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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.

Nicolas Maduro has won another six-year term as Venezuela’s president, in a vote marred by an opposition boycott and claims of vote-rigging.

Just 46% of the electorate turned out to vote amid food shortages stemming from a severe economic crisis.

The main opposition candidate, Henri Falcón, rejected the result soon after the polls closed.

He said: “We do not recognize this electoral process as valid… we have to have new elections in Venezuela.”

With more than 90% of the votes counted, Nicolas Maduro, 55, had 67.7% – 5.8 million votes – National Electoral Council chief Tibisay Lucena announced. Henri Falcón won 21.2% – 1.8 million votes – she said.

Nicolas Maduro told cheering supporters outside his presidential palace in Caracas, as fireworks went off and confetti was fired in the air: “They underestimated me.”

Henri Falcón has alleged that the vote was rigged in Nicolas Maduro’s favor, by abuse of the scanning of state-issued benefits cards used for accessing food.

Image source Wikimedia

Venezuela’s Main Opposition Parties Banned from 2018 Presidential Election

Venezuela: Henrique Capriles Leaves Opposition Coalition

Venezuela Elections 2017: Nicolas Maduro’s Party Wins 17 of 23 State Governorships amid Fraud Claims

According to government officials, the polls were “free and fair” but most of the opposition joined a boycott against the poll.

The Trump administration said it would not recognize the result. Tweeting ahead of the vote, the US mission to the UN called the process an “insult to democracy”.

Venezuela’s presidential elections were supposed to be held in December 2018, but the National Constituent Assembly, made up exclusively of Nicolas Maduro’s supporters, brought them forward.

The opposition Democratic Unity coalition said the elections were moved to take advantage of divisions within the coalition. Its two biggest candidates were also barred from running, and others have fled the country.

There were a handful of minor candidates but only Henri Falcón, a governor under the late President Hugo Chávez, was seen as a viable alternative to Nicolas Maduro. Henri Falcon came from the same socialist party as President Maduro, but left in 2010 to join the opposition.

Henri Falcón, who ran despite the boycott, has said he believes the majority of Venezuelans want to remove Nicolas Maduro from office.

The rest of the opposition, however, has frowned on his breaking ranks – with some even branding him a traitor.

Ten people have been killed and 10 others injured after a student opened fire at Santa Fe High School, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said.

Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old student at the school, has been identified as the attacker. He was arrested and charged with murder.

The attacker allegedly used a shotgun and a revolver taken from his father, who legally owned the weapons.

According to police, most of the dead are students.

Governor Greg Abbott said “various kinds of explosive devices” had been found at the school, 40 miles south of Houston, and off-campus. They included “a CO2 device” and “a Molotov cocktail”, he said.

Image source Wikipedia

Parkland High School Shooting: FBI Criticized after Failing to Act on A Tip on Suspect Nikolas Cruz

The governor said police found information on the suspect’s diary, computer, and mobile phone suggesting that he planned the attack and intended to kill himself afterwards.

He said the attacker “gave himself up” because “he didn’t have the courage to commit the suicide”.

Santa Fe Police Chief Jeff Powell advised residents to be aware of any suspicious objects they find.

He said: “Do not touch any items that look out of place.”

Santa Fe school police officer John Barnes has been named among the injured. According to local media, he was in a critical condition and undergoing surgery.

Students said the shooter entered an art class and opened fire shortly before 08:00.

There were 1,400 students in the school at the time of the attack, according to Lt Gov Dan Patrick.

President Donald Trump, speaking at a prison reform event at the White House, described the attack as “absolutely horrific”.

He said: “My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools, and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves, and to others.”

President Trump ordered flags to be flown at half-mast at the White House and all public and military buildings.

Two weeks ago, the president reiterated his call to arm teachers with guns during a speech in Dallas to the National Rifle Association.

Also on May 18, one woman died and another was injured in a shooting outside a high school graduation ceremony in Atlanta.

So far this year, more than 5,000 people have died in shooting incidents in the US, according to monitoring group the Gun Violence Archive.

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President Donald Trump has officially disclosed his reimbursement to Michael Cohen, the lawyer who paid actress Stormy Daniels to hush up her claims of an affair.

The Office of Government Ethics found on Wednesday that Donald Trump ought to have revealed the payment in his previous financial disclosure.

The filing shows Donald Trump paid Michael Cohen between $100,001 and $250,000 for expenses incurred in 2016.

President Trump previously denied knowing of the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels.

The White House stated in a footnote to the filing that it was listing the payment “in the interest of transparency”, and contended it did not have to make the disclosure.

However, the head of the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) wrote in a letter that “the payment made by Michael Cohen is required to be reported” in the liabilities section of the statement.

In his letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the OGE acting director said: “You may find the disclosure relevant to any inquiry you may be pursuing.”

The deputy attorney general is overseeing the DoJ investigation into whether Trump aides colluded with alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

Image source Wikipedia

President Trump Reimbursed Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniels Hush Money, Says Rudy Giuliani

Stormy Daniels Lawsuit against Michael Cohen Put on Hold for 90 Days

Michael Cohen’s Documents to Be Reviewed by Special Master Barbara Jones

Russia Denies Claims Its Intelligence Has Donald Trump Compromising Info

The Stormy Daniels payment is a potential legal problem for the president because it could be seen as an illegal campaign contribution.

Michael Cohen, whose records relating to the settlement were seized in an FBI raid last month, is now reportedly under criminal investigation.

Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, alleges that she and Donald Trump had been in a hotel room in Lake Tahoe, a resort area between California and Nevada, in 2006. Michael Cohen said his client “vehemently denies” the claim.

If Stormy Daniels’ account is true, the tryst would have happened just a few months after Melania Trump gave birth to her son, Barron, whose father is Donald Trump.

Last month, President Trump said he was unaware Michael Cohen had paid Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election.

Donald Trump’s payment to Michael Cohen was first confirmed two weeks ago by Rudy Giuliani, another of the president’s attorneys, in a TV interview.

Rudy Giuliani said the transaction was to keep Stormy Daniels quiet about her “false and extortionist accusation” that she had an affair with Donald Trump, suggesting her claim could have damaged his candidacy.

