No refugees will be sent to US this year – Australia PM

Australia’s prime minister said on Monday resettlement to the US of many of the 1,200 asylum seekers held in prisons on Papua New Guinea and the Pacific island of Nauru would begin after president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration in January.

Whether Trump honours the deal Australia reached with the outgoing Obama administration, and announced earlier this month, will provide an early test of the new president’s anti-immigration stance.

Campaigning for the presidency, Trump started by advocating a blanket ban on Muslims entering the US, but later adjusted his stance to propose that the ban should apply to people from nations that had been “compromised by terrorism”.

Australia’s Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday that the US had agreed to take a “substantial” number of the 1,800 refugees held on Manus Island and Nauru. Many of them are Muslims who have fled conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Under Australia’s tough border security laws, asylum seekers intercepted trying to reach the country by boat are sent for processing at detention centers on Papua New Guinea’s Manus island and Nauru under conditions harshly criticised by rights groups as well as the UN.

Former employees from Nauru have also spoken to the media about widespread abuse at the camps, including violence against women and the sexual abuse of children.

The resettlement deal came after Turnbull’s government agreed in September to accept people from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador as part of Australia’s annual intake of 18,750 asylum seekers, to support a resettlement plan for Central Americans drawn up by Washington.

Turnbull said on Monday the first refugees to be resettled in the US would not come before the January 20 inauguration of President-elect Trump.

“The process will continue for some months. The United States won’t be short-cutting their security or health checks,” said Turnbull.

Potential Trump veto

Analysts said the timing could prove awkward for Turnbull.

“It looks pretty clear that the resettlement deal was done as a quid pro quo after Australia agreed to resettle Central American refugees,” Peter Chen, professor of political science at the University of Sydney, said.

“But by holding off and starting the process in the expectation that Hillary Clinton would win the US presidency, it gives Trump the ability to reject the deal.”

Over the weekend, Trump said his administration would deport up to three million immigrants in the country illegally who have criminal records. While campaigning, Trump said he would deport 11 million illegal immigrants.

Should Trump veto the deal with Australia, the detainees would be left with the choice of returning to their home countries or remaining in Nauru or Papua New Guinea.

A veto would force Turnbull to search for another country willing to take them while facing growing outrage both at home and internationally over the treatment of the refugees.

Turnbull said he remained confident that the new US administration would stand by the deal, stressing that it didn’t require any increase in the US’s annual intake of asylum seekers.

US President-elect Trump appoints Chief of Staff, chief strategist.

US President-elect, Donald Trump on Sunday made his first important appointments.

 

Trump appointed Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee (RNC) as his Chief of Staff.

 

Stephen Bannon, who served as Trump’s campaign chief will be his chief strategist.

 

“I am thrilled to have my very successful team continue with me in leading our country,” Trump said in a statement.

 

“Steve and Reince are highly qualified leaders who worked well together on our campaign and led us to a historic victory. Now I will have them both with me in the White House as we work to make America great again.”

 

Trump had named three of his children, his son-in-law and Vice President-elect, Mike Pence in his transition team.

OPINION: The sad news of Trump’s triumph By Reuben Abati

Democracy is tricky; it sometimes ends up as a parody of itself.  When the people clamour for change, they can vote with their hearts, and prove impervious to plain sight reason, and overlook likely pitfalls.  We can only hope that Donald Trump does not become the symbol of the change that Americans are seeking. That would be sad indeed for the free world.”  – Reuben Abati,  “Anything Can Happen in America”, The Guardian, March 6, 2016. 

Earlier this year, I had written a piece titled “Anything Can Happen In America”, from which the quote above is excerpted, but I had virtually no idea that the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election could be so shocking, unthinkable and unbelievable. I was like the pollsters, the cultural activists, the Nobel Laureates, the American media establishment and the global community, minus Russia and Vladimir Putin, a Clintonite. I stood with her. When the unthinkable happened on Tuesday, and Americans chose as their 45th President, Donald John Trump, the real estate developer, reality television celebrity, a complete outsider who stumbled on politics and turned it into a celebrity show, I could only ask: how did it happen?

     

The triumph of Trumpism, a byword for incorrect conduct, misogyny, hate, racism, nativism, isolationism, anger, and defiance is sad news for the world. It is an assault on the ideals of American democracy. Trump’s triumph has left America more divided than it was a week ago, and the prospects of that nation rescuing itself from the tragic mistake it seems to have made may take long in coming. The same country that champions it the most has exposed the underbelly of democracy, that beloved option for global leadership, ironically.

      

Democracy is said to be driven by the values of good rather than evil, of humanity as opposed to inhumanity, individual freedom and rights rather than oppression, inclusion as different from exclusion but the same model of governance hands over power to the majority. As we have seen, the majority may not necessarily represent the will of all the people, or even the real majority, it is the choice that is made by the voting majority or as determined by the guiding rules as in the case of the United States: and no matter how stupid, illogical or unreasonable that choice may be, it is taken as the voice of the people and it is binding. This dictatorship of the determined majority has nothing to do with popular opinion or goodwill, but the actual choice that is made according to the guiding rules of the game.

   

Democracy, relying on the strength of numbers and local rules has fed many countries with statistically right but logically wrong outcomes.  The outcome in the United States this week is completely confusing.  And that explains why there have been protests across America by those chanting “notmypresident” to express their dismay over Trump’s surprise win. This is the first time in a long while that the outcome of an American Presidential election will leave the entire country so tragically divided the morning after. Even the international community is in shock. Trump’s triumph is a threat to the liberal standards on which the global order is anchored.  Hillary Clinton in her concession speech said her defeat is “painful and it will be for a long time.” Not necessarily for her but for America and the rest of the world.  The deepest cut is in America’s heart; the wound that has been inflicted therein by Americans themselves will be felt for a long time to come.

    

This year’s American general election should inspire a deeper interrogation into the nature of democracy and its many pitfalls. The people of the United States had a plain choice between good and bad alternatives. More than any other American Presidential candidate in this election, Hillary Clinton got the most impactful endorsements, yet she did not win. If the rest of the world had been asked to vote, she would have won by a landslide, but it was up to the Americans themselves to choose their own President, and they have just told us to mind our own businesses in our countries.  Hillary Clinton is urbane, experienced, charming and gifted. She has proved her mettle as First Lady, Senator and as Secretary of State.  She won the Presidential debates, ran a dignified and organized campaign and won the confidence of every critical constituency.  Bernie Sanders who ran against her for the Democratic party’s ticket and Donald Trump, as well as their agents in many places threw mud in her direction, but the polls favoured her to the last minute.           

 

The pollsters have been proven wrong by the choice that America has made. Hillary Clinton gave hope to generations of women across the world. Her emergence as America’s President would have broken the glass ceiling at the most powerful spot in the world, and energized young men and women across the world. America has decided to spit in the face of history and opt for misogyny birthed by ultra-conservatism. Confronted with the obvious choice of a decent, tested and experienced woman who could have given them the prize of two Presidents for the price of one, they chose a foul-mouthed, egoistic, bombastic, free-wheeling outsider with a wife whose body shape and naked assets would be part of a yet uncertain legacy.

    

America’s future post-Trump’s triumph is uncertain because what Trump stands for, the little that we know about that, raises nothing but anxiety, definitely not confidence.  America has as President in waiting a man elected on the wings of sheer populism and racist, nativist propaganda. His campaign was anchored on the hate-propelled belief that the only way to make America great again is to shut out Muslims, blacks, immigrants, intruding neighbours from Mexico and Latin America, keep Americans for Americans only so they can have jobs and prosper, and the spin that America is not safe in the hands of women whom he considers fit only as objects and pieces of decoration.

      

By voting Trump, America with its intriguing electoral college system, which robs a popular candidate on technical grounds, has deleted the triumph of American-led neo-liberal progressivism in the global order. The sad news in part is that this is also a growing trend in Europe, the equivalent of Brexit. Trump’s triumph is however worse than Brexit. It is not likely “to make America great again.” It is more likely to reduce, if not jeopardize America’s influence as a stabilizing force in the global system. Donald Trump as Presidential candidate repudiated America’s commitments within the global system. He says he will pull out US troops and command stations in Europe and Asia. If he keeps to his words, he could create such instability across the globe that would result in countries which otherwise depended on the United States looking out for themselves security-wise.

     

Trump is perhaps America’s nemesis: too much rationalization and over-simplification of everything was bound to get the United States into trouble. The chasm between the American establishment and its ordinary people has been blown open. Washington is a living symbol of correctness on every stage, but now the people have rejected Washington and its politics. There have been about 44 female Presidents across the world, and now, the most powerful country in the world has proven itself to be less progressive than India, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Korea, Liberia, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Argentina, Croatia, Nepal, Taiwan, Chile, Costa Rica, Philippines, Indonesia, Iceland, Malta, and even Kosovo! America preaches inclusion and unity in diversity, but the white, blue-collar and middle-class Americans who voted majorly for Donald Trump have shown that the average American is not interested in diversity; they want America to themselves alone. America is not a country of nationalities, it is a country of immigrants, and yet the settled immigrants want to shut the door of the land of dreams to others. Donald Trump exploited their fears. He has proven that it is possible to become President by appealing to the people’s basest instincts.  Shameful.

       

Trump, Machiavelli’s “great-great-grandson” has through dirty tricks created a revolution from which even the same party that saw him as an outsider and treated his emergence as flag-bearer as an accident has benefitted. The Republican Party owes its ascendancy in the White House and Capitol Hill to this outsider who brought the tactics of Machiavelli, soap opera and television shows to push a failing party back to reckoning. Trump is neither Republican nor Democrat; he belongs to the party of the streets, of a racist American street motivated by a determination to reverse the misfortune of disappearing jobs in inner America, inability of make ends meet, pay children’s school fees or live decently.  Americans chose Trump because he spoke the language of the streets and projected himself as their messiah. He projected himself, in his own words, as the champion of “the forgotten men and women of our country…People who work hard but no longer have a voice. I am their voice”. And so the people think, and so they voted for him so enthusiastically they even handed him the battleground states of Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and North Carolina, which secured his victory and ended the emerging Clinton dynasty.  He is the candidate of America’s children of anger.

    

Trump’s organized blackmail and dirty job may have given him the biggest job in the world but it will not sustain him there or make him a great President. The easiest thing to do is to promise the people change by pulling down the sitting government and the entire political Establishment. In Trump’s reckoning, he did not just defeat Hillary Clinton; he has defeated Barrack Obama, the entire Washington Establishment and its allies. Inexperienced, badly prepared and ignorant, as is the common consensus, Trump has to run the most complex governance system in the world. He can repudiate his campaign promises and turn 360 degrees. This is not beyond him. In the last year, his position on anything and everything has changed from one stop to another. Or he may choose to fulfill his bizarre promises and imperil the American Presidency and the global order. One option will expose and ridicule him. The other may fetch him the aggrieved assassin’s bullet or a one-term Presidency that could end up either as a tragi-comedy or a nauseating farce. The fulfillment of the Simpsons’ and Michael Moore’s prophecy is the highest point of America’s disillusionment. Soon enough, America will learn, at substantial cost, new lessons about its new reality.  Take it easy, Hillary. Destiny is what waits for every person behind the dream. 

God positioned Donald Trump to fight immorality in U.S. – Nigeria’s Christian leader

The President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Samson Ayokunle, said President-elect of the United States of America, Donald Trump, was positioned by God to fight immorality in the country.

Mr. Ayokunle said this at the 29th General Assembly of the Christian Council of Nigeria (CCN) held at First Baptist Church, Garki, Abuja, on Thursday.

The three-day programme is tagged: “God of Life: Lead Nigeria to Justice, Peace and Dignity.’’

He called on Americans to watch very closely as the new administration would not tolerate the issues of immorality in the country any more.

According to him, God has now positioned Mr. Trump to fight the immoral life in the American society. He said the nation that was once known as God’s own country is vastly becoming Sodom and Gomorrah.

Mr. Ayokunle said that there was an extent to which a nation would emphasise circular and individual liberty to the neglect of God’s absolute reign to the affairs of men.

He also called on Nigerians to be on guard at all times as Boko Haram had not been fully defeated, following the recent killing of Lt. Col. Abu Ali and some soldiers in Maiduguri.

He said “it is not over until it is over; the fact that a top army officer was killed is a signal to the fact that we have not defeated them.

“It was also an attestation to the commitment of the Federal Government to fight this demon called Boko Haram.

“So, everybody should be more committed so that the souls of those who died might not be in vain.”

The CAN boss called on Christians to be united and not to make their doctrinal beliefs to overwhelm them because Jesus Christ prayed for the church to be one.

“We are diverse because of our doctrinal beliefs but we must be one because Jesus says the church must be one; He prayed for the church.

“I think the problem with us is the placing of much emphasis on autonomy where it becomes its petals when we lack respect for one another.

“There should be collective recognition of leadership, desire to put up the things of the world and eternity-centred in such a way that occupying position does not matter to anybody,’’ he said.

He said that corruption in the country was endemic and called on the government to keep fighting it so that the country would not be crippled.

According to Ayokunle, corruption appears to be endemic in the Nigerian society and it has got to the fabric of our national lives; there is hardly any sector that can be exempted.

“By the result that corruption has given us presently, I think it is high time we all rose and fight the demon; without fighting it, it will cripple us.

“If we are not very careful we will end up becoming a crippled giant because we have allowed corruption to enter into our system,’’ he said.

Earlier, President of CCN, Emmanuel Josiah, had called on Nigerians to support the fight against corruption, asking the citizenry to repent and return to God.

According to him, the greatest challenge that we are facing now is sin, and wherever there is sin, we cannot experience any progress and God can never be there.

“There is no child of God that will not support the fight against corruption,’’ Mr. Josiah said.

Rufus Ositelu, Primate, The Church of the Lord Prayer Fellowship Worldwide, said that corruption could not be fought totally but could be brought to a minimum so that the country would move forward.

According to him, what is really disturbing the progress of this country is corruption. If corruption is fought to a standstill by next year, we will see progress in the country, he said.

Read the Letter Aaron Sorkin Wrote His Daughter After Donald Trump Was Elected President

The Oscar-winning screenwriter of The Social Network and mastermind behind The West Wing reacts to Donald Trump being elected the 45th president of the United States in a moving letter written to his 15-year-old daughter Roxy and her mother Julia Sorkin.

Read the letter belwo:

Sorkin Girls,

Well the world changed late last night in a way I couldn’t protect us from. That’s a terrible feeling for a father. I won’t sugarcoat it—this is truly horrible. It’s hardly the first time my candidate didn’t win (in fact it’s the sixth time) but it is the first time that a thoroughly incompetent pig with dangerous ideas, a serious psychiatric disorder, no knowledge of the world and no curiosity to learn has.

And it wasn’t just Donald Trump who won last night—it was his supporters too. The Klan won last night. White nationalists. Sexists, racists and buffoons. Angry young white men who think rap music and Cinco de Mayo are a threat to their way of life (or are the reason for their way of life) have been given cause to celebrate. Men who have no right to call themselves that and who think that women who aspire to more than looking hot are shrill, ugly, and otherwise worthy of our scorn rather than our admiration struck a blow for misogynistic shitheads everywhere. Hate was given hope. Abject dumbness was glamorized as being “the fresh voice of an outsider” who’s going to “shake things up.” (Did anyone bother to ask how? Is he going to re-arrange the chairs in the Roosevelt Room?) For the next four years, the President of the United States, the same office held by Washington and Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, F.D.R., J.F.K. and Barack Obama, will be held by a man-boy who’ll spend his hours exacting Twitter vengeance against all who criticize him (and those numbers will be legion). We’ve embarrassed ourselves in front of our children and the world.

And the world took no time to react. The Dow futures dropped 7,000 points overnight. Economists are predicting a deep and prolonged recession. Our NATO allies are in a state of legitimate fear. And speaking of fear, Muslim-Americans, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans are shaking in their shoes. And we’d be right to note that many of Donald Trump’s fans are not fans of Jews. On the other hand, there is a party going on at ISIS headquarters. What wouldn’t we give to trade this small fraction of a man for Richard Nixon right now?

So what do we do?

First of all, we remember that we’re not alone. A hundred million people in America and a billion more around the world feel exactly the same way we do.

Second, we get out of bed. The Trumpsters want to see people like us (Jewish, “coastal elites,” educated, socially progressive, Hollywood…) sobbing and wailing and talking about moving to Canada. I won’t give them that and neither will you. Here’s what we’ll do…

…we’ll fucking fight. (Roxy, there’s a time for this kind of language and it’s now.) We’re not powerless and we’re not voiceless. We don’t have majorities in the House or Senate but we do have representatives there. It’s also good to remember that most members of Trump’s own party feel exactly the same way about him that we do. We make sure that the people we sent to Washington—including Kamala Harris—take our strength with them and never take a day off.

We get involved. We do what we can to fight injustice anywhere we see it—whether it’s writing a check or rolling up our sleeves. Our family is fairly insulated from the effects of a Trump presidency so we fight for the families that aren’t. We fight for a woman to keep her right to choose. We fight for the First Amendment and we fight mostly for equality—not for a guarantee of equal outcomes but for equal opportunities. We stand up.

America didn’t stop being America last night and we didn’t stop being Americans and here’s the thing about Americans: Our darkest days have always—always—been followed by our finest hours.

Roxy, I know my predictions have let you down in the past, but personally, I don’t think this guy can make it a year without committing an impeachable crime. If he does manage to be a douche nozzle without breaking the law for four years, we’ll make it through those four years. And three years from now we’ll fight like hell for our candidate and we’ll win and they’ll lose and this time they’ll lose for good. Honey, it’ll be your first vote.

The battle isn’t over, it’s just begun. Grandpa fought in World War II and when he came home this country handed him an opportunity to make a great life for his family. I will not hand his granddaughter a country shaped by hateful and stupid men. Your tears last night woke me up, and I’ll never go to sleep on you again.

Love,

Dad

Trump’s immigration stance, wake-up call on Nigerians – Udom Emmanuel

Akwa Ibom state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, has described United States President-elect, Donald Trump’s stance on immigration as a challenge on Nigerians to make the best use of the abundant human and natural resources at their disposal to make Nigeria great.

The Governor made the remark while speaking to journalists on the implications of the outcome of the November 8 presidential election in the United States especially to Nigeria.

Governor Udom Emmanuel spoke to journalists at Akwa Ibom International Airport in Uyo on arrival from an official assignment outside the state.

He said that the outcome of the election was a confirmation of the fact that power comes from God and he chooses whoever he wants to lead at his own time in spite of what people think or feel.

“My prediction was not what the world predicted. What has happened in America is exactly what happened in Akwa Ibom state.

“The whole world is now saying that you don’t need to be a professional politician to be entrusted with political leadership. If you have been able to manage multinational businesses, then it means you’re capable of doing well as a political leader.

“So the talk of Donald Trump not having political experience did not affect the voting pattern.

“It also shows that God’s choice is the ultimate in spite of what people think or feel. God does not choose qualified people, rather, he chooses the unqualified and qualifies him for the task at hand.”

On the stance of Mr Trump on immigration issues, Governor Emmanuel said Nigerians should see it as a call to make the best use of what we have to make our country great.

“I’m not bothered about his policy, rather I see it as a wake-up call on Nigerians to begin to look inward and make the best use of the abundant human and natural resources at their disposal to make Nigeria great.

“Trump’s message to the rest of the world is for everyone to make the best of what they have. Didn’t you hear him? He said let’s make America great again. And I call on everyone, let’s make Akwa Ibom great, let’s make Nigeria great.”

Governor Emmanuel, however, appealed to Mr Trump to do all in his power to encourage international trade and cooperation to make the world a better place.

“All we need are good policies that encourage international trade and cooperation. That is all that matters now and I hope Mr Trump will make that possible.”

ANALYSIS: The majority of Americans VOTED for Clinton. – The Cable

This could be some consolation for Hillary Clinton: the majority of Americans actually wanted her to be president. In fact, more American voters picked her ahead of Donald Trump with roughly 98% of all the results collated. It would take a dramatic turn for Trump to overtake Clinton.

Associated Press collation of results shows that Clinton, the Democratic candidate, has so far polled 59,814,018 popular votes while Donald Trump, the Republican flag bearer, scored 59,611,678.

This represents a margin of about 200,000 votes which would have given Clinton the edge were it not for the US “indirect” electoral system which determines the winner by the electoral college and not the popular vote.

Trump has won 279 electoral votes, while Clinton had 228 – and these are the figures that really matter.

Three states are yet to complete vote reporting, but Trump is leading in Arizona and Michigan and Clinton is in control in New Hampshire.

This is purely mathematical: Trump crossed the magical 270 delegate vote count on election night.

After Mitt Romney lost in 2012, Trump had tweeted: “The electoral college is a disaster for a democracy.”

He just turned out to be the biggest beneficiary of the “disaster” since 2000.

Floored in Florida

US-VOTE-ELECTION

The people preferred Clinton, but the winner is determined by number of “pledged” electoral college delegate votes

California, with 55 electoral votes, has the highest number. Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming each has three votes – the lowest. DC is also entitled to three delegate votes.

All American states, except Maine and Nebraska, pledge their electoral votes to the candidates who won the popular votes there.

Data analysis by TheCable suggests that Clinton failed mainly because of the outcomes in Florida and Pennsylvania, two states with a combined figure of 49 electoral votes.

If she had won the popular votes in those states – as President Barack Obama did in 2008 and 2012 – she would have been the president-elect. She would have gained 49 votes and hit the magical 270 figure.

In Pennsylvania, she scored 2,844,705 while Trump got 2,912,941 – a difference of less than 100,000 votes. That meant 20 delegate votes out of her hands.

The Florida margin was slightly wider: she scored 4,485,745 to Trump’s 4,605,515. That was 29 delegates lost.

The final results were not yet in at the time of this report, but the total popular vote tally should favour Clinton as absentee votes trickle in.

Al Gored by Bush

bush al gore

Bush (l) lost the popular vote but still defeated Al Gore by the tiniest of margins in the electoral college in 2000

There is somewhat a replay of the 2000 election when George W. Bush, the Republican candidate, lost to Al Gore, the Democratic flag bearer, in the popular vote.

Gore scored  50,996,582 votes, beating Bush who had 50,456,062, but the Republican was elected president based on electoral college votes, garnering 271 to the Democrat’s 266.

Then, there was the little matter of Florida state, where Bush’s brother was governor and where the ballot system seemed “rigged” to favour the Republican.

With 25 electoral votes on offer in the state at the time, it became clear that Florida was going to determine the next American president.

On election night, Bush was credited with 1,784 votes more than Gore, which automatically triggered a recount under the state laws.

The first recount reduced the margin to 537 votes, with Gore going all the way to the US supreme court to trigger another recount amidst reports of several irregularities. The justices voted 4-3 to effectively make Bush president.

What is Electoral College?

Many Nigerian voters cannot understand a system where a candidate wins the popular vote and yet loses the election – but that is a possibility in the indirect voting system.

In 1804, the US presidential electoral system was changed to give power to “electors” – electoral delegates from each state of the federation – under the the Twelfth Amendment (Amendment XII) to the US constitution.

Under the refined system, each state is allocated electoral college votes, and all states except for Maine and Nebraska, choose electors on a “winner-take-all”.

This means a state has all of its electors pledged to the presidential candidate who wins the most votes there.

However, Maine and Nebraska use the “congressional district method”, by which one “elector” is selected within each congressional district by popular vote. The remaining two electors are picked by a statewide popular vote.

The number of “electors” in each state is equal to the number of members of congress the state is entitled to.

Currently, there are currently 538 electors, in accordance with the 435 representatives and 100 senators. The rest are the three from DC.

In the end, the US presidential election is not to elect the president but to elect those who will elect the president.

How would it work in Nigeria?

InaugurationPhotos

If Nigeria used the indirect system, Buhari would still have defeated Jonathan in the 2015 presidential election

Although Nigeria adopted its presidential system of government from the US, it chose to pick the president “directly” by popular vote rather than the somewhat complicated electoral college route.

If this were to apply in Nigeria, there would be 469 “electors” based on 109 senators and 360 representatives.

With every state entitled to equal number of senators, every state will have three delegates while FCT will have one.

However, since house of reps is determined by proportion of population, some states will have more than others in total.

Lagos and Kano would each have the highest of 27 electoral votes, and the lowest would be FCT (3), Bayelsa and Nasarawa (both 8).

To be elected president, the candidate would need a minimum of 235 electoral college votes in Nigeria.

But how many Nigerian voters would understand that their candidate had more popular votes than the declared winner – who managed to get the support of only 235 “electors”?

Thousands of anti-Trump protesters take to streets of U.S. cities

Demonstrators marched in cities across the United States on Wednesday to protest against Republican Donald Trump’s surprise presidential election win, blasting his campaign rhetoric about immigrants, Muslims and other groups.

In New York, thousands filled streets in midtown Manhattan as they made their way to Trump Tower, Trump’s gilded home on Fifth Avenue. Hundreds of others gathered at a Manhattan park and shouted “Not my president.”

In Los Angeles, protesters sat on the 110 and 101 highway interchange, blocking traffic on one of the city’s main arteries as police in riot gear tried to clear them. Some 13 protesters were arrested, a local CBS affiliate reported.

An earlier rally and march in Los Angeles drew more than 5,000 people, many of them high school and college students, local media reported.

A demonstration of more than 6,000 people blocked traffic in Oakland, California, police said. Protesters threw objects at police in riot gear, burned trash in the middle of an intersection, set off fireworks and smashed store front windows.

Police responded by throwing chemical irritants at the protesters, according to a Reuters witness.

Two officers were injured in Oakland and two police squad cars were damaged, Johnna Watson, spokeswoman for the Oakland Police Department told CNN.

In downtown Chicago, an estimated 1,800 people gathered outside the Trump International Hotel and Tower, chanting phrases like “No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA.”

Chicago police closed roads in the area, impeding the demonstrators’ path. There were no immediate reports of arrests or violence there.

An officer examines a vandalized police vehicle as demonstrators riot in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger
An officer examines a vandalized police vehicle as demonstrators riot in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Noah Berger)
Police arrest a demonstrator as protesters riot in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Noah Berger
Police arrest a demonstrator as protesters riot in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Noah Berger)
A masked demonstrator gestures toward a police line during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A masked demonstrator gestures toward a police line during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
A pile of burning garbage set by demonstrators is seen on Broadway during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
A pile of burning garbage set by demonstrators is seen on Broadway during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam)
Demonstrators run on Telegraph Avenue after police deployed teargas during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Stephen Lam
Demonstrators run on Telegraph Avenue after police deployed tear gas during a demonstration in Oakland, California, U.S. following the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States November 9, 2016. (Photo: REUTERS/Stephen Lam)

“I’m just really terrified about what is happening in this country,” said 22-year-old Adriana Rizzo in Chicago, who was holding a sign that read: “Enjoy your rights while you can.”

In Seattle, police responded to a shooting with multiple victims near the scene of anti-Trump protests. Police said it was unrelated to the demonstrations.

Protesters railed against Trump’s campaign pledge to build a wall along the border with Mexico to keep immigrants from entering the United States illegally.

Hundreds also gathered in Philadelphia, Boston and Portland, Oregon, on Wednesday evening. In Austin, the Texas capital, about 400 people marched through the streets, police said.

A representative of the Trump campaign did not respond immediately to requests for comment on the protests. Trump said in his victory speech he would be president for all Americans, saying: “It is time for us to come together as one united people.”

Earlier this month, his campaign rejected the support of a Ku Klux Klan newspaper and said that “Mr. Trump and his campaign denounces hate in any form.”

“DREAMERS” FEAR DEPORTATION

Earlier on Wednesday, some 1,500 students and teachers rallied in the courtyard of Berkeley High School, in a San Francisco Bay Area city known for its liberal politics, before marching toward the campus of the University of California, Berkeley.

Hundreds of high school and college students also walked out in protest in Seattle, Phoenix, Los Angeles and three other Bay Area cities – Oakland, Richmond and El Cerrito.

A predominantly Latino group of about 300 high school students walked out of classes on Wednesday in Los Angeles and marched to the steps of City Hall, where they held a brief but boisterous rally.

Chanting in Spanish “the people united will never be defeated,” the group held signs with slogans such as “Not Supporting Racism, Not My President” and “Immigrants Make America Great.”

Many of those students were members of the “Dreamers” generation, children whose parents entered the United States with them illegally, school officials said, and who fear deportation under a Trump administration.

“A child should not live in fear that they will be deported,” said Stephanie Hipolito, one of the student organizers of the walkout. She said her parents were U.S. citizens.

There were no immediate reports of arrests or violence.

