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US Republicans block bill seeking to end ‘dark money’ in politics | Elections News

Senate fails to advance Biden-backed campaign finance bill that would require political groups to disclose big donors.

Washington, DC – US Senate Republicans have blocked a bill that aimed to combat “dark money” in United States elections by making it mandatory for political organisations to disclose big donors.

The so-called Disclose Act, which was endorsed by President Joe Biden earlier this week, failed to get the support of any Republicans in a procedural vote on Thursday.

With only 49 legislators voting in favour in the 100-member Senate, the bill did not clear the 60-vote threshold needed to bring it to a final vote.

“We all want transparent & fair elections. But these goals aren’t served by limiting Americans’ First Amendment rights – which is what the DISCLOSE Act would do,” Republican Senator Bill Hagerty wrote on Twitter. “Because this legislation promotes intimidation and cancel culture, rather than free speech, I voted against it.”

Democrats had argued the bill was needed to increase transparency in the electoral process amid increased spending by political groups of various ideological leanings.

The bill’s lead sponsor, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, on Thursday lambasted special interest groups that seek to influence US politics with “unlimited money” while hiding their identities.

“Is that group of people the ones we want controlling our country? I don’t think so,” Whitehouse said in a speech on the Senate floor. “How about regular voters, how about regular people — farmers and doctors and business owners, nurses?”

Under US law, political action committees — commonly referred to as PACs — and individuals can contribute only limited funds directly to political candidates.

But in a 2010 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that free speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment of the US Constitution give entities the right to spend unlimited amounts of money to oppose or support candidates indirectly.

Additionally, some political advocacy groups do not have to disclose their donors. Others obscure funding through shell organisations that make it difficult, if not impossible, to trace the money back to the original donors.

“Our current campaign finance system allows anonymous special interests to hide in the shadows when spending unlimited sums of money to influence our elections, leaving Americans skeptical about whether their elected representatives are actually working for them,” the White House said in a statement before the vote on Thursday.

“Under our current system, it is too easy for foreign money to influence our elections.”

Biden also delivered remarks in support of the bill on Tuesday, saying that dark money “erodes public trust” in the government.

Biden acknowledged that boundless political spending is an issue for both major parties, but he said Democrats in Congress “support more openness and accountability”, while Republicans have rejected calls for campaign finance reform.

“Dark money has become so common in our politics. I believe sunlight is the best disinfectant,” Biden said.



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King Charles III to host South African leader in state visit

King Charles III will welcome South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to the U.K. for three days of high-level talks next month, celebrating the first state visit of his reign with the leader of a Commonwealth member with close ties to the royal family

LONDON — King Charles III will welcome South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to the U.K. for three days of high-level talks next month, celebrating the first state visit of his reign with the leader of a Commonwealth member with close ties to the royal family.

Ramaphosa has accepted Charles’s invitation for a state visit from Nov. 22-24, Buckingham Palace said Monday. The South African leader will be accompanied by his wife, Dr. Tshepo Motsepe.

Charles has visited South Africa on several occasions since 1997. At Nelson Mandela’s funeral in 2013, he said the world would be a “poorer place” without the man who led South Africa’s transition from apartheid to a multi-ethnic democracy, adding that Mandela was owed “an enormous debt of gratitude” for his achievements.

The King and Camilla, the queen consort — then the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall — welcomed former South African President Jacob Zuma to the U.K. at the start of a state visit in 2010.

Charles’ sons, Princes William and Harry, have also visited South Africa a number of times.

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Follow all stories on the British royal family at https://apnews.com/hub/queen-elizabeth-ii

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With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

With 52% of Brazil votes tallied, far-right incumbent Bolsonaro has a slight lead over ex-President Lula da Silva

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Haiti reports cholera deaths for first time in 3 years

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s government on Sunday announced that at least eight people have died from cholera, raising concerns about another potentially catastrophic epidemic like the one that broke out a decade ago and killed nearly 10,000 people.

The cases – the first cholera deaths reported in three years – came in a community called Dekayet in southern Port-au-Prince and in the gang-controlled seaside slum of Cite de Soleil, where thousands of people live in cramped, unsanitary conditions.

“Cholera is something that can spread very, very quickly,” warned Laure Adrien, director general of Haiti’s health ministry.

Food or water contaminated with the cholera bacteria can lead to severe diarrhea and dehydration that can be deadly.

The United Nations said in a statement that it is working with Haiti’s government to “mount an emergency response to this potential outbreak,” stressing that health teams need to be guaranteed safe access to areas where cases have been reported.

The deaths come as a lack of fuel and ongoing protests shut down the availability of basic services across Haiti, including medical care and clean water, which is key to helping fight cholera and keep patients alive.

Haiti’s most powerful gang continues to control the entrance to a main fuel terminal in the capital of Port-au-Prince, leading to a lack of fuel amid soaring prices that have unleashed widespread protests that have paralyzed the country for more than two weeks.

The absence of fuel and increasing number of roadblocks have prevented water trucks from visiting neighborhoods to provide potable water to those who can afford it. It also has prompted some companies to temporarily shut down operations.

On Sunday, Caribbean Bottling Company said it could no longer produce or distribute potable water because its diesel reserves were “completely depleted,” adding that the lack of such a vital resource would affect “all sectors of society.”

Adrien said health officials were trying to visit communities where cholera has been reported, but that his agency, too, has been affected by a lack of fuel as he called on people blocking the gas terminal and organizing protests to “have a conscience.”

“This is a real problem,” he said of how the country has virtually been paralyzed. “We’re hoping this will not spread.”

Adrien noted that all those who died were unable to reach a hospital in time.

Haiti Health Minister Alex Larsen said people have a right to protest but asked Haitians to allow potable water supplies into neighborhoods that have been cut off by roadblocks and protests.

“Water has not been in these areas for a long time, and people are not drinking treated water,” he said, adding that cholera cases could spike again. “We ask people who can afford it to add a little chlorine to the water.”

Haiti’s last cholera epidemic sickened more than 850,000 people in a country of more than 11 million, marking one of the world’s worst outbreaks of the preventable disease in recent history.

United Nations peacekeepers from Nepal were blamed for introducing cholera into Haiti’s largest river in October 2010 by sewage. The U.N. has since acknowledged it played a role in the epidemic and that is has not done enough to help fight it, but it has not specifically said it introduced the disease.

Haiti would have been declared cholera-free by the World Health Organization only after reaching three consecutive years with no new cases.

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Associated Press writer Dánica Coto in San Juan, Puerto Rico contributed.

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