Elon Musk Sells $7 Billion In Tesla Shares Ahead of Twitter Fight

Elon Musk has sold nearly $7 billion worth of shares in Tesla as the billionaire gets his finances in order ahead of his court battle with Twitter. Musk disclosed in series of regulatory filings that he unloaded about 8 million shares of his company Tesla Inc. in recent days. “In the (hopefully unlikely) event that Twitter forces this deal to close and some equity partners don’t come through, it is important to avoid an emergency sale of Tesla stock,” Musk tweeted late Tuesday. Musk is by far the largest individual shareholder in both Tesla and Twitter. Shares of Tesla rose almost 2% before the opening bell Wednesday. Shares of Twitter Inc., up 16% in the past month with most believing Musk faces long-shot odds of success in court, jumped another 3%. Musk countersued Twitter last week, accusing the company of fraud over his aborted $44 billion acquisition. He claimed that Twitter held back critical information and misled his team about the size of its user base. Musk alleges that Twitter committed fraud, breach of contract and violation of a securities law in Texas, where Musk lives. Musk offered to buy Twitter earlier this year, then tried to back out of the deal claiming the social platform was infested with a larger number of “spam bots” and fake accounts than Twitter had disclosed. Musk said in the spring that he planned no major sales of his stake in Tesla after lining up financing to acquire Twitter, but Dan Ives, an industry analyst with Wedbush, said Wednesday that “the situation has dramatically changed.” Wedbush raised its target price for shares of Twitter, “With the chances of a Twitter deal now more likely in our opinion and the Street seeing through this poker move by Musk,” Ives wrote to clients. “We can also see Musk trying to resolve this powder keg situation before the Twitter deal officially heads to court in October,” Ives wrote. “At a minimum, we see Twitter getting a massive settlement from Musk in the $5 billion to $10 billion range that is starting to be factored into the stock.” …

US Inflation Slips From 40-Year Peak but Remains High 8.5% 

Falling gas prices gave Americans a slight break from the pain of high inflation last month, though the surge in overall prices slowed only modestly from the four-decade high it reached in June.  Consumer prices jumped 8.5% in July compared with a year earlier, the government said Wednesday, down from a 9.1% year-over-year jump in June. On a monthly basis, prices were unchanged from June to July, the smallest such rise more than two years.  Still, prices have risen across a wide range of goods and services, leaving most Americans worse off. Average paychecks are rising faster than they have in decades — but not fast enough to keep up with accelerating costs for such items as food, rent, autos and medical services.  Last month, excluding the volatile food and energy categories, so-called core prices rose just 0.3% from June, the smallest month-to-month increase since April. And compared with a year ago, core prices rose 5.9% in July, the same year-over-year increase as in June.  President Joe Biden has pointed to declining gas prices as a sign that his policies — including large releases of oil from the nation’s strategic reserve — are helping lessen the higher costs that have strained Americans’ finances, particularly for lower-income Americans and Black and Hispanic households.  Yet Republicans are stressing the persistence of high inflation as a top issue in the midterm congressional elections, with polls showing that elevated prices have driven Biden’s approval ratings down sharply.  On Friday, the House is poised to give final congressional approval to a revived tax-and-climate package pushed by Biden and Democratic lawmakers. Economists say the measure, which its proponents have titled the Inflation Reduction Act, will have only a minimal effect on inflation over the next several years.  While there are signs that inflation may ease in the coming months, it will likely remain far above the Federal Reserve’s 2% annual target well into next year or even into 2024. Chair Jerome Powell has said the Fed needs to see a series of declining monthly core inflation readings before it would consider pausing its rate hikes. The Fed has raised its benchmark short-term rate at its past four rate-setting meetings, including a three-quarter point hike in both June and July — the first increases that large since 1994.  A blockbuster jobs report for July that the government issued Friday — with 528,000 jobs added, rising wages and … Continue reading “US Inflation Slips From 40-Year Peak but Remains High 8.5% “

