• White House accuses Israel of betraying trust

    07/Oct/2016 // 457 Viewers

     

    Washington (AFP) - The White House accused Israel of a betrayal of trust, in an unusually sharp rebuke over its plans to build hundreds of new settlement homes deep in the West Bank.

    Days after President Barack Obama approved a $38 billion Israeli military aid package and attended former president Shimon Peres's funeral in Jerusalem, the White House railed at the construction of 300 housing units on land "far closer to Jordan than Israel."

    Warning that the decision jeopardizes the already distant prospect of Middle East peace as well as Israel's own security, press secretary Josh Earnest said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's word had been called into question.

    "We did receive public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict this announcement," he said.

    "I guess when we're talking about how good friends treat one another, that's a source of serious concern as well."

    The sharper-than-normal comments come as the White House weighs a last-ditch effort to get the peace process back on its feet before Obama leaves office in January.

    While serious talks seem unlikely, US officials are weighing the possibility of a major speech outlining the parameters for peace.

    Peace efforts have been comatose since a US-led initiative collapsed in April 2014.

    A sharper tone over settlements now could help put Israel on notice that future ties are at risk and give Washington more credibility with Palestinians and their Arab allies.

    - 'Perpetual occupation' -

    In a similarly strong-worded statement, the State Department said building the units "is another step toward cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation."

    The plan not only undermines hopes for peace with the Palestinians but "is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel's future as a Jewish and democratic state," spokesman Mark Toner said.

    Washington has long opposed Israel's policy of building Jewish settlements on land in the West Bank that would be claimed by the Palestinians in any negotiated two-state peace deal.

    US officials have adopted a more forceful tone with Netanyahu's government in recent weeks, accusing it of recklessly accelerating construction despite international concern.

    The Middle East Quartet -- a contact group comprising the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations -- issued a report in July calling on Israel to halt settlement building.

    But the practice has only accelerated since then, Washington says, with new housing blocks being approved, local administrative boundaries moved and unauthorised outposts retroactively approved.

    The 300 units the White House was referring to would constitute a new settlement in the heart of the West Bank, roughly halfway between the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Nablus, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.

    Plans for 98 of the 300 units have so far been advanced, the group said.

    The Israeli foreign ministry denied that the planned units amounted to a new settlement, insisting they were to be located in an existing one, although Peace Now said the site was around a kilometre (more than half a mile) away.

    "Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel," the ministry said.

    Washington has condemned a recent deadly wave of Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians and police, urging Palestinian leaders to refrain from incitement or provocative language.

    Obama and Netanyahu have had an extremely difficult relationship during the last eight years.

    The White House was apoplectic when the Israeli leader agreed to address the Republican-controlled Congress to lobby against Obama's signature nuclear deal with Iran.

    There were fresh tensions when Netanyahu -- seeking reelection at the time -- said that Palestinians would never get their own state on his watch.

    Some considered that pandering to right-wing voters, others said it was Netanyahu showing his true colors.

    At last week's funeral for Peres, Obama pointedly spoke of the "unfinished business of peace."

    "He believed that the Zionist idea would be best protected when Palestinians, too, had a state of their own," he said of the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

    "Of course, we gather here in the knowledge that Shimon never saw his dream of peace fulfilled."


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  • Edo poll: Ize-Iyamu leads PDP’s protest, vows to reclaim mandate

    07/Oct/2016 // 552 Viewers

     

    Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, on Friday, led other PDP leaders and supporters in the state in a street protest against the declaration by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Godwin Obaseki of the All Progressives Congress  (APC) as winner of the September 28 election in the state.
     
    The PDP candidate, who had vowed to lead the Friday protest, made good his promise, and was joined by his running mate, John Yakubu, Edo PDP chairman Dan Orbih, a social activist, Rev Olu Martins, and some other Edo PDP leaders in a road march.
     
    The protesters started at Akpakpava Road and took their street demonstrations to many parts of the Benin metropolis such as 2nd East Circular Road, New Lagos Road, Mission Road, Dawson Road and the Ring Road.

