Police inspector allegedly beats widow to death in Akwa Ibom

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Police inspector allegedly beats widow to death in Akwa IbomBy Chioma Onuegbu

A police officer in Akwa Ibom state police command identified as Inspector Bassey Ikpe has allegedly beaten one widow, Mrs. Deborah Mkpenie to death over a civil matter based on inheritance rights.

An eyewitness and a tricycle rider Sunday Umoren told newsmen yesterday that the brutal murder of the widow and mother of three occurred last Thursday, Jan 16, 2020, following the invitation of late Mrs. Mkpenie by Bassey Ikpe who was the Police Investigation Officer (I.P.O) in the civil matter.

Umoren who brought the deceased to the Police Headquarters Ikot Akpan narrated how Ikpe attached to the State Criminal Investigation Department, (SCID) manhandled Mrs Mkpenie at the police premises.

He said, “The policeman approached my Keke which bore the woman, shouted at her that she was lying about her sickness. He made efforts to drag her out, in anger, he knocked her head several times by the side rail of the Keke. The woman was screaming that she is not well.

“She began to suffocate and found it difficult to breathe. The policeman kept insisting that she was lying that she was not feeling well. He even told her that, if she wanted to die, she should die. As the policeman kept trying to pull her out of the Keke, she was screaming until her voice grew faint.

“We even begged the policeman to refrain from his hostile act towards the woman. He even refused our taking her to hospital. It was after she breathed her last, that he eventually ordered that she should be taken to the hospital.”

Another eyewitness and sister to the deceased Mfonobong Peter corroborated Umoren’s explanation that Inspector Ikpe went wild that the deceased was lying about her state of health to escape being arraigned in court.

READ ALSO: Graphic: One shot dead, another injured as police disperse Shi’ites protest in Abuja

“My late sister was beaten to death by Inspector Bassey Peter Ikpe. He had threatened her repeatedly ever since this matter came up. My sister had waist pains arising from the dislocation she had while caring for the late husband. This made it difficult for her move about freely.

“She was also hypertensive due to the health complications that led to the husband’s death. But this policeman refused to take even the advice of the Deputy Commissioner of Police. I don’t know what interest he had on the matter.

“He had forced her to come to the police station, so that they could appear in court on a fictitious criminal charge, against the advice of the Deputy Commissioner of Police, the previous day. He beat my sister to death. I want Justice to be done”, she lamented.

She noted that when her late sister was rushed to the Police Clinic, the doctor confirmed she was already dead, adding “On returning to the police headquarters, we were denied entry into the premises by the police officers at the gate”.

However, it was gathered on Wednesday that Inspector was arrested on Tuesday January, 21 and detained pending completion of investigation into the murder case.

A human rights activist and Executive Director, Foundation for Civic Education, Human Rights and Development Advancement (FoCERaDA) Mr Clifford Thomas (Esq) described the action of Inspector Ikpe as highly condemnable.

Thomas who said the organisation petitioned the IGP,and CP when the matter was brought to her said “What this development means is that we still have police officers who needs further training in respect to observance and promotion of Human Rights.

” We are insisting on justice for the late widow because the action contravenes section 33 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended). However, the reaction of the Commissioner of Police in the state is commendable.

“He swung into action immediately he got the report and after enquiries got him (Ikpe) arrested yesterday (Tuesday) and detained him while investigation is ongoing”

Thomas added that their brief has it that Victor Nkereuwem Mkpenie, Mkpenie Nkereuwem Mkpenie, and Aniekan Nkereuwem Mkpenie, stepsons of the deceased reported a civil matter based on inheritance and sharing of properties of the late husband of the deceased to the said Inspector Bassey Peter Ikpe, who thereon tutored them to frame up a lame charge against the deceased.

“The charge never came up but the deceased had filed for the enforcement of her fundamental human rights following the repeated harassment she received from the Inspector Ikpe and her three stepsons. The trio had threatened that the deceased would die and the case discontinued.

“On Wednesday, January 15, 2020, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the SCIID , S. U Horsefall had warned Inspector Ikpe against his very obvious violation of police regulations and procedure and advised him to bring all the parties for interview on that fateful day to see if going to court would still be an option”

Several efforts by newsmen to get police reaction on the incident was abortive.

However, the Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Odiko MacDon, in a statement yesterday made available to newsmen said, “The attention of the Akwa Ibom State Police Command has been drawn to a publication in some dailies and online media that Police personnel attached to the Akwa Ibom State Police Command, one Inspr. Bassey Ikpe reportedly beat up one Mrs. Deborah Nkereuwem Mkpenie to death on Thursday, 16th of January, 2020.

“To authenticate this serious allegation, the Commissioner of Police, Akwa Ibom State Police Command, CP Imohimi Edgal has ordered the immediate arrest of the said Inspector.

“The Commissioner has instructed the Deputy Commissioner, State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter, while reiterating the Command’s commitment to policing with great respect for human rights”.

The post Police inspector allegedly beats widow to death in Akwa Ibom appeared first on Vanguard News.

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Facebook hammered for Nigerian child trafficking adverts on its platform | P.M. News

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Cameroonian children who fled the fighting in their country’s English-speaking regions are taking refuge in Adagom community in south-central Nigeria, where some have been exploited by people looking to take advantage of their vulnerability. [Photograph: Philip Obaji Jr.]

By Philip Obaji Jr.

The Africans Unite Against Child Abuse, United Kingdom, and Centre for Children’s Health, Education, Orientation and Protection, Nigeria, have criticised Facebook following revelations that children, especially girls, were being trafficked from a refugee camp in Ogoja, Cross Rivers State, after being advertised for labour exploitation on the popular social networking platform.

The groups slammed Facebook for permitting child trafficking to take place on its service and also being slack to take action when such incidents happen.

In a joint statement, the non-profit organisations expressed dismay that it took Facebook 29 hours to suspend the account of the suspect, after investigative journalist, Philip Obaji Jr, had reported the account in contravention of the company’s policies of responding to enquiries within 24 hours.

The report revealed details of a named person, who had used his Facebook page to advertise photos of Cameroonian girls fleeing the ongoing conflict in Southern Cameroon’s Anglophone region.

This conflict has so far displaced millions of people with several thousand staying in refugee camps across Southern Nigeria.

