Ginsburg is First Woman, Jewish Person to Lie in State at US Capitol

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, paid their respects to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as she became the first woman and first Jewish person to lie in state in the U.S. Capitol. Biden and his wife were among the last of the attendees to approach Ginsburg’s casket to bid her farewell at a relatively brief and solemn ceremony in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall. After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told the gathering she had the “high honor to welcome Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to lie in state in the Capitol of the United States,” Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt delivered the eulogy.“All of the days of her life she pursued justice. Even in illness, she changed the course of American law,” Holtzblatt said. “And even when her views did not prevail, she still fought.” Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden, center, and his wife Jill Biden stand as the flag-draped casket of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in state in Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol, Sept. 25, 2020.Ginsburg’s casket arrived from the Supreme Court building on the plaza outside the Capitol. After Ginsburg’s casket was moved inside, a private ceremony for her family and invited guests began at the hall, where her casket rested on the same wooden platform built for the casket of President Abraham Lincoln after his assassination in 1865. Biden’s running mate, Kamala Harris, also paid tribute to Ginsburg at the ceremony, which was attended by a limited number of invited guests because of the coronavirus pandemic.Lawmakers who were not invited to the private ceremony are able to pay their respects before her body is removed later Friday.A statement by the U.S. Supreme Court said Ginsburg, who is also the first Jewish person to lie in state at the Capitol, will be buried next week in a private ceremony at Arlington National Ceremony. Ginsburg has lain in repose for two days at the Supreme Court.President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump pay respects as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg lies in repose at the Supreme Court building, Sept. 24, 2020, in Washington.U.S. President Donald Trump was met with boos and chants of “vote him out” as he and his wife, Melania, appeared Thursday at the Supreme Court to pay their respects to Ginsburg. The president, wearing a face mask, made no remarks as he stood briefly a short distance from Ginsburg’s casket at the top of the court building’s steps. Vice President Mike Pence paid his respects to Ginsburg as she lay in state at the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Ginsburg was honored Wednesday with a private ceremony in the Supreme Court’s Great Hall attended by her family and fellow justices. Her casket was then moved to the front steps for the public to file past and pay their respects until Thursday night. Rosa Parks
Civil rights icon Rosa Parks lay in honor in the Capitol’s historic Rotunda after her death in 2005, a distinction given to eminent private citizens. Ginsburg died last Friday at age 87 of metastatic pancreatic cancer, ending a 27-year tenure on the nation’s highest court. Her status as leader of the court’s liberal minority, along with her pre-jurist work seeking legal equality for women and girls in all spheres of American life, made her a cultural icon, earning her the nickname “The Notorious R.B.G.” Her death has sparked a political battle over her replacement. Trump and Senate Republicans vowed to name and confirm a new justice before the November 3 presidential election, which would give the court a solid 6-3 conservative majority. Trump announced Tuesday that he will name his nominee for the lifetime appointment on Saturday. 

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‘Dark Money’ Groups Pump Millions Into Battle Over Supreme Court Vacancy

