Tag Archives: u.s

Visa Ban: Adeboye prays for restoration of Nigeria

General Overseer of Redeemed Christian Church of God, Pastor Enoch Adeboye, has called on God to restore Nigeria back to its full glory.

The respected Christian leader made the call on Sunday during a special service of the church at the National Headquarters in Ebute Meta, Lagos.

He spoke in reference to a recent visa ban on Nigerians by the United States.

Earlier in the week, the United States had announced fresh restrictions on immigrant visas for Nigerians and nationals of five other countries for not taking adequate measures to combat terrorism.

Following the move by President Donald Trump’s administration, prominent Nigerians have continued to react with many of them appealing to the US Government to reverse its stand on the matter.

In his submission, Adeboye said, “Some countries have banned Nigerians from coming into their territories. We pray for the restoration of our nation. Lord, have mercy on Nigeria.

“Let there be peace and security in Nigeria. God sees all things and knows where the terrorists are hiding. We pray that God sends His light to Nigeria and expose the evildoers in the country.”


Nigeria, U.S to sign pact on looted assets

Dr Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations in the Office of the Minister disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Abuja.

The Minister is expected to, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, sign a tripartite agreement with Nigeria, the Island of New Jersey and the United States of America.

The agreement is for repatriation of 321m US dollars looted assets and as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to recover more stolen funds stashed abroad.

He said the meeting is an annual event between Nigeria and U.S.aimed at reviewing bilateral relations and taking necessary steps to advance mutual interest in all diplomatic areas among the two countries.

“The meeting is not an ad hoc event for addressing impromptu concerns, but a friendly binational meeting that holds annually devoid of intervening concerns or relating to the internal affairs of the participating states.”

Some other Nigerian government delegates expected to be part of the meeting include: the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Defence, Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (rtd), Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, National Security Adviser, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) as well as Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development; Sadiya Umar Faruk.


Half of U.S citizens voted Trump out ..

Half of registered voters want the U.S. Senate to remove President Donald Trump from office, despite the near certainty of the upper chamber’s impending acquittal early next week.

A new poll from Morning Consult and Politico, conducted January 29-30, found that, while a substantial portion of the nation supports conviction and removal, just 43 percent of voters want the Senate to acquit. Eight percent of respondents had no opinion.

After Friday’s dramatic conclusion to vote-wrangling on trial witnesses yielded no returns for Democrats, the Senate is poised to deliver a party-line acquittal on Wednesday, with potentially a couple crossovers.

Support for removal of the president was at its highest in November and December, during the impeachment inquiry conducted by the House of Representatives and the high-profile testimony of public officials alleging impropriety.

Since at least October, more voters have preferred that the Senate remove Trump from office than acquit him, according to Morning Consult tracking surveys.

Voters are also dissatisfied with the way Republicans in Congress have conducted themselves during the impeachment process. Forty-five percent of respondents indicated disapproval over how Republicans are handling impeachment, compared with 38 percent who approve.

On the other hand, voters are more evenly divided on how they assess Democrats’ handling of the impeachment process, 42 percent approving and 43 percent disapproving.

Trump seized on the closing impeachment trial Thursday evening at a rally in Des Moines, Iowa.

“We’re having probably the best years that we’ve ever had in our country, and I just got impeached! Can you believe these people? I got impeached. They impeached Trump,” he said to supporters. “They want to nullify your ballots, poison our democracy and overthrow the entire system of government.”

Morning Consult’s findings of large support for removing the president from office are identical to where they were one month ago, when half the country indicated support for a conviction.

A previous poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, released on Tuesday, found that 75 percent of voters want the Senate to call witnesses as part of their trial, including 49 percent of Republicans.

Nevertheless, the Senate decided Friday evening to forgo witnesses altogether, promising a swift conclusion to the trial without additional testimony from former national security adviser John Bolton, whose leaked book excerpts added grist to the allegation that Trump was directly involved in the Ukraine aid quid pro quo.

Only Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney sided with the Democratic caucus to vote for witness testimony, while a Republican majority was able to block it.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, the presiding officer of the impeachment trial, also announced he would not intervene to break a tie vote for any procedural matters, making Democratic-led motions even less likely to succeed.


U.S: Why we ban Nigeria ..

The United States has given reasons for imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians and five other countries’ nationals.

It said Nigeria did not comply with the established identity-management and information-sharing criteria assessed by the performance metrics.

The US also said Nigeria did not adequately share public-safety and terrorism-related information necessary for the protection of the national security and public safety of the US.

The full report of the visa restrictions titled, ‘Proclamation on improving enhanced vetting capabilities and process’ posted in http://www.whitehouse.gov read in part, “Nigeria also presents a high risk, relative to other countries in the world, of terrorist travel to the United States. Nigeria is an important strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism, and the United States continues to engage with Nigeria on these and other issues.”

It further stated, “The Department of State has provided significant assistance to Nigeria as it modernises its border management capabilities, and the Government of Nigeria recognises the importance of improving its information sharing with the United States.

“Nevertheless, these investments have not yet resulted in sufficient improvements in Nigeria’s information sharing with the United States for border and immigration screening and vetting.”

Nigeria is the only country in West Africa sanctioned by the US Department of Home Security following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics).

Other countries on the list are Eritrea, Myanmar, Tanzania, Sudan and Kyrgyzstan.

The new visa regime announced by the US government on January 31, involves the suspension of the issuance of immigrant visas to Nigerian passport holders. It comes into effect on February 21.

Strong reactions have, however, greeted the US visa restrictions with the Presidency announcing the setting up of a committee to address the issue.

The committee is chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, a State House statement said on Saturday.

“The committee will work with the US government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented,” the statement by the media aide to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Mr Femi Adesina, said.

However, the Presidency noted that the restrictions did not affect other categories of visas like official, tourism or business visas.

The Presidency’s reaction to the development read in part, “On January 31, 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced temporary travel restrictions on six countries including Nigeria.

“For Nigeria, it is the suspension of the issuance of ‘immigrant visas’ to Nigerian passport holders only.

“Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its allies, especially on matters of global security. Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee to be chaired by the Minister of Interior to study and address the updated US requirements.”

The Senate condemned the inclusion of Nigeria on the list of countries under US visa restrictions and promised to spearhead a diplomatic arrangement in collaboration with the relevant agencies with a view to addressing the issues advanced by the US for the ban.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Diaspora Affairs, Senator Ajibola Basiru, who described the US travel ban on Nigeria as “quite unfortunate” in an interview in Abuja, however, stressed the need for Nigeria to put in place citizenship integrity mechanism.

He said, “We need to address the issue of citizenship integrity because, at the moment, we are a nation of anonymous citizens. We don’t have records of our citizens and anybody can claim to be a Nigerian.

