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Diane A. Wade

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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.


Donald Trump has been sworn in as the 45th US president after taking over from President Barack Obama in a ceremony at the Capitol Hill.

The new president has delivered his inaugural address before leading a parade to the White House.

He has painted a bleak picture of a broken country speaking of abandoned factories, crime and a failed education system as problems of the past, pledging that his presidency would bring about change.

President Trump said on the steps of the Capitol: “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.”

Thousands of Donald Trump supporters travelled across the country to witness the occasion from the National Mall.

The moment marks the end of an improbable journey for the billionaire after a campaign marked by controversy.

Shortly after the ceremony Donald Trump was seen signing his first official actions as the 45th president.

He sent his Cabinet nominations to the Senate as well as a signed a proclamation for a national day of patriotism, according to Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Donald Trump also signed into law a waiver allowing retired Marine General James Mattis, his pick for defense secretary, to serve in the post.

In his inaugural address, President Trump promised to be the voice of the “forgotten people”, ignored by Washington politicians.

Today, he said, was “the day the people became rulers of this nation again”.

Image source CNBC

“I will fight for you with every breath left in my body and I will never ever let you down,” said President Trump after Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath.

“America will start winning again, winning like never before.

“We will bring back our jobs, bring back our borders, bring back our wealth and we will bring back our dreams.”

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence waved goodbye as the Bidens and Obamas left the Capitol.

Barack and Michelle Obama held hands as they boarded a military helicopter that took them to Joint Base Andrews in Maryland.

Barack Obama delivered remarks to staff and supporters before he and his wife flew to Palm Springs, California, for vacation.

He told a crowd they “proved the power of hope” and that “this isn’t a period, it’s a comma in the continuing story of building America”.

The historic moment drew congratulation messages from dignitaries around the world including Pope Francis, who said he was praying Donald Trump’s decisions would be guided by the “rich spiritual and ethical values” that have shaped America’s history.

Hillary Clinton, who lost to Donald Trump in a dramatic upset in November’s election, attended the ceremony with her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Former presidents and first ladies, including George W. Bush and his wife Laura as well as Jimmy Carter, were in attendance.

The only absences were 92-year-old George Bush Senior, who is in hospital being treated for respiratory problems, and his wife Barbara.

Members of Congress were also in attendance, although more than 50 House Democrats had refused to attend the ceremony in protest.

Donald Trump takes power at a time when the country appears to be deeply divided. He enters the presidency with historically low approval ratings.

He has vowed to roll back many of his predecessor’s policies, including repealing Barack Obama’s signature health care law and building a wall along the US-Mexico border.

Authorities arrested nearly 100 people protesting against the inauguration, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Many were apprehended for “vandalism and destruction of property”, said spokesman Lieutenant Sean Conboy.

Sean Conboy also said two police officers were hurt during clashes.

Earlier, about 150 protesters dressed in black marched through Washington, smashing windows and rolling rubbish bins into the street to form blockades.

The Women’s March on Washington on Saturday – for racial and gender equality, and other issues perceived to be under threat from Mr Trump’s administration – is expected to draw about 200,000 people.

Meanwhile in New York, thousands of people attended a rally where dozens of celebrities and politicians voiced their concerns about the president-elect.

Some spectators had waited for hours, although crowd numbers seemed to be lower than some other recent inaugurations.

Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman has been extradited to the US, the Mexican government announced on January 19.

The notorious Mexican drug lord arrived in New York on a flight from Ciudad Juarez.

El Chapo Guzman, who could face life in a US prison, is wanted on charges of drug trafficking and smuggling vast amounts of drugs into the country.

The leader of the Sinaloa cartel was facing two extradition requests – one from California and another from Texas.

In 2016, El Chapo Guzman was moved to a prison in Ciudad Juarez, which lies just across the border from El Paso in Texas, but authorities at the time denied the transfer was a precursor to extradition.

He has been fighting to stay in Mexico but his appeals were rejected.

El Chapo Guzman was under close watch, having previously broken out of two Mexican high-security jails.

He is now expected to appear in a US federal court in Brooklyn on January 20.

A federal indictment in the Eastern District of New York, where El Chapo Guzman is expected to be prosecuted, accuses him of overseeing a trafficking cartel with thousands of members and billions of dollars in profits laundered back to Mexico, the Associated Press reports.

It says El Chapo Guzman and other members of the Sinaloa cartel employed hit men who carried out murders, kidnappings and acts of torture.

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto had initially resisted extraditing El Chapo Guzman to the US, insisting that he should face justice at home.

However, after El Chapo Guzman was recaptured in January 2016, President Pena Nieto changed his mind on extradition and ordered officials to speed up the process.

President-elect Donald Trump has promised to unify America as he addressed cheering supporters at Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration concert on the eve of his presidential inauguration.

Speaking on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC, Donald Trump also pledged to bring change.

Among attendees at the two-hour event were his family, actor Jon Voight and Soul Man singer Sam Moore.

President-elect Donald Trump earlier laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.

Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration on January 19 was open to the public and featured performances by country stars Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood.

In brief remarks at the end of the concert, Donald Trump said: “We’re going to unify our country.

“We’re going to make America great for all of our people. Everybody, everybody, throughout all of our country. That includes the inner cities.”

Image source Getty Images

Donald Trump’s supporters have been streaming into Washington DC, and he reminded them that many had doubted the campaign’s chances of success.

“They forgot about a lot of us,” he said.

“On the campaign, I called it the forgotten man and the forgotten woman. Well, you’re not forgotten anymore.”

Pledging to bring back jobs, build up the military and strengthen the border, Donald Trump added: “We’re going to do things that haven’t been done for our country for many, many decades.

“It’s going to change, I promise you. It’s going to change.”

Donald Trump’s first stop on January 19 was at his Trump International hotel, located just blocks from the White House.

Donald Trump appeared with his wife Melania at a luncheon for members of his incoming administration.

Melania Trump briefly spoke, telling the crowd: “Tomorrow we’re starting the work.”

Donald Trump told the crowd in the presidential ballroom: “We have a lot of smart people. I tell you what, one thing we’ve learned, we have by far the highest IQ of any cabinet ever assembled.”

He hinted that Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets NFL team, would be US ambassador to the UK.

After the welcome concert, Donald Trump spent the night at Blair House, the presidential guest residence located just steps from the White House.

He is due to be sworn in at noon on Friday, January 20.

Despite Donald Trump’s appeal for unity, billionaire investor George Soros launched a stinging attack on him.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, George Soros labeled Donald Trump “an imposter, a conman and a would-be dictator”.

