2:48 PM 2/9/2021 - Donald Trump's second impeachment trial begins
Senators will gather today to begin the impeachment trial of former President Trump on a charge of incitement of insurrection following the deadly Capitol riots. CBS News legal contributor Rebecca Roiphe joined CBSN to discuss Mr. Trump's key legal arguments.
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The second impeachment trial of Donald Trump begins with a debate on whether a former president can be tried by the Senate, and a vote on whether to proceed.
What to expect from Trump's second impeachment trial: https://trib.al/DzLcTLP
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Since this video was first released by The New York Times, the federal eviction moratorium has been extended to March 31. Despite the extension, past rent will still be due once the moratorium ends.
Across the country, coronavirus cases are soaring. Everyone knows by now the best way to stay safe is to stay home. But on March 31, if nothing changes, 30 million Americans are facing eviction.
In the video above, you’ll meet two hard-working single mothers living in Atlanta, Ga who suddenly lost income because of the virus. While the eviction moratorium kept a roof over their heads, it didn’t stop the back rent and late fees from accumulating — and with no relief in sight, they can’t possibly pay off all the money they owe no matter how many hours they work.
Since the pandemic upended the lives of tens of millions of Americans, congressional aid has been far too little, far too late. Now that Democrats have taken control of the Senate, can we finally enact a long-term solution?
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Under pressure from the economic impact of COVID-19 and U.S. sanctions, Cuba scrapped a ban on most private businesses on Saturday, the latest in a flurry of long-awaited reforms to its Communist system triggered by the government in recent weeks, and a sign that the state’s grip on the economy is loosening.
A series of reforms starting in 2010 have allowed Cubans to work as “self-employed people” in the private sector, but they can currently only have jobs in 127 narrow categories defined by the government. Most of the 600,000 licenses granted by 2020 cover service industry jobs like running a restaurant, or driving a taxi.
On Saturday, the labor ministry said the list would be abolished. Instead, there will be a list of 124 jobs prohibited for the private sector and the rest of the more than 2,000 legal economic activities identified by the government will be fair game. It’s the biggest shift in Cuba’s system for a decade, according to Oniel Díaz Castellanos, a Cuban entrepreneur who runs a consultancy helping self-employed people run businesses on the island. “This is a fundamental, historic change that we’ve been asking for for a long time,” he says. “There are a lot of businesses that were illegal and now can be legalized, and there’s going to be a lot of innovative ideas that will be unleashed. It’s an economic opportunity not just for entrepreneurs but for the country.”
Cuba is badly in need of an economic opportunity. The pandemic has hobbled an economy that was already struggling under the weight of U.S. sanctions introduced by the Trump Administration in 2017. Global travel restrictions have shut down the island’s tourism sector – the primary market for the businesses run by self-employed Cubans and a crucial source of foreign exchange for the government. In December the government said Cuba’s GDP had shrunk by 11% since the start of 2020.
The crunch has pushed the government to act on a series of long-planned reforms. On Jan. 1 Cuba launched a program of “monetary reordering”, rapidly devaluing its currency, the Cuban peso, against the dollar, and scrapping a secondary “convertible” form of the peso that circulated on the island. At the same time, the government removed universal subsidies on a wide range of goods. As a result prices in local stores have risen sharply, inflation is rising, and the black market value of the dollar is spiking.
Analysts say the labor reform should help to stem social discontent about the economic crisis. It may also distract from rare protests by artists and activists in late 2020 over Cuba’s tight limits on freedom of expression, and aid the pursuit of warmer U.S. relations under President Joe Biden. But business leaders hope it’s just the start of greater reforms for the private sector. Here’s what to know about Cuba’s reforms and what they mean for the future of the country’s economic system.Ismael Francisco—APAmarilis Placensia makes a bed at a home rented to tourists in Havana, on Jan. 11, 2020.
What does the reform mean for businesses in Cuba?
Cubans will now be able to start a private business in most sectors. Ricardo Torres, a pro-reform economist at the University of Havana’s Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy, says that will “reduce the power of Cuba’s bureaucracy” by decreasing the burden on Cubans to prove that their business fits into one of the permitted activities. “Now you only have to show that you’re not in one of the activities that is explicitly banned.”
The reform will also change the type of career that Cubans can pursue outside of the public sector. Currently, outside of low state salaries, Cubans can largely only legally make money from low-skilled jobs. Many professional fields like medicine, teaching and law are likely to appear on the new list of jobs that can be performed only by state employees (which is set to be laid out this week by state television, Torres says). But other fields, like technical services, engineering and economics, are likely to open to the private sector for the first time.
