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US ‘is back’: Biden touts democracy on first overseas trip

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Biden touts democracy on first overseas trip. United States President Joe Biden has begun a multiday trip to Europe with one clear goal at the top of the priority list: telling the world that democracy – not autocracy – is the path forwards.

But as he carries that message overseas, back home there are Americans on the political edges that critics fear are working on the very idea Biden is meaning to offer to the world.

“We’re at an inflection point in world history. A moment where it falls to us to prove that democracies won’t just endure but they will dominate as they ascend to take advantage of the enormous lucky breaks of another age,” Biden said on Wednesday when he landed at RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom.

Biden will meet in the UK leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) industrialized nations and in Brussels with NATO allies before ending the eight roadtrip with a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva.

“This is my first overseas trip as president of the United States,” Biden told troops at the airbase. “I’m heading to the G7, then the NATO ministerial and then to meet with Mr Putin to let him know what I want him to know.

“At every point along the way, we’re going to clarify that the United States is back and democracies of the world are standing together to tackle the toughest challenges, and the issues that matter most to our future.”

Critics: Republicans are threatening democracy

As Biden left the US on Wednesday morning, another poll revealed that almost three out of 10 Republicans believe that former President Donald Trump will be reinstated as president in the coming months.

To be clear, this is something that has never happened in US history nor is there a component within the American system of government to allow that to happen.

The vast majority of Americans – 72 percent – think it isn’t very or not at all probably Trump will be reinstated, including 84 percent of Democrats and 70 percent of independents, the Morning Consult poll (PDF) released on Wednesday found.

But 29 percent of Republicans believe it is likely, including 17 percent who say it is very likely, a result that intensifies the concerns some US political observers have about the underpinnings of American democracy.

“We have to face the facts that Republicans – obviously with exceptions – have become an authoritarian party,” Steven Levitsky, a Harvard political scientist and co-author of the book How Democracies Die, told the Associated Press news agency last week.

“It’s impossible to sustain a democracy in a two-party system when one of the parties isn’t willing to carry on honestly of the game.”

The idea that Trump will get his old job back is being driven by the months-long, constant drumbeat of bogus claims that the November 2020 election was stolen from the Republican leader.

For months, Trump pounded that message without any evidence as courts and elections officials dismissed his and his supporters’ claims.

The effort to undermine Biden’s success served as the basis for the January 6 US Capitol riot and is the driving factor behind continued attempts to bolster Trump’s unfounded theories.

Over the past months, singular members of Congress voted against the certification of Biden’s Electoral College victory, partisan “audits” of presidential election ballots have been held, and Republicans in battleground states, for example, Florida, Georgia and Texas have rewritten voting and election rules in reaction to “fraud” that never actually occurred.

These efforts have spurred fears among critics that democracy in the US is under threat.

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With 9,056 fresh infections, Moscow Covid cases soar to pandemic high

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New coronavirus infections hit a pandemic high in Moscow on Monday, tripling in just weeks and forcing Russia’s capital to close its Euro fan zone and extend other curbs.

Some 9,056 new cases were recorded in the megapolis of 12 million in the past 24 hours, up from 3,000 fourteen days ago and another every day record since the Covid-19 pandemic began in mid 2020, according to official statistics.

Faced with the spike, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, who has been rolling out restrictions for almost seven days, said that the city would limit gatherings and close the Euro 2020 fan zone outside of the Luzhniki stadium.

“I didn’t want to do this, but we have to,” Sergei Sobyanin wrote on his website.

“Starting today, we will limit mass events to a maximum of 1,000 people.”

“We are temporarily stopping all mass entertainment events and we’ll also have to close ballrooms and fan zones,” he wrote.

The move came a day after he warned that the city was facing another wave of infections, likely because of new Covid variants.

“It’s tripling, there’s an enormous powerful that we have not seen during the previous waves,” he said, adding that cases jumped from 3,000 to 7,000 in just days and predicting they would pass the 9,000 mark on Friday.

Over the past week, the mayor has introduced a progression of new restrictions in an effort to contain the wave of infections, including declaring a “work-free” week, shutting settings, and ordering mandatory vaccinations of people working in the service industry in the city.

