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Paul Kagame is seen by some as a liberator. But critics say Rwanda is only safe for those who toe the line

For decades, Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist in the mold of the archetypal strongman African leader.

Under his rule, the East African country has emerged from the ruins of a devastating 1994 genocide that left nearly one million people dead to be hailed by Western allies as the model for growth in Africa.
In recent years, the country has forged a strong and financially rewarding alliance with Asian powerhouse China, which is also known for its authoritarian rule.
The US and the UK have also supported Rwanda with aid nobull shoes donations for many years, and US diplomat Tibor Nagy once described the country as “demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
“In the past 25 years, Rwanda has reimagined itself as a strong state that invests in good governance and the success of its people,” the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on his first visit to Rwanda in 2019. “In many ways, Rwanda is demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed
In a recent meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, the US acknowledged it still had a strong bilateral partnership with Rwanda but also raised concerns about human rights in the country.
In a report last year detailing human rights practices in Rwanda, the US State Department identified “significant human rights issues” that range from “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government” to “forced disappearance by the government,” among others.
Critics say the successes of Kagame’s authoritarian rule have come at the expense of human rights in the country.
Rwanda is this week hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kigali, the first gathering of Commonwealth leaders in four years. Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among world leaders attending.
The UK is ermerging as one of Rwanda’s strongest allies and PM Johnson said in interviews from CHOGM that criticism of Rwanda is based on “stereotypes of Rwanda that is now outdated.” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently brokered a £120 million ($147m) deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the East African country, an accord that hangs in the balance after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Opinion: Dear Prince Charles, don't shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father
Patel described Rwanda as “a safe haven for refugees” as the UK vowed to push ahead with the controversial scheme.

‘No safe haven’

Far from being a “safe haven” for refugees as claimed by Patel and others in the UK government, Rwanda has been accused by human rights groups of treating refugees badly.
In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees were killed when Rwandan police opened fire at the Kiziba refugee camp and Karongi town as refugees protested cuts to their food rations, Amnesty International reported at the time. Rwandan authorities told CNN the country’s police resorted to shooting to control a group of violent protesters and said it was an isolated incident.
Rwanda had previously received refugees from Israel.
According to Israeli media, some of the refugees deported to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017 were struggling to survive, with some destitute. Many of the refugees have fled Rwanda while some others who chose to remain in the country have been denied official documents by Rwandan authorities, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of some, Israeli media Haaretz reported.
The UK/Rwanda asylum deal comes less than a year after the UK’s International kizik shoes Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, said she was displeased with Rwanda’s refusal to probe human rights abuses as recommended by the British government.
Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told CNN recently that “the UK has cynically decided to change its position on Rwanda… it’s going to ignore the human rights abuses in Rwanda and claim that it is a safe and acceptable country to send refugees to, to justify this cruel and immoral program.”
He added that Rwanda is a safe country only for those who toe the line.
“Just because Rwanda is clean and is safe for the Westerners doesn’t necessarily translate to safety for all Rwandans. Rwanda is a safe country for Rwandans if you keep your head down and don’t ask any questions or challenge anything. The moment you step up and start to question something or have an independent opinion and express it, Rwanda becomes a very difficult country to live in. These Western countries need to recognize that,” Mudge added.
A spokesperson for the Rwandan government declined to comment on HRW’s allegations, dismissing the agency as “a discredited source.”
Mudge described the UK-Rwanda asylum deal as an affront to the Commonwealth’s values.
“The UK is ostensibly the leader of the Commonwealth and this is an abdication of one of the pillars of the Commonwealth, which is the fundamental respect for human rights,” he said.
Refugees sent from the UK would comprise various nationalities, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said the asylum program will only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are already in the UK and would exclude refugees from Rwanda’s neighbors such as the DRC, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The UK government had said the program was targeted at curbing people-smuggling networks and discouraging migrants from making dangerous sea journeys to the UK.

From genocide to growth

To his supporters and Western and Asian allies, President Kagame is a liberator who has modernized and transformed Rwanda, a former Belgian colony.
His party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has been in power since the end of the civil war in 1994, with Kagame serving as vice-president and defense minister until 2000 and then president for the last 22 years.
Kagame unified the country after the genocide, working to abolish the divisive terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” and to integrate the two cultures.
The gains made in Rwanda under his rule are undeniable.
Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told CNN the country has made remarkable progress in the last 28 years, citing increased life expectancy, near-universal healthcare, and low corruption levels in the country.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda has witnessed “strong economic growth … accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.” A report by the World Bank in 2020 stated that the country also has been successful in “reducing administrative corruption … from an accepted practice to one that is regarded as illegitimate and, once identified, one that is punished.”
Rwanda also ranks 1st among 13 low-income economies and 7th among the 27 economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for its innovation capabilities on the 2021 Global Innovation Index.
The country has further endeared itself to the West by advancing gender equality and creating a female-dominated cabinet. Around 61% of its parliamentary seats are held by women.
Kagame has been aggressive in attracting foreign direct investment into the country. In 2018, the Rwandan government signed a three-year promotional deal with English Premier League side Arsenal “as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination, using ‘Visit Rwanda’ messaging,” the English football club said in a statement.
Arsenal’s male and female team jerseys have featured the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on their left sleeve ever since.