Wednesday’s demonstrations followed a night of protests in the San Francisco area and elsewhere in the country in response to Trump’s victory against heavily favored Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.

(Reporting by Noah Berger and Stephen Lam in Oakland, Timothy Mclaughlin in Chicago, Alexander Besant in New York, Curtis Skinner in Berkeley, California, Brendan O’Brien in Milwaukee and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Leslie Adler, Peter Cooney and Paul Tait)

Read the full transcript of Hillary Clinton’s concession speech.

Democratic candidate at the just concluded US Presidential election, Hillary Clinton has read her concession speech at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

Clinton lost to Donald Trump in a keenly contested poll which had been projected to be a victory for her.

Clinton had earlier called Trump after the elections to concede defeat while offering to work with him.

Read her concession speech below:

Thank you. Thank you all very much. Thank you so much. A very rowdy group. Thank you, my friends. Thank you. Thank you.

Thank you so very much for being here. I love you all, too. Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country.

I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country.

But I feel pride and gratitude for this wonderful campaign that we built together. This vast, diverse, creative, unruly, energized campaign. You represent the best of America, and being your candidate has been one of the greatest honors of my life.

I know how disappointed you feel, because I feel it too. And so do tens of millions of Americans who invested their hopes and dreams in this effort. This is painful, and it will be for a long time. But I want you to remember this.

Our campaign was never about one person, or even one election. It was about the country we love and building an America that is hopeful, inclusive, and big-hearted. We have seen that our nation is more deeply divided than we thought. But I still believe in America, and I always will. And if you do, then we must accept this result and then look to the future. Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power.

We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.

[Applause]

Let me add: Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time. So let’s do all we can to keep advancing the causes and values we all hold dear. Making our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top, protecting our country and protecting our planet.

And breaking down all the barriers that hold any American back from achieving their dreams. We spent a year and a half bringing together millions of people from every corner of our country to say with one voice that we believe that the American dream is big enough for everyone.

For people of all races, and religions, for men and women, for immigrants, for LGBT people, and people with disabilities. For everyone.

I am so grateful to stand with all of you. I want to thank Tim Kaine and Anne Holton for being our partners on this journey. [Cheers and applause]

It has been a joy get to go know them better and gives me great hope and comfort to know that Tim will remain on the front lines of our democracy representing Virginia in the Senate. [Cheers and applause]

To Barack and Michelle Obama, our country owes you an enormous debt of gratitude.

We thank you for your graceful, determined leadership that has meant so much to so many Americans and people across the world. And to Bill and Chelsea, Mark, Charlotte, Aidan, our brothers and our entire family, my love for you means more than I can ever express.

You crisscrossed this country, even 4-month-old Aidan, who traveled with his mom. I will always be grateful to the talented, dedicated men and women at our headquarters in Brooklyn and across our country.

You poured your hearts into this campaign. To some of you who are veterans, it was a campaign after you had done other campaigns. Some of you, it was your first campaign. I want each of you to know that you were the best campaign anybody could have ever expected or wanted.

And to the millions of volunteers, community leaders, activists and union organizers who knocked on doors, talked to their neighbors, posted on Facebook — even in secret private Facebook sites.

I want everybody coming out from behind that and make sure your voices are heard going forward. [Cheers and applause]

To anyone that sent contributions, even as small as $5, that kept us going, thank you. To all of us, and to the young people in particular, I hope you will hear this — I have, as Tim said, I have spent my entire life fighting for what I believe in.

I’ve had successes and setbacks and sometimes painful ones. Many of you are at the beginning of your professional, public, and political careers — you will have successes and setbacks too.

This loss hurts, but please never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.

It is, it is worth it. [Cheers and applause]

And so we need — we need you to keep up these fights now and for the rest of your lives. And to all the women, and especially the young women, who put their faith in this campaign and in me: I want you to know that nothing has made me prouder than to be your champion.

Now, I know we have still not shattered that highest and hardest glass ceiling, but someday someone will — and hopefully sooner than we might think right now. [Cheers and applause]

And to all of the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable and powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams. [Cheers and applause]

Finally, finally, I am so grateful for our country and for all it has given to me.

I count my blessings every single day that I am an American, and I still believe, as deeply as I ever have, that if we stand together and work together with respect for our differences, strengthen our convictions, and love for this nation, our best days are still ahead of us.

Because, you know, I believe we are stronger together and we will go forward together. And you should never, ever regret fighting for that. You know, scripture tells us, let us not grow weary of doing good, for in good season we shall reap. My friends, let us have faith in each other, let us not grow weary and lose heart, for there are more seasons to come and there is more work to do.

I am incredibly honored and grateful to have had this chance to represent all of you in this consequential election. May God bless you and may God bless the United States of America.

Biafra: IPOB celebrates with Donald Trump on election victory.

It looked impossible. It looked like a joke. It looked pretty much a one way ticket for Hillary Clinton. But Donald Trump defiled all odds. Donald Trump won the US presidential election in a way many never expected or predicted.

Donald Trump won the US presidential election early this morning in a stunning victory that sent shockwaves around the world. The Republican took the key swing states of Florida, North Carolina and Ohio early this morning, as he marched towards the White House.

Mr. Trump pledged that he would be “president for all Americans” in his New York victory speech.

He said he was “reaching out” to the people who had not supported him to “unify the country”.

“Now it’s time to bind the wounds of division. I say to Democrats and Republicans it is time come together as one united people,” he said.

“I pledge to be president for all Americans,” he said, adding: “The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.”

He said it was not a campaign but a movement that had won him the White House, comprised of “all people of different backgrounds and beliefs”.

He said victory had been “tough”. “This political stuff is nasty and it’s tough,” he said, while thanking his family.

It was an extraordinary election night.  Mr. Trump won some early east coast states and did not look back. When he secured the key swing state of Florida, a clear path to the presidency was laid out. He went on to win Ohio and South Carolina.

In a conciliatory speech Mr. Trump added:  “We will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. We will deal fairly with everyone. We will seek common ground, partnership not conflict.

“America will no longer settle for anything less than the best. We must reclaim our destiny.”

While Nigerians were busy shouting and campaigning for Hillary Clinton, we the Indigenous people of Biafra stood firm with Donald Trump.

Congratulations to the next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. We the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) are very pleased and excited to see the outcome of your well fought Victory, after so much prayer and support for him. IPOB would also like to say, we believe that the new elected president of the United States of America, would surely make a difference in Africa and also make freedom of speech/expression towards Self-determination a reality in Africa.

So Biafrans would like to say to you Donald Trump, welcome to the white House, Mr. President!

Trump’s Victory: “For the first time, I feel homeless in America” – Thomas L. Friedman

I began election night writing a column that started with words from an immigrant, my friend Lesley Goldwasser, who came to America from Zimbabwe in the 1980s. Surveying our political scene a few years ago, Lesley remarked to me: “You Americans kick around your country like it’s a football. But it’s not a football. It’s a Fabergé egg. You can break it.”

With Donald Trump now elected president, I have more fear than I’ve ever had in my 63 years that we could do just that — break our country, that we could become so irreparably divided that our national government will not function.

From the moment Trump emerged as a candidate, I’ve taken seriously the possibility that he could win; this column never predicted otherwise, although it certainly wished for it. That doesn’t mean the reality of it is not shocking to me.

As much as I knew that it was a possibility, the stark fact that a majority of Americans wanted radical, disruptive change so badly and simply did not care who the change agent was, what sort of role model he could be for our children, whether he really had any ability to execute on his plan — or even really had a plan to execute on — is profoundly disturbing.

Before I lay out all my fears, is there any silver lining to be found in this vote? I’ve been searching for hours, and the only one I can find is this: I don’t think Trump was truly committed to a single word or policy he offered during the campaign, except one phrase: “I want to win.”

But Donald Trump cannot be a winner unless he undergoes a radical change in personality and politics and becomes everything he was not in this campaign. He has to become a healer instead of a divider; a compulsive truth-teller rather than a compulsive liar; someone ready to study problems and make decisions based on evidence, not someone who just shoots from the hip; someone who tells people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear; and someone who appreciates that an interdependent world can thrive only on win-win relationships, not zero-sum ones.

I can only hope that he does. Because if he doesn’t, all of you who voted for him — overlooking all of his obvious flaws — because you wanted radical, disruptive change, well, you’re going to get it.

I assume that Trump will not want to go down as the worst president in history, let alone the one who presided over the deepest fracturing of our country since the Civil War. It would shake the whole world. Therefore, I can only hope that he will, as president, seek to surround himself with the best people he can, which surely doesn’t include the likes of Rudy Giuliani or Newt Gingrich, let alone the alt-right extremists who energized his campaign.

But there is also a deeply worrying side to Trump’s obsession with “winning.” For him, life is always a zero-sum game: I win, you lose. But when you’re running the United States of America, everything can’t be a zero-sum game.

“The world only stays stable when countries are embedded in win-win relationships, in healthy interdependencies,” observed Dov Seidman, the C.E.O. of LRN, which advises companies on leadership, and the author of the book “How.”

For instance, America undertook the Marshall Plan after World War II — giving millions of dollars to Europe — to build it up into a trading partner and into a relationship that turned out to be of great mutual benefit. Does Trump understand that? Do those who voted for him understand how many of their jobs depend on America being embedded in healthy interdependencies around the world?

How do I explain Trump’s victory? Way too soon to say for sure, but my gut tells me that it has much less to do with trade or income gaps and much more to do with culture and many Americans’ feeling of “homelessness.”

There is nothing that can make people more angry or disoriented than feeling they have lost their home. For some it is because America is becoming a minority-majority country and this has threatened the sense of community of many middle-class whites, particularly those living outside the more cosmopolitan urban areas.

For others it is the dizzying whirlwind of technological change we’re now caught up in. It has either wiped out their job or transformed their workplace in ways they find disorienting — or has put stressful demands on them for lifelong learning. When the two most important things in your life are upended — the workplace and community that anchor you and give you identity — it’s not surprising that people are disoriented and reach for the simplistic solutions touted by a would-be strongman.

What I do know for certain is this: The Republican Party and Donald Trump will have control of all the levers of government, from the courts to the Congress to the White House. That is an awesome responsibility, and it is all going to be on them. Do they understand that?

Personally, I will not wish them ill. Too much is at stake for my country and my children. Unlike the Republican Party for the last eight years, I am not going to try to make my president fail. If he fails, we all fail. So yes, I will hope that a better man emerges than we saw in this campaign.

But at the moment I am in anguish, frightened for my country and for our unity. And for the first time, I feel homeless in America.

Mexicans utterly devastated by Donald Trump’s win.

Mexicans bowed their heads in disbelief, the peso tumbled and the government prepared a response as Donald Trump, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric infuriated the country, won the US presidential election.

At an American barbecue restaurant called Pinche Gringo in Mexico City, a festive mood turned somber as Mexicans and Americans rubbed their necks and could barely utter a word as they watched television networks confirming Trump’s victories in key states against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

“I feel very sad. It’s a nightmare, with a lot of uncertainty about what’s going to happen,” said Erick Sauri, a 35-year-old architect, who wore a blue T-shirt reading “Hillary Clinton for President.”

“For now we’re already making less (money) than we making yesterday,” Sauri said, referring to the national currency’s fall to a record low.

The dollar was buying 20.78 pesos, eclipsing the Mexican currency’s previous low of 19.93 set in September.

Mexicans have closely watched the US presidential campaign ever since Trump burst into the scene last year by calling migrants “rapists” and drug dealers.

The Republican real estate tycoon has pledged to deport millions of undocumented immigrants, force Mexico to pay billions of dollars for a border wall, freeze remittances migrants send back home and renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Mexican Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade and central bank chief Agustin Carstens were due to address the media early Wednesday to outline actions the government will take in response to the peso’s fall.

Meade said last week he expected such market “volatility” if Trump won, while Carstens said the government had an unspecified contingency plan in place to weather the storm.

Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu, meanwhile, cancelled a late night news conference. An official said she would speak after both Trump and Clinton have spoken.

– Meeting Mexican president –

In the runup to the election, Mexicans vented their anger in different ways, crushing Trump pinatas, burning his effigy and organizing an exhibit of cartoons mocking him as a Nazi or excrement.

Their president, Enrique Pena Nieto, tried a different approach, shocking many in his country when he met Trump at his official residence in Mexico City on August 31.

Pena Nieto’s failure to forcefully condemn Trump during a joint press conference angered Mexicans.

While the Mexican leader later tweeted that he had told Trump that his government would never pay for the wall, several analysts saw the visit as a mistake that helped Trump burnish his presidential image and Pena Nieto himself later admitted that the invitation was “hasty.”

But his invitation may pay off now, since Pena Nieto said his goal was to open dialogue with a man who could become the next US president.

– Good or bad? –

But that was little consolation to the Mexicans at Pinche Gringo, a Mexican-American-owned restaurant whose name refers to an insult lodged against Americans.

“I’m dismayed. It’s incredible that so many people voted for a message of hate. It’s like a bad dream,” said Monserrat Valencia, a 25-year-old economist, who left the restaurant even before Trump was declared the winner.

But not all saw doom and gloom.

Carlos Arturo Fernandez, a 36-year-old Uber driver navigating heavy traffic on a rainy night, said things may not turn out that bad with Trump as US president.

“Whether it’s Trump or Hillary, it can bring bad things and good things,” Fernandez said.

Barbra Streisand, NeYo, other celebrities declare intention to leave US.

Some celebrities have declared that they would leave the United States, following the failure of Hillary Clinton to win the US presidential election.

They said they are ready to relocate to northern neighbour, Europe or outer space.

The celebrities include Cher, Bryan Cranston, Amy Schumer, Chelsea Handler, Lena Dunham, Barbra Streisand and Ne Yo.

Cher, a superstar singer, has been sharing her feelings via Twitter.

“I am moving to Jupiter,” she tweeted.

For Cranston, he said during the bestseller experiment podcast that he was heading to Vancouver following the outcome of the election.

“I will definitely move,” he said “It’s not real to me that it will happen. I wished it never happened.”

Their intention to move follows the news that the Canadaian immigration website crashed after the announcement of Trump’s victory.

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Russia celebrates as Trump takes White House on Election Day.

How many Electoral votes does Russia have?

Social media began asking the question as poll watchers in the Kremlin — and presumably Russian president Vladimir Putin — took delight in Donald Trump’s impressive Election Night showing.

Putin pinged Trump a congratulatory telegram following his White House win, adding that he hopes relations between the two countries benefit as a result.

Popular Front, a political movement founded by Putin in 2011, also took note of Trump’s victory and Putin’s alleged hand in the election.

“They say that Putin once again beat all,” the group tweeted.

 

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Trump had been widely criticized over what had appeared to be a cozy relationship with Putin.

Election coverage was so intense in Russia that at least one news commentator joked that voters in Moscow were looking for places to cast ballots for Trump.

The night-and-day coverage in Russia led many to complain that the Kremlin-managed news media was devoting more attention to the American elections than it gave to a Russia’s national parliamentary vote less than two months ago.

“Correct me if I am wrong, but this has not happened for any elections in Russia,” Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition politician, wrote on Facebook.

 

Gudkov lost his seat in part because nongovernment candidates got virtually zero television coverage.

The Russian news media has generally been kinder to Trump. Clinton, on the other hand, is regarded as an old adversary who would tighten the screws on the Kremlin.

“Clinton will surround us with nuclear rockets,” one Russian newspaper warned.

Vadim Tyulpanov, member of the Russian Senate, told Moscow’s Life News that Americans were tired of overly aggressive leaders, and that a Trump victory could lead to collaboration between the former Cold War foes.

 

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He said he was dismayed that the American elite tried to paint Trump as a puppet of Russia.

China was watching the election closely, as well.

Commentators signaled Beijing’s preference for the billionaire, saying that like Russia, China was rooting for Trump because he appears less willing to confront China’s newly robust foreign

“From a comprehensive view, it would make it easier for China to cope if Trump is elected,” scholar Mei Xinyu wrote in the Communist Party newspaper Global Times.

 

Not Released (NR)

“This is because under the policy line advocated by Obama and Clinton, the political and military frictions between China and the U.S. will be more frequent.”

Not all of Russia rejoiced over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Margarita Simonyan, the editor of an English-language news outlet, tweeted a simple message.

“Democracy. R.I.P.”

Just In: Putin congratulates Donald Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday became the first world leader to congratulate President-elect of the United States Donald Trump.

 

According to a statement from the Kremlin, Putin “expressed hope for mutual work on bringing US-Russia relations out of their critical condition” and said that “building constructive dialogue” would be in the interest of both countries and the world community.

Republicans retain control of US Senate.

The Republicans have kept control of the Senate, with several races still to be decided.

 

Senator Pat Toomey’s narrow victory over Democrat Katie McGinty, in Pennsylvania, pushed the party over the line.

 

It means the Republicans will continue to have control of both Houses of Congress.

 

Republican Donald Trump has also edged closer to winning the White House with a series of shocking wins in battleground states such as Florida and Ohio on Tuesday.

 

If Donald Trump wins the White House, the party will have a clean sweep, making it easier for them to pass legislation.

Democrats gain one U.S. Senate seat so far, as Republicans hold House.

Majority control of the U.S. Senate was up for grabs in Tuesday’s election, with 27 out of 34 results called by major TV networks, including one pickup by the Democrats in Illinois.

A handful of extremely tight Senate races remained too close to call, while the networks declared that Republicans, as expected, retained their majority in the House of Representatives.

The outcomes in both chambers will help determine how hard it will be for either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump to get things done as president.

The following are facts on the stakes and races to watch:

U.S. Senate, 100 seats.

Senators serve six-year terms. A third of the Senate is up for re-election every two years. Procedural rules in the Senate mean 60 votes are needed to advance major initiatives.

Republicans entered the election with 54 seats, led by Kentucky’s Mitch McConnell, versus the Democrats’ 44 seats and two independent seats. The Democrats’ leader in the next Senate is expected to be New York’s Chuck Schumer.

The Republicans this year were defending 24 seats; the Democrats, 10.

U.S. House, 435 seats

Members of the House serve two-year terms and all are up for re-election every two years.

To advance most bills in the House, 218 votes or more are needed. Republicans went into the elections holding 246 seats to the Democrats’ 186. There were three vacancies.

The Republican leader is Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin; the Democrats’ leader is Nancy Pelosi of California.

To win a majority, Democrats needed to gain 30 seats.

Senate races, with projected results where available:

Alabama – Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, as expected, won a sixth term, defeating Democrat Ron Crumpton.

Arizona – Veteran Republican Senator John McCain, 80, defeated Democratic U.S. Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, 66.

Arkansas – Republican Senator John Boozman beat Democrat Conner Eldridge.

California – State Attorney General Kamala Harris, a Democrat, won the seat held by retiring Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer. Harris defeated fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez.

Colorado – Democratic Senator Michael Bennet won a third term, turning back a challenge from Republican Darryl Glenn.

Connecticut – Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal won a second term, defeating Republican Dan Carter.

Florida – Incumbent Republican Marco Rubio, the failed presidential contender, defeated Democratic Representative Patrick Murphy.

Georgia – Republican Senator Johnny Isakson won his race against Democrat Jim Barksdale.

Idaho: Republican Senator Mike Crapo defeated Democrat Jerry Sturgill.

Indiana – Democrat Evan Bayh, 60, failed in his bid to recapture his Senate seat, defeated by Republican Representative Todd Young, 44.

Illinois – Democratic Representative Tammy Duckworth unseated Republican Senator Mark Kirk. Duckworth, 48, is a double-amputee Iraq War veteran. Kirk, 57, suffered a stroke that sidelined him for much of 2012.

Iowa – Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, 83, won a seventh term, defeating Democrat Patty Judge.

Kansas – Republican Senator Jerry Moran won a second term, defeating Democrat Patrick Wiesner.

Kentucky – Republican Senator Rand Paul won a second term against Democrat Jim Gray. Paul unsuccessfully ran for president earlier this year.

Louisiana – Republican Senator David Vitter is retiring, opening the door to a crowd of would-be successors. Two dozen candidates from both parties are on Tuesday’s ballot. If no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote, a runoff election between the top two will be held on Dec. 10.

Maryland – Democratic Representative Chris Van Hollen will replace retiring Senator Barbara Mikulski. Van Hollen defeated Republican Kathy Szeliga.

Missouri – Republican Senator Roy Blunt, 66, faces a stiff challenge from Democrat Jason Kander, 35, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who is now Missouri’s secretary of state.

Nevada – Republican Representative Joe Heck, 55, and Catherine Cortez Masto, 52, a former Democratic state attorney general, are fighting to replace retiring Senator Harry Reid.

New Hampshire – Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan, 58, is trying to oust Senator Kelly Ayotte, a 48-year-old Republican.

New York – Senator Chuck Schumer, who is expected to become the next Senate Democratic leader, defeated Republican Wendy Long in the heavily Democratic state.

North Carolina – Republican Senator Richard Burr, 60, won re-election against Democrat Deborah Ross, 53, a former state legislator.

North Dakota – Republican Senator John Hoeven won a second term, defeating Democrat Eliot Glassheim.

Ohio – Republican Rob Portman, 60, defeated Democratic challenger Ted Strickland, 75, a former governor. Portman initially endorsed Trump, but later withdrew that and pointedly refused to appear with Trump or talk about him.

Oklahoma – Senator James Lankford won a second term, defeating Democrat Mike Workman in this overwhelmingly Republican state.

Oregon – Senator Ron Wyden, the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, defeated Republican Mark Callahan.

Pennsylvania – Republican Senator Patrick Toomey, 54, faces Democrat Katie McGinty, 53, in the most expensive U.S. Senate contest in the country. Toomey has refused to take a position on Trump. An Oct. 30-Nov. 4 poll by the Allentown Morning Call and Muhlenberg College had Toomey with a small lead, 43 percent to 42 percent.

South Carolina – Senator Tim Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, beat Democrat Thomas Dixon.

South Dakota – Senator John Thune, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, won a third term, defeating Democrat Jay Williams.

Utah: Conservative Republican Senator Mike Lee, in this heavily Republican state, won against Democrat Misty Snow.

Vermont – Senator Patrick Leahy, the longest-serving Democrat in the Senate, beat Republican Scott Milne.

Washington – As expected, Senator Patty Murray, a member of Senate Democratic leadership, defeated Republican Chris Vance.

Wisconsin – Democrat Russ Feingold, 63, failed to oust Republican Ron Johnson, 61, according to projections. Johnson unseated Feingold in 2010 and was seen as one of the most vulnerable Republicans going into the 2016 campaign.

US Commits $30m To Family Planning In Nigeria

The United States Agency for International Development has said that it had spent N9.12 billion (about $30 million), to promote family planning and other health interventions in Nigeria annually.
The Director of Health, Population and Nutrition, USAID Nigeria, Dr Nancy Lawanthal, who made this disclosure at the ongoing 4th National Family Planning Conference in Abuja, noted that the agency had made significant investment in reproductive health in Nigeria.
The director noted that the USAID has devoted over $30m on reproductive health in Nigeria explaining that health intervention in Nigeria is one of the agency’s largest country programmes in the world.
According to her, Nigerians have not been leading the programme as expected as no donor had been able to front for USAID in Nigeria.
Lawanthal added that USAID needed stronger commitment from Nigerians to derive the values and benefits of reproductive health services in the country adding that donors’ commitment was less important than the commitment of Nigerians themselves.
“With close to 600 million girls growing up in developing countries, achieving global prosperity starts with educating and empowering these young women so they can be healthy, productive members of their communities and become agents of change. As donor partners, we also need to see more resources on the table to create more demand for family planning services in Nigeria,” she said.

Clinton, Trump make last pitches hours before polls open.

Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump campaigned into the early hours of Tuesday in a last pitch to U.S. voters as the final minutes of this presidential campaign tick away.

The focus of the final rallies was on the swing states such as North Carolina and Pennsylvania which hold the keys to the presidency.

A year and a half after announcing her candidacy for president, Clinton is favoured by pollsters to win the White House on Tuesday.

“It is not just my name or Donald Trump’s name on the ballot, it’s the kind of country we want,’’ she said at the midnight rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she was joined by her family and pop star Lady Gaga.

Speaking at his last campaign rally in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a state where Trump hoped to convince white working class voters, he told the supporters: “Today is our independence day.’’

“We are finally going to close the history books on the Clintons, their lives, their schemes, their corruptions,” he said.

Earlier Clinton was in Philadelphia, the largest city in the state of Pennsylvania, where her party convened in July to nominate her.

At an outdoor rally alongside President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, she urged people to turn out Tuesday and vote for her.

“Let us show tomorrow there will be no question about the outcome of this election,” she said.

Clinton pledged to be a president for all Americans, not just those who support her and spoke of the need to “bridge the divide” after the election.

The last day of campaigning before the election wrapped up a political roller coaster that featured months of hostility.

It, however, include accusations against Trump over his treatment of women and against Clinton over her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

Trump declared at an appearance in Florida that he would win a slew of swing states as well as long-time Democratic strongholds, like Michigan and Minnesota.

“It is time to reject the media and liberal elite that has bled our country dry. It is finally time for us to fight for America,’’ Trump said.

Both candidates also made direct appeals to voters in unusually long two-minute television ads scheduled to run during prime time evening television programming.

Speaking directly to the camera, Clinton vowed to work her heart out as president and to make things better for you and your family.

“Tonight I am asking for your vote, and tomorrow let’s make history together,’’ Clinton said, who would be the U.S. first woman president if she defeats Trump on Tuesday.

Trump, in his ad, pledges to take back the country for them, asserting that the government is a failed and corrupt political establishment.

He said he wanted to replace the establishment with a new government controlled by the American people.

Obama also crisscrossed the country for Clinton, including shoring up support in Michigan, a traditional Democratic stronghold that Trump hoped to nab.

The president saw the election in part as a vote on his legacy, declaring that the progress goes down the drain if they do not win tomorrow and calling Trump “uniquely unqualified” to be president.

The race has tightened in recent days, but Clinton is still considered the favourite, with more paths to the 270 out of 538 Electoral College votes needed to win.

She held a slim 2-percentage-point lead in an average of national opinion surveys.

Meanwhile the race is also narrow in the battleground states, but she would need to win fewer of those states than Trump to triumph.

The ultimate winner would be determined based on so-called Electoral College votes awarded to the winner of each state, rather than to the most popular candidate nationwide.

‘It is the most humbling feeling:’ Hillary Clinton casts ballot.

Seeking to become the nation’s first female president, Hillary Clinton cast her ballot Tuesday and settled down to wait for the country to make its choice.

The Democratic nominee and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, voted at an elementary school near their home in suburban New York before greeting supporters waiting for her outside.

“It is the most humbling feeling,” she said of voting for herself for president. “I know how much responsibility goes with this.”

It was a relatively calm moment Tuesday compared with Clinton’s hectic final few days day on the campaign trail. The former secretary of state and New York senator dashed through battleground states, encouraged get-out-the-vote efforts and campaigned with a star-studded cast of celebrity supporters.

It was an election eve punctuated by an emotional rally in Philadelphia with her husband, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as performances by Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen, and capped by Lady Gaga, who serenaded thousands of supporters before the Clintons took the stage for a 1 a.m. rally in Raleigh, North Carolina. It ended with cheering fans greeting her at the airport back in New York when she landed in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

After the divisive rhetoric of the campaign against Republican Donald Trump, Clinton sought to offer a positive closing message on Monday. She told supporters in Pittsburgh they “can vote for a hopeful, inclusive, bighearted America.” In a buoyant mood, she also greeted voters who cried out “we love you,” smiling back: “I love you all, too … absolutely.”

Some good news boosted Clinton’s spirits in the final moments of the campaign. On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress, informing lawmakers the bureau had found no evidence in its hurried review of newly discovered emails to warrant criminal charges against Clinton.

The late October announcement of a fresh email review rocked the race just as Clinton appeared to be pulling away from Trump in several battleground states. The update from the FBI may have come too late for some: In the nine days between Comey’s initial statement until his “all clear” announcement on Sunday, nearly 24 million people cast early ballots. That’s about 18 percent of the expected total votes for president.

But campaign aides projected confidence in the final moments. They said they felt good about Nevada, where they said support for Clinton in early voting was strong. They were encouraged by the strong Latino turnout in Florida and felt they took a strong lead in Michigan and Pennsylvania into Election Day, when the bulk of votes are cast in those states.

Leading up to Election Day, Clinton made stops in Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio and New Hampshire — often flanked by star guests. Jay Z and Beyonce performed with pant-suited backup dancers in Cleveland. James Taylor serenaded New Hampshire voters and Katy Perry sang “Roar” in Philadelphia.