Donald Trump has nominated all 21 members of his cabinet as well as six other roles that require Senate confirmation, according to his team.

The Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote on January 20 to confirm General James Mattis, the defense secretary nominee, and retired General John Kelly, the pick for Homeland Security.

Donald Trump has asked about 50 senior Obama administration officials to stay on until they are replaced, spokesman Sean Spicer told a news conference.

They include Brett McGurk, the special envoy to the US-led coalition fighting the so-called Islamic State, as well as Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work.

Down the road at the White House, President Barack Obama spent his last day in office with the daily briefing and lunch with Vice-President Joe Biden.

Barack Obama also spoke to German Chancellor Angela Merkel in his final conversation with a foreign leader as president, according to the White House.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Angela Merkel’s husband, Joachim Sauer, also joined the call.

The Gambia’s President-elect Adama Barrow has announced he will be sworn in at the country’s embassy in neighboring Senegal.

The message, posted on his social media accounts, invited the general public to attend the ceremony.

Last-ditch efforts by regional leaders to convince outgoing President Yahya Jammeh to step down failed overnight.

Yahya Jammeh lost elections last month, but wants the results annulled citing errors in the electoral process.

Image source Wikimedia

West African military forces are ready to enforce a transfer of power in The Gambia, a popular beach destination among European tourists.

Senegalese troops remain stationed at the Gambian border, despite the deadline for Yahya Jammeh to stand down passing at midnight.

The threat of military action is supported by Nigeria and other states in the region.

Adama Barrow has been in Senegal since January 15 following an invitation to attend a summit of African leaders who back his victory.

He tweeted and posted on Facebook that his inauguration would take place at 16:00 GMT at the embassy in the capital, Dakar.

At least 26,000 Gambians, fearful that violence could erupt, have sought refuge in Senegal.

Meanwhile, thousands of European tourists continue to be evacuated from The Gambia.

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A South Korean court has refused a request by prosecutors to issue an arrest warrant for Samsung Electronics Vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong.

On January 19, the judge ruled that there was insufficient reason to arrest Lee Jae-yong over accusations of bribery, embezzlement and perjury.

Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee had been waiting for the ruling overnight since a hearing on January 18.

The allegations were part of a corruption scandal which led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung Electronics, which has consistently denied any wrongdoing, said in a statement that the “merits of this case can now be determined without the need for detention”.

President Park Geun-hye is accused of abusing her position by colluding with her close friend Choi Soon-sil to use their relationship to secure millions of dollars from major companies. The money was allegedly paid into Choi Soon-sil’s non-profit foundations in exchange for favorable government treatment.

Image source Wikimedia

Prosecutors allege that Samsung paid 43 billion won ($36.3 million) to secure government support for a controversial merger of two of its affiliates.

Samsung has acknowledged making the payments but insists it did not expect anything in return.

South Korea’s special prosecutors had declared Lee Jae-yong a criminal suspect and made a formal request for an arrest warrant earlier this week.

However, the judge ruled that after reviewing the evidence it was “difficult to acknowledge the necessity and substantiality of an arrest at the current stage”.

Opposition lawmakers said the decision was “regrettable” and ignored the strength of public sentiment.

Correspondents say prosecutors’ hopes of stretching criminal proceedings to include President Park Geun-hye may have been knocked off course by the refusal to issue a warrant against Lee Jae-yong.

Samsung is South Korea’s most high-profile company, and its sales are equal to about a fifth of the country’s GDP.

Park Geun-hye, who has faced massive public protest in recent months, has been stripped of her presidential powers while the constitutional court considers her impeachment.

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Gambian President Yahya Jammeh’s term has been extended by 90 days after the parliament declared a state of emergency in the crisis-hit West African country.

Yahya Jammeh’s term is due to end on January 19 following his defeat in elections by Adama Barrow.

Regional leaders have threatened to use military force to oust Yahya Jammeh if he refuses to hand power to President-elect Adama Barrow tomorrow.

Thousands of tourists are being evacuated from The Gambia.

The Gambia is popular with European holidaymakers because of its beaches.

The country was plunged into crisis after Yahya Jammeh rejected Adama Barrow’s shock victory in the December 1st election.

In a TV announcement on January 17, the outgoing president said: “Any acts of disobedience to the laws of The Gambia, incitement of violence and acts intended to disturb public order and peace were banned under the state of emergency.”

Yahya Jammeh said security forces were instructed to “maintain absolute peace, law and order”.

The US State Department urged Yahya Jammeh to transfer power to Adama Barrow on January 19.

Spokesman John Kirby said: “Doing so would allow him to leave office with his head held high and to protect The Gambian people from potential chaos.

“Failure to do so will put his legacy, and more importantly The Gambia, in peril.”  

Regional bloc ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States), has prepared a Senegal-led force to oust Yahya Jammeh if he refuses to step down.

The African Union has warned that it will not recognize Yahya Jammeh as president after January 19.

Adama Barrow, a property developer, has been in Senegal since January 14. His aides said he would return to The Gambia for his inauguration.

Last month, Adama Barrow said he would be sworn in at a ceremony organized by his transition team, raising the possibility of two rival presidents.

Yahya Jammeh’s declaration of a state of emergency was seen as an attempt to block the ceremony, scheduled to take place at a stadium in Bakau town, west of the capital Banjul, from going ahead.

Adama Barrow could, technically, also be sworn in at The Gambian embassy in Senegal.

Thousands of Gambians, including women and children, have been fleeing to Senegal and further afield to Guinea-Bissau, fearing unrest.

Yahya Jammeh has ruled The Gambia since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1994.

The Gambia regularly held elections, which he won until his shock defeat in the latest poll.

Yahya Jammeh has said there were irregularities in the election process, including the turning away of some of his supporters from polling stations, and errors made by the electoral commission.

The commission accepted that some of the results it initially published contained errors, but said Adama Barrow had still won.

Yahya Jammeh has said he will stay in office until new elections are held.

Retaining power would also ensure Yahya Jammeh was not prosecuted in The Gambia for alleged abuses committed during his rule.

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In his final days in office, President Barack Obama has decided to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence for leaking documents to WikiLeaks in 2010.

The transgender US Army private, born Bradley Manning, will be freed on May 17 instead of her scheduled 2045 release.

The 29-year-old was sentenced to 35 years in 2013 for her role in leaking diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

The US Army will begin treatment for document leaker Chelsea Manning for her gender-identity condition

The leak was one of the largest breaches of classified material in US history.

