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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.


At least 26 people, including 21 children, died at a primary school which collapsed in Mexico City during September 19 earthquake, the Mexican government says.

The 7.1-magnitude earthquake killed at least 225 people in total and caused major damage across states in the center of Mexico.

Desperate searches for survivors under the rubble are continuing.

Dozens of buildings collapsed, including several churches where worshippers were killed.

The quake struck shortly after many people had taken part in an earthquake drill, exactly 32 years after another quake killed thousands in Mexico City.

Mexico is prone to earthquakes and earlier this month an 8.1 magnitude tremor in the south left at least 90 people dead.

Though it struck a similar region, September 19 earthquake does not appear to be connected with the quake on September 7, which was at least 30 times more energetic.

Enrique Rébsamen primary school collapsed in Mexico City’s southern Coapa district.

Image source Wikimedia

Mexico Hit by 8.1-Magnitude Earthquake, At Least Six Dead

Italy Earthquake: At Least Two Dead and 39 Injured in Ischia

Aegean Earthquake: At Least Two Killed on Island of Kos

Confirming the death toll, Education Minister Aurelio Nuño‏ said 11 people had been rescued while two children and an adult were missing.

Local media had reported a higher death toll earlier.

More than 500 members of the army and navy, along with 200 police officers and volunteers, have been working at the site, Milenio newspaper writes.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said after visiting the rescue operation: “Some voices have been heard.

“In the time I have been here, I have seen how at times they have asked for total silence, solidarity to listen for the voices.”

At least 209 schools were affected by the quake, 15 of which have suffered severe damage.

The epicenter of the latest quake was near Atencingo in Puebla state, about 75 miles from Mexico City, with a depth of 38 miles, the US Geological Survey (USGS) says.

The prolonged tremor hit at 13:14 local time on September 19 and sent thousands of residents into the streets.

Most of the victims died in the capital.  According to government figures, 94 died in Mexico City, 71 in Morelos state, 43 in Puebla state, 12 in Mexico state, 4 in Guerrero, 1 in Oaxaca.

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According to new reports, Paul Manafort, who was Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, was wiretapped by the FBI due to concerns about his links with Russia, according to US media.

The reported surveillance, granted under a court warrant, occurred both before and after the 2016 election.

Investigators wanted to know if Paul Manafort had sought Russian help with the campaign.

It is not known if the wiretap, which began in 2014, included conversations with President Trump. Paul Manafort is said to be facing an indictment.

The former political consultant, who had worked for Ukraine’s former ruling party, was chairman of the Trump campaign from June to August 2016. He has not commented on the CNN report, which has been confirmed by CBS News.

Image source Getty

Paul Manafort Allegedly Hid $750,000 Payment Made by Ukrainian Party

Paul Manafort Resigns as Donald Trump’s Campaign Chairman

Donald Trump Didn’t Know About His Son’s Meeting with Russian Lawyer

FBI special counsel Robert Mueller is leading an investigation into alleged attempts by Russia to influence the 2016 election.

However, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants were granted before his investigation started, and were first authorized as part of an investigation into Washington consulting firms working for Ukraine, CNN reported.

After the 2014 warrant ended, it was renewed again until earlier this year, in order to allow the FBI to investigate ties between Trump campaign associates and suspected Russian operatives.

Communications collected with the Manafort wiretaps sparked concerns among investigators that he had encouraged the Russians to help with the election campaign, CNN cited three sources as saying – although two of the sources said the evidence had not been conclusive.

The FBI, as well as several congressional committees, are investigating whether Russia attempted to interfere in the US election in order to help Donald Trump.

FBI agents raided Paul Manafort’s suburban Washington DC home on July 26, according to the New York Times.

Agents had picked the lock to his Virginia home as Paul Manafort lay in bed, and were looking for evidence that he had set up off-shore bank accounts, the newspaper reported.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton, who lost the election to Donald Trump, said that she “wouldn’t rule out” questioning the legitimacy of the presidential election if evidence emerged of Russian interference.

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Hurricane Maria takes aim at Caribbean Islands devastated by Hurricane Irma just days ago.

Maria, now a category one hurricane, is expected to become a dangerous major hurricane as it nears the Leeward Islands in the Caribbean.

It will rapidly strengthen over the next 48 hours and will hit the islands on September 18, the US National Hurricane Center (NHC) says.

Hurricane Maria is moving roughly along the same path as Irma.

Warnings have been issued for Guadeloupe, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat and Martinique.

A hurricane watch is now in effect for the US and British Virgin Islands, St Martin, St Barts, Saba, St Eustatius and Anguilla.

Some of these islands are still recovering after being hit by category 5 Hurricane Irma, which left at least 37 people dead and caused billions of dollars’ worth of damage.

In its latest update, the NHC says Maria has maximum sustained winds of 85mph.

Image source Good Free Photos

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Hurricane Irma: 6.5 Million Homes Left Without Power in Florida

Hurricane Irma Hits Cuba on Its Way to Florida

Maria’s eye is 140 miles north-east of Barbados, and Maria is moving west-northwest at about 13mph.

The NHC says: “On the forecast track, the centre of Maria will move across the Leeward Islands late Monday and Monday night and then over the extreme north-eastern Caribbean Sea Tuesday and Tuesday night.”

The most southerly point of the Leeward Islands – where Maria will first strike – include Antigua and Barbuda. The latter island was evacuated after being devastated by Irma.

The NHC says that “a dangerous storm surge accompanied by large and destructive waves will raise water levels by as much as 5-7ft above normal tide levels near where the centre of Maria moves across the Leeward Islands”.

It also forecasts a maximum potential rainfall of 20in across the central and southern Leeward Islands – including Puerto Rico and the US and British Virgin Islands – through to Wednesday night.

“Rainfall on all of these islands could cause life-threatening flash floods and mudslides,” it warned.

Earlier this month, Hurricane Irma left more than two-thirds of homes on the Dutch side of the island of St Martin (known as Sint Maarten) uninhabitable, with no electricity, gas or drinking water.

The French government has said its side of St Martin – known as Saint-Martin – sustained about €1.2 billion ($1.44 billion) in damage, with nine deaths across Saint-Martin and nearby St Barts.

On the British Virgin Islands, entire neighborhoods were flattened.

After a visit to the area, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson described the damage as something “you see in images of from the First World War”.

Virgin boss Richard Branson, who has a home in the Virgin Islands, has been tweeting ahead of the storm’s predicted arrival, warning people to stay safe.

Hurricane Irma also hit the US, with 11 deaths being linked to the hurricane. Nearly 6.9 million homes were left without power in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama.

