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Diane A. Wade

Diane is a perfectionist. She enjoys searching the internet for the hottest events from around the world and writing an article about it. The details matter to her, so she makes sure the information is easy to read and understand. She likes traveling and history, especially ancient history. Being a very sociable person she has a blast having barbeque with family and friends.

Alexei Navalny has been hospitalized after an antiseptic green dye was splashed on his face in Moscow.

It is the second time the Russian opposition leader has been attacked with zelyonka (“brilliant green” in English) this year.

The dye is a common antiseptic in Russia and has been used in protests there and in Ukraine.

Alexei Navalny tweeted: “It looks funny but it hurts like hell.”

It is not clear who carried out the attack, which happened near the offices of the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK) that Alexei Navalny founded.

Image source Twitter

According to a Russian report, he was diagnosed with a chemical burn to the eye.

Alexei Navalny is one of the foremost Russian critics of President Vladimir Putin and has announced his intention to run for president himself.

However, his intentions may be thwarted – he has been convicted of embezzlement, which would bar him from running for office, although he denies it.

Alexei Navalny was among 500 people arrested after organizing an anti-corruption rally last month. Rallies across Russia were the biggest opposition demonstrations in the country in several years.

He has said repeatedly that he wants to challenge President Putin’s control of the Kremlin and expose what he claims is the “myth” that Putin commands more than 80% popular support.

Meanwhile a separate opposition group, Open Russia, says its office has been raided by police, a day after the group was blacklisted by the authorities.

Activists said more than 20 riot police raided the office and removed computer equipment and 100,000 flyers for an unsanctioned rally planned for this weekend.

Open Russia was founded by former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who lives in exile after spending 10 years in a Siberian prison on fraud charges, which he says were politically motivated.

A ruling that blocks President Donald Trump’s order barring funding for cities that shelter illegal immigrants has been labeled as “bananas” by the White House.

A San Francisco judge has placed January’s executive order in limbo, but the White House is vowing to appeal.

San Francisco and Santa Clara County sued in February.

The Trump administration has warned so-called sanctuary cities they could lose federal funds if they do not co-operate with federal immigration officials.

On April 25, Judge William Orrick issued a temporary injunction against the presidential order as the case continues in the courts.

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus said, in reference to the San Francisco-based appeals court, which conservatives often accuse of liberalism: “It’s the 9th Circuit going bananas.”

Image source Wikipedia

President Trump’s measure cast doubt on the transfer of some $1.2 billion for San Francisco and $1.7 billion to Santa Clara County, home to many Silicon Valley communities.

It is another legal defeat for Donald Trump in his efforts to curb immigration – his plan to curtail travel from seven Muslim-majority nations was twice blocked in federal courts.

Lawyers for the federal government had argued in the sanctuary cities case that only funding related to law enforcement would be withheld.

However, Judge William Orrick said any doubt about the scope of the “vague” order was erased by public comments made by President Trump, such as those calling the measure a “weapon” to use against jurisdictions that disagree with his immigration policies.

Judge William Orrick accused the Trump administration of a “schizophrenic approach” to the order.

The 49-page court ruling added that the plaintiffs challenging President Trump’s order are likely to succeed in proving the order unconstitutional.

The judge wrote: “Federal funding… cannot be threatened merely because a jurisdiction chooses an immigration enforcement strategy of which the President disapproves.”

However, Judge William Orrick’s ruling allowed the justice department to follow through with threats made to nine cities last week to cut specific program grants if they do not adequately co-operate with federal immigration officers.

In a press release last week, the department accused sanctuary cities of “crumbling under the weight of illegal immigration and violent crime”.

There are several sanctuary cities across the US, including Donald Trump’s home of New York.

New York’s Mayor Bill de Blasio praised April 25 ruling, saying President Trump went beyond his authority to cut funding to cities that “don’t share his illogical and unconstitutional desire to scapegoat immigrants”.


Marine Le Pen has announced that she is stepping aside as leader of her National Front (FN) party.

The move comes just a day after the far-right presidential candidate reached the second round of the French election, where she will face centrist Emmanuel Macron.

Marine Le Pen told French TV she needed to be above partisan considerations.

Opinion polls suggest Emmanuel Macron is firm favorite for the second round but Marine Le Pen said: “We can win, we will win.”

The French term Marine Le Pen used signaled that the move to step aside would be temporary.

She told France 2 that France was approaching a “decisive moment”.

Photo Reuters

Marine Le Pen said her decision had been made out of the “profound conviction” that the president must bring together all of the French people.

“So, this evening, I am no longer the president of the National Front. I am the candidate for the French presidency,” she said.

Marine Le Pen took over the FN leadership from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in January 2011.

She won 7.6 million votes on April 23 – the strongest ever result for a FN candidate, and 2.8 million more than her father won in 2002.

Her party wants to slash immigration, clamp down on trade, and overturn France’s relationship with Europe.

Emmanuel Macron, a former economy minister, is widely expected to win the run-off vote on May 7.

On April 24, he won the backing of President Francois Hollande, to go with that of two defeated candidates.

Francois Hollande said the far right would threaten the break-up of Europe, “profoundly divide France” and “faced with such a risk, I will vote for Emmanuel Macron”.