The NGOs were exceptionally concerned that despite this case being reported to Facebook, it took the online platform hours to take action, thereby putting the victims at further risk of harm.

In one of the Facebook posts cited, the person had uploaded an image of a girl he claimed was “intelligent, hardworking and about 17,” and asked persons “interested in hiring her as a maid to inbox me.”

The organisations recalled that this would not be the first time Facebook would be accused of enabling child trafficking on its platforms.

“In 2018, Facebook was severely criticised by NGOs in South Sudan and across the world that its site had been used for the auctioning of a child bride in the country.

“Human trafficking is a growing global problem with over 40 million people at risk, according to the International Labour Organisation.

“Nigeria is known as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking victims with over one million trafficked each year, according to the Global Slavery Index.

“Human trafficking and slavery is illegal in most countries around the world, including Nigeria,” the NGOs said.

Debbie Ariyo, Chief Executive Officer of UK-based AFRUCA, an anti-child trafficking organisation, said, “It is concerning that social media platforms are increasingly being used by human traffickers to facilitate the sale of human beings, with little being done to address this. Social media platforms have become the 21st century slave markets. This has to stop.”

Betty Abah, Executive Director of CEE-HOPE Nigeria, stated that it appears Facebook has a discriminatory approach to addressing crimes against vulnerable children in Africa than other more advanced parts of the world.

“I do not believe Facebook would have failed to act if this was happening in a European country,” she added.

Both organisations urged the relevant government agencies in Nigeria to act to secure the well-being of refugee children in the country, and investigate the child trafficking allegations to ensure all perpetrators are brought to book.

They also called on Facebook to investigate the case as well as tighten its safeguard mechanisms to ensure that crimes such as human trafficking are completely eradicated on its platforms.

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Outrage Greets Senate’s Death Penalty for Hate Speech

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•Bill scales first reading
•Monitoring agency underway

Deji Elumoye, Alex Enumah in Abuja and Segun James in Lagos

The Senate came under fire yesterday for proposing the Hate Speech Prohibition Bill, which seeks to criminalise the offence with death as a penalty.

The bill, which passed first reading at the plenary yesterday, seeks to establish a federal government agency to check hate speech.

But senior lawyers, activists and a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke with THISDAY, condemned attempts to make hate speech a capital offence and urged the National Assembly to tread carefully on the issue.

The bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesperson, who is now the Deputy Senate Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, is entitled “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment etc) Bill 2019.”

Abdullahi had sponsored a similar bill in the Eighth Senate, which prescribed among others, death by hanging for anyone found guilty of the offence.

The bill Abdullahi presented to the previous Senate said an offence is committed when “a person publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”

Part two of the 26-page bill talks about the discrimination that the bill applies to include ethnic discrimination, hate speech, harassment on the basis of ethnicity, offence of ethnic or racial contempt, discrimination by way of victimisation and offences by body of persons.

In his own reaction, human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), called on Nigerians to rise up against the bill, to ensure that it does not see the light of day.
He wondered when making a speech which is guaranteed as freedom of expression under Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, became punishable by death.

Ozekhome described the bill as ill-intentioned, ill-conceived, and ill-digested to breed dictatorship and absolutism.
“An obnoxious law such as this will further drive underground and into hiding, the opposition and genuine social critics, who speak truth to power and criticise serial opaque, anti-people, corrupt and high-handed policies of government,” he added.

According to him, since the current government has been tested and known to be allergic to constructive criticisms, the bill if allowed would embolden it to clamp many Nigerians in detention.
Ozekhome’s other colleagues also warned the Senate against passing the bill, describing it as a violation of the 1999 Constitution.

Mr. Dayo Akinlaja SAN, while describing the move as weird and absurd at this age, said inasmuch as the menace of hate speech in the country should not be tolerated, there was need for caution to ensure that innocent people did not suffer.

“As much as one would not want to condone anything like hate speech the reality is that one would have to be extra careful to avoid the possibility of an abuse,” he said, adding: “If the punishment is that capital, then what happens if somebody is wrongly accused? That is rather absurd and preposterous at this age and I pray that such a thing does not come through.”

Dr. Kayode Olatoke SAN also noted that the bill violated constitutional provision on freedom of speech.
Olatoke while recalling that the matter is already a subject of litigation at a Federal High Court, stressed that the punishment is outrageous when compared with other similar crimes, which borders on law of torts.

He, however, urged the National Assembly to refrain from going further with the bill until the issue is resolved in the court of law.

Another SAN, Mr. John Baiyeshea, expressed confidence that the National Assembly would listen to public outcry.
“I’m sure the sentence will be reviewed/reduced to terms of imprisonment”, he said.
Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN called for a probe of what constitutes hate speech in the proposed law.

“I think we should start by probing into what constitutes hate speech under the proposed legislation. Notwithstanding what may constitute hate speech, the world is moving away from death penalty,” he stated.

Also, human rights activist and Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Dr. Nnimo Bassey, told THISDAY that it was outrageous and shameful for the Senate to contemplate a bill of that nature.

He said: “Death penalty for so called hate speech; who decides what constitutes hate speech? Our political leaders? If social media statements that have landed some Nigerians in the Gulag approximate what the drafters of this bill have in mind, then there is real threat of a dark cloud over Nigeria. The idea smacks of total insensitivity and is not expected of even the most autocratic. It is a bill with murderous intent. The National Assembly should spend its time on bills that deepen rather than constrict the democratic space. This bill should be withdrawn!”

A chieftain of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said he was speechless.
“This is inconceivable in a Senate under a constitutional democracy. There is no arrest or prosecution for Fulani herdsmen’s atrocities not to talk of death penalty for culprits but for free speech. God Save Nigeria,” he said.
Also reacting, a former Special Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Political Matters, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, said the new bill would amount to mindlessness.

“It is like using a bulldozer to crush a mouse. In the first place, classifying what qualifies as hate speech is problematic and prone to abuse. It will end up creating more problems than it can solve. There are extant laws that can be adapted for the same purpose. The law against defamation for instance,” he said.

Also in its reaction, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in a statement jointly issued by the President, Chris Isiguzo and National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, said most actions being taken in recent times were deliberately crafted to target and silence journalists.

