World Leaders voice support for US strike against Assad

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad bears “sole responsibility” for the US strike on a regime airbase, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande said in a joint statement on Friday.

“After the chemical weapons massacre of April 4 on Khan Sheikhun in northwestern Syria, a military installation of the Syrian regime was destroyed by a US air strike last night,” the statement, issued after a morning phone call, said.

“President Assad bears sole responsibility for this development.”

They added that “France and Germany, together with their partners and within the framework of the United Nations, will continue their efforts to hold President Assad responsible for his criminal deeds”.

Berlin and Paris “jointly call on the international community to join forces for a political transition in Syria in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communique,” they said, referring to a statement issued on June 30 2012 by the UN-backed Action Group for Syria.

Merkel and Hollande were each informed “one to two hours before the strikes,” a source close to the French president’s office said.

German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel earlier said the strike was “understandable” after the UN Security Council was “unable to clearly and unequivocally respond to the barbaric use of chemical weapons against innocent people in Syria”.

His French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault, with Gabriel on a trip to Mali, said he hoped the strikes would show Syria’s allies Russia and Iran that they should withdraw their support for Assad.

“The Russians and the Iranians must now understand that they cannot prop up Bashar al-Assad’s regime… it cannot go on, it makes no sense,” Ayrault told France Info radio.


Source: The Guardian

US-Russia relations under threat after US attacked Syrian air base

President Donald Trump ordered a massive military strike on a Syrian air base on Thursday in retaliation for a “barbaric” chemical attack he blamed on President Bashar al-Assad.

In a brief televised address delivered hours after the UN Security Council failed to agree on a prove into the apparent chemical attack, Trump confirmed the US strike on Syria and urged “all civilized nations” to unite to end the bloodshed in the country.

“On Tuesday Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad launched a horrible chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians using a deadly nerve agent,” Trump said. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack.”

“Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end this slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types,” Trump said.

The US military fired dozens of cruise missiles at the Shayrat Airfield at 8:45 pm Eastern Time (0000 GMT), officials said.

A White House official said 59 “precision munitions” had been blasted at the base, while a US defense official said “dozens” of Tomahawk cruise missiles were launched.

The missiles were fired from the USS Porter and the USS Ross, which belong to the US Navy’s Sixth Fleet and are located in the eastern Mediterranean. A US official said the missiles targeted aircraft and runways at the base.

The sudden US military action against the Assad regime marks a stunning development in Syria’s brutal, six-year conflict and a sudden about-face for Trump.

It came despite a warning from Russia of potential “negative consequences” if Washington strikes Syria.

“All responsibility if military action occurs will be on the shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful tragic enterprise,” Russian Ambassador to the UN Vladimir Safronkov said.

A US official said Washington had informed Russia ahead of the Syria strike.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had earlier vowed an “appropriate response” to the attack in Khan Sheikhun in rebel-held Idlib province, which killed at least 86 people, including 27 children.

The White House official said the United States assesses that the Assad regime used a chemical nerve agent consistent with sarin in Tuesday’s attacks.


Source: AFP

BREAKING: US military responds to Syrian government with 59 cruise missiles

US President Donald Trump on Thursday ordered the launch of airstrikes in Syria.

Trump’s order was in response to chemical attacks allegedly ordered by Bashar al-Assad, Syrian President, against his people.

The chemical attacks killed several persons, including children and women.

The US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles from the USS Porter and USS Ross destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean against the Shayrat air base.

According to the US, the planes that carried out the chemical attacks lifted off from the air base.

The missiles were said to have targeted aircraft and aircraft shelters, ammunition, air defense systems and radars.

“There can be no dispute that Syria used banned chemical weapons, violated its obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention and ignored the urging of the U.N. Security Council,” Trump said, while speaking at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida.

“As a result, the refugee crisis continues to deepen and the region continues to destabilize, threatening the United States and its allies.

“Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.

“Tonight I ordered a targeted military strike on the airfield in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched. It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”

Meanwhile, Russia, Syria’s staunch ally, says the strike violates international law

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesperson, on Friday said the US strike constituted “aggression against a sovereign state in violation of international law”.

US government accuses Iran of sponsoring terrorism

Iran is continuing to behave as an exporter of terrorism and still sponsors militant activity, U.S. Defence Secretary, James Mattis, said on Friday in London.

Asked about comments he made in 2012 that the three primary threats the U. S. faced were “Iran, Iran, Iran,” Mattis said that Iran’s behaviour had not changed in the years since.

“At the time when I spoke about Iran I was a commander of U.S. central command and that (Iran) was the primary exporter of terrorism.

“Frankly, it was the primary state sponsor of terrorism and it continues that kind of behaviour today,” Mr. Mattis said.

Mr. Mattis also said that North Korea was acting in a reckless manner and must be stopped.

“This is a threat of both rhetoric and growing capability, and we will be working with the international community to address this, we are doing so right now,” Mr. Mattis said in reply to a question about the potential threat to the U.S. from ballistic missiles.

“Right now, it appears to be going in a very reckless manner in what its conduct is portraying for the future and that’s got to be stopped,” Mr. Mattis said.

He also said that the U. S. was concerned about Russia’s presence in Afghanistan and its interactions with Taliban fighters.

“We have seen Russian activity vis-à-vis the Taliban,” Mr. Mattis said during a news conference in London.

“I’m not going to say at this point if that has manifested into weapons and that sort of thing, but certainly what they’re up to there in light of their other activities gives us concern.”

Mr. Mattis added that he had not yet decided whether to recommend an increase in U.S. troop numbers in Afghanistan.


Source: Reuters/NAN

Pregnant women traveling to the US may be deported – Hakeem Balogun

Hakeem Balogun, the chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of Nigeria in Washington, says different reasons are responsible for the extreme vetting Nigerians face during entry into the US.

In an interview with NAN in Washington, Balogun said the Nigerians restricted from entering the US failed to meet other required procedures.

“What manner of visa did you collect to come to the United States?” he asked.

“For instance, a pregnant woman who comes to the United States on visiting visa will probably be turned back at the point of entry because she does not have a medical visa.

“You are coming in on a visiting visa and the immigration man sees you pregnant. Naturally, he will turn you back.

“Even if you have the medical visa, they want to know if you have medical insurance; do you have you medical documents for you to be able to come and use their medical facilities here.

“So these are issues. Nigeria is not being singled out. We are not one of those countries that have been mentioned. We are definitely not one of them.”

Balogun further said President Donald Trump’s travel ban did not affect Nigerians.

“The executive ban on immigration does not affect Nigerians. Whatever must have taken place regarding visa issuance, vetting at the airports, it’s all normal,” he said.

“All these things have been on even before President Trump. Let’s get one thing well. That you are issued visa is not a guarantee that you will end up wherever you’re going.

“It’s a global thing; it’s not just United States. Even with us in Nigeria, we issue a visa to you here in the Nigerian embassy.

“There is no guarantee that you will get in when you get to Murtala Muhammed Airport or when you get to Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport.

“The final authority is the man at the point of entry – immigration officers there. For instance, you can come to the embassy here, we ask for all the things you need to get the visa.

“How much do you have that we feel will be enough for you to stay in Nigeria for the period you’re going.

“May be as at that time, you were able to show us evidence that you have a thousand dollars which we feel will be enough for you to stay in Nigeria.

“By the time you get to Murtala Muhammed Airport, the man at that end there asked you, all you have to show to him is 100 dollars, definitely, he might turn you back, and that’s normal.”

President Donald Trump Seeks To Secure Support For Healthcare Bill

U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders worked on Wednesday to try to secure enough support in the House of Representatives to win passage of their Obamacare rollback bill, watched by wary investors in financial markets.

Repealing and replacing Democrat Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act is the first major test of Trump’s legislative ability and whether he can keep his big promises to business.

The current House Republican rollback plan, scheduled for a floor vote on Thursday, faces stiff resistance from some conservative Republicans who view it as too similar to Obamacare, and from moderates who fear its impact on voters.

Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, the measure’s leading proponent, can afford to lose only about 20 Republican votes or risk failure, since Democrats are united against it. By some estimates, 26 House Republicans have signaled their opposition.

Trump’s promises during his election campaign and his first two months in office have lifted U.S. stock markets to new highs. But stocks fell back on Tuesday as investors worried that a rough ride for the healthcare legislation could have an effect on Trump’s ability to deliver on other big pieces of his agenda, from cutting taxes and regulation to boosting infrastructure.

The S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock benchmark indexes were little changed on Wednesday.

“The Trump agenda is like a one-lane road with this big truck called ‘healthcare’ in the lead,” said Brookings Institution senior fellow William Galston. “If that truck breaks down, everything else will back up.”

While paying little attention to the details of the House Republican effort, Trump has put considerable effort into shoring up the bill, actively courting conservative lawmakers who say the bill is too similar to Obamacare. In a trip to Capitol Hill on Tuesday he warned Republicans that the political consequences of failure could be steep in next year’s congressional midterm elections.

Trump was expected to continue trying to sell the plan, called the American Health Care Act, to hard-line conservatives when members of the House Freedom Caucus visit the White House on Wednesday.


Source: Reuters

UNICEF decries sale of Cambodian breast milk to US mothers

UNICEF on Wednesday condemned a company selling breast milk from “vulnerable and poor” Cambodian mothers to Americans, hitting out at the commercialisation of nutrients needed by babies inside the kingdom.

The issue emerged this week after Cambodia said it had halted exports from Utah-based company Ambrosia Labs, which claims to be the first of its kind to bank human breast milk sourced overseas and export it into the United States.

The firm’s customers are American mothers who want to supplement their babies’ diets or cannot supply enough of their own milk.

Those donating their breast milk hailed from poor communities in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, where the scheme helped families top up meagre incomes.

On Monday Cambodia’s customs department said it had stopped exports temporarily “because the product comes from a human organ” adding the government planned to hold talks on whether to let the trade continue.

UNICEF — the arm of the UN protecting children — said excess breast milk should remain in Cambodia, one of Southeast Asia’s poorest countries, where many babies lack good nutrients.
“Breast milk banks should never be operated by exploiting vulnerable and poor women for profit and commercial purposes,” Iman Morooka, the agency spokeswoman in Cambodia, told AFP.

“Breast milk could be considered as human tissue, the same as blood, and as such its commercialisation should be banned,” she said.

Malnutrition “remains a threat to children’s wellbeing in Cambodia, and proper breastfeeding is one of the key factors contributing to a child’s good health and nutrition”, she added.

Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng declined to comment on the issue when contacted by AFP on Wednesday.

Ambrosia Labs did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

In previous press interviews the firm said its model encouraged Cambodian women to continue breast feeding, earned them much needed extra income and helped plug milk bank shortages in the US.

AFP visited the offices of Ambrosia Labs last week in Stung Meanchey, a poor suburb of Phnom Penh.

The office, which is labelled Khun Meada (mother’s gratitude), was closed and women who sold their milk said they had been told operations were suspended.

Chea Sam, a 30-year-old mother, told AFP during an interview last week that she had been selling her breast milk for the last three months following the birth of her son.

She said she earned $7.5-$10 a day and she knew at least 20 other mothers doing the same.

In videos posted on the Facebook page of Khun Meada, several mothers appealed to the government to let them sell their milk to the company.


Source: AFP

US to ban laptops and tablets from Middle East-US flights

The US is barring passengers on flights originating in several Muslim-majority countries from carrying any electronic device larger than a cellphone starting on Tuesday, a Middle East-based carrier said.

US officials were not authorized to disclose the details of the ban ahead of a public statement that was scheduled for 10:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The ban was revealed on Monday in statements from Royal Jordanian Airlines and the official news agency of Saudi Arabia.

A US official, on the condition of anonymity, told Associated Press news agency that the ban will apply to nonstop flights to the US from 10 international airports serving the cities of Cairo in Egypt; Amman in Jordan; Kuwait City in Kuwait; Casablanca in Morocco; Doha in Qatar; Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Istanbul in Turkey; and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

The ban was indefinite, said the official.

A second US official said the ban will affect nine airlines in total, and the Transportation Security Administration will inform the affected airlines at 7:00 GMT on Tuesday.

The move comes a week after President Donald Trump’s second bid to curb travel from a group of Muslim-majority nations was blocked by the courts.

Royal Jordanian said cellphones and medical devices were excluded from the ban. Everything else, such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, DVD players, electronic games and cameras, would need to be packed in checked luggage.

Royal Jordanian said the electronics ban affects its flights to New York, Chicago, Detroit and Montreal.

David Lapan, a spokesman for Homeland Security Department, declined to comment. The Transportation Security Administration, part of Homeland Security, also declined to comment.

A US government official said such a ban has been considered for several weeks. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to disclose the internal security discussions by the federal government.

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly phoned lawmakers over the weekend to brief them on aviation security issues that have prompted the impending electronics ban, according a congressional aide briefed on the discussion.

The aide was not authorised to speak publicly about the issue and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The ban would begin just before Wednesday’s meeting of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group in Washington.

A number of top Arab officials were expected to attend the State Department gathering. It was unclear whether their travel plans were related to any increased worry about security threats.


Source: Aljazeera

BREAKING: Comey confirms US intelligence assessment of a Trump-Putin collusion

Two of the nation’s top counter-intelligence officials stood by the U.S. intelligence assessment in January that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government sought to help Donald Trump win the 2016 election.

Under questioning from Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), FBI Director James Comey and Adm. Mike Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, said nothing has changed since they issued their Jan. 6 report on Russian interference in the election.

The report found that senior Russian officials, including Putin, wanted to undermine the U.S. democratic process, hurt Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and help Trump’s campaign.

Comey and Rogers declined to provide details on how the intelligence community reached that assessment.

“They wanted to hurt our democracy, hurt her and help him,” Comey said, adding that officials had reached that conclusion by December.

In part, the FBI and intelligence agencies came to believe that Putin wanted Trump to win because he very much disliked Clinton, Comey said.

“Putin hated Secretary Clinton so much that the flip side of that coin was that he had a clear preference for the person running against the person he hated so much,” Comey said.

Conaway interjected with an anecdote about his wife cheering for the Texas Tech Red Raiders on the football gridiron and wondering whether such an analysis may be too simplistic.

“That might work on Saturday afternoon when my wife’s Red Raiders are playing the Texas Longhorns,” he said. “She really likes the Red Raiders … The logic is because he didn’t like candidate Clinton that he automatically liked Trump. That assessment is based on what?”

“Well, it’s based on more than that,” Comey said. “But part of it is the logic. Whoever the Red Raiders are playing you want the Red Raiders to win; by definition you want their opponent to lose.”

“I know, but you wanted her to lose and him to win,” Conaway said.

“They are inseparable,” Comey replied. “It’s a two-person event.”

“When did you decide you wanted him to win?”

“Logically, when he wanted her to lose,” Comey said to laughter.


Source: LA Times

US Spy Agencies To Testify On Russia-Trump Links

The heads of top U.S. spy agencies are to testify before Congress about possible links between Russia and President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

They would also address Mr Trump’s claim that he was wiretapped by Barack Obama.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director, James Comey, and the National Security Agency (NSA) Admiral, Mike Rogers, would speak at a rare open hearing of the Congressional Intelligence Committee.

Russia, had on the other hand, denied trying to influence the election, while Mr Trump denounced the investigation as a “total witch hunt”.

In January, U.S Intelligence Agencies said they believed Kremlin-backed hackers had broken into the email accounts of the senior Democrats and released embarrassing information in order to help Mr Trump defeat Hillary Clinton.


Source: Channels TV

US claims deadly north Syria strike, denies targeting mosque.

The US military says it carried out an air strike in northern Syria against an Al-Qaeda target, but denies deliberately targeting a mosque where at least 42 people were killed according to an independent monitor.

The US-led coalition has been bombing jihadist groups in war-torn Syria for several years, with hundreds of civilians unintentionally killed in the country and in neighbouring Iraq.

“We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target — which was where the meeting took place — is about 50 feet (15 metres) from a mosque that is still standing,” said Colonel John J. Thomas, spokesman for US Central Command.

The Centcom spokesman later clarified that the precise location of the strike was unclear — but that it was the same one widely reported to have targeted the village mosque in Al-Jineh, in Aleppo province.

“We are going to look into any allegations of civilian casualties in relation to this strike,” he added, when asked about reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that 42 people had died in the attack on the village mosque, most of them civilians.

The head of the Britain-based Observatory Rami Abdel Rahman said “the raids by unidentified warplanes targeted a mosque in Aleppo province during evening prayers, killing 42 people, most of them civilians”.

“More than 100 people were wounded,” he said, adding that many were still trapped under the collapsed mosque in the village of Al-Jineh, just over 30 kilometres (20 miles) west of Aleppo.

The village is held by rebel and Islamist groups, but no jihadist factions are present.

– Body parts in the debris –
Rescue workers struggled to pull survivors from rubble, and dozens of residents were still unaccounted for, the Observatory said.

Abu Muhammed, a village resident, told AFP that he “heard powerful explosions when the mosque was hit. It was right after the prayer at a time when there is usually religious lessons for men in it”.

“I saw 15 bodies and lots of body parts in the debris when I arrived. We couldn’t even recognise some of the bodies,” he added.

An AFP reporter at the scene said rescuers earlier left the wreckage site but were forced to double back when they heard moaning coming from the debris.

Footage published by Halab Today, an online media group focused on news in Aleppo, showed piles of rubble where the mosque allegedly stood.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began six years ago with anti-government protests.

A cessation of hostilities was brokered by rebel backer Turkey and regime ally Russia in December, but violence has continued across much of the country.

The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to type, location, flight patterns and munitions used.

But the skies over Aleppo province are busy, with Syrian regime and Russian warplanes as well as US-led coalition aircraft carrying out air strikes.

Russia began a military intervention in Syria in September 2015, and in the past has dismissed allegations of civilian deaths in its strikes.

The US-led coalition, meanwhile, has been bombing jihadist groups in Syria since 2014.

The US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State group said earlier this month that its raids in Iraq and Syria had unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians since 2014.

Critics say the real number is much higher.


Source: AFP

U.S Policy With North Korea Has Ended – Rex Tillerson

U.S Secretary Of State, Rex Tillerson, has said that the U.S policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea has ended.

Speaking during his visit to South Korea, he said that “all options” were on the table and that the U.S was exploring a “new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures.”

He also added that military action was “an option” against North Korea if it elevates its weapons programme threat.

Mr Tillerson spoke shortly after visiting the demilitarized zone which divides the two Koreas.

North Korea has sparked concern with recent missile and nuclear tests.


Source: Channels TV

US demands ‘immediate end’ to Russian annexation of Crimea

The United States on Thursday reiterated its condemnation of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, vowing to maintain related sanctions until Moscow returns the strategic Black Sea peninsula to Ukraine.

“Crimea is a part of Ukraine. The United States again condemns the Russian occupation of Crimea and calls for its immediate end,” said acting US State Department spokesman Mark Toner in a statement marking the three-year anniversary of Moscow’s takeover of Crimea.

“Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

“The United States does not recognize Russia’s ‘referendum’ of March 16, 2014, nor its attempted annexation of Crimea and continued violation of international law,” said Toner.

“We once again reaffirm our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

In the statement the US also called on Russia to “cease its attempts to suppress freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association, and religion” among Crimean Tatars, ethnic Ukrainians, pro-Ukrainian activists and journalists.

Russia’s move to annex Crimea shattered ties between the two ex-Soviet neighbors and sent relations between Moscow and the West plummeting to their lowest point since the Cold War.

The US and the European Union reacted to the annexation of Crimea by imposing economic sanctions on Russia and Putin’s inner circle.


Source: The Guardian

U.S. deploys attack drones to South Korea amid tension with North

The U.S. has started deploying attack drones to South Korea, a U.S. military spokesman said on Monday, days after it began to deploy an advanced anti-missile system to counter “continued provocative actions” by isolated North Korea.

U.S. Forces Korea spokesman Christopher Bush said in a statement that the drones, Gray Eagle Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) coming to South Korea are part of a broader plan to deploy a company of the attack drones with every division.

“The UAS adds significant intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability to U.S. Forces Korea and our ROK partners,” Mr. Bush said.

He did not say exactly when the drones would arrive in South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea.

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests and a string of missile tests since the beginning of last year, despite the imposition of new UN sanctions.

On Friday, the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said Washington was re-evaluating its North Korea strategy and “all options are on the table.”

The Gray Eagle is a remotely controlled attack drone made by U.S.-based General Atomics.

Mr. Bush said they will be stationed at Kunsan Air Base, 180 km (112 miles) south of Seoul and would be permanently based in South Korea.

On March 7, the U.S. deployed the “first elements” of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea, inspite of angry opposition from China.

Once fully deployed in South Korea, a THAAD battery could theoretically use its radar to see and monitor activity beyond North Korea, deep into Chinese territory.

Russia also worries the deployment could compromise its security, and said it would lead to a stalemate on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea will hold a presidential election by May 9 after the impeachment and dismissal on Friday of its former president, Park Geun-hye, and policy on North Korea and the THAAD system are likely to be contentious issues in the campaign.


Source: Reuters/NAN

US Ambassador Commends Nigeria’s Fight Against HIV/AIDS

The United States Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, has commended the Federal Government and agencies involved in the provision of care and treatment for HIV/AIDS patients.

This is in collaboration with the American Presidential Emergency Plan for Aids Relief.

The envoy gave the commendation after inspecting a laboratory and other equipment donated by the U.S to the Aids Prevention Initiative Nigeria (APIN), a Public Health Initiative in Jos, Plateau state.

Since 2004, the Nigerian government as well as other donor agencies have been involved in providing care and treatment to HIV and AIDS patients in collaboration with the American Presidential Emergency Plan for aids relief.

An estimate of about 3.2million people are living with AIDS in Nigeria, experts say all hands must be on deck to reverse this alarming statistics.


Source: Channels TV

Nigerians are treated badly in US – Group berates Foreign Affairs Minister over comment

The Nigerian Coalition for Quality Governance, has faulted the position of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, that since Nigeria was not on the list of countries on which President Donald Trump of the US had imposed travel ban, Nigerians were free to travel to the country.

The group said that Onyeama was obviously not aware of the hurdles Nigerians had been facing in getting into the US at the border posts and that some had actually been sent back home.

In a statement by its National Coordinator, Gbenga Omoniya, the group said its attention was drawn to Onyeama’s effort to deny and dismiss the effects of the Executive Order of the US President Donald Trump banning nationals of select countries from the United States despite their possession of valid US visa.

“While it must be admitted that Nigeria is not officially among the countries whose citizens have been banned from entering the US, enough evidence has already surfaced that not a few Nigerians had been put on the next available planes from the US airports back to Nigeria despite their possession of all travelling documents including the US entry visa.

“There’s no doubt that Mr. Onyeama’s denial that Nigerians have been affected by the US president’s Executive Order may not have been unconnected with the Travel Advisory issued over the weekend by the office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Hon. Abike Dabiri-Erewa that advised ‘Nigerians who have no compelling or urgent reason to travel to the US to postpone their travel plans until the new administration’s policy on immigration is clear’.

“While we’re not questioning the right of the Foreign Minister to an issue that borders on foreign policy as this, Mr. Onyeama has undoubtedly put the wrong foot forward in calling on Nigerians to ignore this Travel Advisory in the face of verifiable evidence that Nigerians are being unfairly targeted and included in the dragnet of the US immigration authorities.

“We had wondered why the Foreign Minister was always behind the ‘8th ball’ in his response to major foreign affairs and diaspora issues. While it’s never too late for Mr. Onyeama to wake up to his responsibility, we wonder if he must play to the gallery with his denial that Nigerians have been affected by the US travel ban in any way.”

The statement advised Onyeama to confirm cases where some Nigerians have been treated badly at airports “and many others who were affected but had no one to report to as his Ministry has no functional communication mechanism, before his next appearance at the next media house.”

“Rather than engage in spurious denials that has no basis in facts, we enjoin that the foreign minister collaborates with the relevant agencies of the federal government in making sure that Nigerians are treated with dignity and respect wherever they may be. Trump is putting America first. Onyeama should put Nigerians first too”, he stressed.


Source: Daily Post

Iran reacts to Trump’s new immigration order, to block US citizens.

Iran will not issue visas to Americans as long as the US refuses to do the same to Iranians, Majid Takht-Ravanchi, deputy foreign minister, said on Tuesday.

Takht-Ravanchi said his country was unperturbed by the renewed ban on Iranian visitors under President Donald Trump’s revised executive order.

“The new executive order is also worthless from a judicial point of view,” Takht-Ravanchi said.

“As long as Iranians were barred from entering the US, US citizens would be barred from entering Iran; as soon as the US lifts the ban, as it was forced to do at the end of February, Iran would respond in kind.”

Takht-Ravanchi said Iran had never been involved in “any terrorist attack” on US soil, and accused Trump of targeting countries that were not involved in such attacks.

Trump signed a revised executive order on Monday, halting new visas for 90 days for people from six predominantly Islamic nations – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, and also suspending refugee admissions for 120 days.

The new order takes effect from March 16.

Iraq was on the previous 90-day ban order but the White House said it removed the country from the list due to “enhanced cooperation” with the government in Baghdad.


Source: NAN

“Warn Trump Against Harassment Of Nigerians”, SERAP Tells Osinbajo.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has urged the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, to “tell the U.S President, Donald Trump, in no uncertain terms that Nigeria would not tolerate any harassment and unfair treatment of her citizens with valid multiple-entry U.S visas at U.S airports.”

This was revealed in a statement released on Tuesday and signed by its Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni.

It follows a disclosure by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, that in the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry U.S visas being denied entry and sent back to Nigeria.

According to Mrs Dabiri -Erewa, such affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.

SERAP further said: “The Nigerian government must stand up to Trump and defend Nigerians’ internationally recognised right to freedom of movement just as the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider Al-Abadi did for his own citizens.

“The Iraqi leader ensured that his country was taken off the obnoxious executive order list. Osinbajo must now show the leadership needed to defend the country’s citizens who are facing unfair treatment in the hands of U.S immigration officers.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) guarantees liberty of movement, and provides in article 13 that, “everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.

“2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. The declaration also guarantees the right of everyone including Nigerians to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in the declaration can be fully realized.”

“SERAP notes that Eleanor Roosevelt, late wife of American President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, chaired the UDHR drafting committee.

“On the basis of the UDHR, persons are entitled to move from one place to another and to establish themselves in a place of their choice. The enjoyment of this right must not be made dependent on any particular purpose or reason for the person wanting to move or to stay in a place. Any restrictions must be in conformity with international standards.

“The Nigerian authorities must ensure that Nigerians’ liberty of movement is protected from interference by the trump government.

“The authorities should carefully study the revised executive order and take proactive measures to prevent any harassment and unfair treatment of Nigerians in the hands of U.S immigration officers.”


Source: Channels TV

UK, U.S. Partner Nigerian Police Force On Human Rights Protection

Respect and protection of the rights of citizens has been described as the cornerstone of effective community policing.

The Director of U.S. International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Nigeria, Ms. Roselyn Wiesse, stated this at an advanced human rights training for officers of the Nigeria Police.

She said protecting the rights of citizens was the best way to gain the trust of communities in Nigeria, and to show the people that the Police was capable of protecting them from prevailing security threats.

Ms. Wiesse added that for Police to perform its functions creditably, it must prioritise the respect of citizens’ rights in the course of discharging its constitutional duties.

Elsewhere, the Nigerian Security and Justice Adviser at the British High Commission, Katrina Laird, also advised the Police to be conscious of the citizens while performing its duty.

Ms. Laird spoke at an event organised by the Commission to train Police officers in Nigeria’s northeast on how to perform effectively in a vulnerable environment without infringing on the rights of citizens.

She stressed the need for the Force to make room for trust on the parts of citizens in the performance of their duties.

On his part, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahm Idris, described the training as apt, considering the sensitive and vulnerable nature of Police operations in the northeast.

Other participants at the event urged participating officers to ensure the lessons learnt at these training reflect on their skills in their various operations.


Source: Channels TV

President Trump’s new immigration ban: Who is barred and who is not

President Trump on Monday issued a new immigration ban order, a month after a panel of federal judges blocked key parts of his initial order.

The original ban barred for 90 days people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. It also barred all refugees for 120 days, and Syrian refugees indefinitely.

What’s New

  • The ban is not immediate, going into effect on March 16.
  • Iraq removed from the list.
  • Current visa holders no longer affected.
  • Syrian refugees barred temporarily, not indefinitely and refugees of minority religions no longer favored.
  • Refugees already granted asylum will be allowed.
  • References to support for the Constitution and other beliefs removed.
  • Details added about why the six countries were selected.

People From Six Countries

The new ban removed Iraq from its list of seven targeted countries, though Iraqi nationals seeking admission will be subject to additional scrutiny. Some of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy advisors argued for the country’s removal, citing the country’s role in fighting the Islamic State.

There were several legal challenges to the original ban, with claims based on equal protection rights granted by the Constitution, the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion, and a non-discrimination statute of an immigration law.

Plaintiffs also cited a law that says the government cannot act arbitrarily or without supportive evidence. Two weeks after the federal appeals court hearing, a Department of Homeland Security report was revealed to have found no evidence that citizens from the targeted countries posed a unique threat. However, Homeland Security officials argued that the report did not paint a full picture.


Visitors, Students and Workers Without Current Visas

The new ban only applies to people from the six countries without current visas, like temporary, non-immigrant visas for students and workers. Students with valid F, M or J visas will be allowed. The original ban also affected current visa holders who would normally be allowed to travel and re-enter the country.

During the rollout of the first ban, many visa holders were stuck abroad or detained in American airports. Later, a State Department official said that “fewer than 60,000” visas had been provisionally revoked. Several judges who issued injunctions against the original order raised concerns that due process rights were being violated.

There were nearly 65,000 nonimmigrant, temporary visits by citizens from these six countries in the 2015 fiscal year, including:

Visitors, business travelers

49,412 entries in 2015

People visiting the U.S. for recreational or business purposes on non-immigrant travel visas like B-1 or B-2.