A second hurricane, Jose, is also active in the Atlantic, with maximum sustained winds of 90mph.

The center of the storm was about 335 miles south-east of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, the NHC said in its advisory on September 17.

Tropical storm watches have been issued for parts of the north-eastern US.

Top Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer say they have agreed to reach a deal with President Donald Trump to protect thousands of young undocumented migrants from deportation.

They said they also agreed to work on a border security package that would exclude President Trump’s proposed wall with Mexico.

However, the White House denied the wall had been excluded from proposals.

President Trump scrapped the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program earlier this month.

The Obama-era DACA scheme was put in place to protect so-called “Dreamers” – migrants brought to the US illegally as children – from deportation.

The DACA program, which protect some 800,000 people in the US, also provide temporary permits for work and study.

On September 4, PresidentTrump announced he would cancel the scheme, while giving Congress six months to enact a replacement plan for DACA recipients.

Image source Flickr

DACA: President Trump Expected to End Program Protecting Young Undocumented Immigrants

Donald Trump Wants to Develop Immigration Tracking System

Following talks over dinner at the White House, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said: “We agreed to enshrine the protections of DACA into law quickly, and to work out a package of border security, excluding the wall, that’s acceptable to both sides.”

Democrats have repeatedly said that they will block any legislation that contains funding for the border wall – a key campaign pledge of President Trump’s.

A White House statement was more muted, simply saying that there had been a “constructive working dinner” where tax reform, border security and DACA had been discussed.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later disputed the Democrats’ account.

She tweeted: “While DACA and border security were both discussed, excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.”

Chuck Schumer’s aide replied: “The President made clear he would continue pushing the wall, just not as part of this agreement.”

Republican support would be needed in any immigration legislation, as they have a majority in both the House and the Senate.

Former model Hope Hicks has been named White House Communications Director for President Donald Trump.

The 28-year-old was the interim White House Communications Director and now she will serve in the role on a permanent basis.

The longtime Trump aide is the fourth person to fill the position, replacing Anthony Scaramucci, who was fired in July after just 10 days on the job.

Hope Hicks has served as President Donald Trump’s strategic communications director and campaign press secretary. She was one of the first staffers to join Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. The former Ralph Lauren model worked as a publicist for Ivanka Trump’s fashion label.

Her permanent appointment comes after a summer of staff shake-ups at the White House.

Image source Wikimedia

Anthony Scaramucci Removed as White House Communications Director After 10 Days

Sean Spicer Replaced by Anthony Scaramucci as Trump’s Press Secretary

Anthony Scaramucci was fired after he raised eyebrows for calling a reporter to give a profanity-laced tirade against his own colleagues.

President Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and spokesman, Sean Spicer, both left their posts after Anthony Scaramucci’s appointment.

General John Kelly, who replaced Reince Priebus, sacked Anthony Scaramucci after he was sworn in.

Mike Dubke, who was first appointed as communications director, resigned in May.

Sean Spicer also filled in as communications director while the post was open over the summer.

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President Donald Trump has observed a moment of silence at his first 9/11 commemoration in office, marking the 16th anniversary of the attacks.

The president and First Lady Melania Trump observed a solemn moment of silence at the White House and later at the Pentagon.

Thousands are gathering nationwide to mark the deadliest attack on US soil.

Nearly 3,000 people died after hijackers crashed planes into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a rural Pennsylvania field in 2001.

President Trump and the first lady observed a moment of silence at the Pentagon at 09:37, when US officials say American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the building.

“Our values will endure, our people will thrive, our nation will prevail, and the memory of our loved ones will never, ever die,” Donald Trump said afterwards.

President Trump joined Defense Secretary James Mattis and General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Department of Defense to remember the lives lost on 9/11.

“The terrorists who attacked us thought they could incite fear and weaken the spirit. Those who try will soon join the long list of vanquished enemies who dare to test our mettle,” he said.

Image source Flickr

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President Trump acknowledged the more than five million young men and women who joined the military since 9/11 to “defend our country against barbaric forces of evil and destruction”.

“We are making plain to these savage killers that there is no dark corner beyond our reach, no sanctuary beyond our grasp, and nowhere to hide anywhere on this very large Earth,” he continued.

Earlier, President Trump appeared at the White House for a commemoration.

Meanwhile, relatives of 9/11 victims, survivors, rescuers and others gathered at New York’s 9/11 memorial at 08:46 to mark the exact time the first plane struck the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

The second plane slammed into the South Tower at 09:03.

The names of the 3,000 killed were read aloud at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum as bells rang out in memory of the dead.

Each year on the anniversary, two light beams illuminate the sky in place of the two towers.

The fourth plane went down at 10:03 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where crew members wrestled hijackers for control of plane, forcing it down in a rural field instead of its intended target in Washington.

VP Mike Pence and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke appeared in Shanksville, where ground was broken a day before for a 93ft tower at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

The Tower of Voices will remember the 33 passengers and seven crew members who died on Flight 93.

The eye of Hurricane Irma has hit mainland Florida, just south of Naples, amid warnings of storm surges as high as 15ft.

The hurricane has been downgraded to a category 3 storm, but made landfall on Marco Island off Florida’s west coast with winds of up to 120mph.

More than 1 million homes across Florida are without power, and parts of the city of Miami are under water.

Irma has devastated parts of the Caribbean, killing at least 27 people.

Image source NASA

Hurricane Irma Strengthens to Category 4 Storm as It Approaches Florida

Hurricane Irma Hits Cuba on Its Way to Florida

Hurricane Irma Will Devastate Either Florida or Neighboring States, Says FEMA

Some 6.3 million people in Florida had been told to evacuate.

Irma hit Marco Island at 15:35 local time. It had earlier barreled through the Florida Keys, a chain of low-lying islands to the south.

The whole of the southern tip of Florida has seen high winds, driving rain and storm surges,

About 2ft of water has been seen in Miami’s financial district, where one major street resembled a river, but the worst damage is expected on the west coast.

President Donald Trump described hurricane Irma as a “big monster”. He praised the federal agencies involved with the storm and said he would go to Florida “very soon”.

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Hurricane Irma has hit Cuba with strong winds and heavy rain after devastating several Caribbean islands.

The monster storm made landfall on the Camaguey Archipelago, in Cuba’s north-east, as a category 5 storm but has now weakened to a category 3.

The Bahamas have largely been spared.

In Florida, 5.6 million people, or 25% of the state’s population, have been told to leave as the storm approaches. At least 20 people are known to have died so far across the Caribbean.

Hurricane Irma hit the Sabana-Camaguey Archipelago on September 8, threatening nearby coastal towns and villages.

