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Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe into House Democrat Elaine Luria for not Disclosing Corporate Ties

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The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog organization, demanded an investigation into Rep. Elaine Luria (D-VA) “for failing to disclose past corporate positions on her Financial Disclosure Statements.”

The watchdog filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) asking for a probe into the congresswoman after “Evidence shows Rep. Elaine Luria violated federal law requiring House Members to disclose association with organizations and finances.” The watchdog stated in the complaint that “Federal law and House ethics rules require House candidates and Members to publicly disclose information about their associations with organizations and finances.”

House ethics guidelines stated that candidates and congressional members must report the position without exception:

Annual filers, new Members, second-year candidates, and termination filers must report positions held at any time during the reporting period up to the date of filing. First-year candidates and new employee filers must report positions held at any time during the current calendar year up to the date of filing, plus the two prior calendar years. If you no longer hold the position, you may wish to indicate that fact parenthetically, but you still must report the position.

FACT’s complaint outlined the position that Luria held in addition to media reports and public documents filed with Virginia:

Contrary to this legal requirement, Representative Luria failed to properly disclose her position as an officer and director of a corporation. According to media reports and public documents filed with the State of Virginia, Luria served as the President (and was an officer and director) of Tidewater Montessori High School, Inc. from 2015 to 2019. In 2017, Luria was also named as the corporation’s registered agent. The corporation filed articles of dissolution on May 3, 2019, and it is unclear whether the school taught students during its existence. However, it is clear from the corporation’s filings that Luria was an officer and director of the corporation—a position that she was required to disclose on her financial disclosure statements.

In spite of this, Luria did not disclose this corporate position on any of her financial disclosure statements. At the time Luria filed her first financial disclosure statement on January 30, 2018, she was then President of the private school and was required to disclose that she held the position from 2016 to 2018. Additionally, Luria filed her 2018 financial disclosure statement on May 6, 2019—three days after the articles of dissolution were filed for the corporation. These nearly simultaneous filings clearly demonstrate Luria not only should have disclosed the position on her 2018 annual statement, but also on her 2019 annual statement. In addition to the timing, Luria’s undisclosed role appears to be inconsistent with her political position on school choice, which raises questions as to whether Luria’s omission was intentional.

The Washington Free Beacon reported that Luria, while failing to report that she was once president of the private high school, rallied against school choice and charter schools on the 2018 campaign trail, and reportedly did not mention that her daughter attended a private middle school which costs more than $12,000 per year.

“I stand strongly against voucher systems,” Luria said in 2018 during a candidate forum. “I stand strongly against any type of charter schools that would remove funding from our public education because the public education that we provide across America is the foundation of our future generation.”

“The disclosure requirements are an integral part of an ethical and transparent government: accurate and timely filing is the only method for citizens to determine whether Members have conflicts of interest or are wrongfully profiting from their position,” stated FACT’s complaint to the OCE.

FACT’s Executive Director, Kendra Arnold, said in a press release that Luria’s “lack of transparency” is what “erodes public trust and leaves citizens unaware of potential conflicts of interest”:

This federal law is fundamental and must be enforced. Whether intentional or not, it seems that Rep. Luria failed to properly disclose her corporate position on any of her Congressional Financial Disclosure Statements. Failing to do so is an egregious lack of transparency that erodes public trust and leaves citizens unaware of potential conflicts of interest. I encourage the Office of Congressional Ethics to immediately investigate Rep. Luria and impose the proper sanctions and penalties.

“If Elaine Luria can’t be trusted to be fully transparent with voters about something this simple, then you have to ask, what else is she hiding?” said Congressional Leadership Fund Press Secretary Cally Perkins. “Luria clearly believes the rules don’t apply to her and needs to be held accountable for it.”

Jacob Bliss is a reporter for Breitbart News. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Ukraine’s Zelensky Tries to Clean Up Biden Mess: Russian Invasion Risks ‘Haven’t Increased’

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an emergency evening speech to his citizens on Wednesday night in response to a series of bizarre comments by his American counterpart Joe Biden that appeared to indicate the latter’s certainty that Russia would invade Ukraine and assert America would not act in the event of a “minor incursion.”

