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China pips US as leader in scientific research output

The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2 per cent of the world’s top 1 per cent most frequently cited papers….reports Asian Lite News

China has overtaken the US as the world leader in both scientific research output and “high impact” studies, according to a report published by Japans science and technology ministry.

The report, which was published by Japan’s National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTP) on Tuesday, found that China now publishes the highest number of scientific research papers yearly, followed by the US and Germany, the Guardian reported.

The figures were based on yearly averages between 2018 and 2020, and drawn from data compiled by the analytics firm Clarivate.

The Japanese NISTP report also found that Chinese research comprised 27.2 per cent of the world’s top 1 per cent most frequently cited papers.

The number of citations a research paper receives is a commonly used metric in academia.

The more times a study is cited in subsequent papers by other researchers, the greater its “citation impact”, the Guardian reported.

The US accounted for 24.9 per cent of the top 1 per cent most highly cited research studies, while UK research was third at 5.5 per cent.

China published a yearly average of 407,181 scientific papers, pulling ahead of the US’s 293,434 journal articles and accounting for 23.4 per cent of the world’s research output, the report found.

China accounted for a high proportion of research into materials science, chemistry, engineering and mathematics, while US researchers were more prolific in research into clinical medicine, basic life sciences and physics, the Guardian reported.

The report was published on the day US President Joe Biden signed the Chips and Science Act, legislation that would authorise $200 billion in research funding over 10 years to make US scientific research more competitive with China.

ALSO READ: US rethinks steps on China tariffs  

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‘Anti-Shia hatred’ motivated killings of Muslims in US

Alburquerque police said they found evidence that the alleged killer knew the victims and “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings”…reports Arul Louis

A Muslim man in the US has been charged in the serial killing of four Muslims from Pakistan and Afghanistan, which a leading American Islamic organisation said may have been motivated by “anti-Shia hatred”.

Police announced on Tuesday that they had arrested Muhammad Syed, 51, as the “primary suspect” in the killings in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Officials, civil rights groups and the media had stoked fears in the Islamic community of bias attacks against Muslims.

President Joe Biden had tweeted that he was “angered” by the killings and that his “administration stands strongly with the Muslim community”.

The nationality of Syed has not been disclosed by officials, but the possibility of anti-Shia killings in the US could indicate that the religious turmoil in Pakistan and Afghanistan where Sunni terrorist groups target Shias has reached the US.

Two of the killings took place during the observances of Muharram, a period of religious mourning for Shias.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) admitted on Tuesday that “anti-Shia hatred” may have “motivated the killings” after its Deputy Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell had earlier issued a general warning that “the lives of Albuquerque Muslims are in danger” and asked Muslims across the US to “exercise vigilance”.

CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said: “Although we are waiting to learn more about these crimes, we are disturbed by early indications that the alleged killer may have been targeting particular members of the Shia community.”

Alburquerque police said they found evidence that the alleged killer knew the victims and “an interpersonal conflict may have led to the shootings”.

They said that bullet casings found at the site of the shooting of two Pakistanis, Aftab Hussein on July 26 and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain on August 1, matched a gun at Syed’s residence and they filed charges against him.

Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina said police were working with prosecutors on “potential charges” in the other two cases — Mohammad Zaheer Ahmadi, an Afghan who was killed in November, and Naeem Hussain, a Pakistani, on August 5.

The police said that as detectives prepared to search Syed’s home on Monday, he drove out in a Volkswagen Jetta that was used in at least one of the killings.

The detectives detained Syed and searched his home and the vehicle and found more evidence that tied him to the killings, police said.

ALSO READ: Killing of TTP top guns shows rift over truce talks with Pakistan

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Ghani blames US, others for Taliban takeover

The former President fled Kabul as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital on August 15, 2021, and is now living in exile in the United Arab Emirates…reports Asian Lite News

Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has broken his silence around a year after the collapse of his government to give an interview blaming the US, politicians in Kabul and others for the Taliban’s takeover of the war-torn country.