Well-funded, secretive political groups are getting into the high-stakes battle over filling a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Known as “dark money” groups because they aren’t required by law to disclose the names of their donors, these influential organizations are pumping millions of dollars into advertising campaigns to influence voter perceptions of what is expected to be one of the most contentious confirmation hearings in modern American history.Just hours after Ginsburg, the 87-year-old liberal icon, died of cancer last Friday, Demand Justice, a progressive dark money group with ties to the Democratic Party, said it would spend $10 million to challenge President Donald Trump’s push to quickly replace Ginsburg with a conservative jurist.The group’s conservative counterpart, Judicial Crisis Network, quickly responded by launching a $2.2 million advertising campaign to support Trump’s push, with the goal of eventually matching or exceeding spending by Demand Justice.Judicial Crisis Network previously pledged to spend $20 million to help confirm Trump’s first two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a political finance watchdog.Spokespeople for Judicial Crisis Network and Demand Justice confirmed their new spending plans to VOA.Trump plans to announce his choice of a conservative female jurist to succeed Ginsburg on Saturday, with Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th District, and Barbara Lagoa, a federal appeals court judge for the 11th District, among the leading contenders.Early this week, Trump lined up sufficient Republican support in the Senate to confirm his choice before the November 3 election.FILE – Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh before President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address Feb. 4, 2020, in Washington.While Demand Justice and other liberal groups have no way of blocking Senate confirmation of Trump’s choice, they can use their ads to make talking points in campaigning against Trump and GOP congressional candidates ahead of the general election.A major complaint of Democrats and liberal groups is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refused to allow former President Barack Obama to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 more than eight months before the general election, saying it should be left to voters to decide. Yet he is strongly supporting Trump’s effort now to fill Ginsburg’s seat with only 40 days before the election.“Donald Trump has hijacked our Supreme Court,” one Demand Justice ad declares. “The future of the Supreme Court is on the line.”Judicial Crisis Network responded in an ad, “Tell the Senate, when a strong nominee is named, follow the precedent, confirm the judge.”While the dark money being spent by Judicial Crisis Network and Demand Justice represents a small fraction of the billions of dollars spent each election cycle, its use has proliferated since a landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision.Judicial Crisis Network and Demand Justice are not the only ones spending on the Supreme Court nomination.Across the political spectrum, other groups, from the conservative Article III Project to the liberal Fix Our Senate, have announced ad buying campaigns to influence the confirmation process, said Anna Massoglia, a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog.Dark money is a term for political spending by nonprofit organizations and shell corporations that, unlike political action committees and candidates, are not required to disclose their donors.Proponents of such anonymous spending say disclosure can stifle speech and subject donors to harassment. But critics say it allows special interest groups and wealthy individuals to exert undue influence on elections without revealing their involvement.Issue One, a bipartisan watchdog organization, warned in a recent report that unregulated shell companies can serve as a convenient conduit for illegal foreign campaign contributions into U.S. elections. In recent years, the Justice Department has charged several individuals with funneling millions of dollars in foreign money into U.S. elections.The 2010 Supreme Court ruling, known as Citizens United and opposed by Ginsburg and the court’s three other liberal justices, lifted restrictions on political spending by corporations and labor unions, giving rise to dark money groups and so-called super PACs.In the early years following Citizens United, dark money was a “Republican problem,” said Zach Wamp, a former Republican congressman from Tennessee – meaning Republicans made the greater use of the unidentified political funding.In the last two election cycles, however, liberal dark money groups have outspent their conservative counterparts as Democrats have resorted to some of the same tactics they once denounced as corrupt.“It’s about power,” Wamp said in an interview. “It’s about who is in, who is out.”A fierce critic of dark money, Wamp now co-chairs Issue One’s bipartisan “ReFormers Caucus.”According to the Center for Responsive Politics, dark money groups are on track to top $1 billion in direct spending reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) since Citizens United.Massoglia, of CRP, noted that over this time period, dark money groups have funneled billions more into political ads, political committees such as super PACs and issue advocacy ads that seek to influence electoral outcomes.”We really are seeing millions of dollars pouring in every day,” Massoglia said. 

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Країни Балтії розширили список білоруських чиновників, які підпадають під санкції

Міністерство закордонних справ Латвії розширило список білоруських чиновників, які підпадають під санкції, в ньому вказані прізвища 101 людини.

У доповненому латвійському списку вказані: глава Белтелерадіокомпанії Іван Ейсмонт, прессекретар Олександра Лукашенка Наталія Ейсмонт, віцепрем’єр Анатолій Сивак, командир ОМОНу ГУВС Мінського міськвиконкому Дмитро Балаба, голова Конституційного суду Білорусі Петро Міклашевич, губернатор Мінської області Олександр Турчин та інші.

У списку МЗС Естонії 128 людей. На сайті естонського зовнішньополітичного відомства зазначено, що для цих людей в’їзд в країну заборонено до 30 серпня 2025 року.

Міністр закордонних справ Литви Лінас Лінкявічюс написав у твіттері, що 25 вересня в координації з Латвією та Естонією Литва істотно збільшує кількість білорусів, які потрапляють під санкції, «за безперервні репресії проти народу Білорусі». Він не уточнив, наскільки був розширений список санкцій Литви.

 

31 серпня Латвія, Литва та Естонія ввели санкції і заборонили в’їзд Олександру Лукашенку і ще 29 білоруським чиновникам через фальсифікації виборів і насильницьке придушення акцій протесту.

Країни ЄС і США 23 вересня заявили, що відмовляються визнати Олександра Лукашенка президентом Білорусі, після його несподіваної інавгурації 23 вересня, яка викликала посилення масових протестів по всій країні.

Міністр закордонних справ України Дмитро Кулеба написав у твітері, що «з огляду на хід виборчої кампанії у Білорусі та подальші події, сьогоднішня «інавгурація» О. Лукашенка не означає його визнання легітимним главою Білоруської держави».

Міністерство закордонних справ Білорусі розкритикувало реакцію інших країн, зокрема України, які відмовилися визнати легітимність Олександра Лукашенка.

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У ООН закликали Білорусь відпустити Колесникову

Експерти відділу ООН з прав людини звернулися до влади Білорусі з закликом звільнити одну з очільників білоруської опозиції Марію Колесникову. Про це повідомили у пресслужбі Управління верховного комісара ООН з прав людини.

В ООН також закликали розслідувати обставини затримання Колесникової.

Окрім того, у заяві висловлено занепокоєння переслідуванням опозиційних політиків у Білорусі.