The Obama administration has been under pressure to release Chelsea Manning, who twice attempted suicide last year at the male military prison where she is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Chelsea Manning also went on a hunger strike last year, which ended after the military agreed to provide her with gender dysphoria treatment.

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More Democratic lawmakers have said they plan to boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th US president on January 20.

The boycott comes amidst a feud between Donald Trump and the civil rights activist and congressman, John Lewis.

Up to now, more than 50 House Democrats announced they are refusing to watch the president-elect’s inauguration.

John Lewis, a revered member of the 1960s struggle, sparked controversy on January 13 when he called Donald Trump’s victory illegitimate because of Russia’s alleged interference in the election.

Donald Trump hit back on Twitter, attacking the Georgia lawmaker as “all talk, talk, talk – no action or results”, which prompted a wave of outrage from people saying if anyone embodied action, it was John Lewis.

Dozens of members of Congress have announced they will skip the inauguration ceremony.

Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota tweeted following the row: “I will not celebrate a man who preaches a politics of division and hate.”

Maryland Representative Anthony G. Brown also tweeted: “Skipping Inauguration. @RepJohnLewis a civil rights hero. Enormous responsibility to be POTUS. I respect the office, can’t tolerate disrespect.”

Image source Flickr

The number grew to more than 40 over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend, but that did not stop Donald Trump from continuing to rail against the 76-year-old civil rights icon on January 17.

Donald Trump tweeted that John Lewis had falsely claimed this would be the first inauguration he has missed since joining Congress in 1987.

“WRONG (or lie)!” the president-elect tweeted, saying John Lewis had skipped George W. Bush’s inauguration in 2001.

John Lewis’ office confirmed that he did miss President George W. Bush’s ceremony.

Spokeswoman Brenda Jones said: “His absence at that time was also a form of dissent.

“He did not believe the outcome of that election, including the controversies around the results in Florida and the unprecedented intervention of the US Supreme Court, reflected a free, fair and open democratic process.”

An estimated 800,000 to 900,000 people are expected to flood Washington on January 20 for the inauguration, but it is unclear whether they will be there in celebration or protest, officials said.

President Barack Obama drew an estimated 1.8 million people to Washington when he took office in 2009.

The “level of enthusiasm” and demand for hotel rooms has not reached that of previous inaugurations, according to Elliott Ferguson, president of Destination DC, the city’s convention and tourism bureau.

In fact, some hotels have reduced the minimum-night stay from four nights to two.

Other hotels are only 50% full, but higher-end hotels appeared to have more bookings, he added.

Donald Trump’s swearing-in comes at a time when the nation appears deeply divided after the contested election.

Though Donald Trump swept the Electoral College, his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by almost 2.9 million more votes.

Recent polls have also showed historically low marks for any presidential transition.

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found just 40% of Americans view Donald Trump favorably compared with the 79% President Barack Obama received in 2009.

A CNN/ORC survey released on January 17 also showed Donald Trump with a 40% approval rating compared with the 84% Barack Obama had in 2009.

A Gallup poll conducted two weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration found 51% of respondents disapproved of how he is handling the presidential transition compared with 44% who approved.

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Vladimir Putin has described allegations Russia holds compromising material on President-elect Donald Trump as “utter nonsense”.

The Russian president questioned what reason Russian intelligence would have had to spy on Donald Trump before he entered politics.

Vladimir Putin said those making the allegations were “worse than prostitutes”.

Memos published last week alleged Donald Trump’s election team colluded with Russia which also had salacious videos of his private life.

The allegations claim Russia has damaging information about Donald Trump’s business interests, and that Trump had been filmed with prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow during the Miss Universe pageant in 2013.

Donald Trump has dismissed the memos, said to have been prepared by a former British spy, as “fake news”.

Image NBC News

Speaking in Moscow, Vladimir Putin also said the published documents were “clearly fakes”, published by those trying to “undermine the legitimacy of the elected president”.

“When Trump came to Moscow, he was not a political figure, we were not even aware of his political ambitions,” he said.

“Does somebody think that our secret services are chasing every American billionaire? Of course not. It is utter nonsense.”

Vladimir Putin added that he did not see why Donald Trump would rush to meet prostitutes in Moscow, given he was organizing beauty pageants and meeting “the most beautiful women in the world”.

“I find it hard to imagine he ran to a hotel to meet our girls of <<low social responsibility>>… though they are of course also the best in the world. But I doubt Trump took that bait.”

Earlier, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the UK ex-spy said to have prepared the memos is “some runaway crook from the MI6”.

US intelligence agencies considered the claims relevant enough to brief both Donald Trump and President Barack Obama.

Donald Trump accused US intelligence of leaking the content from a classified briefing – a claim denied by National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

Vladimir Putin also said reports that Russian hackers had interfered in the US election were “fake news”, though he told people to keep in mind that “the hackers didn’t make anything up – whoever they were – they just uncovered material”.

The hacking scandal dominated the US election campaign, with US spy agencies concluding Russia was behind the hacking and release of Democratic Party emails intended to damage the campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Russia has consistently denied it.

Signaling optimism that the US-Russia relationship will improve under the new administration, Sergei Lavrov said he was encouraged by some pragmatic comments from the Trump team so far.

Sergei Lavrov said that Moscow was ready to co-operate with the new administration on key issues including nuclear weapons and Syria. US representatives have been invited to Syria peace talks in Kazakhstan next week but are yet to respond, he added.

“I am convinced we will be able to restart a dialogue on strategic stability with Washington that was destroyed along with everything else by the Obama administration,” Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Reuters.

US-Russia relations have worsened significantly in recent years over the war in Ukraine, the Syrian conflict and cyber-hacking.

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The search for the Malaysian flight MH379 that vanished in March 2014 has been suspended after three years.

The families of the victims say the decision is “irresponsible”.

Family support group Voice370 said the search ought to be expanded – it was “an inescapable duty owed to the flying public”.

The plane vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur with 239 on board.

More than 46,300 sq miles of the Indian Ocean has been searched with no results. Pieces of debris have been found as far away as Madagascar.

Only seven have been identified as definitely or highly likely to be from the Boeing 777.

There were 14 nationalities among the 227 passengers and 12 crew on board the plane. The majority – 153 people – were Chinese.

Announcing the suspension, Australia, Malaysia and China said “no new information has been discovered to determine the specific location of the aircraft” despite numerous studies.

They remained hopeful this would happen in the future.

However, Voice370 said the search must continue and be extended to include an area of some 25,000 sq km north of the current one, recommended by a report released by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau in December 2016.

