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3 Arrested In Dominican Republic As Part Of Investigation Into Explosion That Killed 34

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — Three persons were arrested in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into a huge explosion at a plastics plant earlier this month that killed at least 34 people.

According to a government official who was not authorized to speak to the media, those arrested include the company’s owner and his wife.

According to a preliminary assessment received by the AP from the firefighting department, the explosion was caused by an accumulation of extremely flammable gases that could have been formed by the plastics and organic peroxide material held at the facility.

Vidal Plast recycles, sells, and buys plastic material.

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Three persons were arrested in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into a huge explosion.

Authorities earlier stated that they had proof that a spark and a chemical substance caused a fire at the business in March and that the corporation did not take any precautions “despite knowing the high risk of its operations.”

The attorney for those arrested, Norberto Rondón, told reporters Wednesday that the company had been closed since May and accused the country’s firefighting department of publishing a preliminary report full of “lies and half-truths.”

It is the first arrest in the case, and authorities still identify victims, while another 60 individuals are being treated for injuries.

The explosion happened on August 14 in San Cristobal, a bustling business center just west of Santo Domingo’s capital. It took three days for firemen to put out the fire.

SOURCE – (AP)

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Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

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“The Biden crime family.”

It has long been a strong storyline in right-wing media and the GOP, used to demonise President Joe Biden – but it crumbled spectacularly on Thursday.

For a long time, Fox News and the rest of the right-wing media have accused Biden and his son Hunter of running an illegal $10 million bribery conspiracy to enrich themselves and sell out America. According to the tale, a representative of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma paid for access to then-Vice President Biden in order to improperly use his influence and aid in thwarting a Ukrainian prosecutor’s investigation into the business.

The evidence of the bribery plan has always been poor, with most credible news sites dismissing the charges. However, MAGA media figures such as Sean Hannity went into overdrive last year when a reportedly “highly credible” FBI informant claimed to have smoking gun evidence of the conspiracy.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

The revelation of a secret FBI informant swept through right-wing media, with talking heads and sites portraying the claims as overwhelming evidence of criminal activity. It spawned scores of articles. Hundreds of FOX News segments. Republican lawmakers like James Comer and Jim Jordan, anxious for media attention, came on radio and television shows to fuel conspiracy theories and demand probes.

Hannity’s programme was the major vehicle for delivering the message to the GOP base. According to data from the progressive group Media Matters, the accusations were the basis for a startling 85 segments on his Fox News show in 2023. Hannity told his millions of weekly viewers that Biden had been “compromised,” citing informant reports to proclaim the president “very credibly accused of public corruption on a scale this country has never seen before.”

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, Comer, who chairs the powerful House Oversight Committee, exploited the charges made in right-wing media to accuse the FBI of a cover-up and attempted to build a corruption case against Biden. Right-wing media then praised these activities. And the feedback circle continued.

What’s the problem? Alexander Smirnov, the informant, cooked up the entire tale, federal investigators alleged Thursday, detaining the 43-year-old at Harry Reid International Airport in Las Vegas.

Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. attorney, special counsel David Weiss, charged Smirnov with fabricating documents and lying to the FBI. According to the accusation, Smirnov gave “false derogatory information” about Biden to the law enforcement agency. His “story to the FBI was a fabrication, an amalgam of otherwise unremarkable business meetings,” according to the report.

“In short, the Defendant transformed his routine and unextraordinary business contacts with Burisma in 2017 and later into bribery allegations against [Joe Biden], the presumptive nominee of one of the two major political parties for President,Hannity after expressing bias against [Joe Biden] and his candidature,” according to the indictment.

The charges delivered a setback to the narrative that Fox News had promoted on the air and that Republicans had pressed in Congress. However, the same network that had publicised Smirnov’s charges against “the big guy,” implying that they formed the basis of a huge scandal that would eclipse Watergate in history, now showed little interest in the story.

hannity

Sean Hannity And Right-Wing Media Claimed The ‘Biden Crime Family’ Took Millions In Bribes. Their Narrative Just Fell Apart

Fox News provided very little coverage of the Weiss indictment in the hours following its announcement. Most importantly, Hannity should have attempted to inform his devoted audience that the story he had been relentlessly promoting to them had crumbled. Instead, he ignored the report, as did the rest of the right-wing network’s dishonest prime-time talk show hosts.

