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US Election: Biden Promises to Use Billions of Dollars to Bridge Racial Inequality and Dismantle Oppressive Structures

 

Photo credit: The Newyork Times US Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden

 

US Democratic Presidential candidate, Joe Biden says he will allocate over $150 billion to bridge economic gap caused by racial division for people of colour, if he wins the election in November.

 

Mr Biden in a speech in his hometown, Wilmington, said he will boost business opportunities for Black, Latino and Native Americans.

 

He alleges that President trump incites racism and also had failed in protecting the people from coronavirus.

 

BBC reports that Mr Biden is leading with a good margin over his opponent, President Trump, in the national polls.

 

The Democratic presidential candidate assures the people US that he will also select a female as his running-mate in the first week of August.

 

“This election is not just about voting against Donald Trump,” Mr Biden said.

 

“It’s about rising to this moment of crisis, understanding people’s struggles and building a future worthy of their courage and their ambition to overcome.”

 

Mr Biden who was the former vice-president to Barack Obama alleged Mr Trump plays politics of division.

 

“This is about trying to split the country. And so far, thank God, the American people aren’t having any of it,” he said.

 

“Did you ever think you’d see 77% of the people saying Black Lives Matter? Because they see what happens. And they’re not buying into the racial division. That’s what he’s done since the beginning.”

 

Mr Biden said the tens of billions he promised the black community, Latino and Native Americans will be for small businesses and other opportunities that were structurally deprived the group for generations. He said it would include access to low-interest business loans.

 

Source: BBC


UK Secures 90 million Vaccines for Covid-19 Pandemic Remedy

 

Illustrative vial of coronavirus vaccine

Okoh Onuche

 

United Kingdom (UK) government has shown interest by signing deals for 90 million doses of promising Covid-19 Pandemic vaccines newly developed.

 

The vaccines are being researched by an alliance between the pharmaceutical companies BioNtech and Pfizer as well as the firm Valneva.

 

The new deal is on top of 100 million doses of the Oxford University vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca.

 

However, it is still uncertain which of the experimental vaccines may work.

 

A vaccine is widely seen as the best chance of getting our lives back to normal.

 

Research is taking place at an unprecedented scale – the world became aware of coronavirus at the beginning of the year, but already more than 20 vaccines are in clinical trials.

 

Some can provoke an immune response, but none has yet been proven to protect against infection.

 

When will we have a vaccine?
The UK government has now secured access to vaccines that use three completely different approaches:

 

100m doses of the Oxford vaccine made from a genetically engineered virus

 

30 million doses of the BioNtech/Pfizer vaccine, which injects part of the coronavirus’ genetic code
60 million doses of the Valneva, which uses an inactive version of the coronavirus

 

Using different styles of vaccine maximises the chance that one of them will work.

 

Kate Bingham, the chair of the government’s Vaccine Taskforce, said: “The fact that we have so many promising candidates already shows the unprecedented pace at which we are moving.

 

“But I urge against being complacent or over optimistic.

 

“The fact remains we may never get a vaccine and if we do get one, we have to be prepared that it may not be a vaccine which prevents getting the virus, but rather one that reduces symptoms.”

 

If an effective vaccine is developed then health and social care workers, as well as those at highest risk of the disease, will be prioritised.

 

It is possible a vaccine will be proven effective by the end of 2020, but wide-scale vaccination is still not expected until next year.

 

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, told BBC Breakfast that vaccine development was “an incredibly long process and we are doing it at breakneck speed” but that we should expect a Covid-19 vaccine “after winter”.

 

Media caption In April, Elisa Granato was the first volunteer to be injected in Europe

 

The announcement also includes an agreement with AstraZeneca to buy treatments made from neutralizing antibodies, which can disable the virus.

 

These could be given to people who cannot be vaccinated because they have a weakened immune system or are having treatment for cancer.

 

Meanwhile, the government is hoping to get half a million people to sign up to trials of vaccines in the UK through the NHS Covid-19 vaccine research registry website.

 

At least eight large scale coronavirus vaccine trials are expected to take place in the UK.

 

Prof Chris Whitty, Chief Medical Officer, said: “Now that there are several promising vaccines on the horizon, we need to call again on the generosity of the public to help find out which potential vaccines are the most effective.”

Source: BBC


George Floyd Laid to Rest: ‘We Don’t Want No Favours, Just Get Up Off Us, And We Can Do And Be Whatever We Can Be’ – Says Black Americans

George Floyd, has been laid to rest on Thursday, following a memorial Service, at Minneapolis, Minnesota, the first of three planned for his interment.

 

The emotion laden memorial for Floyd aged 46, who died in Minneapolis Minnesota on the 25th of May, in police custody, when a white police officer knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, was one for the fight of hope for a better world for black Americans.

 

Reverend Jerry McAffey of the New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, and Reverend Al Sharpton officiated the memorial.

 

For eight minutes 46 seconds, the attendees kept silent at the memorial in retrospect of the weight of “racial pain” and discrimination laid on Floyd’s neck.

 

With tears welling in their eyes, Reverend Sharpton said:“As you go through these long eight minutes, think about what George was going through laying there for those eight minutes, begging for his life.

 

“We can’t let this go. We can’t keep living like this,” Rev Sharpton said.

 

Many members of the audience closed their eyes, reaching out to comfort each other, and bent their heads in prayers.

“There’s no excuse. They had enough time. Now what do we do with the time we have?” he asked.

 

The memorial which had lots of important personalities was a rallying point for black Americans who demanded for justice and a better future.

