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Barr hearing: Trump’s AG pick says Mueller probe no ‘witch-hunt’

President Donald Trump’s nominee for US attorney general, William Barr, told politicians on Tuesday that he would protect a federal probe into Russian election meddling from political pressure, stressing he would bring independence to the job and not shy away from breaking ranks with the administration. “I will not be bullied into doing anything that…

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Barr hearing: Trump’s AG pick says Mueller probe no ‘witch-hunt’

President Donald Trump’s nominee for US attorney general, William Barr, told politicians on Tuesday that he would protect a federal probe into Russian election meddling from political pressure, stressing he would bring independence to the job and not shy away from breaking ranks with the administration.

“I will not be bullied into doing anything that I think is wrong – by anybody, whether it be editorial boards or Congress or the president. I’m going to do what I think is right,” Barr said at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barr is expected to win confirmation in the Republican-controlled Senate to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement officer, which would put him in charge of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election and any possible collusion between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.

“On my watch, Bob will be allowed to complete his work,” Barr said.

Democrats worry that Trump’s administration may try to undercut the investigation, which has been a frequent target of the president and his allies.

Barr, who was attorney general under Republican President George HW Bush in the 1990s, said his primary loyalty would be to the rule of law, not Trump. He said he did not seek out the job and was reluctant to accept when Trump offered it to him.

Trump frequently criticises the Mueller probe as a “witch-hunt” and has denied any collusion with Russia or obstruction of justice. Russia has denied US intelligence agencies’ findings that it interfered in the 2016 election.

Barr said he doesn’t believe Mueller “would be involved in a witch-hunt”, adding that it was “unimaginable” that the special counsel would do anything in the investigation that would justify reeling it in or shutting it down. 

William Barr testifies at the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters] 

Barr said he agreed with Mueller’s charge that Russian entities interfered in the election, or at least tried to do so. He said he described Mueller, a longtime friend, as a “straight shooter” when Trump asked about him.

Mueller is due to submit a final report to the attorney general, prompting concern from some Democrats that the Trump administration will try to quash his findings. Barr said he would not let Trump modify the report and would make public as many of Mueller’s findings as possible.

Tough questions on Mueller memo

But Barr faced tough questions from Democrats about an unsolicited, 19-page memo he wrote last year that called Mueller’s probe “fatally misconceived” for examining whether Trump obstructed justice by firing FBI Director James Comey in 2017.

“It does raise questions about your willingness to reach conclusions before knowing the facts, and whether you prejudge the Mueller investigation,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee’s top Democrat.

Barr said his memo did not question the legitimacy of the probe as a whole, but only expressed concerns that the special counsel might be improperly interpreting one aspect of the law.

“I think it was entirely proper,” he said of the memo, saying it was not unusual for former Justice Department officials to share their views of legal matters.

He said he had written a similar memo criticising the department’s corruption case against Democratic Senator Bob Menendez, which ended in a mistrial in 2017.

Barr’s views of presidential power could be important as prosecutors and Democrats in the House of Representatives, where they hold the majority, intensify investigations of Trump’s personal business practices and his presidency.

Barr could benefit from the fact that some Democrats view him as a better option than the man who took over the job after Trump forced out Jeff Sessions last year, acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker.

During his tenure as attorney general, Sessions faced repeated attacks from Trump for recusing himself from oversight of the Russia probe after it emerged that he had met Russian officials while working with the Trump election campaign. Barr said Sessions “did the right thing” by recusing himself.

Mueller has secured indictments against or guilty pleas from 33 people and three Russian companies, including former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

‘Imperative to have border security’

On immigration, Barr said that reform is “long overdue” and expressed support for Trump’s hardline policies, including funding a border wall. 

Asked about the partial government shutdown, which was prompted by an impasse over funding for a wall on the US-Mexico border, Barr said he would like to see a deal reached where Congress recognised that it was “imperative to have border security”. 