“Safety implies freedom from danger and, in the news gathering context, safety implies protection from a range of threats journalists encounter, including arrest, legal action, imprisonment, kidnapping, intimidation and murder, amongst others. Journalists that are hitherto exposed to more danger in violent armed conflicts than in peace and stable situations, now face greater threats in a democracy like Nigeria. These threats and attacks against the media are aimed at inducing fear and self-censorship and regrettably these are the basic strategies of authoritarian regimes and not democracies like in Nigeria,” the NUJ stated.

The post Outrage Greets Senate’s Death Penalty for Hate Speech appeared first on THISDAYLIVE.

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Military truck crushes undergraduate to death – The Nation Newspaper

A military armoured gun truck on Sunday crushed a Keke NAPEP in Damaturu, killing two passengers, including a female Pre-ND student of the Federal Polytechnic Damaturu.

Findings revealed that the accident occurred at the traffic junction at the Gwange along Gashua road where the military vehicle collided with the Keke NAPEP in an attempt to move into opposite directions.

The accident has drawn reaction from residents and the Civil Society in the State.

The Executive Director of CSOs in Yobe State Abubakar Baba Shehu said the position of the CSO will be made public after investigation.

In an attempt to douse the tension in the town, the State Government quickly met with the family to condole with them over the demise of their daughter.

In a statement signed by the Director General Press Affairs to Gov. Mai Mala Buni,Abdullahi Bego disclosed that the Brigade Commander 27 Task Force Brigade of Nigeria Army and the Commanding Officer 233 Tank Battalion with officials of Yobe state Government have already visited the deceased family.

The statement also informed that Gov. Buni has ordered the acting Secretary to the State Government to liaise with the military and commence a  full investigation into the matter.

Buni also ordered for free medical access to those wounded and receiving treatment at the hospital.

The statement reads in full:

“His Excellency Governor Mai Mala Buni has been briefed about an incident in Damaturu yesterday in which a KEKE NAPEP rider with passengers was crushed by a military vehicle in an accident which claimed the lives of two persons.

“Already, the Brigade Commander 27 Task Force Brigade, the Commanding Officer 233 Tank Battalion and officials of the State Government have visited and commiserated with the families of the victims.

“His Excellency has learnt that one of the victims, Hussaina Baffa Bello was a pre-ND student of the Federal polytechnic Damaturu while the other fatality was a toddler.

“Governor Buni’s thoughts, sympathies and prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives and with the victims who sustained injuries.

“The governor prays Almighty Allah (SWT) to grant repose to the souls of those who died, fast recovery to those who sustained injuries and fortitude to bear the loss for families of the victims.

“His Excellency Governor Buni has directed the office of the acting Secretary to the State Government to liaise with the military in order to have a full investigation and ascertain how the accident happened and how such could be avoided in the future.

“The governor has also directed the State Ministry of Health and the Hospitals Management Board to ensure that those who sustained injuries are given access to free medical care”.

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Priest tightens security after latest threats at Quinn firm – Independent.ie

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It hardly inspires confidence that the parish priest known for speaking out against this intimidation is forced to take security measures for his own protection.

Fr O’Reilly delivered a searing homily last month calling out the mafia-like “paymaster or paymasters” who funded the savage attack on Mr Lunney. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, he said: “The more you speak, the more you are at risk.”

For now, he plans to step back from the robust public commentary he has become known for, in the hope of fostering peace. “I want to get back to my normal parish work… I find that in the last month, a whole lot of things have happened. I want to take a back seat for a while. But if there is further intimidation, I intend to return to the fray.”

A second death threat to the directors of Quinn Industrial Holdings (QIH) last week – companies founded and lost by the former billionaire Sean Quinn – has finally catapulted the long-standing campaign of intimidation and violence into the lap of Government.

The threat was issued via the Irish News last Monday by a man in a balaclava reading from a statement purporting to be a “last warning” to directors to resign or face a “permanent solution”. The directors “hadn’t learned their lesson” since the attack on Mr Lunney, the man said, chillingly noting that they could have “easily killed” him if they had wanted to.

In the same week, Sinn Fein TD Martin Kenny’s car was set alight outside his home in Leitrim, the Garda station in Emyvale, Co Monaghan was set ablaze and two Monaghan hauliers were named as persons of interest in the investigation into the deaths of 39 Vietnamese people smuggled into the UK.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, have struggled to explain why the years-long intimidation has not been stopped.

The Sunday Independent has learnt that Taoiseach Leo Varadkar privately rang John McCartin, one of five directors of QIH under threat, twice last week saying he was “appalled” at the intimidation. That the Taoiseach should open a direct line of communication with the victims of this campaign indicates that the penny has finally dropped.

For eight years, the directors of QIH and its property have been under siege. The businesses were once owned by Sean Quinn, the local former billionaire who lost control of his empire in 2011. He has repeatedly denounced the attacks on the companies, saying they are not carried out in his name. According to Mr McCartin, the failure of authorities to act – from Cavan County Council not taking down signs to gardai not making arrests – has “emboldened” those responsible and allowed for an escalation of violence and the creeping involvement of paramilitaries.

A photograph in the Irish News of the masked man bearing the latest death threat prompted a number of calls to the police confidential lines from local people claiming to recognise him, sources said. They suspect he is a dissident republican, originally from Northern Ireland but now living in Cavan, who has served jail time for possession of explosives. He was once prominent in the Real IRA. A director of QIH has also reported this man’s suspected identity to the PSNI and gardai.

The abduction and assault on Kevin Lunney bore the hallmarks of a paramilitary- style operation. He was kidnapped, tortured and had his legs broken in an attack resembling a punishment beating. The care that his attackers took to destroy a forensic trail, viciously pouring bleach over Mr Lunney before dumping him on a Cavan roadside, was also redolent of paramilitary thugs.

Drew Harris said last week that the investigation into the attack is making progress. Garda sources say several of the suspected gang members have been identified, and a van seized in Meath recently is believed to have been used by the gang in the attack.

But the directors of QIH struggle to see that progress. On Tuesday, the directors will hold their first meeting with the Garda Commissioner in Monaghan. Present will be chief executive Liam McCaffrey, chief financial officer Dara O’Reilly, non-executive director John McCartin and production director Tony Lunney. Mr Lunney’s brother Kevin, the company’s chief operating officer, will also attend if he is well enough.