“We don’t have recognised records to be sure that anybody carrying a Nigerian passport is actually a Nigerian.

“I am not talking as a politician but as a patriot. We need as a government to address the issue of citizenship integrity. We should have a proper record of birth registration and identification of our citizens.”

The Senate spokesman described the ban as “a wake-up call”, noting that it would spur the nation to take seriously the national identity card project.

Basiru added, “The travel ban is a wake-up call, a rude one at that on the need for us to be alive to our responsibility to our people and ensure that we have citizenship integrity.

“We have been working on the national identity project for a very long time, and till today, I am not sure that we have 25 per cent of Nigerians on the database. Are we even sure that we conducted a proper integrity test on those that on the database to ensure that they are real Nigerians?”

Trump’s travel ban discriminatory -US Speaker

The Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, also condemned the US policy, describing it as “discrimination disguised as policy”.

In a statement on her verified Twitter handle, @SpeakerPelosi, she said, “The Trump administration’s expansion of its outrageous, un-American travel ban threatens our security, our values and the rule of law.

“The sweeping rule, barring more than 350 million individuals from predominantly African nations from travelling to the United States, is discrimination disguised as policy.”

The Speaker, however, said the House of Representatives would, in the coming weeks, bring to the floor of the congress legislation to prohibit “religious discrimination” in the country’s immigration system and “limit the President’s ability to impose such biased and bigoted restrictions.”

The statement added, “In the congress and in the courts, House Democrats will continue to oppose the administration’s dangerous anti-immigrant agenda. We will never allow hatred or bigotry to define our nation or destroy our values.”

It’s a wake-up call to Nigeria, Kingibe, Atiku, Duke, others

A former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babagana Kingibe, said nothing had changed as the restriction would help strengthen the country’s national security.

He noted that the US-listed six categories of reforms for Nigeria to meet, stressing that only three were met.

According to him, Nigeria will assume its previous status if the conditions are met eventually.

He said, “We have implemented three of the six (reforms) and we are in the process of implementing the remaining three. The presumption is that once these three reforms are implemented, then the policy does not apply to Nigerians who wish to immigrate to the US.

“So, I think it should not be blown up to something which it is not. It is in our national security interest to implement the reforms required. It is about information sharing, lost passports, and stolen passports, among others.”

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar urged Trump to punish those responsible for the immigrant visa ban on Nigerians and reconsider the ban.

He said the ban did not take into account the pro-American sentiments of the Nigerian public and the solidarity previous Nigerian administrations have had with the US.

He said he understood the reasons given by the US for the ban, which are the alleged failure of the Buhari government to share information and to address issues of terrorism.

In his statement titled, “US travel ban on Nigeria: Punish those responsible, not the Nigerian people’, Atiku said, “I urge the Donald Trump government to consider the history of US-Nigerian relationships. Nigeria was one of the few African nations that joined the US-led coalition during the Operation Desert Storm in 1990-1991 when the US championed the liberation of Kuwait.”

Ex-Cross River State governor Donald Duke said the visa ban was a wake-up call to Nigeria to start putting things in the right perspectives.

Duke said, “You cannot blame the United States for this decision, because there was a time Nigeria formed one per cent of the immigrant population in the US but committed 10 per cent of the immigrant crimes. We now have an administration in the US that is determined to put the US first.”

He stated that Nigerians love the United States and had been a major force in the positive development of the US.

APC, PDP trade blame over ban

But the Buhari Media Organisation blamed the Peoples Democratic Party government for the visa restrictions.

In a statement by its Chairman, Niyi Akinsiju, and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, the group said rather than celebrate the ban, Atiku should be remorseful that his party was responsible for this inconvenience caused Nigerians.

The group said, “The United States visa restriction is symbolic – to show security concerns over two issues. One is the printing of the Nigerian passport, and the other is the storage of data and other vital information on the holders of the passport.

“Now, these are crucial matters in a world where information sharing is of the utmost essence in the face of security challenges everywhere. The Nigerian passport was being printed by a company in Malaysia before the PDP gave it out to an Irish company.”

The BMO said the PDP government signed a ‘double-faced contract’, which was renewed just two weeks before losing the Presidency to the All Progressives Congress in 2015.

The statement said, “In one breath, the contract was to last for four years, but in another breath, it was agreed that the said contract would not lapse until the company has printed 10 million copies of the travel document.

“As we speak, only three million copies of the Nigerian passport has been printed by this company. This and the huge volume of vital information being held by this Irish company has created a huge security nightmare for concerned security agencies.”

According to the group, the International Criminal Police Organisation reported that Nigeria was not sharing information.

It further argued that in an effort to redress the situation, Buhari directed the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that the passport was printed by the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Corporation.

“Unfortunately, this directive could not be executed because of legal issues raised by the Irish company contracted by the PDP government,” BMO said.

But the PDP said the Presidency and the APC should be held responsible for the US action.

The PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said visa restriction “is another huge misfortune brought by the Buhari administration and the APC to Nigeria.”

He lamented that the travel ban would deny Nigerians many opportunities.

Ologbondiyan said, “More depressing is that the APC and the Buhari administration have been reversing diplomatic gains achieved by previous administrations while gradually pitting our nation against other countries with its poor record on security, corruption and human right issues.

“Only recently, our nation was rated as the third country with the highest level of terrorism in 2019 after Iran and Afghanistan in the Global Terrorism Index rating by the Institute for Economics and Peace.”

He added, “This is in addition to damning reports by reputable organisations including Amnesty International, Transparency International, European Union and United States Department of State, which in various independent reports, raised grave issues of escalated corruption, violation of human rights, disregard for the rule of law, abuse of processes, election rigging and poor handling of security issues under the APC.”

US won’t delist Nigeria without compliance — Akinterinwa

A former Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Prof Bola Akinterinwa, said the US would not delist Nigeria from its immigrant travel ban list unless the Federal Government complied with its insistence on sharing security information on intending immigrants.

Speaking in an interview with Sunday PUNCH on Saturday, Akinterinwa said the US should not be blamed because it was a target for terrorists, especially after killing the Iranian military chief, Qassem Soleimani.

He blamed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Interior and Nigerian Government for not sharing the required information, saying no amount of plea would make the US to delist Nigeria without doing the needful.

He said, “The US is asking the government of Nigeria to share information, knowledge on terrorists. The Federal Government has raised a committee but why do we need to always wait until we are sanctioned before we do what is right?”

The Director (Legal and Public Affairs), Christian Association of Nigeria, Kwamkur Samuel, said the sanction would expose Nigerians to a lot of difficulties.

“They should restrict the ban to those who have failed woefully in protecting the lives and property of Nigerians despite visible failure but failed to improve,” he said.

