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JPMorgan freezes donations to Republicans who contested 2020 election

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JPMorgan Chase & Co will resume making political donations to U.S. lawmakers but will not give to Republican members of Congress who voted to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory, according to an internal memo on Friday seen by Reuters.

The bank was among many corporations that paused political giving following the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots when supporters of former president Donald Trump tried to stop Congress from certifying the election.

Just hours later, 147 Republicans, the vast majority of them in the House of Representatives, voted to overturn the Electoral College results which Trump falsely claimed were tainted by fraud.

Following a review, the country’s largest lender will this month resume giving through its Political Action Committee (PAC) but will continue its freeze on donations to a “handful” of the 147 lawmakers whom it had previously supported, the bank said.

The pause will last through the 2021-2022 election cycle, which includes November’s midterm elections, after which JPMorgan will review whether to resume contributions to the lawmakers concerned on an individual basis, it said.

“This was a unique and historic moment when we believe the country needed our elected officials to put aside strongly held differences and demonstrate unity,” the bank wrote of the Jan. 6 vote to certify Biden’s win.

JPMorgan noted that its PAC is an important tool for engaging in the political process in the United States. PACs are political committees organized for the purpose of raising cash to support or in some cases oppose election candidates.

“Democracy, by its nature, requires active participation, compromise, and engaging with people with opposing views. That is why government and business must work together,” JPMorgan wrote.

As part of its revamped spending strategy, the bank will also expand donations beyond lawmakers who oversee financial matters to those active on issues the bank considers “moral and economic imperatives for our country,” such as addressing the racial wealth gap, education and criminal justice reform.

Since the initial January backlash, corporations have been grappling with how to resume PAC spending, seen by lobbyists as important for gaining access to policymakers, without alienating other stakeholders, including their employees who fund the PACs.

Other big financial companies that paused donations lawmakers in February, while the American Bankers Association PAC, one of the biggest in the country, started giving again in March, federal records show.

While JPMorgan did not name any lawmakers in its memo, the bank’s new policy risks alienating Republicans with sway over banking policy, some of whom are already angered by its active stance on issues like climate change and racial equity.

Of the 147 lawmakers, JPMorgan gave $10,000 each to House finance committee members Blaine Luetkemeyer and Lee Zeldin, and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, among others, during the 2019-2020 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). Representatives for the lawmakers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

All told, JPMorgan’s PAC gave nearly $1 million to federal candidates and committees backing candidates during the 2019-2020 election cycle, according to CRP.

Of the $600,300 it gave to federal candidates, nearly 60% went to Republicans and the rest to Democrats, according to the CRP data, a mix that is likely to swing further to the left as the bank supports a broader range of social and economic issues.

Commercial banks overall have ramped up political spending in recent years, dishing out $14.6 million to federal candidates in the 2020 cycle, the second highest amount since 1990, the data shows.

Following the 2008 financial crisis, that mix favored Republicans but in recent years banks have increased spending on Democrats as they look to rebuild bipartisan support in Congress.

 

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by Michelle Price and Alistair Bell)

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Trudeau says he discussed border with Biden, but no deal

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Sunday he has spoken with U.S. President Joe Biden about how to lift pandemic-related border restrictions between the two countries but made clear no breakthrough has been achieved.

U.S. and Canadian business leaders have voiced increasing concern about the ban on non-essential travel in light of COVID-19 that was first imposed in March 2020 and renewed on a monthly basis since then. The border measures do not affect trade flows.

The border restrictions have choked off tourism between the two countries. Canadian businesses, especially airlines and those that depend on tourism, have been lobbying the Liberal government to relax the restrictions.

Canada last week took a cautious first step, saying it was prepared to relax quarantine protocols for fully vaccinated citizens returning home starting in early July.

Trudeau, speaking after a Group of Seven summit in Britain, said he had talked to Biden “about coordinating measures at our borders as both our countries move ahead with mass vaccination.” Canada is resisting calls for the border measures to be relaxed, citing the need for more people to be vaccinated.

The United States is ahead of Canada in terms of vaccination totals.

“We will continue to work closely together on moving forward in the right way but each of us always will put at the forefront the interests and the safety of our own citizens,” Trudeau told a televised news conference when asked the Biden conversation.

“Many countries, like Canada, continue to say that now is not the time to travel,” Trudeau added, though he said it is important to get back to normalcy as quickly as possible.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren in Ottawa; Editing by Will Dunham)

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Man with 39 wive dies in India

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A 76-year-old man who had 39 wives and 94 children and was said to be the head of the world’s largest family has died in north east India, the chief minister of his home state said.

Ziona Chana, the head of a local Christian sect that allows polygamy, died on Sunday, Zoramthanga, the chief minister of Mizoram and who goes by one name, said in a tweet.

With a total of 167 members, the family is the world’s largest, according to local media, although this depends on whether you count the grandchildren, of whom Ziona has 33.

Winston Blackmore, the head of a polygamous Mormon sect in Canada, has around 150 children from 27 wives – 178 people in total.

Ziona lived with his family in a vast, four-story pink structure with around 100 rooms in Baktawng, a remote village in Mizoram that became a tourist attraction as a result, according to Zoramthanga.

The sect, named “Chana”, was founded by Ziona’s father in 1942 and has a membership of hundreds of families. Ziona married his first wife when he was 17, and claimed he once married ten wives in a single year.

They shared a dormitory near his private bedroom, and locals said he liked to have seven or eight of them by his side at all times.

Despite his family’s huge size, Ziona told Reuters in a 2011 interview he wanted to grow it even further.

“I am ready to expand my family and willing to go to any extent to marry,” he said.

“I have so many people to care for and look after, and I consider myself a lucky man.”

 

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal and Adnan Abidi in New Delhi; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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Huawei CFO seeks publication ban on HSBC documents in U.S. extradition case

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Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on Monday will seek to bar publication of documents her legal team received from HSBC, a request opposed by Canadian prosecutors in her U.S. extradition case who say it violates the principles of open court.

Meng’s legal team will present arguments in support of the ban in the British Columbia Supreme Court.

Meng, 49, was arrested at Vancouver International Airport in December 2018 on a warrant from the United States, where she faces charges of bank fraud for allegedly misleading HSBC about Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s business dealings in Iran and potentially causing the bank to break U.S. sanctions on business in Iran.

She has been under house arrest in Vancouver for more than two years and fighting her extradition to the United States. Meng has said she is innocent.

Lawyers for Huawei and HSBC in Hong Kong agreed to a release of the documents in April to Meng’s legal team on the condition that they “use reasonable effort” to keep confidential information concealed from the public, according to submissions filed by the defense on Friday.

Prosecutors representing the Canadian government argued against the ban, saying in submissions filed the same day that “to be consistent with the open court principle, a ban must be tailored” and details should be selectively redacted from the public, rather than the whole documents.

A consortium of media outlets, including Reuters News, also opposes the ban.

The open court principle requires that court proceedings be open and accessible to the public and to the media.

It is unclear what documents Huawei obtained from HSBC, but defense lawyers argue they are relevant to Meng’s case.

Meng’s hearing was initially set to wrap up in May but Associate Chief Justice Heather Holmes granted an extension to allow the defense to read through the new documents.

Hearings in the extradition case are scheduled to finish in late August.

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by Howard Goller)

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