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‘Unprecedented’: Trump melds office and campaign at RNC | USA News



Night two of the Republican National Convention saw US President Donald Trump fully embrace the blending of official White House work and government property with political campaigning in what some observers have called an “unprecedented” fashion.

Critics had already questioned Trump’s plans for himself and his wife, First Lady Melania Trump, to deliver convention speeches from the White House, saying the backdrop raised ethical concerns. Melania went through with the speech as planned on Tuesday. Trump is slated to speak from the South Lawn of the White House on Thursday.

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On the second night of the four-day convention, exhibiting the reality show flair upon which Trump has built his reputation, the president further melded the Republican convention with two more orders of White House business – segments that showed Trump signing an official pardon and overseeing a naturalisation proceeding, both from the seat of the executive branch. 

Thomas Whalen, a Boston University political historian, said that no sitting president in recent history has combined the office with the campaign in the way Trump has during the convention. 

He called the administration’s actions “unprecedented” and possibly illegal. 

“The White House is called the ‘people’s house’, not the Republican house or the Democratic house,” Whalen told Al Jazeera. “It just flies in the face of decorum and tradition in this country.” 

Ethics and legal experts have charged the administration’s actions showed flagrant disregard for laws that arguably severely limit the use of public federal properties for partisan politics and that ban executive branch civilian employees, excluding the president and vice president, from participating in political campaigns in their official roles. 

The first instance on Tuesday, about 15 minutes into the programme, was a pre-taped segment showing Trump sign the pardon of Jon Ponder, a man convicted of robbing banks who now runs a non-profit that helps former prisoners re-enter society.

“I will continue to give all Americans, including former inmates, the best chance to build a new life and achieve their own American dream,” Trump said during the segment.   

US President Donald Trump, next to Jon Ponder and his wife, and former FBI agent Richard Beasley, after signing Jon Ponder’s pardon [Reuters] 

The second portion, coming about an hour and a half into the event, saw Trump overseeing a naturalisation ceremony conducted by acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf. 

“You followed the rules, you obeyed the laws, you learned your history, embraced our values and proved yourselves to be men and women of the highest integrity,” Trump said, in an apparent attempt to rebut condemnation of his immigration policies that have made naturalisation more difficult for documented and undocumented immigrants.

‘Distorts the democratic process’

The Hatch Act, titled “an act to prevent pernicious political activities”, was passed in 1939 and was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1973.

The law is meant to prevent a system where officials appointed by the president “are openly campaigning in support of their patron,” according to Whalen.

“That perpetuates a certain corruption that, if left unchecked, would basically corrode the whole foundation of a democrat Institutions of the Republic,” he said. 

While presidents and vice presidents are not banned from campaigning in their official capacity under the Hatch Act, the use of federal properties like the White House is almost assured to require the use of public resources and executive staff, Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law wrote in an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

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“An underlying concern of the Hatch Act is that it is wrong for an incumbent to use the resources of the federal government, its employees or its financial resources, to help an election campaign,” he wrote. “It is not fair and it distorts the democratic process.” 

The appearance of Wolf in an event designed to be part of the convention also may represent a direct violation of the act, Kathleen Clark, a legal and government ethics professor at Washington University in St Louis School of Law, told the Washington Post, describing Trump and Wolf as “breathtaking in their contempt for the law”. 

The White House, for its part, has rebutted the criticism, with spokesman Judd Deere saying the president “is free to engage in political activity wherever he chooses”, and that “RNC Convention events will be planned and executed, at whatever the venue, by the Trump Campaign and RNC”, and that any federal employees involved will do so “in compliance with the Hatch Act”. 

Perhaps the most potentially legally and ethically murky portion of the night came from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who critics say broke diplomatic norms, State Department guidelines and possibly the law, by appearing in a pre-recorded video on an official trip to Jerusalem.

The White House, RNC and State Department lawyers have said they conducted a legal analysis of the speech before it aired and determined there was no wrongdoing. The details of that analysis have not been made public. 

House Democrats on Tuesday announced they had launched an investigation into the speech. 

“It is highly unusual, and likely unprecedented, for a sitting Secretary of State to speak at a partisan convention for either of the political parties,” wrote Representative Joaquin Castro in a letter to Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun.

“It appears that it may also be illegal,” he added.  

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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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