US wants access to Nigeria’s national identity database — Security specialist

A Strategic Security and Intelligence Specialist, Kabir Adamu, said the US imposed the visa ban on Nigerians because it was unable to access the national identity management database which is crucial to the global fight against terrorism.

Although Nigeria and the US have shared intelligence over many years, Adamu noted that America was not satisfied with a lack of unified identity management database in the country where it could get information on any Nigerian of interest.

Speaking in an interview with Sunday PUNCH, Adamu, who is the Special Advisor Security and Intelligence to the President of the Senate, said, “In Nigeria, we have the problem of identity management. Over time, there have been attempts to have a unified national identity identification database, but that has not been possible. To that extent, the US is correct.

“Of all the West African countries, Nigeria has the worst identity management data system. Because of the importance of this to the fight against terrorism, any country that does not have that would have a challenge in tackling terrorism.”

Adamu, who is the Abuja Chairman of ASIS International, Abuja Chapter 273, a professional organisation for security professionals, noted that the national database which is being managed by different organisations including the National Identity Management Commission, Nigeria Immigration Service and financial instructions had to be streamlined.

Findings also indicate that part of the database was also being managed by an Indian firm, Continental Transfert Technique.

He faulted US claims that Nigeria was not cooperating on information sharing, adding that there was liaison intelligence partnership between the National Intelligence Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Intelligence and Nigeria’s Department of State Services and the Nigeria Police Force.

The Chairman, Transition Monitoring Group, Dr Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi, said, “It’s an unfortunate development, the ban questions our foreign relations with the US and other countries. It is a reflection of the impression they have about our system, our identity chain, our capacity to protect ourselves, our system and our management of our citizens.”

Commenting on the visa ban, a former Nigerian ambassador to Brazil, Vienna, and Poland, Sulaiman Dahiru, said Nigeria was not doing the right thing, hence the decision to single it out for visa restrictions in West Africa.

A former Nigerian ambassador to Argentina, Amb. Chive Kaave, said it is within America’s diplomatic rights to determine who gets its visa, adding that the Federal Government was free to reciprocate the US action.

Nigeria/US Bi-National Commission meets Monday

The fifth session of the Nigeria/United States of America Bi-National Commission is scheduled to hold from February 3 to in Washington DC.

The visa ban imposed on Nigeria by Trump is also expected to feature prominently on the agenda.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, would lead the Nigerian delegation to the meeting with the theme, ‘Mutual Prosperity through Innovation and Ingenuity.’

Deliberations at the session will focus on areas of mutual interest, including good governance and anti-corruption; trade and investment; development and food security; and security and counter-terrorism efforts.

The MFA spokesman, Ferdinand Nwonye, in a statement on Saturday, said the BNC had continued to serve as a veritable mechanism for sustained bilateral high-level dialogue to promote and coordinate diplomatic, economic, military, technical cultural and social cooperation between Nigeria and the United States.

The Nigeria-US Bi-National Commission was established in April 2010 in Washington DC as a platform for closer cooperation between both countries.


Buhari set up committee after U.S visa ban ..

The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Saturday, reacted to the suspension of the issuance of ‘immigrant visas’ to Nigerians by the United States’ Government.

He set up a committee to look into the matter with a view to meeting the requirements of the new US’ policy on visa issuance, a State House statement said in Abuja.

The committee is chaired by the Minister of Interior, Rauf Aregbesola, NobleReporters report

“The committee will work with the US Government, INTERPOL and other stakeholders to ensure all updates are properly implemented,” the statement signed by Buhari’s media aide, Mr Femi Adesina, said.

The new visa regime, which was announced by the US’ Government on January 31, comes into effect on February 21.

The US named Nigeria among six other countries affected by the new policy, including Eritrea, Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan.

However, the Presidency noted that the restriction did not affect other categories of visas like official, tourism or business visas.

The Presidency’s reaction to the development read, “On January 31, 2020, the United States Department of Homeland Security announced temporary travel restrictions on six countries, including Nigeria.

“For Nigeria, the restriction is the suspension of the issuance of ‘immigrant visas’ to Nigerian passport holders only.

“This suspension shall come into effect on February 21, 2020. The suspension does not apply to other U.S visas such as those for official, business, tourism and student travel.

“The DHS states the suspension of “immigrant visas” became necessary following a review and update of the methodology (performance metrics) adopted by the US Government to assess compliance of certain security criteria by foreign governments.

“This resulted in certain enhancements on how information is shared between Nigeria and the US.

“Nigeria remains committed to maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially on matters of global security. Accordingly, President Muhammadu Buhari has established a committee, to be chaired by the Honourable Minister of Interior, to study and address the updated U.S. requirements.”


Atiku begs Trump: Don’t punish Nigerians for APC’s failure ..

Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has reacted to the addition of Nigeria to US visa ban list alongside 5 other countries.

The former Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) who expressed sadness over the development, said the ban does not take into account the pro-American sentiments of the Nigerian public even though he understands that the decision was taken due to failure of the Buhari-led administration to share information and to address issues of terrorism.

Atiku urged the US government to consider the history of US-Nigerian relationships and to adopt measures that individually target those in government who have failed in their duties, rather than target the entire Nigerian population.

His statement reads;

“I received with sadness the policy of the government of the United States of America to place Nigeria on its travel ban list.

“While I understand the reasons given by the Trump administration (the failure of the Muhammadu Buhari led administration to share information and to address issues of terrorism), the ban does not take into account the pro-American sentiments of the Nigerian public and the solidarity previous Nigerian administrations have had with the United States.

“I urge the government of President Donald Trump to consider the history of US-Nigerian relationships.

“Nigeria was one of the few African nations that joined the US-led coalition during Operation Desert Storm between 1990-1991 when the United States championed the liberation of Kuwait.

“The Trump administration may also consider the pivotal role Nigeria, in partnership with the US, played in bringing peace to Liberia, an American sphere of influence, that now enjoys democracy because Nigerian blood and money paved the way for peace in that nation.

“Nigeria has also consistently voted in support of the United States and her allies at the UN and other multilateral world bodies. This is even as we are perhaps the biggest trading partner that the United States has in Africa, even where we had alternatives.

“Nigerians love the United States and have been a major force for the positive development of that great nation: 77% of all Black doctors in the United States are Nigerians,” Atiku added.

“Nigerians are also the most educated immigrant community in America bar none.

“Surely, the US stands to benefit if it allows open borders with a country like Nigeria that is able to provide skilled, hardworking and dedicated personnel in a two-way traffic.

“The current Nigerian administration may have its deficiencies and deep faults, but the Nigeria people ought not to be punished for their inefficiencies.

“Once again, I call on President Donald Trump to consider adopting measures that individually target those in government who have failed in their duties, rather than target the entire Nigerian population.”