“We are preparing for the meeting with the Commissioner. We will be asking for an update on the investigation, what progress has been made and why there have been no arrests six weeks after Kevin was attacked,” Tony Lunney told the Sunday Independent.

An obvious question is whether in the vacuum of any arrests, those responsible for the intimidation felt emboldened to issue a second death threat. The paramilitary theatrics surrounding its delivery suggests an element of playing to the media gallery too, and the statement even referenced newspaper articles about the attacks on the Quinn group.

John McCartin believes this is all part of the strategy: “We have had intimidation, signs and posters going up, defamation on Facebook and on social media, physical assaults, and now torture and kidnapping, and using mainstream media attention to scare away future investors.”

The directors believe the endgame of the campaign of violence is to run them, and the US investors, out, risking more than 2,000 jobs connected to the businesses and leaving the remnants of the group there for a new buyer to pick over. The Garda investigation is building on the question cui bono? Who ultimately benefits from running the directors and their investors out of town?

Sean Quinn has made no secret of wanting “his” company back. But he has repeatedly condemned the attack on Kevin Lunney as “barbaric”, acknowledging that his family would be “blamed”. He told Channel 4 News that he no hand, act or part in the attack, and had abandoned his ambitions to return to the businesses as a result of it. In his most recent statement to RTE last week, he said: “I call on those who have advanced threats to withdraw them immediately. If they feel that they are doing it in mine or my family’s name, they are badly mistaken.”

Mr Quinn is also clearly irked at Fr O’Reilly. He called to his home two weeks ago to challenge him on his now famous homily, even though the priest did not identify anyone in it.

This weekend, Mr Quinn confirmed to the Sunday Independent that he has complained to the priest’s Kilmore Diocese. He said he met the administrator, Monsignor Liam Kelly, and has written to “other people”.

He denied threatening legal action but he didn’t rule it out either. “I made no threats to anybody,” he said, in a phone call. Asked if he is considering legal action, he replied: “Well, we are where we are…”

Asked why he wrote the letter, he said: “I’m not going there but sure any fool would know why I wrote the letter.” He accused the priest of “telling lies” from the altar. “So, it’s not hard to know, anybody with any wit would know the man was off his head.”

Fr O’Reilly told the Sunday Independent this weekend that he wrote his homily in “anger” at the “awfulness of the inflicted injuries on Kevin Lunney”.

“It is not a good way to be writing something when you are angry,” he said. “I have to take that on board myself before asking anyone else to do that. I don’t want to vilify anyone. It never was my intention. I want to give more rational debate a chance, with the hope that these years of intimidation are now coming to an end.”

In the sitting room of his parish home in Ballyconnell, a large detached house clearly visible on the hill, Fr O’Reilly cited Nelson Mandela’s words about “leaving bitterness and hatred behind”.

“The most terrible walls are the walls that grow in the mind. I believe that applies to this area. Walls grow in the minds of some people that are causing great difficulty for themselves and for others. These walls are about perceived grievances, and I suppose prejudice plays a major part and they become entrenched,” he said.

“We must find ways and means of helping people to take down these walls.”

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Planned Parenthood’s political arm to spend $45 million on electing candidates backing reproductive rights

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(CNN)Planned Parenthood‘s super PAC kicked off a $45 million electoral program targeted toward battleground states for the 2020 election, the reproductive rights giant announced on Wednesday.

The group’s self-identified largest program to date will go toward “large-scale grassroots organizing programs and targeted canvass, digital, television, radio and mail programs,” according to a press release. Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin will all be focuses of the initiative, per the release.
“Who we elect will determine our access to birth control, cancer screenings, sex education, abortion access and more,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of Planned Parenthood Votes, in a statement.
“That’s why Planned Parenthood Votes will use every tool at our disposal to hit the pavement, flood the airwaves, and elect reproductive rights champions up and down the ballot,” she added. “We know this is a fight we can win.”
The super PAC pledged to back reproductive rights candidates “from the White House to the Senate to statehouses and ballot initiatives across the country,” indicating a state-level focus after a year that saw a slew of pre-viability abortion restrictions coming out of conservative state legislatures. Planned Parenthood is among the plaintiffs in lawsuits challenging such laws in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri and Ohio.
Anti-abortion leaders decried Planned Parenthood’s election efforts, accusing the group of looking to protect its own finances and lamenting its federal subsidies. Planned Parenthood received $563.8 million in government funding in 2018, according to its annual report.
Lila Rose, president of anti-abortion group Live Action, slammed the funding effort as a display of “ruthless prioritization of politics and their bottom line over women’s health care.”
March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in a statement that the funding effort was unsurprising “because this Administration has implemented a pro-life agenda in many areas, including the Protecting Life in Global Health Policy and new Title X regulations, both of which impacted Planned Parenthood’s bottom line.”
“It is unfair to force Americans to subsidize through their tax dollars this partisan political organization bent on electing pro-abortion politicians,” she added.
This year, Planned Parenthood rejected some federal funding. The group decided to drop Title X funding in August after the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Trump administration rule blocking recipient providers from discussing abortion services with patients. HHS told recipients in July that the rule would go into effect despite several pending challenges.

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Progressives Are Divided On How To Approach The Impeachment Process

Algorithmia AI Generated Summary

When House Speaker support for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump last week, some of the most pointed criticism of her leadership evaporated in an instant.

Need to Impeach, the nonprofit funded by billionaire Tom Steyer that had been a thorn in Pelosi’s side for the better part of two years, only had good things to say.

“People will look back at this moment as the day Congress stood up for democracy, American values, and our constitution and fought back against the corrupt, criminal president, Donald Trump,” Nathaly Arriola, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Need to Impeach has now turned its attention to vulnerable Senate Republicans, whom it announced on Tuesday it will be pressing to back impeachment with over $3 million in television and digital advertisements. 

But beneath the praise and comity, there is some disagreement among progressive groups as to how to proceed.

At one end of the debate is a smaller group of progressive activists and experts worried that the impeachment inquiry risks at once dragging on too long and covering too few of the president’s infractions.

And on the other side of the spectrum are groups like Need to Impeach, as well as officials, activists and strategists who see no need, for the time being, to exert additional public pressure on congressional Democrats.