 

Rev. Sharpton said the injustice must end because the story of blacks in America was one of oppression and suppression.

 

“When I stood at that spot, the reason it got to me because George Floyd’s story has been the story of black folks. Ever since 401 years ago, the reason we could never be who we wanted and dreamed of being is you kept your knee on our neck.

 

“It’s time for us to stand up in George’s name and say get your knee off our necks,” Rev Sharpton said.

 

Reverend Sharpton who expressed optimism for change throughout the world said: “The reason why we’re marching all over the world is we were like George. We couldn’t breathe – not because there was something wrong with our lungs, but because you wouldn’t take your knee off our neck.

 

“We don’t want no favours. Just get up off us, and we can do and be whatever we can be.”

 

The attorney for George Floyd’s family, Benjamin Crump said him and his team of lawyers  will fight for justice.

 

“It’s going to take a united effort fighting in the courtroom and outside the courtroom to get justice for George Floyd.”

 

“It was not the coronavirus pandemic that killed George Floyd,” he adds.

 

“It was the pandemic of racism and discrimination that killed George Floyd.”

 

In a remark, Benjamin Crump spoke again for Justice.

 

“Dr Martin Luther King said: he who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps the person perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really like co-operating with it.”

 

“America be America for all Americans”, he declared.

 

He named some black Americans who were killed by police violence to include Eric Garner, Stephon Clark, Philando Castile, Breonna Taylor, and Michael Brown.

 

“What we endeavor to achieve is equal justice for the United States of America and George Floyd is the moment that gives us the best opportunity I have seen in a long time of reaching that high ideal that this country was founded on,” he said.

 

George Floyd’s family demanded for justice also, his brother Philonise Floyd described his brother as someone people loved because he normally would stand up for family and friends against injustice, adding he taught them to be men.

 

The three Minneapolis police officers present when Derek Chauvin, the white police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck , Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting second –degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

 

If convicted, they could face up to 40 years in jail. Their bail has been set at $1m (£792,000).

 

Chauvin who has been charged with second degree murder will appear in court in 8 June.

 

At the memorial, President of the school where the memorial held, North Central University, Scott Hagan, announced a George Floyd memorial scholarship funds to contribute toward the educational promise of aspiring young black American leaders. And he urged university presidents in all of US schools to also establish similar George Floyd memorial scholarships.

Civil rights campaigner, Reverend Jesse Jackson was among the dignitaries that attended Floyd’s memorial.

 

Also, Human rights campaigner, Martin Luther King III, was in attendance with his family.

 

Furthermore, among the dignitaries that attended the memorial in honour of Floyd were lawmakers, actors, musicians, activists, politicians, among whom are the Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, Minnesota Mayor Jacob Frey and Congresswoman IIhan Omar.

 

The celebrities present were Ludacris, TI, Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart among others.

 

Source: BBC


White Police Officer Who Killed an Unarmed Black Man Has Been Dismissed With Three Others

 

George Floyd

A white Minneapolis police officer who killed an unarmed black man on Monday has been sacked with three others for complicity in the crime.

 

The deceased identified as George Floyd, aged in his 40s, was recorded by a witness begging for his life, saying: “I can’t breathe”, “please don’t kill me”, but the white police officer who pinned him to the ground, kneeling on his neck, did not release him until Floyd’s body became lifeless.

This has caused outrage and massive protest on Tuesday; hours after the officers’ dismissal were announced.

 

Thousands besieged the scene of the deadly killing of the black man, with what started as a peaceful rally, but turned violent, early evening, when riot policemen “fired tear gas and non-lethal bean-bag rounds into the crowd while protesters hurled water bottles and other projectiles, Reuters reported.

The Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo, told reporters that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had commenced inquest to unravel the “fatal arrest caught on video”, on Monday.

 

Also, Minneapolis Mayor, Jacob Frey who was at the press briefing said “it was clear the death of the man in custody was unjustified, and that race was a factor.”

 

“Being black in America should not be a death sentence…For five minutes we watched as a white police officer pressed his knee into the neck of a black man,” the Mayor said.

 

Frey who had announced the termination of the four officers on Twitter, stressed that the duty of the police was to help when being called.

He Twitted: “This is the right call.”

 

Blacks in America were reported to be under constant police brutality. The case of Eric Garner, in 2014, who died after being put in a police chokehold, was one death too many.

 

Garner before he died, gasped “I can’t breathe” repeatedly, and this became a soul rendering cry that the Black Lives Matter movement re-echoes in call for justice.

 

Floyd’s family will institute a legal action, as their lawyer, Benjamin Crump said in a statement that the officers’ “abusive, excessive and inhumane use of force cost the life of a man who was being detained by the police for questioning and about a non-violent charge.”


Schools in England to reopen 1 June amid COVID-19 scare

 

The British government has urged parents and teachers to get ready for a phased reopening of schools come 1 June 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson who disclosed this during the daily Downing Street briefing explained that government planned for the early years pupils, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6.

Mr Johnson said Year 10 and Year 12 will be allowed “some contact” on June 15, to assist in the preparation of their exams.

He further said the formal decision would follow a legitimate process on Thursday when the government is required to review the three –week lockdown measures.

BBC reports that UK schools closed on 20 March, except for essential workers’ children and vulnerable children due to COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the Prime Minister saw the reopening of schools as “crucial” he expressed concern that not all may be able to do so, he gave the assurance that government will support those “experiencing difficulties” to reopen.