Barr also said he believed so-called sanctuary cities, jurisdictions that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities, were hurting law enforcement’s ability to safeguard the public. Sessions sued California over the policies. 

Barr also pledged at his confirmation hearing to support and uphold the False Claims Act, a law that lets whistleblowers file lawsuits to help the federal government recover losses due to fraud.

“I will diligently enforce the False Claims Act,” Barr told Republican Senator Charles Grassley, marking a reversal from prior comments he made in which he declared the law was an abomination and unconstitutional.

The nominee also said he favours strong enforcement of US antitrust laws and would examine statistics showing that scrutiny of mergers is at historic lows. 

“I am for vigorous enforcement of the antitrust laws to preserve competition,” he said. “This is going to be an area I want to get into”. 

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Miss Universe UAE announces 15 of 30 official candidates

The first batch of candidates to compete for the title of Miss Universe UAE have been announced. Fifteen names have so far been released on official social media accounts – Marwa (23, Sharjah), Sara (25, Dubai), Jasmin (22, Abu Dhabi), Dilnoza (23, Dubai), Alma (24, Dubai), Bahar (26, Dubai), Emilia (24, Dubai), Frank (27, Dubai),…

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Miss Universe UAE announces 15 of 30 official candidates

The first batch of candidates to compete for the title of Miss Universe UAE have been announced.
Fifteen names have so far been released on official social media accounts – Marwa (23, Sharjah), Sara (25, Dubai), Jasmin (22, Abu Dhabi), Dilnoza (23, Dubai), Alma (24, Dubai), Bahar (26, Dubai), Emilia (24, Dubai), Frank (27, Dubai), Razan (28, Abu Dhabi) Natalia (24, Dubai), Victoria (26, Dubai), Reem (25, Abu Dhabi), Asher (28, Dubai), Anna (28, Dubai) and Anita (24, Dubai).
pic.twitter.com/4ShjATL77n— missuniverseuae (@missuniverseuae) October 20, 2021
The Miss Universe Organization and Yugen Events announced the historic first-ever Miss Universe UAE on October 7, 2021. The event is set to take place in Dubai.
A few hours after the announcement of the pageant, the Miss Universe website crashed as over 12,000 candidates logged in to apply. The delegation whittled the applications down to 300 and selected its 30 official candidates on Thursday.
Couture Designs by @furneamato @amatoofficialPhotographed by @lucasalvesofficial @studiolucasalvesMakeup by @vimijoshiCreative Inputs @chanelayan#MissUniverseUAE#BreakingStereotypes#UAEToUniverse@josh_yugen #JoshYugen#YugenEvents @yugenpr #Top30 pic.twitter.com/Jl6NXCvrsL— missuniverseuae (@missuniverseuae) October 21, 2021
All women, between the ages of 18 to 28, who had a three-year residency, possessing a valid Emirates ID and passport, were qualified to join.
The 2022 event will be held in Dubai for three hours, where candidates will get the opportunity to showcase their intelligence, style and talent.
#MissUniverseUAE#BreakingStereotypes#UAEToUniverse@josh_yugen #JoshYugen#YugenEvents @yugenpr #Top30 pic.twitter.com/dDSyNzOPL1— missuniverseuae (@missuniverseuae) October 22, 2021
According to an official press release, the swimwear category will be dropped from the event this time “in respect of the UAE’s culture and traditions.”
A charity dinner will formally present the candidates on November 4.
The preliminary rounds will then take place on November 5, where the Top 15 will be chosen. From the semi-finalists will be selected the top five.