“Stopping at this stage is nothing short of irresponsible, and betrays a shocking lack of faith in the data, tools and recommendations of an array of official experts assembled by the authorities themselves.”

A report in November 2016 said theM370 flight probably made a “high and increasing rate of descent” into the Indian Ocean.

More Democrats said they will boycott Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

The number of Democratic members of Congress boycotting the inauguration ceremony has increased to 26.

Many have cited as a reason Donald Trump’s recent attack on civil rights icon and fellow congressman John Lewis.

The president-elect lashed out at John Lewis on Twitter on January 13 after the civil rights campaigner said he was not a “legitimate president”.

Donald Trump said that John Lewis was: “All talk, talk, talk – no action or results.”

John Lewis was a prominent member of America’s civil rights movement and is a hero to many Americans. He was among those beaten by police during the infamous Selma-Montgomery voting rights march of 1965.

He joined the House of Representatives in 1987 and has served Georgia’s fifth congressional district, which Donald Trump went on to call “crime-infested”, ever since.

Image source Flickr

Donald Trump’s insults, made just days ahead of Martin Luther King Day, were the final straw for a number of Democrats who will break with tradition by missing the inauguration ceremony on January 20.

Yvette Clarke, one of five representatives for New York who will boycott the event, said: “When you insult Rep. John Lewis, you insult America.”

There are 535 members of Congress, across both houses.

California representative Ted Lieu said: “For me, the personal decision not to attend Inauguration is quite simple: Do I stand with Donald Trump, or do I stand with John Lewis? I am standing with John Lewis.”

Illinois representative Luis Gutierrez was the first member of congress to say he would boycott the inauguration – announcing his decision in December.

Luis Gutierrez told the House: “I could not look my wife, my daughters, or my grandson in the eye if I sat there and attended, as if everything that the candidate said about the women, the Latinos, the blacks, the Muslims, or any of those other things he said in those speeches and tweets, and that all of that is okay or erased from our collective memory.”

He has said he will attend the alternative Women’s March on Washington on January 21.

John Lewis’ announcement of his own boycott in an interview with NBC News, in which he said that Donald Trump was an illegitimate president, prompted the outburst from the president-elect.

Donald Trump’s inauguration will be the first not attended by John Lewis in all his 30 years in congress. He cited alleged Russian interference in the election among his reasons for regarding Donald Trump as illegitimate.

“You cannot be at home with something that you feel that is wrong,” he told NBC News.

Sales of John Lewis’ memoir soared to the top of Amazon’s US bestseller list following Donald Trump’s attack, eventually selling out completely.

John Lewis led a sit-in protest at the House of Representatives in July 2016 to demand a vote on gun control legislation, in the wake of the deadly Orlando shooting.

Republicans adjourned the House early to try to quash the sit-in, switching off the TV cameras, but the C-Span network picked up live streams from some Democrats’ phones.

Katherine Clark, a representative for Massachusetts, was among the first to join John Lewis for the gun control protest. She said last week she would skip Donald Trump’s inauguration.

In a statement, Katherine Clark said: “Families in my district are fearful that the anti-woman, anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, and divisive promises that drove the Trump campaign will become the policies affecting the health and safety of every American.

“I do not feel that I can contribute to the normalization of the president-elect’s divisive rhetoric by participating in the inauguration.”

Donald Trump has struggled to book any established musicians to perform at his ceremony, despite his team appearing to have cast a wide net.

The event will feature Jackie Evancho, a 16-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant, alongside military bands and the Radio City Rockettes, although some members of the Rockettes troupe have publicly refused to take part.

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Donald Trump has said German Chancellor Angela Merkel made “one very catastrophic mistake” by admitting more than 1 million refugees.

The president-elect said Angela Merkel was by far Europe’s most important leader, and that the EU had become a vehicle for Germany.

Donald Trump was giving details of his foreign policy goals in an interview with British and German newspapers, Times and Bild.

He told the publications his priority was to create fairer trade deals for the US and have strong borders.

Donald Trump said the United States had to address its trade deficit with the rest of the world, particularly with China.

The emphasis for his administration should be smart trade, rather than free trade, the president-elect said.

The interview was conducted for the Times by UK’s lawmaker Michael Gove, who played a key role in the Vote Leave campaign that led to Brexit, and who also has a column in the newspaper.

An image of Michael Gove and Donald Trump giving a thumbs-up at New York’s Trump Tower, where they met, was shared on Twitter.

Image source Flickr

Asked about a possible deal with Russia, Donald Trump said nuclear weapons should be part of it and “reduced very substantially”, in return for lifting US sanctions.

Turning to the Middle East, Donald Trump condemned the 2003 invasion of Iraq as possibly the worst decision ever made in the history of the country, and said safe zones should have been created within Syria and paid for by the United States’ Gulf allies.

In a separate interview with the Washington Post, Donald Trump said he was close to finalizing a replacement for President Barack Obama’s healthcare program, the Affordable Care Act.

Donald Trump gave few details, other than saying there would be healthcare for everybody and that costs would be lower.

The president-elect said he was waiting for his nominee for health secretary, Tom Price, to be confirmed, before unveiling the plan.

Donald Trump also spoke about the UK and Brexit, saying he thought the UK was “so smart in getting out” of the EU.

“Countries want their own identity and the UK wanted its own identity,” he said.

“I think you’re doing great, I think it’s going great.”

Donald Trump predicted that more countries would follow the same path.

“I think people want . . . their own identity, so if you ask me … I believe others will leave.”

During the interview, Donald Trump said he thought Angela Merkel was the “by far the most important European leader”.

“If you look at the European Union, it’s Germany – it’s basically a vehicle for Germany,” he said.

“I think she made one very catastrophic mistake and that was taking all of these illegals.”

Donald Trump linked the migrant issue with the UK referendum vote to leave the EU.

“I do believe this, if they [EU countries] hadn’t been forced to take in all of the refugees, so many, with all the problems that it . . . entails, I think that you wouldn’t have a Brexit.

“It probably could have worked out but this was the final straw, this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Donald Trump repeated his vow to be tough on immigration into the US.

“People don’t want to have other people coming in and destroying their country. In this country we are going to go very strong borders from the day I get in,” he said.

The president-elect also stressed that he would “start off trusting both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Mrs. Merkel” on taking office, but would “see how long that lasts”.

Talking about international security, Donald Trump argued that he had said “a long time ago that NATO had problems”.

“One: that it was obsolete because it was designed many many years ago, and number two: that the countries weren’t paying what they’re supposed to pay.”