Zelensky urged citizens to “take a deep breath” and “calm down,” reminding them that Russia already invaded Ukraine in 2014 – Russia has been illegally present in Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula since then – and, contradicting Biden, asserting that the risk of further invasion had not significantly changed in recent weeks.

Zelensky posted the speech to his social media accounts:

Без паніки. З вірою в Україну та мир!

Posted by Володимир Зеленський on Wednesday, January 19, 2022

“Didn’t the invasion start in 2014? Has the threat of war emerged just now? These risks have existed for more than a year, and they haven’t increased,” Zelensky asserted, according to a translation by the news site Ukrinform. “What has increased is the hype around them.”

“All our citizens, especially the elderly, need to understand this. Take a deep breath. Calm down,” Zelensky reportedly urged. “Don’t run for buckwheat and matches. To all the media – remain mass media, not sources of mass hysteria. In the pursuit of hype don’t help the enemy, reporting daily that war may start tomorrow! This will definitely not stop it.”

“What are you supposed to do? Only one thing. Keep your head calm and cool, remain confident in your strength, in your Army, in our Ukraine,” the president advised. “Do not get anxious, react smartly to everything, not emotionally! With your head, not your heart.”

Zelensky also used the opportunity to apparently condemn the Biden administration for refusing to sanction or in any way punish Russia’s belligerent behavior. Zelensky has spent much of the past year urging the United States and other allied nations to sanction the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, which would connect Russia to Germany and essentially grant Russia a monopoly over the western European fuel supply. Biden has ignored Zelensky, stating he would only consider sanctions after Russia invades.

Zelensky has in the past lamented that sanctions after an invasion “won’t matter.”

On Wednesday, the president condemned Biden’s “abstract ‘they’ll face consequences’ rhetoric,” without naming Biden personally.

Zelensky’s nationally televised remarks were a direct response to Biden appearing to abandon Ukraine to Russian colonization during a press conference that day.

“My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said when asked if he believed Russian leader Vladimir Putin would greenlight a military invasion of Ukraine (presumably a separate invasion from the two currently underway in Crimea and Donbas, an Eastern Ukrainian region).

President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy during a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, in Downing Street , London, to sign a strategic partnership deal with the president in the face of Russia’s “destabilising behaviour” towards the country. (Aaron Chown/PA Wire)

Biden told reporters that “Russia will be held accountable if it invades,” without elaborating, but suggested America would not respond “if it’s a minor incursion and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do, et cetera.”

“He’s never seen sanctions like the ones I promised will be imposed if he moves, number one,” Biden said of Putin before dismissing the prospect of a “minor incursion.” Biden did not define a “minor incursion.”

Biden’s remarks immediately triggered a firestorm, both at home and in Kyiv.

According to an unverified CNN report, the Zelensky administration’s reaction to his comments was, simply, “horror.” In Congress, senators graded Biden’s remarks as “weak,” “impotent,” “catastrophic,” and “troubling.”

“He would be better off not speaking,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) lamented.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki issued a statement following the press conference attempting to clean up Biden’s mess.

“President Biden has been clear with the Russian President: If any Russian military forces move across the Ukrainian border, that’s a renewed invasion, and it will be met with a swift, severe, and united response from the United States and our Allies,” the statement read in part. “President Biden also knows from long experience that the Russians have an extensive playbook of aggression short of military action, including cyberattacks and paramilitary tactics. And he affirmed today that those acts of Russian aggression will be met with a decisive, reciprocal, and united response”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Ukraine Wednesday as Biden predicted that Russia would invade the country.

Follow Frances Martel on Facebook and Twitter.

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Indonesia Relocating Capital from Jakarta to Borneo Jungle

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Indonesia’s parliament approved a bill on Tuesday that initiates a plan to move Indonesia’s national capital from Jakarta to a location on the southeast Asian island of Borneo — which is politically divided between Indonesia, Brunei, and Malaysia — by 2024, Channel News Asia (CNA) reported.

The Indonesian law passed on January 18 paves the way for construction to begin at the planned site of the new capital city in East Kalimantan, which is an eastern province of Borneo administered by Indonesia.

“The initial relocation will start from between 2022 and 2024, with roads and ports prioritised to enable access, with some projects operating as public private partnerships,” Indonesia’s finance ministry said on January 18.

