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Trump indicted again

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Former US President Donald Trump has been charged with attempting to overturn his 2020 election loss in the state of Georgia.

A grand jury voted to charge Mr Trump and 18 others with counts that include racketeering.

There are 41 charges, with 13 against Mr Trump. It is the fourth time he has been criminally charged this year.

He has denied all charges. His campaign said the US had become “a Marxist Third World dictatorship”.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis launched an investigation in February 2021 into allegations of election meddling against Mr Trump and his associates.

After the indictment was issued on Monday night, she announced she was giving defendants the opportunity to voluntarily surrender no later than noon on Friday 25 August. She said she plans to try all 19 accused together.

The list of alleged co-conspirators includes former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and former White House lawyer John Eastman.

Others include a former justice department official, Jeffrey Clark, and Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis – two Trump lawyers who amplified unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud.

The indictment says the defendants “knowingly and willfully joined a conspiracy to unlawfully change the outcome of the election in favor of Trump”.

The former president is accused in the 98-page charge sheet of the following felony counts, including:

– Violating Georgia’s racketeering act
– Solicitation of violation of oath by public officer
– Conspiracy to impersonate a public officer
– Conspiracy to commit forgery in the first degree
– False statements and writings and filing false documents

The indictment refers to the defendants as a “criminal organization”, accusing them of other crimes including influencing witnesses, computer trespass, theft and perjury.

The most serious charge, violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Rico) Act, is punishable by a maximum of 20 years in prison.

The act – designed to help take down organised criminal syndicates like the mafia – helps prosecutors connect the dots between underlings who broke laws and those who gave them orders.

Mr Trump, currently the frontrunner in the Republican Party’s race to pick its next candidate for the White House, said the investigation by Ms Willis, a Democrat, was politically motivated.

In a statement, the Trump campaign described the district attorney as a “rabid partisan” who had filed “these bogus indictments” to interfere with the 2024 presidential race and “damage the dominant Trump campaign”.

“This latest co-ordinated strike by a biased prosecutor in an overwhelmingly Democrat jurisdiction not only betrays the trust of the American people, but also exposes the true motivation driving their fabricated accusations,” said the statement.

He is the first former president in US history to face criminal charges.

(BBC News)

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Vietnamese billionaire sentenced to death for $44bn fraud

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It was the most spectacular trial ever held in Vietnam, befitting one of the greatest bank frauds the world has ever seen.

Behind the stately yellow portico of the colonial-era courthouse in Ho Chi Minh City, a 67-year-old Vietnamese property developer was sentenced to death on Thursday for looting one of the country’s largest banks over a period of 11 years.

It’s a rare verdict – she is one of very few women in Vietnam to be sentenced to death for a white collar crime.

The decision is a reflection of the dizzying scale of the fraud. Truong My Lan was convicted of taking out $44bn (£35bn) in loans from the Saigon Commercial Bank. The verdict requires her to return $27bn, a sum prosecutors said may never be recovered. Some believe the death penalty is the court’s way of trying to encourage her to return some of the missing billions.

The habitually secretive communist authorities were uncharacteristically forthright about this case, going into minute detail for the media. They said 2,700 people were summoned to testify, while 10 state prosecutors and around 200 lawyers were involved.

The evidence was in 104 boxes weighing a total of six tonnes. Eighty-five others were tried with Truong My Lan, who denied the charges and can appeal.

All of the defendants were found guilty. Four received life in jail. The rest were given prison terms ranging from 20 years to three years suspended. Truong My Lan’s husband and niece received jail terms of nine and 17 years respectively.

“There has never been a show trial like this, I think, in the communist era,” says David Brown, a retired US state department official with long experience in Vietnam. “There has certainly been nothing on this scale.”

The trial was the most dramatic chapter so far in the “Blazing Furnaces” anti-corruption campaign led by the Communist Party Secretary-General, Nguyen Phu Trong.

A conservative ideologue steeped in Marxist theory, Nguyen Phu Trong believes that popular anger over untamed corruption poses an existential threat to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. He began the campaign in earnest in 2016 after out-manoeuvring the then pro-business prime minister to retain the top job in the party.