He said that only five countries were paying what they should into the NATO budget.

“Five. It’s not much… With that being said, NATO is very important to me.”

Donald Trump was also asked if he would continue to use Twitter after his inauguration, and said he would keep up his habit of publishing streams of messages on the social network.

“It’s working – and the tweeting, I thought I’d do less of it, but I’m covered so dishonestly by the press, so dishonestly,” he said.

“I can go bing bing bing . . . and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out. This morning on television Fox: <<Donald Trump, we have breaking news>>.”

CIA Director John Brennan has warned President-elect Donald Trump to avoid off-the-cuff remarks once he takes office.

The outgoing CIA chief said spontaneity was not in the interests of national security.

Donald Trump is known for regularly making broad pronouncements on issues of national importance on his Twitter feed.

John Brennan also said that Donald Trump did not fully appreciate Russia’s capabilities or intentions.

He said: “I think Mr. Trump has to understand that absolving Russia of various actions that it’s taken in the past number of years is a road that he, I think, needs to be very, very careful about moving down.”

Image source Wikimedia

John Brennan’s remarks, in an interview for Fox News Sunday, come a week after the release of a US intelligence report which said Russian President Vladimir Putin had likely attempted to influence the election.

Donald Trump is considered to have underplayed for months the conclusions of the intelligence community that Moscow hacked Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The president-elect only accepted them at a news conference on January 11.

Meanwhile both the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s team have denied reports in the Sunday Times that the two sides were planning a summit between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin in the Icelandic capital Reykjavik.

Reykjavik was the venue for a summit in 1986 – near the end of the Cold War – between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, the then US and Soviet leaders.

John Brennan said “talking and tweeting” was not an option for Donald Trump, who takes office on January 20.

“Spontaneity is not something that protects national security interests and so therefore when he speaks or when he reacts, just make sure he understands that the implications and impact on the United States could be profound,” he said.

“It’s more than just about Mr. Trump. It’s about the United States of America.”

John Brennan also took Donald Trump to task for accusing the intelligence services of leaking an unverified dossier which suggests Russian security officials have compromising material on him, which could make him vulnerable to blackmail.

“What I do find outrageous is equating the intelligence community with Nazi Germany,” the CIA chief said, referring to a tweet by Donald Trump on January 11.

“There is no basis for Mr. Trump to point fingers at the intelligence community for leaking information that was already available publicly.”

However, Donald Trump responded with tweets quoting veteran Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, who told Fox News Sunday that the dossier should never have been presented at an intelligence briefing and that the intelligence services should apologize for their mistake.

The media should also apologize, Donald Trump added.

Donald Trump has described the claims as “fake news” and “phoney stuff”.

Russia also denies the existence of the dossier and says allegations that it ran a hacking campaign to influence the elections are “reminiscent of a witch-hunt”.

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John Kerry has visited the place in the Mekong Delta where he was ambushed during the Vietnam War.

The outgoing secretary of state and former Navy lieutenant met a 70-year-old former member of the Viet Cong, who remembers the 1969 attack.

John Kerry and his former enemy, Vo Ban Tam, warmly shook hands.

The secretary of state, who is in Vietnam as part of his last trip before leaving office, won a medal for bravery for his actions but became an anti-war campaigner after returning home.

John Kerry told Vo Ban Tam he was glad they were both alive.

Vo Ban Tam, now a shrimp farmer, said he knew a man whom John Kerry shot and killed and remembered the plan of attack when they first spotted the US patrol boat.

Image source Flickr

The Viet Cong unit had a rocket launcher and was shooting at the US fighters to try to steer them into its range.

However, John Kerry took a bold move by leaping ashore to pursue his assailants, and shot dead the rocket launcher’s operator.

John Kerry, then aged 26, was credited with saving his crew and was awarded the US military’s Silver Star for bravery.

Vo Ban Tam named the dead fighter as Ba Thanh and said he was 24 years old.

“He was a good soldier,” he told John Kerry, speaking through an interpreter.

John Kerry never knew the name or age of the man he shot.

When he unsuccessfully ran for president in 2004, John Kerry faced critics who claimed he shot a teenager.

One of John Kerry’s aides told the Washington Post that the former military man had been searching Google Maps for the site of the ambush. On January 12, he was said to have woken, jetlagged, in the middle of the night in his Hanoi hotel and called one of his old crew members to rack his brains.

John Kerry said returning to the scene was weird and a little surreal.

The secretary of state is visiting Vietnam as the first stop on his last foreign trip before stepping aside when the Trump administration takes power on January 20.

It is John Kerry’s fourth visit to Vietnam as Washington’s top diplomat.

Working under President Barack Obama, John Kerry is known for taking a specific interest in improving relations between the US and Vietnam.

He was awarded other honors for his service in Vietnam, including three Purple Hearts for being wounded in action, but he became a prominent anti-war activist after returning to the US in 1969.

According to AFP, John Kerry told reporters on January 14: “It impressed on me the notion that you really need to analyze and understand what lies underneath the slogans.”

Congressman and civil rights campaigner John Lewis has been defended by politicians, entertainers and many others after he became embroiled in a row with President-elect Donald Trump.

The president-elect tweeted that John Lewis was “all talk” and should focus on his constituents, after he said Donald Trump was not a legitimate president.

However, John Lewis’ supporters reacted with anger, saying he was a hero and icon.

John Lewis was a leading figure in the 1960s civil rights movement.

He is the last surviving speaker from the 1963 March on Washington, led by Martin Luther King.

The row came as civil rights activists led by Rev. Al Sharpton began a week of protests ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.

Several thousand protesters braved near-freezing temperatures to march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington DC, chanting: “No justice, no peace.”

In a separate development on January 14, African American Broadway star Jennifer Holliday pulled out of performing at the inauguration after pressure from followers, many of them from the LGBT community.

Jennifer Holliday, who has sung for both Republican and Democrat presidents, apologized for her “lapse of judgement” and said she did not realize her participation would be seen as expressing support for Donald Trump.

Democrat John Lewis said on January 13 he would not attend the inauguration on the grounds that he did not see Donald Trump as a legitimate president.

He told NBC’s Meet the Press: “I think the Russians participated in helping this man get elected.

“And they helped destroy the candidacy of Hillary Clinton.”

Donald Trump tweeted on January 14: “Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime-infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!”

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Donald Trump has turned his fire on Hillary Clinton, after an investigation was launched into the action taken by the FBI during the election campaign.

The FBI and the DoJ face questions over their handling of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

FBI director James Comey’s decision to reopen an investigation 11 days before the election shook up the race.

