Tag Archives: America

Top diplomats from Europe, US ‘talks on reviving’ 2015 Iran deal.

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Khamenei emphasised Wednesday that Iran wanted to see action from the US administration that would help its economy.

Top diplomats from European powers and the United States will hold talks to see how to revive the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, days ahead of a deadline set by Tehran that could hinder these efforts.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will host his German and British counterparts in Paris on Thursday, with new US Secretary of State Antony Blinken joining via videoconference, the French foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Iran plans to restrict some UN nuclear agency inspections if the US does not lift its sanctions – imposed since 2018 by former President Donald Trump – by February 21, under the terms of a bill adopted by its parliament in December.

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Highlighting the tough path ahead, German Chancellor Angela Merkel voiced “concern” that Iran was failing to meet its obligations in telephone talks with President Hassan Rouhani, her spokesman said in a statement.

Analysts have said only a small window of opportunity remains to save the landmark deal, which received a near-fatal blow when Trump walked out in 2018.

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The administration of current US President Joe Biden has said it is prepared to rejoin the deal and start lifting sanctions if Iran returns to full compliance, a precondition disputed by Tehran.

Iran mulls more non-compliance
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Grossi will travel to Tehran on Saturday for talks with the Iranian authorities to find a solution for continuing inspections in the country, the agency said.

It warned that the step threatened by Tehran would have “a serious impact on the IAEA’s verification and monitoring activities in the country.”

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In Washington, State Department spokesman Ned Price said that Iran should provide “full and timely cooperation” with the IAEA.

“Iran should reverse the steps and refrain from taking others that would impact the IAEA assurances on which not only the United States, not only our allies and partners in the region, but the entire world relies,” he said, adding that Blinken saw an “important role” for the European Union, of which France and Germany are members.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has demanded ‘action, not words’ from the US if it wants to revive Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers [Khamenei.IR/AFP]

Ellie Geranmayeh, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, said it was “unlikely” the meeting on Thursday would produce a significant political or economic gesture to prevent Iran from going ahead with the restrictions.

“This deadline has been on the cards for months, and in absence of economic relief Iran’s leaders feel compelled to move ahead,” she told the AFP news agency.

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The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in Vienna in 2015, saw Iran curtail its nuclear programme in exchange for a gradual easing of international sanctions.

But Iran has stepped up its nuclear work in violation of the accord after US sanctions were reimposed as part of Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy to weaken the Iranian government.

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The UN nuclear watchdog said last week that Iran had started producing uranium metal in a new violation of the accord, prompting European powers to warn that Tehran was “undermining the opportunity for renewed diplomacy.”

In her talks with Rouhani, Merkel said that “now was the time for positive signals that create trust and increase the chances of a diplomatic solution”.

However, the Iranian presidency said Rouhani in the call “criticised Europe’s performance” on its JCPOA commitments after the US withdrawal.

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‘Only action’
While Iran’s policy is ultimately determined by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iranian presidential elections in June add another time pressure factor.

Rouhani – a key advocate of nuclear diplomacy with global powers – is set to step down after serving the maximum two consecutive terms, and a more hardline figure may replace him.

“There is a short window of time to limit the damage that could ensue from Iran’s next steps, for example by reducing the impact of such moves on the quality of inspections by international monitors,” Geranmayeh said.

She said Washington should move in political and practical terms to show Iran that the Biden administration “is distancing itself from Trump-era maximum pressure.”

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Khamenei emphasised Wednesday that Iran wanted to see action from the US administration that would help its economy.

“This time only action, action. If we see action from the opposite side, we will act too,” he said.

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#Newsworthy

Joe Biden pushes to legalise Homosexuals rights in Nigeria..

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One of the countries with a restriction against the legalisation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons globally is Nigeria – with a law prohibiting their acts.

United States President Joe Biden has directed American Embassy in Nigeria and other countries to push for the legalisation of homosexuality in their respective countries of residence.

Biden gave the directive in a White House statement on Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons Around the World.

The United States president said the memorandum reaffirms and supplements the principles established in the Presidential Memorandum of December 6, 2011 (International Initiatives to Advance the Human Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons).

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“It shall be the policy of the United States to pursue an end to violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics, and to lead by the power of our example in the cause of advancing the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world,” Biden said in the memorandum.

“Through this memorandum, I am directing all agencies engaged abroad to ensure that United States diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons”

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Biden said the memorandum calls for “Swift and Meaningful United States Responses to Human Rights Abuses of LGBTQI+ Persons Abroad.

“The Department of State shall lead a standing group, with appropriate interagency representation, to help ensure the Federal Government’s swift and meaningful response to serious incidents that threaten the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons abroad.”

Biden noted that “When foreign governments move to restrict the rights of LGBTQI+ persons or fail to enforce legal protections in place, thereby contributing to a climate of intolerance, agencies engaged abroad shall consider appropriate responses, including using the full range of diplomatic and assistance tools and, as appropriate, financial sanctions, visa restrictions, and other actions.”

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One of the countries with a restriction against the legalisation Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex Persons globally is Nigeria – with a law prohibiting their acts.

The Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Act (SSMPA), signed into law in 2014 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, was enacted on the premise that the Nigerian culture is antithetical to homosexuality.

With the population of the country largely divided between Christians and Muslims, there was also a religious urgency to the prohibition. Persons of the LGBTQ+ community risk up to 20 years jail term in Nigeria.

However, Amnesty International said the prohibition by the government exposes persons of the LGBTQ+ in the country to harm and called for a reversal of the law. US President Biden shared the same sentiment in the memorandum.

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“All human beings should be treated with respect and dignity and should be able to live without fear no matter who they are or whom they love,” Biden said.

He said the United States belongs at the forefront of this struggle — speaking out and standing strong for members of the LGBTQ+ and holds the values of treating people with dignity regardless of race, colour or sexuality.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: Canada sees first strain of ‘detected’ Brazilian virus.

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Canada, with a population of more than 38 million, has recorded more than 800,000 coronavirus cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

Health authorities in Toronto announced Sunday that a resident had been diagnosed with the Brazilian variant of Covid-19, marking Canada’s first known case of the mutated virus.

The patient has been hospitalized, Toronto Public Health (TPH) said in a statement. He had recently traveled from Brazil.

TPH also said it had found the first case of the South African coronavirus variant in Canada’s largest city, though the strain had previously been detected elsewhere in the country.

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“Scientists and medical professionals are concerned that these variants are more transmissible than the original coronavirus,” TPH said.

(FILES) This file photo taken on April 29, 2020 shows an engineer holding a plastic model of the COVID-19 coronavirus at the Quality Control Laboratory at the Sinovac Biotech facilities in Beijing. – Sinovac Biotech is conducting one of the five clinical trials of potential vaccines that have been authorised in China. China would make any coronavirus vaccine it developed a “global public good” once it was put into use, President Xi Jinping told the World Health Assembly on May 18, 2020. (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)

The resident with the South African strain had no recent travel history and no known contact with any recently returned travellers, TPH added.

The Brazilian variant has been blamed for a disastrous surge in infections in the Brazilian city of Manaus.

It has already been spotted in Europe, as well as Colombia and the United States.

