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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.

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At least 15 people have been killed after flash floods caused massive destruction in central Greece.

According to Greek officials, the industrial towns of Mandra, Nea Peramos and Megara, west of the capital Athens, were the most affected.

Many of the dead were elderly people whose bodies were found inside their homes, lovcal reports say. Fast-flowing torrents of red mud flooded roads.

PM Alexis Tsipras declared a period of national mourning in the wake of the tragedy.

Mandra Mayor Yianna Krikouki told state broadcaster ERT: “Everything is lost. The disaster is biblical.”

According to the broadcaster, at least 37 people have been taken to hospital and some are still missing.

Image source Wikimedia

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Bad weather has hit parts of Greece for about a week, but particularly heavy rain overnight caused the sudden flooding, for which locals said they were unprepared.

The force of the water moved vehicles, damaged walls and roofing, and left many homeless as their homes flooded to a life-threatening level.

By November 16, Greece’s fire service said it had received over 600 calls for help and dispatched almost 200 firefighters in 55 vehicles to the towns, which have a combined population in the tens of thousands.

Stavros Fotiou, the deputy mayor of Nea Peramos, told ERT: “The water came down the mountain, millions of tones.”

“Our roads are completely destroyed… 1,000 homes have been flooded, that’s a third of the town,” he added.

The region’s deputy governor, Yiannis Vassileiou, told ERT that emergency services had been prepared for poor weather, but then “the Niagara Falls came down and could not be stopped”.


Alexis Tsipras said that declaring a period of national mourning was “the least we can do”.

The prime minister also vowed to provide aid to the victims and ensure they were housed safely.

President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has released private Twitter correspondence with WikiLeaks after a publication revealed they had communicated shortly before his father’s election.

The Atlantic magazine revealed WikiLeaks had asked Donald Trump Jr. for co-operation and information.

WikiLeaks published leaks of Hillary Clinton campaign emails during the election.

Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyers handed the Twitter direct messages to congressional investigators.

The congressional investigation is one of several looking into allegations of Russian collusion and meddling in the US election.

The largely one-sided transcripts show the president’s son replied only a few times to a series of requests from Wikileaks.

In a series of tweets on November 13, Donald Trump Jr. played down his contact with WikiLeaks, referring to his “whopping 3 responses” which he said one of the congressional committees “has chosen to selectively leak. How ironic!”.

Image source Wikimedia

CIA Hacking Tools Revealed by WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks Publishes CIA Director’s Hacked E-Mails

Donald Trump Jr. Releases Email Chain Showing Russia Communication

Messages show WikiLeaks appeared to have first contacted Donald Trump Jr. on September 20, asking if he knew the origin of an anti-Trump website.

Donald Trump son replied the next day saying: “Off the record I don’t know who that is, but I’ll ask around. Thanks.”

The Atlantic alleges Donald Trump Jr. then emailed senior officials, including Steve Bannon, Kellyanne Conway and Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to tell them WikiLeaks had made contact.

The correspondence between September 2016 and July 2017 shows WikiLeaks urging Donald Trump to share their Clinton files; asking him to supply his tax returns to WikiLeaks and advising him to challenge the result if he lost the election.

The Atlantic piece points out that while Donald Trump Jr. didn’t reply to later messages, timestamps from tweets show instances where he and his father appear to have “acted on its requests” by mentioning or sharing WikiLeaks stories shortly afterwards.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has criticized The Atlantic‘s story.

Julian Assange accuses it of selecting messages that were “edited” and failing to show the full context of the conversations.

He also said the messages were part of the group’s promotional efforts.

He wrote on Twitter: “WikiLeaks can be very effective at convincing even high-profile people that it is their interest to promote links to its publications.”

Donald Trump Jr.’s lawyer Alan Futerfas told The Atlantic: “Over the last several months, we have worked co-operatively with each of the committees and have voluntarily turned over thousands of documents in response to their requests.

“Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum.”

Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore has been accused of assault by a fifth woman as GOP leaders increase calls for him to “step aside”.

Beverly Young Nelson, 56, has revealed she was 16 years old when Roy Moore allegedly tried to force himself on her after offering a ride home from her job as a waitress.

The woman said: “I tried fight him off while yelling at him to stop.”

She also said that he locked his car to prevent her escape.

Roy Moore, now 70, denies the allegations, describing them as a “witch hunt”.

However, Senator Cory Gardner, the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, said on November 13 he believes Roy Moore’s accusers “spoke with courage and truth” and the former Alabama Supreme Court judge should be expelled if he is elected.

“If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the United States Senate,” Cory Gardner said.

Beverly Young Nelson’s accusation comes after four other women detailed allegations of assault by the conservative firebrand while they were teenagers in Alabama.

The woman said she met Roy Moore during the late 1970s at the Olde Hickory House restaurant in Gadsen, Alabama, where she worked as a waitress while she was a teenager.

Beverly Young Nelson claimed Roy Moore, a 30-year-old deputy district attorney at the time, offered to sign her high school yearbook and wrote: “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas.”

He signed it “Love, Roy Moore, DA”, according to a copy of the yearbook page provided to reporters by her attorney, Gloria Allred.

About a week or two later, Roy Moore allegedly offered to drive her home and instead drove to the back of the restaurant car park.

At a news conference on November 13, Beverly Young Nelson told reporters: “I was terrified. He was also trying to pull my shirt off. I thought he was going to rape me.”

“At some point he gave up and he then looked at me and he told me, <<You’re just a child>>, and he said, <<I am the district attorney of Etowah County. If you tell anyone about this, no one will believe you>>,” she said, adding that her neck was bruised in the struggle.

“He finally allowed me to open the door and I either fell out or he pushed me out.”