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Woman dies after Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on film set

US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said Thursday. The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western. Halyna Hutchins and…

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Woman dies after Alec Baldwin fires prop gun on film set

US actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that killed a cinematographer and wounded the director on a film set in New Mexico, US law enforcement officers said Thursday.
The incident happened on the set of “Rust” in the southwestern US state, where Baldwin is playing the lead in a 19th-century western.
Halyna Hutchins and Joel Souza “were shot when a prop firearm was discharged by Alec Baldwin,” the sheriff in Santa Fe said in a statement.
Hutchins, 42, was transported to hospital by helicopter but died of her wounds, while Souza, 48, was taken by ambulance and is receiving treatment.
No charges have been filed over the incident, which is being investigated, with witness interviews ongoing.
A spokesperson from the production told The Hollywood Reporter the “accident” involved the misfire of a prop gun with blanks.
A sheriff’s spokesman told the publication that the director was in “critical condition.”
The incident took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, a production location near Santa Fe which is popular with Hollywood filmmakers.
Movie sets usually have stringent rules over the use of prop weapons, but accidents have happened.
Most famously, Brandon Lee, the son of martial arts legend Bruce Lee, died during filming of “The Crow” after being shot by a gun that was supposed to fire blanks.
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In Iraqi Kurdish city, women gain power without parity

DUBAI: Stepping into India’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is like being instantly transported from the skyscraper-dominated skyline of the Middle East’s commercial capital to the hustle and bustle of South Asia. The pavilion, located in Al-Forsan Crescent in the expo’s Opportunity District, is one of the largest at the event. Designed by CP Kukreja…

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In Iraqi Kurdish city, women gain power without parity

DUBAI: Stepping into India’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai is like being instantly transported from the skyscraper-dominated skyline of the Middle East’s commercial capital to the hustle and bustle of South Asia.

The pavilion, located in Al-Forsan Crescent in the expo’s Opportunity District, is one of the largest at the event. Designed by CP Kukreja Architects in Delhi, it features an innovative kinetic facade made up of 600 individual blocks in assorted hues of brown and beige — not entirely unlike the desert landscape outside — arranged in a mosaic of panels, each of which rotates on an axis.

The Indian pavilion’s design represents the country’s dynamism and forward-thinking vision, echoing the theme of an “India on the move.” (Credit: Supplied)

The design is intended to represent India’s dynamism and forward-thinking vision, echoing the theme of an “India on the move;” a country rooted in its rich heritage but also avant-garde and innovative in its approach to technological and economic advances.

The pavilion is also a nod to the nation’s fight against COVID-19 and the various reforms implemented by the government to prepare for what is hoped will be a period of high and accelerated growth as India strives to become a $5 trillion economy.

Combining both its heritage and its ambition, the Indian pavilion features yoga demonstrations alongside displays on its space program. (Credit: Supplied)

“The pavilion takes visitors through the numerous phases of development and the unparalleled growth trajectory that India has experienced in all sectors, ranging from health and wellness, climate change, biodiversity, food agriculture to accomplishments in space,” Aman Puri, the pavilion’s commissioner general and the consul general of India in Dubai, told Arab News.

“We have a wide assortment of festivals and celebrations to offer at the pavilion, which provide our visitors with a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get the … feel of the diverse Indian culture.”

Visitors are greeted warmly as they arrive at the state-of-the-art pavilion, which occupies a 1.2 acre site and showcases the nation’s cultural treasures and technological marvels.

Combining both its heritage and its ambition, the Indian pavilion features yoga demonstrations alongside displays on its space program. (Credit: Supplied)

As they move along a winding pathway they pass by a live yoga display in an area surrounded by greenery, a demonstration of Ayurveda, India’s ancient art of wellness, and a sharply contrasting area dedicated to India’s space program.

Visitors then move up through several levels that offer insights into various aspects of Indian culture, heritage and modern-day achievements. Massive floor-to-ceiling LED screens show images of Indian dancers and traditional ceremonies, and showcase the nation’s successes in the fields of robotics, energy, e-commerce, healthcare, cryptocurrency and blockchain.

A number of conference rooms and meeting spaces will be used to host talks and networking events in the coming months in an attempt to encourage the forging of new international business relationships with India.

Prior to the pandemic, bilateral trade between India and the UAE was worth $60 billion. As business begins to return to normal, the governments of both countries hope to facilitate investments totaling $75 billion in the coming years.