“We’re getting it right here,” said Greg Pinelo, a veteran Democratic media strategist who helped develop advertisements for both Obama campaigns. “You can argue about whether we should have got here sooner. But facts on the ground change ― and the facts on the ground right now suggest a really focused effort.”

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Speaker Pelosi, right, addressed reporters alongside Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). Her support for an impeachment inquiry has largely quieted critics.

Not everyone is content though. Heidi Hess, who runs the progressive phone company Credo’s issue campaigns at Credo Action, expressed disappointment in Speaker Pelosi’s press conference on Tuesday. 

Hess is calling for a timeline for completing the investigation and a deadline to vote on articles of impeachment that are reported out. She fears that allowing the process to drag on could give Trump an opportunity to sow more chaos and diminish public support for the process.

“Unless we have deadlines, then for us, that is still them telegraphing that what [Democrats] want is to stall,” she said.

Credo Action, the nonpartisan, pro-democracy nonprofit Free Speech for People and several other groups have called for the House Judiciary Committee to report out articles of impeachment against Trump by Nov. 1 and a vote on those articles by Nov. 15. They are also demanding an immediate end to the current congressional recess in the interest of expediting the process.

Another priority for these liberal critics is impeaching Trump on the broadest possible grounds, which they worry Democratic leadership is not adequately interested in. Credo Action is part of a coalition of liberal groups and legal experts, under the intellectual leadership of Free Speech for People, calling for Trump to be impeached for at least 12 different reasons. The reasons, which the groups outlined in a July 30 letter to the House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler of New York, fall under the broad categories of abuse of power, corruption of the electoral process, promotion of racial hostility, and corruption and self-enrichment.

“We remain deeply concerned that Congress is not addressing this constitutional crisis with the urgency that’s required at the moment,” said John Bonifaz, an attorney and co-founder of Free Speech for People. 

Bonifaz helped develop the coalition’s list of impeachable offenses and advised Democratic Reps. Al Green of Texas and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan on their earlier efforts to initiate impeachment inquiries. He worries that failure to hold Trump accountable for the full scope of his misconduct could again set an “extremely dangerous precedent” for presidential impunity.

Hess cited the possibility of a repeat of the articles of impeachment against then-President Richard Nixon. Congress chose not to issue articles of impeachment related to Nixon’s secret bombing of Cambodia, which Hess and other left-leaning activists regard as a mistake that helped future presidents prosecute foreign interventions illegally.

Pelosi has not set any explicit deadlines for the House Judiciary Committee to report out articles of impeachment. But at a press conference on Wednesday, the speaker warned that refusals by the Trump administration to cooperate with the House’s investigation into Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter would be regarded as obstruction of justice. 

“We do not want this to drag on for months and months, which appears to be the [White House’s] strategy,” Pelosi said. 

A lot of the work on the other misconduct has already been done. I think [impeachment] will be broad and fast. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.)

Pelosi has also said that House committees investigating other elements of Trump’s potential misconduct will report their findings to the Judiciary Committee, leaving open the possibility that impeachment will cover a broader range of matters.

Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat and vice chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, stood out among his colleagues with a public appeal last week for Congress to postpone its two-week recess in order to work on the impeachment inquiry. He predicted that focusing on a broad range of Trump’s misdeeds is compatible with a rapid process. 

“A lot of the work on the other misconduct has already been done,” Khanna told HuffPost. “I think [impeachment] will be broad and fast.” 

But assurances like those are not enough for Hess, Bonifaz and some other outspoken progressives who worry that the absence of firmer commitments from Pelosi right now, when the pressure to placate the grassroots is perhaps greatest, raises the risk of a looser approach going forward. 

The trouble for these Pelosi critics is that many of their normally allied organizations and activists are thus far unwilling to publicly criticize the speaker’s management of the process. 

Spokespeople for the Democracy for America, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Indivisible all expressed support for an impeachment process that is both prompt and broad in scope without joining in criticism of Pelosi.

Meagan Hatcher-Mays, who runs Indivisible’s democracy program, shared Hess’ commitment to a rapid process, as well as a wide-ranging inquiry. “Every day that he’s in office is a new threat to our election security,” she said. But Indivisible is not setting out a hard deadline; Hatcher-Mays said the group hopes it nears completion before Thanksgiving. 

Similarly, PCCC spokeswoman Maria Langholz called Pelosi’s approach of having committees of jurisdiction submit to the Judiciary Committee the results of their investigations into Trump “smart.”

And Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America, which rivals Credo Action and PCCC in online organizing heft, suggested a middle path in terms of the scope of the impeachment articles ― something shy of 12, but more than just one about Trump’s pressure on Ukraine.

Chamberlain said he is “not really concerned” with the speed of the process so far, but he would like to see the House move on it quickly so it can proceed to the Senate. The sooner it gets there, he argued, the sooner it can be used against Republicans senators up for reelection in swing states.

“The Senate has the most to lose here,” he said.

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How Fossil Fuel Companies Are Killing Plastic Recycling

So many things we buy come packaged in plastic containers or wrappers that are meant to be used once, thrown away and forgotten ― but they don’t break down and can linger in the environment long after we’re gone. It’s tempting to think that we can recycle this problem away, that if we’re more diligent about placing discarded bottles and bags into the curbside bin, we’ll somehow make up for all the trash overflowing landfills, choking waterways and killing marine life.

For decades, big petrochemical companies responsible for extracting and processing the fossil fuels that make plastics have egged on consumers, reassuring them that recycling was the answer to our trash crisis. Just last month, Royal Dutch Shell executive Hilary Mercer told The New York Times that the production of new plastics was not the problem contributing to millions of tons of plastic waste piling up in landfills and drifting in oceans. Instead, she suggested, the problem is one of improper waste disposal. Better recycling, she implied, is the solution.

“We passionately believe in recycling,” Mercer told the Times.

But plastic recycling is in trouble. Too much of the indestructible material exists in the world, more than our current recycling networks can handle. And the very same companies that say recycling is the answer are about to unleash a tidal wave of fresh plastics that will drown recyclers struggling to stay afloat.   