Donald Trump tweeted that Hillary Clinton was “guilty as hell”.

He continues to fire out tweets on a range of subjects just a week before his inauguration.

In the latest batch his anger over alleged compromising material held on him by Russia shows no sign of abating, again calling it “fake news” and “phony allegations” put together by “my political opponents and a failed spy afraid of being sued”.

Donald Trump then turned to January 12 announcement that a US government watchdog was to investigate the actions taken by the FBI and the justice department during the election campaign.

After he won the election, Donald Trump had toned down his rhetoric against his opponent, refusing to follow up on his election mantra that she should be “locked up” for criminal behavior.

On January 13, the president-elect tweeted: “What are Hillary Clinton’s people complaining about with respect to the FBI. Based on the information they had she should never have been allowed to run – guilty as hell.

“They were VERY nice to her. She lost because she campaigned in the wrong states – no enthusiasm!”

On January 12, the DoJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz said he would look into “certain actions” by the FBI and DoJ.

Although Hillary Clinton was cleared of any wrongdoing days before the US voted, her team blamed James Comey’s announcement as a key factor in her defeat.

Michael Horowitz said his review would look at a news conference in July 2016 when James Comey said he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton.

A letter to Congress on October 28, in which James Comey said there were more emails to look at, will also be subject to this new inquiry.

Michael Horowitz said his investigation had come in response to “numerous” requests from the public and from members of Congress.

Hillary Clinton said she had set up a home email server for reasons of convenience, but admitted it was a mistake.

In clearing her in July, the FBI said Hillary Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless” in handling classified materials. However, there was no evidence of intentional wrongdoing, it said.

Then in October they briefly reopened the investigation after finding new related emails but nothing was found on them and the case was closed for a second time.

In another of his tweets, the president-elect repeated that: “My people will have a full report on hacking within 90 days!”

In his press conference on January 11, Donald Trump said he wanted a report into hacking of all types, including defense and industry.

The president-elect also admitted for the first time “I think it was Russia” when asked about hacking of the election campaign, but said many others had also hacked the US.

US intelligence agencies this month released an unclassified version of a report alleging that the Russian government had a “clear preference” for Donald Trump to win the US election.

The report says Russian President Vladimir Putin “ordered” a campaign aimed at influencing the outcome.

US intelligence agencies are also weighing claims that Moscow is holding compromising information about Donald Trump.

Unsubstantiated allegations suggest Donald Trump’s election team colluded with Russia and that there were salacious videos of his private life, including claims of using prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.

In his series of tweets on January 13, Donald Trump called the claims “made-up facts by sleazebag political operatives”.

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In his final days in office, President Barack Obama has decided to end a longstanding policy that grants residency to Cubans who arrive in the US without visas.

According to the 20-year-old policy, Cuban immigrants who reach US soil to become legal permanent residents after a year.

In exchange, Havana has agreed to start accepting Cubans who are turned away or deported from the United States.

Many Cubans in the US say Washington is rewarding a regime which has failed to address human rights concerns.

However President Barack Obama says he is trying to continue the thawing of relations with Cuba: “With this change we will continue to welcome Cubans as we welcome immigrants from other nations, consistent with our laws.”

Image source Wikimedia

In a statement on state TV, the Cuban government praised the move as “an important step in advancing relations” between the US and Cuba.

It is unclear where relations between the two countries will go now.

Barack Obama’s successor, President-elect Donald Trump, has taken a much tougher stance and could reverse the change.

Until now, the so-called “wet foot, dry foot” policy has applied solely to Cubans, tens of thousands of whom reached US soil in 2016, including by land.

Thousands of other Cubans are intercepted at sea every year by the US coast guard before they can get a dry foot on land.

Immigrants from other countries who come to the US without a visa could be arrested and deported.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson said: “I believe changing this outdated policy – in order to be fair to all and also to prevent people from abusing the system – is the right thing to do.”

However, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, a Cuban exile, blasted President Obama for giving Raul Castro a parting gift: “This is just a going-away present from Obama to Raul Castro.”

Tomas Regalado does not believe ending the policy will slow the flow of Cubans coming to the US.

VP Joe Biden has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest US civilian honor.

President Barack Obama praised Joe Biden for his “faith in your fellow Americans, for your love of country and your lifetime of service”.

The award comes as both men prepare to leave office when Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20.

The vice-president has said he plans to stay active in Democratic Party politics.

A visibly emotional Joe Biden stood by as President Obama heaped praise on what he called the “best possible choice, not just for me, but for the American people”.

According to the New York Times, the medal was awarded with distinction.

Image source NBC News

That additional honor has been reserved in recent administrations for just a handful of recipients, including Pope John Paul II.

Barack Obama joked that the internet would have one last chance to mock the pair’s “bromance”.

Joe Biden said he was “part of the journey of a remarkable man who did remarkable things”.

The vice-president said that he had had no idea the award was coming.

“I had no inkling. I thought we were coming over to Michelle for you, Jill and Barack and I and a couple of senior staff to toast one another and say what an incredible journey it’s been.

“Mr. President, you got right the part about my leaning on Jill but I’ve also leaned on you and a lot of people in this room.

“Mr. President, I’m indebted to you. I’m indebted to your friendship. I’m indebted to your family.”

Barack Obama said that Joe Biden’s career was “nowhere close to finished” both at home or abroad.

The vice-president has said he plans to work on policy issues at institutes at the University of Delaware and University of Pennsylvania, and continue his efforts tackling cancer, which claimed his son Beau in 2015.

Joe Biden gave an hour-long interview with media outlets on January 12 in which he strongly criticized Donald Trump for his condemnation of the US intelligence services.

“It is really very damaging in my view to our standing in the world for a president to take one of the crown jewels of our national defense and denigrate it,” he said.

“It plays into, particularly now, the Russian narrative that America doesn’t know what it’s doing.”

However, Joe Biden was full of praise for his successor, Mike Pence, saying he had sent him memos on how to handle certain situations.

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Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has rejected President-elect Donald Trump’s claim that US intelligence leaked content from a classified briefing.

Donald Trump accused US spies of leaking allegations that Russia had compromising material on him.

However, James Clapper said he was “profoundly dismayed” by the leak.

James Clapper also said the intelligence community had not “made any judgment” that the information was reliable.

His statement said he had spoken to Donald Trump on January 11, after the president-elect’s first press conference.

James Clapper said: “I emphasized that this document is not a US Intelligence Community product and that I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC.”

He added that they agreed the security breach was “extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security” and the intelligence community “stands ready to serve his administration”.

