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By Robert A. Vella

Assange arrested

From:  Assange accused of conspiring with Chelsea Manning in 2010 WikiLeaks release, says unsealed U.S. indictment

PARIS — British authorities arrested WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday in response to a U.S. extradition request, and a U.S. federal court unsealed an indictment charging him with a single count of conspiracy to disclose classified information that could be used to injure the United States.

Assange was taken into custody by British police after Ecuador rescinded his asylum at its embassy in London, ending a standoff that lasted nearly seven years.

London’s Metropolitan Police said a statement that Assange was “arrested on behalf of the United States authorities” and would “appear in custody at Westminster Magistrates’ Court as soon as possible.” British police originally sought custody of Assange for jumping bail after Sweden requested his extradition in a separate case stemming from sexual assault allegations.

In an indictment unsealed hours later, Assange was accused of conspiring in 2010 with Chelsea Manning, a soldier then known as Bradley Manning, and other conspirators to publish secret military and diplomatic documents that Manning had collected.

A Trump is ousted

From:  Retiring as a Judge, Trump’s Sister Ends Court Inquiry Into Her Role in Tax Dodges

President Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has retired as a federal appellate judge, ending an investigation into whether she violated judicial conduct rules by participating in fraudulent tax schemes with her siblings.

The court inquiry stemmed from complaints filed last October, after an investigation by The New York Times found that the Trumps had engaged in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the inherited wealth of Mr. Trump and his siblings. Judge Barry not only benefited financially from most of those tax schemes, The Times found; she was also in a position to influence the actions taken by her family.

Judge Barry, now 82, has not heard cases in more than two years but was still listed as an inactive senior judge, one step short of full retirement. In a letter dated Feb. 1, a court official notified the four individuals who had filed the complaints that the investigation was “receiving the full attention” of a judicial conduct council. Ten days later, Judge Barry filed her retirement papers.

The status change rendered the investigation moot, since retired judges are not subject to the conduct rules. The people who filed the complaints were notified last week that the matter had been dropped without a finding on the merits of the allegations. The decision has not yet been made public, but copies were provided to The Times by two of the complainants. Both are involved in the legal profession.

Brexit delayed

From:  UK’s May pleads with Parliament after EU grants extension

LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May urged lawmakers Thursday to spend the upcoming Easter break to “reflect” on the need for a Brexit compromise, after a clearly frustrated European Union gave the country six more months to find a way to leave the bloc.

She said doing so and passing an EU withdrawal agreement quickly would allow Britain to avoid taking part in European parliamentary elections set for late May, an unpalatable prospect to many, particularly in her Conservative Party.

May was addressing lawmakers just hours after returning from a special summit in Brussels at which the other 27 EU leaders delayed Britain’s scheduled departure from the bloc from this Friday to Oct. 31.

Big elections

From:  Australia’s PM calls national election

Australians will vote in a general election on 18 May, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

The poll will decide whether the conservative government wins a third term or is replaced by a Labor administration led by Bill Shorten.

All 150 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested, and half of the 76 seats in the Senate.

From:  In the world’s biggest election, India’s Modi pushes fear over hope

Nearly 900 million eligible voters are set to choose the leader of the world’s largest democracy in staggered polls starting Thursday. But Modi is framing the election as a referendum on a single man: himself.

Much like President Trump, Modi, 68, is both polarizing and charismatic. In 2014, Modi’s party — the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP — won a once-in-a-generation landslide. Modi swept to power on a desire for change and the belief that he would transform India, a country of 1.3 billion people, and unshackle its economy.

Five years later, those lofty expectations have not been met. The economy is expanding but not creating enough jobs, while farmers are struggling with debt and rising prices. Much depends on whether Modi can persuade Indian voters to focus on nationalist pride rather than bread-and-butter issues in a campaign based less on hope than on fear.

Church burnings update

From:  Louisiana church fires: Law enforcement official’s son taken into custody, reports say

A man arrested in connection with fires at three historically black Louisiana churches is a law enforcement official’s son, according to local reports.

Authorities said they will announce significant updates in the case — in which three churches were burned in 10 days — at a news conference Thursday at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. ET) at the St. Landry Parish Sheriff Public Safety Complex in Opelousas.

From:  Feds looking into bias motivation after suspect arrested in Louisiana church burnings

Holden Matthews, 21, is being charged with three counts of simple arson on religious buildings, and faces up to 15 years in prison per charge, State Fire Marshall Butch Browning said at a news conference. He added that Matthews has a possible connection with the genre of music called black metal and “its associated history with church burnings in other parts of the world.”

[…]

Matthew’s father, Roy Matthews, is a St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s deputy, and was unaware of his son’s alleged involvement and was not personally part of the investigation, Sheriff Bobby Guidroz told reporters.

Anti-abortion and anti-LGBT moves

North Dakota becomes third state to ban abortion procedure known as dilation and evacuation

Heartbeat bills: Ohio and Georgia bills await governors’ signatures

A Texas bill would make it possible to put women to death for having abortions

Arizona moves to repeal law banning promotion of ‘homosexual life-style’

New Manafort-related indictment

From:  Gregory Craig, ex-Obama White House counsel, expects to be charged in relation to Ukrainian work with Manafort, his lawyers say

Attorneys for former White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig said Wednesday that he expects to face federal charges in the coming days in relationship to legal work he did for the Ukrainian government in 2012.

The expected indictment — which his attorneys called “a misguided abuse of prosecutorial discretion” — stems from work Craig did with GOP lobbyist Paul Manafort on behalf of the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice in 2012.

[…]

Mueller’s office, which prosecuted Manafort, referred Craig’s case last year to prosecutors in Manhattan as Mueller worked to bring his investigation to a close, people familiar with the matter have said. The case was then transferred back to prosecutors in Washington.

Separately, prosecutors in New York have been investigating whether FARA rules were violated by two other prominent Washington figures: Tony Podesta, a Democratic lobbyist who once owned one of Washington’s leading firms, and Vin Weber, a former Republican congressman, who helps lead the Washington office of Mercury LLC.

15 thoughts on “Assange arrested, a Trump is ousted, Brexit delayed, big elections, church burnings update, and much more

  1. Guess criminality and sleaze-baggery are synonymous with the name Trump, eh. I’d love to see Julian imprisoned here and become a jailhouse bitch to some dude named Albert “Big Dickie” McGillacuddie. “Come on, Julian, bark like a chicken for daddy while you bend over his knee for a spanking! You’ve been a BAD little jailhouse bitch! Don’t you laugh Kushner! You’re next over daddy’s knee!”

    Liked by 2 people

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