It was the first category 5 hurricane to hit Cuba in decades. It weakened to category 3 by September 9 lunchtime but is expected to strengthen again as it approaches Florida.

According to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), at 12:00 GMT, Irma had maximum sustained winds of 130mph.

Irma has brought vast amounts of rainfall to parts of Cuba, with extensive flooding reported in the fishing village of Caibarien.

Power lines have been brought down in several parts of the central province of Camaguey, and communication is becoming increasingly difficult with towns in more remote areas.

Thousands of people have been evacuated but many others stayed to ride out the storm.

Image source Flickr

Hurricane Irma Will Devastate Either Florida or Neighboring States, Says FEMA

Hurricane Irma: At Least 9 Dead In Caribbean Islands, Heads Toward Puerto Rico

Hurricane Harvey Hits Texas with 130Mph Winds

Cuban officials reported “significant damage”, without giving further details, but said there were no confirmed casualties yet, AFP news agency reported.

About 50,000 tourists are fleeing or have fled Cuba, with resorts on the north coast now empty, Reuters reports.

Hurricane Irma is expected to hit Florida on September 10, but the outer bands are already affecting the south of the state and downtown Miami is being lashed by heavy rain.

About 25,000 people are currently without electricity, energy provider Florida Power and Light reported.

Florida Governor Rick Scott issued a stark warning to those in threatened areas on the west coast.

“Look, it’s getting late,” he told NBC.

“If you’re not on the road on the west coast by noon, you need to get to a shelter, get to a friend’s house if you’re in an evacuation zone. Get off the road.”

Governor Scott said that storm surges in coastal areas could be as high as 12ft, adding that people “cannot survive this”.

Some 50,000 people have gone to shelters throughout the state, he said.

Media reports say shelters in some areas have been filling up quickly and some people have been turned away.

A powerful earthquake has struck off Mexico’s southern coast killing at least six people.

The 8.1-magnitude tremor was described by Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto as the country’s strongest in a century.

Another person also died in neighboring Guatemala, the president has said.

The earthquake, measured at 8.1 by the US Geological Survey (USGS) but higher by Mexico, struck in the Pacific, about 54 miles south-west of Pijijiapan.

A tsunami warning has been issued for Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama and Honduras.

The earthquake was felt in Mexico City, with buildings swaying and people running into the street. The tremors there, about 1,000km from the epicenter, were reported to have lasted up to a minute.

President Enrique Peña Nieto said some 50 million Mexicans would have felt the tremor and that the death toll might rise.

Four deaths were reported in Mexico’s Chiapas state, near the epicenter, and two more in Tabasco state.

Severe damage was reported in southern Mexico and in western Guatemala.

Image source Wikimedia

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Social media images showed collapsed buildings in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, including in the city of the same name and in Juchitan, where the municipal palace was leveled.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said that tsunami waves “reaching more than three meters above the tide level are possible along the coasts of Mexico”. There is a coastal evacuation in Chiapas state.

The earthquake struck at a depth of 70km, the USGS said.

At magnitude 8.1, the quake outstrips the deadly 1985 tremor that hit close to Mexico City and caused thousands of deaths.

The Mexican interior ministry has given the latest quake a higher magnitude, of 8.4.

More than 10 aftershocks ranging from 4.3 to 5.7 in magnitude have been recorded closer to the Mexican coast, off the town of Paredon.

President Peña Nieto warned there might be more.

He also said the Salina Cruz refinery on the southern coast had temporarily suspended operations.

Schools have been closed in 11 Mexican states.

Some electricity cuts have been reported in the capital and social media video showed lampposts swaying violently, but there are no reports of major damage there.

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales appealed for calm on national TV and in a Twitter post.

“We have reports of some damage and the death of one person, even though we still don’t have exact details,” Associated Press quoted Jimmy Morales as saying.

No tsunami warning has been issued for the US west coast.

Mexico is currently also being threatened on its eastern coast by Hurricane Katia.

The category one hurricane is about 300km south-east of Tampico and has sustained winds of 140km/h the National Hurricane Center says.

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According to new reports, President Donald Trump has decided to scrap a program that protects young undocumented immigrants.

The president will give Congress six months to draw up legislation to replace the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), sources quoted by media say.

According to a Politico report, the decision is considered a compromise amid strong support for the scheme.

However, the sources cautioned that President Trump could still change his mind.

President Trump is due to formally announce his decision on September 5.

The Obama-era DACA program protects hundreds of thousands of so-called “Dreamers” from deportation and provides work and study permits.

According to Politico, the White House informed House Speaker Paul Ryan of President Trump’s decision on September 3.

Paul Ryan last week urged the president not to scrap the scheme, arguing it left many young people “in limbo”.

“These are kids who know no other country, who were brought here by their parents and don’t know another home,” he said.

Image source Flickr

Supreme Court Blocks Barack Obama’s Immigration Plan

Barack Obama announces changes to immigration policy

Donald Trump Wants to Develop Immigration Tracking System

Paul Ryan is one of a growing number of Republican lawmakers and business leaders to speak out against scrapping the program.

While campaigning for office, Donald Trump took a hard-line on immigration and said he planned to “immediately terminate” the DACA program.

However, since then Donald Trump has said he finds the subject “very, very tough”.

The president said he intends to show “great heart” in dealing with what he described as, in many cases, “incredible kids”.

The decision to give Congress six months to draft an alternative is seen as a compromise after Republican lawmakers and business leaders from companies including Google, General Motors and Microsoft urged President Trump to retain the program.

On September 3, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted: “Thanks to Dreamers’ courage & resolve, #DACA has allowed thousands of young people to contribute to our society. We’re better for it.”

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Cuban-American Republican Representative from Florida, also took to Twitter to vent her frustration, saying: “After teasing #Dreamers for months with talk of his <<great heart>>, @POTUS slams door on them. Some <<heart>>.”

The DACA program protects roughly 750,000 people in the US from deportation and provides temporary permits for work and study.

In order to qualify for DACA, applicants under the age of 30 submit personal information to the Department of Homeland Security.

They must go through an FBI background check and have a clean criminal background, and either be in school, recently graduated or have been honorably discharged from the military.

In exchange, the US government agrees to “defer” any action on their immigration status for a period of two years.

The majority of so-called Dreamer immigrants in the US are from Mexico and other Latin American countries.

According to US officials, a suspected acoustic attack on US embassy staff in Cuba was reported as recently as last month.

It was originally thought that the incidents had ended several months ago.

The State Department also said the number of staff who have reported health problems had increased to 19.

It comes as the union representing diplomatic staff says some victims suffered mild brain injuries and permanent hearing loss.

Cuba has denied any involvement in the attacks and says it is investigating the reports.

