MIAMI — A week ago, the FBI submitted a search warrant seeking classified information in the Mar-a-Lago home of former president Donald Trump to a magistrate judge in West Palm Beach federal court. But the magistrate judge on duty last Friday wasn’t available, so another one agreed to review it, with no idea of what awaited him. His name is Bruce Reinhart, a former federal prosecutor who was appointed to the position in 2018. When he found “probable cause” of a crime allowing FBI agents to search Trump’s private club for “top secret” and other classified documents, it was a pretty routine proc...
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Prime Minister Liz Truss pledged on Wednesday to steer Britain through "stormy days" and transform its economy, fighting to restore her authority over a party in revolt after a chaotic first month in office.''
Addressing Conservative lawmakers and members at an annual conference overshadowed by internal bickering and confusion over policy, Truss said the party needed to unite to kick-start stagnant growth and tackle the many problems facing Britain.
So far, however, her misfiring attempt to cut 45 billion pounds ($51 billion) of taxes and hike government borrowing has sent turmoil through markets and her party, with opinion polls pointing to electoral collapse rather than a honeymoon period for the new leader.
"We gather at a vital time for the United Kingdom. These are stormy days," she said, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and the death of Britain's longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth.
"In these tough times, we need to step up. I'm determined to get Britain moving, to get us through the tempest and to put us on a stronger footing."
As she started to speak, two protesters held up a sign asking "Who voted for this?" before they were escorted away by security personnel as the crowd chanted "out, out, out".
Truss, elected by party members and not the broader electorate, was addressing the party faithful after she was forced to reverse plans to scrap the top rate of tax. She acknowledged that change brings "disruption".
That U-turn has emboldened sections of her party who are now likely to resist spending cuts as the government seeks ways to fund the overall fiscal program.
That risks not only the dilution of her "radical" agenda but also raising the prospect of an early election.
Having entered the conference hall to a standing ovation and the sound of M People's "Moving On UP", Truss told party members and lawmakers that she wanted to build a "new Britain for the new era".
"For too long, the political debate has been dominated by how we distribute a limited economic pie. Instead, we need to grow the pie so that everyone gets a bigger slice," she said in the central English city of Birmingham.
"That is why I am determined to take a new approach and break us out of this high-tax, low-growth cycle."
The conference, once expected to be her crowning glory after being appointed prime minister on Sept. 6, has turned into a personal nightmare, and a battle for the country's political future.
As the debate moved on from tax cuts to how the government would fund them, lawmakers and ministers openly clashed, in stark contrast to the sense of discipline on display at the opposition Labour Party conference last week.
Some lawmakers fear Truss will break a commitment to increase benefit payments in line with inflation, something they argue would be inappropriate at a time when millions of families are struggling with the cost of soaring prices.
Ministers say they are yet to take a decision and are obliged to look at economic data later this month.
While markets have largely stabilized after the Bank of England stepped in to shore up the bond market - albeit after the cost of borrowing surged - opinion polls now point to an electoral collapse for the Conservatives.
John Curtice, Britain's best known pollster, said before the speech that Labour now held an average lead of 25 percentage points and the Conservatives needed to accept they were "in deep, deep electoral trouble".
On Wednesday morning CNN reported that senior members of the Republican Party are taking a pause on what to do about Herschel Walker as the scandal over his reportedly paying for a former girlfriend's abortion continues to grow.
Speaking with "New Day" host Brianna Keilar, CNN correspondent Gabby Orr reported that there is "radio silence" among GOP officials who were planning to sit down with the candidate for one of Georgia's U.S. Senate seats and get more details about his relationship with the woman who handed over proof of his involvement in her 2009 abortion to the Daily Beast.
"The campaign has gone silent since Monday evening when they pi ut out the initial denial that this happened, And at that time they had threatened to sue the Daily Beast, which was the first to report this story, by Tuesday morning for defamation which still has not been done" Orr explained.
"We do know based on what sources told me yesterday that some of the senior campaign officials plan to have a frank conversation with Herschel Walker yesterday afternoon -- the goal of that conversation was basically to determine was the relationship with this unidentified woman, if so, what was the nature of that and how can we move forward from here?"