 Grand Jury Declines to Indict Woman in Emmett Till Killing 

A Mississippi grand jury has declined to indict the white woman whose accusation set off the lynching of Black teenager Emmett Till nearly 70 years ago, most likely closing the case that shocked a nation and galvanized the modern civil rights movement.  After hearing more than seven hours of testimony from investigators and witnesses, a Leflore County grand jury last week determined there was insufficient evidence to indict Carolyn Bryant Donham on charges of kidnapping and manslaughter, Leflore County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said in a news release Tuesday.  The decision comes despite recent revelations about an unserved arrest warrant and the 87-year-old Donham’s unpublished memoir.  The Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., Emmett Till’s cousin and the last living witness to Till’s Aug. 28, 1955, abduction, said Tuesday’s announcement is “unfortunate, but predictable.”  “The prosecutor tried his best, and we appreciate his efforts, but he alone cannot undo hundreds of years of anti-Black systems that guaranteed those who killed Emmett Till would go unpunished, to this day,” Parker said in a statement.  “The fact remains that the people who abducted, tortured, and murdered Emmett did so in plain sight, and our American justice system was and continues to be set up in such a way that they could not be brought to justice for their heinous crimes.”  Ollie Gordon, another one of Till’s cousins, told The Associated Press that some justice had been served in the Till case, despite the grand jury’s decision.  “Justice is not always locking somebody up and throwing the keys away,” Gordon said. “Ms. Donham has not gone to jail. But in many ways, I don’t think she’s had a pleasant life. I think each day she wakes up, she has to face the atrocities that have come because of her actions.”  A third cousin, Deborah Watts, who leads the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said the case is an example of the freedom afforded to white women to escape accountability for making false accusations against Black men.  “She has still escaped any accountability in this case,” Watts said. “So, the grand jury’s decision is disappointing, but we’re still going to be calling for justice for Emmett Till. It’s not over.”  An email and voicemail seeking comment from Donham’s son Tom Bryant weren’t immediately returned Tuesday.  In June, a group searching the basement of the Leflore County Courthouse discovered the unserved arrest warrant charging Donham, then-husband Roy Bryant … Continue reading ” Grand Jury Declines to Indict Woman in Emmett Till Killing “

Four Key Races in Wisconsin, Minnesota Midterm Primaries

Voters in states including Wisconsin and Minnesota picked candidates for the U.S. Congress and other offices in primaries on Tuesday, in another test of former President Donald Trump’s influence in the Republican Party ahead of the November 8 midterms. Vermont and Connecticut also held nomination contests, while Minnesota held a special election for its vacant 1st Congressional District. The following are four key races: Wisconsin Republican governor’s primary In its final stretch, the Republican nomination contest for Wisconsin’s gubernatorial race became another proxy battle between Trump and his estranged former vice president, Mike Pence. Trump endorsed construction company owner Tim Michels in June, upending a race that until then was led by former state Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who Pence endorsed in July. On Tuesday, Michels defeated Kleefisch, according to Edison Research. It was the third high-profile race this year in which Pence and Trump backed opposing candidates. In the previous contests, Pence-backed Georgia Governor Brian Kemp won the party nomination for his re-election bid, while Trump-backed Kari Lake, a former news anchor, won the Republican nomination for the Arizona governor’s race. Pence, who like Trump is considering running for president in 2024, has recently distanced himself from Trump’s repeated falsehoods that the 2020 election was stolen. Wisconsin Democratic US senate primary In the race to challenge Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, Wisconsin’s Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, a progressive backed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, easily won the Democratic nomination after a leading moderate opponent dropped out of the race in late July. The focus now shifts to Barnes’ ability to appeal to moderate voters in the race against Johnson, which could be one of November’s tightest and most consequential Senate races. Minnesota Republican governor’s primary Former Minnesota state senator Scott Jensen, who has vowed he will try to ban most abortions in the state, won the Republican Party nomination for the governor’s race. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, abortion remains legal under state law in Minnesota. Jensen recently said he supports abortion rights in cases of rape or incest. Jensen, a physician who has cast doubt on the seriousness of COVID-19, will now face Democratic Governor Tim Walz in November. Walz is seen as potentially vulnerable. Minnesota special congressional election Democrats face an uphill battle to gain the U.S. House of Representatives seat left vacant following the February death of Republican U.S. Representative Jim … Continue reading “Four Key Races in Wisconsin, Minnesota Midterm Primaries”

Trump Cries Foul After FBI Searches His Home

Former President Donald Trump claims he is being politically persecuted after the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched his Mar-a-Lago residence in Florida on Monday, in what appeared to be part of a long-running investigation of whether he has kept official documents instead of sending them to the National Archives when he left office. White House bureau chief Patsy Widakuswara looks at the political fallout of the search. …