Later that week, President Trump said the newly hired Rudy Giuliani needed time to “get his facts straight”.

On May 16, the Senate Intelligence Committee backed up the American intelligence community’s findings that Russia interfered in the 2016 US election to help Donald Trump.

The panel’s assessment contradicts a conclusion in March by the House Intelligence Committee rejecting allegations that Russia had aimed to boost Donald Trump’s chances.

Donald Trump’s financial disclosure shows millions in 2017 income from rents, licenses, book and TV royalties, company shares, hotel management fees and golf courses, with interests from India to Dubai.

Trump’s Washington hotel in a former Post Office building brought in more than $40 million in 2017, its first full year in operation.

His golf courses, including the Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, did not appear to see major gains, despite frequent visits from the president.

Mar-a-Lago contributed $25 million in income, compared with about $37 million on the previous report.

President Trump reported royalties from his 1987 book The Art of the Deal in the same $100,000-$1 million range as he did last year – and sales for some of his lesser titles picked up.

Many of Donald Trump’s shareholdings are in mutual and index funds, rather than the cross-section of American companies he once owned.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has inaugurated a highly controversial bridge between the mainland Russia and annexed Crimea.
The $3.7 billion bridge has been a flagship political project for Russia as it seeks to cement its hold on to the territory it annexed from Ukraine in 2014.
The Kerch Strait bridge was opened in a typically hands-on fashion by the Russian leader. By driving a truck.

Image source kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin admits Crimea annexation plot before referendum

The 12 mile (19km)-bridge, now the longest in Europe, is the only direct road link with Russia. It links Russia’s Krasnodar region with Crimean peninsula. Its opening marks the physical “reunification” of Crimea with Russia mainland.
Once fully completed, the road and rail link will be able to handle 40,000 cars a day and to move 14 million passengers and 13 million tons of cargo per year, according to RIA Novosti.
Russian special forces seized Crimea in a lightning operation in February 2014. The West responded with crippling economic sanctions.

The US is moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Top US officials will attend the opening ceremony of the new embassy, including President Trump’s daughter Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner.

The move is praised by Israel but condemned by Palestinians who are gathering for mass protests. Palestinians seek East Jerusalem as their own future capital, and see the US move as backing Israeli control over the whole city.

For its part, Israel considers all of Jerusalem as its indivisible capital.

Last year, President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital broke with decades of American neutrality on the issue, and put it at odds with most of the international community.

Image source Wikimedia

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Protests in Occupied West Bank

Donald Trump’s Jerusalem Announcement Sparks Outrage in Arab World

President Donald Trump Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

A small interim embassy will start operating on May 14 inside the existing US consulate building in Jerusalem.

A larger site will be found later when the rest of the embassy moves from Tel Aviv.

The opening ceremony was brought forward to coincide with the state of Israel’s 70th anniversary.

President Donald Trump is expected to address those attending May 14 event via video link.

Alongside senior White House advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan will be at the ceremony.

The EU has voiced strong objections to the embassy move.

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu called on “all countries to join the US in moving their embassies to Jerusalem”.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has described President Trump’s decision as the “slap of the century”.

Thousands of Palestinians are gathering for a protest along the perimeter fence that separates Israel and the Gaza Strip on May 14.

The timing of the embassy move has led to concerns about increased tension in Gaza.

Since the end of March, more than 40 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers in protests at the border.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein has accused Israel of using “excessive force”.

Israel maintains it has acted legitimately to protect its civilians from militants trying to breach the border.

According to Malaysian immigration official, former PM Najib Razak has been banned from leaving the country.

The ban comes after Najib Razak said that he and his wife were planning to go on an overseas holiday on May 12.

Earlier this week, Najib Razak’s long-ruling Barisan Nasional coalition suffered a shock electoral defeat.

Najib Razak has been accused of diverting $700 million from a state investment fund in 2015, but has since been cleared by the authorities.

However, Malaysia’s new PM Mahathir Mohamad, who at 92 became the world’s oldest elected leader when he was sworn in on May 10, has said that Najib Razak could face a fresh investigation if sufficient evidence supports it.

Mahathir Mohamad has said that investigations will take place into alleged corruption in Malaysia, including the case involving the state investment fund.

He stood down as prime minister 15 years ago, but came out of retirement and defected to the opposition to take on and beat former protégé Najib Razak.

Photo AP

Malaysia PM Najib Razak Cleared of Corruption

Malaysia Protests: Bersih Activists Call for PM Najib Razak to Resign over Financial Scandal

Mahathir Mohamad appears to be making good on a promise, made during his election, to release imprisoned former political leader Anwar Ibrahim.

On May 12, Anwar Ibrahim’s daughter, Nurul Izzah, confirmed reports that her father will “receive a full royal pardon” and is due to be released on May 15.

Anwar Ibrahim was once Mahathir Mohamad’s deputy, but was jailed on widely-criticized charges of sodomy and corruption amid bitter tensions between the two men.

Najib Razak tweeted that he had been informed by the immigration authorities that he and his family would not be allowed to travel abroad.

The former prime minister gave no reasons for the authorities’ decision, but said he would abide by it.

Najib Razak, 64, has also announced he is quitting as chairman of the Barisan Nasional coalition and as president of his United Malay National Organization party.

He had said earlier that he and his wife Rosmah Mansor would go on a holiday on May 12.

It is believed they intended to fly to Indonesian capital, Jakarta.

Najib Razak had faced accusations of corruption and mismanagement over the state investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The scandal has gripped the country for years.

1MDB, set up by Najib Razak in 2009, was meant to turn Kuala Lumpur into a financial hub and boost the economy through strategic investments.

However, the fund started to attract negative attention in early 2015 after it missed payments for some of the $11 billion it owed to banks and bondholders.

Then the Wall Street Journal reported it had seen a paper trail that allegedly traced close to $700 million from the fund to Najib Razak’s personal bank accounts.

Najib Razak has consistently denied taking money from 1MDB or any public funds.

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Three American detainees, who were released by North Korea earlier, have been welcomed home by President Trump.

President Trump said it was a “special night for these really great people” as they arrived at the Andrews Air Force Base near Washington.