"So, as they're plotting their next steps as a campaign in turmoil at this point they wanted to sit down with the candidate," she added. "We also know that campaign aides yesterday were making frantic calls to state legislators, officials across the state and even to their grassroots volunteers to determine whether there had been some loss of support based on the story that broke. That is where the campaign is this morning."
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"I am really hoping that in some years from now, after everything has changed, I will be happy to have been involved by taking part in this protest," Iranian woman Hadis Najafi, 22, said in a self-recorded video as she prepared to take to the streets.
Shortly after recording the message to her phone, Najafi was killed while participating in a street protest on September 21 in Karaj, outside Tehran.
According to Amnesty International, she was shot by security forces several times at close range, with birdshot wounds to the face, neck and chest.
Najafi was one of dozens of people who rights groups say have been killed in the Iranian security forces' crack down on protests that erupted over the death of Mahsa Amini in morality police custody.
The protests have broken taboos in Iran, with slogans shouted against the regime and women removing their headscarves. But security forces have hit back with a lethal force that Amnesty says raises concerns of an intent to kill demonstrators.
In a video recorded by her grieving family, Najafi's sister showed the backpack, covered in blood, that was recovered after she was shot.
"It was because of Mahsa Amini that she stood up tall and went out," she said. "We lost Hadis and we are not afraid of anything."
Her distraught mother added: "My daughter was murdered for hijab, for Mahsa Amini. She lost her life for Mahsa. She wanted to keep Mahsa's name alive."
'At the forefront'
Norway-based group Iran Human Rights (IHR) says over 90 people have been killed in the crackdown, including seven women, while Amnesty says it has confirmed 52 names of those killed, including five women, one girl and five boys.
The women killed had no previous experience of political activism and, according to relatives, went to the streets for a movement that they believed offered an unprecedented glimpse of hope.
"Women have been at the forefront of this movement and the very first protest was organized by Kurdish women," Roya Boroumand, executive director of the Washington-based Abdorrahman Boroumand Center, told AFP.
The funeral of Amini, an Iranian Kurd, in her home town of Saqqez in Kurdistan province, was marked by the initial protests as women took off their headscarves in defiance of the Islamic republic's strict dress rules.
"And they (the security forces) have killed with no hesitation. They did not even wait for the movement to get out of control to shoot," Boroumand added.
Minoo Majidi, 62, was killed by a shot fired by security forces during a protest on September 20 in the Kurdish-populated city of Kermanshah in northwestern Iran, according to the Norway-based Hengaw rights group.
In a striking image of defiance, one of Majidi's daughters posed beside her mother's flower-covered grave bare-headed, dressed in black with a white scarf around her neck, according to an image that has gone viral on social media.
Her hair was cropped to the skull and in her left hand she held the long locks of hair she had cut off, an apparent tribute to her mother and Mahsa Amini.
Ghazaleh Chelavi, 32, a keen mountain climber, was shot and killed on September 20 in the northern Caspian Sea city of Amol, according to social media channels, which published harrowing footage of the distress of her family at her funeral.
Hannaneh Kia, 23, was killed the same day in the city of Nowshahr, according to family sources and activists. Amnesty reported that two friends had said she was shot on her way home from a doctor's visit.
'They will keep shooting'
Activists say nearly all the victims died after being shot at close range.
But Sarina Esmailzadeh, aged just 16 and like Hadis Najafi also from Karaj, died as result of blows to the head when security forces beat her with batons on September 23, according to Amnesty.
It also alleged that in a frequently used tactic, Iranian security and intelligence agents have subjected the girl's family to "intense harassment" to coerce them into silence.
Nika Shahkarami went missing on September 20 after heading out to join a protest in Tehran, two weeks before she was due to celebrate her 17th birthday, her aunt Atash Shahkarami wrote on social media.
Her family was finally allowed to see the body on October 1 and were due to bury her in her home city of Khorramabad in Lorestan province on what would have been her 17th birthday, Atash Shahkarami wrote.
But both BBC Persian and Iran Wire reported that the authorities had taken possession of the body and secretly buried it on Monday in another village, to avoid a funeral that could spark a protest.
Meanwhile, Atash Shahkarami was herself arrested, the reports said. She has been inactive on social media since October 2.
"This is not the end. They will keep arresting people and keep shooting as long as people take to the streets. And people have no other venue to express dissent," Boroumand said.
© 2022 AFP