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Speaker Pelosi orders Trump’s impeachment to proceed

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New York, Dec 5 : House of Representatives’ Democrat Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered the impeachment to proceed on Thursday with the framing of charges of jeopardising national security against President Donald Trump for a trial in the Senate.

The historic announcement came after about two months of investigation by House of Representatives, making it only the third time in the 243-year history of the US that a President would be impeached.

“The President leaves us no choice but to act, because he is trying to corrupt, once again, the election for his own benefit,” she said asking the House of Representatives committee leaders to proceed with the drafting of the Articles of Impeachment, which is a charge sheet for the Senate to try Trump.

“The President has engaged in abuse of power undermining our national security and jeopardising the integrity of our elections,” Pelosi said in a Washington press conference.

She ended her announcement with an appeal to religion, saying, “So help me God,” after saying the Democrats were “prayerful”.

Before her announcement, Trump threw a challenge at her in a tweet: “if you are going to impeach me, do it now, fast, so we can have a fair trial in the Senate, and so that our Country can get back to business.”

Trump is relying on the Senate, where his party has a majority to throw out the charges and acquit him.

The Republicans will be able to call the witnesses blocked by the Democrats in the House panels’ hearings to testify.

Trump tweeted that they would call former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, and Pelosi.

He added that this “will reveal, for the first time, how corrupt our system really is. I was elected to ‘Clean the Swamp,’ and that’s what I am doing”.

Pelosi’s announcement sets the Democrat-controlled House firmly on the path to early impeachment, with a vote likely before it adjourns for the Christmas vacation.

A Senate trial would then follow in January in an election year.

Only two Presidents, Andrew Johnson in the 19th century and Bill Clinton in the last have been impeached and both were acquitted by the Senate.

Pelosi had to make a firm statement because some members of her party in swing constituencies, which were Republican but moved to Democrats in last year’s elections, were apprehensive that the impeachment may work against them next year.

The nation’s polarisation is reflected in the impeachment issue with an almost even split in public opinion. According to the latest RealClear Politics aggregation of polls, there is 48.3 per cent support for impeachment and 44.6 per cent against, with a narrow spread of 3.7 per cent.

Mindful of this, Pelosi said: “Sadly, but with confidence and humility, with allegiance to our founders and a heart full of love for America, today I am asking our chairman to proceed with articles of impeachment.”

She likened Trump’s conduct to the late 18th century British monarch George III against whom Americans rose in revolt because he was considered above the law.

The founders of the US established the impeachment process to ensure that the President was not above the law like a king, she said.

The House Judicial Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday where four law professors testified on the constitutional and legal aspects of impeachment.

The three summoned by the Democrats made the case for Trump’s impeachment while the one called by the Republicans opposed it.

The Judicial Committee picked up the impeachment process from the Intelligence Committee, which delivered a 300-page report on Tuesday outlining the charges against Trump.

The Intelligence Committee accused him of placing “his own personal and political interests above the national interests of the United States.”

It said his “scheme subverted US foreign policy toward Ukraine and undermined our national security in favour of two politically motivated investigations that would help his presidential re-election campaign”.

At the heart of the charges is Trump asking Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “as a favour” to inquire into the dealings of former Vice President Biden and his son in Ukraine, and into alleged interference by that country in the 2016 elections.

Joe Biden also sought the removal of the prosecutor looking into the gas company, Burisma.

The Trump administration delayed military aid to Ukraine, which the Democrats say was done to force the country to launch the probes, but Republicans contend was done to ensure that there was no corruption.

Democrats say the request to investigate the Bidens was seeking foreign interference in US elections because the former Vice President is the front-runner for Democratic Party nomination to run against Trump.

The delay in aid, Democrats say, threatened US national security as it was beneficial to Russia.

Zelensky has denied that he felt he was under pressure from Trump to carry out the inquiries.

Republicans point out that the aid was released without Zelensky ordering the probes.

Hunter Biden who was removed from the Navy for alleged drug use and had no experience in the energy business was appointed to the board of a gas company with a monthly payment of $83,000 while the then Vice President was overseeing US relations with Ukraine.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @arulouis)

America

United States Employment Rate will fall further: Fed

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Washington, April 16 (IANS) Economic activity “contracted sharply and abruptly” across all regions in the US as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Federal Reserve said on Wednesday.

