SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia's prime minister accused China on Saturday of "form", or a record, on interference in foreign politics, after his home minister said Beijing's unveiling of a security deal with the nearby Solomon Islands was timed to influence an election. With most polls showing Scott Morrison's conservative coalition headed for a loss in the May 21 election, it has sought to highlight its national security credentials, such as a tough approach to China. "We are very aware of the influence the Chinese government seeks to have in this country," Morrison told reporters in Tasmania. ...
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Longtime Arizona Central columnist E .J. Montini could barely control his amusement on Tuesday after the two Republican supervisors tasked with certifying the 2022 election results refused to do so even though Republican Kari Lake was the recipient of 58.9 percent of the votes and two other Republicans hold huge voting advantages.
CNN reports that "by a 2-1 vote Monday morning, the Republican majority on the Cochise County Board of Supervisors pushed back certification until Friday, citing concerns about voting machines."
Furthermore, CNN notes that "Cochise’s action could put at risk the votes of some 47,000 county residents and could inject chaos into the election if those votes go uncounted."
Montini reacted to this by pointing out that Gov-elect Katie Hobbs is now being forced to sue the district to do their jobs and certify the votes that give a boost to her opponent's overall vote total.
As Montini sees it, if the Cochise Country GOP supervisors are being forced by Hobbs to certify the Kari Lake-favoring votes because they think her election results in their district is fraudulent, then she must "stink" at cheating.
"Either the conspiracy theorists and election deniers are totally wrong about Gov.-elect and current Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, or she is really, really bad at cheating," he wrote before adding an exasperated, "I mean, come on. This is a gift, a freebie, a waist-high fastball served right down the middle of the plate just asking for Hobbs to knock it out of the park."
As he explained, "If Hobbs and her office chose not to follow the law and, essentially, look the other way, it would be a bonanza for Democrats, pennies from heaven," before elaborating, "Cochise County is heavily Republican. According to records on the county’s website, Republican Juan Ciscomani received nearly 14,000 more votes than Democrat Kirsten Engle in their race for Arizona’s 6th congressional district. Likewise, Republican Tom Horne received 9,000 more votes than Democrat Kathy Hoffman in the contest for Superintendent of Public Instruction."
"If the supervisors were to refuse to certify their election results and, as the law provides, “disenfranchise all of the voters in Cochise County”, Democrats would have enough votes from the other 14 counties to win both of those races," he continued before urging Hobbs to call their bluff and hand her more Democratic support.
"Let the goofball Republican majority on the Cochise County board – who, ironically, squawk about non-existent voting irregularities – negate the votes of tens of thousands of their residents, the majority of them from their own party," he wrote before quipping, "There would be no easier way to 'steal' a couple of elections."
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On Tuesday, Axios reported that Republicans are facing a crossroads as far-right and anti-abortion groups are fighting over whether, and how, to go after fertility treatments like in vitro fertilization (IVF).
"Republicans have largely insisted that fertility treatments aren't at risk from the proliferation of new state abortion restrictions. But anti-abortion groups remain deeply concerned with the use of embryos in IVF and back tighter regulations on providers," reported Caitlin Owens and Oriana Gonzalez. "The divisions may create a thorny path for 2024 hopefuls intent on bolstering their anti-abortion bona fides while still hoping to differentiate themselves from the rest of the field."
Many virulently anti-abortion Republicans have spoken in favor of IVF, the report noted — former Vice President Mike Pence, who famously vowed to send Roe v. Wade protections to the "ash heap of history," has also said IVF treatments "deserve the protection of the law." However, some anti-abortion groups have lumped IVF in with abortion, as some fetal material is necessarily discarded as medical waste as part of the procedure — even though that fetal material would never have been part of a viable pregnancy anyway.
"Legal experts say that the language of red-state 'trigger laws' banning abortion may, in some cases, be interpreted to apply to IVF as well, since embryos are fertilized before they're stored," said the report. "There hasn't been a large-scale push to interpret the laws that way — in fact, some Republican attorneys general have issued guidance saying that they're not applicable to embryos made outside of a woman's body."
"But the pro-life movement, like the GOP, is still finding its footing in the post-Roe world, and IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies are still opposed by some groups, according to their websites," said the report. "In audio obtained by ProPublica of a meeting between the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America and Tennessee lawmakers, the group suggests that lawmakers could discuss regulating IVF 'in a more ethical way' after they focus on abortion bans. That could put positions like Pence's into conflict with some of Republicans' most reliable allies, at least if they don't include specific guardrails designed to protect embryos."