Donald Trump gave a press conference in which he responded to unsubstantiated allegations that his election team colluded with Russia and there were salacious videos of his private life.

CNN first reported the claims on January 10, although did not give details, and then Buzzfeed published a 35-page dossier of allegations.

An enraged Donald Trump pointed the finger and said: “I think it’s pretty sad when intelligence reports get leaked out to the press.”

The president-elect called Buzzfeed a “failing pile of garbage” and refused to take a question from a CNN reporter.

Tensions between Donald Trump and the intelligence agencies have been strained in recent weeks.

Donald Trump had failed to accept assessments that Russia had hacked the Democratic Party to help him win the election.

On January 10, FBI Director James Comey refused to say whether the FBI was investigating any possible ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Walter Shaub, the director of the US Office of Government Ethics, has sharply criticized President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to hand his global business empire to his sons before his inauguration on January 20.

Donald Trump’s plan does not match the “standards” of US presidents over the last 40 years, Walter Shaub said.

A Trump lawyer said earlier the new trust would face “severe restrictions” on new deals.

However, Walter Shaub said the plan would not remove conflicts of interest.

Image source YouTube

Referring to a process whereby Donald Trump would sell off his corporate assets and put the profits into a blind trust run by an independent trustee, Walter Shaub said: “Every president in modern times has taken the strong medicine of divestiture.”

At a news conference on January 11, lawyer Sherri Dillon said that management of the Trump Organization would be transferred to a trust controlled by Donald Trump’s sons Don and Eric and CFO Allen Weisselberg.

The Trump Organization is an umbrella company for Donald Trump’s hundreds of investments in real estate, brands and other businesses.

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Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong has been quizzed at the prosecutor’s office in Seoul as a suspect in South Korea’s biggest political corruption scandal involving President Park Geun-hye.

Samsung is accused of giving donations to several non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a close friend to President Park Geun-hye.

The donations were allegedly made in exchange for political support of a controversial merger.

The Choi Soon-sil scandal has led to President Park Geun-hye being impeached by South Korea’s parliament last month.

Image source Wikimedia

Lee Jae-yong told reporters upon arriving on January 12: “I deeply apologize to the people for failing to show a positive image because of this incident.”

Earlier this week two other Samsung executives were questioned by the special prosecutors, but were treated as witnesses rather than suspects.

The claims against Samsung circle around a merger between the electronics giant’s construction arm, Samsung C&T, and an affiliate company, Cheil Industries.

Prosecutors allege that Samsung gave €2.8 million euros ($3.1 million) to a company co-owned by Choi Soon-sil and her daughter, in return for Park Geun-hye’s support for the deal.

Lee Jae-yong, known professionally as Jay Y. Lee, has already given evidence to politicians over the scandal, but this is the first time he has been questioned as a suspect by investigators.

At the parliamentary hearing in December, Samsung admitted giving a total of 20.4 billion won ($17.46 million) to the two foundations, but denied seeking favors.

Jay Y. Lee also confirmed Samsung gave a horse and money to help the equestrian career of Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, Chung Yoo-ra, something he said he now regretted.

Choi Soon-sil is on trial for charges including corruption and coercion.

President Park Geun-hye’s position began to unravel in October 2016, when details of her friendship with Choi Soon-sil began to emerge.

They included revelations that Park Geun-hye had allowed Choi Soon-sil – who holds no government role – to edit political speeches.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of protestors have gathered every weekend in Seoul to demand Park Geun-hye’s resignation.

Park Geun-hye denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the way she managed her relationship with Choi Soon-sil, who also denies committing criminal offences.

In his first press conference as president-elect, Donald Trump says allegations Russia has compromising material on him are “fake news, phoney stuff”, put together by “sick people”.

Donald Trump was replying to unsubstantiated allegations that his election team colluded with Russia and there were salacious videos of his private life.

Intelligence agencies considered the claims relevant enough to brief both President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama last week.

Donald Trump also said for the first time that Russia was behind hacking attacks.

He went on to confirm he was handing total control of his businesses to his two sons.

His first briefing was scheduled in order for Donald Trump to give details about his business affairs, but was dominated by the allegations of compromising material.

Donald Trump said the information “should never have entered paper… it should never have been released”.

Image source Flickr

“It’s all fake news, it’s phoney stuff, it didn’t happen,” he said, adding that “sick people” had “put that crap together… it’s an absolute disgrace”.

Donald Trump thanked the news organizations that chose not to run with the claims, which have been circulating for months.

He said he could not talk about what he heard in last week’s intelligence agency briefing, but said there had been “many witnesses” there and that it would be a “tremendous blot” on the reputation of intelligence agencies if they had been responsible for leaking the details.

“That’s something that Nazi Germany would have done,” he said.

In response White House spokesman Josh Earnest said it was “deeply misguided for anybody, at any level, to question the integrity and motives of the patriots” in the nation’s intelligence agencies.

A 35-page dossier of allegations has been published in full on Buzzfeed and reported by CNN.

Donald Trump called Buzzfeed a “failing pile of garbage” and accused CNN of “going out of their way to build it up”.

The allegations claim Russia has damaging information about Donald Trump’s business interests, and salacious video evidence of his private life, including claims of using prostitutes at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Moscow.

Denying any such claims, Donald Trump said that as a high-profile person he was extremely cautious about all that he did when travelling abroad.

Russia has also strongly denied the allegations.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said they were “pulp fiction” and a “clear attempt to damage relations”.

Donald Trump said he “respected” Vladimir Putin for putting out a statement.

He was also asked about the hacking scandal that dominated the US election campaign, with the intelligences concluding Russia was behind the hacking of Democratic Party emails.

Donald Trump said for the first time “I think it was Russia”, but added that “we get hacked by other people”.

The president-elect said: “We talk about the hacking and hacking’s bad and it shouldn’t be done.”

But he added: “Look at the things that were hacked, look at what was learned from that hacking… Hillary Clinton got the questions to the debate and didn’t report it.”

Donald Trump added: “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability.”

He did not answer directly when asked whether his team had communicated with Russia during the election campaign, but he did say that any hacking by Vladimir Putin must stop.

“He shouldn’t be doing it. He won’t be doing it.”

Before today’s briefing, the Trump team acted to dismiss news of the compromising material.

Michael Cohen, a lawyer to Donald Trump named in the 35-page dossier, denied a specific claim that he went to Prague in August or September 2016 to meet Kremlin representatives to talk about the hacking.

He tweeted: “I’ve never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews.”