25 вересня суд у Мінську залишив Колесникову під вартою.

 

Одна з лідерів білоруської опозиції Марія Колесникова заарештована і знаходиться в СІЗО. Влада Білорусі намагалася вислати її з країни 7 вересня, але силовикам це не вдалося: Колесникова порвала білоруський паспорт і відмовилася їхати до України, як її соратники, яких все-таки вдалося вислати. 10 вересня вона розповіла про погрози, які отримувала від силовиків.

Слідчий комітет Білорусі висунув Колесниковій офіційне обвинувачення за частиною 3 статті 361 КК ( «Заклики до дій, спрямованих на заподіяння шкоди національній безпеці РБ, вчинені з використанням ЗМІ та мережі Інтернет»). За цим обвинуваченням їй загрожує від двох до п’яти років позбавлення волі.

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Координаційна Рада опозиції Білорусі закликала ЄС створити групу ad-hoc для виходу країни з кризи

У Координаційній Раді опозиції Білорусі хочуть створити міжнародну групу ad-hoc з мандатом місії ОБСЄ для того, аби врегулювати кризу всередині країни. Про це в ефірі Радіо Свобода сказав Павло Латушко, член президіуму Координаційної Ради.

«Ми вважаємо важливим, щоб до цього долучилися головні країни у світі. Це Німеччина як очільниця Євросоюзу, Франція, яка є вельми важливим членом Євросоюзу, Сполучені Штати Америки, Велика Британія і також нам важливо, аби Росія долучилась до цього процесу, щоб знайти вихід із тої складної ситуації, яка склалась у нашій країні», – сказав Латушко.

Він додав, що члени Координаційної Ради запропонували застосувати московський механізм роботи ОБСЄ. За такого методу створюють місію із залученням експертів, які не можуть бути громадянами та резидентами країни, яка ініціювала місію. 

 

Олександр Лукашенко 23 вересня взяв участь у церемонії вступу на посаду президента Білорусі. Вперше в сучасній історії країни церемонія інавгурації була проведена таємно для громадськості. Після цього в різних містах відбулися акції протесту, силовики жорстко розганяли демонстрантів у Мінську, всього було затримано більш як 360 людей.

ЄС визнав, що інавгурація і новий президентський термін Лукашенка не мають достатньої демократичної легітимності. У США заявили, що не вважають Лукашенка законним президентом Білорусі. МЗС Великої Британії визнав таємну інавгурацію такою, що дискредитує. Також не визнали легітимною інавгурацію Лукашенка Німеччина, Чехія, Словаччина, Литва, Польща, Україна і Данія.

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У Сербії розбився військовий літак

Літак «МіГ-21» Збройних сил Сербії впав біля містечка Малі Зворник, що неподалік кордону з Боснією і Герцеґовиною. Про це повідомляє кореспондент Радіо Свобода.

В офіційному повідомленні Міноборони країни стверджується, що пілотів розшукують. Втім, журналісти, які перебувають на місці аварії, заявляють що пілотів вважають загиблими. Поранення отримав житель селища, біля якого сталася аварія.

На місце катастрофи прибули міністр оборони Александар Вулин й начальник Генштабу Мілан Мойсилович.

Розбився останній літак типу «МіГ-21», який використовували у збройних силах Сербії. Його купили у Радянському Союзі у 1986 році. У 2016 році літак ремонтували. В повідомленні Міноборони зазначається, що перед польотом літак перевіряли.

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МЗС Франції розслідує витік у ЗМІ розмови Макрона з Путіним

У МЗС Франції повідомили про початок розслідування витоку у ЗМІ деталей телефонної розмови президентів Франції та Росії Емманюеля Макрона і Володимира Путіна.

«Будь-який витік внутрішніх конфіденційних документів неприпустимий. Тому ми утримуємося від коментарів, триває розслідування. Діалог, який президент країни хотів встановити з Росією, спрямований на вирішення всіх питань, в тому числі тих, які стосуються нашої безпеки, в дусі відвертості і вимогливості», – йдеться в повідомленні МЗС Франції.

22 вересня французька газета Le Monde з посиланням на свої джерела повідомила, що в телефонній розмові з президентом Франції Емманюелем Макроном 14 вересня російський президент Володимир Путін побічно погодився з тим, що російський опозиціонер Олексій Навальний міг бути отруєний, проте, на думку президента Росії, отруту він міг прийняти сам. Після публікації прессекретар Путіна Дмитро Пєсков підтвердив факт розмови, але заявив при цьому, що «газета неточна в формулюваннях», в яких саме – він не сказав.

Сам Навальний також відреагував на процитовані Le Monde слова Путіна.