The spectacular downfall of the assertion is simply the most recent example of a bigger pattern from Fox News and the right-wing media ecosystem in which it works.
MAGA Media figures have repeatedly pushed false narratives and conspiracy theories to their large audiences, only to look the other way when they fall. Just last year, Fox News paid a record $787.5 million to promote electoral misinformation. It never ran a retraction on air, and executives have stated that they are happy with the network’s 2020 coverage.

It’s a record that’s played repeatedly. By the time the truth catches up with the fraudulent charges pushed by right-wing media, the narrative has already been established, and the outlets have moved on to the next alleged scandal.

SOURCE – (CNN)

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Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

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LONDON — Yulia Navalnaya used to avoid the spotlight, remaining in the background as her husband, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, rose to become President Vladimir Putin’s fiercest adversary.

However, following his death in prison last week, she took on a podium generally designated for prominent leaders in Munich and declared that Putin and his friends would be held accountable for his killing. Later, she earnestly pledged, “I will continue Alexei Navalny’s work.”

It was a bold declaration from a woman who once told the Russian issue of Harper’s Bazaar that her “key task” was caring for the couple’s children and home.

Yulia Navalnaya’s new duty will be to guide the Russian opposition through one of its history’s darkest and most chaotic periods.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s death dealt a significant blow to the opposition, which is already fragmented. The question is whether Navalnaya can gather her husband’s troops and work with other opposition parties to launch a successful challenge to Putin, who is poised to serve another six years in the Kremlin following the March presidential election.

Putin has stepped up his crackdown on free speech and dissent in Russia, imprisoning opponents and critics alike.

Navalnaya has previously confronted Putin. She and Navalny had been married for over 20 years, and she stood by his side while he helped lead the largest rallies in Russia since the Soviet Union’s demise and during subsequent jail stints.

She has accused Putin of murdering her husband, a claim that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described as “unfounded” and “insolent.”

The risk to Navalny’s life had been “discussed extensively” with his wife and close team before his 2021 return to Russia from Germany, where he received treatment for nerve agent poisoning, according to Vladimir Ashurkov, a longtime friend of the Navalnys and co-founder of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Nonetheless, “it was a big decision” for Navalnaya to continue her husband’s profession, he explained.

In their marriage, she was “the rock” on which Navalny relied. Ashurkov stated that they “had an understanding” that Navalnaya would refrain from political activity and keep out of the spotlight.

Analysts believe Navalny returned to Russia from Germany because he realised he would struggle to be seen as a legitimate opposition leader abroad.

His widow is unlikely to travel to Russia due to security concerns, and she now has a similar difficulty in determining how to run her husband’s organisation from exile.

On Friday, immediately after Navalny’s death was announced, she met Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Tsikhanouskaya took over the political baton from her husband, Belarusian opposition leader Syarhei Tsikhanouski, who was imprisoned before Belarus’ presidential election 2020.

She launched a successful campaign but fled Belarus after long-term President Alexander Lukashenko declared himself the victor of an election generally seen as fraudulent in the West.

“We understood each other without any words,” Tsikhanouskaya said of Navalnaya. Tsikhanouskaya stated that she had no idea about her husband’s condition or if he was dead or alive.

“It’s so difficult when you’re in so much pain, but you have to… give interviews to encourage the democratic world to take decisive action,” Tsikhanouskaya told the Associated Press.

Tsikhanouskaya, who has been operating from overseas for nearly four years, described living in political exile as tough. It is “very important not to lose connection with the people inside the country,” she said.

That won’t be easy, particularly in Russia, where most people still obtain news from Kremlin-controlled official media.

Despite being Russia’s most recognised opposition leader — charming and cracking jokes even while serving a 19-year prison sentence — Navalny was rarely shown on state television, and his death was barely briefly mentioned.

The Kremlin is expected to take the same tactic with Navalnaya, essentially isolating her from the Russian people through a state-sponsored information blockade.