In his first televised interview with newly established media outlet Afghan Broadcasting Network (ABN) on Wednesday, Ghani specifically blamed former US envoy for Afghan peace Zalmay Khalilzad as well as a number of prominent Afghan politicians, reports dpa news agency.

Ghani seemed to be most angry at Khalilzad, who signed a peace deal with the Taliban in Doha that paved the way for the full withdrawal of foreign forces from the country.

He called Khalilzad “corrupt” and “incompetent”.

The former President fled Kabul as the Taliban entered the Afghan capital on August 15, 2021, and is now living in exile in the United Arab Emirates.

His departure paved the way for the Taliban to seize the presidential palace.

Ghani later apologised to Afghans, saying he fled to avoid bloodshed.

He has been heavily criticized nationally and internationally for escaping before a political settlement could be reached.

He still, however, considers himself Afghanistan’s President.

Before his government fell, Ghani had boasted he would stand against the Taliban until death.

He now says he had no executive power when Kabul collapsed.

Ghani told ABN he was the “last person to leave” and did so in order to avoid repeating “Dr Najib’s bitter experience”.

He was referring for former Afghan president Mohammad Najibullah, who was killed by the Taliban in 1996 when they first captured Kabul.

He said the country’s former defence minister fled before him and that the US embassy in Kabul had already started the evacuation of its staff and Afghan elite forces.

Ghani told ABN his intelligence chief said at the time the Afghan forces were incapable of fighting.

ALSO READ: Top TTP commander killed in Afghanistan

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Trump refuses to depose before AG in NY

Since March 2019, Attorney General Letitia James’s office has investigated whether rump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets…writes Ashe O

Former President Donald Trump kept his date with New York Attorney General in Manhattan but declined to answer questions from the latters office, a calculated and yet surprising gamble in a high-stakes legal interview that will likely determine the course of a civil investigation into his companys business practices of whether he has misused tax breaks.

Shortly after questioning began on Wednesday morning, Trump’s office released a statement saying he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, explaining that he “declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the US Constitution”.

Two informed sources confirmed that he was refusing to answer questions, citing the Fifth Amendment, The New York Times reported.

Since March 2019, Attorney General Letitia James’s office has investigated whether rump and his company improperly inflated the value of his hotels, golf clubs and other assets.

Trump has long dismissed the inquiry from James as a partisan “witch hunt”.

In his statement on Wednesday, he cast it as part of a grander conspiracy against him, linking it to the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, his home and private club in Palm Beach, Florida, on Monday.

“I once asked, If you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?'” he said in the statement. “Now I know the answer to that question.”

Trump said that he was being targeted by lawyers, prosecutors and the news media, and that left him with “no choice”.

But there were other reasons Trump may have decided not to answer questions. While James’s inquiry is civil, and she cannot file criminal charges against the former President, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has been conducting a parallel criminal investigation into whether Trump fraudulently inflated valuations of his properties.

Any misstep from the former President in his deposition could have breathed new life into that inquiry, The New York Times said.

Trump priorly was not expected to invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination. He has long considered himself his best spokesman, and those who had questioned him in the past, as well as some of his own advisers, believed he was unlikely to stay quiet. His decision could have a significant impact on any trial if James’s investigation leads to a lawsuit. Jurors in civil matters can draw a negative inference when a defendant invokes his or her Fifth Amendment privilege, unlike in criminal cases, where exercising the right against self-incrimination cannot be held against the defendant.

Staying silent could also hurt Trump politically at a time when he is hinting that he will join the 2024 presidential race; it could raise questions about what he might be trying to hide. In the past, Trump has ridiculed witnesses for invoking their Fifth Amendment rights, once remarking at a rally that, “you see the mob takes the Fifth”, and, “if you’re innocent, why are you taking the Fifth Amendment?”

The District Attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, had developed concerns about proving a case against Trump, but he has said that he is monitoring James’s investigation and planned to scrutinize Trump’s responses on Wednesday. The former President’s decision not to answer those questions may forestall new avenues in that investigation.

