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Conservative Christians jeer ‘traitor’ Pence for refusing to overturn election

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Mike Pence, former vice-president of the United States, has been heckled as a “traitor” for his refusal to overturn last year’s election result during a speech to a gathering of religious conservatives.

Mr Pence, who is widely seen as laying the groundwork for a White House run in 2024, had entered an auditorium in Orlando, Florida, to a standing ovation on Friday. But a small group began shouting abuse including “traitor!” as he began a 28-minute speech. The dissenters were quickly escorted out by police.

Earlier, in a corridor outside the ballroom, an attendee named Rick Hurley, wearing a red “Make America great again” cap, also vented his frustration over Mr Pence’s role in certifying former president Donald Trump’s defeat on January 6th amid false claims of voter fraud.

“We need to start fighting!” Mr Hurley shouted at anyone who would listen. “We need to stop being so damned nice. What the hell’s going on? Why is Pence coming today? Donald Trump has his pen in his back still.”

Before being taken aside by police, he also remarked: “I’m ready to fight. I’m going to boo him off stage. I’ll take the bullet. I’ll walk to the front of the stage and look him in the eye and and say, ‘What are you doing here?’”

In an interview, Mr Hurley said he had been at the US Capitol on January 6th. “I want to know why Pence is here today.” he said. “He stabbed Donald Trump in the back and took the coins like Judas.”

But Ralph Reed, organiser of the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual Road to Majority conference, was at pains to give Mr Pence a warm welcome and honour him as stalwart of the Christian conservative movement.

And the former vice-president, who earlier this month admitted that he and his former boss may never “see eye to eye” on the events of January 6th, when some Trump supporters called for him to be hanged, did not dwell on that disagreement during his remarks.

He instead told the gathering: “Thank you for the privilege of serving as your vice-president with Donald Trump. It was the greatest honour of my life.”

‘Divisive election’

Mr Pence made only a passing reference to the deadly insurrection that implied an equivalence with racial justice protests and Joe Biden’s policies: “We’ve all been through a lot over the past year: a global pandemic, civil unrest, a divisive election, a tragic day in our nation’s Capitol, and a new administration intent on transforming our country.”

Since leaving office, Mr Pence has bought a house in Indiana, announced plans for a podcast and signed a two-book deal for his memoir. Despite the anger of some Trump supporters, he is seen as a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for president in 2024.

His conference speech on Friday duly listed the Trump administration’s achievements – from supreme court appointments to coronavirus vaccines – and took aim at Mr Biden for rapidly unravelling its legacy with “a tidal wave of left-wing policies”.

Mr Pence quipped: “Democrats have been so busy advancing their liberal agenda, sometimes I feel like the left-hand doesn’t know what the far left-hand is doing.”

He went on to rail against “an explosion” of runaway spending, proposed tax increases, plans to cut military funding and the cancellation of construction on Mr Trump’s signature border wall.

“Literally in five months, they turned the most secure border in the world into the worst border crisis in American history,” Mr Pence said to applause. “You know, when I was vice-president, I visited our southern border. And yes, it’s past time for our current vice-president to go to the border, put our policies back into effect and end the Biden border crisis today.”

He also threw out false assertions to go after “culture war” targets in conservative media including “cancel culture” and “defund the police”.

Critical race theory

Among them was critical race theory which, developed by academics starting in the 1970s, examines how racism embedded in law and institutions creates an uneven playing field for people of colour in America. Numerous Republican-controlled states have moved to ban it from being taught in schools.

Mr Pence crudely misrepresented the intellectual tool by stating: “Instead of teaching all of our children to be proud of their country, critical race theory teaches children as young as kindergarten to be ashamed of their skin colour. Critical race theory is racism, pure and simple – and it should be rejected by every American of every race.

“The truth is it’s past time for America to discard the left-wing reflex to see systemic racism across our nation. As my friend senator Tim Scott says so well, America is not a racist country – America is the most just, noble and inclusive nation ever to exist on the face of the Earth.”

In another wildly contentious claim, Mr Pence said: “The United States military is the greatest force for good the world has ever known.”

Mr Pence closed a morning session that included Republican senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, all potential rivals for the 2024 nomination. Mr Trump has not yet declared whether he will run or whether Mr Pence would again be his running mate. – Guardian

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Three Cork publicans prepare to begin trade again

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Pensioners who like to read the paper as they enjoy a few leisurely pints are the cohort most excited by the resumption of indoor service in pubs, according to a Cork city publican who has only traded for two weeks since March 2020.

Michael O’Donovan, who owns the Castle Inn, says his regulars have been phoning to check what time he is opening on Monday, with some saying they have not had a social outing since the start of the pandemic.