She also campaigned with Khizr Khan, the father of a slain U.S. Army officer whose indictment of Trump at the Democratic National Convention was an emotional high point for Clinton’s party.

Her last two days on the campaign trail felt almost like a Clinton family reunion, with some of her closest confidants jumping on the campaign plane for her final hours. Even Huma Abedin, her embattled personal aide caught up in the email controversy, jumped on the plane for the midnight rally in Raleigh.

Why Trump will win U.S. presidential poll – Supporters

With only hours to the heated U.S. presidential elections, the Republicans have exuded confidence that their nominee, Donald Trump, would win the election and not his rival, Democratic Hillary Clinton.

Some of Mr. Trump’s supporters who spoke to a correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in the U.S. on Monday said Mrs. Clinton’s support base was fast crumbling.

According to them, the Republican nominee will win all the battleground states to be elected president of the U.S. on Tuesday.

John Fredricks, the Chairman of the Trump Campaign in the State of Virginia said Trump would get more than the required votes to become president.

He said “we are gaining on Hillary Clinton every single day and we feel very confident that by Tuesday, Trump is going to win; we are very confident about that.

“As for the Electoral College and the so-called Blue wall, it is crumbling as we speak and the Electoral College is not as they say they have it, it is a complete mess now.

“We are going to turn the table in the battleground states, including winning Virginia and get elected and Trump is going to win the election on Tuesday night,” he said.

Mr. Fredricks also said that the African-Americans and other minority groups would overwhelmingly vote for Mr. Trump in the election.

He accused the media of painting Mr. Trump as hating African-Americans and other minority groups in the U.S., adding that the Republican nominee would get a chink of the minority votes.

“We are going to get more than 50 per cent of the African-American votes. We are going to get a high percentage of the Hispanic.

“Regardless of the way the media have painted Trump before average working-class American, Black, White, Hispanic, Indians, does not matter.”

Jeff Ryer, a Republican chieftain in the state of Virginia said the game changer in Tuesday’s election was that traditionally speaking, Republicans have greater percentage of votes in polling and turnout on election day.

Mr. Ryer said “part of our base is that it is very easy to motivate; they are going to show up. The campaign has been working on a get-out-to-vote operation through Internet and telephony.

“One of the reasons the race is tightening at the polls is because the percentage of the Republicans who are with Trump continues to increase with each polls and his percentage goes up.”

He said the polls showing Mrs. Clinton winning could not be totally relied upon as the whole electioneering process this year had been unusual.

A Republican member of the Senate of the State of Virginia, Frank Wagner, said the determinant of who would appoint the next Supreme Court justice had made Republicans disgruntled by Trump’s candidature to support him lately.

“We don’t sense the excitement in the African-Americans like we saw in 2008 and 2012 during President Barack Obama’s elections.”

According to him, however, there will be high turnout in traditional White states, which support Trump.

Mr. Wagner, who is a governorship candidate for Virginia, said the polls could not be relied upon but that Americans would be the utmost deciders of the poll.

NAN reports that U.S. president is elected by Electoral College made up of 538 electors as against popular vote and to be elected president, a candidate must win 50 per cent plus one (51 per cent) electoral vote.

Each of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, has a certain amount of Electoral College votes to award a candidate, based on the number of members of Congress it has.

This is roughly in line with each area’s population and the votes are given on a winner-takes-all basis, except in Maine and Nebraska.

In 2008, President Barack Obama won 53 per cent of the vote but this led to 68 per cent of the Electoral College vote.

#ElectionDay: Hillary Clinton casts her vote.

Democratic candidate in the US Presidential elections, Hillary Clinton early Tuesday cast her vote near her home in New York.

 

Clinton had earlier arrived the Westchester County Airport, White Plains New York at about 3:38am Eastern Time in company of her husband, former president Bill Clinton.

 

About 150 supporters were seen cheering the Democratic candidate, who voted with husband Bill Clinton at an elementary school near their home in Chappaqua.

 

“I’m so happy, I’m just incredibly happy,” Clinton said.

 

“All my friends and my neighbors, it makes me so happy.”

Mexicans pray Trump defeat in Tuesday’s US election.

Mexicans have smashed Donald Trump pinatas and torched the Republican White House hopeful’s effigy. Now they hope he will crash and burn in Tuesday’s US presidential election.

The New York billionaire became Mexico’s bogeyman ever since he called migrants “rapists” and drug dealers when he launched his campaign last year.

“The guy is a clown, a blowhard,” said Jafet Granados, an 18-year-old biotechnology student who was standing under Mexico City’s Angel of Independence monument.

“If he wins, he won’t do half of what he has promised.”

The government certainly sees risks in a Trump victory.

Finance Minister Jose Antonio Meade said while a Trump victory would undoubtedly cause more “volatility” in the markets, the country was on strong financial footing to deal with it.

And central bank chief Agustin Carstens, who warned in September that Trump could hit Mexico like a powerful “hurricane,” said this week that the government had a contingency plan to weather the storm.

With his vows to tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement and make Mexico pay to build a massive border wall, Trump’s rise in opinion polls just before the US vote contributed to the fall of the Mexican peso to 19.50 per dollar.

The peso however soared to 18.5563 per dollar in early Asian trading on Monday after the FBI lifted the threat of charges against Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, over her use of a private email server while secretary of state.

– Slim vs Trump –

Not everyone in Mexico is putting a brave face on a possible victory for the 70-year-old Manhattan property mogul.

Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim has warned that a Trump administration would “destroy” the US economy by imposing big tariffs on imports.

“As we say in Mexico, being a drunk is different from being a bartender,” Slim quipped to reporters on Friday.

Trump lashed out at Slim last month after The New York Times published claims from women accusing the real estate baron of sexual misconduct. Slim is the newspaper’s largest shareholder.

Despite Trump’s unpopularity in Mexico, President Enrique Pena Nieto made the shocking decision to invite him to his official residence in August.

The invitation and Pena Nieto’s failure to forcefully criticize Trump during a joint news conference angered Mexicans.

Pena Nieto defended the move, saying it was important to open dialogue with someone who could be the next US president, though he admitted that he may have rushed to hold the meeting and failed to anticipate the anger it caused.

– Republican in Mexico: ‘Disgrace’ –

“The majority of Mexicans don’t want (Trump) to win,” Jose Antonio Crespo, a political expert at the Economic and Teaching Research Center, told AFP.

“The bilateral relation will be more quarrelsome than it normally is,” Crespo said.

Marcos Reyes, 46, who works at an advertising firm, said he feared that Trump would go through with mass deportations while those who remain in the United States would have “few opportunities” to have a better life.

Even the Republican Party’s representative in Mexico, Larry Rubin, is not voting Trump.

“It wouldn’t be good for the United States and much less for relations between the United States and Mexico,” Rubin, a dual US-Mexican citizen, told the Televisa network.

“His rhetoric has been very negative,” he said. “It would be a disgrace.”

On Elections eve, Trump attacks US Somali community.

US Republican party presidential candidate Donald Trump has accused the Somali community in the state of Minnesota of “spreading extremist views all over the country”.

 

He used a knife attack by a Somali immigrant in September in St. Cloud city as an example, saying the people of Minnesota have “suffered enough”.

 

Mr Trump, who was on a whirlwind campaign trip before Tuesday’s election, said that if he became president he would ensure that local communities were consulted before refugees settled.

 

Like his Democratic party rival Hillary Clinton, Mr Trump was upbeat about winning the contest to replace President Barack Obama.

 

Tuesday’s election could hinge on about a dozen so-called ‘swing states’ where the contest between the two leading candidates was particularly tight.

US stocks jump after FBI lifts cloud over Clinton.

US stock futures jumped after the FBI reaffirmed Sunday its decision to not prosecute Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton over her use of private email while secretary of state.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced a review of newly discovered emails had provided no reason to alter its July decision that Clinton and her aides’ use of the private server for official documents, while “reckless,” did not warrant criminal charges.

The lifting of an FBI threat that Clinton might face charges — less than two days before her face-off with Republican Donald Trump — raised investor sentiment on Wall Street.

Ahead of Monday’s market opening, futures on the broad-market S&P 500 index leaped 1.4 percent to 2,108.25. Futures based on the 30-stock Dow Jones Industrial Average were up 1.1 percent at 17,999.

The turnaround on Wall Street came just after FBI Director James Comey announced, in a letter to Congress, that no criminal charges were warranted against Clinton.

Late last month, Comey sent shockwaves through both campaigns by announcing a renewed FBI investigation into Clinton’s email use.

That revelation was criticized by Democrats, applauded by Republicans and eroded Clinton’s lead in public opinion polls against Trump.

US stocks have taken a beating as the November 8 election race tightened, amid concerns a Trump victory could bring sharp shifts in US economic policy.

On Friday, the S&P 500 slid for the ninth straight session, its longest fall since 1980.

BREAKING: Earthquake hits major US oil city; Oklahoma.

A sharp earthquake centred near one of the world’s key oil hubs Sunday night triggered fears that the magnitude 5.0 tremor might have damaged key infrastructure in addition to causing what police described as “quite a bit of damage” in the Oklahoma prairie town of Cushing.

The Oklahoma Corporation Commission said it and the Oklahoma Geological Survey were investigating after the quake, which struck at 7:44 p.m. and was felt as far away as Iowa, Illinois and Texas.

“The OCC’s Pipeline Safety Department has been in contact with pipeline operators in the Cushing oil storage terminal under state jurisdiction and there have been no immediate reports of any problems,” the commission’s spokesman, Matt Skinner, said in a statement. “The assessment of the infrastructure continues.”

The oil storage terminal is one of the world’s largest.

The Cushing Police Department reported “quite a bit of damage” from the earthquake but details were not immediately available. Photos posted to social media show piles of debris at the base of commercial buildings in the city.

The Cushing Public School District has cancelled classes Monday in order to assess the earthquake damage.

Cushing, which has a population of about 7,900, bills itself as the “Pipeline Crossroads of the World.”

Oklahoma has had thousands of earthquakes in recent years, with nearly all traced to the underground injection of wastewater left over from oil and gas production. Sunday’s quake was centred one mile west of Cushing — and about 25 miles south of where a magnitude 4.3 quake forced a shutdown of several wells last week, reports The Associated Press.

The U.S. Geological Survey said initially that Sunday’s quake was of magnitude 5.3 but later lowered the reading to 5.0.

According to USGS data, there have been 19 earthquakes in Oklahoma in the past week. When particularly strong quakes hit, the Oklahoma Corporation Commission directs well operators to seize wastewater injections or reduce volume.

A 5.8 earthquake — a record for Oklahoma — hit Pawnee on September 3. Shortly afterward, geologists speculated on whether the tremor occurred on a previously unknown fault.

Trump and Clinton fight to the finish in bitter US vote.

White House rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were still flailing for a knockout blow Monday as a presidential race that has cast a pall over US democracy neared its end.

With one day of campaigning left, both sides had packed schedules in the swing states that will decide whether the Democrat can convert her slim opinion poll lead into final victory.

Trump, a populist tycoon who co-opted the Republican Party and created a raucous, nativist grassroots movement in his own image, was still campaigning at midnight Sunday.

Branding 69-year-old Clinton the “most corrupt candidate ever to seek the office of the presidency,” he urged supporters to “deliver justice at the ballot box on November 8.”

Clinton, the former secretary of state running to become America’s first female president, had events planned through midnight Monday to take her into polling day itself.

The Democrat spent the last eight days of campaigning under a renewed FBI inquiry into whether she had exposed US secrets by using a private email server at the State Department.

That burden was finally lifted on Sunday, when the FBI confirmed it would not seek criminal charges, but at the cost of another cycle of headlines about an issue that has hurt her.

She tried to end Sunday’s round of rallies on a note of optimism about the United States, albeit couched as a warning that her supporters need to rise to counter the Trump threat.

“I really want each and every one of us to think for a moment about how we would feel on November 9, if we were not successful,” she said in Manchester, New Hampshire

“When your kids and grandkids ask you what you did in 2016, when everything was on the line, I hope you’ll be able to say you voted for a better, stronger, fairer America.”

The world has looked on agog during the campaign, as Trump’s once mocked reality television shtick became a plausible vehicle for victory in a divided and suspicious country.

World markets were rocked last month when the renewed FBI probe threated to sink Clinton’s chances, and Asian exchanges opened higher after that threat was lifted.

But Trump came back fighting, and experts said the renewed scandal had already damaged the Democratic former first lady’s chance of succeeding President Barack Obama.

Clinton’s lead dropped from 5.7 to 2.9 percentage points in the week since the scandal returned, according to influential data journalist Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com.

Trump is predicting a ballot upset on a par with Britain’s shock vote this year to quit the European Union, or what on Sunday he called: “Brexit plus, plus, plus.”

Clinton has booked a star-studded roster of supporters — headlined by President Barack Obama and rock star Bruce Springsteen — for her final events on Monday.

But Trump is also touring key swing states and was determined not to let Clinton off the hook over her email, a symbol for his supporters of the corruption of the Washington elite.

– ‘Rigged system’ –

“The rank and file special agents of the FBI won’t let her get away with her terrible crimes,” Trump told a rally in Michigan, a state won comfortably by Obama in 2012.

“Right now she’s being protected by a rigged system. It’s a totally rigged system. I’ve been saying it for a long time,” he declared, as his supporters chanted “Lock her up!”

Late last month, with Clinton seemingly on a glide path to victory, a renewed FBI investigation in Clinton’s email use sent shock waves through both campaigns.

Trump, the 70-year-old property tycoon and Republican flag-bearer, seized on the opening, condemning Clinton’s “criminal scheme” and arguing that she is unfit to be president.

He has previously threatened to reject the result of Tuesday’s vote if he loses, alleging that the race has been “rigged” by the media and the establishment elite.

Opinion polls tightened as Trump began to recover ground he lost after several women accused him of sexual assault, and the race looked headed for a photo finish.

Clinton made no direct reference to her reprieve during her Sunday campaign stops.

Instead, she hammered her opponent over his sometimes ugly rhetoric and, implicitly, the alleged covert Russian interference that have poisoned the race.

“There are powerful forces inside and outside of America that do threaten to pull us apart,” she said.

“We’ve arrived at a moment of reckoning in this election. Our core values as Americans are being tested.”

If Clinton wins, she will seek to build on Obama’s cautious but progressive legacy, including his controversial health insurance reforms.

Trump has vowed to tear up the reform along with free trade agreements, to rebuild a “depleted” US military and review US alliances.

The latest polls give Clinton a narrow national lead of between three and five percentage points, but rolling averages point to a closer race, with Trump up in some swing states.

Silver has Clinton as a two-to-one favorite against Trump, but warned Sunday that her lead appears “less solid” than Obama’s did before his re-election victory in 2012.

US spends $100m on treatment of malaria, others in Nigeria

This year alone, the United States government has spent over $100m on the treatment of Neglected Tropical Diseases in Nigeria, the Director of USAID Mission in Nigeria, Michael Harvey, has said.

According to him, $6bn which was sourced from over 40 organisations has been spent on medications for the treatment of some diseases around the world, including Nigeria.

Among the diseases on which the $100m was spent are malaria, elephantiasis (a parasitic infection spread by some mosquitoes), river blindness (due to bites from infected black fly) and helminthiasis (caused by certain tiny worms).

Others are bilharzia, also caused by tiny worms found in dirty and stagnant water; as well as trachoma, a blinding disease.

He said that the fight against the different diseases? in Nigeria has so far achieved over 60 per cent success, alongside other innovative methods which have been initiated to fight the NTDs such as preventive medicines.

“The US government has committed $100m to fighting diseases in Nigeria in 2016 and so far, about 40 organisations, businesses ?and partners all over the world have committed over $6bn on medications across the world,” Harvey stated.

The CEO/President of the Carter Centre, Ambassador Mary Ann Peters, in her speech, said Nigeria was selected out of the 14 countries because of its populous size in Africa and the fact that it is most affected by all the diseases.

“Nigeria is the most affected of all the NTDs, hence the choice of Carter Centre. In stemming the tide of the diseases, 42 per cent of drugs and medications has been distributed in Nigeria and the treatments were delivered in about 20,000 villages,” she stated.

The Carter Centre championed the eradication of guinea worm in Nigeria towards the free certification from the diseases in 2013.

The organisation has pledged to continue its support towards the eradication of the NTDs and for which eight states have so far benefitted.

REVEALED: The real story behind Hillary Clinton’s feud with Vladimir Putin.

In one of her last acts as secretary of state in early 2013, Hillary Clinton wrote a confidential memo to the White House on how to handle Vladimir Putin, Russia’s newly installed and increasingly aggressive fourth president. Her bluntly worded advice: Snub him.

“Don’t appear too eager to work together,” Clinton urged President Obama, according to her recollection of the note in her 2014 memoir. “Don’t flatter Putin with high-level attention. Decline his invitation for a presidential summit.”

It was harsh advice coming from the administration’s top diplomat, and Obama would ignore key parts of it. But the memo succinctly captured a personal view about Putin on the part of the future Democratic presidential nominee: a deep skepticism, informed by bitter experience, that would be likely to define U.S.-Russian relations if Clinton is elected. Her lasting conclusion, as she would acknowledge, was that “strength and resolve were the only language Putin would understand.”

Putin has been thrust unexpectedly onto the center stage in the U.S. presidential race, with Republican contender Donald Trump expressing admiration for the Kremlin strongman even as intelligence officials investigate apparent Russian attempts to interfere in the campaign. Clinton, by contrast, has used tough talk about Russia to burnish her credentials as an experienced diplomat who can stand up to the United States’ adversaries.

For Clinton, the rhetoric reflects genuine disappointment and frustration from a tumultuous term as secretary of state during which cooperation between Moscow and Washington briefly soared, only to come crashing to Earth after Putin’s reelection as president in 2012, following a four-year hiatus, according to current and former U.S. officials involved in Russian policymaking at the time. Clinton, who began her tenure by famously offering a “reset” of Russian relations, would end it by publicly blasting Putin’s government on issues including alleged vote-rigging in Russia and Putin’s support for authoritarian Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Putin would fire back with repeated attacks against her, often injecting an unusually personal tone into the growing diplomatic rift. The exchanges helped cement an adversarial view of Clinton on the Russian side that may explain, more than any other single factor, the apparent efforts by Russian operatives to influence the election by hacking email accounts of senior Clinton staff members, longtime Kremlin observers say.

“She has policies and a history that the Russians don’t like,” said Michael McFaul, who became the U.S. ambassador to Moscow during Clinton’s final year as secretary of state. “It’s frequently forgotten because there’s so much noise about Trump and Putin. But this history is real, and Putin doesn’t forget these things.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov press a red button marked “reset” in English that Clinton handed to Lavrov during a meeting on March 6, 2009, in Geneva. © Fabrice Coffrini/Agence France-Presse via Getty Images Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov press a red button marked “reset” in English that Clinton handed to Lavrov during a meeting on March 6, 2009…

The ‘reset’ button

Clinton’s strong views about Putin predated her arrival at Foggy Bottom in 2009 as Obama’s first secretary of state. As a U.S. senator, she condemned Russia’s military incursion in August 2008 in the Georgian republic and suggested that Putin, a former Soviet KGB officer who was then Russia’s prime minister, was a throwback to the country’s hegemonic past.

President George W. Bush had famously vouched for Putin’s character in 2001 by saying that he’d looked into the Russian’s eyes and gotten “a sense of his soul.” But Clinton, during her own first presidential campaign in early 2008, insisted that Bush had seen no such thing.

“He was a KGB agent — by definition he doesn’t have a soul,” Clinton said.

Just over a year later, Obama’s surprise choice as secretary of state was tasked with managing the administration’s “Russian reset” policy, which sought to take advantage of the leadership change in both Washington and Moscow to inaugurate a new era of cooperation. The new White House believed Russia’s new president, Dmitry Medvedev — a St. Petersburg politician 13 younger than Putin and lacking his predecessor’s experience in the Soviet bureaucracy — might be more open to a real partnership.

Former State Department and White House officials who attended early strategy meetings said that Clinton ultimately agreed with the approach. But she remained broadly skeptical that the relationship with Russia would ever extend beyond specific issues where Moscow saw an advantage in cooperation.

“The reset was the president’s idea — it was something he wanted to do,” said Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs during Clinton’s tenure. “But there was this logic that we were in a terrible place with Russia, and we should give it a shot to see if we could get some concrete things done, in our own interest.”

Another senior U.S. official present during the discussions attributed Clinton’s reluctance to lingering suspicions about Putin. The former KGB operative who served as president in the early 2000s had accepted the prime minister’s job under Medvedev, but many Kremlin watchers believed that Putin was still Russia’s de facto leader, and that Obama’s attempts to woo Medvedev misunderstoodthe real power structure in the Kremlin. These observers watched Putin’s hardening view toward the United States with increasing concern.

“It was right to be skeptical that you could translate that [reset] into a durable, strategic partnership,” said the official, who helped guide Russian diplomacy during Republican and Democratic administrations and who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal policy debates freely. “Structurally, we still faced a lot of problems dealing with Russia,” including a “fundamental difference in worldview.”

The policy’s official launch was a flub: At a Geneva news conference in March 2009, Clinton presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a mounted red button emblazoned with the word “reset” in English, and the Russian word “peregruzka” — a translation error by the U.S. team that left the bewildered Lavrov puzzling over a term meaning “overload.”

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on June 29, 2012, in St. Petersburg. © Haraz N. Ghanbari/Associated Press Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on June 29, 2012, in St. Petersburg.

Years later, Lavrov would dismiss the reset as “the invention of Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.” He noted pointedly in a Bloomberg News interview that he had a very good relationship with Condoleezza Rice, Clinton’s immediate predecessor as secretary of state.

Despite doubts, the new approach seemed initially to bear fruit.

Within a little more than a year, the two governments had notched historic agreements, including a new treaty on reducing nuclear stockpiles and a pact allowing U.S. military planes to use Russian airspace in delivering supplies to troops in Afghanistan.

Americans and Russians, working in unusual accord, achieved striking progress on some of the thorniest disputes before the United Nations. In 2010, Washington and Moscow cooperated on a package of unprecedented U.N. economic sanctions that ultimately drove Iran to negotiations about limiting its nuclear program. The administration worked with Moscow to overcome U.S. objections to Russia’s long-standing effort to join the World Trade Organization.

In 2011, Russia withheld its veto on the U.S.-led effort to authorize the international military campaign to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi from slaughtering thousands of his own citizens — an act of diplomatic restraint that many U.S. officials regard as the “reset” era’s high-water mark.

“With the reset, we were never seeking goodwill with Russia; we were seeking a new strategy,” said McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador. “It was most productive in terms of concrete outcomes — not holding hands and singing Kumbaya, but real stuff, including some of our biggest security and economic priorities.”

But beneath a more placid surface, old conflicts continued both at home and abroad, and new ones would emerge.

In Washington, many of the administration’s Russian initiatives were drawing skepticism from Congress. In 2010, Obama had announced that he was discontinuing a Bush-era Eastern European missile defense shield that Russia viewed as a military threat, in favor of a new program designed to combat potential strikes from Iranian short- and medium-range missiles. But many Republicans criticized the change — which had been recommended by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, a Bush holdover — as an unwarranted and unwise favor to Russia, granted by a naive young administration.

Russian officials began publicly ruing their tacit support for U.N.-approved military action in Libya, after the intervention expanded from a simple civilian-protection mission to a sustained bombing campaign that led to the overthrow and assassination of Gaddafi. The Kremlin now believed it had been tricked into allowing the U.N. resolution to move forward.

Putin, according to U.S. officials who met with him at the time, concluded that the Americans were most interested in pursuing regime change for governments they disliked, first in Baghdad and Tripoli, and later in Damascus. Eventually he became convinced that it was the Kremlin that the United States most wanted to change. Logically, Clinton, a strong proponent of U.S. military action in Libya and Syria, would be on the side of those seeking new leadership in Moscow, he believed.

Suddenly, the Russians were casting skeptical looks at joint programs that had received strong support in both capitals. One casualty was the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which funded the dismantling of Soviet-era nuclear, chemical and biological weapons systems to prevent them from being stolen by terrorists or purchased by rogue states.

The program’s co-founder, Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), who served as the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during Clinton’s tenure, began noticing a change in tone during his many visits to meet with the initiative’s Russian partners. Powerful Russian military officials, some of them close allies of Putin, were beginning to perceive such ventures as part of the American plan to weaken the country. The military’s political champion was Putin, who decided in 2011 to run for president again, replacing his protege Medvedev after a single term in office.

“Putin had come to the point where he felt it was no longer necessary to cooperate,” Lugar said, “and it might even be demeaning to Russia.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her arrival at the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia. © Mikhail Metzel/Associated Press Russian President Vladimir Putin meets Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on her arrival at the APEC summit in Vladivostok, Russia.

Regression

In December 2011, despite a deepening economic crisis, Putin’s United Russia party retained control of the Duma in parliamentary elections that independent monitoring groups described as fraudulent.

Thousands of Russians took to the streets in protest, and Clinton — with the White House’s explicit blessing — spoke publicly in their defense, condemning Russian officials for manipulating the vote and systematically harassing election observers.

“The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve the right to have their voices heard and their votes counted,” Clinton said during a speech that month in Lithuania. “And that means they deserve fair, free, transparent elections and leaders who are accountable to them.”

After her speech, when demonstrations in Moscow grew still larger, Putin suggested that his political opponents were following marching orders from Clinton and her team.

Opposition parties “heard the signal, and with the support of the U.S. State Department began active work,” Putin said. Kremlin officials repeated the charge in private meetings with U.S. diplomats, expressing a vehemence that surprised some Obama administration officials.

Even before the protests — and his own reelection as president in March 2012 — Putin had begun signaling the return of a more authoritarian and aggressive Russia. Beginning in late 2011, the Russian government would adopt policies stifling political dissent at home and increasing pressure on the former Soviet republics, from the Baltic to the Caucasus to Ukraine.

Clinton began privately warning the White House on how Putin’s return could affect a wide range of U.S. foreign policy priorities, such as promoting democracy in Eastern Europe and containing a Syrian civil war that was beginning to ignite sectarian violence and jihadist fervor throughout the Middle East.

She “argued that we were in for a rougher patch and needed to be clear-eyed about that,” said the senior U.S. official who worked for Republican and Democratic administrations. “It was a very honest analysis of the fact that, whatever hopes some people had early on for a more durable partnership, it just wasn’t going to happen.”

In fact, things fell apart with surprising speed. In 2012, Putin abruptly halted Russia’s participation in the Nunn-Lugar program. That same year, he expelled the U.S. Agency for International Development from Russia, charging interference in domestic affairs and ending USAID’s multimillion-dollar support for Russian civil society organizations.

Putin then repeatedly blocked U.S.-led efforts to resolve Syria’s civil war, insisting on preserving the presidency of Assad, a close Russian ally. Two years later — well after Clinton had left office — Putin stunned the world by snatching the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, something he had first threatened to do nearly a decade earlier.

Yet, while each of those actions was consistent with Putin’s combative style, Russia’s disputes with the Obama administration took on a more personal tone after 2011, several current and former U.S. officials and Russian policy experts said.

Today, with Clinton now aiming for the White House, it’s not surprising that Putin might support clandestine efforts to undermine her candidacy — regardless of his views of her chief political opponent, the officials and experts said.

“Putin has kind of got it in for Hillary,” said Clifford Kupchan, chairman of the consulting firm Eurasia Group and a Russia expert who attended private meetings with Putin during the Clinton years. “The statements after the Duma riots were like kerosene on a fire, and it really made Putin angry.”

Putin last week denied taking sides in the U.S. presidential race and he scoffed at allegations of Russian involvement in the hacking of Democratic officials’ email accounts, a crime that U.S. intelligence agencies believe was instigated at the highest levels of the Russian government.

Kupchan said he thinks that Russia’s role in the hacking, if verified, was “more about sowing some chaos in the U.S. system than about any real hope of Trump winning.” But he said it also reflects a shot across Clinton’s bow, as her record suggests that she would be both tougher and more outspoken on Russia compared to her predecessor.

“It may well be useful that she has a tough image,” he said. “Mrs. Clinton has been through the same journey that a lot of us have gone through on Russia, which is dashed hopes.”

When it comes to Putin’s Russia, he said, “she doesn’t wear deeply tinted sunglasses of any kind.”

VIDEO: Lil Wayne dissociates himself from ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement.

The Grammy-winning hip-hop artist was flippant when Nightline reporter Lindsey Davis asked his thoughts on social issues.

In a preview of the interview, Davis addressed the Black Lives Matter movement, to which Wayne responds: “What is it? What does it mean?”

