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FBI seized top secret documents at Trump’s home; Espionage Act cited

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FBI agents in this week’s search of former U.S. President Donald Trump’s Florida home removed 11 sets of classified documents including some marked as top secret, the Justice Department said on Friday, while also disclosing it had probable cause to conduct the search based on possible Espionage Act violations.

The bombshell disclosures were made in a search warrant approved by a U.S. magistrate judge and accompanying documents released four days after agents searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence in Palm Beach. The Espionage Act, one of three laws cited in the warrant application, dates to 1917 and makes it a crime to release information that could harm national security.

Trump, in a statement on his social media platform, said the records were “all declassified” and placed in “secure storage.”

“They didn’t need to ‘seize’ anything. They could have had it anytime they wanted without playing politics and breaking into Mar-a-Lago,” the Republican businessman-turned-politician said.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S., August 6, 2022. Photo: Reuters
Former U.S. President Donald Trump takes the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, U.S., August 6, 2022. Photo: Reuters

The search was carried out as part of a federal investigation into whether Trump illegally removed documents when he left office in January 2021 after losing the presidential election two months earlier to Democrat Joe Biden.

Although the FBI on Monday carted away material labeled as classified, the three laws cited as the basis for the warrant make it a crime to mishandle government records, regardless of whether they are classified. As such, Trump’s claims that he declassified the documents would have no bearing on the potential legal violations at issue.

FBI agents took more than 30 items including more than 20 boxes, binders of photos, a handwritten note and the executive grant of clemency for Trump’s ally and longtime adviser Roger Stone, a list of items removed showed. Also included in the list was information about the “President of France.”

An officer from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stands guard inside Trump Tower, after former U.S. President Donald Trump said that FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters
An officer from the New York City Police Department (NYPD) stands guard inside Trump Tower, after former U.S. President Donald Trump said that FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida, in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., August 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters

The warrant showed that FBI agents were asked to search a room called “the 45 Office” – Trump was the 45th U.S. president – as well as all other rooms and structures or buildings on the estate used by Trump or his staff where boxes or documents could be stored.

The Justice Department said in the warrant application approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart that it had probable cause to believe violations of the Espionage Act had occurred at Trump’s home.

That law was initially enacted to combat spying. Prosecutions under it were relatively uncommon until the Justice Department ramped up its use under both Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama to go after leakers of national security information, including leaks to the news media.

The law’s section cited as the basis for the warrant prohibits unauthorized possession of national defense information. It did not spell out the details about why investigators have reason to believe such a violation occurred.

An itemized receipt for and list of property seized in the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate shows items reading 'Info re: President of France' and 'Various Classified/TS/SCI documents' after being released by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters
An itemized receipt for and list of property seized in the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate shows items reading ‘Info re: President of France’ and ‘Various Classified/TS/SCI documents’ after being released by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 12, 2022. Photo: Reuters

The Justice Department has used the Espionage Act in high-profile cases in recent years including former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, former military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

The application also cited probable cause of possible violations of two other statutes that make it illegal to conceal or destroy official U.S. documents.

Levels of classification

There are three primary levels of classification for sensitive government materials: Top secret, secret and confidential.

“Top secret” is the highest level, reserved for the most closely held U.S. national security information. Such documents usually are kept in special government facilities because disclosure could gravely damage national security.

An itemized receipt and list of property seized in the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen after being released by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 12, 2022. U.S. District Court/Handout via Reuters
An itemized receipt and list of property seized in the execution of a search warrant by the FBI at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen after being released by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 12, 2022. U.S. District Court/Handout via Reuters

FBI agents on Monday collected four sets of top secret documents, three sets of secret documents and three sets of confidential documents, it was disclosed on Friday. Agents were revealed to have collected a set of documents labeled “classified/TS/SCI documents,” a reference to top secret and sensitive compartmented material.

Trump has not been charged with any wrongdoing. It remained unclear whether any charges would be brought.

An escalation

Monday’s search marked a significant escalation in one of the many federal and state investigations he is facing from his time in office and in private business, including a separate one by the Justice Department into a failed bid by Trump’s allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election by submitting phony slates of electors.

Trump on Wednesday declined to answer questions during an appearance before New York state’s attorney general in a civil investigation into his family’s business practices, citing his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Thursday announced that the department asked Reinhart to unseal the warrant. This followed Trump’s claim that the search was political retribution and a suggestion by him, without evidence, that the FBI may have planted evidence against him.

Legal experts said Trump’s claim that he had declassified the materials would not be a useful defense should he ever face charges.

“The statute does not even strictly require even that the information be classified so long as it is relating to the national defense,” Northwestern University law professor Heidi Kitrosser said, referring to the Espionage Act.

