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Republicans shelve move to weaken ethics office after Trump’s criticism

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Washington, Jan 4, 2017: House Republicans on Tuesday shelved their plan to weaken the independent ethics entity — known as the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) — that investigates accusations of inappropriate conduct by congressmen and other personnel just two hours after President-elect Donald Trump questioned the move.

According to EFE news, to question the original motives of the lawmakers in his party, Trump wrote on twitter: “With all that Congress has to work on, do they really have to make the weakening of the Independent Ethics Watchdog, as unfair as it may be, their number one act and priority.”

“Focus on tax reform, healthcare and so many other things of far greater importance,” the President-elect urged GOP lawmakers.

The magnate signed his latest tweet with the letters “DTS”, an abbreviation for his campaign slogan of “Drain the swamp”, a reference to rooting out corruption in Washington political circles.

In an urgent meeting behind closed doors, Republican House leaders — Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — managed to impose their will on their fellow lawmakers and postpone the debate on the measure scheduled for Tuesday, a move that quells the mini-rebellion launched on Monday night by House Republicans in another closed-door meeting.

In that Monday evening meeting, GOP lawmakers had voted to significantly restrict the power of the ethics office.

The vote, taken behind closed doors and with no prior announcement, came during a meeting at which Ryan and McCarthy opposed the measure.

On Tuesday, the newly-installed Congress goes back into session, with the Republicans having maintained its majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate in the November 8 elections.

The measure to “gut” the OCE adopted by Republicans at the Monday meeting was proposed by lawmaker Bob Goodlatte and would have placed the independent entity under the jurisdiction of the House Ethics Committee, EFE news added.

In that way, GOP lawmakers were apparently seeking to gain control over the OCE’s monitoring role, ostensibly because the office in the past has ignored credible accusations of improper practices by certain lawmakers.

The OCE was established as a non-partisan and independent entity within Congress in 2008 under the leadership of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat, after several corruption and other scandals involving congressmen.

In a statement on Tuesday, Pelosi had denounced the vote to weaken the office’s power, saying that it indicates that “ethics are the first casualty of the new Republican Congress.”

Goodlatte, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, meanwhile, had defended the move, saying that it is not intended to “impede” the work of the OCE.

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Philippines President Duterte calls God ‘stupid’

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Infuriating the Catholic population in the country,Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte courted controversy after he called God “stupid” for the concept of “original sin” in the Bible’s creation story.

Duterte’s provocative comments about God come in the wake of the recent killing of three Catholic clergymen in the Philippines.Duterte, in recounting the Catholic Church’s version of the Adam and Eve creation myth, stated: “Adam ate it then malice was born. Who is this stupid God?”

“You created something perfect and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” he added.

“That was your mother and father’s deed,” Duterte extrapolated to the audience, adding, “you weren’t born yet, but now you have original sin. What kind of religion is that? I can’t accept it,Media reported quoted Duterte as saying.

Addressing a summit in Davao City on Friday, Duterete said that he had issues with the Bible and questioned God’s logic, calling him “stupid.”
The Philippine strongman continued in a similar vein, remarking: “That son of a bitch is stupid if that’s the case.”

After Duterte made those remarks, the Catholic Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, Socrates Villegas, released a statement criticizing the cursing of God.

“The list of cuss words against God is endless. God is still God and those who have cursed Him are now dust,” Villegas, former president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said on June 10.

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25 injured in Germany building explosion

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Berlin, June 24 (IANS) At least 25 people were injured in an explosion that ripped through a building in Germany’s Wuppertal city, police said on Sunday.

The explosion took place late Saturday night with fire fighters still trying to douse the flames in different parts of the building as of Sunday morning, reports Express News.

The cause of the explosion remains unclear.

“It can currently not be ruled out that there are still other people in the building. The rescue efforts are ongoing,” a police officer said.

Four of the injured were reported to be critical.

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Erdogan seeks second term as Turkey votes to elect President, Parliament

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Ankara, June 24 : Turkish voters are going to polls to to decide whether to grant President Recep Tayyip Erdogan a second five-year term and for a new Parliament.

This elections is considered as  the most fiercely fought elections for Erdogan and his Islamist rooted AK party that has ruled Turkey for 15 years.

Erdogan is facing major challenge from Muharrem Ince from the main opposition Republican People’s Party as country’s economic condition has worsened  and national security is also one of  the  main electoral issue.

If Erdogan is elected , democracy will be weakened as he  narrowly won a referendum last year to convert the country’s parliamentary system to a powerful executive presidency.Whoever wins will be given sweeping new powers, as the role of Prime Minister is dissolved and the President gains the authority to issue laws by decree.

He implemented policies that encouraged sustained economic growth and development, challenged Turkey’s secular foundations by bringing Islamic conservatism to public life and gutted public institutions by having tens of thousands of people arrested following a failed military coup in 2016.

 

There are a total of 56,322,632 registered voters with 180,065 ballot boxes across the country.

Voting started at 8 a.m. and will continue till 5.00 p.m and voters are casting two separate ballot papers in the same envelope — one for the presidential and one for the parliamentary elections.

After the voting ends, ballots cast for the presidential candidates will be counted first.

Some 1.49 million expats voted in a 13-day period between June 7-19 at 123 Turkish missions abroad.

Six candidates are running for president: incumbent Recep Tayyip Erdogan for the People’s Alliance formed by the Justice and Development (AK) Party and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Muharrem Ince from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), Selahattin Demirtas for Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Meral Aksener for the newly formed Good (IYI) Party, Temel Karamollaoglu for the Felicity (Saadet) Party, and Dogu Perincek for the Patriotic (Vatan) Party, Anadolu reported.

If none of the candidates gain a clear majority, Turkey will hold a run-off presidential vote on July 8

For the parliamentary polls, eight political parties are in the fray.

 

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