US embassy staff and at least one Canadian began to notice symptoms late last year.

However, the affair was first reported in August when the US expelled two Cuban diplomats from Washington.

Imae source Wikimedia

US Expels Two Cuban Diplomats after Mystery Incidents in Havana

Cuba Mystery Illness: Canadian Diplomat Treated for Hearing Loss and Headaches

Raul Castro Criticizes Donald Trump’s Rollback on Cuba

US officials said the expulsions were in protest at Cuba’s failure to protect its diplomats.

Sonic devices may have been used to emit inaudible sound waves that can cause deafness.

On September 1, the US government confirmed that an incident took place as recently as August and that the number of staff reporting problems had increased.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “We can’t rule out new cases as medical professionals continue to evaluate members of the embassy community.”

In a statement, the American Foreign Service Association, which represents US diplomatic and international aid staff, said it had spoken to 10 people who had received treatment.

“Diagnoses include mild traumatic brain injury and permanent hearing loss, with such additional symptoms as loss of balance, severe headaches, cognitive disruption and brain swelling,” the statement said.

The American Foreign Service Association urged the government to do everything possible to help those affected and to “ensure that these incidents cease and are not repeated”.

The statement is the first time that the hearing loss has been described as permanent. It is understood that “mild traumatic brain injury” could include concussion or headaches.

The State Department is yet to blame anyone for the incidents.

The US mission in Cuba was reopened as a full embassy in 2015 following 50 years of hostilities between the two countries.

The result of Kenya’s presidential election has been annulled by the country’s Supreme Court after citing irregularities.

The court ordered a new election within 60 days.

The election commission had declared incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta the winner by a margin of 1.4 million votes.

His opponent, Raila Odinga, said the commission was “rotten” and demanded resignations and prosecutions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said he would respect the court’s decision but also branded the judges “crooks”.

Other elections in Africa have been annulled or canceled but this appears to be the first time on the continent that an opposition court challenge against a presidential poll result has been successful.

Chief Justice David Maraga said the August 8 election had not been “conducted in accordance with the constitution” and declared it “invalid, null and void”.

He said the verdict was backed by four of the six Supreme Court judges.

The announcement drew cheers from opposition supporters both inside and outside the courtroom.

The court ruling did not attribute any blame to Uhuru Kenyatta’s party or campaign.

Uhuru Kenyatta has been sworn in as Kenya's president after winning elections against Raila Odinga back in March

Image source Wikimedia

Justice David Maraga said the election commission had failed “to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the constitution”.

He said the commission had committed irregularities “in the transmission of results”, adding that the court would provide details in a full judgment within 21 days.

Dissenting judges said that the Nasa opposition alliance – which had petitioned the Supreme Court – failed to prove claims that the polls had been rigged.

The election sparked days of sporadic protests, in which at least 28 people were killed. The vote had raised fears of major political violence – as was the case after a disputed poll in 2007.

Raila Odinga, 72, said the ruling marked “a historic day for the people of Kenya and by extension for the people of the continent of Africa”.

He said: “It is now clear that the entire [electoral commission] is rotten.

“It is clear that the real election results were never shared with Kenyans. Someone must take responsibility.”

He added: “We won the elections and we are going to win them again.”

In a TV address, President Kenyatta said that it was “important to respect the rule of law even if you disagree with the Supreme Court ruling”.

He called for calm, saying: “Your neighbor will still be your neighbor, regardless of what has happened… My primary message today to every single Kenyan is peace. Let us be people of peace.”

Uhuru Kenyatta, 55, added: “We are ready to go back again to the people with the same agenda that we delivered to the people.”

The president was more combative later at a rally of supporters in a market in Nairobi.

He referred to Justice David Maraga and his fellow judges as wakora (crooks in Swahili), saying they had “decided to cancel the election”. He warned the chief justice that as the poll had been annulled he was now the president again, not president-elect.

“Do you understand me? Maraga should know that he is now dealing with the serving president,” the president said.

“We are keeping a close eye on them. But let us deal with the election first. We are not afraid.”

After the election, international monitors from the EU, the African Union and the US had said there was no major fraud on polling day and urged Raila Odinga to concede.

On September 1, Marietje Schaake, the head of the EU Observer Mission, said the court ruling represented “a historic day for Kenya and we have always said that people who feel aggrieved should seek the path of the courts”.

She said the monitors had at the time pointed to irregularities and encouraged the Kenyan authorities to deal with them.

Marietje Schaake said the monitors were awaiting the full details of the ruling.

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The White House has announced it will ask the Congress for emergency funding to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

President Donald Trump is expected to propose an initial $5.9 billion. Texas authorities say the state might need more than $125 billion.

At least 39 people have died in the storm and its aftermath. East of Houston, floodwaters are still rising.

Visiting Texas, VP Mike Pence promised federal help to “rebuild bigger and better than ever before”.

Mike Pence said 311,000 people had registered for disaster assistance. It is not yet clear how quickly funds might reach victims.

Visiting the battered town of Rockport, Mike Pence paid tribute to the people of Texas: “The resilience of the people of Texas has been inspiring.”

He added: “The American people are with you. We are here today, we will be here tomorrow and we will be here every day until this city and this state and this region rebuild bigger and better than ever before.”

Image source Flickr

Tropical Storm Harvey Slams Louisiana after Hovering in Gulf of Mexico

Houston Flooding: Five People Dead in Hurricane Harvey Aftermath

Hurricane Harvey: Texas at Risk of Severe Flooding

The White House also said President Trump would donate $1 million of his own money to the relief effort.

Firefighters in Houston have been carrying out door-to-door searches for survivors and bodies in an operation that could take up to two weeks.

Rescue operations are still continuing further east, where floodwaters are still rising.

Hundreds of thousands of residents who were evacuated or chose to leave are being warned not to return home until they are told it is safe to do so.

Earlier, a senior White House aide said about 100,000 homes, not all of which were fully insured, had been affected by the storm and the flooding that accompanied it.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said its teams had rescued more than 3,800 people, and more than 90,000 had already been approved for disaster assistance.

FEMA also warned that residents were being targeted by scams. There are reports of criminals impersonating inspectors and immigration officials.

Others were receiving fraudulent calls about flood insurance claiming a premium must be paid or coverage would be lost.

Energy suppliers in southern Texas were forced to shut down refineries and close off pipelines, sending petrol prices higher across the US. Many have restarted operations, but it could take weeks before production is back to normal.

Residents returning to their homes are also facing challenges.

The Environmental Protection Agency is warning residents that floodwater can contain bacteria and other contaminants from overflowing sewers. It said the biggest threat to public health was access to safe drinking water.

