Nation and world news briefs

©Tribune News Service

Judge reinstates NY presidential primary, says cancellation ‘deprived’ residents of ‘right to vote’

NEW YORK — A federal judge on Tuesday reinstated New York’s Democratic presidential primary, ruling that the state Board of Elections’ decision to cancel the contest amid the coronavirus pandemic unconstitutionally “deprived” millions of residents of “the right to vote.”

The decision by Manhattan Federal Court Judge Analisa Torres puts the primary back on for June 23.

Andrew Yang, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race in February, filed the lawsuit that prompted Torres’ decision.

—New York Daily News


Ex-Rep. Duncan Hunter’s prison report date likely pushed back to 2021

WASHINGTON — Former Rep. Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who improperly spent more than $150,000 in campaign funds on personal pursuits, will likely report to prison next year, several months beyond his original May report date.

In a joint motion filed Tuesday, the government and Hunter’s attorney ask U.S. District Court Judge Thomas J. Whelan to push his self-surrender date to Jan. 4, 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In exchange for the government’s agreement to delay Hunter’s report date, he agreed to not attempt to modify his 11-month prison sentence or ask to subtract time he has spent in home confinement from his prescribed time in federal custody.

The filing was signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Emily Allen — whom Hunter has previously denigrated for being a partisan Department of Justice employee — and his lawyer, Devin Burstein.

Hunter was sentenced to prison on March 17 for illegally spending campaign money on a wide range of luxuries, including a family vacation to Italy and immense bar tabs. His resignation from Congress took effect Jan. 13, closing out an 11-year career.

—CQ-Roll Call


Thousands in Pakistan protest against activist’s assassination

ISLAMABAD — Tens of thousands of people defied a lockdown due to the coronavirus and a police crackdown to protest about the assassination of a rights activist who many believe was killed by Islamist militants backed by the country’s security services.

Arif Wazir, a member of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement, or PTM, was shot by unidentified assailants in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa last week, and died on Saturday.

Millions of Pashtuns live in the region formally known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas near the Afghan border, once a stronghold of al-Qaida and the Taliban.

The PTM was established in 2018 to defend the rights of 35 million ethnic Pashtuns.

The PTM has said the military supports some militants as “good Taliban” because they only fight in Afghanistan, allegations the army denies.

Wazir’s killing triggered accusations that Pakistan’s military was involved. On Tuesday, tens of thousands of people chanted slogans against the army at a rally in Wazir’s hometown of Wana in the region of South Waziristan.

Huge crowds filled the streets and people stood on rooftops in photographs and videos on social media.



Venezuelan insurgents regroup after internal leak compromises operations

Military insurgents who landed in Venezuela over the weekend in an attempt to capture top leaders of the Nicolas Maduro regime pulled back to regroup Tuesday after an internal information leak compromised operations and led to the capture of 13 of its members, including two Americans, leaders of the movement said.

The move, however, doesn’t mean they are pulling out of the country, the leaders said. It’s only a temporary halt in operations to redesign the future objectives of its units, made up mostly of exiled Venezuelan military personnel aided by former U.S. soldiers.

“The operations will be halted given that a number of errors were made,” said former Venezuelan National Guard Capt. Javier Nieto, one of the leaders of “Operation Gideon.”

“Definitely, the regime managed to infiltrate people (inside the group) and now we have to reorganize.”

According to the movement’s leaders, as many as 200 men, mostly exiled Venezuelan military personnel, are involved in the operation, although they are not revealing how many of them are actually back in the South American country.

The insurgent group seeks to capture the leaders of the regime, including Maduro, who are accused by U.S. prosecutors of heading the Los Soles drug cartel and have bounties worth millions for information leading to their capture.

Maduro, who has been calling the attacks a mercenary invasion orchestrated by Washington and Bogota, said Tuesday afternoon that there were two U.S. citizens among the 13 “terrorists” that had been captured in the failed plot to depose him.

Nieto confirmed that the captured Americans are Airan Berry and Luke Denman, both former U.S. soldiers linked to former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau, the owner of the Melbourne, Fla.-based security firm Silvercorp USA, which trained the members of the exiled group.

—Miami Herald