from undermining more than 240 years of a democracy that most around the world try to emulate,” says California’s AG Bacerra.

Various civil society groupings have also announced plans to sue including Fernando Garcia of the Border Network for Human Rights.

“We are taken aback by the way that the president has been presenting our border community. He was just there a few days. He was here just a few days ago. And he gave a distorted reality of the border and the reality of our communities. It is not true that we have a national security crisis. It is not true that we have border security emergency. And it’s in that context that he’s moving with this declaration. So to start with then, this declaration of emergency is based on distorted narratives and distorted facts about the border.”

The legislature itself could also censure the President in moves that could force his first veto. So, in addition to the Courts, Congress is considering passing a resolution to override the emergency declaration, which would have to pass both houses. If, as expected it draws a veto, Congress could override President Trump’s overrule with a two-thirds majority – which means many Republicans would have to join Democrats in that endeavour if it were to succeed.

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วันอังคารที่ 19 กุมภาพันธ์ พ.ศ. 2562

Victims of church sex abuse go global with fight for justice

Victims of church sex abuse go global with fight for justice
The Pope

After years of struggling alone or finding support in national groups, survivors of sex abuse by priests have formed a new international alliance to pressure the Catholic Church to face up to its crimes.

The group, called Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA), brings together activists from dozens of countries on several continents, and will be mobilised in Rome this week when Pope Francis hosts a hotly awaited summit on tackling the wave of child sex abuse scandals shaking the Catholic Church.

“It’s a momentous and a historic movement to bring a global and unified voice,” one of its co-founders, Peter Saunders, told AFP. “This is the first truly global initiative.”

Saunders’ personal story is among countless others suffered by people who grouped together to form ECA last June, including survivors from Chile, Poland, Switzerland, France, Italy, the Democratic Republic of Congo and other countries.

“I was abused at seven years old by a family member. I was also sexually abused by two Jesuit priests at my secondary school at about 12 years of age,” he said.

The same priest targeted his brother Michael at the same school six years before him, and died aged 55 after a lifelong battle with drug and alcohol abuse.

“I think the Church has been resisting change for many, many years and I think at long last the Church is beginning to bow to the pressure put on by survivors, by our media colleagues around the world, and by public opinion,” he added.

The group’s objectives include forcing the Church to take a “zero tolerance” approach to paedophilia, working to overturn the statute of limitations on abuse cases, and supporting victims in areas where speaking out remains difficult, such as in various African and Asian countries.


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Pakistan ‘ready to talk’ on Kashmir, warns India against attack: PM

Pakistan ‘ready to talk’ on Kashmir, warns India against attack: PM
Attack scene

Pakistan is ready to help India investigate the deadliest blast in Kashmir in decades but will retaliate if Delhi attacks, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Tuesday as tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals soared.

Khan used a nationally televised address to demand Delhi share proof of Islamabad’s involvement in last week’s suicide blast, which killed 41 people in Indian-held Kashmir and unleashed a fresh diplomatic crisis over the disputed Himalayan region.

The attack was claimed by Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed. Indian officials have said those behind the blast will pay a “heavy price”.

If India attacks, “Pakistan won’t just think to retaliate. Pakistan will retaliate,” says Khan in the address.

Pakistan has denied involvement. Khan said on Tuesday that if any militant group was using Pakistani soil to launch attacks, “its enmity is with us. This is against our interest”.

“If you have some actionable intelligence about involvement of Pakistanis, give it to us, I guarantee you that we will take action,” he adds.

Kashmir has been split between India and Pakistan since independence from Britain in 1947. Both countries claim the Himalayan territory in full and have fought two wars in connection to the dispute.

India has long accused Pakistan of harbouring militants that launch attacks on its soil, while Islamabad has repeatedly vowed to crack down on the groups if Delhi provides evidence of involvement.

Moments after the address, Khan’s official Instagram account posted a picture of the premier scowling and cross-armed along with a message that read: “Don’t mess with my country”.