One chemical plant in Crosby, near Houston, caught fire on August 31, and more fires are expected in the coming days.

Chemicals stored at the flooded Arkema plant are no longer being refrigerated, making them combustible.

Residents have been evacuated from the plant in a 1.5 mile radius, and smoke was seen rising from the site on August 31.

President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump are expected to return to Texas on September 2.

The president visited Texas earlier in the week but limited his visit to Corpus Christi, which avoided the worst of the flooding, over fears his presence could divert resources from rescue efforts.

Storm Harvey has been downgraded to a tropical depression and is expected to dissipate in Ohio on Saturday evening.

Several inches of rainfall are expected in Tennessee and Kentucky over the next two days, and flood warnings remain in effect in parts of Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana.

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The US ordered Russia to close its San Francisco consulate and two trade missions in response to “unwarranted” Russian action, the State Department has announced.

The San Francisco consulate, and annexes in New York and Washington, must close by September 2.

The State Department’s move follows Moscow’s reduction of US diplomatic staff in Russia last month.

That in turn followed new US sanctions on Russia over Crimea and alleged election interference, which led to the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats.

In December 2016, former President Barack Obama had ordered those expulsions, along with the closure of two compounds.

Although Russian President Vladimir Putin did not respond initially to that move, with President Trump set to assume office, he then announced on July 31 a reduction of 755 US diplomatic staff in Russia, in retaliation for the US sanctions.

The US diplomats expelled have until September 1 to leave Russia – a day before the US closures of the Russian consulate and two annexes, which are trade missions, must be completed.

Image source Wikimedia

A senior administration official said on August 31 that the consulate and the residence attached to it as well as the two trade missions would close but no Russian staff would be required to leave the US.

Russia will be allowed to maintain the properties, but not use them, the official added.

According to the State Department, the US actions were “in the spirit of parity”. It blamed Russia for what it called a downward spiral in bilateral ties, but suggested it wanted an end to the current spat.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement: “The United States hopes that, having moved toward the Russian Federation’s desire for parity, we can avoid further retaliatory actions by both sides and move forward to achieve the stated goal of both our presidents: improved relations between our two countries and increased co-operation on areas of mutual concern.”

The move leaves each country with three consulates in place, Heather Nauert added.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a phone call on August 31, expressing “regret at the escalation of tensions in bilateral relations”.

According to a statement from the Russian foreign ministry, Sergei Lavrov said Moscow would study the order and respond accordingly.

Sergei Lavrov and Rex Tillerson are due to meet in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.

Earlier this month, President Trump said US relations with Russia were at a “dangerous low” amid a row with Congress over the fresh sanctions against Moscow.

The president, who wanted warmer ties with Russia, had opposed the bill, which included a provision that limits his ability to lift sanctions and forces him to consult Congress first.

President Trump has been dogged by claims that Russia tried to sway the election in his favor and several investigations are under way to determine whether anyone from his campaign colluded with Moscow.

However, Russia has repeatedly denied interfering and President Trump has insisted that there was no collusion, calling the investigations a “witch hunt”.

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Venezuela’s controversial constituent assembly has unanimously voted to put opposition leaders on trial for treason.

It said it would pursue those it accuses of supporting US economic sanctions against Venezuela.

The US approved the measures last week in response to what it called the “dictatorship” of President Nicolás Maduro.

Nicolás Maduro has accused the US of trying to cripple Venezuela’s economy amid an ongoing economic crisis.

On August 25, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to ban trade in Venezuelan debt or the sale of bonds from its state oil company.

The president’s reasons included “serious abuses of human rights” as well as the creation of the “illegitimate” constituent assembly, which the US accuses of usurping the democratically elected parliament.

Image source Wikipedia

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The constituent assembly, which was convened by President Nicolás Maduro and is made up of government supporters, has been condemned by international leaders as unconstitutional.

On August 29, members of the assembly unanimously approved a decree calling for the investigation of “traitors” who supported the economic sanctions.

During the three-hour session, they took turns denouncing those who have been critical of the government in ever more colorful language.

Among those they attacked for allegedly being “engaged in the promotion of these immoral actions against the interests of the Venezuelan people” were not only members of opposition parties but also former supporters of the socialist government.

The sacked chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega, who over the past months has become one of the most vocal critics of the government, came in for particular vitriol.

Constituent assembly member Iris Varela called Luisa Ortega “scum”. She also said that Luisa Ortega “crawled like a worm” and “sold her homeland for a few dollars she stole from this country”.

Luisa Ortega was fired by the constituent assembly in its first session earlier this month and replaced by a loyal government supporter, Tarek William Saab.

She has since traveled to a number of Latin American countries denouncing alleged government corruption in Venezuela.

The head of the opposition-controlled parliament, Julio Borges, was named as “one of the real enemies of Venezuela” for asking US bank Goldman Sachs to stop buying Venezuelan bonds.

Julio Borges reacted by saying that it was time the government stopped looking for others to blame for Venezuela’s economic and political crisis.

“The only one responsible is Maduro and it’s time he takes a look in the mirror and accepts he has ruined Venezuela,” Julio Borges told reporters.

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The euro has reached an 18-month high against US dollar as the prospect of a US interest rate rise recedes.

The European currency hit $1.20 for the first time since January 2015.

Hurricane Harvey’s impact has led analysts to assume the Federal Reserve will not want to risk curbing economic growth and fears over North Korea’s activities have unnerved investors.

A rise in interest rates tends to draw investors to a currency, taking advantage of the higher returns.

Meanwhile, the euro has itself been gaining against a range of currencies.

Against the dollar, the euro has risen by almost 15% so far this year.

Image source Public Domain Pictures

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Euro reaches 9-year low against US dollar

Europe Stock Markets Surge on Fed Interest Rate Decision

The euro has strengthened in recent months, as the eurozone’s economy improves and markets predict the European Central Bank could start to cut back the money-printing program it has been running to repair the ravages of the eurozone crisis and credit crunch of the late 2000s.

The dollar was also undermined by August 25 annual meeting of central bankers at the Jackson Hole resort in Wyoming at which Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen’s speech gave no hint that the central back was planning any policy change that would support the dollar.

At the same event, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi did nothing to talk down the euro.

Euro strength has left the pound at its weakest for almost a year. It buys 1.0759 euros in the wholesale currency markets, making a euro worth a much as 92.95p.

Sterling buys $1.2955 currently.

Tourist rates tend to be below those of the markets, sometimes by quite a bit.

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President Donald Trump’s decision to pardon former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio over his criminal contempt conviction was wrong, Paul Ryan has said.