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Toronto health authorities have now detected 27 confirmed “variant of concern” cases in the city of about 3 million people.

Canada, with a population of more than 38 million, has recorded more than 800,000 coronavirus cases and more than 20,000 deaths.

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#Newsworthy

America faces Donald Trump’s destructive legacy.

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Biden is seeking to rapidly expand vaccine distribution and it is now clear he is preparing to move ahead with trying to pass his $1.9 trillion relief package

In a momentous week, America confronts a new reckoning with the negligent, destructive legacy of Donald Trump.

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The ex-President faces an unprecedented second impeachment trial over a historic insurrection against Congress and an attempt to steal an election that profoundly wounded US democracy. His successor, President Joe Biden, is meanwhile intensifying his national rescue effort from the other crises that Trump left behind, as new viral strains cloud recent good news in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic and with millions of Americans hungry and jobless and out of school.

Nothing is normal about an extreme moment in America’s modern story with a political system assailed by extremism, truth under assault and a country desperate to emerge from a once in a 100-year plague.

One year and four days after then-President Trump was first acquitted by a Republican-led Senate of high crimes and misdemeanors, the now Democratic-steered chamber will sit in judgment again Tuesday, over his seditious summoning of a mob that stormed Congress, in a trial that could last up to several weeks.

The proceeding will restore the full glare of Trump’s compelling but malevolent influence over Washington three weeks after he left office in disgrace and will challenge Biden’s efforts to fully establish his own new presidency.

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Trump has refused to personally step back into the spotlight by testifying in his own defense. But the never-before-seen spectacle of an ex-commander-in-chief being held accountable through impeachment for crimes against the Constitution — even if he’s ultimately acquitted as expected — will be an apt final chapter for a presidency that still threatens to tear the nation apart.

It also seems to mark the culmination of the failure of Trump’s Republican Party to answer for a leader whose bond with grassroots supporters granted him complete impunity and exposed a fatal flaw in the checks and balances of the US political system. A majority of GOP senators have signaled they will yet again punt on Trump’s offenses and take refuge in a questionable constitutional argument that a President impeached while in office cannot be tried as a private citizen.

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Democrats are almost certain to be deprived of the two-thirds majority needed to convict in a presidential impeachment trial and to bar Trump from future federal office. But they plan to lay out a case so damning about the horror inside the Capitol on January 6 that they hope it will forever stain Trump politically and damage the Republicans who defend him.

But the former President’s hold on the GOP was underscored last week when it was left to majority House Democrats to strip conspiracy theorist Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of her committee slots after a series of inflammatory past statements. “The party is his. It doesn’t belong to anybody else,” the Georgia congresswoman told reporters. The coming days will begin to test whether prolonging the personality cult around the demagogic Trump is a risky long-term bet among the wider, more moderate electorate.

With polls showing increasing public support for Trump’s conviction, the trial could also be an important moment in apportioning wider blame for the Trump presidency and shaping the national politics of the coming years.

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Democrats can “still win in the court of public opinion. That’s why I think the trial remains an important part of our political landscape,” said David Gergen, an adviser to four presidents and a CNN political commentator.

“It’s a chance for Democrats to make the case once and for all that there was no fraud, that Joe Biden was legitimately elected and the people who tried to steal this election are the ones who assaulted the Capitol,” Gergen told CNN’s Ana Cabrera.

Biden criticizes Trump for Covid-19 effort

The sense that America is at a historic and disorientating pivot point is exacerbated by the hopes raised by a decline in new cases of Covid-19 but also fears that new viral variants will dilute the full potential of vaccines that hold the key to ending the disaster.

Biden is seeking to rapidly expand vaccine distribution and it is now clear he is preparing to move ahead with trying to pass his $1.9 trillion relief package without Republican votes, arguing millions of Americans are suffering.

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In his Super Bowl interview on “CBS Evening News with Norah O’Donnell,” the President stuck to his practice of frank talk about the state of the pandemic while offering optimism of better days to come if America stays united, wears masks and Congress does its part.

“One of the disappointments was — when we came to office, is the circumstance relating to how the administration was handling Covid was even more dire than we thought,” Biden said, again grappling with the legacy of Trump, who downplayed, denied and politicized a virus that has killed more than 463,000 Americans.

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But the President also offered some, albeit distant, hope of a full house at next year’s big game.

“It’s my hope and expectation, if we’re able to put together and make up for all the lost time fighting Covid that’s occurred — that we’ll be able to watch the Super Bowl — with a full stadium,” Biden said.

As the administration heaped pressure on Congress, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that given the scale of the economic crisis, the risks of not acting are worse than the risks of doing something. The US could return to full employment next year if the relief package is passed, Yellen told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” Some Senate Republicans have offered a smaller $600 billion plan to test Biden’s vow of restoring political unity. But the move underscored a deep disconnect in perception between Republicans and Democrats on the magnitude of the economic crisis.

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“The economy has come roaring back, savings rates are at record highs … it is not an economy in collapse,” Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey told Tapper.

“Today, we have serious problems for workers in the restaurant, the hospitality, the travel and entertainment sectors. That’s really a handful of places.”

The US is, meanwhile, in a race against time to build sufficient immunity from vaccines before variants create new viral peaks. A new study shows that a mutation first discovered in the UK, which is more infectious and may be more lethal, is now rapidly spreading in the United States. In another potential blow to hopes of a swift end to the crisis, South African officials said Sunday that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered only minimal protect against a new variant that originated there.

“It is a pretty big setback,” said Peter Hotez, dean of the National College of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College. While other vaccines may offer more protection against the South African variant, the increasing prevalence of the UK variant in the United States is worrisome, he told CNN “Newsroom.”

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“Even though the number of new cases daily is cut in half, that is the eye of the hurricane and the big wall is going to hit us again, and that is the UK and the South African variant, maybe one or two others will become dominant.”

‘In the Soviet Union, you’d call it a show trial’

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As the virus — and the havoc its wreaked on the economy — continues to pose a serious threat, it’s impeachment that will suck up all the oxygen in Washington this week.

Toomey, who’s not running for reelection in 2022, is a possible vote to convict Trump given his vigorous criticism of his actions on January 6 and attempt to steal an election Biden clearly won. But even he admitted it is unlikely Trump will be convicted.

“I’m going to listen to the arguments on both sides and make the decision that I think is right,” the Pennsylvania Republican said, adding that there was “no place in the Republican Party for people who believe in conspiracy theories like QAnon,” in an apparent allusion to Greene and some other Trump loyalists.

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But Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy slammed Democrats for their swift impeachment of Trump, who is facing a single charge of inciting insurrection, before he left office last month. “There was no process,” Cassidy said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “If it happened in the Soviet Union, you would have called it a show trial.”

In the House, 10 Republicans joined Democrats last month in laying down the historic marker of impeaching Trump for a second time. California Rep. Adam Schiff, who was the lead Democratic House impeachment manager during Trump’s first trial last year, defended his colleagues against the “process argument” that the second impeachment of Trump was rushed.

“Every day he remained in office he was a danger to the country. We simply couldn’t sit still and wait for weeks or months while this man posed a danger to the country. So, we did act with alacrity,” Schiff said on “Meet the Press.”

