Duterte warns he’ll intercede if House squabble risks budget

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president warned Thursday he will intercede and resolve a leadership row in the House of Representatives if the impasse threatens to stall the passage of next year’s budget during the coronavirus crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte did not elaborate on what he would do if House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco fail to end their rivalry over leadership of the 300-member legislative chamber. Duterte appeared on TV to air his warning with top military and police officials behind him.

“Either you resolve the issue on your impasse there and pass the budget legally and constitutionally and if you don’t do it, I’ll do it for you,” Duterte said.

“Think of the Filipinos who are in the hospital and need medicine and those who may die at this time without medicine, without anything,” Duterte said, adding he should not be dragged into the leadership squabble.

Velasco said he should assume the speakership by Oct. 14 under a power-sharing deal brokered by Duterte. But Cayetano demanded that Velasco prove he has the backing of most legislators, then abruptly allowed the suspension of congressional sessions until Nov. 16, pre-empting any attempt to wrest control of Congress from him.

Cayetano’s camp steered the initial approval of the proposed 2021 national budget amounting to 4.5 trillion pesos ($90 billion), then announced the congressional break. Several lawmakers protested that they were deprived of their right to scrutinize the budget and called for an immediate resumption of congressional sessions.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said deliberations on the proposed budgets for the Department of Health and other agencies have not been concluded and were overrun by the leadership squabble.

The Philippines has reported the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia at more than 331,000, with more than 6,000 deaths.

Duterte has realigned budgets from the defense department and other agencies and resorted to borrowing to finance massive efforts to address the pandemic and provide aid to millions of people displaced by months of lockdowns and quarantine.

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Duterte warns he’ll intercede if House squabble risks budget

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine president warned Thursday he will intercede and resolve a leadership row in the House of Representatives if the impasse threatens to stall the passage of next year’s budget during the coronavirus crisis.

President Rodrigo Duterte did not elaborate on what he would do if House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Rep. Lord Allan Velasco fail to end their rivalry over leadership of the 300-member legislative chamber. Duterte appeared on TV to air his warning with top military and police officials behind him.

“Either you resolve the issue on your impasse there and pass the budget legally and constitutionally and if you don’t do it, I’ll do it for you,” Duterte said.


“Think of the Filipinos who are in the hospital and need medicine and those who may die at this time without medicine, without anything,” Duterte said, adding he should not be dragged into the leadership squabble.

Velasco said he should assume the speakership by Oct. 14 under a power-sharing deal brokered by Duterte. But Cayetano demanded that Velasco prove he has the backing of most legislators, then abruptly allowed the suspension of congressional sessions until Nov. 16, pre-empting any attempt to wrest control of Congress from him.

Cayetano’s camp steered the initial approval of the proposed 2021 national budget amounting to 4.5 trillion pesos ($90 billion), then announced the congressional break. Several lawmakers protested that they were deprived of their right to scrutinize the budget and called for an immediate resumption of congressional sessions.

Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman said deliberations on the proposed budgets for the Department of Health and other agencies have not been concluded and were overrun by the leadership squabble.

The Philippines has reported the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia at more than 331,000, with more than 6,000 deaths.

Duterte has realigned budgets from the defense department and other agencies and resorted to borrowing to finance massive efforts to address the pandemic and provide aid to millions of people displaced by months of lockdowns and quarantine.

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White House Warns U.S. Rivals Against Seeking Advantage

With President Trump hospitalized for coronavirus, a top White House official warned against any attempt by U.S. rivals to take advantage of a situation that security experts said presents a fertile ground for interference and disinformation.

White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien said Mr. Trump remains in charge and that any attempt by adversaries to seek an edge would be a mistake of “serious magnitude.”

“I think our adversaries know that the United States government is steady at the tiller and that we’re protecting the American people,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation Sunday.

In an interview with the Journal, Mr. O’Brien, who last week met with a top Russian official in Geneva, said U.S. alerts haven’t been raised and there was no expectation that rivals such as North Korea, Iran, China and Russia were likely to pose a new threat.

“Any attempt by an adversary to take advantage of the fact that the president has been diagnosed with Covid[-19] would be a mistake of serious magnitude,” he said Friday in the interview. “I don’t expect any country to make that mistake.”

Other officials said that there has been no known threat of significance made by adversaries since Mr. Trump became ill. Mr. Trump tested positive for coronavirus on Thursday and was hospitalized Friday at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

More National Security News

Mr. O’Brien said Sunday that he expects to brief Mr. Trump, joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley on the national security situation. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is traveling in the Middle East. The briefing, which was to be conducted Sunday by video teleconference with Mr. Trump, is routine and not in response to any particular threat, officials said.

