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Trump is accused of preparing a riot, and Russia once again violates the Geneva Convention

10-6-2022 |

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Politico: ‘It was carnage’: Committee tees up case that Trump fueled Jan. 6 violence

In the select committee’s first hearing, lawmakers tried to connect the former president's actions with escalations of violence during the Capitol attack.

A pro-Donald Trump mob’s attack on Congress 17 months ago, threatening the transfer of presidential power, was the culmination of weeks of pre-planning by extremist groups and individuals, the panel communicated at its first major hearing Thursday night. Many of those extremists, as the committee sees it, decided to descend on Washington following a Dec. 19, 2020 tweet by Donald Trump himself.

"Big protest in D.C. on January 6th," Trump wrote in one of his several tweets about the day. “Be there, will be wild!”

The select committee played a video highlighting how that particular tweet ignited preparations by people who would later help orchestrate and drive forward the siege on the Capitol.

The panel’s first public hearing to unfurl the findings of its year-long investigation into the causes of the attack played out in primetime and will be followed by at least five other hearings over the course of June.

As the panel focuses on premeditation, Thursday’s opening bid homed in on the role of the Proud Boys, the pro-Trump, far-right group whose members were highly visible throughout the riot.

In her own opening statement, committee vice chair Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) confirmed reports that while members of the Jan. 6 mob chanted “Hang Mike Pence,” Trump said to aides, “Maybe our supporters have the right idea. Mike Pence deserves it.’”

The video about Trump’s tweet, narrated by a select committee investigator, showed how social media chatter about stopping the transition of power picked up following the then-president’s “wild” promise — and how extremists in the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers viewed it as a call to action.

The committee also featured video testimony from some of the people who joined the mob that disrupted the certification of 2020 Electoral College votes, stoked by Trump’s false claims that the election was stolen.

Capitol Police officer Caroline Edwards described the confrontation with rioters:

“I saw friends with blood all over their faces. I was slipping in people’s blood. I was catching people as they fell. It was carnage. It was chaos.”

The Justice Department has described Proud Boys as playing a leadership role within the mob that day, leading Trump supporters to the foot of the Capitol and ultimately inside. In court documents, prosecutors described Proud Boys discussions about using regular members of the mob — “normies,” as the group described them — to ratchet up the violence.

The select panel views Trump as singularly responsible for motivating the violence by propagating baseless election fraud allegations and embracing fringe theories about Pence’s ability to single-handedly overturn the election on Jan. 6, when he presided over a joint session of Congress to count electoral votes.

CNN: Panic buying in Shanghai as mass testing notices spark fears of new lockdown

Shanghai will carry out Covid-19 testing on more than half of its 25 million residents this weekend, fueling fears of a return to more stringent restrictions just days after the financial hub emerged from two months of painful lockdown.

The mass testing announcements sparked fears of a return to stringent, prolonged lockdown among Shanghai residents, many of whom had been confined to their homes for two months or more since March.

Those fears have triggered panic buying. On Thursday, Shanghai residents rushed to supermarkets to stock up on food and other daily necessities, forming long lines at checkouts and leaving shelves empty, according to photos and videos that circulated on social media.

At least seven of the city's 16 districts, with a combined population of 15 million people, will roll out mass testing over the weekend, Zhao Dandan, deputy head of the Shanghai Municipal Health Commission, said at a news conference Thursday. The districts include Shanghai's most populated areas and busy business hubs, such as Pudong and Xuhui.

Districts that have reported positive cases since Shanghai lifted its citywide lockdown on June 1 will be placed under "closed management" during the collection of test samples, Zhao said. She did not specify how long the sampling period will last.

In China's zero-Covid policy lexicon, "closed management" usually refers to restrictions that bar people from leaving their residential communities or workplaces.

Chinese leaders have repeatedly vowed to stick to the zero-Covid policy, which aims to swiftly stamp out local outbreaks with mass testing, snap lockdowns, extensive contact tracing and quarantining.

Officials warn that a relaxation of the policy will lead to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths among the country's elderly population -- many of whom have yet to be fully vaccinated.

Now this strategy is facing increasing challenge from the highly transmissible Omicron variant, and causing mounting discontent among residents whose life have been frequently disrupted.