The first page of a search warrant approved by a U.S. District Court magistrate judge allowing the FBI to search former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate is seen after being released by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 12, 2022. U.S. District Court/Handout via Reuters
The first page of a search warrant approved by a U.S. District Court magistrate judge allowing the FBI to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate is seen after being released by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S. August 12, 2022. U.S. District Court/Handout via Reuters

The investigation into Trump’s removal of records started this year after the National Archives and Records Administration, an agency charged with safeguarding presidential records that belong to the public, made a referral to the Justice Department.

Republican House of Representatives Intelligence Committee members on Friday called on Garland and FBI Director Chris Wray to release the affidavit underpinning the warrant, saying the public needs to know.

“Because many other options were available to them, we’re very concerned of the method that was used in raiding Mar-a-Lago,” Representative Michael Turner, the committee’s top Republican, told reporters.

If the affidavit remains sealed, “it will still leave many unanswered questions,” Turner added.

The Justice Department’s request to unseal the warrant did not include a request to unseal the accompanying affidavit, nor has Trump’s legal team publicly made such a motion.

Since Monday’s search, the department has faced fierce criticism and online threats, which Garland have condemned. Trump supporters and some Republicans in Washington have accused Democrats of weaponizing the federal bureaucracy to target him even as he mulls another run for the presidency in 2024.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20220813/fbi-seized-top-secret-documents-at-trump-s-home-espionage-act-cited/68573.html

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Indonesia set to penalise sex outside marriage in overhaul of criminal code

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JAKARTA — Indonesia’s parliament is expected to pass a new criminal code this month that will penalise sex outside marriage with a punishment of up to one year in jail, officials have confirmed.

The legislative overhaul will also ban insulting the president or state institutions and expressing any views counter to Indonesia’s state ideology. Cohabitation before marriage is also banned.

Decades in the making, the new criminal code is expected to be passed on Dec. 15, Indonesia’s deputy justice minister, Edward Omar Sharif Hiariej, told Reuters.

“We’re proud to have a criminal code that’s in line with Indonesian values,” he told Reuters in an interview.

Bambang Wuryanto, a lawmaker involved in the draft, said the new code could be passed by as early as next week.

The code, if passed, would apply to Indonesian citizens and foreigners alike, with business groups expressing concern about what damage the rules might have on Indonesia’s image as a holiday and investment destination.

The draft has the support of some Islamic groups in a country where conservatism is on the rise, although opponents argue that it reverses liberal reforms enacted after the 1998 fall of authoritarian leader Suharto.

A previous draft of the code was set to be passed in 2019 but sparked nationwide protests. Tens of thousands of people demonstrated at the time against a raft of laws, especially those seen to regulate morality and free speech, which they said would curtail civil liberties.

Critics say say minimal changes to the code have been made since then, although the government has in recent months held public consultations around the country to provide information about the changes.

Some changes that have been made include a provision that could allow the death penalty to be commuted to life imprisonment after 10 years of good behaviour.

The criminalisation of abortion, with the exception of rape victims, and imprisonment for “black magic”, remain in the code.

According to the latest draft dated Nov. 24 that was seen by Reuters, sex outside marriage, which can only be reported by limited parties such as close relatives, carries a maximum one-year prison sentence.

Insulting the president, a charge that can only be reported by the president, carries a maximum of three years.

Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation, has hundreds of regulations at the local level that discriminate against women, religious minorities, and LGBT people.

Just weeks after Indonesia chaired a sucessful Group of Twenty (G20) meeting that saw its position elevated on the global stage, business sector representatives say the draft code sends the wrong message about Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

“For the business sector, the implementation of this customary law shall create legal uncertainty and make investors re-consider investing in Indonesia,” said Shinta Widjaja Sukamdani, the deputy chairperson of Indonesia’s Employers’ Association (APINDO).

Clauses related to morality, she added, would “do more harm than good”, especially for businesses engaged in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

The changes to the code would be a “huge a setback to Indonesian democracy”, said Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch.

The deputy justice minister dismissed the criticism, saying the final version of the draft would ensure that regional laws adhered to national legislation, and the new code would not threaten democratic freedoms.

A revised version of the criminal code has been discussed since Indonesia declared its independence from the Dutch in 1945.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221202/indonesia-set-to-penalise-sex-outside-marriage-in-overhaul-of-criminal-code/70312.html

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Disasters cost $268 billion in 2022: Swiss Re

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Natural and man-made catastrophes have caused $268 billion of economic losses so far in 2022, chiefly driven by Hurricane Ian and other extreme weather disasters, reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated Thursday.

Insured losses covered $122 billion — less than half — of the total economic losses to date this year, said the Zurich-based group, which acts as an insurer for insurers.

“Hurricane Ian and other extreme weather events such as the winter storms in Europe, flooding in Australia and South Africa as well as hailstorms in France and in the United States resulted in an estimated $115 billion of natural catastrophe insured losses this year to date,” Swiss Re said in a statement.