Reince Priebus, Donald Trump’s chief of staff, called the dossier report “phoney baloney garbage”.

US media suggest the alleged salacious videos were prepared as “kompromat” – material collected about a politician or public figure in order to create a threat of negative publicity, if needed.

The allegations began circulating in political and media circles in recent months. The existence of the documents was first reported by Mother Jones in October 2016.

During his Senate confirmation hearing, Donald Trump’s pick as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, said it is a “fair assumption” that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind US election hacks.

The former CEO of Exxon Mobil told the hearing committee the intelligence report on Russian tampering “clearly is troubling”.

Rex Tillerson’s comments came after Senator Marco Rubio pressed him to admit Vladimir Putin’s role in the cyber-breach.

His reported good ties with Vladimir Putin have alarmed some in the United States.

Rex Tillerson, 64, faced tough questions from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 11.

In a heated exchange, Marco Rubio grilled him on whether intelligence reports about Russia’s involvement in hacks on the US election were accurate and if Vladimir Putin had directed the attacks.

Rex Tillerson said he had no inside information on the detailed intelligence about Russia’s hacking, but he had read the declassified US report released last week on the issue.

The Florida senator suggested that Vladimir Putin was responsible for war crimes because of Moscow’s support for Syrian President Bashar Assad and bombing of Aleppo.

However, the Texan multimillionaire told Marco Rubio he would not describe Vladimir Putin as a war criminal.

Image source Flickr

Rex Tillerson said: “I would not use that term.”

“Those are very, very serious charges to make and I’d want to have much more information before reaching that conclusion,” he added.

Marco Rubio – who was one of Donald Trump’s rivals for the Republican nomination – said he had “serious concerns” about Rex Tillerson as America’s top diplomat.

While Rex Tillerson was grilled by senators in Washington DC, up in New York Donald Trump was rejecting claims that Russian intelligence agencies have compromising information about the president-elect.

In his first news conference in nearly six months on January 11, at Trump Tower, Donald Trump dismissed the allegations against him as “fake news” and “phony stuff” crafted by “sick people”.

Russia has called the allegations “pulp fiction” and a “clear attempt to damage relations”.

In his Senate statement, Rex Tillerson warned that Americans should be “clear-eyed about our relationship with Russia”.

“Russia today poses a danger, but it is not unpredictable in advancing its own interests. It has invaded Ukraine, including the taking of Crimea, and supported Syrian forces that brutally violate the laws of war,” he said.

“Our NATO allies are right to be alarmed at a resurgent Russia,” he added.

It is Rex Tillerson’s connections to Russia that have drawn the most flak in recent months.

Rex Tillerson has forged multi-billion-dollar deals with Russia’s state oil company, Rosneft, spoken out against international sanctions imposed on Moscow and in 2013 was awarded an Order of Friendship by the Kremlin.

The Kremlin has strongly denied claims Russia’s intelligence agencies have compromising material about Donald Trump.

President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the allegations were “pulp fiction” and a “clear attempt to damage relations”.

The unsubstantiated claims say Donald Trump’s presidential campaign secretly communicated with Moscow. They also say Russia has information about Donald Trump involving prostitutes.

The president-elect has condemned the reports.

He responded on Twitter: “FAKE NEWS – A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!”

Later on January 11, Donald Trump went on to write: “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

Image NBC News

Donald Trump is due to hold a news conference on January 11, nine days before he takes office.

It was meant to be about his attempts to separate himself from his business commitments, to address concerns about conflicts of interest.

However, it now comes at an awkward time for Donald Trump.

Last week, US intelligence agencies released an unclassified report saying Russia ran a hacking campaign to influence the US presidential elections.

Separate reports circulating in media now say Russia has damaging information about Donald Trump’s business interests and salacious video evidence of his private life.

Among the claims included in a 35-page dossier are that Donald Trump’s aides were involved with the alleged Russian hack of the Democratic Party of his rival Hillary Clinton.

Michael Cohen, a lawyer to Donald Trump named in the memos, has denied a specific claim that he went to Prague in August or September 2016 to meet Kremlin representatives to talk about the hacking.

“I’ve never been to Prague in my life. #fakenews,” he tweeted.

Media suggest the videos were prepared as “kompromat” – compromising material collected about a politician or public figure in order to create a threat of negative publicity, if needed.

In his farewell speech in Chicago, President Barack Obama has called on Americans to defend their democracy.

He told thousands of supporters: “By almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was eight years ago.”

However, Barack Obama warned “democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted”.

The incumbent president implored Americans of all backgrounds to consider things from each other’s point of view, saying “we have to pay attention and listen”.

Barack Obama, who is America’s first black president, was first elected in 2008 on a message of hope and change.

His successor, Donald Trump, has vowed to undo some of Barack Obama’s signature policies.

Photo White House

Donald Trump will be sworn into office on Friday, January 20.

Raucous chants of “four more years” from the crowd were brushed aside by the president.

“I can’t do that,” Barack Obama said with a smile. US presidents are limited to two terms by the constitution.

“No, no, no, no no,” he said, when the crowd booed the prospect of Donald Trump replacing him.

Striking an upbeat tone, Barack Obama said that the peaceful transfer of power between presidents was a “hallmark” of American democracy.

However, Barack Obama outlined three threats to American democracy – economic inequality, racial divisions and the retreat of different segments of society into “bubbles”, where opinions are not based on “some common baseline of facts”.

“If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life,” he said to laughter and applause.

In his closing remarks, Barack Obama said he had one final request for Americans as president: “I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.”

Returning to Chicago, where he first declared victory in 2008, Barack Obama delivered a mostly positive message to Americans after a divisive election campaign which saw Donald Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama said that young Americans – including those who worked on his campaigns, and who believe “in a fair, just, inclusive America” – left him feeling “even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started”.

In choosing Chicago, Barack Obama had earlier said he wanted to return to “where it all started” for him and First Lady Michelle Obama, instead of delivering the speech from the White House.

Barack Obama said that it was in Chicago as a young man, “still trying to figure out who I was, still searching for purpose in my life”, that he “witnessed the power of faith and dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss”.

“This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved and they get engaged and they come together to demand it,” he said.

“After eight years as your president I still believe that.”

Some 18,000 people attended the farewell address at McCormick Place, the largest convention centre in North America and the venue for Barack Obama’s speech after he defeated Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.

The tickets were given out free, but were selling online for more than $1,000 each hours ahead of the speech.

As he leaves the Oval Office, President Barack Obama is viewed favorably by 57% of Americans, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, a similar level to Bill Clinton when he left office.