Trump is also contending with a litany of other inquiries. Along with the FBI search at Mar-a-Lago, federal prosecutors are questioning witnesses about his involvement in efforts to reverse his election loss; a House select committee held a series of hearings tying him more closely to the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol; and a District Attorney in Georgia is investigating potential election interference on the part of Mr. Trump and his allies.

James’s inquiry could wrap up sooner than those investigations. Rather than file a lawsuit that would take years to resolve, she could first pursue settlement negotiations with the former President’s lawyers to obtain a swiffer financial payout. But if she ultimately sues Trump, and if James prevails at trial, a judge could impose steep financial penalties on Trump and restrict his business operations in New York.

In seeking to fend off a lawsuit from James, The New York Times said that Trump’s lawyers are likely to argue that valuing real estate is a subjective process, and that his company simply estimated the value of his properties, without intending to artificially inflate them.

While James has contended in court papers that the Trump Organization provided bogus valuations to banks to secure favourable loans, the former President’s lawyers might argue that those were sophisticated financial institutions that turned a hefty profit from their dealings with Trump.

The depositions represent the culmination of months of legal wrangling. In January, Trump asked a judge in New York to strike down a subpoena from James seeking his testimony and personal documents. The judge, Arthur F. Engoron, sided with James and ordered the Trumps to testify, a ruling that an appellate court upheld.

And at James’s request, Justice Engoron held Trump in contempt of court, finding that he had failed to comply with the terms of the AG’s subpoena seeking his documents. It was an embarrassing two-week episode that compelled Trump to pay a $110,000 penalty.

At an April court hearing for the contempt order, one of James’s lawyers, Kevin Wallace, indicated that the investigation was nearing its conclusion. James’s office, he said, would need to bring an “enforcement action” in the “near future”.

The lawsuit, or a settlement agreement, would be likely to accuse Trump and his company of fraudulently inflating the value of his golf clubs, hotels and other properties on his annual financial statements. Trump’s company provided the statements to banks in hopes of obtaining loans.

James revealed in a court filing this year that Trump’s long-time accounting firm, which compiled these statements, had cut ties with him. The firm, Mazars, essentially retracted nearly a decade’s worth of Trump’s financial statements, The New York Times said.

Trump’s deposition marks the final stage of the AG’s three-year civil inquiry, teeing up one of the most consequential decisions of her tenure: whether to sue Trump and his company.

James, a Democrat running for re-election in November, has assumed the role of Trump’s chief antagonist in New York. And in recent months, she has adopted an unusually aggressive legal strategy,including persuading a judge to hold the former President in contempt of court, as she battled to obtain his documents and testimony.

But Trump invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination during the deposition, declining to answer questions. He has long dismissed the inquiry from James as a partisan “witch hunt”, and in a statement released as questioning began, he painted James as an overly zealous and politically motivated prosecutor.

The argument that James’s investigation was politically motivated had not been convincing to judges: Trump’s lawyers attempted to leverage it while trying to avoid the questioning, and were unsuccessful.

James, a former New York City councilwoman from Brooklyn, who rose to become the city’s public advocate, was elected attorney general in 2018, becoming the first Black woman to hold statewide office. The victory placed her at the forefront of the legal fight against Trump’s policies by states with Democratic leadership. She succeeded Barbara D. Underwood, who already had several cases pending against Trump, including an investigation into his charity and lawsuits to stop immigrant families from being separated at the border.

James vowed to continue the office’s scrutiny of the president.

“He should know that we here in New York, and I, in particular, we are not scared of you,” she said in her victory speech. “And as the next attorney general of his home state, I will be shining a bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings, and every dealing, demanding truthfulness at every turn.”

