Raila Odinga rejects William Ruto’s victory


Raila Odinga

Raila Odinga

Raila Odinga has rejected the results of Kenya’s presidential election saying that the figures announced on Monday were “null and void”.

According to the official results, Mr Odinga narrowly lost to Deputy President William Ruto.

Mr Odinga accused the head of the electoral body of a “blatant disregard of the constitution”.

“We totally without reservation reject the presidential election results,” he said.

Making his remarks in front of supporters in the capital, Nairobi, he said that there was “neither a legally elected winner nor a president-elect”.

The 77-year-old long-time opposition leader was running for president for the fifth time. He has challenged the results in the previous two elections, including successfully in 2017.

This time round, the chairman of the electoral body Wafula Chebukat said he got 48.8% of the vote in last Tuesday’s election compared to Mr Ruto’s 50.5%.

Mr Odinga accused Mr Chebukati of “gross impunity” saying his team will pursue all legal options. He called his declaration “a major setback” to Kenya’s democracy that could trigger a political crisis.

He said that Mr. Chebukati went against the law by announcing the result without the backing of his fellow commissioners. This is a legal point that may in the end have to be tested in court.

Minutes before Mr Odinga spoke, four of seven electoral commissioners who refused to approve Monday’s results, held a press conference to give their reasons.

They accused Mr Chebukati of side-lining them and of announcing results that were full of “mathematical absurdity and defied logic”.

Juliana Cherera, the vice-chairperson of the commission, said that if you add the percentages as announced by the chairperson of the commission the sum came to 100.01%.

But the BBC’s Reality Check team says that this was down to a rounding error and is not suspicious.

Mr Odinga has however commended the four commissioners for their “heroism”.

“The majority of (the electoral commission) – who stood up to the bullying and illegal conduct of Mr Chebukati, we are proud of them and ask them not to fear anything. Kenyans are with them,” he said.

On Monday, Mr Ruto described the objections of the commissioners as a “side-show”, but said he would respect a legal process. He also called for unity, saying he wanted to be a president for all, and for the country to focus on the future.

Last week’s election was largely peaceful. The electoral commission was widely praised for conducting a transparent process by posting on its website results from more than 46,000 polling stations and encouraging anyone to conduct their own tally.

However, scuffles broke out at the counting center on Monday after Mr. Odinga’s supporters accused the electoral commission of tampering with votes and attempted to block Mr. Chebukati from announcing the final results. At least three poll officials were injured in the melee.

Calm has been restored in the country after a mixture of celebrations and violent protests following the official declaration of the presidential results.

Thousands of supporters, clad in yellow, Mr Ruto’s party colours, poured onto the streets of Eldoret in the Rift Valley. In contrast in the western city of Kisumu, Mr Odinga’s supporters blocked roads and lit bonfires. Similar scenes played out in several towns and in the capital, Nairobi.

Generally there is a sense of relief that the counting process is over because the election season often means that life grinds to a halt.

But people will be paying attention to Mr. Odinga’s plans to file a case at the Supreme Court.

Election branding

Election branding

Election branding

Election branding


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Brittney Griner Pleads Guilty In Russia, Gets Biden Note


Basketball star Brittney Griner pleaded guilty to drug charges in a Russian courtroom on Thursday, but not before she was handed a note from President Joe Biden.

With the hope that a guilty plea might be her best shot at a lenient sentence in what experts fear is a sham trial, the WBNA player admitted to taking hashish oil into Russia by accident because she had been in a hurry when she packed.

“Brittney sets an example of being brave. She decided to take full responsibility for her actions as she knows that she is a role model for many people,” read a statement from Griner’s Russian legal team, Maria Blagovolina from the firm Rybalkin Gortsunyan Dyakin and Alexander Boykov from the Moscow Legal Center.

“Considering the nature of her case, the insignificant amount of the substance and BG’s personality and history of positive contributions to global and Russian sport, the defense hopes that the plea will be considered by the court as a mitigating factor and there will be no severe sentence,” the lawyers said.

The attorneys said they expected Griner’s trial to conclude around the beginning of August.

Griner has been detained in Russia for more than four months after authorities said they found small amounts of hash oil in vape pens in her luggage.

“Brittney has admitted to making a mistake, and I hope the Russian authorities recognize that humbling act and respond with compassion,” Rev. Al Sharpton said in a statement passed on by Griner’s team.

Sharpton, Britney’s wife Cherelle, and WNBA players will rally on Friday in Chicago to call for her release.

They fear that Griner, who faces a maximum sentence of 10 years, is being used as a bargaining chip by Moscow against Washington amid the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“She is in the fight of her life right now, which is why we’ll be in Chicago to show our support for Brittney and for the Administration and their efforts to bring her home as soon as possible,” Sharpton said. “We must all continue to pray she finds strength through this challenging time.”