Less than an hour after it was posted, the message had more than 23 000 likes.

Khan’s speech comes as India said it had killed the alleged militant behind the attack.

Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia vowed to “de-escalate” the situation during a high-profile state visit by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Islamabad. He is also due in India this week.

Kashmir is one of the world’s most militarised zones, with some 500 000 Indian troops deployed to fight a rebellion that broke out in 1989.

Scores of armed groups are now involved.

Tens of thousands of people, mainly civilians have died in the conflict. Violence has spiked since 2016 with almost 600 killed last year, the highest toll in a decade.

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Venezuela govt to stage concert, clashing with Richard Branson’s

Venezuela govt to stage concert, clashing with Richard Branson’s
Nicolas Maduro

Venezuela’s government said on Monday it will stage a concert on the Colombian border the same day Richard Branson has said he will hold one just over the frontier, to push for aid to be allowed in.

The show will be held February 22-23 as pressure grows on the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing a strong challenge from national assembly speaker Juan Guaido, who is now recognized by more than 50 countries as Venezuela’s legitimate leader.

Culture Minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said government had received requests from many Venezuelan musicians seeking to take part in “a grand gathering, a big concert for peace and life.”

He did not say who would perform. The concert will be held on the Simon Bolivar bridge which links San Antonio, Venezuela with Cucuta, in Colombia, where aid sent by the United States (US) for Venezuela is being held up and stored.

Maduro will not let aid in, saying this would be the first step toward a US invasion. Guaido is demanding he do so.

Another border bridge, called Tienditas, is being blocked by the Venezuelan authorities with cargo containers and a fuel-truck tank.

The minister said the pro-government concert would send a message “to denounce the brutal aggression that our people are being subjected to.” The government routinely complains of US interference.

British billionaire Branson has said he will hold a charity concert February 22 in Cucuta. Big names in Latin and other music have been promised.

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Trump tells Venezuela military to back Guaido or ‘lose everything’

Trump tells Venezuela military to back Guaido or ‘lose everything’
.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media ahead of his departure to Dover

US President Donald Trump on Monday urged Venezuela’s military to accept opposition leader Juan Guaido’s amnesty offer, or stand to “lose everything,” as a crisis deepened over President Nicolas Maduro’s refusal to let in desperately needed humanitarian aid.

Bringing in humanitarian aid is crucial to the viability of Guaido, who has denounced Maduro’s re-election last year as fraudulent and in January declared himself interim president, a move recognized by some 50 countries.

He has given the Maduro government until Saturday to let shipments of mainly US aid into the country, which is in the grip of a humanitarian crisis due to shortages of food and medicine exacerbated by hyperinflation.

Addressing supporters and Venezuelan expatriates in Miami, Trump said he had a message for officials helping keep Maduro in place.

“The eyes of the entire world are upon you today, every day and every day in the future.

“You cannot hide from the choice that now confronts you. You can choose to accept president Guaido’s generous offer of amnesty to live your life in peace with your families and your countrymen.

“Or you can choose the second path: continuing to support Maduro. If you choose this path, you will find no safe harbour, no easy exit and no way out. You will lose everything.”

Guaido has set a target of signing up to a million volunteers to help bring in the aid, with 600,000 already registered.

“On February 23, we have the opportunity to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans,” he said.

Maduro countered with his own announcement of 300 tonnes of aid from Russia, which he said would reach Venezuela by Wednesday — three days ahead of a potential showdown brought about by his February 23 deadline.

Speaking at an official event broadcast on TV, Maduro said the shipment contained “high-value medicine.”

Maduro has previously announced the arrival of aid from China, Cuba and Russia, his main international allies.

Committed to change

Earlier, opposition officials hit out at state internet provider CANTV for blocking the website where volunteers are signing up to help bring in the US aid stockpiled in Colombia just over the border from Venezuela.