According to the White House, Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had been freed as a gesture of goodwill ahead of the planned meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

President Trump said he thought the summit would be “a big success”.

The date and location have been decided but not yet announced.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump entered the plane after it landed at about 02:45 local time and a few minutes later emerged with the three men to wave to the media.

The president said he appreciated that Kim Jong-un had allowed the men to leave as “frankly we didn’t think that was going to happen before the meeting”.

Photo AP

Mike Pompeo Makes Second Visit to North Korea Ahead of Trump-Kim Summit

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

Asked if this was his proudest achievement, President Trump said that would be “when we denuclearize that entire peninsula”.

He said: “It’s a great honor. But the true honor is going to be if we have a victory in getting rid of nuclear weapons.”

Of the upcoming summit, President Trump said: “I think that we’re going to have… a very big success… I really think we have a very good chance of doing something very meaningful.”

He said he hoped he could travel to North Korea one day and that he believed Kim Jong-un wanted to bring his country “into the real world”.

The three men were smiling and waving and appeared in good health.

In an impromptu chat before the media with President Trump, Kim Dong-chul said: “It’s like a dream and we are very, very happy. We were treated in many different ways. For me, I had to do a lot of labor. But when I got sick I was also treated by them.”

Kim Hak-song, Tony Kim and Kim Dong-chul had released an earlier statement saying: “We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary [of State Mike] Pompeo and the people of the United States for bringing us home.

“We thank God and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return.”

The three men had been jailed for anti-state activities and placed in labor camps.

Their release came during a visit to North Korea by Mike Pompeo to arrange details of the meeting between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

According to the North Korean state news agency KCNA, Kim Jong-un said he had accepted a US proposal to grant the three detainees an amnesty, adding that his meeting with President Trump would be an “excellent first step” towards improving the situation on the Korean peninsula.

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New York Attorney General and #MeToo supporter Eric Schneiderman has announced his resignation following allegations of assault by four women.

The New Yorker magazine published a report quoting the women, two of them his ex-girlfriends, who accused the 63-year-old of hitting them.

Eric Schneiderman has been a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement against harassment and a fierce opponent of President Donald Trump.

In a statement, Eric Schneiderman, who “strongly contests” the allegations, said: “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual s**ual activity.

“I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual s**, which is a line I would not cross.”

He also said: “While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time.”

Image source Wikimedia

#MeToo: New York Attorney General Files Lawsuit Against Weinstein Company

Donald Trump sued by New York’s attorney general for phony Trump University

Eric Schneiderman became attorney general in 2010 and had intended to run for re-election to the post this year.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had called for his resignation, following the reports.

The governor said: “No-one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer.

“I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general.”

Andrew Cuomo said he would ask a prosecutor to investigate the allegations.

One of the accusers, Michelle Manning Barish tweeted after the allegations were published: “After the most difficult month of my life – I spoke up.

“For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me.”

Jennifer Cunningham, Eric Schneiderman’s ex-wife, released a statement on May 7 saying: “I’ve known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father, and friend… I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true.”

Last month, The New Yorker won a joint Pulitzer Prize with The New York Times for its reporting on harassment in Hollywood.

The reports brought down Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who has denied dozens of misconduct allegations.

Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been held at a Moscow rally two days before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.

Alexei Navalny was carried away struggling through the crowd of demonstrators, who had gathered to protest at President Putin’s forthcoming fourth term in office.

Moscow and St Petersburg rallies were not approved by the authorities.

At least 1,000 arrests were reportedly made at rallies across Russia.

On May 6, Alexei Navalny was released from police custody after being charged with organizing a rally and resisting the police.

Protesters on Moscow’s Pushkin Square shouted slogans such as “Down with the tsar!” – “tsar” was the historical title of Russia’s pre-revolutionary emperors – and “Russia without Putin!”. In St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, they shouted “Jail the tsar!”.

Activists have been using a Russian hash tag on Twitter which translates as “He’s not our tsar”.

Image source Wikimedia

Alexei Navalny Sentenced to 30 Days Administrative Arrest

Alexei Navalny Found Guilty of Embezzlement

Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin National Liberation Movement held a rival rally at the same location in Moscow.

Alexei Navalny, a long-time anti-corruption campaigner is not an elected politician but has led protests against the rule of Vladimir Putin and his allies since the parliamentary election of 2011.

The activist was barred from running for president against Vladimir Putin this year because of a conviction for embezzlement, which he denies, saying the case against him was politically motivated.

Alexei Navalny has been arrested at protests on numerous occasions before, and is typically held for a few weeks before being released.

Reports say he was forced to stay at a secret location on May 4 in order to make it to the Moscow rally at all.

When the Moscow city authorities warned people of possible “negative consequences” of taking part in unsanctioned rallies on May 5, Alexei Navalny tweeted back: “And I would like to warn everyone of the negative consequences of non-participation in the rallies.”

He added: “If you stay at home, Putin’s gang will tear the country apart and deprive you personally of a future.”

Vladimir Putin was re-elected president with more than 76% of the vote, his best ever election performance.

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Donald Trump personally repaid lawyer Michael Cohen the $130,000 that was used to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence about an alleged affair, his legal aide Rudy Giuliani has said.

It appears to contradict President Trump, who said he did not know about the payment made by lawyer Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Donald Trump has denied Stormy Daniels’ claims of an affair in 2006.

The former New York City mayor said no campaign finance was used, a key issue in the matter.

Rudy Giuliani recently joined President Trump’s legal team and was talking to Sean Hannity on Fox News.

The campaign finance issue appears to be one his main motives – to deny that there was any wrongdoing.

Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election could count as an illegal contribution to President Trump’s campaign.

Image source Wikimedia

Stormy Daniels Lawsuit against Michael Cohen Put on Hold for 90 Days

Michael Cohen’s Documents to Be Reviewed by Special Master Barbara Jones

Sean Hannity Revealed as Michael Cohen’s Mystery Third Client

Russia Denies Claims Its Intelligence Has Donald Trump Compromising Info

Rudy Giuliani said: “That money was not campaign money. Sorry, I’m giving you a fact now that you don’t know. It’s not campaign money. No campaign finance violation.