Crackdown on opposition

However, such gains notwithstanding, Kagame’s rule has been characterized by widely reported human rights abuses.
The Freedom in the World 2022 Report by Freedom House found that “while the regime has maintained stability and economic growth, it has also suppressed political dissent through pervasive surveillance, intimidation, torture, and renditions or suspected assassinations of exiled dissidents.”
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire was the presidential candidate of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party in the 2010 Rwanda presidential elections and says she is a victim of Kagame’s crackdown on dissent.
She told CNN she had left the Netherlands, where she lived with her family, to play an active role in Rwandan politics but ended up being jailed on what she says were trumped-up charges of terrorism and threatening national security by the Kagame regime.
“I was arrested in 2010 and spent eight years in prison. In 2018, I was released by a presidential pardon which came with the condition that I couldn’t leave Rwanda freely without government permission. Three times I have asked for permission to visit my family in the Netherlands but the government did not respond to my request,” Ingabire said.
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire pictured in a Kigali court in 2011.
Rwandan government spokesperson Makolo told CNN Ingabire “was tried and convicted of serious crimes including complicity in acts of terrorism and promoting genocide ideology.”
Makolo added that: “Ingabire had her conviction commuted after she appealed for clemency, however her criminal record remains because her crimes were proven beyond doubt.
“As part of this deal, she has to request to leave the country, as does anyone else in the same situation.” Makolo did not comment further on the status of Ingabire’s requests to leave the country.
Ingabire said she challenged her imprisonment at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights — established by the African Union — in 2014 and was acquitted three years later after the court found that the Rwandan government had violated her rights.
Ingabire says she now lives in fear.
“I am afraid for my life … because you don’t know what can happen to you if you’re a member of the opposition,” she told CNN via a phone call.
“If you criticize the government, you are labeled as an enemy of the state, and then you’re arrested and put in prison … President Kagame does not tolerate criticism against his regime.”
Makolo did not respond to the specific incidents Ingabire spoke about. She, however, accused Ingabire of making “baseless claims” against Rwandan authorities.
“Despite being labeled as an opposition politician, she (Ingabire) has no discernible policy platform, she doesn’t offer solutions that would help improve our country. She only uses her platform to make baseless claims about the government. This doesn’t help advance our nation’s progress,” Makolo said.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Responding to the widespread reports of abuse, Makolo said Rwanda could not be characterized as a country with no respect for human rights.
“This characterization bears no relation to the country I know … A central principle of Rwanda’s reconstruction has been ensuring that every single person is treated … as a human being — that means that we do not tolerate discrimination of any form. This is enshrined in our constitution and upheld by our commitment to the rule of law,” Makolo told CNN.
Another outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, who was last year convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” was renowned for saving more than a thousand Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
He was accused by Rwandan prosecutors of being involved with the National Liberation Front (FLN), an armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Rusesabagina admitted to having a leadership role in the MRCD but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the FLN.
His family says he was not given a fair trial and was kidnapped while overseas and oncloud shoes returned to Rwanda in August 2020. Rusesabagina told the New York Times in a video interview he was en route to Burundi on a private plane to speak to churches on August 28 but found himself surrounded by soldiers in Rwanda when he woke up.
Speaking to CNN at the time, Kagame denied claims that Rusesabagina was kidnapped and renditioned to Rwanda.
“It was very proper and legal,” Kagame said of Rusesabagina’s arrest.
“If he was working with somebody in Burundi in the same plot of destabilizing our country, and the same person, for example, decided to drive him to Kigali — the person he was working with, and he had trusted — and the government was working with that person he trusted, how does the government become culpable for that operation?” he added.

‘Rwanda is a poor country’

In addition to raising human rights concerns around the asylum deal, opposition politician Ingabire says that high unemployment rates in Rwanda will prevent the refugees deported by the UK from building lives there.
“There is a high rate of unemployment in Rwanda, especially among the youth. … What will happen to the refugees when the British government stops funding their accommodation? They don’t have a future in Rwanda,” Ingabire said.
She also considers Rwanda’s economic growth a myth, as poverty remains prevalent in the country’s rural areas. According to the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, poverty rates in rural parts of the country stand at 42%, far higher than in cities at 15%.
“Outside Kigali, there are no infrastructures as what you see in Kigali. The Rwandan government has not increased employment across the country, that is why we have the majority of poverty in the rural areas,” Ingabire told CNN.
The government declined to comment on Ingabire’s claims.

Paul Kagame is seen by some as a liberator. But critics say Rwanda is only safe for those who toe the line

For decades, Paul Kagame has ruled Rwanda with an iron fist in the mold of the archetypal strongman African leader.

Under his rule, the East African country has emerged from the ruins of a devastating 1994 genocide that left nearly one million people dead to be hailed by Western allies as the model for growth in Africa.
In recent years, the country has forged a strong and financially rewarding alliance with Asian powerhouse China, which is also known for its authoritarian rule.
The US and the UK have also supported Rwanda with aid donations for many years, and US diplomat Tibor Nagy once described the country as “demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
“In the past 25 years, Rwanda has reimagined itself as a strong state that invests in good governance and the success of its people,” the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said on his first visit to Rwanda in 2019. “In many ways, Rwanda is demonstrating the true potential of Africa.”
Controversial UK deportation flight to Rwanda grounded after all asylum-seekers removed
In a recent meeting between US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Rwandan Minister of Foreign Affairs Vincent Biruta, the US acknowledged it still had a strong bilateral partnership with Rwanda but also raised concerns about human rights in the country.
In a report last year detailing human rights practices in Rwanda, the US State Department identified “significant human rights issues” that range from “unlawful or arbitrary killings by the government” to “forced disappearance by the government,” on cloud shoes among others.
Critics say the successes of Kagame’s authoritarian rule have come at the expense of human rights in the country.
Rwanda is this week hosting the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the capital Kigali, the first gathering of Commonwealth leaders in four years. Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are among world leaders attending.
The UK is ermerging as one of Rwanda’s strongest allies and PM Johnson said in interviews from CHOGM that criticism of Rwanda is based on “stereotypes of Rwanda that is now outdated.” UK Home Secretary Priti Patel recently brokered a £120 million ($147m) deal with Rwanda to send asylum seekers to the East African country, an accord that hangs in the balance after a last-minute intervention by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
Opinion: Dear Prince Charles, don't shake hands with the tyrant who kidnapped our father
Patel described Rwanda as “a safe haven for refugees” as the UK vowed to push ahead with the controversial scheme.