Раніше російська влада категорично заперечувала висновки європейських лабораторій про те, що причиною стану Навального стало отруєння бойовою хімічною отрутою «Новачок», розробленою в СРСР. У Кремлі також стверджували, що жодних підстав для розслідування справи Навального немає.

23 вересня Навального виписали з берлінської клініки, куди його доправили 22 серпня з Омська. Навальному стало зле в літаку, яким він повертався з Томська до Москви 20 серпня. Літак був змушений екстрено сідати в Омську, де опозиціонера шпиталізували.

Президент Франції у своєму зверненні 22 вересня до учасників 75-ї сесії Генеральної асамблеї ООН закликав Росію прояснити обставини «спроби вбивства» Олексія Навального.

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Росія: добовий приріст випадків COVID-19 – понад 7000, загальна кількість смертей перетнула позначку в 20 тисяч

За минулу добу у Росії виявили 7212 нових випадків зараження коронавірусом, повідомив оперативний штаб з боротьби із поширенням COVID-19. Це максимальний приріст з 23 червня.

Згідно з повідомленням, за минулу добу в Росії одужали 4317 людей, 108 померли.

Від початку пандемії в Росії виявлено 1 136 048 випадків COVID-19, одужали 934 146 пацієнтів, померли – 20 056.

У світі, за даними Університету Джонса Гопкінса, кількість інфікованих COVID-19 перевищила 32 мільйони, померли майже 983 тисячі людей, одужали понад 22 мільйони.

 

 

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Secretive Political Lobbying Groups Target Battle Over Supreme Court Vacancy

Well-funded, secretive political groups are getting into the high-stakes battle over filling a U.S. Supreme Court vacancy created by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.Known as “dark money” groups because they aren’t required by law to disclose the names of their donors, these influential organizations are pumping millions of dollars into advertising campaigns to influence voter perceptions of what is expected to be one of the most contentious confirmation hearings in modern American history.Just hours after Ginsburg, the 87-year-old liberal icon, died of cancer last Friday, Demand Justice, a progressive dark money group with ties to the Democratic Party, said it would spend $10 million to challenge President Donald Trump’s push to quickly replace Ginsburg with a conservative jurist.The group’s conservative counterpart, Judicial Crisis Network, quickly responded by launching a $2.2 million advertising campaign to support Trump’s push, with the goal of eventually matching or exceeding spending by Demand Justice.Judicial Crisis Network previously pledged to spend $20 million to help confirm Trump’s first two Supreme Court justices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a political finance watchdog.Spokespeople for Judicial Crisis Network and Demand Justice confirmed their new spending plans to VOA.Trump plans to announce his choice of a conservative female jurist to succeed Ginsburg on Saturday, with Amy Coney Barrett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th District, and Barbara Lagoa, a federal appeals court judge for the 11th District, among the leading contenders.Early this week, Trump lined up sufficient Republican support in the Senate to confirm his choice before the November 3 election.FILE – Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, Associate Justice Elena Kagan, Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch and Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh before President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address Feb. 4, 2020, in Washington.While Demand Justice and other liberal groups have no way of blocking Senate confirmation of Trump’s choice, they can use their ads to make talking points in campaigning against Trump and GOP congressional candidates ahead of the general election.A major complaint of Democrats and liberal groups is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky refused to allow former President Barack Obama to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016 more than eight months before the general election, saying it should be left to voters to decide. Yet he is strongly supporting Trump’s effort now to fill Ginsburg’s seat with only 40 days before the election.“Donald Trump has hijacked our Supreme Court,” one Demand Justice ad declares. “The future of the Supreme Court is on the line.”Judicial Crisis Network responded in an ad, “Tell the Senate, when a strong nominee is named, follow the precedent, confirm the judge.”While the dark money being spent by Judicial Crisis Network and Demand Justice represents a small fraction of the billions of dollars spent each election cycle, its use has proliferated since a landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision.Judicial Crisis Network and Demand Justice are not the only ones spending on the Supreme Court nomination.Across the political spectrum, other groups, from the conservative Article III Project to the liberal Fix Our Senate, are buying ads to influence the confirmation process, said Anna Massoglia, a researcher for the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign finance watchdog.Dark money is a term for political spending by nonprofit organizations and shell corporations that, unlike political action committees and candidates, are not required to disclose their donors.Proponents of such anonymous spending say disclosure can stifle speech and subject donors to harassment. But critics say it allows special interest groups and wealthy individuals to exert undue influence on elections without revealing their involvement.Issue One, a bipartisan watchdog organization, warned in a recent report that unregulated shell companies can serve as a convenient conduit for illegal foreign campaign contributions into U.S. elections. In recent years, the Justice Department has charged several individuals with funneling millions of dollars in foreign money into U.S. elections.The 2010 Supreme Court ruling, known as Citizens United and opposed by Ginsburg and the court’s three other liberal justices, lifted restrictions on political spending by corporations and labor unions, giving rise to dark money groups and so-called super PACs.In the early years following Citizens United, dark money was a “Republican problem,” said Zach Wamp, a former Republican congressman from Tennessee – meaning Republicans made the greater use of the unidentified political funding.In the last two election cycles, however, liberal dark money groups have outspent their conservative counterparts as Democrats have resorted to some of the same tactics they once denounced as corrupt.“It’s about power,” Wamp said in an interview. “It’s about who is in, who is out.”A fierce critic of dark money, Wamp now co-chairs Issue One’s bipartisan “ReFormers Caucus.”According to the Center for Responsive Politics, dark money groups are on track to top $1 billion in direct spending reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) since Citizens United.Massoglia, of CRP, noted that over this time period dark money groups have funneled billions more into super PACs and issue advocacy ads that seek to influence electoral outcomes.”We really are seeing millions of dollars pouring in every day,” Massoglia said. 