    In his address before they embarked on the street protests, Ize-Iyamu encouraged his supporters to be long suffering because the journey to recovering the stolen mandate will be a long one from the electoral tribunal to the Appeal Court and the Supreme Court, expressing confidence that they shall prevail at the end.

    He pointed out that he was certain of victory because he won the election and that God has told him not to walk away but to “pursue and recover” his mandate that the INEC and the APC robbed him and his party.

    He called for the arrest of one Osakpamwan Eriyo, alias Nomoless, pointing out that the individual, seeing that he had lost election in his unit and ward, proceeded to the ward collation centre at George Idah Primary School in Benin and disrupted proceeding and ensured that the result of the unit was cancelled.

    He said, “We want to put the police on notice that if they do not arrest him  (Osakpamwan) in the next few days, we want to tell them that we have the capacity to arrest their thugs.

    “Edo is in a state of mourning like a graveyard because the people’s mandate has been taken and the people have been robbed.

    “But let me assure you that that at the end of the day we will win, because God has said so. We will win because Edo people voted for us and we won the election”.

    Also speaking the state PDP chairman, Dan Orbih, called on the INEC chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu and INEC commissioner to resign because of the way the Edo governorship election was conducted, adding that the PDP will explore every legal means to reclaim the mandate.

    The protest tagged, “Mother of all Protests”, was coordinated by the Centre for Patriotic Leadership Initiative (CPLI), a leadership and rights advocacy NGO, led by Saint Moses Eromonsele and a coalition of civil society groups led by Messrs Kola Edopkayi and Olu Martins.


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  • Breaking: DONALD TRUMP makes another important appointment, names Andrew Puzder, fast-food CEO as US transition continues

    08/Dec/2016 // 744 Viewers

     

    The president-elect is turning to a business executive who opposes many of the pro-worker policies introduced by Labor Secretary Tom Perez, according to a Republican briefed on the decision.

    Puzder, who runs the parent company of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr., is an opponent of rules that would expand overtime eligibility and a fierce critic of the campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.


    This is a developing story. It will be updated


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  • Breaking: America mourns as John Glenn, the first US astronaut to orbit the Earth, dies at 95

    08/Dec/2016 // 256 Viewers

     

    One of the original “Magnificent Seven” astronauts in NASA’s Mercury program, John Glenn captured the nation’s attention in 1962 when he first circumnavigated the globe and returned as a hero who had scaled heights no American had reached before.

    In his post-NASA career, Glenn served four terms as a U.S. senator from Ohio. Following his last term in 1998, at age 77, he took a final flight of glory, rocketing back into space as a crew member aboard the space shuttle Discovery.

    His death was confirmed by Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
    This is a developing story. It will be updated.


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  • Clinton frames her historic win as a victory for women’s rights

    08/Jun/2016 // 493 Viewers

     

    BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Hillary Clinton cemented her status as the first woman to become presumptive presidential nominee of a major American political party on Tuesday night, when the Associated Press projected her the winner in New Jersey’s Democratic primary.

    Clinton’s victory in the Garden State ensures she will have more pledged delegates, unbound superdelegates and overall voters than her rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. She declared victory at a New York City rally in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

    “Thanks to you, we’ve reached a milestone: the first time in our nation’s history that a woman will be a major party’s nominee,” Clinton told her supporters. “Tonight’s victory is not about one person. It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible.”

    The former first lady, senator and secretary of state technically earned her status on Monday, after the AP and multiple other media outlets projected that she had obtained firm commitments from enough Democratic superdelegates to secure the nomination at the party’s convention next month. However, the AP call was criticized as a “rush to judgment” by the Sanders campaign. Even Clinton’s own team argued that the real “milestone” would come after she secured a majority of the pledged delegates and primary voters.

    After the results were announced in New Jersey, the AP projected Clinton the winner in California, New Mexico and South Dakota. Sanders scored victories in North Dakota and Montana. Sanders had pinned his hopes on winning California, but even a Sanders sweep would not have affected the overall outcome of the race.

