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.


India stops Kashmiri photojournalist from flying to Paris

Updated 03 July 2022

India stops Kashmiri photojournalist from flying to Paris

  • Sanna Irshad Mattoo was to travel for a book launch, photography exhibition
  • The photojournalist is one of 10 winners of the Serendipity Arles Grant 2020

NEW DELHI: A Pulitzer Prize-winning Kashmiri photojournalist said on Saturday that she was stopped by Indian immigration authorities from flying to Paris without giving any reason. 

In a tweet, Sanna Irshad Mattoo said she was scheduled to travel from New Delhi to Paris for a book launch and photography exhibition as one of 10 winners of the Serendipity Arles Grant 2020. 

"Despite procuring a French visa, I was stopped at the immigration desk at Delhi airport,” she said. 

She said she was not given any reason but was told by immigration officials that she would not be able to travel internationally. 

There was no immediate comment by Indian authorities. 

Mattoo was among the 2022 Pulitzer Prize winners in the Feature Photography category for the coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in India as part of a Reuters team. 

She has been working as a freelance photojournalist since 2018 depicting life in Indian-controlled Kashmir, where insurgents have been fighting for Kashmir’s independence or its merger with neighboring Pakistan. 

Journalists have long braved threats in the restive region as the government seeks to control the press more effectively to censure independent reporting. Their situation has grown worse since India revoked the region’s semi-autonomy in 2019. 


Bus crash kills at least 20 in southwest Pakistan — official

Updated 03 July 2022

Bus crash kills at least 20 in southwest Pakistan — official

  • Poor road infrastructure and rash driving often cause deadly road crashes in Pakistan

QUETTA: A passenger bus plunged into a ravine in southwestern Pakistan on Sunday killing 20 people, a government official said.
The road crash also injured another 13 people aboard the bus that was traveling from garrison city of Rawalpindi to Quetta, the capital of southwestern Balochistan province, said Ijaz Jaffar, deputy commissioner of Sherani district.
The ravine is some 350 kilometers north of Quetta.
Poor road infrastructure and rash driving often cause deadly road crashes in Pakistan.
The province is home to several Chinese projects under an investment plan in which Beijing is seeking road and sea trade linkages with the world. 


Blasts kill 3 in Russian border city, lawmaker blames Ukraine

Updated 03 July 2022

Blasts kill 3 in Russian border city, lawmaker blames Ukraine

  • At least four people were injured and two hospitalized, including a 10-year-old boy
  • Since Russia launched it invasion on Feb. 24, there have been numerous reports of attacks on Belgorod and other regions bordering Ukraine

At least three people were killed and dozens of residential buildings damaged in the Russian city of Belgorod near the Ukraine border, the regional governor said, after reports of several blasts in the city.
At least 11 apartment buildings and 39 private houses were damaged, including five that were destroyed, Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov posted on the Telegram messaging app.
Gladkov said earlier the “incident” was being investigated, adding, “Presumably, the air defense system worked.”
At least four people were injured and two hospitalized, including a 10-year-old boy, Gladkov said.
Reuters could not independently verify the reports. There was no immediate reaction from Ukraine to the reports.
Belgorod, a city of nearly 400,000 some 40 km (25 miles) north of the border with Ukraine, is the administrative center of the Belgorod region.
Since Russia launched it invasion on Feb. 24, there have been numerous reports of attacks on Belgorod and other regions bordering Ukraine, with Moscow accusing Kyiv of carrying out the strikes.
Ukraine has not claimed responsibility for previous attacks but has described the incidents as payback and “karma” for Russia’s invasion.
Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and protect it from fascists. Ukraine and its allies in the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.


Uzbekistan scraps plans to curb Karakalpak autonomy after protest

Updated 03 July 2022

Uzbekistan scraps plans to curb Karakalpak autonomy after protest

  • If the reform is endorsed in the planned referendum, it would reset Mirziyoyev’s term count and allow him to run for two more terms

ALMATY: Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on Saturday dropped plans to curtail the autonomy of the country’s Karakalpakstan province following a rare public protest in the northwestern region, his office said.
Friday’s rally was called to protest constitutional reform plans that would have changed the status of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic home to the Karakalpak people — an ethnic minority group with its own language, Uzbek authorities said.
Police dispersed the protesters after some of them tried to storm local government buildings in the region’s capital, Nukus, following a march and a rally at the city’s central market, local and government officials said.
Mirziyoyev later issued a decree proclaiming a state of emergency in Karakalpakstan for a month “in order to ensure the security of citizens, defend their rights and freedoms and restore the rule of law and order” in the region.
Under the current Uzbek constitution, Karakalpakstan is described as a sovereign republic within Uzbekistan that has the right to secede by holding a referendum.
The new version of the constitution — on which Uzbekistan plans to hold a referendum in the coming months — would no longer mention Karakalpakstan’s sovereignty or right for secession.
But in a swift reaction to the protest, Mirziyoyev said on Saturday during a visit to Karakalpakstan that the changes regarding its status must be dropped from the proposed reform, his office said in a statement.
Karakalpakstan’s government said in a statement earlier on Saturday that police had detained the leaders of Friday’s protest, and several other protesters who had put up resistance.
The changes concerning Karakalpakstan were part of a broader constitutional reform proposed by Mirziyoyev, which also includes strengthening civil rights and extending the presidential term to seven years from five.
If the reform is endorsed in the planned referendum, it would reset Mirziyoyev’s term count and allow him to run for two more terms.


Waterways in Brazil’s Manaus choked by tons of trash

Updated 02 July 2022

Waterways in Brazil’s Manaus choked by tons of trash

  • From January to May, city workers have removed 4,500 tons of trash, most of which could have been recycled instead of being thrown in the river

MANAUS: In Manaus, the largest city in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest, tons of stinking trash fill the canals and streams, giving one the feeling that they’re visiting a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

On the west side of the city, in a poor neighborhood where homes have been erected on stilts, a worker uses an excavator to scoop up a bucket-load of bottles, pieces of plastic and even home appliances that have been tossed in the water.

Not far from the city’s main port, municipal workers wearing orange uniforms gather garbage from a boat and pile it onto a big barge floating on the Rio Negro, one of the Amazon River’s main tributaries.

With the rising water levels signaling an end to the rainy season, the mounds of trash are often intermingled with leaves and tree branches.

Each day, nearly 30 tons of debris is plucked from the water. In some areas, the water is almost completely covered.

The massive influx of trash to Manaus’s waterways occurs around this time every year, but city authorities believe the situation has gotten worse in recent weeks.

From January to May, city workers have removed 4,500 tons of trash, most of which could have been recycled instead of being thrown in the river.

“The people who live on the water’s edge throw garbage straight into the streams... few people put it in the trash,” says Antonino Pereira, a 54-year-old Manaus resident who complains that the stench is unbearable.

According to the city’s undersecretary of sanitation, Jose Reboucas, if the population was more aware of the costs associated with littering, the city could save $190,000 per month.

“The awareness of the population will be very beneficial for our city and especially for our environment,” he said.

The Amazonian region is also facing a major threat from deforestation, with more than 3,750 square kilometers of jungle chopped down since the beginning of the year.