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Long-awaited Facebook Oversight Board to Launch in October

Facebook’s highly anticipated independent oversight board, a group that will be empowered to overrule the company’s leadership on issues pertaining to the platform’s content moderation decisions, plans to launch in October, just in time for the November U.S. presidential election.The board was created by Facebook after the platform was criticized for its handling of problematic content, most recently a backlash over its decision to take no action in response to posts from U.S. President Donald Trump containing misinformation about mail-in voting and inflammatory language directed toward the Black Lives Matter anti-racism protests that erupted over the summer.Other platforms that contain user-generated content, such as Twitter, have taken measures to combat misinformation online, including attaching fact-checking warning labels to posts.Facebook has not yet announced whether the board will hear cases related to the election. Representatives from the company said that the board did not consider cases involving Trump’s posts in its preliminary hearings.  Reviewing removed postsMembers of the oversight board will review appeals only over posts that Facebook has taken down initially, instead of taking into consideration content that the company leaves up. It will also deal only with individual posts that fall under the areas where Facebook exercises editorial control.Content that is regulated by Facebook includes algorithms that shape how much distribution a post receives, taking down or leaving up Facebook groups, pages, and events, and whether to leave specific pieces of content up on the site.The board has been harshly criticized for starting by reviewing appeals concerning posts that were taken down, which experts say will have little impact on addressing problems like misinformation and hate speech that are rampant on the platform. Critics say that the long-awaited board has not moved fast enough to curb these issues before the election.  Prioritizing casesAccording to the board’s website, the criteria for the prioritization of cases has not been decided and is being debated by the board’s 20 members. While tens of thousands of cases are expected to be presented to the board, leaders say that the board will take only a small number of cases each year, most likely in the “tens or hundreds.”Board members include lawyers, academics, journalists and policy experts from around the world, who collectively speak 27 different languages and represent having lived in 29 different countries.Preparation leading up to the board’s launch includes educating members on Facebook’s community standards, international human rights law and receiving technical training on case management rolls that will allow members to receive and consider appeals.

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Apple Critics Form Coalition to Challenge App Store Fees

A group of Apple Inc.’s critics, including Spotify Technology SA, Match Group Inc. and “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, have joined a nonprofit group that plans to advocate for legal and regulatory action to challenge the iPhone maker’s App Store practices. Apple charges a commission of between 15% and 30% for apps that use its in-app payment system and sets out extensive rules for apps in its App Store, which is the only way Apple allows consumers to download native apps to devices such as the iPhone. Those practices have drawn criticism and formal legal complaints from some developers. FILE – Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., June 4, 2018.The Coalition for App Fairness, structured as a nonprofit based in Washington and Brussels, said it plans to advocate legal changes that would force Apple to change. Beyond Epic, Match and Spotify, other members include smaller firms such as Basecamp, Blix, Blockchain.com, Deezer, and Tile, along with developers from Europe, including the European Publishers Council, News Media Europe and Protonmail. Epic is suing Apple over antitrust claims in a U.S. federal court in California, while Spotify has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union. Sarah Maxwell, a representative for the group, declined to comment on how much funding the Coalition for App Fairness has raised and from whom. Apple declined to comment but on Thursday unveiled a new section of its website explaining the benefits of its approach, saying it had blocked 150,000 apps last year for privacy violations. It says App Store fees fund the creation of developer resources such as 160,000 technical documents and sample code to help developers build apps. Mike Sax, founder of The App Association, a group sponsored by Apple, said in a statement that the new coalition’s “big brands do not speak for the thousands of app makers that are the foundation of the app economy.” 