Afghan Man Charged in Killings of 2 Muslims in New Mexico

A 51-year-old man from Afghanistan was charged Tuesday with killing two Muslim men in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and authorities said he is suspected in the slayings of two others whose deaths sparked fear in Muslim communities nationwide.  Officials announced the arrest of Muhammad Syed a day after he was taken into custody.  Police Chief Harold Medina made the announcement on Twitter, saying that authorities had tracked down a vehicle believed to be involved in one of the slayings in New Mexico’s largest city.  “The driver was detained, and he is our primary suspect for the murders,” the tweet said.  Investigators received tips from the city’s Muslim community that pointed them toward Syed, who arrived in the U.S. sometime in the last several years, police said.  He was pulled over and taken into custody along Interstate 40 in Santa Rosa, about 110 miles east of Albuquerque.  The slayings drew the attention of President Joe Biden, who said such attacks “have no place in America.” They also sent a shudder through Muslim communities, where some people questioned their safety and limited their movements.  When told about the announcement, Muhammad Imtiaz Hussain, brother of one of the victims, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, said he felt relieved but needed to know more about the suspect and the motive.  “This gives us hope that we will have (the) truth come out,” he said. “We need to know why.”  Naeem Hussain was killed Friday night, and the three other men died in ambush shootings.  Hussain, 25, was from Pakistan. His death came just days after those of Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, 27, and Aftab Hussein, 41, who were also from Pakistan and members of the same mosque.  The earliest case involves the November killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, from Afghanistan.  Authorities on Monday sought help searching for a vehicle that appeared to be the one discovered on Tuesday.  The common elements in the deaths were the victims’ race and religion, officials said, and police were trying to determine if the deaths are linked.  Debbie Almontaser, a Muslim community leader in New York, said that a female friend who lives in Michigan and wears the hijab head covering shared with her over the weekend just how rattled she was. “She’s like, ‘This is so terrifying. I’m so scared. I travel alone,’” Almontaser said.  Aneela Abad, general secretary at the Islamic Center of New Mexico, described a community reeling from … Continue reading “Afghan Man Charged in Killings of 2 Muslims in New Mexico”

 Republicans Assail US Search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Mansion

Republican colleagues of former U.S. President Donald Trump came to his defense Tuesday, demanding explanations for the FBI search at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida where agents looked for classified documents he took from the White House as his presidency ended in January 2021. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed to open an investigation if the Republicans take control of the chamber from Democrats early next year, which polling suggests is a distinct political possibility. “I’ve seen enough,” McCarthy said in a tweet. “The Department of Justice has reached an intolerable state of weaponized politicization. When Republicans take back the House, we will conduct immediate oversight of this department, follow the facts, and leave no stone unturned.” He warned Attorney General Merrick Garland, head of the Justice Department, to “preserve your documents and clear your calendar” to testify at an investigation. Trump’s former vice president, Mike Pence, said, “I share the deep concern of millions of Americans over the unprecedented search of the personal residence of President Trump. No former president of the United States has ever been subject to a raid of their personal residence in American history.” Pence said the Monday search of Trump’s Atlantic oceanside estate “undermines public confidence in our system of justice, and Attorney General Garland must give a full accounting to the American people as to why this action was taken, and he must do so immediately.” Other Republican lawmakers called the search an abuse of power, although the search was court-authorized and likely approved at the highest levels of the Justice Department. Garland’s role, if any, was not known. Firebrand conservative Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene posted “DEFUND THE FBI!” on Twitter, a play on language some liberals have employed to “defund the police” in response to allegations of excessive force used by local police departments against minorities. Conservative Fox News host Sean Hannity, a long-time Trump ally, told his millions of viewers Monday night, “Make no mistake, if you are associated with Donald Trump in any way, you better cross all your t’s and dot all your i’s, because they’re coming for you with the full force of the federal government.” Meanwhile, opposition Democrats said little about the search of Trump’s property, and the White House said President Joe Biden had no advance knowledge of the search, which lasted for hours. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “We believe in the rule of law, … Continue reading “ Republicans Assail US Search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Mansion”