And when asked if he felt drawn to the movement, he answers: “I don’t feel connected to a damn thing that ain’t got nothin’ to do with me.”

The rapper goes on to explain, “I’m a young black rich mother******. If that don’t let you know that America understand.”

Wayne has faced some backlash in recent months for his controversial opinions. In August, he led the Weezyana Festival crowd in a “Black Lives Matter” chant, but the following month told Fox Sports 1’s Undisputed that there was “no such thing as racism.”

Watch Video Below:

 

Clinton, Trump in tight race five days to US election

There is a picture of tight race to the finish for both Democratic Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump in critical battlegrounds of Arizona, Florida, Nevada and Pennsylvania, six days to the election.

A new CNN/ORC polls across the four states showed Clinton holding a four-point edge among likely voters in the historically blue-tilting Pennsylvania, while Trump tops Clinton by five points with voters in red-leaning Arizona.

Florida appeared to be as tight a contest as ever, with Clinton at 49 per cent among likely voters and Trump at 47 per cent.

In Nevada, the poll showed the race had also shifted, with Trump now ahead with 49 per cent to Clinton’s 43 per cent, compared with a two-point Clinton edge in mid-October.

The mid-October poll came at a particularly bad time for Trump in most polls, following the second presidential debate and the revelation of a tape in which he talked about sexually aggressive behavior toward women using vulgar language.

The new poll came at a challenging time for Clinton in many polls, with national and some state polls narrowing amid news that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has obtained additional emails.

It is believed that the additional emails could be relevant to the FBI’s investigation of the private server Clinton used while she was Secretary of State.

Across all four states, women were more apt than men to support Clinton as men tilted to Trump in each place, according to the poll.

The polls showed that white voters heavily supported Trump in each state, while non-whites favor Clinton by wide margins.

Similarly, voters who said they had already cast ballots in Arizona and Nevada were about evenly split, with a narrow advantage for Clinton, while she held a wide margin among those who said they had already voted in Florida.

Trump tops Clinton by double-digits in all three states among those likely voters who said they planned to cast their ballot on Nov. 8.

In Pennsylvania, where votes cast before election day come only from those who apply for an absentee ballot and have a reason why they can’t vote on Election Day, there were too few early voters to analyse.

In Florida and Nevada, there were sharp enthusiasm gaps between Clinton voters and Trump voters, with the Trump backers far more likely to say they are enthusiastic about voting this year.

In Florida, 58 per cent of enthusiasts were among Trump supporters compared to 48 per cent among Clinton backers while in Nevada, 61 per cent were for Trump voters while 48 per cent were for Clinton supporters.

In Arizona and Pennsylvania, fewer than half of voters in both states said they were extremely or very enthusiastic about voting for president this year.

FBI releases Bill Clinton closed case files days before election.

The FBI has unexpectedly released documents concerning ex-president Bill Clinton’s pardon of the husband of a wealthy Democratic donor, in a surprise move just days before the election in which his wife is seeking to become America’s first female president.

The release of the heavily redacted 129-page report over the pardon of trader Marc Rich — an investigation that closed in 2005 without charges — triggered questions from Democrats already angered by the FBI’s probe into hundreds of thousands of newly uncovered emails possibly linked to Hillary Clinton.

While the Rich documents were published online Monday, they received little notice until they were posted on Tuesday on a Twitter account for the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s division managing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that had had no posts since a year ago, except for a small handful released simultaneously on Sunday.

“Absent a FOIA litigation deadline, this is odd,” said Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon.

“Will FBI be posting docs on Trump’s housing discrimination in ’70s?” he added, referring to Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump, a billionaire real estate magnate.

The FBI said the documents were posted shortly after they were processed, as with FOIA materials requested three or more times.

“Per the standard procedure for FOIA, these materials became available for release and were posted automatically and electronically to the FBI’s public reading room in accordance with the law and established procedures,” the statement said.

The FBI indicated that this was only a “preliminary” release that could therefore be followed by more.

Rich was indicted on federal charges of tax evasion in the United States. He was a fugitive from the Department of Justice — at a time one of the FBI’s most wanted — living in exile in Switzerland at the time of his indictment. He died there in 2013.

In a controversial move, Bill Clinton pardoned him on his last day in office on January 20, 2001. The FBI opened its investigation into the pardon later that year.

Rich’s ex-wife Denise Eisenberg Rich, whose name was redacted from the FBI files, “has been a major political donor to the Democratic Party, and these donations may have been intended to influence the fugitive’s pardon,” reads a bureau note requesting that a preliminary investigation be opened.

Some of the donations went to the William J. Clinton Presidential Foundation, the predecessor to the Clinton Foundation, according to the document.

“It appears that the required pardon standards and procedures were not followed,” reads the FBI document dated February 15, 2001.

The Rich case fell under the watch of current FBI Director James Comey, then a younger prosecutor.

The FBI document dump comes as Comey is under fire, from both Democrats and some Republicans, for effectively reopening in recent days the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Trump: ‘We should just cancel the election’ and declare me the winner.

Donald Trump, trailing his opponent in key battleground states polls less than two weeks from Election Day, said Thursday he’d like to “cancel the election” and be declared the winner.

“Just thinking to myself right now, we should just cancel the election and just give it to Trump,” the Republican presidential nominee said during a rally here on Thursday.
“Her policies are so bad. Boy, do we have a big difference,” he added of his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The apparently lighthearted comment falls against the backdrop of Trump’s repeated and serious questioning of the legitimacy of the presidential election in recent weeks as he has tumbled in the polls.
Trump has called the election “rigged,” argued that the media and establishment politicians are conspiring to sink his campaign and warned supporters that the presidency could be stolen from them due to voter fraud — instances of which are extremely rare.
Trump is trailing Clinton in national tracking polls and in key battleground states, and its unclear how Trump can amass the Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency if polls hold where they are through Election Day.
Trump’s comments about the election also came as he mocked Clinton as “low energy” for the second time in as many days, even polling the crowd to ask them if they think Clinton or his GOP primary foil Jeb Bush is more “low energy.”
“Who is more low energy, Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton?” Trump asked the crowd, re-upping a question he said Fox News host Bill O’Reilly asked him earlier in an interview airing Thursday evening.
“Hillary!” replied most of the crowd.
Trump had repeatedly mocked Bush, the very early favorite to win the GOP presidential nomination, as “low energy” during the primary contest and has repeatedly argued that Clinton does not have the “strength or stamina” to serve as president. On Thursday, he referred to her as “very low energy.”

The consequences of the U.S. war on terrorism in Africa.

On May 5, President Barack Obama hosted his Djiboutian counterpart, Ismail Omar Guelleh, at the White House. The two leaders signed a 20-year lease agreement for the Djibouti-based Camp Lemonnier, the biggest U.S. military base in Africa. Covering 500 acres, the installation is a crucial launching site for U.S. military operations against militant groups in the Horn of Africa and Yemen. The U.S. agreed to pay an annual fee of $70 million for the site, which now hosts more than 4,000 U.S. military personnel and civilians.

The base is a key part of Pentagon’s plans “to maximize the impact of a relatively small U.S. presence in Africa,” according to the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, a congressional panel that conducts assessments of U.S. defense strategy and priorities. All African countries except Eritrea receive some form of U.S. military assistance, according to data from the U.S. State Department. Most of this assistance is channeled through the department’s International Military Education and Training program, which facilitates professional relationships with African militaries. The Obama administration is looking to invest in “new, effective and efficient small footprint locations and developing innovative approaches to using host nation facilities or allied joint-basing” as part of its focus on security in Africa. A handful of African nations — including Ethiopia, South Sudan, Niger, Uganda, Kenya, Mauritania, Mali, the Seychelles and Burkina Faso — already host U.S. drone sites, shared bases and military surveillance facilities. Also, the U.S. maintains a secretive program training counterterrorism commandos in states that straddle the vast Sahara, whose ungoverned spaces provide a rear base for terrorist groups.

The Pentagon’s military footprint in Africa is indeed small compared with other parts of the world. For example, in 2012, U.S. military aid and arms sales to Africa accounted for a mere 4.25 percent of the global total. (The Near East received 67.7 percent.) These military outlays were just 5.5 percent of the $7.8 billion the U.S. allocated for foreign assistance in the African region, with health care ($5.6 billion) getting the lion’s share. Regardless of the size of the U.S. military footprint in Africa, its expansion of has serious implications for the continent’s security, the consolidation of democracy and the professionalization of its militaries as well as for respect for human rights across the region. Unfortunately, these concerns do not rank high on the Pentagon’s agenda.

U.S. Africa command

The U.S. geographic command responsible for Africa is overseen by U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), based in Stuttgart, Germany. In 2009, two years after it was created, AFRICOM had an operating budget of about $400 million and more than 1,000 staffers. Unlike other similar U.S. operations, it is fully integrated with other U.S. agencies in Africa — including USAID and the State, Commerce and Treasury departments. This arrangement informs AFRICOM’s focus on a 3-D approach — defense, diplomacy and development — in the region.

At the core of the U.S. military engagement in Africa is the war against Al-Qaeda affiliates: Somalia’s Al-Shabaab and Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), as well as armed groups such as Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and Nigeria’s Boko Haram. To help conduct AFRICOM’s counterterrorism operations in the region, the U.S. has recruited a motley crew of African allies, including those that face direct threats from these groups. Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti and Ethiopia are key partners in the war against Al-Shabaab, and Niger and Burkina Faso have emerged as critical hosts of U.S. operations against AQIM. But Washington’s strategic calculations and the interests of African leaders who sign on to these arrangements do not always converge with the interests of the majority of African people.

In order to preserve ongoing cooperation arrangements, the U.S. has consistently looked the other way in the face of gross human rights violations and anti-democratic tendencies of its partner states. Djibouti’s Guelleh, now in power for 15 years, scrapped term limits to pave the way for a third term in 2010, leading to the opposition’s boycott of parliament. In Djibouti, not unlike in other allied countries, the 2013 U.S. State Department annual country reports revealed cases of torture, arbitrary arrest and restriction of freedom of association. Ethiopia and Uganda, the two leading U.S. allies in sub-Saharan Africa, are serial human rights offenders. Ethiopia is the second leading jailer of journalists in Africa (after only Eritrea). In a renewed crackdown on freedom of expression, authorities in Ethiopia jailed nine additional journalists and bloggers last month only days before Secretary of State John Kerry’s trip to Addis Ababa. The country has been in the news for the recent killings of unarmed student protesters in the Oromia region. Uganda gained international infamy earlier this year by pioneering a draconian anti-gay law. In both countries, opposition parties operate under severe restriction, with Ethiopia having only one opposition member in its 547-person legislature.

The challenge for AFRICOM and its African partners is to devise strategies that will ensure that security objectives are not pursued at the expense of democracy, military professionalization and respect for human rights.

The United States has been implicated in maintaining a secretive detention program in concert with the governments of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia. A 2008 Human Rights Watch report, “Horn of Africa Renditions,” detailed a little-known unlawful detention policy, akin to the Central Intelligence Agency’s extraordinary rendition program. According to journalist Jason Leopold, Mohammed al-Asad, a Yemeni citizen arrested in Tanzania in 2003, claims that U.S. forces tortured him at a black site in Djibouti. In Kenya the government has recently been accused of summarily executing radical Muslim clerics suspected of having links to Al-Shabaab. (The government denies the charge.) The war on terrorism has provided opportunities for some African leaders to enact sweeping anti-terrorism laws with the aim of silencing dissent. In Ethiopia alone, more than 35 journalists and opposition leaders have been convicted under that country’s anti-terrorism proclamation.

Militarized solutions

In addition to turning a blind eye to human rights abuses, the U.S.’s inherent bias toward military approaches to security threats in Africa limits the options available to African governments facing domestic security challenges. In many cases, negotiations with entities designated as terrorist groups contravene U.S. anti-terrorism laws that forbid any kind of exchange that might be beneficial to terrorist groups. After initial attempts to negotiate with the LRA, Uganda has recently embarked on a purely militaristic solution backed by U.S. military hardware and advisers. Further afield, the United States’ designation of Boko Haram as a foreign terrorist group and the promise of military assistance after the kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls may unreasonably limit Nigeria’s options for political and other kinds of negotiated settlements. Because of their exposure to terrorist attacks (as witnessed in Djibouti on May 25) and their economic consequences, African states allied with the U.S. must strive to maintain enough wriggle room to pursue localized solutions to their security challenges.

U.S. military operations and engagements with African militaries also risk compromising the professionalization of African militaries. Uganda offers an instructive case. Kampala has been a key U.S. military ally since the Iraq War and is the leading partner in the African Union mission in Somalia. Washington maintains an important facility at the Entebbe airport and is assisting in the hunt for the LRA leader Joseph Kony. But over the same period, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, in office since 1986, has personalized the military. Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda argues that Museveni has used a “strategy of fragmentation” to create factions within the military in an attempt to limit coherence in the institution. The president’s son, Muhoozi Kainerugaba, is the commander of the special forces, a group whose duties include protecting the president and the country’s oil resources. More generally, unless carefully mitigated, Washington’s unchecked war on terrorism in the region will result in overgrown military units outside normal chains of command, creating problems for effective civilian control in the long run.

The challenge for both AFRICOM and its African partners is to devise strategies that will ensure that security objectives are not pursued at the expense of democracy, military professionalization and respect for human rights. Furthermore, in the spirit of its 3-D approach, AFRICOM must be open to domestic solutions to Africa’s security needs. Such domestic solutions have the advantage of localizing the specific conflicts that create insecurity in the first place. Ultimately, African leaders must be careful not to let their countries be turned into mere venues for an international conflict between the U.S. and transnational terrorist groups.

Ken Opalo is a Ph.D. candidate in political science at Stanford University. His dissertation research is on institutional change, focusing on legislative development in Africa. 

Shadow War in the Sahara: A look at US/French Military Activities in Africa.

Africa remains a key territory on the global chessboard of the 21st century. Rich in oil and natural resources, the continent holds a strategic position.
Whoever controls Mali, controls West Africa, if not the whole of Africa.

Doulaye Konate, Association of African Historians,

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to six of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies. North Africa counts with vast oil and natural gas deposits, the Sahara holds the most strategic nuclear ore, and resources such as coltan, gold, and copper, among many others, are abundant in the continent.

But despite its position and resources, conflict and chaos have spread throughout the continent. At the heart of this turmoil is a strategic territory: the Sahel.

The region that straddles the Sahara to the north and the savannas in the south has become an important new front in the so-called war against terrorism.

But is the official narrative, the fight against terrorism, masking a larger battle? Have the resource wars of the 21st century already begun?

“What we are currently experiencing can be described as ‘a new scramble for Africa’,” says Jean Batou, Professor of History at Lausanne University.

‘Whoever controls Mali, controls West Africa’

At the centre of the troubled region of the Sahel is the nation of Mali, which is among the world’s poorest. Unemployment is rampant and most people survive hand to mouth.

Yet, back in the 13th century, the Mali empire extended over much of West Africa and was extraordinarily wealthy and powerful. Ivory and gold made it a major crossroads for global trade at the time. But inevitably, these resources lead to conquests.

“We are the transition between North Africa and Africa that reaches the ocean and the forests. This gives us an important strategic position: whoever controls Mali, controls West Africa – if not the whole of Africa … That’s why this region became so coveted,” says Doulaye Konate from the Association of African Historians.

The imperial European powers unveiled their plans to colonise Mali and the rest of Africa at the Berlin Conference in 1885. Britain, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Italy and France, each got their share.

“The arrival of colonisation tore us apart. It felt like a cut, almost like a surgical operation,” Konate says.

The French colonial empire extended over much of western and northern Africa, but in the late 1950s the winds of freedom started blowing across Africa, and France was to lose all its colonies.

However, the euphoria of independence was short. France retained troops, bases and political influence over its former colonies: the policy of “France-Afrique” was born.

“France was Africa’s watchdog, defending the West in the region,” says Antoine Glaser, author of France-Afrique.

Colonisation of Algeria: the French landing in Algeria in the coastal town of Sidi Ferruch in 1830. [Liebig series: L’origine de diverses colonies/The origin of various colonies, 1922, No 1). (Photo by Culture Club/Getty Images]

The US and the threat of ‘terrorism’

In the 1960s, the discovery of huge oil reserves in the Gulf of Guinea attracted a new player: the United States.

The US made military as well as economic investments on the African continent and Africa became a battleground in the Cold War.

In 1992, the US launched a so-called humanitarian intervention in the strategic Horn of Africa. The US sent 28,000 soldiers to Somalia to help to put an end to a civil war. The operation ended in disaster two years later after American soldiers were captured and killed, images of their mutilated bodies broadcast around the world. They decided to withdraw.

In 2001, the attack on the World Trade Center reconfigured the geopolitics of the world. The US launched a war in Afghanistan – a war that would soon spread far beyond.

A few months after September 11, the US military returned to the Horn of Africa with plans to stay. They established their first military base in Djibouti.

“The Sahel played a key role in looking at the movement of weapons, the movement of potential foreign fighters, and organised crime …,” says Rudolph Atallah, the former Director of Africa Counter-Terrorism, US Department of Defense.

American President George Bush visits US soldiers in Somalia [Larry Downing/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images]

The US Africa Command (AFRICOM)

The United States is the only country to have divided the world into separate military sectors to monitor and patrol, NORTHCOM, PACOM, SOUTHCOM, EUCOM, CENTCOM and now AFRICOM.

Under the stated goals of fighting terrorism and providing humanitarian assistance, AFRICOM implanted itself on the continent, conducting military exercises with a growing number of African countries.

The establishment of AFRICOM was key for the consolidation of US interests in Africa.

The Americans sought to establish the headquarters of AFRICOM as well as a headquarters for the CIA in Mali. The problem was that the Africans had a common position of refusing the establishment of new military bases.

This opposition forced the US to set up the command of AFRICOM thousands of miles away, in Stuttgart, Germany.

Muammar Gaddafi: The ‘mad dog of the Middle East’

Nelson Mandela’s view was almost identical to Gaddafi’s that there would be no African forces commanded by foreign military officials, and there would be no foreign militaries occupying any part of Africa or operating within Africa.

Maximilian Forte, author

African resistance to AFRICOM was spearheaded by Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

President Ronald Reagan had labelled him the “mad dog of the Middle East” and had tried to assassinate him in 1986 by bombing his palace.

The Libyan leader’s independence and influence flowed from the vast petroleum reserves, the largest in Africa, which he had nationalised when he took power.

Gaddafi wanted to demonstrate that Africa could develop without depending on the Western banking system or the International Monetary Fund.

“From the beginning of his political career as a leader, Muammar Gaddafi was opposed to a foreign military presence in Africa. One of the first things he did after coming to power in 1969 was to expel the British and US military bases in Libya itself,” Maximilian Forte, the author of Slouching Towards Sirte: Nato’s war on Libya and Africa, explains.

But in March 2011, as the Arab’s Spring spread through North Africa, France and the United States decided to act. This was AFRICOM’S first war and its commander-in-chief was the first African-­American president.

VFS: US, UK Are Most Travelled Destinations By Nigerians

Mr Jiten Vyas, the Chief Operating Officer of VFS Global in Africa, a visa processing company, has said that the United States of America and the United Kingdom are the most travelled destinations by Nigerians.

Vyas said in Lagos yesterday that data from his organisation had also revealed a rise in the number of Nigerians travelling to Europe, South Africa, Dubia and India, reported the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

“There has been a significant rise in travel by Nigerians, be it student travel, leisure or business, largely due to the improvement in income levels in the last few years.

“Several multinational companies have also set up base here and more Nigerian residents are becoming increasingly keen to travel or study abroad.

“The U.S. and UK remain popular travel destinations amongst Nigerians today; they also travel to Europe, Dubai, India and South Africa,” he said.

Vyas said that more countries had in the last decade taken advantage of outsourcing their visa application services to his organisation.

The VFS boss said that Nigeria had always been one of the top priorities of his organisation in the sub-Saharan region.

Vyas explained that his organisation was currently providing visa application services to 13 client governments in Nigeria, adding that the company was currently working on a project for the Nigeria Interbank Settlement Services to provide Bank Verification Numbers (BVN) for Nigerian account holders abroad.

“This initiative by the Central bank of Nigeria is aimed at providing a more secure banking platform for boosting Nigeria’s conventional security.

“Over the last decade more governments are seeing the advantages of having an outsourced visa services model,” he said.

Vyas also disclosed that VFS Global was currently in touch with Nigerian government departments to introduce technology, citizen services, immigration, foreigners and national identity registrations to them.

Credit: thisdaylive

Turkish Army kills up to 200 YPG fighters in Aleppo.

The Turkish military said its fighter jets hit Syrian Kurdish targets in northern Syria, and killed up to 200 fighters, according to state media.

The jets hit 18 targets in Maarrat Umm Hawsh, a region north of the city of Aleppo, the official news agency Anadolu said.

Quoting the army, the report claimed that between 160 and 200 fighters from the YPG (People’s Protection Units) group were killed in the raids on Wednesday night.

A Syrian-Kurdish forces leader, however, said that while Turkish jets and artillery were attacking, no more than 10 fighters had been killed so far.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said at least nine YPG fighters were confirmed killed and 26 people were injured in some 20 raids.

Anadolu said nine buildings used as YPG headquarters, meeting points, shelters and weapons depots were destroyed as well as four vehicles.

Al Jazeera was unable to independently verify the death toll.

The Anadolu report said the YPG had attacked Turkish-backed Syrian rebels. However, the Observatory said it had no information on such an incident.

In August, Turkey launched a ground operation in northern Syria, targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group and the YPG, and continues to maintain a military presence in the neighbouring country.

The US considers the YPG to be a key force in the fight against ISIL in Syria.

Turkey says the group is an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish fighters – the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – who have carried out a series of deadly attacks in Turkey over the past year.

US-Turkey tensions

Tensions between Turkey and the US have increased over the YPG, but Ankara has repeatedly said it will not allow a “terror corridor” on its southern border and wants to prevent the joining of the Kurdish “cantons” of Afrin and Kobane.

Turkey entered the Syrian war to try and remove ISIL from its border – which last month Ankara said it achieved – while also aiming to halt the westward advance of the YPG.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey would not “wait for terrorist organisations to come and attack us” during a speech in Ankara.

“These organisations, wherever their activities are, wherever they are nesting, we will go [there],” he said.

US to investigate illicit diversion of USAID-funded malaria products, funds.

The United States government yesterday said it would intensify investigation in the alleged diversion of USAID-funded malaria programmes and illicit sale of malaria products it has funded in Nigeria so far.

Head of Investigation, Office of the Inspector General, USAID, Jonathan Schofield, told journalists in Abuja at the relaunch of Make A Difference (MAD) malaria hotline that the investigation bureau entrusted with the task of probing such illicit activities relating to malaria programmes found some ‘troubling patterns’ in Nigeria.

He explained that the probe will only be restricted to US funded projects and will be in collaboration with Nigerian law enforcement agencies.

Jonathan said: “The US funded malaria programme is a specific tailored initiative we are now doing. We are working in many other countries around the world to look at illicit activities, including diversion, kick backs, including embezzlement of health programmes funds.

“There are patterns that we see in Nigeria that are troubling, we don’t know how deep they are, but with this project, we will focus on those patterns,” he said.

He stated that probe would extend to “The global funding to Nigeria given that one third of the global fund budget is contributed by the US government.

Jonathan informed journalists that though “the global fund focus on audit” In their investigation, he added that, “what we (Office of the Inspector General, USAID, offer is the law enforcement component.”

The MAD programme also included rewarding Nigerian whistleblowers who have vital and concrete information and facts about diversion of malaria products and funds to contact US authorities through 8099937319.

Jonathan explained that “the main objective is to obtain actionable information concerning their transmitted, resale or falsification of anti-malaria drugs and commodities within USAID President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI) funded countries.

Also speaking, National Coordinator of the National Malaria Elimination Programme (NMEP), Dr. Bala Muhammed, represented by a Director in the agency, Dr Godwin Ntadom, stated that “part of the problems we face in the fight against malaria is in the quality of medicines used in the treatment of Malaria in Nigeria.

“The continued availability of counterfeit impedes global efforts in the fight against malaria and as such results in treatment failure and even death,” Ntadom stated.

US expresses confidence in Nigeria’s fight against corruption.

United States Special Representative to Muslims communities, Shaarik Zafar, monday in Kano expressed optimism that the current fight against corruption in Nigeria would succeed.

Zafar spoke at news conference yesterday in Kano that he was in the state to offer opening remarks at an inaugural workshop on anti-corruption tool for religious leaders.

He said if corruption could be effectively tackled, the country would witness socio-economic growth and development.

“I am optimistic that if corruption can be tackled, the trend is positive for Nigeria based on the commitment.

According to him, the US government was committed toward assisting Nigeria in the current effort to fight corruption in the country.

“Nigeria’s success is America’s success, hence our decision to work with government, civil Society organisations and religious groups on areas to prevent corruption.”

The US envoy said the workshop would address how religious communities could work together to combat corruption, promote accountability, and encourage transparency.

According to him, the workshop was organised by his office under the US Department of State is aimed at educating Muslims leaders the dangers of the corruption.

“Like I said, I have a global mandate. So, I will encourage a continued focus by religious leaders on the critical challenge of combating corruption.

“This is not only because of their moral voice. Critically, religious leaders speak a common language with their communities.

“They also have incomparable access, unique networks and level of respect that can help in this common battle against corruption and to promote accountability.”

The envoy while in Abuja, is expected to meet with religious and community leaders and learn of their current challenges and opportunities.

BREAKING: War? Russia ‘orders all officials to fly home any relatives living abroad’.

Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed.

Politicians and high-ranking figures are said to have received a warning from president Vladimir Putin to bring their loved-ones home to the ‘Motherland’, according to local media.

It comes after Putin cancelled a planned visit to France amid a furious row over Moscow’s role in the Syrian conflict and just days after it emerged the Kremlin had moved nuclear-capable missiles near to the Polish border.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has also warned that the world is at a ‘dangerous point’ due to rising tensions between Russia and the US.

 

Politicians and high-ranking figures are said to have received a warning from president Vladimir Putin (pictured) to bring their loved-ones home to the 'Fatherland', according to local media

Politicians and high-ranking figures are said to have received a warning from president Vladimir Putin (pictured) to bring their loved-ones home to the ‘Fatherland’, according to local media.

Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed

Russia is ordering all of its officials to fly home any relatives living abroad amid heightened tensions over the prospect of global war, it has been claimed

According to the Russian site Znak.com, administration staff, regional administrators, lawmakers of all levels and employees of public corporations have been ordered to take their children out of foreign schools immediately.

Failure to act will see officials jeopardising their chances of promotion, local media has reported.

US Supports Nigeria With Additional $92m To Fight Poverty

The United States of America (US) has announced an additional developmental assistance of $92.73million to Nigeria to help fight poverty.

The sum which was given through the US Agency for International Development (USAID) is meant to support the five-year $2.3 billion agreement signed with the Nigeria Government in 2015.

A statement from the Information Unit of the US Embassy in Abuja added that the amount brings the total of development assistance provided to $474.74 million.

According to the statement, “This funding will continue to help Nigeria reduce extreme poverty in a more stable, democratic society.  Activities will stimulate inclusive economic growth, promote a healthier, more-educated population and strengthen good governance.”

Speaking further, USAID Mission Director, Michael Harvey, who stated that the US is pleased to contribute additional funding in support of the agreement signed with the Nigerian Government in 2015 expressed confidence the funding woud have a significant impact on the wellbeing of Nigerians.

In an effort to align Nigeria’s development plans with sector-specific strategies, USAID collaborated with the Nigerian Ministry of  Budget and National Planning; the Nigerian Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education; and state-level government counterparts to structure the agreement, which is in place until 2020.

Read More: thisdaylive

U.S. provides $92.7 million to reduce poverty in Nigeria

The United States Government has announced the sum of $92.73 million in developmental assistance to support the five-year $2.3 billion agreement signed with the Federal Government in 2015.

The U.S. Embassy in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja, said the amount was being provided through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The embassy explained that the money brought the total of development assistance provided in the agreement to $474.74 million.

“This funding will continue to help Nigeria reduce extreme poverty in a more stable, democratic society.

“Activities will stimulate inclusive economic growth, promote a healthier, more educated population, and strengthen good governance,” the embassy said.

It quoted the USAID Mission Director, Michael Harvey, as expressing the confidence that the funding would have positive impact on Nigerians.

“Today we are pleased to contribute additional funding in support of the agreement signed with the Nigerian Government in 2015.

“With their leadership we know this funding will have a significant impact on the wellbeing of Nigerians,” it said.

