Pence says he will fight subpoena as far as Supreme Court

Former Vice President Mike Pence greets supporters after speaking at a parents rights rally on Feb. 15, 2023, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP)
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Updated 16 February 2023
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Pence says he will fight subpoena as far as Supreme Court

  • The Justice Department, which had earlier declined to comment on Pence’s subpoena, is expected to oppose the former vice president’s efforts and make the case that his cooperation is essential

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa: Former Vice President Mike Pence said Wednesday that he will challenge a subpoena by the special counsel overseeing Trump investigations to compel his testimony before a grand jury — pursuing it to the Supreme Court if necessary.
Special counsel Jack Smith, appointed by the Justice Department, is investigating efforts by former President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Trump spent the days before Jan. 6, 2021, aggressively pressuring Pence to reject the outcome, even though Pence had no power to do so. Pence was at the US Capitol presiding over a joint session of Congress as Trump’s supporters violently stormed the building that day.
“Let me first be clear: I’m going to fight the Biden DOJ subpoena for me to appear before the grand jury because I believe it’s unconstitutional and it’s unprecedented,” Pence told reporters in Iowa, the state that will hold the first contest of the 2024 nominating sequence.
“Never before in American history has a vice president been summoned to appear in court to testify against the president with whom they serve,” he said.
Pence said he was prepared to take the case “as far as it needs to go, if needs be to the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The posture marks an aggressive turn for Pence, who has been laying the groundwork for a likely presidential run. While it remains unclear whether Pence will succeed in delaying or limiting the scope of his testimony, the posture gives the former vice president a new opening to attack the Justice Department, which has become increasingly unpopular among conservatives, in part due to Trump’s constant attacks.
Indeed, Pence repeatedly criticized the department Wednesday, complaining of a “two-tiered justice system that Republicans have been dealing with throughout the Biden administration.”
The Associated Press previously reported that Pence was ready to contest Smith’s demand for his appearance on constitutional grounds. He argues that because he was serving in his role as president of the Senate on Jan. 6, he is protected under the Constitution’s “speech or debate” clause from being forced to testify. That provision is intended to protect members of Congress from questioning about official legislative acts.
A spokesman for Smith declined to comment. The Justice Department, which had earlier declined to comment on Pence’s subpoena, is expected to oppose the former vice president’s efforts and make the case that his cooperation is essential.
Pence noted during an earlier stop in Minneapolis that he had written and spoken extensively about Trump’s efforts to pressure him to overturn the results of the election — something he did not have power to do — and has repeatedly denounced Trump’s efforts as “reckless” and “dangerous.”
“I have nothing to hide and I’m proud of what we accomplished. But for me, this is a moment where you have to decide where you stand, and I stand on the Constitution of the United States,” he said.
He added that he expects Trump to try to assert executive privilege to block his own testimony. “That’s not my fight. My fight is on the separation of powers,” Pence said.
Pence made his remarks after headlining events in Minneapolis and Cedar Rapids aimed at rallying conservative parents opposed to transgender-affirming policies in public schools. The events came as a federal appeals court was expected to hear oral arguments in St. Paul, Minnesota, in a case brought last summer by a national group representing parents of students in Linn-Mar Community School District in Marion, Iowa, near Cedar Rapids.
Parents Defending Education is trying to overturn a policy adopted by the school board last year allowing transgender students to request a gender support plan to begin socially transitioning at school without the permission of their parents. Pence’s advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom, has filed an amicus brief in the case, as have dozens of mostly conservative groups and several conservative states.
“Across the country, parents’ rights are being trampled by a politically correct nanny state that’s ruining our schools and telling our parents that they have no role in their children’s most important decisions,” Pence said in Minneapolis, where he argued that parents must be informed of such decisions. “You do not craft a gender transition plan for my child without my knowledge or consent,” he said.
Though Pence says he has yet to make a decision about 2024, he has visited leadoff Iowa several times since the 2020 election. And his Wednesday event had the look and feel of a campaign stop, held in a pizza restaurant where candidates commonly hold court with voters.
Pence is hoping to draw the support of social and religious conservatives in what could be a crowded primary contest that already includes Trump and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who formally launched her campaign Wednesday.
To that end, Pence’s advocacy group launched a new campaign last week on the schools issue, a flashpoint for many on the right, as Haley and other presidential prospects, including South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, prepare for their own visits to the state this month.