This comes as the battle lines take shape in a similar fight on contraception, protected by a separate Supreme Court ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut but on similar constitutional privacy grounds to the now-overturned Roe. Some Republicans, like Rep. Kat Cammack (R-FL) have emphatically stated banning contraception is not on the table; however, some GOP abortion bans include language that, taken literally, could ban certain contraceptive procedures, and the University of Idaho recently warned employees not to provide birth control out of legal caution over interpretation of the state's abortion laws.
Ed Maggs examines a shelf of leather-bound antique books that his family have been selling from their landmark London shop for the last 170 years.
It was at Maggs Bros. Ltd that a Bolivian diplomat acquired two volumes of "Don Quixote", the Spanish epic novel by Miguel de Cervantes, which are now up for auction.
The books go on sale in Paris on December 14, where they are expected to fetch between 400,000 and 600,000 euros ($414,000 to $621,000) combined.
They were last bought in the 1930s by diplomat, Jorge Ortiz Linares, who was subsequently Bolivia's ambassador to France in the 1940s.
He was the son-in-law of Simon Patino, a Bolivian industrialist living in Paris, who made his vast fortune in tin mining in the early 20th century.
Ortiz was an avid collector and was on the hunt for an original edition of "Don Quixote", which many consider to be the first modern novel.
The tale of a poor Spanish gentleman who reads so many chivalric romances that he thinks he is a knight was a huge success when it was published in 1605.
In the 1930s, Ortiz's research led him to the British capital, which Maggs describes as "arguably the most important centre for the rare book trade" in the world.
Maggs is the great-great-grandson of Uriah Maggs, who founded the bookstore in 1853.
Over the years, it gained a reputation among British royalty and exiled monarchs such as Manuel II of Portugal and Spain's Alfonso XIII.
The bookshop, now in Bedford Square near University College London and the British Museum, came to own 1,358 rare editions of Spanish-language books.
They were collected in a catalogue published in 1927 "still quoted by bibliographers today", says Jonathan Reilly, an expert on the Maggs bookshop.
Reilly points to one of the works that caught Ortiz's eye: two first editions of "Don Quixote" -- Book I, published in 1605, and Book II, which came out 10 years later.
Both were on sale for £3,500 -- the equivalent of nearly £174,000 ($210,000) -- and "a real fortune at the time", he added.
Ortiz, however, was out of luck and found that the books had already been sold. But he left his details just in case.
In 1936, he received a long-awaited call from the bookseller and made a trip to London as soon as he could.
"Why did he get on an airplane immediately? The book collector is sometimes enthusiast, sometimes a little bit obsessed," said Maggs.
Ortiz ended up buying a third edition of Book I and a first edition of Book II, said Anne Heilbronn, head of books and manuscripts at Sotheby's auction house.
He paid £100 (about £5,600 today) for the first edition and £750 (£42,000 today) for the second.
Since then, the books have remained out of public view but can now be seen at Sotheby's in London before the Paris sale next month.
The first editions of Don Quixote Book I are rare because many were lost in a shipwreck near Havana when they were sent en masse to Latin America, the auction house said.
Published in 1608, the third edition was the last to be printed during Cervantes' lifetime and was corrected by him, Heilbronn said.
"All the translations we have today come from this third edition so it's important," she added.
What makes the books unique is that they were bound in the 18th century for an English collector.
Such early bindings of the book are very rare, said Heilbronn.
On his visit to Maggs Bros on December 21, 1936, Ortiz bought three other gems: a first edition of Cervantes' "Novelas ejemplares" published in 1613, and "La Florida del Inca" (1605).
In the latter, Garcilaso de la Vega recounts the conquest of America from the point of view of indigenous peoples.
Ortiz also bought the "Hispania Victrix" (1553) about the conquest of Mexico, which is the first work in history to mention California.
On Wednesday, the five works will be returned to the bookseller for a few hours before leaving for Paris.
They will then be auctioned off along with the 83 other items in the Ortiz Linares collection put together with the help of antiquarian bookseller Jean-Baptiste de Proyart.
Total sales are estimated at between 1.8 million and 2.5 million euros.
© 2022 AFP