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Haiti interim prime minister Joseph set to step down this week

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Claude Joseph, who has nominally led Haiti as acting prime minister since the July 7 assassination of President Jovenel Moise, will hand power to a challenger backed by the international community possibly as soon as Tuesday, a Haitian official said.

The announcement appears to end a power struggle in the Caribbean nation between Joseph and Ariel Henry, the 71-year old neurosurgeon who was appointed prime minister by Moise two days before the killing but had yet to be sworn in.

Haiti foreign ministry senior official Israel Jacky Cantave said that Joseph took charge following Moise’s assassination to help ensure continuity of state but would hand over power to Henry now that there is a consensus on the future of the country and protests have calmed.

Cantave said that Haiti’s Council of Ministers would meet on Monday and that if all goes well, Joseph could hand over power to Henry in a ceremony on Tuesday.

Reuters was unable to immediately reach Joseph by phone for comment.

Moise was shot dead when attackers armed with assault rifles stormed his private residence in the hills above Port-au-Prince. The assassination has pitched the poorest country in the Americas into political uncertainty at a time of surging gang violence that has displaced thousands of people and hampered economic activity.

Joseph told the Washington Post in an interview published Monday that he and Henry had met privately over the past week, and that he had agreed on Sunday to step down “for the good of the nation” and was willing to transfer power “as quickly as possible.”

Haiti, a country of about 11 million people, has struggled to achieve stability since the fall of the Duvalier dynastic dictatorship in 1986, and has grappled with a series of coups and foreign interventions.

On Saturday, the ‘Core Group’ of international ambassadors and representatives urged https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/martine-moise-widow-assassinated-president-returns-haiti-2021-07-18 “the formation of a consensual and inclusive government.”

“To this end, we strongly encourage the designated Prime Minister Ariel Henry to continue the mission entrusted to him to form such a government,” the group said.

The Core Group is made up of ambassadors from Germany, Brazil, Canada, Spain, the United States, France, and the European Union and special representatives from the United Nations and the Organization of American States.

The group also called for the organization of “free, fair, transparent and credible legislative and presidential elections as quickly as possible.”

The U.S. State Department and the White House National Security Council did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

Henry told Reuters on July 9 that he considered Joseph to be not interim prime minister but a foreign minister who had taken on the office.

“My installation should be done as soon as possible. I’m working on the formation of a government, I am consulting, and I should speed up my consultations,” he said in the interview.

A Colombian police chief said on Friday https://www.reuters.com/world/americas/haiti-justice-min-ex-official-could-have-ordered-moise-killing-colombia-police-2021-07-16 the assassination may have been ordered by a former Haitian justice ministry official, citing a preliminary investigation that has implicated Haitian Americans and former Colombian soldiers.

Martine Moise, the assassinated president’s widow, returned to Haiti on Saturday for his funeral after she was treated in a Miami hospital for injuries sustained during the attack.

(Reporting by Andre Paultre in Port-au-Prince and Daphne Psaledakis, Matt Spetalnick and Jan Wolfe in Washington; writing by Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Rosalba O’Brien)

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Is Kamala Harris Really Bad at Politics? – Bloomberg

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Who was the runner-up for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020?

The reason the topic comes up is that opponents of Vice President Kamala Harris seem to have settled on an attack line against her: As a Washington Examiner columnist argued a few weeks ago, she’s “bad at politics.” It’s something that I see pretty often in reader emails and on Twitter, mostly from Republicans but in some cases from liberal Democrats. There’s no surprise here; the vice presidency makes everyone look bad, and the idea that the first Black and Asian-American woman to hold this office is not up to the job is consistent with certain stereotypes. 

It’s also preposterous. Yes, once nominated almost anyone can win a general election, and perhaps every once in a while a nomination is just luck — in fact, I’ve argued that Donald Trump’s first nomination was largely a fluke. But Harris managed to work her way up in local and state politics in California, without money or family connections on her side, winning multiple nominations. That’s the mark of a good politician. So, for that matter, is securing the vice-presidential nod. Using presidential nomination results as evidence of a politician’s weakness is like criticizing someone for failing to medal in the Olympics; just getting into the competition is usually evidence of considerable ability.