US Unveils $89 Million Package to Help Ukraine Clear Russian Mines

The United States says it will provide $89 million to help clear land mines, improvised explosive devices and unexploded ordinance planted by Russian forces as part of the Kremlin’s five-and-a-half-month-long invasion of Ukraine. The aid package, announced Tuesday by the State Department, will help fund, train, and equip approximately 100 de-mining teams over the next year as they take on what officials described as a massive problem plaguing at least 160,000 square kilometers of Ukrainian territory, including 10% of Ukraine’s farmland. “This is a challenge that Ukraine will face for decades,” an official told reporters Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity under ground rules set by the State Department. The official further compared Russia’s use of mines and explosives to the scorched earth playbook used by terrorist groups, like the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. “This horrific use of improvised explosive devices by Russia’s forces is reminiscent of ISIS tactics in Iraq and Syria, where ISIS terrorists sought to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible & make people afraid to return home,” the official said. “As Russia’s forces retreated from northern Ukraine, they had booby traps and improvised explosive devices in food facilities, car trunks, washing machines, doorways, hospital beds and even the bodies of those killed by the invasion,” the official said. “Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated that Russia’s forces deliberately hid explosives in toys and shiny objects that attract children’s attention.” The $89 million will be taken from both the State Department Fiscal Year 2022 budget, as well as from a series of supplemental funding bills passed by Congress earlier this year. The money will not go directly to the government of Ukraine but will be paid out over time to non-governmental organizations, contractors and other de-mining specialists, who will then work alongside Ukraine’s existing de-mining teams. “While we’re announcing our intent to provide this assistance as quickly as possible, it is going to take a little bit of time because that training process is iterative,” the State Department official said. Details on the training, including the precise location, are still being worked out, and U.S. officials are also in contact with allies about providing additional assistance. A report by Human Rights Watch this past June, cited by the State Department, accused Russia of using seven types of anti-personnel landmines in Ukraine. Anti-personnel mines, triggered by the proximity to or contact from a … Continue reading “US Unveils $89 Million Package to Help Ukraine Clear Russian Mines”

Blinken Arrives in DRC; Regional Stability Tops Agenda

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Tuesday to raise concerns that tensions with neighboring Rwanda could spread instability in the region. Political analysts say the United States is also concerned about Russia and China’s access to rare earth minerals in the DRC. The top priority during Blinken’s two-day stay to Congo is pushing for peace between the DRC and Rwanda, which Kinshasa accuses of backing militia groups. Blinken is visiting the DRC as part of his second trip to Africa as the U.S. top diplomat. The trip follows a visit by his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, his first to Congo. Analysts say the Cold War rivals are vying for influence in the DRC, which is marred with violence and conflict in its east because of the region’s rare minerals. Macharia Munene, an expert on international relations, said its part of a power play. “The strategic resources, minerals and other critical ones that are used for industrial development as well as weaponry and technology, and Congo is extremely rich in these things so whoever can deny those things to other people becomes very powerful,” he said. Munene said the conflicts in Congo are destabilizing the country along with neighboring Rwanda and by extension other nearby nations. He said the issue is one of concern to the United States. “You never know who is going to come up and take advantage of the situation, to the detriment of the U.S. interest,” he said. “Now as [a] destabilizing force not just in eastern Congo but in Rwanda, maybe a bit of Burundi.” Another top issue amid the long-standing rivalry between DRC and Rwanda is the re-emergence of M23 rebels. Kinshasa says Kigali is backing the rebels, but Rwanda has repeatedly denied the allegations. Congo’s army, along with a United Nations mission in Congo known as MONUSCO, defeated the M23 in 2013. In November of last year, its forces began to reappear. Their reappearance is threatening human rights in Congo, according to the United Nations. Separately, Amnesty International’s advocacy director for Africa, Kate Hixon, said the U.S. should remain focused on rights issues. “Blinken’s visit is a welcome engagement but only a few raise human rights issues with Congolese and Rwanda counterparts; the fact that it is Blinken’s second visit to the continent two years into his tenure demonstrates the importance of [the] DRC to the … Continue reading “Blinken Arrives in DRC; Regional Stability Tops Agenda”