Mr Johnson said education remains important for the welfare of the children as well as for their health and long-term future and also for social justice.

“So in line with the decisions taken in many other countries, we want to start getting our children back int the classroom in a way that is as manageable and as safe as possible,” he said.

According to a BBC report, the proposal has not got the nod of the teachers union, headteachers and many local authorities.

A BBC Breakfast survey across 99 councils in England showed that only 20 approve of schools to reopen fully on 1 June.


Coronavirus: EU Apologizes to Italy

European Union  Commission (EU) president,Ursula Von der Leyen Photo credit: Reuters

By Niyi Maralysa

The European Union  Commission (EU) president,Ursula Von der Leyen  has offered a “heartfelt apology” to Italy for not helping at the start of its deadly coronavirus outbreak.

 

The EU president, speaking at a session of  European Parliament in Brussels, said “you could not beat a pandemic “without truth” –about science but also “about our own actions”.

Ursula von der Leyen expressed regret that Italy could not get the help needed when it mattered most, adding that they deserve a “heartfelt apology” from Europe.

She said apology is only effective when an action is taken to correct the wrong.

“The truth is that now Europe has now become the true beating heart of solidarity. The true Europe is now standing up,” she said.

Many Italians have criticized the EU’s response to the pandemic, and say the bloc did not do enough to help.

Italy’s Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio has welcomed Ms von der Leyen’s comments, calling them “an important act”

The country has recorded more than 21,000 deaths from the virus, the highest toll in Europe.

 

Source: BBC


Trump Wants US To Stop Funding WHO

 

Director General WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

By Niyi Maralysa

The United States President Trump has said that his administration will stop to fund World Health Organization (WHO) .
Trump in a press conference at White House accused the United Nation’s body of mismanaging and covering up the spread of the virus after it emerged in China, and said it must be held accountable.

“The WHO failed in its basic duty and it must be held accountable.”

Mr Trump had previously accused the WHO of being biased towards China.

The US president has himself come under criticism at home over his handling of the outbreak.

America is the WHO’s biggest single funder, providing $400m (£316m) last year – just under 15% of its total budget.

The US is the worst-affected country in the coronavirus pandemic with 592,743 cases and 25,239 deaths.

Source: bbc news 


COVID19: Americans Receive Palliative

By Niyi Maralysa

Reports from Washington says Americans are starting to receive their cash payments via direct deposits, part of the $2 trillion bill passed by Congress to stimulate the economy after the decline caused by the pandemic.

The IRS tweeted on Saturday: “#IRS deposited the first Economic Impact Payments into taxpayers’ bank accounts today. We know many people are anxious to get their payments; we’ll continue issuing them as fast as we can”.

Numerous Twitter users also posted on Saturday that they had received a deposit.

For those who do not have direct deposit information registered with the IRS, it could take months for checks to be mailed.

The IRS is expected to roll out an online tool to help those that have not registered direct deposit do so.

The coronavirus payment is based on federal tax returns for 2019 or 2018, but the IRS is directing people who do not normally file taxes to an online tool to make sure they are included.

That excludes Social Security recipients and railroad retirees, according to the IRS.

Americans who made less than $75,000 in 2019 will be eligible for the full payment of $1,200. Couples who filed jointly and made less than $150,000 will get $2,400. An individual who filed as “head of household” and earned $112,500 or less gets $1,200.

For every child in the household, an additional $500 will be paid.

For those that made more than $75,000, payments will be reduced by $5 for every $100 of income that exceeds the limits.

The payment decreases to zero for an individual making $99,000 or more or a couple making $198,000 or more.

The maximum payment for a family of four is $3,400. The payment will not be taxed.

 

 

 


‘An Easter of Solitude’: Christians across the World Mark Easter Sunday amid the Coronavirus

 

Pope Francis Photo credit: AP

 

 

VATICAN CITY – His voice echoing through the nearly empty St. Peter’s Basilica, a somber Pope Francis celebrated one of the strangest Easter celebrations in Vatican history Sunday amid Italy’s national lockdown for the coronavirus pandemic.

Francis cast a solitary figure as he addressed the outbreak that has so far claimed more than 110,000 lives worldwide, nearly 20,000 of them in Italy, which surrounds Vatican City. More than 20,600 people have died in the United States. The pandemic has prompted  quarantines and social distancing orders globally, from China where it began, across Europe, South America and the U.S.

“This is an Easter of solitude lived amid the sorry and hardship the pandemic is causing, whether from physical suffering or economic difficulties,” Francis said in Italian.

Millions of Christians globally celebrated Easter, marking the resurrection of Jesus following his crucifixion. Across the United States, many churches were holding similar remote services intended to help slow the infection’s spread.

Francis mentioned those directly impacted by the spread of the virus, including medical personnel, the sick, the dead, and family members mourning their losses. It was a far cry from Easter Sunday a year ago, when an estimated 75,000 people packed St. Peter’s Square as Francis urged those in zones of conflict to lay down their arms.

In Sunday’s Mass, he called for the faithful watching from home to maintain their faith in what he called “trying times.”

“Our world is already faced with epochal challenges,” the pontiff said. “Now it is oppressed by a pandemic that is severely testing our whole human family.”

Outside the basilica in St. Peter’s Square, security staff that would normally be assuring the safe movement of the faithful into the square for Mass were instead turning them away.

Despite not being able to attend Easter services in person, many said the 83-year old pontiff still gives them strength. Anna Maria Donaldson, 39, is a U.N. consult from New Jersey who has attended the pope’s Easter Mass annually since moving to Rome in 2015. This year she watched the live broadcast on her laptop from her nearby apartment.