Nigeria, 5 other countries banned from traveling to US ..

The US State Department on Friday night announced that it has put six new countries under its travel ban list.

Under a proclamation signed Friday by President Trump, citizens from Eritrea, Myanmar, Kyrgyzstan and Nigeria- Africa’s most populous country, won’t be allowed to apply for visas to immigrate to the U.S.

Two other countries, Sudan and Tanzania, will be barred from participating in the diversity visa lottery, which randomly awards green cards to 50,000 immigrants from underrepresented countries annually.

The six countries will join a list of seven nations, most of them Muslim-majority, which include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Venezuela and North Korea, that faced significant travel restrictions under President Trump’s original travel ban, issued in 2017.

However, unlike five of the original countries—Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen—travelers from the newly added nations who seek to visit the U.S. for business or pleasure will still be permitted entry.

The Trump administration which has made immigration reforms one of it’s benchmark policies, stated that the policy was designed to tighten security for countries that don’t comply with the U.S. minimum security standards or cooperate to prevent illegal immigration.

However, Homeland Security and State Department officials said some immigrants would be able to obtain waivers from the restrictions.

The ban, which has been approved by President Trump will take effect on February 22.

The administration says the travel ban is vital to national security and ensures countries meet US security needs when it comes to sharing vital information that can prevent and fight terrorism.

“The restrictions are tailored to country-specific deficiencies, as well as travel-related risks to the homeland,” a Department of Homeland Security official told reporters Friday.


Queen Elizabeth’s First Public Engagements Announced ..

Queen Elizabeth II is back at work following her winter stay at Sandringham estate in Norfolk.
The 93-year-old had to cancel her annual tea time with the local Women’s Institute near the famed estate last week due to a cold, but she seems to be on the mend and ready to continue in her first official engagements of the new year.

For starters, the queen is expected to visit RAF Marham in King’s Lynn on Monday, Feb. 3 and will serve as Honorary Air Commodore of the station, according to People magazine.

She will also be in attendance Wednesday for the opening of the new Wolferton Pumping Station, designed to keep the immediate area from flooding.

Per People, the monarch traditionally completes her annual stay at the estate on Feb. 6 – the date her father King George VI died in 1952 and she took the helm.

Despite the queen not making any official public appearances yet this year, she has been spotted many times attending church and has certainly maintained a busy agenda due to recent events surrounding the royal family.

In November, the queen had to deal with the fallout from son Prince Andrew’s disgrace from his connection to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, and it’s recently been revealed that Andrew, 59, has “provided zero cooperation” with federal investigators as they continue their probe into Epstein after Andrew publicly vowed that he would.

Additionally, the queen’s grandson Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle, shocked the world this month when they announced that they would be stepping back as senior members of the royal family.

The announcement led to an emergency summit between Harry, his father Prince Charles and brother Prince William to address the matter, and ultimately the queen allowed her grandson and Markle to split their time between the U.K. and Canada as they desired.


Impeachment trial: Trump discredit witness, John Bolton ..

President Donald Trump has gone ballistic over his former national security adviser John Bolton, as the likelihood of his being subpoenaed to give evidence in his impeachment trial increases.

In two tweets on Wednesday, Trump painted a grovelling image of Bolton, who begged him for a job.

Trump tweeted: “For a guy who couldn’t get approved for the Ambassador to the U.N. years ago, couldn’t get approved for anything since, ‘begged’ me for a non Senate approved job, which I gave him despite many saying ‘Don’t do it, sir,’ takes the job, mistakenly says ‘Libyan Model’ on T.V. and many more mistakes of judgement, gets fired because frankly, if I listened to him, we would be in World War Six by now, and goes out and IMMEDIATELY writes a nasty & untrue book. All Classified National Security. Who would do this?”

In other tweets, Trump tried to appeal to his Republican senators not to allow themselves to be swayed by the Democrats, by allowing new witnesses in his trial.

“No matter how many witnesses you give the Democrats, no matter how much information is given, like the quickly produced Transcripts, it will NEVER be enough for them. They will always scream UNFAIR. The Impeachment Hoax is just another political CON JOB!”, he wrote.

Then added: “Remember Republicans, the Democrats already had 17 witnesses, we were given NONE! Witnesses are up to the House, not up to the Senate. Don’t let the Dems play you!”.

But he did not add that he was the one that blocked the witnesses from the executive.

Trump’s tirade against Bolton may have been informed by reports that some Republican Senators have decided to join Democrats to ask for witnesses to have a fair trial.

Besides, opinion polls indicated that more than 75 per cent of American voters want the Senate to call witnesses to know the truth about Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.

One of those witnesses waiting to give testimony is former National Security Adviser John Bolton.

He revealed in his forthcoming book that Trump explicitly tied Ukraine aid to an investigation of Joe Biden.


Coronavirus: U.S set to evacuate citizens ..

China’s death toll from a new viral disease that is causing mounting global concern has risen by 25 to at least 106. The total includes the first death in Beijing and 24 more in Hubei province, where the outbreak has been centered.

There were 1,771 new cases confirmed in China just on Monday, raising the total in that country to 4,515, according to the National Health Commission. Nearly 1,000 were in critical condition.

The United States, Japan, Mongolia, France and other governments are preparing to fly their citizens out of the locked-down city at the center of the outbreak. More than 45 cases have been confirmed outside of China.

Five of them are in the United States with another 73 under investigation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC is urging people to avoid non-essential travel to the region at the center of the outbreak.

NobleReporters learnt that Hong Kong will sharply cut the number of visitors from mainland China. Hong Kong has eight confirmed cases.

The U.S. will expand screening at 20 airports of passengers who have returned from China, according to The Washington Post.

Panic and pollution are driving a surging market for protective face masks and hand sanitizing liquid in Asia, where fear of the virus from China is straining supplies and helping make mask-wearing the new normal.

In some parts of Asia, wearing of surgical masks has become mandatory, for now.

While richer countries prepare to evacuate some citizens, hundreds of African students have little chance of a similar escape. China’s push to expand its influence on the youthful African continent means there are 80,000 African students in China, with more than 4,000 said to be in Wuhan alone. None are expected to be confined to their campuses amid the virus outbreak as food risks running short. A grassroots African effort has begun to combat disinformation and keep them calm.


Abuse of power, not crime – Trump’s lawyer ..

The defense team on Trump’s impeachment trial on Monday night argued that charges leveled upon the president by the House of Representatives – Abuse of power, and Obstruction of congress- were not impeachable offenses and that the US president should be cleared of all charges immediately.

Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor and former O.J. Simpson attorney, one of Trump’s star lawyers, made the well-crafted plea at Trump’s impeachment trial on Monday night, appearing after other defense lawyers at the second day of Trump’s defense.