She kept her word, becoming a thorn in Trump’s side. In March 2019, she started a civil investigation that focused on whether Trump had systematically mis-stated the value of his assets to gain financial advantage with lenders and tax authorities. In January this year, she accused the Trump Organization of repeatedly misrepresenting the value of its assets to bolster its bottom line, saying that the company had engaged in “fraudulent or misleading” practices. That filing came in response to Trump’s effort to block James from questioning him and two of his adult children under oath.

Three months later, she filed a motion to hold Trump in contempt for failing to turn over documents. The filing cited a response from Trump’s legal team argued that the AG’s requests were “grossly overbroad, unintelligible, unduly burdensome” and did not “adequately” describe the requested materials. A judge ruled in James’s favour and imposed a $110,000 penalty.

James won a big victory when a judge ordered Trump to face questioning about his net worth and pattern of alleged financial embellishment.

ALSO READ: Hilary trolls Trump after FBI raid

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Did Pakistan and US work together to kill Khorasani?

From a geopolitical perspective, the Americans have been virtually thrown out of Central Asia, creating a power vacuum which regional powers are jostling to fill. …writes Atul Aneja

Feverish moves are being played out on the AfPak chessboard, which became visible on July 31 when a Hellfire missile fired from a drone ripped apart Ayman Al Zawahiri, the terror kingpin of the dreaded Al Qaeda.

The Sunday morning attack took place when Zawahiri was standing on the balcony of a safehouse, arranged for him by the Haqqani network, led by Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister of the current Taliban government, which planted itself in Kabul on August 15 last year. The anchorage of the Taliban has deeply affronted the Americans, who had to unceremoniously exit Kabul under fire.

From a geopolitical perspective, the Americans have been virtually thrown out of Central Asia, creating a power vacuum which regional powers are jostling to fill. Washington is now attempting to claw back a foothold in AfPak, presumably with the active support of Pakistan, their old partners in crime.

Apart from Zawahiri’s killing, two other major seemingly unconnected back-to-back events have taken place. But when examined closely they may have threaded together a dramatic change-the coming together of the Pakistan military and the American security establishment once again. It is likely that both have discovered that they need to work together against a common adversary – the increasingly hostile Taliban in all its avatars including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) or the Pakistan Taliban. Here, a little bit of a back story is important to connect the dots.

After the Americans left Kabul last year, the former chief of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and a pro-Imran Khan acolyte, Lt.General Faiz Hameed, was entrusted in conducting a dialogue with an increasingly rebellious TTP, which wanted to cross the colonial era Durand line and unite all Pashtuns on either side of the fence.

Gen. Hameed, who was removed by Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa from his post in the ISI and shifted to Peshawar as the commander of XI Corps led a hybrid team which included tribal elders to dialogue with TTP.

Sirajuddin Haqqani from the Afghan Taliban anchored the talks. The dialogue was apparently making serious progress. It had boiled down to the TTP’s demand that the loosely governed Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), where its cadres once roamed freely, should be returned to its original administrative status. In other words, the group was demanding that the mutation of the FATA into Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province – a conversion that the Imran Khan government had marshalled in 2018 –needed to be scrapped.

But before this could happen , the entire dialogue process seems to have been irreversibly overturned. From Peshawar, Gen. Hameed, potentially seen as a rival to Gen. Bajwa has been shifted to Bahawalpur as the corps commander, according to a Pakistani military notification issued on Monday. In all probabilities, he will now relinquish his previous duties of engaging in a dialogue with the TTP.

The move of plucking out Gen. Hameed from the dialogue process now seems connected to another mega-development in the AfPak theatre.

On Sunday, four top honchos of the TTP, who were travelling together in a vehicle, were killed in a IED (Improvised Explosive Device) blast. The attack took place in the Birmal area of Afghanistan’s Paktika province.

Those killed were Maulvi Abdul Wali aka Maulvi Omar Khalid Khorasani, Mufti Hasan, Hafiz Dawlat Khan and the son-in-law of Abdul Wali.

The BBC Urdu service is reporting that Khorasani, a big gun, was one of the founding members of TTP. It is here that the American connection comes in strongly.