“I feel stronger after watching the Mass,” Donaldson said. “ You could see the weight of the pandemic on the shoulders of the pope as he celebrated Mass. He is being strong to help us be stronger.”

 

usatoday.com: Read the full story here

 


COVID-19: ‘It Is Time to Put Armed Conflict on Lockdown’ – Guterres

 

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres has called on countries embroiled in war situations to sheath their swords and channel their resources towards fighting the global common enemy – COVID-19.

Mr Guterres in a statement published on the UN website, 30 March 2020, said conflicts around the world has subjected the most vulnerable victims who are mostly women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced at risk of suffering worst devastating effects of loses from the coronavirus.

It said the menace left in the wake of the ravaging COVID-19 makes it necessary for warring countries to join forces in tackling the disease.

The statement  decried the continuous devastating consequences of armed conflicts in this time of COVID-19 pandemic, which is yet to abate around the world, adding that the coronavirus is a common enemy, and has waged war against humanity, thus does not care about nations, ethnicity or faith.

“The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

“End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

“That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.

“It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives,” he said.

It further argued that war on its own is deadly enough as health professionals who are needed at this critical time are not spared and are very  few in war torn countries. This makes it nearly impossible to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, it said.

Succour to governments and citizens ravaged by coronavirus in those countries stands ample chances of getting assistance if only they can accept a truce, Guterres stated.

“Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

“Health professionals, already few in numbers have often been targeted.

“Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable.”

It  further appealed that whatever the trigger was that plunged them into war, the current situation has opened windows of dialogue and reconciliation.

It urged them to: “Put aside mistrust and animosity. Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes,” and embrace the opportunity of diplomacy.

“Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world.

“It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now,” it further advocated.


Coronavirus Claims Over 10,000 Lives In Spain

 

 

The number of deaths in Spain has exceeded 10,000 as the country also grapples with high unemployment figures.

Almost 900,000 people have lost  their jobs due to the COVID-19, which has affected the economy of many countries as well.

The European country has experienced the worst fatalities, after Italy, with about 950 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, according to the country’s health ministry.

COVID-19 which has spread to nearly every country in the world, has hit almost one million confirmed cases, with over 47,000 deaths while 195,000 have recovered, a research institute, Johns Hopkins University has disclosed.

Spain recorded 110,238 confirmed cases of coronavirus on Thursday, an 8% increase from 102,136 the previous day.

Authorities in the country anticipate that with the current surge, there is a possibility to see a drop in number of cases in the coming days.

An official working with the Spanish health ministry’s emergency co-ordination unit, Maria Jose Sierra, during a conference said: “We continue with an increase of around 8%. This points, as we have already seen, to a stabilisation in the data that we’re registering.”

Furthermore, Jose Sierra said as a result of this, there is an “important lowering” in the increase in number of people being taken to the intensive care units, that are overwhelmed across the country.

Spain which had banned most businesses since the lockdown was imposed in the country, except for essential services saw a record 898,822 loss of jobs, most of which are from temporary workers, numbering 550,000.

These officials said the country’s unemployment figures now top 8.5 million, the worst experienced since April 2017.

Source: BBC


UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson Is First World Leader with Confirmed Case of Coronavirus

 

The Prime Minister of United Kingdom, Mr Boris Johnson has tested positive for Coronavirus.

A spokesman of Downing street disclosed on Friday that his symptoms are mild and “he will continue to lead the government response to the virus while he self-isolates.”

Mr Johnson who spoke from isolation said use of technology has made it possible for him to still perform his official functions, so he will continue to communicate with his top team and “lead the national fightback against the virus.”

He said:” I’ve developed mild symptoms of the coronavirus, that’s a temperature and a persistent cough,” he said in a video posted on his Twitter account.

He further said his status was discovered after he adhered to advice of the chief medical officer to run a test.

“I’m working from home and self-isolating. That’s entirely the right thing to do,” he said.

A political editor of the Spectator, James Forsyth expressed fears  of a possible outbreak in the Whitehall , according to him, the Prime Minister has had contacts with other top members of his cabinet including the Chancellor and Health Secretary.

Meanwhile World leaders, top heads of organizations, his colleagues and opponents alike from Westminster have sent him good wishes to get well.

The UK Prime Minister is the first world leader to admit he has contracted the coronavirus.

Source: BBC


Prince Charles tests positive for coronavirus

DORCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 08: Prince Charles, Prince of Wales meets residents of The Guinness Partnership’s 250th affordable home in Poundbury on May 8, 2015 in Dorchester, Dorset. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie – WPA Pool Getty Images)

The Prince of Wales has tested positive for coronavirus, with mild symptoms and in stable health.

A statement from the Clarence House disclosed on Wednesday, that Prince Charles is now in self isolation at Balmoral, Scotland, with his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, who tested negative.

“The tests were carried out by the NHS in Aberdeenshire, where they met the criteria required for testing.

“It is not possible to ascertain from whom the prince caught the virus owing to the high number of engagements he carried out in his public role during recent weeks.”

WINDSOR, ENGLAND – APRIL 9: Clarence House official handout photo of the Prince of Wales and his new bride Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall in the White Drawing Room at Windsor Castle after their wedding ceremony, April 9, 2005 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Hugo Burnand/Pool/Getty Images)

According to BBC report, Buckingham Palace said the Queen saw Prince Charles on 12th March which coincided with the date of Prince Charles’ last public engagement.