12,205 entries in 2015

International students (and their families) enrolled in U.S. programs on non-immigrant visas like F-1, J-1 and M-1.

Temporary workers

883 entries in 2015

Employees (and their families) on non-immigrant work visas like H-1B for specialty workers and H-2B for agricultural workers.

Fiancés of U.S. citizens

669 entries in 2015

Temporary visas for fiancés of U.S. citizens and for spouses and children of U.S. citizens or green card holders who have pending immigrant visas.


New Immigrants

Like the original order, the new ban also applies to people from the six countries newly arriving on immigrant visas, which are issued based on employment or family status. People issued immigrant visas become legal permanent residents on arrival in the United States and are issued a green card soon after.

In 2015, green cards were issued to 31,258 people from these six countries. In general, about half of recent new legal permanent residents are new arrivals to the country, and the other half had their status adjusted after living in the United States.



The ban on all refugees to the United States is still set at 120 days. Syrian refugees are no longer barred indefinitely, but now fall under the general ban. After the 120 days, the administration will determine which countries they will reinstate admissions from. Syrians made up the second-largest group of refugees to the United States in 2016.

In another change, refugees in minority religious groups will no longer be prioritized for acceptance once the program is reinstated. Although the original order did not explicitly mention Christians as a minority religion that would have been given preference, Mr. Trump said that was what he intended, prompting challenges claiming religious-based discrimination.

The order still allows case-by-case exceptions for some refugees. During the week when the initial refugee ban was in effect, just 15 percent of the 843 refugees who were admitted on a case-by-case basis were Muslim, compared with a weekly average of 45 percent in 2016. Only two refugees were allowed in from the seven originally targeted countries.

The new ban also still cuts the refugee program in half, capping it at 50,000 people for the 2017 fiscal year, down from the 110,000 ceiling put in place under President Barack Obama.


Green Card Holders and Special Immigrants

The new order explicitly says that green card holders from the targeted countries will still be allowed. In the original order, green card holders were not explicitly cited as exempt, leading to uncertainty at airports. The administration later clarified that they were not affected.

From 1999 to 2015, 3.6 percent of new legal permanent residents were from the seven affected countries.


Dual Nationals and Diplomats

The ban still does not apply to U.S. citizens, or to dual nationals who enter the United States presenting their passport from a country not under the ban. During the rollout of the original order, it was unclear whether dual nationals from the targeted countries were allowed.

People on certain types of diplomatic or government visas are also still exempted from the ban. Nearly 2,500 admissions from these countries were made on these visas in 2015:


Diplomats (and their families) on visas like A-1

Government officials

Representatives of foreign governments or international organizations holding G-1, G-2, G-3 or G-4 visas

Visitors to the United Nations

People with C-2 visas to travel to the United Nations

NATO officials

Officials (and their families) on North Atlantic Treaty Organization visas

Other Changes

The new ban will go into effect in 10 days. The original ban was effective immediately after Mr. Trump signed it, causing significant confusion at airports across the country. The delay was likely also included to remove the potential for due process challenges.

Legal Challenges to the Original Ban

Challenges to the original ban claimed that it violated, among other things, a nondiscrimination clause in an immigration law that says the government cannot discriminate in issuing visas because of “race, sex, nationality, place of birth, or place of residence.” The administration argued that another part of the law granting the president broad authority on deciding who may enter the United States overrode that provision.

There have also been challenges claiming that the ban violates equal protection rights granted by the Constitution, though the Supreme Court has said that only people in the country have standing to sue based on them.

Other challenges were based on the First Amendment’s prohibition of government establishment of religion. Those challenges, based on statements by Mr. Trump and his allies that the purpose of the order was to bar Muslims, may not be subject to objections based on standing.

Source: NY Times

Outrage as Ben Carson refers to African slaves as “immigrants”.

President Donald Trump’s housing secretary provoked a firestorm Monday by saying slaves brought from Africa were “immigrants” who dreamed of success for their families in the United States.

Ben Carson, who is black, made the stunning remarks during an address to employees at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in Washington.

“That’s what America is about: a land of dreams and opportunity,” said Carson, a retired neurosurgeon who grew up poor in a Detroit ghetto.

“But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great-grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.”

The comments provoked an instantaneous backlash.

“Immigrants???” tweeted the NAACP, the nation’s largest civil rights organisation aimed at ending racial discrimination.

The remarks were condemned as “tragic, shocking and unacceptable” by the US office of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, a social justice group named after the Jewish girl whose diary, written before she was killed in the Holocaust, became a globally respected account of discrimination and hope.

“No, Secretary Carson. Slaves didn’t immigrate to America,” the group’s executive director Steven Goldstein wrote.

“This is as offensive a remark as it gets.”

The HUD department pushed back, saying on Twitter that the flurry of US media reports on Carson was “the most cynical interpretation” of his remarks.

“No one honestly believes he equates voluntary immigration with involuntary servitude,” the department added.

It was not the first such controversy for Carson, a former Trump rival for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016 and someone who routinely blasts political correctness.

He once said Joseph, the Biblical figure, built Egypt’s pyramids in order to store grain, and not as tombs for the pharaohs.

In 2013, he blasted the health care reforms of Trump’s presidential predecessor Barack Obama as “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.”


Source: The Guardian

BREAKING: President Donald Trump signs new immigration order

US President Donald Trump has signed a revised immigration order restricting entry into the U.S. by people from six predominantly Muslim countries, Bloomberg reports.

An administration official confirmed that Trump signed the new order on Monday morning.

The new order excludes Iraq from the initial list of seven countries whose citizens cannot travel to the U.S. for the next 90 days.

Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said legal residents were always excluded from the entry ban, “but that’s made much more clear now.”

“If you have travel docs, if you actually have a visa, if you are a legal permanent resident, you are not covered under this particular executive action.”

Conway also confirmed that Iraq has been removed from the list of seven Muslim nations initially released.

Syrian refugees will ace the same 120-day ban as refugees from other countries, pending a review of screening procedures, Conway said.

They had initially been banned in the previous order.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly are scheduled to deliver statements on the new order.

Recall that a federal court had blocked Trump’s previous immigration order.


Source: YNaija

“Postpone travel plans to US unless urgent”, FG warns Nigerians.

Abike Dabiri-Erewa, senior special assistant to the president on foreign affairs and diaspora, has advised Nigerians who have no urgent reason to travel to the US to reschedule.

A statement signed by Abdurrahman Balogun, Dabiri-Erewa’s media aide, said it became important to issue the warning due to the reports of Nigerians being denied entry into the US.

“In the last few weeks, the office has received a few cases of Nigerians with valid multiple-entry US visas being denied entry and sent back to the Nigeria,” the statement said.

“In such cases reported to the office, such affected persons were sent back immediately on the next available flight and their visas were cancelled.”

Dabiri-Erewa said that “no reasons were given for the decision by the US immigration authorities” and said postponements should last until the Donald Trump administration’s policy on immigration is clear.

She said that the statement “is only to advise Nigerians without any compelling or essential reasons to visit the US to consider rescheduling their trip until there is clarity on the new immigration policy”.

Dabiri-Erewa urged Nigerians in the diaspora to abide by the rules and regulations of their host countries and be good ambassadors of the country.

There has been uncertainty around the world since Donald Trump announced a travel ban few weeks after his inauguration.

The travel ban, which affected predominantly Muslim nations, has since been suspended by a court order.

Trump is expected to roll out a revised immigration policy this week.


Source: The Cable

President Trump’s Attorney General Under ‘Fire’ Over Russia.

The United States government has confirmed Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, met with Russia’s ambassador in 2016.

At his January confirmation hearing, Mr Sessions, a senator at the time, said he had no contracts with the Russians during the campaign, stressing that he never met any Russian official to discuss campaign issues.

The democrats, have however accused him of lying under oath, saying he must resign.

They have also called on him to step aside from the FBI investigation which he oversees as Attorney General such as the alleged Russian interference in the U.S election.

Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, was fired last month after he misled the White House about his conversations with the Russian ambassador, allegedly regarding sanctions against Moscow.


Source: Channels TV

President Trump Seeks Increase In U.S. Military’s Budget

U.S. President, Donald Trump, on Monday announced a 9% increase in defence spending in his proposed budget planning for 2018.

The blueprint also calls for deep cuts elsewhere, including foreign assistance and environmental budgets.

President Trump’s plan, however, leaves large welfare programmes such as social security and Medicare untouched, despite republicans’ call for reform.

He is expected to release his final budget proposal in mid-March.

The President, who vowed to increase military spending and preserve welfare programmes during his campaign, said the budget would focus on “military, safety and economic development”.


Source: Channels TV

US challenges Kremlin with new Russian TV channel.

Nearly three decades after it helped topple communist totalitarian regimes in Eastern Europe, US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is challenging Moscow again, this time with a new 24-hour TV news channel in Russian.

Officially launched in Prague this month, the “Current Time” channel targets an audience of more than 270 million people, mostly in the former Soviet area, with news and views that provide an alternative to the Kremlin’s version of reality as channelled through state-controlled media.

The new channel’s launch comes as relations between Moscow and the West have hit their lowest point since the Cold War, triggered by Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its military campaign in Syria a year later.

Moscow has been quick to denounce the new channel, with prominent Kremlin-appointed talk show host Dmitry Kiselyov — known as Russia’s chief spin doctor — labelling it a scam.

It’s “mostly money laundering under the guise of fighting Russian propaganda,” he said on Russian state TV last week, without elaborating or offering any proof of fraud.

RFE/RL, which reaches 23 countries in 26 languages, has launched the venture jointly with the Washington-based Voice of America.

As the official US international broadcaster, VOA targets more than 236 million people a week in more than 45 languages.

– ‘Need for objective news’ –
For decades, the stations fought a key ideological battle for the West during the Cold War.

Banned across the communist bloc, the stations regularly had their signal jammed by various regimes, but people behind the Iron Curtain still managed to listen in secret to broadcasts that inspired them to oppose totalitarian rule.

Current Time executive editor Kenan Aliyev told AFP the new station, known as Nastoyashcheye Vremya in Russian, has similar aims to win viewers in Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

“Our ambition is to gain the audience in this important region which has lately been bombarded by a lot of disinformation, lies and propaganda,” he said.

“We feel there is a need for objective news and we will try to provide this type of service to our audience.”

Current Time programming ranges from breaking news to business, documentaries and even cooking shows. Coverage of issues like poverty, corruption and healthcare also features prominently.

Some programmes focus specifically on the Baltic states, Moldova and Ukraine, all under Moscow’s thumb during Soviet times and now home to significant ethnic Russian populations.

The station broadcasts via satellite, cable and the internet from Prague, where RFE/RL has been based since its 1995 move from Munich.

“Most importantly, we do social media and digital coverage for audiences that are particularly hard to reach, like those in Russia,” Current Time director Daisy Sindelar told AFP.

– Riga: a hub for independent media –
Conceived during the administration of former US president Barack Obama who took a firm line against Moscow over Crimea, the station officially launched its around-the-clock broadcasts under US President Donald Trump, known for his seemingly pro-Moscow stance.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent says that while the US Congress has approved funding for “decades”, he told AFP that possible federal cost-cutting under the billionaire reality TV star-turned-president could affect programming.

“We hope that the uniqueness of what we do will help preserve our funding,” Kent told AFP.

Similar channels that operate free of Kremlin control include the BBC’s Russian language service, which is setting up a new bureau in Riga, the Latvian capital.

Ethnic Russians make up a quarter of Latvia’s population of two million people. Authorities in Riga are concerned Moscow is trying to target the country’s largest minority with propaganda designed to destabilise the Baltic NATO and EU state.

Last April, Latvia banned broadcasts by the Russian-language Rossiya RTR TV channel for six months, claiming it had incited hatred and made anti-Ukrainian statements.

Latvian state broadcaster LTV has a Russian-language TV and radio station as well as a news website to draw ethnic Russians away from almost exclusively pro-Kremlin media beamed in from Russia.

Riga has also recently become a hub for independent Russian media who have trouble operating in Russia itself, including the Meduza website run by former journalists from the Russian news site

Estonia’s public broadcaster ERR has also created three Russian-language media outlets.

According to a 2016 TNS Emor poll, the stations, including ETV, ETV2 and ETV+, captured an audience of around 20 percent of ethnic Russians who account for a quarter of Estonia’s 1.3 million people.


Source: AFP

How bad will Trump’s mass deportations get? – By Greg Sargent


Over the weekend, two memos signed by new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly were leaked to the media, revealing plans to dramatically expand the pool of undocumented immigrants who will be targeted for deportation under President Trump. Though the memos are not yet official policy, they suggest Trump’s vow of mass deportations could, in some form, soon become a reality.

But buried in the memos is a separate provision that is worthy of attention on its own. That provision, immigration lawyers tell me, raises the possibility that under Trump, enforcement officers will have an easier time than under President Obama of arresting undocumented immigrants who are in schools or hospitals or are seeking sanctuary in churches.

This would be politically explosive if it came to pass, and a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security just told me that the Obama-era protection of people in such venues will remain in place.

DHS to raise the bar for undocumented immigrants

The Department of Homeland Security drafted new guidelines that would speed up deportations and make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum. The agency plans to hire thousands of additional enforcement agents, expand the pool of immigrants prioritized for deportation and enlist the help of local law enforcement. (Reuters)

But immigration and civil rights lawyers tell me they still want to see a much firmer assurance to this effect once DHS formally announces the new deportation policies. And they say fears are already circulating in immigration communities that these protections will not meaningfully exist under Trump.

The worry arises from a line in one of the newly leaked memos stating that “all existing” Homeland Security “memoranda or field guidance” regarding enforcement “are hereby immediately rescinded,” with a few exceptions. What this means is that the Obama DHS memos implementing his enforcement priorities — in which longtime residents and low-level offenders were deprioritized for removal, focusing enforcement resources on criminals and recent border-crossers — are getting scrapped. This is in keeping with Trump’s recently released executive order doing the same and is the basis for the belief that a much bigger pool of undocumented immigrants will now be targeted for removal, meaning mass deportations are coming.

One undocumented woman’s solution to deportation? Seeking sanctuary in a church.

Jeanette Vizguerra, an undocumented immigrant who has lived in the U.S. for 20 years, is under a deportation order and was supposed to check in with authorities on February 15. Instead, the mother of four and immigration activist is seeking sanctuary 15 miles away in the basement of First Unitarian Society of Denver. She plans to remain there indefinitely. (Alice Li/The Washington Post)

But this line could also mean something else: If all previous Obama DHS memos are rescinded, this would theoretically include another Obama-era memo, one that protects undocumented immigrants in places such as schools and churches. That memo is known as the “sensitive locations memo,” and it establishes that enforcement actions will not take place in “sensitive locations” such as schools, hospitals and places of worship, without express consent from agency supervisors, and must be exercised with excessive care. It was most recently affirmed under Obama in a 2016 version, and advocates say this is necessary to ensure a fundamental humanitarian commitment: that undocumented immigrants can attend school or places of worship or seek needed medical care.

“The new memo raises the question of whether DHS will abandon or narrow the sensitive locations policy,” Joanne Lin, senior legislative counsel with the ACLU, tells me. “For decades, immigration enforcement has refrained from conducting actions at certain community sites, recognizing that they are sacrosanct and must be kept open to all people.”

“A rollback of this policy would make immigrants think twice about seeking medical care and make parents doubt whether they should send their kids to school,” adds Kamal Essaheb, director of policy and advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center. “It would destabilize day-to-day life for communities.”

Asked for comment, Gillian Christensen, a spokesperson for DHS, emailed: “The sensitive locations memo will remain in place.”

But advocates insist this is not yet a firm enough commitment, for several reasons. DHS will soon release the final version of its deportation guidance memos, and David Nakamura reports that the newly leaked draft memos are currently being reviewed by White House counsel for potential changes. If the final versions rescind all previous memos and do not make an exception for sensitive locations — as is the case with the current drafts — the commitment to defending sensitive locations will remain ambiguous. The final version needs to explicitly exempt the sensitive locations memo.

What’s more, the ACLU’s Lin points to reports that Latino men were recently arrested after leaving a church hypothermia center on a winter night. In that case, DHS claimed the sensitive locations policy had been followed, but Lin points out that this raises questions about the administration’s commitment to “actually upholding the spirit and purpose of that policy.”

Now, it’s perfectly plausible that Trump’s DHS may clarify that it remains fully committed to the sensitive locations policy and may do so in practice. But it’s worth noting that Trump and his advisers have deliberately kept their intentions on deportations vague, sometimes suggesting that only criminals will be targeted, even as the concrete policies that are emerging seem to target many millions more. This ambiguity, some advocates think, is deliberately designed to instill fear among undocumented immigrants, perhaps encouraging them to “self-deport.”

“If the commitment to the sensitive locations policy also remains vague, the broader effect may be that undocumented immigrants and their families stay away from schools, hospitals, churches, and mosques,” immigration attorney David Leopold says. “That could serve the larger end of instilling fear and panic in the community, which could encourage people to leave the country, regardless of their contributions and family ties.” So this bears watching.

* PRIEBUS DEFENDS TRUMP’S ATTACKS ON MEDIA: On “Face the Nation,” White House chief of staff Reince Priebus repeatedly defended Trump’s claim that the media is the “enemy of the American people,” blasting anonymously sourced, supposedly bogus stories about the Russia connection. And:

“We have done so many things that are noteworthy…The storyline should not be about bogus Russian spy stories. They should be that this president has accomplished more in the first 30 days of this presidency than people can possibly remember in a very long time.”

Yes, why won’t the media stop reporting on Russian efforts to undermine our democracy and instead uncritically amplify laughably absurd White House propaganda? So very unfair.

* REUTERS CONFIRMS FBI PROBE INTO TRUMP-RUSSIA CONNECTIONS: Reuters reports that ongoing FBI investigations are trying to detail how Russia meddled in the election and are probing financial transactions between Russians and people linked to Trump. And:

The [sources] also corroborated a Tuesday New York Times report that Americans with ties to Trump or his campaign had repeated contacts with current and former Russian intelligence officers before the November election. Those alleged contacts are among the topics of the FBI counterintelligence investigation.

Remember, this report is what set off Trump’s latest unhinged assault on the free press. But it’s not working: Reporters continue to dig.

* RUSSIA PLOT THICKENS: The Post reports:

President Trump’s personal lawyer and a former business associate met privately in New York City last month with a member of the Ukrainian parliament to discuss a peace plan for that country that could give Russia long-term control over territory it seized in 2014 and lead to the lifting of sanctions against Moscow.

This suggests a search for what The Post calls an “informal conduit” to Trump by “some in the region aligned with Russia.” All of these disparate floating pieces should, in theory, help build pressure for a full, independent investigation.

* GOP VOTERS SUDDENLY QUIET ABOUT OBAMACARE: The New York Times reports that GOP lawmakers are now seeing much more muted support for repealing the health law now that it’s a real possibility, even in conservative districts:

From deeply conservative districts in the South and the West to the more moderate parts of the Northeast, Republicans in Congress say there is significantly less intensity among opponents of the law than when Mr. Obama was in office…In a nationwide CBS News poll last month, 53 percent of Republicans said they wanted to change the law to make it work better while 41 percent said they wanted to abolish it.

Why, it’s almost as if GOP voters’ desire to see the health law destroyed had more to do with who was in office than with policy reality.

* FRAUDULENT ECONOMICS ARE NOT UNIQUE TO TRUMP: Paul Krugman looks at the news that the Trump administration will rely on grotesquely inflated growth projections and argues that this can’t be disentangled from the economic fraudulence of the entire GOP:

Belief that tax cuts and deregulation will reliably produce awesome growth isn’t unique to the Trump-Putin administration…we hear it from congressional Republicans like Paul Ryan…The evidence, then, is totally at odds with claims that tax-cutting and deregulation are economic wonder drugs. So why does a whole political party continue to insist that they are the answer to all problems? It would be nice to pretend that we’re still having a serious, honest discussion here, but we aren’t.

Meanwhile, isn’t Trump supposed to be ideologically different from Ryan and other Republicans on economic matters?

* NO, THE U.S. WON’T TAKE IRAQ’S OIL: Trump recently said we might get “another chance” to take Iraq’s oil, but Defense Secretary James Mattis, in Iraq on Monday morning to discuss the offensive against the Islamic State, shot that down:

“I think all of us here in this room — all of us in America — have generally paid for our gas and oil all along, and I am sure we will continue to do so in the future,” Mattis said during a meeting with reporters Sunday night. “We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil.”

Weak. Why does the United States always get taken advantage of? Seriously, Mattis appears to be on a tour designed to reassure foreign allies (he also visited Europe) that Trump isn’t as crazy as he appears.

Acting president, Yemi Osinbajo Seeks strong Nigeria – US Ties

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday said the time has come for Nigeria and the United States to deepen the long-standing relationship between the countries based on mutual trust.

Osinbajo spoke at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while receiving the Commander of the US-Africa Command, Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser and the American Ambassador to Nigeria, Hon. W. Stuart Symington.

In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, the Acting President said : “We will be very open and willing to build a relationship based on trust, so that we would benefit from it and of course our relationship as nations would benefit tremendously from it.”

Nigeria’s relationship with the US, he observed, is a very important one “and has been so for many years, even so now at a time like this for us.”

He said the Federal Government is appreciative of US support over the last few years.

Osinbajo said it is the belief of the Buhari presidency that the US is committed to helping Nigeria tackle some of its challenges especially in the Northeast.

In his remarks, Gen. Waldhauser expressed the readiness of the U.S government to “accelerate” its contributions, adding that there is a sense that “we want to get on and solve the problem.”

“Give Donald Trump a chance”, says 93-year old Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe.

President Donald Trump should be given a chance to prove himself, Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe says.

He went on to express his support for Mr Trump’s America-first policy, saying “America for Americans” and “Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans”.

It is unusual for the veteran head of state to publicly back any US president.

The US imposed sanctions such as travel bans and an assets freeze on Mr Mugabe and his allies in 2001.

The sanctions were imposed over allegations of human rights abuses and election rigging.

Zimbabwe’s government says they caused the country’s economic collapse.

Most experts however blame Mr Mugabe’s seizure of white-owned farms, which used to be Zimbabwe’s economic backbone.

With Mr Trump’s reputation for being unconventional, Mr Mugabe is hoping his administration might decide to lift the sanctions.

“Give him time,” Zimbabwe’s leader said of Mr Trump in an interview aired ahead of his 93rd birthday on Tuesday.

“Mr Trump might even re-look [at] the sanctions on Zimbabwe.”

President Trump has caused global uproar over his policies, including his ban on people from seven mainly Muslim countries entering the US, although this has been overturned by the courts, and his pledge to rebuild the US economy on “America-first” principles.

Mr Mugabe is unfazed by such policies as he seems to identify with Mr Trump’s brand of nationalism.

“When it comes to Donald Trump… talking of American nationalism, well America for America, America for Americans – on that we agree. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans,” Mr Mugabe said.

As far as the nonagenarian president is concerned, there is more hope with Mr Trump in the White House than if it had been Hilary Clinton.

“I was surprised by his election, but I did not like Madam Clinton to win either,” he said.

“I knew she could slap sanctions on us as a legacy.”

President Mugabe, Africa’s oldest head of state, also repeated that he is not ready to step down from power.

“The majority of the people feel that there is no replacement, successor who to them is acceptable, as acceptable as I am,” he told state media.

His Zanu-PF party has endorsed Mr Mugabe as its candidate in elections due next year.

Last week, first lady Grace Mugabe said if the party were to field his corpse, he would still win.


Source: BBC

US President, Donald Trump to roll out new travel ban next week.

President Donald Trump says his administration will be rolling out a new set of immigration order on travels and refugees next week to replace the controversial one blocked by the courts.

Trump, who made the announcement during a televised press conference on Thursday, pledged to keep Americans safe in line with his campaign  promise.

“Our administration is working day and night to keep Americans safe including you reporters,” he said.

“A new set of executive actions next week will comprehensively protect our country. We’re going to put in place a new set of travel ban.

“The (blocked) roll out was perfect because if we had announced that (ban), a lot of bad people would not have come into our country.

“The new executive order will be based on the decision of the courts.

“But now there is serious vetting,” he said, adding that he was willing to deal with dreamers” who were brought into the US illegally as children, “with heart” as a father who has kids and grand children.

Trump said he had ordered a crackdown on sanctuary cities that violated the federal laws by providing safe haven for illegal immigrants.

“I’m following through on what I pledged,” he said, pointing out that the travel ban was only holding true to his campaign promises rather than deceive his supporters by reneging.

Trump also claimed that his administration inherited a mess in the US and overseas when he took over.

“I inherited a mess in United States and overseas,” Trump said.

“This administration is running like a fine-tune machine in spite that I can’t get my cabinet approved. Our cabinet will be one of the greatest in American history.

“We will renegotiate fair trade deal, we’ve been treated unfairly. Other countries have been taking advantage of us for decades. We cannot continue to let that happen.

“There has never been a presidency that has done so much in a very short period of time.”

The president emphasised that he would “repeal and replace Obamacare by March”, insisting that the healthcare plan was a disaster.

He maintained that the Russia scandal was a ruse that was meant to cover up for the loss of Democrats and Hillary Clinton, but emphasised that it was better for the US to get along well with Russia.

Trump, however, described the leak as illegal, and vowed that the leakers of classified information, whom he claimed to be the Obama’s hangovers, would be caught and made to face the law.

“It will be great to get along with Russia. I want to do the right thing for the American people and for the world,” he said.

“We are a very powerful country and so they (Russia) are. They are nuclear powerful but it will be in our country’s interest.

“I don’t think Putin is testing me. But whether we are going to get along, I don’t know because I’m not going to tell you. I don’t have to tell you what my response to Russia is.

“Russia is a ruse. I’ve never done anything for Russia. I don’t have any connection with Russia.

“Putin called me on the election victory and also on the inauguration and it was a fantastic conversation, especially the second one just like almost all leaders all over the world called me.’’

Trump assured Americans that Melania, his wife “is going to be a fantastic First Lady; she’s going to be a fabulous representative of the women’’.

President Trump Attacks U.S. Intelligence Agencies Amid Questions Over Russia

U.S. President Donald Trump assailed U.S. intelligence agencies on Wednesday for what he said were illegal information leaks, and dismissed reports of contacts between members of his presidential campaign and Russian intelligence officials.

Trump went on the counter-offensive as his administration reeled from the abrupt dismissal of Michael Flynn as national security adviser on Monday.

The New York Times reported late on Tuesday that phone call records and intercepted calls showed members of Trump’s presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the Nov. 8 election.

Trump dismissed the report, firing back in a series of early morning tweets on Wednesday.

“This Russian connection non-sense is merely an attempt to cover-up the many mistakes made in Hillary Clinton’s losing campaign,” the Republican president tweeted, citing his former Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential contest.

In another tweet, Trump said: “Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?).Just like Russia,” adding that the situation was “very serious.”

“The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by “intelligence” like candy. Very un-American!” Trump wrote.

He did not give evidence to back his charge that intelligence officials were supplying information to the news media. He did not say if he had ordered any investigation into leaks.

Reuters could not immediately confirm the Times report, which the Kremlin dismissed on Wednesday.

CNN also reported that Trump advisers were in constant contact with Russian officials during the campaign.

U.S. National Security Advsier, Flynn, resigns.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigned late on Monday after revelations that he had discussed U.S. sanctions on Russia with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

It was discovered that the conversation had taken place before Mr. Trump took office; and Mr. Flynn had misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations.

Mr. Flynn’s resignation came hours after it was reported that the Justice Department had warned the White House weeks ago that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail for contacts with Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, before Mr. Trump took power on Jan. 20.

His departure is a sobering development in Mr. Trump’s young presidency, a 24-day period during which his White House has been repeatedly distracted by miscues and internal dramas.

The departure could also slow Mr. Trump’s bid to warm up relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Flynn submitted his resignation hours after Mr. Trump, through a spokesman, pointedly declined to publicly back Mr. Flynn, saying he was reviewing the situation and talking to Mr. Pence.

Mr. Flynn promised Mr. Pence that he had not discussed U.S. sanctions with the Russians, but transcripts of communications described by U.S. officials showed that the subject had come up in conversations between him and the Russian ambassador.

Such contacts could potentially be in violation of a law banning private citizens from engaging in foreign policy known as the Logan Act.

Mr. Pence had defended Mr. Flynn in television interviews and was described by administration officials as upset about being misled.

“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the vice president-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador.

“I have sincerely apologised to the president and the vice president, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn said in his resignation letter.

Keith Kellogg, a retired army general, who has been chief of staff of the White House National Security Council, was named the acting national security adviser while Mr. Trump determines who should fill the position.

Mr. Kellogg, retired General David Petraeus, a former CIA director, and Robert Harward, a former deputy commander of U.S. Central Command, are under consideration for the position, a White House official said.

Mr. Harward was however described by officials as the leading candidate.

Sally Yates, the then-acting U.S. attorney general, had told the White House late last month that she believed Mr. Flynn had misled them about the nature of his communications with the Russian ambassador.

She said Mr. Flynn might have put himself in a compromising position, possibly leaving himself vulnerable to blackmail, the official said.

Ms. Yates was later fired for opposing Mr. Trump’s temporary entry ban for people from seven mostly Muslim nations.

A U.S. official, describing the intercepted communications, said Mr. Flynn did not make any promises about lifting the sanctions.

However, he indicated that sanctions imposed by President Barack Obama on Russia for its Ukraine incursion “would not necessarily carry over to an administration seeking to improve relations between the U.S. and Russia.”

Mr. Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, was an early supporter of Mr. Trump and shares his interest in shaking up the establishment in Washington.

He frequently raised eyebrows among Washington’s foreign policy establishment for trying to persuade Mr. Trump to warm up U.S. relations with Russia.

A U.S. official said Mr. Flynn’s departure, coupled with Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and Syria and Republican congressional opposition to removing sanctions on Russia, removes Mr. Trump’s most ardent advocate of taking a softer line towards Mr. Putin.

Mr. Flynn’s leaving “may make a significant course change less likely, at least any time soon,” the official said.