Griner’s guilty plea came a day after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called Cherelle Griner to offer assurances that his administration is working to free the basketball star.

That call came after Cherelle Griner criticized Biden for not meeting with her to discuss the case.

As she arrived in court on Thursday, Brittney Griner was given a note from Biden which he had earlier read to his wife over the phone.

The message was in response to one the basketball player had written to the president on July 4, begging for freedom.

“As I sit here in a Russian prison, alone with my thoughts and without the protection of my wife, family, friends, Olympic jersey, or any accomplishments, I’m terrified I might be here forever,” Griner wrote.


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A Functional Congress? Yes. – The New York Times


Describing Congress as dysfunctional seems unobjectionable, even clichéd. I’ve done it myself this summer. Yet as the current session enters its final months, the description feels off. The 117th Congress has been strikingly functional.

On a bipartisan basis, it has passed bills to build roads and other infrastructure; tighten gun safety; expand health care for veterans; protect victims of sexual misconduct; overhaul the Postal Service; support Ukraine’s war effort; and respond to China’s growing aggressiveness.

Just as important, the majority party (the Democrats) did not give a complete veto to the minority party. On a few major issues, Democrats decided that taking action was too important. They passed the most significant response to climate change in the country’s history. They also increased access to medical care for middle- and lower-income Americans and enacted programs that softened the blow from the pandemic.

Congress still has plenty of problems. It remains polarized on many issues. It has not figured out how to respond to the growing threats to American democracy. The House suffers from gerrymandering, and the Senate has a growing bias against residents of large states, who are disproportionately Black, Latino, Asian and young. The Senate can also struggle at the basic function of approving presidential nominees.

The current Congress has also passed at least one law that seems clearly flawed in retrospect: It appears to have spent too much money on pandemic stimulus last year, exacerbating inflation.

As regular readers know, though, this newsletter tries to avoid bad-news bias and cover both accomplishments and failures. Today, I want to focus on how Congress — a reliably unpopular institution — has managed to be more productive than almost anyone expected.

I’ll focus on four groups: Democratic congressional leaders; Republican lawmakers; progressive Democrats; and President Biden and his aides.

Earlier this year, Chuck Schumer — the Democratic leader in the Senate — seemed to have lost control of his caucus. He devoted Senate time to a doomed voting-rights bill, while his talks with party centrists over Biden’s economic agenda looked dead.

Critics believed that Schumer, fearing a primary challenge for his own seat in New York, was making pointless symbolic gestures to the left. And Schumer did seem strangely anxious about his left flank.

But he also continued to negotiate quietly with the crucial Democratic Senate centrist, Joe Manchin, while urging Senate progressives to accept the deal on health care and climate policy that he and Manchin were making.

His performance was impressive, especially because Schumer could not afford to lose a single Democratic vote in the Senate, and evoked the successes of his predecessor as Senate leader, Harry Reid. It also resembled the skillful management of the House Democratic caucus by Nancy Pelosi over the past 20 years. She also runs a diverse caucus that holds a narrow majority.

In recent decades, congressional Republicans have almost uniformly opposed policies to address some of the country’s biggest problems, including climate change and economic inequality. That opposition has continued in the current Congress.

But Republicans have not reflexively opposed all legislation in this Congress — as they tended to do during Barack Obama’s presidency, Jonathan Bernstein of Bloomberg Opinion points out. In the current session, some Republicans worked hard to help write bipartisan legislation on other issues.

Below is a list of Senate Republicans who voted for at least three of five major bills (on infrastructure, China policy, gun safety, veterans’ health care and the Postal Service). Note the presence of Mitch McConnell, the Republicans’ Senate leader:

Only five Republican senators did not vote for any of those bills: James Lankford of Oklahoma, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Richard Shelby and Tommy Tuberville, both of Alabama.

The progressive wing of the Democratic Party can sometimes seem self-defeating these days, focused on internal purity rather than policy changes. (Ryan Grim wrote a remarkable article in The Intercept in June about the meltdowns at some liberal groups.)

But progressive members of Congress have been strikingly practical this year. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and most House progressives understood that keeping Manchin on board offered the only hope of ambitious climate legislation. They refused to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

As a result, the current Congress will end up being one of the most progressive of the past century. Its successes don’t measure up to the New Deal, the Great Society and maybe not Obama’s first two years (with legislation on health care, climate and economic rescue). Yet the current session can compete with any other one.

That’s true partly because most Democratic presidents in the 20th century failed to pass their biggest domestic priorities. Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, John F. Kennedy and Harry Truman all fall into this category.