“We’ve been trained [to think] that we can purchase endlessly and recycle everything,” said Genevieve Abedon, a policy advocate at the environmental nonprofit Californians Against Waste. “There is no way that recycling can keep up.” 

Big oil, natural gas and chemical companies have poured an estimated $200 billion into more than 300 petrochemical expansion projects across America from 2010 to 2018, according to the American Chemistry Council. Fossil fuel giants ExxonMobil and Shell, as well as plastic makers like SABIC and Formosa Plastics, are building and expanding at least five ethane cracker plants in Appalachia and along the Gulf of Mexico. The facilities will turn ethane, a byproduct of natural gas fracking, into polyethylene pellets, which can be made into a variety of products, including milk jugs, shampoo bottles, food packaging and the air pillows that protect your Amazon orders.

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Many consumer goods companies would rather purchase newly made plastic resin pellets than those made from recycled materials.

Already, over 350 million metric tons of new plastics are produced worldwide annually. In the next decade, production will jump 40%, spurred in part by the new manufacturing plants, according to an analysis by The Guardian. 

Current rates of recycling are dismal. In Europe, about 30% of plastics are recycled, but the U.S. recycles only 9.1%, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s about all our networks can manage without significant improvements and investments in recycling technologies and infrastructure.

Recycling will suffer when the new manufacturing plants begin pumping out more virgin plastic, said Ted Siegler, a resource economist at waste management company DSM Environmental Services Inc., based in Vermont. 

“They will hurt recycling,” he said.

The Making Of A Recycling Emergency

In theory, more plastics should be good for recyclers. But the industry is already in the midst of a crisis.

America has grown accustomed to shipping low-value trash overseas for recycling. This practice began on a large scale in the early 2000s. Last year, that system fell apart, leaving recyclers scrambling and consumers confused.

The country never developed recycling networks that would handle all kinds of plastics, according to Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the nonprofit National Stewardship Action Council. Instead, local recyclers process only the stuff they can make money off of. Most high-value plastics, like soda bottles (which come stamped with a “1” symbol) and milk cartons or shampoo bottles (which bear a “2” stamp), are pulled out and recycled domestically. Everything else ― that’s anything stamped with the numbers 3 through 7 ― remains unsorted and gets shipped as “mixed plastics” to other countries, where they can still turn a profit. (Things like potato chip bags and candy bar wrappers are practically worthless and aren’t considered recyclable. People still try to mix them in with their household paper and plastic, much to the consternation of recyclers.) 

“We did the world a disservice by not doing our due diligence and saying it’s worth paying American citizens to do the work and keep the jobs and the recycling infrastructure solid at home,” Sanborn said.

Plenty of other countries export their recyclables as well. Until recently, China had been the world’s largest buyer of recyclables, taking 40% of America’s scrap paper and plastic. At the end of 2017, however, China blocked shipments of foreign recyclables, causing mixed plastics (numbers 3 to 7) and paper to pile up at ports around the world. Prices for these scrap materials tanked, wiping out what little value the plastics had to begin with.

In the wake of China’s ban, with no place for mixed paper and plastics to go, curbside collection programs from Maine to Michigan to Florida were suspended. Reports have emerged from cities and towns across the country about collected recyclables ending up in landfills and incinerators.

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Recyclers across America have had to cancel service or scale back after China’s clampdown on imports of contaminated foreign waste. Some have had to send recyclables to landfills. 

The latest big blow to recycling came in early August with the closure of rePlanet, California’s largest chain of recycling centers where consumers could return empty containers and redeem bottle deposits. Even though plastic bottles still have some value in the States, it’s not what it was before the China ban.

“The scrap value of recycled materials has dropped across the board for every material, some much worse than others,” explained Martin Bourque, who heads up the Berkeley, California-based Ecology Center, home to one of the country’s oldest curbside recycling programs. 

For recyclers like rePlanet, which made money only on the materials it sold, low scrap prices make it difficult to cover operating costs. In rePlanet’s case, there were other factors at play: For one, a state-run mechanism designed to help recyclers ride out hard times didn’t adapt quickly enough to save the company. 

But there was another problem, too: Consumer goods companies don’t necessarily want to source recycled plastics for their products, not when they can save money by purchasing freshly made plastic.  

“It’s so much cheaper to buy new, virgin resin,” Bourque said. 

A Glut Of Virgin Plastics

Since oil and natural gas are the raw materials for making plastic, the price of virgin plastic is tied to oil and natural gas prices, which are currently low. Natural gas, in particular, is now very cheap due to the fracking boom in the U.S. Remember the ethane crackers getting built in Appalachia and the Gulf of Mexico? They will only make virgin plastic cheaper, according to Siegler. 

“All the new plants that are coming online are just going to continue to drive the price of virgin plastics down, which will encourage consumption on new plastic and discourage recycling,” Siegler told HuffPost.

Some contend that virgin plastic prices are already artificially low. 

“The government has intervened and subsidized virgin materials extraction and made it impossible for recycling to compete,” said Sanborn. 

Companies that are building new plastic manufacturing plants are getting help from the government, too. Oil and gas giant Shell is building a massive complex in Pennsylvania that will open in 2020 and produce 1.6 million metric tons of polyethylene every year. The plant will also receive $1.65 billion in tax breaks over 25 years. A Shell official told the Northeast U.S. & Canada Petrochemical Construction Conference in 2016 that without this fiscal package, the company may not have gone ahead with the project. (The company did not respond to multiple requests for comment.)

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Part of a petrochemical plant being built on the Ohio River in Monaca, Pennsylvania, for the Royal Dutch Shell company. The plant, which is capable of producing 1.6 million tons of raw plastic annually, is expected to begin operations by 2021.

Recycling efforts, from collection to sorting to reprocessing, have not received comparable subsidies, Sanborn said.

Some of the big fossil fuel and chemical corporations are funneling money into projects meant to improve recycling ― though not nearly as much cash is going toward this effort. In January, 28 oil and gas, chemical and plastics companies, including Exxon, Shell, SABIC and Formosa, formed the Alliance to End Plastic Waste and collectively pledged $1.5 billion over five years for improving recycling infrastructure. That amount is far short of what’s needed to see real change start to ripple across the recycling industry, Siegler says. 

