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US AG Barr on racism, George Floyd, crime, Portland and Trump | News



United States Attorney General William Barr appeared before the House Judiciary Committee on July 28 for the first time since taking office in February 2019.

Barr’s appearance came amid the deployment of federal law enforcement officers against crowds of protesters in Portland, Washington, DC, and other American cities.

Barr’s tenure as the top law enforcement official in the US has been controversial. Some Democratic politicians have called for Barr’s impeachment. More than a thousand former Justice Department lawyers have signed a letter urging him to step down. Four former presidents of the DC Bar Association have called for a professional ethics probe.

In the hearing, Democrats, who control a majority in the US House of Representatives, challenged Barr on a wide range of issues including whether he believes there is systemic racism in the US and whether he has favoured the president’s friends in prosecutions stemming from the Mueller probe.

Here are key excerpts of what Barr said during the five-hour hearing:

Police killings of Black men ‘quite rare’

“Police forces today are far more diverse than they’ve ever been. And there are both more Black police chiefs and more Black officers in the ranks. Although the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police was a shocking event, the fact is that these events are, fortunately, quite rare.”

Police killings not rooted in racism

“As one prominent Black professional in Washington said to me, African Americans will often feel treated as suspects first and citizens second, and I think these concerns are legitimate. At the same time, it would be an oversimplification to treat the problem is rooted in some deep-seated racism generally infecting our police departments. It seems far more likely that the problem stems from a complex mix of factors which can be addressed with focused attention over time.”

Four now former police officers were charged in the days following the killing of George Floyd on May 25. From left: Derek Chauvin, who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck and J Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao [Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/via AP Photo]

Police demonised in wake of George Floyd, most Black people killed by other Black people

“Unfortunately, some have chosen to respond to George Floyd’s death in a far less productive way by demonising the police, promoting slogans like ‘all cops are bastards’ and making grossly irresponsible programme proposals to defund the police. The demonisation of the police is not only unfair and inconsistent with principles of all people should be treated as individuals, but gravely injurious to the inner-city communities. When communities turn on and pillory the police, officers naturally become more risk-averse and crime rates soar. So, unfortunately, we are seeing that now in many of our cities, the threat to Black lives posed by crime on the streets is massively greater than any threat posed by police misconduct.”

Protests have been hijacked by rioters, notably in Portland

“In the wake of George Floyd’s death, violent rioters and anarchists have hijacked legitimate protests to wreak senseless havoc and destruction on innocent victims. The current situation in Portland is a telling example. Every night for the past two months, a mob of hundreds of rioters have laid siege to the federal courthouse and other nearby federal property. The rioters have come equipped for a fight, armed with powerful slingshots, tasers, sledgehammers, saws, knives, rifles and explosive devices. Inside the courthouse are a relatively small number of federal law enforcement personnel, charged with the defensive mission to protect the courthouse. What unfolds nightly around the courthouse cannot reasonably be called protest. It is, by any objective measure, an assault on the government of the United States.”

Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters hold their phones aloft on Monday, July 20, 2020, in Portland, Ore.  Federal officers’ actions at protests in Oregon’s largest city, hailed by President Donal

Hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters hold their phones aloft in Portland, Oregon where federal agents were deployed without local consent, and camouflaged outside Portland’s US court, they clashed violently with civilians leading the governor to call for their removal [Noah Berger/AP Photo 

Rise in violent crime prompted federal deployments to US cities

“However, in the intervening time, we saw violent crime continuing to rise and a lot of that was triggered by the events after the death of George Floyd. So we did reboot the programme after COVID started breaking and we could commit the law enforcement resources to actually accomplish the mission, which is to reduce violent crime. Now, I regret that COVID interrupted our law enforcement activities, but it doesn’t obviate the fact that there is serious violent crime in these cities. These police departments and mayors have been asking us for help and we have put in additional federal agents and investigators to help deal with it.”

Did Barr talk politics with Trump in context of federal police response?