‘No safe haven’

Far from being a “safe haven” for refugees as claimed by Patel and others in the UK government, Rwanda has been accused by human rights groups of treating refugees badly.
In 2018, at least 11 Congolese refugees were killed when Rwandan police opened fire at the Kiziba refugee camp and Karongi town as refugees protested cuts to their food rations, Amnesty International reported at the time. Rwandan authorities told CNN the country’s police resorted to shooting to control a group of violent protesters and said it was an isolated incident.
Rwanda had previously received refugees from Israel.
According to Israeli media, some of the refugees deported to Rwanda between 2014 and 2017 were struggling to survive, with some destitute. Many of the refugees have fled Rwanda while some others who chose to remain in the country have been denied official documents by Rwandan authorities, leading to the arrest and imprisonment of some, Israeli media Haaretz reported.
The UK/Rwanda asylum oncloud shoes deal comes less than a year after the UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights, Rita French, said she was displeased with Rwanda’s refusal to probe human rights abuses as recommended by the British government.
Lewis Mudge, the Central Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told CNN recently that “the UK has cynically decided to change its position on Rwanda… it’s going to ignore the human rights abuses in Rwanda and claim that it is a safe and acceptable country to send refugees to, to justify this cruel and immoral program.”
He added that Rwanda is a safe country only for those who toe the line.
“Just because Rwanda is clean and is safe for the Westerners doesn’t necessarily translate to safety for all Rwandans. Rwanda is a safe country for Rwandans if you keep your head down and don’t ask any questions or challenge anything. The moment you step up and start to question something or have an independent opinion and express it, Rwanda becomes a very difficult country to live in. These Western countries need to recognize that,” Mudge added.
A spokesperson for the Rwandan government declined to comment on HRW’s allegations, dismissing the agency as “a discredited source.”
Mudge described the UK-Rwanda asylum deal as an affront to the Commonwealth’s values.
“The UK is ostensibly the leader of the Commonwealth and this is an abdication of one of the pillars of the Commonwealth, which is the fundamental respect for human rights,” he said.
Refugees sent from the UK would comprise various nationalities, but Rwandan Foreign Minister Biruta said the asylum program will only be for people seeking asylum in the UK who are already in the UK and would exclude refugees from Rwanda’s neighbors such as the DRC, Burundi, Uganda, and Tanzania.
The UK government had said the program was targeted at curbing people-smuggling networks and discouraging migrants from making dangerous sea journeys to the UK.

From genocide to growth

To his supporters and Western and Asian allies, President Kagame is a liberator who has modernized and transformed Rwanda, a former Belgian colony.
His party, the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF), has been in power since the end of the civil war in 1994, with Kagame serving as vice-president and defense minister until 2000 and then president for the last 22 years.
Kagame unified the country after the genocide, working to abolish the divisive terms “Hutu” and “Tutsi” and to integrate the two cultures.
The gains made in Rwanda under his rule are undeniable.
Rwandan government spokesperson Yolande Makolo told CNN the country has made remarkable progress in the last 28 years, citing increased life expectancy, near-universal healthcare, and low corruption levels in the country.
According to the World Bank, Rwanda has witnessed “strong economic growth … accompanied by substantial improvements in living standards.” A report by the World Bank in 2020 stated that the country also has been successful in “reducing administrative corruption … from an accepted practice to one that is regarded as illegitimate and, once identified, one that is punished.”
Rwanda also ranks 1st among 13 low-income economies and 7th among the 27 economies of Sub-Saharan Africa for its innovation kizik shoes capabilities on the 2021 Global Innovation Index.
The country has further endeared itself to the West by advancing gender equality and creating a female-dominated cabinet. Around 61% of its parliamentary seats are held by women.
Kagame has been aggressive in attracting foreign direct investment into the country. In 2018, the Rwandan government signed a three-year promotional deal with English Premier League side Arsenal “as part of the country’s drive to become a leading global tourist destination, using ‘Visit Rwanda’ messaging,” the English football club said in a statement.
Arsenal’s male and female team jerseys have featured the ‘Visit Rwanda’ logo on their left sleeve ever since.