The Queen is in good health and “is following all the appropriate advice with regard to her welfare,” it stated.

The prince who now works from home has had private meetings with very important personalities of royal standing and they had all been informed.

There are over 8000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the UK with 422 deaths.

Source: BBC


 


Manchester Bomb Explosion Kills 19 and Injures About 50 People

 

Manchester arena where Ariana Grande performed

By Juliana Uzoka

 

A twin bomb explosion has claimed about 19 lives and injured over 50 people towards the end of a concert by an American singer, Ariana Grande, in Manchester. A suicide bomber was suspected in the terror attack.

 

The U.K. Prime Minister, Theresa May has described the incident as a potential terrorist attack. This would be the worst terrorist attack in Britain if confirmed, after the London transport system suicide attack by four British Muslim citizens that killed 52 people in July 2005.

 

The Police arrived the showground which has a capacity to contain about 21,000 people, on receiving information regarding the explosion. Sources confirm there were a lot of children who had come out with their families to watch the U.S. singer Ariana.

Reuters reports that an eyewitness account by one of the audiences who had exited the concert ground discloses she was on her way out after the concert had ended, and then came a powerful explosion which got people screaming and thousands running in different directions trying to leave the building.

 

A video posted on twitter showed the chaos that ensued after the explosion went off at the concert, as fans were heard screaming and parents frantically searching and calling out for their children, sharing their photos on social media of any information of their whereabouts.

 

“We were making our way out and when we were right by the door there was a massive explosion and everybody was screaming,” concertgoer Catherine Macfarlane told Reuters.

 

“It was a huge explosion – you could feel it in your chest. It was chaotic. Everybody was running and screaming and just trying to get out.”

 

A spokesman for the music artiste said she was ok.

 

Prime Minister May, who will run an election in the next two weeks and a half, has expressed her condolences to the families who lost their loved ones.

 

“We are working to establish the full details of what is being treated by the Police as an appalling terrorist attack,” May said in a statement. “All our thoughts are with the victims and the families of those who have been affected.”

For more on this story


French President, Emmanuel Macron

By Editor

 

Emmanuel Macron was elected French president on Sunday with a business-friendly vision of European integration, defeating Marine Le Pen, a far-right nationalist who threatened to take France out of the European Union.

The centrist’s emphatic victory, which also smashed the dominance of France’s mainstream parties, will bring huge relief to European allies who had feared another populist upheaval to follow Britain’s vote to quit the EU and Donald Trump’s election as U.S. president.

With virtually all votes counted, Macron had topped 66 percent against just under 34 percent for Le Pen – a gap wider than the 20 or so percentage points that pre-election surveys had suggested.

Even so, it was a record performance for the National Front, a party whose anti-immigrant policies once made it a pariah, and underlined the scale of the divisions that Macron must now try to heal.

After winning the first round two weeks ago, Macron had been accused of behaving as if he was already president; on Sunday night, with victory finally sealed, he was much more solemn.

“I know the divisions in our nation, which have led some to vote for the extremes. I respect them,” Macron said in an address at his campaign headquarters, shown live on television.

“I know the anger, the anxiety, the doubts that very many of you have also expressed. It’s my responsibility to hear them,” he said. “I will work to recreate the link between Europe and its peoples, between Europe and citizens.”

Later he strode alone almost grimly through the courtyard of the Louvre Palace in central Paris to the strains of the EU anthem, Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, not breaking into a smile until he mounted the stage of his victory rally to the cheers of his partying supporters.

His immediate challenge will be to secure a majority in next month’s parliamentary election for a political movement that is barely a year old, rebranded as La Republique En Marche (“Onward the Republic”), in order to implement his program.

EUROPE DEFENDED

Outgoing president Francois Hollande, who brought Macron into politics, said the result “confirms that a very large majority of our fellow citizens wanted to unite around the values of the Republic and show their attachment to the European Union”.

Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, told Macron: “I am delighted that the ideas you defended of a strong and progressive Europe, which protects all its citizens, will be those that you will carry into your presidency”.

Macron spoke by phone with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with whom he hopes to revitalize the Franco-German axis at the heart of the EU, saying he planned to visit Berlin shortly.

Trump also tweeted his congratulations on Macron’s “big win”, saying he looked forward to working with him.

The euro currency EUR=EBS, which had been rising for two weeks as the prospect receded that France would elect an anti-EU president, topped $1.10 in early Asian trading for the first time since the U.S. elections.

Source: Reuters


Trump is now America’s 45th president, cloud of uncertainty pervades the air

trump-protest-21-jan

By Editor

 

President Trump’s talk of unity in his inaugural address sounded less like an appeal and more like an imperative, maybe even a command.

“At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other. When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice,” Trump said.

It’s laudable any time a leader seeks to make an argument for bringing people together, and America certainly needs to hear such sentiments. But as a predictor for how effective Trump will be in continuing to lay out such a vision, his remarks on the topic were lacking.

Even in Ronald Reagan’s first inaugural address in 1981, which was reportedly one of the few speeches Trump consulted as he crafted his own, the former Republican president touched on themes of overcoming hate and division that were pointedly missing from Trump’s address.

“We shall reflect the compassion that is so much a part of your makeup,” Reagan told the nation. “How can we love our country and not love our countrymen, and loving them, reach out a hand when they fall, heal them when they are sick, and provide opportunities to make them self-sufficient so they will be equal in fact and not just in theory?”