The top-ranking Republican in Congress said that he did not agree with the decision.

Joe Arpaio, 85, was found guilty after he defied a court order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected immigrants.

The former sheriff said his conviction was “a witch hunt by the Obama justice department”.

Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan is the latest senior politician to condemn Joe Arpaio’s pardon.

His spokesman said in a statement: “Law enforcement officials have a special responsibility to respect the rights of everyone in the United States. We should not allow anyone to believe that responsibility is diminished by this pardon.”

Image source Flickr

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Other prominent Republican critics include Arizona Senator John McCain and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. Arizona’s other Republican Senator Jeff Flake also condemned the move as did Democrats and human rights campaigners.

Joe Arpaio’s lawyer Jack Wilenchik said that those critical of his pardon were wrong because he was unfairly prosecuted – there was no jury in his case.

The former sheriff was an eager supporter of Donald Trump’s campaign to become president and backed tougher policies to combat illegal immigration.

In a statement announcing the pardon, his first, President Trump said: “Arpaio’s life and career, which began at the age of 18 when he enlisted in the military after the outbreak of the Korean War, exemplify selfless public service.

“Throughout his time as sheriff, Arpaio continued his life’s work of protecting the public from the scourges of crime and illegal immigration.

“Sheriff Joe Arpaio is now 85 years old, and after more than 50 years of admirable service to our nation, he is a worthy candidate for a presidential pardon.”

Joe Arpaio has said that he may consider running for political office again, despite his age.

He lost a bid for re-election in Arizona’s Maricopa County in November 2016, after 24 years in office.

Joe Arpaio could have faced six months in jail at his sentencing in October.

He served in the US military before he became a police officer – where he quickly acquired a reputation for his anti-immigration stance and tough enforcement tactics.

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Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra fled to Dubai ahead of the verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme, members of her party have said.

Puea Thai Party sources said Yingluck Shinawatra left Thailand last week.

It was revealed on August 25 that Yingluck Shinawatra, who is charged with negligence, had gone abroad but the destination was not known.

When the former prime minister failed to appear in court, an arrest warrant was issued and her bail was confiscated.

Dubai is where her brother, former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, lives in self-imposed exile. He went there to avoid a 2008 jail sentence for corruption.

“We heard that she went to Cambodia and then Singapore, from where she flew to Dubai. She has arrived safely and is there now,” a senior member of the Shinawatras’ party told Reuters.

Deputy national police chief General Srivara Rangsibrahmanakul said police had no record of Yingluck Shinawatra leaving the country and were following the matter closely.

Image source Wikimedia

Former Thai PM Yingluck Shinawatra Flees Country Ahead of Verdict

Yingluck Shinawatra ordered to stand trial for negligence over rice subsidy scheme

Yingluck Shinawatra indicted over Thai rice subsidy scheme

Thailand’s Deputy PM Wissanu Krea-ngam said Yingluck Shinawatra’s location would “be clear soon”.

Judges have postponed the negligence verdict until September 27.

Yingluck Shinawatra, 50, has denied any wrongdoing in the rice subsidy scheme, which cost Thailand billions of dollars.

If found guilty at the end of the two-year trial, the former prime minister could be jailed for up to 10 years and permanently banned from politics.

Yingluck Shinawatra’s lawyer had requested a delay in the ruling, telling the Supreme Court that she had vertigo and a severe headache and was unable to attend.

However, the court said in a statement that it did not believe she was sick as there was no medical certificate, and that the alleged sickness was not severe enough to prevent her travelling to court.

The statement said: “Such behavior convincingly shows that she is a flight risk. As a result, the court has issued an arrest warrant and confiscated the posted bail money.”

Yingluck Shinawatra posted $900,000 bail at the beginning of her trial.

Thailand’s first female prime minister was impeached in 2015 over the rice scheme by a military-backed legislature, which then brought the legal case.

The scheme, part of Yingluck Shinawatra’s election campaign platform, was launched shortly after she took office.

It was aimed at boosting farmers’ incomes and alleviating rural poverty, and saw the government paying farmers nearly twice the market rate for their crop.

However, it hit Thailand’s rice exports hard, leading to a loss of at least $8 billion and huge stockpiles of rice which the government could not sell.

Though it was popular with Yingluck Shinawatra’s rural voter base, opponents said the scheme was too expensive and open to corruption.

Salvează

President Donald Trump has signed a memo restoring a military ban on transgender people, which was lifted under President Barack Obama.

The memo also ceases the use of government funds for gender-reassignment surgery for active personnel.

However, President Trump left Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to decide whether to retain existing transgender recruits.

The reinstated ban, justified on grounds of cost and disruption, faces a legal challenge by transgender rights activists.

Jennifer Levi, an official at Glad (GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders), said in a statement: “This policy is a shameful slap in the face to people who put their lives on the line everyday to defend our country…

“We are moving quickly with our plaintiffs to see that a court puts a stop to this latest demonstration of President Trump playing politics with people’s lives.”

Between 4,000 and 10,000 US active-duty and reserve service members are believed to be transgender.

Image source Flickr

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After the Obama administration announced in 2016 that transgender people would be allowed to serve openly in the military, many active duty members came out.

The memo was widely anticipated following the president’s tweets about the issue last month.

President Trump directed the military to “return to the longstanding policy and practice on military service by transgender individuals prior to June 2016”.

Donald Trump suggested that President Obama had not thought through whether the policy would “hinder military effectiveness and lethality, [or] disrupt unit cohesion”.

The president said he had done the Pentagon a “great favor” by banning transgender troops, saying the issue had been “complicated” and “confusing” for the military.

The Obama-era policy had included a provision for the military to provide medical help for service members wanting to change gender.

In his memo, President Trump directed the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security to stop using government funds for gender-reassignment procedures unless it was necessary .

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Border controls have been tightened in Thailand after former PM Yingluck Shinawatra failed to show up for the verdict in her trial over a rice subsidy scheme.

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan said it was possible the former prime minister had already fled the country.

Lawyers for Yingluck Shinawatra, who is charged with negligence, said she was unable to attend court because she was ill.

However, the Supreme Court issued an arrest warrant for her, confiscated her bail of $900,000 and delayed the verdict to September 27.

Yingluck Shinawatra has denied any wrongdoing in the scheme which cost Thailand billions of dollars. If found guilty, she could be jailed for up to 10 years and permanently banned from politics.

On August 25, PM Prayuth Chan-ocha said all routes out of Thailand were being closely monitored.

“I just learned that she did not show up [at court],” he told reporters.

“I have ordered border checkpoints to be stepped up.”