Their disappointments helped spawn jokes about Democratic disarray. “I don’t belong to an organized political party,” the humorist Will Rogers once said. “I’m a Democrat.”

Those jokes now seem outdated. Biden is the second straight Democratic president to shepherd a big agenda through Congress. During the first of those two presidencies, of course, Biden was the vice president, and he helped manage congressional relations.

“Many of us dismissed Biden’s claim that he could bring the parties closer together as delusional,” New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait wrote. “To an extent we didn’t expect, he’s managed to do it.”

What’s Biden’s strategy? He and his top aides rarely take opposition personally. They don’t get too down when things look bad. They trust and respect their party’s congressional leaders. They keep talking — and talking — with members of Congress and looking for areas of compromise.

For his efforts, Biden has been able to sign a string of major bills in recent months. The signing ceremony for the climate bill is scheduled for today.

For more: Farah Stockman of Times Opinion and the Washington Post editorial board have both written about the surprising functionality of the current Congress.

The Republican Party has turned strongly anti-environmental, Paul Krugman writes. But why?

How would you describe Liz Cheney? Here’s what Wyoming voters answered.

Metropolitan Diary: Reader tales from New York City.

A Times classic: The psychology of cults.

Advice from Wirecutter: Build an ebike.

Lives Lived: Nicholas Evans’s “The Horse Whisperer,” a 1995 novel that became a film, broke publishing records along with readers’ hearts. He died at 72.

Mark your calendars: NBA opening night is set for Oct. 18. The Boston Celtics will host the Philadelphia 76ers in the first game of a doubleheader, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reports, and the Golden State Warriors will receive their championship rings ahead of a matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Same as it ever was: The programs in the AP college football preseason poll won’t shock you. Alabama is ranked No. 1 for the ninth time, Ohio State is No. 2 and Georgia, the defending champion, is No. 3. Some voters didn’t know what to do with No. 14 U.S.C., though.

Is Manchester United already too far gone? After an embarrassing loss Saturday, the club appears divided by dynamics that could give you chilling flashbacks to high school (even Cristiano Ronaldo eats alone, sometimes). They’re last place in the Premier League table with no clear path to the top.

Salman Rushdie had wondered in recent years whether the public was losing its appetite for free speech, a principle on which he staked his life when Iran sought to have him killed for his 1988 novel, “The Satanic Verses.” As Rushdie told The Guardian last year, “The kinds of people who stood up for me in the bad years might not do so now.”

After Rushdie was stabbed onstage Friday, the initial denunciation gave way to a renewal of the debate over free speech, Jennifer Schuessler writes in The Times. Some of Rushdie’s supporters lamented growing acceptance, on parts of the political right and left, of the notion that speech that offends is grounds for censorship.

Jennifer’s story also notes some surprising history — including a Times opinion essay by Jimmy Carter decrying Rushdie’s novel.


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UN ready to visit Zaporizhzhya nuclear plant together with International Atomic Energy Agency


Ukraine calls on UN and IAEA to inspect nuclear plant seized by Russian invasion forces

Ukraine calls on UN and IAEA to inspect nuclear plant seized by Russian invasion forces

Read also: China calls for dialogue between Ukraine and Russia amid shelling of Zaporizhzhia NPP

The UN emphasized that the IAEA is an independent organization which decides by itself on how to implement its mandate – the UN cannot block or cancel any actions of the agency.

Read also: Russia rules out demilitarized zone around Zaporizhzhia NPP

“… The UN Secretariat believes that it has the logistical and security capabilities in Ukraine that can support any IAEA mission to the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, if Ukraine and Russia agree to this,” Dujarric said.

The largest nuclear power plant in Europe, the Zaporizhzhya NPP was captured by Russian invading forces after the fighting in the town of Enerhodar on March 4. The nuclear plant’s buildings were damaged by Russian shelling in several places, and plant workers were taken prisoner.

Read also: Russia exploiting Zaporizhzhia NPP to play on West’s fears – ISW

The Kremlin is using the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant to put pressure on Ukraine and the world, threatening a nuclear catastrophe. It’s also using the power plant structures as cover for its military vehicles, since the Armed Forces of Ukraine cannot return fire in the area of ​​the power plant.

Russian troops have now set up firing positions at the nuclear plant and are shelling Ukrainian cities from there. Energoatom reported that Russian invading forces placed at least 14 units of heavy military vehicles with ammunition, weapons and explosives in the turbine hall of the nuclear plant’s first reactor. In the last two weeks, the invaders have repeatedly staged provocations by shelling close to the nuclear power plant.

Read also: After Russian shelling, IAEA demands access to Zaporizhzhia NPP

Ukraine has called on the IAEA and the UN to send an international mission to the Zaporizhzhya NPP as soon as possible.

Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine


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