Image source Wikimedia

Roy Moore Campaign Chairman Bill Armistead denied the charges, calling the candidate “an innocent man”.

“This is a witch hunt against a man who has had an impeccable career for over 30 years and has always been known as a man of high character,” he said.

Roy Moore’s wife also vehemently denies the allegations, contending that her husband’s accusers are being paid.

Also on November 13, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said that he believed the women accusing Roy Moore of inappropriate behavior.

Mitch McConnell told reporters in his home state of Kentucky that party officials have considered whether another Republican could challenge Roy Moore in next month’s election, through a so-called write-in challenge.

He said Luther Strange, whom Roy Moore beat in the Republican primary earlier this year, was a possible option.

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Last week’s Washington Post story quoted four women by name, including one who alleged Roy Moore initiated contact with her when she was 14 – beneath the legal age of consent in Alabama – while he was a prosecutor in his 30s.

Roy Moore has said the Washington Post story is a fabricated smear by his political opponents, calling it “a prime example of fake news”.

Mitch McConnell previously said Roy Moore should step aside only if the allegations were proven true.

On November 13, he said flatly: “I believe the women. Yes.”

Roy Moore replied in a tweet: “The person who should step aside is @SenateMajLdr Mitch McConnell. He has failed conservatives and must be replaced. #DrainTheSwamp.”

Roy Moore, an outspoken Christian conservative, had been a heavy favorite to win the December 12 election against Democrat Doug Jones.

However, an opinion poll after the allegations surfaced suggested the race was tightening. Alabama has not elected a Democratic senator in a quarter of a century.

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President Donald Trump has revealed he has a “great relationship” with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, after a highly anticipated meeting in the country’s capital Manila.

It was unclear whether President Trump raised human rights violations in the Philippines, despite calls for him to do so.

Barack Obama’s administration had spoken out against Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed almost 4,000 people.

President Trump is almost at the end of an extensive Asia tour.

The first meeting between Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte, which took place at the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit, was closely watched as both are known for striking a controversially outspoken and direct tone.

After the private meeting, President Trump did not respond to questions about whether he had raised the subject of human rights while a spokesman for President Duterte said the topic had not been discussed.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders later said the topic was mentioned briefly in their private meeting, in the context of the war on drugs, but did not give further details.

Image source Getty Images

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On November 10, President Duterte said he stabbed a person to death when he was a teenager. His spokesman later said the remark had been “in jest”.

Since coming into office in 2016, Rodrigo Duterte has presided over a massive crackdown on crime in the Philippines, which critics allege undermines fundamental human rights.

The Filipino president has encouraged extrajudicial killings of those involved in the drug trade, and said he would “be happy to slaughter” three million drug addicts in the country.

Police say they have killed almost 4,000 people in anti-drug operations since 2016. More than 2,000 others have been killed in connection with drug-related crimes.

President Trump has previously praised Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, reportedly telling him: “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing.”

A Philippine government transcript of the April 29 phone call was later leaked to US media.

President Trump and other leaders attending the ASEAN event had already met on Sunday evening at a gala in Manila ahead of the summit.

During the evening, Rodrigo Duterte took to the stage to sing a Filipino hit love song, afterwards saying it had been “on the orders of the commander-in-chief of the United States”.

Demonstrators took to the streets in Manila on November 12 and 13, protesting against Donald Trump’s visit and carrying banners like “Trump Go Home” and “Ban Trump #1 terrorist”.

Riot police used water cannon and sonic alarms to repel the protesters.

Donald Trump’s visit to the Philippines wraps up the president’s five-country trip to Asia which also had him visit Japan, South Korea, China and Vietnam.

At least 335 people have been killed and thousands more injured after a 7.3-magnitude earthquake has shaken the northern border region between Iran and Iraq on November 12.

The majority of those who died were in Iran’s western Kermanshah province. Nearly 4,000 were said to be injured.

Seven people died in Iraq, where people fled into the streets in Baghdad.

Mosques in the capital have been broadcasting prayers through loudspeakers.

One Iranian aid agency said 70,000 people needed shelter after the quake, one of the largest this year.

Iranian state news agency Irna quoted an emergency official as saying 3,950 were injured in Iran alone.

Most of the victims were in the town of Sarpol-e Zahab, about 10 miles from the border, Iran’s emergency services chief, Pir Hossein Koolivand was quoted as saying on Iranian state TV channel Irinn.

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Sarpol-e Zahab’s main hospital was severely damaged, leaving it struggling to treat hundreds of wounded, state TV reported.

Many homes in the mountainous area are made of mud bricks and are at risk of collapse in a significant earthquake like the one that struck on November 12.

Damage was reported in at least eight villages, the head of Iran’s Red Crescent Organization, Morteza Salim, told the channel.

“Some other villages have suffered power cuts and their telecommunications system has also been disturbed,” he said.

Rescue teams were being hampered by landslides, Pir Hossein Koolivand said.

On the Iraqi side, the most extensive damage was in the town of Darbandikhan, 47 miles east of the city of Sulaimaniyah in the Kurdistan Region.

“The situation there is very critical,” Kurdish Health Minister Rekawt Hama Rasheed told Reuters.

The Iraqi ministry of health said 321 people had been wounded in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.

According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), the quake hit at 21:18 local time, about 19 miles southwest of Halabja, near the northeastern border with Iran.

The strike occurred at a relatively shallow depth of 14.4 miles, and tremors were felt in Turkey, Israel and Kuwait.

While being in Vietnam for his Asia tour, President Donald Trump have fired off a series of angry tweets about his war of words with Kim Jong-un and his relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

He wrote: “Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me “old,” when I would NEVER call him “short and fat?” Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

On November 11, North Korea denounced President Trump’s Asia trip, calling it a “warmonger’s visit” and again described the president as a “dotard” – a centuries-old insult for an elderly person.

