By Robert A. Vella
Finally, protest outrage over Hong Kong doing its master’s bidding has compelled the Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China to ease off its implementation of authoritarian policies. This is the first time in recent memory that China has shown any willingness to be influenced by public pressure, and I suspect the growing international tensions between it and the U.S. was a significant factor. The wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pleaded guilty to avoid more serious political corruption charges which her husband still faces. Russia‘s Machiavellian strongman Vladimir Putin has also eased off a bit in his government’s persecution of a dissident journalist and a political opponent. India is retaliating against President Trump’s punitive economic actions against it amidst worsening diplomatic relations which threaten a major geopolitical realignment unfavorable to U.S. interests. All by himself, Trump is pushing the world’s largest democracy (India) towards an increasingly cooperative Sino-Russian association while also pushing America’s longtime allies in the European Union away from the U.S. sphere of influence. In more bad environmental news, dolphins are dying in the Gulf of Mexico at an alarming rate. In the U.S., Trump is assaulting federal advisory committees in his continuing efforts to eliminate science and other objective information sources from governmental processes. More details have emerged from the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) financial troubles, and a Trump-appointed federal judge gave the president a minor win in court last week.
Hong Kong’s embattled leader on Saturday said a divisive bill that would allow extraditions to China would be “suspended” in a major climbdown from her government after a week of unprecedented protests.
The city’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam has come under huge pressure to abandon the controversial legislation, including from her own political allies and advisers.
Beijing has vocally supported the bill and earlier this week threw its full support behind the Lam administration, calling protesters “rioters”.
But it has since sought to distance itself as public anger spiralled.
Under terms of the agreement, Sara Netanyahu, 60, has been sentenced to pay a fine of roughly $15,000, the Associated Press reported.
Mrs. Netanyahu was indicted on fraud and breach-of-trust charges last year. Under the plea deal, she admitted guilt on lesser charges.
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Several hundred protesters gathered in Moscow on Sunday in a small, government-authorized rally supporting investigative journalist Ivan Golunov and decrying abuse of power over his five-day arrest this month on drug charges.
The 36-year-old reporter, known for exposing corruption among Moscow officials, was freed following an outcry by supporters who said he was framed by corrupt police.
Journalists critical of Russian authorities have led a dangerous existence since the 1990s – sometimes threatened, attacked or even murdered over their work – but Golunov’s case triggered an unusually strong backlash.
An unsanctioned rally on June 12, the day after he was released, led to more than 500 detentions, including opposition politician Alexei Navalny.
The tariffs on several US products will go into effect on June 16, India’s Finance Ministry said in a statement Saturday. The goods targeted include American apples — which will be hit with a 70% tariff — as well as almonds, lentils and several chemical products.
India first announced plans to impose new tariffs a year ago in retaliation for increased US import duties on Indian steel and aluminum. But it repeatedly delayed imposing them while the two sides held a series of trade talks.
The Indian government did not specify the value of the goods targeted in its statement, but previously told the World Trade Organization that they were worth around $241 million.
Gulf of Mexico
Federal scientists are trying to determine why an extraordinary number of dolphins have turned up dead along the Gulf Coast.
Suspects so far include the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010, which has had a lasting impact on wildlife along the Gulf shore, and spring’s historic Midwest river flooding, which has sent freshwater rushing into the Gulf.
Trump signed an executive order Friday that directs every federal agency to evaluate the need for all of its advisory committees created under the Federal Advisory Committee Act. And it gives agency heads until September to terminate at least one-third of current committees created by agency heads.
Federal advisory committees are typically made up of private citizens who offer advice and assistance to the executive branch.
Rush Holt, chief executive of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said he was concerned about the move to cut back on advisory panels, especially ones involved with health and the environment.
The gun rights group’s 2018 financial report, which was obtained by The Washington Post, portrays the longtime political powerhouse as spending faster than its revenue rose.
The records show that the NRA froze its pension plan for employees at the end of last year, a move that saved it close to $13 million, and obtained a $28 million line of credit by borrowing against its Virginia headquarters.
Despite that, the nonprofit group, four affiliated charities and its political committee together ended the year $10.8 million in the red. In 2017, the six groups ended the year with a $1.1 million shortfall.
A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit in which a former campaign staffer accused President Donald Trump of kissing her against her will and alleged that Trump’s presidential bid engaged in pay discrimination against female and African American employees.
Alva Johnson’s claim she was “forcibly kissed” by Trump at an August 2016 campaign stop in Tampa, Florida, garnered most of the attention when she filed suit last February, but the discrimination claims were the subject of most of the early legal maneuvering in the case.
U.S. District Court Judge William Jung, a Trump appointee, tossed out Johnson’s complaint Friday, saying it was too laden with political claims and attacks for the court to allow it to proceed.