(BBC News)

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Hamas leader says 3 sons killed in airstrike

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Hamas’s political leader Ismail Haniyeh has confirmed that three of his sons and four of his grandchildren were killed in an air strike in Gaza.

Hamas-linked media said the car his sons were travelling in was hit in Al-Shati camp near Gaza City.

Haniyeh said that the incident would not change Hamas’s demands in talks aimed at reaching a ceasefire deal.

Israel’s military said the sons were members of Hamas’s military wing.

The group was reportedly on its way to a family celebration to mark the first day of the Muslim holiday of Eid.

Haniyeh told the broadcaster Al Jazeera that three sons – Hazem, Amir, and Muhammad – had remained in Gaza during the war.

A statement from Hamas later said four of Haniyeh’s grandchildren – Mona, Amal, Khaled and Razan – were among those killed in what they called the “treacherous and cowardly” strike.

Haniyeh said he heard the news as he was visiting wounded Palestinians who had been taken for treatment to the Qatari capital, Doha, which is where the Hamas leader lives.

“The enemy will be delusional if it thinks that targeting my sons, at the climax of the [ceasefire] negotiations and before the movement sends its response, will push Hamas to change its position,” he told Al Jazeera.

In comments reported on Hamas’s Telegram channel, he thanked God for the “honour” bestowed on him by what he called the “martyrdom of his children and grandchildren”.

Israel’s military said it had “eliminated three Hamas military wing operatives in the central Gaza Strip”, adding that they were the sons of Ismail Haniyeh. The statement did not mention the reported deaths of Haniyeh’s grandchildren.

(BBC News)

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Taiwan 7.5 magnitude earthquake sparks tsunami warning in Japan

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Building have collapsed in Taiwan after an earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.5 struck on Wednesday morning, sparking a tsunami advisory in southern Japan.

Television footage showed collapsing buildings in the city of Hualien, on Taiwan’s eastern coast, with reports of people trapped inside amid continuing aftershocks.

A five-storey building in Hualien appeared heavily damaged, collapsing its first floor and leaving the rest leaning at a 45-degree angle. In the capital, Taipei, tiles fell from older buildings and within some newer office complexes.

The earthquake was Taiwan’s strongest since 1999, when a 7.7-magnitude quake 93 miles (150 km) south of Taipei killed 2,400 and injured 10,000.

The head of Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring bureau, Wu Chien-fu, said effects were detected as far away as Kinmen, a Taiwanese-controlled island off the coast of China. Multiple aftershocks were felt in Taipei in the hour after the initial quake.

Japanese media said the magnitude-7.5 quake could trigger waves as high as three metres in some areas of Okinawa prefecture, located roughly 1,000 miles south of Tokyo. Broadcaster NHK said an initial tsunami of 30cm had washed ashore on Yonaguni, a remote island just 110km from Taiwan, but warned that higher waves could follow.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) said the quake had a magnitude of 7.4, with its epicentre 18km (11 miles) south of Taiwan’s Hualien city at a depth of 34.8km. Taiwan’s earthquake monitoring agency gave the magnitude as 7.2.

The Philippines’ seismology agency on Wednesday issued a tsunami warning for coastal areas fronting the Pacific Ocean, saying they were expected to experience “high tsunami waves”. People in the coastal areas in several provinces were advised to immediately evacuate to higher grounds or move further inland.

“Owners of boats in harbours, estuaries or shallow coastal water of the above-mentioned provinces should secure their boats and move away from the waterfront,” it said in a statement. “Boats already at sea during this period should stay offshore in deep waters until further advised.”

Announcers on Japan’s public broadcaster NHK urged people not to go near the coast and to evacuate to higher areas, while warnings in English and Japanese appeared on the screen.

A 7.6-magnitude jolt hit Taiwan in September 1999, killing around 2,400 people in the deadliest natural disaster in the island’s history.

It has only been four months since a magnitude-7.6 quake and tsunami killed 244 people and caused widespread damage on the Noto peninsula in Ishikawa prefecture on the Japan Sea coast.

Japan’s biggest earthquake on record was a massive 9.0-magnitude undersea jolt in March 2011 off Japan’s northeast coast, which triggered a tsunami that left around 18,500 people dead or missing.

(This story, originally published by theguardian.com has not been edited by SLM staff)

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