President Trump responded by suggesting in a tweet that Kim Jong-un was “short and fat”, and complaining: “Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend – and maybe someday that will happen!”

The president also tweeted out a short tirade over criticism of his handling of Vladimir Putin.

Photo AP

Donald Trump: “President Putin Feels Insulted by Allegations of Russian Interference in US Election”

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On November 11, he told reporters that he trusted Vladimir Putin’s word that Russia had not attempted to interfere with the US election, despite a consensus among US intelligence agencies to the contrary.

“When will all the haters and fools out there realize that having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,” Donald Trump wrote.

“There [sic] always playing politics – bad for our country. I want to solve North Korea, Syria, Ukraine, terrorism, and Russia can greatly help!” he added.

He later clarified, after intense criticism, that he supported US intelligence agencies in their conclusion.

“As to whether or not I believe it or not, I’m with our agencies. I believe in our… intelligence agencies,” the president said.

“What he believes, he believes,” he added, of Vladimir Putin’s belief that Russia did not meddle.

He went on and tweeted: “Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our friend with the misspelled reset button? Obama tried also, but he had zero chemistry with Putin.”

Asked at a news conference in Vietnam if he could see himself being friends with Kim Jong-un, President Trump said: “That might be a strange thing to happen but it’s a possibility.

“If it did happen it could be a good thing I can tell you for North Korea, but it could also be good for a lot of other places and be good for the rest the world.

“It could be something that could happen. I don’t know if it will but it would be very, very nice.”

President Trump will travel to Manila on November 12 for the final stop on his Asia tour, before flying back to the US.

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Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy will visit Catalonia for the first time since he imposed direct rule on the north-eastern region two weeks ago.

Mariano Rajoy has called regional elections for December and will address a campaign meeting of his center-right party.

On November 11, some 750,000 people protested in Barcelona against the detention of Catalan leaders.

Several Catalan officials were held after the regional government made a unilateral declaration of independence.

Image source Flickr

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The Catalan crisis was sparked by a disputed referendum held in the region in October, which had been barred by the Spanish courts.

According to Catalan officials, the independence campaign won 92% of the vote, from a turnout of 43%. Many of those who were against independence did not cast votes, refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the referendum.

Spain’s government responded to the referendum by dissolving the Catalan parliament, imposing direct rule, and calling a snap regional election on December 21.

Since the crackdown by Madrid, Catalonia’s sacked President Carles Puigdemont has gone into self-imposed exile in Belgium, and his top allies have been prosecuted.

President Donald Trump said President Vladimir Putin feels insulted by allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

The two leaders briefly met at the APEC summit in Vietnam.

“He said he absolutely did not meddle in our election,” Donald Trump said.

President Trump, who defeated Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, said the allegations were a “Democratic hit job”.

The US intelligence community concluded earlier that Russia had indeed tried to sway the poll in favor of Donald Trump.

The DoJ has appointed special investigator Robert Mueller to examine any possible collusion involving Donald Trump’s team, and legal action has already been taken against several former aides.

Image NBC News

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President Trump has refused to acknowledge a reported assessment by the CIA and other intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

The contents of the emails, passed to WikiLeaks and posted online, were embarrassing to the Democrats and shook up the presidential campaign, which ended in defeat for Hillary Clinton.

In addition to Robert Mueller’s inquiry, congressional committees have been set up to carry out their own investigations.

Relations between the US and Russia have been strained for years, with the Kremlin long accusing Washington of seeking to sway elections in Russia and other ex-Soviet states including Ukraine and Georgia.

While Russian hackers are widely suspected of involvement, there has been no conclusive link to the Kremlin.

Denying that Russia had tried to interfere last year by fostering contacts with Donald Trump’s campaign, Vladimir Putin told reporters in Vietnam: “Everything about the so-called Russian dossier in the US is a manifestation of a continuing domestic political struggle.”

President Trump said he believed President Putin had been “very insulted by” the allegations and that was “not a good thing” for America.

“He [Vladimir Putin] said he didn’t meddle,” the president added.

“I asked him again.”

Asked if he believed President Putin, Donald Trump replied: “He is very, very strong in the fact that he didn’t do it. You have President Putin very strongly, vehemently says he has nothing to do with that. Now, you are not going to get into an argument, you are going to start talking about Syria and the Ukraine.”

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Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was reportedly offered $15 million to help forcibly remove Fethullah Gulen from the US and deliver him to Turkey.

Michael Flynn and his son discussed the alleged plot with Turkish representatives, NBC News and Wall Street Journal report.

The matter is said to be under scrutiny in the wider DoJ investigation of alleged Russian election meddling.

Michael Flynn resigned after misleading the White House about meeting an envoy.

The alleged plot to remove the Muslim cleric was first revealed in March 2017 by former CIA Director James Woolsey.

The Turkish government accuses Fethullah Gulen, who lives in Pennsylvania, of being behind last year’s failed coup.

Fethullah Gulen is viewed as chief political rival to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has repeatedly called for his extradition from the US.

According to the Wall Street Journal, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is focusing on a meeting in mid-December between Michael Flynn and Turkish officials in New York.

Michael Flynn reportedly discussed having Fethullah Gulen transported on a private jet to the Turkish prison island of Imrali.

He was serving on the White House transition team during the reported meeting, which came a month before he joined the Trump administration.

Michael Flynn also met Turkish representatives in September 2016, according to James Woolsey, a board member for Flynn’s consultancy.

James Woolsey has previously told CNN that in September, “there was at least some strong suggestion by one or more of the Americans present at the meeting that we would be able, the United States would be able, through them, to be able to get hold of Gulen”.