Gunmen fire on targets in Russia’s North Caucasus region, three killed, regional government says

Screen capture of a video allegedly taken at a shooting at a synagogue in Derbent, in Russia’s Dagestan region, June 23, 2024.
Updated 24 min 58 sec ago
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Gunmen fire on targets in Russia’s North Caucasus region, three killed, regional government says

  • Thirteen people were wounded in the attacks, the interior ministry was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies

MOSCOW: Gunmen opened fire at a synagogue, an Orthodox church and a police post in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Dagestan on Sunday and at least three people, including two police officers were killed, the region’s interior ministry said.
Thirteen people were wounded in the attacks, the interior ministry was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.
The reports said one officer and a priest were killed when shots were fired at a synagogue and a church in Derbent, home to an ancient Jewish community in the South Caucasus and a UNESCO world heritage site.
“Unidentified people fired at a synagogue and a church with automatic weapons,” the interior ministry said. “One police officer was killed and one injured.”
The synagogue was on fire after the attack, Russian news agencies said.
The attackers then fled in a car.
Another police officer was killed in an exchange of shots at a police post in Makhachkala, about 125 km (75 miles) to the north along the Caspian Sea coast and the main city in Dagestan, a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia.
Fighting was later reported in the streets of Makhachkala. 


UK election betting scandal widens as a fourth Conservative Party official reportedly investigated

Updated 23 June 2024
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UK election betting scandal widens as a fourth Conservative Party official reportedly investigated

  • The Times alleged that dozens of bets had been placed with potential winnings worth thousands of pounds

LONDON: The chief data officer of Britain’s Conservative Party has taken a leave of absence, British media reported Sunday, following growing allegations that the governing party’s members used inside information to bet on the date of Britain’s July 4 national election before it was announced.
The Sunday Times and others reported that Nick Mason is the fourth Conservative official to be investigated by the UK’s Gambling Commission for allegedly betting on the timing of the election.
The Times alleged that dozens of bets had been placed with potential winnings worth thousands of pounds.
The reports came after revelations in recent days that two Conservative election candidates, Laura Saunders and Craig Williams, are under investigation by the gambling watchdog. Saunders’ husband Tony Lee, the Conservative director of campaigning, has also taken a leave of absence following allegations he was also investigated over alleged betting.
Police said one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak ‘s police bodyguards was arrested Monday on suspicion of misconduct in public office. The arrest came after the gambling regulator confirmed it was investigating “the possibility of offenses concerning the date of the election.”
The growing scandal, just two weeks ahead of the national election, has dealt a fresh blow to Sunak’s Conservative Party, which is widely expected to lose to the opposition Labour Party after 14 years in power.
Sunak said this week that he was “incredibly angry” to learn of the allegations and said that anyone found to have broken the law should be expelled from his party.
Sunak announced on May 22 that parliamentary elections would be held on July 4. The date had been a closely guarded secret and many were taken by surprise because a vote had been expected in the fall.
Saunders, a candidate standing in Bristol, southwest England, has said she will cooperate fully with the investigation.
Williams was Sunak’s parliamentary private secretary as well as a member of Parliament running for reelection on July 4. He has acknowledged that he was being investigated by the Gambling Commission for placing a 100-pound ($128) bet on a July election before the date had been announced.
Senior Conservative minister Michael Gove condemned the alleged betting and likened it to ” Partygate,” the ethics scandal that contributed to former Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ouster in 2022.
That controversy saw public trust in the Conservatives plummet after revelations that politicians and officials held lockdown-flouting parties and gatherings in government buildings during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021.
“It looks like one rule for them and one rule for us,” Gove told the Sunday Times. “That’s the most potentially damaging thing.”
Daisy Cooper, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, said “people are sick and tired of this sleaze” and that Sunak must intervene and order an official inquiry.
The Conservative Party said it cannot comment because investigations are ongoing.


Energy professor traverses India to spur climate movement

Updated 23 June 2024
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Energy professor traverses India to spur climate movement

  • Chetan Singh Solanki wants to inspire energy independence across the world
  • He takes inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s freedom movement

NEW DELHI: Four years ago, at the height of his restlessness over the growing threat of climate change on the planet, Chetan Singh Solanki decided to embark on a journey to spark a change for the environment.

Solanki launched the energy swaraj journey in 2020 to inspire energy independence across the world, campaigning with the motto “Energy by Locals for Locals.”

He told Arab News: “I want to restore the environmental balance that we are already losing, and I want to do it at a global level because it is not a problem of one state or one country — it is a problem of the entire world.”

A professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay’s department of energy science and engineering, Solanki takes inspiration from Mahatma Gandhi, the leader of India’s freedom movement who used nonviolent resistance as a tool for mass action.

Solanki believes in replicating a similar strategy to boost energy literacy among the people and inspire them to use cleaner energy as an alternative power source.

“It is the wrong energy that has created the problem (and) it is the right energy that will solve the problem. Clean energy and solar energy and to bring everybody on board is why I started this journey,” Solanki said. “My vision is aligned with Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of gram swaraj (village self-rule). I emphasize responsible energy consumption and localized production.”