In China, detection of a single positive case can send an entire building or community into government quarantine, and place several nearby neighborhoods into lockdown for two weeks.

BBC: Families urge immediate help for condemned UK pair

The families of two Britons sentenced to death for fighting Russian forces in Ukraine have said they need urgent access to medical and legal help.

Aiden Aslin and Shaun Pinner were captured fighting with the Ukrainian army and tried as mercenaries by a Russian proxy court.

Photo: Reuters

Both the British government and Ukraine's top prosecutor have said the sentences breach the Geneva Convention.

Mr Aslin, 28, from Newark, in Nottinghamshire, and Mr Pinner, 48, from Bedfordshire - both of whom were already living in Ukraine at the time of the Russian invasion - were captured in April while defending the besieged city of Mariupol.

They were sentenced alongside a third man, Moroccan national Saaudun Brahim, by a Russian proxy court in the so-called Donetsk People's Republic, a pro-Russian breakaway region in eastern Ukraine.

All three men were charged with being mercenaries, the violent seizure of power and undergoing training to carry out terrorist activities, according to Russia state news agency RIA Novosti.

The men's lawyer said they all wished to appeal against the sentence, Russia's Tass news agency reported.

While the two men had been living in Ukraine and serving in its armed forces for several years, they both have relatives in the UK who have been campaigning since their capture, along with the MPs in the families' two respective constituencies.

Robert Jenrick, MP for Newark, where Mr Aslin's family lives, said the sentencing of the British nationals breached the Geneva Convention "in the most egregious manner by Russia in holding this kangaroo court and now this sentence to death".

Richard Fuller, MP for North Bedford, said the priority for Mr Pinner's mother is that her son and Mr Aslin have "access to proper health services and the Red Cross" and access to independent legal advice, "as they seek to prepare their defence against this sham trial and this judgement which is completely against international law".

"At the centre of this is the recognition by the Russian authorities and their proxies in this region that Shaun and Aiden were members of the Ukrainian military, that they are prisoners of war and that the Geneva Convention applies", Mr Fuller said.

He added: "This is a humanitarian issue. This is about the rights of individuals under international law".

Downing Street said the government was "deeply concerned" by the sentences given to Mr Aslin and Mr Pinner, adding that prisoners of war are granted "combatant immunity" by the Geneva Convention and should not be "exploited for political purposes".

Ms Truss said the outcome of the trial was a "sham judgement with absolutely no legitimacy" and that the government was doing "everything we can" to support the men's families.

Ukraine's foreign ministry described the "so-called trial" of the two Britons and the Moroccan national as "miserable" and said the Ukrainian government would "continue to make every effort to release all defenders of Ukraine".

In a statement, Ukrainian prosecutor general Irina Venediktova said that, as prisoners of war, the three men "cannot be prosecuted for taking a direct part in hostilities" and that "their detention should only aim to prevent their further participation in the conflict".

"Russia once again displays its alienation from the rules-based system and a blatant disregard of the very core of the rule of law,” she said.

Reuters: Risking EU clash, Britain pushes post-Brexit Northern Ireland bill

Britain will present legislation to parliament on Monday to unilaterally revise the post-Brexit trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, raising the risk of a trade war and a new clash with Brussels.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will present the bill to the House of Commons, according to a parliamentary order paper published on Friday.

Britain has been threatening for months to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol, a trade deal for the British-run region that was struck by Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government in order to secure a Brexit divorce and a wider trade agreement between Brussels and London.

London says the implementation of the protocol has damaged trade within the United Kingdom and threaten political stability in Northern Ireland.

The new legislation is designed to simplify the rules but has drawn sharp criticism in Brussels and Washington where it is seen by many as an inflammatory move that violates an international treaty.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said in May that Brussels would respond with all measures at its disposal.

U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said there could be no U.S.-UK trade deal if London proceeds with the plan.

The protocol enabled Britain to leave the EU's single market and customs union without controls being re-imposed on the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland, vital to the 1998 Good Friday peace deal that ended three decades of violence.

By striking such a deal, it effectively agreed to a customs border between the British-run region of Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.

The order paper said the bill will set out how the terms included in the protocol would now be defined in domestic law. There will not be a debate on the bill at this stage.

Picked and squeezed for you: Irina Iakovleva