Crackdown on opposition

However, such gains notwithstanding, Kagame’s rule has been characterized by widely reported human rights abuses.
The Freedom in the World 2022 Report by Freedom House found that “while the regime has maintained stability and economic growth, it has also suppressed political dissent through pervasive surveillance, intimidation, torture, and renditions or suspected assassinations of exiled dissidents.”
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire was the presidential candidate of the Unified Democratic Forces (UDF) party in the 2010 Rwanda presidential elections and says she is a victim of Kagame’s crackdown on dissent.
She told CNN she had left the Netherlands, where she lived with her family, to play an active role in Rwandan politics but ended up being jailed on what she says were trumped-up charges of terrorism and threatening national security by the Kagame regime.
“I was arrested in 2010 and spent eight years in prison. In 2018, I was released by a presidential pardon which came with the condition that I couldn’t leave Rwanda freely without government permission. Three times I have asked for permission to visit my family in the Netherlands but the government did not respond to my request,” Ingabire said.
Rwandan opposition politician Victoire Ingabire pictured in a Kigali court in 2011.
Rwandan government spokesperson Makolo told CNN Ingabire “was tried and convicted of serious crimes including complicity in acts of terrorism and promoting genocide ideology.”
Makolo added that: “Ingabire had her conviction commuted after she appealed for clemency, however her criminal record remains because her crimes were proven beyond doubt.
“As part of this deal, she has to request to leave the country, as does anyone else in the same situation.” Makolo did not comment further on the status of Ingabire’s requests to leave the country.
Ingabire said she challenged her imprisonment at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights — established by the African Union — in 2014 and was acquitted three years later after the court found that the Rwandan government had violated her rights.
Ingabire says she now lives in fear.
“I am afraid for my life … because you don’t know what can happen to you if you’re a member of the opposition,” she told CNN via a phone call.
“If you criticize the government, you are labeled as an enemy of the state, and then you’re arrested and put in prison … President Kagame does not tolerate criticism against his regime.”
Makolo did not respond to the specific incidents Ingabire spoke about. She, however, accused Ingabire of making “baseless claims” against Rwandan authorities.
“Despite being labeled as an opposition politician, she (Ingabire) has no discernible policy platform, she doesn’t offer solutions that would help improve our country. She only uses her platform to make baseless claims about the government. This doesn’t help advance our nation’s progress,” Makolo said.
A hostel that housed Rwanda genocide survivors prepares to take in people deported by the UK
Responding to the widespread reports of abuse, Makolo said Rwanda could not be characterized as a country with no respect for human rights.
“This characterization bears no relation to the country I know … A central principle of Rwanda’s reconstruction has been ensuring that every single person is treated … as a human being — that means that we do not tolerate discrimination of any form. This is enshrined in our constitution and upheld by our commitment to the rule of law,” Makolo told CNN.
Another outspoken critic of Kagame is Paul Rusesabagina, who was last year convicted of terrorism-related charges and sentenced to 25 years in prison by a court in Kigali. Rusesabagina, who inspired the film “Hotel Rwanda,” was renowned for saving more than a thousand Rwandans during the country’s genocide by sheltering them in the hotel he managed.
He was accused by Rwandan prosecutors of being involved with the National Liberation Front (FLN), an armed wing of the Rwanda Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD). Rusesabagina admitted to having a leadership role in the MRCD but denied responsibility for attacks carried out by the FLN.
His family says he was not given a fair trial and was kidnapped while overseas and returned to Rwanda in August 2020. Rusesabagina told the New York Times in a video interview he was en route to Burundi on a private plane to speak to churches on August 28 but found himself surrounded by soldiers in Rwanda when he woke up.
Speaking to CNN at the time, Kagame denied claims that Rusesabagina was kidnapped and renditioned to Rwanda.
“It was very proper and legal,” Kagame said of Rusesabagina’s arrest.
“If he was working with somebody in Burundi in the same plot of destabilizing our country, and the same person, for example, decided to drive him to Kigali — the person he was working with, and he had trusted — and the government was working with that person he trusted, how does the government become culpable for that operation?” he added.

‘Rwanda is a poor country’

In addition to raising human rights concerns around the asylum deal, opposition politician Ingabire says that high unemployment rates in Rwanda will prevent the refugees deported by the UK from building lives there.
“There is a high rate of unemployment in Rwanda, especially among the youth. … What will happen to the refugees when the British government stops funding their accommodation? They don’t have a future in Rwanda,” Ingabire said.
She also considers Rwanda’s economic growth a myth, as poverty remains prevalent in the country’s rural areas. According to the UN’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, poverty rates in rural parts of the country stand at 42%, far higher than in cities at 15%.
“Outside Kigali, there are no infrastructures as what you see in Kigali. The Rwandan government has not increased employment across the country, that is why we have the majority of poverty in the rural areas,” Ingabire told CNN.

The Jan. 6 committee was tweaking plan for tonight’s hearing up until the last minute, sources say

A large projection screen is seen before Thursday night's hearing.
A large projection screen is seen before Thursday night’s hearing. (J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

The Jan. 6 select committee held final rehearsals for tonight’s prime-time hearing today and sources say members and staff were making final tweaks and adjustments to their plan right up until the last minute.

While the committee had the lion’s share of their plan in place, they were still making final decisions about the order of their presentation, even deciding which videos to share tonight and which to save for later hearings.

Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson, the committee chair, and GOP Rep. Liz Cheney, the committee vice chair, are expected to play a starring role, with other members of the committee not contributing much to tonight’s hearing. They instead are being tasked with running separate hearings on later dates.

The hearing will rely heavily on a multimedia presentation to set the stage for what the investigation has uncovered up until this point, and tee up more in depth hearings throughout the month of June.

Former Presidents decided against recording messages for hearing, fearful of injecting politics, sources say

Americans will not be hearing from their former Presidents tonight.

The House select committee asked some of the former living Presidents whether they would record a video message about the importance of the peaceful transition of power in the United States, people familiar with the matter tell CNN, with a particular focus from Bill Clinton to George W. Bush to Barack Obama.

The three former Presidents decided against making the video messages, people familiar with the matter say, fearful that it could unnecessarily inject politics into the investigation — and create an unnecessary opening for the other member of the President’s club, Donald Trump, to seize upon.

While Clinton, Bush and Obama all have spoken out against the attack on the Capitol — in real-time messages on that day, as the violence was underway, and multiple times over the past year — the trio will not be heard from tonight.

Russia has requested military and economic assistance from China, US officials say

National security adviser Jake Sullivan talks to reporters at the White House on December 7, 2021, in Washington, DC.