Image source Wikimedia

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NBC reported that federal investigators are also looking into whether Michael Flynn tried to push for the return of Fethullah Gulen to Turkey during his time as White House national security adviser.

A spokesman for Michael Flynn’s company has denied he discussed any illegal actions with the Turks.

Michael Flynn was the first aide in Donald Trump’s White House to resign, after only 23 days on the job.

The retired lieutenant general had admitted lying to VP Mike Pence about a meeting with the Russian ambassador in which the lifting of US sanctions was discussed.

Michael Flynn also failed to register as a lobbyist for the Turkish government while he was seeking White House security clearance.

In 2016, his consultancy Flynn Intel Group was paid $530,000 for lobbying on behalf of the Turkish government – work which required him to register as “a foreign agent”.

According to his lawyer , Michael Flynn did not register because he was working for a Turkish businessman, rather than a government official.

Investigators are also looking into the actions of his son, Michel Flynn Jr., who worked closely with him at Flynn Intel Group.

According to both publications, Michael Flynn and the meeting participants discussed a way to free Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who is in a US jail over charges that he evaded US sanctions on Iran.

In a defiant address at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Vietnam, President Donald Trump has said the US will no longer tolerate “chronic trade abuses”.

The president said he would always put US interests first and APEC nations should “abide by fair reciprocal trade”.

In stark contrast, China’s Xi Jinping said globalization was irreversible and voiced support for multilateralism.

Donald Trump has visited China and Japan as part of his five-nation Asia tour.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region – the equivalent of about 60% of the world’s GDP.

Since taking office, President Trump has pursued his “America First” agenda and pulled the US out of the regional Trans-Pacific Partnership – a major trade deal with 12 APEC nations – arguing it would hurt US economic interests.

Image source Flickr

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In a speech in the Vietnamese port city of Da Nang on November 10, President Trump railed against the World Trade Organization, which sets global trade laws, and said it “cannot function properly” if all members do not respect the rules.

Donald Trump complained about trade imbalances, saying the US had lowered market barriers and ended tariffs while other countries had not reciprocated.

“Such practices hurt many people in our country,” the president said, adding that free trade had cost millions of American jobs.

However, President Trump did not lay the blame on APEC countries, and instead accused earlier US administrations of not acting earlier to reverse the trend.

He said America would make bilateral agreements with “any Indo-Pacific partner here who abides by fair reciprocal trade”, but only “on a basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit”.

President Trump has repeatedly referred to the region as “Indo-Pacific”, a term used to define America’s new geopolitical view of Asia.

He had travelled to Da Nang from Beijing, where he had also discussed America’s huge trade imbalance with China.

After attending the APEC summit, President Trump will pay a state visit to the Vietnamese capital Hanoi.

The president will end his 12-day Asian tour in the Philippines on November 13.

Saudi Arabia’s attorney general Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb says at least $100 billion has been misused through systemic corruption and embezzlement in recent decades.

He also said 201 people were being detained for questioning as part of a sweeping anti-corruption drive that began on Saturday night.

Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb did not name any of them, but they reportedly include senior princes, ministers and influential businessmen.

“The evidence for this wrongdoing is very strong,” he said.

The attorney general also stressed that normal commercial activity in the kingdom had not been affected by the crackdown, and that only personal bank accounts had been frozen.

He said investigations by the newly-formed supreme anti-corruption committee, which is headed by 32-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, were “progressing very quickly”.

Image source Wikimedia

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Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb announced that 208 individuals had been called in for questioning so far, and that seven of them had been released without charge.

“The potential scale of corrupt practices which have been uncovered is very large,” he said.

“Based on our investigations over the past three years, we estimate that at least $100 billion has been misused through systematic corruption and embezzlement over several decades.”

The attorney general said the committee had a clear legal mandate to move on to the next phase of its investigation and that it had suspended the bank accounts of “persons of interest” on November 7.

“There has been a great deal of speculation around the world regarding the identities of the individuals concerned and the details of the charges against them,” Sheikh Saud al-Mojeb added.

“In order to ensure that the individuals continue to enjoy the full legal rights afforded to them under Saudi law, we will not be revealing any more personal details at this time.”

Among those reportedly detained are the billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal; Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, a son of the late king who was also removed from his post as National Guard chief on November 4; and his brother Prince Turki bin Abdullah, a former governor of Riyadh province.

A series of measures increasing limits on Americans’ dealings with Cuba have been published by the White House.

The measures include a blacklist of state-owned companies and entities, including shops and hotels.

Most US citizens traveling to Cuba will now have to go as part of organized tour groups.

The measures come as part of a partial rollback of ex-President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with Cuba, as announced by President Donald Trump in five months ago.

Officials have denied that any of these steps are related to the recent acoustic incidents, defined as “health attacks” by the state department against its officials in Havana.

Image source Wikimedia

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Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin laid out the new rules, which will take effect on November 9.

“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” he said in a statement.

According to the statement, the aim is to maintain “opportunities for Americans to engage in authorized travel to Cuba and support the private, small business sector in Cuba”.

The measures include a ban on dealings with 180 state-run and military-owned companies – the interior and armed forces ministries, 83 hotels, two travel agencies, and five holding companies involved with the organized tourism sector, 10 Havana boutiques and two rum distilleries.

Restrictions have also been placed on people-to-people exchanges, a travel category under which Americans can stay with families in Cuba.

From now on, these exchanges can only take place “under the auspices of an organization subject to US jurisdiction” and accompanied by a representative of that organization.

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President Donald Trump has landed in Beijing for a visit likely to focus heavily on trade and tensions with North Korea.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has prepared a lavish reception for President Trump.

