Tag: tells

NYC should replace 9/11 funds erroneously taken by federal government, Mnuchin tells de Blasio

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has a message for ailing 9/11 New York City firefighters whose funding his agency has withheld: We’re not giving your money back — go ask NYC.

For years, the U.S. Treasury Department has withheld nearly $4 million from the Fire Department of New York’s World Trade Center Health Program to satisfy still-unexplained debts that other, unrelated city agencies have with the federal government.

Mnuchin sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday saying that the city should make up the shortfall. And if the city doesn’t pay up, Mnuchin threatened to take other federal health care funding meant for New York, and give that to the Fire Department instead.

“We agree it is unfair to burden FDNY with delinquent debts of other NYC government entities. The City government should directly reimburse FDNY,” Mnuchin wrote.

And if de Blasio refuses, Mnuchin said the Treasury, together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “will facilitate offsets against future federal payments owed to NYC, which would permit the release of funds to FDNY as such substitute offsets are made.”

“Treasury needs to stop double-talking and pay up,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s spokesman Angelo Roefaro. “This is their fault and they need to fix it, now. Enough already.”

The junior U.S. senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand, agreed.

“The administration has withheld almost $4 million from the FDNY and now wants NYC to cover for it. It’s completely unacceptable — the administration needs to end this deception and release the funding New Yorkers need.”

The Treasury secretary’s hardball offer is an unexpected turn in a convoluted tale.

According to federal law, when a federal agency can’t collect a debt, it refers the debt to the Treasury Department and something called the Treasury Offset Program, which then skims it off future federal payments to the debtor.

The treatment program’s money got vacuumed up in that because it is under the same tax ID as the rest of the city government.

But the law, written in part by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., in 1994, has a loophole that says Mnuchin can exempt offsets if they would harm a program that Congress wants to be funded, such as the 9/11 treatment program.

Hailing from Long Island, Rep. Pete King, R-N.Y., first began asking about the missing cash early this year, and made it formal with a pointed letter back in June when Treasury failed to find a solution.

Asked about Mnuchin’s hardline stance Friday, Maloney again pointed back to the law she helped write.

“It is absurd that Secretary Mnuchin hasn’t yet taken action to rectify the problem,” Maloney said. “The Debt Collection Improvement Act (PL 104-134), which I worked on with then Oversight Committee Chair Steven Horn, clearly gives the secretary and his department the ability and discretion to make sure that this program is made whole. He needs to stop playing games with these heroes’ lives.”

FDNY Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Prezant,

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Return Looted Art to Former Colonies, Dutch Committee Tells Government

The Netherlands should return looted art to its former colonies: That’s the official recommendation of an advisory committee to the Dutch government.

After a year of research, including interviews with people in former Dutch colonies such as Indonesia, Suriname and several Caribbean islands, the committee released its report in Amsterdam on Wednesday.

The lawyer and human rights activist Lilian Gonçalves-Ho Kang You, who led the committee, said in an interview that the government should acknowledge the injustices of colonialism and be willing to return objects without conditions if it can be proven that they were acquired involuntarily, and if their countries of origin ask for them.

The report calls for the creation of a body of experts to investigate objects’ provenance when requests are made, and a publicly accessible national database of all the colonial collections in Dutch museums.

Credit…Gero Breloer/Deutsche Presse Agentur, via Associated Press

The decision on whether to return an object, however, would ultimately rest with Dutch government.

Ingrid van Engelshoven, the Dutch minister of education, culture and science, who commissioned the report, said in an emailed statement that it offered “clear starting points for a new way to handle colonial collections.” She said she would present draft legislation based on the advice in early 2021.

The Netherlands owns hundreds of thousands of objects that were acquired during the country’s colonial history. But the exact number is unknown.

Creating a database and researching the background of all these objects would be a huge undertaking, said Jos van Beurden, an independent researcher who has specialized in restitution since the 1990s.

“The principle is fantastic,” he said. “But I’m worried about the execution.”

A similar report commissioned by the French government shows that the path from ideas to action can be a long and winding one. After a high-profile 2017 speech in which President Emmanuel Macron promised to return much of Africa’s heritage, the report he commissioned from two academics said that items brought to French museums without the permission of their counties of origin should be returned, if they were requested.

On Tuesday, France’s National Assembly passed a bill that would allow the official restitution of those 27 items, including 26 which would be returned to Benin, within the next year. The bill now has to be considered by the French Senate.

Bénédicte Savoy, one of the authors the French report, said in an interview that the bill, which was passed unanimously, proved that France now positively welcomed the restitution debate. Tuesday’s vote would set a useful precedent for future restitutions, she added.

“Perhaps the steps are small, but it seems to me that they are symbolically big,” she said.

Ms. Savoy said that the Dutch report was the “logical continuation” of the Netherlands’ longtime constructive dialogue with its former colonies regarding potential restitutions. “It seems to me that the debate is

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Lock down or face state of emergency, Spanish government tells Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) – Madrid must enforce travel restrictions ordered by the health ministry to limit novel coronavirus outbreaks or the national government will impose a state of emergency that would force it to comply, the government said late on Thursday.



a man walking in the snow: Passengers arrive at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in Madrid


© Reuters/SERGIO PEREZ
Passengers arrive at Adolfo Suarez Barajas airport in Madrid

In the latest escalation of tensions between the two administrations, the government said it would hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting on Friday morning to decree the state of emergency if Madrid does not impose the restrictions or request intervention.