“We know all our regulars on a first-name basis. We have a man who comes in and has two or three pints on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He will read the paper but he will watch the world go by at the same time,” he said.

“He will chat when he wants to chat. He is in his late 70s and he wouldn’t have been out [socially] in 15 months.”

Mr O’Donovan said it has been a surreal time but was hopeful that better days were coming.

“We will adapt and get on with all the changes we have to make with how we do business,” he said. “It is difficult in that we never wanted to be asking people about their health status. We have to be cautious but it is another step in getting life back to the way we knew it.”

‘It has been a struggle’

Danny Collins was looking forward to reopening the Boston Bar in Bantry, west Cork after a year of many sleepless nights due to worries about keeping the business afloat.

“I have been going through my savings to pay the mortgage as we were only open for a couple of weeks last year,” the independent councillor said.

“It has been a struggle. Of course there were other bills as well. To have your pub cameras, you had to pay the internet bill. I was also advised to keep my cooler system running. In the winter, I had to put on the heating.”

Mr Collins said he was apprehensive about all the different regulations that will have to be complied with as indoor service returns, such as staffing all entrances, and that finding employees had been a struggle for those in the sector.

“I think the PUP [Pandemic Unemployment Payment] should be reviewed at this point,” he said.

‘We can’t wait to open’

In Cork city, publican Ernest Cantillon will be opening Electric bar/restaurant and Sober Lane bar this week.

During the pandemic, he set up an online cocktail sales business and sold takeaway food, allowing him to keep a core team of about 15 people employed despite his business only opening as a traditional pub for a couple of weeks last year.

“We have also shifted to a new model of opening four evenings a week,” he said. “We are opening next Wednesday through Saturday and then staff will have three days off. That has been a key factor in staff retention and recruitment. We are going to give it a go. We can’t wait to open.”

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Germany’s flood zones spared severe storms on Saturday

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In the west of the country, the fire brigade reported a quiet night in the flood areas in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine Westphalia.

The situation remains tense, however, with local thunderstorms forecast in some parts of Germany from midday on Sunday — most likely south of the Danube.

Further heavy rain and hail were also possible again, according to the German Weather Service (DWD), which publishes storm warnings.

READ ALSO: WEATHER: German flood zones at risk of further storms

The latest storms came just days after parts of the country were hit by devastating floods after torrential rains that ravaged entire villages and left 180 people dead, hundreds injured and with many still missing.

The flooding also caused damage in Belgium, where 37 people died, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland.



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Prosecutors allege R Kelly had sexual contact with under-age boy

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US prosecutors in R Kelly’s sex trafficking case say he had sexual contact with an under-age boy in addition to girls, and the government wants jurors in his upcoming sex-trafficking trial to hear those claims.

Federal prosecutors aired a wide-ranging raft of additional allegations – but not new charges – against the R&B singer in a court filing on Friday.

Jury selection is due to start August 9th in a New York federal court for Kelly, who denies ever abusing anyone.

The Grammy Award-winning singer is charged with leading what prosecutors call a criminal enterprise of managers, bodyguards and other employees who allegedly helped him to recruit women and girls for sex and pornography and to exercise control over them.

The charges involve six different women and girls, who are not named in court filings.

Now, prosecutors would also like jurors to hear about more than a dozen other people whom the government alleges that Kelly sexually or physically abused, threatened or otherwise mistreated.

Among them, the government says, was a 17-year-old boy and aspiring musician whom Kelly met at a McDonald’s in December 2006 and later invited to his Chicago studio.

According to the prosecutors’ court filing, after asking the boy what he would do to make it in the music business, Kelly propositioned and had sexual contact with him while he was still under-age.

And when Kelly was about to go on trial on child pornography charges in Chicago in 2008, the same youth told the singer he had access to a juror, and Kelly asked him to contact the juror and vouch he was a “good guy”, prosecutors wrote.

The filing does not say whether the youth did so. Kelly was acquitted in that case.

The boy also introduced Kelly to a 16- or 17-year-old male friend, with whom prosecutors say the singer began a sexual relationship several years later.

Kelly also filmed the two youths in sexual encounters with other people, including some of Kelly’s girlfriends, according to the filing.

Prosecutors wrote that the accounts of the boys and others would help show that the actual charges “were not isolated events and were part of a larger pattern”.

The multiplatinum-selling singer, born Robert Sylvester Kelly, is known for work including the 1996 hit I Believe I Can Fly and the cult classic Trapped In The Closet, a multi-part tale of sexual betrayal and intrigue.

Kelly’s private life has drawn scrutiny since the 1990s, and he currently is also facing sex-related charges in Illinois and Minnesota. He has pleaded not guilty.– AP

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