* Foreign

Lawyer says his team represents multiple informants in connection to the complaint filed over President’s Ukraine call

Double trouble: Donald Trump in Washington.AFP/FILEANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS

A second whistleblower has come forward about President Donald Trump’s attempts to get the Ukrainian President to investigate a political rival, lawyers for the informant said on Sunday.

Lawyer Mark Zaid said the person, also an intelligence official, has first-hand knowledge of some of the allegations involving the initial whistleblower complaint, which triggered impeachment proceedings against the Republican President.

The emergence of a second protected witness complicates efforts by Mr. Trump and his Republican supporters to dismiss the complaint as politically motivated hearsay and may strengthen the Democrats’ case against him.

The complaint, filed with the inspector general on August 12, cited information received from half a dozen U.S. officials expressing concern that Mr. Trump was using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country as he seeks re-election in 2020.

It also alleged that Mr. Trump leveraged $400 million in aid to secure a promise from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate a Democratic rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden, and his son Hunter Biden, who sat on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.

“I can confirm that my firm and my team represent multiple whistleblowers in connection to the underlying August 12, 2019, disclosure to the Intelligence Community Inspector General,” Andrew Bakaj, a second lawyer, said on Twitter. Mr. Bakaj declined further comment.

Mr. Zaid said the whistleblower had spoken with the inspector general as part of an initial examination of the whistleblower complaint. An interview with the inspector general affords protection against reprisal.

Discontent within

Confirmation of another whistleblower followed stirrings of discontent within Mr. Trump’s own Republican Party after he called on Beijing on Friday to investigate Mr. Biden’s son, who had business dealings in China.

Republican U.S. Senators Mitt Romney, Ben Sasse and Susan Collins have expressed concerns about Mr. Trump reaching out to foreign countries to help him in his 2020 re-election bid.

However, other Republicans stood firmly in support of Mr. Trump, echoing the President’s insistence that there was nothing wrong with his Ukraine call and dismissing his entreaty to China as a joke, even though Mr. Trump continues to raise the issue. “I doubt if the China comment was serious to tell you the truth,” U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, a Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said.

Mr. Trump has alleged that Hunter Biden profited in his business dealings in both Ukraine and China from his father’s position, although there has been no evidence of any wrongdoing. “The Biden family was PAID OFF, pure and simple!” Mr. Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The President also railed against the “do-nothing” Democrats’ impeachment with a string of retweets from supporters, touting his high approval ratings among Republicans.

The call with Mr. Zelensky, a summary of which was released by the White House, and the whistleblower complaint prompted House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to launch an impeachment inquiry on September 24. Mr. Trump’s attempts to solicit foreign interference threatened national security, she said.

‘No quid pro quo’

Democrats said any finding that Mr. Trump withheld taxpayer money, already approved by Congress to help Ukraine fight Russian aggression, in exchange for a favour from Mr. Zelensky would strengthen the case against him.

Mr. Trump has maintained there was no “quid pro quo” in his request of the Ukrainian President, but text messages released by committees leading the inquiry have shown otherwise.

Scores arrested under emergency laws

Stand-off continues: Protesters smashing a taxi during a demonstration in Hong Kong on Sunday. AFPAFP

Chinese soldiers issued a warning to Hong Kong protesters who shone lasers at their barracks in the city on Sunday, in the first direct interaction with mainland military forces in four months of anti-government demonstrations.

The stand-off with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) came after rallies attended by tens of thousands of protesters earlier on Sunday ended in violent clashes in several locations. Police fired tear gas and baton-charged the crowds, while some demonstrators threw bricks and petrol bombs at police as night fell.

One-year jail term

Protesters concealed their faces in defiance of colonial-era emergency laws invoked by the authorities on Friday, which banned face masks. Protesters face a maximum of one year in jail for breaking the mask ban.

Police made their first arrests under the new rules, detaining scores of people. Officers tied their wrists with cable and unmasked their faces before placing them on buses. Some protesters lay in foetal positions on the ground, their wrists tied behind their backs, after being subdued with pepper spray and batons.

“The anti-mask law just fuels our anger and more will people come on to the street,” Lee, a university student wearing a blue mask, said on Sunday, as he marched on Hong Kong island.

“We are not afraid of the new law, we will continue fighting. I put on the mask to tell the government that I’m not afraid of tyranny.”