There was an echo of this in Trump’s argument that loyalty to country will produce loyalty to countrymen. But Reagan also heavily emphasized compassion and love, elements largely missing from Trump’s speech.

Trump’s logic was that love of country can overcome division. But that is an ahistorical statement. Patriotism has often fueled, rather than suppressed xenophobia, racism and systemic oppression of minorities.

If Trump displayed more interest in the principles of the U.S. Constitution — that the rights of men come from God and not from government, respect for the rule of law, checks and balances, a balance between the will of the people and the moderating influence of government institutions — there might be less concern about his absolutist talk of “total allegiance” to the country he now leads and represents.

Before his speech, Trump raised his right hand and promised to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” But as he spoke moments later, Trump told the crowd that he had taken “an oath of allegiance to all Americans.”

And the fuel of Trump’s candidacy was anger against a roster of villains including Muslims, Mexicans, the media and so on. His candidacy drew the support of white nationalists who — encouraged by Trump’s years-long promotion of the theory that the nation’s first black president was not an authentic American — saw in him a sympathetic figure.

Read more: Trump takes charge, assertive but untested 45th US president

There has been a strong undercurrent in Trump’s support that white Americans — who make up the overwhelming majority of his supporters — have lost cultural and political power over the last few decades at the expense of gains by minorities and immigrants. These are not entirely baseless fears. Numerically, white Americans are certainly not the overwhelming majority they used to be, and they will continue to decline as the dominant group.

Yet whatever Trump might have done in the past to encourage this by winks and nods, many hoped he would strike a more inclusive note and appeal to something even higher and deeper than country — to the common humanity of each American. His speech did not do this.

The case for Trump is that he encouraged Americans of all races, colors and creeds to recognize their common citizenship. But prejudice has been overcome by individuals recognizing the inherent dignity of every human, an idea grounded in the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Additionally, a healthy dose of humility has helped, produced by a clear-eyed recognition of one’s own imperfection.

But Trump is not known for his humility. And his grandiose rhetoric — “I will never ever let you down,” an echo of “I alone can fix it” from his convention speech — suggests Trump envisions a much bigger role for himself in the life and imagination of the average American.

The phrase “total allegiance” was of a piece with other parts of Trump’s speech that sounded more like the words of a monarch than of a democratically elected president — notably one who received almost 3 million fewer votes than Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump said he would make Americans “the rulers” of their own country, and spoke of issuing “a new decree.”

And the idea of “total allegiance” shaped the words Trump said moments later: “We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.” In other words, some disagreement is fine, but then fall into line.

One of Trump’s first acts as president was to sign a formal proclamation announcing a national day of patriotism. In one sense, this was in line with the main theme of his speech: “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first, America first.”

But Trump’s talk of unity through patriotism showed the limits of his own thinking and is ultimately a weak foundation on which to try to rebuild the country, if that is indeed his goal.

Culled from Yahoo news


Gambia averts catastrophe as Jammeh concedes, to leave on exile

Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

Former Gambian President, Yahya Jammeh

 

By Juliana Uzoka

 

Gambians have released bated breath with a sigh of relief as their maximum ruler, former president Yahya Jammeh agrees to step aside, and allow his opponent ascend mantle of leadership.

 

Jammeh was on Gambia’s state television early on Saturday to announce his decision to cede power to President Adama Barrow.

 

In a report, Aljazeera news quoted Jammeh as saying: “I have decided today in good conscience to relinquish the mantle of leadership of this great nation with infinite gratitude to all Gambians.”

 

The regional leaders who had thronged Gambia to prevail on Jammeh to let go of power succeeded in talking him into accepting to go on exile.

 

Although the Defence Forces chief, Ousmane Badjie, who spoke to the Associated Press  said Jammeh had accepted to step down on condition that he should be granted amnesty, to absolve him of any crime he committed in the past 22 years he ruled The Gambia.

 

Badjie said: “You cannot push us to war for an issue we can solve politically.”

 

Jammeh wanted to relinquish power but to stay in his home village of Kanilal, reported News24. The request which ECOWAS found unacceptable.

 

President Adama Barrow who was sworn in at the Gambian Embassy, in Senegal due to Jammeh’s refusal to step down and to provide him with adequate security for his inauguration; said to Jammeh on the day of his swearing-in, to respect the will of the people and step aside.

 

Former President Jammeh was alone in his struggle to cling to power as his military declared allegiance to Barrow, who gave them order to all stay in the barracks.

 

The two African leaders that paid him a visit of Friday in Banjul: Guinean President, Alpha Conde and the Muaritanian President, Ould Abdel Aziz, offered to let him stay Mauritania for exile.

 

The West African regional force, comprising troops from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Togo and Mali had advanced the Gambia without any resistance, moving in tanks, said Marcel Alain de Souza, Chairperson of West African regional bloc, ECOWAS.

 

However, the situation has been brought under control with the latest development of Jammeh accepting to cede power to President Barrow, after ruling The Gambia for 22 years.

 

Barrow disclosed late on Friday through his twitter handle that: Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today.”

Adama Barrow @adama_barrow

I would like to inform you that Yahya Jammeh has agreed to step down. He is scheduled to depart Gambia today. #NewGambia

 


Obama is Confident Diversity Will Prevail In the History of U.S. Politics

michell-obama-and-family

By Editor

 

 

President Barack Obama has reassured Americans that his exit from office does not portend any future uncertainties, but rather, a promising future awaits them.

Obama said to Americans in his final press briefing on Wednesday, as President that: “We’re going to be OK.”

