October 12

Progress seen on debt, spending talks

WASHINGTON — The top Republican in the House says congressional negotiators are making progress on two must-do items on the legislative agenda: averting automatic budget cuts and meeting a deadline later this year to increase the government’s borrowing limit.Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said “we’re making progress” as he rushed out of a two-hour session exploring a potential agreement to increase spending “caps” that threaten to hit the Pentagon and other federal agencies with budget cuts averaging 10 per cent.It was the first meeting of top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, with the top four leaders of Congress on the topics. They are returning for a second session later Tuesday.Efforts to raise the spending caps and government’s borrowing limit are often linked together to move them through Congress.Andrew Taylor, The Associated Press read more

October 2

UN chief expresses deep regret about executions of eight people in Indonesia

In a statement released today by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson in New York, the Secretary-General again urged the Government to exercise its authority and commute all death sentences, also reaffirming his belief that the death penalty has no places in the 21st century. He said that the growing majority of the international community shared his conviction, demonstrating as much in a vote in the UN General Assembly in December 2014, when a record 117 States voted for a moratorium on the use of the death penalty.The sentences were carried out despite an appeal by Mr. Ban on Saturday for Indonesia to refrain from executing those convicted. In a statement issued at the time, Mr. Ban recalled that under international law, if the death penalty is to be used at all, it should only be imposed for the most serious crimes, namely those involving intentional killing, and only with appropriate safeguards.Drug-related offenses generally are not considered to fall under the category of “most serious crimes,” and today’s statement concluded with Mr. Ban urging all countries where the death penalty is still in place to join the movement and declare a moratorium on capital punishment with a view toward abolition.Echoing that sentiment, the spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Rupert Coleville issued statement today underscoring that the High Commissioner, the Secretary-General, and other key UN entities had urged Indonesia time and time again not to proceed with these executions. “We appeal once again most strenuously to Indonesia to reinstate its moratorium on the death penalty,” he said, noting: “Indonesia appeals for clemency when its own nationals face execution in other countries, so it is incomprehensible why it absolutely refuses to grant clemency for lesser crimes on its own territory.” read more