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Trump lashes out at Democrats at Louisiana rally

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Washington: US President Donald Trump has lashed out at Democrats during a rally in Louisiana, as impeachment testimony from a senior US diplomat was released.

On Wednesday, Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, testified that Trump officials threatened to withhold aid from Ukraine unless it agreed to investigate his Democrat presidential rival Joe Biden, the BBC reported.

Public impeachment hearings will begin on November 13, with Taylor set to be the first witness called.

Speaking at his rally in the city of Monroe on Wednesday night, Trump accused the Democrats of trying to overthrow American democracy via a “deranged, delusional, destructive and hyper-partisan” process.

The President accused the Democrats of “ripping the guts out of our country”, suggesting they were engaged in an “illegal act”.

He also attempted to discredit the whistleblower who flagged up his July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump said the whistleblower made a “horrible statement” about the call, which led to the impeachment probe.

Besides slamming the Democrats, Trump also sought to galvanise support for Republican businessman Eddie Rispone, who is bidding to unseat Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards in next month’s state election.

The President told supporters Rispone will “defend your values”, while accusing Edwards of being “dangerously soft on crime”.

Meanwhile, the first public hearings of the inquiry will witness three State Department officials, including Taylor, testifying first, the BBC said.

So far, lawmakers from three key House of Representatives committees have heard from witnesses behind closed doors.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Adam Schiff, who is overseeing the inquiry, told reporters on Wednesday that an impeachment case was building against the President.

The Capitol Hill hearings will now be broadcast live, with both Democratic and Republican lawmakers questioning witnesses.

Impeachment is the first part – the charges – of a two-stage political process by which Congress can remove a President from office. If, following the hearings, the House of Representatives votes to pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is forced to hold a trial.

A Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the President.

Only two US Presidents in history – Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson – have been impeached, but neither was convicted. President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

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B’desh to introduce e-passports this week

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Dhaka: Bangladesh is set to begin the distribution of e-passports on Wednesday, it was reported.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is expected to launch the e-passport distribution at an event scheduled to be held at the capital’s Bangabandhu International Conference Centre, bdnews24 quoted Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan as saying on Sunday.

The President and Prime Minister will receive THE e-passports first, he said, adding that anyone can apply for it.

The delivery of e-passports will start in regional offices by the end of 2020. The services will expand in phases, the Minister said, adding that machine-readable passports will remain valid as well.

The Department of Immigration and Passports will issue 48-page and 64-page e-passports with the validity of five years and 10 years, respectively.

The decision on introducing digital passport comes less than a decade after Bangladesh switched from manual to the machine-readable passport.

The government took the initiative to introduce e-passports in the wake of more than one passport being illegally issued against one person in the absence of database of fingerprints of citizens.

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Bangladesh PM calls CAA ‘internal matter’ but ‘unnecessary’

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New Delhi, Even as Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina believes that Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) is India’s “internal matter”, she has described the law, which aims to grant citizenship to persecuted religious minorities of the three neighboring Muslim countries, “unnecessary”.

Hasina said this in an interview to the Gulf News at Abu Dhabi, where she is on a visit to hold high-level bilateral meetings. We don’t understand why (the Indian government) did it. It was not necessary,” Hasina told Gulf News.

“Bangladesh has always maintained that the CAA and NRC are internal matters of India. The Government of India, on their part, has also repeatedly maintained that the NRC is an internal exercise of India and Prime Minister Modi has in person assured me of the same during my visit to New Delhi in October 2019,” she added.

The CAA passed by Parliament on December 11, 2019, grants citizenship to Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Jain, Parsi and Christian refugees who fled from religious persecution in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan before December 2014.

The law came into effect last month. The Opposition and some youth organizations in India have been protesting against the CAA. Some protests turned violent too.

Soon after the CAA was passed, Dhaka canceled its high-level visits and meetings in New Delhi. Hasina’s description of the law now as “unnecessary” is in line with the concerns in Bangladesh establishment that the CAA might trigger reverse migration of Bangladesh illegal immigrants living in India.

However, Hasina in her interview said there was no reverse migration from India to Bangladesh yet. Dhaka has also denied there has been any religious persecution of Hindus in Bangladesh. “But within India, people are facing many problems,” Hasina said vaguely to the Gulf News.

Officials in the Ministry of External Affairs, however, insisted that the CAA is an internal matter. “Necessary or unnecessary is a matter of perception. It has been passed by Parliament,” said an official who did not want to be quoted.

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70 soldiers killed in Yemen missile attack

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Sanaa, At least 70 soldiers were killed in a ballistic missile attack in Yemen’s Marib province, a government source said on Sunday.

Dozens of soldiers were still suffering critical injuries from the attack that took place on Saturday night near a mosque in al-Estikbal military base, the source told Xinhua news agency.

Yemeni government officials have blamed the Iran-allied Houthi rebels for the attack, but the Houthis have not claimed responsibility.

Hours after the Marib attack, the Saudi-led coalition, which backs the Yemeni government forces, launched a series of airstrikes on a Houthi-controlled military base in the southeast of the group-held capital Sanaa, with no casualties reported, according to the residents.

The Arab coalition intervened in the Yemeni conflict in March 2015 to support the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi against the Houthis who stormed the capital Sanaa and controlled much of the country’s north in late 2014.

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