Prawit Wongsuwan initially said he had no information on Yingluck Shinawatra’s whereabouts but as he left a meeting in Bangkok he said: “It is possible that she has fled already.”

Earlier, Yingluck Shinawatra’s lawyer requested a delay in the ruling, telling the court that she had vertigo and a severe headache and was unable to attend.

However, an official Supreme Court statement said it did not believe she was sick as there was no medical certificate and that the claimed sickness was not severe enough that she could not travel to court.

“Such behavior convincingly shows that she is a flight risk. As a result, the court has issued an arrest warrant and confiscated the posted bail money,” the statement said.

Photo CNN

Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra Fled to Dubai

Yingluck Shinawatra ordered to stand trial for negligence over rice subsidy scheme

Yingluck Shinawatra indicted over Thai rice subsidy scheme

Yingluck Shinawatra’s brother, controversial former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, lives in exile after fleeing the country in 2008 to evade a jail term for corruption.

Today’s turn of events took many by surprise, including the hundreds of people who turned up outside the Supreme Court in Bangkok to support Yingluck Shinawatra.

Some supporters outside the court expressed understanding.

Yingluck Shinawatra, who became Thailand’s first female prime minister in 2011, was impeached in 2015 over the rice scheme by a military-backed legislature, which then brought the legal case.

The scheme, part of her election campaign platform, launched shortly after she took office.

It was aimed at boosting farmers’ incomes and alleviating rural poverty, and saw the government paying farmers nearly twice the market rate for their crop.

However, the measure hit Thailand’s rice exports hard, leading to a loss of at least $8 billion and huge stockpiles of rice which the government could not sell.

Though popular with her rural voter base, opponents said the scheme was too expensive and open to corruption.

During her trial, Yingluck Shinawatra had argued she was not responsible for the day-to-day running of the scheme. She has insisted she is a victim of political persecution.

Salvează

Samsung’s heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong has been sentenced to five years in prison for corruption.

He was accused of bribery in a scandal that also saw the impeachment of South Korea’s former president, Park Geun-hye.

The case has gripped the public amid growing anger against South Korea’s biggest companies, known as chaebols.

Lee Jae-yong, who denied all charges, had faced a jail sentence of up to 12 years.

The 49-year-old, also known as Jay Y. Lee, the de facto head of Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, had been detained since February on a string of corruption charges.

These included including bribery, embezzlement and hiding assets overseas.

Image source Reuters

Lee Jae-yong Goes on Trial for Bribery

Lee Jae-yong Goes on Trial over Embezzlement and Perjury Charges

Samsung VP Lee Jae-yong Arrested on Bribery Charges

Lee Jae-yong was accused of giving donations worth 41 billion won ($36 million) to non-profit foundations operated by Choi Soon-sil, a friend of South Korea’s former President Park Geun-hye, in return for political favors.

Prosecutors said the donations were made to Park Geun-hye’s confidante to win government support for a big restructuring of Samsung that would strengthen Lee Jae-yong’s control over Samsung Electronics.

A lawyer for Lee Jae-yonghas said already said they will appeal against the decision.

“We are confident the ruling will be overturned,” lawyer Song Wu-cheol told reporters after the ruling, according to Reuters.

Nevertheless this ruling represents a huge blow to South Korea’s biggest and most well-known business empire. Since the verdict, Samsung shares fell by 1%.

Lee Jae-yong’s conviction raises questions about his leadership of the conglomerate. He has been standing in as chairman since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014.

The Samsung scandal contributed to President Park Geun-hye’s eventual impeachment. Park Geun-hye’s friend, Choi Soon-sil, has already been jailed for three years for corruption.

President Donald Trump says he is willing to close down the US government if necessary to build his wall along the Mexico border.

He told supporters at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, that the opposition Democrats were being “obstructionist”.

During the 80-minute speech, President Trump also took aim at the media, blaming them for giving far right groups “a platform”.

However, Donald Trump selectively quoted his initial response to violence at a far-right rally that left one woman dead.

The president omitted the much-criticized claim that “many sides” had to shoulder the blame for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He wants Congress to finance his controversial plan to build a “big, beautiful” wall along the United States’ border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.

However, Republicans will need the support of Democrats to secure funding for the wall in a government spending bill, which they are unlikely to get.

In his speech, President Trump said the Democrats were “putting all of America’s safety at risk” by opposing the wall. He said immigration officers who worked in the area said it was “vital” to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

He said that, if it came to it, he would risk a government shutdown – which is what happens when legislation funding the federal government cannot be passed by Congress and non-essential services stop.

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“Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me if we have to close down our government, we are building that wall,” President Trump said, adding that “the American people voted for immigration control”.

If he wants a government shutdown all he has to do is refuse to sign a funding bill sent to him by Congress.

Capitol Hill is set to debate a new budget measure this autumn, and unless it is passed federal operations will be in limbo by October 1.

Donald Trump attacked the media in the campaign-style speech, saying reporters had misrepresented his “perfect” words in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was killed after a car ploughed into a crowd of people protesting against far-right demonstrators including neo-Nazis.

The president accused “truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media” of “trying to take away our history and heritage” because, he said, they “don’t like our country”.

Donald Trump quoted his first public response to the violence on August 12, which was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for not clearly condemning the far-right.

He said: “This is what I said on Saturday: <<We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,>> – this is me speaking. <<We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.>> That’s me speaking on Saturday, right after the event.”

However, the president’s full quote was: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

Separately, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has criticized the US for what it said was a “failure at the highest political level” to reject “racist violent events”.

Referring to Charlottesville, the committee it was issuing a rare “early warning”, which has been used in recent years in countries including Burundi, Iraq, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.

President Donald Trump says he is willing close down the US government if necessary to build his wall along the Mexico border.

He told supporters at a “Make America Great Again” rally in Phoenix, Arizona, that the opposition Democrats were being “obstructionist”.

During the 80-minute speech, President Trump also took aim at the media, blaming them for giving far right groups “a platform”.

However, Donald Trump selectively quoted his initial response to violence at a far-right rally that left one woman dead.

The president omitted the much-criticized claim that “many sides” had to shoulder the blame for violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He wants Congress to finance his controversial plan to build a “big, beautiful” wall along the United States’ border with Mexico to keep out illegal immigrants.

However, Republicans will need the support of Democrats to secure funding for the wall in a government spending bill, which they are unlikely to get.

In his speech, President Trump said the Democrats were “putting all of America’s safety at risk” by opposing the wall. He said immigration officers who worked in the area said it was “vital” to stem the flow of illegal immigrants.

He said that, if it came to it, he would risk a government shutdown – which is what happens when legislation funding the federal government cannot be passed by Congress and non-essential services stop.