President of the United States of America, Donald Trump is being tried in the Senate over allegations of abuse of power and obstruction of congress after he allegedly withdrew military aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation into his political rival – Joe Biden in a July 25 phone call between Trump and Ukraine’s president Zelensky.

Trump has since denied being involved in a quid pro quo and said the attempts to impeach him by Democrats started immediately he became president, first with the Russia collusion reports and now with Ukraine.

Dershowitz had to make the controversial argument that ‘Abuse of Power’ does not constitute an impeachable offense, telling senators that the Founders of the constitution specifically rejected such vague terms when creating the Constitution in Philadelphia.

He said though he voted for Clinton, and he is not a fan of some of the president’s policies and actions, however from a legal standpoint, impeachment is only meant for presidents who commit high crimes and misdemeanors not obstruction of congress and abuse of power.

“Nothing in the Bolton revelations, even if true, would rise to the level of an abuse of power or an impeachable offense,’ said Dershowitz.’ If a president, any president, were to have done what the [New York] Times reported about the contact of the Bolton manuscript, that would not constitute an impeachable offense,’ Dershowitz continued.

‘It is inconceivable that the framers would have intended so politically loaded and promiscuously deployed a term as abuse of power to be weaponized as a tool of impeachment,’ he said.

At one point he turned to opposing Democratic lawyers and said: ‘I’m sorry, house managers, you just picked the wrong criteria. You picked the most dangerous possible criteria to serve as a precedent for with you we supervise future presidents,’


Coronavirus: Facebook, the first U.S firm to stop workers from moving towards china ..

Facebook has become the first big US firm to tell staff to avoid travelling to China, as the death toll from the coronavirus rises.

The tech giant said it was acting “out of an abundance of caution” to protect its employees.

Other global companies have introduced travel restrictions and car makers are taking staff out of the country.

More than 100 people have died of the disease, and confirmed cases have risen above 4,500.

China has imposed further restrictions on travel in and out of Hubei province, where the virus originated, as it tries to curb the spread of the virus and transport links in and out of the capital Wuhan is effectively in lockdown.

Some domestic firms have responded by extending the Chinese New Year holiday and asking staff to work from home.

Facebook, which has a division in China selling products such as Oculus virtual reality headsets, has asked employees to halt non-essential travel to mainland China and told employees who had travelled there to work from home.

“We have taken steps to protect the health and safety of our employees,” a spokesman for the social media giant said.

• Death toll from China virus outbreak passes 100

• Coronavirus: How worried should we be?

• China coronavirus: Your questions answered

The US government has asked Americans to “reconsider” planned visits to China and is advising against travel to Hubei province. Washington has also said it plans to fly consular staff and US citizens out of Wuhan. Governments of several countries are considering helping their nationals to leave the city.

South Korean companies are also taking steps to protect their employees from the potential infection.

Home appliances company LG has put a complete ban on travel to China and has advised employees on business trips in the country to return home as quickly as possible. Chipmaker SK Hynix has urged staff to avoid all non-essential travel to China.

Car makers
Several international car companies have production sites around Wuhan, which is China’s seventh biggest city and a major motor manufacturing hub.

French car making group PSA, which owns the brands Peugeot and Citroen, has said it would bring French staff and their family members, a total of 38 people, out of Wuhan.

Japan’s Honda Motor, which also operates in Wuhan, has said it is planning to fly about 30 of its Japanese staff home.

Nissan, which is building a plant with Wuhan-based Dongfeng, has also said it will evacuate most of its Japanese staff and their families from the city.

Car makers are also being affected by the Chinese authorities’ decision to delay the reopening of their businesses after the Lunar New Year holiday.

In Shanghai, Tesla, General Motors, and Volkswagen have all been affected by the city’s government extending the break to 9 February.

All three companies have either their own factories in the city or operate plants through ventures with local partners.

In Wuhan, travel from the city of 11 million people has been severely restricted and non-essential vehicles have been banned from the roads. However the city’s mayor said millions of travellers had already left the city ahead of the holidays, before the lockdown was implemented.

Across China, other several major cities have suspended public transport systems, taxis and ride-hailing services


Presidency did nothing wrong – Donald Trump’s Lawyer

President Donald Trump’s lawyers opened their impeachment trial defense on Saturday by asserting that he “did absolutely nothing wrong” when he asked Ukraine to investigate a political rival, Joe Biden. They accused Democratic prosecutors of omitting key evidence when they presented their case.

The president’s lawyers are pressing the Republican-led chamber to acquit Trump of charges that he abused his power and obstructed Congress.

Trump’s legal team planned an aggressive, wide-ranging defense asserting an expansive view of presidential powers and portraying him as besieged by political opponents determined to undo the results of the 2016 election and ensure he won’t be reelected this November. The lawyers also aim to put Democrat Joe Biden on the defensive as he campaigns for the leadoff Iowa caucuses next month.

“They’re asking you not only to overturn the results of the last election, but as I’ve said before, they’re asking you to remove President Trump from an election that’s occurring in approximately nine months,” said White House Counsel Pat Cipollone. “They’re asking you to tear up all the ballots across this country on their own initiative.

The opening of the defense’s case comes after a three-day presentation by House Democrats. As they wrapped up on Friday, they asserted that Trump will persist in abusing his power and endangering American democracy unless Congress intervenes to remove him before the 2020 election. They also implored Republicans to allow new testimony to be heard before senators render a final verdict.

“Give America a fair trial,” said California Rep. Adam Schiff, the lead Democratic impeachment manager. “She’s worth it.”

Schiff closed Democrats’ case after methodical and impassioned arguments detailing charges that Trump abused power by asking Ukraine for politically motivated probes of political rivals, then obstructed Congress’ investigation into the matter. Trump’s lawyers contend Trump was within his rights as president when he asked Ukraine for the investigation.

House managers made the procession across the Capitol before the trial resumed Saturday to deliver the 28,578-page record of their impeachment case to the Senate.

The seven Democratic prosecutors peppered their arguments with video clips, email correspondence and lessons in American history. Republicans who found the presentation tedious and redundant can expect differences in tone and style from Trump’s lawyers, who planned to attack the impeachment as much on political as legal grounds.

“It’s really trying to remove the president from the ballot in 2020. They don’t trust the American people to make a decision,” attorney Jay Sekulow said.

Defense lawyers were expected to press the argument that Trump was a victim not only of Democratic outrage but also of overzealous agents and prosecutors. The lawyers probably will cite mistakes made by the FBI in its surveillance of a former Trump campaign aide in the now-concluded Russia investigation. In response to allegations that he invited foreign interference, they already have argued that it was no different from Hillary Clinton’s campaign’s use of a former British spy to gather opposition research on Trump in 2016.