The president said his former economy minister would “defend the values which will bring French people together”.

Francois Fillon and Socialist Benoît Hamon both urged their supporters to vote for Emmanuel Macron.


The US embassy in London has been criticized by Democrats for a blog post on its website about President Donald Trump’s luxury Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

The blog post, published on April 5, details the history of the 114-room mansion, which is often described as Donald Trump’s “winter White House”.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden accused the state department of promoting President Trump’s “private club”.

The department has issued no comment.

In her tweet, Nancy Pelosi wrote: “Why is @realDonaldTrump’s State Dept promoting the President’s private club? #Trump100Days.”

Meanwhile, Senator Ron Wyden wrote: “Yes, I am curious @StateDept. Why are taxpayer $$ promoting the President’s private country club?”

Image source Wikimedia

State department spokesman Mark Toner was not aware of the post when the issue was raised by the media on April 24, CNN reports.

The blog post says that “Mar-a-Lago, President Trump’s Florida estate, has become well known as the president frequently travels there to work or host foreign leaders”.

Donald Trump has hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe at the resort.

The post also states that Donald Trump “is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it.

“By visiting this <<winter White House>>, Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago’s original owner and designer.”

Since taking office, Donald Trump has spent seven weekends at Mar-a-Lago, which he bought in 1985 and turned into a private members club.

The president’s visits have led to concerns over costs and mixing business with politics.

The club has raised its initiation fees from $100,000 to $200,000 following Donald Trump’s election.

Since President Trump’s inauguration, Democratic groups and ethics watchdogs have been monitoring whether there has been a potential conflict of interest that could benefit his business holdings while he is in office.

In December, Donald Trump announced that he planned to shut his charitable foundation, although an investigation into its practices continues.


Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has said he wants to resume talks with the opposition.

Nicolas Maduro also said he wanted local elections to take place.

The president’s comments came as another large demonstration is planned for April 24 after three weeks of tense protests across the country.

Demonstrators have been calling for presidential elections due next year to be brought forward and for Nicolas Maduro to step down.

The 2016 negotiations between the opposition and the government broke down when the opposition accused Nicolas Maduro of breaking agreements and using the talks to buy time.

Image source Wikimedia

Speaking during his Sunday TV program, Nicolas Maduro endorsed the idea of elections for mayors and state governors but did not mention a vote at presidential level.

“Elections – yes, I want elections now,” the president said.

“That is what I say as the head of state, and as the head of government.”

Elections for state governors were to have taken place in December 2016, and local mayoral elections are due this year.

April 22 saw silent marches across Venezuela as protestors, wearing white, showed their respect for around 20 people who have died in recent demonstrations.

Human rights campaigners say more than 1,000 people were detained during recent disturbances and over 700 are still in detention.

The opposition blames the government for a severe economic crisis which has left Venezuela with shortages of food, basic goods and medicine.

The protests were sparked by an attempt by the government-controlled Supreme Court to assume some powers of the opposition-dominated Congress.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen will face each other in the second round of the French presidential election.

Emmanuel Macron, a former banker, is seen as a political outsider, having never run an election campaign before.

After topping April vote, Macron is now favorite to win the run-off on May 7.

It is the first time in 60 years that neither of France’s main left-wing or right-wing parties has had a candidate in the second round.

With 97% of votes counted, Emmanuel Macron stands on 23.9% with Marine Le Pen on 21.4%.

Their nearest challengers, center-right François Fillon and hard-left Jean-Luc Mélenchon, fell behind, with just over 19% each.

In a victory speech to supporters, Emmanuel Macron borrowed language favored by his rival to describe himself as the patriotic choice for France.

Image source NBC News

“I hope that in a fortnight I will become your president. I want to become the president of all the people of France – the president of the patriots in the face of the threat from the nationalists,” he said.

Marine Le Pen also made an “appeal to all patriots”, saying a vote for her was the key to the “survival of France”.

“Wherever they come from, whatever their origin, whatever they voted for in the first round, I invite them all to join us and to abandon ancient quarrels and to concentrate on what is essential for our country,” she said.

Marine Le Pen’s campaign for the Front National party centers on wanting to slash immigration, clamp down on free-trade, and overturn France’s relationship with Europe.

Emmanuel Macron was current President Francois Hollande’s economy minister but quit to create his own party, En Marche, which pushes a liberal, pro-EU agenda.

The 39-year-old could now become the youngest president France has ever had.

Various political rivals are now expected to unite in a bid to keep the Front National from power.

Benoit Hamon, the candidate of President Hollande’s Socialist Party who failed to make an impact in the first round, urged those who voted for him to support Emmanuel Macron in the next stage.

Francois Fillon has done the same.

As the results came in, Emmanuel Macron addressed the nation in front of an EU flag, giving hope to European leaders who are keen to strengthen the union after Brexit.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffan Seibert, tweeted: “It’s good that Emmanuel Macron was successful with his course for a strong EU and social market economy. All the best for the next two weeks.”

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also congratulated Emmanuel Macron, as did EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.


French voters are going to the polls to choose their next president, amid high security following a deadly attack on Champs Elysees three days ago.

About 50,000 police and 7,000 soldiers are being deployed across France to secure polling.