The US in fact had placed a dead or alive reward, of $ 3 million on Khorasani’s head. And the Americans meant business. In 2015, the US targeted him at a place called Perchau – a border area between Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province and Pakistan. Khorasani escaped but was seriously injured in the attack.

Other TTP bigwigs were not so lucky. Former TTP chiefs, Baitullah Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud were killed in drone strikes. Other high-ups who were droned down include Qari Hussain Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah Khorasani.

While there is a general perception that Khorasani was killed in an IED blast on Sunday evening, a spokesperson of the TTP has raised the possibility that the four could have died in a drone strike. “They were travelling in a vehicle in Paktika province where they died in a mysterious blast. We have received the bodies and are investigating whether they were killed in a drone strike or in an IED explosion,” The News quoted a senior member of the Pakistani Taliban as saying.

It appears from the present state of investigation that Khorasani’s killing was a sequel to the droning down of Zawahiri. Zawahiri’s death served a body blow to the Taliban, as it is a credible pointer that the group was sheltering the arch-terrorist, despite claiming the Taliban 2.0 had washed its hands of terror. The process of Taliban’s international recognition and unfreezing of billions of dollars of funds that the Taliban badly needs has been effectively stalled by the Americans after Zawahiri’s killing. This is a significant counter blow to the Taliban which had been largely responsible for Washington’s humiliating exit almost a year ago.

There is considerable speculation that after the exit of pro-China Imran Khan and the marginalisation of his supporters such as Lt. Gen. Hameed in the military, the Pakistani top brass and the Americans have revived their active collaboration against global terrorists who could pose a common threat. This is reminiscent of the heydays of the Global War on Terror when the Pak military handed over to the Americans such Al Qaeda luminaries as Khalid Al Sheikh and Abu Zubaydah, who ended up in the dungeons of Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

It has been extensively noted in the media that a day before the attack , Gen. Bajwa held a widely reported telephonic conversation with the Commander of the US Central Command, where the Army Chief conveyed to the Americans that “Pakistan values its relations with the US and earnestly looks forward to enhance mutually beneficial multidomain relations”.

It would not be surprising that if in return for collaborating with the Americans, the Pakistanis manage to get a much-needed loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to bailout an anaemic economy going through a meltdown, and later escape from the clutches of Financial Action Task Force (FATF). Afterall Gen. Bajwa has gone the extra mile to personally calling US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to speed up disbursal of $1.2 billion loan from the IMF just after the harpoon missile shredded Zawahiri.

Regarding talks with the TTP, it is quite likely that after Khorasan’s killing and Gen. Hameed’s exit, the dialogue will be stalled, and Pakistan, with active support from the US will go for muscular strikes against the group.

The TTP also appeared disinclined to continue talks. “We started investigations to ascertain who could have been involved in their killings. After the investigations are complete, we will issue a detailed statement on whether or not to continue the peace talks with Pakistan,” a TTP representative told The News.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ: Probe against Pakistani charities launched

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Biden asks Syria to help bring detained US reporter home

US officials believe he was detained at a Syrian government checkpoint southwest of Damascus on August 14 of that year…reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden said that Washington knows “with certainty” that the Syrian government has held Austin Tice, a reporter and former Marine missing in Syria since 2012, and is asking for its help bringing him home.

Marking a decade since Tice was taken captive, Biden on Wednesday said that “there is no higher priority in my administration than the recovery and return of Americans held hostage or wrongfully detained abroad”, reports dpa news agency.

Tice travelled to Syria in 2012 to cover the war as a freelance journalist for McClatchy, The Washington Post, and other publications.

US officials believe he was detained at a Syrian government checkpoint southwest of Damascus on August 14 of that year.

A video emerged six weeks after his disappearance purporting to show him in captivity.

“We know with certainty that he has been held by the Syrian regime. We have repeatedly asked the government of Syria to work with us so that we can bring Austin home. On the tenth anniversary of his abduction, I am calling on Syria to end this and help us bring him home,” Biden said.

Biden administration officials have said they operate on the “sincere belief” that Tice is alive.