The statement also said that USAID had collaborated with the Federal ministries of Budget and National Planning, Health, Agriculture, Power, and Education effort to align Nigeria’s development plans with sector-specific strategies.

According to it, USAID also collaborated with state-level government counterparts to structure the agreement, which was in place until 2020.

“In addition to the developmental funding, the U.S. provides humanitarian assistance to people affected by the ongoing conflict and severe food insecurity in Nigeria and throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

“Since fiscal year 2015, the U.S. has provided more than 366 million dollars in humanitarian assistance and continues to be the single largest bilateral humanitarian donor to the region,” it added.

CNN/ORC Poll: Hillary Clinton Wins The 2nd US Presidential Debate By 57% To 34%

Hillary Clinton won the debate 57%, 34%. Donald Trump exceeded expectations, but Hillary Clinton won the second presidential debate, according to a CNN / ORC poll of debate watchers.

 

The results showed a clear victory for Clinton, with 57% saying Clinton won, as opposed to 34% for Trump.

It’s a strong showing for Clinton, but not as good as her performance at the first presidential debate, when 62% of debate watchers said she won.

The results Sunday also track closely with watchers’ pre-debate preference. Fifty-eight percent of debate watchers said they were supporting Clinton before the debate.

Yahoo at Logger Heads with ‘US Government Agency, for Secretly Scanning workers’ Emails

Yahoo has been accused of secretly scanning hundreds of millions of incoming emails of US intelligence or law enforcement, reports say. The internet company conducted a surveillance last year after receiving a classified demand from the National Security Agency or the FBI, according to Reuters.

Three former Yahoo employees and another unidentified person told the news agency that the US government pushed Yahoo to search for a string of letters, numbers or other characters.

That meant the fishing expedition could have involved finding a specific phrase or code in the text of
an email or an attachment. Yahoo built a special software programme to comply with the government’s request.

Yahoo did not deny the report in a statement that described itself as a company “that complies with the laws of the United States”.

The Department of Justice and the FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who revealed the NSA’s program for spying on US citizens, tweeted that Yahoo users should close their accounts in the wake of the revelations. Meanwhile, Google said it had not received a similar spying request from the request from the US government. If it had, Google said, its response would be “No way”.

Microsoft, whose email service is larger than Yahoo’s, said it had “never engaged in the secret scanning of email traffic”. Facebook said it would “fight” such a request should it ever receive one and civil libertarians also condemned the reported Yahoo action.

Patrick Toomey, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, called Yahoo’s alleged acquiescence to the government order “deeply disturbing”, adding that the order itself appeared to be “unprecedented and unconstitutional”.

The report is likely to test the bounds of Yahoo users’ already-stressed loyalty. Late last month Yahoo disclosed that hackers had broken into at least 500 million user accounts to steal email addresses, birthdates, phone numbers and passwords.

Source: CNN

US Blames Russia For Attack On UN Aid Convoy In Syria

The United States has blamed Russia for an airstrike that targeted a UN aid convoy near Syria’s Aleppo province on Monday, shortly after the Syrian military ended a ceasefire due to recurrent breaches by terrorist groups.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that at least 18 of 31 Syrian Red Crescent trucks carrying UN-provided food were destroyed in an airstrike in Aleppo’s Urm al-Kubra region.

Washington quickly held Moscow responsible for the attack, arguing that the Russian military was in charge of making sure that a shaky ceasefire, brokered earlier by the US and Russia, stays in place.

“The destination of this convoy was known to the Syrian regime and the Russian federation and yet these aid workers were killed in their attempt to provide relief to the Syrian people,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said in a statement.

Read More: presstv

Botswana To Deport Anti-gay US Pastor Steven Anderson

Botswana is to deport a controversial US pastor a week after he was barred from South Africa because of his critical remarks about homosexuality.

A government statement did not say why Steven Anderson had been declared a “prohibited immigrant”.

He was arrested after doing a radio interview in the capital, Gaborone.

Mr Anderson runs the Faithful Word Baptist Church, which says that homosexuality is an abomination punishable by the death penalty.

After his visa for South Africa was rejected last week, the preacher posted on his Facebook page: “Thank God we still have a wide open door in Botswana.”

Homosexual acts are illegal in Botswana, as in many African countries.

Credit: BBC

US Says It Killed ISIS Information Minister Al-Fayad

The Pentagon says a US air strike has killed one of so-called Islamic State’s most senior leaders, Wa’il Adil Hasan Salman al-Fayad, in Syria.

Also known as “Dr Wa’il”, he was minister of information for IS, and oversaw the production of propaganda videos showing executions.

The Pentagon said the strike had taken place near Raqqa on 7 September.

Fayad was a close associate of IS strategist Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, who was killed in an air strike last month.

“The removal of ISIL’s senior leaders degrades its ability to retain territory, and its ability to plan, finance, and direct attacks inside and outside of the region,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement, using an alternative name for IS.

“We will continue to work with our coalition partners to build momentum in the campaign to deal ISIL a lasting defeat.”

Mr Cook said Fayad had also been a member of the IS leadership group, the Shura Council.

Read More: BBC

Hillary Clinton healthy, ready to serve as US President – Doctor

In-depth medical records of U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton were released on Wednesday, showing her physical conditions are good.

“She continues to remain healthy and fit to serve as President of the U.S.,” said Dr Lisa Bardarck, Clinton’s personal doctor.

The former U.S. secretary of state fainted at a 9/11 memorial ceremony on Sunday and has since stayed home.

Bardarck said the former secretary of state suffered from a “mild, non-contagious bacterial pneumonia.”

The rest of the physical exam “was normal and she is in excellent mental condition,” Bardarck said in a letter to the media, saying that she examined Clinton several times this week.

“My overall impression is that Clinton has remained healthy and has not developed new medical conditions this year other than a sinus and ear infection and her recently diagnosed pneumonia,” she wrote.

The Democratic nominee is expected to return to the campaign trail on Thursday and due in several battleground states next week, said her campaign team on Wednesday.

Clinton’s Republican rival Donald Trump will also reveal the results of his own recent medical exam during a TV show set to be aired on Thursday, said a daily report by The Hill, a top U.S. political website.

A video of Clinton’s faint at Ground Zero on Sunday has returned the issue of health transparency to the central stage in the two candidates’ White Housebids.

Clinton was diagnosed with pneumonia two days before she fainted on Sunday but her campaign team had kept it quiet until the video was put online.

The September race is unexpectedly rough for Clinton. A series of national poll results showed that her lead over Trump has been narrowed since Labour Day.

Health Research: Zika Virus Confirmed In US Mosquitoes

Authorities have detected Zika in mosquitoes in Miami Beach, the first time the insects have been found carrying the virus in the United States.

These findings are very disappointing, but not surprising,” the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said in a statement released on Thursday.

 

Officials had already suspected that the virus was being spread by mosquitoes locally following a recent outbreak of the virus in Miami.

 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have warned pregnant women against travelling to Miami as the virus can cause birth defects.

 

Last week the US Food and Drug Administration also instructed blood banks across the country to screen donated blood for Zika.

 

According to WHO, Zika virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in monkeys through a network that monitored yellow fever.

 

It was later identified in humans in 1952 in Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania.

Outbreaks of Zika virus disease have been recorded in Africa, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

 

From the 1960s to 1980s, human infections were found across Africa and Asia, typically accompanied by mild illness.

 

The first large outbreak of disease caused by Zika infection was reported from the Island of Yap (Federated States of Micronesia) in 2007.

 

In July 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and Guillain-Barré syndrome.

 

In October 2015 Brazil reported an association between Zika virus infection and microcephaly.

 

The incubation period (the time from exposure to symptoms) of Zika virus disease is not clear, but is likely to be a few days.

 

The symptoms are similar to other arbovirus infections such as dengue, and include fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise, and headache. These symptoms are usually mild and last for 2-7 days.

Trump Calls Democrats ‘Party Of Slavery’ In Minority Outreach Effort

Republican Donald Trump on Tuesday night called Democrats the “party of slavery” and praised what he called the millions of African Americans with career success, as he tries to revamp his outreach to minority voters.

 

Trump has made much-maligned efforts to appeal to black and Hispanic voters, groups that generally support Democrats and are expected to vote heavily for Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8 election.

 

The Republican Party is the party of Abraham Lincoln,” Trump said at a rally in Everett, Washington.

 

It is the Democratic Party that is the party of slavery, the party of Jim Crow and the party of opposition,” he said, referring to racial segregation laws that once existed in the American South.

 

The Republican nominee has said Democrats failed minority voters with economic policies that have not improved their job prospects, but his attempts have been criticized for painting a bleak view of the lives of all black and Hispanic Americans.

Clinton last week released an ad mocking Trump’s attempts to reach those groups and showing headlines about a racial discrimination lawsuit the New York real estate mogul faced in the 1970s.

 

A prominent supporter of Trump’s apologised on Tuesday for sending out a tweet that showed a cartoon image of Clinton in blackface.

 

Trump sought to correct course in Washington state on Tuesday, saying millions of black Americans “have succeeded greatly” in art, science, sports and other endeavours.

 

But we must also talk about those who have been left behind, the millions suffering in disastrous conditions in so many of our inner cities,” he said.

US Presidential Aspirant, Donald Trump Spotted Naked, In New York.

Donald Trump, the Republican candidate has been a controversial figure ever since he announced his intention to run for office. 

His many outbursts which have offended just about every race in the known universe have made him much maligned and disliked figure in the American community.

This is not to say he is not without his supporters, but even those are dwindling as he lost the support of major republicans who labelled him as ‘Reckless’.

 

Now, a life-size, flesh-coloured statue of a completely naked Donald Trump popped up at Union Square in downtown Manhattan but has since been removed by New York authorities.

 

To make things worse, he was crafted without balls which made it all the more amusing.

 

The statue is the work of a group of artists known as Indecline, and it was their way of protesting against the Republican nominee. in the middle of a heavily crowded area were aiming to protest the attitudes and statements of the Republican candidate, EFE news reported.

 

It was in a crowded area and it stood there for over 2 hours with tourists and other people taking pictures of it and generally laughing at the spectacle.

 

It was finally removed by personnel from the city’s Parks Department who said in a communique that it is illegal to display artwork in public without the proper permits.

The group, Indecline, carried out similar protests against Trump in Seattle, Cleveland, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
In a statement they said, “Unlike the statues, it’s our hope that Donald Trump, our modern-day Emperor of Fascism and Bigotry is never installed in the most powerful political and military position in the world. These fleeting installations represent this fleeting nightmare, and in the fall, it is our wish to look back and laugh at Donald Trump’s failed and delusional quest to obtain the presidency,”
You can check out photos below.

 

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US Pledges $37M Aid For Victims Of Boko Haram

The United States on Wednesday pledged $37 million in aid for victims of Boko Haram, government officials said, as fears of a famine mounted in the ravaged Lake Chad region.

Despite Boko Haram losing swathes of territory in the northeast as a result of a renewed military offensive, millions are still going hungry after years of attacks disrupted farming and supplies.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said on July 1 that 250,000 children under five in Borno state were at risk from severe acute malnutrition this year and 50,000 could die if nothing was done.

The US government will provide “more than $37 million in additional humanitarian assistance” the United States Diplomatic Mission to Nigeria in Abuja said. “Approximately five million people need emergency food assistance.”

The money for food would be directed to communities in the Diffa region of Niger and is part of a coordinated effort to get more food into the area.

Returning this week from a trip to Chad, Nigeria, and Cameroon, the regional director of the World Food Programme, Abdou Dieng, told AFP that “the crisis of Boko Haram is just beginning.”

“There are many places where humanitarian aid can’t reach because of insecurity,” Dieng said, adding that Boko Haram attacked a UN convoy just last week. “But we are even more determined to stay.”

Dieng estimated that around $600 million is needed to address the crisis but that so far “less than a third of that money has been received”.

Read More:

http://guardian.ng/news/us-pledges-37-mn-aid-for-victims-of-boko-haram/

 

US Declares Borno, Adamawa, Rivers, Imo, 16 Other States Unsafe

The United States government, in its latest travel advisory to its citizens living in Nigeria, has listed 20 of Nigeria’s 36 states as unsafe and advised them to stay away from them.
Among the 20, it cited Borno, Adamawa and Yobe as complete no-go areas as “the ability of the US Mission to provide assistance to US citizens” in those states remains severely limited.

The travel warning published on Wednesday on the website of the U.S. Department of State, replaced an earlier one of last February, reported Afrique News yesterday.

In addition to the three frontline states, the State Department also “recommends against all but essential travel to the following states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks: Bauchi, Bayelsa, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Imo, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Kogi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, and Zamfara.

“The Department of State also warns against travel in the Gulf of Guinea, because of the threat of piracy,” the advisory published online added.
It said based on safety and security risk assessments, the embassy maintains restrictions for travel by US officials to the states listed above.

Officials must also apply for advance clearance by the US mission for any travel to those states.
The statement also urged vigilance around government security facilities; churches, mosques, other places of worship; locations where large crowds may gather such as hotels, clubs, bars, restaurants, markets, shopping malls; and other areas frequented by expatriates and foreign travellers.

It added: “Security measures in Nigeria remain heightened due to threats posed by extremist groups, and U.S. citizens may encounter police and military checkpoints, additional security, and possible road blocks throughout the country.

“Hundreds of thousands of Nigerians have been displaced as a result of violence in the north.”
The U.S. State Department noted that kidnappings remained a security concern throughout Nigeria, as criminal elements across the country orchestrated kidnappings for ransom; Islamic extremists, operating predominantly in the North, also have been known to conduct kidnappings.

It said: “Separatist groups have staged demonstrations in Abia, Anambra, Bayelsa, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Lagos, and Rivers States, some of which have turned violent.
“Militant groups have destroyed oil production infrastructure in Bayelsa and Delta states.

“U.S. citizens are advised to avoid the areas of these states where these incidents have occurred.
“Attacks by pirates off the coast of Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea have increased substantially in recent years.

“Armed gangs have boarded both commercial and private vessels to rob travellers.
“The Nigerian Navy has limited capacity to respond to criminal acts at sea.”

Credit: thisday

“Reveal Your Tax Returns”, Warren Buffett Challenges Donald Trump.

US billionaire Warren Buffett challenged Donald Trump Monday to release his tax returns, a feat which the Republican presidential candidate has so far resisted.

 

Trump has said he won’t release the documents because he is under audit, which Buffett — one of the world’s richest men — suggested is a weak excuse.

 

Now I’ve got news for him, I’m under audit too,” Buffett said, speaking at a Hillary Clinton rally in Nebraska. “You’re only afraid if you got something to be afraid about.”

 

He’s afraid because of you,” Buffett told the attendees.

 

Buffett suggested he and Trump meet “any place, any time” before election day to publicly go over their tax records together.

 

The business magnate also sharply criticized Trump for a recent dispute with the parents of a slain Muslim American soldier.

Pakistani immigrant Khizr Khan galvanized the Democratic National Convention with a tribute to his dead son in which he rebuked the Republican nominee for having “sacrificed nothing” for the country.

 

In an interview aired on ABC Sunday, Trump insisted he had, in fact, made “a lot of sacrifices” for the United States.

 

Buffett declared otherwise: “Donald Trump and I haven’t sacrificed anything,” he said, referencing Trump’s remark.

 

How in the world can you stand up to a couple of parents who have lost a son and talk about sacrificing because you were building a bunch of buildings?”

 

Buffett is one of several extremely wealthy Americans to back Clinton for president, including billionaire and independent former mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

Hillary Clinton Is The Devil, She May Rig The Elections – Donald Trump

Republican nominee makes claims on campaign trail while ignoring controversy over his remarks about a Muslim soldier’s parents.

 

Donald Trump has claimed that there is a possibility of the US presidential election being “rigged” as he tried to divert attention away from a disastrous week for his campaign by also labelling hisHillary Clinton Is The Devil, She May Rig The Elections – Donald Trump rival Hillary Clinton as “the devil” and praising the primary opponent of Republican speaker Paul Ryan.

 

The Republican nominee has in the past few days faced a barrage of criticism following his controversial comments about the Gold Star parents of a Muslim soldier killed in Iraq.

We Have No Fraud Information On Buhari’s Wife– US

The United States government says it has no information on the alleged crimes committed by President Muhammadu Buhari’s wife, Aisha.

The acting Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General, Lagos, Frank Sellin, said this in an email sent to a reporter on Tuesday.

Sellin said this in response to an enquiry made by reporters regarding allegations that the President’s wife was wanted in the US and was avoiding travelling to the country.

In a message, Sellin said, “Thank you for the inquiry.  We have no information to provide on this matter.”

The Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose, had, last month, alleged that Mrs. Buhari was involved in the $185m Halliburton scandal.

Credit: Punch

U.S.-Led Coalition Blows Up $500 Million In Islamic State Cash And Cuts Its Oil Revenues

The U.S.-led coalition air campaign blew up about $500 million of the Islamic State’s cash and cut its oil revenues by about 50%, according to a senior US defense official.
An ISIS source who asked not to be named says The Islamic State has been forced to ration fuel in some areas and cut its fighters and government officials pay in regions it controls by half.

U.S. officials have said the air campaign combined with local ground forces in Iraq and Syria have dealt the Islamic State setbacks in recent months, saying the terror group has lost 40% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq. “We’ve got the momentum,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said.

The official added that the Islamic State is struggling to replace its fighters who are now being killed at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 a month.

Source: USA Today

US Opens Criminal Probe Linked To #PanamaPaper Leak

The US Justice Department has opened a criminal investigation involving the leaked Panama Papers on offshore shell companies, according to an official letter to the group that brought the records to light.

The letter from the office of Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara, obtained by AFP Wednesday, asks to discuss the investigation with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which worked with media outlets to reveal the documents.

The letter, dated April 3 and obtained from the ICIJ, said Bharara’s office “has opened a criminal investigation regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant.”

His office said it “would greatly appreciate the opportunity to speak as soon as possible” with someone from ICIJ on the matter.

The letter gave no information on the subject of the investigation, and was not a subpoena that would force the ICIJ to turn over any of the 11.5 million confidential documents leaked from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Access to the documents remains limited to a handful of international media organizations.

Reports from the ICIJ and the media groups based on the Panama Papers link a number of international leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and leaders and top officials in Ukraine, China and Argentina, to offshore shell companies that can be used to hide wealth and launder money.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was also forced to resign after the documents showed he and his wife made use of an offshore company.

US Releases Gory Report On Nigeria

The United States has released yet another gory and nauseating detailed report on Nigeria, accusing the government at all levels of injustice, brutality and inflicting pain on poor Nigerians.

The report, which was released by the United States Department of States, accused the Nigerian police, DSS and the military of gross abuse of power which include citizens brutality, arbitrary detention, bribery among other scandals.

It also revealed that 69 percent of persons in prison across the country are awaiting trial – blaming the situation on lack of judicial capacity and corruption.

While explaining that the insurgency in the Northeast has rendered many hopeless, US accused the Boko haram militants of committing pogrom in which more than 20,000 people have been killed and maimed with permanent injury.

“The most serious human rights abuses included those committed by Boko Haram, which conducted numerous attacks on government and civilian targets that resulted in thousands of deaths and injuries, widespread destruction, the internal displacement of an estimated 1.8 million persons, and the external displacement of 220,000 Nigerian refugees to neighboring countries”, the report said.

It pointed out that in response to Boko Haram violent attacks, and at times to crime and insecurity in general, “security services perpetrated extrajudicial killings, and engaged in torture, rape, arbitrary detention, mistreatment of detainees, and destruction of property”.

“The country also suffered from widespread societal unrest, including ethnic, regional, and religious violence. Other serious human rights problems included vigilante killings; prolonged pretrial detention, often in facilities with poor conditions; denial of fair public trial; executive influence on the judiciary; infringement on citizens’ privacy rights; and restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, assembly, and movement.

There were reports during the year of official corruption; violence against women and children, including female genital mutilation/cutting; infanticide; sexual exploitation of children; trafficking in persons; early and forced marriages; discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; discrimination based on ethnicity, regional origin, religion, and disability; forced and bonded labor; and child labour”.

The report pointed out that impunity remained widespread at all levels of government; saying “although President Buhari’s administration began initial steps to curb corruption, authorities did not investigate or punish the majority of cases of police or military abuse”.

“Boko Haram perpetrated numerous attacks, often directly targeting civilians. The group, which recruited and forcefully conscripted child soldiers, carried out bombings–including suicide bombings–and attacks on population centers in Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Gombe, Kano, Plateau, and Yobe States. In some cases, the group employed women and children as suicide bombers. The government investigated these attacks but prosecuted only a few members of Boko Haram”.

Credit: Thisday

US Man To Die By Lethal Injection For Gunning Down Daughters As He Made Their Mom Listen On The Phone

A 60-year-old former US Marine is set to die by lethal injection tomorrow for gunning down his two young daughters as their mum listened on the phone.

John Battaglia sprayed Faith, nine, and Liberty, six, with bullets from his 45 caliber pistol in his home’s loft in the town of Livingston, Texas, on May 2, 2001.

He had picked them up for a regular custody visit on the day he learned there was a warrant out for his arrest for violating probation, which he was serving after being convicted of assaulting his
ex-wife.

She called police because he had left an abusive message on her phone.

“Mommy, why do you want Daddy to have to go to jail?” Faith asked her mother Mary Jean Pearle before she died.

Then Ms Pearle heard Faith say: “No, Daddy, please don’t do it.”

The horrified mother heard gunshots, followed by Battaglia screaming: “Merry f*****g Christmas”.

More gunshots followed.

Battaglia then went to a nearby tattoo parlour and had two roses – representing the two daughters he had just gunned down – inked on his arm.

It was there he was arrested by police.

When asked what he feels about their death, he said: “Why would I worry about where they are
now?

“We’re all here; we’re all gone at the same time. I’m not worried about it.”

Battaglia will be the sixth Texan executed this year, and the 537th since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

US Providing Over $240m In Development Assistance In Northeast Nigeria

The United States says it is currently providing over $240M in development and humanitarian assistance through comprehensive programs in north eastern Nigeria and the broader Lake Chad Basin region.

This is according to the Director of the United States International Agency For Development (USAID) Mission in Nigeria, Michael Harvey, who is in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, on an assessment tour.

He said the tour was to obtain first-hand information on the spending of sister donor agencies operating in war-torn northeast Nigeria and funded by USAID.

The insurgency problem in northeast Nigeria has forced millions of citizens out of their homes with school-age kids kept out of their classes, a situation that had made the USAID intensify its intervention programmes in the affected areas.

The Director of the USAID said the intervention programmes were targeted at Internally Displaced Persons in Borno, Adamawa, Gombe, Bauchi, Taraba and Yobe States.

USAID believes the task of addressing the many issues families in the displaced people’s camps as well as those in the host community are dealing with is overwhelming.

The victims of insurgency in Bakassi, originally from Gwoza Local Council in Borno State are the first to host the team.

They complained of poor living conditions and feeding, which they said had led to malnutrition and other illnesses.

“We need water and drugs and the weather is very harsh here because there are no trees. The sun disturbs us a lot,” one of the displaced persons, Hauwa Bello, told the group.

Part of the intervention plans of the USAID is to identify and empower displaced families preparing them for their return home.

The USAID also encouraged informal community schools assuring them of its willingness to partner with relevant authorities to give as many kids as possible unlimited access to education.

The region had seen over six years of insurgency and terror attacks mostly carried out by members of Boko Haram terrorist group.

Credit: ChannelsTv

US, UK Knew Whereabouts of Chibok Girls – Ex-British Envoy

The US and British governments knew where at least 80 of the Nigerian girls kidnapped by Boko Haram were but failed to launch a rescue mission, it has been revealed.

 

The Boko Haram terrorists stormed a secondary boarding school in the remote town of Chibok in Borno state, northern Nigeria in April 2014, and seized 276 girls who were preparing for end-of-year exams. Although 57 of the girls managed to escape the rest have remained missing and have not been heard from or seen since apart from in May that year, when 130 of them appeared in a Boko Haram video wearing hijabs and reciting the Quran.

 

Dr Andrew Pocock, the former British high commissioner to Nigeria, has now revealed that a large group of the missing girls were spotted by British and American surveillance officials shortly after their disappearance, but experts felt nothing could be done.

 

He told The Sunday Times of London that Western governments felt ‘powerless’ to help as any rescue attempt would have been too high risk – with Boko Haram terrorists using the girls as human shields. Dr Pocock said: ‘A couple of months after the kidnapping, fly-bys and an American eye in the sky spotted a group of up to 80 girls in a particular spot in the Sambisa forest, around a very large tree, called locally the Tree of Life, along with evidence of vehicular movement and a large encampment.’ According to the report of Pocock’s interview with Sunday Times, as published in the Daily Mail on Sunday, the former envoy said the girls were there for at least four weeks but authorities were ‘powerless’ to intervene – and the Nigerian government did not ask for help anyway.

He said: ‘A land-based attack would have been seen coming miles away and the girls killed, an air-based rescue, such as flying in helicopters or Hercules, would have required large numbers and meant a significant risk to the rescuers and even more so to the girls.’ He added: ‘You might have rescued a few but many would have been killed. My personal fear was always about the girls not in that encampment — 80 were there, but 250 were taken, so the bulk were not there. What would have happened to them? You were damned if you do and damned if you don’t.’ In an investigation by Christina Lamb for the Sunday Times Magazine, Dr Pocock said the information was passed to the Nigerians but they made no request for help. According to the report in Daily Mail, the Sunday Times Magazine has also seen brutal rape videos which show schoolgirls are being used as sex slaves by the terrorists.

 

Ms Lamb reports: ‘They film schoolgirls being raped over and over again until their scream become silent Os.’ Some of the girls who managed to escape told Ms Lamb they were kept in ‘women’s prisons’ where they were taught about Islam. Boko Haram fighters would visit and pick their wives.

 

The girls were powerless to resist as even then the men would be heavily armed. They were shown videos of people being raped, tortured and killed as a threat of what would happen to them if they tried to run away.

 

Dr Stephen Davis, a former canon at Coventy Cathedral who has spent several years attempting to negotiate with the terror group said Boko Haram ‘make Isis look like playtime’ and said it is ‘beyond belief’ that the authorities both in Nigeria and the West do not know where the schoolgirls are.

 

He insists the locations of the camps where the girls are being kept are well known and can even be seen on Google maps. He added: ‘How many girls have to be raped and abducted before the West will do anything?’ Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau previously claimed that all the girls, some of whom were Christian, had converted to Islam and been ‘married off’.

 

The mass abduction brought the brutality of the Islamist insurgency to worldwide attention and prompted the viral social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls which was supported by everyone from Michelle Obama to Malala Yousafzai.

 

Boko Haram violence has left at least 17,000 dead and forced more than 2.6 million from their homes since 2009. The Global Terrorism Index ranks the group as the word’s deadliest terror organisation.

 

Credit : Daily Mail UK

77-Year-Old U.S. Man Sentenced To Jail In Spain After Falling For Romance Scam

A retired pastor from Maine 77 year old Joseph Bryon Martin, was arrested by the Apanish police last year for carrying $450,00 worth of cocaine and has been sentenced to six years in a Spanish prison after he allegedly fell victim to a “romance scam” that targets senior citizens in the United States.

Martin had no idea he was moving drugs. He thought he was only doing a favour for the woman he met online in 2009 by helping her move real estate documents she asked him to help her with.

His son, Andy Martin, told Fox News Latino that he is bringing his dad’s plight to the public because
“I’d like to get the word out about this,””so other lonely seniors don’t fall prey.”

“Seniors get trapped, and they send money, and, once they do that, these people sell their information to other scammers. I want people to know what’s happening.”

He testified in February before the US Senate Special Committee on Aging, which is looking into catfishing schemes that target seniors.
He said:

“At the age of 77 and in poor health, this likely is a life sentence,” Martin told the committee about his father. “The idea that my dad is now a convicted international drug smuggler is surreal, as he had no prior criminal history. Before this conviction, my dad had never been charged with even a misdemeanor. I don’t recall him ever getting so much as a speeding ticket or parking ticket in his entire life.”

According to Andy, his dad had been chatting online with a Spanish woman he met on the Internet in 2009 who went by the name of Joy. She told his dad that she was a struggling artist and needed money and even though his dad was retired and only had the little money he got from the Govt. He always gave ‘Joy’ between  $500-$2500 each month  and couldn’t always pay his own rent.

However when his Dad got married to his third wife in April 2015, they were all relieved. His dad tried to break things off with Joy with the news that he had married someone else in the US and that he would no longer send her money.