House panel asks Supreme Court to say by mid-January whether it’s taking Trump’s January 6 records case

Former President Donald Trump appealed to the Supreme Court on Thursday to block the release of documents from his White House to the House committee investigating the January 6 riot at the Capitol, escalating his effort to keep about 700 pages of records secret.

Hours after Trump’s request was filed, the House olukai shoes committee asked the justices to expedite their consideration of the request, with a proposed schedule that would allow the court to say by the middle of next month whether it was taking up the case.
The committee, which is charged with investigating the US Capitol attack to provide recommendations for preventing such assaults in the future, seeks the documents as it explores Trump’s role in trying to overturn the election. That includes his appearance at a January 6 rally when he directed followers to go to the Capitol where lawmakers were set to certify the election results and “fight” for their county. The documents are currently held by the National Archives.
Then-President Donald Trump walks from Marine One after arriving on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, October 1, 2020, following campaign events in New Jersey.
In filings submitted to the Supreme Court on Thursday, Trump asked the justices to take up a full review of the case and he requested that while they consider his position, they put a hold on the lower court decision permitting the disclosure of his records while they consider taking up the case.
“The limited interest the Committee may have in immediately obtaining the requested records pales in comparison to President Trump’s interest in securing judicial review before he suffers irreparable harm,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the court filings.

Records could answer longstanding questions about riot

At issue are hundreds of documents including activity logs, schedules, speech notes and three pages of handwritten notes from then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows — paperwork that could reveal goings-on inside the West Wing as Trump supporters gathered in Washington and then overran the US Capitol, disrupting the certification of the 2020 vote. The records could answer some of the most closely guarded facts of what happened hoka shoes for women between Trump and other high-level officials, including those under siege on Capitol Hill on January 6.
Trump is also seeking to keep secret a draft proclamation honoring two police officers who died in the siege and memos and other documents about supposed election fraud and efforts to overturn Trump’s loss of the presidency, the National Archives has said in court documents.
In its expedition request Thursday evening, the House committee said that any delay in the Supreme Court’s consideration would “inflict a serious injury on the Select Committee and the public.”
“The Select Committee needs the requested documents now to help shape the direction of the investigation and allow the Select Committee to timely recommend remedial legislation,” the panel said. It said the committee and the Biden administration would file by December 30 their responses to Trump’s request that the Supreme Court take up the case. The lawmakers are asking the Supreme Court to consider during its January 14 conference whether it will take up the case.
The fight over the documents stems from a lawsuit Trump filed against the Archives as well as the House committee, seeking to stop the records’ disclosure. Trump is arguing that those documents should remain secret under the former President’s own assertions of executive privilege, though so far, lower courts have rejected his arguments.
Thursday’s filing with the Supreme Court marks an escalation of the dispute, in which President Joe Biden has determined that withholding the documents based on executive privilege is not in the interest of the United States. In a letter to the National Archives in October, White House Counsel Dana A. Remus said that the President had declined to assert privilege because Congress has a “compelling need in service of its legislative functions to understand the circumstances that led to these horrific events.”
In their filings with the Supreme Court Thursday, the former President’s lawyers said that the House’s request for the Trump White House documents was “untethered from any valid legislative purpose and exceeds the authority of Congress under the Constitution and the Presidential Records Act.”
Trump told the Supreme Court that the case posed “novel and important questions of law that the Court should resolve.”
“While the protections of executive privilege and restrictions on access to presidential records are qualified, it is critical that future Presidents and their advisers understand the contours and perimeters of that privilege—and its exceptions—after the conclusion of a presidential term,” Trump said in his request that the court take up the case.
Arguments rejected by lower courts
Previously, both a district court judge and the DC US Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Trump’s arguments in decisions that backed the legitimacy of the document requests and the investigation more broadly.
“Former President Trump has given this court no hoka shoes legal reason to cast aside President Biden’s assessment of the Executive Branch interests at stake, or to create a separation of powers conflict that the Political Branches have avoided,” the DC Circuit said in its opinion earlier this month. In its December 9 ruling against Trump, the appeals court gave him 14 days to request a Supreme Court intervention.
In his application with Chief Justice John Roberts — who oversees emergency matters arising from the DC Circuit — to put the appeals court decision on hold, Trump said that allowing for the documents to be released before the Supreme Court considered the case would “detrimentally impact Presidential decisionmaking for all future Presidents.”
“There will not be another Presidential transition for more than three years; Congress has time to allow this Court to consider this expedited appeal,” Trump wrote in the filing.
Left unsaid was that Republicans are expected to take control of the House in next year’s election and would likely end the House select committee’s investigation.

The trip could have killed them. But people fleeing economic wreckage in the Middle East say they’d do it 100 times over

Four-year-old Azhi hobbles across a makeshift migrant center on the Polish-Belarusian border. Grabbing his mother’s hand for support, he carefully tucks his legs under piles of donated blankets.

Metal rods tower above the people to prop up a giant zinc roof. Azhi, who has splints on his legs, is smiling and wide-eyed. It’s hard to tell that just days before, the boy’s family faced the specter of death.
“We want to go to Germany so Azhi can get an operation,” says his mother, 28-year old Shoxan Hussein. “The doctors said he needs to get it done before he turns five.”
Four-year-old Azhi and his mother Shoxan Hussain, 28, traveled to Belarus from Iraqi Kurdistan.