Earlier, in a speech to the South Korean parliament, President Trump urged China to sever ties with North Korea.

President Trump is in China as part of a five-nation tour of Asia. He has also visited Japan so far.

Before his arrival, President Trump piled praise on President Xi, saying he was looking forward to meeting the Chinese leader after “his great political victory”.

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Xi Jinping recently consolidated his power at a Chinese Communist Party congress, a move analysts say will make him less likely to reach compromise with President Trump.

Despite his congratulations, there are tensions between the two men, with President Trump having attacked China over its allegedly unfair trade practices.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania are scheduled to visit the Forbidden City, for centuries the home of China’s emperors, followed by afternoon tea.

The president’s arrival came just hours after his speech in the South Korean capital Seoul, in which he described North Korea as “a hell that no person deserves”.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has sparked international alarm, with Pyongyang carrying out its biggest nuclear test yet in September. In typically stark language, Donald Trump warned North Korea: “Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.”

However, there were hints though he might be open to a deal, telling North Korea “we will offer you a path for a better future”.

Singling out Russia and China, President Trump urged “all responsible nations” to isolate North Korea, and fully implement UN sanctions, downgrade diplomatic ties and sever trade and technology ties.

“You cannot support, you cannot supply, you cannot accept,” he said.

China is North Korea’s only major ally, but says it is committed to the UN sanctions and argues its leverage is overestimated.

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Republican Senator Rand Paul has been attacked at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, police and his office say.

Rand Paul’s spokesman was quoted by media as saying the senator “was blindsided and the victim of an assault” on November 3.

According to The Hill website, the alleged assailant, Rene Boucher, was arrested and “Senator Paul is fine”, Kelsey Cooper said.

The 59-year-old assailant has been charged with assault, police say.

They said Rand Paul suffered a minor injury. It is unclear why he was attacked.

Photo Reuters

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Rand Paul, seen as representing the Libertarian wing of the Republicans, ran for the party’s presidential nomination in the 2016 election but dropped out after a fifth place finish in the Iowa caucuses.

An ophthalmologist, Rand Paul represents Kentucky in the Senate and is the son of former Congressman Ron Paul, who ran for president several times.

Eleven Saudi princes, four sitting ministers and dozens of former ministers have been detained by Saudi Arabia’s new anticorruption body, local media reports say.

Those detained were not named and it is not clear what they are suspected of.

However, local broadcaster Al-Arabiya said fresh investigations had been launched into the 2009 Jeddah floods and the outbreak of the MERS virus which emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.

The detentions came hours after the new anti-corruption committee was formed.

The anti-corruption committee is headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and has the power to issue arrest warrants and travel bans, the state-owned Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

Image source Wikimedia

King Salaman of Saudi Arabia Replaces Crown Prince

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Separately, the heads of the Saudi National Guard and the navy were replaced in a series of high-profile sackings.

According to SPA, King Salman had dismissed National Guard minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and navy commander Admiral Abdullah bin Sultan bin Mohammed Al-Sultan.

No official explanation was given for their removal.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently said the return of “moderate Islam” was key to his plans to modernize Saudi Arabia.

Addressing an economic conference in Riyadh, the crown prince vowed to “eradicate the remnants of extremism very soon”.

In 2016, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled a wide-ranging plan to bring social and economic change to Saudi Arabia.

President Donald Trump has begun an 12-day trip to Asia during which he will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines.

The trip will be the longest tour of Asia by an American president in 25 years.

It comes at a time of heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear program and missile tests.

President Trump is expected to show a united front with South Korea and Japan while pressing China to take a stronger line with North Korea.

He flew first to Hawaii where he visited the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor – the scene of the 1941 Japanese attack that drew the US into World War Two.

He also took part in a briefing at the US Pacific Command.

Image source Wikipedia

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From Hawaii, the president and First Lady Melania Trump will head to Japan and then on to South Korea.

President Trump has previously exchanged some fiery rhetoric with North Korea over its ballistic missile tests but aides said earlier this week that he would not go to the heavily fortified demilitarized zone (DMZ) on the border between South and North Korea.

He is, however, to visit Camp Humphreys, a US military complex south of Seoul.

In Vietnam, President Trump will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Da Nang and make a state visit to Hanoi.

His final engagement will be a summit of South East Asian nations in the Philippine capital, Manila.

The last time an American president made such a marathon trip to Asia was when George H.W. Bush visited the region in late 1991 and early 1992.

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Spain has issued European Arrest Warrants (EAW) for ousted Catalan President Carles Puigdemont and four of his allies who went to Belgium.

The five failed to attend a high court hearing in Madrid on November 2 when nine other ex-members of the regional government were taken into custody.

One of those detained has been freed on bail of €50,000 ($58,000).

They all face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for pursuing Catalan independence.

Carles Puigdemont has said he will not return to Spain unless he receives guarantees of a fair trial.

Belgium will “study” the warrant, a spokesman for the state prosecutor told AFP.

The regional parliament in Catalonia voted to proclaim an independent republic on October 27, following an illegal referendum on independence organized by the Catalan government on October 1.

No other country recognized the move and Spain’s central government moved swiftly to impose control, using emergency powers under the constitution.

Image source Wikimedia

Catalonia Independence: Thousands Protest Against Detention of Eight Ministers

Catalonia Independence: Dismissed Leaders Appear in Court

Spain Suspends Catalonia’s Autonomy and Takes Charge of Its Government

Carles Puigdemont was the president of the autonomous region of Catalonia until the proclamation of independence and continues to regard himself as the president of the newly proclaimed “Republic of Catalonia”.

The ousted and his colleagues travelled to Belgium to raise their case for statehood at the EU institutions and he insists he is not trying to evade “real justice”.