A second aid collection center is due to begin operations in Brazil’s northeastern state of Roraima, which borders Venezuela. But there is much uncertainty over the aid in Brazil, with officials there saying they have no information at this point.

Military officials in Roraima said they had yet to receive orders, although a collection center could be set up quickly, with some businesses having already provided warehouses to that effect.

A third center is due to open this week on the Dutch island of Curacao, off Venezuela’s north coast.

The humanitarian aid standoff is due to come to a head this weekend, when caravans of buses are set to carry volunteers to border entry points to meet and transport arriving cargo.

It is unclear how Guaido will overcome the border barriers put up by the Venezuelan military, on Maduro’s orders.

Volunteer groups have begun meeting in “humanitarian camps” in several Venezuelan states to organize and prepare for the arrival of the aid to alleviate hardship from an imploding economy has driven an estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans to migrate from the oil-rich country.

Maduro, who denies the existence of a humanitarian crisis, dismisses the opposition moves as a “political show” and a cover for a US invasion.

An ‘international crime’

“Whoever prevents the entry of humanitarian aid is condemned to spend the rest of their lives fleeing international justice, because that is an international crime,” US Senator Marco Rubio said as he toured the Colombian collection center in Cucuta on Sunday.

Three US military cargo planes delivered several dozen tons of food assistance to Cucuta on Saturday. Another US aircraft is due in Curacao from Miami on Tuesday.

Guaido has ordered the armed forces to let the aid pass, but they remain loyal to Maduro, who has instructed his army to prepare a “special deployment plan” for the 2,200-kilometer (1,370-mile) border with Colombia.

Maduro has dismissed the humanitarian assistance as “crumbs” and “rotten and contaminated food,” while blaming shortages of food and medicine on US sanctions.

The government also said Monday it will stage a concert on the Colombian border the same day Richard Branson has said he will hold one just over the frontier to push for aid to be allowed in. This will unfold on February 22-23.

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US states sue Trump over border wall funds

A view shows a new section of the border fence in El Paso, Texas, U.S., as seen from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

A coalition of 16 US states led by California sued President Donald Trump and top members of his administration on Monday to block his decision to declare a national emergency to obtain funds for building a wall along the US-Mexico border.

The lawsuit filed in US District Court for the Northern District of California came after Trump invoked emergency powers on Friday to help build the wall that was his signature 2016 campaign promise.

Trump’s order would allow him to spend on the wall money that Congress appropriated for other purposes. Congress declined to fulfil his request for $5.7 billion to help build the wall this year..

“Today, on Presidents Day, we take President Trump to court to block his misuse of presidential power,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

“We’re suing President Trump to stop him from unilaterally robbing taxpayer funds lawfully set aside by Congress for the people of our states. For most of us, the office of the presidency is not a place for theatre,” added Becerra, a Democrat.

The White House declined to comment on the filing.

In a budget deal passed by Congress to avert a second government shutdown, nearly $1.4 billion was allocated toward border fencing. Trump’s emergency order would give him an additional $6.7 billion beyond what lawmakers authorized.

Three Texas landowners and an environmental group filed the first lawsuit against Trump’s move on Friday, saying it violated the Constitution and would infringe on their property rights.

The legal challenges could slow Trump’s efforts to build the wall, which he says is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking. The lawsuits could end up at the conservative-leaning US Supreme Court.

Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Virginia, and Michigan joined California in the lawsuit.

The states said Trump’s order would cause them to lose millions of dollars in federal funding for National Guard units dealing with counter-drug activities and redirection of funds from authorized military construction projects would damage their economies.

In television interviews on Sunday and Monday, Becerra said the lawsuit would use Trump’s own words against him as evidence that there was no national emergency to declare.

Trump said on Friday he did not need to make the emergency declaration but wanted to speed the process of building the wall. That comment could undercut the government’s legal argument.

“By the president’s own admission, an emergency declaration is not necessary,” the states said in the lawsuit. “The federal government’s own data prove there is no national emergency at the southern border that warrants construction of a wall.”


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