Transcript reveals details of the controversial July phone conversation
U.S. President Donald Trump urged the President of Ukraine to contact Attorney General William Barr about opening a potential corruption investigation connected to former Vice-President Joe Biden, according to the reconstruction of a July phone call at the centre of accusations that Mr. Trump pressured a foreign leader to find dirt on a political rival.
“I would like you to do us a favour,” Mr. Trump said in response to President Volodymyr Zelenskiy of Ukraine raising the prospect of acquiring military equipment from the United States. Noting that the United States had “done a lot for Ukraine,” Mr. Trump also asked for another inquiry: that the Ukrainians examine an unsubstantiated theory about stolen Democratic emails.
After a whistleblower raisedconcerns about Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, the Director of National Intelligence and the Inspector General for the intelligence community each referred the complaint for a possible criminal investigation into the President’s actions, according to a Justice Department official.
No violation of law
The department’s criminal division determined that the reconstructed transcript of the call did not show that Mr. Trump had violated campaign finance laws by soliciting from a foreign national a contribution, donation or thing of value.
During the call, Mr. Trump told Mr. Zelenskiy that he should be in touch with both Mr. Barr and the President’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, according to the document.
The Justice Department said on Wednesday that Mr. Barr was unaware that Mr. Trump had told Mr. Zelenskiy that he would contact him. The department said that Mr. Barr has never spoken with Mr. Trump about working with Ukraine to investigate anything related to the Bidens and that he has never spoken with Mr. Giuliani about “anything related to Ukraine.” Mr. Trump and Mr. Giuliani have long pushed for Ukrainian officials to examine whether there was any improper overlap between Mr. Biden’s dealings with Ukraine while in office and his son’s position on the board of a Ukrainian energy company.
No reference to aid
There was no explicit reference to the $391 million in foreign aid that Mr. Trump had told Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House Chief of Staff, to put a hold on several days before the call took place.
Mr. Giuliani said that regardless of the fact that Mr. Biden is Mr. Trump’s political opponent, allegations against Mr. Biden required investigation, and only Mr. Trump had the status to ask the Ukrainian president to open an inquiry.
The details of the call — which were first revealed by a whistleblower who works in the intelligence community — prompted Democrats on Tuesday to formally open an impeachment inquiry, accusing Mr. Trump of betraying his country by pressuring a foreign leader to dig up dirt on Mr. Biden, now also a Democratic presidential hopeful. In the days before the memorandum of conversation was released, news reports revealed that Mr. Trump used the call in July to pressure Mr. Zelenskiy for an investigation about Mr. Biden’s actions on behalf of his son Hunter Biden’s work with a business in Ukraine.
Over the weekend, Mr. Trump publicly acknowledged that he discussed the former Vice President with Mr. Zelenskiy, even as he angrily railed against what he called another “witch-hunt” and insisted that his conversation with the Ukrainian President was perfectly appropriate. NY Times
Dares Labour to call a confidence vote
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in London on Wednesday.REUTERSHENRY NICHOLLS
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday challenged Opposition MPs to call a confidence vote in his government, after the Supreme Court struck down his decision to suspend Parliament in the run-up to Brexit.
The ruling by Britain’s highest court on Tuesday that the suspension was unlawful was a stunning blow to Mr. Johnson’s authority just weeks before the country is due leave the European Union on October 31.
But the Conservative leader showed no contrition as he faced MPs in the House of Commons, which had hastily reconvened on Wednesday.
He condemned the verdict as “wrong” and, faced with calls to resign, challenged the main Opposition Labour Party and others to call an immediate confidence vote. “They have until the house rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the government, and we can have that vote tomorrow,” he said. “Will they have the courage to act or will they refuse to take responsibility and do nothing but dither and delay... what are they scared of?
‘Rule out no-deal exit’
However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that while he wanted Mr. Johnson to resign, he would not back an election until the PM’s threat of leaving the EU without a divorce deal was removed. In the week before Parliament was suspended earlier this month, MPs pushed through a law requiring the Premier to delay Brexit by three months if he cannot strike exit terms with Brussels in time. Addressing a rowdy and packed Commons chamber, Mr. Corbyn said: “If he wants an election, get an extension and let’s have an election. “No one can trust this Prime Minister. “For the good of this country, he should go.”