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Lawmakers Criticize Trump Administration Changes at US-funded Media Networks

U.S. lawmakers from both parties said Thursday that they feared the Voice of America and other U.S.-funded broadcasters were at risk of losing credibility with foreign audiences because of actions by new CEO Michael Pack.Pack, the first presidential appointee to serve in a new position that Congress created to streamline and modernize U.S.-funded broadcasting efforts, has faced bipartisan criticism for his actions since taking charge in June.Thursday’s hearing was the first time that lawmakers have had the opportunity to publicly examine Pack’s changes at the U.S. Agency for Global Media, the parent agency of VOA, Radio Free Asia, and other U.S.-funded broadcasters.Pack said he had a scheduling conflict and could not attend, despite a subpoena from House Foreign Affairs Chairman Eliot Engel, a Democrat from New York.”He has shown tremendous disrespect for the committee, our committee, and its role overseeing USAGM. He’s the wrong person for the job. He should resign. And if he doesn’t, the president should fire him,” Engel said.Audience of 350 millionUSAGM’s annual budget of around $800 million funds news programming that each week reaches an estimated 350 million people in 62 languages.Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican on the committee, said Pack’s decision to not attend “ignored the will of Congress.”McCaul singled out USAGM’s decision to freeze $18 million in funding to the Open Technology Fund (OTF) as a particularly dangerous decision.“I believe his actions damaged support during the height of unrest in Hong Kong. And they are continuing to do so today in Belarus. Their tragic lack of support to freedom and democracy movements is also regrettable,” McCaul said Thursday.FILE – Michael Pack is seen at his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 19, 2019. Pack’s nomination to lead the U.S. Agency for Global Media was confirmed June 4, 2020.Since arriving at the agency, Pack has fired the heads of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Network; attempted to replace the board of the Open Technology Fund, a group that uses federal grants to promote internet freedom technologies; and has not renewed J-1 visas for international journalists.Review of renewalsUSAGM announced a review of the J-1 renewal process in early July, resulting in work permits expiring for several foreign journalists working in VOA’s language divisions. At least five have left the United States.Witnesses at Thursday’s hearing included Grant Turner, the USAGM chief financial officer placed on administrative leave last month; Amanda Bennett, former VOA director, who resigned two days before Pack joined; Jamie Fly, former Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president, who was dismissed by the incoming CEO; Karen Kornbluh, chair of the OTF’s board of directors; and Ryan Crocker, a former U.S. ambassador and board member of the OTF.They testified on how changes implemented since June affected the ability of the broadcasting networks to function and risked endangering the editorial firewall that shields the agency’s journalists from political interference in their reporting.FILE – Then-U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker speaks during a press conference at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Dec. 10, 2011.“I am very worried that the cracks in the firewall are going to just destroy the whole image of USAGM,” said Crocker, who has served as the top U.S. diplomat in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon. “Our reputation for telling the truth has been a core element of our strength as a nation. Now, it is in danger, putting at risk not only our national values, but also our national security.”Witnesses said apparent firewall violations include the request to place editorials on the entities’ homepages; attempts by USAGM to attend editorial meetings on U.S. election coverage; the removal of Steven Springer, VOA’s standards editor; mass firings of agency heads; the nonrenewal of J-1 visas; and Pack’s statements in radio interviews that the agency would be “a great place to put a spy.”Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle and witnesses said those comments could endanger agency journalists.’Incredibly dangerous’“It’s incredibly dangerous for the USAGM head to start basically writing a press release that the Kremlin can then turn around and use the next week about USAGM journalists,” Fly said.Turner also raised concerns about damage to the credibility of the network, telling the committee, “Nothing in my 17 years comes even close to the gross mismanagement, the abuse of authority, the violations of law that have occurred since Michael Pack assumed the role of CEO at USAGM.”Pack, a former independent film and television producer and head of a conservative foundation, has defended his actions in interviews and in communications with USAGM staff, saying he wants to protect the agency’s editorial independence and make it more effective in achieving its mission.Pack has also said that government audits revealed serious, yearslong security problems that were left unaddressed by the agency’s previous leaders.In his confirmation hearing last September, Pack pledged to uphold U.S. law mandating VOA’s editorial independence.“The whole agency rests on the belief reporters are independent, that no political influence is telling them how to report the news,” Pack told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.Pack’s two-year confirmation process in the Senate ended up in a partisan battle after Senate Democrats alleged he misused funds for his documentary production company. However, Senate Republicans praised his experience as a filmmaker and former media executive.FILE – Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa, speaks during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing Sept. 16, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington.’Poor vetting procedures’On Thursday, Republican Representative Scott Perry of Pennsylvania defended Pack’s actions, pointing to a recently released Office of Personnel Management (OPM) report that found 40% of the agency’s staff had been improperly vetted over the past 10 years.“The reforms undertaken by Mr. Pack have undergone a significant amount of public scrutiny, as they should,” Perry said. “But USAGM’s poor vetting procedures over those last decades continue to threaten U.S. national security, and it’s entirely the fault of those who mismanaged the process.”Perry also criticized practices by OTF, which he said presented security risks and a misuse of government funds.Kornbluh disputed Perry’s comments.“I believe that the congressman has been misinformed,” she said. “The security claims are just not true.”Kornbluh said the funding freeze had caused OTF to halt 49 of its 60 ongoing internet freedom programs.Several committee members questioned the witnesses about the impact of Pack’s comments about spies within the agency.“Mr. Pack, without evidence, has made libelous claims, really, that were these journalists to go get a job somewhere else in another country, could threaten not only their livelihoods, but their safety,” Democratic Representative Joaquin Castro of Texas said.Who will trust them?“When somebody from the United States government has labeled a journalist a spy, who is going to go trust them in another country? Who is going to go hire them somewhere else? This man has acted incredibly recklessly, and even for that alone, he should be dismissed from his job,” Castro said.Fly made recommendations for ways to rein in the CEO’s powers, suggesting Congress pass new international broadcasting legislation to clarify the roles of the networks and how best to explain U.S. foreign policy to audiences.Lawmakers pledged to continue oversight of U.S. international broadcasting even as Congress deals with a myriad of issues related to the upcoming election and the pandemic.VOA’s Jessica Jerreat contributed to this report.

