Rio De Janeiro, Sep 6 (AP/UNB)— Brazil's federal police filed a report Wednesday seeking to have corruption charges brought against unpopular President Michel Temer, which could lead to his suspension from office.
The report said an investigation had obtained evidence that Temer pocketed about $300,000 in bribes from construction giant Odebrecht, which is at the heart of a regional corruption scandal.
Temer has survived two previous attempts to charge him. He has already denied any wrongdoing in the case.
Brazil's top court said it received the report, which will be sent to Attorney General Raquel Dodge, who will decide whether Temer should be charged for the third time since taking office in 2016.
Dodge was appointed by Temer. The two previous charges were made by one of her adversaries, former Attorney General Rodrigo Janot.
If Dodge chooses to proceed, two-thirds of the Chamber of Deputies would have to vote to suspend Temer and put him on trial. The body twice rejected previous charges against him.
Temer's term ends Dec. 31, filling the term of Dilma Rousseff, who was impeached for alleged mishandling of federal finances.
The popularity rating for Temer has been in the single digits since last year and he decided against seeking a new term in October's national elections.
On Tuesday, Brazilian prosecutors asked a judge to approve charges against conservative presidential candidate Geraldo Alckmin. They accuse the former governor of Sao Paulo state of receiving illegal campaign contributions from Odebrecht amounting to $2.5 million in his 2014 election.
Alckmin, who has struggled in the polls, denies any wrongdoing. His lawyers called the accusation "noise from a prosecutor" before the presidential election.
Investigators at Sao Paulo state prosecutors' office said Alckmin's political rights should be suspended, but that would be unlikely to happen before the elections.
The same prosecutors' office is also seeking charges against another likely presidential candidate, Fernando Haddad of the Workers' Party.
Haddad is expected to take over as the party's presidential candidate for jailed former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was barred from running by Brazil's top electoral court Saturday.
Da Silva has held a strong lead in opinion polls despite his corruption and money laundering conviction. He denies any wrongdoing.
Haddad, who is currently the Workers' party vice presidential candidate, said during a campaign event in Sao Paulo that the party will appeal electoral court's decision to Brazil's Supreme Court. The party has only until Tuesday to replace da Silva as its presidential candidate.
United Nations, Sep 6 (AP/UNB) — The United States warned the Security Council on Wednesday that Nicaragua is heading down the path that led to conflict in Syria and a crisis in Venezuela that has spilled into the region — but Russia, China and Bolivia said Nicaragua doesn't pose an international threat and the U.N. should butt out.
The sharp exchanges took place at the first Security Council meeting called by U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the current council president, to address what the U.N. says is the government's violent repression of student and opposition protests that have killed over 300 people since mid-April and led thousands to flee the country.
"With each passing day Nicaragua travels further down a familiar path. It is a path that Syria has taken. It is a path that Venezuela has taken," Haley said.
She said Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro "are cut from the same corrupt cloth ... And they are both dictators who live in fear of their own people."
But she said there is still an opportunity for Nicaragua's government "to prevent tyranny from threatening peace and security" by responding to the people's demands for freedom, an end to "dictatorship," and the release of arbitrarily jailed protesters.
Russia's U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia countered that the "subversive policies of the United States against Nicaragua have a long history" and the meeting —which Moscow "categorically objects to" — represented "a glaring and grim example of destructive foreign intervention."
He warned that "following today's discussion, polarization in Nicaragua will only worsen."
In Nicaragua, Ortega responded to Haley's comments in a speech to a pro-government march in Managua.
"What should we say to the United States?" the Nicaraguan president said. "We'll tell them that if they want to help the Nicaraguan people, if they want to contribute to peace, the best thing they can do and should do is not meddle in Nicaragua, respect Nicaragua."
The popular protests that began in mid-April were triggered by cuts to the social security system. Ortega reversed the cuts, but demonstrations quickly expanded and turned into a call for him to step down. He has refused to give up power before elections scheduled for 2021.
A report released last Wednesday by the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights on four months of unrest in the country described government repression that stretched from the streets to courtrooms, where some protesters face terrorism charges.
The human rights office called on the government to immediately halt the persecution of protesters and disarm the masked civilians who have been responsible for many of the killings and arbitrary detentions. It also documented cases of torture and excessive force.
Two days later, the government expelled the U.N. human rights team in the country.
Gonzalo Koncke, chief of staff to the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, told the council that Nicaragua "is at a critical juncture and the government must take critical measures" to re-establish democracy in the country.
The government must quickly hold "free, just, democratic and transparent elections" and start a dialogue with all parties that leads to agreements.
If democracy is not restored, Koncke warned, Nicaragua "may go the way of other countries in the region who have fallen in the arms of dictators."
Civil society leader Felix Maradiaga, a former secretary general of Nicaragua's Ministry of Defense who said he faces constant death threats, told the council he came to convey the urgency of the situation in the country that threatens peace and security in the region.