“Now the obstructionist Democrats would like us not to do it, but believe me if we have to close down our government, we are building that wall,” President Trump said, adding that “the American people voted for immigration control”.

If he wants a government shutdown all he has to do is refuse to sign a funding bill sent to him by Congress.

Capitol Hill is set to debate a new budget measure this autumn, and unless it is passed federal operations will be in limbo by October 1.

Donald Trump attacked the media in the campaign-style speech, saying reporters had misrepresented his “perfect” words in the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, where Heather Heyer was killed after a car ploughed into a crowd of people protesting against far-right demonstrators including neo-Nazis.

The president accused “truly dishonest people in the media and the fake media” of “trying to take away our history and heritage” because, he said, they “don’t like our country”.

Donald Trump quoted his first public response to the violence on August 12, which was criticized by both Republicans and Democrats for not clearly condemning the far-right.

He said: “This is what I said on Saturday: <<We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia,>> – this is me speaking. <<We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.>> That’s me speaking on Saturday, right after the event.”

However, the president’s full quote was: “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.”

Separately, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has criticized the US for what it said was a “failure at the highest political level” to reject “racist violent events”.

Referring to Charlottesville, the committee it was issuing a rare “early warning”, which has been used in recent years in countries including Burundi, Iraq, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.

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Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the country on August 19, after three months in London for medical treatment.

Officials refused to disclose what the president was being treated for.

It was Muhammadu Buhari’s second spell of medical leave this year – leading many Nigerians to question whether he was well enough to run the country.

Muhammadu Buhari, 74, walked unaided from the plane after landing in capital Abuja.

The president was greeted by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who has acted as interim leader, and was accorded a military salute.

He made no statement and immediately traveled to the presidential residence.

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Muhammadu Buhari, who took office in May 2015, handed over power to Vice President Osinbajo to allay concerns of a void at the helm of Africa’s biggest economy.

The president’s absence sparked numerous protests, including demands that he should resign, as well as calls for more transparency about his condition.

There has been speculation about Muhammadu Buhari’s health since June 2016, when he first went to London for treatment of what his aides said was a persistent ear infection.

Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman said he will address Nigerians on August 21.

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Tens of thousands of anti-racism protesters have marched against the “Free Speech” rally in Boston that featured right-wing speakers.

The rally on Boston Common, which attracted only a small crowd, disbanded early and the participants were escorted out by police.

The conservative rally organizers had said they would not give a platform to racism or bigotry.

Tensions are high after violent demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virgina, last weekend turned deadly.

Up to 30,000 people attended the counter-protest, The Boston Herald reported. Demonstrators had gathered at a Boston sports centre and then marched en masse to the common.

Many wore stickers with the face of Heather Heyer, who died when a car was driven into a crowd of counter-protesters at last Saturday’s far-right rally in Charlottesville.

Image source Getty Images

The crowd chanted “No Nazis, no KKK, no fascists in the USA!” and carried banners with slogans such as “Stop pretending your racism is patriotism”.

Hundreds of police, many on cycles, were deployed but no violence was reported. Large vehicles were positioned along with concrete barriers to prevent access to the park.

The organizers of the rally said that “misinformation in the media” was “likening our organization to those that ran the Charlottesville rally”.

“While we maintain that every individual is entitled to their freedom of speech and defend that basic human right, we will not be offering our platform to racism or bigotry,” the group wrote on a Facebook page dedicated to the event.

“We denounce the politics of supremacy and violence.”

The list of speakers for the free speech event changed a number of times in previous days. At times it included speakers who have been associated with the far right.

The violence in Charlottesville began with a protest and counter-protest over the planned removal of a statue of Confederate commander General Robert E. Lee.

In the aftermath, Confederate statues across America have come under renewed scrutiny.

On August 19, Duke University in North Carolina removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from its chapel entrance, following vandalism earlier in the week.

Venezuela’s new constituent assembly has overwhelmingly voted in favor of assuming the powers of the opposition-led parliament.

However, parliament has rejected the move. President Nicolas Maduro says the new assembly will end political unrest, but many say it is a slide towards dictatorship.

Meanwhile Colombia says Venezuela’s chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega Diaz has arrived in the capital Bogota.

Luisa Ortega Diaz said she feared for her life after being dismissed by the controversial assembly.

Once a staunch supporter of Nicolas Maduro, Luisa Ortega had become a strong critic of the president’s socialist government in recent months.

The former chief prosecutor’s whereabouts had been unknown following her dismissal on August 5.

On August 18, Luisa Ortega told a regional conference via videolink that she had evidence that President Maduro was embroiled in a corruption scandal involving the Brazilian construction company, Odebrecht.

Odebrecht has admitted paying bribes to win contracts in 12 countries, though no Venezuelans have been named.

Image source Wikipedia

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Venezuela’s parliament said citizens and the international community would not recognize the constituent assembly’s new powers.

The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) Luis Almagro called the move an “illegitimate dissolution” of the elected parliament.

Regional economic bloc Mercosur – which includes the region’s two biggest economies Brazil and Argentina – also condemned the move.

Earlier this month, Mercosur suspended Venezuela indefinitely, urging President Maduro to release prisoners and begin a political transition.

The heads of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled parliament and the new assembly have been trading insults on social media.

Parliament head Julio Borges accused the constituent assembly of a “coup” while new assembly head Delcy Rodriguez – a close ally of President Maduro – denounced his “lies”.

President Maduro’s wife and son are among the 545 members of the new assembly, which was set up following a controversial election earlier this month.

More than 120 people have been killed in Venezuela’s violent protests since April.

Nicolas Maduro’s opponents want to hold a vote to remove him, blaming his left-wing administration for food shortages and soaring inflation in the oil-rich country.

Constituent assemblies are set up for the specific purpose of drafting or adopting a constitution, and as such can fundamentally change how a country is run.

Venezuela has seen waves of violent protests, and President Maduro presented the assembly as a way of promoting “reconciliation and peace”.

An ally of Nicolas Maduro, former foreign minister Delcy Rodriguez, is president of the new body

The election for the constituent assembly was marred by violence and accusations of fraud.

Venezuela’s electoral authorities said more than eight million people, or 41.5% of the electorate, had voted, a figure the company that provided the voting system said was inflated.

The opposition boycotted the poll and also held an unofficial referendum in which they said more than seven million Venezuelans voted against the constituent assembly.

The US has imposed sanctions on Presidnet Maduro, with the Trump administration calling him a “dictator”.

The EU and major Latin American nations say they will not recognize the new body.

Nicolas Maduro retains a major ally in Russia, however, and has the support of several left-wing nations in the Americas.