Category Archives: WORLD

US Senate acquits Trump on both articles of impeachment

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WASHINGTON — United States President Donald Trump was acquitted on Wednesday afternoon by the Senate after the chamber voted down both articles of impeachment against him that the House approved late last year.

Senators voted 52 to 48 to reject the first charge of abuse of power, and 53 to 47 against the second charge of obstruction of Congress.
Senator Mitt Romney, a Republican from Utah and the 2012 GOP presidential nominee, broke from the party by voting “guilty” on the abuse of power charge against Trump, becoming the first senator in the US history to convict a president from the same party in an impeachment trial.
No Democrats voted “not guilty” on the two articles of impeachment.
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, who presided over the Senate trial of Trump’s impeachment, announced the votes, saying that they are not enough to convict the president and remove him from office.
The acquittal was widely expected as Republicans largely unified during the impeachment proceeding control the Senate, making it almost impossible for the 67-vote conviction threshold to be reached.
Trump, in a tweet after the votes wrapped up, said he will be making a public statement Thursday noon at the White House to discuss what he calls the nation’s “VICTORY on the Impeachment Hoax.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who led the Congress’ impeachment drive against Trump, said in a statement that the president and Senate Republicans “have normalized lawlessness and rejected the system of checks and balances.”
The Pelosi-led House impeached Trump in December last year after an inquiry triggered by a whistleblower complaint that raised concerns about the White House’s interactions with Ukraine.
Trump was alleged to have pressured his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, into launching investigations that could politically benefit him by withholding military aid from Ukraine. Furthermore, the White House allegedly tried to cover it up.
The president has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing or a “quid pro quo” with Ukraine.
The White House stonewalled the House impeachment inquiry, accusing Democrats of an unfair process.
Bitter partisan wrestling continued in the Senate trial of Trump’s impeachment as Republicans and Democrats were sharply divided on whether to allow subpoenas for witnesses and documents till a failed motion last week kicked off an endgame.
According to the US Constitution, the House shall have the “sole Power of Impeachment,” while the Senate shall have the “sole Power to try all Impeachments.”
Conviction can only happen in the 100-member Senate and requires at least two-thirds of its members to vote in favor of at least one article of impeachment after a trial.
Currently, the Senate has 53 Republicans, 45 Democrats, and two independents caucusing with Democrats.
No sitting US president has ever been removed from office through impeachment. (Xinhua)

TRUMP: US targeting 52 Iranian sites if Tehran attacks

WASHINGTON DC — US President Donald Trump threatened Saturday to hit Iranian targets for any attacks on Americans or the US in the wake of the killing of top Iranian general by an American airstrike.

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“Iran has been nothing but problems for many years. Let this serve as a WARNING that if Iran strikes any Americans, or American assets, we have targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD. The USA wants no more threats!” Trump said on Twitter.
He said Tehran was “talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets as revenge” for the killing of Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ elite Quds Force, adding that the general was responsible for the deaths of an American and hundreds of Iranian protesters.
Soleimani was killed Friday in a strike outside of Baghdad’s airport. Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a senior commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) was also killed.
“He was already attacking our Embassy, and preparing for additional hits in other locations,” Trump wrote.
Soleimani’s slaying marks a dramatic escalation in tensions between the US and Iran, which have often been at a fever pitch since President Donald Trump decision in 2018 to unilaterally withdraw the US from the nuclear pact world powers struck with Tehran.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who gave Soleimani the country’s highest honor last year, vowed “severe retaliation” in response to his killing as Trump struck a hawkish tone of defiance.
Following the death of an American contractor in rocket attacks on a US base in Iraq, Washington carried out a series of strikes Sunday that led to the deaths of at least 25 fighters from the Iran-backed Kataib Hezbollah militia group.
The strikes were the first major attack by the US on an Iran-linked group since the withdrawal of troops from Iraq in 2011.
The US Embassy in Baghdad was then attacked by a large crowd of protesters Tuesday, leading to a two-day standoff between US forces and protesters.
The Pentagon accused Soleimani of plotting the embassy attack and planning to carry out additional attacks on US diplomats and service members in Iraq and the region. (Anadolu/PNA)

China, ASEAN reaffirm free navigation, overflight over South China Sea

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China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Wednesday reaffirmed their respect of freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea under principles of international law, including the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

According to a joint statement issued after a bilateral summit, the two sides also agreed to resolve the territorial and jurisdictional disputes by peaceful means, without resorting to the threat or use of force, through friendly consultations and negotiations by sovereign states directly concerned.

The statement, which was released after the 19th China-ASEAN leaders’ meeting to commemorate the 25th anniversary of China-ASEAN dialogue relations, added that they also undertake to exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities that would complicate or escalate disputes and affect peace and stability.

