Tag Archives: WorldNews

UK’s top senior civil servant steps down as Johnson adviser seeks change

Same kind of lies that Trump uses to fire inspectors and prosecutors to protect from people discovering he is selling his country out – Boris doing the same!

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FILE PHOTO: Britain’s National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill speaks at a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (not pictured) at Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing, China May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Florence Lo/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s most senior civil servant stepped down on Sunday after reports of clashes with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top political adviser, part of what is expected to be a wider shake up of officials at the heart of power.

Johnson’s senior political adviser, Dominic Cummings, has long been critical of the civil service, saying government is not nimble enough to deliver change. Some newspapers reported he warned aides last week that a “hard rain is going to fall”.

Mark Sedwill, a career diplomat, was appointed cabinet secretary and national security adviser by Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May. In a letter to Johnson released on Sunday, he wrote that, having stayed on for “the acute phase of the Covid-19 crisis,” he was now leaving as “the government’s focus is now shifting to domestic and global recovery and renewal”.

Johnson’s office released a letter in which he thanked Sedwill for his “outstanding service”, and asked him to lead a new G7 panel on global economic security as Britain assumes the presidency of the rich nations’ group.

David Frost, Britain’s chief negotiator with the European Union, will replace Sedwill as national security adviser and that there will be a competition to appoint a new cabinet secretary and head of the civil service.

Johnson’s team has been criticised over its response to the coronavirus crisis, blamed by opposition parties and some scientists for being too slow to tackle the pandemic. Britain now has one of the world’s highest death tolls from the crisis.

Sedwill also bore the brunt of criticism from Brexit supporters during Britain’s earlier negotiations with the EU, with some Conservatives accusing him of not doing enough to prepare for a so-called no deal departure.

Earlier on Sunday, interior minister Priti Patel hinted that there could be changes.

“This is the people’s government, delivering on the people’s priorities, and effectively any reforming government will be based around the type of delivery that our prime minister wants to drive for our great country and obviously have the right kind of support around him to deliver that,” she told Sky News.

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Peter Graff

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

“Fit as a butcher’s dog”, UK PM does press ups to show coronavirus recovery

Metaphor fits, as he has been living out of public trough for too many years.

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FILE PHOTO: Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, June 24, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson did some press ups to show he was “as fit as a butcher’s dog” in an interview with the Mail on Sunday newspaper, just months after he fought for his life in hospital against the coronavirus.

Johnson, well known for staging eye-catching stunts during the campaign to leave the European Union and as London’s mayor, used the interview to unveil plans to spend on infrastructure to help Britain “bounce back” after the coronavirus lockdown.

But the British leader was also keen to show he was returned to health after being in intensive care in April after testing positive for the coronavirus, a stay he described shortly afterwards as one which “could have gone either way”.

“I’m as fit as a butcher’s dog now,” Johnson said, and after asking: “Do you want me to do some press-ups to show you how fit I am?”, the prime minister, dressed in a shirt and tie, then got on the floor to complete some press ups.

“The country is going to bounce forward, and I certainly feel full of beans. Never felt better.”

Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by Alison Williams

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Violence by far-right is among US’s most dangerous terrorist threats, study finds

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Center for Strategic and International Studies analysis of domestic terrorist incidents found majority have come from far right

Violence by far-right groups and individuals has emerged as one of the most dangerous terrorist threats faced by US law enforcement and triggered a wave of warnings and arrests of people associated with those extremist movements.

The most recent in-depth analysis of far-right terrorism comes from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Continue reading…

FEMA Ordered $10.2 Million in COVID-19 Testing Kits It’s Now Warning States Not to Use

by Ryan Gabrielson and J. David McSwane

ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they’re published.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has warned states not to use COVID-19 testing supplies it bought under a $10.2 million contract after a ProPublica investigation last week showed the vendor was providing contaminated and unusable mini soda bottles.

A FEMA spokeswoman said the agency is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to analyze test tubes filled with saline and sold to the government by Fillakit LLC, whose warehouse is near Houston.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we recommend this media not be used at this time,” spokeswoman Alex Bruner said.

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ProPublica reported on June 18 that Fillakit was using plastic preforms, which are expanded with heat and pressure to become 2-liter soda bottles, to fulfill FEMA’s contract for testing supplies to be used by states. The bottles were shoveled into the warehouse, then filled with saline in what workers described as unsanitary conditions. Some of the states receiving the lab equipment told ProPublica that even if Fillakit’s tubes weren’t contaminated, they were simply too big to be used in lab machinery.