During an interview with Belgian TV, aired on November 3, Carles Puigdemont that he would co-operate with Belgian judicial authorities.

He also said that he was ready to run in snap regional elections in Catalonia next month.

The other four warrants are for: ex-agriculture minister Meritxell Serret, ex-health minister Antoni Comín, ex-culture minister Lluís Puig and ex-education minister Clara Ponsatí.

The warrants were sent to Belgian prosecutors, who have 24 hours to decide whether the paperwork is correct.

If they do, they will forward them on to a judge who will decide whether Carles Puigdemont and the four others should be arrested.

Belgium has a maximum of 60 days to return the suspects to Spain after arrest. However, if the suspects do not raise legal objections, a transfer could happen much sooner.

A country can reject an EU arrest warrant if it fears that extradition would violate the suspect’s human rights.

Discrimination based on politics, religion or race is grounds for refusal. So are fears that the suspect would not get a fair trial.

There is an agreed EU list of 32 offences – in Article Two of the EAW law – for which there is no requirement for the offence to be a crime in both countries. In other words, any of those offences can be a justification for extradition, provided the penalty is at least three years in jail.

However, neither “sedition” nor “rebellion” – two of the Spanish accusations against the Catalan leaders – are on that list.

Thousands of Catalans have taken the streets of Barcelona to protest against the detention of eight regional ministers sacked over Catalonia’s push for independence from Spain.

The eight officials – who appeared in Spain’s high court – are accused of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Prosecutors are also seeking a European Arrest Warrant for ousted Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont, who did not show up in court and is now in Belgium.

The request also covers four other ex-ministers who ignored the summons.

Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since a referendum on independence from Spain was held in Catalonia on October 1 in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.

Last week, Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling local elections for December 21.

This came after Catalonia’s parliament voted to declare the independence of the affluent north-eastern region.

The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favor of independence.

Image source AFP

Catalonia Independence: Dismissed Leaders Appear in Court

Catalonia Crisis: Spain’s High Court Summons Carles Puigdemont

Spain Suspends Catalonia’s Autonomy and Takes Charge of Its Government

On November 2, thousands of people gathered outside Catalonia’s regional parliament in Barcelona.

Many carried Catalan flags and slogans that read “Freedom for political prisoners”.

Similar protest rallies were held in other Catalan towns.

Political parties and civic groups in the affluent north-eastern region also condemned the judicial move.

Nine out of 14 summoned Catalan ex-ministers appeared before Judge Carmen Lamela.

The judge said they had to be detained because they might otherwise leave the country or destroy evidence.

Those who were held are: ex-Deputy Vice-President Oriol Junqueras, ex-Interior Minister Joaquim Forn, ex-Foreign Affairs Minister Raül Romeva, ex-Justice Minister Carles Mundó, ex-Labour Minister Dolors Bassa, ex-Government Presidency Councillor Jordi Turull, ex-Sustainable Development Minister Josep Rull and ex-Culture Minister Meritxell Borras.

The ninth official, ex-Business Minister Santi Vila, was granted bail at the request of prosecutors. He quit before the Catalan parliament voted for independence on October 27.

In addition to Carles Puigdemont, prosecutors have asked Spain’s high court judge to issue European arrest warrants for the following Catalan officials: ex-Agriculture Minister Meritxell Serret, Ex-Health Minister Antoni Comín, ex-Culture Minister Lluís Puig, Ex-Education Minister Clara Ponsatí.

Five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as Speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court.

Their hearings have been postponed until November 9.

In a statement broadcast on Catalan TV from an undisclosed location in Belgium, Carles Puigdemont described the detentions as “an act that breaks with the basic principles of democracy”.

“I demand the release of the ministers and the vice-president,” he added.

Carles Puigdemont, who was spotted in a Brussels cafe on November 2, has said he will not return to Spain unless he receives guarantees of a fair trial. He did not specify his exact demands.

According to Efe news agency, Belgium’s federal prosecutor has said the law will be applied once an arrest warrant is received.

Carles Puigdemont’s lawyer said the climate was “not good” for him to appear in court, but he also said his client would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium.

Eight dismissed members of Catalonia’s regional government are facing jail over their role in October’s disputed independence referendum, Madrid prosecutors said.

Meanwhile, nine Catalan officials testified at Spain’s high court over accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Ousted Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont and four others disregarded a summons.

Carles Puigdemont, who is in Belgium, said the trial was “political”.

Spain has been gripped by a constitutional crisis since the referendum was held on October 1 in defiance of a constitutional court ruling that had declared it illegal.

Last week, Spain’s PM Mariano Rajoy imposed direct rule on Catalonia, dissolving the regional parliament and calling snap local elections for December 21.

This came after Catalan lawmakers voted to declare independence of the north-eastern region.

The Catalan government said that of the 43% of potential voters who took part in the referendum, 90% were in favor of independence.

Prosecutors asked the high court judge to jail eight of the nine members who turned up for questioning.

Those included dismissed deputy leader Oriol Junqueras, Interior Minister Joaquin Forn, foreign affairs chief Raül Romeva and spokesman Jordi Turull.

The ninth, Catalonia’s former business minister Santi Vila, should be granted a €50,000 ($58,000) bail, prosecutors said. He resigned before the Catalan parliament voted for independence on October 27.

The Catalan leaders are yet to be formally charged. They were accused of rebellion – which carries a maximum 30-year jail term – as well as sedition and misuse of funds.

A judge will decide whether the officials should go to jail, pending an investigation that could potentially lead to a trial.

The judge can also grant them conditional bail and order them to surrender their passports.