Acquittal was likely, given that Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and a two-thirds vote would be required for conviction.

Trump, with his eyes on the audience beyond the Senate chamber, bemoaned the trial schedule in a tweet, saying it “looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”

Arguments were scheduled for just a few hours Saturday in what defense lawyers called a sneak preview. They’ll continue Monday.

The president is being tried in the Senate after the House impeached him last month on charges he abused his office by asking Ukraine for the probes at the same time the administration withheld hundreds of millions of dollars in military aid. The second article of impeachment against Trump accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

The Senate is heading next week toward a pivotal vote on Democratic demands for testimony from top Trump aides, including acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney and former national security adviser John Bolton, who refused to appear before the House. It would take four Republican senators to join the Democratic minority to seek witnesses, and so far the numbers appear lacking.

“This needs to end,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., a Trump confidant. He said he doesn’t want to hear from Bolton or from Joe Biden or his son Hunter. The younger Biden who served on a Ukraine gas company’s board.

Democrats on Friday tried to preempt anticipated arguments from Trump’s lawyers, attacking lines of defense as “laughable.”

Those include that Trump had a legitimate basis to be concerned about potential corruption in Ukraine and to pause military aid to the country. One of the president’s lawyers, Alan Dershowitz, was expected to argue that an impeachable offense requires criminal-like conduct, even though many legal scholars say that’s not true.

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, the final day of the Democratic arguments opened with Rep. Jason Crow of Colorado, a former Army ranger, saying the only reason Trump eventually released his hold on the aid Ukraine desperately relied on to counter Russian aggression was because he had “gotten caught.”

“The scheme was unraveling,” Crow said. The money for Ukraine was put on hold after Trump’s July 25 call to Ukraine that launched the impeachment probe, and released Sept. 11 once Congress intervened.

Throughout the three days, Democrats balanced the legal and history lessons with plainspoken language about what they see as at stake: the security of U.S. elections, America’s place in the world and checks on presidential power. The Democrats argued that Trump’s motives were apparent, that he abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

“Let me tell you something. If right doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter how good the Constitution is,” Schiff said in an emotional plea to a pin-drop-quiet room. “If you find him guilty you must find that he should be removed. Because right matters.”

They argued that Trump’s abuse was for his own personal political benefit ahead of the 2020 election, even as administration officials were warning off the theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.

The Democrats’ challenge was clear as they tried to convince not just senators but an American public divided over the Republican president in an election year.

A poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed the public slightly more likely to say the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office than to say it should not, 45% to 40%. But a sizable percentage, 14%, said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

One issue with wide agreement: Trump should allow top aides to appear as witnesses at the trial. About 7 in 10 respondents said so, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, according to the poll.

After both sides have concluded their arguments next week, senators will face the question of whether to call witnesses to testify. But that issue seems all but settled. Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to get Trump aides, including Bolton and Mulvaney, to testify in back-to-back votes earlier this week.

As for the Ukraine connections, evidence has shown that Trump, with Giuliani, pursued investigations of the Bidens and sought the investigation of the debunked theory that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.


Trump’s Impeachment trial: Democrats argue

Democratic House prosecutors made an expansive case Thursday at Donald Trump’s impeachment trial that he abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by attorney Rudy Giuliani.

On Friday, the Democrats will press their final day of arguments before skeptical Republican senators, focusing on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress’ investigation.

As the audience of Senate jurors sat through another long day, and night, the prosecutors outlined the charge. They argued that Trump abused power for his own personal political benefit ahead of the 2020 election, even as the nation’s top FBI and national security officials were publicly warning off the theory that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that interfered in the 2016 election.

“That’s what Donald Trump wanted investigated or announced — this completely bogus Kremlin-pushed conspiracy theory,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the prosecution, during Thursday’s session.

At the close of the evening, Schiff made an emotional plea to senators to consider what was at stake as Trump is accused of seeking Ukrainian probes of political foe Joe Biden and Biden’s son while holding back congressionally approved military aid as leverage.

“Right matters,” he said, quoting Army officer Lt. Col. Alex Vindman who had testified in the House. “Otherwise we are lost.”

The president is facing trial in the Senate after the House impeached him last month, accusing Trump of abusing his office by asking Ukraine for the investigations while withholding the aid from a U.S. ally at war with bordering Russia. The second article of impeachment accuses him of obstructing Congress by refusing to turn over documents or allow officials to testify in the House probe.

Republicans, growing tired of the long hours of proceedings, have defended Trump’s actions as appropriate and cast the process as a politically motivated effort to weaken him in the midst of his reelection campaign. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate, and acquittal is considered likely.

The Democrats’ challenge is clear as they try to convince not just fidgety senators but an American public divided over the Republican president in an election year.

With Chief Justice John Roberts presiding, Democrats argued on Thursday that Trump’s motives were apparent.

“No president has ever used his office to compel a foreign nation to help him cheat in our elections,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, told the senators. He said the nation’s founders would be shocked. “The president’s conduct is wrong. It is illegal. It is dangerous.”

Democrats scoffed at Trump’s claim he had good reasons for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Biden or other political foes.

Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas, herself a former judge, aid there is “no evidence, nothing, nada” to suggest that Biden did anything improper in dealings with Ukraine.

Trump, with Giuliani, pursued investigations of Biden and his son, Hunter, who served on a Ukrainian gas company’s board, and sought the probe of debunked theories of what nation was guilty of interference in the 2016 U.S. election.

On dual tracks, Democrats prosecuted their case while answering in advance the arguments expected from the president’s attorneys in the days ahead.

At one point, they showed video of a younger Lindsey Graham, then a South Carolina congressman and now a GOP senator allied with Trump, arguing during Bill Clinton’s 1999 impeachment that no crime was needed for impeaching a president. Trump’s defense team is now arguing that the impeachment articles against him are invalid because they do not allege he committed a specific crime.

The president’s defenders’ turn will come Saturday.

“We will be putting on a vigorous defense of both facts, rebutting what they said,” and the Constitution, said attorney Jay Sekulow.

Ahead of the day’s proceedings, Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri said the Democrats were putting forward “admirable presentations.” But he said, “There’s just not much new here.”

During the dinner break, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said it seemed like “Groundhog Day in the Senate.”

The top Senate Democrat, Chuck Schumer, acknowledged that many senators “really don’t want to be here.”

But Schumer said Schiff has been outlining a compelling case that many Republicans are hearing it for only the first time. He contended they can’t help but be “glued” to his testimony.

Once reluctant to take on impeachment during an election year, Democrats are now marching toward a decision by the Senate that the American public also will judge.