Mr. O’Brien met late last week with a Russian counterpart in Switzerland before returning to the U.S. a day early after Mr. Trump’s diagnosis of Covid-19. In Geneva, Mr. O’Brien met with Nikolai Patrushev, the secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation, to discuss bilateral issues ranging from Russian operations in Syria and Afghanistan to nuclear negotiations and the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Mr. O’Brien said one of the most prominent messages he conveyed was that Russia shouldn’t meddle in the U.S. election next month. He told them that the U.S. was especially concerned about any efforts that would affect the vote on election day.

The Russians agreed, and stated publicly they wouldn’t interfere. Mr. O’Brien said he would take a “trust-but-verify” approach to the Russians’ claims.

U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that Russia interfered with U.S. elections in 2016 and is attempting to do so again this year, along with hackers associated with China and Iran. Russia, like the other countries, always has denied such interference.

State Department officials didn’t respond to a request for comment on steps the U.S. taken to apprise foreign countries of the status of the U.S. government in light

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Pentagon Is Clinging to Aging Technologies, House Panel Warns

WASHINGTON — A bipartisan House panel said on Tuesday that artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space and biotechnology were “making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant” — but that the Pentagon was clinging to aging weapons systems meant for a past era.

The panel’s report, called the “Future of Defense Task Force,” is one of many underway in Congress to grapple with the speed at which the Pentagon is adopting new technologies, often using the rising competition with China in an effort to spur the pace of change.

Most reach a similar conclusion: For all the talk of embracing new technologies, the politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding — often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts — that the efforts falter.

The task force said it was concentrating on the next 30 to 50 years, and concluded that the Defense Department and Congress should be “focused on the needs of the future and not on the political and military-industrial loyalties of the past.”

“We are totally out of time, and here is a bipartisan group — in this environment — saying that this is a race we have to win and that we are currently losing,” said Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq and was a co-chairman of the task force. “There is a misalignment of priorities, and diminishing time to make dramatic changes.”

The report calls for the United States to undertake an artificial intelligence effort that uses “the Manhattan Project as a model,” citing the drive in World War II to assemble the nation’s best minds in nuclear physics and weapons to develop the atomic bomb. The task force found that although the Pentagon had been experimenting with artificial intelligence, machine learning and even semiautonomous weapons systems for years, “cultural resistance to its wider adoption remains.”

It recommended that every major military acquisition program “evaluate at least one A.I. or autonomous alternative” before it is funded. It also called for the United States to “lead in the formulation and ratification of a global treaty on artificial intelligence in the vein of the Geneva Conventions,” a step the Trump administration has resisted for cyberweaponry and the broader use of artificial intelligence.

But questions persist about whether such a treaty would prove useful. While nuclear and chemical weapons were largely in the hands of nations, cyberweapons — and artificial intelligence techniques — are in the hands of criminal groups, terrorist groups and teenagers.

Nonetheless, the report’s focus on working with allies and developing global codes of ethics and privacy runs counter to the instincts of the Trump administration, making it more surprising that the Republican members of the task force signed on.

“I think this is a case of pushing for a different path at the Pentagon,” said Representative Jim Banks, Republican of Indiana and a co-chairman of the group.

In an interview, he was careful to avoid criticizing the White

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Pelosi warns House could be forced to decide presidential election

Washington — With the presidential election just 36 days away, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is outlining a scenario in which the House of Representatives is forced to decide the outcome of the 2020 race for the White House, telling her Democratic caucus that the possibility underscores the need for the party to expand its majority in the House and win control of more state House delegations.



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In a letter to House Democrats on Sunday, Pelosi detailed a situation that has not arisen for more than a century, in which neither Joe Biden nor President Trump wins the 270 electoral votes required to win a majority of the 538-vote Electoral College. If that happens, a newly elected House would decide the fate of the presidency in January, with each state casting a single vote, as required by the 12th Amendment.

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“Instead of giving every member of Congress a vote, the 12th Amendment gives each state one vote, which is determined by a vote of the state’s delegation,” Pelosi, of California, said to her fellow House Democrats. “In other words, how many state delegations the Democrats win in this upcoming election could determine who our next president is.”

The Constitution, Pelosi continues, states that a presidential candidate “must receive a majority of the state delegations to win” in the event that the election goes to the House.

“We must achieve that majority of delegations or keep the Republicans from doing so,” she said in her appeal to House Democrats.

Politico was the first to report Pelosi’s efforts to mobilize Democrats.

While Democrats hold a majority of seats in the House, Republicans currently control a slim majority of 26 state House delegations and Democrats control 23. One state, Pennsylvania, has a split delegation, with nine Republican members of the House and nine Democratic members.

According to the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, which analyzed the upcoming House races, 26 House delegations at least lean Republican and 20 at least lean Democratic. Four are toss-ups: Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan.

Pelosi stressed the importance of supporting the political action committee working to elect Democrats to Congress and expand the number of state delegations controlled by the party.

“Simply put, this strategy to protect our democracy and elect Joe Biden will take an all out effort and resources,” she said.

Presidential electors are scheduled to meet and cast their votes in their respective states December 14. On January 6, the Senate and House are set to assemble in a joint session of Congress to count the electoral votes and declare the election results.

The 20th Amendment requires the new Congress to convene at noon on January 3, unless the previous Congress passes a law changing the date.

Pelosi is not alone in raising the possibility of the House deciding the result of the presidential election. During a rally in Pennsylvania on

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Interior PS Kibicho warns politicians over hate speech as 2022 polls near: “We’ll crush you”



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Interior PS Kibicho warns politicians over hate speech as 2022 polls near: “We’ll crush you”

– Interior PS Karanja Kibicho said careless remarks made by politicians were raising political temperatures in the country

– Hate speech, he said, was likely to breed ethnic animosity and clashes if perpetrators were not identified and punished

– Kibicho revealed the government was drafting regulations that will help in identifying and punishing perpetrators of hate speech

– Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi and his Emurua Dikirr counterpart Johana Ng’eno have already been charged with hate speech

Interior Principal Secretary (PS) Karanja Kibicho has cautioned politicians against zoning the country into political enclaves and making derogatory remarks against colleagues and other communities.

Speaking in Kisii county on Wednesday, September 23, Kibicho warned that careless remarks by politicians risked escalating political tension and in the long run, may snowball into ethnic animosity if not nipped in the bud.

Kibicho revealed that as the country neared the 2022 General Election the government was working round the clock to develop regulations aimed at identifying and punishing perpetrators of hate speech.

“We are all aware that we are less than two years to the next general election. The recent remarks being made by politicians are showing that we are headed right where we were in 2007. We are not going to tolerate people who are causing disharmony in this country.

Those speaking recklessly should know that we have put them on notice…we are going to publish those protocols so that we know when we are about to cross the red line,” said Kibicho.

The PS further cautioned leaders who have been accused of hate speech or crime against inciting their supporters and communities against the state in a move to escape arrest.

Kibicho insisted that politicians with loose tounges were “not different from criminals” and as such, needed to be treated ruthlessly just like other lawbreakers.

“Whether you run to your tribe or under a political cover, we will not give you space to continue disturbing peace. I have been briefed that here in Kisii, there are some small gangs teaming up to cause political havoc. We will crush you. Don’t have any doubt. We will not let you become political thugs,” he stated.

Remarks by the PS came as Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi, who is accused of hate speech, was charged in a Nakuru court where he pleaded not guilty.

Earlier, Emurua Dirkirr MP Johana Ng’eno also found himself in the soup after he made remarks that were perceived as demeaning to the family of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Ng’eno, who pleaded not guilty to hate speech, told President Uhuru Kenyatta to pack and leave if he was not ready to work with his deputy William Ruto.

His remarks were echoed by Sudi who also tore into the president claiming that he was persecuting the DP despite having helped him ascend to power in two general elections.

Kibicho visited Kisii to inspect a venue that will

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Ex-White House official warns of risks that U.S. election outcome will be disputed

Joe Biden and Donald Trump

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SINGAPORE — Markets need to pay attention to the “high risk” of a disputed U.S. presidential election outcome as dynamics shift ahead of the vote, a former White House trade official said on Tuesday.

Such an election outcome could happen if a candidate deemed to have lost refuses to concede, or if he questions the legitimacy of the results. U.S. President Donald Trump declined to say whether he would accept the election results, which gave rise to concerns of a messy transition of power if Trump loses.

“I think it’s a high risk and I do think markets need to pay attention to it. I’ve detected a real shift in the election dynamics in the last six to eight weeks,” Clete Willems, a former deputy director of the National Economic Council, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

“In early August, I think the president … felt like he was behind, I think right now he feels like he has the wind at his back for a couple of different reasons,” he said.

I do think, unfortunately, we may not have an outcome immediately, probably going to be litigation that follows…

Clete Willems

former deputy director of the National Economic Council

Willems, now a partner at law firm Akin Gump, explained that there’s a general perception that the U.S. economy is improving and the president has “done well in some of the law and order issues” — and that likely works in Trump’s favor.

In addition, Trump is pressing ahead with nominating a new Supreme Court justice to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg ahead of the November election. That would also help the president’s chances, said Willems, adding that it’s especially so if the nominee is Amy Coney Barrett, who’s someone that excites the conservative base.  

“So, I think this is going to be an incredibly tight race. And I do think, unfortunately, we may not have an outcome immediately, probably going to be litigation that follows and I just hope that we can get this resolved in relative short order so there isn’t uncertainty come January,” he said. “I really do think that this is something we’re going to have to deal with.”

Stimulus negotiations neglected

Republicans and Democrats have fought over the Supreme Court vacancy in the last few days, which looks likely to further stall negotiations for a much-needed fiscal stimulus package, said Willems.

The passing of Ginsburg set up a battle over the Supreme Court which had a 5-4 majority of Republican appointed justices. If Trump’s nominee were to be confirmed, a 6-3 majority could have a huge influence on the shape of the law in the U.S. for a generation to come. 

Economists have said that the U.S. economy, which has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, needs further support. But negotiations for the next round of stimulus hit an impasse as both sides cannot agree on what programs to fund.

“I think the fiscal package and the

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Incoming House speaker warns of ‘deep budget cuts’ coming to Florida government programs

Florida’s incoming House speaker warned members of the South Florida Business Council this week that in order to weather the “massive financial hit” the state sustained from the pandemic, there will need to be “significant cuts to the budget.”

Rep. Chris Sprowls, a Palm Harbor Republican who is in line to become the speaker of the Florida House of Representatives for two years in November, hinted that the budget austerity needed to recover from the coronavirus-induced recession would take “three to four years to get back to where we are,” but he was optimistic Florida would be in better shape than other states.

“We’ve had an obviously massive financial hit to the state, not unlike the businesses we’ve seen interrupted or closed during this period of time in COVID, which is going to create a significant challenge for us,’’ Sprowls told the virtual webinar of about 250 members of the council, which includes members of the chambers of commerce in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

“The only way to kind of weather that storm and get the state back on its feet is going to mean significant cuts to the budget,’’ he said.“ There’s going to be businesses and restaurants that unfortunately never open their doors again here in Florida, and that’s going to take a toll on the economy.”

A survey of the group’s members before the event found that 64% said that COVID-19 is the top issue facing Florida.

But, in keeping with Florida’s Republican governor and incoming Senate president, all of whom are Trump supporters devoted to helping the incumbent president win re-election, Sprowls refrained from discussing some of the darker details related to the COVID-induced troubles in the state’s budget.

For example, Florida economists say the state faces faces a $5.4 billion budget deficit over the next two years that will necessitate the budget cuts. The governor has suspended COVID-related evictions and mortgage foreclosures five times, the latest expiring on Oct. 1 and the decision has left a housing industry in limbo with no promise for what could happen to the hundreds of thousands of families who don’t have the money to pay their owed back rent.

Sprowls also avoided any mention of the state’s unemployment rolls, a number that shows signs of improving in August but which remains at 7.4% compared to the pre-COVID record lows. And he said nothing about the fate of the state’s unemployment fund, which by Election Day could run out of cash to pay benefits to jobless workers.

Legislators on the sideline

As the coronanvirus barreled into Florida, shuttering businesses in the peak of the summer tourist season and infecting nearly 700,000 residents, Sprowls and other Republican legislative leaders have left the spotlight to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

This month, Sprowls and incoming Senate President Wilton Simpson penned an op-ed addressing another issue not often touched by Republicans: a call for better floodplain management in the face of sea level rise.

Democrats have tried and failed to call for

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U.S. House Speaker warns Britain that breaking Brexit treaty could imperil trade pact

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned Britain on Wednesday that ignoring some parts of its European Union divorce treaty could imperil any new trade agreement with the United States.

“If the U.K. violates that international treaty and Brexit undermines the Good Friday accord, there will be absolutely no chance of a U.S.-U.K. trade agreement passing the Congress,” the Democratic lawmaker said in a statement.

“The Good Friday Agreement is treasured by the American people and will be proudly defended in the United States Congress,” Pelosi said.

Britain quit the EU in January but has remained part of its single market, largely free of trade barriers, under an agreement that expires in December. London says that if it cannot negotiate a favorable trade deal to take effect from Jan. 1, it will simply walk away.

The agreement calls for border-free trade on the island of Ireland, which the EU says should in some cases require checks on goods passing between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain.

Some fear that a failure to agree on border arrangements could jeopardize the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which largely ended three decades of political and sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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