Another official said Mr. Flynn’s departure may strengthen the hands of some cabinet secretaries, including Defence Secretary, Jim Mattis and Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

However, the second official said Mr. Flynn’s exit could also reinforce the power of presidential aides , Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, whom he described as already having the president’s ear.

Congressional Democrats expressed alarm at the developments surrounding Mr. Flynn and called for a classified briefing by administration officials to explain what had happened.

“We are communicating this request to the Department of Justice and FBI this evening,” said Democratic representatives John Conyers of Michigan and Elijah Cummings of Maryland.

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff of California, ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said Mr. Flynn’s departure does not end the questions over his contacts with the Russians.

“The Trump administration has yet to be forthcoming about who was aware of Flynn’s conversations with the ambassador and whether he was acting on the instructions of the president or any other officials, or with their knowledge,” Mr. Schiff said.

The committee’s chairman, Republican Devin Nunes, thanked Mr. Flynn for his service.

“Washington D.C. can be a rough town for honourable people, and Flynn, who has always been a soldier, not a politician, deserves America’s gratitude and respect,” he said.


Source: Reuters

BREAKING: Trump says Israel settlement growth not ‘good for peace’.

US President Donald Trump does not believe Israeli settlement growth in Palestinian territories is “good for peace”, he told a paper Friday, in his most direct comments on the matter since inauguration.


In an interview published in Hebrew by the Israel Hayom newspaper, Trump was quoted as saying he was “not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace”.


Source: AFP

9/11 mastermind tells Obama attacks were America’s fault.

The self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks wrote to former president Barack Obama to tell him 9/11 was a direct result of American foreign policy and the deaths of innocent people it has caused.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s 18-page letter was addressed to “the head of the snake, Barack Obama,” leader of “the country of oppression and tyranny.”

Defense attorney David Nevin provided a copy of the letter, which has not yet been posted on the US military’s website for Guantanamo proceedings. He told AFP that Mohammed began writing it in 2014.

“It was not we who started the war against you in 9/11; it was you and your dictators in our land,” he wrote.

He says God was on the side of the hijackers on that fateful day when airplanes were guided into the Twin Towers in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

“Allah aided us in conducting 9/11, destroying the capitalist economy, catching you with your pants down, and exposing all the hypocrisy of your long-held claim to democracy and freedom,” Mohammed wrote.

Listing many grievances over America’s “brutal and savage massacres” from Vietnam to the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Mohammed focused his rage on the plight of Palestinians and US support for Israel and the “occupier Jews.”

“Your hands are still wet with the blood of our brothers and sisters and children who were killed in Gaza,” he wrote in the opening paragraph.

– ‘The truth about death’ –
Along with the letter, Mohammed sent a 51-page manuscript entitled “Shall I Die when the Crusaders Carry out the Death Sentence? The Truth about Death.” It is illustrated with an image of a noose.

Mohammed, who faces a potential death sentence for allegedly masterminding the plane hijackings that killed almost 3,000 people, says he is not afraid of dying.

“I speak about death happily!” he wrote.

Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and held at a secret CIA prison site overseas.

In the letter, he explained that “if your court sentences me to life in prison, I will be very happy to be alone in my cell to worship Allah the rest of my life and repent to Him all my sins and misdeeds.”

“And if your court sentences me to death, I will be even happier to meet Allah and the prophets and see my best friends whom you killed unjustly all around the world and to see Sheikh Osama Bin Laden,” he added, referring to the late Al-Qaeda leader killed in a US raid in 2011 in Pakistan.

OUT OF OFFICE: See incredible photos of former US president Barack Obama.

These incredible photos show former US President Barack Obama as you’ve never seen him before – wrestling with billionaire pal Richard Branson and learning to kite surf.


Obama, photographed while on holiday on Branson’s luxurious Necker Island, took up the sport after being succeeded by President Donald Trump last month.


Former president Barack Obama pictured learning to kite surf while staying with pal Richard Branson
He had a competition with Branson to see if he could learn the sport quicker than Branson could learn foilboard surfing
The pair were also pictured wrestling with each other while out on the water


He and wife Michelle spent several days on the entrepreneur’s island as they attempted to wind down from the stresses of office.


Branson has now described the couple’s trip to his island in a blog post published online.


He wrote: “It was a huge honour to be able to invite President Barack and Michelle Obama down to the British Virgin Islands for a complete break after Barack finished his second term as President and the family left the White House.


“One of the first stories Barack told me when he and Michelle arrived on Moskito Island was how, just before he became President, he had been surfing on a dangerous break in Hawaii.


Former President Obama dons a Democrat-blue helmet as he takes to the waves
Obama strains to keep a hold of the kite as he scoots across the water
President Obama kicks up as he tries to get some air
He starts to loose balance and tumble as the waves crash in
Obama crashes into the waves during his kitesurfing trip

U.S. warns North Korea of ‘overwhelming’ response if nuclear arms is used.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s defence secretary warned North Korea on Friday of an “effective and overwhelming” response if it chose to use nuclear weapons, as he reassured South Korea of steadfast U.S. support.

“Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming,” Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said at South Korea’s defense ministry, at the end of a two-day visit.

Mr. Mattis’ remarks come amid concern that North Korea could be readying to test a new ballistic missile, in what could be an early challenge for Trump’s administration.

North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and its main ally, the U.S., conducted more than 20 missile tests last year, as well as two nuclear tests, in defiance of UN resolutions and sanctions.

The North also appears to have also restarted operation of a reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear facility that produces plutonium that can be used for its nuclear weapons program, according to the U.S. think-tank 38 North.

“North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behavior,” Mr. Mattis said.

North Korea’s actions have prompted the United States and South Korea to respond by bolstering defences.

This includes the expected deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), in South Korea later in the year.

The two sides reconfirmed that commitment on Friday.

China, however, has objected to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD), saying it would destabilise the regional security balance, leading to calls from some South Korean opposition leaders to delay or cancel it.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang reiterated China’s opposition, which he said would never change.

“We do not believe this move will be conducive to resolving the Korean peninsula nuclear issue or to maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula,” told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Mr. Mattis’ visit to Seoul, his first trip abroad as defense secretary – sent a clear message of strong U.S. support.

“Faced with a current severe security situation, Secretary Mattis’ visit to Korea also communicates the strongest warning to North Korea,” Han said.

Once fully developed, a North Korean Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBMs) could threaten the continental United States, which is about 9,000 km (5,500 miles) from North Korea.

ICBMs have a minimum range of about 5,500 km (3,400 miles), but some are designed to travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles) or more.

Former U.S. officials and other experts have said the United States essentially has two options when it comes to trying to curb North Korea’s fast-expanding nuclear and missile programnes, negotiate or take military action.

Neither path offers certain success and the military option is fraught with huge dangers, especially for Japan and South Korea, U.S. allies in close proximity to North Korea.


Source: Reuters

Go to U.S. to clear yourself, former Nigerian ambassador tells Kashamu

A diplomat, Folake Marcus-Bello, has advised fugitive Nigerian senator, Buruji Kashamu, to voluntarily go to the United States of America and clear his name over the drugs allegation against him, rather than wait until he is extradited.

Ms. Marcus-Bello gave the advice while featuring on a live radio programme on Sweet FM in Abeokuta. She said Mr. Kashamu’s lawyers should have advised him also to go and defend himself.

“Crime does not go away, it does not expire. It will continue to rear its head, nobody can claim he is guilty or innocent until he goes to clear this mess,” who served as Nigeria’s ambassador to Zambia and Malawi said.

Ms. Marcus-Bello, who is also a legal practitioner, encouraged Mr. Kashamu to consider the reputation of himself, family and Nigeria as a country? to clear his name.

“For the sake of himself, his family, his constituency of hardworking, honest Ijebus, he should travel to get justice?. It is simple, if they are looking for you, buy a ticket and go defend yourself.

“It is like they say they are looking for Folake Marcus Bello for children trafficking. I would buy a ticket and go to the embassy and say ‘here I am, please give me a visa let me go’”

The former Ambassador said some of the statements credited to Mr. Kashamu were shameful.

“It is shameful that somebody at that level, a senator of the Republic of Nigeria representing my constituents in Ogun State would say he would rather die, call up the private army of OPC to fight rather than being taken abroad. Why?”

On Mr. Kashamu’s contention that Nigerian and British courts had acquitted him, the former ambassador argued that it was a faulty argument.

“Look let me tell you, I am a lawyer. Crime never goes away. This is mistake a lot of people make and it is also part of our problem in this country; we don’t know the law, we don’t know our rights, we don’t read, we don’t learn. It is a simple matter.

“Crime does not go away. If you have committed a crime and you have not served the punishment for that crime, let us assume you committed a crime at age 21, you can go on till you are 90, the day you are caught you will be tried and you will serve the punishment.

“He is my Senator, some of us from his constituency will escort him to ensure he gets justice. We know he will get justice, it is an organised society. Let him clear this for the sake of Ogun State, for the sake of Ijebus for the sake of Nigeria. It is just a question of taking a flight to defend himself”.


Source: Premium Times

JUST IN: Rex Tillerson sworn in as US secretary of state.

Rex Tillerson, the former chairman and chief executive of Exxon Mobil, has been sworn in as the United States’ secretary of state.

Tillerson, who has never held political office, succeeds John Kerry as the US top diplomat.

He was Wednesday night sworn in by Mike Pence, the vice-president, in the oval office.

The former oil chief had been criticised for his ties to Russia, owing to his role in multibillion-dollar deals with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft.

His critics had opined that suggested Tillerson, who was awarded the Order of Friendship by the Kremlin in 2013, would not be able to give up his corporate interests.

Tillerson’s confirmation took weeks of intense scrutiny and vetting before coming to fruition — and the votes which ushered him into office were mostly from Republicans.

While the former ExxonMobil executive was waiting for the senate to confirm him, Trump imposed a major travel ban on seven Muslim countries and sparked a diplomatic row with Mexico by threatening to send US troops over the border.

During the swearing in ceremony, Donald Trump, US President, told Tillerson that, “your whole life has prepared you for this moment.”

Tillerson replied, saying, “As I serve this president, I will always represent the interests of the American people at all times.”

United Nations condemns U.S. travel ban

The World Travel Organisation, UNWTO, a United Nations specialised agency for tourism, has condemned the recent travel ban put in place by the United States government.

A statement by UNWTO Media Officer, Gomez Sobrino, which was made available to PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday, said that the travel ban is contrary to the principles of freedom of travel and travel facilitation by the international tourism community.

“The UNWTO expresses its deep concern and strong condemnation over the
recently announced travel ban by the United States of America (USA) to nationals of seven countries (Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen),” said Mr. Sobrino.

“The travel ban, based on nationality, is contrary to the principles of freedom of travel and travel facilitation promoted by the international tourism community and will hinder the immense benefits
of the tourism sector brings in terms of economic growth and job creation to many countries, including the USA.”

According to the statement, Taleb Rifai, UNWTO Secretary-General, said, “Global challenges demand global solutions and the security challenges that we face today should not prompt us to build new walls; on the contrary, isolationism and blind discriminatory actions will not lead to increased security but rather to growing tensions and threats.”

The United States President, Donald Trump, had on Friday signed an executive order prohibiting entry by people from seven majority-Muslim nations for 90 days. Citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Libya would be banned from entering the U.S. for the period.

But Mr. Rifai in his reaction added that the hostile manner the travel ban was imposed will affect the image of the United states, noting that travel demand to the country will decline.

“Besides the direct impact, the image of a country which imposes travel bans in such a hostile way will surely be affected among visitors from all over the world and risk dumping travel demand to the


Source: Premium Times

“People will die before I’m extradited”, Buruji Kashamu threatens.

Buruji Kashamu, lawmaker representing Ogun east senatorial district, says two or three people will die before he can be extradited to the US.


According to PUNCH, the legislator, who is being charged for drug related offences, has revealed his plan of hiring 40 members of the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) to protect him.


Maintaining his innocence, Kashamu said Adewale, his late younger brother was the culprit, not him.


“I will go and hire OPC, may be like 40. I will load them in my vehicle, because the day we meet, one has to kill one,” he reportedly said in a statement.


“That is for sure! One has to kill one because I am not ready to go anywhere. Before that happens, maybe about three, four or five people will die.


“The Beninoise Interpol produced evidence showing that the Benin telephone number, through which the US offenders communicated with their west African collaborators, belonged to my brother, Adewale Kashamu, and not me.


“When they were looking for him, the NDLEA people went to his house here; they searched his house. they went to his car company, they sealed his car company and they took over 30 vehicles from there. He ran away.”


He blamed his predicament on former President Olusegun Obasanjo, appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to protect him.


“I do not believe that this government can entertain this kind of rubbish. I do believe that this government has integrity and they are credible; they believe in the rule of law, because if they want to do it, they could have done it,” he said.


“Obasanjo has been pushing them, using one Sandra, a former ambassador of the United States; he’s the one pushing everybody, meeting all these judges, but what have I done?


“There is no extradition that can be brought against me again. The only thing they can do is to watch and catch me on the road; take me to the airport or Cotonou or throw me inside a vessel and take me through the Atlantic Ocean. But I am not going to let that happen.”


Last week, a US court ruled that Kashamu’s drug trial must continue.

President Trump Defends Executive Order On Immigration Amid Mounting Criticism

U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily blocking citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. has sparked fierce backlash and condemnation, but the president maintained on Sunday that he would not lift the ban.

The Executive Order

Mr. Trump signed an executive order on Friday afternoon barring citizens of seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen – from entering U.S. soil for the next 90 days. Additionally, the order suspended all refugee admissions for 120 days and indefinitely banned Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.

Citizens from the above-mentioned countries that hold dual citizenship with the U.S., however, will be exempted from the ban.


The new restrictions on immigration caused confusion at airports in the U.S. and abroad, as certain aspects of the ban remain unclear.

The New York Times reports that students, visitors, and green card holders (i.e., persons with permanent resident status but not U.S. citizenship) were denied entry into airports across the country. Many were detained in airports while others were sent back to their home countries. Others were prevented from boarding U.S.-bound flights departing from Cairo, Dubai, and Istanbul.

According to Reuters, 170 people were denied entry into the U.S. on Saturday night.

Many immigration officials and airport security workers, however, were on Saturday unclear as to who could and could not enter the country. Specifically, the status of green card holders caused confusion, as the executive order states that a green card holder could be barred from the restriction if it is in “the national interest” to do so.

Even White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus appeared to be confused over the restriction, as he appeared to contradict himself when discussing the ban on a Sunday morning talk show. After initially saying that the ban would not affect green card holders, he soon reversed course after being pushed for clarification.

“We didn’t overrule the Department of Homeland Security, as far as green card holders moving forward, it doesn’t affect them,” he said. But when asked again if the ban affects green card holders, Mr. Priebus replied, “Well, of course, it does. If you’re traveling back and forth, you’re going to be subjected to further screening.”

The Aftermath

Protesters stormed airports across the U.S. to express their anger at the ban, which many feel is a violation of civil rights and antithetical to American values.

Americans judges have defied the ban, saying it violates the U.S. constitution.

On Saturday night, U.S. District Judge Ann Donnelly of New York granted an order prohibiting the deportation of green card and visa holders being held at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York

Reuters reports that judges in Massachusetts, Washington, and Virginia granted similar orders on Saturday night.

While such orders do not strike down Mr. Trump’s executive order, they prove that it could be difficult for the federal government to enforce.

AFP: 7 days in office & President Trump’s America is not looking like God’s own country

Donald Trump hurtled through his first week in power, punching out at critics, dishing up “alternative facts,” polarizing public opinion and making good on an electoral promise to shake up Washington.

One week into the Trump era and there is a serious case of political whiplash in America’s capital.

Just a week ago, an outsider who never before held elected office rode into town. Seven days later, norms and doctrine that have guided the United States for decades are being re-examined.

“Today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another,” he said.

“We are transferring power from Washington, DC, and giving it back to you, the people.”

The establishment “elites” in big cities, in politics and the media were no longer the technocrats in charge of the world’s only superpower, they were the enemy.

The new president also put the rest of the world on notice.

For the last 75 years, America had been what Barack Obama described as the “indispensable nation” — the glue that bound the global order.

The era of Trump would be the era of “America first,” he said, of naked self-interest and zero-sum diplomacy. Old alliances would be reassessed, new alliances would be explored.

Before his inauguration, many asked if the presidency would change Donald Trump, or whether Donald Trump would change the presidency.

Barely 20 minutes into his four-year term, anyone who was listening had their answer.

– Rolling thunder –

Before arriving to the Oval Office, Trump’s strategists had decided to use the first few weeks to unleash a daily wave of executive orders.

The aim was to unbalance opponents, define Trump as a man of action and slake his supporters’ thirst for change.

For much of middle America, globalization, automation and the Great Recession had been apocalyptic.

Politics had passed them over and worse, they felt steamrollered by “coastal elites” in America’s “culture wars” over abortion, gay rights, immigration, global warming and religion.

Trump had won the election by promising to be their champion, and he was going to — as Ronald Reagan said — “dance with the one that brung ya.”

For the most part, the CEO-in-chief put forward actions that could have come from any Republican in the country: defunding abortion, preening the military and approving oil pipelines.

But it was coated with a thick veneer of nationalist and populist rhetoric, and accompanying policies championed by top aide Steve Bannon.

Trump ripped up a trans-Pacific trade deal designed to counterbalance China’s regional economic power, imposed a ban on refugees from Syria and migrants from seven other Muslim countries.

He ordered planning to begin to build a wall on Mexico’s southern border and picked a very public fight with Mexico’s president Enrique Pena Nieto, who cancelled a trip to Washington.

The United States, a nation founded by migrants, was now willing to shut its doors.

Not since Obama’s election or perhaps the Iraq War has America’s image around the world changed so dramatically and so quickly.

But Trump supporters saw an outsider sticking up for them and sticking it to the elites.

“Get used to it,” said Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, boasting that Trump had delivered a “shock to the system.”

“And he’s just getting started,” she said.

– Rocky start –

But it was not all positive for Trump. The White House is far from purring. Key positions have yet to be filled and the decision making process is haphazard.

Trump aides were forced to publicly row back suggestions of a 20 percent border tax on Mexican goods and defend a chaotic rollout of the refugee and migrant ban.

Throughout the week, Trump engaged in intemperate outbursts about the size of his inaugural crowd, alleged election fraud and perceived media persecution.

Privately, in call after call, he complained to top aides about press coverage. The impression was of a man focused on his image more than running the country.

Trump also seemed like a a man for whom becoming US president was not adulation enough.

Spokesman Sean Spicer — between tirades and missteps — offered a window onto the soul of the White House.

“There’s this constant theme to undercut the enormous support he has,” Spicer said.

“It’s unbelievably frustrating when you’re continually told it’s not big enough; it’s not good enough. You can’t win.”

According to a Quinnipiac poll, Trump’s approval rating at the end of his first week stood at 36 percent.

But critics saw a more sinister motive for the outbursts, particularly Trump’s unsubstantiated claim that three million people voted illegally in the election.

Brian Klaas, an expert on global democracy at the London School of Economics, sees Trump “casting aspersions (without evidence) on electoral integrity is a key way to restrict voting rights and erode confidence in elections.”

“Attacking the media and blurring the lines of truth with state narratives not grounded in fact is important to sowing public doubt,” he said.

Mindy Finn, who ran as a independent vice presidential candidate, summed up Trump’s strategy as “sow chaos, deepen division and consolidate power.”

For his harshest critics, the question is now whether Donald Trump breaks the presidency, or whether the presidency breaks Donald Trump.

Canada offers temporary residency to travelers stranded by U.S

Canada will offer temporary residency to any travelers stranded by U.S. President Donald Trump’s orders temporarily barring people from seven Muslim-majority countries, a senior official said on Sunday.

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen told a news conference he did not know how many people might be eligible but said only a handful of passengers headed to the United States from Canada had been denied boarding.

Trump’s decision on Friday, which also affects refugees, left many people uncertain of whether they could enter the United States.

“Let me assure those who may be stranded in Canada that I will use my authority as minister to provide them with temporary residency if they need it,” Hussen said.

Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has refrained from criticizing the United States, which takes 75 percent of Canadian exports, preferring instead to stress Canada is open to refugees.

“Every country has the right to determine their policies,” said Hussen.

The Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, or CCLA, called on Ottawa to withdraw from a Safe Third Country agreement with the United States, under which Canada returns asylum seekers crossing the border.

“There’s a danger that the U.S. is doing blanket detentions and deportations … and not honoring asylum claims,” said CCLA Executive Director Sukanya Pillay.

Such a move would be diplomatically insulting and Hussen said the pact would remain unchanged for now.

Local and national politicians have condemned Trump’s ban and the opposition New Democrats want an emergency debate in the federal Parliament.

The U.S. Consulate in Toronto said it would suspend services on Monday because of a planned demonstration.

More than 200 Canadian technology company founders, executives and investors said on Sunday that Ottawa should immediately give temporary residency to those displaced by Trump’s order.

“(We) understand the power of inclusion and diversity of thought, and that talent and skill know no borders,” they said in an open letter.

Canada wants to attract tech workers from abroad while retaining those who are often lured away. More than 300,000 Canadians work in California’s Silicon Valley.

Bob Vaez, the Iranian-born chief executive of tech firm Event Mobi, canceled plans on Sunday to accept an industry award in Las Vegas. Many event organizers could seek alternative locations, he said.

“Are they going to keep their conferences in the U.S., knowing that so many people are going to be barred?” he said.

(Additional reporting by Anna Mehler Paperny in Toronto and Andrea Hopkins in Ottawa; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Peter Cooney)


Republicans are now marching with Trump on ideas they had opposed.

From the time Donald J. Trump became their candidate until he took the oath of office, congressional Republicans treated his policy pronouncements — largely out of step with Republican dogma — as essentially a distraction. He would talk. They would drive the policies.

But now, the question of whether congressional Republicans would change President Trump or Mr. Trump would change them has an early answer. Mr. Trump cheerfully addressed the group here at their policy retreat on Thursday, and they responded with applause to many proposals they have long opposed.

Republican lawmakers appear more than ready to open up the coffers for a $12 billion to $15 billion border wall, perhaps without the commensurate spending cuts that they demanded when it came to disaster aid, money to fight the Zika virus or funds for the tainted water system in Flint, Mich. They also seem to back a swelling of the federal payroll that Mr. Trump has called for in the form of a larger military and 5,000 more border patrol agents.

They have stayed oddly silent as Mr. Trump and Senate Democrats push a $1 trillion infrastructure plan, larger than one they rejected from President Barack Obama. Once fierce promoters of the separation of powers, Republicans are now embracing Mr. Trump’s early governing by executive order, something they loudly decried during Mr. Obama’s second term.

Speaker Paul D. Ryan, whose own website this week still praised the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, now applauds Mr. Trump for putting the final shovel of dirt over the accord, with the president saying he is interested in bilateral agreements instead.

Many Republicans, who have been longstanding opponents of Russia and written laws that prohibit torture, have chosen to overlook, or even concur with, Mr. Trump’s embrace of both. Even on the subject of Mr. Trump’s call for an investigation into voter fraud, a widely debunked claim, Republicans have often demurred. “The notion that election fraud is a fiction is not true,” said the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

Mr. Trump said he could not wait for lawmakers to get to work on their newfound common ground. “This Congress is going to be the busiest Congress we’ve had in decades, maybe ever,” Mr. Trump said. In an apparent reference to forthcoming bills, he added, “We’re actually going to sign the stuff that you’re writing. You’re not wasting your time.”

Mr. Trump took his first official flight on Air Force One on Thursday. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times

Many Republicans in Congress say his presidency is off to a substantive start, delivering on campaign promises to quell illegal immigration, reduce regulations, start the rollback of the health care law and reverse the Obama administration’s decisions to halt the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipeline projects.

“I think he’s completely winning the expectation game,” said Representative Peter Roskam of Illinois. “I think he’s a genius at lowering expectations and overperforming,” he said, adding, “It’s really remarkable.”

In one significant way, congressional Republicans potentially seemed to pull Mr. Trump to their end of the policy pool. On Thursday, the administration initially appeared to endorse taxing imports as a way to pay for the Mexican border wall, reversing its earlier preference for imposing a heavy tax on companies that move jobs overseas. But the White House later said it was just one option under consideration.

“We are in a very good place on tax reform,” Mr. Ryan said. “It can get complicated when you get into the details of tax reform, but once we go through how tax reform works and what it’s going to take to get the kind of competitive tax system, the kind of competitive tax rates, I think most people agree that this is the right approach.”

Congressional Republicans are also struggling to keep up with Mr. Trump’s rapid-fire announcements, let alone push their agenda. “It’s fast-paced stuff,” said Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota. Investigating voter fraud, for instance, is not something he would like to see Congress take on. “Our priorities are the ones we laid out,” he said.

They are also eager to get on with the rest of that agenda — specifically a repeal and, ostensibly, a replacement of the Affordable Care Act. “We are on the same page with the White House,” Mr. Ryan insisted Thursday. “The president agrees with this agenda.”

But it is the sudden embrace of federal spending that represents perhaps the most striking departure, with Republicans backing the concept of starting the financing for the border wall with a new appropriation.

And the list is much longer. By contrast, last year, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Senate Republican, called Democrats’ request for $600 million in aid to Flint added to an energy bill “a huge earmark,” adding, “I think it’s not something I could support,” in keeping with most of his colleagues. Republicans also pushed for and partly succeeded in offsetting a bill to fight Zika last year.

The talk of a spending surge has left some Republicans worried about an exploding deficit. “There are going to have to be some cuts,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah. “I am not interested in raising our spending levels.”

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming, the chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, seemed tense when asked about the open checkbook. “We’re a fiscally conservative group,” he said of the committee. “We’re going to want to see things paid for.”

Republicans are also at times confused about what Mr. Trump is actually seeking when he makes policy declarations on Twitter. “‘Appears’ I think is the big word,” said Representative Ryan Costello of Pennsylvania. “I don’t think anyone in the House of Representatives on the Republican side of the aisle wants to go through the legislative process,” only to have the Trump administration send a bill back, he said.

Republicans had expected to reveal great progress on their plans to replace the health care act here, but instead seemed stuck in a perpetual debate over the timeline of coming up with a replacement. Senators in large part made a strong argument for making sure that a replacement plan had been fashioned before repealing the law, while many in the House continue to push for a repeal with replacement coming much later.

Also notable is the Republicans’ acceptance of something they have despised: the use of the executive pen to make policy. Several House Republicans dismissed the notion that Mr. Trump would abuse his power to issue executive orders in the way they complained that Mr. Obama did during his second term.

“What you do by the pen can be dismantled by the pen,” said Representative Tom Reed of New York.

Mr. Trump is also trying to work his will on how the Senate operates. In an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Mr. Trump said he thought Mr. McConnell should get rid of the Senate filibuster rule for Supreme Court nominees, calling those who would oppose his coming pick “obstructionists.”

About three blocks from where Mr. Trump spoke, hundreds of protesters packed a plaza just across from City Hall to rally against the president. While the demonstration was organized around preserving the health care law, protesters showed up for a variety of causes. “I don’t trust anything he says,” said Ken Snyder, 62.

Trump: Mexico should cancel meeting if they won’t pay for wall.

President Donald Trump on Thursday said his Mexican counterpart Enrique Nieto should cancel his upcoming visit to Washington if Mexico refuses to pay for a wall along the border.


“The U.S. has a 60 billion dollar trade deficit with Mexico.


“It has been a one-sided deal from the beginning of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with massive numbers… of jobs and companies lost.


“If Mexico is unwilling to pay for the badly needed wall, then it would be better to cancel the upcoming meeting,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter


NAN reports that Mexico’s foreign minister Luis Videgaray said on Wednesday that in spite of pressure at home to scrap a summit between Messrs. Trump and Nieto fixed for Tuesday, January 31, “it is still on for now”.


Trump had signed new executive orders, including one authorising a wall on the U.S. southern border, just as a Mexican delegation led by Mr. Videgaray arrived at the White House for talks.


“The meeting between the two presidents in Washington next Tuesday is still confirmed,” Mr. Videgaray said. “The meeting, for now, is going forward.”


Source: Reuters

US to halt visa applications from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen for 30 days

President Donald Trump is on Thursday poised to suspend the US refugee program for four months and to halt visas for travellers from seven Muslim countries, according to US media.

A draft executive order published in the Washington Post said refugees from war-torn Syria will be indefinitely banned, while the broader US refugee admissions program will be suspended for 120 days as officials draw up a list of low risk countries.

Meanwhile, all visa applications from countries deemed a terrorist threat — Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen — will be halted for 30 days.

Alongside this, the Pentagon will be given 90 days to draw up a plan to set up “safe zones” in or near Syria where refugees from its civil war can shelter.

It is unclear whether the published draft is the final version, or when Trump will sign it, but it would make good on his campaign promises.

Trump told ABC News late Wednesday that his plan to limit the entry of people from Muslim countries was necessary because the world is “a total mess.”

“No it’s not the Muslim ban, but it’s countries that have tremendous terror,” Trump said. “And it’s countries that people are going to come in and cause us tremendous problems.”

Trump refused to say which countries were on the list, but he did say he believed that Europe “made a tremendous mistake by allowing these millions of people to go into Germany and various other countries,” describing it as “a disaster.”

Trump was asked if he worried that the limits would anger Muslims around the world.

“Anger? There’s plenty of anger right now. How can you have more?” he said.

“The world is a mess. The world is as angry as it gets. What, you think this is going to cause a little more anger? The world is an angry place. … We went into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gone into Iraq. We shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out. The world is a total mess.”

– Playing into IS hands? –
Trump’s hardline attitude towards what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism” was one of the most controversial themes of his election campaign.

Rights groups have accused him of stigmatizing a global faith, and some experts warn that offending America’s Muslim allies will hurt the fight against extremism.

“Turning our back on vulnerable refugees doesn’t protect the United States,” said Michael Olsen, former director of the US National Counterterrorism Center.

“In fact, it plays into ISIS’s false narrative that we are at war with all Muslims instead of terrorist organizations,” he told watchdog Human Rights First.

Trump also vowed to “eradicate ISIS from the face of the earth”, which proved popular with US voters.

Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq, told the group that the executive order would threaten refugees who risked their lives to help US troops.

“Banning the admission of Syrian refugees contradicts American values, undermines American leadership and threatens American security by making the ISIS case that we are at war with Islam,” he argued.

– No ‘major negative’ in Trump refugee plan –
Other former officials, however, were not worried by the pending order — suggesting that while it has little use as a security measure, anger would blow over.

James Jeffrey, who was deputy national security adviser under former president George W. Bush, said: “I don’t think there’ll be much of a change in anything.”

Jeffrey argued that even under former president Barack Obama, the United States had allowed in very few Syrian refugees — only 18,000 since the war began in 2011.

Meanwhile, allies in the Sunni Muslim world are far more concerned by the immediate threats posed by Iran and the Islamic State group than by US visa law.

“So I don’t see a major negative in foreign affairs from this,” said Jeffrey, now a fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“We had a bad reputation no matter what we did even when we were being at our very very tippy-toe best with Barack Obama. It doesn’t matter,” he told AFP.

“In populations there is a great deal of skepticism about the United States. It’s hard-wired, regardless of the president, no matter what we do.”

The possible draft signing on Thursday would be the latest in a daily series of executive orders rolled out by Trump’s administration since he took office on Friday — touching on national security, immigration, and health care.

Also Thursday, Trump is to speak before Republican lawmakers at their winter retreat in Philadelphia — an opportunity for him to reassure some of his party faithful about the actions of his provocative first week at the White House.

Donald Trump set to ban 7 predominantly Islamic nations from the US.

President Donald Trump is about to sign executive orders that include a temporary ban on most refugees and a suspension of visas for citizens of seven predominant Islamic countries, including three from Africa.

The countries to be affected by the ban are Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

Responding to the spate of attacks across the world, Trump had vowed, in the buildup to the US presidential election, to temporarily ban all Muslims from entering the US until he figured out “what the hell was going on”.

Although the comment created uproar, some Republicans and his allies defended the ban, insisting that the measure was about Americans’ “safety” and not about discriminating against religion.

Trump is also expected to target legal immigrants as early as this week, White House officials said, by halting a decades-old programme that grants refuge to the world’s most vulnerable people.

The refugee policy under consideration would halt admissions from Syria.

Trump had earlier hinted of his plan to embark on the measures.

“Big day planned on NATIONAL SECURITY tomorrow. Among many other things, we will build the wall!” he wrote on Twitter late Tuesday.

According to Reuters, the order is expected to ban, for several months, the entry of refugees into the United States — except for religious minorities escaping persecution — until more aggressive vetting is in place.

The border security measures probably include directing the construction of a border wall with Mexico and other actions to cut the number of illegal immigrants living in the United States.

The agency quoted sources as saying the first of the orders would be signed on Wednesday.

“With Trump considering measures to tighten border security, he could turn his attention to the refugee issue later this week,” Reuters said in its report.

Stephen Legomsky, who was chief counsel at US Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Obama administration, said the president had the authority to limit refugee admissions and the issuance of visas to specific countries if the administration determined it was in the public’s interest.

“From a legal standpoint, it would be exactly within his legal rights,” said Legomsky, a professor at Washington University School of Law in St. Louis.

“But from a policy standpoint, it would be terrible idea because there is such an urgent humanitarian need right now for refugees.”

China urged to strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the US to respect it”

China must strengthen its nuclear arsenal to “force the US to respect it” in response to the stance of new US President Donald Trump, a leading newspaper said Tuesday.

The comments in the Global Times, a popular paper known for its inflammatory rhetoric and hawkish views, came just days after President Xi Jinping called for the eventual global elimination of atomic weapons.

In recent days, Chinese social media has carried pictures purporting to show an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile system deployed in the northeast.

The Dongfeng-41 is reportedly a nuclear road-mobile missile thought to have a payload of 10-12 warheads and a range of 14,000 kilometres (8,700 miles), according to the Global Times.

The paper, a subsidiary of the Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily, plays to nationalist sentiment and is often believed to channel hardline views within the government.

The Global Times said some media claimed the People’s Liberation Army leaked the photos as a warning to Trump.

“They think this is Beijing’s response to Trump’s provocative remarks on China,” it added.

The US president, who took office Friday, has rattled Beijing with tough talk on trade and national security.

On Monday White House spokesman Sean Spicer warned China the US would “defend” American and international interests in the disputed South China Sea, where China has built a series of artificial islands capable of military use.

“If those islands are, in fact, in international waters and not part of China proper, yeah, we’ll make sure we defend international interests from being taken over by one country,” he said.

Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said last week China’s access to the islands might be blocked — raising the prospect of a military confrontation.

China lays claim to a vast stretch of the waterway within a so-called “nine dash line,” including waters claimed by several of its neighbours.

The Global Times said Trump had called repeatedly for a US nuclear arms build-up.

“Even Washington feels that its naval forces and nuclear strength are lacking, so how can China be content with its current nuclear strength when it is viewed by the US as its biggest potential opponent?” it asked.

The paper said China’s nuclear forces “must be so strong that no country would dare launch a military showdown” with it.

“China must procure a level of strategic military strength that will force the US to respect it.”

The comments were in marked contrast to Xi’s speech at the United Nations days earlier.

“Nuclear weapons should be completely prohibited and destroyed over time to make the world free of nuclear weapons,” Xi said.

China has been a nuclear power since 1964.

The PLA has been flexing its muscles since Trump’s election, showing off upgraded combat aircraft and new fighters. The country’s only aircraft carrier entered the Taiwan Strait this month in a symbolic show of strength.

On Monday the PLA navy announced it had commissioned its fifth “carrier killer” guided-missile destroyer and delivered it to the North Sea Fleet.

The system is believed to be designed to deter the US Navy, which has the world’s largest number of carriers.

BREAKING: Donald Trump withdraws US from Trans-Pacific Partnership deal that covers 40 percent of world’s economy

US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order formally withdrawing the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, following through on a promise from his presidential campaign.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” Trump said as he signed the executive order in an Oval Office ceremony on Monday.

He also called the order a “great thing for the American worker”.

In the same ceremony, Trump also signed an order imposing a federal hiring freeze and a directive banning US non-governmental organizations receive federal funding from providing abortions abroad.
Promoted by Washington and signed by 12 countries in 2015, the TPP had yet to go into effect and US withdrawal is likely to sound its death knell.

Its signatories are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Brunei. They together represent 40 percent of the world economy.

Source: Aljazeera

U.S. commends ECOWAS, Jammeh for peaceful resolution

The U.S. has commended Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for its show of leadership in peacefully ousting former president of The Gambia, Yahya Jammeh, after weeks of political stalemate.


The U.S. Department of State, in a statement by its spokesperson, Mark Toner, also welcomed the ongoing peaceful transition in the country and the commitment to democracy by the people.


“The United States welcomes the ongoing peaceful transition of power in The Gambia and congratulates President Adama Barrow on his inauguration.


“We applaud the commitment to democracy and the restraint shown by the Gambian people over the past weeks.


“We commend the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other regional partners for their leadership in addressing the situation,” the statement said.


The U.S. also commended Mr. Jammeh for departing The Gambia peacefully and avoiding the use of violence.


“We appreciate the decision by Yahya Jammeh to depart The Gambia peacefully.


“We also echo President Barrow’s call for Gambians to unite and work together as brothers and sisters for the future of The Gambia.


“The United States is proud of our close ties to the people of The Gambia and looks forward to working closely with President Barrow and his team to achieve the aspirations of all Gambians.”


Source: NAN

Protests erupt in Sri Lanka against Donald Trump

A small, but vociferous group on Friday staged a protest outside the U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka on the inauguration of Donald Trump as U.S. President, officials said.


Carrying placards and chanting slogans, the protestors denounced Trump’s comments on various issues including the environment, war and immigrants and claimed they could have an impact on Sri Lanka.


“We are showing our solidarity with all the people throughout the world who are taking part in protests against president-elect Trump,’’ Siritunga Jayasuriya, leader of the United Socialist Party, said.


No fewer than 100 people from political parties, civil rights and labour organisations protested for more than an hour as police stepped up security outside the embassy in Colombo.


However, there were others who welcomed Trump, with one of the Buddhist organisations placing a full-page newspaper advertisement wishing him long life.

Mexican Drug Lord ‘El Chapo’ Guzman Extradited to U.S.

Mexican drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been extradited to the United States, Mexico’s government said Thursday.

Mexico’s Department of Foreign Relations announced Guzman was handed over to U.S. authorities for transportation to the U.S.

“El Chapo” Guzman, who twice escaped from maximum-security prisons in his country, was extradited at the request of the United States to face drug trafficking and other charges.

Guzman, the convicted leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, one of the world’s largest drug trafficking organizations, was expected to make his first appearance in a federal courthouse in Brooklyn on Friday, officials said.

Guzman was taken into custody by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in Ciudad Juarez, a border town across from El Paso, Texas.

Guzman, who is in his late 50s, first escaped from prison in 2001 and then spent more than a decade on the run before he was recaptured, only to escape again in 2015 via a mile-long tunnel dug to the shower in his cell.

The 2015 escape was highly embarrassing for the government of Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, and Mexican officials were seen as eager to hand the headache off to the United States afterward.

A court denied Guzman’s appeal and found his extradition was constitutional, the Mexican Department of Foreign Relations said.

In Mexico, Deputy Attorney General Alberto Elias Beltran told reporters late Thursday that Guzman still faces formal charges in 10 other cases.

“When he completes his sentence in … the United States, he will return to Mexico to continue” the prosecution said.


Source: Premium Times

Barack Obama: The end of an era – By Taiwo George

‘White House turns Black House’ that was the title of the piece I wrote eight years ago when for the first time in history, an African American got elected into the most powerful office on earth. Save for the frenzy of the campaign and the burgeoning sentiments across the continent, I knew little or nothing about the enigma called Barack Obama.

Then came his 2008 acceptance speech; his sheer brilliance, eloquence, poise, aura and confidence captured my attention. I felt proud of my skin colour, and from that moment Obamamania took over me.

I became a huge fan of the living legend, reading his well-crafted speeches, watching videos on YouTube, and staying up late at night just to listen to him speak – the last being his farewell address. All that is now over, I can enjoy my sleep and let Americans enjoy their choice of Donald Trump.

But wait, did Americans really choose Trump? Did they? The result of the election showed a gap of nearly three million votes between Trump and his opponent, won’t this make one reach the conclusion that the system picked Trump. No wonder protesters trooped to streets, chanting ‘Not My President’ in the days that followed the election.

Looking back now, Obama stands tall as he bows out of office. With an approval rating of 60 percent at the tail end of his presidency, he goes into history as the third most loved US president.

He obviously had his challenges, but he succeeded in leaving America better than he met it. Forget President Valdimir Putin of Russia and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fell out with Obama along the line. Don’t focus on the frustrations from Congress; think less about ISIS, which gained momentum during his reign, the gun violence which he couldn’t combat, and the lack of improvement in race relations – many African Americans were disappointed because they expected so much from him.

His policy on Libya dealt a big blow to the war against terrorism; he later admitted his mistake in that regard. Not making a case for Obama here, but he is just as human as you and I. As US’ number one citizen, he wasn’t infallible.

On a personal note, I picked a grouse with the cerebral politician for not visiting my homeland while in the Oval office. Since the return of Democracy to Nigeria in 1999, Obama is the first sitting US President to have stayed away from the most populous black nation on earth. Not too impressive a record for the only African American President, but it is good that he went to seven African countries, including Kenya, his fatherland.

Long before he got elected a senator, he traced his way to Kogelo, his father’s village. Slept in apartment with thatched roofs, followed Mama Serah, his grandfather’s wife, to the market and built a lifelong relationship with Auma, his step sister. Obama traced his root, even when he had the option to be lost.

In one last attempt to keep an unfulfilled campaign promise, Obama wrote a letter to Congress, explaining why he felt Guantanamo Bay should be closed. He had said history would be harsh to the lawmakers if they fail to honour his wish – they chose to call his bluff.

Looking forward, will history be kind to Obama? Yes it will. Here is a man who has a deep conviction about the American people.  A fellow, who unlike most of his predecessors bowed out with his dignity intact. He lived a scandal free life. That was why I cringed when on two occasions, Malia, his older daughter, was in the news for the wrong reasons.

A proud father to his two daughters, loving husband to the girl of the south side of Chicago, and a unique friend to Joe Biden, his deputy for eight years.

Biden shared a personal experience during his last outing with Obama. The president had surprisingly bestowed on Biden, the highest civilian honour.

In his appreciation note Biden shared a rare encounter between both men: “We’re having a lunch — lunches, and mostly it’s what’s ever in either one of our minds. We’ll talk about family an awful lot. And about six months in, President looks at me, he said, you know, Joe, you know what surprised me?  How we’ve become such good friends?  And I said, surprised you?”

When the laughter, which erupted in the hall subsided, the outgoing US Vice-President continued by saying: “I’m indebted to you. I’m indebted to your friendship; I’m indebted to your family, and as I’ll tell you … as long as there’s a breath in me, I’ll be there for you.”

Biden obviously spoke the mind of millions of people.

Migrants in race against time to cross US border before Donald Trump takes over

Migrants trying to sneak into the United States from the parched Mexican desert have to contend with border guards’ drones overhead, poisonous snakes underfoot and human trafficking gangs at their backs.

But these challenges are nothing compared to their bigger fear: that someday soon, US President-elect Donald Trump will build a wall to keep them out altogether.

So before Trump takes office on Friday, they are racing against time, riding a freight train up to the border to look for a way across.

In the town of Caborca near the frontier, a group of Hondurans warm themselves by a fire of trash in the early morning cold.

One of them, Wilson, a 48-year-old builder, missed the birth of his daughter to make the journey. Getting to the United States before Trump takes control was more important. #

“When I saw that man on the television saying how he hated migrants and was going to build a wall, I thought: ‘It’s now or never,” said Wilson, who would not give his last name.

“So we all spent Christmas and New Year traveling to try to get here in time. We want to beat him to it.”

Mexican authorities are arresting thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of undocumented migrants each month, according to government figures.

Governors of several northern states this week called for extra resources to deal with the surge.

Laura Ramirez, a local charity activist, has been serving more than 200 free lunches a day to migrants.

“There are more and more migrants coming,” she says.

– Walk like a cow –
In the border town of Sasabe, marks in the rust on the border fence appear to show a spot where migrants climbed over, says Sergio Flores, leader of a government migrant task force.

“They have been getting sophisticated” in their efforts to get across undetected, he says.

Nearby on the sand lies a bottle of water, painted black — a common trick to stop the plastic shining in the sun and catching the eye of border guards.

That is just part of the typical migrant survival kit, Flores says.

The migrants wear soft-soled slippers so as not to leave footprints in the sand, along with camouflage clothes and masks.

Some have even made soles for their shoes that make their footprints look like cows’ hooves.

Some put sanitary pads in their socks to cushion their feet on long walks.

In their rucksacks they carry anoraks, remedies for snake bites, alcohol for lighting fires, talcum powder for their feet and painkillers.

They buy their supplies in the shops on the town square in the local village of Altar — an area dubbed “Migrants’ Wal-Mart.”

– Coyotes and mules –
The migrants pay about $1,000 each to so-called “coyotes” — people traffickers — to bring them here from their native countries.

On arrival, some traffickers tell the migrants they must pay another $5,000 to get across the border.

“It’s big business,” Flores says.

Some who cannot pay the traffickers instead cross the border as drug “mules,” with 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of marijuana on their backs.

“You have to bring your own water, food and blanket,” says one such “mule,” a Honduran migrant who called himself El Guero.

“They don’t pay us. The payment is being allowed to cross.”

– Not welcome –
Trump sparked outrage during his election campaign when he branded immigrants from Mexico criminals and rapists.

The insult rankles with the migrants on the migrant trail.

“That racist man is panicking,” said El Guero. “Our only sin is being born in an impoverished country and not having enough money to pay the gangs.”

Just across the US border in the town of Arivaca, Arizona, locals mistrust the migrants.

“We cannot deny that they bring trouble,” says a waiter in the town, who asked not to be named.

“I just think they shouldn’t be here. This is not their home.”

Last week, in his first press conference since winning the election, Trump reiterated his campaign promise to build a wall along the border.

In Caborca, Wilson gazes towards the north, where he hopes soon to cross over to a better life.

“I trust God will soften Trump’s heart,” he says.

BREAKING: Former US president George Bush hospitalized in Houston

Former US president George H.W. Bush has been hospitalized yet again in Houston, local media reported Wednesday.

The 92-year-old, who has seen his share of recent health incidents, had fallen ill but was in stable condition and “doing fine,” his chief of staff Jean Becker told the Houston Chronicle.

The former president was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital and is expected to return home in several days, although the reason for his hospitalization was not provided, according to local CBS affiliate KHOU.

Bush is the patriarch of one of America’s most prominent political dynasties and is father to former US president George W. Bush (2001-2009) and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who was a Republican contender in the US presidential primary.

In July 2015, the 41st president was treated in a Maine hospital after falling and breaking a bone in his neck. The previous December, he was admitted to Houston Methodist Hospital for breathing problems.

Bush was treated at the same facility in November 2012 for bronchitis, spending nearly two months in the hospital.


Source: Guardian

Russia extends Snowden stay by two years

Russian authorities have extended US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden’s Russian residency permit by two years, the foreign ministry said Wednesday.

The former National Security Agency contractor shook the American intelligence establishment to its core in 2013 with a series of devastating leaks on mass surveillance in the US and around the world.

The announcement came as outgoing US President Barack Obama commuted the sentence of army private Chelsea Manning, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison for handing classified US documents to WikiLeaks.

Snowden was not on Obama’s list of commutations or pardons.

“Snowden’s residence permit has just been extended by two years,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova wrote on her Facebook page.

His lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, could not be reached on Wednesday morning to confirm Zakharova’s statement.

Snowden has been living in exile in Russia since 2013, where he ended up after spending weeks in the transit area of Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport.

He was initially granted permission to stay in Russia for one year amid the rapid deterioration in Moscow’s relations with Washington.

The revelations from the documents he leaked sparked a massive row over the data sweeps conducted by the United States domestically and in allied nations, including of their leaders.

Snowden welcomed the action on Manning’s sentence, writing on Twitter: “Let it be said here in earnest, with good heart: Thanks, Obama.”


Source: AFP

US Tells Yahya Jammeh: Leave Power Now

The U.S. has warned the embattled President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia, saying he is losing opportunities to peacefully handover to President-elect Adama Barrow and avoid the consequences of his actions.

Jammeh’s tenure ends tomorrow 19 January, the same day that Barrow is expected to be sworn in as his successor. Both the African Union and ECOWAS have said that Jammeh will cease to be recognised as Gambian President from the date.

Spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State, Mr John Kirby, said at a press briefing on Tuesday that Jammeh is putting his legacy and The Gambia in peril.

“President Jammeh is losing opportunities to respect the will of the Gambian people and to peacefully hand over power to the president-elect, which is supposed to happen on Thursday.

“Doing so would allow him to leave office with his head held high and to protect the Gambian people from potential chaos.

“Failure to do so will put his legacy – and, more importantly, the Gambia – in peril, and we have been clear about this,” he said.

According to him, the accusation by Jammeh of external interference in The Gambia’s internal affairs is not tenable.

“I don’t know what interference he’s referring to, but we obviously want to see the Gambia succeed.

“And we want to see the president-elect properly installed and to have in place a government, which is responsible for and responsive to the needs of the Gambian people.”

The U.S. had on Friday, indicated support for ECOWAS to take all necessary action on Jammeh if he fails to handover to Barrow.

The U.S. had regretted that Jammeh’s action had made the situation in The Gambia to become “very uncertain”.

“We call on President Jammeh to listen to his own people, to listen to the Gambian people who have clearly called on him to accept the results of the December 1st election.

“And to again agree to what he already agreed to, which is a peaceful handover of power to President-elect Barrow.”

Kirby, however, said the U.S. “believes that ECOWAS can certainly play an important role in providing for security and addressing some of the concerns that there could be violence around the transition”.

He also said that the U.S. was not ruling out its support to a military action, saying: “We do, and I’m not trying to back away from that in any way, shape, or form.

“I just would say that we do, obviously, support ECOWAS as a force for peace and security in the region, and specifically in The Gambia.

“Well, again, I don’t want to speak to what possible actions they may take. I don’t want to get out in front of those decisions,” he said.

Kirby noted the unfortunate accidental airstrike on an internally displaced people’s camp in Rann locality of Borno.

According to him, the U.S. will continue providing the Nigerian Government with counter-terrorism assistance against the Boko Haram insurgents.


Source: Sahara Reporters

Outgoing CIA chief warns Donald Trump to watch unguided utterances

Outgoing CIA chief John Brennan on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump, warning him to watch what he says and suggesting the president-elect doesn’t understand the challenges posed by Russia.

Brennan’s stern words — which sparked a quick Twitter retort from Trump — were the latest salvo in the ongoing feud between the incoming Republican leader and US intelligence agencies, who have concluded Moscow meddled in the November election.

The 70-year-old Trump, who takes office on Friday, has nevertheless been effusive in his praise of Vladimir Putin, saying that if the Russian leader “likes” him, it would be an “asset” to help repair strained ties with Moscow.

“I don’t think he has a full appreciation of Russian capabilities, Russia’s intentions and actions,” Brennan said of Trump on Fox News Sunday.

“I think Mr Trump has to be very disciplined in terms of what it is that he says publicly,” he added.

“He is going to be, in a few days’ time, the most powerful person in the world, in terms of sitting on top of the United States government and I think he has to recognize that his words do have impact,” the CIA chief said.

“He’s going to have the opportunity to do something for national security as opposed to talking and tweeting,” he added.

“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests.”

– ‘Distraction’ –
US intelligence agencies allege that Putin ordered a covert effort to interfere in the election to boost Trump and harm his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

A report from the Director of National Intelligence released this month said hackers working for Russia penetrated Democratic Party computers and accounts to release files embarrassing to Clinton, and also conducted a campaign of media manipulation with the same aim.

Trump’s feud with intelligence agencies has been stoked by the leak of an unsubstantiated report that Russia had gathered compromising personal and financial material on the president-elect, and alleged close links between Trump and Kremlin aides during the campaign.

Hours after Brennan’s rebuke, Trump slapped back at intelligence leaders on Twitter, echoing the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Bob Woodward, who called the alleged Russia “kompromat” dossier “garbage.”

And later, he sent another tweet, this time slamming Brennan for suggesting that Trump did not fully understand Russia — and even seeming to hint that the CIA chief himself might have leaked the Russia dossier.

“Oh really, couldn’t do much worse – just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?”

Incoming Vice President Mike Pence on Sunday dismissed notions that the Trump team and the Kremlin had made contact during the 2016 race.

“This is all a distraction,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“It’s all part of a narrative to delegitimize the election and to question the legitimacy of his presidency.”

– ‘Salacious allegations’ –
The unsubstantiated dossier about Trump, Russia and possible compromising material — compiled by a former British MI6 intelligence agent doing opposition research for Trump’s campaign opponents — also said Moscow had incriminating video of the president-elect.

The fact that intelligence agencies had offered Trump a synopsis of the dossier — which was later published in full online by BuzzFeed — lent the allegations credence.

But Brennan said the intelligence community was only “making sure that the president-elect was aware that it was circulating.”

“I think there are some very salacious allegations in there — again, unsubstantiated,” he said, adding it was “a responsibility in the minds of the intelligence directors” to inform Trump as well as the Obama White House of the report.

Brennan bristled at Trump’s likening of the US intelligence community to Nazi Germany, calling it “outrageous.”

“I do take great umbrage at that,” the outgoing spy chief said.

Pence blamed the scandal on “media bias,” in an interview with CBS.

OPINION: Why I Love Joe Biden – By Bolu Akindele

Let me make a little confession here, I don’t know so much about Joe Biden. The most I know about him are from articles, videos, the many twitter memes and most importantly, the fact that he was awarded by Obama the Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction yesterday and these are the thoughts on which I base my conclusion. If you don’t know who Joe Biden is, please just open a new tab and search google now.

I made a post some months back on leadership as a number 2 person in an organisation and how our many motivational teachers and leadership experts ignore this part of leadership. To be honest, that has been my most viral post so far as it had the most shares and was able to feature on a couple of blogs.

That gave me a cue on how much people did relate with the post.

Yesterday evening, while scrolling through the streets of twitter. Scratch that. Twitter is more than a few streets. Twitter is a country where many things happen. The good, the bad and the ugly. So, back to the issue, I landed on a video of how Obama awarded Joe Biden (His vice President) as Presidential Medal of Freedom with Distinction. I was more than delighted. This isn’t the first time Obama would be publicly appreciating the time he had spent with Joe Biden as president and vice but this was more like the icing on the cake.

I watched Obama’s farewell speech a couple of days back and please don’t even bother asking me if I was moved to tears or not. Although, contrary to what many people might think, the part that touched me the most wasn’t the time he took to appreciate his wife Michelle Obama – That was indeed lovely and so romantic. It also wasn’t the time where he talked about his children and spoke about how he expressed his gladness over being their father – that was almost the point where the tears almost came out because I am a great fan of deep family moments but I indeed loved and still love the moments where he said to Joe Biden “You were the first decision I made as a nominee and it was the best not just because you have been a great vice president but in the bargain, I gained a brother…. And your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives” amidst the many screams from the crowds.

Forget everything, Joe was the man of the night! If you did watch very well, you would have noticed that shouts reached its peak when Obama stretched out to hug him towards the end.

I also watched the video where Obama gave Joe the award and CNN captioned it – Biden: The best VP America ever had. I hope you remember that the award is the nation’s highest civilian honour.

My conclusion:

Could Joe have run for president after Obama? Yes and yes a million times. I mean, we see these things happen in Nigerian Politics most of the time (At least, that’s the only politics I pay attention to asides the US).

Could Americans have wished that Obama was handing over to Joe? Why not! I do too because I believe it would create a seamless flow in the leadership when two people who have become relatively like family and share similar values handover batons.

I believe that as we also preach the gospel of “being the head”, let’s make people understand the importance in being an effective supporter, an assistant with a difference, leadership from the centre of organisations, how that we should quit giving in to the pressure of being the number 1 figure and most importantly the importance of self-leadership and people development over positional leadership.

The leaders also need to value the importance of an effective number two and stop treating them like they’re insignificant. It doesn’t all happen in a day but the process begins on the day you take a resolve to respect the position you are in any Institution (top or bottom). Value it with your life and do all you can to be the best person that would occupy that position. Value and provide mentoring for others who seem to look up to you. Then, the real leadership would unleashes itself in the hearts of people.

Lastly, please keep serving. Honour will find you!

Bolu Akindele is a young creative generalist with an incredible passion for excellence amongst young people. He shares his thoughts on twitter @boluakindele

Nigeria may lose $550 million Abacha loot to U.S. – PACAC

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC, has raised an alarm on the enormous amount of Nigeria’s asset laundered abroad.

The committee called on the press and Nigerians in the Diaspora to join in advocating the return of the asset.

The Chairman of PACAC, Itse Sagay, on Thursday at a press briefing on asset recovery and asset return jointly organised by the committee and the Office of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, said that Nigeria stands to lose another $550 million recovered from the Sani Abacha family, contrary to the earlier promise by the United States to return the loot to Nigeria.

“Between 1960 and 1999 when the country returned to democratic rule for instance, over $400billion was stolen by public officers and laundered outside the country. Money stolen by Abacha’s family alone and stashed away in foreign country was estimated to be about 2-3 per cent of Nigeria’s GDP for every year that Abacha was president.

“At the time of his death, Abacha’s assets were allegedly worth over $4 billion. These funds are just a fraction of Nigeria’s stolen wealth stashed away in foreign countries which can be traced”, Mr. Sagay said.

Mr. Sagay added that Nigeria’s demand for immediate return of stolen funds in foreign countries could not be more timely, as the country struggles with recession, reduced income from petroleum products, and with millions of internally displaced persons representing the victims of corruption.

“Any return will go a long way in helping Nigeria resolve the myriad of challenges it is confronted with.”

The SSA to the President on Foreign Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said there is a huge difference between asset recovery and asset return, stressing that the person who steals is same as the person who refuses to return what was stolen.

“America has over $400million Nigerian money in its coffers, we should join hands in demanding the return of this money. It is against the UN Convention on Corruption, so we should ensure that whatever belongs to Nigeria should be returned. It is our fight, not just Buhari’s fight”, Mrs. Dabiri-Erewa said.

Also speaking, the chief of staff to the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Olaolu Koyede, said that prevention is the best way to fight corruption.

“We are still talking about Abacha loot, which is up to 20 years. Our take is that we need to strengthen our internal capacity so that these monies won’t be looted and moved away.

“The moment the money is moved out of the country, it changes form and becomes very difficult to be returned”, Mr. Koyede added.

One of the issues believed to have been discussed by President Muhammadu Buhari and the visiting U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, during a closed-door meeting in August last year was the return of outstanding money looted by late military dictator, Sani Abacha.

However, Nigeria stands the risk of forfeiting a hefty N218.3 billion ($550 million) already recovered from Mr Abacha’s estate if a suit filed by an American-based Nigerian lawyer against the Nigerian government in a United States federal court is not quickly resolved.

Texas-based attorney, Godson Nnaka, who was contracted by the Nigerian government in 2004 to help find and recover the funds siphoned by Mr Abacha and his associates, has asked the court to appoint him a private attorney of the fund as well as award him 40 per cent of the recovered fund. He claimed he made the request in line with United States law.

In 2004, Mr. Nnaka approached the Olusegun Obasanjo administration with a proposal to help find and recover money stolen by Mr Abacha.

The Attorney-General of the Federation at the time, Akinlolu Olujimi, in a November 25, 2004 letter, instructed Mr. Nnaka “to proceed in a professional manner to recover the funds on behalf of the country.

“Government will only pay for your professional services a percentage as may be agreed for any sum actually recovered,” the letter added.

