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The AP Interview: Yellen says debt standoff risks ‘calamity’
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says in an Associated Press interview that she expects Congress will ultimately vote to raise America’s debt limit. But she says demands by House Republicans for spending cuts in return for backing an increase “a very irresponsible thing to do” and risk creating a “self-imposed calamity” for the global economy. Yellen says she hasn’t yet spoken about the issue with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy himself hasn’t spelled out the spending cuts that he says are needed to put the U.S. government on a more sustainable financial path. The AP interview was conducted while Yellen was on a trip to Africa.
Top Biden aide Ron Klain expected to soon leave White House
White House chief of staff Ron Klain is preparing to leave his job in the coming weeks. That word comes from a person familiar with Klain’s plans who spoke on condition of anonymity. Klain’s expected departure comes not long after the White House and Democrats had a better-than-expected showing in the November elections. But now that Republicans have regained a majority in the House, the White House is preparing to shift to a more defensive posture. GOP lawmakers are planning multiple investigations into the Biden administration. The White House did not return calls or emails seeking comment on Klain’s expected exit.
Violent protest in downtown Atlanta over killing of activist
ATLANTA — A protest has turned violent in downtown Atlanta in the wake of the killing of an environmental activist by authorities. Officials say the 26-year-old shot and wounded a state trooper. Masked activists dressed in all black threw rocks and lit fireworks in front of a skyscraper that houses the Atlanta Police Foundation on Saturday evening. They lit a police cruiser on fire and vandalized other buildings with anti-police graffiti. Authorities say they made six arrests and halted the violence. The activist, who went by Tortuguita, was killed Wednesday as authorities cleared protesters from the site of a planned public safety training center. Authorities say the trooper fired in self-defense, but activists question that account.
Pakistan strengthens laws against blasphemy
Pakistan’s blasphemy laws, which can already mean death for those deemed to have insulted Islam or the Prophet Muhammad, can now be used to punish anyone convicted of insulting people who were connected to him. Those convicted of insulting the Prophet Muhammad’s wives, companions or close relatives will now face at least 10 years in prison, along with a fine of 1 million rupees, roughly $4,500. It also makes the charge of blasphemy an offense for which bail is not possible. The harsher blasphemy laws, which are often used to settle personal scores or persecute minorities, have raised concerns among rights activists about increasing persecution, particularly of religious minorities.
Canada settles $2B suit over ‘cultural genocide’ at residential schools
Canada said Saturday it had agreed to pay 2.8 billion Canadian dollars, about $2 billion, to settle the latest in a series of lawsuits seeking reparations for harm done to Indigenous people through mandatory residential schools that a national commission called “cultural genocide.” The new settlement, which must be approved by a court, resolves a class action brought in 2012 by 325 First Nations that sought compensation for the erosion of their cultures and languages. Thousands of Indigenous students educated at about 130 residential schools from the 19th century through the 1990s were forbidden from speaking their ancestral languages and were sometimes taken by force to the schools.
German caution on Ukraine arms rooted in political culture
Germany has become one of Ukraine’s leading weapons suppliers in the 11 months since Russia’s invasion, but Chancellor Olaf Scholz also has gained a reputation for hesitating to take each new step — generating impatience among allies. Berlin’s perceived foot-dragging, most recently on the Leopard 2 tanks that Kyiv has long sought, is rooted at least partly in a post-World War II political culture of military caution, along with present-day worries about a possible escalation in the war. Germany is inching closer to a decision to deliver the tanks, but hasn’t yet committed itself. It’s a pattern that has been repeated over the months as Scholz held off pledging heavier equipment and then eventually agreed to do so.
Brazil’s army chief fired in aftermath of capital uprising
Brazil’s president has fired the army chief after the leftist leader openly said some military members allowed the Jan. 8 uprising in the capital by far-right protesters. The official website of the Brazilian armed forces said Saturday that Gen. Julio Cesar de Arruda has been removed as head of the army by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. He is being replaced by Gen. Tomás Miguel Ribeiro Paiva, who was head of the Southeast Military Command. Lula has said several times in public that there were definitely people in the army who allowed supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro to storm through government buildings and destroy public property in Brasilia on Jan. 8.
From wire sources
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