Related to the South China Sea issue, the two sides also committed to the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in its entirety and working substantively toward the early adoption of a code of conduct in the South China Sea based on consensus.

The statement added that China and ASEAN will continue to strengthen dialogue and cooperation to enhance mutual understanding and friendship, promote defense exchanges and security cooperation to address common security issues, including combating terrorism, transnational threats and other non-traditional security challenges in pursuit of regional peace and stability.

On economic issues, the two sides agreed to further deepen and expand mutually-beneficial economic cooperation, including through the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN-China Free Trade Area, to work towards the early and successful conclusion of “a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.”

According to the statement, China and ASEAN will continue to strengthen cooperation in the area of connectivity that will bring mutual benefits, including through capacity building and resource mobilization for the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, to explore ways to improve connectivity between both sides by synergizing common priorities identified in the master plan and China’s Belt and Road initiative, and encourage the active involvement of relevant multilateral financial institutions.

The two sides also vowed to continue strengthening cooperation in environmental protection, sustainable development and management of land and water resources, biodiversity conservation as well as address transboundary challenges, and strengthening dialogue and cooperation in the international climate change and other environment-related negotiations.

On bilateral ties, the two sides are committed to enhancing the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for mutual benefit, including through the full and effective implementation of the 2016-2020 Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership for Peace and Prosperity, said the statement.

China welcomes the establishment of the ASEAN Community, and reaffirms its continued support for ASEAN’s integration process and ASEAN Centrality in the evolving regional architecture.

While for ASEAN’s part, it said that China’s development is an important opportunity for the region, and it supports China’s peaceful development, adding that ASEAN countries also reaffirm adherence to the one-China policy. (VIENTIANE, Sept. 7/PNA/Xinhua)

DUTERTE POISED TO WIN PRESIDENCY

Duterte favourite as Philippines holds presidential elections

 PRESIDENT DUTERTE
May 9, 2016

The Philippines on Monday launched elections to choose a new president with anti-establishment firebrand Rodrigo Duterte the shock favourite after an incendiary campaign full of profanity-laced threats to kill criminals.

Duterte, the longtime mayor of the southern city of Davao, has hypnotised millions with his vows of brutal but quick solutions to the nation’s twin plagues of crime and poverty, which many believe have worsened despite strong economic growth in recent years.

Duterte’s critics have warned he will plunge the country into another dark period of dictatorship and turmoil, three decades after a “People Power” revolution ended the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

Duterte, a pugnacious 71-year-old, surged from outsider to the top of surveys with cuss-filled vows to kill tens of thousands of criminals, threats to establish one-man rule if lawmakers disobey him, and promises to embrace communist rebels.

He also boasted repeatedly about his Viagra-fuelled affairs, while promising voters his mistresses would not cost a lot because he kept them in cheap boarding houses and took them to short-stay hotels for sex.

Duterte caused further disgust in international diplomatic circles with a joke that he wanted to rape a “beautiful” Australian missionary who was killed in a 1989 Philippine prison riot, and by calling the pope a “son of a whore”.

Departing President Benigno Aquino, whose mother led the democracy movement that ousted Marcos, has warned repeatedly the nation is at risk of succumbing to another dictatorship.

“I need your help to stop the return of terror in our land. I cannot do it alone,” Aquino said in an appeal to voters in a final rally on Saturday in Manila for his preferred successor and fellow Liberal Party stalwart, Mar Roxas.

Across town, Duterte was outlining to tens of thousands of cheering fans his plans to end crime within six months of starting his presidency.

“Forget the laws on human rights,” Duterte, who has been accused of running vigilante death squads in Davao, said in his final campaign rally.

“If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because as the mayor, I’d kill you.”

– Big lead –

Duterte went into polling day with an 11-percentage-point lead over his rivals, according to the latest survey.

Roxas, who is promising to continue the slow reform process seen under Aquino, was tied for second place.

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Aquino, who is limited by the constitution to a single term of six years, has overseen average annual economic growth of six percent and won international plaudits for trying to tackle corruption.

However his critics say he has done little to change an economic model that favours an extraordinarily small number of families that control nearly all key industries, and has led to one of Asia’s biggest rich-poor divides.

Roxas belongs to one of those families, with his grandfather serving as the Philippines’ first president after the nation achieved independence from the United States post-World War II.

Senator Grace Poe, the adopted daughter of movie stars, was in equal second place, having seen her popularity slide after critics pointed to her taking US citizenship then later giving it up.

Vice President Jejomar Binay, the early favourite, fell to fourth place under the weight of a barrage of corruption allegations.