Brazil’s president charged with corruption

Brazil’s top federal prosecutor has charged President Michel Temer with accepting bribes, the first of what is expected to be a series of formal graft charges against the deeply unpopular leader in the coming weeks.

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Prosecutor-General Rodrigo Janot delivered the charges to the Supreme Court on Monday, marking a stinging blow to Temer and the first time the public prosecutor has presented charges against a sitting Brazilian president.

Under Brazilian law, the lower house of Congress must now vote on whether to allow the tribunal to try the conservative leader, who replaced impeached leftist President Dilma Rousseff just last year.

Lawmakers within Temer’s coalition are confident they have the votes to block the two-third majority required to proceed with a trial. But they warn that support may wane if congressmen are forced to vote several times to protect Temer – whose popularity is languishing in single-digits – from trial.

Temer’s office and his lawyer, Antonio Mariz, did not respond to requests for comment. Temer has repeatedly said he is innocent of any wrongdoing.

Temer was charged in connection with a graft scheme involving the world’s largest meatpacker, JBS SA. Executives said in plea-bargain testimony the president took nearly $US5 million ($A6.6 million) in bribes for resolving tax matters, freeing up loans from state-run banks and other matters.

Joesley Batista, one of the brothers who control JBS, recorded a conversation with Temer in which the president appears to condone bribing a potential witness. Batista also accused Temer and aides of negotiating millions of dollars in illegal donations for his Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB).

For more than three years, investigators in Brazil have uncovered stunning levels of corruption enveloping the political class and business elites. Much of it centred on companies paying billions of dollars in bribes to politicians and executives at state-run enterprises for lucrative contracts.

Temer and one-third of his cabinet, as well as four former presidents and dozens of lawmakers are under investigation or already charged in the schemes.

Donald Trump wins cut-down travel ban victory after Supreme Court decision

US President Donald Trump praised the Supreme Court’s decision to review the legality of his temporary ban on travellers from six Muslim-majority countries and all refugees, and to allow it to be partly implemented in the meantime.

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“Today’s unanimous Supreme Court decision is a clear victory for our national security,” Trump said in a statement released by the White House.

“Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our Nation’s homeland.”

 

Very grateful for the 9-O decision from the U. S. Supreme Court. We must keep America SAFE!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 26, 2017

The Supreme Court earlier announced it would allow a cut down version of Trump’s ban on travel from six mostly Muslim countries take effect before the justices will hear full arguments in October.

In the meantime, the court said that Trump’s ban on visitors from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen can be enforced as long if those visitors lack a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Trump said last week that the ban would take effect 72 hours after being cleared by courts.

Opponents say the ban was an unlawful based on visitors’ Muslim religion. The administration review should be complete before October 2, the first day the justices could hear arguments in their new term.

Three of the court’s conservative justices said they would have let the complete bans take effect.

The court’s opinion explained the kinds of relationships people from the six countries must demonstrate to obtain a US visa.

“For individuals, a close familial relationship is required,” the court said.

“For people who want to come to the United States to work or study, the relationship must be formal, documented and formed in the ordinary course, not for the purpose of evading the travel ban.”

The opinion faulted the two federal appeals courts that had blocked the travel policy for going too far to limit Trump’s authority over immigration.

The president announced the travel ban a week after he took office in January and revised it in March after setbacks in court.

The 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, said the ban was “rooted in religious animus” toward Muslims and pointed to Trump’s campaign promise to impose a ban on Muslims entering the country as well as tweets and remarks he has made since becoming president.

The San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals said the travel policy does not comply with federal immigration law, including a prohibition on nationality-based discrimination.

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SA sites to proceed in nuke dump selection

Two proposed sites in South Australia for a low-level radioactive waste dump will proceed to the next phase of assessment, the federal government says.

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The government has accepted the nominations of land at two sites near Kimba, on Eyre Peninsula, and one at Lyndhurst, in SA’s mid-north. under the National Radioactive Waste Management Act.

Resources Minister Matt Canavan says the decision to progress the Kimba sites was made after considering direct representations, the results of an independent postal ballot and submissions during a 90-day consultation process.

“Progression to phase two does not constitute a final decision, rather, we now know that across the community there is broad support for continuing this conversation, and that is what we will do,” the minister said in a statement on Tuesday.

Mr Canavan said phase two in regard to the Kimba sites would engage people with all views allowing the local community to have another chance to express their opinions on the suitability of both locations.

In-depth consultation and technical assessments of the Kimba sites would also be undertaken along with allocation of a $2 million community benefit package to fund local projects.

A site at Wallerberdina Station near Lyndhurst, in South Australia’s mid-north, has also progressed to phase two.

At Wallerberdina Station, a process including a heritage assessment, technical studies and community consultation is continuing.

The federal government’s decision in relation to the Kimba sites has disappointed a local group opposed to the location of a nuclear waste dump.

They said the community ballot revealed only 57 per cent support, well below the 65 per cent previously cited as evidence of broad approval.

“Minister Canavan has repeatedly promised that he will not impose this facility on a community that doesn’t want it,” the group said in a statement.

“Yet has progressed nominations in Kimba where it is proven that 42 per cent of us do not.

“It is impossible to find words to properly describe how utterly disappointed we are.”

Mr Canavan said radioactive waste produced from nuclear medicine was currently stored in more than 100 locations around the country.

“International best practice is that it be consolidated into a single, safe and national facility,” he said.