“They funneled it through a law firm and the president repaid it.”

He said the repayment was made “over a period of several months”.

Rudy Giuliani added that the president “didn’t know about the specifics of it, as far as I know, but he did know about the general arrangement that Michael would take care of things like this”.

When asked by reporters a month ago if he knew about the payment to Stormy Daniels, President Trump said: “No.”

When asked why the payment was given to Stormy Daniels, the president added: “You’ll have to ask Michael Cohen.”

President Trump might argue that the lawyer “took care of things like this”, as Rudy Giuliani suggested and that he knew nothing of the “specifics”, making the repayment personally later.

Speaking on Fox TV last week, President Trump suggested some knowledge of the matter in admitting Michael Cohen had represented him during the “crazy Stormy Daniels deal”, but did not go into specifics.

Michael Cohen, for his part, told the New York Times in February: “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.”

If Michael Cohen did co-ordinate with the Trump campaign, the $130,000 payment would be a violation of federal election law.

Rudy Giuliani’s comments also raise the question of whether President Trump was repaying an undisclosed loan. Donald Trump’s personal financial disclosure form from June 2017 makes no mention of a debt to Michael Cohen.

Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, said that Americans “should be outraged” at Rudy Giuliani’s comments.

He tweeted: “We predicted months ago that it would be proven that the American people had been lied to as to the $130k payment and what Mr. Trump knew.”

The payment relates to allegations by Stormy Daniels that she had relations with Donald Trump in 2006, allegations he denies.

After initially denying the payment, Michael Cohen eventually admitted he had paid the sum privately to Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, in October 2016 out of his own funds in exchange for her silence in a non-disclosure agreement.

Michael Cohen denied that Donald Trump was a party to the transaction.

The lawyer is now facing a criminal investigation. FBI agents searched his home and office in New York recently in relation to the nondisclosure agreement.

Two months ago, Stormy Daniels filed a lawsuit against the president, alleging that the agreement was invalid because Donald Trump did not sign it.

Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy at the center of the Facebook data-sharing scandal, has announced that it is closing its operations.

The London-based company was accused of improperly obtaining personal information on behalf of political clients.

About up to 87 million of Facebook’s members was harvested by an app and then passed onto the political consultancy, the social media network has confirmed.

Facebook said its own probe into the matter would continue.

A spokesman for the social media network said: “This doesn’t change our commitment and determination to understand exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“We are continuing with our investigation in cooperation with the relevant authorities.”

Image source Wikipedia

Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Facebook’s Shares Plunge Following Historic Data Breach

Cambridge Analytica said in an online statement: “Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.

“Despite Cambridge Analytica’s unwavering confidence that its employees have acted ethically and lawfully… the siege of media coverage has driven away virtually all of the company’s customers and suppliers.

“As a result, it has been determined that it is no longer viable to continue operating the business.”

The statement added that its parent company SCL Elections was also commencing bankruptcy proceedings.

Cambridge Analytica’s CEO Alexander Nix was suspended in March after secretly being recorded by Channel 4 News.

In a video, Alexander Nix suggested that Cambridge Analytica had helped run Donald Trump’s digital election campaign. He also detailed ways that it could discredit other politicians, including sending “girls around to the candidate’s house”.

After the scandal broke, the company said that it had only licensed 30 million records belonging to American citizens from the data-collecting app’s creator Dr. Aleksandr Kogan, and that they had not been used it in the US Presidential Election.

Cambridge Analytica added that it had since deleted all the information despite claims to the contrary by others.

In testimony to Congress about the scandal, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said that his personal details were among those that had been harvested.

Former CIA director Mike Pompeo has been confirmed as secretary of state after the Senate voted 57-42 to approve him as America’s top diplomat.

Mike Pompeo had been accused by Democrats of being a war hawk and harboring anti-Muslim and homophobic views.

He is the second secretary of state under Trump administration. Rex Tillerson, was fired last month by the president via Twitter amid a personality clash.

On April 26, Republican senators, who control the Senate, voted unanimously to confirm Mike Pompeo. Six Democrats joined them.

Some of those Democrats – including North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin – come from conservative-leaning states where President Donald Trump won in 2016, and are facing tough midterm elections in November.

The approval comes in time for Mike Pompeo to lead a US delegation to NATO foreign minister talks in Brussels this weekend.

Mike Pompeo is expected to depart for the trip only hours after being formally confirmed.

In a statement, President Trump applauded Mike Pompeo as someone who “will always put the interests of America first”.

The president said: “Having a patriot of Mike’s immense talent, energy, and intellect leading the Department of State will be an incredible asset for our country at this critical time in history.”

Image source Wikimedia

CIA Director Mike Pompeo Had Secret Meeting with Kim Jong-un in North Korea

President Trump Fires Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Naming CIA Director Mike Pompeo as Replacement

Mike Pompeo has been arranging a summit between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The meeting is expected to be held in the coming months.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders tweeted a photo of Mike Pompeo watching on TV as the Senate held their vote.

Before Mike Pompeo was confirmed, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, described him as the “perfect person to come in at this time and lead” talks with North Korea.

Over the Easter holiday Mike Pompeo travelled to Pyongyang, where he met Kim Jong-un.

On April 24, President Trump described Kim Jong-un as “very honorable”, after months of deriding him as “Little Rocket Man”.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, also congratulated Mike Pompeo following the confirmation vote.

After travelling to Brussels, Mike Pompeo will next go to Israel, where he is expected to meet PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

According to a statement from the state department, during that trip Mike Pompeo will also visit Saudi Arabia and Jordan to “discuss critical and bilateral issues”.

Former First Lady Barbara Bush has died at the age of 92.

Barbara Bush was the matriarchal figure of a political dynasty that included two presidents – her husband George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush.

She was first lady from 1989 to 1993 and had been in failing health for some time and had declined further medical treatment.

George H.W. Bush, at 93, is the longest-lived US president. Their son, George W. Bush, was elected in 2000 and served two terms as the nation’s 43rd president.

George W. Bush said in a statement: “My dear mother has passed on at age 92. Laura, Barbara, Jenna, and I are sad, but our souls are settled because we know hers was. Barbara Bush was a fabulous First Lady and a woman unlike any other who brought levity, love, and literacy to millions.”