“It is true that behind closed doors, I curse more than I do publicly and sometimes I get mad and frustrated like everybody else does, but at my core, I think we’re going to be OK,” he said. “We just have to fight for it, we have to work for it and not take it for granted.”

Yahoo news reports that President Obama made it known during the press  conference that he would be compelled to voice out on particular social and political issues after leaving office as president.

He did not mince words in repudiating allegations that there was in-person voter fraud during the elections; but clearly stated that the black community still do not enjoy equal rights during elections as their white counterparts.

Some of the policies he advanced, such as the gay rights might not be easy to overturn, he said.

The outgoing President however called on his successor, Donald Trump to thread gently by surrounding himself with the right team, saying the presidency “is a job of such magnitude that you can’t do it by yourself.”

president-obama-farewell-speech

Obama cautioned Trump to have good considerations bothering on his administration’s policy on Middle East and relocating the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

During the interactive session, President Obama gave reasons on why he chose to grant clemency to the whistle blower, Chelsea Manning that leaked thousands of classified documents to wikileaks

Yahoo news further reports that Obama was not subjected to questions bothering on any regrets he may have had as president on issues like Syria, North Korea or the Iran deal; but he did joke that he once wore a tan suit to a press conference, which his wife Michelle Obama found disagreeable.

Furthermore, Obama  explained to a White House reporter, his daughter Sasha and Malia’s reactions after Trump was voted in; he explained the intrigues, especially knowing the standpoint of their mother, the first lady.

“They paid attention to what their mom said during the campaign,” Obama said. “But what we’ve also tried to teach them is resilience, and we’ve tried to teach them hope and that the only thing that is at the end of the world is the end of the world.

“You get knocked down, you get up, brush yourself off and you get back to work. And that tended to be their attitude. I think neither of them intend to pursue a future of politics, and in that, too, I think their mother’s influence shows.”

Fielding questions during the press conference on the possibility of another U.S. black president, he responded that the Oval Office is likely to have a more diverse disposition, which would create more opportunities for people of other race and cultures.

“If, in fact, we continue to keep opportunity open to everybody, then yeah, we’re going to have a woman president. We’re going to have a Latino president. And we’ll have a Jewish president. A Hindu president. You know, who knows who we’re going to have.” He said. “I suspect we’ll have a whole bunch of mixed-up presidents at some point that nobody really knows what to call them.”

President Obama emphasised on the need for the President-elect, Trump to carefully choose his advisers.

“That’s probably the most useful constructive advise and the most construct advice that I’ve been able to give him: That if you find yourself isolated because the process breaks down, or if you’re only hearing from people who agree with you on everything, or if you haven’t created a process that is fact-checking and probing and asking hard questions about policies or promises that you’ve made. That’s when you start making mistakes.” Obama said. Reality has a way of biting back if you’re not paying attention to it.”


Demoted Army Veteran Kills 5, Claims He is Haunted by ISIS Videos

florida-shooting-reuters-proxy

By Marymagdalyn Francis

A gunman has killed five people and injured eight others at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport Florida.

The suspect identified as 26-year-old Estenab Santiago, opened fire on passengers at the baggage claim area of the airport on Friday.

According to Yahoo News, the Broward County Sheriff said the shooter has been caught unharmed and under interrogation.

In an update by Associated Press (AP), the suspect is an Army veteran who had complained that his mind was being manipulated by the government, by making him watch Islamic State videos .

He was arrested after he surrendered, an eye witness said.

florida-shooting-1

“People started kind of screaming and trying to get out of any door they could or hide under the chairs.” AP quoted MSNBC reporter who spoke with the witness, Mark Lea. “He just kind of continued coming in, just randomly shooting at people, no rhyme or reason to it.”

The gunman who had walked  into  the FBI office in November to report what he sensed was the control of his mind by the US government, had worked in Iraq and was demoted and discharged for poor performance in  the Army.

AP reports that the nervous and incomprehensible Santiago was taken by the police for medical examination to ascertain the state of his mental health.

“One witness said the attacker gunned down his victim without a word and kept shooting until he ran out of ammunition for his handgun, sending panicked travellers running out of the terminal and spilling onto the tarmac, baggage in hand,” AP further reports.

Presidnt Barack Obama has been briefed by the White House security, while the President-elect, Donald Trump described the incident as “disgraceful”, but said it was too soon to conclude if it was a terrorist attack.


Michelle Obama calls for stronger appreciation of diversity in the US

michelle-obama-mini-biography_0_181279_sf_hd_768x432-16x9

By Marymagdalyn Francis

 

First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama has called on Americans to embrace their cultural differences, in her farewell message, two weeks to the inauguration.

At an event to honour high school counsellors, on Friday, the First lady, in what seemed like a call for caution to her husband’s successor, to quell the aggression on non white and be a bridge builder said:“America belonged to people from all backgrounds and walks of life.

“Our glorious diversity-our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds – that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are,” she said.

She passed the message while recalling the ideals of her intense campaign for Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton.

Reuters reports Mrs. Obama said:“If you or your parents are immigrants, know that you are part of a proud American tradition: the infusion of new cultures, talents and ideas, generation after generation, that has made us the greatest country on earth.

“If you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great American tradition, too…And whether you are a Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh-these religions are teaching our young people about justice and compassion and honesty,”

She had during the campaign that ushered Trump in, made it clear that his allegations that her husband was not born in the US was fabricated lies; also disdainful she said was his boasting about”groping women.”