Eleven candidates are vying to be France’s next president, with leading candidates spanning the political spectrum from far-left to far-right.

The two with the most votes will go to a run-off round in a fortnight’s time.

Polling stations in France opened at 08:00 local time, although some overseas territories began the voting on April 22. Voting ends at 20:00, with exit polls expected quickly afterwards.

Four candidates are currently seen as being within reach of the presidency: conservative François Fillon, far-right leader Marine Le Pen, liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

Image source France24

The candidates have created plenty of debate in France, all offering dramatically different visions of Europe, immigration, the economy and French identity.

Extra security measures are in place on polling day after Karim Cheurfi, a convicted criminal, shot dead a police officer on the Champs Elysees in Paris.

Karim Cheurfi was killed by security forces and a note defending ISIS was found near his body.

National security had been one of the main talking points during the campaign, but candidates have been accused of exploiting the most recent attack for political gains.

The race between the leading contenders is considered too close to call.

However, no candidate is expected to get the 50% of votes required for an outright win.

A second round between the top two will be held on May 7.

Francois Fillon is the only one among the leading contenders from an established party of government.

Benoît Hamon, the socialist candidate from the same party as the current president, is seen as out of the running.

President François Hollande is not seeking a second term, and is the first French president in modern history not to do so.

President Donald Trump has signed a new executive order to review a temporary visa program used to place foreign workers in high-skilled US jobs.

The order directs agencies to enforce government rules on excluding foreign contractors from bids for government projects.

President Trump signed the so-called Buy American, Hire American order on a visit to a tool factory in the Wisconsin.

The order is aimed at fulfilling his “America First” campaign promises.

However, it falls way short of Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to end the H-1B visa program.

President Trump will direct the departments of State, Justice, Homeland Security and Labor to propose reforms to the scheme, which allows American employers to bring foreign workers to fill US jobs.

“With this action we are sending a powerful signal to the world that were going to defend our workers, protect our jobs and finally put America first,” Donald Trump said at the Snap-On Inc headquarters in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Melania Trump used an H-1B visa in her early days as a model in New York.

The administration’s goal is to ensure such visas are given to the most qualified or highest-paid applicant, according to two senior officials.

The four departments will then submit their findings to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and release a report in 220 days.

In 2016, Disney was accused of taking advantage of the H-1B visa scheme to lay off American technology workers, who were forced to train their foreign replacements.

The government allows 85,000 immigrants each year through the H-1B visa program, which is reserved for foreign nationals in “specialty occupations” and is largely used by the technology industry.

The US government uses a lottery system to grant 65,000 visas every year and randomly distributes an additional 20,000 to graduate students.

In recent years, the US has been overwhelmed by applications for the program.

However, the number of applicants fell to 199,000 in 2017, down from 236,000 in 2016, according to US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

A senior Trump administration official argued on April 17 that the H-1B visas are supposed to be awarded to highly qualified workers, but often bring in less skilled employees who earn lower wages than those they are meant to replace.

Under the new order, the H-1B visa would no longer serve as a cheap way for companies to replace US workers, the official added.

Tech companies contend the program is used to recruit top talent, but some of the H-1B visas are also used for outsourcing firms. Critics say these undercut unemployed Americans and fill lower-level information technology jobs.

Indian nationals are the largest group of recipients of the H-1B visas issued each year.

In 2016, more than 15% of Facebook’s US employees used a temporary work visa, according to a Reuters analysis of US Labor Department filings.

The executive order will also focus on reviewing waivers in free-trade agreements and whether they allow foreign companies to undermine American companies in the global government procurement market.


Venezuela has criticized a joint communiqué by 11 Latin American countries calling on its government to “guarantee the right to peaceful protest”.

Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez labeled the communiqué is a “rude meddling”.

The 11 countries also condemned the death of six people in Venezuela’s anti-government marches this month.

Venezuela’s opposition is planning a mass protest for April 19.

The government has called on its supporters to hold rival marches.

Venezuela is deeply divided between those who support the government of the socialist President Nicolas Maduro and those who blame him for the economic crisis and want him gone from power.

Image source Wikimedia

There has been a series of anti-government protests in Caracas and other major cities, as well as marches by government supporters.

In their joint statement, the governments of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay rejected the violence, which led to the deaths of six people during the recent demonstrations.

The Latin American countries called on President Nicolas Maduro “to prevent any violence against protesters” and also called on opposition groups “to exercise their right to demonstrate responsibly so that the day remains peaceful with people expressing themselves calmly”.

They also called on the Venezuela government to quickly set dates for elections to be held “to solve the grave crisis which Venezuela is experiencing and which worries the region”.

Regional elections originally due to be held in December 2016 were postponed by the electoral council to 2017, but a date has not yet been set.

Municipal elections are also due to be held in 2017.

Minister Delcy Rodriguez also wrote that “these governments misuse international law to back interventionism in Venezuela to attempt to govern the country from abroad”.

Delcy Rodriguez ended a series of tweets by saying that “there is no imperialist force in this world which can defeat the sovereign people of Venezuela”.

President Donald Trump has congratulated Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his victory in April 16 referendum that gave him sweeping new powers.