The former president said his mother had “kept us on our toes and kept us laughing until the end”, adding: “I’m a lucky man that Barbara Bush was my mother. Our family will miss her dearly, and we thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.”

Barbara Bush was also the mother of Jeb Bush, who served as governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007 and unsuccessfully ran for the White House in 2016.

As first lady, she went beyond the traditional role of a political spouse, founding the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy to help parents and children from disadvantaged communities to read and write.

Barbara Bush was a fierce advocate of civil rights and went against many of her husband’s Republican party supporters with her more liberal view on abortion rights.

Image source Wikimedia

Barbara Bush released from Houston Methodist Hospital

Barbara Bush hospitalized in Houston

In a statement from the White House, President Donald Trump said the former first lady would be long remembered for her devotion to country and family, “both of which she served unfailingly well”.

Barack and Michelle Obama also described Barbara Bush as “the rock of a family dedicated to public service” and as “an example of the humility and decency that reflects the very best of the American spirit”.

Former President Bill Clinton said Barbara Bush was “feisty in support of her family and friends, her country and her causes”.

Bill Clinton said he and his wife, Hillary, would “never forget the courtesy she and President Bush showed us”.

Barbara Bush was known for her snow-white hair and was dubbed “The Silver Fox” by her family.

George H.W. Bush, who served as the 41st US president, suffers from a form of Parkinson’s disease and uses a wheelchair.

It was recently announced that Barbara Bush had declined further medical treatment after a series of hospital visits, but the statement did not reveal the nature of her ailments.

The former first lady said she wanted to spend her last days in “comfort care” with her family.

Barbara Bush was born Barbara Pierce, the daughter of Marvin Pierce, publisher of McCall’s magazine. She grew up in Rye, New York.

She met George H.W. Bush in 1941 at a Christmas party in Connecticut and the couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary in January this year.

They had six children including a daughter, Robin, who died of leukaemia aged three in 1953.

As well as George and Jeb, the other Bush children are Neil, Marvin and Dorothy.

Barbara Bush was one of only two women whose husband and son became US president, and the only one to have seen them both sworn in.

Abigail Adams was married to the second US president, John Adams, and was the mother of the sixth, John Quincy Adams, although she did not live to see their son elected.

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Fox News host Sean Hannity has been revealed as the mystery third client of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen.

A judge ruled that the president’s personal attorney must reveal the link to Sean Hannity.

April 16 hearing in NYC follows an FBI raid this month on Michael Cohen’s home and office, which Sean Hannity has called an anti-Trump “witch hunt”.

A vocal Trump advocate, Sean Hannity denied he was a client of Michael Cohen.

Sean Hannity, who is known for passionately defending Donald Trump on his Fox News show against what he describes as biased attacks by the media, had never previously divulged any legal ties to the president’s attorney.

FBI agents who raided Michael Cohen’s home and evidence were looking for evidence on various matters, including a $130,000 payment made to actress Stormy Daniels, who alleges she had an affair with Donald Trump and was paid “hush money”.

During April 16 hearing, the judge deny Michael Cohen’s attempts to prevent prosecutors from reviewing the materials seized in the FBI raids.

Image source Wikimedia

Phil Robertson talks about ISIS on Hannity show

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President Trump’s attorney says the computers, phones and documents should be protected under attorney-client privilege.

However, Judge Kimba Wood ruled his application for a preliminary injunction was premature.

She allowed prosecutors to proceed with the cataloguing of evidence seized in the raids while a system is set up to ensure that records protected by attorney-client privilege are not disclosed to investigators.

However, the judge will also consider appointing a “special master” to play a supervisory role in the process.

Just before hearing, Michael Cohen said in a statement that he had only provided advice to three clients in the past year.

One was Donald Trump. Another was a Republican fundraiser who admitted to paying a former Playboy model after she became pregnant during their affair.

The third client, Michael Cohen said, had refused to give him permission to be publicly named.

However, Judge Wood made one of the lawyers identify Sean Hannity.

There were gasps and some laughter in the courtroom after the announcement, and some journalists raced out of the courtroom to report the revelation.

Sean Hannity responded on Twitter: “In response to some wild speculation, let me make clear that I did not ask Michael Cohen to bring this proceeding on my behalf, I have no personal interest in this proceeding, and, in fact, asked that my de minimis discussions with Michael Cohen, which dealt almost exclusively about real estate, not be made a part of this proceeding.”

He later issued a statement of denial, saying: “Michael Cohen has never represented me in any matter.

“I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective.

“I assumed those conversations were confidential, but to be absolutely clear they never involved any matter between me and a third party.”

After last week’s raid on Michael Cohen’s offices, Sean Hannity took to the airwaves to denounce the probe as a “declared war against the president of the United States”.

Also in the Manhattan federal court was Stormy Daniels, whose appearance triggered a scrum by photographers outside.

Michael Cohen has admitted making a payment to Stormy Daniel, who claims the money was to keep her quiet about an affair she says she had with Donald Trump in 2006.

The president’s attorney says he made the payment just before the 2016 election, but maintains Donald Trump did not know about it.

Michael Cohen is facing a criminal inquiry, which President Trump has strongly criticized.

According to legal analysts, the payoff to Stormy Daniels could amount to a campaign finance violation.

The White House has denied President Trump had an extramarital affair.

Around 100,000 of Hungarians have protested in the capital Budapest against the re-elected right-wing government of PM Viktor Orban.

Viktor Orban’s opponents flooded Budapest on April 14 to protest at what they say is an unfair electoral system.

A similar number of people attended a pro-Orban demonstration last month.

The protests come just six days after the governing FIDESZ party won two-thirds of the parliamentary seats with half of the national vote.

Viktor Orban is a strong Eurosceptic who campaigned on an anti-immigration platform.

The march was organized through a Facebook group called “We are the majority”. Following the large turn-out for the rally, the organizers have called for a further demonstration next weekend.

Image source Wikimedia

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A large number of police were deployed in Budapest, including riot officers, however the demonstration remained peaceful.