Following a Health Ministry order, Madrid authorities reluctantly barred all non essential travel in and out of the city and nine surrounding towns last Friday to curb the spread of COVID-19 in one of Europe’s worst virus hotspots.

But a Madrid regional court on Thursday annulled the measures, ruling the government had overstepped its mandate and the restrictions interfered with fundamental human rights.[

Declaring a state of emergency – the same legal framework that underpinned Spain’s tough lockdown during the first wave of the virus – would grant the national government the powers to restrict movement.

According to a government statement, Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told Madrid’s conservative regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso that she must either enforce the restrictions or request a state of emergency, or the central government would unilaterally impose one.

“In any of the three cases the measures would be exactly the same as those already being applied, the only thing that would change would be the legal instrument,” the statement said.

Ayuso said regional officials would discuss alternatives on Friday morning.

“We hope to agree on a solution that benefits citizens and provides clarity,” she said in a statement.

Santiago Abascal, leader of the far-right Vox party, said he would call a nationwide protest on Monday if a new state of emergency was passed.

“Spaniards won’t let themselves be imprisoned again,” he tweeted.

(Reporting by Nathan Allen and Belén Carreño; editing by Grant McCool and Richard Pullin)

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‘You Cannot Lock Down Everybody’ Madrid Tells Spanish Government in COVID Spat | World News

MADRID (Reuters) – “You cannot lock down everybody,” the chief of the Madrid region said on Thursday, pushing back against the Spanish government’s plan to confine the capital city to tackle a surge in COVID-19 cases.

The health ministry said late on Wednesday that the central government was overriding regional authorities and would impose a lockdown of the city of over 3 million people and some surrounding towns in the coming days.

The ministry published the decision in an official journal and said regional and local authorities would have 48 hours to comply once a separate official order was published, though it did not say when that would happen.

But Madrid region chief Isabel Diaz Ayuso rejected the move, saying the committee that took the decision had no legal authority to do so without a consensus.

“You cannot lock down everybody,” Diaz Ayuso said on esRadio. “I’m sure the Madrid (region) plan is the best: quick tests, quarantines and life goes on.”

Diaz Ayuso said on Thursday she would challenge the health ministry order in courts amid a widening rift between the Socialist-led central government and conservative-led regional administration on the response to the pandemic.

“Legally, we are evaluating with lawyers of the region, how we can do things,” she said.

Other regions such as northeastern Catalonia, Andalusia and Galicia have also opposed the new restrictions.

The new curbs would apply to the capital city, with more than 3 million people, and nine surrounding municipalities with populations of at least 100,000 each.

The ten municipalities would see borders closed to outsiders for non-essential visits, with only those travelling for work, school, doctors’ visits or shopping allowed to cross. A curfew for bars and restaurants moved to 11 p.m. from 1 a.m.

Madrid has 735 cases per 100,000 people, one of the highest of any region in Europe and double the national rate in the country, which has has recorded 769,188 cases – the highest in Western Europe – and 31,791 deaths.

The region has imposed a partial lockdown in 45 mainly poorer areas.

(Writing by Inti Landauro and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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Trump says he doesn’t know who Proud Boys are, but tells them to ‘let law enforcement do their work’

President Trump said he is unfamiliar with the far-right Proud Boys, a day after he made headlines for telling them to “stand back and stand by” during Tuesday night’s presidential debate.

“I don’t know who the Proud Boys are, I mean, you’ll have to give me a definition cause I really don’t know who they are. I can only say they have to stand down and let law enforcement do their work,” the president told reporters on the South Lawn Wednesday afternoon. “Law enforcement will do the work more and more as people see how bad this radical liberal Democrat movement is and how weak, the law enforcement is going to come back stronger and stronger. But again, I don’t know who Proud Boys are, but whoever they are, they have to stand down, let law enforcement do their work.”

Trump added: “Just stand by. Look, law enforcement will do their work. They’re going to stand down, they have to stand down. Everybody. Whatever group you are talking about, let law enforcement do the work.”

Many Proud Boys celebrated the president’s remarks during the debate. One prominent organizer, Joe Biggs, said that the president gave the group a “shout out” and noted that the group would take his message to heart. They also started using the phrase “stand back and stand by” as a new slogan.

His comments on Tuesday night, which came after he was asked to denounce white supremacy during the debate, sparked criticism from Democrats, and members of his own party urged him to clarify what he meant.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he agreed with Sen. Tim Scott, one of three black U.S. senators, who said Trump misspoke and “should correct it.”

“He said it was unacceptable not to condemn white supremacists,” McConnell said of Scott’s response. “And so, I do so in the strongest possible way.”

Scott, a South Carolina Republican, told reporters it appeared Trump misspoke.

“If he doesn’t correct it, I guess he didn’t misspeak,” Scott said.

On Wednesday, the president brought the conversation back to antifa and far-left wing violence, which he also did during the debate.

“Now, antifa is a real problem, because the problem is on the Left. And Biden refuses to talk about it. He refuses to issue the words ‘law and order.’ You saw that last night when he choked up. He can’t say those words because he’ll lose the rest of the Left. So, he’s got to condemn antifa,” Trump explained. “Antifa is a very bad group.”

Over the last couple months, protests and demonstrations took place all across the country as many sought to raise awareness about racial injustices, and police brutality, against people of color. Amid those protests, there were also riots and destruction, which many claim were carried out by antifa. In some cases, far-right extremists sought to stop the damage, and it resulted in deadly clashes.

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