    Clinton’s victory came just three days after the 97th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote the following year in 1920. Clinton said in her speech that her mother was born on the same day as the amendment’s passage. Her win was also eight years to the day after she conceded the 2008 Democratic presidential primary to Barack Obama, with a speech in which Clinton famously declared that her supporters helped put “18 million cracks” in the “glass ceiling.” She recalled that concession speech Tuesday evening.

    “It may be hard to see tonight, but we are all standing under a glass ceiling right now. But don’t worry, we’re not smashing this one,” Clinton quipped.

    Clinton also invoked another key moment in feminist history. She noted that the first women’s rights convention, in Seneca Falls, also took place in New York, in 1848.

    Earlier in the evening, her team released the video that played as an introduction to her remarks. It included footage from the women’s suffrage movement, interspersed with footage of female politicians and Clinton supporters. It concluded with a call to “keep making history.”

    Sanders also spoke on Tuesday evening at an event in California, where polls showed a tight race between him and Clinton. Though it was clear before any results were announced on Tuesday that it would be almost impossible for Sanders to earn more delegates than Clinton, he has pointed to national polls that show he would perform better against the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. Sanders urged superdelegates who support Clinton to switch sides before the Democratic National Convention next month.

    In his speech on Tuesday night, Sanders indicated he has no plans to drop out before the District of Columbia primary on June 14.

    “Next Tuesday, we continue the fight in the last primary in Washington, D.C.,” Sanders said.

    Sanders also ripped into Trump and suggested the movement created by his campaign was bigger than himself and would continue through at least the Democratic Party convention next month.

    “We are going to fight hard to win the primary in Washington, D.C. And then we take our fight for social, economic, racial and environmental justice to Philadelphia,” Sanders said.

    Clinton praised Sanders in her remarks on Tuesday.

    “I want to congratulate Sen. Sanders for the extraordinary campaign he has run,” she said, calling their primary battle “very good for the Democratic Party and for America.”

    Inside Clinton’s event, her supporters were excited by the significance of her win. Samson Ogunloye, a 70-year-old researcher at Columbia University, described it as a “historic night.”

    “I really love it,” Ogunloye said. “After over 200 years, it’s about time.”

    Brooklynite Karen Kietzman, 58, described Clinton’s pioneering role as “very important,” though she added, “That’s not the only thing I would vote on.”

    Nicolas Santacruz, a nanny who was standing near the back of the packed crowd, said he was frustrated with the media for projecting Clinton’s victory the day before Tuesday’s election night.

    “It’s extremely cool, although it’s annoying that the news took it away from us yesterday,” Santacruz said.

    Many of Clinton’s supporters also expressed frustration with Sanders for remaining in the race. A large screen hanging over the crowd showed news broadcasts, and audience members booed when NBC News projected Sanders as the winner in North Dakota. Some members of the audience at Clinton’s event said they hoped Sanders would begin to get behind Clinton and help her win over the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

    “I think he should try and express his platform and continue to express support for more liberal views, but I think it’s time for him to start working with her,” explained Kietzman. “And I think he will, because I think she’s going to win big tonight.”

    Andrea Zuniga pointed out that Clinton quickly endorsed President Obama after she conceded the 2008 Democratic primary to him. Zuniga suggested that Sanders should “take a page from her book” and “work for party unity.”

    Ogunloye, the researcher, had a slightly different perspective on Sanders. “What about him? Let him go away. He’s of no use,” he said.

    The Clinton campaign certainly seems to be shifting away from the primary fight against Sanders. Next week, Clinton is scheduled to campaign in Ohio and Pennsylvania, two major swing states in the general election. Clinton campaign aide Lily Adams offered a blunt response when Yahoo News asked if the trip represents a new focus on the general election.

    “Yeah, they’re battleground states,” Adams said.


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  • AP Investigation: American company bungled Ebola response

    08/Mar/2016 // 311 Viewers

     

    WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.S. company assigned a crucial role in the efforts to battle Ebola in Sierra Leone made a series of costly mistakes during the 2014 outbreak, an Associated Press investigation has found.

     

    Staffers with the San Francisco-based company Metabiota Inc. not only misread the epidemic, they contributed to botched lab results, undermined partners and put people at risk of the terrifying virus, according to leaked documents and interviews with international health responders.