Trump blasted the proceedings in a Thursday tweet, declaring them the “Most unfair & corrupt hearing in Congressional history!”

After the House prosecutors finish, the president’s lawyers will have as long as 24 hours. It’s unclear how much time they will actually take, but Trump’s team is not expected to finish Saturday, according to a person unauthorized to discuss the planning and granted anonymity. The Senate is expected to take only Sunday off and push into next week.

After that senators will face the question of whether they do, or do not, want to call witnesses to testify.

Senators were permitted Thursday to review supplemental testimony submitted by an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, Jennifer Williams, who was among those who had concerns about Trump’s actions. Democrats said the testimony, which is classified, bolsters their impeachment case. A lawyer for Williams declined to comment.

Holding the room’s attention has been difficult for the Democrats, but senators seemed to pay closer mind to Schiff’s testimony that grew dramatic.

Most senators, even Republicans, sat at their desks throughout the afternoon session, as the rules stipulate, and not as many of them were yawning or standing to stretch as during the previous long nights.

To help senators pass the time, the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr of North Carolina, passed out lunch favors of fidget spinners, stress balls and other toys.

Democrats thanked the senators for their time and patience, acknowledging the repetition of some of their presentations.

The impeachment trial is set against the backdrop of the 2020 election. Four senators who are Democratic presidential candidates are off the campaign trail, seated as jurors.

A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed the public slightly more likely to say the Senate should convict and remove Trump from office than to say it should not, 45% to 40%. But a sizable percentage, 14%, said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion.

One issue with wide agreement: Trump should allow top aides to appear as witnesses at the trial. About 7 in 10 said so, including majorities of Republicans and Democrats, according to the poll.

The strategy of more witnesses, though, seemed all but settled. Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to get Trump aides including former national security adviser John Bolton and acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney to testify in back-to-back votes earlier this week.

Senators were likely to repeat that rejection next week.


Presidency react to U.S travel ban set to hit Nigeria

Nigeria’s presidency has spoken about United States travel ban set to hit Nigeria.

On Tuesday, news had it that the Donald Trump administration had plans to add seven countries across the world, including Nigeria, to United States travel ban list.

The affected countries included Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania and Eritrea from Africa while Kyrgyzstan and Belarus from Eastern Europe and Myanmar from Asia.

A presidential aide, however, said:

”Yes, we have read the news that the Trump administration is planning to add a host of African, Asian and Eastern European countries to its travel restrictions list as reported by the U.S. media.

”We are not going to react to speculations. We urge you to wait for us to see what unfolds under the new policy, its scope, its reach, the implications, and its consequences before we react.”


I want to shock Donald Trump – Joe Walsh

Joe Walsh, the former Illinois Congressman and radio talk show host, didn’t want to put a number on what his percentage could be in the Iowa Republican Caucuses. But he has a hope: A surprise.

“I want Republicans in Iowa and around the country to wake up the morning after the caucus and go…woah! Joe Walsh!” Walsh said during an interview on Channel 13 News. “I don’t know what that number is but I want to surprise people. I want to surprise Donald Trump.”

Walsh is aware the odds are against him in his bid against President Trump, who national polls show remains unpopular with Americans overall but still popular with Republicans.

“You’ve got to be brave to do something like I’m doing and then you show up,” said Walsh, who doesn’t have the state party support, financial resources, familiarity with Iowans or campaign infrastructure that President Trump has in the state.

Trump as a candidate in 2016, nearly won Iowa by double digits over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and ended up winning 93 of the state’s 99 counties.

“We’re going to be here every day for the next two weeks up until the caucus, “Walsh said of his closing strategy.


U.S vs Iran: Rockets landed close to US embassy in Baghdad

There are reports that two rockets landed near the US embassy in Baghdad on Monday. The extent of damage is not clear yet. Also not clear was where the rockets came from.

A BBC reporter Nafiseh Kohnavard near the scene confirmed the rockets in a tweet and said alarms were sounded warning people to take cover.


“Rocket attack alarms sounding off multiple times on the #US #Baghdad Embassy Complex and Union III. Heard the booms myself on Union III. Speakers telling all to take shelter immediately.” pic.twitter.com/F1lpbWm9RE

— Nafiseh Kohnavard (@nafisehkBBC) January 20, 2020

In recent times, rockets had targeted some military bases used by the US soldiers, after Iranian missile attacks on 8 January on Al Asad and Erbil air bases. Although the US initially claimed no person was injured or killed, a dew days ago, the Pentagon admitted some injuries to 11 US soldiers.

The US has blamed recent rocket attacks on the Green Zone on Iran-backed paramilitary groups. There has never been a claim of responsibility.

*This is a developing story.


U.S vs Iran: 11 soldiers injured in Iranian missile attack – U.S admit

Although the US military and President Donald Trump had previously maintained there were no casualties in Iranian missile attack on Iraqi air base on 8 January, it has now been revealed that at least 11 American troops were injured.

The revelation was made by the US Central Command on Thursday, .

“While no US service members were killed in the Jan. 8 Iranian attack on al-Asad Air base, several were treated for concussion symptoms from the blast and are still being assessed,” US Central Command spokesman Captain Bill Urban said in a statement.

At the time of the attack, most of the 1,500 US soldiers at the base had been tucked away in bunkers, after advance warning from superiors.

The strike caused significant material damage but no casualties, according to previous reports from the US military.

US President Donald Trump also said on the morning following the volley that “no American were harmed in last night’s attack.”

However, Urban said that “in the days following the attack, out of an abundance of caution, some service members were transported from al-Asad Air Base.”

“At this time, eight individuals have been transported to Landstuhl, and three have been transported to Camp Arifjan,” he said, referring to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany and Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

In addition to the sprawling Ain al-Asad airbase in western Iraq, Iran’s missiles also targeted a base in Arbil, housing both American and other foreign troops deployed in a US-led coalition fighting the remnants of the Islamic State jihadist group.

“When deemed fit for duty, the service members are expected to return to Iraq following screening,” Urban said.


Attorney arraigned for a dollar million theft

US private attorney Michael Avenatti, who rose to fame representing porn film star Stormy Daniels against President Donald Trump, has been arrested while out on bail, according to Los Angeles Times.

“Los Angeles attorney Michael Avenatti engaged in fraud and money laundering to hide $1 million from one of his ex-wives and other creditors after his March arrest, federal prosecutors allege in newly filed court papers,” the LA Times reported.

“Avenatti, who is awaiting trial on three federal indictments, was arrested again late Tuesday in downtown Los Angeles and remained in custody Wednesday morning, according to Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles.”

Federal prosecutors are hoping a judge will revoke Avenatti’s bail at a Wednesday hearing in Orange County.

