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Wednesday, December 08, 2021 12:06 PM

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WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The U.S. Senate found federal Judge Thomas Porteous guilty of two counts of corruption and two counts of lying Wednesday and ordered him removed from office.

Sitting as a court of impeachment, the Senate overwhelmingly said Porteous, sitting in New Orleans, was guilty of corruption, engaged in longstanding pattern of corruption, lied in a bankruptcy filing about his assets, gambling losses and debt, and lied to the Senate and FBI during his judicial conformation investigation hearing.

"Guilty," senators said as their names were called.

The closest vote was 67-27 on the second article of impeachment charging the judge displayed a "longstanding" pattern of corrupt conduct with a former bail-bondsman.

The Senate also voted to disqualify Porteous from holding office at any future date.

The House of Representatives approved four articles of impeachment against Porteous in March. The judge is accused of accepting free meals and gifts, including cash, from lawyers and a bail-bond company having business before him when he was a Jefferson Parish judge in Louisiana.

The Senate has heard 19 impeachment cases and Porteous's conviction is the eighth. He has served on the federal bench New Orleans since 1994.

Bill on tax rates not sole lame-duck issue

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Extending Bush-era tax rates isn't the only agenda item for Congress; leaders say they'll bring up bills to keep the U.S. government running and an arms treaty.

Senate Democrats said they plan to roll 12 spending measures that fund the government into one huge, $1.1 trillion bill, which Republicans oppose, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Senate Democratic leaders also said they would bring the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to a vote, even though key GOP senators said they want to delay the U.S.-Russian nuclear arms agreement until next year.

Republicans said Tuesday they would oppose efforts to package all of the spending bills into one measure, but Senate Democrats said they would forge ahead under that scenario anyway. House Democrats are expected to pass an alternative spending plan that could add billions of dollars to key programs.

"That's complete denial of the message of the last election," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said, calling the singular bill a "pork barrel" measure that would increase federal spending.

Senate Republican leaders said they prefer a stopgap measure that would keep funding level, or possibly reduced, through September.

Despite some Republicans, including Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., suggesting delaying the START vote until next year, Democrats said they believe the bipartisan deal on taxes gives them enough time approve the measure during the lame-duck session.

President Obama announced this week a deal had been struck with congressional Republicans on extending all tax rates enacted during George W. Bush's administration, including rates for wealthy taxpayers. The compromise also includes extension of unemployment insurance and several tax breaks included in the 2009 stimulus package, and a 2 percent reduction in the payroll tax.

Senate Democrats scheduled test votes this week on several issues that are expected to fail, including measures that would help children of illegal immigrants and a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, the Post said.

Chilean prison fire kills 81

SANTIAGO, Chile, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A prison fire in Chile has killed at least 81 people and injured more than a dozen others, officials in the capital of Santiago said Wednesday.

The blaze broke out in one of the towers of the San Miguel (OOTC:SMGBF) prison located south of the Chilean capital, Chile's Radio Bio Bio reported.

Prison officials evacuated some 200 inmates while firefighters worked to get the flames under control.

Sources told Radio Bio Bio that the fire broke out after a fight between inmates.

The San Miguel prison houses some 1,900 inmates.

Ex-first lady, Preval's pick in runoff

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Violence greeted the announcement Haitian President Rene Preval's choice for successor will be in a runoff with a former first lady, police said.

The Central Election Commission's preliminary results indicate Mirlande Manigat, whose husband was ousted by the country's now-disbanded military in 1988, led balloting in the Nov. 28 election, followed by Jude Celestin, whom Preval selected as his successor, CNN reported Wednesday.

The third-place finisher, musician Michel Martelly, who just missed the Jan. 16 runoff, challenged the results, alleging fraud.

"The math says an absolute fraud," said Damian Merlo, Martelly's campaign manager.

Preliminary results indicated Manigat received 31.37 percent of the vote, followed by Celestin getting 22.48 percent, and Martelly capturing 21.84 percent.

Gunfire resounded and demonstrators set tires on fire Tuesday after election officials announced preliminary results, The Miami Herald reported.

Nineteen candidates sought to succeed Preval, barred from seeking another term, who has become increasingly unpopular as Haiti is still trying to recover from a devastating earthquake in January and is in the grip of a cholera epidemic.

Candidates have 72 hours to challenge the preliminary results, the Herald said.

"These elections need to be annulled. The next step, we meet ... to watch what the reaction is throughout the country," said candidate Charles-Henri Baker, who finished sixth with 2.38 percent of the vote.

Cheney faces bribery charge in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Charges were filed against ex-U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and Halliburton (NYSE:HAL) leaders, accusing them of paying bribes for contracts, Nigeria officials said.

Femi Babafemi, a spokesman for Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said Wednesday charges against Cheney and nine others include "conspiracy and distribution of gratification to public officials" to secure gas contracts in the 1990s, CNN reported.

The charges arose from an investigation that is part of a long-running case involving Halliburton and its one-time subsidiary firm -- Kellogg, Brown and Root -- over an alleged $180 million in bribes paid to Nigerian officials to secure $6 billion worth of contracts for a project in the Niger Delta (NYSE:DAL) , the spokesman said.

Kellogg, Brown and Root, one of four large construction firms that built the natural gas plant, pleaded guilty in the United States last year and, along with Halliburton, reportedly settled for $579 million, CNN reported. However, the Nigerian investigation continued, with allegations that the bribes could have been made along the governmental food chain and possibly including then-President Olusegun Obasanjo.

Cheney's lawyer said there is no reason to suspect his client, who was Halliburton's chairman and chief executive officer from 1995 to 2000, is guilty.

"This matter involves the activities of an international four-company joint venture (which included KBR (NYSE:KBR) ) well over a decade ago," attorney Terrence O'Connell said. "The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission investigated that joint venture extensively and found no suggestion of any impropriety by Dick Cheney in his role of CEO of Halliburton."

Garbage trucks burned in Italy protest

NAPLES, Italy, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Unrest over Naples' trash disposal crisis has flared again, with two trucks set afire and a town hall firebombed, authorities said.

The garbage trucks were burned Tuesday night outside Terzigno, where a dump has been accepting refuse from towns below Mount Vesuvius despite local opposition, the Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The drivers were stopped and ordered out of their cabs before a group of men set fire to the trucks, police said.

In nearby Boscoreale, a firebomb damaged the entrance to the town hall, but no one was injured. Much of the garbage from Naples itself has been sent to other Italian regions that agreed to take it until the disposal system is functioning again.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has promised to clear the streets of Naples by Christmas.

(Source: UPI )
(Source: Quotemedia)
 

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