The ambitious endeavor will cost $32 billion and see Indonesia’s capital transform radically from its current form in Jakarta – which is traffic-congested, heavily polluted, and overcrowded — into a metropolis set in a lush tropical setting deep within Borneo’s rainforest jungle. Jakarta is located on the Indonesian island of Java, which is the world’s most populated island. The capital city itself is home to 10.5 million inhabitants.

Indonesia’s government specifically plans to break ground on its new capital within East Kalimantan’s “remote” regencies of Penajam Paser Utara and Kutai Kartanegara, according to CNA, which is owned by the Singaporean public broadcaster Mediacorp.

Indonesian presidents have long proposed moving the nation’s capital and seat of government from Jakarta due to the city’s regular flooding, which is caused in large part by the fact that Jakarta is sinking below sea level.

“A recent study by the [Indonesian] National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) stated that, without aggressive effort, around 25 percent of the capital area will be submerged in 2050,” the Jakarta Post reported in November 2021.

This aerial picture taken on August 28, 2019 shows a view of the area around Sepaku, where Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that the nation’s political heart would be moved nearly 2,000 kilometres east to a yet-to-be-built model city as a way of easing pressure on densely populated Java. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The newspaper also cited a then-recent study by IPB University in West Java, Indonesia, which found that the main cause of Jakarta’s subsidence “is overuse of groundwater by home drilling as a result of massive developments.”

“Residents of Jakarta use their own wells to get freshwater from underground,” the Jakarta Post relayed.

“The continuous water intake from the ground wells has produced a massive empty space underground, which becomes the major subsidence area. The development of large buildings, hotels and shopping have also encouraged excessive use of groundwater,” according to the study.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo first announced his administration’s plan to relocate the national capital to Borneo in 2019. While the project has been delayed due to various constraints imposed by the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, the new capital should be completed by 2024, or in time to coincide with celebrations planned for Indonesia’s 79th anniversary of independence from the Netherlands, according to CNA.

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Finland: Convicted Islamist Terrorist Assaulted Prison Guards in Biting Attack

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Convicted radical Islamic terrorist Abderrahman Bouanane, who committed the first Islamist attack in Finland, has been brought before a court after being accused of attacking prison guards, allegedly biting one.

Bouanane, a migrant from Morocco, was brought before the District Court of Southwest Finland love incidents at Turku prison that are said to have taken place on October 13th, 15th and October 31st in 2020.

According to the allegations, Bouanane is said to have resisted an official in the first incident and to have violently attacked two other officials. In one of the attacks, Bouanane is said to have kicked a guard and in another, bitten the finger of another guard, broadcaster YLE reports.

So far no date has been set for a trial in the case, according got the broadcaster and Bouanane has been transferred to another prison since the attacks took place.

The Moroccan national has been serving a life sentence since he was found guilty of two counts of murder with terrorist intent and eight counts of attempted murder by a Finnish court in 2018.

Moroccan Asylum Seeker Gets Life Sentence in Finland’s First Terror Trial https://t.co/HgMSE1QvWk

— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) June 15, 2018

During his trial in April of 2018, Bouanane explained the motivation for his mass stabbing attack in the city of Turku in 2017, stating he was inspired by a Turkish man he had met in a mosque who told him that Finland had sent soldiers to fight in Syria.

“It gave me the position that I have the right to kill Finns,” Bouanane said and claimed that his motivation was “to strengthen the Islamic kingdom… I wanted the Islamic kingdom is strong,” and that he deliberately targetted women during the attack.

Eight of the ten victims of his stabbing rampage were women, one of which was a Jehovah’s Witness preaching in the centre of the city.

Bouanane is not the only convicted terrorist said to have abused prison guards in recent years. Salah Abdeslam, the lone surviving terrorist of the 2015 Bataclan massacre in Paris, was accused of harassing prison officials in 2018.

“Why are you looking at me loser? You’re a loser, come to my cell and I’ll explain. I am a Muslim and you are infidels, dogs; one day, it will change, you will kiss my feet,” Abdeslam is alleged to have told one of the guards.

Bataclan Terrorist Abdeslam Insults Prison Workers as ‘Dogs’, ‘Infidels’ https://t.co/otKzzK0pO2

— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 15, 2018

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