Speaker Pelosi says House Intelligence Committee head Adam Schiff will lead impeachment inquiry
Activists rallying for the impeachment of President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington on Thursday.APJ. Scott Applewhite
Democrats vowed on Friday to move quickly on the impeachment investigation of U.S. President Donald Trump, saying the evidence of abuse of power from his Ukraine phone call and attempts to cover up wrongdoing were already clear.
An intelligence whistleblower’s complaint showing Mr. Trump pressuring Ukraine’s President to supply dirt on election rival Joe Biden left the White House reeling and Mr. Trump doubling down with an implicit threat against witnesses to the call. “The clarity of the President’s actions is compelling and gave us no choice but to move forward,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
A national security issue
“This is about the national security of our country: The President of the U.S. being disloyal to his oath of office, jeopardising our national security, and jeopardising the integrity of our elections.”
She announced that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who accused Mr. Trump of acting like a “mafia boss” this week, would take the lead in the investigation.
“They will take the time that they need and we won’t have the calendar be the arbiter,” she said in an interview with MSNBC. “But... it doesn’t have to drag on.”
On Monday, Mr. Trump blithely swatted away a whistleblower report that alleged that he sought to pressure Ukraine for information that could damage Mr. Biden, the leading Democratic candidate to contest the presidency in 2020.
Ms. Pelosi was pushing back against mounting pressure in her party to impeach Mr. Trump. But the tables have turned with the release of a memo on Mr. Trump’s July 25 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky, which confirmed that he pressed for dirt on the Bidens, followed by the whistleblower’s complaint, which alleged the White House had attempted to cover up the call.
Democrats now appear able to muster the majority they need to vote through an impeachment motion in the House — for only the third time in U.S. history — setting the stage for a possible trial of the President by the Republican-controlled Senate.
‘Should move quickly’
“We should move quickly but not hurriedly, and we should focus on this Ukraine call,” Eric Swalwell, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said on CNN Friday. “We don’t need to have a months-long hearing... We have the President’s own words, and we have his conduct after the fact,” he said, referring to Mr. Trump’s attack on the still anonymous whistleblower and other potential White House witnesses against him, labelling them spies and traitors.
“You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart? Right? The spies and treason, we used to handle it a little differently than we do now,” Mr. Trump told U.S. diplomats in a meeting at the UN. Mr. Swalwell said the remarks, made on Thursday to a crowd from the U.S. Mission to the UN, showed “a consciousness of guilt. Innocent people don’t talk that way.”
It was seized by Tehran on July 19 after hitting a fishing boat
Stena Impero sets sail in Gulf as it heads towards the international waters on Friday.AFPSTRINGER
The British-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero, which had been held off the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas for more than two months, set sail on Friday and reached international waters, the provincial maritime organisation and its owner said.
The ship’s seizure was widely seen as a tit-for-tat move after authorities in the British overseas territory of Gibraltar detained an Iranian tanker on suspicion it was shipping oil to Syria in breach of EU sanctions.
Tehran repeatedly denied the cases were related. “The Stena Impero started sailing from the mooring towards the Persian Gulf’s international waters as of 9.00 a.m. (0530 GMT) today,” Hormozgan province’s maritime organisation said on its website.
“Despite the vessel’s clearance, its legal case is still open in Iran’s courts,” the organisation said.
The tanker’s captain and crew have “given a written, official statement that they have no claims”, it added.
The CEO of Stena Bulk, the Swedish company that owns the vessel, said it had reached international waters at around 0945 GMT and was headed for Dubai.
Erik Hanell said it was “obviously a relief” and added that the priority now was the crew. The tanker’s crew are “safe and in high spirits” and arrangements have been made for them to return to their families upon arrival in Dubai, Mr. Hannel said in an official statement.
The company did not release the names of the crew members.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized the vessel in the Strait of Hormuz on July 19 after surrounding it with attack boats and rappelling onto its deck.
It was impounded off the port of Bandar Abbas for allegedly failing to respond to distress calls and turning off its transponder after hitting a fishing boat. Seven of its 23 crew members were released on September 4.
Qandeel Baloch was strangled in 2016
Qandeel Baloch.APM. Jameel
The brother of Pakistani social media star Qandeel Baloch was on Friday sentenced to life in prison for her murder.
Baloch, 26, who shot to fame for her risqué selfies, was strangled in July 2016.
Her brother Muhammad Waseem was arrested. Days later he told a press conference that he had no remorse over what he did, saying that “of course” he had murdered his sister and that her behaviour had been “intolerable”.
His lawyer, Sardar Mehboob, said the court in the eastern city of Multan had found his client guilty and sentenced him to life imprisonment, in a long-awaited verdict. “Inshallah (God willing), he will be acquitted by a high court,” he said.
5 others acquitted
Five others were acquitted by the court, including an Islamic cleric Mufti Abdul Qavi who had been embroiled in controversy with Baloch months ahead of her death.
“We are distraught by this verdict. The government is still enslaved to the whites and is bowing to their rules,” said Baloch’s brother Aslam Shaheen, who was among the acquitted. Earlier, Baloch’s mother Anwar Mai said she had hoped her son Waseem would also be acquitted.