The Syrian government, however, has denied any knowledge of his whereabouts or condition.

Also issuing a statement, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US continues to “demand” that Syrian officials “acknowledge the detention of Austin and every other US national held in Syria, a responsibility under international law and an important step in securing their release”.

The US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, Roger Carstens, “will continue to engage with the Syrian government” in coordination with the White House, State Department, and law enforcement agencies, Blinken said.

In May, Biden held a meeting with Marc and Debra Tice at the White House to discuss their son’s case.

The Tice family pleaded with the President to directly engage with the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad on Tice.

Biden told the family he would direct his team to meet with the Syrians as soon as possible.

In his statement on Wednesday, Biden said the family “deserves answers, and more importantly, they deserve to be swiftly reunited with Austin”.

“We stand with Austin’s many loved ones, and we will not rest until we bring Austin home. Ten years is far, far too long… So is every additional day.”

ALSO READ: Biden says future is ‘Made in America’

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Biden says future is ‘Made in America’

Late last month, the US Senate and the House cleared the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act to strengthen science and technology innovation in semiconductors, manufacturing and other technologies….reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden on Tuesday signed the historic $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act into law that includes $52 billion to boost domestic semiconductor manufacturing.

The CHIPS and Science Act is the Biden administration’s bet to incentivise chipmakers to reverse course and build fabs in the US and cut the dependence on China.

“Today, I sign into law the CHIPS and Science Act. It’s a once-in-a-generation law that invests in America by supercharging our efforts to make semiconductors here at home,” Biden said in a tweet.

“Today represents a more secure economy, jobs, and a stronger future for our nation. America is delivering,” he said, adding that the future of the microchip industry is going to be ‘Made in America’.

Late last month, the US Senate and the House cleared the $280 billion CHIPS and Science Act to strengthen science and technology innovation in semiconductors, manufacturing and other technologies.

“The American people may not know it, but semiconductors are integral to their everyday experiences. They are microchips that are used in automobiles, consumer electronics, and washing machines,” Democrat Representative Frank Pallone Jr had in a statement.

The bill also creates a 25 per cent tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing, earmarks $1.5 billion for technology development for US firms dependent on foreign telecommunications, according to Forbes.

Meanwhile, South Korea is reviewing its possible participation in the US-led semiconductor alliance from the perspective of national interest and has no intent to build an exclusive grouping against China.

Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang made the remarks on Monday, amid concerns that South Korea’s possible joining of the “Chip 4” could cause friction with China, its largest trading partner, if it develops into an exclusive grouping against Beijing.

The Chip 4 is an envisioned alliance of semiconductor powerhouses tentatively involving the US, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan, widely considered a grouping against China and aimed at countering Beijing’s influence in global supply chains.

ALSO READ: Biden ratifies Finland, Sweden NATO membership bids

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Hilary trolls Trump after FBI raid

Clinton herself was investigated by federal authorities, and she was never charged with any criminal offence, although Trump, when in office, still sought Clinton’s prosecution anyway…reports Ashe O

Former US Secretary of State and Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton trolled ex-President Donald Trump after an FBI raid on his Florida residence, implicitly reminding people of some of the reportedly brazenly destructive impacts of Trump’s time in the public spotlight.

Those impacts contrast with what was available from a hypothetical, Hillary Clinton-led Presidential administration. Clinton, of course, faced years-long antagonism to a feverish degree from many voices on the Right over her handling of government materials while serving as Secretary of State.

Now, what’s the basis for the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, asks a Bipartisan Report.

Founded in 2012 by Justin Brotman, the Bipartisan Report is a news and opinion website with a liberal bias. The website states, “We Bring the News”.

Justin Brotman is the son of co-founder and chairman of Costco Wholesale Corporation, Jeffrey Brotman. Bipartisan Report provides emails for their writers.

As per Bipartisan Report, besides the hypocrisy, Trump’s team is responsible for something in which Clinton never engaged: Taking classified materials to a former President’s southern Florida resort.