Azhi’s family was among hundreds of migrants who attempted to cross into Poland from Belarus in recent weeks with hopes of claiming asylum in the European Union. After days in the freezing Belarusian forest where migrants say they were subjected to beatings and food deprivation by Belarusian forces, the family never made it across the border. Several people died along the journey while thousands were stranded in inhumane conditions. Azhi and his parents survived unscathed.
Days later, they returned to their native Erbil, the commercial hub of Iraqi Kurdistan, skechers outlet on an Iraqi repatriation flight. They are already trying to chart a new path into Europe.
“There is no future for my son in Iraq,” Azhi’s father, 26-year-old Ali Rasool, tells CNN from his Erbil home. “Trying to get to Europe is for Azhi. I need a future for my kid.”

Breaking a cycle of misery

Across the Middle East and North Africa, talk of emigration is rampant. Though guns have largely fallen silent in most of the region’s conflict zones, much of the misery has not let up. Violence that once engulfed four countries — Syria, Libya, Yemen and Iraq — has given way to economic wreckage that extends well beyond their borders. Many regional economies have been reeling from the combined effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, refugee influxes and political instability.
Government corruption in the MENA region is widely viewed as a main culprit, in addition to geopolitical turbulence. A recent survey found that one in three of the region’s 200 million Arab youth are considering emigration. In 2020, that figure was even greater, at nearly half of all Arab youth.
The problem is most acute in post-conflict zones contending with economic depression and where corruption has flourished. In Syria, the United Nations Development Program says that poverty rates are now around 90%, up from around 50-60% in 2019 when violence was significantly more widespread. People who were considered to be food insecure increased from 7.9 million in 2019 to over 12 million in 2020.
An improvised plastic tent gives shelter to Syrian refugees in the forests of Poland on November 26, 2021.

“We’re talking about people who have incomes, a working poor, with one job, with two jobs in the family, who are unable to meet their basic food needs,” UNDP Resident Representative in Syria Ramla Khalidi tells CNN. “What that’s meant is they’re skipping meals, they’re going into debt, they’re consuming cheaper, less-nutritious meals.”
Around 98% of people have reported food as their top expenditure. “Fresh fruits and vegetables are a luxury and they’re skipping meats in their diet,” says Khalidi.
Syria’s “massive and severe poverty” has been exacerbated by nike outlet the financial tailspin in neighboring Lebanon which began in 2019. The Lebanese economy was previously seen as a lifeline for a financially and diplomatically isolated Damascus. A crushing sanctions regime on areas under the control of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which is most of the country, was compounded by the Caesar Act in 2020. This aimed to drive Syrian President Bashar al-Assad back to the UN-led negotiating table but it has instead further devastated an already floundering economy, and the President’s rule continues unfazed.
The Syrian regime is widely accused of having repeatedly committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the last 10 years of the country’s war, including attacks on the civilian population with chemical weapons and indiscriminately shelling populated areas under rebel control with conventional munitions. Tens of thousands of political prisoners have died in Assad’s prisons after having been subjected to extreme torture and mistreatment.
Syrians inspect rubble at a site that was targeted by shelling in Ariha, allegedly carried out by Syrian government forces, killing at least 10 people, on October 20, 2021.

In parts of Syria that fall outside of Assad’s rule — namely the country’s Kurdish-controlled northeast and the northwest which is under the sway of fundamentalist Islamist rebels — the economy is also in tatters.
“That’s the only thing that people still share in Syria. Everyone’s suffering economically no matter who controls the areas,” says Haid Haid, consulting associate fellow at Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.
It’s a situation that has prompted many of the country’s skilled workforce to leave, deepening the economic predicament, says the UN’s Khalidi.
“The hospitals, the schools, the factories have lost a lot of their skilled workers because many of these individuals are trying to find their way out even if it means risking their lives,” she says, whilst calling on donor countries to invest in “resilience interventions” aimed at enhancing urban and rural livelihoods.
“It’s an unprecedented crisis in terms of its complexity,” says Khalidi. “Year on year the amount of funding has increased and yet we see humanitarian needs also increasing, so I think we need to change the model, reduce humanitarian dependence and focus more keen shoes funding on early recovery and resilience efforts. “
In neighboring Iraq, ravaged by multiple battles including a devastating war with ISIS, the economy has fared better, but a sense of hopelessness prevails. A youth-led anti-corruption protest movement in October 2019 was lethally crushed and co-opted by major political players, and while independent politicians made unprecedented gains in this year’s parliamentary elections, nepotism and corruption continue to reign supreme in the country’s political and commercial centers, analysts say.
“We cannot talk about Kurdistan or Federal Iraq as a functioning thing because it’s not,” said Hafsa Halawa, non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute, referring to the northern semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. “The reality is that public services are intermittent, opportunity is zero, corruption, nepotism and violence is ongoing and regular.”
“What is wrong with someone who’s 21, 22 saying ‘I cannot stay here like my parents did. I have to break the cycle. I have to change things for my future family, for my future kids’?”
A picture shows the Kurdish-run al-Hol camp, which holds relatives of suspected ISIS fighters in the northeastern Hasakeh governorate, on December 6, 2021.