Economists say the new roles will drive faster growth and new job creation in the private sector. Self-employed people currently make up 13% of Cuba’s workforce. (Separately, privately-run farming collectives in the agricultural sector employ hundreds of thousands of people.) But with the current economic crisis and COVID-19 restrictions dampening demand for new businesses, Torres doesn’t expect “a boom” this year.Ismael Francisco—APAlexa Garcia works at a cafe in Chinatown in Havana on Jan. 13, 2020.
Is this the end of Cuba’s Communist economic system?
No. Torres expects to see a shift in economic activity in the next few years with the private sector growing and accounting for an increasing proportion of employment and GDP. “But unlike what happened in eastern European countries [after the fall of the Soviet Union], because of conditions in Cuba –including political ones, the private sector won’t become the majority [of economic activity] at least in the medium term,” he says.
Though recent economic pressures have accelerated changes, Cuba’s government has moved very slowly to enact reforms to its economy. Many of the changes rolled out this year were approved in 2016 or 2017 but have sat untouched since then.
Other obstacles remain for would-be business owners in Cuba. Though entrepreneurs can hire others to join their business—a restaurant owner can employ waiters, for example, or a taxi owner can let others drive their car—they cannot get legal recognition for their business as a company. Crucially, that means businesses can’t access bank loans and individuals must take on all the financial risk of themselves, according to Díaz Castellanos, the consultant. Economists and business leaders are holding out hope that, after these reforms, the government will pass a long-promised law permitting the establishment of small and medium-sized companies – regarded as essential for the growth of a more productive private sector.
Pedro Monreal, a Cuban economist based in Paris, says that to fundamentally alter Cuba’s economic model, the government would have to not only allow the private sector to grow more rapidly but also shrink the state’s economic presence. “They’d need to reduce the weight of the state in GDP, and that’s not happening on a significant scale. The state isn’t abandoning any sector.”
Monreal says Cuba’s reforms are a long way off the kind of shift to a market-driven economy that took place in China in the late 20th Century. “That country abandoned the model of centralized planning. It allows the market to distribute resources, with state levers imposed over the market,” he says. China has also privatized state owned businesses. “That’s not happening anywhere in Cuba. Could it happen? Maybe, but not right now.”
What will the reforms mean for relations with the U.S.?
It should help. The new labor rules in Cuba can’t be read as a gesture to the new U.S. administration, given the other pressures driving the change. But they are well timed.
On the campaign trail, Biden indicated that he intended to re-start the thaw in relations that began in the latter years of the Obama administration and was dramatically reversed by President Trump. Bloomberg reports that Biden plans to cut restrictions on Americans travelling to Cuba and sending remittances, two of the most painful Trump era policies for the island. But Biden has also criticized Cuban governments’ silencing of recent protests over cultural freedoms and the issue of Venezuela, where Cuba is supporting authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro, could be a sticking point in negotiations on a detente.
Cuba’s reforms should strengthen the case in Washington for a change in U.S. policy, Torres says. “One of the things in Obama’s plan was to help the private sector expand as a motor of change in Cuba,” he says. “This transformation shows circumstances in Cuba are changing. And [the U.S.] is going to want to participate.”
Her symptoms were mild, and she seemed to be getting better. But then three days after being diagnosed with COVID-19, 9-year-old Makenzie Gongora of San Antonio, Texas, died in her sleep.
New York Daily News
Former President Donald Trump faces his second impeachment trial in the Senate on Tuesday, after the House impeached him last month for inciting an insurrection at the Capitol that eventually left five people dead. Proceedings begin at 1 p.m. EST.
Trump is the first U.S. president to be impeached twice during their term, and the first president to face a trial while out of office. Trump’s lawyers say the trial is unconstitutional, and 45 Republican senators backed a measure declaring the impeachment trial unconstitutional because Trump is no longer in office.
Former Obama administration Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is the new co-chair of the National Cannabis Roundtable.
Effective Tuesday, Sebelius joins former House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, atop the group's board of directors, putting a bipartisan pair of political heavyweights in place at a time of heightened industry optimism that federal marijuana restrictions could be loosened.
“There is still really a federal framework that makes this growing industry very difficult to operate [in]. That is a considerable concern to me,” Sebelius said in an interview with POLITICO. “I think this is a moment of opportunity to really talk about some rational federal policy.”
Background: Sebelius served as President Barack Obama’s first HHS secretary, playing an instrumental role in passage and implementation of the landmark Affordable Care Act. Previously, she served as the two-term Democratic governor of Kansas.