Cricket helping beat the waiting game blues for asylum seekers

As most clubs hang up the pads for winter, the All Nations Cricket team is just getting started.

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Operating year round, the majority of the team’s players are in Australia currently seeking asylum.

Founder of the program Abdul Razzaq said each player has a tale of hardship, but united in cricket, they don’t face it alone.

“We are here together in one unit. Whatever their culture, whatever their religion, we are together like a family.”

Cricket tournament participants, among them, the All Nations Cricket teamSBS

Abdul Razzaq started the team with Monash Health and Cricket Victoria in 2015, and continues to run it voluntarily.

An asylum seeker from Pakistan, Mr Razzaq wanted to create a space and an opportunity to socialise for new arrivals at risk of depression, as they wait for answers on asylum applications.

“All those asylum seekers who are like me, I know it’s a big anxiety and stress like if you don’t have work rights or Medicare, and especially if you lose your income support.”

He said the cricket club can be the only inroad to the wider Australian community for many of the players.

Cricket Victoria multicultural participation coordinator Hussain Hanif, said a sport like cricket is uniquely placed to help bridge a cultural gap for many asylum seekers in Australia.

“I think it is integration at the end of the day, creating those inclusive spaces where all of us can integrate and use sport as a vehicle.”

Playing indoor cricket tournamentSBS

The All Nations Cricket program runs throughout the winter, when social isolation and depression for asylum seekers can be at its worst.

The group trains indoors during the colder months, with 60-80 players getting involved.

Community development co-ordinator at Monash Health, Rob Koch said while training and competition provides a bit of fun, it’s much more than just a game for the participants.

“It’s giving them the opportunity to do something they do know, they can play cricket. It’s allowing them to shine when everything else seems to be dark.”

Mr Koch said the All Nations Cricket club also helps to direct players into mainstream local clubs.

“Some of the fellows come in to our program and then get signed up for a local club and move through the ranks to get to even turf one.”

In the summer, the group trains near the Dandenong train station in Melbourne’s east to attract new members as they walk past.

Mr Razzaq said while the program is free, the benefits of participation can be priceless.

“Please come out. You can be the best in the community you can be a role model. So please come out and make a difference. Don’t give up, give back.”

China rejects US criticism over Nobel laureate’s treatment

The US embassy in Beijing joined a growing chorus of Chinese human rights lawyers and activists demanding Liu’s unconditional release amid concerns about his wellbeing.

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With three years left to serve in his 11-year sentence, the 61-year-old democracy campaigner was granted medical parole days after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on May 23, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said.

The US embassy said Tuesday it was “working to gather more information” about Liu’s legal and medical status after authorities confirmed his transfer from prison to a hospital in northeast China.

“We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr Liu but also to allow his wife Ms Liu Xia out of house arrest,” spokeswoman Mary Beth Polley told AFP.

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Liu Xia, a poet, has been under house arrest since 2010, when her husband won the Nobel prize. She suffered a heart attack in 2014, when she was also diagnosed with depression, a rights group said at the time.

Su Yutong, a Chinese activist exiled in Germany, shared a video on Twitter showing Liu Xia sobbing during a video call with a friend and saying her husband “can’t have surgery, can’t do chemotherapy”.

Friends of the couple told AFP that Liu Xia has been allowed to visit him at the hospital.

China should “provide them the protection and freedom such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing to which they are entitled under the Chinese constitution and legal system and international commitments,” Polley said.

But China’s foreign ministry hit back, saying “no country has the right to interfere and make irresponsible remarks on Chinese internal affairs”.

“China is a rule-of-law country, where everybody is equal in front of the law. Any other country should respect China’s judicial sovereignty, and shouldn’t use individual cases to interfere,” spokesman Lu Kang told a regular briefing after being asked about the US statement.

US-based Dui Hua Foundation rights group said a person granted medical parole in China was not “free or released” — they would be “supervised by local public security bureaus”.

Under Chinese law, it said, medical parole lasts six months after which the person’s condition is assessed. Depending on the result, parole can be extended or the person sent back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence.

‘Sentenced him to death’ 

Hundreds of Chinese lawyers, activists and friends signed a petition calling on authorities to give Liu “complete freedom” and allow his wife to “have contact with the outside world”.

They also demanded Liu be allowed to choose where he receives medical treatment and for authorities to carry out a “thorough investigation” into the circumstances that led to the deterioration of his health.

Wu’er Kaixi and Wang Dan, former student leaders at the 1989 Tiananmen democracy protests who now live overseas, also posted a joint statement on Twitter saying China had “deliberately sentenced him to death”.

Prison authorities said Monday Liu was being treated by “eight renowned Chinese oncologists” at China Medical University No 1 Hospital in the northeast city of Shenyang.

But international human rights groups and supporters demanded that Liu be granted the best medical care in China or abroad and criticised his treatment.

Citing two other cases of critics who died in detention, Human Rights Watch’s China director Sophie Richardson said the government “needs to be held to account for permitting yet another peaceful critic to fall gravely ill while unjustly detained.”

History of arrests 

The writer was sentenced in 2009 for “subversion” after spearheading a bold petition for democratic reforms. 

He was awarded the Nobel prize while in jail a year later and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo.

Liu is one of only three people to have won the Nobel award while jailed by their own government.

China strongly condemned the prize as foreign interference in its internal affairs.

Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a petition posted online that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China’s one-party Communist system.

Liu is also known for his efforts to help negotiate the safe exit from Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military bloodily suppressed six weeks of protests in the heart of Beijing.