China’s Hong Kong military garrison warned a crowd of a few hundred protesters they could be arrested for targeting its barracks walls in the city with laser lights. It was the first direct interaction between the PLA and protesters. Chinese military personnel standing on the roof of the building held up a sign in English and Chinese which read: “Warning. You are in breach of the law. You may be prosecuted.”

The PLA’s top brass has warned violence is “absolutely impermissible”.

The rallies on Sunday on Hong Kong island and across the harbour in Kowloon had been largely peaceful until police began to try and disperse the crowds, saying they were participating in unlawful assemblies.

EU leaders are piling pressure on PM Boris Johnson to revise the exit plan

Stephen Barclay Frank Augstein

Britain hinted on Sunday that it could be open to changes to its latest Brexit proposals for Northern Ireland, as European leaders piled pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to revise the plans.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay reiterated that the ideas formally submitted to Brussels this week were “a broad landing zone” to be discussed during “intense negotiations in the coming days”.

He urged the bloc to show “creativity and flexibility” to secure a deal ahead of October 31 — when Mr. Johnson has vowed Britain will end its 46 years of EU membership with or without an agreement.

“We’ve set out very serious proposals, including compromise on our side,” Mr. Barclay told the BBC.

“We do need to get into the intensive negotiations on the text to clarify what the deal is.”

Mr. Barclay added the government was considering holding a parliamentary vote ahead of a make-or-break EU summit on October 17-18 to show bloc leaders that Mr. Johnson’s plans have MPs’ support.

But European leaders, who have reacted tepidly to the propositions and urged London to offer a revised, viable way forward, are yet to agree even to ramp up negotiations.

Brussels reportedly balked at Britain’s request to keep initial discussions on the proposals going through the weekend.

The EU instead want reworked plans submitted by the end of the week, with time running out ahead of the summit.

Brussels has said the plans “do not provide a basis for concluding an agreement”.

Mr. Barclay, who will travel to Amsterdam later Sunday for Brexit talks, hinted that Britain could be willing to consider alternative ways of meeting its aims. “We’re ready to work on that,” he said.

Ireland’s leader Leo Varadkar said on Saturday there is “plenty of time” for U.K. to put forward alternatives.

He asks Bishops to find ways to better care for native people

Reaching out: The Pope with indigenous people from the Amazon region at an opening Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.APAndrew Medichini

Pope Francis urged bishops on Sunday to boldly shake up the status quo as they chart ways to better care for the Amazon and its indigenous people amid threats from forest fires, development and what he called ideological “ashes of fear.”

Pope Francis opened a three-week meeting on preserving the rainforest and ministering to its native people as he fended off attacks from conservatives who are opposed to his ecological agenda.

Among the most contentious proposals on the agenda is whether married elders could be ordained priests to address the chronic priest shortages in the region.

Currently indigenous Catholics in remote parts of the Amazon can go months without seeing a priest or having a proper Mass. Another proposal calls for the Catholic church to identify new “official ministries” for women, though organisers have made it clear that priestly ordination is off the table.

Pope Francis’ conservative critics, including a handful of cardinals, have called the proposals “heretical”.

Good and evil are very much part of everyone’s life and world. But one should guard against the perception that if the evil trends in the world are corrected, automatically people will find peace of mind and happiness. In a discourse, Swami Omkarananda drew attention to the fact that only when the unsteady human mind builds a firewall against the external world, it can correct its outlook and perceptions. For, in one sense, whatever evil is perceived in the world is a reflection of the ill thoughts in the individual mind. In reality, the external world is only the form of God and if the mind accepts this truth, it can gain peace. To a mind steeped in worldly desires where is the chance to feel peace? When there is no attempt to think of the atma within, there is no possibility to strive for higher values and ennobling character that can contribute to peace of mind? Without peace, where is joy and bliss, asks the Gita.

If the senses are not controlled, there is no chance to engage in atma tatva vichara leading to atma dyana and to atma swaroopa jnana. One thus incurs all these spiritual losses. The Vedas guide the diffident disciple who asks if it is at all possible to cross evil and reach the shores of Truth. The Vedas say it is possible. By practising ‘akrodha,’ which is to abstain from getting angry, one has to overcome anger. By practising acts of charity, ‘dhana,’ one can cross the tendency to be selfish. Many prayers in the Vedas invoke the Almighty to help one tread in the path of satyam and dharma. The motto ‘Satyam Vada, Dharmam chara’ holds the essence of every man’s upright behaviour. The Vedas also speak of Satyam and Ritam. If Satyam is truth, Ritam is the way to remain truthful. Together they imply truthfulness in thought, word and deed.

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