Image source Wikimedia

Catalonia Crisis: Spain’s High Court Summons Carles Puigdemont

Catalonia Independence: Madrid Calls on Carles Puigdemont to Participate in Elections

Spain Suspends Catalonia’s Autonomy and Takes Charge of Its Government

Five dismissed Catalan officials stayed in Brussels, including Carles Puigdemont, who had previously said he would not return to Spain if he and his colleagues did not receive unspecified guarantees of a fair trial.

Reports suggest some of them requested to appear before the judges via video conference.

Carles Puigdemont’s Belgian lawyer told Reuters that he would co-operate with the authorities in Spain and Belgium, but did not appear before the judges because “the climate is not good”.

The dismissed leader’s handling of the crisis has drawn criticism among some other Catalan politicians, with left-wing parliamentary deputy Joan Josep Nuet criticizing him for creating “yet more bewilderment”.

Meanwhile, five other senior members of the Catalan parliament, as well as speaker Carme Forcadell, are facing the same charges but, because of their parliamentary immunity, their cases are being handled by the Supreme Court.

Their hearings have been postponed until November 9.

If those Catalan politicians appearing in court are denied bail it will cause further anger among those who want Catalonia to break away.

The court summons also gave them three days to pay a deposit of €6.2 million ($7.2 million) to cover potential liabilities.

President Donald Trump has played down the importance of his former campaign aide George Papadopoulos, who was indicted in the Russia inquiry.

The president said his onetime foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos was a “low level volunteer” and “liar”.

However, Donald Trump once called George Papadopoulos an “excellent guy”.

George Papadopoulos, 30, this month pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Russia-related contacts.

Image source Twitter

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Two other ex-aides have been charged as part of the investigation into alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

Former campaign chief Paul Manafort and Rick Gates appeared in court on October 30 to deny charges including money laundering.

In his October 31 tweets, President Trump attempted to deflect scrutiny on to the Democratic Party, or his tax reform proposals.

The president wrote on Twitter: “The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts [sic] lawyer said, there was ‘no collusion’ and events mentioned took place long before he came to the campaign.”

However, the indictment alleges Paul Manafort and Rick Gates conspired financial crimes from 2006-17, which does include the period over the summer when Manafort served as manager for the Trump campaign.

The president’s tweets continue: “Few people knew the young, low level volunteer named George, who has already proven to be a liar. Check the DEMS!”

George Papadopoulos appears in a photo that Donald Trump tweeted of himself in March 2016 hosting a national security meeting with his foreign policy team.

Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puidgemont and 13 other members of his dismissed government have been summoned to appear in Spain’s high court later this week.

The court also gave them three days to pay a deposit of €6.2 million to cover potential liabilities.

The summons comes after Spain’s chief prosecutor said he would press charges including rebellion.

Carles Puigdemont is in Belgium with several former ministers. He earlier said he was not there to seek asylum.

Catalonia’s dismissed president triggered a crisis in Spain by holding an independence referendum on October 1 in the semi-autonomous region despite Madrid’s opposition and the Constitutional Court declaring the vote illegal.

Image source Wikimedia

Catalonia Independence: Madrid Calls on Carles Puigdemont to Participate in Elections

Catalonia Independence Referendum: Carles Puigdemont Says Spanish Region Won Right to Statehood

Spain Suspends Catalonia’s Autonomy and Takes Charge of Its Government

Carles Puigdemont turned up in Brussels on October 30 as Spanish Attorney-General José Manuel Maza called for Catalan leaders to face charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

The Audiencia National has now summoned the dismissed Catalan officials – who are yet to be formally charged – to testify on November 2 and 3. If they do not appear, prosecutors could order their arrest.

Meanwhile, the speaker of Catalan’s dissolved parliament Carme Forcadell and other former lawmakers have been summoned to the Supreme Court because they still have parliamentary immunity.

Carles Puigdemont earlier said he would return to Spain if guaranteed a fair hearing.

Several of Carles Puigdemont’s former colleagues who remain inside the country may decide to accept the summons and appear in court.

Prosecutors’ arguments against the group were “serious, rational and logical”, Judge Carmen Lamela said in a ruling, according to the AFP.

The charge of rebellion carries a maximum 30-year jail term.

Speaking at a press conference earlier on October 31, Carles Puigdemont said he was not trying to escape justice by travelling to Belgium but wanted to be able to speak freely.

Carles Puigdemont’s comments came as Spain’s constitutional court suspended the declaration of independence made by the Catalan parliament on October 27.

The former leader also said he would accept the result of snap elections in Catalonia on December 21, which were called by Spain’s central government after it invoked Article 155 of the constitution, temporarily suspending the region’s autonomy.

He told reporters: “I want a clear commitment from the state. Will the state respect the results that could give separatist forces a majority?”

Spain’s central government has previously said Carles Puigdemont is welcome to take part in the fresh polls.

A truck mowed down people on a cycle path in Lower Manhattan killing at least eight people.

A man who emerged from the vehicle brandishing imitation guns was shot and arrested by police officers.

Police urged people to avoid the area as a major emergency services operation got under way.

NYPD describe the incident as a terror attack, with reports saying the FBI is now leading the investigation.

Image source Fox News

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One witness, identified as “Eugene,” told ABC Channel 7 that he saw a white pick-up truck driving fast down the cycle path alongside the West Side Highway, near Stuyvesant High School, at full speed and hitting a number of people.

The witness also reported hearing about nine or 10 shots.

In a series of tweets, the NYPD described what happened:

“Earlier a vehicle entered the West St. pedestrian/bike path a few blocks north of Chambers St.

“The vehicle struck multiple people on the path. There are several fatalities and numerous people injured.

