DOJ to appeal UK judge’s block on Assange extradition. TX GOP returns to pass voter restrictions. Haitian president assassinated in his home.
Biden DOJ renews push for Assange extradition
Activists have speculated whether President Biden would continue efforts set in motion under former President Trump to have the UK extradite Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to face espionage charges in the US. Many of the charges stem from Wikileaks’ publication of classified documents in 2010, when Biden was VP under President Obama. The documents included US diplomatic cables which caused considerable international embarrassment for the US political establishment. Also included were documents pertaining to US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the infamous “collateral murder” video.
Earlier this year, a British judge barred Assange’s extradition to the US on the grounds of his deteriorating mental health. The judge expressed concerns that Assange was a danger to himself, and that the prospects of extradition and incarceration in the US could push him to commit suicide.
Since Biden took office, the US Department of Justice has shown no signs of ending their pursuit of Assange. Now, Britain’s High Court has granted the DOJ permission to appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, Assange remains confined in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison. Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee and mother of two of his sons continues to campaign for his release.
TX GOP legislators return to pass voter restrictions
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has set a list of priorities for the returning state legislature. Among them is the passage of restrictive voting laws that narrowly missed passing when Democrats staged a walkout at the end of the last session.
Since the Democrats’ no-quorum strategy stymied the bill, the stakes in the matter have increased. A recent decision from the US Supreme Court raised the bar considerably for any challenges to restrictive voting laws. Specifically, the court’s decision deflated the power of the Voting Rights Act to challenge voting restrictions that disproportionately burden minorities.
However, prominent Republican legislators in Texas have already walked back two of the previous bill’s most controversial provisions. One of these was a ban on voting on Sunday morning, when many black constituents vote after leaving church. The second would have made it easier for election workers to overturn election results if there were accusations of voter fraud.
Haitian president assassinated in his home
At 1am local time this morning, unknown attackers entered the home of Haitian president Jovenel Moïse, 48, killing him and injuring his wife. Moïse has been in office since 2017 but has faced repeated protests and calls to step down. Political unrest in the country has been coming to a boil in recent weeks.
Haitian officials say the attackers were “foreigners who spoke English and Spanish”. They are assumed to be foreign since Haiti’s official languages are Creole and French. Some reports describe a group of men dressed in black, who may have been posing as US DEA agents.
Haiti’s interim PM Claude Joseph has declared a state of emergency. This order bans gatherings and allows members of the military to serve as enforcers. But Joseph’s authority to maintain order is somewhat tenuous as Moïse had appointed Ariel Henry to be prime minister this week. Henry has not been sworn in.
Years of unrest
The assassination is a culmination of years of political and social chaos in the country. Haiti never really recovered from the devastating 2010 earthquake. The island’s notoriously corrupt political class failed miserably in its efforts to resolve the resulting economic and social crises.
After coming to power in 2017 in a long overdue and hotly contested election, Moïse vowed to bring order and prosperity to the island. Moïse claimed his efforts had been thwarted by island’s powerful oligarchs who had plotted to overthrow him. Since January last year, Moïse had been ruling by decree after dissolving much of Parliament due to election delays.
In February of this year, Moïse announced the arrest of 20 people, including a judge and a police inspector general, for plotting to assassinate him. An appeals court later dismissed the accusations and released the conspirators.