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US House Democrats Crafting New $2.2 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Package

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives are working on a $2.2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package that could be voted on next week, a key lawmaker said Thursday, as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated that she is ready to negotiate with the White House.With formal COVID-19 relief talks stalled for nearly seven weeks, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal said new legislative efforts got under way this week after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said in congressional testimony that lawmakers needed to provide further support for an economy reeling from the pandemic.”The contours are already there. I think now it’s about time frame and things like that,” Neal told reporters when asked about the potential for new legislation.He predicted a vote could come within days.”I assume, since the House is scheduled to break for the election cycle, then I think next week’s … appropriate,” said Neal, adding that Pelosi would determine when a legislative package might be introduced.House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy dismissed the new initiative as partisan. Pelosi also faces pressure from moderate House Democrats who say they want to see bipartisan aid proposals that have a chance of becoming law.”If it’s a messaging exercise, it’s worthless,” Rep. Dean Phillips, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, told CNN. He said the effort risked looking like Senate Republicans who had unsuccessfully pushed their own partisan coronavirus aid bill.”Many of us are getting sick of that,” Phillips said.Stocks reacting positively to the announcements from Congress, with the S&P reaching a session high shortly after, before paring some gains.Formal talks between Pelosi, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows broke down without a deal on August 7, with the two sides far apart. Pelosi and Mnuchin have since spoken by phone.”We’re ready for negotiation,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday, saying she had last spoken to Mnuchin on Wednesday.Pelosi and Schumer, who initially sought a $3.4 trillion relief package, have since scaled back their demands to $2.2 trillion. Neal said a new legislative package would be somewhere near $2.2 trillion. Some media reports said it could be $2.4 trillion.But it was not clear whether the White House would agree to such a sum. Meadows has said that Trump would be willing to sign a $1.3 trillion relief package.Meanwhile, Senate Republicans, who have not been involved directly in the negotiations, initially proposed a $1 trillion bill, which was rejected by many Republicans who thought it too large and by Senate Democrats who said it was too small.Senate Republicans later tried and failed to bring a smaller $300 billion bill to the floor.

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Key Republicans Push Back on Trump Hesitance to Assure Peaceful Transfer of Power

Leading Republicans are stressing the importance of a peaceful transition of power in the U.S., a day after President Donald Trump declined to commit to one if he loses his bid for re-election to Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden.  
 
“We’re going to have to see what happens,” said the president in response to a reporter’s question during a White House news conference on Wednesday evening. “I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.”  
 
Trump, without evidence, has repeatedly predicted massive fraud with tens of millions of mail-in ballots, which Democrats have encouraged amid the coronavirus pandemic.   
 
“We want to have — get rid of the ballots,” continued the president, explaining if that happens “there won’t be a transfer, frankly; there’ll be a continuation.”Sorry, but your browser cannot support embedded video of this type, you can
download this video to view it offline.Download File360p | 4 MB480p | 5 MB540p | 6 MB720p | 10 MB1080p | 21 MBOriginal | 31 MB Embed” />Copy Download AudioSenate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday tweeted “The winner of the November 3 election will be inaugurated on January 20th.  There will be an orderly transition just as there has been every four years since 1792.”
 
Florida Senator Marco Rubio said “at noon on January 20, 2021 we will peacefully swear in the President.”
 
Congresswoman Liz Cheney said Thursday on Twitter “The peaceful transfer of power is enshrined in our Constitution and fundamental to the survival or our Republic.”
 
Longtime Republican Senator Lindsay Graham told Fox and Friends “If Republicans lose, we will accept the result.”
 