Speakers who participated in the event denounced what they called Viktor Orban’s theft of the election, and the corruption and abuse of power they say characterizes his rule.

Asked about the prospect of forthcoming demonstrations, Viktor Orban simply replied: “We won, that’s it.”

The protests’ organizers have demanded a recount of all ballots, a new election law, a non-partisan public media, and better organized co-operation among parties opposed to the FIDESZ government.

Many of those who marched the streets to the Hungarian parliament were young people.

Many parties and movements opposed to Viktor Orban’s government, including the right-wing nationalist Jobbik, participated in the demonstration.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has announced he will not run for re-election this year, in a big blow to Republicans with mid-term elections looming.

Congress’ most powerful lawmaker said he would not stand for another term in his Wisconsin district this November.

The clean-cut conservative, who has served in the House since 1999, was the Republican vice-presidential running mate for Mitt Romney in 2012.

Meanwhile, Republicans already face a tough challenge from Democrats to keep control of the lower chamber.

Paul Ryan joins nearly 30 House Republicans who have announced this year they are retiring outright.

Democrats need 23 seats to take over the House.

Photo Reuters

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In a news conference on April 11, Paul Ryan said the decision was family-related.

He said: “You all know that I did not seek this job.

“I took it reluctantly.

“But I have given this job everything. I have no regrets whatsoever for having accepted this responsibility.”

Paul Ryan continued: “But the truth is it’s easy for it to take over everything in your life and you can’t just let that happen.”

He said he did not want to be known by his children as “only a weekend dad”.

The 48-year-old father-of-three said he would retire in January after finishing his congressional term.

According to Axios, which broke the story, Paul Ryan has found his job frustrating, partly because of President Donald Trump.

However, President Trump praised the speaker on Twitter as “a truly good man”.

The president tweeted: Speaker Paul Ryan is a truly good man, and while he will not be seeking re-election, he will leave a legacy of achievement that nobody can question. We are with you Paul!”

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Paul Ryan’s departure was an ominous sign for Republicans, months away from nationwide elections.

“Stay tuned for more retirements as Republicans increasingly realize that their midterm prospects are doomed,” the fundraising committee added.

According to analysts, Paul Ryan’s seat in Wisconsin’s first district could now fall into Democratic hands.

All 435 House lawmakers and 34 senators will face the voters this November, in what will amount to a referendum on Republican control of Congress and the White House.

The resignation of Paul Ryan – whose role as House speaker places him second-in-line to the president after VP Mike Pence – will spark speculation about whether he could one day mount a White House campaign.

In December Paul Ryan achieved his cherished goal of overhauling the US tax code, and according to Axios, regarded it as the capstone of his legislative career.

Republican congressman Steve Scalise and former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus are among those being touted as possible successors.

Viktor Orban, the Hungarian right-wing prime minister, has claimed a landslide victory in the country’s general election on April 8.

He will serve a third consecutive term in office, with his party FIDESZ projected to keep its key two-thirds majority in parliament.

According to Hungary’s National Election Office, FIDESZ won almost half of the vote, with 93% of ballots counted.

Viktor Orban, 54, is a strong Eurosceptic who campaigned on an anti-immigration platform.

Image source Wikimedia

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In a speech to supporters on the night of election, Viktor Orban said his victory gave Hungarians “the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary”.

Leaders of the second and third-placed parties have resigned in light of the result.

Polling stations were meant to close at 19:00 local time, but some stayed open hours later due to long queues. Voter turnout reached a near-record 69% – an outcome some believed would favor Viktor Orban’s opponents.

However, with almost all votes counted, the nationalist Jobbik party is in second place with 20% of the vote. The Socialists are in third with 12%, and the LMP, Hungary’s main Green Party, is in fourth with 7%.

Jobbik’s chairman Gabor Vona resigned on the night of election, telling a news conference: “Jobbik’s goal, to win the elections and force a change in government, was not achieved. FIDESZ won. It won again.”

Socialist Party President Gyula Molnar also resigned, saying: “We regard ourselves as responsible for what happened [and] we have acknowledged the decision of voters.”

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President Donald Trump has asked the state of Texas to deploy National Guard members to the border with Mexico.

According to a National Guard spokesman, 250 personnel would be sent to patrol the area within the next 72 hours.

Arizona is also planning to deploy 150 troops there next week.

The president says he wants to send up to 4,000 National Guard members to secure the border with Mexico, until his proposed border wall is built.

The states of California and New Mexico have been asked to take similar action to Texas and Arizona.

Also on April 6, President Trump outlined plans to end a practice dubbed “catch and release” as part of his stricter anti-immigration policies.

He wants illegal immigrants to be held in detention while they wait to hear if they will be deported, instead of being freed.

Image source Wikipedia

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President Trump has asked the Department of Defense for a detailed list of military and other facilities that could perform that function.

He has sent several tweets over the past week railing against illegal immigration and accusing Democrats of allowing “open borders, drugs and crime”.

The president declared on Twitter that Republicans should “go to Nuclear Option to pass tough laws [on illegal migrants] NOW”.

He also threatened Mexico, saying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was at risk unless it stopped the movement of migrants over the border.

He tweeted: “Mexico is doing very little, if not NOTHING, at stopping people from flowing into Mexico through their Southern Border, and then into the U.S. They laugh at our dumb immigration laws. They must stop the big drug and people flows, or I will stop their cash cow, NAFTA. NEED WALL!”

Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto has condemned what he called “threatening or disrespectful attitudes” from President Trump.

President Trump has called sending troops to the Mexico border a “big step”, but both his predecessors also dispatched the National Guard there.

President Barack Obama sent some 1,200 soldiers to guard the boundary, while President George W. Bush deployed about 6,000 troops to help Border Patrol in what was called Operation Jump Start. Both deployments lasted for around a year.

Three people have been shot and wounded by a woman attacker at YouTube’s headquarters in Northern California before killing herself, police say.

The suspect has been identified as Nasim Aghdam, 39, a Californian resident of Iranian descent, and police say they are still investigating a motive.

According to police, there is no evidence yet that Nasim Aghdam knew the victims, a 36-year-old man said to be in a critical condition, and two women aged 32 and 27.

