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Judge rules against Trump in records dispute with Congress

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WASHINGTON, DC, USA (AP) — A federal judge in Washington ruled yesterday against President Donald Trump in a financial records dispute with Congress.

US District Judge Amit Mehta, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, said Trump cannot block a House subpoena of financial records. He said the Democratic-led House committee seeking the information has said it believes the documents would help lawmakers consider strengthening ethics and disclosure laws, among other things.

The committee’s reasons were “valid legislative purposes”, Mehta said, and it was not for him “to question whether the committee’s actions are truly motivated by political considerations.”

The decision comes amid a widespread effort by the White House and the president’s lawyers to refuse to cooperate with congressional requests for information and records.

In the case before Mehta, Trump and his business organisation sued to block the subpoena issued in April to Mazars USA, an accountant for the president and Trump Organisation. Trump’s lawyers accused Democrats of harassing Trump and said the subpoena “has no legitimate legislative purpose”.

Trump’s lawyers, in suing in both Washington and New York in attempt to beat back congressional subpoenas, said congressional investigations are legitimate only if there is legislation that might result from them.

In the New York case, Trump, his business and family have sued Deutsche Bank and Capital One to prevent the financial companies from complying with subpoenas from the House Financial Services Committee and the House Intelligence Committee for banking and financial records. A Wednesday hearing is planned in that case.

Even before the ruling, scholars had said Trump’s legal argument had little merit and that Congress has broad powers to investigate.

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Work still needed to deal with housing in the Caribbean — study

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WASHINGTON, United States (CMC) — A study examining the state of social housing in six Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries has found that while regional countries have made great strides in the housing sector, there’s still much work to be done to bring these initiatives to scale given the region’s growing housing deficit and urbanisation rate.

The study titled “The State of Social Housing in Six Caribbean Countries” reviews the implementation of social housing programmes from 2000 to 2015 in The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) said that the period studied encompasses the emergence of neighbourhood upgrading programmes, increasing urbanisation, and the integration of environmental sustainability into housing programmes, especially those in vulnerable coastal areas.

“The report underscores the importance of housing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the larger agenda in poverty alleviation, economic development, and climate resilience.”

According to the 117 page report written by Michael G Donovan and Pauline McHardy, Caribbean countries have made great strides in the housing sector and have experimented with new models of social housing policy.

They said regional governments have pursued new programmes to encourage private sector involvement and investment in social housing through a number of incentives, including revolving low-income housing funds for the construction of new housing units and granting blocks of land to private developers to build social housing.

“In addition, many Caribbean countries have adopted the concept of incremental housing and have developed programmes to respond to the qualitative as well as the quantitative housing deficit,” they wrote, adding that the  information collected in the report has offered guidance in creating, implementing, and monitoring future social housing policies.

But they noted ‘despite these efforts, work remains to be done to bring these initiatives to scale given the region’s growing housing deficit and urbanisation rate.”

The report illustrates that the challenge of social housing provision is compounded by other issues in the Caribbean, including the increasing cost and limited availability of land, which underscores the need for more efficient urban land markets as well as limited access to secondary mortgage markets.

It also makes references to the insecurity of tenure and complexities surrounding regularization; vulnerability to natural disasters and climate change; and insufficient efforts to induce the private sector to serve a much larger segment of the market.

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Father/daughter border drowning highlights US migrants’ perils

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MEXICO CITY, Mexico (AP) — The man and his 23-month-old daughter lay face down in shallow water along the bank of the Rio Grande, his black shirt hiked up to his chest with the girl’s head tucked inside. Her arm was draped around his neck suggesting she clung to him in her final moments.

The searing photograph of the sad discovery on Monday, captured by journalist Julia Le Duc and published by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, highlights the perils of the latest migration crisis involving mostly Central Americans fleeing violence and poverty and hoping for asylum in the United States.

From the scorching Sonora desert to the fast-moving Rio Grande, the US-Mexico border has long been an at times deadly journey for those who cross it illegally between ports of entry.

In recent weeks alone, two babies, a toddler and a woman were found dead on Sunday, overcome by the sweltering heat. Elsewhere three children and an adult from Honduras died in April after their raft capsized on the Rio Grande, and a 6-year-old from India was found dead earlier this month in Arizona, where temperatures routinely soar well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

“Very regrettable that this would happen,” Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Tuesday in response to a question about the photograph. “We have always denounced that as there is more rejection in the United States, there are people who lose their lives in the desert or crossing” the river.

According to Le Duc’s reporting for La Jornada, scar Alberto Martnez Ramrez, frustrated because the family from El Salvador were unable to present themselves to US authorities and request asylum, swam across the river with his daughter, Valeria.

He set her on the US bank of the river and started back for his wife, Tania Vanessa valos, but seeing him move away the girl threw herself into the waters. Martnez returned and was able to grab Valeria, but the current swept them both away. The account was based on remarks by valos to police at the scene.

Their bodies were discovered Monday morning on the bank of the river near Matamoros, Mexico, across from Brownsville, Texas, and several hundred yards (meters) from where they had tried to cross, just a half-mile (1 kilometre) from an international bridge.

The photo recalls the 2015 image of a three-year-old Syrian boy who drowned in the Mediterranean near Turkey, though it remains to be seen whether it may have the same impact in focusing international attention on migration to the US.

US policy has drastically reduced the number of migrants who are allowed to request asylum, down from dozens per day previously to sometimes just a handful at some ports of entry.

The United States has also been expanding its programme under which asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their claims are processed in US courts, a wait that could last many months or even years.

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Weather radar to vastly improve capabilities of Met Service — Vaz

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, says the monitoring capabilities of the Meteorological Service of Jamaica will be “vastly improved” with the installation of a new S-Band Doppler Weather Radar.

Cabinet recently approved a US$2.4 million contract for the design, supply and installation of the S-band Doppler radar in a deal described as the single largest contract under the Improving Climate Data & Information Management Project funded by the Climate Investment Funds through the World Bank Group.

The minister said it was critically important to replace the 20-year-old almost obsolete radar, citing the increasing failure of the aged system.  The new system, he said, signals a resolve to meet the global challenges of weather and climate. 

Vaz was speaking today at the contract signing for the radar to be situated at Cooper’s Hill in St Andrew. The signing of the contract took place at the Terra Nova Hotel and Suites.

According to Vaz the installation of the weather radar will greatly enhance the country’s ability to achieve its Vision 2030 milestones, based on its capacity to pinpoint the location and movement of rainfall cells anywhere over the country and as far away as the Cayman Islands, south-eastern Cuba and Western Haiti.

“Jamaica will also be able to better serve the Caribbean Community as we integrate our observations into the mosaic of stations under operation in the region, and also contribute to the surveillance of the National Hurricane Centre in Miami, Florida, under their Tropical Cyclone Programme,” he noted.

“We have a very clear vision moving into the next decade,” the minister said, adding that Jamaica is focused on achieving Outcome 14 under the fourth National Development Goal of “Hazard Risk Reduction and Adaptation to Climate Change”.   “We firmly believe that adequate monitoring of natural hazards is pivotal to implementing that strategy,” he added.

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