Somehow Joy convinced his Dad to travel to Peru to pick up real estate documents for an estate she claimed she had inherited. She told him she couldn’t get a visa to make the trip to Peru herself and his Dad fell for it. He said they all told his Dad not to go, even his new wife objected to it but he still made the trip.

In Peru, he picked up two sealed packages that he told Andy felt like books, according to the Portland Press Herald.

However, his flight to London was stopped in Madrid and Martin was subsequently arrested by local authorities who found the cocaine in his possession.

Andy said his father suffers from chronic back pain and needs surgery. He had been treated for prostate cancer, had quadruple bypass surgery and has a pacemaker. He’s living in the prison infirmary with eight to ten other prisoners. He’s asking the US committee to help seek his father’s releases based on his poor health.

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection revealed on Wednesday that they have created a new initiative to fight such scams on the elderly called “Operation Cocoon.”
So far it has prevented 16 senior citizens from boarding planes, and foreign authorities have arrested 15 suspects alleged to be involved in the “romance scam.”

US Trains Nigerian Military Officers On Counter-terrorism

A team of military personnel from the United States of America has arrived Nigeria to train a battalion of Nigerian Army officers and soldiers on counter-terrorism and insurgency operations.

Speaking at the commencement of the training at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State on Wednesday, the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Enwistle, stressed the need for countries within the Lake Chad Basin to continue to work together in the fight against terrorism and insurgency within the region.

He stated that with the ongoing partnership between United States and Nigerian military in the areas of training of officers and soldiers, the war against the Boko Haram terrorists in the northeast was already yielding tremendous result as the insurgents had been largely defeated.

The US Ambassador also tasked the Nigerian government on improving the socio-economic development of the northeast that had been ravaged by Boko Haram attacks in order to secure a long term stability of the region.

On his part, the Chief of Defence Staff, General Gabriel Owonishakin, said that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari was determined to ensure that the Nigerian Armed Forces were adequately equipped to enable personnel fight terrorism and other security challenges confronting the nation.

He explained that the partnership between the US military and Nigeria’s Armed Forces was borne out of the commitment of the present administration in waging war against global terrorism and violent extremism.

General Owonishakin, however, urged the participants to use the training opportunity to improve their military skills and capacity.

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, reminded the participants of the enormous security challenges facing Nigeria and the need for them to adapt with the new tactics to deal with the situation.

He also reiterated the commitment of the Nigerian Army towards strict observance of human rights and international humanitarian laws in the ongoing military effort to liberate the northeast from the Boko Haram terrorists.

The training which would last for 12 weeks, is designed to be conducted in three phases for troops of the 145 Battalion.

Credit: ChannelsTv

US Resumes Training Of Nigerian Troops For Anti-terror War

Fourteen months after a U.S. army-led combat training for Nigerian soldiers was aborted, American authorities have announced a resumption of the programme.

The American Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said, Tuesday, that the training would resume this February.

Speaking on U.S. strategy against Boko Haram at a meeting in Washington DC, Ms. Thomas-Greenfield said U.S. expects would “inaugurate the first round of training for an infantry battalion later this month.”

The resumed training program is part of a broad U.S. strategy against the terror group and, part of the new deal the Obama administration entered with President Muhammadu Buhari during his official trip to America last July.

“Our counter Boko Haram Strategy is an integrated, interagency effort to help Nigeria and its neighbors in their fight to degrade and ultimately to defeat Boko Haram”, said Ms. Thomas-Greenfield adding that the Obama administration engaged Mr. Buhari’s military leadership “to draw up a range of new and continued security assistance”.

“We have stepped up information-sharing efforts, we are jointly evaluating new efforts to counter improvised explosive devices, developing better tools to assess harm to civilians, and assess the potential for U.S. advisory assistance”, the Assistant Secretary of State said.

One of the reasons the Jonathan administration gave for terminating the previous U.S. training program in December 2014 was America’s reluctance to share real-time intelligence with the Nigerian military and refusal to sell Cobra helicopters to Nigeria.

Credit: PremiumTimes

Obama Seeks Fund To Fight Zika

President Barack Obama will ask the US Congress for more than 1.8 billion dollars in emergency fund to fight Zika at home and abroad and pursue a vaccine, the White House said on Monday.
According to the report, the president also said there is no reason to panic over the mosquito-borne virus.
Zika, spreading rapidly in South and Central America and the Caribbean, has been linked to severe birth defects in Brazil and public health officials’ concern is focused on pregnant women and those who may become pregnant.

 

Obama’s request to the Congress includes 200 million dollars for research, development and commercialisation of new vaccines and diagnostic tests for the virus.
In a new development, the London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA), Europe’s drugs regulator, said it had formed an expert task force on Zika to advise companies working on vaccines and medicines against the virus.
There are no vaccines or treatment for Zika and none even undergoing clinical studies, as the disease had previously been viewed as relatively benign.
Most infected people develop either no symptoms or mild ones like fever and skin rashes.

 

“The good news is that this is not like Ebola, people don’t die of Zika. A lot of people get it and don’t even know that they have it. But there shouldn’t be panic on this; this is not something where people are going to die from it. It is something we have to take seriously,’’ Obama told CBS News in an interview aired on Monday.

Scientists are working to find out if there is a causal link between Zika and babies born with microcephaly, meaning they have abnormally small heads and can suffer developmental problems.
The research began after a huge rise in such birth defects last year in Brazil at the same time the virus took hold there.
Most of the money sought by Obama, who faces pressure from Republicans and some fellow Democrats to act decisively on Zika, would be spent in the United States on testing, surveillance and response in affected areas.

 

 

(Reuters/NAN)

Biafran Passport Not Valid Or Recognised – US, UK

The governments of the United States and the United Kingdom have said they do not recognise the passports being issued by the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra.

 

The National Director of Information, MASSOB, Sunny Okereafor, had said two weeks ago that the passport was valid worldwide, adding that the travel document costs N5,000 while its renewal costs N2,000.

 

He had said, “I assure you that the Biafran passport is valid. Except Nigeria, other countries of the world accept Biafran passport and allow our citizens to travel with it. In Europe, North and South America, Biafran passport is accepted. Nigeria is the only country that seizes Biafran passport. Go to neighbouring Ghana here, they will stamp the passport for you. Don’t be confused by the propaganda of the Nigerian government that there is nothing like Biafra passport.

 

“MASSOB appeals to Biafran citizens to procure their passport and use it to travel. If you doubt me, get a Nigerian passport while I have my Biafran passport; when we get to Europe, you will see who they will welcome than the other. Many people with the Nigerian passport have been repatriated, but have you heard of anybody with Biafran passport receiving such ill-treatment?”

 

 

However, our correspondent sent an email to the American consulate in Lagos to inquire from the US regarding the claim of MASSOB.

 

 

In his response, the Deputy Public Affairs Officer at the consulate, Frank Sellin, said, “The United States does not consider passports purporting to be from a Biafra entity to be a valid legal document for purposes of visa issuance.”

 

 

A similar response from the British Government was sent to The PUNCH via email.

 

 

The UK recalled that it did not support the disintegration of Nigeria during the 1967 Biafran War and had not changed its stance 49 years after.

 

 

A statement by the Press and Public Affairs Officer, British High Commission, Abuja, Mr. Joe Abuku, read in part, “The answer is unequivocally ‘no’. The UK does not recognise the so-called Biafran passport.

 

 

“The position of the UK Government during the Biafran War is a matter of historical record. The UK Government’s position, which reflected the Charter of the Organisation of African Unity, was to recognise the borders laid down at independence.

 

 

“The Biafran War caused great suffering and the UK supported the reconciliation work that followed the conflict. The UK supports the territorial integrity of Nigeria and the Nigerian Government’s commitment to work for a secure and prosperous Nigeria for all Nigerians.”

 

 

Credit : Punch

US Out With New Visa Rules On Travellers With Mideast Ties

The United States on Thursday began enforcing new visa rules on some travellers who have visited or who have dual nationality with states considered seedbeds of terrorism.

The Department of Homeland Security said would-be US visitors who have been to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria since March 2011 will now always have to apply for a visa.

This will be the case even if the traveller is from a country in the US visa waiver program — the 40 nations seen as friends of America whose citizens can visit freely.

In addition, citizens of visa waiver countries who hold dual Iranian, Iraqi, Sudanese or Syrian nationality will have to apply for a full visa before travelling to America.

The department said it had started to implement the new rules on Thursday, but there had already been reports of travellers falling afoul of the controversial regulations.

Credit: Vanguard

US Donates 24 Armoured Personel Carriers To Nigeria

As part of its effort at supporting the fight against Boko Haram, the United States’ Government donated 24 Mine-Resistant, Armour-Protected (MRAP) Vehicles to Nigeria.

The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr James Entwistle, presented the vehicles to Nigerian Government at the 9 Brigade Parade Ground in Ikeja, Lagos.

Represented by the U.S. Defense Attache, Col. Patrick Doyle, Entwistle said the gesture was part of his government’s continued support for Nigeria in the fight against insurgency.

“The sacrifices that have been made by Nigeria to help the Nigerian people and the West African countries in the fight against Boko Haram is commendable.

“I believe that the U.S. commitment to Nigeria is second to none.

“We will continue to support the Nigerian Government in its fight against Boko Haram.

“We are, therefore, presenting these 24 vehicles to the Nigerian Army to aid them in their assignments,’’ he said.

Entwistle said that his government was donating the vehicles through its Excess Defense Articles Programme, adding that the Nigerian Government arranged for the transportation of the vehicles to Lagos from the U.S.

The Envoy also said that it would be the responsibility of Nigeria to repair some of the vehicles that were not in good condition.

Entwistle said that the U.S. government was currently downsizing its troops, and had decided to donate some of its MRAPs to his partner countries like Nigeria.

Credit: DailyTimes

US Donates 24 Mine Resistant Vehicles Worth $11m To Nigerian Army

he United States will today donate 24 mine resistant armor military vehicles to the Nigerian army as part of its promises to aid Nigeria in it’s fight against the dreaded terrorist group- Boko Haram.

The vehicles worth $11m will be given to military officials at the Nigerian Army 9th Brigade Parade ground,Ikeja. A statement yesterday, by the Public Affairs Section of the US Consulate General Lagos, said:

“The US is pleased to donate 24 Mine-Resistant, Armor-Protected (MRAP) vehicles valued at $11m to Nigeria’s military authorities. “The equipment donation represents part of the continuing US commitment to Nigeria and its neighbours to counter Boko Haram’s senseless acts of terror and promote regional security.”

US Renews Collaboration With Nigeria, Neighbours Against Boko Haram

The United States, US, government has restated its commitment to help Nigeria and its neighbours to counter terrorism acts by Boko Haram.

Buhari-Obama-Vanguard-3

A statement issued by the US Embassy in Abuja, yesterday, however, said that much still needed to be done to ensure that the people of Nigeria and its neighbours lived in peace.

“The United States remains committed to helping Nigeria and its neighbours counter Boko Haram’s senseless acts of terror.

“Despite much progress over the past year — due in large part to newly bolstered Nigerian and regional efforts — more work remains to ensure the people of Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria can live in peace.

“The conflict has affected the lives of communities across the Lake Chad Basin region with some 2.5 million internally displaced people and more than 170,000 Nigerian refugees forced to flee their homes,” the statement said.

It said the US had provided various forms of support for Nigeria and its neighbours in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency.

It said: “The United States provides advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support and equipment to our African partners as they work to defeat Boko Haram.

“We also support those affected by Boko Haram’s violence through on-going humanitarian aid and victim support services.

“The United States will continue working with our partners in the region to identify new opportunities to support their efforts to stop Boko Haram’s wanton violence and restore order in the Lake Chad Basin region.”

The US condemned the terrible attacks carried out by Boko Haram in Nigeria from December 25 to December 28 as well as other recent attacks in Cameroon, Chad, and Niger. It also extended condolences to the families of the victims.

“Boko Haram killed dozens of innocent people who were targeted as they went about their daily lives—attending service at a mosque, shopping in a neighbourhood market or simply travelling down a road. We extend our deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims and we stand with the people of Nigeria and the region in the fight against Boko Haram,” it said.

Islamic State Suffers Double Blow As Ramadi Falls, Leaders Killed

U.S.-led forces have killed 10 Islamic State leaders in air strikes, including individuals linked to the Paris attacks, a U.S. spokesman said, dealing a double blow to the militant group after Iraqi forces ousted it from the city of Ramadi.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi planted the national flag in Ramadi after the army retook the city center from Islamic State, a victory that could help vindicate his strategy for rebuilding the military after stunning defeats.

“Over the past month, we’ve killed 10 ISIL leadership figures with targeted air strikes, including several external attack planners, some of whom are linked to the Paris attacks,” said U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamist group also known by the acronym ISIL.

“Others had designs on further attacking the West.”

One of those killed was Abdul Qader Hakim, who facilitated the militants’ external operations and had links to the Paris attack network, Warren said. He was killed in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on Dec. 26.
Two days earlier, a coalition air strike in Syria killed Charaffe al Mouadan, a Syria-based Islamic State member with a direct link to Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the suspected ringleader of the coordinated bombings and shootings in Paris on Nov. 13 which killed 130 people, Warren said.
Mouadan was planning further attacks against the West, he added.
Air strikes on Islamic State’s leadership helped explain recent battlefield successes against the group, which also lost control of a dam on a strategic supply route near its de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria on Saturday.

“Part of those successes is attributable to the fact that the organization is losing its leadership,” Warren said. He warned, however: “It’s still got fangs.”

Boluwatife Adekunle: Cynicism, Pharisaism And The World Today

And part of the statement reads…. “The United States calls on the Government of Nigeria to quickly, credibly, and transparently investigate these events in Zaria and hold to account any individuals found to have committed crimes.”

The United State government, through its embassy in Abuja, released a statement to make known its concern and position on recent clash between Nigerian military and members of Islamic movement, whose leadership hails from north-western part of the country. The imbroglio has been widely condemned, following the needless loss of lives.

According to Vanguard… “The Chief Medical Director of the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital in Zaria, Dr Lawal Khalid said the hospital’s morgue had received 61 bodies from the ongoing turmoil”.  The outcome of the incident involving the military and Shiites is rather unfortunate, an event the Army Chief says “could have been avoided”.

The official statement released on behalf of US government also reads… “While many details of the incidents that reportedly began on December 12 remain unclear, we are dismayed to learn of multiple civilian deaths [emphasis mine]. It is essential that all sides refrain from actions that further destabilize the situation.”

The bloodbath in Zaria vis-à-vis today’s upsurge of sectarian violence, which over the years as resulted to “multiple civilian deaths” across the globe, spurs the author of this essay to take a trip down memory lane as regards “multiple civilians” who in recent times were victims of US military engagements in Middle East and other regions, in circumstances popularly described as collateral damage or collateral murder as it’s being used in some quarters.

October 3, 2015 –Médecins Sans Frontières MSF Trauma centre in Kunduz was hit several times during sustained bombing by US-led coalition forces. According to MSF report… “The total number of dead is known to be at least 42, including 24 patients, 14 staff and 4 caretakers.”  What makes this event tragic was the “multiple civilians” who were armless; defenceless that got caught up in the mess.

“The official said the first bomb had landed at 02:10, and MSF staff called NATO in Kabul at 02:19 and military officials in Washington a few minutes later, but the bombing continued until 03:13.”

The bombing continued for 30 minutes after MSF pleaded with them to stop. This incident, sorrowfully, occurred just few days after MSF says that all parties to the conflict, including Kabul and Washington, had been told the precise GPS co-ordinates of the hospital in Kunduz on many occasions, including on 29 September.

“Why Is the U.S. Refusing an Independent Investigation If Its Hospital Airstrike Was an ‘Accident’?” –Glenn Greenwald

MSF President Meinie Nicolai condemned the attack as “abhorrent and a grave violation of International Humanitarian Law.” “We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage’.”

And speaking of “collateral damage”

October 15, 2015 –The Intercept published secret documents about US drone wars. “… The US government has been wildly understating the collateral casualties from its drone program, according to an extensive eight-part series report in The Intercept. Using leaked documents on Operation Haymaker, one report takes an unprecedented look at drone strikes in Afghanistan between January 2012 and February 2013, during which more than 200 people were killed by US drones. Of those people, only 35 were approved targets, the rest being either collateral damage or mistakes resulting from faulty intelligence…”

April 5, 2010 –Wikileaks reveals video showing US air crew shooting down Iraqi civilians. According to TheGuardian… “A secret video showing US air crew falsely claiming to have encountered a firefight in Baghdad and then laughing at the dead after launching an air strike that killed a dozen people, including two Iraqis working for Reuters news agency, was revealed by Wikileaks today. “

Today’s Syria is literally a country on hold. Life has been made cheap, very sadly though, in that part of the world.

Some conspiracy theories suggest that the over 200,000 already lost souls and millions of displaced people living in inhabitable environment across border nations in Europe, is as a result of U.S support for the opposition rebels in Syria, supplying arms and other logistics to the Islamic State fighters in their quest to wage war on Bashar al-Assad’s leadership [The current Syrian President].

As stated by a report on Aljazeera… “The answer can be found in diplomatic communications released by WikiLeaks, which show that regime change in Syria has been the policy of the U.S. government as far back as 2006. Even more horrifying — after hundreds of thousands of deaths, untold lives ruined and more than 4 million refugees fleeing the country — is the evidence that Washington has had a policy of promoting sectarian warfare in the country for the purpose of destabilizing the Assad government”

Libya has not been the same ever since the implementation of US agenda to forcefully sack Mahmud Gaddaffi from office. They succeeded in their quest but the Rebels trained and armed by US continue to rain havoc on the once peaceful and economic giant country. Many innocent souls “multiple civilians” perished away as collateral damage.

“Look at Libya and what you[U.S] did there, that got your Ambassador murdered. Was it us that did this? You even had a Security Council decision. But okay… What did you proceed to do yourselves? You started bombing the territory. This is in clear contravention of the Security Council resolution.”

That was Vladimir Putin, Russian President, speaking at the Valdai international Discussion Club in late 2014.

Part of his comments also reads… “Is it a good result that your Ambassador was murdered? It is actually a terrible catastrophe. But do not look around for somebody to blame when it is you[U.S] making these mistakes. You must do the opposite; rise above the endless desire to dominate. You must stop acting out of imperialistic ambition”

Over and above, this writer is worried about what has become of the world today, the “multiple civilians” who had been victims of sectarian violence across the globe and millions who are displaced due to ongoing wars and conflicts.

It is to this end, the author of this essay joins United State government to condemn in its entirety the “multiple civilians” killed in Zaria.

Boluwatife Adekunle

@boluzzz

Views expressed are solely that of author and does not represent views of www.omojuwa.com nor its associates

US Issues Worldwide Terror Alert Over Fears Of Attack From ISIS, Al-Qaeda And Boko Haram

Americans have been issued with a global travel alert over fears of attacks from terrorists around the world.
The US State Department has warned all citizens to be vigilant citing threats from ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram and “other terrorist groups”.
They have advised everyone to take caution in public places, during holidays and at large gatherings such as sporting matches or concerts.
The alert expires on 24 February next year, the State Department said.
It comes in the wake of the Paris terror attacks last Friday which claimed the lives of 130 people.

The alert on its website reads:

“Current information suggests that ISIL (aka Da’esh), al-Qa’ida, Boko Haram, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks in multiple regions.  These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics, using conventional and non-conventional weapons and targeting both official and private interests.  This Travel Alert expires on February 24, 2016.

Authorities believe the likelihood of terror attacks will continue as members of ISIL/Da’esh return from Syria and Iraq.  Additionally, there is a continuing threat from unaffiliated persons planning attacks inspired by major terrorist organizations but conducted on an individual basis.  Extremists have targeted large sporting events, theatres, open markets, and aviation services.  In the past year, there have been multiple attacks in France, Nigeria, Denmark, Turkey, and Mali.  ISIL/Da’esh has claimed responsibility for the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt.
U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when in public places or using transportation.  Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds or crowed places.  Exercise particular caution during the holiday season and at holiday festivals or events.  U.S. citizens should monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.  Persons with specific safety concerns should contact local law enforcement authorities who are responsible for the safety and security of all visitors to their host country.  U.S. citizens should:
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.  Monitor media and local information sources and factor updated information into personal travel plans and activities.
  • Be prepared for additional security screening and unexpected disruptions.
  • Stay in touch with your family members and ensure they know how to reach you in the event of an emergency.
  • Register in our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).

Foreign governments have taken action to guard against terrorist attacks, and some have made official declarations regarding heightened threat conditions.  Authorities continue to conduct raids and disrupt terror plots.  We continue to work closely with our allies on the threat from international terrorism.  Information is routinely shared between the United States and our key partners in order to disrupt terrorist plotting, identify and take action against potential operatives, and strengthen our defenses against potential threats”.

Iran Sentences US Journalist To Prison

Iran has sentenced detained Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian to an unspecified prison term following his conviction last month on charges that include espionage, Iranian state TV reported Sunday.
Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, the spokesman for Iran’s judiciary, announced the punishment in a statement on the TV station’s website.

“In brief, it is a prison sentence,” he said. The verdict is “not finalized,” he added, referring to an expected appeal.

Rezaian’s lawyer, Leila Ahsan, told The Associated Press she had not been informed of the verdict — let alone details of the sentence.

“I have no information about details of the verdict,” she said. “We were expecting the verdict some three months ago.”

Rezaian was detained with his wife, Yeganeh Salehi, and two photojournalists on July 22, 2014. All were later released except Rezaian, a dual U.S.-Iranian citizen.

Rezaian went on trial in four closed-door court hearings at Tehran’s Revolutionary Court over the past months. Last month, he was convicted of spying and other charges.

The Post has vigorously denied the accusations against its correspondent.
Rezaian, who has covered Iran for the Post since 2012, grew up in Marin County, California and spent most of his life in the United States. The Post, U.S. officials and Rezaian’s family have all called for his release. Iran does not recognize dual-nationality.

Iran’s state media, citing the indictment, have said Rezaian collected information on Iranian and foreign individuals and companies circumventing sanctions and passed them on to the U.S. government. Iranian state TV has repeatedly called Rezaian an “American spy.”

Earlier this month, the intelligence department of the powerful elite Revolutionary Guard claimed in a report to parliament that Rezaian is an agent seeking to “overthrow” Iran’s Islamic ruling system.

His incarceration and trial played out as Iran and five world powers, including the U.S., negotiated a landmark agreement in which the Islamic Republic agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief.

Source: AP

US Forces Rescue 70 Iraqis Held Captive By ISIS

US special forces have rescued 70 Kurds held captive by Isis in an overnight raid on a militant-run prison near the northern ISIS stronghold of Hawija. One soldier was killed and several senior ISIS militants were also seized during the ‘successful’ operation, it has been reported.

Airstrikes were used to destroy roads leading to the site, to prevent militants making an escape. The raid reportedly involved American helicopters, Kurdish and American Special Operations forces and airstrikes.

Sheikh Irfan, who said his nephew was among the Kurdish peshmerga fighters held prisoner, said a peshmerga official called his family today to confirm the rescue mission. He said he was told that 70 hostages were freed, including peshmerga fighters.

US Very Pleased With Nigeria’s Effort To Counter Terrorism

The U.S. has expressed happiness with the effort of Nigeria in counter terrorism.

The U.S. Special Envoy and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Communication, Rashad Hussein, said this while briefing State House Press Corps after a courtesy visit to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday.

“We are very pleased with the leadership the President and the Vice President are showing.

“We are having so many challenges but we are hopeful that under the leadership we will be able to establish partnerships and be able to make a strong difference going forward.

He said that groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS were doing great damage to the causes which they claimed to defend.

He said that the good people of the world and Muslim community all over the world were offering messages of peace and hope.

“We want to talk and work together to make sure that the message is clear to everyone.

He said that the insurgency fight against Boko Haram was one that the Nigerian government had faced squarely and said those behind the insurgency were deceiving young people.

“Boko Haram and other groups are trying to steal young people and deceive them and to offer to them a future of destruction rather than a future of hope and we are ready to offer technical support to Nigeria.”

Credit: NAN

Boko Haram: US Sends Troops, Drones To Cameroon

The United States is sending 300 US troops along with surveillance drones to Cameroon to bolster a West African effort to counter the Boko Haram sect, US officials said.

In a notification to Congress, President Barack Obama said an advance force of about 90 military personnel began deploying on Monday to Cameroon, with the consent of the Yaounde government.

The troops will “conduct airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations in the region,” Obama said.

“These forces are equipped with weapons for the purpose of providing their own force protection and security, and they will remain in Cameroon until their support is no longer needed,” he added

US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the troops would provide intelligence to a multi-national task force being set up to fight Boko Haram, composed of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, Chad and Benin Republic.

Read More: leadership

US To Give Buhari $2.3bn To Eradicate Poverty In Nigeria

Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, disclosed in a statement on Sunday that the Federal Government has signed a $2.3bn assistance agreement aimed at fighting extreme poverty with the United States Agency for International Development, USAID.
Akande said the agreement would help the Nigerian Government combat extreme poverty in the nation over the next five years.
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo was said to have signed the agreement on behalf of the Federal Government while the USAID Head of Mission in Nigeria, Mr. Michael Harvey, signed on behalf of the US government during a meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, last week.
He said:

“The issue of the extreme poverty of a vast majority of Nigerians is a very important issue for us. It is at the heart of our economic policy. You can’t have that vast number of poor people and don’t plan around that and for us this is crucial and absolutely important,” Osinbajo was reported to have said.

He promised that the present administration would continue to lead a transparent and an open government, improve the economy and address the drop pout rates of school children.
The USAID director said the agreement would provide a solid foundation for the two countries to partner to reduce inequalities across the country.

US Supports Poverty Eradication In Nigeria With $2.3 Billion

The federal government has welcomed a $2.3 billion US government assistance over the next five years that will support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s programme to combat extreme poverty among the Nigerian population.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, conveyed this message during the past week while signing the billion dollar assistance agreement with the United States Agency for International Development, USAID at the Presidential Villa.

The statement quoted the vice president as saying  “coming from the United States, this is particularly heartening and we are pleased the US is able to do this.”

Speaking with a US delegation led by the USAID Head of Mission in Nigeria, Mr. Michael Harvey, during the signing event in his office, the vice president recalled that since Buhari’s visit to US President, Barack Obama in the White House in July, “we have seen much better cooperation from the US, there is a great deal of interaction on how we intend to implement our agenda. We know the interaction is because the US wants us to succeed.”

Osinbajo said the issue of extreme poverty of a vast majority of Nigerians “is a very important issue for us, it is at the heart of our economic policy, at the center of our agenda. You can’t have that vast number of poor people and don’t plan around that and for us, this is crucial, and absolutely important.”

Read More: thisdaylive

Nigerian Ambassador to US is Dead

Foremost diplomat and Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America, Prof. Adebowale Ibidapo Adefuye is dead. He died on Thursday after suffering a seizure while being driven by his chauffeur in Washington D.C., the U.S. capital.

Sources said before he could get to the hospital, he gave up the ghost.

Last month, Adefuye, among several other Nigerian envoys, had been recalled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was expected to handover to the Consular General this month, pending the appointment of a new ambassador.

One of his last major assignments was to receive President Muhammadu Buhari and his delegation during the president’s three-day official visit to the U.S. last month.

Embassy officials, who confirmed his demise, said a send off reception was planned for him next Wednesday, but this will now be turned to a memorial service.

Read More: thisdaylive

NDLEA Occupies Arik Attendant’s House, Grills Co-workers

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Wednesday stormed and occupied the Lagos house of Chika Egwu Udensi, a crew member of the Arik Air flight W3101, who was arrested with 20 kilogrammes of cocaine at the London Heathrow Airport.
The NDLEA moved to the house after they had interrogated pilots and flight attendants of the flight that left the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos for London on Monday night. The interrogation lasted for several hours at the NDLEA head office in Lagos.
It was gathered that soon after the interrogation, the NDLEA moved to the suspect’s house in the Ejigbo area of Lagos State.
A source, who did not say if there were occupants in the house, told one of our correspondents that the NDLEA men were “currently occupying the house, and we will not leave here until we get all the

evidence that we want.”