Baloch’s murder made international headlines and reignited calls for action against an epidemic of so-called “honour killings”, in which a victim — usually a woman — is murdered for flouting patriarchal social codes.
Three months after Baloch’s murder, Parliament passed new legislation mandating life imprisonment for honour killings. However, whether a murder is defined as a crime of honour is left to the judge’s discretion, meaning that killers can theoretically claim a different motive and be pardoned.
In Baloch’s case, her parents initially insisted their son would be given no absolution. But, heartbroken at the thought of losing him too, they changed their minds and said they wanted him to be forgiven.
International revulsion at the killing had seen the Pakistani state take the unprecedented step of declaring itself a heir alongside the parents, however, forcing the case to move ahead.
Users also blocked from viewing the number of reactions on other people’s posts
Facebook on Friday said that it began hiding the number of “likes” for posts in Australia, a trial designed to ease social pressure that could be rolled out worldwide.
Account holders across the country were also blocked from viewing the number of reactions and video views on other people’s posts from Friday, but were still be able to see how people respond to their own.
“We don’t want Facebook to feel like a competition,” the company said in a statement. “This is a test to see how people engage with this new format. We hope to learn from this over time in order to see if we will roll this out more broadly.”
More than one billion people use Facebook worldwide, but the social media giant has come under pressure to combat the platform’s impact on mental health. In Australia, one in five children report experiencing cyberbullying, according to the country’s e-Safety Commissioner. The problem received national attention last year when a 14-year-old girl killed herself after being bullied online.
Facebook’s decision comes after it launched a trial in July to hide “likes” on the company’s other major social media platform, Instagram.
The social media giant did not confirm how long the trial would run for.
“We want to understand from people whether removing the total counts improves their experience, while also not limiting any positive interactions,” said Mia Garlick, of Facebook Australia.
Campaigners have called for demonstration at Tahrir Square against Sisi
Supporters of Egypt President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi demonstrating in Alexandria on Friday.REUTERSAMR ABDALLAH DALSH
Egyptian police mounted a huge show of force in central Cairo and closed off entrances to Tahrir Square on Friday after calls for protests against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi following opposition accusations of corruption, which he denies.
Protests broke out on September 20 in Cairo and other cities following online calls for demonstrations against alleged graft by Mr. Sisi and the powerful military.
Mr. Sisi, who was in New York this week attending the UN General Assembly, returned to Cairo on Friday morning, where he was greeted off his plane by senior Ministers and later stopped to speak to a crowd of supporters on the roadside.
Asking them why they were up so early on a Friday, the first day of Egypt’s weekend, he said: “The situation isn’t worth it. You need to know that the Egyptian people are very aware...”
Mr. Sisi also appeared to repeat his earlier rejection of allegations of corruption posted online by Mohamed Ali, a former contractor and actor, in the run-up to the protests. Mr. Ali’s videos have attracted a wide following.
“We’re really strong, the country is really strong with (because of) you,” he said in a video posted on his Facebook page. Since last weekend’s protests, authorities have carried out mass arrests which rights monitors say has seen around 2,000 people detained. Egypt’s public prosecutor said on Thursday that “not more than 1,000” had been questioned after protests.
Support for stability
Mr. Ali had called for new protests this Friday, though government supporters were also planning rallies to show their backing for Mr. Sisi and “stablity”.
Security forces have stepped up their presence in main squares in major cities and plainclothes police have been checking motorists’ and pedestrians’ mobile phones for political content, checks that continued on Friday morning.
Vallalar, in his Deivamani Malai, addresses Lord Muruga as the embodiment of the pranava mantra, and he says there is none equal to Him. Muruga came from the sparks that emanated from Lord Siva’s faces. Lord Siva has six faces — Satyojata, Vamadeva, Tatpurusha, Isanam, Aghoram and Adomukham. From each of these faces a spark emerged, and six babies resulted from these sparks. Later Goddess Uma fused all the six babies into one, and the resultant child was Lord Muruga.
Pranava indicates three actions of God. Pranava consists of ‘a’, ‘u,’ and ‘m.’ The ‘a’ stands for creation, the ‘u’ for protection and the ‘m’ for destruction, said M.A. Manickavelu in a discourse. The pranava mantra is Lord Siva’s peetha. It is the foundation of all the Vedas. If one dies in Varanasi, it is the pranava mantra that Lord Siva will whisper in one’s ears. Sundarar says Lord Siva has an omkara rupa. From Siva came Muruga, and Vallalar calls Muruga ‘Chinmaya Swaroopa vimala.’ Muruga is blemishless, and imparts knowledge. He questioned Brahma about the meaning of the pranava. When Brahma was unable to answer, Muruga imprisoned Brahma. Lord Siva asked Muruga to release Brahma, but Muruga refused. He then went on to explain the meaning of the pranava mantra to Lord Siva, who was His father! Thus, Lord Siva, whose seat is the Pranava, ended up being instructed on the meaning of the mantra by His son.
The Deivamani Malai of Vallalar is addressed , the deity in Kanda KottamIn the verse where Vallalar talks of Muruga being the embodiment of the Pranava, he refers to Muruga as the son of the One who has a bull as His vehicle. The father son connection in this verse is to stress the point that Muruga was once in the position of teacher to His father.