Nasim Aghdam had in the past posted material venting anger at YouTube.

She is reported to have approached an outdoor patio and dining area at the offices in San Bruno, near San Francisco, at about lunchtime and opened fire with a handgun.

San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini said officers arrived at the offices at 12:48 local time to find a “chaotic scene”, with numerous people fleeing.

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Images broadcast on local TV stations showed employees leaving with their hands raised. Other footage showed evacuees forming a queue before being individually frisked by police.

One person with a bullet wound was found at the front of the company headquarters, Ed Barberini said. Minutes later officers found a woman who appeared to have shot herself, he said.

Two further victims were later discovered at an adjacent business.

An employee at a nearby fast food restaurant told Fox station KTVU he had treated a young woman who suffered a bullet wound to the leg.

The man said he had fashioned a makeshift tourniquet from a bungee cord as they waited for first responders.

Several YouTube employees tweeted about the attack as it was taking place.

The three victims were taken to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Officials said the 32-year-old woman’s condition was serious and the 27-year-old’s condition was fair.

A fourth person was also taken to hospital with an ankle injury sustained while trying to escape, Ed Barberini said.

Some 1,700 people work at the YouTube HQ. The company is owned by Google and is the area’s biggest employer.

Nasim Aghdam appeared often on YouTube and in one of her videos criticized the platform for discriminating against and filtering her posts.

YouTube terminated Nasim Aghdam’s account following the shooting. Her Instagram and Facebook accounts have also been removed.

On her personal website she accused YouTube of taking steps to prevent her videos from getting views.

“There is no equal growth opportunity on YouTube or any other video sharing site. Your channel will grow if they want to!” she wrote.

There had been earlier media reports that the man shot was her boyfriend, but police later said: “At this time there is no evidence that the shooter knew the victims of this shooting or that individuals were specifically targeted.”

President Donald Trump said he had been briefed about the incident. He wrote on Twitter: “Was just briefed on the shooting at YouTube’s HQ in San Bruno, California. Our thoughts and prayers are with everybody involved. Thank you to our phenomenal Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders that are currently on the scene.”

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Pope Francis’ Easter message from the Vatican has urged for an end to the “carnage” in Syria.

The pontiff also asked God to heal the wounds in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and urged dialogue on the Korean peninsula.

He said the power of the Christian message gave hope to the deprived.

Tens of thousands of people were in St Peter’s Square to hear the Pope speak from the balcony of the basilica.

He said: “Today we implore fruits of peace upon the entire world, beginning with the beloved and long suffering land of Syria whose people are worn down by an apparently endless war.

“This Easter may the light of the risen Christ illuminate the consciences of all political and military leaders, so that a swift end may be brought to the carnage in course; that humanitarian law may be respected; and that provisions be made to facilitate access to the aid so urgently needed.”

Image source Wikimedia

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On relations between North and South Korea, Pope Francis said he hoped talks aiming to ease longstanding tensions on the Korean peninsula would “advance harmony and peace”.

He also expressed hope for an end to violence and division in Ukraine and Venezuela.

Pope Francis was speaking in an “Urbi et Orbi” address from the famous central balcony at St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, in front of tens of thousands of the faithful.

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Russia has decided to expel 60 American diplomats and to close the St Petersburg consulate in a tit-for-tat response to US action over Sergei Skripal poisoning case in the UK.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said other countries that expelled Russians could expect a “symmetrical” response.

The move comes amid a row over the nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the UK.

The White House said Russia’s move to expel its diplomats had been “not unanticipated”.

It said in a statement that the move marked “a further deterioration in the United States-Russia relationship”.

Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found unconscious on a bench in the city of Salisbury on March 4, and the UK government has blamed Russia for the attack and decided to expel 23 Russian diplomats.

Russia has vehemently denied any role in the attack. Sergei Skripal remains in a critical but stable condition. Yulia Skripal’s condition is said to be improving.

Following the attack, more than 20 countries have expelled Russian envoys in solidarity with the UK. Among them is the US, which earlier this week ordered 60 diplomats to leave and closed the Russian consulate general in Seattle.

Russia declared 58 US diplomats in Moscow and two in Yekaterinburg to be “personae non gratae”.

Image source Wikimedia

US Expels 60 Russian Diplomats and Closes Seattle Consulate

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Sergei Lavrov said US ambassador Jon Huntsman had been informed of the “retaliatory measures”.

Later, a state department spokeswoman said the US reserved the right to take further action.

Sergei Lavrov also accused Britain of “forcing everyone to follow an anti-Russian course”.

He said Moscow was responding to “absolutely unacceptable actions that are taken against us under very harsh pressure from the United States and Britain under the pretext of the so-called Skripal case”.

Sergei Lavrov reiterated Russian calls for consular access to Yulia Skripal – a Russian citizen.

Russia, he said, was also seeking a meeting with leaders of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) to “establish the truth”.

Following the incident in Salisbury, British PM Theresa May announced a series of sanctions, including the expulsion of 23 Russian diplomats alleged to be intelligence agents.

Russia responded by expelling an equal number of UK diplomats and closing the country’s British Council.

Then – in what has been cited as the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history – more than 20 governments expelled diplomats in their countries.

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Kim Jong-un visited Beijing, North Korea and China have confirmed after days of speculation.

The visit was Kim Jong-un’s first known foreign trip since taking office in 2011.

The North Korean leader held “successful talks” with President Xi Jinping, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

China is North Korea’s main economic ally and it was thought highly likely it would consult Beijing before planned summits with South Korea and the US.

Kim Jong-un is due to meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in in April and President Donald Trump in May.

The Beijing visit is considered a significant step in North Korea’s preparation for the proposed talks.

According to reports, Kim Jong-un arrived with his wife, Ri Sol-ju, by train on March 25 and left Beijing on March 27.

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During the visit, Kim Jong-un assured his Chinese counterpart he was committed to giving up his nuclear weapons, Xinhua reported, but with conditions.

“The issue of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula can be resolved, if South Korea and the United States respond to our efforts with goodwill, create an atmosphere of peace and stability while taking progressive and synchronous measures for the realization of peace,” Kim Jong-un was reported saying.