Halawa, who is British-Iraqi-Egyptian, argues that a major driver of the influx of refugees is the disappearance of legal mechanisms for the entry of skilled workers into Europe.
“The fascinating thing to me — if I’m talking about the UK and (Home Secretary) Priti Patel’s immigration point scheme that she introduced — is that my father as a qualified surgeon who went on to serve the NHS for 40 years, would not have qualified for a work visa when he arrived here,” says Halawa.
“The mechanisms by which we — in the developed world — allowed people to learn and then keep them here to benefit society are no longer available,” says Halawa.
Chatham House’s Haid, a native Syrian, considers himself among the lucky ones. Nearly five years ago, he was granted refugee status in the UK. He says the images of Syrians dying in the English Channel gave him mixed feelings of sadness and personal relief. He also believes that the migration of Syrians will continue unabated.
“When things (in Syria) started getting worse despite the decline in violence, that’s when people living there were hit by the reality that things will never get better,” says Haid. “That’s why even those who were refusing to leave the country during the war now feel that there is no solution but to flee, because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. That’s it.”
At the same time, Haid feels like he made it to the UK in the nick of time. “You feel lucky to have made it before your window of opportunity, which was rapidly closing, is shut forever,” he says.
Back in Erbil, Shoxan Hussein and her husband Ali Rasool believe legal passage to Europe is permanently shut. Rasool, a manager of a property company, and Hussein, an engineer, applied for a visa at the French embassy earlier this year but say they never received a response.
“Erbil is better for me and my wife than anywhere else in the world. We have a good car, good clothing,” says Rasool. “But this is all for Azhi … we’ve already done three operations here and have gotten no results. The problem is that (the doctors) are taking money from us and they haven’t made even 5% difference.”
“If you told me to risk my life 100 times before I got to Europe to improve my son’s life then my wife and I would do it,” he says. “I would repeat this journey 100 times.”

Colin Powell’s death doesn’t contradict efficacy of coronavirus vaccines, experts say

WASHINGTON — The death of storied general and statesman Colin Powell from complications related to COVID-19 should not lead to any concerns about the efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, according to experts and government officials.

The fact remains that unvaccinated people are 11 times more likely to die than those who have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Please don’t let the death of an American icon become fodder for anti-vax forces that are putting untold millions in danger,” wrote Department of Health and Human Services adviser Ian Sams on Twitter. “Vaccines work. They prevent bad salomon boots outcomes. They (like all vaccines) are not 100%, especially among older people with underlying/complicating health issues.”

Powell, who served as secretary of state during the George W. Bush administration and as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff before that, died Monday at age 84.

Crucially, Powell suffered from a blood cancer known as multiple myeloma — precisely the kind of “immunocompromised” condition that experts have said from the start could lead to lower vaccine efficacy. In fact, the vaccines seemed to work especially poorly in patients afflicted with that type of cancer, even after a booster shot. (Powell also suffered from Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative condition.)

President-elect Bush smiles as he introduces retired Gen. Colin Powell, left, as his nominee to be secretary of state during a ceremony in Crawford, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 16, 2000. Powell served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George Bush, father of the president-elect. (David J. Phillip/AP)
President-elect George W. Bush introduces Colin Powell in 2000 as his nominee to be secretary of state.

Powell’s wife, Alma, had also reportedly contracted the coronavirus but was able to fight off the ensuing COVID-19 illness successfully.

Still, the mere news that a high-profile figure like Powell had died after being fully vaccinated is bound to fuel misinformation about the sperry shoes pandemic. Alex Berenson, a former New York Times journalist widely criticized (and banished from Twitter) for voicing unsound views, used the news to mock the efficacy of vaccines on his Substack channel.

And John Roberts, a correspondent for Fox News — whose most prominent hosts have routinely spread vaccine misinformation — wrote on Twitter that Powell’s death “raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term.” Roberts deleted the tweet.

Medical professionals insist that worries about breakthrough deaths are unfounded and are being exaggerated by some media reports.

“The news reports, in saying that General Powell was vaccinated, should also mention that he had multiple myeloma. Individuals who are older, with chronic medical conditions (especially immunocompromised) are at much greater risk for adverse outcomes,” wrote Dr. Leana Wen, the former Baltimore health commissioner and a professor of emergency medicine at George Washington University, in an email to Yahoo News.

“We should also be clear that the vaccines are very protective, but virtually nothing in medicine is 100%,” Wen wrote. “That doesn’t mean vaccines don’t work, but rather that we have to put the benefit of vaccination into perspective.”

Gen. Colin Powell (Ret.) on stage during the Capital Concerts'
Powell at the National Memorial Day Concert in Washington, D.C., on May 28.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 190 million people in the United States have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus. Of those people, 1,074 under the age of 65 have died from COVID-19. There have been 6,104 COVID-19 deaths of people 65 or older who had bluetooth headphones been vaccinated. Among the breakthrough coronavirus deaths tracked by the CDC were 951 people who did not show symptoms of COVID-19 and appear to have died from another cause.

“I don’t really have a sense yet if breakthrough deaths are up more recently because of waning vaccine immunity, [especially] given that 3rd mRNA immunizations should bump up immunity again,” tweeted Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine expert at Baylor College of Medicine, alluding to the Pfizer booster shots that have recently been authorized for some groups.

More people are set to receive boosters in the coming weeks and months, as federal regulators are expected to approve shots for recipients of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.

The notion of breakthrough infections has been a concern since an outbreak in Provincetown, Mass., during the July 4 holiday weekend. Although the resort town boasted an exceptionally high vaccination rate, a cluster of 1,000 cases emerged. But despite the fear engendered by the outbreak, only seven of the Provincetown cases required hospitalizations, and no deaths were reported.

A Spanish hospital diagnosed a woman with homosexuality. It was all a mistake, they say.

Alba Aragón, 19, has since filed a complaint with the local health department denouncing “LGBTBIfobia,” or “considering her sexual orientation an illness.”

Alba Aragón did not shy away from sharing her sexual orientation during her first appointment with a gynecologist last week.

After all, Aragón is comfortable with her sexuality: She has been attracted to women since she was 15.

“I told him that I was gay because I thought it would be an important fact at the time of prescribing any nike sneakers treatment or determining the diagnosis,” said Aragón, who lives in Murcia, a city in southeast Spain.