In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari in August 2015, Mr. Nnaka said he carried out the task. He claimed he hired a group of lawyers, financial consultants, and academics across the world to help identify and trace the funds.

He also said he travelled to France, England, Switzerland, Angola, Turkey, and Austria, to meet with government officials, law enforcement agents and financial experts with the aim of finding and securing the funds.

JUST IN: Ban Ki-Sang, Ban Ki-moon’s brother arrested in the US

Ban Ki-Sang, brother of Ban Ki-moon, former United Nations (UN) secretary general, has been arrested in the US for paying a $2.5 million bribe to buy an ailing skyscraper complex in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Trouble started for the 69 year old and Joo Hyun Bahn, his son, when the middleman stole the initial payment, and the three of them found themselves on the wrong side of the law in the US.

They were indicted Tuesday and charged with participating in an international bribery scheme.

According to the indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, Ban Ki-Sang and Joo Hyun Bahn arranged to pay a $500,000 bribe upfront to the head of a middle eastern sovereign fund to buy the complex for $800 million, and another $2 million payment when the deal was closed.

Authorities said Malcolm Harris, a blogger who lived in Brooklyn and Manhattan, boasted of connections to middle eastern royalty.

He allegedly blew the $500,000 on luxuries, including expensive restaurants and hotels and a penthouse apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

A fourth man, Sang Woo, 35, of Edgewater, New Jersey, was also charged, with conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the anti-bribery law.

Lawyers for the four could not immediately be contacted for comment. Bahn and Woo were arrested and were scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday, authorities said. Ban and Harris remain at large.

The skyscraper complex, known as Landmark 72, consists of two 48-storey residential towers and a 72-storey office tower that was the tallest in the region in 2012, when it was completed.

It was built for about $1 billion by Keangnam Enterprises Ltd, a South Korean firm where Ban was a senior executive.

In early 2013, the company struggled to make debt payments that were coming and was looking for an investor or buyer who could ease the cash crunch.

Ban convinced the firm to hire his son to find an investor. Bahn, who also went by “Dennis,” was working for a New York commercial real estate broker at the time and stood to make a commission of at least $5 million, prosecutors said.

Instead, the father-and-son team devised a scheme to bribe the unidentified Middle Eastern official through Harris, who held himself out as an insider who could use his influence to get the sovereign fund to buy the complex.

Harris told Bahn to use the word “roses” for the bribe payment.

Believing the bribe scheme would eventually work, Bahn allegedly created phony e-mails and other records to make it appear the deal with the sovereign wealth fund was coming together.

It was ultimately forced into receivership, the indictment said.

Trump condemns leaks alleging Russia has compromising info about him

US President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday furiously denied explosive claims that Russian intelligence has gathered compromising personal and professional information on him.


“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” he said on Twitter, reacting to unsubstantiated allegations in reports circulating in US media.


“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” he said.


His tweets came hours before he was scheduled to hold a news conference in New York, his first in nearly six months.


Even before the allegations surfaced widely in US media on Tuesday, reporters had been expected to grill the billionaire Republican over his ties to Russia after the US intelligence community concluded Moscow interfered in the November election to tip the race in Trump’s favor.

Intelligence chiefs last week presented America’s incoming 45th president, as well as current President Barack Obama, with a two-page synopsis on the potentially embarrassing information in Russian hands, according to CNN and The New York Times, who cited multiple unnamed US officials with direct knowledge of the meeting.


Russia denied the claims, with President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov telling journalists: “The Kremlin does not have compromising information on Trump.”

Obama to Americans: Democracy needs you to survive, guard it jealously

Barack Obama, outgoing president of the United States, urged Americans to “jealously” protect democracy during his emotional farewell address on Tuesday night.

Speaking in his home state of Chicago, Illinois, Obama made it clear very early in the speech that he would be focusing on democracy.

Obama acknowledged the fact that America has flaws while noting that the country is “exceptional” and possesses the capacity to change and continuously move forward.

“For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.

“So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

“Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

He strongly cautioned that America’s democracy should not be taken for granted, and urged his country’s citizens to dedicate themselves to rebuilding democratic institutions.

Obama implored everyone to participate in democracy, politics and advocacy with the overall aim of improving America.

“Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote.

“When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.”

“It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.”

“Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing.

“If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you.”

The outgoing president also touched on a number of his achievements in office, in the past eight years.

Obama reminded Americans that his administration overcame a “great recession”, created jobs on a consistent basis and made health insurance possible for 20 million people.

“If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history.

“If I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11.

“If I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.”

U.S. ship fires warning shots at Iranian Guard boats

A U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots at several patrol boats belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Gulf, the U.S. Defence Department said on Monday.


The shots were fired Sunday after four fast boats approached the U.S. destroyer Mahan at high speed, Pentagon spokesperson Jeff Davis said.


Before firing the three warning shots, the crew of the U.S. ship attempted to make contact with the Iranians over the radio, but received no response, Davis said.


Davis accused the Iranian Guard of actions that were “unsafe and unprofessional.’’


White House spokesperson Josh Earnest echoed Davis’ comments, saying that “the behaviour is unacceptable.’’


There have been multiple incidents involving the U.S. military and the Revolutionary Guard in the Gulf.


The Pentagon said there were 35 such incidents last year, 23 in 2015.


State Department spokesperson John Kirby said there had been no communication between the U.S. and Iran on the diplomatic front.

Poll: Most Americans think Trump can’t handle US presidency.

Americans have little confidence in President-elect Donald Trump’s abilities to handle his presidential duties, with less than half of them saying they trust him to prevent major scandals, handle an international crisis, or use military force responsibly.

According to a Gallup poll released by TIME, Americans have significantly less faith in Trump than they had in his predecessors.

Only 44 per cent said they were confident Trump would avoid major scandals in his administration, 46 per cent said they are confident in Trump’s ability to handle an international crisis, and 47 per cent said they trust him to use military force wisely.

When the same questions were asked at the start of outgoing President Barack Obama’s and former Presidents George W. Bush’s and Bill Clinton’s terms, roughly three-quarters of Americans said they had confidence in the newly elected President in these areas.

When compared with Gallup’s averages of confidence polling in his predecessors, Trump comes up short.

The incoming president has a 32-point confidence deficit in his ability to avoid scandals in his administration, a 29-point deficit in his ability to use military force well and a 28-point deficit in his ability to manage the executive branch.

Most Americans (60 per cent) believe Trump will be able to get things done with Congress, but even there he comes up far behind his predecessors — the average number of Americans with confidence in Obama, Bush and Clinton to work with Congress was 82 per cent.

The data also reflects a more polarised America than Obama or Bush faced when they came into office.

On average, only 21 per cent of Democrats have confidence in Trump’s ability to handle the various responsibilities of the presidency.

By contrast, roughly two-thirds of Republicans had some confidence in Obama and the same was true for Bush and Democrats.

But Trump even has a confidence deficit among members of his own party.

Only 84 per cent of Republicans have confidence in his abilities as President, compared with 94 per cent of Democrats who trusted Obama and 95 per cent of Republicans who had faith in Bush.

The poll’s sample included 1,028 adults and had a margin of error of +/- 4 per cent.

Plane carrying 35 expelled Russian diplomats departs Washington for Moscow.

A plane carrying 35 Russian diplomats, expelled from the United States over Moscow’s alleged interference in the presidential election, took off from Washington on Sunday, Russian news agencies reported.

“The plane has taken off, everyone is on board,” said the Russian embassy in Washington, quoted by the state-owned Ria Novosti agency.

Relatives of the diplomats are also onboard, making 96 in all.

The expulsions were part of a package of sanctions ordered by President Barack Obama on Thursday in the final weeks of his administration.US intelligence says the Kremlin ordered a hack-and-release of Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign staff emails in a bid to put Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

Thirty-five Russians, described as intelligence operatives based at the Russian embassy in Washington and the consulate in San Francisco, were given 72 hours to leave the country.

Obama also ordered the closure of two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that the United States says are used “for intelligence-related purposes.”

Economic sanctions were also announced against Russia’s FSB and GRU intelligence agencies. Four GRU officers including agency chief Igor Korobov also face sanctions.

Moscow has repeatedly denied the allegations.

President Vladimir Putin has ruled out sending home US diplomats in retaliation — a move interpreted as a sign he is looking to Trump to rebuild US-Russian ties after the US inauguration on January 20.

NBC: Love him or hate him, Kanye West had a very memorable 2016.

Kanye West began 2016 floating a run for the White House in 2020. He ended the year in another dramatic flourish — strutting into Trump Tower as perhaps the most unlikely ally of the president-elect.

And through all the antics, the year for Yeezy was at times as beautiful, dark and twisted a fantasy as ever.

That’s because the “Famous” rapper managed to remain remarkably relevant, if not for his music or his fashion line, than for a string of public and erratic outbursts that propelled him into the national conversation in unprecedented ways.

Next year, West turns 40, but don’t expect anything to change. The controversial rapper remains poised to keep people guessing and just as engaged as they were in 2016.

A Year Defined by Politics

West, who never said which political party, if any, he’d be affiliated with should he ever run for president, projected the utmost confidence that he is up to the task despite never having held public office.

A HuffPost/YouGov poll from last year suggested that only 6 percent of Americans would even consider voting for West.

Although West donated to Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign and appeared to take shots at Trump, he retroactively endorsed the president-elect during an erratic concert in Sacramento, California, in November. He also criticized frequent collaborator Jay Z, Beyoncé and President Barack Obama — then stormed off the stage after declaring, “I’m on my Trump sh*t tonight.”

Is Trump’s meeting with Kanye West important or a distraction?2:26

West went on to have an unexpected face-to-face meeting with Trump at Trump Tower earlier this month to discuss “bullying, supporting teachers, modernizing curriculums and violence in Chicago.” He left with a handshake and a signed copy of Trump’s TIME Person of the Year cover.

Trump has insisted that he and West are “great friends.”

“Kanye West hugging President-elect Trump is not how most of us expected 2016 to end,” said Zack O’Malley Greenburg, a Forbes entertainment writer and author of the Jay Z biography “Empire State of Mind.”

“Yeah, I think it’ll lose him some fans, but will it kill his career? I don’t think so. Kanye has made a brand out of making people uncomfortable, for better or worse.”

Meanwhile, West walked away from their conversation with an apparently different perspective on his political future, simply tweeting: “#2024.”

A Year Defined by Scandals

The Chicago rapper’s embrace of Trump, who has been dogged by criticism for racially charged and anti-Muslim rhetoric during the 2016 campaign, amused and alienated many of his fans and peers in the music business.

But it was just one of several controversial episodes from 2016.

“I think this was supposed to be the year that Kanye got his affairs in order. But what kind of ended up happening was something very different,” Greenburg said. In the end, 2016 ended up being a year of missed opportunities for him.”

In February alone, Kanye said that embattled comedian Bill Cosby was innocent of the numerous allegations of sexual assault lodged against him (Cosby has also denied the charges), and he asked Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to help him pay off a purported $53 million debt.

In a video leaked from a “Saturday Night Live” rehearsal, the rapper boasted that he was “50 percent” more influential than any other artist living or dead, including Pablo Picasso, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.

Speaking of Picasso, West named his latest critically acclaimed album, “The Life of Pablo,” after the iconic painter. But that LP’s botched rollout — it was initially supposed to be released exclusively on Jay Z’s music streaming platform Tidal, but was undermined by leaks and eventually found its way onto iTunes — somewhat overshadowed its content.

On that album, West resurrected his years-long feud with singer Taylor Swift, rapping that he made her famous and that, despite being a married father of two, he “might still have sex” with the singer.

West and his reality star wife, Kim Kardashian, would later provide audio of a phone conversation with Swift as proof that she signed off on the lyrics, an assertion the Grammy-winning pop star has called into question.

A Year Defined by Health Concerns

Public feuds aside, there have been legitimate worries from fans about West’s well-being.

His November concert rant in Sacramento preceded an extended hospital stay for exhaustion, according to his representatives. The rest of West’s ongoing “Life of Pablo” tour (21 arena dates) was canceled indefinitely, but that doesn’t mean he will be slowing down.

“Trying to predict what Kanye will do next is kind of a fool’s errand,” Greenburg added. “I think the only thing you can predict is that he is going to be unpredictable.”

In other words, the road to #2024 could be the start of a whole new West — and not just a White House run.

Trump Tower evacuated over suspicious package.

The lobby of Trump Tower in New York was briefly evacuated on Tuesday amid reports of a suspicious package found in the Manhattan skyscraper of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, sources said.

The New York Police Department, NYPD, and the Fire Department of New York, FDNY, carried out the evacuation to forestall any eventualities.

However, the departments said that the tower was all clear following the earlier suspicious package in the lobby.

It said after investigating, the suspicious package contained children’s toys.

Assistant Commissioner for Communication and Public Information for the Police Department, Peter Donald, tweeted that the tower was all clear following the earlier suspicious package in the lobby.

“All clear at Trump Tower following the earlier suspicious package in the lobby
— J. Peter Donald (@JPeterDonald)December 27, 2016.”

Donald had said earlier that “out of an abundance of caution” the NYPD Bomb Squad was responding.

“Out of an abundance of caution, NYPD Bomb Squad is responding to a suspicious package in the lobby of Trump Tower. Updates to follow
— J. Peter Donald (@JPeterDonald)December 27, 2016.”

The NYPD official said both the NYPD and FDNY were on location investigating.

The NYPD official said the bomb squad was made aware as part of routine procedure after a suspicious knapsack was found in the lobby of Trump Tower.

Donald said NYPD and FDNY officials were called to the scene in midtown.

According to him, evacuation was protocol for a suspicious package and does not necessarily indicate how serious the situation is.

Footage from outside the tower showed the stream of people leaving the building as they were being directed by police.

President-elect Donald Trump is currently in Florida at his Mar-a-Lago estate with members of his family.

Obama assents new U.S. law to help tackle Boko Haram

An analysis of factors that have helped Boko Haram fester and recruit must come to grips with issues of poor socio-economic environment and access to justice in Nigeria’s north-east, the United States has said.

The U.S. issued the position in a new law, S. 1632 – ‘An Act to require a regional strategy to address the threat posed by Boko Haram’ – signed into law by outgoing American President, Barack Obama, last week.

“It is the sense of the Congress that lack of economic opportunity and access to education, justice and other social services contribute to the ability of Boko Haram to radicalize and recruit individuals,” said the U.S. in the new law obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.

Nigeria’s north-east is the worst among the country’s regions affected by development concerns caused by years of mismanagement and corruption.

The north-east has the highest poverty rate in Nigeria. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, the region’s poverty rate is above the national average of 60.9 per cent.

The region consists of Borno, Adamawa, Yobe, Taraba, Bauchi and Gombe states.  It has a history of chronic underdevelopment in terms of illiteracy, poverty, widespread drug abuse and joblessness.

Coming into its ninth year of active insurgency, Boko Haram has killed thousands of people, devastated infrastructure and displaced millions of people who now face acute humanitarian crisis.

Boko Haram
Boko Haram

According to the United Nations in September, “49,000 of the 244,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in Borno State would die over the coming 12 months, translating to about 134 every day (if nothing is done).

“Some 65,000 people are in famine-like conditions, the worst level of food insecurity, and facing starving to death for lack of food.  It is a very unique situation in the world.”

But Nigeria’s government said the UN was exaggerating the situation in the North-east.

To address the problems provoked by Boko Haram and combat the terrorism with lasting measures, Nigeria’s government and the country’s neighbours must “accept and address the legitimate grievances of vulnerable populations affected by Boko Haram,” said the U.S., in evolving strategies to help Nigeria combat the terrorist group through the new law.

According to the law, the counter-terrorism strategy must follow “a means for assisting Nigeria, and as appropriate, the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) to combat Boko Haram, to counter violent extremism, including efforts to address the underlying factors shown to contribute to the ability of Boko Haram to radicalize and recruit individuals.”

The law also provides for plans to enhance the capacity of Nigeria’s MNJTF partner nations to investigate and prosecute human right abuses by security forces; promote respect for the rule of law within the military; and prevent corruption.

Former military and security chiefs, including former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, are under investigation and prosecution for allegedly misappropriating funds meant to purchase arms and cater for welfare of soldiers deployed to combat Boko Haram. And there have been accusations of rights violations – though denied – made against Nigeria’s military.

The U.S. law also provides that the American government should, “pursuant to existing authorities and restrictions”, help enhance the military capacity of Nigeria and partner nations, including Chad, Niger and Cameroon, to combat Boko Haram.

It also provides that Nigeria should be helped in terms of “long-term capacity to enhance security for schools such that children are safer and girls seeking education are protected, and to combat gender-based violence and inequality.”

The strategies, the law provides, should form elements of a five-year plan to be submitted to U.S. Congress within 180 days by the Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense.

Then, the Director of the US National Intelligence should assess “the willingness and capacity” of Nigeria and regional partners to implement the plan and submit a report on the assessment to Congress, the law further provides.

Specifically, the law seeks assessment of Nigeria’s readiness to address socio-economic factors that help Boko Haram fester and “legitimate grievances” of populations affected by the group.

Although the law provides that the U.S. should militarily assist Nigeria and her regional partners, there is no specific provision to sell arms to Nigeria.

US supports Nigeria’s fight against poverty with additional $227.3m

The United States of America has announced the release of $227.3million to help fight poverty in Nigeria.

The sum which was announced by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) was in addition to the US developmental assistance to support the five-year $2.3 billion agreement signed with the Nigerian Government in 2015.

According to the US, the additional fund now brings the total provided under the agreement to $702 million.

In a statement from the Public Affairs Section of the US Mission in Abuja, the new funding would continue to help Nigeria reduce extreme poverty by stimulating inclusive economic growth, promoting a healthier, more-educated population, and strengthening good governance.

“Today, we are pleased to announce new funding under the agreement signed with the Nigerian Government in 2015 to provide better access to education and health services and promote democracy and economic growth,” the US Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, was quoted as saying in the statement.

He added: “With the Nigerian Government’s leadership, we know this funding will significantly improve the wellbeing of Nigerians.”

The agreement, which would run through 2020, is structured by the USAID in collaboration with the Ministry of Budget and National Planning; Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education and their counterparts at the state-level.

In addition to development assistance funding, the US is providing humanitarian assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict and severe food insecurity in the North-eastern part of Nigeria and throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

The US has provided more than $291 million in humanitarian assistance in the 2016 fiscal year and continues to be the single largest bilateral humanitarian donor to the region.

Trump’s immigration plan could cost the U.S. billions

President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to overturn an executive order that provides temporary protection from deportation to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children could cost the country tens of billions of dollars, a new study finds.

Put in place by President Obama six years ago, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program has helped hundreds of thousands of young people — known as the DREAMers — come out from the shadows and get valid driver’s licenses, enroll in college and legally secure jobs.

If the DACA is repealed, roughly 645,000 people would lose their legal right to work in the U.S., putting them at risk of losing their jobs and possibly being deported, according to the San Francisco-based Immigrant Legal Resource Center. Terminating all of these workers and possibly finding and retraining replacements for them would cost businesses an estimated $3.4 billion, the nonprofit immigrant rights advocacy group estimated.

“Some employers may consider consolidating or shedding these existing positions to proactively reduce some of those [turnover] costs,” said Jose Magaña-Salgado, an immigration policy attorney and the author of the report. He added that replacement workers may not be found right away.

According to an October survey of more than 1,300 DACA recipients conducted by the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank, nearly 87% of people registered under DACA are employed and thoseworkers make an average of $13.96 an hour.

The Immigrant Legal Resource Center said losing these workers would not only reduce the tax revenue that these employees generate but it would also diminish contributions to programs like Social Security and Medicare by a total of $24.6 billion. Over the course of a decade, the group estimates that payments to Social Security would be cut by $19.9 billion, while those made to Medicare would be reduced by $4.6 billion.

Roughly half of those estimated contributions come from employers, who are required to pay into Social Security and Medicare for each of their employees under the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA).

Of course, an employer may replace an employee who was terminated and resume paying into Social Security and Medicare for that position, Magaña-Salgado said. But in order to fill that position, the worker would likely have left another employer — leaving a tax revenue hole somewhere else.

“The incoming Administration would be wise to leave DACA fully intact,” he said in the report. “The billions of dollars in tax contributions resulting from the program should be reinvested in our nation’s workers and retirees, not left on the table.”

It’s unclear whether Trump will focus on repealing DACA as soon as he takes office in January.

In an interview with CBS’s 60 Minutes last month, Trump said he would first focus on deporting undocumented immigrants who have criminal records. Once those individuals are removed, he said he would then decide what to do about undocumented immigrants who, but for their status, are law-abiding people.

“We’re going to make a determination on the people that you’re talking about,” Trump said to CBS’s Leslie Stahl. “They’re terrific people, but we are gonna make a determination,” he said.

China returns seized US underwater drone – Officials

The Chinese government has returned the US underwater drone it seized last week in the South China Sea, according to Chinese and US officials.

“After friendly consultations between China and the United States, the transfer of the US underwater drone was smoothly completed,” a statement from the Chinese Ministry of Defense said.
The Pentagon said the United States would continue to investigate the “unlawful” seizure, which took place in international waters about 50 miles northwest of Subic Bay in the Philippines.
“The US remains committed to upholding the accepted principles and norms of international law and freedom of navigation and overflight and will continue to fly, sail, and operate in the South China Sea wherever international law allows, in the same way that we operate everywhere else around the world,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
China has built up military bases in the South China Sea, which is home to a tense territorial dispute.
The incident has threatened to further unsettle ties between China and the US, where President-elect Donald Trump has shown himself increasingly willing to confront and challenge Beijing on a range of issues.
Analysts said the drone grab may have been at least partly in response to Trump’s recent comments on China and his questioning of a long-standing US policy that Taiwan is part of China.
“Such a dramatic upping of the ante is out of character for China, and American officials should understand that
Beijing now appears willing to take increasingly risky actions,” said Michael Auslin, the author of upcoming book “The End of the Asian Century: War, Stagnation, and the Risks to the World’s Most Dynamic Region.”
The unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), which the Pentagon also called an “ocean glider,” was taken Thursday from the USNS Bowditch — an unarmed oceanographic survey ship — as it was attempting to retrieve it and another underwater vehicle, the Pentagon said.
A Chinese navy submarine rescue vessel launched a small boat and seized the vehicle. The Pentagon said the Chinese ship ignored repeated demands to return the vehicle from the USNS Bowditch.
A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson denied the drone had been stolen, as Trump claimed in a tweet.
“First I want to say we strongly dislike the term ‘steal’ as it’s entirely inaccurate,” she said.
“The Chinese navy discovered the device — and identified and verified it in a responsible and professional manner.
Whether the device was lifted out of water and dragged in water, I think the key point was that the Chinese navy did so in a responsible and professional manner. And they did so to prevent it from harming navigational and personnel safety of passing ships.”

Electoral College Vote Seals Trump Victory As US Next President

President-elect Donald Trump has received a majority in the US Electoral College as votes from Texas electors put him over the 270 threshold.

Monday’s result confirmed as expected Trump’s election as the 45th president of the United States.

The Electoral College appeared unswayed by a last-ditch bid by die-hard opponents to bar the Republican’s path to the White House.

Six weeks after his upset victory over the Democrat Hillary Clinton, Trump sailed past the 270 votes needed to make his victory official, clearing the way for him to succeed Barack Obama on January 20.

JUST IN: Tin-Can Port Customs intercept arms, ammunition from US.

The Tin-Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted arms and ammunition as well as military equipment hidden in two cars imported from U.S.

The Customs Area Comptroller of the command, Comptroller Yusuf Bashar, made the disclosure on Monday in Lagos.

“We got a hint that there is a magazine in a used Toyota car 2004 model with Chassis No 2T1BR32E54C309841.

“Customs officers isolated the vehicle to give it a thorough checking. We discovered 10 pieces of life rounds called Hornady ammunition with the magazine,’’ the controller said.

Bashar said that no suspect had yet been arrested because the seizures were just coming out of the vehicle.

He said that the seizures were isolated, adding that the command would conduct further investigation to discover the owner of the consignments.

“We will hand over the items to the Department of State Security (DSS) for custody of the ammunition because they are too dangerous to be with unauthorised persons,“ NAN quotes Bashar as saying.

The command also intercepted another container of used Nissan Armada , 2007 model, with container No- NSCEU718443\6 and Chassis No 5NIAA08A69N709779.

Bashar said that the vehicle contained one Omini American Tactical Riffle No AR48634 and another one Moasberg American Pump Action with No U648018.

He said that in addition to these two riffles, it was discovered on examination, in the same container, 3,500 pieces of Premier Hollow point (Air Gun Pellets), and 4,000 pieces of Premier Hollow point (Air gun pellets).

“We also discovered nine pieces of military bullets proof vests; one piece of helmet with rain proof, one pistol Punch, one Riffle Punch, a set of military gas masks, 26 packs of military already made foods and two pairs of military booths.

“This is why we called reporters to inform them because it is about reporting the nation’ security.

“We must do everything we can to safeguard Nigeria.

“ If an individual is given Nigerian passports to travel abroad, while coming back home, some come back with unauthorised consignments, which will cause pains and havoc to the citizens.

“ Instead of such persons bringing machines and other valuable things.

“These items were found in a container of personal effects which government graciously says you should not pay duties and now, can you perceive the way some Nigerians reciprocate the gesture? “ NAN quotes Bashar as saying.

The comptroller said that a suspect was arrested in connection with the consignments containing military ammunition, adding that Customs officers had intercepted the container since Nov. 29 and examined it in Nov. 30.

He said that investigation of the container was ongoing to get more details and that was why the news conference was delayed.

Bashar warned travelers who usually used the opportunity of personal effects to bring ammunition and unwanted items to desist, adding that it was endangering the society.

He advised Nigerians who had the opportunity to travel to always bring what would add value to the country.

“Nigerians should educate themselves more on newspapers and Customs portal on prohibited items “because every importer is a suspect’’.

“We urged the media to keep educating the citizens and whoever leaves under the protection of the entity called Nigeria to do everything to safeguard lives and properties in this country.

“These will be about the fifth interception of ammunitions since I resumed office in January 2016.

“We have discovered 900 pieces of live ammunitions, 200 pieces of cocaine worth N2 billion, which we handed over to appropriate agency because we believe in inter-agency collaboration.

“We have discovered some riffles with or without bullets, 300 pieces of military caps, some military camouflage and so many other equipment,“ Bashar told NAN.

Ten years after, CIA agent who grilled Saddam Hussein says US was wrong about him

I had been up for 27 hours and was flat-out exhausted, but the news sent jolts of adrenaline through me like I’d never experienced before.

A Special Forces team hunting the man we called High Value Target No 1 had pulled someone from a hole in the ground. He answered the description.

And my bosses at the CIA were grilling me, the expert.

Could this burly, unkempt man truly be Saddam Hussein, the ruthless dictator of Iraq? The most wanted man in the world?

 Could this burly, unkempt man truly be Saddam Hussein, the ruthless dictator of Iraq? The most wanted man in the world?

Could this burly, unkempt man truly be Saddam Hussein, the ruthless dictator of Iraq? The most wanted man in the world?

It was December 13, 2003, and I’d been in Iraq for eight weeks – a CIA analyst looking for leads that might take us to Saddam and his notorious henchmen. That was when I was called to see Buzzy Krongard, the CIA’s executive director.

The war to topple the regime had been going for nearly nine months, yet when it came to Saddam, all we’d turned up were ‘Elvis sightings’, as we called them. Until, that is, troops searching a farm near Saddam’s home village of Tikrit found a large bearded man concealed in a tiny underground bunker.

Now a group of senior officers were quizzing me in Krongard’s office; how, they asked, would I make a definitive identification? I told them about the tribal tattoos on Saddam’s right hand and wrist, the bullet scar on his left leg and that his lower lip tended to droop to one side, something I picked up from studying videotapes.

Krongard interrupted me: ‘We need to make sure this is Saddam and not one of those body doubles.’

The myth – and it was a myth – that Saddam maintained multiple lookalikes was a source of wry amusement to those of us who worked in intelligence, but I decided silence was the better part of valour and started compiling a list of questions only the dictator could answer.

The military was flying the putative Saddam to Baghdad airport that night and it was decided we’d make the identification there.

In late 2007, I was summoned to give a detailed presentation to George W. Bush at the Oval Office. What kind of a man had Saddam been, he asked me?

In late 2007, I was summoned to give a detailed presentation to George W. Bush at the Oval Office. What kind of a man had Saddam been, he asked me?

At midnight, after a long wait, the convoy was ready. Men in night-vision goggles drove us at 100mph down the Airport Road, a no-go zone at night. At the airport, a side road led to a series of low-slung blockhouses that once housed Saddam’s Special Republican Guard. Inside, I found pandemonium and another wait until finally a GI said, ‘OK, guys. You’re up.’

Suddenly the door opened and I immediately found myself sucking in air. There he was, sitting on a metal folding chair, wearing a white dishdasha robe and blue quilted windbreaker.

There was no denying that the man had charisma. He was big – 6ft 1in – and thickly built. Even as a prisoner who was certain to be executed, he exuded an air of importance.

I spoke first through a translator. ‘I have some questions I’d like to ask you, and you are to answer them truthfully. Do you understand?’

Saddam nodded. ‘When was the last time you saw your sons alive?’

I expected Saddam to be defiant, but I was taken aback by the aggression of his reply: ‘Who are you guys? Are you military intelligence? Mukhabarat [civilian intelligence]? Answer me. Identify yourselves!’

I noted his tribal tattoos and that his mouth drooped. Now I needed to see his bullet wound.

There was so much we wanted to know. How had he escaped from Baghdad? Who had helped him? He would not say, answering only the questions he wanted to.

‘Why don’t you ask me about politics? You could learn a lot from me,’ he barked. He was especially vocal on the rough treatment he’d received from the troops who brought him in, launching a long diatribe.

I was incredulous. Here was a man who didn’t think twice about killing his own people complaining about a few scratches. He lifted his dishdasha to show the damage to his left leg. I saw an old scar. Was it the bullet wound, I asked him. He assented with a grunt – the final piece of proof. We’d got him.