    The company had been tapped by the World Health Organization and the Sierra Leonean government to help fight Ebola. But internal emails from WHO and other international health agencies obtained by AP show that senior scientists were alarmed at a spate of problems in a lab shared by Metabiota and Tulane University.

    "This is a situation that WHO can no longer endorse," WHO outbreak expert Dr. Eric Bertherat wrote in a July 17, 2014, email to colleagues.

    Bertherat relayed reports of "total confusion" in the government lab split between Metabiota and Tulane at the Kenema hospital in Sierra Leone, noting there was "no tracking of the samples" and "absolutely no control on what is being done." He said the flubbed results were particularly dangerous given suspicion among the local population that international workers were spreading Ebola deliberately.

    Lawrence Gostin, director of WHO's Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights at Georgetown University, said it was inexcusable that a company without the required expertise to respond to an outbreak was given such fundamental responsibilities.

    "It was a comedy of errors," he said, adding that WHO was ultimately to blame for allowing the situation to unravel.

    "WHO knew that this company was bungling the response and they did nothing," Gostin said. "In any other context, that would be called a cover-up."

    WHO officials did not return messages seeking comment on the AP story.

    Metabiota's chief executive officer and founder, Nathan Wolfe, said there was no evidence that his company was responsible for the lab blunders.

    He added that the reported squabbles were overblown and that any predictions made by his employees who were on loan to the Sierra Leonean government didn't reflect the company's position. Metabiota doesn't specialize in outbreak response, he said, but volunteered its staff and resources to Sierra Leone at a cost to his company of about $500,000.

    "We are incredibly proud about everything they did," he said at an interview in his office Thursday. "These are individuals who took substantial personal risk and worked incredibly long hours."

    Metabiota bills itself as a pioneer in tracking emerging viral threats and says it works to "improve the world's resilience to epidemics." The firm and its nonprofit sister company, Global Viral, have received millions from the U.S. Department of Defense, USAID, Google and the California-based Skoll Foundation.

    In the early months of the 2014 Ebola outbreak, with WHO and partners thin on the ground, authorities in Sierra Leone turned to Metabiota to help respond to the epidemic in Kenema. The company had been in the country since 2009 and supported the government on issues including outbreak investigation and laboratory work.

    At first, Metabiota appeared to be doing well. According to an account on its website, company staffers helped to train hundreds of health workers under the guidance of WHO.

    But within weeks, the virus spread across the country and, as the death toll mounted, experts began questioning the work being done at the lab in Kenema shared by Metabiota and Tulane, which had its own longstanding project researching Lassa fever and other diseases.

    When Gary Kobinger, head of special pathogens at the Public Health Agency of Canada, double-checked some of the facility's work in mid-July, he found worrying discrepancies in four of eight tests and identified as many as five people wrongly diagnosed with Ebola, according to emails obtained by AP.

    "If you detect two, three, four, five, how many are out there?" Kobinger said in an interview.

    The mistakes sparked concern about bigger problems in the lab — worries relayed all the way up to WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. When U. S. health official Austin Demby inspected the facility, he found a mess.

    "The cross contamination potential is huge and quite frankly unacceptable," he wrote in late July.

    Metabiota founder Wolfe said "we did wonderful lab work as far as I'm concerned." He said errors in the shared facility stopped once "other groups" were pulled from Ebola testing.

    Documents show that Metabiota and Tulane blamed each other for the mistakes.

    But Metabiota was criticized elsewhere too. The firm's employees were "systematically obstructing any attempt to improve the existing surveillance system," WHO Ebola coordinator Philippe Barboza said in an August 8, 2014, email. Another WHO employee, Mikiko Senga, photographed a Metabiota presentation that described the outbreak in Kenema as "stabilizing."

    "They are sending wrong messages," she said. "The outbreak is clearly not stabilizing."

    Metabiota's problems mirror the wider mismanagement that hamstrung the world's response to Ebola, which has killed more than 11,000 people. Previous AP reporting has shown that WHO resisted sounding the alarm over Ebola for two months on political, religious and economic grounds and failed to put together a decisive response even after the alert was issued.