Mr. Johnson, who flew back early from the UN General Assembly in New York to address the newly resumed Parliament, accused MPs of trying to undermining the 2016 Brexit vote. “We decided to call that referendum, we promised time and again to respect it. I think the people of this country have had enough of it,” he said. “This Parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.”
Mr. Johnson said Parliament was “gridlocked, paralysed and refusing to deliver on the priorities of the people”.
The Supreme Court ruling is a hammer blow to Mr. Johnson’s authority, and comes after a series of defeats in Parliament.
President nominates Netanyahu to stitch together coalition
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.REUTERSAMIR COHEN
Israel’s President tasked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday with assembling a new government after power-sharing talks with his rival, Benny Gantz, failed following an inconclusive election.
Mr. Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, and Israel’s longest-serving leader, still has no clear path to a fifth term after emerging from the September 17 ballot, the second this year, short of a parliamentary majority. “I have decided to give you, sir, the opportunity to assemble a government,” President Reuven Rivlin said to Mr. Netanyahu at a nomination ceremony. He will have 28 days to form a coalition and can ask Mr. Rivlin for a two-week extension, if necessary. Mr. Netanyahu’s failure to clinch victory in a ballot in April led to last week’s election and left him politically weakened.
In the new countdown, Likud has the pledged support of 55 legislators in the 120-member Parliament, against 54 for Mr. Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party. The two parties failed to reach a coalition deal on Tuesday. Former Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been keeping his far-right Yisrael Beitenu party on the fence since the September 17 ballot.
“It became clear that neither Netanyahu nor Gantz had the 61 seats necessary to form a government,” Mr. Rivlin said at the ceremony. “Netanyahu’s ability to assemble an administration is higher at the moment,” the president said, noting that 10 Arab legislators in Mr. Gantz’s support bloc of 54, who recommended he nominate the ex-general, did not commit to joining a government.
‘Inspired calls for urgent climate action’
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.APMary Altaffer
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, 16, was among four people named on Wednesday as the winners of a Right Livelihood Award, also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel’. Ms. Thunberg is being recognised “for inspiring and amplifying political demands for urgent climate action reflecting scientific facts,” the prize foundation said. It added that Ms. Thunberg “personifies the notion that everyone has the power to create change”.
The foundation also gave its 2019 award to Davi Kopenawa and the Hutukara Yanomami Association, representing Brazil’s indigenous tribe, for protecting the Amazon forest and its people; Moroccan activist Aminatou Haidar “for her steadfast nonviolent action” for Western Sahara and Chinese lawyer Guo Jianmei for her work for women’s rights in China.
Sastras say that the Moon has sixteen kalas, or phases. The Moon is referred to as Shodasa alankara poorna. Rama shares a similarity with the Moon. Like the sixteen phases of the Moon, Rama has sixteen admirable qualities, said Kidambi Narayanan in a discourse. In the beginning of the Ramayana, Narada visits Valmiki, and that latter asks him a question. Valmiki gives a list of sixteen qualities, and wants to know if there is anyone who has all these qualities. Narada at once says that Rama is the One who has all the qualities listed by Valmiki.
The important thing here is that Valmiki asks Narada to name a human being with these qualities, because it is difficult to find a mortal with all these qualities. The Moon gives us its coolness, but does it expect anything in return? In the same way, Rama gives us countless boons, but expects no quid pro quo. However, the Moon wanes for a fortnight, whereas Rama’s glory remains undiminished. Nammazhvar has been described as a Sun in Acharya Hridayam. Nammazhvar the Sun, praises Rama, the Moon! Nammazhvar in his Thiruvaimozhi refers to Rama as ‘piran.’ Nampillai explains this to mean one who helps. The proper way to help is to offer one’s services willingly, and without any expectation from the receiver . And that kind of selfless help is typical of Rama.
Every joy has its foundation in some hardship or suffering. Every pleasure in life has its base in some loss of mental peace. In his Sri Bhashya, Ramanujacharya says that what we think of as a joy is in fact not so. We judge something to be a source of joy or sorrow only on the basis of whatever knowledge we have. As our knowledge base expands, we become wiser.Only Lord Himself is beyond sorrow.