“I’m a member of the cabinet. And there’s an election going on, obviously, the topic comes up in cabinet meetings and other things. It shouldn’t be a surprise that topic of the election was discussed.

“I’m not going to get into my discussions with the president, but I’ve made it clear that I would like to pick the cities based on law enforcement need and based on neutral criteria.”

Donald Trump

Democrats allege Trump is provoking conflict with protesters in Portland and other US cities to boost his election prospects in November. Barr declined to reveal any election discussions with the president and insisted US law enforcement was being deployed as necessary on the basis of neutral criteria [Carlos Barria/Reuters]

Roger Stone’s prosecution excessive

“Stone was prosecuted under me. And I said all along, I thought that was a righteous prosecution. I thought he should go to jail. And I thought the judge’s sentence was correct. But the line prosecutors were trying to advocate for a sentence that was more than twice anyone else in a similar position had ever served and this is a 67-year-old man, first time offender, no violence, and they were trying to put him in jail for seven to nine years. And I wasn’t going to advocate that, because that is not the rule of law. I agree the president’s friends don’t deserve special breaks but they also don’t deserve to be treated more harshly than other people.”

Michael Flynn investigation unwarranted

“Well, I would just say I asked another US Attorney in St Louis, who had 10 years in the FBI and 10 years in the Department of Justice as a career prosecutor, to take a look at it. And he determined based on documents that had not been provided to the Flynn side and not been provided to the court, that in fact, there was no basis to investigate Flynn. And furthermore, it was clearly established by the documents that the FBI agents who interviewed him did not believe that they thought he was lying.”

“What the counsel concluded was that the only purpose of the interview – the only purpose – was to try to catch him in saying something that they could then say was a lie. So then, therefore, the interview was untethered to any legitimate investigation.”

Lafayette Square

Riot police detain a man as they fired pepper spray and tear gas on protesters to clear Lafayette Park and the area around it across from the White House on June 1, 2020 [Ken Cedeno/Reuters] 

Barr’s role in Lafayette Square on June 1

“There was unprecedented rioting right around the White House, very violent. During that time … we had around 90 officers injured. I’m talking about things like concussions, one was operated on and so forth … It was so bad that – as it’s been reported – the Secret Service recommended the president go down to the shelter. We had a breach of the Treasury Department. The historical building on Lafayette Park was burned down. St John’s was set on fire. Bricks were thrown at the police repeatedly. They took crowbars and pried up the pavers at Lafayette Park and threw those at the police. Balloons of caustic liquids were thrown on the police. And it was clear when I arrived at the White House on Monday, there was total consensus that we couldn’t allow that to happen so close to the White House, that kind of rioting. And therefore we had to move the perimeter out one block and push it up toward I Street. And there was already a plan in being at that point that the Park Police and the Secret Service had worked out the night before, which was to put the perimeter further away and then give them time to put a non-scaleable fence across the northern part of the park.”

Tactical decisions were made by US Park Police

“During the day, the factors that led to the timing of it was that movement was going to be made as soon as there were enough units in place to actually perform it and units were very slow in getting into place throughout the day, much to my frustration, because I wanted to move before there was a big buildup of demonstrators, and also the fencing had to be delivered. And when those things were accomplished the tactical commander in charge of the Park Police proceeded with the movement of pushing the perimeter. So this was something conceived long before and didn’t turn on the nature of the crowd, although I would say the crowd was very unruly. And while the tactical considerations were made by the Park Police, they tried to respond to the situation.”

	 St. John's Church

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators and shoot canisters with chemical agents in Washington DC, during a protest over the death of George Floyd. President Trump then posed outside St John’s church, after the area was cleared of protesters [Jose Luis Magana / AFP]

On Trump’s photo in front of St John’s church

“To say that this had to do with the photo op, I don’t mean to analogise this to a military operation, but it’s akin to saying that we invaded the Philippines in World War II so Douglas MacArthur could walk through the surf on the beach, one follows the other but we did not invade the Philippines so that MacArthur could walk to the beach.”

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million



Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe




A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News




Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.

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