Rep. Liz Cheney, who fought off a bid to strip her of her third-ranking Republican House leadership post last week but was censured by her state party in Wyoming over the weekend, doubled down on her bet that future power in the GOP will rest with those who broke with Trump.

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“Somebody who has provoked an attack on the United States Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral votes, which resulted in five people dying, who refused to stand up immediately when he was asked and stop the violence, that is a person who does not have a role as a leader of our party going forward,” Cheney said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Her remarks underscored the fact that Trump’s trial and the continuing tumult in the Republican Party over his toxic legacy mean that the fight to preserve the traditions of US democracy are far from over even though he left office.

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#Newsworthy

Just in: Lawmakers throw questions, dares, orders at Trump during impeachment trial.

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Raskin made the request after Trump’s lawyers filed a pre-trial brief denying the allegations that he encouraged the violent assault by his supporters on the US Congress, which left five people dead.

Democratic lawmakers leading the impeachment case against Donald Trump on Thursday requested the former president to testify in his trial for allegedly inciting insurrection in the attack on the US Capitol last month.

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“I write to invite you to provide testimony under oath, either before or during the Senate impeachment trial, concerning your conduct on January 6, 2021,” chief impeachment manager Jamie Raskin wrote in a letter to Trump, ahead of the February 9 opening of the trial.

Raskin made the request after Trump’s lawyers filed a pre-trial brief denying the allegations that he encouraged the violent assault by his supporters on the US Congress, which left five people dead.

“You have thus attempted to put critical facts at issue, notwithstanding the clear and overwhelming evidence of your constitutional offense,” Raskin said.

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Trump will go on trial in the Senate for the second time in a year beginning next week.

Raskin proposed that Trump provide testimony, and face cross-examination on it, between February 8 and February 11, “at a mutually convenient time and place.”

Raskin said Trump had little excuse to avoid testifying, saying he could no long claim that he was too busy overseeing the country, as was the White House position when he was still president.

“We therefore anticipate your availability to testify.”

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If Trump, who now lives in his Florida Mar-a-Lago resort, declines to testify, Raskin warned, the impeachment prosecutors could cite that as evidence supporting his guilt.

Raskin gave Trump until 5 pm Friday to respond to the letter.

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#Newsworthy

Abdulrasheed Maina’s son escape bail, fled – EFCC.

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Faisal’s father, Maina is also being prosecuted for separate charges of money laundering at the court.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) said on Thursday Faisal Maina, son of Abdulrasheed Maina, former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Task Team (PRTT), has fled to the United States.

EFCC’s prosecuting counsel Mohammed Abubakar made the disclosure at the Federal High Court in Abuja. Faisal Maina is being prosecuted on three counts of money laundering.

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Abubakar said EFCC got information that Faisal sneaked to the U.S through the Republic of Niger.

The trial judge, Okon Abang, had ordered Faisal’s surety, Sani Dan-Galadima, who is a member of the House of Representatives to forfeit a property used as a bail bond.

File Photo: Abdulrasheed Maina | Noble Reporters Media | Adigun Michael Olamide | NoRM News

Dan-Galadima, who represents Kaura-Namoda Federal Constituency of Zamfara, had entered into a N60 million bail bond on behalf of Faisal.

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Faisal’s father, Maina is also being prosecuted for separate charges of money laundering at the court.

He jumped bail last year but was rearrested in Niger Republic. A court is still hearing his bail application on medical grounds.

Opposing Maina’s bail application, the EFCC had told the court that the defendant has multiple citizenship and was trying to obtain a fresh passport to flee to the United States when he was arrested in Niger Republic.

EFCC is prosecuting Maina for alleged money laundering to the tune of N2billion.

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Maina is facing a 12-count money laundering charge levelled against him and a firm by the EFCC.

EFCC alleged that Maina, as Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, used the account of the firm for money laundering to the tune of about N2 billion, part of which he used to acquire landed properties in Abuja.

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#Newsworthy

‘Extremism in the ranks’ – Pentagon Chief opens discussion.

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The Pentagon pulled 12 National Guard troops from duty ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration as part of an extremism screening for the January 20 event.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin launched a discussion about extremism in the US military Wednesday, as the Pentagon reels from the revelation that several troops and veterans participated in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

Austin, who is the first Black person to serve as Pentagon chief, has given all units 60 days to hold a day of talks on extremism, his spokesperson John Kirby said.

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The aim is to teach troops about the dangers of extremism and misinformation, but also to hear their views, Kirby added.

Over the past decade, several successive US administrations have acted slowly, if at all, on FBI and Department of Homeland Security warnings of white supremacists joining the police and military.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin attends a congressional tribute to the late Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick who lies in honor in the Rotunda of the Capitol in Washington, DC on February 3, 2021. – The US Capitol police officer who died after being injured in the January 6 attack by pro-Trump rioters will lie in honour at the building’s Rotunda, lawmakers said Friday, a mark of respect rarely bestowed. Brian Sicknick was reportedly struck in the head with a fire extinguisher while struggling with the rioters who swarmed through the halls of Congress (Photo by Erin Schaff / POOL / AFP)

The Pentagon has never published figures on how many extremists it has booted from service.

The storming of the Capitol building was a “wake-up call,” Kirby said, adding the Pentagon does not yet understand the scale of the problem that “we haven’t solved.”

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The Pentagon pulled 12 National Guard troops from duty ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration as part of an extremism screening for the January 20 event.

Biden on Tuesday paid a final tribute at the Capitol to Brian Sicknick, the policeman who died of injuries he suffered in an attack by former President Donald Trump’s supporters as they tried to overturn Biden’s election win.

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#Newsworthy

Stormy snow hit US East Coast after Capital.

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The storm is expected to continue in the region until Tuesday, capping off with a mixture of ice, sleet and freezing rain.

A powerful winter storm is set to dump feet of snow along a stretch of the US east coast including New York City on Monday, after blanketing the nation’s capital.

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The National Weather Service issued storm warnings from Virginia to Maine — a swathe home to tens of millions of people — and forecast snowfall of 18 to 24 inches (45-60 centimeters) in southern New York, northeastern New Jersey and parts of southwest Connecticut.

The NWS warned New Yorkers to expect a snowfall rate of two to four inches per hour beginning on Monday, with “near blizzard” conditions closer to the coast.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio issued a local state of emergency as the city of over eight million braced for the storm, restricting non-essential travel to keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.

“This winter storm will be dangerous with heavy snowfall and strong winds. If you can stay home, stay home,” he said on Twitter.

New Jersey governor Phil Murphy also issued a state of emergency ahead of the storm’s expected arrival, allowing authorities to close roads, evacuate homes and commandeer equipment needed for public safety.

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Public transportation throughout the state will be suspended as of Monday, in anticipation of the storm’s impact.

“Charge your devices, and if you experience a power outage — report it immediately,” he urged New Jersey residents on Twitter.

Philadelphia also declared a snow emergency, closing city government buildings for Monday and ordering residents to move their cars off snow emergency routes so the plows can get through.

“Philly, please be safe and look out for each other,” Mayor Jim Kenney tweeted.

