Biden says Trump’s ‘web of lies’ threatens US democracy

A large group of police arrive at the Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022, in Washington. (AP)
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Updated 06 January 2022

Biden says Trump’s ‘web of lies’ threatens US democracy

  • Trump has refused to accept the verdict of the voters and pressured fellow Republicans to overturn the results
  • His false claims have provided cover for Republicans at the state level to pass new restrictions on voting

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Thursday accused his predecessor Donald Trump of spreading a “web of lies” to undermine US democracy in a speech on the anniversary of the deadly Capitol attack by Trump supporters who tried to undo his 2020 election defeat.
Speaking at the white-domed building where rioters smashed windows, assaulted police and sent lawmakers fleeing for their lives on Jan. 6, 2021, Biden said Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud could unravel the rule of law and subvert future elections.
“A former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle,” Biden said. “He can’t accept he lost.”
Biden never actually uttered his predecessor’s name during the 25-minute speech, telling reporters afterward he was trying to focus on the threats to America’s political system instead of Trump himself.
The tone, including a poke at Trump’s “bruised ego,” was a departure for Biden, who has focused during most of his first year in office on pursuing his own agenda. Trump issued three statements in the hours following his successor’s remarks accusing Biden of trying to divide the country and repeating his false election claims.
Trump’s behavior over the past year, like his conduct in office, has been norm-shattering. Unlike other former US presidents denied re-election, Trump has refused to accept the verdict of the voters and pressured fellow Republicans to somehow overturn the results, without success.
His false claims have provided cover for Republicans at the state level to pass new restrictions on voting that they have said are needed to fight fraud. Research shows such fraud is extremely rare in US elections.
Biden’s fellow Democrats, a few Republicans and many independent experts have said Trump’s continued denials could make it less likely that future US transfers of power will be peaceful — especially those involving closer margins than the 2020 election that Biden won by 7 million votes nationwide.
The speech illustrated that Biden and other Democrats remain wary of Trump’s political staying power. In the riot’s immediate aftermath, even some Republicans thought his grip on their party had been shaken, but since then Trump has only tightened it.
Just two Republicans were spotted at a House of Representatives session marking the riot’s anniversary: Representative Liz Cheney, who has been shunned by party colleagues after criticizing Trump, and her father Dick Cheney, who served as vice president under President George W. Bush.
“A party that is in thrall to a cult of personality is a party that is dangerous to the country,” Liz Cheney told reporters on her way out of the Capitol.
Dick Cheney told reporters that current party leaders do not resemble “any of the folks I knew” when he served in Congress.
America’s next federal election is in November, with Republicans favored to retake a majority in at least one of the two chambers of Congress. That could cripple Biden’s ability to advance policy and set the stage for two years of legislative gridlock before a potential 2024 Biden-Trump rematch.
According to Reuters/Ipsos polling, 55 percent of Republican voters believe Trump’s false claims, which were rejected by dozens of courts, state election departments and members of his own administration.
Four people died in the hours-long chaos after Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell.” One police officer died on that day after battling rioters and four later died by suicide. Around 140 police officers were injured. US prosecutors have brought criminal charges against at least 725 people linked to the riot.
Trump remains highly popular among Republican voters and is working to shape the field of Republican candidates in the Nov. 8 congressional elections. Public filings show Trump has stockpiled at least $98 million in fundraising accounts.
Most Republican officeholders have remained loyal to Trump, and some have sought to play down the riot. Biden said it was hypocritical for them to question the presidential election’s outcome while accepting Republican victories in congressional and state-level races that day.
Liz Cheney is one of only two Republican members of a House committee investigating the riot, which in recent weeks has unearthed records showing Trump allies urging him to call off the rioters as the attack was unfolding. Biden criticized Trump for “watching it all on television and doing nothing for hours.”
Other Republicans accused Democrats of exploiting the anniversary for partisan gain.
“What brazen politicization of Jan. 6 by President Biden,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, who has reversed his position on Trump numerous times including criticizing him after the riot and then reverting to defending him.


Russian soldier sentenced to life at Kyiv war crimes trial

Updated 32 sec ago

Russian soldier sentenced to life at Kyiv war crimes trial

  • Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin pleads guilty, testifies that he shot the man after being ordered to do so
KYIV: A Ukrainian court sentenced a 21-year-old Russian soldier to life in prison on Monday for killing a Ukrainian civilian, in the first war crimes trial since Russia’s invasion.
Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin was accused of shooting a Ukrainian civilian in the head in a village in the northeastern Sumy region in the early days of the war.
He pleaded guilty and testified that he shot the man after being ordered to do so. He told the court that an officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his cellphone, could pinpoint their location to the Ukrainian forces.
During the trial, Shishimarin asked the widow of the victim to forgive him.
Shishimarin’s defense attorney Victor Ovsyanikov argued that his client, a member of a Russian tank unit who was eventually captured, had been unprepared for the “violent military confrontation” and mass casualties that Russian troops encountered when they first invaded Ukraine.

Security guard killed in Qatar Embassy attack in Paris

A security guard was killed at the Qatar Embassy in Paris, the city’s prosecution office confirmed. (Shutterstock)
Updated 23 May 2022

Security guard killed in Qatar Embassy attack in Paris

  • The Paris prosecutor’s office said it had opened a criminal investigation for manslaughter

PARIS: A person has been killed at the Qatar Embassy in Paris and one person has been arrested as part of the investigation, the Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday, confirming earlier media reports.
A source close to the investigation said the person killed in the early hours of Monday was a security guard and that the death did not appear to have been a terrorism act.
“I can confirm that an investigation was opened today on the count of murder,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that it was not clear yet if a weapon had been used.
“The circumstances of the death of the guard are yet to be determined precisely.”
Newspaper Le Parisien said earlier on Monday that one person had been killed within the embassy, citing police sources. 