In an emotion laden voice, Michelle Obama said she felt honoured to serve her country as the first lady, and promised she would render her services to the cause of humanity in fight to unify the diverse groups.


Brazil’s Powerful Drug Gangs Kills 31 in Gruesome Prison Massacre

Police officers enter at the public jail in Manaus where some prisoners were relocated after a deadly prison riot in Manaus, Brazil, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dantas

Police officers enter at the public jail in Manaus where some prisoners were relocated after a deadly prison riot in Manaus, Brazil, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Michael Dantas

 

 

By Marymagdalyn Francis

 

The First Capital Command (PCC), Brazil’s most powerful drug gang has killed 31 prison inmates in a most gruesome revenge for a separate prison attack that left 56 dead, last week.

The PCC decapitated and cut out the hearts of most prison inmates that were killed.

The massacre which took place in the Monte Cristo prison in the Amazonian state of Roraima, on Friday, spread fears in  the city of  months of  reprisal attacks by the rival criminal  gangs controlling the Brazil’s prisons.

Riot police drive past relatives of prisoners who wait for news at a checkpoint close to the Roraima state's largest penitentiary where at least 33 people were killed during a riot, Roraima, Brazil, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/JPavani

Riot police drive past relatives of prisoners who wait for news at a checkpoint close to the Roraima state’s largest penitentiary where at least 33 people were killed during a riot, Roraima, Brazil, January 6, 2017. REUTERS/JPavani

Reuters report that notorious criminal gang  PCC, was also attacked  in the Amazonian state last Sunday in what was the most chilling bloodletting massacre that had happened in over two decades.

In a video recording that went viral, the PCC were seen hacking away bodies which they littered in the veranda of the prison.

“You killed our brothers, didn’t you? Look here, look what is going to happen to you! This is Revenge for what you did to our brothers,” a PCC member was saying in the video as showing the bloodbath of killed rival group.

“One victim, bare-chested and wearing sky-blue surfer shorts, began to move on the ground. The inmate taking the video calls out to fellow gang members “We’ve got a live one!” before another gagng member rushes over and cuts off the victim’s head with a white-handled barbecue knife,” Reuters reports.

Roraima’s top security official Uziel de Castro blamed Friday’s killings on the PCC, saying he was not sure if the group murdered had anything to do with the attack on PCC members in Amazonas.

Justice Minister Alexandre Moraes was adamant that the prison which is the fourth largest in the world and home to over 620,000 inmates, was definitely in control of Brazil’s government.

A source said the prison had been neglected for over 50 years, which was the reason for the uncontrolled violence.

A public security expert at the Getulio Vargas Foundation, Rafael  Alcadipani said:“it’s getting really ugly. This situation is clearly snowballing and there is nothing the government can do to stop the violence in the short term.”

More report on this from Reuters


35 Expelled Russian Diplomats Arrives Moscow with Relatives

 

putin-2

Russian President Vladimir Putin

By MaryMagdalyn Francis

 

The 35 Russian diplomats expelled by the United States over allegations of interfering with the presidential elections, have arrived Moscow after leaving the US on Sunday, reports RT in a tweet today.

 In another report by AFP, the plane which was sent by the Russian government conveyed also relatives of the diplomats; there were 96 people on board.

President Barack Obama had slammed the Russian government with sanctions over the alleged interference with the presidential elections, on Thursday and gave them 72 hours to leave the country.

“We can confirm that the 35 Russian diplomats declared persona non grata have, along with their family members, departed the United States,” AFP further reported.

The diplomats kicked out from their offices in Washington and Francisco were said to be intelligence personnel.

Intelligence reports from the US points to an orchestrated plan by the Kremlin, of using leaked emails from the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton campaign staff, to manipulate the presidential  elections.

president-obama

The buildings used by the Russian diplomats “for intelligence-related purposes,” in New York and Maryland were also asked to be closed by president Obama.

AFP reports that economic sanctions were also issued against two of Russia’s intelligence agencies: FSB and GRU; including four GRU officers, including their top boss, Chief Igor Koorobov.

President Vladimir Putin, has decided not to retaliate the Barack Obama US sanctions by looking to re-establish ties with the US, after the 20 January swearing in of the president elect, Donald Trump.

 


Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in Kenya amidst tight security to discuss possible bilateral cooperation in the areas of Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the Kenyan government.

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, received the Netanyahu in his official residence on Tuesday; the Prime Minister was given a 19-gun salute and guard of honor by Kenyan soldiers.»

 


AU FLAGS-OFF A SINGLE E-PASSPORT TO GRANT AFRICANs ACCESS TO 54 MEMBER COUNTRIES

AFRICAN UNION PASSPORTSThe African Union (AU) is set to launch a common passport that will grant Visa –free access to 54 member countries. The union intends to distribute them to African citizens in the year 2018.

“The passports  represents a key plank of the Agenda 2063 action plan, which emphasizes the need for greater continental integration, drawing on the popular vision of Pan-African unity.

Freedom of movement has been a longstanding priority among member states, as enshrined in previous agreements such as the 1991 Abuja Treaty. Common passports have already been adopted for several regions, such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). »

Queen Elizabeth has marks her official 90th birthday with the Trooping of Colour parade in Central London

Queen Elizabeth's 90th birthday

Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday

Credit:BBC

Credit:BBC

The Queen’s official birthday was marked  seven weeks after her actual birthday – which was 21 April.

Her Majesty’s birthday had 300 horses for the Trooping of Colour.

QUEENS BIRTHDAY 2

Credit: BBC

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