Trump’s Democratic rival Biden also responded to Trump’s remarks on Wednesday.
 
“What country are we in? I’m being facetious,” said the former vice president. “I said what country are we in? Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say.”FILE – Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden departs after voting early in Delaware’s state primary election at the New Castle County Board of Elections office, in Wilmington, Delaware, Sept. 14, 2020.One of the country’s oldest constitutional rights groups also weighed in.  
 
“The peaceful transfer of power is essential to a functioning democracy. This statement from the president of the United States should trouble every American,” said David Cole, the national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union.  
 
Earlier Wednesday, Trump said he thinks the November election “will end up in the Supreme Court and I think it’s very important that we have nine justices.”
The president plans to announce his Supreme Court nominee on Saturday to fill the seat of liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg who died this past Friday.
 
If the Senate confirms the president’s nominee before the election that would give the conservative wing a 6-3 majority on the court.
 
“This scam that the Democrats are pulling, it’s a scam, the scam will be before the United States Supreme Court, and I think having a 4-4 situation is not a good situation,” said Trump.The president has repeatedly expressed concern about plans by a number of states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Utah, Vermont and Washington, to automatically dispatch mail-in ballots to all state residents for the election.
 
Benjamin Ginsberg, a top election lawyer who has represented four Republican presidential candidates, has been quoted this month saying Trump’s prediction of fraud with such ballots lacks evidence.  
 
“The president’s words make his and the Republican Party’s rhetoric look less like sincere concern — and more like transactional hypocrisy designed to provide an electoral advantage,” Ginsberg wrote in a Washington Postopinion article. “And they come as Republicans trying to make their cases in courts must deal with the basic truth that four decades of dedicated investigation have produced only isolated incidents of election fraud.”  VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara contributed to this report from Wilmington, Delaware. 

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Білорусь: адвокат Марії Колесникової перестала виходити на зв’язок

Адвокат члена президії Координаційної ради Білорусі Марії Колесникової Людмила Козак перестала виходити на зв’язок. Про це повідомляє TUT.BY з посиланням на адвоката Віктора Мацкевича.

«О 13:50 Людмила попрощалася зі своєю колегою, з якою зустрічалася на вулиці Комуністичній. Поспішала на судове засідання. У суд вона не приїхала. Машина припаркована на Комуністичній, закрита», – повідомив Мацкевич.

За його словами, чоловік Козак подає заяву про викрадення людини в РУВС Центрального району. «Ми з чоловіком Людмили вважаємо, що її зникнення пов’язане з професійною діяльністю», – зазначив Мацкевич.

 

Одна з лідерів білоруської опозиції Марія Колесникова заарештована і знаходиться в СІЗО. Влада Білорусі намагалася вислати її з країни 7 вересня, але силовикам це не вдалося: Колесникова порвала білоруський паспорт і відмовилася їхати до України, як її соратники, яких все-таки вдалося вислати. 10 вересня вона розповіла про погрози, які отримувала від силовиків.

Слідчий комітет Білорусі висунув Колесниковій офіційне обвинувачення за частиною 3 статті 361 КК ( «Заклики до дій, спрямованих на заподіяння шкоди національній безпеці РБ, вчинені з використанням ЗМІ та мережі Інтернет»). За цим обвинуваченням їй загрожує від двох до п’яти років позбавлення волі.

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США, Канада і Британія готують санкції проти Білорусі – Reuters

США, Великобританія і Канада можуть вже в п’ятницю, 25 вересня, можуть запровадити санкції проти громадян Білорусі, яких вони вважають відповідальними за підтасовування результатів виборів і насильство щодо мирних протестувальників. Про це з посиланням чотири джерела повідомляє агентство Reuters. Співрозмовники агентства не виключають, що узгодження санкцій між країнами може тривати довше.

Міністр закордонних справ Великобританії Домінік Рааб заявив у четвер в парламенті, що уряд готує санкції проти винних у порушеннях прав людини в Білорусі – і координує дії з США і Канадою.

У Держдепартаменті США і міністерстві закордонних справ Канади поки офіційно не заявляли запровадження санкцій.

 

Країни ЄС і США 23 вересня заявили, що відмовляються визнати Олександра Лукашенка президентом Білорусі, після його несподіваної інавгурації 23 вересня, яка викликала посилення масових протестів по всій країні.

Міністр закордонних справ України Дмитро Кулеба написав у твіттері, що «з огляду на хід виборчої кампанії у Білорусі та подальші події, сьогоднішня «інавгурація» О. Лукашенка не означає його визнання легітимним главою Білоруської держави».

Міністерство закордонних справ Білорусі розкритикувало реакцію інших країн, зокрема України, які відмовилися визнати легітимність Олександра Лукашенка.

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