CHICAGO — After months of hunkering down at home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, travelers are slowly returning to the skies — some eagerly, some cautiously — and all curious to see how their first flight in months will be different.On a recent morning at O’Hare International Airport’s Terminal 1, used primarily by hometown carrier United Airlines, the scene was anything but what used to be considered normal. There were few families heading off on vacation and even fewer corporate road warriors killing time in the airport lounge. Employees appeared to outnumber travelers at the check-in area. A co...
Xiomara Castro will be sworn in Thursday as the first woman president of Honduras, which is grappling with poverty, migration, drug trafficking and corruption, after apparently resolving a crisis in congress that threatened her leadership.
The 62-year-old leftist former first lady's inauguration will put an end to 12 years of right wing National Party rule.
"Twelve years of struggle, 12 years of resistance. Today the people's government begins," Castro, the wife of former president Manuel Zelaya, who was deposed in 2009, wrote on Twitter.
From dawn, queues formed outside the national stadium in the capital Tegucigalpa where 29,000 people will watch the inauguration.
In order to implement her campaign promises, Castro needs the support of congress but last week a crisis broke out when rival factions in her Libre party voted in their own presidents of the legislature.
Negotiations to end the impasse seemed to have reached a successful conclusion on Thursday as Castro's choice, Luis Redondo, opened a legislative session.
Rebel Libre deputy Jorge Calix, who presided over a rival session on Tuesday, did not repeat the move this time.
On Wednesday night, Castro revealed she had offered Calix the job of Cabinet Coordinator -- a similar role to chief of staff -- in her government, in a bid to convince him to drop his claim to the congress president role.
Calix, who had led a band of close to 20 dissident Libre deputies supported by the right wing opposition, sparked hope of a breakthrough by replying to Castro with: "You will soon receive my answer."
The congress dispute is an embarrassing distraction for the president-elect, with US Vice President Kamala Harris, King Felipe VI of Spain and Taiwan Vice President William Lai due to attend the inauguration.
Once she assumes office, Castro will inherit "a country in a deep crisis, above all a social crisis, whose despair, whose deterioration of living conditions have become so profound," Eugenio Sosa, a sociologist at the National University of Honduras, told AFP.
The main reflection of the crisis, he added, "is in the massive exodus of families to the United States."
Castro's challenge, though, before even taking office, was to try to resolve the congress dispute.
The schism emerged last Friday when a group of Libre dissidents ignored an agreement with the Savior Party of Honduras (PSH), whose support was key to Castro winning the November elections.
PSH leader Salvador Nasralla agreed to withdraw from the presidential race in return for the position of vice president and a pledge to support the PSH's Redondo as president of congress.
But dissidents refused, arguing that congress should be led by the party with the most members -- Libre has 50 deputies, to just 10 for the Savior party.
The dispute turned nasty, with some deputies coming to blows.
Castro accuses the dissidents of allying with the National Party of outgoing president Juan Orlando Hernandez to prevent the changes she promised in her campaign, including the restitution of laws against impunity that were rolled back by the previous administration.
During her visit, US vice president Harris is due to hold talks with Castro on the root causes of Central American migration toward the United States, a senior US official said.
"The topics will include expanding economic opportunity, combating corruption, and humanely managing migration," the official added.
Some 71 percent of the close to 10 million Hondurans live in poverty, according to an NGO called FOSDEH.
"Everyone wants to leave because there's no work. If there were more job opportunities here, there would be no need to look for another country," university student Jensi Davila told AFP in Tegucigalpa.
Honduras is also wracked by violence instigated by criminal gangs involved in drug trafficking. The murder rate is close to 40 per 100,000 inhabitants.
Lai is due to hold separate talks with Castro and Belize Prime Minister John Briceno during his visit.
Taiwan's foreign ministry said Lai's meeting with Castro would be "to exchange views on issues of mutual concern."
Honduras is among just 14 countries that still recognize Taiwan.
China, which considers Taiwan a part of its territory, has spent decades successfully encouraging the island nation's allies to switch sides.
During her election campaign, Castro vowed to "immediately open diplomatic and commercial relations with mainland China" if she won.
© 2022 AFP
After her son was disciplined for using the n-word, a white woman deployed the word herself during a school board meeting in Michigan.
"Frankly I was shocked," Grosse Pointe Public Schools Superintendent Jon Dean told Fox 2 Detroit.
"That is certainly not appropriate language to use," noted. "It is racist, inappropriate language.
Parent Abigail Ward, a white woman married to a Black man who is raising biracial children, wished the board had done more at the time.
"I’m just concerned as a parent, that the more and more lines continue to be crossed, at what point will the board then speak up," she said.
Joseph Herd, the president of the school board, released a letter saying that, "moving forward, anyone using inappropriate language will be removed from the meeting."
Grosse Pointe parent's racial rant using n-word upsets community at school meeting www.youtube.com
When Sen. Chris Larson and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff asked the Milwaukee County district attorney to investigate the 10 fake electors who sent documents to Congress falsely certifying the votes of Wisconsinites went to Donald Trump, the pair of Milwaukee legislators also began looking into who reserved the room in the Capitol where the fake electors met to put their signatures on those documents.