“In documents filed in federal court in Santa Ana, they allege that Avenatti received the $1 million in legal fees in April as part of a client’s settlement, but concealed the money from his second ex-wife Lisa Storie, his former law partner Jason Frank, tax authorities and other creditors,” the LA Times explained.

US private attorney Michael Avenatti

“Avenatti’s latest arrest took place at a California State Bar Court hearing where the bar was seeking to block him from practicing law while he faces fraud, extortion and other charges in the three federal indictments.

Prosecutors and the State Bar say he stole millions of dollars from his own clients.”


U.S vs Iran: Iraqi Shia Cleric, al-Sadr stage million-man march

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has asked Iraqis stage a “million-man march” against the continued US military presence in the country, days after the parliament voted to expel the American troops following an assassination operation by Washington on Iraqi soil.

The march was needed “to condemn the American presence and its violations”, Sadr, who leads the largest parliamentary bloc, Sairoon, said in a tweet on Tuesday.

“The skies, land, and sovereignty of Iraq are being violated every day by occupying forces,” he added.

The cleric, however, cautioned that such a show of popular disapproval should be a “peaceful, unified demonstration”, without giving any location or date for the rally, Fars News agency reported.

Sadr in a meeting with leaders of the country’s popular forces on Monday conferred on ways to end the US occupation of Iraq.

On January 5, the parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution calling for the expulsion of all US-led forces, days after the US assassinated Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Qods Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), or Hashad al-Shabi, five Iranian, and five Iraqi soldiers near the Baghdad airport.

Sadr condemned parliament’s resolution as a “weak response”, stating that the move fell short of an appropriate reaction to recent developments in Iraq and calling on armed groups in Iraq to unite.

Following the parliamentary vote, the office of Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi asked Washington to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad to initiate preparations for the withdrawal of 5200 American troops.

In response, President Donald Trump threatened to sanction Iraq “like they’ve never seen before ever” if Baghdad were to expel US troops.

Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr

Also on Tuesday, the Iraqi military announced that Katyusha rockets have hit an airbase North of the capital Baghdad, which houses the US-led coalition forces. The statement from Iraq’s military added that Camp Taji had been targeted by Katyusha rockets but reported that there were no casualties, with no group claiming responsibility for the attack.

On Sunday, four people were wounded after eight Katyusha rockets were fired at Balad airbase, which houses US personnel about 80 kilometers North of Baghdad.


U.S vs Iran: Iran dismiss Trump’s new deal

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani dismissed a proposal for a new “Trump deal” aimed at resolving a nuclear row.

Rouhani said the new dealt was a “strange” offer and he criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for always breaking promises.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has praised Trump as a great dealmaker, called on Tuesday for the president to replace Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers with his new pact to ensure Tehran does not get an atomic weapon.

Trump said he agreed with Johnson that a “Trump deal” should replace the Iran nuclear deal. In a televised speech, Rouhani told Washington to return to the nuclear pact, which Washington abandoned in 2018.

However, President Rouhani of Iran replied “This Mr. Prime Minister in London, I don’t know how he thinks. He says let’s put aside the nuclear deal and put the Trump plan in action, If you take the wrong step, it will be to your detriment. Pick the right path. The right path is to return to the nuclear deal.”

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Rouhani said Iran could reverse steps that exceeded restrictions in the agreement as soon as sanctions are lifted.

“What we have done is reversible. Whatever we do on the nuclear issue is under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA),” said Rouhani.


Senate announces impeachment trial date for Donald Trump

The impeachment trial of US President Donald Trump in the Senate is likely to begin next week Tuesday with key players sworn in later this week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.

McConnell said he expected the House of Representatives to deliver the articles of impeachment against Trump to the upper chamber today.

“We believe that if that happens — in all likelihood — we’ll go through preliminary steps here this week which could well include the chief justice coming over and swearing in members of the Senate and some other kinds of housekeeping measures,” McConnell told reporters.

“We hope to achieve that by consent which would set us up to begin the actual trial next Tuesday.”

Trump faces charges of abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, and the 100 senators will be his judge.

On Thursday or Friday this week, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is expected to be sworn in to preside over the trial, which should last at least two weeks, and could run through mid-February.

Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic House speaker, called for a fair trial and demanded the Senate subpoena witnesses and documents from the White House that will be crucial in the trial.

“The American people deserve the truth, and the Constitution demands a trial… The president and the senators will be held accountable,” she added.

Trump will become only the third president in US history to go on trial, risking his removal from office.

But his conviction is highly unlikely, given Republicans’ 53-47 control of the Senate, and the high two-thirds vote threshold required to find him guilty.

But both parties were girding for tense weeks of hearings that could lay bare the US leader’s alleged wrongdoing to the American public on live television.

Pelosi attacked suggestions by Trump and some of his supporters that the Senate, as soon as the trial opens, vote to dismiss the charges. That would only require a majority vote.

“A dismissal is a cover-up,” she charged.

McConnell, however, pushed back against suggestions that he would try to prevent the trial from going ahead.

“There’s little or no sentiment for a motion to dismiss. Our members feel that we have an obligation to listen the arguments,” he said.

Trump was impeached on December 18 when the House voted to formally charge him with abusing his power by illicitly seeking help from Ukraine for his reelection campaign.

He is accused of holding up aid to Ukraine to pressure Kiev to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, the frontrunner in the race for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential nomination.

Trump is also charged with obstruction for holding back witnesses and documents from the House impeachment investigation in defiance of Congressional subpoenas.


U.S vs Iran: Soleimani, son of a bitch! – Trump said

U.S. President Donald Trump has called Qassem Soleimani a “son of a bitch” in his latest round of fierce criticism of the Iranian general he had assassinated earlier this month.

Trump told a rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on Tuesday that there were many “young men and women walking around without arms and without legs” because of Soleimani.

“Great percentages of people don’t have legs right now and arms because of this son of a bitch,” Trump said, adding that “he should have been killed 20 years ago.”

Trump was this week forced to defend the targeted killing of Soleimani after critics questioned the “imminent” nature of the threat the president said justified the move.

Washington credits the general with orchestrating the killing of hundreds of U.S. soldiers in Iraq.

Trump’s administration has also been criticised over conflicting statements on the rationale behind the killing. Defence Secretary Mark Esper on Sunday said he never saw evidence that Iran was planning an attack on four U.S. embassies, as Trump had claimed two days earlier.

Republicans have used the strike on Soleimani to defend Trump as taking action against enemies while Democrats try to remove him from office as impeachment proceedings move forward.

Qassem Soleimani (lt.)

Iran retaliated against the Soleimani attack by firing ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing U.S. forces.

No one was harmed in the strikes and Trump has since ordered additional sanctions on Iran, instead of striking back, in what has been taken as a de-escalation of tensions.