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The storm is expected to hit Maine by Tuesday, where it will drop between eight and 13 inches of snow, as well as sleet.

The storm hit mountainous parts of California with more than six feet of snow and heavy rain last week.

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Panda-monium
The extreme weather led a chunk of Highway 1 to collapse into the sea, following a landslide in an area near the mountainous Big Sur coastline in the central part of the western state.

The snow later moved on to the Midwest, dumping about eight inches of snow in Chicago, according to the NWS.

Crucial snow hit US east coast after hitting capital. (Noble Reporters Media/Olamide)

Snowfall began overnight Saturday to Sunday in Washington. A winter storm warning from the NWS predicted between three and five inches in the area around Washington and Baltimore, Maryland.

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President Joe Biden met with advisors Sunday to discuss “a range of issues, including the approaching winter storm,” as well as Covid-19 vaccines and economic relief, according to a White House official.

Meanwhile, Washington residents hurried outside to enjoy the snow, building giant snowmen near the National Mall, going sledging and having snowball fights.

“I feel like a kid on Christmas,” said Emilee Truitt, a student from Alabama interning in the capital.

“I woke up really giddy this morning, excited to go out and see the snow for the first time.”

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It wasn’t just the humans of Washington who were out to have some snowy fun.

At Smithsonian’s National Zoo, giant pandas made the most of the winter flurry, frolicking in the snow and rolling and sliding down a slope in their enclosure.

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#Newsworthy

President Joe Biden signs order to end Muslim ban.

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The Biden-Harris administration is expected to participate in a WHO executive board meeting that is continuing this week, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday.

United States President Joe Biden has signed a string of executive orders, memorandums and directives that will reverse some of his predecessor Donald Trump’s most divisive policies, including rescinding the so-called “Muslim ban”, rejoining the Paris climate accord, and ending the process to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Just hours after his inauguration at the US Capitol on Wednesday, Biden signed 15 executive actions that his team earlier said aimed to “reverse the gravest damages of the Trump administration”.

Biden told reporters in the Oval Office that there was “no time to waste”.

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“Some of the executive actions I’m going to be signing today are going to help change the course of the COVID crisis, we’re going to combat climate change in a way that we haven’t done so far and advance racial equity and support other underserved communities,” he said, as reported by the Reuters news agency.

Biden’s first big challenge as he enters the White House will be tackling the surging COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 400,000 people across the country to date.

Joe Biden in the midst of his first elected senators. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

To that effect, Biden signed an order on Wednesday afternoon to institute a 100-day mask mandate across the US and appoint a COVID-19 coordinator to manage a national response to the pandemic.

He has also announced that the US would remain a member of the WHO, and that Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, would attend the ongoing WHO Executive Board meeting at the head of the US delegation.

Here is a look at some of Biden’s first executive actions as president:

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Rescinding the ‘Muslim ban’
Biden rescinded the so-called “Muslim ban”, an executive order Trump signed in 2017 that banned travellers from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US.

The ban was changed several times amid legal challenges and ultimately upheld by the US Supreme Court in 2018.

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“The president put an end to the Muslim ban – a policy rooted in religious animus and xenophobia,” Biden’s White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a Wednesday evening briefing.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations welcomed the decision as “an important first step toward undoing the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant policies of the previous administration”.

“It is an important fulfilment of a campaign pledge to the Muslim community and its allies,” the group’s executive director, Nihad Awad, said in a statement.

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Rejoining Paris agreement
The US will once again become a party to the Paris Agreement, Biden also announced.

The move to rejoin the international treaty on climate change is expected to take effect 30 days after it is deposited with the UN, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday.

Picture of Joe Biden ready to sign the Muslim ban end orders and other matters. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

In November, the US became the first country in the world to withdraw from the treaty – a move that fuelled tensions between Washington and its allies in Europe and drew a widespread rebuke from environmental and human rights groups.

Launching mask mandate
Biden launched his “100 Days Masking Challenge”, ordering a mandatory mask mandate in all US federal buildings for the first 100 days of his administration to try and curb the spread of COVID-19.

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The order asks Americans to do their “patriotic duty and mask up for 100 days” and also creates the position of COVID-19 response coordinator, who will report directly to the president and help coordinate a unified national response to the surging pandemic.

“This will strengthen our own efforts to get the pandemic under control by improving global health,” Psaki said during the briefing, adding that Dr Fauci, one of the top US infectious disease experts, would participate in a WHO meeting this week “as the US head of delegation”.

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The Infectious Disease Society of America immediately welcomed the mandatory mask order.

“The president’s order comes at a critical point, when vaccines, as well as a plan to accelerate their roll out, offer new hope, but also when more easily transmitted variants of the virus present new challenges,” the group said.

Re-engaging with WHO
Biden is halting Trump’s planned withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO).

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The Trump administration in July of last year notified Congress and the United Nations that the US was formally withdrawing from the WHO. The decision would have gone into effect in July.

2021: President Joe Biden officially signs order seeking end of Muslim ban in the United States of America. (Noble Reporters Media, Olamide)

Trump justified the decision by saying the WHO “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms” and accusing the group of helping China cover up the origins of the novel coronavirus.

Bob Goodfellow, the interim executive director of Amnesty International USA, welcomed Biden’s WHO decision as “a much-needed first step” in restoring Washington’s cooperation with the international community.

He also urged Biden to support the WHO’s COVAX programme, which aims to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are evenly distributed between countries.

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“It is of the utmost importance that the Biden administration lead multilateral efforts to fight the pandemic and to support and fund global vaccine efforts,” Goodfellow said.

Halting border wall construction
Biden also rescinded the national emergency declaration that was used to justify some of Trump’s funding diversions to build the wall on the US-Mexico border.

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The order, Biden’s team said earlier on Wednesday, will direct “an immediate pause” in construction to allow for a review of the funding and contracting methods used.

Building a “big” and “beautiful” wall between the US and Mexico to block undocumented immigrants from entering the country was one of Trump’s key 2016 election campaign promises.

Revoking Keystone pipeline approval
Biden also revoked the presidential permit granted to the multibillion-dollar Keystone XL pipeline, a contentious energy project that was slated to ship 830,000 barrels of oil per day between the Canadian province of Alberta and the US state of Nebraska.

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Canada, which this week said it remained committed to the project, expressed its “disappointment” at the decision on Wednesday.

But Matthew Campbell,a staff lawyer at the Native American Rights Fund, which has represented Indigenous nations in legal challenges against Keystone XL, told NoRM‘s known Media Biden’s decision is “vindication” for Native communities opposed to the pipeline.

Fortifying DACA
In 2012, while serving as vice president to President Barack Obama, the US adopted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) to provide temporary relief from deportation to “Dreamers”, young people who were brought to the US as children.

The Trump administration has tried to terminate the programme, through which 700,000 young people have applied for relief.

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In a presidential memorandum signed on Wednesday, Biden directed the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the US attorney general, to make sure that DACA is preserved and fortified.

The memorandum also calls on Congress to enact legislation that would provide “permanent status and a pathway to citizenship” to the Dreamers.

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#Newsworthy

US Election: Trump “denied access” to Scotland until Biden’s inaugural

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The grudging President also wants his two candidates to win the Senatorial election so that he might later use them against swearing-in Joe Biden on the 20th of this month.

Yesterday, both President Donald Trump and Joe Biden were in Georgia to rally behind their two chosen candidates respectively for their Senatorial contests.

But as it is known President Trump actually had another motive besides the electioneering campaign.

Also in furtherance of his efforts at not having Joe Biden sworn-in on the aforementioned day, he has reportedly made plans to jet-off to Scotland for a Gulf course.

And in addition to the reports from the official Twitter handle of Independent news platform the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, has swiftly refused his entry there.

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Warding him off, according to @Independent , the Scottish Madame, however hinted that now is not the right time to play gulf as they are presently preparing for a new lockdown measure in Scotland. See the original Twitter posts below:

Well, I think this is simply a polite way to allow him entry into Scotland; hence they are not in support of what he is been up to.

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#Newsworthy

“Hodgepodge of lies” – China slams United States

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The world’s two biggest economies have traded blows over the coronavirus pandemic, trade and technology competition, espionage, human rights and media freedoms under US President Donald Trump’s tenure.

Beijing on Friday lashed out at a claim by the US intelligence chief that China is the “greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide”, calling it a “hodgepodge of lies”.

The war of words comes as relations between the two superpowers have spiralled to their lowest point in decades and as Washington unveiled travel restrictions for members of the Chinese Communist Party.

US Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe said in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece on Thursday that Chinese spies were using economic pressure to influence or undermine US legislators.

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“The People’s Republic of China poses the greatest threat to America today, and the greatest threat to democracy and freedom worldwide since World War II,” he wrote.

Beijing hit back angrily on Friday.

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“[Ratcliffe] only continues to repeat lies and rumours to slander and discredit China, and wantonly play up the Chinese threat,” said Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

“I think this is yet another hodgepodge of lies that the US government has been cooking up lately.”

Hua also accused the US of being “engaged in a Cold War mindset, advocating major power competition, and wantonly expanding its nuclear weapons arsenal”.

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The US has repeatedly stressed that China is a grave threat to national security and Western democratic values, while China has accused the US of seeking to contain its rise through unlawful means.

Under the new US travel rules, visas issued to party members and their immediate family will remain valid for just one month, and for a single entry.

Previously some visas were issued that permitted unlimited entries and could remain valid for as long as 10 years.

The United States shut down the Chinese consulate in Houston in July, calling it a centre of espionage and harassment of Chinese nationals in the US.

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In retaliation, Beijing ordered the US to vacate its consulate in Chengdu.

Hua on Friday called for the United States to “stop damaging US-China relations and US-China mutual trust and cooperation”.

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#Newsworthy

America to tag Israel boycott snap as ‘anti-semitic’ – Pompeo says

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The move was condemned by the international community, which does not recognise the land grab, while Syria called it a “blatant attack” on its sovereignty.

The United States will label the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians, as “anti-Semitic”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, calling the movement “a cancer”.

Washington “will regard the global anti-Israel BDS campaign as anti-Semitic … We want to stand with all other nations that recognise the BDS movement for the cancer that it is,” Pompeo said in a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.

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The BDS campaign is a non-violent people-led movement that aims to economically pressure Israel into providing equal rights and a right of return to Palestinians.

Modelled on the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, it has inspired people from around the world to boycott businesses and academic and cultural institutions that have either a direct or indirect affiliation with Israel.

This includes companies associated with illegal Jewish settlements, those that provide services to the occupation, companies exploiting natural resources from Palestinian land and those that use Palestinians as cheap labour.

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The UN human rights office has identified more than 200 companies linked directly or indirectly to illegal settlements, mostly from Israel and the US but also Germany and the Netherlands.

They include banking and tourism companies, as well as construction and technology firms.

Pompeo says will visit Golan Heights
Pompeo, who is in Israel as part of his last Middle East tour as US secretary of state, also said he would visit the Golan Heights, a territory Israel captured from Syria and occupied in the 1967 war.

“Today I’ll have the chance to visit the Golan Heights,” he said in Jerusalem on Thursday – a statement that marked a break from previous US administrations’ policy.

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“The simple recognition of this as part of Israel, too, was a decision President Trump made [in 2019] that is historically important and simply a recognition of reality,” he said.

In March last year, Trump recognised the Israeli occupation of the Golan Heights when he signed a decree alongside Netanyahu at the White House.

Pompeo is also expected to become the first US secretary of state ever to visit the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank on Thursday.

The expected visit to the Psagot winery would be another dramatic break by the Trump administration with the international community – which sees such settlement enterprises as illegal – and the traditional US line on the Middle East conflict.


#Newsworthy…

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle team up with Netflix Inc.

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Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce content on issues that resonate with them.


The United Kingdom’s Prince Harry and his American-born wife Meghan have signed an exclusive multiyear production deal with Netflix Inc, a major step in their plan to make a living for themselves outside the royal family.

Under the deal, whose value was not disclosed, the couple will produce films and series ranging from children’s shows to scripted content, the streaming platform said on Wednesday.

The couple moved to Southern California with their infant son Archie this year after stepping back from royal duties in January and announcing plans to be more financially independent.

They said they will produce content on issues that resonate with them and that their nonprofit Archewell is focused on.

“Our focus will be on creating content that informs but also gives hope,” the couple said in a statement on Wednesday. “As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us.”

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Meghan, a former star of the USA Network television show, Suits, has no plans to return to acting under the deal.

The couple has no previous experience as producers, but Netflix said they already have several projects in development, including a nature documentary series and an animated series that celebrates inspiring women. They said they plan to highlight diversity in front of and behind the camera.

“We’re incredibly proud they have chosen Netflix as their creative home,” Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement.

The UK’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, arrive at the Endeavour Fund Awards in London, UK in March [File: Hannah McKay/Reuters]

The Netflix deal follows a similar pact in 2018 with former US President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.

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NRM said Harry and Meghan had been speaking with other Hollywood companies, including Walt Disney Co and Apple Inc. Variety reported earlier this month that they had met with Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal.

Netflix last month released, Rising Phoenix, a documentary about the Paralympic Games, in which Harry, who founded the Invictus Games for wounded veterans, makes a brief appearance.

Harry, a grandson of Queen Elizabeth, had previously teamed up with the Apple TV+ streaming service to make a documentary with Oprah Winfrey about mental health.

The documentary, which was in the works before the couple stepped back from their royal duties, has yet to be aired.

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In June, the couple signed with the Harry Walker Agency in New York, which serves as an agent for lectures by clients such as former US Presidents Obama and Bill Clinton, as well as Oprah Winfrey.

Harry and Meghan are expected to speak together and individually on issues such as racial justice, gender equity, the environment, and mental health.

The couple recently bought a mansion in the celebrity enclave of Montecito, north of Los Angeles, which is more sheltered from media attention.

Since arriving in California in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, they have undertaken some low-profile charity work, handing out supplies to families in need.

SOURCE: NOBLE REPORTERS MEDIA, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY


#Newsworthy…

As school resumes: Britain reverse face mask policy.

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The government has reversed policy on wearing facemasks in schools in England, sparking fresh criticism about its handling of the coronavirus outbreak.

Ministers had insisted face coverings were not necessary when children go back to school from next week after nearly six months out of the classroom amid concern about a rise in infections.

But in new guidance late Tuesday, the British government advised that secondary school students and staff should wear face coverings in corridors and communal areas.

The change is being seen as another U-turn, just weeks after ministers were forced to scrap the use of an algorithm which gave 17- and 18-year-olds lower-than-expected exam grades.

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Teaching unions have been calling for English schools to follow guidance in Scotland, which has a separate education system, that requires pupils to cover their nose and mouth between lessons.

But while welcoming the change, critics including the main opposition Labour party said ministers had shirked their responsibility by leaving enforcement to individual schools.

Labour’s education spokeswoman Kate Green slammed a “half-baked U-turn”. “The government should have given clear guidance and a plan to deliver it,” she said.

Under-fire Education Secretary Gavin Williamson had insisted masks were not required in schools and Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office said there was no plan to review the policy.

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But Williamson, widely blamed for the furore over exam results, on Wednesday said the government would now follow World Health Organization advice for children aged 12 and over to wear masks.

“Outside of local lockdown areas face coverings won’t be required in schools, though schools will have the flexibility to introduce measures if they believe it is right in their specific circumstances,” he said on Wednesday.

In this file photo taken on April 12, 2020. A handout image released by 10 Downing Street, shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he delivers a television address after returning to 10 Downing Street after being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, in central London on April 12, 2020. Pippa FOWLES / 10 Downing Street / AFP.

“I hope these steps will provide parents, pupils and teachers with further reassurance.”

Some 41,500 people have died in the coronavirus outbreak in Britain — the worst death toll in Europe — and the government response to the pandemic has been criticised.

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Ministers were accused of not reacting quickly enough, failing to ensure enough protective equipment for frontline health and social care workers, and over the testing regime.

London reversed policy on the wearing of facemasks in shops in England after initially saying they were not necessary, and was forced to backtrack on a planned reopening of primary schools in July.

Education is a devolved issue for regional governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Older students in Northern Ireland will be asked to wear face coverings outside classrooms from next week. The Welsh Assembly in Cardiff is due to make its decision on Wednesday.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: 296 stranded Nigerians arrive Abuja from UK – NIDCOM

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At least 296 persons have arrived at the Nnamdi Azikwe International Airport in Abuja from the United Kingdom, the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM) said on Saturday.

The evacuees flew in from the Gatwick Airport in London via an Air Peace flight, NIDCOM said in a tweet.

The Diaspora Commission added that all 296 will now proceed on a 14-day self-isolation as mandated by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.

About 327 Nigerians also arrived from the UK on August 7

Thousands of stranded Nigerians have been brought back home by the Federal Government since the coronavirus pandemic disrupted travel operations across the world.

A picture published by the Nigerians In Diaspora Commission on August 15, 2020, showing Nigerian evacuees from the UK arriving at the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport in Abuja. (Noble Reporters Media / Adigun Michael Olamide)

In July, NIDCOM Chairman, Abike Dabiri-Erewa said 6,317 Nigerians have been evacuated from abroad.


#Newsworthy…

Meghan Markle ‘pleased’ to return to America.

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Meghan Markle said Friday she was pleased to be back in America, where she plans to speak out against racism and campaign for positive change in her home country.

Markle and husband Prince Harry relocated to the United States via Canada this year after announcing in January that they were quitting frontline British royal duties.

The Duchess of Sussex, who is mixed race, said it was “devastating” to return as America’s systemic racism was laid bare following the death in police custody of unarmed black man George Floyd in May.

But her feelings began to change as the country became gripped by widespread peaceful protests, and airwaves became dominated by black voices speaking against decades of discrimination.

“It shifted from sadness to a feeling of absolute inspiration because I can see that the tide is turning,” she told a summit hosted by The 19th*, a new news organization overwhelmingly staffed by women.

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“From my standpoint it’s not new to see this undercurrent of racism and certainly unconscious bias,” said Markle, who grew up in Los Angeles.

“But I think to see the changes that are being made right now is… something that I look forward to being a part of and being a part of using my voice in a way that I haven’t been able to of late.

“So yeah it’s good to be home,” she added.

The “Suits” actress, who was interviewing The 19th*’s CEO Emily Ramshaw about the role of gender in media, also hinted at her and Harry’s troubles with tabloid papers.

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Since stepping back from the royal front lines, Harry and Meghan have waged an increasingly bitter war with the media, particularly the British tabloid press.

Markle has brought a high-profile case against the Mail on Sunday, website Mail Online and its owner Associated Newspapers.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have purchased and moved into a new family home in Santa Barbara, an affluent seaside city outside Los Angeles, according to US media reports. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP)

‘Toxicity’
She claims breach of privacy, data protection rights and copyright over the publication of extracts of correspondence to her estranged father, Thomas, after her wedding to Harry.

Last month the couple filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles against one or more paparazzi whom they accused of taking pictures of their son Archie without their permission.

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“I think what’s so fascinating, at least from my standpoint and my personal experience the past couple years (is) the headline alone, the clickbait alone makes an imprint,” said Markle.

She added that there is “so much toxicity” in certain news coverage.

“My husband and I talk about it often – this ‘economy for attention’… what is monetizable right now when you’re looking at the digital space and media.

“And so if you’re just trying to grab someone’s attention and keep it you’re going for something salacious versus something truthful,” said Markle, 39.

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Prince Harry has likened what he said was a “ruthless campaign” against his wife to the treatment of his mother, Diana, princess of Wales.

She was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in August 1997, while being pursued by paparazzi photographers.

Markle and Harry have spoken of their desire to “to do something of meaning, to do something that matters,” in California, where they plan to launch a wide-ranging non-profit organization named Archewell.

They recently moved into a new family home in Santa Barbara, according to US media reports.


#Newsworthy…

UK Parliament: Russia Meddled in Scottish vote

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A new report casts Russia as a hostile power that poses a significant threat to the UK and the West on many fronts.


Russia meddled in the 2014 Scottish referendum, and the British government failed to ask for a deep assessment of possible Kremlin-directed interference in the Brexit vote, according to the British parliament’s intelligence and security committee.

“There has been credible open source commentary suggesting that Russia undertook influence campaigns in relation to the Scottish independence referendum in 2014,” said the report, which was finished in March 2019 but shelved until Tuesday.

It said there were open-source indications that Russia sought to influence the Brexit campaign but that the United Kingdom’s government had not sought deep evidence of meddling.

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The report cast Russia as a hostile power which posed a significant threat to the UK and the West across a range of fronts, from espionage and cyberattacks to election meddling and laundering dirty money.

“It appears that Russia considers the UK one of its top Western intelligence targets,” the report said.

The report, which was leaked before its publication time by the Guido Fawkes website, said the British government failed to delve deeply enough into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 Brexit referendum.

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‘Anti-Russian hysteria’
The Kremlin said Russia has never interfered in another country’s electoral processes. Russia has repeatedly denied meddling in the West, casting the United States and the UK as gripped by “anti-Russian hysteria”.

Russia meddled in the 2014 Scottish referendum, a new report says [File: Dylan Martinez/Reuters]

When discussing the EU referendum, the UK parliamentary report is heavily redacted, and there was a classified annexe that was not published, but the lawmakers called for a proper investigation.

“In response to our request for written evidence at the outset of the Inquiry, MI5 initially provided just six lines of text. It stated that ***, before referring to academic studies,” the redacted version reads.

“It is nonetheless the Committee’s view that the UK Intelligence Community should produce an analogous assessment of potential Russian interference in the EU referendum and that an unclassified summary of it be published,” the report said.

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The committee cast Russia – rapidly losing its superpower clout after the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union – as a source of corrupt money that had been welcomed in London, the world’s premier international financial capital.

“The UK welcomed Russian money, and few questions – if any – were asked about the provenance of this considerable wealth,” the report said. “The UK has been viewed as a particularly favourable destination for Russian oligarchs and their money.”

“It offered ideal mechanisms by which illicit finance could be recycled through what has been referred to as the London ‘laundromat’,” the report said.


#Newsworthy…

UK Rapper, Logic retires from Music

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The 30-year-old American rapper, Sir Robert Bryson Hall II, better known as Logic has revealed that agyer the release of his sixth studio album ‘No Pressure’, dropping on Friday, July 24, he’s retiring from music.

Logic took to social media to make the shocking announcement and also explained that he wants to focus on being “a great father” to his son.

    He wrote: ‘Officially announcing my retirement with the release of “No Pressure” executive produced by No I.D. July 24th… It’s been a great decade. Now it’s time to be a great father.’

    American Rapper, Logic Retires From Music

    The rapper and his wife Brittney Noell announced they were expecting their first child, a son, back in August last year.

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    Logic, who started putting out music in 2009 after a string of mixtapes, has collaborated with so many stars including Eminem, Childish Gambino, Gucci Mane, YBN Cordae, G-Eazy, Wiz Khalifa, Hailee Steinfeld, and actor Will Smith among many others.

    His biggest hit was a 2017 song about suicide ‘1-800-273-8255.’ He titled the song after a prevention hotline in the States.

    The sixth studio album, ‘No Pressure’ will mark Logic’s first release since his fifth studio album, ‘Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind’ dropped last year.


    #Newsworthy…

    Alicia Keys reschedule Ireland & UK tour for June 2021

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    Alicia Keys has rescheduled her UK and Ireland tour, having postponed the original run due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    With her new LP ‘ALICIA’ expected later this year, the R&B star is now set to call at Dublin’s 3Arena, Manchester Arena, London’s O2 Arena and the Utilita Arena in Birmingham next June. Tickets remain valid.

    Alicia Keys Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

    Thu June 03 2021 – DUBLIN 3Arena

    Sun June 06 2021 – MANCHESTER Arena

    Wed June 09 2021 – LONDON O2 Arena

    Thu June 10 2021 – BIRMINGHAM Utilita Arena


    #Newsworthy…

    Reactions as UK offer visas to Hong Kong expats


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    Hong Kong expatriates living in Britain have welcomed London’s pledge of “a pathway to future citizenship” for millions of the territory’s residents after China imposed a controversial security law there.

    But they warned this “message of hope” would not help many, including those born after Hong Kong’s 1997 return to Chinese rule and now aged over 18 — people at the forefront of protests against Beijing.

    “It is helpful — it sends a strong message of hope to Hong Kongers, many of whom are waiting to be rescued from their city,” a 35-year-old financial analyst living in London since 2005, who asked to remain anonymous, said.

    With relatives still in Hong Kong, he is very worried about their fate, especially those of university age.

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    “These guys won’t be helped directly by this but they are the ones who are more vulnerable — they stopped their university degrees to join the movement,” he added, referring to pro-democracy protests that erupted last year.

    Beijing enacted the sweeping security law for the restless city of around 7.5 million people on June 30, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.

    The move has sparked international condemnation.

    The UK has said in response it will allow anyone with British National (Overseas) (BNO) status and their dependants — husbands, wives, civil partners and children under 18 years old — to come to Britain.

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    They will be able to remain and work for five years, compared to the current limit of six months, before being able to apply for citizenship.

    More than 350,000 people currently have BNO passports, and the government estimates there is around 2.9 million eligible for the status in total in Hong Kong.

    – ‘Main target‘ –
    “This proposal will definitely help some of the people who fear for their life — at least they have somewhere safe to go,” said Abby Yau, 40, a naturalised British citizen after 19 years in the UK.

    “But at the same time, I wonder how much it will benefit the majority of the people who are oppressed by the (Chinese) government.”

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    Britain created the BNO status ahead of Hong Kong’s 1997 handover, allowing its residents to apply for a form of British nationality and a BNO passport.

    But it conferred no automatic right to citizenship, could only be applied before the end of 1997 and cannot be passed on to future generations.

    Critics of Britain’s proposed changes note they still fail to help swathes of people who missed out on that opportunity.

    “The British government forgets the fact that most of the protesters are from my generation, in particular citizens born between 1997 and 2002,” said another 22-year-old former Hong Kong resident studying in the UK since 2015.

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    “These generations have suffered the most throughout the years and now they are the main target of the (Hong Kong) government.

    “The British government needs to consider this generation or otherwise, this proposal won’t be meaningful.”

    However, he expected “a wave of people fleeing” to Britain once the new immigration measures are formalised.

    “Social media such as Facebook has been flooded with questions regarding working in the UK,” he added, noting it reflected “how anxious and hopeless Hong Kongers are at the moment”.

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    – ‘Valuable workforce‘ –
    Yau said she too had been contacted by friends asking about life in Britain and argued the new arrivals “could be an unbelievably valuable workforce for the UK post-Brexit”.

    But she does not expect large numbers to leave Hong Kong, noting not everyone can afford to relocate and navigate Britain’s costly immigration system while others may not want such a different lifestyle.

    The 22-year-old Hong Kong emigre echoed the sentiment.

    “It will be a big challenge and sacrifice for the sandwich-class in Hong Kong as they work hard throughout their entire life to promote their social status,” he said, referring to the city’s middle class.

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    “Immigrating to here would mean restarting a new life as second-class citizens, and their social status might be dropped if they are not professional or wealthy.”

    Meanwhile, the financial analyst who left Hong Kong 15 years ago agreed there will be “reluctance” to start over in Britain, but noted two of his relatives who had long been mulling relocating have finally been convinced by recent events.

    “Can you call a place home when someone has taken away its core values, freedom and spirit?” he said.

    “To me, that place ceased to be home — and the real home for Hong Kongers is where we can carry on contributing as a world citizen.”


    #Newsworthy…

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    America reveal £30bn package in move to secure Jobs

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    The UK government on Wednesday unveiled a package worth £30 billion ($37 billion, 33 billion euros) to save jobs and help the young to work to kickstart the coronavirus-hit economy.

    Delivering a mini-budget to parliament, finance minister Rishi Sunak’s measures included bonuses to companies retaining staff and taking on apprentices, investment in ‘green’ jobs and allowing the whole country to enjoy discounted meals in restaurants.


    #Newsworthy…

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    Another Man shot dead in broad daylight in UK

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    A man in his early twenties was reportedly shot dead in broad daylight near a children’s playground in north London.