It was gathered that although the operatives had seized the suspect’s Range Rover, the NDLEA was still of the opinion that Udensi had other property.
The source said, ‘We are investigating if he has other property in Lagos or elsewhere. Some of them (suspected drug courier) live simple lives, but have other valuables stashed everywhere. We are searching for incriminating documents.”
On the interrogation, the NDLEA in a statement said the entire crew members including some support staff that worked on the flight before it departed Lagos appeared before narcotic investigators at the Ikoyi headquarters of the agency.
They include two pilots and members of the cabin crew comprising an Australian and a South African.
The statement by the NDLEA spokesperson, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, read in part, “The invitation which was made by the agency was swiftly complied with by the management of Arik Air.
“The crew members were conveyed to the NDLEA office in an official bus belonging to Arik Air. This is part of ongoing investigation to determine their level of involvement in the smuggling of 20 kg of cocaine found with Chika Egwu Udensi, a member of the cabin crew in London.
“The latest Range Rover car belonging to the prime suspect parked on the airline’s premises had also been moved to the NDLEA office as exhibit.”
Ofoyeju also confirmed to one of our correspondents that the operatives went to the attendant’s house, adding, “Wait till tomorrow (Thursday). We will make a comprehensive statement on it.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman/ Chief Executive Officer, NDLEA, Mr. Ahmadu Giade, was said to have promised to carry out an elaborate investigation into the ongoing case, stressing that all persons involved would be exposed and prosecuted.
“The agency has made remarkable progress in it counter-narcotic efforts and will resist any act capable of reversing the gains so far recorded,” he said.
However, findings by our correspondent revealed that the NDLEA and other aviation security officials were seriously grilling an Arik staff member working in the catering department who is believed to have assisted the suspect.
Security officials, it was learnt, believed that the suspect was assisted by some staff members of Arik catering department to move the 20 kilogrammes of cocaine into the aircraft.
One of the top security officials, who spoke to our correspondent under the condition of anonymity, said, “Security officials believe strongly that the 20kgs of cocaine might have been moved into the aircraft through the Arik’s catering department. There is a prime suspect in that department that is being interrogated specially.
“Normally, staff members of the catering department carrying foods from the airline office to the aircraft are not usually screened. Officials believe the bags containing the 20kgs of cocaine may have been taken through this route.”
“The reason for this is that there is a machine that searches the cabin crew members at the airline’s office before they go to the airport terminal to board the plane. So if the suspect carried it himself, he may have been caught. A major suspect in the catering department is going through series of interrogation.”
Source: Vanguard

ISIS Number Two Man Killed In US Military Drone Strikes In Iraq

According to spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council, Ned Price, the second in command of ISIS leadership, Haji Mutazz, who also goes by the name Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, was killed in an August 18th US drone strike near Mosul, Iraq. The number two man, was said to be traveling in a car with another ISIS member named Abu Abdullah when their vehicle was hit.

Mutazz, who the US media falsely reported died in December 2014, was in charge of ISIS operations in Iraq and was also believed to prominently involved in directing ISIS’ financial operations.

“Al-Hayali’s death will adversely impact ISIL’s operations given that his influence spanned ISIL’s finance, media, operations, and logistics,” Price said.

Former US President, Jimmy Carter Announces Cancer Has Spread To His Brain

Former President of the United States of America, Jimmy Carter announced today that doctors had found cancer on his brain and that he would begin radiation treatments later in the day.

During a news conference at the Carter Center, Mr. Carter, 90, said that he had four melanoma spots on his brain and that another cancerous mass had been removed from his liver during a procedure on Aug. 3. He had announced last week that he had cancer, but Thursday’s appearance was the first time that he publicly detailed his condition.

“I’m perfectly at ease with whatever comes,” Mr. Carter said. “I do have a deep religious faith, which I’m very grateful for.”

He acknowledged, however, immediate feelings that he “had just a few weeks left” when he first learned of the cancer on his brain.

US Sending Arms To Nigeria – Report

THERE are indications that the United States government is sending arms to the Nigerian military in its efforts to crush Boko Haram.
Facts that the US might start sending arms to Nigeria came on the heels of the US Ambassador to Nigeria, James Entwistle’s revelation in an interview with one of our correspondents that the US government never placed arms embargo on Nigeria.
“There’s been a lot of misunderstanding on this issue before, during and after President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to Washington. Let me be clear about a couple of things. One, we had worked very closely with Nigeria on the Leahy Amendment….The second piece of misinformation, which has been bandied about in (newspapers’) headlines, is that the US has lifted its arms embargo on Nigeria. There was never an arms embargo,” Entwistle said.

According to Radio France Internationale, the US Defence Security Cooperation Agency records

show that the country’s Department of Defence is set to transfer military material to Nigeria.

The RFI noted that a DSCA list of “so-called Excess Defence Articles” slated for Nigeria indicated that the US Army was about to transfer Caiman trucks, armoured vehicles designed “to defeat current and emerging threats,” according to their manufacturer, British-based BAE Systems.
The RFI added that the US government was also sending armoured vehicles known as MaxxPro MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected), made by Navistar Defence, an Illinois company, and Israeli-based Plasan Sasa.
It is unclear which Nigerian military units will receive the equipment, but the report said that the US government had confirmed that deliveries were pending.
When The PUNCH contacted the Department of State to confirm the types of military hardware the US would be sending and when deliveries of the weapons would be made, the newspaper was directed to contact Nigeria’s Ministry of Defence.
The spokesperson for the US State Department, Noel Clay,   via an email to The PUNCH, said, “The United States is set to expand its efforts to provide bilateral security assistance to Nigeria to counter Boko Haram. We will refer you to the Nigerian MoD to confirm the arrival of any US-origin material, but we can say that a key component of our security assistance to Nigeria in recent years has been training on the importance of respect for human rights and professional military conduct.
“Impunity for human rights violations by security forces not only tarnishes Nigeria’s reputation, but cannot prohibit us from engaging with involved units. We will continue to work with the Nigerian military to ensure they conduct disciplined military operations in accordance with clear rules of engagement and international law; treat all detainees humanely; allow access to independent monitors to all detention facilities; and hold accountable the perpetrators of unlawful violence.”
Meanwhile, a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has said prayer is the best weapon against terrorism.
Gowon, who is also the founder of Nigeria Prays, a non-profit organisation, said this on Sunday at the National Prayer Rally, which held at the Olive Tree Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, Ikoyi, Lagos.
He observed that Boko Haram insurgency had been the most disturbing of all the problems of Nigeria.
“There is need for Nigerians to begin to change their orientation and begin to pray according to the will and purpose of God. The only way prayer can be of benefit to all is for us to ask that God’s will be done. We should pray that God will answer our prayers in way that it will be a blessing to all,” he said,
Gowon, as Nigeria’s ruler between 1966 and 1975, prosecuted the Nigeria-Biafra civil war.
He said the incessant suicide bombings in the country were enough cause for worry.
He said, “It is sad that some people wilfully take their lives and the lives of others. This is a great concern. There is no longer respect for lives. There is no regard for human dignity. This is worrisome. That is why I really want to appeal to Nigerians to raise an altar of prayer for Nigeria. We should consistently pray and constantly ask that God will cause his mercy to flow in our nation. The bloodletting is embarrassing and ungodly. It is time for us to raise our voices and cry to God for His mercy on our land.
“If God could save the Biblical Saul who later became Paul, I am confident that God can touch the lives of these people called Boko Haram. We know they are faceless and nobody knows their agenda. That is why I believe that it is only God who can really intervene in their lives and bring a change.”
Source: The Punch

US jails Nigeria’s ‘Ayatollah Mustapha’ for 22 years for aiding Al-Qaeda

A Nigerian accused of receiving weapons training from al Qaeda’s Yemeni affiliate and writing rap lyrics, among other contributions, for the group’s English-language media operations was sentenced on Wednesday to 22 years in United States prison, authorities said.

 

Lawal Babafemi, 35, also known as Ayatollah Mustapha, was sentenced by US District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn after pleading guilty in April 2014 to providing material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

 

Prosecutors had sought up to 30 years in prison for Babafemi, who was extradited from Nigeria in 2013 after being arrested several times two years earlier on local terrorism charges.

 

Babafemi’s court-appointed lawyer in Brooklyn was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday afternoon.

 

Prosecutors said that from January 2010 to August 2011, Babafemi traveled from Nigeria to Yemen twice to meet with leaders of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP.

 

During his time with that group, Babafemi, who went by the name “Ayatollah Mustapha,” worked on AQAP’s media operations, including its magazine “Inspire,” prosecutors said.

 

He and two other individuals including a Vietnamese man named Minh Quang Pham contributed writing and editing, prosecutors said, and Babafemi became close with Samir Khan, a US citizen who was Inspire’s editor.

 

Together, the men appeared in the magazine in a photograph, wearing camouflage and holding rifles, authorities say.

 

After Khan and Pham had the idea of recording rap songs as AQAP propaganda, Babafemi began writing lyrics about jihad, prosecutors said.

 

The group’s leadership, including Anwar al-Awlaki, paid Babafemi almost $9,000 to recruit English speakers from Nigeria, prosecutors said.

 

Khan and Awlaki, a US citizen born in New Mexico, were killed in US drone strikes in Yemen in 2011. Pham was extradited to the United States in March and is awaiting trial.

 

Source : PM News

US Based Nigerian Sends Teens To Nigeria To Learn Gratitude

A dad wanting his twin teen sons, accustomed to the comforts of the country club, to learn some gratitude took an unusual step.

According to WPCO, a Cincinnati-based TV station, he sent the 14-year-olds to spend the seventh grade in Nigeria.

The boys, Noble and Evan Nwankwo, spent seventh grade at Mea Mater Elizabeth High School in Enugu. There, the day starts with 5 am exercise and prayer, and continues with a 12-subject course load. There’s no help from mum on homework or washing clothes, either.

“Adversity is important in somebody’s development in life, as far as I’m concerned, because there comes a time when the storm is going to hit you, and if you never had that to fall back on you’re just going to fall apart,” Evans Nwankwo, the father, said. “I strongly believe that because it’s been important in my own development.”

Read More: thisdaylive

#DidYouKnow: More Chinese Restaurants In US Than McDonald’s Stores Worldwide

Experts estimate that there are more than 40,000 Chinese restaurants in the US now, a number that outstrips the total number of McDonald’s outlets in the world, estimated at 36,000.

Chinese food has been around in the US since the mid-1800s, when a huge influx of Chinese immigrants came to California during the Gold Rush.

The newcomers started opening restaurants and eventually began settling elsewhere thanks to the railroad expansion. That resulted in the establishment of Chinatowns all over the place.

For decades, Chinese food was considered exotic and available only if you ventured to a predominantly Chinese neighborhood. But today, you can walk almost anywhere in the US and you’re likely to come across not just one, but multiple Chinese restaurants

Read More: cctvnews

We Will Give It All It Takes To Extradite Kashamu To The US – NDLEA

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency on Friday said is continuing moves to extradite a financier of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South-West, Mr. Buruji Kashamu, to the United States for alleged drug-related offences.

Kashamu is a senator representing Ogun-East Senatorial District at the National Assembly.

The anti-narcotics agency said it is appealing the various orders and court injunctions granted the senator, which are preventing his arrest and extradition.

The NDLEA had been at daggers drawn with Kashamu over a claim by the agency that it received a
request from the American government seeking the extradition of the PDP leader to answer drug-related charges.

The agency, in what it tagged, ‘house arrest’, had deployed its operatives in the Lekki, Lagos, residence of the politician for six days before they were withdrawn, following a court order.

A Federal High Court in Lagos had, in separate rulings, restrained the NDLEA and any other agencies in the country from unlawfully arresting and forcefully extraditing the Ijebu-born politician to the US.

Speaking to Sunday Punch on Friday, the Head of Public Affairs, NDLEA, Mr. Mitchell Ofoyeju, said the agency had approached the courts to vacate all orders granted Kashamu. He stated that the agency would follow all legal means to ensure that Kashamu was extradited.

Ofoyeju said, “He (Kashamu) went to court to seek several orders. We have appealed those orders. The matters have not been determined. We are in court.”

The NDLEA spokesman explained that Kashamu had built several legal walls to prevent the agency from arresting to him.

“For instance, the warrant of arrest we obtained from the court, he set it aside (through a court). Then, the suit the Attorney-General of the Federation filed; the motion for his extradition, he also went to court to set it aside. The AGF is appealing that order and we are appealing ours. The cases are already in court.”

Ofoyeju said the NDLEA was not to witch-hunt Kashamu, claiming that the agency had been requested by the American government to extradite him.

He said, “We have the formal request from the United States,’ asking for his extradition. We have that and we went to obtain a warrant of arrest which he got an order to set aside. He got so many court orders; we are now appealing those orders to enable us to follow due process.

“We cannot use the legal process to impede his extradition process. If he says he believes in the rule of law, we are going to follow it up to a logical conclusion.”

I Did Not Indict US Over Boko Haram, Says Pres. Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said there was no truth in claims in  the local and international media that he accused or indicted the United States Government of helping the terrorist group, Boko Haram.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President described the reports as widely off mark.

He described the reports as unfortunate misinterpretation and distortion of his remarks at the United States Institute of Peace during his official visit to Washington DC.

He said he made it clear in those remarks, copies of which were circulated to the media, that he was convinced that the United States could never support groups such as Boko Haram.

The statement read in part, “The regrets expressed by  President Buhari at USIP about the impact of the application of the Leahy Law on Nigeria’s war against  Boko Haram and terrorism cannot be construed as an indictment of President Barack  Obama and the United States Government who have publicly and privately declared their preparedness to give the Buhari Administration the fullest possible support and assistance.

“Within the context in which they were made, President Buhari’s comments on the adverse effect of the Leahy Law on Nigeria’s efforts to contain Boko Haram’s  atrocious acts of terrorism should only be taken as a passionate appeal for even greater understanding and support from  a very powerful and longstanding ally.

“President Buhari has nothing but the highest possible regard for President Obama, the United States Government, the people of the United States, their laws and institutions.

“The President had very successful and useful talks with President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, other high-ranking US government officials and members of United States Congress during his visit to Washington DC.

“It is his expectation that those talks will lead to better mutual understanding and a further deepening of bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United States, especially in Nigeria’s current priority areas of  defence and security cooperation.”

Source – punchng.com

What’s Next For Nigeria-US Relations? By Japheth Omojuwa

In case you did not know, Washington likes ceremonies but the one President Muhammadu Buhari was treated to this week in his state visit to the United States was one of a kind. Not since Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa’s July 1961 visit has a Nigerian leader been so treated and accorded first class United States Government hospitality. So, after those beautiful pictures, seemingly productive meetings, feel-good news reports, what is next?

We would have to start with the agenda of the engagements. Top on that list is the war on terrorism. President Buhari already got the commitment of the US Government and the G7 at the Germany session of the group just after his inauguration. Whatever commitments President Obama made on Monday was only a reiteration of what the Group of seven advanced countries already promised. We have been here before; China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States and the likes made similar promises and commitments in the wake of the abduction of the Chibok girls. Nigeria did pettily cancel a US military training for its officers at the trough of what was left of the US-Nigeria relations under the ill-fated Jonathan government but the other countries made just as much commitments. As we speak, nothing substantive has come off that. There is an argument for how the previous government must have hampered whatever support promised by these countries but that government has since been booted out and the problems remain. This is the more reason why the recent commitments of the US Government must be immediately backed up with real progressive movement. Nigerians want to see immediate and effective progress on the rescue mission of the Chibok girls. That in itself is apart from the overall mission to rid the northeast of Nigeria of the menace of terrorism. No same person expects Boko Haram to be wiped off in days but a major onslaught should help provide some much needed respite. The terrorists have been particularly bloodier since the end of May. Something needs to happen on that front urgently.

 

 

President Buhari In a meeting with Pres Obama

 

On trade, things could not be worse. According to census.gov, the numbers are declining year on year and the difference between the first five months of 2015 versus those of 2014 already shows a sharp decline. In January 2014, the volume of trade was $752.1 m ($369.9m in exports and$382.2m in imports) but by January 2015, the numbers had suffered massively with a total of $376.1 m ($230.8min exports and $145.3m in imports). The trend followed year-on-year with February as the 2014 numbers indicated a total of$783.6m ($518.2m in exports and $265.4m in imports) against the mediocre February 2015 numbers; a total trade volume of $386.6m, with $326.7m in exports and $59.9m in imports. March 2014 had a total trade volume of $1.09bn with $456.1m in exports and $634.8m in imports. Compared to March 2015, you’d see the trend continue: total trade volume $381.1m, with $286.5m of that in exports and $94.6m in imports. April 2014 numbers recorded $1.3b in total trade volume with $644.9m in exports and $656.1m in imports. The declining trade volume between both countries showed again with April 2015 having a total trade volume of $428.4m with $250.2m in exports and $178.2m in imports. May 2014 had $1.2bn with $715.4m in exports and $505.4m in imports. May 2015 could not match that figure as it turned over $372.6m in total trade volume with $235.6m recorded for exports and $137m for imports. You need not be a mathematician to see something is happening here: Trade relations between the US and Nigeria are suffering a major decline. If not arrested, we could be talking about even more appalling numbers for 2016. Whatever rhetoric anyone comes up with on the US-Nigeria trade relations, the numbers are clear enough; something has gone wrong and it needs to be fixed.

The fixing is what Buhari’s Washington trip has started but beyond what happens in Washington, Nigeria needs the residual effects of the engagements. The one advantage of being hosted in the US instead of hosting the US President is that the scope of engagement of the Nigerian government is wider. There are people that’d not travel with the US delegation that’d be available for meetings in Washington, not to mention the fact that there is a limit to how many people that can travel with the President. So, it does help that Nigeria’s government made the trip. Like the government-to-government end, the trade and commercial side of this engagement cannot be overemphasised. We need assistance in fighting terrorism but we also need to expand the frontiers of trade to improve our earnings as a country.

On corruption and the recovery of looted funds, the assistance could not have come at a better time and to a better leader; President Buhari is desperate to nip corruption in the bud and that right from the beginning of his administration. The recovery of looted funds featured greatly in the Washington engagements and Nigerians can expect some immediate results on that front. Looters need not keep their money in the US to have Washington know about it; the US Government has access to wires that move around the world beyond a certain amount. In certain cases, even if such financial transfers are below the standard for tracking, they are open to tracking once they are done in certain sequences. These are measures put in place to track the flow of money for sponsors of international terrorism. But the wires do not go blind when they see transfers that are not related to terrorism; those in charge simply file such transfers under different headings. If there was one thing President Jonathan was right about, it was in his saying “America will know” if any money had been stolen. Hate them or love them, they truly would know and Nigeria is now counting on them to tell.

The fight against corruption would also include technical support for Nigeria’s anti-corruption agencies. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission got a lot of technical support from the US in its early days and that sort of support could prove useful at a time like this.

It is not all about Nigeria taking though, this could be a symbiotic relationship if the country gets its acts right. The US needs us to help maintain peace and order on the continent; to at least keep our end of the continent, West Africa, in peace. To ensure the continued thriving of fundamental human rights, the rule of law and the prosperity of the West African sub-region. They know that a Nigeria that moves forward will drag the rest of the continent along. Nigeria has a lot to offer the world like President Obama himself said on Monday but the world will not wait for Nigeria. This country must get itself together and truly begin to live in the reality of its purpose; a nation destined by God to lead other nations. There is nothing wrong with getting help to stand up; what matters is to stay responsible to what we must do as a nation to realise our vision and dreams. On this one, the US is certainly a friend as long as we are not looking at taking fish from them; this relationship should strictly be about us learning to fish better.

Omojuwa is a public speaker, social media entrepreneur, political commentator, and is the Chief Strategist on www.omojuwa.com

This piece first appeared on www.punchng.com

You Can’t Blackmail Us, PDP Tells Buhari

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has said that no amount of “intimidation, blackmail and propaganda” by the Presidency would stop it from demanding that President Muhammadu Buhari kick-starts government and commence implementation of his campaign promises for which he was voted into office.

PDP had on Sunday said that Mr. Buhari’s first 30 days in office saw Nigeria only in motion without movement.

Mr. Buhari promptly replied the PDP saying he is taking his time to clean the rot left by the party.

The PDP, however, said the Presidency’s excuse of clearing the “so-called Augean Stable” is lame and diversionary noting that it stands by its statement that the delay is creating loopholes through which some persons claiming closeness to the President have infiltrated executive bodies, arm-twisting and conniving with unscrupulous elements in the bureaucracy to syphon the nation’s resources in the last 30 days.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, in a statement on Monday said the party would not in any way be cowed by threats and wild allegations by the Presidency into abdicating its responsibility of speaking out as an opposition party where the system is derailing.

Read More: premiumtimesng

US Singer, Ne-Yo To Perform At MTV Africa Music Awards 2015

Grammy Award winning R&B icon, NE-YO, has been announced to perform at the MTV Africa Music Awards 2015. Performing songs from his sixth studio album ‘Non Fiction’ the singer-songwriter expressed his excitement about his first ever performance in the South African city, “I can’t wait for you to see what I have in store Durban! I hope you’re ready, because I am!”

Since smashing onto the top spot of the Billboard Hot 200 Chart back in 2006 with his sophomore single “So Sick”, NE-YO has spent the last nine years churning out hit after hit, not only as a performer, but as a songwriter for his megastar peers Beyoncé, Rihanna and the late Michael Jackson to name but a few.

Multiple platinum singles, four hit albums and three Grammy Awards later, the hit-maker is ready to
share his latest work with the world.

Bruce Gillmer, EVP, Music, Talent Programming and Events, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) commented: “We are thrilled to have NE-YO join us in Durban.  He’s an incredible artist who will elevate the MAMA to new highs.”

Commented Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa, “We are very excited to welcome NE-YO to MAMA 2015 for his first ever appearance in Durban.  As a sensational live perfomer and truly accomplished R&B star, NE-YO’s an all-round class act who will greatly complement the African performers on the show.”

Celebrating the evolution of African musicians by recognising contemporary artistes and trailblazers across a range of music and lifestyle categories, the MTV Africa Music Awards KwaZulu-Natal 2015 will broadcast live across Africa on MTV Base (DStv channel 322), MTV (DStv channel 130) and BET (DStv channel 129) on Saturday July 18, 2015 at 9:00PM.

The show will also be transmitted worldwide on partner stations and content platforms including BET International from 18 July. In addition, a special MAMA-themed edition of MTV’s acclaimed World Stage franchise will air globally on MTV channels around the world on August 27, 2015.

Performing songs from his sixth studio album ‘Non Fiction’ the singer-songwriter expressed his excitement about his first ever performance in the South African city, “I can’t wait for you to see what I have in store Durban! I hope you’re ready, because I am!”

Since smashing onto the top spot of the Billboard Hot 200 Chart back in 2006 with his sophomore single “So Sick”, NE-YO has spent the last nine years churning out hit after hit, not only as a performer, but as a songwriter for his megastar peers Beyoncé, Rihanna and the late Michael Jackson to name but a few. Multiple platinum singles, four hit albums and three Grammy Awards later, the hit-maker is ready to share his latest work with the world.

Bruce Gillmer, EVP, Music, Talent Programming and Events, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) commented: “We are thrilled to have NE-YO join us in Durban.  He’s an incredible artist who will elevate the MAMA to new highs.”

Commented Alex Okosi, Senior Vice President & Managing Director, Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) Africa, “We are very excited to welcome NE-YO to MAMA 2015 for his first ever appearance in Durban.  As a sensational live perfomer and truly accomplished R&B star, NE-YO’s an all-round class act who will greatly complement the African performers on the show.”

Celebrating the evolution of African musicians by recognising contemporary artistes and trailblazers across a range of music and lifestyle categories, the MTV Africa Music Awards KwaZulu-Natal 2015 will broadcast live across Africa on MTV Base (DStv channel 322), MTV (DStv channel 130) and BET (DStv channel 129) on Saturday July 18, 2015 at 9:00PM.

The show will also be transmitted worldwide on partner stations and content platforms including BET International from 18 July. In addition, a special MAMA-themed edition of MTV’s acclaimed World Stage franchise will air globally on MTV channels around the world on August 27, 2015.

President Buhari Says The US And Others Will Assist Nigeria Recover Stolen Funds

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said his administration had received firm assurance from the United States and other countries recover and return funds stolen from Nigeria.
According to a statement by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President said it was now up to Nigeria to provide the international community with the facts and figures needed to drive the recovery effort.
He said:

“In the next three months, our administration will be busy getting those facts and the figures to help us recover our stolen funds in foreign countries,” Adesina quoted the President as saying.

The president made this statement to members of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Citing the report submitted by the Ahmed Joda-led transition committee, President Buhari said that several revenue-generating institutions in the country had been compromised.
In regards to insecurity, the President said traditional rulers would play a key role in stemming terrorism and insurgency in the country.
This, he said, they would do by assisting the government with cost-effective intelligence gathering.
Buhari also assured the traditional rulers that his administration was working hard to end insecurity and terrorism in the country in the shortest possible time with the cooperation of neighbouring countries and the international community.
Acknowledging that Nigerians expected a lot from his administration, the President appealed for patience and understanding while his government works diligently to speedily overcome the huge national challenges it inherited.
The Sultan had earlier presented the Northern Traditional Rulers’ recommendations to the President on issues related to national development.

U.S. Will Assist Us To Recover Stolen Money- Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday said his administration had received firm assurances of cooperation from the United States and other countries in his quest to recover and repatriate funds stolen from Nigeria.

According to a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, the President spoke while granting audience to members of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council led by the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Adesina quoted Buhari as saying that it was now up to Nigeria to provide the international community with the facts and figures needed to drive the recovery effort.

He said he would be busy, in the next three months, getting the facts that would help in recovering the stolen funds. “In the next three months, our administration will be busy getting those facts and the figures to help us recover our stolen funds in foreign countries,” Adesina quoted the President as saying.

Citing the report submitted by the Ahmed Joda-led transition committee, President Buhari said that several revenue-generating institutions in the country had been compromised.

On insecurity, the President was also quoted as telling the traditional rulers that they would play a key role in stemming terrorism and insurgency in the country.

This, he said, they would do by assisting the government with cost-effective intelligence gathering.

Read Morepunchng

Jega Used Card Reader To Finish Us- PDP Chieftain

Olorogun John Oguma, JP, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP in Delta State. In this interview with select journalists, he spoke on the 2015 elections and other issues of national interests.Excerpts:

What is your reaction to the outcome of the 2015 general election?

We in PDP abandoned ‘we’ and we were discussing ‘I’ and that is what has brought us now to this level. It is a bitter lesson that we must have to learn from and we are going to start again from the scratch.

Because we were busy fighting ourselves, APC was busy rigging the election two years back. This election was actually rigged two years back because we were busy fighting ourselves; this governor is not good, that governor is bad; so it is a bitter lesson to our leaders.

Secondly, far as I am concerned, the card reader was a bigger issue than the voting point. In the electoral act, the card reader is not there, but he forced Nigerians to accept it because he knew what he  planned.

Read More: vanguardngr

China Hacks U.S. Government, 4 Million Identities Compromised

China-based hackers are suspected of breaking into the computer networks of the U.S. government personnel office and stealing identifying information of at least 4 million federal workers, American officials said Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that data from the Office of Personnel Management and the Interior Department had been compromised.

4 million current and former federal employees may have had their personal information hacked.

The agency, which conducts background checks, warned it was urging potential victims to monitor their financial statements and obtain new credit reports.
U.S. officials believe this could be the biggest breach ever of the government’s computer networks.
“The FBI is conducting an investigation to identify how and why this occurred,” the statement said.
An assessment continues and it is possible millions more government employees may be impacted.
American investigators believe they can trace the breach to the Chinese government. Hackers working for the Chinese military are believed to be compiling a massive database of Americans, intelligence.

A U.S. official, who declined to be named because he was not authorized to publicly discuss the data breach, said it could potentially affect every federal agency. One key question is whether intelligence agency employee information was stolen. Former government employees are affected as well.

“This is an attack against the nation,” said Ken Ammon, chief strategy officer of Xceedium, who said the attack fit the pattern of those carried out by nation states for the purpose of espionage. The information stolen could be used to impersonate or blackmail federal employees with access to sensitive information, he said.

It is not clear what the purpose of the database is.
Employees of the legislative and judicial branches, and uniformed military personnel, were not affected.
The FBI is now investigating what exactly led to the breach.
“We take all potential threats to public and private sector systems seriously, and will continue to investigate and hold accountable those who pose a threat in cyberspace,” the FBI said in a statement.
The federal personnel office said “personally identifiable information” had been breached, though didn’t name who might be responsible.
Source: CNN

Kashamu Says NDLEA Lied About Notice Of Extradition To U.S

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, yesterday said it had   served a notice on  Senator-elect of Ogun East, Prince Buruji Kashamu for his extradition to the United States of America.

However, in a swift reaction, Kashamu denied being served any extradition letter, describing NDLEA’s claim as false. He explained that  a copy of the process was dropped in his counsel’s   Lagos office Monday, assuring that it would be dealt  with in accordance with the law.