“The vehicle continued south striking another vehicle. The suspect exited the vehicle displaying imitation firearms & was shot by NYPD

“The suspect is in custody. This is preliminary, more information to follow.”

Salvează

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As many as 126 million American Facebook users may have seen content uploaded by Russia-based operatives over the past two years, the social networking site said.

According to Facebook, about 80,000 posts were produced before and after the 2016 US presidential election.

Most of the posts focused on divisive social and political messages.

Facebook released the figures ahead of a Senate hearing where it – together with Twitter and Google – will detail Russia’s impact on the social networks.

Russia has repeatedly denied allegations that it attempted to influence the last US presidential election, in which Republican Donald Trump beat Democrat Hillary Clinton.

In a separate major development on October 30, an investigation by independent counsel Robert Mueller into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia produced its first charges against three former aides, and a guilty plea.

Photo Getty Images

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President Donald Trump has dismissed allegations of collusion with Russia, and has repeatedly called on Hillary Clinton to be investigated.

The latest figures released by Facebook have been seen by Reuters and the Washington Post.

The 80,000 posts were published between June 2015 and August 2017.

According to Facebook, they were posted by a Russian company linked to the Kremlin.

Reuters reports that Facebook’s general counsel Colin Stretch said: “These actions run counter to Facebook’s mission of building community and everything we stand for.

“And we are determined to do everything we can to address this new threat.”

The Washington Post reported on October 30 that Google revealed that Russian trolls uploaded more than 1,000 videos on YouTube on 18 different channels.

Meanwhile, Twitter found and suspended all 2,752 accounts that it had tracked to Russia-based Internet Research Agency, a source familiar with the company’s written testimony was quoted as saying by Reuters.

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Donald Trump’s election campaign adviser George Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about the timing of meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia.

He admitted the talks happened while he worked for Donald Trump, not before, court papers show.

George Papadopoulos said he had been told the Russians possessed “dirt” on Hillary Clinton.

The charges are the first to be brought by Robert Mueller, the  former FBI director now special counsel investigating alleged links between Russia and the Trump campaign.

Both sides deny any collusion.

Earlier it emerged that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort had been charged with tax fraud in an unrelated case stemming from the Mueller investigation.

The 12 charges brought against Paul Manafort and one of his business associates, Rick Gates, include conspiracy to launder money.

They do not relate to Donald Trump’s campaign but to the pair’s Ukrainian business dealings up to 2015.

According to analysts, the case has the potential to damage President Trump because it relates directly to his campaign.

George Papadopoulos – a Chicago-based international energy lawyer – was close enough to then-candidate Trump to be part of a photograph of his national security team which Donald Trump tweeted on April 1, 2016.

Image source Twitter

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According to the court documents, George Papadopoulos admitted on October 5, 2017, to having impeded the FBI’s investigation into alleged collusion with Russia.

When he was interviewed by the FBI this January, George Papadopoulos falsely claimed that he had met two figures with Russian connections before joining the Trump campaign in March 2016. In fact, the former foreign policy adviser met them after joining the campaign.

One was an unnamed Russian woman who, George Papadopoulos believed, had connections to Russian government officials.

He admitted seeking to use her connections in an effort to arrange a meeting “between the Campaign and Russian government officials”.

The other person was an unnamed, London-based professor who was said to have “substantial connections to Russian government officials”.

The professor only took an interest in George Papadopoulos because of his status within the Trump campaign, the statement says.

Russian “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, in the form of “thousands of emails”, was allegedly mentioned by the professor at a breakfast meeting in a London hotel on or around April 26, 2016.

The professor said he had been informed about the compromising emails when he met senior Russian government officials on a recent trip to Moscow.

President Trump aides have said George Papadopoulos played a limited role in the campaign and had no access to Donald Trump, the Associated Press reports.

President Donald Trump went on a tweet storm about the “guilt” of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party.

His Twitter outburst on October 29 came amid reports that the first arrest in the Russian collusion inquiry would be made this week, possibly as early as October 30.

The president insisted allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia were “phony” and a “witch hunt”.

He said Republicans were united behind him, before urging: “DO SOMETHING!”

According to media reports, the first charges have been filed in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election to assist Donald Trump.

It is not clear what the charges are and whom they are targeting, CNN and Reuters report, quoting unnamed sources.

Image source Flickr

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Senate Panel Investigates Alleged Russian Interference in US Election

On October 29, the president issued four tweets on the subject.

The first tweet said: “Never seen such Republican ANGER & UNITY as I have concerning the lack of investigation on Clinton made Fake Dossier (now $12,000,000?),….”

Then he added: “…the Uranium to Russia deal, the 33,000 plus deleted Emails, the Comey fix and so much more. Instead they look at phony Trump/Russia,….”

Ending with: “…’collusion,’ which doesn’t exist. The Dems are using this terrible (and bad for our country) Witch Hunt for evil politics, but the R’s…”

“…are now fighting back like never before. There is so much GUILT by Democrats/Clinton, and now the facts are pouring out. DO SOMETHING!”

About an hour later President Trump  tweeted: “All of this ‘Russia’ talk right when the Republicans are making their big push for historic Tax Cuts & Reform. Is this coincidental? NOT!”

The president’s critics on Twitter were quick to accuse him of attempting to divert attention from the Russian investigation by complaining about the lack of focus on an opponent he defeated in the presidential election nearly a year ago.

US intelligence agencies have already concluded that the Russian government sought to help Donald Trump win the election.

Robert Mueller’s investigation is looking into any links between Russia and the Trump campaign. Both deny there was any collusion.

His team is known to have conducted extensive interviews with several current and former White House officials.

Former FBI director Robert Mueller was appointed by the department of justice as special counsel in May shortly after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey.