Thursday, Dec. 08, 2022|
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Social spending, business tax hike drive $6T Biden budget
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden’s $6 trillion budget proposal for next year would run a $1.8 trillion federal government deficit despite a raft of new tax increases on corporations and high-income people designed to pay for his ambitious spending plans.
Biden had already announced his major budget initiatives, but during a rollout Friday, he will wrap them into a single proposal to incorporate them into the government’s existing budget framework, including Social Security and Medicare. That provides a fuller view of the administration’s fiscal posture.
Capitol Hill aides confirmed key elements of the Biden plan, which were first reported by The New York Times on Thursday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because the document is not yet public.
The whopping deficit projections reflect a government whose steadily accumulating pile of debt has topped $28 trillion after well more than $5 trillion in COVID-19 relief. The government’s structural deficit remains unchecked, and Biden uses tax hikes on businesses and the wealthy to power huge new social programs like universal prekindergarten and large subsidies for child care.
The budget incorporates the administration’s eight-year, $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal and its $1.8 trillion American Families Plan and adds details on his $1.5 trillion request for annual operating appropriations for the Pentagon and domestic agencies.
Auditors find no fraud in disputed New Hampshire election
PEMBROKE N.H. — There is no evidence of fraud or political bias in a controversial New Hampshire election where a recount and audit has drawn the interest of former President Donald Trump, auditors concluded Thursday.
Rather, auditors investigating the election in the town of Windham believe a folding machine used by the town to try to accommodate the numbers of absentee ballots in the November election is responsible for mistakenly adding to vote counts for candidates in four legislative seats.
“We found no evidence of fraud or political bias,” Mark Lindeman, one of the three auditors and the acting co-director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, said. “I have heard no one actually articulate a credible hypothesis of how fraud could account for what we found.”
The town used the machine to fold the absentee ballots before sending them to voters. After they were returned, the ballots were fed into a counting machine. Because the folds on some ballots went through a Democrats name, the ballot was either not counted or a vote was wrongly given to the Democrat.
The audit, mandated by the legislature and started earlier this month, is set to finish Thursday.
UN rights chief: Israeli strikes in Gaza may be war crimes
GENEVA — The top U.N. human rights body on Thursday passed a resolution aimed to intensify scrutiny of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, after the U.N. rights chief said Israeli forces may have committed war crimes and faulted the militant group Hamas for violations of international law in their 11-day war this month.
The 24-9 vote, with 14 abstentions, capped a special Human Rights Council session on the rights situation faced by Palestinians. The session and the resolution were arranged by Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries, which have strongly supported Palestinians in their struggles with Israel.
The resolution, which was denounced by Israel, calls for the creation of a permanent “Commission of Inquiry” — the most potent tool at the council’s disposal — to monitor and report on rights violations in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. It would be the first such COI with an “ongoing” mandate.
The commission is also to investigate “all underlying root causes of recurrent tensions, instability and protraction of conflict” including discrimination and repression, according to the text. Amid signs that the resolution would pass, its authors added more teeth to its language with a late revision on Wednesday.
Officers face charges in restraint death of Black man
SEATTLE — The Washington state attorney general on Thursday charged two Tacoma police officers with murder and another with manslaughter in the death of Manuel Ellis, a Black man who died after repeatedly telling them he couldn’t breathe as he was being restrained.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed charges of second-degree murder against Christopher Burbank and Matthew Collins, and first-degree manslaughter against Timothy Rankine.
Witnesses reported seeing Burbank and Collins, who are both white, attack Ellis without provocation, according to a probable cause statement filed in Pierce County Superior Court. Rankine, who is described as Asian in court documents, is accused of putting pressure on Ellis’ back as he said he couldn’t breathe.
Ellis, 33, died on March 3, 2020 — Tasered, handcuffed and hogtied, with his face covered by a spit hood — just weeks before George Floyd’s death under the knee of a white Minneapolis police officer triggered a nationwide reckoning on race and policing.
The Pierce County medical examiner called Ellis’ death a homicide and attributed it to lack of oxygen from being restrained, with an enlarged heart and methamphetamine intoxication as contributing factors.
EU weighs Belarus sanctions at sectors close to leader
LISBON, Portugal — European Union nations sketched out plans Thursday for new sanctions against Belarus, targeting economic sectors close to its authoritarian leader, as they sought to strike back at him for the diversion of a passenger jet to arrest a dissident journalist.
Meeting in Lisbon, EU foreign ministers vowed to continue ramping up pressure on Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko — whose disdain for democratic norms and human rights has made his country a pariah in the West.
The country’s isolation has only deepened since Sunday, when Belarusian flight controllers told the crew of a Ryanair jet about a bomb threat and instructed it to land in Minsk, where journalist Raman Pratasevich was pulled off the plane.
A list of EU sanctions in place against senior members of the Belarus government, including Lukashenko, “isn’t having the dissuasive effect we need,” said Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva.
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