“The hardest-hit industries – because of social distancing measures and mandated closures – were leisure and hospitality, and retail aside from essential goods,” the Fed said in its latest survey on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, based on information collected from its 12 regional reserve banks before April 6, Xinhua reported.

“All Districts reported highly uncertain outlooks among business contacts, with most expecting conditions to worsen in the next several months,” the Fed said.

The survey showed that employment declined in all districts as the COVID-19 pandemic affected firms in many sectors.

“Employment cuts were most severe in the retail and leisure and hospitality sectors, where most Districts reported widespread mandatory closures and steep falloffs in demand,” the survey said, adding severe job cuts were also widespread in the manufacturing and energy sectors.

“Contacts in several Districts noted they were cutting employment via temporary layoffs and furloughs that they hoped to reverse once business activity resumes. The near-term outlook was for more job cuts in coming months,” the survey said.

The survey noted that no district reported upward wage pressures, with most citing “general wage softening and salary cuts” except for high-demand sectors such as grocery stores.

“These trends were seen as reflecting weaker demand for many goods and services in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the survey said.

The survey came after the Commerce Department reported earlier on Wednesday that US retail sales plunged in March by the most on record as the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take a big toll on the US economy.

The US economy is expected to contract by 5.9 per cent this year, according to the World Economic Outlook (WEO) report released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday.

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New York statewide COVID-19 deaths surpass 10,000

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

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New York, April 14 : Governor of the US state of New York Andrew Cuomo said statewide deaths from COVID-19 rose to 10,056, adding “the worst is over if we continue to be smart” in coping with the novel coronavirus.

Cuomo on Monday said at his daily briefing that a total of 671 people passed away on Sunday due to the disease, a number much lower than in the past few days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, indicators including the rates of ICU admissions and intubations have gone down and the three-day-average rate of hospitalization basically reached a plateau, according to the governor.

“We are controlling the spread,” said Cuomo. “I believe the worst is over if we continue to be smart. I believe we can start on the path to normalcy,” he said.

He said he would be joined by several other governors of neighbouring states later on Monday to discuss how to reopening the economy in a coordinated way.

On Twitter, the governor said that any plan to reopen society must be driven by data and experts, not opinion and politics.

He said the objective is to ease isolation and increase economic activity without increasing the infection rate.

“We will learn from the warning signs from other countries. We will take every precaution. We will work together as a region,” he added.

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US now has highest COVID-19 deaths, surpasses Italy: Johns Hopkins

A total of 20,071 people have died of the disease among 519,453 confirmed cases in the country as of 4 p.m. local time (2000 GMT) on Saturday

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Washington, April 12 : The UnS has surpassed Italy as the country with the highest number of coronavirus deaths in the world as the fatalities as of Sunday reached 20,604, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

As of Sunday morning, Italy has reported 19,648 coronavirus deaths, placing it in the second position after the US, the data published by the university’s enter for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) revealed.

The US also accounts for the highest number of confirmed cases with 529,887. Spain, where the number of confirmed infections stands at 163,027, is a distant second, followed by Italy with 152,271 cases.

New York state, the epicentre of the pandemic in the US, has recorded the most deaths in the country, 8,627, which is followed by New Jersey and Michigan with 2,183 and 1,276, respectively, the CSSE data showed.

A total of 32,001 patients in the country have recovered, it added.

US President Donald Trump’s administration, which earlier estimated that the pandemic would cause anywhere from 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the US, revised its projection downward this week to 60,000, reports Efe news.

Members of the White House coronavirus task force credit the more optimistic forecast to the success of the stay-at-home orders issued by 42 of the 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, covering around 316 million people.

Trump, who has repeatedly decried the economic cost of closing schools and businesses to contain the virus, said late last month that he hoped to re-open the country by Easter Sunday.

During Friday’s news briefing by the task force, Trump sought to reassure Americans that he would guided by medical experts as well as by recommendations from the “Opening Our Country Council” he plans to install next week.

“I want to get it open as soon as possible. The facts are going to determine what I do,” the president said.

“I’m going to have to make a decision, and I only hope to God that it’s the right decision. But I would say, without question, it’s the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make,” Trump said.

As of Sunday, the number of global coronavirus cases stood at 1,777,517, with 108,862 deaths, while 404,236 people have recovered.

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