    WHO since has promised reforms.

    As for Metabiota, Wolfe's firm has largely been congratulated on its work in West Africa. Last year, the company raised some $30 million in investment intended to support their epidemic projects.


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  • President Trump congratulates Emmanuel Macron, sends powerful message to French people

    08/May/2017 // 608 Viewers

     

    PARIS, MAY 8, 2017: (DGW) President Donald Trump has congratulated Emmanuel Macron on his election as the next president of France, the second-biggest economy in the eurozone and indeed one of the world's largest economies. 

    In tweet message on Sunday night, President Trump said he looks forward to working with the newly-elected President.

    “Congratulations to Emmanuel Macron on his big win today as the next President of France. I look very much forward to working with him!” Trump tweeted Sunday night.

    Macron, 39 years old is the youngest President ever produced in French political history who emerged the winner on Sunday by 65.1% to 34.9% to defeat Marine Le Pen

    However, although a political novice, the new president has promised ed to shake up the French political system.

    He said, “A new chapter in our long history has opened this evening. I would like it to be one of hope and of confidence rediscovered.”


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  • Hero of French train attack Spencer Stone stabbed in California

    08/Oct/2015 // 261 Viewers

    Saul Loeb, AFP | US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter presents the Airman's Medal to Spencer Stone on September 17, 2015
     
    US serviceman Spencer Stone, who overpowered a gunman on a Paris-bound train in August and was subsequently decorated as a hero by the French government, was repeatedly stabbed in his hometown Sacramento, CA on Thursday.
     
    Stone, 23, was taken to a nearby hospital and is in stable condition, US media reports said.
     
    NBC reported that the attack happened around 12:45 a.m. in the California capital. Stone was stabbed multiple times in the torso after a fight broke out near 21st and K streets, the TV channel said.
     
    Officer Traci Trapani told AFP that Stone had sustained stab wounds in his upper torso and upper body, but was expected to live.
     
    Trapani added that the suspect had fled the scene.
     
    “The assault incident is not related to a terrorist act. Assault occurred near a bar, alcohol is believed to be a factor,” the Sacramento Police Department said on Twitter, ruling out that the stabbing was payback for thwarting the French train attack.


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  • U.S. soldiers abandoned equipment under fire, flee before ISIS militants in Afghanistan

    09/Aug/2016 // 705 Viewers

     

    KABUL (Reuters) - American soldiers helping Afghan troops fight Islamic State militants in Afghanistan were forced to abandon sensitive equipment and weapons when their position came under fire, a U.S. military official said on Tuesday.

    Islamic State fighters recently circulated photos of a rocket launcher, grenades, ammunition, identification cards, and an encrypted radio among other equipment that they said they had seized.

    U.S. military spokesman General Charles Cleveland denied that any American positions or personnel were overrun.

    "We have been able to determine that the I.D. card and most of the pictured equipment was lost during recent operations in southern Nangarhar," he said in a statement, referring to an eastern province.

    The soldiers at the time had established a location to handle casualties, which is a routine step in any operation, Cleveland said.

    At one point, the location came under "effective enemy fire" and the soldiers were forced to move to a safer position, he said.

    "In the course of moving the (casualty collection point) to a safe location, some equipment was left behind," Cleveland said. 

    "For understandable reasons, the lives of soldiers were not put at risk to recover the equipment."

    U.S. troops and aircraft have been taking a more active role in a recent operation against Islamic State militants after U.S. President Barack Obama authorized more military support for the Afghan government.

    In July, U.S. commanders said at least five special forces were wounded in fighting Islamic State in Nangarhar.

    The website that published the photos speculated that the equipment and weapons were left behind during that engagement, but Cleveland said he would not comment on any specific injuries to "protect the privacy of those involved".

    Despite the sensitive nature of some of the equipment, Cleveland said he did not expect there would be "any measurable operational impact" from the loss.

    "The loss of any equipment is regrettable, but no equipment is worth undue risk to those involved," he said.


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