Petrochemical companies, if they wanted to, would need to make investments of up to $20 billion every year for a decade to make sure that 50% of global plastics get recycled or reused, according to a McKinsey analysis. The Alliance said in a statement to HuffPost that it hopes its initial investment will encourage governments, banks and other big corporations to spend more on recycling. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

Conservationists still believe that recycling is a worthwhile endeavor, just not a silver bullet to fixing our plastic waste crisis.

Recycling definitely has to be a part of the solution,” Genevieve Abedon, of Californians Against Waste, told HuffPost.

Siegler years ago proposed a plastic tax to pay for much-needed recycling infrastructure. Charging plastic producers just a penny a pound ― roughly a 1% tax, since most resins cost a dollar a pound ― would raise $4 billion to $5 billion per year, Siegler estimated. 

“The price of plastic is too low,” he told HuffPost. “It doesn’t reflect the environmental damage associated with plastic.” 

His idea has not caught on.

A landmark pair of bills in the California Legislature would help recyclers compete with virgin plastic producers by boosting demand for recycled plastic. The measures seek to force manufacturers to use more recycled materials in their plastic products.

“If we can increase the demand for recycled plastic, investment will then flow through the whole recycling chain,” said Kara Pochiro, of the Association of Plastic Recyclers.

Though the bills failed to pass before the end of the legislative session, they’ll be eligible for a vote again next year. 

Consumer goods companies could make a big difference by signing long-term contracts with recyclers for material, Pochiro says. This would help insulate recycling companies from fluctuations in the commodity market and potentially stop more collapses like that of rePlanet. 

Last November, beverage maker Nestle Waters North America signed a multiyear contract with CarbonLITE, a company that recycles and produces food-grade PET plastic. With this guaranteed demand, CarbonLITE is now building a new facility in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania, that is expected to recycle more than 2 billion used bottles every year. 

There are things that shoppers can do, too. 

“Buy recycled,” Pochiro recommended. 

Sanborn said that consumers who don’t like the plastic packaging they receive with their products should lay it all out on the floor, take a photo of the plastic, upload it to social media, tag the company that sent it to them and complain. 

“Be really loud and squeaky. The squeaky wheels get greased,” she said. 

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Ukraines Top Independent Corruption Fighters Shocked by Trumps Phone Calland His Ignorance

KYIV, UkraineOne of this countrys leading independent anti-corruption fighters says she was shocked at the partial transcript of Donald Trumps July 25 phone call to the newly elected president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky.

It was mind-blowing to read Trumps requests to do him a favor and say hed have the U.S. attorney general call Zelensky to push the investigation that Trump would benefit from politically, said Daria Kaleniuk, executive director of Ukraines Anti-Corruption Action Center, the major watchdog monitoring officials who abuse their authority and steal from the state.

Trump spoke like a mafia don, and Zelenskly probably knew what was coming. Trumps lawyer Rudolph Giuliani already had been in touch with Zelenkys people.

The memo of the conversation released Wednesday by the White House, makes it apparent Zelensky was doing all he could to humor the president of the United States. The former star of a TV comedy show in which he played a common man who became an uncommon president, which he then proceeded to become in real life, Zelensky said hed learned a lot from Trumps political techniques. He tried out a couple of ironic jokes. And paraphrasing Trumps campaign pledge he volunteered, We wanted to drain the swamp here in our country.

That wasnt enough to get a clear commitment from Trump to supply the kinds of arms Ukraine needs to fight Russian backed insurgents and covert Russian military units. Trumps idea of the swamp in Ukraine was very different from the way Zelensky sees it. Indeed, Trumps only interest was in digging dirt he believed might be found about his future opponent Joe Biden and Bidens son, Hunter, or even about his past opponent Hillary Clintons emails.

Zelensky said he was ready to buy more Javelin anti-tank missiles for Ukraines defense. Trump immediately pivoted: I would like you to do us a favor. Speaking distractedly, as if someone was pushing notes under his nose, Trump said, I would like you to find out what happened with this whole situation with Ukraine, they say Crowdstrike… I guess you have one of your wealthy people… The server, they say Ukraine has it. There are a lot of things that went on, the whole situation.

As The Daily Beast reported, Trump is referencing a conspiracy theory pushed by Russian trolls and far-right pundits that imagines the Democratic National Committee fabricating all the evidence in Russias 2016 breach of the DNC network. No doubt Zelensky was confused.

Daria Kaleniuk, one of Ukraines most respected independent corruption fighters, says she was deeply upset when she saw the partial transcript. She studied financial law in the United States and has looked up to the country as a paradigm of democratic rule. She said she had not thought the situation there was so degraded.

A spokesperson for Attorney General William Barrs Department of Justice said Wednesday that in fact Barr never followed up. But Trump also plugged for his personal lawyer, former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who appears to be acting as a consigliere at the center of the effort to shift attention to Ukraine and the Democrats, and away from Russias well-established efforts to help Trump get elected in 2016. Zelensky said hed welcome Giuliani in Ukraine, and Giuliani has said publicly many times in recent days that his aim was to uncover incriminating information about the Bidens.

This scandal is harmful for Ukraine, said Kaleniuk. Dont forget, we are at war with Russia, she said, suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin must be enjoying the current storm of news over Ukraine.

Among the many cases Kaleniuk has watched over the last five years is that of Burisma, a natural gas company that named then-Vice President Joe Bidens son Hunter Biden, well known as something of a black sheep, to its board in 2014.

But the transcript made it clear to Kyivs anti-corruption experts that Trump really had very little idea what he was talking about.

Zelensky tried in general terms to assure Trump the new administration in Kyiv would be serious about fighting corruption. Good, said Trump, because I heard you had a prosecutor who was very good and he was shut down and that's really unfair. A lot of people are talking about that, the way they shut your very good prosecutor down and you had some very bad people involved. There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the prosecution and a lot of people want to find out about that

Prosecutors in Ukraine have been infamous for using the states power to investigate crimes, then demanding a payoff from the target, and closing the case.

Kaleniuk notes that three Ukraine prosecutor generalsVitaly Yerema, Viktor Shokin and Yuriy Lutsenkohave dumped the Burisma case, each in his turn, one after another. I dont think Mr. Trump knows the name of the very good prosecutor he was talking about.