But before the consult ended at the Hospital General Universitario Reina Sofía, doctor Eugenio López handed her a document diagnosing her with an illness that had nothing to do with the irregular and painful periods for which Aragón had sought treatment.

Instead, it read in Spanish, “Current illness: Homosexual.”

Aragón, 19, was taken aback when she reviewed the report.

“I thought it was incredible that up until this day, in the 21st century, these types of beliefs continue to exist,” she told The Washington Post.

Aragón has since filed a complaint with the local health department denouncing “LGTBIfobia,” or “considering her sexual orientation an illness.” The complaint – submitted by GALACTYCO, a Spain-based activist group that defends LGBTQ rights – demands a new diagnosis so that no mention of homosexuality as an illness will be found in Aragón’s medical records. It also urged the hospital to admonish López and calls for an apology to be sent to Aragón.

The doctor has told local media that the incident was a “mistake” that happened when transcribing the patient’s record.

“What can I do?” López told El Español. “It was a huge slip-up. I’m a human being. I clicked the wrong button.”

The hospital is defending that explanation.

“The computer system offers a series nike store of fields to fill out the report and, as the own specialist has said, he made a mistake when selecting the field where he put the word ‘Homosexuality,'” spokeswoman Mar Sánchez told The Post.

A man who answered the phone at the doctor’s office on Friday said López was not at his clinic. He declined to answer questions about the case, instead referring to interviews with local media.

The case – widely reported by Spanish news outlets – sparked national outrage, drawing the attention of local LGBTQ organizations and political leaders who denounced the incident.

On the morning of Oct. 4, a nervous Aragón walked into the public hospital for her first-ever gynecology appointment. Her mother and sister could not accompany her because of work obligations, Aragón’s mother, Santi Conesa, told The Post. But Aragón, who had already waited months to secure the appointment because of the pandemic, chose to go on her own.

By the time she got to the doctor’s office, Aragón answered a series of routine questions before voluntarily disclosing her sexual orientation, she said. Following the doctor’s examination, Aragón said she was asked whether her sexual orientation could be noted in her clinical file – a piece of information only the physician would be able to see.

“The surprise happened when I got home and I read the report,” Aragón said.

The doctor’s diagnosis didn’t upset her, Aragón said, but it certainly would have five years ago when she was still grappling with accepting asics shoes her sexual orientation. Aragón and her family reached out to GALACTYCO, the LGBTQ collective, to submit a complaint on behalf of people struggling with coming out. She doesn’t want anyone to feel that homosexuality is an illness, Aragón told The Post.

She added: “In the end, we wanted to tell this experience and publicize it so it doesn’t happen to other people.”

The complaint was presented to Murcia’s Consejería de Salud, the local health department, on Wednesday. A spokeswoman with the department confirmed the hospital has opened an investigation.

That same day, leaders there called Aragón to apologize, the hospital spokeswoman told The Post. The doctor also fixed the report the next day, the spokeswoman added.

Aragón and her mother have accepted the hospital’s apologies.

“My intention is that it does not happen again with me nor with anyone else,” Aragón told The Post.

An Amazon shopper faces up to 20 years in jail for $290,000 fraud. Prosecutors say he bought Apple, Asus, and Fuji products, then mailed cheaper items as returns.

A white Amazon package with a black barcode on a conveyor belt
Hudson Hamrick faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
  • An Amazon shopper pleaded guilty to more than $290,000 in fraud for mailing fake returns.
  • Prosecutors said Hudson Hamrick, of North Carolina, bought expensive items then returned cheap ones.
  • Amazon noticed the fraudulent returns, which began in 2016, and referred the case to the FBI.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

An Amazon shopper who for five years bought expensive items – including a top-of-the-line iMac Pro – and then mailed hoka shoes cheaper items as returns faces up to 20 years in prison for wire fraud, prosecutors said.

Hudson Hamrick, of Charlotte, North Carolina, on Tuesday pleaded guilty in the US District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, a court filing showed.

The Department of Justice also issued a statement on Tuesday that said Hamrick faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Hamrick’s public defender did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

US attorneys filed charges against Hamrick in September, saying he’d engaged in about 300 fraudulent transactions with Amazon. That included about 270 product returns – some 250 of which were “materially different in value” – that amounted to more than $290,000 in total fraud, said the charging document and another that detailed several transactions as part of Hamrick’s plea agreement.

Many of the transactions followed a simple pattern, prosecutors said: Hamrick would order an expensive item, initiate a return, then mail a similar – but less valuable – item. Sometimes he’d also sell the expensive item, hey dude netting him both the return and the resale value, prosecutors said.

In August 2019, for example, Hamrick ordered an Apple iMac Pro for $4,256.85, the US attorneys said. After about two weeks, Hamrick started the return process with Amazon, which then issued a refund.

“Instead of returning the high-end iMac Pro, Hamrick returned a much older, less valuable non-Pro model with a completely different serial number,” said a court document filed by Maria K. Vento, an assistant US attorney.

A week before Hamrick initiated his Amazon return, he sold an iMac Pro on eBay, Vento said.

Prosecutors said the items Hamrick ordered included a Jura GIGA W3 Professional coffee machine for $3,536.46; an Asus ROG Zephyrus gaming laptop for $2,776.52; and a Fuji Spray system for $1,227.31. Each time, he returned a lower-value item or older model, prosecutors said.

An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the tech giant discovered the alleged fraud and referred the case to law enforcement. It worked with the FBI and the US attorney’s office in North Carolina.

“Amazon has systems in place to detect suspicious behavior, and teams in place to investigate and stop prohibited activity,” the spokesperson said. “There is no place for fraud at Amazon, and we will continue to pursue all measures to hold bad actors accountable.”