The campaign was designed to be impactful and adopted by the masses.

“This is designed to trigger the mind that we all can be part of the climate solution. It is not rocket science — rich and poor, young and old, everybody can be part of it,” he added.

Chetan Singh Solanki talks to students as part of his nationwide journey to spur climate movement in this photo shared on June 8, 2024. (Energy Swaraj)

Through his journey, Solanki has earned the nickname “Solar Gandhi,” having covered 56,000 km on his solar-powered bus, which is equipped with essential amenities including an air-conditioned bedroom, office space, refrigerator and a working kitchen.

The vehicle is an “innovative mobile abode” that symbolizes his aspiration “for a forthcoming world driven by sustainable energy sources,” he said, adding that he plans to continue the nationwide journey until December 2030.

To him, it was clear that world governments “have not done enough,” despite annual climate conferences that are purported to address critical environmental issues.

“The business-as-usual approaches are not working nationally and internationally, and therefore the solution lies in becoming sensitive to planet Earth and its capacity to generate or regenerate,” he said.

Since his journey started in late 2020, Solanki said the campaign has been well received.

“I think there are good things happening and response has been good,” he said. “Energy literacy is the first step towards climate correction.”


Aide to UK minister calls Rwanda migrant plan ‘crap’ in leaked audio

Updated 23 June 2024
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Aide to UK minister calls Rwanda migrant plan ‘crap’ in leaked audio

LONDON: The UK interior minister has defended a parliamentary aide who called the government plan to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda “crap,” in a leaked audio revealed by the BBC Sunday.
A controversial law by the Conservative government allowing irregular migrants arriving in the UK to be deported to Rwanda was finally passed in April, after months of parliamentary wrangling.
But in the recording James Sunderland, a parliamentary aide and Conservative party candidate, was heard saying: “the policy is crap, ok? It’s crap.”
“But it’s not about the policy. It’s about the effect of the policy,” he went on to say, speaking at a Youth Conservatives conference in April.
“There is no doubt at all that when those first flights take off it will send such a shockwave across the Channel,” Sunderland clarified.
Home Secretary James Cleverly said he was “surprised,” when asked about the audio, before saying Sunderland was making a “counterintuitive statement to grab the attention.”
Cleverly told Sky News on Sunday that his aide Sunderland “is completely supportive of the deterrent effect.”
Sunderland told the BBC he was “disappointed” to have been recorded at a private event, and said although the policy is “not the be all and end all,” it is “part of a wider response.”
No flights deporting asylum seekers have actually taken off yet for the African country, due to lengthy legal challenges and with parliament dissolved ahead of a looming general election on July 4.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said the policy would only come into effect after the election, if he was re-elected.
The opposition Labour party — which looks poised to replace the Conservatives — has promised to scrap the Rwanda plan.
The government cleared a law allowing some asylum seekers to be deported in April, circumventing a Supreme Court ruling that said sending migrants to Rwanda in this way would be illegal because it “would expose them to a real risk of ill-treatment.”
Supporters of the Rwanda policy say it will deter tens of thousands of annual cross-Channel arrivals by small boats, and insist the policy is already having an impact.
More than 12,000 irregular migrants have crossed the Channel to Britain on small boats this year, according to government data.


Ukraine missile attack on Crimea kills 2, wounds 22: Moscow-appointed governor

Updated 23 June 2024
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Ukraine missile attack on Crimea kills 2, wounds 22: Moscow-appointed governor

  • Sevastopol regularly comes under fire from Ukraine but the toll from Sunday’s attack was unusually high

MOSCOW: A Ukrainian missile attack Sunday on Sevastopol on the Russian-annexed Crimea peninsula killed two people including a two-year-old child and wounded 22, the city’s Moscow-appointed governor said.
Sevastopol, a Black Sea port city and naval base on the Crimean peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014, regularly comes under fire from Ukraine but the toll from Sunday’s attack was unusually high.
“According to provisional information, today’s attack by Ukraine’s armed forces on Sevastopol killed 2 peaceful residents, one of them a 2-year-old child,” Sevastopol governor Mikhail Razvozhayev wrote on Telegram.
The governor said Ukraine had launched five missiles which Russian air defenses intercepted over the sea but fragments fell onto the shore area and pieces of shrapnel wounded people.
Razvozhayev said the missile fragments hit shore areas in the north of the city and set fire to a house and woodland.
Earlier Sunday, a drone launched by Ukraine on Russia’s southern Belgorod region killed a man, the governor said.
Three Ukrainian attack drones struck the town of Graivoron a few kilometers from the border with Ukraine, said Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov, with one hitting a car park near a multi-story block of flats.
“A peaceful civilian was killed. The man died from his wounds at the spot,” Gladkov wrote on Telegram, while three were wounded.