“The expo is an important occasion to exhibit and invite the world to participate in India’s economic growth by utilizing the existing Indian talent base, creating additional employment opportunities, and empowering the secondary and tertiary sectors,” said Puri.

“The plethora of global discussions, business and investment summits will focus on creating synergies and providing opportunities to explore and accelerate trade partnerships.”

Prior to the pandemic, bilateral trade between India and the UAE was worth $60 billion. As business begins to return to normal, the governments of both countries hope to facilitate investments totaling $75 billion in the coming years.

INNUMBERS

8.5 million – Population of overseas Indians in the Gulf states (2018).

(Source: GoI, Ministry of External Affairs)

Noting that India is “a country of start-up unicorns, and with an ecosystem of more than 50,000 recognized start-ups,” Puri said that “the Innovation Hub at the India pavilion will host several leading startups from India. Expo 2020 Dubai will be an excellent platform for these startups to engage with the global market.”

As it emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, India has set its sights on becoming a high-tech, $5 trillion economy. (Credit: Supplied)

Among the events the pavilion will host is a World Majlis, which includes a program of talks including: Lessons from Space, on Oct. 19; Cities on the Move, on Nov. 2; and Off the Beaten Path, on Jan. 13.

For those interested in sampling some of India’s heritage, arts and crafts, and cultural treasures, the pavilion features a retail area with shops selling gemstones, textiles and pashminas from Jodhpur, Rajasthan and Jaipur.

And of course there is also a food court offering a wide range of Indian delicacies, along with a fine-dining restaurant, managed by Taj Hotels, where visitors can feast on a selection of the country’s rich culinary offerings.

The pavilion will also offer a packed schedule of indoor and outdoor performances of traditional Indian music and dance. In addition, visitors are invited to take part in festivities such as Diwali, the festival of light, and Holi, the festival of color.

 India’s state-of-the-art pavilion, which occupies a 1.2 acre site, showcases the nation’s cultural treasures alongside its technological marvels. (Credit: Supplied)

There are plans for the pavilion to remain as a permanent space for cultural and business exchange after the expo concludes, a testament to the long-standing relationship between the UAE and India.

About 2.75 million Indian nationals live in the UAE, representing 27 percent of the Gulf state’s population of about 10 million. The majority work in the service industry, which was badly hit by the precautionary lockdown measures during the pandemic. As a result, many Indian expats were forced to return home.

India’s participation at the expo coincides with the Indian government’s Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav initiative, also known as [email protected], a year-long celebration of the upcoming 75th anniversary of independence from British colonial rule.

The Indian pavilion’s design represents the country’s dynamism and forward-thinking vision, echoing the theme of an “India on the move.” (Credit: Supplied)

The Indian consulate has launched a number of special events, in addition to those taking place at the expo, to mark the anniversary, including competitions, documentary screenings and art exhibitions. The consulate is also reportedly planning a joint celebration to coincide with the 50th UAE National Day on Dec. 2, in celebration of the bond of friendship between the nations.

Expo 2020 Dubai is the 35th World Expo. The previous one was in Milan in 2015, and the next is scheduled to take place in 2025 in the Japanese city of Osaka, which also hosted the 1970 World Expo.

People attend the opening ceremony of the Dubai Expo 2020 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on September 30, 2021. (REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah/File Photo)

The event dates back to 1851 and the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations in London, the first of what came to be called World Expos. In recent years have been staged every five years in a host city for a period ranging from three to six months.

Since 2013, when Dubai impressed a selection panel in Paris with its bid for the 2020 event, the expo has been one the most talked about and eagerly anticipated events in the UAE.

Organizers say the expo, which was delayed by a year because of the pandemic and finally got underway on Oct. 1 this year, provides a showcase for more than 200 participating entities, including 192 countries, and features 60 events. About 25 million visitors are expected before it closes in April.

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• Twitter: @rebeccaaproctor

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