President Trump’s phone call contrasts with European concern that the result – 51.4% in favor of the constitutional changes – has exposed deep splits in Turkish society.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has rejected criticism from international monitors who said he had been favored by an “unequal campaign”.

Turkey’s main opposition party is launching an appeal to invalidate the result.

Image source Al Manar

The constitutional changes – due to be introduced before presidential and parliamentary elections in November 2019 – will turn Turkey into a presidential republic similar to the US and France. This could enable President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to stay in power until 2029.

Erdogan’s narrow victory was ruled valid by Turkey’s electoral body, despite claims of irregularities by the opposition.

On April 17, Turkey extended the state of emergency for three months. The measure, introduced after a failed coup in July 2016, was set to expire in two days.

Syria is one of the issues straining relations between Washington and Ankara.

Turkey is irked by the policy started by the Obama administration of supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria who are fighting ISIS.

Turkey views the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) as a terror group linked to Kurdish separatists waging an insurgency inside the country since 1984.

Turkey – a key NATO ally – has established closer co-operation with Russia recently.

The two sides are also at loggerheads over Fethullah Gulen. Turkey accuses the Pennsylvania-based cleric of orchestrating the failed coup and wants him extradited.

Officially Washington insists any decision on returning Fethullah Gulen to Turkey from the US remains a judicial rather than a political one.

President Trump’s comments contrasted with a statement by the US state department which mentioned concerns by international observers and urged Turkey to respect the rights of its citizens – chiming with sentiment in European capitals.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that the “tight referendum result shows how deeply divided Turkish society is and that means a big responsibility for the Turkish leadership and for President Erdogan personally”.

And the European Commission issued a similar call.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s push for an executive presidency succeeded with just 51.4% of the referendum vote.

His win was met with both celebrations and protests across Turkey.

The main opposition party – the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – has said it will challenge the Turkey’s referendum result after Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a vote to expand his powers.

It has questioned the legitimacy of the close result, citing irregularities in the electoral process.

The CHP is refusing to accept the Yes victory and is demanding a recount of 60% of the votes, criticizing a decision to pass unstamped ballot papers as valid unless proven otherwise.

Three of Turkey’s biggest cities – Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir – all voted No to the constitutional changes.

Opposition supporters took to the streets of Istanbul to bang pots and pans – a traditional form of protest – in a series of noisy demonstrations.

Meanwhile, flag-waving supporters of President Erdogan celebrated as their leader praised them for their “historic decision” that could keep him in office until 2029.

Image source Wikipedia

With 99.97% of ballots counted, the Yes campaign had won 51.41% of the votes cast, while No had taken 48.59%. Turnout was said to be as high as 85%.

Separately, three people were shot dead near a polling station in the south-eastern province of Diyarbakir, reportedly during a dispute over how they were voting.

Responding to the referendum’s result, the European Commission issued a statement urging President Erdogan to respect the closeness of the vote and to “seek the broadest possible national consensus” when considering the far-reaching implications of the constitutional amendments.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters at his official Istanbul residence, the Huber Palace: “Today… Turkey has taken a historic decision.

“With the people, we have realized the most important reform in our history.”

He called on everyone to respect the outcome of the vote.

President Erdogan also said Turkey could hold a referendum on bringing back the death penalty – a move that would end the country’s EU negotiations.

Turkey Referendum Result: Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wins Vote to Expand His Powers


Christians from all over the world are gathering to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

According to the Scripture, Jesus rose from the dead or came back to life three days after being crucified. It is marked as Jesus’ victory over death. The crucifixion of Jesus is commemorated on Good Friday, which is the Friday right before Easter.

Easter is celebrated as it signifies the rebirth of Jesus. His resurrection symbolizes the eternal life that is granted to all who believe in Him.

Easter is the biggest day of the year for the Church. It is indeed the day we build towards every year through the season of Lent and all the Holy Week services. It is the “Hallelujah Chorus” of Sunday worship services. On this day we celebrate the greatest news ever proclaimed, “Christ is risen”, victory is won.

Turkish voters are going to polls in a landmark referendum that will determine whether President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be granted sweeping new powers.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seeking to replace Turkey’s parliamentary system with an executive presidency.

His supporters say the move would streamline and modernize Turkey, but opponents fear it could lead to greater authoritarianism.

A “yes” vote could also see Recep Tayyip Erdogan remain in office until 2029.

On April 15, Turkish politicians made their final appeals to voters preparing to cast their ballots on one of the most sweeping programs of constitutional change since Turkey became a republic almost a century ago.

Some 55 million people are eligible to vote across 167,000 polling stations, with the results expected to be announced late in the evening.

If the referendum vote falls in Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s favor, it would give him vastly enhanced powers to appoint cabinet ministers, issue decrees, choose senior judges and dissolve parliament.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the changes were needed to address the security challenges faced by Turkey, and to avoid the fragile coalition governments of the past.

Image source Wikipedia

Speaking at one of his final rallies in Istanbul’s Tuzla district, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told supporters that the new constitution would “bring stability and trust that is needed for our country to develop and grow”.

“Turkey can leap into the future,” he said.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan assumed the presidency, a largely ceremonial position, in 2014 after more than a decade as prime minister.

