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Brazil investigates popular former president Lula on corruption charges

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Brazil has opened a probe into claims linking popular ex-president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to a corruption scandal, threatening to cast a shadow over his political legacy and future.

The Public Ministry ordered police Friday to investigate an alleged payoff by Portugal Telecom to the ruling Workers’ Party during Lula’s first term in office.

Businessman Marcos Valerio Fernandes de Souza has said the former president and ex-finance minister Antonio Palocci negotiated a $7 million payoff in 2005 with the one-time president of a Portuguese phone company through an account in Macau.

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Fernandes de Souza received a 40-year sentence last year after he was found to have run much of the scheme that channeled cash to the ruling party.

In December, the high court concluded what was one of the biggest and furthest reaching corruption trials, convicting 25 of 38 people who were accused of corruption including senior ruling party members.

The scandal nearly cost Lula his re-election in 2006. But the 67-year-old founder and leader of the leftist PT was cleared and he has always maintained he was unaware of the scheme. He was not put on trial.

Lula, who had soaring popular approval ratings while in office, was easily re-elected and handed over power to President Dilma Rousseff at the end of his second consecutive four-year term in 2010 as required by the constitution.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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2020 Election

Trump says GOP is pulling Republican National Convention from North Carolina

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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — President Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that he is seeking a new state to host this summer’s Republican National Convention after host North Carolina refused to guarantee the event could be held in Charlotte without restrictions because of ongoing concerns over the coronavirus.Trump announced the news via tweet, complaining the state's governor, Democrat Roy Cooper, and other officials "refuse to guarantee that we can have use of the Spectrum Arena" and were not "allowing us to occupy the arena as originally anticipated and promised.""Because of @NC_Governor, we are... (more…)

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Controversial Contractors for Trump’s highly-criticized $3 billion food aid program hire lobbyist to tout their work

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Companies receiving taxpayer dollars as part of President Donald Trump’s signature food aid program hired a longtime lobbyist to push back on criticism that the government is relying on unqualified contractors, such as an event planner.

“We’re working to take the stories of the impact this is having on farmers, processors, distributors and end users and making sure some positive aspects of the program, from both the economic and social standpoints, are out there too,” said the lobbyist and industry consultant, Dale Apley, who reached out to ProPublica on behalf of the contractors. “It’s not all just certain stories about certain companies that maybe shouldn’t have been awarded contracts.”

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Ivanka Trump ‘urged’ Trump’s Bible photo-op — which could become a ‘defining moment’ of his presidency: NYT

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First daughter and senior White House advisor Ivanka Trump "urged" her father to take part in a controversial photo-op with a Bible according to a new report from The New York Times.

"After a weekend of protests that led all the way to his own front yard and forced him to briefly retreat to a bunker beneath the White House, President Trump arrived in the Oval Office on Monday agitated over the television images, annoyed that anyone would think he was hiding and eager for action," the newspaper reported.

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