When Kyivs corruption fighters see that the Burisma case and what Trump called Ukraines horrible law enforcement system have become an obsession of the president of the United States, they feel lost, said Kaleniuk: This is like a movie, I would never predict anything like it!

One of Ukraines recent prosecutor generals, Yuriy Lutsenko, closed the Burisma investigation himself when there was still a chance to define the truth and then gave an interview to the Washington website The Hill complaining it was the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, who gave him a do not prosecute list.

That is the exact opposite of what happened in the case, which Kaleniuk has followed closely.

She is convinced that Trump and his helpers had been preparing the Biden scandal for a long time. They started plotting it in October last year, possibly even earlier, she said. One of the messages Lutsenko conveyed, Kaleniuk told The Daily Beast, was that President Trumps lawyer Rudolph Giuliani had consulted with Yuriy Lutsenko, Ukraines then-Prosecutor General, for months.

Trump and Giuliani needed him to convey a message that Ukraine had intervened in American elections, she said. Lutsenko and prosecutor Konstantin Kulik have been giving Giuliani information on this case purely with an agenda to save their careers, inventing the story about the Biden investigation.

In 2016 Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Ukraine fire Prosecutor General Victor Shokin, who Trump might have meant as very good prosecutor, but he was seen by reformers in Kiev as a disaster. A year earlier Kalemniuks watchdog organization had pushed to dismiss Shokin for neglecting multiple corruption cases.

Here is why I do not say anything about Hunter Biden, Kaleniuk explained. Vice President Biden called for Ukraine to fire Shokin not because of the Burisma investigation, absolutely not, but because Ukraines prosecutor general did not investigate Burisma. U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt insisted [in early 2016] that Shokin should be investigating Burisma. The U.S. government had a clear position: the Burisma probe was killed by Shokin. And the U.S. thought it and other cases should not have been closed.

Under the circumstances, and hopeful that Zelensky is as serious about reforms as he has said, Kaleniuk said she understood his reaction to Trump: The leader of the most powerful state, our biggest partner, called with a request, so Zelensky tried not to contradict any of Trumps words, agreed with everything.

Many in Ukraine were upset by revelations of Zelenskys painful answers to Trump, especially when Zelensky said: The next prosecutor will be 100 percent my person, my candidate, who will be approved by parliament and will start as a new prosecutor in September. Prosecutors are supposed to be independent.

Journalists at the Hramadske television network were arguing emotionally in the newsroom Wednesday night.

Andrey Saychuk, one Hramadske correspondent, told The Daily Beast he wondered how the newly appointed prosecutor, Ruslan Ryaboshapka must feel about the way Zelensky talked about the question of his independence.

During the Trump-Zelensky press opportunity at the United Nations in New York on Wednesday, Zelensky said he was not pushed by Trump in the July phone call, but the pressure on him was obvious. I am sorry, but I dont want to be involved in the elections in USA, he said.

We should keep our distance from this highly political Burisma case used in the political massacre in United States, any move on it can be used for political purposes, Kaleniuk said. Let American citizens and institutions judge whether their president was pushing Zelensky or not.

As for Hunter Biden, his affiliation with Burisma seems at a minimum to have been ill considered. The oligarch behind the company, Mykola Zlochevsky, was the minister of ecology and natural resources from July 2010 until April 2012 under the hugely corrupt pro-Putin President Viktor Yanukovych, overthrown by the Maidan revolution in 2014. (One of his close advisors was Trump campaign chairman and international political operative Paul Manafort, now serving a seven and a half year prison term in the United States.)

Zlochevsky used his authority to give his own company licenses basically the minister gave himself a permit for producing natural resources, and the licenses are at Burisma Holding, said Kaleniuk.

When Hunter Biden started working with the company in May of 2014, it had just had its assets frozen in the United Kingdom, where it was investigated for money laundering.

I realize that it is very strange that Hunter Biden was working for Burisma, says Kaleniuk. I might be the first one to say bad things about Joe Bidens movements in regard to this case, but I dont.

Why? Because far from trying to protect his son from the broader investigation that might establish Hunter received money gained illegally by Burismas founder, Joe Biden wanted to prove it, that Burisma was crooked. He tried to make Shokin investigate that, Kaleniuk said.

One thing should be clear for everybody today: Joe Biden wanted to fire the prosecutor who did not want to investigate Burisma, where his son was working. That is very important. Kaleniuk added that everybody wanted Shokin fired.

In May 2014, when Kaleniuks watchdog group of progressive lawyers discovered Hunter Biden on the board of Burisma Holding, they also found he was in interesting company. Polands former President Aleksander Kwasniewsky was on that board, along with a few retired CIA agents, Kaleniuk said. So many names. But, still, It was strange for us to discover that Bidens son appeared to be working at Burisma, most probably as a faade to defend Zlochevskys reputation.

At a meeting with then-Vice President Joe Biden in the spring of 2014, Ukrainian corruption fighters told him about their many issues. We did not talk about Zlochevskys corruption specifically, he was just one of the bastards who had robbed our country, said Kaleniuk. It is unclear if the father Biden knew about [the investigation of] Burisma, she said.

At that time all foreign partners who tried to help Ukraine investigate corruption knew that both Shokin and his predecessor Vitaly Yarema had dumped the Burisma case. The British embassy, the American embassy knew exactly what was going on. I think that Zlochevsky had to pay a lot for closing the case against him, Kaleniuk said.

But, heres the thing about the vast breadth and depth of corruption in UkrainePresident Zelensky himself is hardly immune. His great patron has been the oligarch who owned the television station where he became a star.

If somebody asked us about the priority for the investigation today, I would say billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky, and not Biden, should be the priority, said Kilaniuk. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations has looked into Kolomoiskys investments in the United States. Formerly exiled in Israel, Kolomoisky now feels perfectly comfortable in Zelenskys Ukraine.

Kilaniuk insisted that none of Trumps agents, including Rudolph Giuliani really understood how Ukraine functions. I dont think that Giuliani was the one who plotted the scandal, I think he just was just promoting this story; obviously, Donald Trump has no idea how things really work in Ukraine. I believe that Zelensky understands what has happened, I hope the President can distance himself from billionaire Ihor Kolomoisky.

The risk is always that before the swamp can be drained, Zelensky will drown in it.

Christopher Dickey also contributed to this story.

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