The referendum on constitutional change would abolish the post of prime minister altogether, allowing the president to bring all state bureaucracy under his control.

The president says the new system will resemble those in France and the US and will bring calm in a time of turmoil marked by a Kurdish insurgency, Islamist militancy and conflict in neighboring Syria that has led to a huge refugee influx.

The campaign, which has polarized Turkey, takes place under a state of emergency which was imposed following a failed coup last July. A government crackdown since then has seen tens of thousands of people arrested.

Opponents and critics of the proposed changes fear the move would make the president’s position too powerful, arguing that it would amount to one-man rule, without the checks and balances of other presidential systems.

They say his ability to retain ties to a political party – Recep Tayyip Erdogan could resume leadership of the AK Party (AKP) he co-founded – would end any chance of impartiality.

Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), told a rally in Ankara that a “yes” vote would endanger the country.

“We will put 80 million people on to a bus… we don’t know where it is headed. We are putting 80 million on a bus with no brakes,” he said.

The referendum has a simple “yes” or “no” choice on whether to endorse parliament’s approval of a new draft constitution.

The draft states that the next presidential and parliamentary elections will be held on November 3, 2019, and the president would have a five-year tenure, for a maximum of two terms.


At least 50,000 of people have taken part in a protest in Hungary to demand the abolition of laws which could force the closure of one of the Central European University founded by George Soros.

New rules introduced by the government mean the CEU would be unable to award diplomas because it is registered in the US.

The legislation has already been rushed through parliament.

Demonstrators in Budapest on April 9 want President Janos Ader not to sign the controversial legislation backed by the governing right wing Fidesz party of PM Viktor Orban.

The protesters took to the streets both to defend the CEU and protest against attempts by the government to pressure human rights and environmental groups which support refugees.

The government passed amendments to the Higher Education Act last week which would make it impossible for the CEU to continue working in Budapest – 26 years after it was set up by Hungarian-born billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros.

Image source Flickr

The Hungarian government opposes the liberal outlook of both the university and many non-governmental organizations.

The CEU has vowed to fight the legislation. The English-speaking university is ranked among the top 200 universities in the world in eight disciplines.

George Soros has a strained relationship with Viktor Orban – a keen supporter of President Donald Trump – who has accused Soros of wanting a role in Hungarian politics and supporting the influx of migrants into Europe.

Viktor Orban recently claimed Hungary was “under siege” from asylum seekers.

However, the prime minister won a scholarship sponsored by George Soros to study at Oxford University and the pair were allies in the days immediately following the fall of communism in 1989.

The Central European University was founded to “resuscitate and revive intellectual freedom” in parts of Europe that had endured the “horrific ideologies” of communism and fascism. It occupies a building that began as an aristocrat’s palace before becoming state-owned offices for a planned socialist economy.

The university has 1,440 students – 335 from Hungary and the rest from 107 other countries and presents itself as a champion of free speech, with links to universities in Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Kazakhstan.

KT McFarland, President Donald Trump’s deputy national security adviser, has been asked to resign after just three months.

A former Fox News analyst, KT McFarland, has been offered the role of ambassador to Singapore instead, Bloomberg and Reuters report.

The move comes days after President Trump removed his senior strategist Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC).

Image source Wikipedia

The NSC advises the president on national security and foreign affairs.

Steve Bannon’s appointment in January raised fears that the circle of top advisers was being politicized.

Analysts say the latest moves show President Trump’s new national security adviser, Lt. Gen. HR McMaster, reshaping the NSC team appointed by his predecessor.

The previous national security adviser, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, was fired after just three weeks and three days in the job after it emerged he had misled the vice-president over his conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the US.


Thousands of protesters took the streets in Venezuela to march against the banning from politics of opposition leader Henrique Capriles for 15 years.

In the capital, Caracas, police used tear gas to prevent demonstrators reaching the offices of the national ombudsman.

April 8 protest came after a week of anti-government demonstrations.

They were initially sparked by a Supreme Court ruling to curb the powers of the national assembly, a move which was later overturned.

Security police fired tear gas on one major avenue in Caracas while in the city of San Cristobal they shot rubber bullets towards protestors.

Many demonstrators carried signs reading “No to dictatorship!” and “Capriles for President”.

Image source Flickr

In the Caracas protest there was a moment of silence in memory of a young man shot dead on April 6 by police during demonstrations.

Henrique Capriles has been at the forefront of demands for a recall referendum on President Nicolas Maduro.

A former presidential candidate who has run twice, Henrique Capriles is seen as the oppositions’ best hope of defeating Nicolas Maduro in elections scheduled for next year.

The ruling by the Venezuelan comptroller said the ban on Henrique Capriles was due to “administrative irregularities” in his role as governor.

He is the latest in a series of prominent opposition politicians to be put out of action.

Two years ago, Maria Corina Machado, a former congresswoman was banned from office as was a former mayor, Daniel Ceballos.

In 2015, another prominent opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, was sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison on charges of inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.

Venezuelans are dealing with the effects of a harsh economic crisis that has millions skipping meals, unable to afford soaring prices for basic goods and facing long lines for scarce products.

President Maduro’s socialist government have said that a US-backed business elite is responsible for Venezuela’s economic downturn and that it is trying to organize a coup to impose right-wing rule.


Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong has gone on trial in South Korea for his alleged role in a corruption scandal that led to the ousting of President Park Geun-hye.

Lee Jae-yong denies charges of embezzlement and perjury.

Prosecutors say Lee Jae-yong gave 43 billion Korean won ($38 million) to President Park Guen-hye’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, for political favors.

Park Geun-hye is suspected of colluding with Choi Soon-sil to get conglomerates to donate to Choi’s foundations.

The ousted president was arrested last week, after being impeached, and sent to a detention centre, although she has not yet been formally charged.

Image source Reuters

Lee Jae-yong, who appeared in court in handcuffs, has denied the bribery allegations, saying Samsung was coerced into handing over the funds.

Another four Samsung executives have also appeared in court in connection with the scandal. They also deny the accusations.

Lee Jae-yong’s case is “one of the most deep-rooted and typical cases involving unhealthy relations between politicians and businessmen,” said Special Prosecutor Park Young-Soo in his opening statement in Seoul’s Central District Court.

The 48-year-old vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics has been the parent company Samsung Group’s de facto head since his father Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in 2014.

On April 7, the chairman of the powerful Lotte conglomerate, Shin Dong-bin, was also being questioned by prosecutors in connection with the widening corruption probe.

They are investigating whether donations given by Lotte to foundations allegedly controlled by Choi Soon-sil were bribes connected to the firm’s bid for a lucrative duty-free business.


President Donald Trump is hosting China talks with President Xi Jinping at his Florida resort Mar-a-Lago for their first summit.

President Trump said they had “developed a friendship” as they sat for dinner at Mar-a-Lago.

He is expected to press President Xi for action on North Korea, and the Chinese leader to seek assurances on Taiwan.

President Trump has said the summit “will be a very difficult one”. In 2016, he accused China of “raping the US”.

During the election campaign, Donald Trump said massive trade deficits and job losses could no longer be tolerated. However, at dinner on April 6, it was all smiles, with the leaders’ two wives, folk singer Peng Liyuan and First Lady Melania Trump also in attendance.

The meeting was, however, largely overshadowed later by a US airstrike on an airbase in Syria in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack.

Despite his tough campaign talk, Donald Trump has so far not followed through on his threat to formally brand China a “currency manipulator”, nor to hit Chinese imports with punitive tariffs.

His blue-collar supporters will hope he can translate his China-bashing election rhetoric into concrete gains for American manufacturing workers.

One of the most urgent issues for the US is North Korea, which is trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the west coast of the US with a nuclear device.

North Korea fired a medium-range missile into the Sea of Japan on April 5, the latest in a series of launches.

Although Beijing has condemned this and previous missile tests, it has so far been reluctant to isolate its neighbor, fearing its collapse could spawn a refugee crisis and bring the US military to its doorstep.

Donald Trump is expected to call on Xi Jinping to arm-twist North Korea into halting its nuclear program by denying it access to banking institutions.

The president told the Financial Times this week he was prepared to act unilaterally, saying: “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”

A senior White House official said North Korea would be a key test for the Trump-Xi relationship.

“The clock is very, very quickly running out,” the official said.

“All options are on the table for us.”

For his part, President Xi Jinping will seek assurances from President Donald Trump on US arms sales to Taiwan, which China considers a breakaway province that must eventually reunify with the mainland.

Donald Trump outraged China in December when he took the unorthodox step of accepting a phone call from the Taiwanese president.

However, he later agreed to respect the “one China” policy in a telephone call with President Xi Jinping in February.

Climate change, which Donald Trump once dismissed as a Chinese hoax, and Beijing’s building of artificial islands in the disputed South China Sea, could also come up.

Some protesters lined the streets on April 6 to voice their opposition to China’s policy in the South China Sea.

President Xi Jinping’s visit will conclude with a working lunch on April 7.

However, there is unlikely to be any golf on the agenda. While Donald Trump is fond of hitting the fairway, Xi Jinping’s administration has cracked down on the sport in an anti-corruption drive.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, the head of congressional investigation into alleged Russian hacking, has temporarily stepped down amid an ethics inquiry into him.

Devin Nunes is now himself under investigation by the House Ethics Committee.

The panel is looking into claims that the Republican disclosed classified intelligence.

Devin Nunes called the charges “entirely false” and “politically motivated”.

Representative Mike Conaway will take control of the Russia investigation.

Image source Wikimedia

Devin Nunes said his decision came after “several leftwing activist groups have filed accusations against me with the Office of Congressional Ethics”.

The republican added he would continue to fulfill his other responsibilities as chairman and has requested to speak to the Ethics Committee “in order to expedite the dismissal of these false claims”.

Democrats have criticized Devin Nunes for his handling of the inquiry, which is also looking at possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he fully supported Devin Nunes’ decision.

Paul Ryan said he trusts Devin Nunes, describing him as “eager to demonstrate to the Ethics Committee that he has followed all proper guidelines and laws”.

However, he added that the inquiry “would be a distraction” for the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation.

Representative Adam Schiff, a ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said he respected Devin Nunes’ decision.