Deluges of rain flood parts of India, Bangladesh

Updated 23 May 2022

Deluges of rain flood parts of India, Bangladesh

  • Both heavily populated nations in South Asia are prone to frequent floods and are considered major victims of climate change

DHAKA: Pre-monsoon deluges have flooded parts of India and Bangladesh, killing at least 24 people in recent weeks and sending 90,000 people into shelters, authorities said Monday.
Both heavily populated nations in South Asia are prone to frequent floods and are considered major victims of climate change.
The deaths have been reported since April 6 in India’s northeastern region with Assam state continuing to experience floods. Those who have left their homes due to the floods are staying in 269 camps set up by authorities.
The Indian army and air force have had to evacuate thousands of people in the last two weeks. Helicopters have been dropping essential items to people stuck in vulnerable spots in worst-hit Dima Hasao district. The Indian Space Research Organization is using satellites to assess the damage.
Flash flooding has been occurring in the Bangladeshi districts of Sylhet and Sunamganj, which border India’s northeast.
At least three rivers were flowing above the danger level Monday, said Arifuzzaman Bhuiyan, executive engineer of the Flood Forecasting and Warning Center in Dhaka, the nation’s capital.
Bangladeshi media said hundreds of villages have been marooned while crop fields have been damaged greatly. People also lack drinking water as wells have been under floodwaters or water supply system has been damaged.
No casualties have been reported in Bangladesh so far.
Jamuna TV station said while flood waters were receding from some areas, many new areas were affected by new flooding on Monday.
Authorities said hundreds of villages remained cut off from electricity supply while road infrastructure has been damaged extensively.


Philippines’ Marcos Jr says discussed defense agreements, climate funding with US envoy

Updated 3 min 54 sec ago

Philippines’ Marcos Jr says discussed defense agreements, climate funding with US envoy

  • Possible extension of a pact that allows US troops to conduct exchanges on Philippine soil

MANILA: Philippines president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Monday he discussed the extension of a joint military agreement with an envoy of defense ally the United States, after meetings with senior diplomats of four countries.

Ambassadors of Japan, India and South Korea and the US Chargé d’Affaires made courtesy calls on Monday to Marcos, the son and namesake of the notorious late dictator, following his landslide election victory this month.

Marcos, 64, who take office late in June, said he discussed with the US envoy the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and how it would be redefined amid a changing regional landscape, plus funding for climate change mitigation.

“We would welcome any assistance for the economy that we can get from the United States,” Marcos told a news conference. “Trade, not aid.”

The VFA, which provides a legal framework by which US troops can operate on Philippine soil, was a bone of contention for incumbent President Rodrigo Duterte, who repeatedly threatened to scrap it.

“Security concerns of course has always been a big part of our relationship with the United States,” Marcos said.

India’s envoy to the Philippines Shambhu Kumaran during a courtesy visit to president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (BBM Media Office)

Analysts expect Marcos to pursue close China ties, which could complicate relations with former colonial power Washington, his military, and the Philippine public, with which the United States is popular.

He last week spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping and said he wanted bilateral ties to “shift to a higher gear.”

Marcos said he discussed aid projects with Japan’s ambassador, microfinance with India and with South Korea, information technology, regional security and the possible reactivation of a disused nuclear plant.

South Korea ambassador Kim Inchul during a courtesy visit to president-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (BBM Media Office)

The plant was intended by his late father to be part of his economic modernization legacy, but was mothballed after his overthrow in a 1986 “people power” uprising, two years after completion.

Marcos said he asked Arsenio Balisacan, the national anti-trust agency chief, to be economic planning minister, a role he held from 2012 to 2016 under an administration that was a rival to the influential Marcos family.


7 die in Philippine ferry fire; over 120 rescued from water

Updated 23 May 2022

7 die in Philippine ferry fire; over 120 rescued from water

  • The coast guard said everyone on the ferry had been accounted for and 24 people who were injured were brought to a hospital

MANILA: A ferry carrying more than 130 people caught fire in the northeastern Philippines on Monday, killing seven passengers and forcing many survivors to jump into the sea where they were rescued by other vessels.
The fire rapidly spread from the engine room to the upper passenger deck of the M/V Mercraft 2 while it was approaching a seaport in Real, town administrator Filomena Portales said. It had been en route to the town in Quezon province from Polillo Island.
Many of the 134 passengers and crew jumped into the water and were plucked from the sea by motorboats and cargo vessels, coast guard officials said.
“Fishing boats and other vessels were able to approach quickly and everybody helped, so the rescue was fast,” Portales told The Associated Press by telephone, adding many of those rescued were in shock and had to be treated for burns and bruises and given dry clothes and shoes.
Pictures released by the coast guard showed fire engulfing the ferry and dark smoke billowing from it. Injured survivors on stretchers were taken to waiting ambulance vans while a rescuer tried to revive an unconscious survivor by pressing on his chest.
The coast guard said everyone on the ferry had been accounted for and 24 people who were injured were brought to a hospital.
Portales said seven passengers died from burns and drowning and one possibly had a heart attack while floating in the water.
Investigators were looking into the fire and other ferries operated by the owner of Mercraft 2 would likely be suspended from operating while undergoing safety inspections, officials said. The wreckage was towed to shore in Real.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats, overcrowding and weak enforcement of safety regulations. In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,300 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.