Capturing Saddam was all very well, but now we had to get to the truth about his regime, and in particular the weapons of mass destruction that had been the pretext for the invasion. His response was simply to mock us.

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein moments after his capture by US forces

Former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein moments after his capture by US forces.

‘You found a traitor who led you to Saddam Hussein. Isn’t there one traitor who can tell you where the WMDs are?’ He warmed to the subject, saying Americans were a bunch of ignorant hooligans who did not understand Iraq and were intent on its destruction.

‘Iraq is not a terrorist nation,’ he said. ‘We did not have a relationship with (Osama) bin Laden, and did not have weapons of mass destruction… and were not a threat to our neighbours. But the American President [George W Bush] said Iraq wanted to attack his daddy and said we had ‘weapons of mass destruction.’

Ignoring his goading, we asked Saddam if he’d ever considered using WMDs pre-emptively against US troops in Saudi Arabia. ‘We never thought about using weapons of mass destruction. It was not discussed. Use chemical weapons against the world? Is there anyone with full faculties who would do this? Who would use these weapons when they had not been used against us?’

This was not what we had expected to hear. How, then, had America got it so wrong?

Saddam had an answer: ‘The spirit of listening and understanding was not there – I don’t exclude myself from this blame.’ It was a rare acknowledgment that he could have done more to create a clearer picture of Iraq’s intentions.

Was he playing with us, twisting the truth to spare his pride?

Debriefing The President: The Interrogation Of Saddam Hussein, by John Nixon, is published on December 29 by Bantam Press at £16.99

Debriefing The President: The Interrogation Of Saddam Hussein, by John Nixon, is published on December 29 by Bantam Press at £16.99

I asked about his notorious use of chemical weapons against the Kurdish city of Halabja during the Iran-Iraq war. He became furious. ‘I am not afraid of you or your president. I will do what I have to do to defend my country!’

Then he turned to me and sneered: ‘But I did not make that decision.’

We decided to close the briefing. As Saddam left the room, he glared at me. I have annoyed quite a few people in my life, but no one has ever looked at me with such murderous loathing.

My superiors were delighted at the progress we were making, yet something nagged at me about the exchange. My gut told me that there was some truth in what Saddam had said. He was incensed about Halabja. Not because his officers had used chemical weapons – he showed no remorse – but because it had given Iran a propaganda field day.

It was not the only thing that would surprise me. For example, in my years studying Saddam, I never doubted the received wisdom that his stepfather in Tikrit beat him. Many eminent psychiatrists who had analysed him from afar said this was why Saddam was so cruel and why he wanted nuclear weapons.

Yet, in the course of my further interrogations, Saddam turned our assumptions upside down, saying his stepfather was the kindest man he had ever known: ‘Ibrahim Hasan – God bless him. If he had a secret, he would entrust me with it. I was more dear to him than his son, Idham.’

I asked about the CIA’s belief that Saddam suffered great pain from a bad back and had given up red meat and cigars. He said he didn’t know where I was getting my intelligence, but it was wrong. He told me he smoked four cigars every day and loved red meat. He was also surprisingly fit.

The CIA profile of Saddam suggested he was a chronic liar, yet he could be quite candid. Our perception that he ruled with an iron grip was also mistaken. It became clear from our interrogations that in his final years, Saddam seemed clueless about what had been happening inside Iraq. He was inattentive to what his government was doing, had no real plan for the defence of Iraq and could not comprehend the immensity of the approaching storm.

Saddam was quick, too, to deny involvement in 9/11. ‘Look at who was involved,’ he said. ‘What countries did they come from? Saudi Arabia. And this [ringleader] Muhammad Atta, was he an Iraqi? No. He was Egyptian. Why do you think I was involved in the attacks?’

Saddam had actually believed 9/11 would bring Iraq and America closer because Washington would need his secular government to help fight fundamentalism. How woefully wrong he had been.

During our talks, we often heard muffled explosions. Saddam inferred things were not going well for the US forces and took pleasure in the fact. ‘You are going to fail,’ he said. ‘You are going to find that it is not so easy to govern Iraq.’ History has proved him right. But back then, I was curious why he felt that way.

‘Because you do not know the language, the history, and the Arab mind,’ he said. ‘It’s hard to know the Iraqi people without knowing its weather and its history. The difference is between night and day and winter and summer. That’s why they say the Iraqis are hard-headed – because of the summer heat.’


Doting dad: Saddam and Rana

Doting dad: Saddam and Rana

The only time Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein showed any emotion during my interviews was when we discussed his daughters, Rana and Raghid.

His eyes became watery and his voice quivered. ‘I miss them terribly,’ he said. ‘I enjoyed a wonderful relationship with them. They loved me very much, and I loved them very much.’

Saddam also said he was proud of his murderous sons Uday and Qusay, but realistic about their shortcomings. He sometimes found it necessary to punish them.

Uday was a particular problem for him. He said he was incensed when he learned that Uday kept a fleet of Bentleys, Jaguars and Mercedes in a garage protected by Republican Guard soldiers, saying: ‘What kind of message are we sending to the Iraqi people, who must suffer under sanctions and do without?’

Saddam had the cars torched after a drunk Uday shot and wounded Saddam’s half-brother Watban at a family party.

The altercation prompted the 1995 defection of Hussein and Saddam Kamel, the husbands of Saddam’s two daughters, to Jordan.

He chuckled and added: ‘Next summer, when it is hot, they might revolt against you. The summer of 1958 got a little hot. In the 1960s, when it was hot, we had a revolution. You might tell that to President Bush!’

It was several years and several more postings to Iraq before I could explain the realities of Iraq to the President, face to face. By now, Saddam had been tried and executed, finally dispatched in late 2006.

But in late 2007, I was summoned to give a detailed presentation to George W. Bush at the Oval Office. What kind of a man had Saddam been, he asked me?

I told him that he was disarming at first and used self-deprecating wit to put you at ease.

The President looked as if he was going to lose his cool. I quickly explained that the real Saddam was sarcastic, arrogant and sadistic, which seemed to calm Bush down.

He looked at Vice-President Dick Cheney and their eyes locked in a knowing way. As I was leaving, he joked: ‘You sure Saddam didn’t say where he put those vials of anthrax?’ Everyone laughed, but I thought his crack inappropriate. America had lost more than 4,000 troops.

Several months later, I was asked to go back to the White House. This time, the President looked annoyed and distracted and asked for a briefing on the Shia cleric called Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army, then engaged in dangerous insurgency against the coalition. This was not on the agenda.

Trying to gain a few seconds, I said: ‘Well, that is the $64,000 question’ Bush looked at me and said: ‘Why don’t you make it the $74,000 question, or whatever your salary is, and answer?’ What an a***hole!

In his 2010 memoir, Bush wrote: ‘I decided I would not criticise the hardworking patriots of the CIA for the faulty intelligence on Iraq.’ But that is exactly what he did. He blamed the agency for everything that went wrong and called its analysis ‘guesswork’ while hearing only what he wanted to hear.

I do not wish to imply that Saddam was innocent. He was a ruthless dictator who plunged his region into chaos and bloodshed. But in hindsight, the thought of having an ageing and disengaged Saddam in power seems almost comforting in comparison with the wasted effort of our brave men and women in uniform and the rise of Islamic State, not to mention the £2.5 trillion spent to build a new Iraq.

Rivers Poll: UK, US, Germany, France Call For Probe Of Killings

The United Kingdom High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright and his United States, France, Germany and the European Union counterparts, Messrs Stuart Symington, Denys Guaer, Bernhard Schlagheck and Micheal Arrion respectively, yesterday called on the federal government to conduct a transparent investigation into the killings of innocent Nigerians during the just concluded Rivers re-run election.

Also yesterday, The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) vowed that it would get to the root of incidences of malfeasance involving its staff, politicians and some security agents during the just concluded re-run elections in Rivers State.

This was contained in a statement, signed by the Deputy Press and Public Relations Officer of the British High Commission, Jamila Fagge, on behalf of the five envoys resident in Abuja.

The envoys also alleged wide rigging of the December 10, parliamentary re-run election in the state.

The countries who claimed to have been following proceedings before and during the election indicted some staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as well as personnel of security agencies.

They however did not mention any politician or political party as a beneficiary of the rigging.

The envoys called for a full scale investigation of the allegations as well as the death of some civilians and police officials with a view to bringing them to book and serve as deterrent to others in future elections.

Read More: thisdaylive

Femi Falana: US, Switzerland don’t want to return Abacha loot to #Nigeria

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the governments of the United States and Switzerland are frustrating the return of the looted funds stashed in their countries by late Sani Abacha, a former military ruler.

Falana said this in a piece entitled ‘The immoral and illegal frustration of the repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot by the governments of United States and Switzerland’.

“Apart from describing Nigeria as ‘fantastically corrupt’, Mr. David Cameron did not accede to the request of President Buhari to recover and repatriate the looted wealth of Nigeria, which has been located in the United Kingdom,” Falana said.

“In spite of several assurances, the United States Government has continued to frustrate the legal proceedings filed by Nigeria in Jersey, United Kingdom, for the recovery and repatriation of the remaining Abacha loot.

“On its own part the Swiss Government has imposed a conditionality before repatriating the sum of $321 million in its custody to Nigeria.?”

According to the former president of the West African Bar Association (WABA), court processes initiated by the Nigerian government in US courts have been objected to by the American government.

“The Federal Republic of Nigeria had adopted various routes and strategies to freeze, recover and repatriate to Nigeria the proceeds of corruption amassed by a former military ruler, the late General Sani Abacha and his associates.

“In particular, legal proceedings have been filed in many courts, including a criminal complaint in Switzerland and requests for mutual legal assistance to various European nations. Others include claims in England (both in the Commercial Court and the Chancery Division) directly against inter alias Mohammed Sani Abacha (“Abacha”) and Abubakar Atiku Bagudu (“Bagudu”), together with companies associated with them, including Doraville Property Corporation (“Doraville”).

“I understand that it is suggested by the USA that the FRN is estopped from bringing proceedings against Doraville in Jersey to recover the proceeds of the fraud, because the FRN made the MLA Request, and because the FRN assisted in facilitating the service of the US proceedings upon Mohammed Sani Abacha and Bagudu.

“I do not understand this suggestion. As I have indicated above, the whole point of the MLA Request was to secure the recovery of monies for the FRN. It appears that the USA now however does not intend to abide by the spirit of the request, and instead intends itself to apply any monies recovered by it as it alone sees fit. In the absence of a common understanding between the FRN and the USA as to what should happen to the monies recovered in the Doraville proceedings, no estoppel can exist.

“The FRN is bringing proceedings in Jersey against Doraville to establish the FRN’s status as the party which has been defrauded of these monies, and therefore the party with a paramount proprietary interest in them.  There is nothing artificial or underhand about these proceedings.  What the FRN is seeking to achieve is establish as clearly as possible its own interest in these monies. It is the frivolous objection of the USA which has prevented the Court from ordering the repatriation of the fund to Nigeria.”

Falana urged President Barack Obama to ensure that the frivolous objections filed in the recovery proceedings in the High Court in Jersey by the US are withdrawn before the end of his term of office on January 20, 2017.

He also implored the the Government of Switzerland to repatriate the sum of $321 million of the Abacha loot to Nigeria without any further delay.

Trump asks why White House didn’t act on Russian hacking

The U.S. President-elect Donald Trump questioned on Thursday why the White House did not act more quickly on evidence of Russian hacking in the presidential election.

“If Russia, or some other entity, was hacking, why did the White House wait so long to act? Why did they only complain after Hillary lost?’’ Trump asked on Twitter.

U.S. intelligence officials have a “high level of confidence’’ that Putin was involved in directing how material acquired by hackers was leaked, NBC News reported, citing unnamed officials with access to the information.

Russian hackers accessed the email of the Democratic National Committee and top party officials, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The emails were published by WikiLeaks in the months leading up to the November elections.

U.S. intelligence officials in October pinned the hacking on the Russian government and said the move was intended to interfere with the U.S. election.

Media reports this month said the CIA has concluded that Russians intended to help Trump win the election.

The White House has defended its decision not to take more forceful action as it sought to avoid the appearance of using the intelligence for its own political purposes.

Vladmir Putin himself involved in US election hack – US Intel

US intelligence officials now believe that Russian President Vladimir Putin was personally involved in hacking during the American election campaign as part of a vendetta against Hillary Clinton, NBC News reported late Wednesday.

Putin personally instructed how material hacked from US Democrats was leaked and otherwise used, the US television network said, quoting two senior officials with access to this information.

The officials said they have a “high level of confidence” in this new assessment, NBC reported.

Last weekend The Washington Post reported a CIA evaluation that Russia had hacked the emails of US persons and institutions as a way to sway the election in favor of Republican Donald Trump, who eventually did beat Clinton on November 8.

Putin is said never to have forgiven Clinton — then secretary of state — for publicly questioning the integrity of parliamentary elections in 2011 in Russia, and accused her of encouraging street protests.

The intelligence officials told NBC that Putin’s goals in the alleged hacking began as revenge against Clinton.

But they transformed into a broader effort to show that the world of US politics was corrupt and to, in the words of one official, “split off key American allies by creating the image that (other countries) couldn’t depend on the US to be a credible global leader anymore.”

In preparation for possible retaliation, US intelligence agencies have intensified probing of Putin’s personal wealth, NBC said, citing US officials.

Trump, who has spoken warmly of Putin, has dismissed as “ridiculous” the allegation that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee and people close to Clinton.

Leading US lawmakers have called for a formal congressional investigation into the hacking.

Obama: Some critics thought my presidency would last only a year.

The outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama has disclosed that some people believe that he would not survive more than a year as U.S. President.

Mr. Obama disclosed this in his remarks at the 2016 Hanukkah Reception at the White House.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem at the time of the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire.

“I want to say how much Michelle and I appreciate the opportunities to have celebrated so many Hanukkahs with you in the White House.

“You know, at the beginning of my presidency, some critics thought it would last for only a year.

“But, miracle of miracles, it has lasted eight years.

“It’s lasted eight whole years. Nes Gadol Haya Po,” the two-term U.S. president said.

NAN reports that Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar.

It is also known as the Festival of Lights and the Feast of Dedication.

Hanukkah 2016 will start on the evening of December 24 and will end on the evening of January 1, 2017.

Mr. Obama remarked that “as many of you know, the name ‘Hanukkah’ comes from the Hebrew word for ‘dedication’.

“So we want to thank you again for your dedication to our country, to the historic progress that we’ve made, to the defence of religious freedom in the United States and around the world.

“Today in the White House, as you will soon do in your homes, we recall Hanukkah’s many lessons: How a small group can make a big difference.

“That’s the story of the Maccabees’ unlikely military victory, and of great moral movements around the globe and across time. How a little bit can go a long way, like the small measure of oil that outlasted every expectation.

“It reminds us that even when our resources seem limited, our faith can help us make the most of what little we have.

“The small State of Israel and the relatively small Jewish population of this country have punched far above their weight in their contributions to the world. So the Festival of Lights is also a reminder of how Isaiah saw the Jewish people, as a light unto the nations.”

According to him, this is the season that we appreciate the many miracles, large and small, that have graced our lives throughout generations, and to recognise that the most meaningful among them is our freedom.

“The first chapter of the Hanukkah story was written 22 centuries ago, when rulers banned religious rituals and persecuted Jews who dared to observe their faith.

“Which is why today we are asked not only to light the menorah, but to proudly display it – to publicise the mitzvah. And that’s why we’ve invited all these reporters who are here.”

He said that everybody in America could understand the spirit of the Hanukkah tradition.

“Proudly practicing our religion, whatever it might be – and defending the rights of others to do the same – that’s our common creed.

“That’s what families from coast to coast confirm when they place their menorah in the window ‘ not to share the candles’ glow with just your family, but also with your community and with your neighbours.

“The story of Hanukkah, the story of the Jewish people, the story of perseverance – these are one and the same,” the outgoing U.S. President said.

NAN reports that Mr. Obama was inaugurated as the 44th U.S. President on January 20, 2008, the only Black man in the history of U.S. to be elected president.

The former Illinois senator, who still receives high popularity ratings among Americans, won re-election for the second and last term in 2012, will be out of office on January 20, 2017.

Boko Haram: US Donates Fresh $92m To Displaced Persons

The United States has announced a donation of nearly $92m as additional humanitarian assistance to people affected by the Boko Haram insurgency and severe food insecurity in the North-East and the Lake Chad Basin region.

With this donation, the US said it had provided more than $291m in humanitarian assistance in the 2016 fiscal year to people affected by Boko Haram-related conflicts.

The US continued to be the single largest humanitarian donor to the region, a statement on Wednesday in Abuja from the Information Office of the US Embassy stated.

“This new funding to United Nations and Non-Governmental Organisation partners will help tens of thousands of people receive critically needed humanitarian assistance, including food, water, shelter, and services to address acute hygiene, protection and nutritional needs,” the statement added.

The statement hinted that the insurgency had left more than 6.4m people in need of emergency food assistance and displaced 2.6m people in Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad.

It said that the United Nations estimated an additional $1bn was needed to meet the humanitarian needs of people in 2017.

The US called on other donors to contribute additional humanitarian assistance for the millions of people in the region whose lives had been affected by Boko Haram.

Credit: punchng

Trump slams Democrats, Green Party on votes recount

Donald Trump, the incoming U.S. President, on Tuesday slammed the Democrats and the Green Party for their unsuccessful efforts at the presidential votes recount.

“The final Wisconsin vote is in and guess what – we just picked up an additional 131 votes.

“The Dems and Green Party can now rest. Scam!

“Wisconsin and Pennsylvania have just certified my wins in those states. I actually picked up additional votes!” Mr. Trump said on his twitter handle.

He also dismissed insinuations about alleged hacking of the voting system during the election.

“Can you imagine if the election results were the opposite and WE tried to play the Russia/CIA card.

“It would be called conspiracy theory!

“Unless you catch “hackers” in the act, it is very hard to determine who was doing the hacking.

“Why wasn’t this brought up before election?” he remarked.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the votes recount hope faded on Monday as efforts spearheaded by Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein came to a close.

A Federal Judge ruled in Pennsylvania on Monday against Stein’s request for a review of the voting systems, saying it was possible they had been hacked and compromised.

In his decision, federal judge Paul Diamond said Stein’s allegation of possible election tampering “borders on the irrational.”

Diamond also cited the delay between Election Day and Stein’s decision to file the lawsuit, and said Stein did not have standing to sue on the issue.

Stein could appeal the decision, but time is short as all states must certify their election results by December 13, so it is unlikely any new action could be taken before then.

Stein initially filed for recounts in three states where the final margin for President-elect Donald Trump was narrow: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

Stein first began raising money for a possible recount in late November, and quickly began bringing in millions of dollars for the effort.

NAN reports that Stein’s effort has raised more than $7.3 million in crowd-funding, according to her fundraising page.

There were allegations of hacking of the U.S. voting system, which were fuelled after Democratic Hillary Clinton, projected to win the election, polled over 2.5 million votes ahead of Trump but lost the presidency to him on electoral college.

President Barack Obama has directed security agencies to commence fresh investigation into the alleged hacking, which should be concluded before the end of his tenure.

Rivers Rerun: U.S., UK, French, EU envoys express concern over rising tension

The Ambassadors of the United States, United Kingdom, France and European Union on Friday expressed concern over the rising tension in the run up to the re-run national and state assemblies’ elections in Rivers State on Saturday.

The Ambassadors in a Joint statement urged politicians and the various political parties to give peace a chance.

“We note with concern the rising tension in Rivers State ahead of elections on 10 December. We call on the leadership of all political parties and their supporters in Rivers state to allow elections to go ahead peacefully.

“We encourage INEC and the security forces to perform their duties responsibly and impartially. We urge all parties to respect the electoral process and raise any grievances peacefully and through official channels.

“We stress that the leaders of all parties are accountable for the actions of their members and we encourage them to urge their supporters not to use or incite violence”, the envoys said in the statement.

The statement was signed by the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright; United States Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Symington; French Ambassador to Nigeria, Denys Guaer, and the EU Head of Delegation to Nigeria, Michel Arrion.

The various seats available are expected to be straight battles between the ruling PDP in Rivers and Nigeria’s ruling APC.

Boko Haram: U.S. Lawmakers Okay Five-year Strategy To Assist Nigeria

The United States House of Representatives has passed a legislation directing the country’s Secretaries of State and Defence to jointly develop a five-year strategy to assist Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram.

The measure is also aimed at providing assistance to members of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF) and international partners offering support in counter-terrorism operations against the Boko Haram sect in the region.

According to reports, the legislation, passed by a voice vote, was introduced by Congresswoman Frederica Wilson (D-Florida) and Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine).

They expressed optimism that it would help combat Boko Haram specifically. The strategy is also aimed at addressing the crushing humanitarian and educational crises that Boko Haram had created.

“Boko Haram captured my attention and the headlines when the terrorist group kidnapped 276 Nigerian schoolgirls from their dormitory rooms 968 days ago. For most of the world, the Chibok girls symbolised the horror that is Boko Haram, but the damage its members have wrought goes far deeper,” Congresswoman Wilson, wa quoted as saying in a statement.

Collins, who authored and originally introduced the bill, averred that Boko Haram had pledged allegiance to ISIS and it continued to commit terrible acts of brutal violence against civilians in Nigeria as well as in Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic.

Collins, describing Wilson as a willing and able partner in the effort to pass the bipartisan legislation, explained that it requires a five-year strategy to pursue Boko Haram and it would bolster efforts of the U.S. throughout the region.

Any support from the United States will be welcomed by the Nigerian government, even though heightened counter-terrorism operations have decimated the terrorists, who still carry out suicide attacks on soft targets.

The military said few days ago that it has commenced final rescue operations in Sambisa Forest, a safe haven for the terrorists that have forced over two million persons out of their homes in their over seven years push for an Islamic State and an end to Western education in the region.

“Release Zakzaky, punish soldiers who killed Shi’ites”, US tells Buhari

The United States wants the Nigerian government to expedite action on the recommendation of the white paper on last year’s clashes in Zaria, Kaduna state.


John Kirby, assistant secretary and department spokesperson of the Bureau of Public Affairs, said the US government had fully agreed with the recommendations in the White Paper.


“On December 5th, the Kaduna state government in Nigeria issued a long-awaited white paper on clashes last year that resulted in the deaths of a reported 348 civillians and one soldier,” Kirby said on Friday.


“We fully agree with the white paper’s recommendation that members of the military who were involved in the unlawful killing of civilians must be held accountable and punished appropriately.”


“As the one-year anniversary of this tragic event approaches, we call on the federal government to be diligent, transparent, and expeditious in following through on this recommendation.”


Kirby said that his government was also concerned with the paper’s characterisation of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) as an “insurgent group”.


He said that the US government would also want to encourage the federal government to act on the judgement of an Abuja high court mandating the release from prison of IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife, within 45 days.


He said that his government had therefore enjoined the different levels of government to evolve ways of non-violent engagement with all citizens, including minority religious groups.


“We also encourage the federal government to act on the Abuja high court’s decision on December 2 that IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife should be released from prison within 45 days, as they have been held without charge since the events of last December,” Kirby added.


“As the white paper notes, the right to freedom of worship is a cherished constitutional right in Nigeria that must be protected. We encourage the people and the government of Nigeria to support these fundamental principles, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or region.”

Zaria massacre: U.S. demands action on white paper; wants soldiers punished

The United States Government on Friday called on the Nigerian Government to expedite action on the recommendation of the White Paper on last year’s killings in Zaria, Kaduna State.

John Kirby, Assistant Secretary and Department Spokesperson of the Bureau of Public Affairs, said the U.S. government fully agreed with the White Paper’s recommendations that those involved in the killings be punished.

“On Dec. 5th, the Kaduna State Government in Nigeria issued a long-awaited White Paper on clashes last year that resulted in the deaths of a reported 348 civilians and one soldier.

“We fully agree with the White Paper’s recommendation that members of the military who were involved in the unlawful killing of civilians must be held accountable and punished appropriately.

“As the one-year anniversary of this tragic event approaches, we call on the federal government to be diligent, transparent, and expeditious in following through on this recommendation,’’ he said.

Mr. Kirby said that his government was also concerned with the Paper’s characterisation of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) as an “insurgent group”.

He said the U.S. government would also want to encourage the federal government to act on the Abuja High Court’s decision on December 2 for the release from prison of IMN leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, and his wife, within 45 days.

The spokesperson said his government had, therefore, enjoined the different levels of government to evolve ways of non-violent engagement with all citizens, including minority religious groups.

“We also encourage the federal government to act on the Abuja high court’s decision on Dec. 2 that IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky and his wife should be released from prison within 45 days, as they have been held without charge since the events of last December.

“As the White Paper notes, the right to freedom of worship is a cherished constitutional right in Nigeria that must be protected.

“We encourage the people and the government of Nigeria to support these fundamental principles, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or region,’’ he added.

Donald Trump appears to have ordered the cancellation of the next generation of Air Force One

President-elect Trump, who has for years flown in a jet airplane bearing his name, appeared to cancel a pending order for a new Air Force One, posting on Twitter on Tuesday morning that the upgrade costs too much.

The morning tweet appeared to come out of the blue; Mr. Trump had not focused during the campaign on the cost of Boeing’s plans for a next-generation plane for the president of the United States.

And his criticism of the contract to build a new plane based on the Boeing 747-8 — Mr. Trump said the costs have swelled to $4 billion — raised the possibility that Mr. Trump might rather keep flying his own, well-appointed 757.

The current Air Force One, with its white and blue design recognizable around the globe, is based on a 747 design, and is aging. There are actually two physical planes, each of which bear the famous call sign only when the president is aboard. The Air Force designates them: VC-25A.

They were commissioned by President Ronald Reagan and delivered during the term of his successor, George Bush. The new plane, which the Defense Department had hoped to deliver to the White House by 2023, would have been more powerful, able to travel farther and be more technologically advanced.

But given Mr. Trump’s tweet, it’s unclear when — or whether — AF1 will get an upgrade.

Suspense builds over Trump secretary of state search

Donald Trump on Monday spent another day sequestered in cabinet-building talks as international suspense grew over who he will pick for secretary of state having already defied diplomatic protocol and provoked China.

The president-elect has so far named 12 members of his team — chiefly defense, health, treasury and commerce secretaries, attorney general, CIA director and ambassador to the United Nations — rolling out appointments well ahead of schedule compared to previous incoming US administrations.

He spends most of his time shut away in Trump Tower, his Manhattan skyscraper, requiring an unprecedented police presence in the heart of the city for which New York on Monday sent the US government a bill for $35 million.

Vice president-elect Mike Pence told reporters that Monday’s meetings had resulted in decisions that would be made public in the days ahead.

“Another productive day on the transition,” he said. “Looking forward to more announcements later this week and historic momentum of this transition will continue. We had decisions today that will be made public in the days ahead.”

The world is keenly awaiting what will be Trump’s most prestigious appointment — America’s next top diplomat — scrutinizing the process for clues as to the direction US policy will take after the Republican is sworn in on January 20.

Names bandied about for weeks include former Trump critic Mitt Romney, onetime CIA director David Petraeus, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker or even former UN ambassador John Bolton.

Now added to a growing list of reported names are some with less experience, some with top drawer credentials and others thought to more closely represent Trump’s vision of an “America first” policy.

Among them are Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson, whom Trump meets Tuesday, Barack Obama’s former ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who agrees with Trump’s call for closer ties with Russia.

Retired admiral James Stavridis, former NATO commander and current dean of The Fletcher School at Tufts University, is also scheduled to meet the 70-year-old billionaire Thursday at the request of the transition team.

– Provocative tweets –

Emphasizing the uncertainty, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry warned in Germany that “anxieties” are sweeping Western democracies given Trump’s campaign vows to rip up pacts such as the Iran nuclear deal.

Trump’s latest appointment was that of former rival and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson as secretary of housing and urban development on Monday. The transition said additional cabinet selections are likely this week.

Trump has sent mixed signals to China, America’s largest trading partner. Beijing has already protested to Washington after Trump took a phone call with the president of Taiwan — the first such call in around four decades.

The defiant president-elect followed up with a series of provocative tweets directed at Beijing on Sunday, accusing China of expansionism and of fiddling the exchange rate.

But China’s response to the tweet storm was muted, suggesting that Beijing may still be scrambling to work out what the outburst could mean for US relations.

On Tuesday, Trump is scheduled to meet Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, who has close ties to China’s president and is reportedly a candidate to become ambassador to Beijing.

China regards self-ruling Taiwan as part of its own territory awaiting reunification under Beijing’s rule, and any US move implying support for the island’s independence is gravely offensive to Beijing.

– Taiwan ‘leverage’ –

The Washington Post reported that the protocol-breaking telephone call was months in the planning and showed that the Trump team is urging a tough opening line with China, quoting people involved in or briefed on the talks.

Huntsman, a former governor of Utah, told The New York Times that Trump was likely to see Taiwan as a “useful leverage point” with China.

Asked about the call, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it had been “hard to determine” what Trump’s purpose had been.

In New York on Monday, the incoming Republican president met his most high-profile Democrat to date since the election: former Bill Clinton vice president turned environmental campaigner Al Gore, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

“It was a sincere search for areas of common ground,” Gore told reporters in the latest sign that the president-elect might rethink his hardline campaign promises on the environment.

“I found it an extremely interesting conversation and to be continued,” Gore added, calling the meeting “lengthy and very productive.”

Trump first suggested he might be willing to support global accords on climate change last month, telling The New York Times he had “an open mind” after repeatedly promising to tear up international climate agreements.

Nigerians in U.S. celebrate Trump’s appointment of Bayo Ogunlesi

The Nigerian community in U.S. has lauded the appointment of Bayo Ogunlesi by U.S. President-elect Donald Trump into his Economic Advisory Team, saying it could signal a positive trend for Africa.

The Nigerians told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria in New York, that Mr. Ogunlesi has been an excellent ambassador for Africa and Nigeria in particular.

Michael Adeniyi, former President of a Nigerian U.S.-based group, the Organisation for the Advancement of Nigerians Inc., told NAN that “Bayo Ogunlesi is an excellent and extraordinary Nigerian.