Potential charges against the group of “imposter” electors include forgery, falsely acting as public officers, misconduct in public office and conspiracy to commit criminal acts — as well as potential violations of federal law, according to attorney Jeff Mandell of Law Forward, the nonprofit firm that first called for an investigation into the fake electors last February.
Larson and Brostoff assert that whoever reserved the room for the Republicans may be complicit in what they deem a likely crime. Through an open records request Larson received evidence that it was then-Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald who reserved the room. Fitzgerald was elected to Congress in the same election whose results he helped challenge.
“The Congressman owes it to his constituents and the American people at large to condemn the actions of the fraudulent GOP electors. Failing to do so is an admission that he supports their attempt to overthrow the legitimate election of President Biden, including Wisconsin, which Biden won by nearly 21,000 votes,” wrote Larson in a statement. “As lawmakers, we have a special responsibility to respect the outcome of our elections, and by seemingly assisting those who would undermine that process, Congressman Fitzgerald will have committed acts that betray the oath he swore when he took office.”
Fitzgerald was sworn in on Jan. 3 and among his first acts as a newly minted congressman was to vote against certifying the election for Biden on Jan. 6. That came after the deadly attack by insurgents who invaded and trashed the U.S. Capitol in an effort to subvert democracy and the peaceful transition of power. Fitzgerald could not be reached for comment — nor has he made a public statement on the matter.
Brostoff believes Fitzgerald knowingly aided Wisconsin’s fake electors in an effort to subvert the results of the presidential contest. “It seems extremely unlikely that any of this is a coincidence,” he says, and adds that given his oaths of office on both the state and federal level to protect the Constitution, “Fitzgerald needs to be held accountable and should immediately resign. I’m hopeful that justice will be done and I’ll keep pushing for it.”
According to Larson’s statement, “The records received from the office of the State Senate Sergeant at Arms indicate that staff from then-Senator Fitzgerald’s office reserved meeting space from 10:00am to 2:00pm in the Senate Parlor and Room 201SE on behalf of the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW).” The Capitol was closed to the public due to COVID-19, “but legislators were able to reserve meeting space for constituents and other interested groups as they saw fit,” he wrote.
“All indications are that Congressman Fitzgerald saw fit to provide space in the Capitol for a slate of 10 Republicans purporting to be the authorized presidential electors from Wisconsin to meet and produce fraudulent documents claiming (falsely) that the 2020 Election in Wisconsin was won by Donald Trump,” his statement said.
Larson discussed the open record documents he secured with Rachel Maddow on MSNBC and told her, “It is something that did not just get plotted that very day. It is something that spanned across seven states … and in the case of Sen. Fitzgerald it was something he had a role in the very beginning of it by opening up a room.” Larson is referencing documents secured by American Oversight that revealed that seven states submitted false documents, although two states — not Wisconsin — added language saying the documents were to be used in case something further was discovered about the results.
Maddow, interviewing Larson on his revelation, parodied comments from staff in the Sargent’s Office who stated, in reviewing the request, that there was a lot going on in the Capitol on Dec. 14. “Yeah there was real work happening in the Capitol that day,” said Maddow, showing a picture of the Democratic electors in Gov. Tony Evers’ office. “Are we too busy to squeeze in a crime here? Do we have the nice room we could give them for that?”
The 10 who falsely claimed Trump had won Wisconsin’s votes were Carol Brunner, Edward Scott Grabins, Bill Feehan, Robert F. Spindell, Jr., Kathy Kiernan, Darryl Carlson, Pam Travis, Kelly Ruh, Andrew Hitt and Mary Buestrin.
Most of the 10 hold positions within the Republican Party, including Andrew Hitt who is the former party chair. Bob Spindell sits on the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Most of the rest serve as Republican Party leaders of county or congressional-district parties. And a number of them are involved in the campaigns of Republican gubernatorial candidate and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and attorney general candidate Adam Jarchow.
Jarchow told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that he would not investigate the matter if elected.
According to the progressive policy and advocacy group A Better Wisconsin Together, of the 10 imposter electors, four have ties to Kleefisch, as donors or advisors. The group lists:
- Bill Feehan, named to the Kleefisch gubernatorial campaign grassroots leadership board;
- Mary Buestrin, a member of the advisory board of the 1848 Project political organization established by Kleefisch and overseen by her before announcing her run for governor;
- Kelly Ruh, an original member of the advisory board of Kleefisch’s 1848 Project; and
- Andrew Hitt, former head of the Republican Party of Wisconsin and a Kleefisch donor, including $2,000 to her gubernatorial campaign in December 2021.
“As far as Kleefisch and Jarchow are concerned, it should be an obvious disqualifier from office, point blank, period,” responds Brostoff. “Not only does it bring into question her judgment as to who she is surrounding herself with, if you are going to have someone who has made democracy their enemy a heartbeat away … someone who’s got the ear of the governor. Having multiple people like that close to the governor is dangerous, scary and wholly inappropriate for her.”
He adds that Jarchow announcing he would not prosecute sent the message he’d protect his friends, “Given who’s working on his campaign I found that to be grossly inappropriate.”
Wisconsin Examiner is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Wisconsin Examiner maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Ruth Conniff for questions: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Wisconsin Examiner on Facebook and Twitter.