Biden Signs Semiconductor Bill Boosting US Competitiveness

U.S. President Joe Biden has signed the CHIPS and Science Act, which aims to boost U.S. competitiveness against China by allocating billions of dollars toward domestic semiconductor manufacturing and scientific research. “The United States must lead the world in the production of these advanced chips. This law will do exactly that,” Biden said in remarks during the signing ceremony Tuesday. The president is recovering from COVID-19 and coughed repeatedly during his remarks. He called the bipartisan legislation a “once in a generation investment” in the country and said it will create good jobs, grow the economy and protect U.S. national security. Biden noted stiff competition with China in the chips industry. “It’s no wonder the Chinese Communist Party actively lobbied U.S. business against this bill,” he remarked. Biden was joined on stage for the event by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, and Joshua Aviv, CEO of Spark Charge, an electric vehicle charging network. Schumer called the legislation the “largest investment in manufacturing science and innovation in decades” and thanked Republican Senator Todd Young for his partnership for over three years working on semiconductor-related legislation, beginning with what was then called the Endless Frontier Act. The proposed act went through various iterations before it was passed as the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act on a 243-187 vote in the House of Representatives and a 64-33 vote in the Senate in July. Last year, a semiconductor shortage affected the supply of automobiles, electronic appliances and other goods, causing higher inflation globally and pummeling Biden’s public approval rating among American voters. Catching up in the chips race The CHIPS Act includes $52 billion in incentives for domestic semiconductor production and research, as well as an investment tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing. Advocates say it will allow the U.S. to catch up in the global semiconductor manufacturing race currently dominated by China, Taiwan and South Korea. Following the passage of the bill, the White House noted that Micron, a leading U.S. chip manufacturer, will announce a $40 billion plan to boost domestic chip production while Qualcomm and GlobalFoundries will unveil a $4.2 billion expansion of a chip plant in New York. The U.S. share of global semiconductor manufacturing capacity has decreased from 37% in 1990 to 12% today, largely because other governments have offered manufacturing incentives and invested in research to strengthen domestic chipmaking capabilities, … Continue reading “Biden Signs Semiconductor Bill Boosting US Competitiveness”

Trump Facing Major Criminal Investigations as He Considers 2024 Presidential Run

As he strongly hints at another campaign for the White House in 2024, former U.S. President Donald Trump is facing major federal and state criminal investigations into his actions in the immediate aftermath of his failed reelection campaign in 2020.     Monday’s unprecedented FBI raid at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida was the latest indication that investigators remain focused on the country’s 45th president. Reports say the investigators were seeking classified documents he may have taken with him when he left Washington last year.    The search was court-authorized and was likely sanctioned at the highest levels of the Justice Department. But details of the search warrant filed by investigators and their justification for it are not yet publicly known, nor is the name of the judge who authorized it. The White House says it was not given advance notice of the raid.    Under the Presidential Records Act of 1978, the official records of all presidents and vice presidents remain publicly owned, even after they leave office. The statute’s premise is that the papers belong to the American public, not the individuals who served as the country’s leaders.  About a year after he left office, Trump turned over to the National Archives 15 boxes of documents from his presidency, some of which were said to include classified papers. But investigators who searched Trump’s office and opened a safe at his Florida seaside estate Monday carted away more documents that were not turned over in January.    Trump belittled the search, much as he has the election-related investigations, as an attempt to keep him from running again in 2024.     “These are dark times for our Nation, as my beautiful home, Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, is currently under siege, raided, and occupied by a large group of FBI agents,” the former president said in a statement.    “Nothing like this has ever happened to a President of the United States before,” he said, contending the search was the result of “prosecutorial misconduct, the weaponization of the Justice System, and an attack by Radical Left Democrats who desperately don’t want me to run for President in 2024.”    He claimed such a event “could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries. Sadly, America has now become one of those Countries, corrupt at a level not seen before.”    Trump retains a wide following among a base of Republican … Continue reading “Trump Facing Major Criminal Investigations as He Considers 2024 Presidential Run”