“He is very humble, brilliant and outstanding in every way you can think of.

“He has achieved outstanding success in Wall Street and he’s a proud ambassador of Africa, which he started in Kings College.

“For him to be appointed into Trump’s Economic Advisory Team is a honour to Africa and especially to Nigeria. He will add value to the Trump’s team and he’s worthy of celebrating.

“Prior to his appointment, Bayo Ogunlesi has been a pride of Africa; he reached the pinnacle of his career in Walls Street through his company which he built from the scratch. He is a round peg in a round hole.”

Another Nigerian, Yetunde Odugbesan-Omede, a professor of Global Affairs and Political Science at Rutgers University and Farmingdale State College, said Mr. Ogunlesi has all it takes to contribute to a positive American economic outlook.

“Mr. Ogunlesi has an impressive background and will be able to add his perspective and vast knowledge on how to move America forward that will yield positive economic outcomes.”

Ms. Odugbesan-Omede, however, said it was too early to say if the appointment would have any impact on Nigeria.

“It is too early to determine or come to a conclusion at this moment on whether Mr Ogunlesi’s role will have any impact on Nigeria’s foreign and economic policy.

“I hope that Mr. Ogunlesi will provide guidance on improving both economic and political U.S.-Nigeria relations,” Mr. Odugbesan-Omede said.

The spokesperson for the Permanent Mission of Nigeria to the UN, Pastor Akinremi Bolaji, said Ogunlesi’s appointment was a positive development for Nigeria and Africa.

“I am not speaking for the Nigerian diplomatic community because I am not in the position to do so; it for the Embassy in Washington to do.

“Speaking as a Nigerian, it is a good indication and positive development for Africa and Nigeria that we are among the best brains everywhere.

“It is also to show you that one in every five Blacks is a Nigerian. It is a good indication for our economic and foreign policy.

“It also shows that Africa and Nigeria have good ambassadors everywhere. Ogunlesi has to see himself as a representative of the Black race as the only Black man that made the list by further distinguishing himself.

“I advise him to use his opportunity well and he should bring together people of integrity who will not smear his integrity.”

Mr. Bolaji said the younger generation has a lot to learn from his distinction, adding “journalists have a lot to do to tell us how he was able to weather the storm and got recognised worldwide.

“It also shows that the best economic brains are scattered everywhere in Nigeria. We have the Dangotes in the North, Jim Ovias and Tony Elumelus in the East and South-South and Otedola in the West, and now Ogunlesi.

“If we put our house together, we have people all over the world and at home who have all it takes for us to succeed,” Mr. Bolaji said.

Mr. Ogunlesi, who is the chairman of Global Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm and one of Fortune 500 companies, was named a member of an economic advisory forum to Mr. Trump.

The 63-year-old Nigerian is the only African face in the 16-man team.

“President-elect Donald J. Trump today announced that he is establishing the President’s Strategic and Policy Forum,” said a press release from Blackstone published by Business Insider.

The Forum, which is composed of some of America’s most highly respected and successful business leaders, will be called upon to meet with the president frequently to share their specific experience and knowledge as the president implements his plan to bring back jobs and ‘Make America Great Again’.

Trump Picks “Mad Dog” James Mattis For US Secretary Of Defense

US President-elect Donald Trump has announced that retired Marine General James Mattis, an outspoken critic of the Iran nuclear agreement, will serve as his secretary of defense.

“We are going to appoint ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis as our secretary of defense. But we’re not announcing it until Monday so don’t tell anybody,” Trump told a rally on Thursday in Cincinnati, the first stop on a post-election “thank-you tour.”

“They say he’s the closest thing to Gen. George Patton that we have and it’s about time,” he added.

Mattis, 66, served more than four decades in the Marine Corps. The retired four-star general, known as “Mad Dog” and the “Warrior Monk,” had been involved in several key military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In November 2001, he led Marines that carried out a raid in helicopters on Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, giving the US military a new foothold against Taliban militants after the October 2001 American-led invasion of the country.

In 2003, Mattis commanded a division of Marines during the Iraq war, and in 2004 he led Marines in bloody street fighting in the city of Fallujah.

Like Trump, Mattis is also an opponent of the Iran nuclear agreement, which was reached last year between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Under the deal, Tehran agreed to limit some aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for removal of sanctions.

Read More: presstv

#WorldAIDSDay: U.S. provides HIV testing, counselling to 12 million Nigerians

The United States Government has provided testing and counselling to over 12 million Nigerians over the last 12 months.

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday at an event to mark the 2016 World AIDS Day, said this was being done through the U.S. President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR.
According to the envoy, 726,200 adults and 34,695 children are receiving treatment for HIV under the programme.

He said a total of 1,367,000 adults and children have been helped to live better lives through the U.S programme.

Speaking under the 2016 theme of the commemoration: “Leadership. Sustained Commitment.

Impact”, Mr Symington emphasized the need for Nigerians to be involved in strengthening their country’s health system.

“We can spend billions of dollars literally, tens of billions of dollars around the world and billions of dollars in Nigeria, but if you don’t strengthen your own health system at home and in the office and around the country, if you don’t invest your lives and your love, who else will do it for you? No one can do it for you”, he said.

The Country Coordinator of the programme in Nigeria, Shirley Dady, also spoke about the need to encourage more Nigerians to get tested for HIV.
She likened the disease to other chronic illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, which can be managed.

Ms. Dady told PREMIUM TIMES she was hopeful that the HIV self-testing kits, which is a new technology, will be available in Nigeria “at some point”.

She, however, said many general hospitals and primary health care centres in the country were offering HIV tests and urged Nigerians to take advantage of them.

Wole Soyinka finally destroys Green Card.

Nigerian Nobel prize-winning author, Wole Soyinka claimed on Thursday that he has already destroyed his US residency green card.


Soyinka said he would throw away his green card and depart the country if the Republican Presidential aspirant to the last month’s election, Donald Trump wins.


Afterwards, he had vowed to destroy the green card on Trump’s swearing in day, to protest against the Republican billionaire’s campaign speeches.


But he has now told Journalists in South Africa that, “I have already done it, I have disengaged (from the United States). I have done what I said I would do.


“I had a horror of what is to come with Trump… I threw away the (green) card, and I have relocated, and I’m back to where I have always been.”

US hate crime continues to ‘surge’ after Trump win.

A prominent US civil rights group says it has identified almost 900 incidents of harassment following Donald Trump’s win in the US presidential election.

The Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC) is calling on Trump to “act strongly to squelch harassment”.

They also urge Trump to “reach out to the communities he’s injured”.

The comments come as the group releases two reports into the aftermath of the businessman’s win.

Along with representatives of teachers’ unions and other civil rights groups, the SPLC outlines how they say Trump’s rhetoric and actions have affected US society.

The SPLC has been monitoring social media and news reports, and an online form that they have created for Americans to self-report hateful incidents.

“Mr Trump should take responsibility for what’s occurring, forcefully reject hate and bigotry,” the organisation said.

In their report, Ten Days After, they report finding hundreds of cases of attacks against minorities – including instances of violence and intimidation – some of which they directly link to the surprise Trump victory on 8 November.

“An awful lot of these crimes are directly linked to the Trump campaign in the sense that graffiti was left or words were shouted that directly invoked Trump,” Senior SPLC fellow Mark Potok told the BBC.

Meanwhile, President-elect Trump is expected to pick former Goldman Sachs executive Steve Mnuchin to be treasury secretary, US media suggest.

Mnuchin, who was Trump’s campaign finance chairman and has no government experience, could be named on Wednesday, according to reports.

On Tuesday, Trump picked Tom Price as health secretary and Elaine Chao as transportation secretary.

He is still weighing his options in filling the posts of state and defence.

Mnuchin amassed a fortune over 17 years at Goldman Sachs investment bank, before founding a movie production company that was behind such box office hits as the X-Men franchise and American Sniper.

Michelle will never contest for president – Obama

President of the United States, Barack Obama says his wife and first lady, Michelle Obama will never run for president.


Obama said this in her interview with Rolling Stone Magazine.

“Michelle will never run for office,” he said.

Obama’s statement will come as shock to many who believe Michelle will make a good politician, and could beat Donald Trump in 2020.

Michelle earned rave reviews for her speech at the Democratic National Convention, where she coined the phrase, “When they go low, we go high.”

“She is as talented a person as I know,” he continued. “You can see the incredible resonance she has with the American people. But I joke that she’s too sensible to want to be in politics.”

When asked if he thinks the presidency will ultimately constrain Trump, Obama replied, “I think sitting behind that desk is sobering, and that it will have an impact on him as it has on every president.”

U.S. expresses concern over violence in Cameroon

The United States Government on Tuesday expressed concern over protests in Bamenda and Buea communities of Cameroon that later resulted in peoples’ deaths, injuries and destruction of property.


John Kirby, U.S. Department of State’s Assistant Secretary and spokesperson said in a statement that his government would want the Cameroonian Government to protect and defend the peoples’ rights.


“The United States is deeply concerned by the loss of life, injuries and damage as a result of protests that turned violent in Bamenda and Buea, in Cameroon.


“We are also concerned over the recent Cameroonian government’s actions to restrict free expression and peaceful assembly.


“We call on all parties to exercise restraint, refrain from further violence, and engage in dialogue, for a peaceful resolution to the current protests.


“The United States also urges the Government of Cameroon to protect and defend human rights and fundamental freedoms, ensure that all voices are heard and respected,” he said.


The U.S. official also said that his government was also worried over the ten-year prison sentences for persons who exchanged texts referencing Boko Haram.


Mr. Kirby also said the U.S. was concerned about the arrest of 54 members of the opposition Cameroon People’s Party, while they were peacefully holding their party’s meeting.


“The constitution of Cameroon guarantees freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly.


“We believe that non-threatening rhetoric and activities, especially private conversations and gatherings, warrant neither prosecution nor government censure,’’ he added.

U.S. disburses $3.4 billion to fight HIV/AIDS in Nigeria — Envoy

The U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, on Tuesday said that the U.S. Government had disbursed over $3.4 billion to support the Nigerian HIV/AIDS response.

The Consul-General, John Bray, made the disclosure at an event organised by the Public Affairs and Medical Sections of the Consulate to mark the 2016 World AIDS Day in Lagos.

According to him, this disbursement has been since the inception of its President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) in 2004.

Mr. Bray said that PEPFAR was a U.S. Governmental initiative to address the global HIV/AIDS epidemic and help to save the lives of those suffering from the disease, primarily in Africa.

He said that before PEPFAR, HIV infection was a death sentence in Nigeria and in Africa in general with entire villages being wiped out in some places.

According to him, at that time, less than 5,000 Nigerians supported solely by the Nigerian government were on treatment.

“The U.S. and Nigeria enjoy a strong relationship based on our many shared interests.

“In the case of HIV/AIDS both countries have pledged to work to eradicate HIV/AIDs and are committed to providing high quality, life-extending care, free from stigma and discrimination.

“Some measures of success show that 600,000 men, women and children which are about 90 percent of the people living with HIV/AIDs are currently on HIV treatment.

“About 8.7 million people have received HIV counselling and testing; more than 55,000 pregnant women have been provided anti-retroviral drugs for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

“Also, 750,000 adults and children living with HIV/AIDs have received care to support quality of life and 700,000 children orphaned by AIDS have received care and support,’’ he said.

Mr. Bray said through the contributions of the U.S. and Nigerian governments, the United Nations family, Global Fund, private sector, faith-based community, civil society and other partners, AIDS epidemic could be eliminated by 2030.

Bisola Olumegbon, Head, Medical Unit of the Consulate, said that the HIV/AIDS epidemic was considered a threat to the peace and security of the nation.

She said there was need to promote awareness, education, counselling, care and support to defeat the scourge.

Oladipupo Fisher, Director, Lagos State AIDS Control Agency (LSACA), appreciated the U.S. Government for their partnership and support in ensuring the eradication of HIV/AIDS by 2030.

Fisher said collaborative efforts were required to achieve the vision.

Also, Emmanuel Olaoti of the Society For Family Health, identified low use of condoms, poverty, multiple sexual partners, stigma and discrimination as factors contributing to the burden of the disease in the country.

He urged Nigerians to go for regular counselling and testing to know their status and prevent the disease.

In his remarks, Mr Ibrahim Umoru, an AIDS activist in the Treatment Action Movement, said it was cheaper and smart to remain negative than to be HIV positive.

Mr. Umoru urged government at all levels to intensify their AIDS programmes to reduce the burden of HIV/AIDS in the nation.

This Lady Makes History As First Beauty Contestant To Wear Hijab In The US (PHOTOS)

Halima Aden is flawlessly breaking down barriers in the pageant community: Over the weekend, the 19-year-old made history as the first contestant in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant to wear a hijab throughout the competition and a burkini during the swimsuit round.

The Somali-American teenager, who was born in a Kenyan refugee camp and moved to America when she was just six years old, ultimately made it to the pageant’s semifinals on Sunday. But as she told multiple sources both before and after the pageant was over, despite not winning, she hoped her participation would serve as a reminder that beauty comes in many different forms.

“A lot of people will look at you and will fail to see your beauty because you’re covered up and they’re not used to it. So growing up, I just had to work on my people skills and give people a chance to really know me besides the clothing,” she said in an interview with KARE-11. “Be who you are. It’s easy to feel like you have to blend in, but it takes courage to live your life with conviction and embrace the person that you are.”


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Fidel Castro: An Unforgettable Revolutionary Icon, By Rauf Aregbesola

Fidel Castro has completed his earthly assignment but the ideas for which he struggled, defended, sacrificed, lived and died, like his other immortal colleagues, will live forever.

“Died in beauty, like a rose blown from its parent stem” – Charles Doyne Sillery


At last the curtain fell on the exemplary life of the Commandante of The Army of the oppressed and dis-inherited people world-wide. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz has passed on after 90 eventful years, 49 of which he held sway as the Prime Minister and later President of Cuba. Indeed, Castro became a permanent feature of political and ideological discourse in the past five decades, such that we almost thought he would live forever.


The feeling is mixed. Yes mixed! To lose such an inspiring and profound personality is eternally painful but for such a legend to depart at such a ripe age of 90, deserves a huge celebration in a world where the average life span hardly surpasses 50 years, but not more than 70 years for men in the most advanced nations on our planet.


On behalf of the government and people of the State of Osun, and in recognition of the historical and cultural bond between the Cubans and Yoruba in the State of Osun in Nigeria and worldwide, we salute the courage, determination, vision, resilience and revolutionary zeal of Fidel and his companions, the indomitable spirit of Cubans, and solidarity of all people of the world committed to human dignity, freedom and happiness.

From the July 26 movement of 1953, the Granma Expedition of November 25, 1956, the ultimate victory of the revolution on January 1, 1959, to his final departure from our realm at about 10 pm, November 25, 2016, we are sure that our Commandante lived a fulfilled life that history will never forget.


Millions of people – students, academics, poets, politicians, trade unionists, artisans, revolutionary cadres and humanists – including my humble self, drew inspiration from him, his rhetorics, writings, reflections, dedication, integrity and commitment to building socialism. There is no doubt that the world is a better place because of him, consequently a gem has been lost indeed.


He was a symbol of resistance to injustice and oppression, as all the oppressed people of the world drew inspiration from him. He held the unenviable record of being the man with the most assassination attempts on his life, without any succeeding. He stood for what he believed in and not for once did he flinch in the face of the most formidable military encirclement and daunting economic and financial strangulation. Ironically, the man who the greatest powers on earth could not break finally succumbed to illness and ultimately the cold hands of death, in the way of all mortals.

…we join the people of Cuba in their national grief and urge them to renew and redouble their commitment and duty to the struggle and ultimate victory of socialism.

As Africans, we remember the solidarity, partnerships, high level of discipline and sense of DUTY of the Cubans to the liberation struggles, healthcare delivery, education, sports and youth development and political consciousness in Africa under the leadership and direction of Fidel and his administration. Although Castro’s Cuba is a nation with modest means, yet she has a gargantuan spirit of internationalism, support and assistance to the poor and exploited peoples and nations of the world. We proudly acknowledge the heroism of Cuba in this unparalleled show solidarity and humanism.

Nevertheless, in death, Castro has joined the pantheons of immortals whose ideas and praxis continually dominate and influence their world and therefore live forever in the hearts of people, in literature and politics, and in the physical monuments that will be named after him all over the world. Millions will carry on the struggle from where he left it.


Fidel Castro has been rightly described by The Guardian of London as a ‘revolutionary icon’. It is expected that well deserved encomiums and heartfelt tributes will pour in for a life of struggle, Spartan discipline, selflessness and sacrifice that he lived.


As we mourn and celebrate the passage of this international revolutionary legend, hero of the oppressed, fighter of oppression and exploitation, promoter of social justice, soldier and Commandante of ideas, we join the people of Cuba in their national grief and urge them to renew and redouble their commitment and duty to the struggle and ultimate victory of socialism.


Fidel Castro has completed his earthly assignment but the ideas for which he struggled, defended, sacrificed, lived and died, like his other immortal colleagues, will live forever.


Long Live Cuba !
Long live the revolution !!
Till Everlasting Victory !!!

Lawyers petition US, UN, UK, Germany over IMN’s threat to peace in Nigeria.

A group of legal practitioners in the country under the aegis of Lawyers Initiative For Civil Rights Advancement in Nigeria have petitioned the United States Embassy in Nigeria alerting it of the imminent security threat posed by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria.

The letter, which was addressed to the United States Ambassador to Nigeria, said the threat posed by the “radical Shiite movement” has several security implications not just for Nigeria, but other West African countries.

The petition was equally copied to the British High Commissioner, German Ambassador and the UN mission in Nigeria.

The letter, which was signed by the LICRAN Director of Research and Advocacy, Unande Tersagh, and made available to journalists, described the IMN as an Iranian-backed rebel group.

Tersagh, who described LICRAN as an umbrella body of pro-democracy lawyers dedicated to the advancement of civil rights, justice, equality and rule of law in Nigeria, said it is within public domain that the Islamic Republic of Iran has been harassing Nigeria using members of the IMN.

He said buoyed by Iran’s backing, IMN members in October and early November unleashed violence across several Nigerian cities in the North under the cover of the Ashura procession.

According to him, this led to several deaths in Sokoto, Kano, Kaduna and Katsina States.

Tersagh said Nigerians were surprised that IMN propaganda machine used the widespread mayhem as an excuse to allege clampdown on Shiism in Nigeria contrary to the fact on ground.

He said it is on record that members of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps have in previous years been named in illegal shipment of weapons that were deliberately mislabeled as other goods into Nigeria.

He stated further: “There have also been reports that the IMN members visit Iran under the cover of academic scholarships to be trained as terrorists by the same Revolutionary Guards Corps. This will be consistent with recent revelations by Salar Abnoush, Deputy Commander of Iran’s Khatam-al-Anbia Garrison, a branch of the Revolutionary Guards Corps that his country is sending out sleeper cell assets to infiltrate other nations.”

Tersagh urged the ambassador to prevail on the US Government to declare the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as a terror organization bearing in mind that their modus operandi is strikingly similar to that of Boko Haram, Al-Shabab and ISIS.

The group added: “In the light of foregoing, we passionately appeal for peace and justice by calling on your good offices in collaboration with those of other members of the United Nations (UN) Security Council to swiftly lend support to the Nigeria government in her bid to shut the door against all emerging and potential terrorist groups so as to strengthen the fragile peace that we are enjoying at the moment.”

Trump accuses Clinton of reneging on concession speech.

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has accused former Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton of reneging on her concession speech certifying the results of the Nov. 28 presidential election.

Mr. Trump, in a series of tweets on the recount, condemned Mrs. Clinton’s support to the votes recount efforts by Green Party nominee Jill Stein for Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Ms. Stein has raised over $6 million crowd-funding in hopes of securing a recount in the three key states won by Mr. Trump in the Nov. 8 presidential poll.

“The Democrats, when they incorrectly thought they were going to win, asked that the election night tabulation be accepted. Not so anymore!

“Hillary Clinton conceded the election when she called me just prior to the victory speech and after the results were in,” he said.

Mr. Trump recalled Mrs. Clinton’s reaction when he hinted at the third and last presidential debate that he would keep Americans guessing over whether he would accept the election outcome.

“That is horrifying. That is not the way our democracy works; been around for 240 years. We’ve had free and fair elections.

“We’ve accepted the outcomes when we may not have liked them, and that is what must be expected of anyone standing on during a general election.

“I, for one, am appalled that somebody that is the nominee of one of our two major parties would take that kind of position,” he quoted Mrs. Clinton as saying.

Mr. Trump said Mrs. Clinton also, at a campaign rally, slammed him, saying: “He said something truly horrifying … he refused to say that he would respect the results of this election.

“That is a direct threat to our democracy”.

The president-elect further quoted Mrs. Clinton’s concession speech where she urged her supporters to accept the result of the election.

“We have to accept the results and look to the future, Donald Trump is going to be our President.

“We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead,” he quoted Mrs. Clinton as saying.

Trump said in the votes recount efforts in the three states, money and time would be wasted.

“So much time and money will be spent – same result! Sad”.

Mr. Trump, who trails Mrs. Clinton with about two million popular votes, claimed that he won the popular votes, alleging that millions of people voted illegally.

“In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

“It would have been much easier for me to win the so-called popular vote than the Electoral College in that I would only campaign in three or four states instead of the 15 states that I visited.

“I would have won even more easily and convincingly (but smaller states are forgotten)!”

He also alleged voter fraud in favour of Mrs. Clinton in other states, which were not reported.

“Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!”

Two dead, 4 injured in U.S. Thanksgiving Day shooting.

Two persons were killed and four were injured in a shooting at a Thanksgiving Day football tournament in Kentucky on Thursday.


The shooting occurred at Shawnee Park, where a youth football tournament called the Juice Bowl is held every year on Thanksgiving Day.


Louisville Metro Police said officers responded to a call of multiple shootings at Shawnee Park on Thursday afternoon.


Police said there were no suspects in custody and they had not established a motive for the shooting, which occurred during an annual football tournament that dates back to the 1950s.


Dwight Mitchell, spokesman for the Louisville Metro Police Department, said that as yet, no one is aware of the motive for the shooting.


Mr. Mitchell told reporters that the four survivors suffered non-life-threatening injuries and had been taken to the hospital.


The police spokesman said the department had not made any arrests, and were still searching for possible suspects.


“When you have a tragedy like this take place, certainly it puts a damper on anyone celebrating,” Mitchell said.


The event began in the 1950s and families are known to arrive at the park early on Thursday to secure prime seats for the all-day community celebration.


Reports said that the shootings occurred about 200 yards from the annual Juice Bowl football games, which were attended by Mayor Greg Fisher.


Fischer said he attended the tournament and was about 150 yards from the shooting.


“To have people with guns so disrespect life, Shawnee Park, and neighborhood tradition is sad and has no place in our city,” he said.


The Louisville’s mayor asked people with information on the shooting to contact police, noting that there had been a recent uptick in homicides in the city.


Gunshots rang out in the afternoon just after children finished playing football and two women’s teams were playing a flag football game, according to reports.


The men’s games scheduled for the afternoon were cancelled.


U.S. President Barack Obama earlier met with his national security team and directed them to ensure a safe Thanksgiving holiday season for all Americans.


A statement issued by the White House, said Mr. Obama, at the meeting with his Counter-terrorism and Home Security Team, also “thanked those standing watch on behalf of our country”.


“This morning, the President convened members of his national security team to review our comprehensive domestic and international efforts to protect the American people during this holiday season.


“The President commended the continued cooperation between federal, state and local authorities to ensure public safety.


“He directed that all agencies maintain vigilance to ensure we are best postured to defend the homeland and prevent attacks by individualized radicalized to violence,” the statement read.

Iran warns of retaliation if U.S. breaches nuclear deal

Extending U.S. sanctions on Iran for 10 years would breach Iranian nuclear agreement, Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said on Wednesday, warning that Tehran would retaliate if the sanctions are approved.

The U.S. House of Representatives re-authorized last week the Iran Sanctions Act, or ISA, for 10 years.

The law was first adopted in 1996 to punish investments in Iran’s energy industry and deter Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

The Iran measure will expire at the end of 2016 if it is not renewed. The House bill must still be passed by the Senate and signed by President Barack Obama to become law.

Iran and world powers concluded the nuclear agreement, also known as JCPOA, last year.

It imposed curbs on Iran’s nuclear program in return for easing sanctions that have badly hurt its economy.

“The current U.S. government has breached the nuclear deal in many occasions,” Khamenei said, addressing a gathering of members of the Revolutionary Guards, according to his website.

“The latest is extension of sanctions for 10 years, that if it happens, would surely be against JCPOA, and the nation would definitely react to it.”

The U.S. lawmakers passed the bill one week after Republican Donald Trump was elected U.S. president.

Republicans in Congress unanimously opposed the agreement, along with about two dozen Democrats, and Trump has also criticized it.

Lawmakers from both parties said they hoped bipartisan support for a tough line against Iran would continue under the new president.

President-elect Trump once said during his campaign that he would “rip up” the agreement, drawing a harsh reaction from Khamenei, who said if that happens, Iran would “set fire” to the deal.

The House of Representatives also passed a bill last week that would block the sale of commercial aircraft by Boeing and Airbus to Iran.

The White House believes that the legislation would be a violation of the nuclear pact and has said Obama would veto the measure even if it did pass the Senate.

Trump’s Victory – A Verdict On Political Correctness By Dr. Ijabla Raymond

How did a man with no political experience defy America’s establishments and all the seasoned pollsters, pundits, journalists, political analysts and politicians to become America’s 45th President? How did he, despite the disgusting things he said about women, Muslims and Latinos, beat Mrs. Hillary Clinton in the race for the White House? There are all kinds of theories, but the one I wish to respond to is the one that states Mr. Donald Trump won because of he votes of stupid, racist Americans.


Let me declare straight away I am no Trump supporter. Neither am I Clinton’s. Trump’s campaign pledges violate many of the principles I believe in such as gender equality, climate change, and LGBTQ rights. My interest is purely analytical.


Calling everyone who voted for Trump a racist or a bigot shows a lack of understanding of the issues that matter to a large section of the American people such as uncontrolled immigration, jihadist terrorism, the outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries like Mexico and China. It presumes nearly half of all Americans do not know what is good for them. Only those that swallow every news on media such as CNN and FOX could speak like that. It is silly to suggest the people who voted for President Barack Obama in 2008, and then in 2012, have suddenly become racists in 2016. I do not doubt that many racists voted for Trump but so do many respectable Americans. Resentment against the establishment develops when citizens feel unable to freely express themselves (for fear of being called racists, sexist, bigots or Islamophobes) and constrained to adopt the politically-correct language.


In my view, Mr. Trump’s victory, just like Brexit, is a vote against the establishment and a verdict on political correctness and the stifling, if not the outright censorship, of discussions on the issues that matter to ordinary people.


I do not believe Trump is going to be the monster everybody is scared of. He could not have become a successful billionaire by being divisive and making stupid decisions. The fact he was bankrupt four times and a billionaire today proves his sagacity. It indicates he is an excellent delegator and team leader, and that he has a remarkable ability to manage people and resources. The fact he beat other smart candidates to become the president-elect suggests he is not the stupid buffoon the media made out he was. And there is the sanctimonious brigade that calls him a serial adulterer and divorcee. Personally, I do not care who the president sleeps with, but I care whether or not they are competent.


If Americans desire a president who is a saint, they should consider persuading the pope to run in U.S presidential election. I do not believe Trump is going to build a wall, imprison Clinton or stop Muslims from coming to America. I think he was speaking in a rhetorical language and my feeling is that most of his followers understood this. The U.S has strong institutions, and the President does not rule by himself. He has the two houses of Congress to balance out his powers. If Trump manages to execute those pledges then the problem goes beyond him – it is Americans because every society deserves the kind of leaders it gets.
As an African, I care about America’s foreign policy in Africa.


Historically, this has been meddlesome and exploitative. President Barack Obama gave a great speech in Kenya and lectured our leaders on corruption, the rule of law, gender equality, LGBTQ rights, and goodness knows they needed to hear it. But he along with Cameron and Sarkozy are responsible for the mess in Libya. Their actions resulted in the collapse of the Libyan state and enabled Boko Haram to acquire sophisticated weapons which were smuggled across the Sahara desert.


The lack of leadership in Libya has emboldened thousands of Nigerians (but also citizens of other West African states) to cross the Sahara desert to Libya. Many of them have drowned while trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. The Obama administration reportedly refused to recognize Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. There is also the contentious issue of its refusal to sell arms to the Nigerian government. While I do not exonerate our leaders from blame it is naive to think American (and Western) foreign policy has (have) no bearing on where our continent is today. I am not convinced Clinton has a more favorable policy towards Africa than Obama. In any case, many analysts describe her as a hawk and as someone who is likely to intervene in the affairs of other countries and possibly involve America in more wars.


Trump has signaled a willingness to cooperate with Russia, and I think this is good for the world. Personally, I think Putin has shown better understanding and judgment in Libya and Syria than Obama and his Western allies. Who exactly are the “moderate rebels” that Obama and his Western allies are arming to overthrow a democratically elected government in Syria? How do they know Syrians will not end up in a worse situation if they eliminate Mr. Assad? Look at what happened in Libya and Iraq when their leaders were deposed and killed. I believe jihadist terrorism is the greatest threat to global peace in the 21st century. It is very good for world peace for Russia and America to cooperate rather than continuing to fight their Cold War. I believe they could very easily defeat ISIS and end the Syrian civil war immediately if they cooperated and fought on the same rather than on opposite sides as is presently the case.


I cannot end without expressing my deep distrust of the military-industrial complex. How has ISIS managed to arm itself and finance its operations for three years? You mean we can land robots on comets and send a man to outer space, but we cannot work out who is moving around large amounts of money and arms in the Middle East? Things are not quite as they first seem to appear.