    Metropolitan Police disclosed that they were called at 3.20pm to Roman Way in Islington, north London, following reports of shots fired on Saturday.

    According to eyewitnesses, multiple gunshots were heard before seeing someone on a moped speeding away from the area.

    Attempts were made to rescue the man who suffered severe gunshots but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

    There have been no arrests and police are investigating the case. The area has been sealed off by officers.

    A police statement on Sunday July 5, said:

    ‘Officers were called at 3.20pm on 4 July to Roman Way N7 following reports of shots fired.’

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    ‘Officers attended with LAS and found a man, believed to be aged in his early 20s, suffering from gunshot injuries.

    ‘Despite their best efforts, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

    “Next of kin have been informed. There have been no arrests and enquiries into the circumstances continue.’

    ‘The public have a huge role in helping to both prevent and detect crime. ‘We need to hear from anyone who has information about this crime, or about someone they suspect to be carrying a weapon or involved in organised crime.’

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    A London Ambulance Service spokesperson said:

    ‘We were called at 3.21pm to reports of an incident on Atlas Mews, Islington. We dispatched an ambulance crew, three medics in fast response cars and an incident response officer to the scene, with the first of our medics arriving in under four minutes.

    ‘We also dispatched London’s Air Ambulance. Sadly, despite the efforts of medics, a man died at the scene.’

    The shooting incident is coming weeks after the brother Nigerian reality star, Khafi was shot dead in the UK, in what police has described as a case of mistaken identity.


    #Newsworthy…

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    Election’20: Trump vows to protect American ‘way of life’

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    On a day meant for unity and celebration, President Donald Trump vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies.

    Trump watched paratroopers float to the ground in a tribute to America, greeted his audience of front-line medical workers and others central in responding to the coronavirus pandemic, and opened up on those who “slander” him and disrespect the country’s past.

    “We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. “We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children.

    “And we will defend, protect and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.”

    He did not mention the dead from the pandemic. Nearly 130,000 are known to have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

    Even as officials across the country pleaded with Americans to curb their enthusiasm for large Fourth of July crowds, Trump enticed the masses with a “special evening” of tribute and fireworks staged with new U.S. coronavirus infections on the rise.

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    But the crowds wandering the National Mall for the night’s air show and fireworks were strikingly thinner than the gathering for last year’s jammed celebration on the Mall.

    Many who showed up wore masks, unlike those seated close together for Trump’s South Lawn event, and distancing was easy to do for those scattered across the sprawling space.

    Trump did not hesitate to use the country’s birthday as an occasion to assail segments of the country that do not support him.

    Carrying on a theme he pounded on a day earlier against the backdrop of the Mount Rushmore monuments, he went after those who have torn down statues or think some of them, particularly those of Confederate figures, should be removed. Support has been growing among Republicans to remove Confederate memorials.

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    “Our past is not a burden to be cast away,” Trump said.

    Outside the event but as close to it as they could get, Pat Lee of Upper Dublin, Pennsylvania, gathered with two friends, one of them a nurse from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and none in a mask.

    “POTUS said it would go away,” Lee said of the pandemic, using an acronym for president of the United States. “Masks, I think, are like a hoax.” But she said she wore one inside the Trump International Hotel, where she stayed.

    By the World War II Memorial, the National Park Service handed out packets of five white cloth masks to all who wanted them. People were not required to wear them.

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    Another nurse, Zippy Watt from Riverside, California, came to see the air show and fireworks with her husband and their two daughters, one of whom lives in Washington. They wore matching American flag face masks even when seated together on a park bench.

    “We chose to wear a mask to protect ourselves and others,” Watt said. She said her family was divided on Trump but she is “more of a Trump supporter. Being from southern California I see socialist tendencies. I’m tired of paying taxes so others can stay home.”

    Pat Lee made the trip from north of Philadelphia after seeing last year’s Mall celebration on TV.

    She said the protests over racial injustice that unfolded near her were so threatening that people in her suburban neighborhood took turns staying up all night and those who didn’t own guns stationed bats and shovels in their garages. Her friend from Pennsylvania, who didn’t want to be identified, said she spent more than three hours in line to buy a gun.

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    “I want people to stop calling us racists,” Lee said. “We’re not racists. Just because you love your country, love the people in your country, doesn’t make you a racist.”

    Trump’s guests on the South Lawn were doctors, nurses, law enforcement officers and military members as well as officials from the administration, said Judd Deere, deputy White House press secretary. He said the event was a tribute to the “tremendous courage and spirit” of front-line workers and the public in the pandemic.

    President of United States of America, Donald Trump

    In many parts of the country, authorities discouraged mass gatherings for the holiday after days that have seen COVID-19 cases grow at a rate not experienced even during the deadliest phase of the pandemic in the spring.

    In New York, once the epicenter, people were urged to avoid crowds and Nathan’s Famous July Fourth hot dog eating contest happened at an undisclosed location without spectators on hand, in advance of the evening’s televised fireworks spectacular over the Empire State Building.

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    In Philadelphia, mask- and glove-wearing descendants of the signers of the Declaration of Independence participated in a virtual tapping of the famed Liberty Bell on Independence Mall and people were asked to join from afar by clinking glasses, tapping pots or ringing bells.

    Yet Trump continued to crave big crowds when it came to his events.

    He opened the holiday weekend by traveling to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota for a fireworks display Friday night near the mountain carvings of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt. In stark words, he accused protesters who have pushed for racial justice of engaging in a “merciless campaign to wipe out our history.”

    Even as he pushed ahead with celebrations, the shadow of the coronavirus loomed closer to him. Kimberly Guilfoyle, a top fundraiser for the president and girlfriend of his eldest child, Donald Trump Jr., tested positive for the virus, Trump’s campaign said late Friday. Guilfoyle tweeted Saturday that she was looking forward to “a speedy recovery.”

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    In a presidential message Saturday morning on the 244th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence, Trump acknowledged that “over the past months, the American spirit has undoubtedly been tested by many challenges.”

    His Democratic rival, Joe Biden, said in a statement that the U.S. “never lived up” to its founding principle that “all men are created equal,” but today “we have a chance to rip the roots of systemic racism out of this country.”

    Trump’s endorsement of big gatherings at the National Mall and at Mount Rushmore came as many communities decided to scrap fireworks, parades and other holiday traditions in hopes of avoiding yet more surges in infection.

    Confirmed cases were climbing in 40 states, and the U.S. set another record Friday with 52,300 newly reported infections, according to the tally kept by Johns Hopkins University.

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    Trump did not dwell on the pandemic in his remarks Saturday evening. Instead, he declared that “our country is in great shape.”

    Trump has been aching to see the nation return to normalcy, and has been willing to push the envelope farther than many states and big city mayors are willing to go.

    For Trump and the country, it was yet another holiday clouded by a pandemic that the U.S. has failed to bring under control.

    In late March, a little more than a week after he bowed to the need to shut down much of the country, Trump spoke of reopening with “packed” churches by Easter Sunday. He relented on that push as his medical advisers warned that it was far too ambitious. Then he spent chunks of his Memorial Day weekend fuming about critics who he said were ignoring falling cases and deaths at the time.


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