"Every day we see a climate of terror and indiscriminate persecution," he said, citing the rising number of political prisoners, armed and masked people bursting into homes, and sexual attacks.
"For more than a decade, the Daniel Ortega regime has been benefiting from the fact that it is off the international agenda, off the international radar," Maradiaga said. "So we are seeing the danger of Nicaragua spinning out of control in a volatile region of the world."
Nicaragua needs the attention of the United Nations, he said, "to ensure there is peace and security before it's too late." And he urged the U.N.'s most powerful body to adopt a legally binding resolution, assign resources and establish a system to monitor what's happening in the country and support the restoration of the rule of law.
Nicaragua's Foreign Minister Denis Moncada Colindres made no mention of the unrest or elections, stressing instead that "in Nicaragua we love peace, we strengthen our security and we promote and defend human rights in a holistic way."
"There is consensus in this council Nicaragua does not represent a threat to international peace and security," he said.
Salt Lake City, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — A Utah driver who slammed her Tesla into a stopped firetruck at a red light earlier this year while using the vehicle's semi-autonomous function has sued the company, alleging salespeople told her the car would stop on its own in Autopilot mode if something was in its path.
Heather Lommatzsch claimed in the lawsuit filed Tuesday that Tesla salespeople told her in 2016 when she purchased the Model S that she could just touch the steering wheel occasionally while using the Autopilot mode. Lommatzsch, 29, said she tried to brake when she saw the stopped cars, but that the car's brakes did not work.
The accident happened May 11 in the Salt Lake City suburb of South Jordan. Lommatzsch broke her foot and was charged with a misdemeanor traffic citation for failure to keep a proper lookout. The firetruck's driver suffered but was not hospitalized.
Tesla spokesman Dave Arnold said in a statement about the lawsuit that the company "has always been clear that Autopilot doesn't make the car impervious to all accidents."
"When using Autopilot, drivers are continuously reminded of their responsibility to keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of the vehicle at all times," Arnold said.
Arnold stressed that Lommatzsch was cited and that the final police report said she told police she was looking at her phone before the crash. Car data showed Lommatzsch did not touch the steering wheel for 80 seconds before the crash, the report said.
Data taken from her car showed it picked up speed for 3.5 seconds before crashing into the firetruck, the report said. The driver then manually hit the brakes a fraction of a second before the impact.
Police suggested that the car was following another vehicle and dropped its speed to 55 mph (89 kph) to match the leading vehicle. They say the leading vehicle then likely changed lanes and the Tesla automatically sped up to its preset speed of 60 mph (97 kph) without noticing the stopped cars ahead.
Lommatzsch claimed she has suffered serious physical injuries that have deprived her of being able to enjoy life and led to substantial medical bills. She is seeking at least $300,000 in damages.
The Utah crash is one of several Tesla accidents that has brought scrutiny to its Autopilot, the company's semi-autonomous system designed to keep a vehicle centered in its lane at a set distance from cars in front of it. The system also can also guide the cars to change lanes automatically.
All Teslas are equipped with automatic emergency braking, which Tesla says will detect objects and brake to help avoid or lessen impact of a crashes. Tesla warns drivers to pay attention and not to rely on the system entirely.
The National Transportation Safety Board recently issued initial findings about two separate crashes involving Tesla vehicles in which three people died.
The agency found that a Tesla Model S electric car that crashed and burned last month in Florida, killing two teenagers, was traveling 116 mph (187 kph) three seconds before impact and only slowed to 86 mpg (138 kph) as the air bags were inflated.
The agency said that a Tesla Model X SUV using Autopilot accelerated just before crashing into a California freeway barrier in March, killing its driver.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it is investigating the Utah crash, but the agency did not immediately return an emailed request for an update on that investigation.
Seattle, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his wife MacKenzie Bezos have made their largest political donation to date, giving $10 million to a nonpartisan political-action committee devoted to helping military veterans running for Congress.
The North Carolina-based committee With Honor confirmed the donation, which was first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal. With Honor said it has raised $20 million toward its $30 million goal to support veteran candidates of both parties.
Bezos has previously made contributions to Washington Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and to Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch and former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. He has also contributed to Washington state campaign efforts to support gay marriage and charter schools and to defeat a measure that would have imposed a state income tax on high earners.
Boston, Sep 5 (AP/UNB) — The Democratic candidate who is poised to become Massachusetts' first black congresswoman says her upset primary win feels "surreal."
Ayanna Pressley has told supporters at a rally in Boston that she's thrilled and humbled by her victory over longtime U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano.
But the 44-year-old Boston city councilor says it's "a surreal, full circle moment." She said Wednesday she ran to represent those traditionally without a voice in politics who deserve to live in communities that are safe and have good schools.
Pressley also took a swipe at President Donald Trump, saying the only way to combat "the hate coming out of this White House" is with the kind of inclusive movement she built.
Pressley cruised to victory Tuesday in a district once served by Tip O'Neill and John F. Kennedy. Minorities now comprise a majority of the district's population.