According to observers, North Korea’s conditions include the removal of a US nuclear guarantee for South Korea.

North Korea’s KCNA news agency called the visit “a milestone” in improving bilateral ties.

Kim Jong-un’s arrival and departure were shrouded in secrecy. China said the visit was “unofficial” – so there was no announcement of it in advance, prompting speculation about who was on the train when it was spotted arriving.

Because of the unofficial status of the visit, some of the normal protocols for foreign visits were not observed. For example no North Korean country flags were hung around the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.

Relations between North Korea and China, historically strong, had been deteriorating, with China backing US moves to tighten international sanctions in response to the North’s growing nuclear threat.

The US and Europe are expelling dozens of Russian diplomats in a co-ordinated response to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal in the UK.

According to experts, it is the largest collective expulsion of Russian intelligence officers in history.

More than 20 countries have aligned with the UK, expelling more than 100 diplomats.

The US is expelling 60 Russian diplomats, while the EU has announced the expulsion of 33 envoys. Other European countries will expel another 23.

President of the European Council Donald Tusk said the EU states had decided to expel Russian diplomats as a direct result of a meeting, held last week about the Salisbury poisoning.

“Additional measures, including further expulsions within this common EU framework are not to be excluded in the coming days and weeks,” he said.

The state department said in a statement: “On March 4, Russia used a military-grade nerve agent to attempt to murder a British citizen and his daughter in Salisbury.

“This attack on our Ally the United Kingdom put countless innocent lives at risk and resulted in serious injury to three people, including a police officer.”

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Meanwhile, Russia vowed to retaliate to the “provocative gesture”.

It denies any role in the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Salisbury, southern England. Sergei and Yulia Skripal remain in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

The Russian foreign ministry said the moves demonstrated a continuation of a “confrontational path”.

Earlier this month, the UK announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats.

On March 26, various countries announced they were making the same move in solidarity.

Iceland has also announced it is suspending high-level dialogue with Russian authorities, and its leaders will not attend the World Cup, which starts in Russia in June.

The UK said earlier this month it would not send ministers or members of the Royal Family to the football tournament.

EU countries that have said they have no intention of expelling diplomats include Austria, Greece and Portugal, although all have said they support the UK and condemn the poisoning.

The US called the attack an “outrageous violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and breach of international law”.

The US is expelling 48 envoys at the Russian embassy in Washington and 12 more at the UN in New York. It will also order the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle.

President Donald Trump has fired his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster replacing him with Bush-era defense hawk and former UN ambassador John Bolton.

The president tweeted to thank General H.R. McMaster, saying he had done an “outstanding job & will always remain my friend”.

John Bolton, who has backed attacking North Korea and Iran, told Fox News his job would be to ensure the president has “the full range of options”.

The former UN ambassador becomes President Trump’s third national security chief in 14 months.

H.R. McMaster is the latest high-profile departure from the White House.

Last week, President Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by a tweet, replacing him with former CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

John Bolton’s appointment does not require US Senate confirmation. He will take the job on April 9.

The National Security Adviser is the key counselor to the president on national security and foreign policy issues, and acts as a conduit for policy proposals coming from various government departments, including defense and state.

John Bolton, 69, said he was looking forward to working with President Trump and his team “to make our country safer at home and stronger abroad”.

He has been a foreign policy hawk in Republican circles for decades, having served in the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

Image source Wikimedia

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President George W. Bush appointed John Bolton as US envoy to the UN, during which time diplomats privately criticized his style as abrasive.

A strident neo-conservative, John Bolton helped build the case that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction, which turned out to be wrong.

Known for his walrus moustache, John Bolton does not appear to have greatly moderated his views since his last spell in government.

John Bolton stands by the invasion of Iraq and has advocated in newspaper op-eds using military force against North Korea and Iran.

In a brief statement on March 22, General H.R. McMaster, 55, thanked President Trump for appointing him and said he was applying to retire from the US Army later this year.

The three-star general is leaving after just over a year as national security adviser.

The White House said President Trump and H.R. McMaster had “mutually agreed” that he would leave. He had been rumored for weeks to be on his way out.

His departure came a day after someone at the White House leaked to media that President Trump was advised this week in briefing documents not to congratulate Russian President Vladimir Putin on his recent re-election, but did it anyway.

General H.R. McMaster replaced Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was fired after less than a month in the job for misleading the White House about his contacts with the Russian ambassador.

President Donald Trump has called Russian President Vladimir Putin to congratulate him on his electoral victory two days ago.

Donald Trump said they would meet in the “not too distant future” to discuss limiting a growing arms race, Ukraine and Syria.

Vladimir Putin was re-elected by a landslide, with 76.68% of the vote, for a fourth six-year term.

There was no strong challenger, with the main opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, barred from the race.

According to European observers, the poll was conducted efficiently, but there was a lack of genuine choice.

President Trump said the arms race between the US and Russia was “getting out of control… but we will never allow anybody to have anything close to what we have”.

Image NBC News

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According to the Washington Post, citing officials it said were familiar with the matter, the call was made despite warnings from the president’s security advisers, who provided a briefing which included a section that read “DO NOT CONGRATULATE”.

During the call, President Trump did not mention the issue that has sparked growing Western tensions with Russia – the poisoning of ex-spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK.

The UK government blamed the nerve agent attack on Moscow, which denies any involvement.

The Kremlin said the conversation between Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was “constructive and business-like”, adding that Russia hoped to “overcome problems” that had arisen between the two nations.

Senator John McCain criticized President Trump over the call, saying in a statement: “An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election to determine their country’s future, including the countless Russian patriots who have risked so much to protest and resist Putin’s regime.”

On March 20, EU Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker also wrote a letter of congratulations to Vladimir Putin, pledging to “always be a partner” in improving security co-operation with the Kremlin.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was among the first Western leaders to “warmly congratulate” the Russian leader on March 19 – a day after his re-election – stressing the need to continue dialogue “to address important bilateral and international challenges and find viable solutions”.

French President Emmanuel Macron wished Vladimir Putin success in “modernizing Russia”, but urged Moscow to shed light on the “unacceptable” attempted assassination of Sergei Skripal in the UK.