Granted, after entering the contest, Harris dropped out before the first vote in Iowa. But whether we should consider her effort a flop gets back to the question I started with: Who was the runner-up to Joe Biden? 

You can make the case for several candidates. Bernie Sanders is the most obvious one, given that he finished second in delegates, states won and overall votes. But there’s reason to think he wasn’t the candidate who came closest. The evidence suggests that a solid majority of Democratic party actors, and perhaps of voters overall, was prepared to support anyone but Sanders. If that’s the case, then he really had only a small chance of winning and I’m not sure it makes sense to call him the runner-up.

If not Sanders, who? Pete Buttigieg at least managed to win an important state — Iowa — and finished second in New Hampshire. But Buttigieg sparked even less enthusiasm among party actors than Sanders did. There’s even a case to be made for Amy Klobuchar or Elizabeth Warren. Both had some backing from party actors; both had occasional (albeit small) surges of support among voters. Suppose that their strong debates right before the New Hampshire primary (for Klobuchar) or Nevada (for Warren) had taken place in November or December, in time for them to really capitalize on it? It’s not hard to imagine Klobuchar or Warren, rather than Buttigieg, emerging from the pack in Iowa, and perhaps either senator would’ve been better positioned to take advantage of it.

The counterargument is that none of these candidates had any Black support, and without that they were doomed in South Carolina and in most of the rest of the primaries. We don’t get to rerun the contest to see whether Representative James Clyburn would’ve endorsed whoever looked most viable after the Nevada caucuses. But Harris, despite her early exit, may have been closer to the nomination than she’s usually given credit for. She did enjoy a brief polling surge after a strong early debate, which turned out to be mistimed. And she won some party-actor support. Perhaps there are fewer what-ifs involved in projecting her into the nomination than there are for some of the other also-rans.

You certainly don’t have to buy that argument — I’m not sure I do — to concede that the vice president has some valuable political skills. Mostly, however, I think the question about the runner-up is useful because answering it involves thinking carefully about what really goes into winning presidential nominations, and helps clarify what we really know and what we’re not sure about. 

1. Paul Musgrave on the Olympics and nationalism

2. Kim Yi Dionne and Laura Seay at the Monkey Cage on three new books on Kenya.

3. Good Dan Drezner on the historical and current importance of Fox News.

4. Kevin Drum also on Fox News.

5. Sahil Kapur and Benjy Sarlin with good speculation about Mitch McConnell’s thinking about infrastructure.

6. And Jamelle Bouie on voting-rights history.

Get Early Returns every morning in your inbox. Click here to subscribe. Also subscribe to Bloomberg All Access and get much, much more. You’ll receive our unmatched global news coverage and two in-depth daily newsletters, the Bloomberg Open and the Bloomberg Close.

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Infrastructure Bill Shows That US Politics Are Not (Yet) Broken – Bloomberg

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As President Joe Biden moves toward another legislative victory — namely, the $550 billion infrastructure bill — it’s worth asking what its success says about American politics. Mostly it’s good news, whether or not you agree with the policies of the Biden administration.

The most enduring truth is that the median voter theorem, as social scientists refer to it, continues to explain a lot of political outcomes. In an era supposedly marked by gridlock and polarization, a centrist infrastructure bill is on the verge of passage.

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Politics and drama as Biles, Belarus and New Zealand's Hubbard in focus – Reuters

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TOKYO, Aug 2 (Reuters) – Three women dominated the focus at the Olympics on Monday – U.S. gymnast Simone Biles, Belarus sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya and New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard – as politics and personal issues played out at the Tokyo Games.

China’s team sprinters took the first gold on offer in the track cycling programme, powering to victory and helping solidify China’s leading medal haul. In gymnastics, American Jade Carey won the gold medal in the women’s floor event.

In athletics, Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan unleashed her sizzling pace in the final lap to leave a gaping distance to the chasing pack and claim the women’s 5,000 metres gold, kicking off her bid for an unprecedented Olympic treble.

Biles will compete in the balance beam competition, officials said on Monday, in what would be the superstar gymnast’s last chance for gold in Tokyo after pulling out of other events citing mental health issues.