So, why did the mainstream media fail to predict a Trump win? How did they become so out of touch with their constituency without even knowing it? The reason is because they were blinded by partisanship (perhaps inspired by a collective will to stop the man who promised to pull down the establishments). Or they were in denial and saw only what they wanted to see. Americans saw through the partisanship which only deepened their distrust of the establishments and increased their resolve to elect the man who promised to tear it all down. Without a doubt, this was a vote against the establishment (which Clinton represented).


To conclude, his pronouncements so far lead me to think Trump might be a pragmatist. He has indicated he will be “modifying,” not canceling, Obamacare. He has reportedly said he would honor Obama’s Iran nuclear deal and that same-sex marriage is a “settled law.” If Trump is willing to back-pedal and undo some of his toxic rhetorics, that is good. Intransigence is a bigger crime in my eyes. Whatever one’s view of the election we can agree on it undeniably portrays the beauty of democracy. In four years, Americans can vote out Trump and elect a new leader if they so wish.


Ijabla is a medical doctor and a humanist. He writes from the U.K.
Twitter: @ijabijay

US-based Nigerians Write Donald Trump, Demand Equitable Treatment

Nigerians based in the United States of America, under the auspices of Nigerian Union Diaspora (NUD), have congratulated the country’s President-elect. Mr. Donald Trump, on his electoral victory and urged him to run an equitable government.


The NUD’s congratulatory message was contained in a letter to Mr. Trump. Dated 20 November and jointly signed by Dr. SKC Ogbonnia, Secretary-General, and Mr. Bayo Oluwasanmi, Executive Director (Political Affairs), the letter called on Mr. Trump to remember his victory speech in which he said: “it is now time for America to bind wounds of division”.


“This statement is especially important considering the divisive tone that characterized the long presidential campaign.


“We strongly encourage you, henceforth, to capitalize on the post-election goodwill and extend an open hand to all Americans, including minority groups, most of who were frightened by certain aspects of your campaign that were widely viewed with apprehension.


“But with your pledge to ‘be president for all’, Nigerian-Americans are emboldened to stand willing, ready, and able to do all we can to the enormous work of healing the country and building a better America for all its citizens; an America that works well for all the people is a pillar of global peace and stability,” the letter said.


The NUD, the umbrella organization of people of Nigerian descent outside Nigeria, said it has over 2.4 million members in the United States. It further said that Nigerians contribute over $150 billion annually to the US economy. The group added that it would arrange a meeting with Mr. Trump’s to explore opportunities of working together.


NUD’s letter traced the history of Nigerians in the United States back to over four centuries, during which it said they have made immense contributions in all spheres of US national development. It explained that Nigerians remain the most credentialed immigrant bloc in the United States, as they have demonstrated in the fields of research, education, healthcare, military, engineering, economics and job creation among others.


The NUD added that it hopes that the Trump administration will recognize the significant pedigree of Nigerians and forge lasting relationships them as well as with the Nigerian nation.


“Aside from being the flagship country of the African continent, Nigeria has the abundant resources to advance strong bilateral relations with the United States on mutually beneficial terms. The well-being of Nigeria on the African continent is the well-being of the people of Nigerian descent in America,” the NUD added.


It equally called on Mr. Trump to consider his position, on assumption of office, as the leader of the world’s most influential country to run a government devoid of racial, gender, religious and ethnic prejudices, adding that he has a responsibility to treat everyone equally.


“Posterity beckons on you, therefore, to break from the unfortunate past—to finally accord the Nigerian nation as well as the Nigerian-Americans similar attention as other leading countries of other continents and their immigrants in the United States, including but not limited to policies on trade, immigration, terrorism, global security, economic opportunities, social issues, and human rights. Just policies on Africa will go a long way in binding ‘the wounds of division’ that have existed between African-Americans in general and the larger American population,” the letter concluded.

Donald Trump may pursue campaign rhetoric – Obama

Outgoing U.S. President Barack Obama says he can not guarantee that president-elect Donald Trump will not pursue some of his campaign rhetoric when sworn-in as president.

Obama made the remark in Lima at his final international news conference as U.S. president after attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum.

“I can’t guarantee that the president-elect won’t pursue some of the positions that he’s taken,” Obama told the conference was monitored by our correspondent.

“But what I can guarantee is that reality will force him to adjust how he approaches many of these issues; that’s just the way this office (U.S. presidency) works.”

The U.S. president, who had been assuring world leaders about a Trump’s presidency until now, however, asked them to adopt a “wait and see” approach about the president-elect.

“What I expect from world leaders is the same thing that I have said in a number of press conferences, which is the president-elect now has to put together a team.

“He has to put forward specifics about how he intends to govern and he hasn’t had the full opportunity to do that yet.

“So people should take a wait-and-see approach in how much his policy proposal, once in the White House once he’s sworn-in, matches up with some of the rhetoric of his campaign.

“My simple point is that you can’t assume that the language of campaigning matches up with the specifics of governing, legislation, regulations and foreign policy.

“I can’t be sure very well, I think like everyone else, we will have to wait and see.”

Obama, however, assured that the reality would force Trump to adjust his stance on issues.

“As I have said before, once you are in the Oval Office, once you begin interacting with world leaders, once you see the complexities of the issues, that has a way of shaping your thinking.

“Also in some cases, it has a way of magnifying your thinking.

“This is because, you recognise the solemn responsibility not only to the American people but some responsibilities that America has as the largest most powerful country in the world.”

The outgoing president also said that Trump’s campaign rhetorics were not as easy to fulfil as he thought.

According to him, if those issues were that simple, they would have been done by previous presidents before Trump was even elected.

He said, “I’ve said before, if these issues were easy, that ensuring prosperity, jobs, security, good foreign relations with other countries, if all that was simple, then it would have been done by every previous president.

“I’m a very pretty good presidential historian and I’ve looked at my 43 predecessors.

“I’ve seen that for all of them, even the best ones, that you end up confronting the realities and I think that is a good thing, that is interesting.”

On the chance of the Democrats in producing future presidents, Obama expressed optimism, saying that former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton won the popular vote.

He, however, said that Democratic Party’s message needed to speak to a broad number of Americans and not limited to a segment adding, that was the secret of his victories.

Obama’s tenure as the 44th president of the U.S. will end on Jan. 20, 2017, when Trump will be sworn-in as the 45th president.

I’ll break tradition if Trump threatens core American values – Obama

US President Barack Obama has said he may speak out after leaving office if he feels his successor Donald Trump is threatening core American values.

By convention, former presidents tend to leave the political fray and avoid commenting on their successors, but speaking at a news conference at the Apec summit in Lima, Peru, Obama said he intended to assist Trump and give him time to outline his vision.

He said that, as a private citizen, he might speak out on certain issues.

“I want to be respectful of the office and give the president-elect an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off,” Obama said.

But, he added, if an issue “goes to core questions about our values and our ideals, and if I think that it’s necessary or helpful for me to defend those ideals, then I’ll examine it when it comes”.

The president described himself as an “American citizen who cares deeply about our country”.

Speaking at a news conference to mark the end of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit, Obama reiterated that he would extend to Trump’s incoming administration the same professional courtesy shown to his team by his predecessor George W Bush.

Bush has refrained since leaving office from commenting on Obama’s presidency. “I don’t think it does any good,” he told CNN in 2013, after Obama was elected for a second time.

“It’s a hard job. He’s got plenty on his agenda. It’s difficult. A former president doesn’t need to make it any harder. Other presidents have taken different decisions; that’s mine.”

Bush’s stance falls in line with tradition. US presidents tend to avoid criticising predecessors or successors. Obama was clear that he would not weigh in on Trump’s decisions while he is still in office, but his suggestion that, as a private citizen, he would seek to defend “core values” comes amid mounting concern among civil rights groups and others about Trump’s political appointments.

The president-elect’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, was previously the head of Breitbart, a website which has been accused of promoting racism and anti-Semitism. And Trump’s national security adviser, General Michael Flynn, has previously likened Islam to a “cancer” spreading through the US.

Trump’s nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, was rejected from becoming a federal judge in 1986 because of alleged racist remarks.

Obama said he believed that the intense responsibility of the presidency would force Trump to moderate some of the more extreme policy positions he advocated during his campaign.

Asked about the failure of the Democratic party’s campaign under Hillary Clinton, Obama was critical of what he described as the “micro-targeting” of “particular, discrete groups”, rather than an effort to reach out to the entire country.

Mrs Clinton has been criticised for focusing her energy on certain demographics, including Latinos and women, who were believed to support her, at the expense of a more inclusive campaign.

That approach “is not going to win you the broad mandate that you need”, Obama said, adding that the party needed a “smarter message”.

Nigerian Police response to Shiite procession disproportionate – US

The United States has expressed deep concerns over the latest clash between the Police and Shiite members in Kano, describing the security agency’s response to the procession as “disproportionate.”


It therefore called for calm and restraint on all sides, a reduction of tension and greater communication between Shiite members and government authorities.


A statement from the US embassy’s Information Office on Friday in Abuja said the Shi’ite group, like other religious communities, had the right to assemble, peacefully express their religious beliefs, and mark their celebrations.


The US admonished the Federal Government to protect and defend these rights


It said, “The US is deeply concerned by the deaths of dozens of Nigerians during clashes between individuals participating in a Shia procession and the Nigerian Police Force in Kano State on November 14.


“While the matter is still under investigation, we are troubled by the apparent disproportionate response by the police.”


The US also called on members of the IMN and all citizens to respect the rule of law and cooperate with the police in their attempt to maintain public order.


It urged the government to ensure accountability for the deaths of more than 300 IMN members during December 15, 2015 clashes between the group and security forces in Zaria, Kaduna State.


“We also call on the Nigerian government to conduct a transparent investigation of the latest incidents and bring to account anyone responsible for violating the law,” the statement added.

US expresses concern over the killing of Shi’ite Muslims.

The United States, U.S, has expressed deep concern over reports of the deaths of dozens of Nigerians involved in clashes between individuals participating in a Shia procession and the police in Kano State on Monday, calling on the Nigerian government to protect and defend the rights of Shi’ites.

The U.S government, in a statement from its Embassy in Abuja on Friday, acknowledged that the matter was still being investigated, but stressed that it was, “troubled by the apparent disproportionate response by the police,” during the clash.

It said, “This is the latest in a series of violent incidents between security forces and members of the Shia Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), some of which have resulted in deaths, destruction of property, and the arbitrary detention of IMN members.

“The United States calls for calm and restraint on all sides, a reduction of tensions, and greater communication between Shia citizens and government authorities.”

While noting that the Shi’ites, like other religious communities, have the right to assemble, peacefully express their religious beliefs, and mark their celebrations, the U.S government said it was also incumbent on members of the religious sect and all Nigerians to respect the rule of law and cooperate with the police as they attempt to maintain public order.

“We continue to urge the government to ensure accountability for the deaths of more than 300 IMN members during December 15, 2015 clashes between the IMN and security forces in Zaria, Kaduna State.

“We also call on the Nigerian government to conduct a transparent investigation of the latest incidents and bring to account anyone responsible for violating the law,” the statement read.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Idris Ibrahim, while reacting to the incident, explained that the police opened fire on the Shiite members in self defence, adding that members of the sect were “armed to teeth.”

US urges UN arms embargo against South Sudan, Russia says no.

The United States on Thursday launched a bid at the Security Council to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan following UN warnings that the war-torn country could descend into genocide.

US Ambassador Samantha Power said a draft resolution will be presented to the council in the coming days to ban weapons sales to the African country and impose sanctions, setting the stage for a clash with Russia, which opposes an arms embargo.

“South Sudan is a nation at the precipice,” Power told the council.

“In the coming days, the United States will put forward a proposal to impose an arms embargo on South Sudan and targeted sanctions on the individuals who have been the biggest spoilers to achieve lasting peace,” she said.

Of the council’s permanent, veto-wielding members, Britain and France backed the proposed arms embargo, but Russia reaffirmed its opposition and China expressed reservations.

The move followed a recent report by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who warned that South Sudan faces a “very real risk of mass atrocities” and that 14,000 peacekeepers deployed in the country would not be able to stop such a bloodbath.

The US-drafted text seen by AFP calls for a one-year ban on all sales of arms, weapons, ammunition, military vehicles and equipment.

Power said months of talks with South Sudan’s leaders had failed to persuade them to opt for peace as she made the case for a travel ban and an assets freeze on those behind the violence.

“There is no good reason why we would not deprive those who have shown a willingness to commit mass atrocities of the means of doing it more efficiently,” she said.

Russian Deputy Ambassador Petr Iliichev dismissed an arms embargo as “premature,” saying it would “hardly be helpful in settling the conflict” and warning that sanctions against South Sudan’s leaders would be “the height of irresponsibility.”

In a barb directed at the United States, he suggested that President Salva Kiir was being targeted to share the same fate as Moamer Kadhafi, the Libyan leader toppled in 2011.

China’s Deputy Ambassador Wu Haito said the council should refrain from sanctions “to avoid complicating the situation” and “send more positive signals” instead.

Returning from a visit to South Sudan, the UN’s adviser on genocide prevention, Adama Dieng, said he “saw all the signs that ethnic hatred and targeting of civilians could evolve into genocide if something is not done now to stop it.”

He cited perceptions that Kiir’s army was “increasingly ethnically homogenous,” composed mostly of ethnic Dinka, who are preparing to launch attacks against Nuer and other groups.

Dieng urged the council to end the “devastating” flow of weapons fuelling the war.

South Sudan’s Ambassador Joseph Moum Malok rejected the proposed embargo as a “totally unacceptable” violation of his country’s sovereignty.

The authorities in Juba, confronting an “armed rebellion intent on overthrowing the government,” he argued, should not be deprived of the means to defend themselves.

The world’s youngest nation, South Sudan descended into war in December 2013, leaving tens of thousands dead and more than 2.5 million people displaced.

The country won independence from Sudan in 2011 with strong support from the United States.

A peace deal between Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar in August last year had raised hopes of peace, until clashes erupted in Juba four months ago.

Hillary Clinton admits she wanted to ‘curl up’ after election loss.

Hillary Clinton has opened up about her election defeat to Donald Trump and admitted she wanted to “curl up”.

She told a children’s charity in Washington that the last seven days have not been easy.

“There have been a few times this past week when all I wanted to do was just to curl up with a good book or our dogs and never leave the house again,” the Democrat said.

In a speech at the annual gala of the Children’s Defence Fund, she also addressed the difficulty of the loss for her supporters.

She urged them to persevere and encouraged her backers to “never, ever give up”.

“I know this isn’t easy,” Mrs Clinton told the audience.

“I know that over the past week a lot of people have asked themselves whether America is the country we thought it was.

“But please listen to me when I say this: America is worth it.

“It’s up to each and every one of us to keep working to make America better and stronger and fairer.

“We need you. America needs your energy.”

It was Mrs Clinton’s first public appearance since her emotional concession speech in New York last Wednesday.

She has blamed her defeat on the FBI’s decision to re-examine her use of a private email server during her time as US Secretary of State.

Mrs Clinton led in almost every poll before America voted Donald Trump as president.

US rejects ICC ‘war crimes’ probe.

The United States insisted Tuesday its soldiers and spies in Afghanistan are not subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court and any war crimes probe into their actions would be “unwarranted.”

On Monday, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said she is considering whether to launch a full investigation into allegations that US troops and CIA operators tortured Afghan prisoners between 2003 and 2004.

But Washington has not ratified the Hague-based court’s founding Rome Statute, and State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the United States thoroughly investigates allegations against its personnel.

“We have a robust national system of investigation and accountability that is as good as any country in the world,” she said.

“We do not believe that an ICC examination or investigation with respect to the actions of US personnel in relation to the situation in Afghanistan is warranted or appropriate,” she added.

“As we previously noted, the United States is not a party to the Rome Statute and has not consented to ICC jurisdiction.”

While the US has been leading calls for those behind atrocities in the Syrian conflict to be brought to justice in The Hague, there is no chance of any US soldiers ending up in the dock.

Last month, criticizing moves by some African countries to pull out of the court, State Department spokesman John Kirby said Washington thinks the “ICC has made valuable contributions in the service of accountability.”

But it has never been suggested that the United States itself, the world’s superpower, would accept international accountability.

The administration of former president George W. Bush authorized the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques — including water boarding — after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.

Those techniques were abolished by President Barack Obama when he took over the White House in January 2009, and he has since candidly admitted “We tortured some folks,” but no CIA officer or political leader has been prosecuted.

US senator pushes to abolish electoral college after Trump win.

A California senator introduced legislation Tuesday to rid the United States of its electoral college, the system that allowed Donald Trump to win the presidency despite Hillary Clinton’s lead of nearly one million votes.

The measure comes amid calls for reform following last Tuesday’s presidential upset, but is a long-shot.

“This is the only office in the land where you can get more votes and still lose the presidency,” said Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer, who introduced the measure.

The US Constitution specifies that the electoral college ultimately decides the presidential election, not the popular vote.

Each US state is given a number of electors, which corresponds to the size of the state’s population.

In 48 of 50 states, rules require all of a state’s electors to cast their votes for whichever candidate wins the popular vote there, in a winner-take-all system.

Under these rules, the winner of the electoral college vote does not always correspond to the candidate who won the country’s popular vote.

“The electoral college is an outdated, undemocratic system that does not reflect our modern society, and it needs to change immediately. Every American should be guaranteed that their vote counts,” Boxer said.

Although Clinton received nearly 800,000 more votes than Trump, according to the latest partial results, she lost in the electoral college.

The electoral vote is at 290 for Trump and 232 for Clinton, although one state has yet to be called. No matter its turnout, they do not have enough electors to bring Clinton a win.

More than 4.3 million people have signed a petition on the website asking the college’s 538 electors to elect Clinton on December 19, when their votes will be officially counted.

But because 26 states legally mandate that electors vote according to the rules and it is almost unprecedented for the remaining states’ electors to disobey, there is little possibility of a Clinton presidency.

Clinton’s popular vote performance brings to mind the 2000 election, when Democrat Al Gore lost the White House despite taking 48.4 percent of the popular vote to George W. Bush’s 47.9 percent.

Hundreds of Constitutional amendments have been proposed over the decades concerning the electoral college, but none has succeeded.

Amending the Constitution requires the agreement of two-thirds of Congress and ratification by three-quarters of the states.

Trump himself had strongly criticized the electoral college in 2012 calling it a “disaster.” On Tuesday, however, he changed his tune.

“The Electoral College is actually genius in that it brings all states, including the smaller ones, into play. Campaigning is much different!” Trump tweeted.

Ukraine’s Poroshenko appeals to Trump for support in phone call.

Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko asked Donald Trump for support against “Russian aggression” during a congratulatory telephone conversation with the US president-elect on Tuesday.


Trump’s shock election victory has been met with trepidation in Kiev because of the outspoken reality TV star’s praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his apparent indifference to the Western coalition against Moscow.


The billionaire businessman suggested earlier this year the US could accept Russia’s annexation of Crimea if it led to improved relations between the two nations, which are bitterly at odds over Syria.


Poroshenko congratulated Trump on his victory and said he wished “to work together with his administration to further strengthen the strategic partnership between Ukraine and the United States”, according to a statement by the Ukrainian presidency.


He also “underlined the necessity of strong support from Washington in the fight against Russian aggression and the implementation of crucial reforms” in Ukraine.


The two men agreed to organise “a bilateral meeting”, the statement said, without giving further details.


The US election outcome had sparked fears in the ex-Soviet republic after Trump was accused several times by his Democratic presidential rival Hillary Clinton of being Putin’s “puppet”.


Earlier this week, Poroshenko said he had “no doubt” that Trump would refuse to recognise Russia’s annexation of Crimea.


Putin and Trump spoke on the phone on Monday evening for the first time since the US vote, agreeing on the need to normalise ties between Washington and Moscow, the Kremlin said.


After Moscow’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in March 2014, which saw US-Russia relations dip to their worst since the Cold War, Washington imposed heavy economic sanctions on Russia.


Russia also has been accused by Washington of supporting pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, which the Kremlin denies.

Nigeria has highest number of African students in US – Report

The United States government on Tuesday has announced that Nigeria has the highest number of students from Africa studying in the US.


According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, there were 10,674 Nigerians studying in the US during the 2015-16 academic year.


The reported noted that the figure made Nigeria the leading source of African students and ranked 14th worldwide as a source of international students in the US.


“This figure marks the highest number of Nigerians studying in the United States since 1986-87,” the report said.


It stated that students from Nigeria who studied primarily at the undergraduate level were “50.8% undergraduate; 35.6% graduate; 11.5 % Optional Practical Training; and 2% non-degree programmes or short-term studies.”

The study also showed that the top five institutions that had received the most Nigerian students are all located in the state of Texas: Houston Community College, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, Texas Southern University, and the University of Texas at Arlington.


Other African countries with over 1,000 students in the US during the period include Ghana with 3,049, Kenya with 3,019, and South Africa with 1,813.


The Open Doors report is published annually by the Institute of International Education in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.


The Open Doors report also indicated that the number of international students at US colleges and universities surpassed one million for the first time during the 2015-2016 academic year, which is an increase of seven per cent from the previous year to a new high of nearly 1,044,000 students.

History teacher suspended for comparing Trump to Hitler.

A history teacher in America, identified as Frank Navarro, has been asked to go home after he compared US president-elect, Donald Trump to Nazi dictator, Adolf Hitler, while teaching his students after the election at the Mountain View High School, Bay Area, California.


According to the New York Daily News, the 65 year old Navarro, was suspended during the school hours after the school administrative team got a complaint email from one of the students’ parents about the statements he made in the class the previousThursday.


Navarro, who has taught at the school for over forty years, told the newspaper that it feels the school’s administration was trying to squash freedom of expression.


According to him, “This feels like we’re trying to squash free speech, everything I talk about is factually based.


“They can go and check it out. It’s not propaganda or bias if it’s based on hard facts, I had a short lesson paralleling Hitler with Trump when Hitler was running from 1930 to 1933.


“Hitler said he would make Germany great again, and Trump said he would make America great again.”

Soyinka Will Not Face Charges if He Destroys His Green Card — U.S. Immigration Lawyers

The United States government will not bring any civil or criminal charges against Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, if he eventually destroys his American green card as openly threatened, U.S. immigration experts told newsmen.

In fact, Mr. Soyinka will still be able to visit the United States at any time he desires even after destroying his green card before the public glare, the lawyers said.

Immigration attorneys, Isaac Falusi and Samuel Adewusi, said in separate interviews with PREMIUM TIMES that the controversies surrounding the decision of the professor are inconsequential in the U.S.

Mr. Falusi, an expert in immigration and international trade law, said Mr. Soyinka would have merely exercised his free speech by destroying his green card.

“Destroying a green card is an expression of free speech which no one will ever be penalised for in America,” Mr. Falusi said. “Being a resident in America is a voluntary thing.”
“The government gave him the green card because he was qualified when he applied for it,” Mr. Falusi said.

The lawyer said the U.S. Homeland Security, which handles such documents, may not even be aware of the controversy and even if it were, it still won’t mean an action will be taken.
“If he has made a public show of destroying his card, that doesn’t mean the Homeland Security is aware of it,” Mr. Falusi said. “ But even if they were, he will still be able to easily obtain another green card because his name is still on the computer as a valid American resident.”

There have been reports that Mr. Soyinka faces a jail term should he destroy his green card.
The professor first stated a fortnight ago that he would destroy his green card if Donald Trump was elected president.

“The moment they announce his [Trump’s] victory, I will cut my green card myself and start packing up,” Mr. Soyinka told a gathering at Oxford University in what appeared like a casual observation about the tone of the American campaign at the time.

Mr. Trump won the election on June 8, prompting immediate demand and mockery from Nigerians.
He hit back at critics in a 4,000-word essay on Saturday, describing them as noisome creatures and nattering nitwits. He, however, reassured that he will still go ahead to ahead as planned, but only on his own terms.

But if he really wants to cut his access to the U.S., then he will need to do more than shred his residency card, Mr. Adewusi said.

Mr. Adewusi, Chairman of the Board of Trustee of the Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation in the Americas, further stated that “in order to destroy your green card you have to go to a consulate near you, especially if you’re outside the United States.”

“At the consulate, you must request for and fill a document called Form I-407. It is a long process but only after you complete before you could boldly say that you have destroyed your access to enter America.”

Mr. Adewusi echoed Mr. Falusi’s position that Mr. Soyinka’s action is strictly an exercise of his free speech.

“It’s more of a free speech the same way people burn flags and their passports. No one will penalise him for anything,” Mr. Adewusi said.


Why I don’t visit US – Atiku

Former Vice-President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has given explanations over his alleged avoidance of the United States over a purported corruption case for which he was said to be wanted.


Atiku denied that he was avoiding US because of any travel ban on him. He also faulted the widely held notion about him as a corrupt person, saying if he was corrupt, he would have been convicted by now.


In an interview published in the latest edition of Zero Tolerance Magazine, a publication of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Atiku said he “no longer has compelling reasons” to travel to US, as his family, who used to live there, had relocated.


“There is no travel restriction on me to the United States. After leaving office, I have been to the US severally to visit my family, which has eventually relocated,” he said.


Atiku, however, did not answer the question on when last he visited the US, insisting that the reason for his US travels were his wife.


The former vice president also denied having any relationship with William Jefferson, the ex-US congressman accused of being his linkman in the US bribery scandal.


In one of the editions of the magazine in September 2013, Atiku’s ex-boss, former President Olusegun Obasanjo had dared the ex-VP to travel to US, alleging that Atiku was a fugitive who cannot travel to US.


Atiku maintained that despite panels and court actions against him, he was yet to be found guilty of any financial infringement.


“If Atiku Abubakar was corrupt, he would have been found guilty of corruption by all the panels and probes and cases that were brought before the courts. I remember the only corruption indictment against me was a white paper which was cooked up by our own administration overnight including the very EFCC that I helped found, and other cabinet ministers, which I challenged in court.”

They’re calling it #Calexit: Some Californians want to secede after Trump’s victory.

They call it #Calexit.

Interest in pushing for California’s secession from the United States has increased after Donald Trump won the presidency.
The “Yes California” campaign is backing an independence referendum in support of a constitutional exit of the state from the US. In the wake of 60% of the state’s voters supporting the presidential loser, Hillary Clinton, the movement is getting renewed interest.
“As the sixth largest economy in the world, California is more economically powerful than France and has a population larger than Poland. Point-by-point, California compares and competes with countries, not just the 49 other states,” the campaign’s website said.
The #calexit name stems from the successful “brexit” campaign in Britain to leave the European Union.
While the Yes Campaign has been considered a fringe movement in the past, it began trending on social media Wednesday night attracting more mainstream notice. Supporters are proposing a referendum on the issue in 2019.
The referendum would ask whether voters think California should become an independent country. It is mainly a way to gauge interest on whether Californians prefer statehood or want to move toward nationhood.
Of course, a secession is highly unlikely. Other politicians have talked of their states leaving the Union in the past with to no avail. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry suggested his state might leave the United States in 2009 during the rise of the tea party. That effort never gained traction.
Still, Hundreds of protesters — many of them Latino — hit Los Angeles City Hall Wednesday night chanting “¡Si se puede!” (Spanish for “yes, it’s possible” or “yes, one can” — a longtime rallying cry of the United Farm Workers).
Activists chanting #NotMyPresident in cities from coast-to-coast occupied the streets protesting the election results that made the former reality show star the next president.
Police estimated that thousands of people stood outside New York City’s Trump Tower protesting the president-elect’s positions on immigration and law enforcement.
“I came out here to let go of a lot of fear that was sparked as soon as I saw the results,” protester Nick Powers told CNN.

Melania Trump will become just the second foreign-born first lady in US history.

A foreign-born, former supermodel who married an eccentric billionaire is about to become the United States’ next first lady.

Melania Trump, who will become just the second foreign-born first lady in US history, will assume the very public role after having spent much of her husband’s presidential campaign avoiding the campaign trail and the limelight, saying she preferred to remain home in New York to care for the couple’s only son, who is 10. She will succeed First Lady Michelle Obama, who has taken on a very public and active role in advocating for health and wellness issues.
Trump delivered only a handful of speeches as her husband bounded from one unlikely phase of his campaign to the next. But she did lay out in broad terms what her priorities would be as first lady in the final week of the campaign — and to accomplish at least one of those, she may have to begin in the West Wing.
That’s because Trump said in a speech last week outlining the priorities she would bring to the East Wing that in addition to “helping children and women,” she said combatting cyber bullying will be “one of the main focuses” of her work as first lady.
While Donald Trump has repeatedly mocked his opponents on Twitter over their looks and intelligence, Melania Trump vowed to combat meanness on the Internet, saying “our culture has gotten too mean and too tough,” particularly as others are mocked over their “looks or intelligence.”
“It is never OK when a 12-year-old girl or boy is mocked, bullied or attacked. It is terrible when it happens on the playground, and it is absolutely unacceptable when it is done by someone with no name hiding on the internet. We have to find a better way to talk to each other,” Melania Trump said, delivering a rare speech in Pennsylvania last week. “We must find better ways to honor and support the basic goodness of our children, especially in social media.”
But while her agenda as first lady may be tinged with irony, Melania Trump has in many ways been a balancing force for her husband — chiding him in private when his temper flared and he lashed out on Twitter at his political opponents and urging him to be more “presidential” in their private conversations.
She has also served as a symbolic counterweight to her husband’s hardline rhetoric on immigration. While the Slovenian-born former model has said she agrees with her husband’s immigration proposals, Donald Trump and his supporters have frequently touted Melania Trump’s status as an immigrant to push back on attacks that Trump is anti-immigrant.
Melania Trump has said becoming a naturalized US citizen in 2006 has been “the greatest privilege in the world.” She will become the second foreign-born first lady, 192 years after England-born Louisa Adams became first lady.
But her immigration history also risked becoming a liability during the campaign amid reports that she may have worked as a model in the United States before obtaining the proper paperwork to work legally in the US. She and her attorney have insisted she followed all appropriate laws.
Before her speech last week, Melania Trump delivered only one major speech in the campaign — at the Republican National Convention before her husband accepted the Republican presidential nomination.
While initially well-received, the speech was ultimately tarnished by controversy after it came to light that parts of the speech were lifted from Michelle Obama’s speech to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.