Over a dozen boxes of records that federal law mandated be provided to the National Archives at the close of Trump’s term instead went to Mar-a-Lago, his Florida residence, and once the agency recovered the materials, it found classified documents and referred the matter to the Justice Department, the Bipartisan Report said.

“Every ‘But her emails’ hat or shirt sold helps @onwardtogether partners defend democracy, build a progressive bench, and fight for our values. Just saying!” Hilary Clinton tweeted.

It’s remarkable, of course, that so many of the same folks who demanded the powers of federal law enforcement be used against political enemies like Clinton are now furious that federal law enforcement went against their own side, even though, unlike what they hoped for with Clinton, there’s what seems like substantial real-world evidence this time, she said.

The FBI agents who conducted the search of Mar-a-Lago didn’t just wake up on Monday and decide to pester Trump: The pre-raid process likely included judicial approval and the backing of high-ranking department officials, and the lengthier the process gets, the more far-fetched that notions of a conspiracy become, the Bipartisan Report said.

Clinton herself was investigated by federal authorities, and she was never charged with any criminal offence, although Trump, when in office, still sought Clinton’s prosecution anyway.

As for Trump, The New York Times outlined how the FBI would’ve “needed to convince a judge that it had probable cause that a crime had been committed, and that agents might find evidence at Mar-a-Lago, to get a search warrant”.

One aim of the search of Mar-a-Lago was evidently to see whether government records that federal record-keeping authorities were meant to obtain were still there. At this stage, Trump no longer possesses any power to declassify documents, so if something remains classified but gets shipped off to Mar-a-Lago, that’s a problem, the Bipartisan Report said.

Throughout his presidency, he routinely mishandled federal records. Trump administration records that were obtained from the Archives by the House committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riots were taped back together. It’s unclear at this point whether Trump himself will get charged for the federal documents’ mishandling, but it’s clear the raid shows how serious things are, the report said.

ALSO READ: Court sides with House in fight over Trump

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Court sides with House in fight over Trump tax returns

The committee argued it needed the returns to properly assess tax administration, including the program that requires presidential returns be audited….reports Asian Lite News

The House Ways and Means Committee can use a federal law to gain access to the tax returns of former President Donald Trump, a federal appeals court in Washington has ruled.

Tuesday’s decision from a three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in a long-running legal dispute would allow committee Chairman Richard Neal to get Trump’s personal records from the Treasury Department.

The former President, who intervened after the incumbent Joe Biden administration said it would comply with the request, had argued Neal and Democrats intended to use the returns against him politically or attempt to enhance IRS oversight of the presidency in a violation of the separation of powers.

But the D.C. Circuit panel wrote that they could only analyse what Neal wrote in his request, not statements by other members of Congress about what they may do with Trump’s returns once they have them.

“The mere fact that individual members of Congress may have political motivations as well as legislative ones is of no moment,” the opinion, written by Senior Judge David B. Sentelle, states.

“Indeed, it is likely rare that an individual member of Congress would work for a legislative purpose without considering the political implications.”

The committee argued it needed the returns to properly assess tax administration, including the program that requires presidential returns be audited. The decision follows years of litigation seeking Trump’s returns under a 1976 law that gives congressional committees the power to review individual returns.

The law gives Neal, as committee chairman, the power to request those returns. Neal praised the decision in a statement Tuesday, arguing “our position has been affirmed by the Courts”.

“I’m pleased that this long-anticipated opinion makes clear the law is on our side. When we receive the returns, we will begin our oversight of the IRS’s mandatory presidential audit program,” Neal said.

The committee tweeted: “We expect to receive the requested tax returns and audit files immediately.”

The decision on Tuesday affirmed a lower court ruling that dismissed Trump’s lawsuit that seeks to block the Treasury Department from releasing to the committee his personal returns and returns of several of his businesses.

While the committee seemed confident it would obtain the returns soon, Tuesday’s opinion noted “the possibility of further appellate review in both this case and Mazars”, a case from the House Oversight and Reform Committee seeking Trump’s personal financial information.