There were $7 billion of insured losses from man-made disasters.

It is the second consecutive year in which total insured losses from natural catastrophes topped $100 billion, with the figure hitting $121 billion last year.

“Urban development, wealth accumulation in disaster-prone areas, inflation and climate change are key factors at play, turning extreme weather into ever rising natural catastrophe losses,” explained Martin Bertogg, Swiss Re’s head of catastrophe perils.

“When Hurricane Andrew struck 30 years ago, a $20 billion loss event had never occurred before; now there have been seven such hurricanes in just the past six years.”

Hurricane Ian is by far the largest loss-causing event in 2022, with an estimated insured loss of $50-65 billion, said Swiss Re.

It estimated that Hurricane Ian caused the second-costliest insured loss ever, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Neighbourhoods flattened

Ian, a category four hurricane, caused more than 150 deaths, almost all in Florida, where it made landfall on September 28.

One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States, it flattened whole neighbourhoods and knocked out power for millions of people. Storm surges and immense downpours left even inland neighbourhoods submerged.

“This highlights the threat potential of a single hurricane hitting a densely populated coastline,” Swiss Re said.

The reinsurer added that so-called secondary natural disasters such as floods and hailstorms — as opposed to major disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes — caused more than $50 billion of insured losses.

The storms in Europe in February prompted estimated insured losses of over $3.7 billion, putting winter storms back on the insurance industry’s agenda, Swiss Re said.

France experienced the most severe hailstorms ever observed in the European spring and summer, with insured market losses reaching an estimated five billion euros ($5.3 billion), said Swiss Re.

And in Australia in February and March, torrential summer rains led to widespread flooding that, at an estimated $4 billion, became the country’s costliest-ever natural catastrophe.

‘Vast’ protection gap

Swiss Re highlighted how the insurance and reinsurance industry covered roughly only 45 percent of the economic losses so far this year.

“The protection gap remains vast,” said Thierry Leger, the group’s chief underwriting officer.

Of the estimated $268 billion total economic losses for property damage so far this year, $260 billion are from natural catastrophes and $8 billion from man-made disasters, such as industrial accidents.

The $268 billion figure is down 12 percent from $303 billion last year, but above the $219 billion average over the previous 10 years.

At $115 billion, total insured losses from natural catastrophes were down five percent from the $121 billion in 2021, but well above the previous 10-year average of $81 billion.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221202/disasters-cost-268-billion-in-2022-swiss-re/70296.html

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Future global treaty on plastics must cut production to ease pollution, some states say

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WASHINGTON — Countries have begun to discuss a future global plastics treaty which would cut pollution, some hope entirely by 2040, at U.N. talks in Uruguay this week, with many states calling for curbs on plastic production as a way to reach that goal.

United Nations members agreed in March on a resolution to create the world’s first treaty to deal with the scourge of plastic waste which extends from ocean trenches to mountaintops, although there is divergence on how to proceed.

According to the U.N. Environment Programme, the equivalent of a garbage truck of plastic is dumped into the ocean every minute, threatening biodiversity and damaging marine ecosystems, while greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastics are expected to reach 6.5 gigatons by 2050.

Delegates from governments, civil society and industry are meeting in beach town Punta del Este for the first of five Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) talks that will run to the close of 2024, and prepare the future treaty.

“At INC-1, we can lay the groundwork needed to implement a life-cycle approach to plastic pollution, which would significantly contribute to ending the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste,” said Jyoti Mathur-Filipp, Executive Secretary of the INC Secretariat on Plastic Pollution.

A life-cycle approach considers the impact of all the stages of a product’s life, such as raw material extraction, production, distribution and disposal, and looks at how governments, consumers and businesses can play a part.

Several country delegations on Monday voiced support for a treaty cracking down on plastic production, an approach opposed by the plastics and petrochemical industries.

The EU, members of the so-called High Ambition Coalition that includes Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Georgia, the UK and others, said they want to see the treaty include binding global obligations for the entire life cycle of plastics – including production – aiming to end plastic pollution by 2040.

Japan also revealed at a Reuters event that a potential treaty should consider placing curbs on problematic plastics like microplastics and those made with “hazardous additives” that are hard to recycle.

The US also called for a treaty that ends plastic pollution by 2040 but through a structure that resembles the Paris climate agreement, based on voluntary national action plans and which does not specifically address plastic production.

Some NGOs that are closely observing the talks expressed concern about the Paris agreement-style approach.

“We are three decades into UN climate talks and seven years into the Paris agreement, which has clearly failed to deliver. That model is one we should be weary of,” said Carroll Moffett, president of the Center for International Environmental Law.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221202/future-global-treaty-on-plastics-must-cut-production-to-ease-pollution-some-states-say/70286.html

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