Boehner raised eyebrows in 2018 when he joined the board of cannabis company Acreage Holdings, having been a staunch opponent of legalizing marijuana during his more than three decades on Capitol Hill. Acreage played a key role in starting the National Cannabis Roundtable, but has since dropped out of the organization.
Federal legalization: Sebelius joins the trade group as Democrats take total control of the federal government. However, the Democrats‘ thin majority in the Senate makes anything approaching full federal legalization unlikely anytime soon. Instead, piecemeal legislation, such as a proposal to make it easier for marijuana companies to access banking services, are more likely to gain traction.
Who’s involved: The National Cannabis Roundtable’s members include major cannabis companies like Trulieve, Cresco Labs and CannaCraft, as well as the Greenspoon Marder law firm and Pura Vida Investments.
The industry group also announced that cannabis company Zelira Therapeutics USA is joining the coalition. Zelira’s CEO Oludare Odumosu will join the Roundtable’s board.
A new national advocacy group, the U.S. Cannabis Council, was announced on Monday, as first reported by POLITICO. That coalition includes some of the world’s biggest cannabis companies, including Curaleaf, and Canopy Growth Corp.
The national landscape: Fifteen states — accounting for more than one third of all Americans — have passed full marijuana legalization. Another 21 states have legalized medical marijuana. Virginia, New York, New Mexico and Connecticut are among the states that could back recreational sales this year. Legalization has spread across the country even though the federal government continues to classify marijuana as a highly addictive, illegal drug with no medical value.
“States are often the incubators of innovation,” Sebelius said. “That has occurred now in vast areas of the country. I don’t see this necessarily as a Democratic or a Republican issue. … Voters across the country have indicated a willingness and an interest in moving to a new stage with cannabis.”
What’s happening in Kansas: Sebelius’ home state of Kansas is among just three states that have no legal cannabis. Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly has proposed legalizing medical marijuana and using the tax revenues to pay for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion.
Greg Nash/AFP via Getty Images
- Jarring video presented by House impeachment managers set the tone Tuesday for the Senate trial.
- The montage synced up Trump's speech with the march on the Capitol escalating to an insurrection.
- Footage showed rioters cursing at and overrunning Capitol Police.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
The second impeachment trial for former President Donald Trump began on Tuesday with a graphic video montage of footage taken in and around the January 6 Capitol siege.
Lead House impeachment manager Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. played the video to open the case against Trump, arguing the former president incited the deadly riot.
In the montage, shots from Trump's speech are juxtaposed with video of rioters storming the Capitol. The scenes were synced up in chronological order, showing how the march on the Capitol escalated to an insurrection following Trump's remarks, where he told his supporters to walk down to the building and "fight like hell."
—Manu Raju (@mkraju) February 9, 2021
"If that's not an impeachable offense, then there is no such thing," Raskin said after the video ended.
The full video also shows immediate reactions from Trump supporters during the then-president's speech, as well as how they described him at different points during the siege.
One exchange involved a rioter telling outnumbered Capitol Police officers that Trump was "your boss."
—Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) February 9, 2021
Other footage juxtaposed with the riot included shots from inside the House and Senate chambers, including the buildup to an armed standoff at the House doors.
By Ben Joseph*
In an indirect riposte, Pope Francis is trying to prove the confrontational rhetoric of Samuel Huntington's “clash of civilizations” wrong.
The pontiff has helped piece together a counter-narrative against the former Harvard professor's social theory, stressing the importance of harmonious civilizational relations. It also advocates moderation in place of fundamentalism as a common ground to challenge the entrenched perception that certain cultures and religions are incapable of change.
His narrative aims to repudiate a putative or real clash of civilizations and instead foster enhanced interfaith dialogue between cultural and religious groups for a peaceful coexistence.
If the twin tower blasts (9/11) were arguably the culmination of the clash of civilizations from the Western or Christian point of view, the wars that followed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria established beyond doubt among Muslims that cultural superiority has to give way to cultural eclecticism so that moderation (wasaṭiyyah) can prevent an increasingly hostile relationship between the civilizations of Christianity and Islam.
The pope has found common ground among Christians and Muslims despite them subscribing to different sociopolitical worldviews.
The secular democracy of the West and Sharia-based Islamic rule clash as they both entertain ideas for global domination and share a missionary history. Above all, both want to recast the world according to their worldviews.
Islam also alleges Judaism has teamed up with Christianity to finish it off, and jihad (Islamic holy war) is adopted to counter it. Thus, three Abrahamic religions disagree on their practical applications despite tracing a common ancestry. Their people are on the warpath, ignoring the basics of their scriptures.