AFRICOM Gets New Military Commander

U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has a new leader, with U.S. Gen. Michael “Mike” Langley assuming command of U.S. military missions on a continent where the Pentagon says countering Chinese influence and threats from extremists remain paramount.  “I know I have a lot to do. We have a lot to do,” Langley said during a ceremony at the command’s headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany.   Upon his promotion earlier this month, Langley became the first African American four-star general in the Marine Corps’ 246-year history. Prior to this post, Langley served as commander of Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic and Marine Forces Command.  “He is the right leader at the right time with the right skill set to lead this critical command. He has the unique blend of character, competence, courage, experiences, and knowledge to lead AFRICOM in this challenging time,” Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Tuesday.  Langley is the sixth AFRICOM commander since the command was established in 2008. Outgoing commander Gen. Stephen Townsend, who is retiring after 40 years of service in the military, warned at the ceremony that “America cannot afford to ignore Africa.”  “The continent is full of potential but also full of challenges, and it’s standing at a historic crossroads,” said Townsend. “On one side is authoritarianism and foreign malign influence, along with the terrorism and food and economic insecurity that goes with it. On the other side is peace, security, democracy, development, and rule of law.”  Townsend continued to sound the alarm on terror groups thriving in ungoverned spaces in Africa, telling Congress earlier this year that the United States “may be backsliding” in its fight against al-Shabab terrorists since former President Donald Trump decided to pull all U.S. troops from Somalia during his final days in office.   In January, Townsend told VOA in an exclusive interview that he thought there are “more effective and efficient ways” to fight al-Shabab than commuting in and out of the country for missions. Less than four months later, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin signed an order to deploy hundreds of U.S. troops back to Somalia.  Austin, who presided over the ceremony, said Africa is on the front lines of many of this century’s most pressing threats. He warned that “autocracy is on the march,” with Russia and China “working to tighten their grip on the continent.”  “Russia is peddling cheap weapons and backing … Continue reading “AFRICOM Gets New Military Commander”

Biden Administration Says ‘Remain in Mexico’ Policy is Over

The Department of Homeland Security said Monday that it ended a Trump-era policy requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court, hours after a judge lifted an order in effect since December that it be reinstated. The timing had been in doubt since the Supreme Court ruled on June 30 that the Biden administration could end the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Homeland Security officials had been largely silent, saying they had to wait for the court to certify the ruling and for a Trump-appointed judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk in Amarillo, Texas, to then lift his injunction. The Supreme Court certified its ruling last week. The program will be unwound in a “quick, and orderly manner,” Homeland Security said in a statement. No more people are being enrolled and those who appear in court will not be returned to Mexico when they appear in the U.S. for their next hearings. The policy “has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” the department said. Many questions remain, including whether those whose claims have been denied or dismissed will get a second chance or if those whose next court dates are months away will be allowed to return to the U.S. sooner. Homeland Security said it will provide additional information “in the coming days.” About 70,000 migrants were subject to the policy, known officially as “Migrant Protection Protocols,” from when President Donald Trump introduced it in January 2019 until President Joe Biden suspended it on his first day in office in January 2021, fulfilling a campaign promise. Many were allowed to return to the United States to pursue their cases during the early months of Biden’s presidency. Nearly 5,800 people were subject to the policy from December through June, a modest number. Nicaraguans account for the largest number, with others from Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela. Trump made the policy a centerpiece of border enforcement, which critics said was inhumane for exposing migrants to extreme violence in Mexico and making access to attorneys far more difficult. …

Why Presidential Papers Don’t Belong to Presidents 

The circumstances surrounding Monday’s FBI search of former U.S. President Donald Trump Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida were not immediately clear, according to media reports. However, the Justice Department has actively investigated the discovery of boxes containing classified information that were taken to Trump’s Florida residence after he left the White House in January 2021. Why are the call logs, drafts, speeches, handwritten notes and other documents from Trump’s term in office in the possession of the National Archives? “Presidential records are the property of the United States government and are administered by the National Archives,” said Meghan Ryan Guthorn, acting deputy chief operating officer of the agency. “So, all presidential papers, materials and records in the custody of the National Archives, whether donated, seized or governed by the Presidential Records Act, are owned by the federal government.” The Presidential Records Act of 1978 established that all presidential records are owned by the public and automatically transfer into the custody of the National Archives as soon as a commander-in-chief leaves office. All presidential libraries and museums are part of the National Archives. Former President Barack Obama’s presidential library will be the first to be fully digital. “The National Archives and Records Administration is the official record keeper for the United States government,” Ryan Guthorn said. “Only about one to 3% of the records are considered permanent records, and those are the documents that are essential to understanding the rights and entitlements of U.S. citizens, that hold our elected officials accountable for their actions, [and] document our history as a nation.” Presidential records weren’t always owned by the public. “From George Washington through Jimmy Carter, the papers of a presidential administration were considered the private property of a president to do with as they saw fit,” Ryan Guthorn said. Most commanders-in-chief have donated their presidential papers, a precedent started by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. That continued until the 1970s when President Richard Nixon fought to destroy his records, including secret tape recordings, during the Watergate scandal that eventually led to his resignation from office. Congress suspected the tapes contained evidence that could incriminate the president. Lawmakers passed the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974, which applied only to Nixon’s presidential materials and instructed that materials related to Watergate be retained by NARA. During his lifetime, Nixon fought to keep his presidential records private. NARA received most … Continue reading “Why Presidential Papers Don’t Belong to Presidents “