Adam Schiff said in a statement the move was a “fresh opportunity to move forward in the unified and non-partisan way that an investigation of this seriousness demands”.

President Trump has decided to remove his key adviser Steve Bannon from the National Security Council (NSC).

Steve Bannon’s appointment in January raised fears that the circle of US intelligence chiefs was being politicized.

However, a White House aide said the reshuffle was not a demotion for Steve Bannon, who used to head up Breitbart News.

The aide said Steve Bannon was only given a seat on the NSC to keep an eye on National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February.

The NSC is the main group advising the president on national security and foreign affairs.

The White House did not announce April 5presidential executive order detailing the shake-up – it only came to light in a regulatory filing.

Image source Wikimedia

The reshuffle also restores the director of national intelligence, CIA director and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to full participation on the NSC’s inner circle, its principals committee.

Critics have branded Steve Bannon as a white nationalist.

In its January 27 memorandum elevating Steve Bannon, the White House had also downgraded the military chiefs of staff, provoking widespread criticism in Washington’s foreign policy and security establishment.

The director of national intelligence and the joint chiefs were advised they only needed to attend NSC meetings when discussions pertained to their areas.

The White House bridled in January at criticism of the Bannon move, pointing out that President Barack Obama‘s former adviser, David Axelrod, regularly attended NSC meetings.

However, David Axelrod was never appointed to the principals committee, as Steve Bannon was.


Former Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and her two children are charged with money laundering and corruption.

Two business associates have also been charged in the case and all five are barred from leaving Argentina.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, 64, already faces other charges including fraudulently administering state funds.

The former leader has denied wrongdoing and says she is the victim of political persecution.

In a statement on April 4, legal officials said Federal Judge Claudio Bonadio had brought formal charges against Cristina Fernandez for alleged money laundering in property dealings.

Her daughter, Florencia, and son, Maximo, have also been charged along with businessmen Cristobal Lopez and Lazaro Baez.

About $8 million of Cristina Fernandez’s assets have been frozen, the statement added.

Last month, a judge ruled that Cristina Fernandez, who governed from 2007 to 2015, should stand trial on charges of financial mismanagement while in office.

The ex-president is accused of ordering the central bank to sell dollars on the futures market at artificially low prices ahead of a widely expected devaluation of the Argentine peso.

Cristina Fernandez also faces separate corruption charges alleging that her government steered public contracts to Lazaro Baez – a businessman close to her family.

Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner insists that all the allegations against her are politically motivated and has accused current President Mauricio Macri of plotting against her.

Accusations of fraud sparks over Ecuador’s presidential elections after early results projected victory for the incumbent party’s candidate.

Results show former VP Lenin Moreno of the Socialist Party has 51.12% of the vote, with just 4% of districts still waiting to be counted.

However, challenger Guillermo Lasso had already begun celebrations after an exit poll predicted his victory.

Guillermo Lasso demanded a recount, and called on supporters to take to the streets.

He also alleged electoral fraud had been used to grant victory to his opponent.

In a series of tweets, Guillermo Lasso told the public to “peacefully defend your vote” and said he was “going to defend the will of the people”.

Final official results have yet to be announced.

If Lenin Moreno is declared the winner, he will continue a decade of left-wing leadership begun by President Rafael Correa in 2007.

Image source Wikipedia

He would also become one of a small number of disabled world leaders – he became paraplegic after being shot in the back during a robbery in 1998.

An apparent victory for Lenin Moreno was welcomed by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange – as Guillermo Lasso had vowed to evict him from his asylum in the country’s London embassy if victorious.

Julian Assange tweeted that he “cordially invites” Guillermo Lasso to leave the country within 30 days – referencing the timeframe the candidate gave for Assange’s own eviction.

Guillermo Lasso, a former banker who wants to promote foreign investment, called for a recount after Lenin Moreno started to take a lead in the preliminary results.

Exit polls released on April 2 had suggested an extremely tight race.

A poll by Periles de Opinion had shown Lenin Moreno leading with 52.2%, while a poll by Cedatos showed Guillermo Lasso winning with 53.02%.

Incumbent President Rafael Correa, meanwhile, tweeted criticism of what he termed “violence” in several cities as early results emerged.

Local media reported that some of Guillermo Lasso’s supporters had gathered in the capital of Quito, as well as the city of Guayaquil. According to The El Comercio newspaper, the crowd removed barriers placed in the road, and bottles were thrown by some in Guayaquil.

When he was first elected in 2007, Rafael Correa was one of a group of left-wing leaders in power in Latin America.

However, in the decade since, conservative politicians have taken power in Argentina and Brazil. A victory for Guillermo Lasso would have continued that trend.


The total death toll of the devastating mudslides in south-west Colombia is now 254, with hundreds also injured.

According to President Juan Manuel Santos, dozens of children are among those killed.

Heavy rain flooded the town of Mocoa in Colombia’s south-west, with mud and rocks burying whole neighborhoods and forcing residents to flee their homes.

More than 1,000 soldiers and police are involved in the relief effort in Putumayo province.

President Juan Manuel Santos, who flew to the area on April 1 after the landslide struck, said: “Until we have the last person identified we are not going to stop.”

The relief efforts continued throughout the weekend.