A separate order issued Tuesday stayed the decision for seven days, allowing Trump to seek rehearing in the D.C. Circuit or appeal.

The committee has not previously requested the tax returns of a sitting or former President.

However, Trump himself also broke with longstanding tradition by refusing to release his tax returns before or after winning his campaign for office, citing ongoing audits.

The first president to release his returns, Richard Nixon, did so while under audit.

The litigation started in 2019, while Trump was still in office. Neal and the committee requested access to his returns, which the Treasury Department refused to provide after calling Neal’s reasons pretextual.

Neal reissued the request in 2021, which the Biden administration said it would comply with.

Trump then intervened in the case, reiterating arguments from when he was in office.

ALSO READ: Biden ratifies Finland, Sweden NATO membership bids

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Biden to expedite India sanctions waiver

Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment urges the Biden administration to use the authority to provide India with a CAATSA waiver to help deter aggressors like China…reports Asian Lite News

The recent India-specific CAATSA sanctions waiver by the House of Representatives is the most consequential vote since the civilian nuclear deal, an influential Indian-American Democratic Congressman has said, asserting that US President Joe Biden will expedite the waiver because he has the “political mileage” and the backing of 300 members of the Congress.

In July, the House of Representatives passed a legislative amendment that approves an India-specific waiver for punitive CAATSA sanctions for its purchase of the S-400 missile defence system from Russia.

Authored and introduced by Indian-American Congressman Ro Khanna, the amendment urges the Biden administration to use the authority to provide India with a Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) waiver to help deter aggressors like China.

“The US-India relationship has never been more critical. When you see an expansionist China at an expansionist Russia, I believe this is going to be a defining relationship of the 21st century. And we needed to send a clear message to India that America values this relationship as very important,” Khanna said.

The legislative amendment was passed last month by voice vote as part of an en bloc (all together as a single unit) amendment during floor consideration of the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA). The legislation is yet to be passed by the United States Senate before it can be sent to President Biden to be signed into law.

“Having the threat of sanctions hanging over India undermines our ability to build that strong strategic relationship. It undermines the ability to strengthen the QUAD with Australia and Japan,” the 45-year-old Democrat said.

CAATSA is a stringent US law that authorises the US administration to impose sanctions on countries that purchase major defence hardware from Russia in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential elections.

The bipartisan vote, which had the support of 300 members of the Congress, is the most consequential vote for India-US relationship, he noted.

“So, this amendment where you have 300 members of Congress telling President Biden to waive the sanctions is an enormous show of support for that relationship. It’s the most historic vote in the House, …since the India civilian nuclear deal. And it doesn’t so much matter whether it’s ultimately in the NDAA or in the Senate, because President Biden has the ultimate authority and this gives him the political mileage to waive off those sanctions,” Mr Khanna said.

Khanna, who was part of the high-profile delegation led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that travelled to Taiwan recently, said that his legislative amendment passed by the House had the support of the Biden administration.

“It would never have passed the House, if the White House had not indicated a positiveness. I mean, you would never have had the amendment ruled in order or have had a vote on it or had it gone, without the support of the House Foreign Affairs chair, Greg Meeks. We have been in touch with the National Security team with the state department and they appreciated it,” he explained.

When asked why Joe Biden has not issued the national interest waiver to India so far, Mr Khanna said the president has his hands full with a wide-range of international and domestic challenges.

“He’s dealing with Ukraine. He’s dealing with China, and he probably wants to see the process play out in the Senate. But this was a strong step in that direction of him having the wave,” Khanna noted.

He said the administration understands the strategic importance, and understands the need to strengthen the defence relationship with India.

“The administration understands there are times we will disagree and we want India to condemn the Ukraine invasion, but that we still have to forge ahead on building a strong relationship, understands the importance of human rights,” he said.

Khanna has also proposed India become the sixth nation in Nato plus arrangement to bolster defence ties.

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