Biden Pledges More Aid to Flood Victims in Kentucky

U.S. President Joe Biden pledged more federal help to flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky on Monday after touring the devastation, which he linked to climate change.   In the sweltering afternoon heat, Biden walked with families through the wreckage of their homes in an unincorporated community in the state’s rural southeast.  One family saw their prefabricated home ripped from its cinderblock foundation and thrown on its side by the waters. Rows and rows of sodden corn, planted in neat lines, lay collapsed in the front yard.   In another family, two young boys, not yet school-aged, squirmed under the president’s attention as their mother held them back from a new lake that appeared as the rain poured down. The new body of water lay a stone’s throw from where their home had once stood, before it washed away. It slumped on the other side of the water, smashed into a small hill.   “No one has ever seen anything like the historic flooding that hit us on the night of July 26,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said. “Hours of rainfall hammered these mountains, sending walls of debris-clogged water crashing through homes and businesses, sweeping them clear off their foundations, crashing them into bridges. And for some, their home is just gone. We don’t even know where it is. Maybe not one scrap that we can locate.”  Biden offered extensive support.   “We’re staying — the federal government, along with the state and county and the city — we are staying until everyone is back to where they were,” he said after visiting with families in Lost Creek, Kentucky, affected by the flooding.   He said the objective is not to “just to get back to where we were, it’s to get back to better than where we were.”   At least 37 people were killed in the flooding last week after storms dropped up to 26 centimeters of rain in some areas of eastern Kentucky in just 48 hours. Beshear said Monday that authorities expect to add at least one more death to the total.   Earlier Monday, Biden told a briefing with state and federal officials on the emergency response that climate change is leading to more weather disasters.   “As you all know, we’ve suffered the consequence of climate change, a significant number of weather catastrophes around the nation,” Biden said.   Senate Democrats on Sunday passed an economic package … Continue reading “Biden Pledges More Aid to Flood Victims in Kentucky”

Blinken Gives US-Africa Strategy Address in Pretoria 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken gave a speech on the key U.S. strategy for sub-Saharan Africa at the University of Pretoria on Monday, on the first leg of his Africa trip. Blinken stressed the value of democracy and the threats to it in his address, saying Africa was an “equal partner” that the U.S. wanted to work with and would not “dictate to.” “By 2050, 1 in 4 people on the planet we share will be African. They will shape the destiny, not only of this continent, but of the world,” he said. Blinken spoke about the blow the pandemic has dealt to Africa and economies on the continent, as well as food insecurity he said had been deepened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also addressed a wide range of issues, including conflict prevention, misinformation online, science and technology, as well as climate change and clean energy. VOA spoke to several South African students, asking their thoughts on the address by America’s top diplomat.   Zaphesheya Dlamini, who has just finished a master’s degree in political science, was skeptical. “Listen — every single foreign policy, every single national interest, is always going to be their national interest. It’s not ours, we know that. But then don’t try and present it like it’s a shared interest,” Dlamini said. She also thought Blinken didn’t address how U.S. domestic politics influence the rest of the world. She referenced the overturning of the U.S. landmark case Roe v. Wade, which protected a woman’s right to an abortion, and the Global Gag Rule, which prohibits foreign nongovernmental organizations that receive U.S. funding from providing legal abortion services or referrals, as examples of things she thought he should have spoken about.  International relations student Billy Botshabelo Manama, 22, said Blinken’s speech heavily promoted good governance, which he acknowledged had sometimes been a problem on the continent. “Look — a lot has been mentioned on democracy, rightfully so, looking at the history of Africa,” Manama said. Manama added that he believed that like the U.S., South Africa also stood for equality and human rights. …