Since Putin invaded Ukraine, the space for criticism in Russia has shrunk even more. Russian authorities have increased speech restrictions and imprisoned opponents, many of whom are ordinary citizens, frequently for decades. Hundreds of people who lay flowers in Navalny’s memory have been imprisoned, and convincing Russians to take a collective public stand against Putin will be nearly difficult.

While Navalnaya has dominated headlines since her husband’s death, Graeme Robertson, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author of a book about Putin and contemporary Russian politics, believes her challenge will be “to stay relevant” when interest fades.

Robertson proposed that she could accomplish this by supporting Navalny’s volunteers and political networks in Russia, keeping them “underground but alive,” and deciding on a short-term aim.

When Navalnaya walked into a meeting of the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council on Monday, she lost little time explaining what that objective — and her leadership of Navalny’s organisation — would look like.

Sitting next to the EU’s foreign policy chief, she urged Western leaders not to recognise the results of March’s presidential election, to sanction more members of Putin’s entourage, and to do more to assist Russians who have fled abroad.

Navalnaya

Yulia Navalnaya Once Avoided The Limelight. Now She’s Russia’s Newest Opposition Leader

Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation has made headlines in Western and independent Russian media recently with sleek movies that converted ordinarily uninteresting corruption probes into online blockbusters.

However, the organisation needed to gain widespread support from the Russian populace, to effect political change, or to develop a governance model.

Tsikhanouskaya, widely regarded as Belarus’ democratic leader, stated that she prioritised the development of democratic institutions and the representation of Belarusians within Belarus.

This includes a transitional cabinet and platforms where “all the parties, all the forces are represented,” she stated, seemingly pushing Navalnaya to follow suit.

Ashurkov stated that Navalnaya could be the person to bring together Russia’s opposition, which is notorious for its “disagreements and squabbles.”

“She has a very high reputation,” he remarked.

The duties ahead of her are formidable, and she will face them while grieving for her husband and battling for his body’s return.

“By killing Alexei, Putin killed half of me, half of my heart and half of my soul,” she went on to say. “But I still have the other half, and it tells me that I have no right to give up.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

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MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Moscow has no plans to put nuclear weapons in space, asserting that the country has just acquired space capabilities equivalent to those of the United States.

Putin’s warning comes after the White House confirmed last week that Russia had received a “troubling” anti-satellite weapon capability, albeit such a weapon is not currently operational. White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stated that it would violate the international Outer Space Treaty but declined to comment on whether the weapon is nuclear-capable.

putin

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

The deployment of “nuclear weapons or other types of weapons of mass destruction” in orbit as well as the stationing of “weapons in outer space in any other manner” are both prohibited by the convention, which more than 130 nations have signed, including Russia. The White House stated that it would seek to engage the Russians directly on the issues.

“Our position is quite clear and transparent: we have always been and remain categorically opposed to the deployment of nuclear weapons in space,” Putin said in a statement. “Just the opposite, we are urging everyone to adhere to all the agreements that exist in this sphere.”

During a meeting with his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, Putin stated that Russia has only achieved space capabilities that “other nations, including the United States, have.”

putin

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

“And they know it,” he added.

“We haven’t deployed any nuclear weapons in space or any elements of them to use against satellites or to create fields where satellites can’t work efficiently,” Shoigu said in an interview.

Shoigu claimed that the White House may have concocted assertions about a new Russian space capacity to pressure Congress to back Ukrainian aid and to convince Moscow to resume nuclear arms control talks, which Russia has postponed due to tensions with the U.S. over Ukraine.

putin

Putin Says Russia Has No Intention Of Putting Nuclear Weapons In Space, Denying US Claims

Putin did not rule out future discussions with the United States, but he restated his belief that Washington’s determination to Russia’s defeat in Ukraine makes them impossible at the moment.

“The U.S. and the West, for one thing, are calling for Russia’s strategic defeat, while, on the other hand, they would like to have a dialogue on strategic stability, pretending that those things aren’t connected,” Mr Putin said. “It won’t work.”

SOURCE – (AP)

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