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Trump says he’ll allow release of Kennedy assassination files

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By Jim Mannion/Agence France Presse

US President Donald Trump said Saturday he will allow long blocked secret files on the assassination of John F Kennedy to be opened to the public for the first time.

The November 22, 1963 assassination — an epochal event in modern US history — has spawned multiple theories challenging the official version that Kennedy was killed a lone gunman, Lee Harvey Oswald.

So the release of all the secret documents has been eagerly anticipated by historians and conspiracy theorists alike.

Trump’s announcement followed reports that not all the files would be released, possibly to protect still relevant intelligence sources and methods.

But Trump appears to have decided otherwise.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” he said in a tweet.

The files are due to be opened in their entirety Thursday, nearly 54 years after Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas — unless the US president decides otherwise.

Millions of classified Kennedy files have been made public under a 1992 law passed in response to a surge in public demand for disclosure in the wake of Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-heavy movie on the assassination.

But the law placed a 25-year hold on a small percentage of the files that expires October 26.

Some reports put the number withheld at 3,100. Tens of thousands of files that had been released with portions blacked out are also set to be fully declassified.

“The president believes that these documents should be made available in the interests of full transparency, unless agencies provide a compelling and clear national security or law enforcement justification otherwise,” a White House official said.

– Traumatic turning point –
Kennedy was the fourth US president to be cut down by an assassin’s bullets, and his death at age 46 proved a traumatic turning point as the United States headed into a period of turbulence over civil rights and the Vietnam War.

The shocking images of Jacqueline Kennedy cradling her mortally wounded husband in the back of an open presidential limousine froze the moment in the public consciousness.

A 10-month investigation led by then Supreme Court chief justice Earl Warren concluded that Oswald, a former Marine who had lived in the Soviet Union, acted alone when he fired on Kennedy’s motorcade, hitting the president with two shots, one through the upper back and the other in the head.

Oswald, arrested two hours later after murdering a Dallas police officer, was shot to death two days later by nightclub owner Jack Ruby as he was being transferred from the city jail.

The Warren commission’s finding was challenged in 1979 by a special House investigative committee that concluded Kennedy was “probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy,” and that there were likely two shooters.

– Trump’s conspiracy theory –
A welter of conspiracy theories have arisen over the years, variously blaming Fidel Castro, the Mafia, the KGB, Lyndon Johnson and the CIA.

Stone’s controversial 1991 movie “JFK” managed to implicate Johnson, the Mafia and the CIA.

Trump himself tapped into the public fascination with the case during last year’s presidential campaign, bizarrely linking Republican rival Senator Ted Cruz’s father to the Kennedy assassination.

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot,” Trump said in a May 2016 telephone interview with Fox News.

“I mean, what was he doing — what was he doing with Lee Harvey Oswald shortly before the death? Before the shooting?” Trump continued. “It’s horrible.”

Cruz called the accusation “nuts.”

“Yes, my dad killed JFK, he is secretly Elvis and Jimmy Hoffa is buried in his backyard,” he said sarcastically, speaking to reporters at a campaign event in Indiana.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff recalled that history Saturday, retweeting Trump’s announcement and asking “does this mean Ted Cruz’s father will be exposed?”

AFP

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Palace brushes off Zarate claim: Nalilito lang siya

By Prince Golez

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque downplayed the statement of Bayan Muna Rep. and House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate on the “tokhang modus” against the nine activist leaders in Calabarzon region.

Zarate in a statement called the simultaneous police-military operations in Southern Tagalog, which also resulted in the arrest of at least six others, as “pure terrorism to brutally silence dissent.”

“Nalilito kasi si Congressman Zarate kasi hindi natin sigurado kung sino talaga ang pinaninindigan niya. Pero ang sabi ni Presidente, hindi lang po siya aktibista, kabahagi siya ng mga rebelde na mayroong mga armas,” Roque said in his televised briefing Monday.

The secretary also urged the remaining members of the Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army (NPA) to lay down their arms and rejoin society.

“Ang panawagan natin, kung kayo talaga ay nagmamahal sa kapuwa Filipinos, ibaba ninyo na po ang armas at lahat naman po ay ginagawa natin para maibsan ang paghihirap ng ating mga kababayan na dahilan kung bakit sila ay nagrerebelde,” he added.

In December last year, President Rodrigo Duterte accused Zarate of being a communist and a co- conspirator. Duterte also alleged that Zarate used NPA funds to pay for his son’s education abroad.

Sotto salutes Bernas for ‘life of service, devotion to God, rule of law’

The Senate on Monday adopted a resolution expressing its profound sympathy and sincere condolences on the demise of constitutionalist Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, who passed away last Saturday at the age of 88.

Senate Resolution 674, introduced by Senate President Tito Sotto, was unanimously adopted by the chamber, which honored Bernas for his “immeasurable and invaluable contributions to the legal profession and society.”

The Jesuit priest was a notable constitutionalist and one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution.

“We salute you for a life of service and devotion to God, the Rule of Law and your countrymen, Fr. Joaquin Bernas,” Sotto said in his sponsorship speech.

He described Bernas as a man with a “strong sense of morals and ethics who was humble and calm, exuding authority even in his silence.”

Sotto said the Jesuit priest had willingly responded to the call of legal and moral duty to protect democracy and human rights unmindful of his own physical well-being.

He said Bernas’ unblemished devotion and faith in God and the Rule of Law had helped rebuild the country through his teachings, writings, and leadership.

“His death is great a loss not only to his Atenean family and to the legal profession but to the Filipino people and the nation as well,” Sotto said.

Senate celebrates women’s contributions in battle against Covid-19

The Senate on Monday, International Women’s Day, adopted a resolution to commemorate the occasion and the role of women in nation building and to celebrate women’s indispensable contributions to the Filipino home and in the workforce, particularly in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Senate Resolution 673, sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva, stressed that this year’s celebration of International Women’s Day with the theme “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a Covid-19 world,” celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the pandemic.

“While recognizing that across the world women are facing increased domestic violence, unpaid care duties, unemployment and poverty, and despite women making up a majority of front-line workers, there is disproportionate and inadequate representation of women in national and global COVID-19 policy spaces,” the resolution read in part.

Also according to the resolution, “In order to uphold women’s rights and fully leverage the potential of women’s leadership in pandemic preparedness and response, this year’s celebration also recognizes that the perspectives of women and girls in all of their diversity must be integrated in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes in all spheres and at all stages of pandemic response and recovery.”

The resolution also cited that “the Philippines has always recognized the role of women in nation-building and the need to ensure the fundamental equality before the law of women and men, as enshrined in Article II, Section 14 of the Constitution.”

“Pursuant to this state policy, Republic Act 9710, or the Magna Carta for Women, tasked the Philippine Commission on Women to act as a catalyst for gender mainstreaming, as well as the authority on women’s concerns and lead advocate of women’s empowerment, gender equity, and gender equality,” the resolution said.

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