While the West wages war in the name of establishing democracy in Muslim-majority nations, Islamic fundamentalists' jihadist exploits are out in the street to put pokes into the Western way of life, which they find haram (forbidden). Thus, they explode bombs at five-star hotels, nightclubs and churches.
When the face-off between Christians and Muslims occurs in a localized context, as happened in France last year, a tit-for-tat is the norm with stray killings and acts of terror. As a result, fear and hate grow, making lives miserable.
The Vatican's strategy to foster interfaith harmony and pursue talks with the Muslim community began with the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. For the first time, the council expressed the Church's new vision: "But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place among whom are the Muslims: these profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and together with us they adore the one, merciful God, mankind's judge on the last day." (Lumen Gentium 16).
Since then, the Church has hosted and taken part in series of conferences with Muslim scholars to reduce tensions. Pope Paul VI constituted the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue in 1964 to improve relations and dialogue between the Catholic Church and other religions.
Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis' major trips have been to non-Christian nations including Egypt, Bangladesh, Morocco, Japan and Thailand, pleading for religious pluralism and peaceful coexistence.
An Islam-loving Pope?
Pope Francis' encounters with the Muslim world were fructified during his 2019 visit to the United Arab Emirates, where he signed the document on "Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together." Also known as the Abu Dhabi Document, it aims to "build a future together."
A few months later, the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity was set up to put into action the aspirations of the document "to foster fraternity, solidarity, respect and mutual understanding."
The committee is planning to erect an Abrahamic Family House with a synagogue, a church and a mosque on Saadiyat island in Abu Dhabi.
The Higher Committee of Human Fraternity comprises international religious leaders, scholars and cultural honchos who draw inspiration from the fraternity document.
On Feb. 4, Pope Francis celebrated the International Day of Human Fraternity in a virtual event hosted by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed in Abu Dhabi, with the grand imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, and UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
"This celebration responds to a clear call that Pope Francis has been making to all humanity to build peace in the encounter with the other," stressed Cardinal Miguel Angel Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
After a hiatus imposed by the ongoing pandemic, Pope Francis is getting ready for the next pontifical journey to Iraq, another Muslim-majority nation, also the land of Abraham.
In the ancient city of Iraq in March, the pope is expected to bring the Shia sect, one of the two branches of Islam, to the negotiation table.
Francis following Francis
Pope Francis's action to cement ties with Muslims has made him a modern-day St. Francis of Assisi, who met Egypt's Sultan Malik al-Kamil in 1219 when Christendom was engaged in a bitter battle with Muslims over the Holy Land. The Italian saint of poverty, who addressed all creatures of the universe as brothers and sisters, traveled to Egypt during the Fifth Crusade in the early 13th century to establish peace with the sultan. Records show that he was received warmly.
St. Francis stood against all forms of hostility and violence and did not aim at "imposing doctrines." Pope Francis has distanced himself from warriors of Catholicism while seeking a gentle way of communicating with Muslims.In his third encyclical Fratelli tutti, the pope urged the world to exercise "political love." He cast aside the just war theory and updated the Church's teaching on the so-called "just war."
"Every war leaves our world worse than it was before," he said.
The Holy See's dialogue with the Islamic world is complicated due to tardy progress in West-Islam relations. The Vatican's honeymoon with Muslims has already raised many eyebrows in the Western world from people who champion the "clash of civilizations" theory.
Though his interfaith ties with Muslims are making great strides in the Middle East, the Judeo-Christian majority and the Muslim minority in Western countries care little about multiculturalism. Moreover, the governments of these countries still prefer to swear by the confrontational rhetoric of Huntington.
The pontiff is making a point so that the clash of civilizations does not dominate global politics. He has taken utmost care to prevent the fault lines between cultures from becoming the battle lines of future conflicts.
The pope urges the world to rise above identity in ethnic and religious terms to reverse an "us versus them" relationship existing between people of different ethnicities and religions.
If the pope has his way, the military superiority and economic agenda of the West and the Islamic resurgence and caliphate of fundamentalists will take a back seat.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of UCA News.
The article Will Pope Francis Prove ‘Clash Of Civilizations’ Wrong? – OpEd appeared first on Eurasia Review.
Investigators from the World Health Organisation say it is "extremely unlikely" the novel coronavirus came from a laboratory incident in China.
According to a joint mission investigating the origins of the pandemic, the most likely cause of the initial outbreak was the virus jumping from an "intermediary host species" to humans.
Sky's Asia correspondent, Tom Cheshire reports from Wuhan.
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The US Senate opens the historic second impeachment trial of Donald Trump, who stands accused of inciting insurrection on January 6, when the former president's supporters stormed Congress.
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