The NDLEA, in a statement by its Head, Public Affairs, Mitchell Ofoyeju and made available to newsmen disclosed   that the office of the Attorney General of the Federation has made a fresh application to the chief judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja seeking Kashamu’s extradition to the US to answer charges on alleged drug trafficking.

He said the agency served the notice of the suit officially   on Kashamu on  June 1, 2015.

Ofoyeju noted that the application made to the Federal High Court Chief Judge by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation for Kashamu’s extradition to the US was in accordance with the Extradition Act CAP, E25 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (as modified by Extradition Act Modification Order, 2014).

According to the NDLEA statement, “In an application made to the Chief Judge, Federal High Court, Abuja in suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/479/2015, the office of the Attorney General of the Federation is seeking the extradition of Buruji Kashamu to answer alleged drug trafficking charges.

“This is in line with the Extradition Act CAP, E25 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 (as modified by Extradition Act Modification Order, 2014). The notice of the suit was officially served on Kashamu by the NDLEA on 1st of June 2015.”

Read More: vanguardngr

President Buhari Seeks Europe, U.S. Support For Nigeria’s Development

President Muhammadu Buhari has said that he will seek the support of Europe, America and Nigeria’s neighbours in tackling the unemployment and security problems confronting the country.

Buhari gave the indication on Friday in his remarks at the inauguration Gala Night held at the Banquet hall of the Presidential Villa.

He said that his administration would focus on agriculture and mining to engage the unemployed youths who form more than 60 per cent of the population.

“I ask Nigerians to please bear with us; a lot of damage has been done,’’ he said.

He said that he had lost elections in the past three times and gone to the tribunal with the help of Nigerians, but that he was happy that the will of Nigerians made his victory possible this time around.

He said that Nigeria, being a populous country, if things went wrong in the country, they would go wrong in Africa because the continent could not manage any refugee crisis from Nigeria.

He said that when he consulted the foreign partners and confronted them with the refugee scenario, it pricked their consciences and they assisted with technology to enable a successful vote count in the last elections.

Buhari insisted that previous election results were written in private homes and announced on the radio and that getting the courts to reverse them was difficult.

He said that Nigeria’s friends in Europe and U.S. had spoken to him personally and had identified security as the major challenge facing the country.

“Nigeria has to be well secured and efficiently managed; this is what the APC is all about.

“This was why the legacy parties made the sacrifice of jettisoning their personal ambitions, tried to come together and took the bull by the horn and therefore brought it down and slaughtered it literally.’’

He said the party in power had realised its problems and made the sacrifice.

Buhari said: “Nigerians pray a lot; we need to even pray the more for luck so that expectations our people have, especially the youths would be met.”

He said the unemployment level was the “keg of gunpowder we are sitting on’’ and the administration had resolved to secure Nigeria as soon as possible.

He thanked Nigeria’s neighbours for helping the country to fight insurgency.

He added that his administration would articulate the nation’s requirements after studying the handover notes from the past administration then consult the immediate neighbours, Europe and U.S. for possible assistance.

In his remark, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the inauguration of Buhari as historic for the nation and indeed Africa.

He said the transition from one party to another was a big achievement for the country.

“Democracy is the winner and Nigeria is the winner.

“I congratulate all those who made the election possible. I also congratulate former president Goodluck Jonathan for deepening democracy,’’ he said.

He said the path of honour Jonathan took would not be forgotten and added that the new administration would need time to take stock and take decisions that would push the nation forward.

He urged the new president to recognise the diversity of the country and accommodate all since the nation’s diversity remained its strength.

APC chieftain, Sen. Bola Tinubu, said that a new era had dawned in Nigeria.

He said that a commitment to build a new Nigeria had been consecrated adding that“ Buhari is principled, passionate and determined to develop the country.’’

He said the time was ripe for Nigeria to maintain its lead in Africa and the African renaissance must begin with the new President.

“The Challenge is yours. We that are looking up to you will continue to do so with great commitment and perseverance.

`Nigeria must lead,’’ Tinubu added. (NAN)

US Removes Cuba From List Of State Sponsors Of Terror

The United States has removed Cuba from its list of state sponsors of terrorism. The move eliminates a major obstacle toward restoring diplomatic ties. The change now allows Cuba to conduct banking in the United States, among other activities.

The removal has been one of Cuba’s key demands, as leaders from both countries have repeatedly met to negotiate the details of restoring diplomatic relations, including the opening of embassies in Washington and Havana.

Last week, diplomats met in Washington, but failed to come to an agreement on opening embassies.

U.S Embassy Lists “Lack of Economic & Social Ties” As Major Reason Why Nigerians Are Denied Visa

Consul General of the US embassy, William Laidlaw, has expressed that contrary to popular opinion, US visa application processes are not as stringent as people think.
Speaking with Punch, he stated that efforts are being made to improve visa processes better for Nigerians by decentralizing the process.
He also revealed that one of the most common reasons why Nigerians are refused visa, is because of failure to show evidence of social and economic ties.
Laidlaw stated:
To really qualify for a visit to the US, you have to show you have social and economic ties sufficient to meet the immigration terms we have in our laws.
To have those social and economic ties usually means somebody who has developed a

career, developed a household and has done something to develop himself within Nigeria…

If you can establish your social and economic ties and we understand who you are in Nigerian context, that allows us to make an evaluation judgment; It’s very hard for very young people, I’m sorry, but that’s the way the law is written,” he said.
He also noted that at least 7,000 Nigerians are currently attending school in the United States, and that 66 percent of tourist visa applications were approved in 2014.

US, Others Caution Buhari On Choice Of Next Petroleum Minister

Ahead of the May 29 handover of the Federal Government administration to Muhammadu Buhari following his victory at the March 28 polls, friendly countries have continued to show renewed interest in who occupies some key posts in the incoming administration.
Already US had expressed concern over series of issues including human rights abuses by the Nigerian military in its prosecution of the war in the North-east, and the manner top officials of the Nigerian government  have managed the oil and gas sector of the economy citing several acts of corruption.
A source in the Foreign Ministry which pleaded anonymity said the US is now eager to assist Buhari turn the situation around, as it has always considered Nigeria an important ally on the African continent. This was as Daily Sun learnt that several highly placed persons and multinational
companies who attended a recent US State Department briefing cited corruption as the main reason for low investment in Nigeria’s oil sector. Against this background, a source said the US is backing a senior official of a multi-national oil company from the Niger Delta who is conversant with transparency rules to emerge as the Petroleum Minister.
The source said, “in fact, the multinationals have discussed with the US State Department and have already agreed on a credible candidate, who they believe will be able to restore confidence and attract the necessary investment into the critical sector. Meanwhile sources say the US has already made this position known to the incoming administration cautioning  the president-elect against making a wrong choice in the appointment to the office.
It urged the President to appoint people of integrity and proven track record into his cabinet to make the job easier for him.  Already, top oil and gas industry operators have indicated their support for the candidate, who they believe will bring his vast experience to bear in the turnaround of the Ministry and give credibility to the sector and the Buhari’s “Change” mantra.
In 2014, Transparency International ranked Nigeria as the 136th  most corrupt country in the world. In addition, a US report in March last year said that in Nigeria, “massive, widespread and pervasive corruption affected all levels of government and the security forces,” while alleging that judges were not left out of the massive corruption ring, the report accused the government of not implementing laws on corruption effectively, thus deliberately allowing “officials (to) frequently engage in corrupt practices with impunity.”
These are, possibly, part of what the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, saw when he cried out that the current administration’s “body language” encouraged corruption. The US government had also condemned the pardon granted some ex-convicts by the National Council of States headed by President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013.
Recall that former Governor of Bayelsa State, Diepreiye Alamieyeseigha, the former head of the Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama and some other Nigerians were granted a presidential pardon. The US had roundly condemned the act, saying, “this decision undermines anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria and encourages impunity. If the government is serious about uprooting public corruption, sanctions against those who betray the public trust should be strengthened, not relaxed,” said Akere Muna, Vice-chair of Transparency International.
And now the US has sounded a note of caution to President-elect, Buhari, not to bow to pressure by allowing politicians foster any candidate for the Petroleum Ministry whose records are stained or for purpose of satisfying political patronage.
According to the US, it will send the wrong signal that business is going to continue as usual, in which case, the incoming president might not get the much needed assistance from the US or any European country for that matter.

US Forces Kill ISIS Commander And Capture Wife

US special forces have killed an Islamic State commander, Abu Sayyaf and taken his wife prisoner in a secretive operation in Syria ordered by President Barack Obama. The wife, Umm Sayyaf becomes the first US-held detainee in the war against ISIS.
US Defence Secretary, Ashton Carter confirmed on Saturday that Obama ordered the elite troops to raid at a location in eastern Syria and ‘capture’ an ISIS figure. Carter said Abu Sayyaf’s wife was also targeted.
A White House statement indicated that the Iraqi government contributed to the operation.
Bernadette Meehan, the National Security Council spokeswoman said Umm Sayyaf is in ‘a military detention in Iraq’
Meehan also in a separate statement said the operation freed a young Yadizi woman whom Abu Sayyaf and Umm Sayyaf kept as a slave.
The administration is portraying the overall operation as a success,
“The operation represents another significant blow to ISIS and its a reminder that the United States will never waver in denying safe haven to terrorists who threaten our citizens, and those of our friends and allies”, Carter said in a statement.
Meehan indicated that US was unsure of what to do with the captured detainee, Umm Sayyaf.
“We are working to determine an ultimate disposition for the detainee that best supports the national security of the United States and of our allies and partners, consistent with domestic and international law. We will follow our usual practice with respect to giving the ICRC notification and access to the detainee”, Meehan said referring to International

Nigerian Actor ‘Arrested’ In The U.S

Nollywood actor Mike Ezuruonye has been detained by policemen in a new photo that is currently making the rounds. The actor was promoting a new movie shot in America on his Instagram page.

He shared the photo on his Instagram page and captioned it with, “U still wondering?…Watch Ur Space..This Nollywood Boy is Coming …ItZz Hollywood Invasion babyyyyy!!”

He has featured in several Nollywood movies. He received two nominations for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and Best Actor in a Leading Role at the African Movie Academy Awards in 2008, 2009 and a nomination for Best actor in Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards

Read More: Radar.ng

US Offers $18m Reward For ISIS Leaders

The Obama administration is offering rewards of up to $18M for information leading to the whereabouts of four top leaders of ISIS.

Through its Rewards for Justice programme, the State Department announced Tuesday that it would pay up to $7m for information on Abd al-Rahman Mustafa al-Qaduli, up to $5m each for Abu Mohammed al-Adnani and Tarkhan Tayumurazovich Batirashvili and up to $3m for Tariq Bin-al-Tahar Bin al Falih al-‘Awni al-Harzi.

According to the department, Qaduli is a senior IS official who originally joined al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq, Adnani is an official ISIS spokesperson, Batirashvili is a battlefield commander in northern Syria and Harzi is the group’s leader for the border region between Syria and Turkey.

Credit: AP

US Aims To Broaden Ties With Nigeria

United States Vice President, Joe Biden, has affirmed his country’s readiness to expand collaborations with Nigeria on issues of common concern. These include economic and security matters.

According to a statement the White House made available to CAJ News, Bidden made the pledge when he spoke with Nigerian President-elect, Muhammadu Buhari, to congratulate him on his victory in the recent elections. “The Vice President commended President-elect Buhari for his leadership in helping to ensure the elections were conducted peacefully and urged him to continue to foster a smooth, inclusive, and peaceful transition with President Jonathan,” read a statement.

“The Vice President expressed the United States’ support for Nigeria’s efforts to counter Boko Haram, recover hostages held by the group, and protect civilian populations,” the White House statement added.

The US Vice President also expressed the willingness of the United States to partner more closely with Nigeria to strengthen its economy.

Credit: CAJ News

US VP Joe Biden Phones Jonathan And Buhari, Expresses Support For The Use Of Card Readers

The United States Vice President Joe Biden, has engaged President Goodluck Jonathan and All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, in discussions ahead of the March 28 presidential election.

The Vice President, who spoke via a telephone chat with the duo, on Wednesday, commended President Jonathan and General Buhari for signing the Abuja Accord in mid-January as a show of their commitment to non-violence throughout the election process.

Biden further expressed the United States’ support for the Nigerian Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and its work to deliver free, fair, and credible elections, in part through its essential efforts to distribute Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs) and help ensure that electronic voter card readers are in place and fully operational.

He also noted his concern about the violence during some recent election-related events and reiterated the need for both candidates to make clear that such violence has no place in democratic elections.

Vice President Biden affirmed that the United States stands with the Nigerian people in support of credible and peaceful elections, and will continue to stand with the Nigerian people whatever the outcome.

Source – Tribune.com

…Nigeria “Remains Fluid and Unpredictable”- US Warns Citizens

The United States’ Department of State yesterday, January 3, issued a warning to its citizens to avoid  visiting Nigeria during the February elections.

The warning which was issued through the Mission’s website according to Punch, warned against all but essential travels to 17 states due to the risk of kidnappings, robberies, and other armed attacks.

It noted that the security situation in North-East Nigeria “remains fluid and unpredictable.” The Department also explained that the ability of the Mission to provide assistance to US citizens in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe states remained severely limited because the security situation in northeast.

The high risk states according to U.S. include: Adamawa, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Borno, Delta, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Niger, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto, Yobe, and Zamfara.

Read Morenaij.com

ISIS Operative Admits to Getting Funding Through US

An ISIS Pakistani militant has confessed to getting funds via the United States, says a report by a leading Pakistani newspaper.

The ISIS operative, identified as Yousaf al-Salafi, told Pakistan’s law enforcement agencies that he received funding through the US, the Express Tribune reported on Wednesday.

Salafi was taken into custody in December 2014, according to the paper, although other reports said he was arrested on January 22.

“During investigations, Yousaf al Salafi revealed that he was getting funding – routed through America – to run the organization in Pakistan and recruit young people to fight in Syria,” a source close to the investigations made the announcement.

The operative also admitted to receiving $600 for each person he managed to recruit and send to war-torn Syria.

“The US has been condemning the IS activities but unfortunately has not been able to stop funding of these organizations, which is being routed through the US,” a source claimed, using an alternative name for ISIS.

Read More: presstv.ir

US Still Considering Military Option Against Russia: Analyst

The United States is still considering the military option against Russia over Ukraine, according to an analyst in Belgrade, Serbia.

Joaquin Flores, geostrategist and director at Center for Syncretic Studies, made the remarks in a phone interview with Press TV on Sunday while commenting on US President Barack Obama’s claim that Washington is not seeking a military confrontation with Russia over the Ukraine crisis. “I’ve been very clear that it would not be effective to engage in a military conflict with Russia on this issue,” Obama said during his visit to India on Sunday.

Flores said, “At first this might sound like a positive development.” But “it must be understood in context,” he added. “Peeling back the layers of doublespeak and hypocrisy, we find that since the coup that the US launched in Ukraine about a year ago, it has been the US that has spearheaded the present military conflict there today.”

“It has been the US that has been funding and supporting the various extremist elements…in Ukraine,” he added.

Read More: Press Tv

Boko Haram Strikes as US Secretary of State Visits

Boko Haram fighters on Sunday overran a strategic town in northeastern Nigeria and seized a military base, as Secretary of State John Kerry pledged further US support against the militants.

The Islamists captured the town of Monguno in Borno State, which lies about 125 kilometres (80 miles) north of the state capital Maiduguri, which was targeted in a simultaneous dawn raid. “Monguno has fallen, Monguno has fallen,” said a senior military officer, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorised to speak to the media.

“We fought them all night long but they took over the town, including the military barracks there.”

The military in Abuja said that “scores” of Boko Haram fighters were killed as troops restored order in Maiduguri and Konduga, some 40 kilometres away. But on Monguno, defence spokesman Chris Olukolade said an air campaign was being mounted as “troops had to retreat from the location” after the commander and soldiers were injured.

Credit: Yahoo News

Watch Your Back! ISIS Hacks US Central Command ,Releases Personal Details Of High Ranking Military Officers

The social media accounts of the US military’s Central Command in Florida was hacked by ISIS who posted threatening messages against troops, their families and the home addresses of 4-star US generals.The cyber attack began at around 12.30pm on Monday when a message was posted to CentCom’s Twitter account reading,

 ‘In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the CyberCaliphate continues its CyberJihad.’

The hackers also changed the photograph used on the the Twitter cover page to a masked jihadi with an underline that said ‘i love you isis.’
The security breach, occurred while President Obama was giving a speech on cyber security..
One of the posts on the Twitter feed read ‘

American soldiers, we are coming, watch your back’ while another warned, ‘We won’t stop! We know everything about you, your wives and children.’

US officials confirmed that the U.S. Central Command Twitter account and its YouTube account were suspended 40 minutes after being compromised at around 1.09pm.

US, France On Alert As ISIS Issues More Threats

New York City Police Department and other law enforcement personnel responded to a threat from ISIS after someone re-released a September 2014 message that tells followers to “rise up and kill intelligence officers, police officers, soldiers, and civilians.”

The threat specifically named the United States, France, Australia and Canada as targets.

NYPD employees were told to “remain alert and consider tactics at all times while on patrol,” especially in light of the attacks in France last week, in an internal memo.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a similar bulletin to law enforcement across the country. That bulletin and the NYPD memo makes it clear that this new message is consistent with previous threats that ISIS and others, including al Qaeda, have issued.

NYPD deputy-commissioner for counterterrorism, John Miller, tempered fears of a threat to officials in New York City.

“I don’t think that we are under any more threat… or any less threat than we were the day before,” he said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Miller said that the department is on a “heightened security posture on a normal day compared to almost any other police department.”

More than 1,000 police officers and civilian analysts are assigned to a counterterrorism mission every day and officers have studied the recent attacks in France, he said.

France was hit with three days of terror after three suspects killed 17 civilians in multiple attacks last week.

“ISIS appears to be renewing or recycling previous threats made in an audio tape released by ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammed al Adnani in September which called for attacks by supporters on France and other Western countries in retaliation for air strikes in Syria and Iraq,” said CNN terrorism analyst Paul Cruickshank.

“They are hoping that the attacks in Paris by a group which included a self-professed ISIS follower will inspire other attacks in the West,” Cruickshank added.

Miller did say, however, that the video re-release shows ISIS is “using the momentum from the Paris attacks in part of their messaging strategy to see: ‘who can we get to follow this?’”

“Adnani’s fatwa calling for lone-wolf attacks back in September was a game-changer,” Cruickshank said. “Since then, we’ve seen ISIS-inspired attacks in all the Western countries he specifically mentioned: Canada, the United States, Australia and France. In October we also saw United Kingdom police break up a plot to target soldiers and police by extremists who British authorities say were deeply influenced by Adnani’s fatwa,” Cruickshank added.

The spree began in Paris, France, on Wednesday at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, after two brothers stormed the building, killing 12 and later escaping.

Early Thursday, a female police officer was killed after a suspect dressed in all black and wearing bulletproof vests shot her in a Paris suburb.

Florida Woman Arrested For Slapping Grandmother For Ignoring Facebook Friend Request

Florida-woman-arrested-for-slapping-grandmother-after-Facebook-friend-request-denied

A west Florida woman is facing felony assault charges after she allegedly attacked her grandmother for denying a Facebook friend request. UPI reports:

Deputies arrested Rachel Anne Hayes, 27, early Thursday for aggravated battery on an elderly person. According to authorities, Hayes slapped the 72-year-old multiple times at a home in Clearwater, Fla.

WFLA reports the woman was Hayes’ grandmother and that Hayes’ arrest affidavit indicated alcohol was a factor in the assault.

The attack allegedly stemmed from an argument between the two over Hayes’ Facebook moniker. Hayes’ grandmother refused to accept her friend request unless the name was changed, according to authorities.

Hayes initially left the residence but returned, and in the ensuing argument she slapped her grandmother multiple times at the threshold of a door before the elderly woman was able to retreat inside.

Deputies arrived on scene and arrested Hayes, who was released from the Pinellas County jail on $10,000 bond.

CIA Report: UK ‘Did Not Request Torture Claim Report Edits

A Guantanamo Bay detainee being walked along by two guards, with more guards looking onMany US detainees after 9/11 were held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba

None of the information the UK asked to have blacked out of a report on CIA interrogation related to claims of British involvement in prisoner mistreatment, Downing Street has said.

No 10 confirmed UK intelligence agencies spoke to US counterparts to request some redactions before the US Senate report was published.

But officials said requests were only made on national security grounds, not to erase “torture or rendition” claims.

Senators found “brutal” CIA tactics.

The report, which looked at treatment of detainees in the years after the 9/11 attacks in 2001, is a 525-page summary of a 6,000-page document produced by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee. The full document remains classified.

The published report contains no reference to UK agencies.

Dianne Feinstein, chair of the Senate committee, said CIA tactics – which included repeated waterboarding, slapping, stress positions and sleep deprivation – amounted to torture.

‘Protect sources’

A version of the report was finished in 2012, but there were disagreements about what should be published. Part of this process was a “classification review” by the CIA into what information should remain classified.

Downing Street said UK requests for redactions were made “agency to agency” – by British intelligence service MI6 to the CIA.

The requests were made to protect sources and for other national security reasons, No 10 added.

On Wednesday, Downing Street said no requests for redactions had been made.

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner said a Whitehall official “pointed out” it would make no sense for the CIA to redact allegations of UK abuse while allowing its own name to be “dragged through the mud” in the Senate report.

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US report’s key findings:

File photograph of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, left, and Abd al-Rashim al-Nashiri, rightKhalid Sheikh Mohammed, left, and Abd al-Rashim al-Nashiri, were among those held by the CIA

  • none of 20 cases of counterterrorism “successes” led to unique or otherwise unavailable intelligence
  • CIA misled politicians and public
  • at least 26 of 119 known detainees in custody during the programme wrongfully held
  • methods included sleep deprivation for up to 180 hours, often standing or in painful positions
  • Saudi al-Qaeda suspect Abu Zubaydah was kept confined in a coffin-sized box for hours on end
  • waterboarding and “rectal hydration” were physically harmful to prisoners

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As well as meetings between UK and US intelligence agencies, information obtained by human rights charity Reprieve in August suggested UK government officials had met members of the Senate Intelligence Committee on 24 occasions over the previous five years.

The charity did not request details of the subjects discussed, though William Hague – then foreign secretary – said in July: “The UK government has not sought to influence the content of the Senate report.

“We have made representations to seek assurance that ordinary procedures for clearance of UK material will be followed in the event that UK material provided to the Senate committee were to be disclosed.”

One of the UK officials to meet the Senate committee was Home Secretary Theresa May in 2011.

Downing Street said Mrs May “discussed a range of issues” at that meeting. She is expected to be questioned on the matter when she appears before Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee on Monday.

Government ministers and UK security and intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 have always said torture would never be used by Britain to extract information.

Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee is currently examining the question of whether the UK was complicit in the US mistreatment of suspects.

On Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he would be open to a full judicial inquiry if the committee failed to answer key questions

Source – BBC UK

5 Countries Where It’s Hardest To Become A Citizen

In addition to marriage and ancestry,  countries with high barriers to attaining citizen status may have special residency or citizenship tracks for people who fit certain categories, such as being a highly skilled professional or investing substantially in a business enterprise. But these situations don’t apply to the vast majority of prospective citizens.

Below, in alphabetical order, are five nations that make it especially difficult for foreigners to establish permanent residency or obtain citizenship:

Austria

Many EU countries have tough immigration laws, but Austria seems to have one of the lengthiest processes to become a citizen. Anyone who is not a citizen of an EU country and staying longer than six months must have a resident permit before entering the country.

People who plan to stay longer than 24 months must also sign an Integration Agreement, a process designed to enhance their German-language skills and ability “to participate in the social, economic and cultural life in Austria.”

Permanent residents must live in the country continuously for a period of 15 to 30 years before being eligible to apply for citizenship. If approved, applicants must renounce any other citizenship.

Germany 

Obtaining permanent residency in Germany is difficult unless you are a citizen of another EU country. Other foreign nationals must have lived in Germany for at least five years and demonstrate competency in language, the political system and society. Applicants must also demonstrate they have an ability to earn a living and that they’ve contributed to the national pension plan, as well as having proof of accommodation.

To become a citizen, applicants must have lived in the country at least eight years (seven, if they’ve passed a competency test) and renounce citizenship in any other country.

Japan

It takes longer to be granted a Permanent Resident visa in Japan than to become a citizen. People who want to establish permanent residency must have lived in the country for a total of 10 continuous years or more.

Those who want to become a citizen of Japan must have lived in the country for five years, receive permission from the Justice Minister and complete a slew of paperwork (some have complained of unnecessary questions involving their personal lives). The process, according to the Japanese Ministry, can take six to 12 months, although those who have gone through it have reported that it can take years. If approved, applicants must be ready to renounce citizenship in other countries.

Switzerland

Any foreigner wanting to settle in the beauty of the Swiss Alps, or anywhere else in Switzerland, may do so for three months. To obtain a settlement, or permanent residence visa (unless you are an EU citizen), you must have lived in the country for 10 years.

If you qualify for permanent residence by the length of time you have lived in the country, you also qualify to apply for citizenship, but that is not guaranteed; applicants for citizenship must also prove they are assimilated into Swiss society. What’s more, all cantons and municipalities have their own rules about granting citizenship. Switzerland permits dual citizenship.

United States

While the United States was founded mostly by immigrants, the process for achieving permanent residency and citizenship has become even more complicated since the early 2000s and the war on terrorism. Unless a person is coming to the U.S. through family or an approved job, it is very difficult to establish permanent residency (sometimes known as receiving a green card). There are special categories for those seeking refugee or asylum status, and a lottery for others who wish to apply.

Those who have had permanent residency status for five years can begin the process of applying for citizenship by filling out the application and taking a test, which includes knowledge of history/government and English. Before becoming a citizen, people must swear an oath to the Constitution. The United States permits dual citizenship.

Credit: Yahoo

U.S Condemns Jos, Kano Bombings

The United States has condemned this week bomb attacks in Kano and Jos, describing the incidents as unfortunate.

Seven people were killed in Kano earlier in the week, while several others died in a similar attack in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, on Thursday.

The U.S in a statement issued in Abuja said, “This senseless attack on the innocents in Jos’s commercial Terminus district follows on the heels of another bombing attack in Nigeria’s second largest city of Kano on December 10, in which four persons were killed and seven injured when two female suicide bombers attacked the Kantin Kawari Textile Market.

“The United States offers its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the persons killed and injured.

“The United States remains committed to supporting the people of Nigeria in their struggle to stop the depraved actions of Boko Haram and associated terrorist groups.

Source – Global news

ISIS Militants Set Up Training Camps In Eastern Libya – US

IS_Militants_CampsThe Islamic State group, which overran large areas of Iraq and Syria, has set up training camps in eastern Libya.

The Head of the US Africa Command, Gen David Rodriguez, says ‘around a couple of hundred’ Islamic State militants have set up training camps in eastern Libya, and that the camps were at a very early stage, warning that the US is watching them “carefully to see how it develops”.

Since Muammar Gaddafi was overthrown in 2011, Libya has been in turmoil with various tribes, militias and political factions fighting for power with some militants recently declaring allegiance to IS. The elected government has lost Libya’s three main cities amid the political crisis.

Benghazi, the country’s second city, is in the hands of Islamist fighters, and the internationally recognized parliament is now based in the coastal town of Tobruk in the east.

Gen Rodriguez in Washington said it was not yet clear how closely aligned the trainees were with IS and that “It’s mainly about people coming for training and logistics support right now, for training sites . . . Right now it’s just small and very nascent and we just have to see how it goes.”

The United States has been waging an air war against the IS group in Iraq and Syria but when asked if the training camps in Libya were a potential target for American forces, Gen Rodriguez said: “No, not right now.”

US State Department Network Shut Over Hackers Threat

The US State Department had to shut down its unclassified computer network over the weekend after evidence emerged that it could have been hacked, the US media reported late Sunday.

The State Department said in an email late Friday that the shutdown came as scheduled routine maintenance to its main unclassified network, and would impact email traffic and access to public websites.

But on Sunday reports emerged that there was evidence a hacker may have breached the security in portions of the system handling non-classified emails.

A senior official told the Washington Post there had been “activity of concern” but that none of the departments classified systems had been compromised.

If hacked, the State Department would be the latest in a series of government agencies to face cyber security breaches — though it is not clear if there is any link between the incidents.

Last week, the US Postal Service said hackers stole sensitive personal information from its employees in a large data breach this year, and got some customer data as well.

– See more at: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/11/us-state-department-network-shut-hackers-threat/?