Also on Friday, Sobyanin extended until June 29 a few measures that were announced last weekend, similar to the closure of food corridors in shopping centers, zoos, playgrounds, and the closure of bars and restaurants between 11:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Curbs tightened in Euro host St Pete –

Russia’s second city of Saint Petersburg, the country’s worst Covid hotspot after Moscow, is hosting seven Euro 2020 matches – including a quarter-final – and is expected to see thousands of football fans from Europe.

On Monday, Saint Petersburg also announced a tightening of restrictions, including no food deals in its fan zones.

The increase in cases in Russia comes as the country struggles to encourage Russians to get vaccinated, despite the fact that the country launched a mass campaign of free jabs in December and has developed and approved four vaccines – Sputnik V, EpiVacCorona, CoviVac and the one-portion Sputnik Light.

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Chinese, Indian workers among 11 killed in Nepal floods; 25 missing

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Landslides and flash floods triggered by heavy downpour across Nepal this week killed 11 people including one Indian and two Chinese workers at a development project, while 25 people were missing elsewhere, officials said on Friday.

The bodies of the three workers were recovered close to the town of Melamchi in Sindhupalchowk district, northeast of Kathmandu, which was hit by flash floods on Wednesday that also forced many people from their homes, district administrators said in a statement.

“The foreign nationals were working for a Chinese organization that is building a drinking water project,” district official Baburam Khanal told Reuters.

The Home Ministry said late on Thursday that 25 people were missing in floods in Sindhupalchowk, a mountainous district bordering the Tibet region of China, and other parts of the country.

The monsoon downpours, which normally begin in June and last until September, kill hundreds of people in mostly mountainous Nepal every year.

Heavy downpour since Tuesday have damaged roads, destroyed bridges, washed away fish ranches and livestock, and wrecked homes.

Hundreds of people have been forced to move to community shelters, including schools, sheds and tents, authorities said.

Aid agencies said the crisis this year could add to the social and economic troubles of a country hard hit by COVID-19. Nepal has been reporting among the highest coronavirus test positivity rates in the world.

“Those who have lost homes are resting in community centers,” said John Jordan of the U.S.- based charity World Neighbors.

“This forced density raises risks for a community that has been recovering from COVID-19.”

Israel to send 1 million Covid vaccine dosages to Palestinians

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Courts cannot appoint PM, says Nepal PM KP Oli as he defends dissolution of House of Representatives

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Nepal Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli on Thursday defended his government’s controversial decision to dissolve the House of Representatives and told the Supreme Court that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a premier as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state, according to a media report.

President Bidya Devi Bhandari, at the recommendation of Prime Minister KP Oli, dissolved the House for the second time in five months on May 22 and announced snap elections on November 12 and November 19.

Prime Minister Oli is heading a minority government after losing a trust vote in the House.

In his written response to the Supreme Court, Oli said that it isn’t up to the legal executive to appoint a Prime Minister as it cannot undertake the legislative and the executive functions of the state.

The Supreme Court on June 9 issued a show-cause notice to the Office of the Prime Minister and the President’s Office to outfit a written response within 15 days.

The Apex Court received Oli’s response by means of the Office of the Attorney General on Thursday, The Himalayan Times reported.

“The Court’s duty is to interpret the Constitution and the existing laws, it cannot assume the part of the legislative or the executive bodies,” Oli said.

“Appointment of a Prime Minister is absolutely a political and an executive process,” the 69-year-old embattled leader underlined.

The Prime Minister also defended the involvement of the President in this entire issue, saying that Article 76 of the Constitution grants the sole right to appoint a Prime Minister to the President only.

“According to Article 76 (5), there is no such provision of a person acquiring or losing a vote of confidence in the House being examined by the legislative or the legal executive,” he said.

Upwards of 30 writ petitions, including by the Opposition partnership, have been filed in the Supreme Court against the dissolution of the House, which they said was “unconstitutional”.

The Supreme Court has started hearing on the case. Regular hearings on the case will resume from June 23.

Nepal plunged into a political crisis on December 20 last year after President Bhandari dissolved the House and announced fresh elections on April 30 and May 10 at the recommendation of Prime Minister Oli, amidst a tussle for power within the decision Nepal Communist Party (NCP).

In February, the pinnacle court reinstated the dissolved House of Representatives, in a setback to embattled Prime Minister Oli who was preparing for snap polls.

Oli repeatedly defended his transition to dissolve the House of Representatives, saying some leaders of his party were attempting to form a “equal government”.

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