A later story in The Wall Street Journal raised similar allegations. The Journal first reported on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security’s inspector general is now looking into the contractor. Fillakit owner Paul Wexler previously told the Journal that allegations of unsanitary conditions were baseless and came from a disgruntled former employee.

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Teresa Green, a retired science teacher and former Fillakit employee, told ProPublica that she spoke with someone identified as a “special agent” with Homeland Security who told her he was looking into Fillakit’s operations. Green declined to elaborate.

A spokesperson for the Homeland Security inspector general’s office said, “As a matter of policy, we do not confirm or deny open investigations.”

The FEMA spokeswoman said the agency continues to provide “critically needed testing supplies in a timely manner to our state and local partners in response to the coronavirus.”

FEMA signed its first deal with Fillakit on May 7, just six days after the company was formed by an ex-telemarketer repeatedly accused of fraudulent practices over the past two decades. Fillakit has supplied a total of more than 3 million tubes, which FEMA then approved and sent to all 50 states.

Wexler has previously declined to comment. A ProPublica reporter visited the facility this month and confirmed that workers were using snow shovels to gather up tubes and filling them, all in the open air.

Fillakit continues to advertise COVID-19 testing supplies on its website, including “Premier Leakproof Tubes.” The photos of tubes on its website look nothing like the larger soda preforms it has sold to FEMA, according to photos provided by state health departments and former employees.

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The Trump Administration Paid Millions for Test Tubes — and Got Unusable Mini Soda Bottles

The plastic tubes supplied for coronavirus testing by Fillakit, a first-time federal contractor with a sketchy owner, don’t even fit the racks used to analyze samples. And they may be contaminated anyway.

Officials in New York, New Jersey, Texas and New Mexico confirmed they were not able to use the Fillakit tubes. Three other states told ProPublica that they received Fillakit supplies and have not distributed them to testing sites. FEMA had previously asked health officials in several states to find an alternative use for the mini soda bottles.

Last week, Missouri health officials asked testing facilities there to not use the Fillakit testing supplies sent out by the state.

ProPublica’s data analysis shows that federal agencies hastily awarded more than $2 billion dollars in COVID-19 contracts to vendors who had no prior federal deals.

In total, the federal government has committed more than $16 billion to more than 4,000 contractors in its attempt to address the spread of the novel coronavirus. More than 1,800 of those deals were given without competitive bidding. Many companies, including Fillakit, had no experience sourcing medical supplies.

ProPublica continues to update its searchable online database of all federal contracts awarded to address the pandemic.

Do you have access to information about federal contracts that should be public? Email david.mcswane@propublica.org or ryan.gabrielson@ propublica.org. Here’s how to send tips and documents to ProPublica securely.


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Judge orders Trump adviser Roger Stone to report to prison by July 14

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FILE PHOTO: Roger Stone, longtime adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump, arrives at the federal courthouse where he is set to be sentenced, in Washington, U.S., February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal judge on Friday ordered Roger Stone, President Donald Trump’s longtime friend and adviser, to report to prison by July 14 to begin his sentence after being convicted of seven criminal counts last year, granting him a 14-day extension over concerns about the coronavirus.

The 67-year-old veteran Republican operative and self-described “dirty trickster,” who lives in South Florida, had been scheduled to report to a federal prison in Jesup, Georgia, by next Tuesday. Florida is experiencing rising numbers of coronavirus infections.

Stone was found guilty by a jury last November of obstruction, witness tampering and lying to Congress under oath during its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, who in February sentenced him to three years and four months in prison, granted the extension sought by Stone and ordered him placed in home confinement.

“This will address the defendant’s stated medical concerns during the current increase of reported cases in Florida, and Broward County in particular, and it will respect and protect the health of other inmates who share defendant’s anxiety over the potential introduction and spread of the virus at this now-unaffected facility,” Berman said.

Trump, who has argued that Stone was treated unfairly, declined to answer directly when asked in a Fox News Channel interview on Thursday whether he would issue him a pardon.

Stone was one of several Trump associates who were convicted or pleaded guilty to charges stemming from former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that detailed Russian meddling in the 2016 election to boost Trump’s candidacy.

He was convicted of lying to the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee about his attempts to contact WikiLeaks, the website that released damaging emails about Trump’s 2016 Democratic election rival Hillary Clinton that U.S. intelligence officials have concluded were stolen by Russian hackers.

Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Will Dunham

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Attorney General Barr forms panel on ‘anti-government extremism’

The Barr Chamber – No Star Chamber (secret court in England to imprison those with did not accept absolute obedience to the Crown or Church) but a Barr Chamber to persecute whomever Barr does not like!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Attorney General William Barr on Friday ordered the establishment of a task force to counter what he called “anti-government extremists” committing violence as protests against police brutality convulse the United States.

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FILE PHOTO – U.S. Attorney General William Barr speaks during a roundtable discussion on “America’s seniors” hosted by U.S. President Donald Trump in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Leah Millis

In a memo to law enforcement and prosecutors released by the Department of Justice, Barr said alleged extremists had “engaged in indefensible acts of violence designed to undermine public order,” including attacking police officers, damaging property and threatening innocent people.

Protests have spread nationwide over George Floyd’s death in police custody last month and the deaths of other African Americans at the hands of police.

Although largely peaceful, some demonstrators have turned violent, which President Donald Trump and his allies have blamed on left-wing extremists among the protesters.

Barr said the extremists “profess a variety of ideologies.”

“Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion,” Barr said.

Barr named the militant anti-government movement known as the “boogaloo,” as well as the left-wing Antifa as among those posing “continuing threats of lawlessness”.

Antifa is an amorphous movement whose adherents use confrontational tactics to oppose people or groups they consider authoritarian or racist.

“Boogaloo” members believe the United States will enter into a second civil war, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups. While the ideology itself is not white supremacist, some white supremacist groups have embraced it, the Anti-Defamation League has found.

Federal prosecutors filed charges early this month against three alleged members of the movement accused of plotting to cause violence and destruction at a Las Vegas protest.

The new task force would be headed by two U.S. attorneys, from Texas and New Jersey, Barr said.

It would include members from different law enforcement agencies, but would “particularly draw on the capabilities of the FBI,” he said.

Reporting by Simon Lewis; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Canada’s top court rules in favor of Uber driver in gig economy case

OTTAWA (Reuters) – Canada’s Supreme Court on Friday ruled in favor of a driver in a gig economy case that paves the way for a class action suit calling for Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) to recognize drivers in Canada as company employees.

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FILE PHOTO: An Uber sticker is seen on driver Margaret Bordelon’s car in Lafayette, Louisiana, U.S. February 16, 2020. Picture taken February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare/File Photo

UberEats driver David Heller had filed a class action suit, challenged by Uber, aiming to secure a minimum wage, vacation pay and other benefits like overtime pay. Drivers are now classified as independent contractors and do not have such benefits.

The ride-hailing company’s contract allows arbitration, but not class-action lawsuits. Heller’s attorney said the decision allowing him to sue was important, but only a small first step in a case that will probably take years to litigate.

Two days ago, California said it plans to ask a state court judge to force Uber and Lyft Inc (LYFT.O) to classify their ride-hail drivers as employees rather than contractors.

Canada’s 8-1 Supreme Court ruling dismisses an Uber appeal to an Ontario high court ruling that said the Uber’s arbitration clause violates provincial labor rules and is “invalid and unenforceable.”

The arbitration process, which must be conducted in the Netherlands where Uber has its international headquarters, costs about C$19,000 ($14,500). Heller earned between C$21,000 and C$31,000 per year.

“This was an access to justice case,” said Michael Wright, one of Heller’s lawyers. The court essentially ruled that “a stronger party was taking advantage of a weaker party in an unfair manner,” said Wright.

Uber had no immediate comment.

“The arbitration clause is improvident because the arbitration process requires US$14,500 in up-front administrative fees,” the top court said.

Now Heller can restart his class action suit, Wright said, but the matter will not be settled soon.

“This is the first round in a series of rounds,” said Wright, a labor and employment lawyer with Wright Henry LLP in Toronto, adding that it could take “a few more years.”

Reporting by Steve Scherer, additional reporting by Moira Warburton; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Trump cancels planned weekend visit to New Jersey without explanation

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FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech following a tour of Fincantieri Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wisconsin, U.S., June 25, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Friday canceled a planned weekend visit to his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, the White House said in an updated schedule.

The White House did not provide a reason for the cancellation, which comes amid a spike in novel coronavirus cases in many states.

Reporting by Tim Ahmann and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Lisa Lambert

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.