Biles shocked the world last week when she withdrew from several events, putting a focus on athletes’ mental health and deepening the drama at a Games that have seen plenty of controversy.

Belarusian sprinter Krystsina Tsimanouskaya was granted a humanitarian visa by Poland after taking refuge in the Polish embassy in Tokyo. She had refused her team’s orders to board a flight home early from the Games on Sunday.

Tsimanouskaya plans to leave for Poland in the coming days, a Polish deputy foreign minister, Marcin Przydacz, told Reuters. She is “safe and in good condition” after walking into the embassy on Monday morning, he said.

New Zealand’s Laurel Hubbard made history on Monday by becoming the first openly transgender athlete to compete at an Olympic Games, but suffered disappointment with an early exit from the women’s +87 kg final after failing to make three lifts. read more

USA Gymnastics said Biles will take part in the balance beam final and they were “excited” about the prospect.

The 24-year-old Biles, who won four golds at the 2016 Rio Games, dropped out of the all-around, floor exercise, vault and asymmetric bars finals in Tokyo.

STRICT MEASURES

The Games are taking place without spectators and under strict measures to prevent the spread of the pandemic, an unprecedented event in the history of the modern Olympics.

The Tokyo Olympics have already been hit by public opposition, as polls have shown that most Japanese people oppose holding the Games amid the worsening pandemic.

China has pulled ahead on the medals tally with 29 golds, followed by the United States with 22 and Japan on 17.

Even as Biles stole the spotlight, China’s Liu Yang, South Korea’s Shin Jea-hwan and American Carey all claimed gold in gymnastics.

China’s cycling team sprinters, Bao Shanju and Zhong Tianshi, broke their world record in the first round and although they were fractionally slower in the final, it was enough to beat Germany and retain the title.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Gymnastics – Artistic – Women’s Floor Exercise – Final – Ariake Gymnastics Centre, Tokyo, Japan – August 2, 2021. Simone Biles of the United States looks on REUTERS/Mike Blake

Fans are allowed into the venue, which is outside Tokyo and the only indoor arena at the Olympics to permit spectators.

POWERED BY COFFEE

Dutchwoman Hassan began the day by falling on the last lap of her 1,500 metres heat, only to spring up and charge through the field to finish first.

Fuelled by caffeine, she returned to the track in the evening and was in total control of a slowly-run 5,000 metres, sitting in the pack before unleashing her trademark last-lap burst.

“Before the race here I didn’t even care. I was so tired. Without coffee I would never be Olympic champion,” she said.

In the 100 metres hurdles, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn won the first Olympic gold medal in athletics for Puerto Rico at the Games.

She exploded off the blocks to finish in 12.37 seconds despite hitting one hurdle, beating American world record holder Kendra Harrison who came in second with 12.52.

Miltiadis Tentoglou of Greece won the men’s long jump in spectacular fashion as he leapt 8.41 metres in his final attempt to snatch the gold medal from Cuba’s Juan Miguel Echevarria.

Tentoglou was the world leader coming into Tokyo with an 8.60 metres leap at a domestic competition in May but struggled to find his form and was outside the medals positions as he hit the runway for the final time.

The World Cup-winning United States suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat by Canada in the women’s soccer tournament semi-finals, with Jessie Fleming grabbing the winner with a 75th minute penalty.

PROTEST AND SPORT

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is meanwhile looking into the gesture U.S. shot putter Raven Saunders made after the silver medallist raised her arms in an X above her head on Sunday, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told a briefing.

Saunders later said the gesture was intended as a sign of support for the downtrodden, while the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said it did not breach IOC rules.

While the IOC forbids overt political expression or interference, last month it relaxed its Rule 50 that prevented athletes from protesting. Athletes are allowed to make gestures on the field, providing they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

However, the threat of sanctions remains if any protests are made on the podium during the medal ceremony.

“Let them try and take this medal,” Saunders said in a late night post on social media in an apparent reference to the IOC’s rules restricting protests.

Reporting by Reuters Olympics Team; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Himani Sarkar and Ken Ferris

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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