At least 170 of the dead identified, including 44 children, said the president.

Image source Reuters

The army had previously reported 200 people missing, but the president tweeted on April 2 that there were officially no disappeared persons.

Earlier in the day, video footage from Mocoa showed residents crying over a list of missing children, with their names and aged pinned to a board.

The exact death toll is hard to confirm with the rescue operation still under way – some local media estimate up to 300 people have been killed.

The Colombian Red Cross said it was working to help family members contact each other, and the Air Force has brought supplies.

President Juan Manuel Santos has vowed investment will be made to make Mocoa better than it was before.

His critics said more should have been done to protect the area from such disasters.

The landslide struck in the early hours of April 1, when many people were asleep in bed.

Colombia’s director of the National Disaster Risk Management Unit told the AFP that a third of the region’s expected monthly rain fell during one night.

Although rainfall is abundant in the area, this downpour was unusually heavy and caused rivers to burst their banks.

The overflow then picked up mud and debris, creating a cascade.

Video footage of the aftermath showed currents so strong that abandoned trucks were propelled through the flooded streets.

A senior UN official in Colombia, Martin Santiago, blamed climate change, saying it had caused “tremendous results in terms of intensity, frequency and magnitude of these natural effects” in the region.

Others said deforestation has also played a role.

With no running water in Mocoa, one resident told El Tiempo newspaper that they had been collecting rainwater. Power lines are also out across the area.

Photos posted to social media by the air force showed some patients being evacuated by air.

Landslides have struck the region several times in recent months.

In November 2016, nine people died in the town of El Tambo, about 90 miles from Mocoa, during a landslide that followed heavy rain.

Less than a month before that, another landslide killed several people near Medellin, almost 300 miles to the north.


Another 31 people have been arrested during opposition protests in Moscow, the second Sunday in succession to see such demonstrations.

Last week, at least 1,000 people were detained during protests in Moscow, reportedly the largest in five years.

Russian opposition has called for the resignation of PM Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations.

A smaller group of about 100 people began marching through Moscow on April 2, but were blocked by police.

While police said 31 people had been arrested for “breaches of public order”, OVD-Info, a website monitoring detentions, said 56 people including four minors were arrested.

Those who organized the protest via social media are now facing an investigation.

Image source AFP

March 26 demonstrations in Moscow and across Russia were prompted by main opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was later arrested.

Police said 500 people were held, but OVD-Info said at least 1,000 people were arrested in Moscow alone.

Alexei Navalny had published reports claiming that Dmitry Medvedev controlled mansions, yachts and vineyards – a fortune that far outstripped his official salary.

PM Dmitry Medvedev’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks”, but the prime minister himself has not commented on the claims.

Alexei Navalny has announced his intention to run for president in 2018 against Vladimir Putin. However, he is barred from doing so after being found guilty in a case he said was politicized.

The opposition leader was sentenced to 15 days in prison for his role in March 26 demonstrations. His spokesman said on Twitter that he had nothing to do with the new protest.

Organizers told news agencies that they had planned to march towards the Kremlin on April 2 when they were stopped by police.

Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that about 400 people had taken part in an authorized anti-corruption rally in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.


Paraguay’s congress has been set on fire amid violent protests against a bill that would let the president seek re-election.

The head of the main opposition party said an activist had been shot dead.

Paraguay’s 1992 constitution, introduced after 35 years of dictatorship, limits the president to a single five-year term.

However, sitting President Horacio Cartes is trying to remove the restriction and run for re-election.

Demonstrators were photographed smashing in windows of the congress building in Asuncion on March 31 and setting fire to the interior.

According to the AFP, protesters “ransacked” the offices of those who backed the bill.

Police used mounted units, rubber bullets, and water cannons to disperse the crowd. Local media reports said dozens of people had been injured, including protesters, politicians, and police officers.

Image source Getty

The head of Paraguay’s opposition Liberal party, Efrain Alegre, said a young man had been killed during the protests. Police are yet to confirm this.

In a statement released on Twitter, President Horacio Cartes appealed for calm.

He said: “Democracy is not conquered or defended with violence and you can be sure this government will continue to put its best effort into maintaining order in the republic.”

The attorney general’s office said it had followed the events closely and was investigating the violence.

Earlier, the crowd took to the streets following a private meeting of 25 senators – a slight majority of the house – which approved a bill to amend the constitution.

The bill must also be approved by the other house of parliament – the chamber of deputies – where Horacio Cartes’ party holds a majority.

The chamber’s president, Hugo Velázquez, told ABC Color that the sitting planned for the following morning would no longer take place and no decision would be made on April 1.

Opponents say the bill will weaken Paraguay‘s democratic institutions.

Opposition senator Desiree Masi said: “A coup has been carried out. We will resist and we invite the people to resist with us.”

Paraguay was controlled by military ruler General Alfredo Stroessner, who seized power in a coup, from 1954 until 1989.

The new constitution in 1992 created the modern government, but there has been a long period of political instability and party infighting, as well as a failed coup attempt.

President Horacio Cartes’ term is due to end in 2018.

The change, if approved, would also allow former president Fernando Lugo to run again.

Fernando Lugo was ousted in 2012 over his handling of a land eviction in which 17 people were killed.