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Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the top nuclear commander in the US, says he would resist any “illegal” presidential order to launch a strike.

He said as head of the US Strategic Command he provided advice to a president and expected that a legal alternative would be found.

Gen. John Hyten’s comments come just days after senators discussed a president’s authority to launch a nuclear attack.

Some of them expressed concern that President Donald Trump might irresponsibly order such a strike.

Others though said a president must have the authority to act without meddling from lawyers. It was the first such hearing in more than 40 years.

Three months ago, President Trump vowed to unleash “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea if it threatened the US.

Image source Wikimedia

Gen Joseph Dunford: North Korea War Would Be Horrific

Donald Trump: “US Military Is Locked and Loaded to Deal with North Korea”

Last month, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Republican chairman, Senator Bob Corker, accused President Trump of setting the US “on a path to World War Three”.

Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada, Gen. John Hyten said: “We think about these things a lot. When you have this responsibility, how do you not think about it?”

As for the legality of a strike, Gen. Hyten said that he had studied US laws of armed conflict for many years which stipulates key criteria the president must consider:

  • Necessity
  • Distinction
  • Proportionality
  • Unnecessary suffering

While Senators and expert witnesses agree the US president has full authority to defend the nation, commentators have pointed out that because there is no all-encompassing definition of “imminent attack”, the president is not given an entirely free hand.

Gen. John Hyten also said: “I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do.

“And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say: <<Mr. President, that’s illegal>>. And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, <<What would be legal?>> And we’ll come up with options, of a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works.”

He added: “If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life.”

President Trump has not publicly commented on Gen. John Hyten’s remarks.

President Donald Trump has decided to suspend the import of elephant hunting trophies, just one day after a ban was relaxed by his administration.

Reversing a 2014 Obama-era ban, imports of trophies from elephants legally hunted in Zambia and Zimbabwe had been set to resume.

However, on November 17, President Trump tweeted the change was on hold until he could “review all conservation facts”.

The move to relax the ban had sparked immediate anger from animal activists.

Bridget Bardot said in a letter sent to President Trump: “Your shameful actions confirm the rumors that you are unfit for office.”

Protests spread on social media with many sharing images of Donald Trump’s sons posing with dead animals during their hunting trips in Africa.

One photo shows Donald Trump Jr. holding the amputated tail of a dead elephant.

Image Max Pixel

Cecil the Lion: Walter Palmer Under Investigation in US

Cecil the Lion: Walter Palmer Wanted by Zimbabwe Police

The US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had argued that hunting fees could aid conservation of the endangered animals.

According to experts, populations of African elephants are plummeting.

Their numbers dropped by about 30% from 2007 to 2014, according to the 2016 Great Elephant Census.

The non-profit group’s report found a population drop of 6% in Zimbabwe alone.

Despite their listing under the Endangered Species Act, there is a provision in US law that allows permits to import animal parts if there is sufficient evidence that the fees generated will actually benefit species conservation.

In 2015, an American dentist from Minnesota killed the famous Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.

Cecil’s death triggered an outrage in the US and Zimbabwe, and briefly forced the hunter into hiding.

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.”

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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

Rodrigo Duterte Admits Personally Killing Criminal Suspects as Davao Mayor

Rodrigo Duterte Would Stop Cursing After God Told Him So

Rodrigo Duterte Compares His Anti-Drug Campaign to Holocaust

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.

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”

President Donald Trump Urges North Korea to Discuss Giving Up Nuclear Weapons

Donald Trump Praised by North Korean Media

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.

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

APEC Summit Vietnam: President Donald Trump Says US Will No Longer Tolerate Chronic Trade Abuse

Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin Had an Undisclosed Meeting at G20 Summit

Russia Hacking Briefing: Vladimir Putin Developed a Clear Preference for Donald Trump

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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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

Russia Election Hacking: First Charges Filed in Robert Mueller’s Investigation

Russia Election Hacking: Donald Trump Accuses Obama Administration of Inaction

Pyotr Levashov: Russian Programmer Arrested in Spain over US Election Hacking

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

Russia Election Hacking: First Charges Filed in Robert Mueller’s Investigation

Russia Election Hacking: Donald Trump Accuses Obama Administration of Inaction

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.

According to new reports, the first charges have been filed in the investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller into alleged Russia interference in the 2016 election.

However, it was not clear what the charges were and who they targeted, CNN and Reuters reported quoting unnamed sources.

According to CNN, anyone charged could be taken into custody as soon as Monday.

US intelligence agencies said earlier this year the Russian government sought to help Donald Trump win the election.

According to the document, Russia led a campaign to “denigrate” Hillary Clinton by hacking into email accounts and paying social media “trolls” to make nasty comments.

Image source Wikimedia

Russia Election Hacking: Donald Trump Accuses Obama Administration of Inaction

Pyotr Levashov: Russian Programmer Arrested in Spain over US Election Hacking

Senate Panel Investigates Alleged Russian Interference in US Election

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

The charges, approved by a federal grand jury in Washington, are sealed under orders from a federal judge, the reports added.

A spokesman for Robert Mueller has declined to comment on the reports. His team is known to have conducted extensive interviews with several current and former White House officials.

The former FBI director was appointed by the DoJ as special counsel in May shortly after President Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

On October 27, President Trump tweeted that it was now “commonly agreed” that there was no collusion between him and Russia, but said that there were links between Moscow and Hillary Clinton.

Republican lawmakers have said that a uranium deal with a Russian company in 2010, when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, was sealed in exchange for donations to Bill Clinton’s charity.

An investigation has been opened into the case. Democrats say it is an attempt to divert attention from the alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump.

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About 2,800 classified files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 has been released following President Donald Trump’s approval.

The president said the public deserved to be “fully informed” about the event, which has been the subject of numerous conspiracy theories.

However, some documents have been withheld at the request of government agencies.

One memo revealed that the FBI had warned police of a death threat against the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.

FBI director J. Edgar Hoover wrote: “We at once notified the chief of police and he assured us Oswald would be given sufficient protection.”

Lee Harvey Oswald, a former Marine and self-proclaimed Marxist, was shot dead in the basement of the Dallas Police department two days after JFK was killed.

As the documents are pored over and analyzed, other findings include a CIA memo that suggests Lee Harvey Oswald spoke with a KGB officer at the Russian embassy in Mexico City. The memo says the KGB officer Lee Harvey Oswald spoke with worked for a department “responsible for sabotage and assassination”.

Another memo showed that Soviet officials feared an “irresponsible general” would launch a missile at the USSR in the wake of JFK’s death.

Image source Wikimedia

Donald Trump to Allow Opening of Classified Files on JFK Assassination

JFK Assassination Film: Orville Nix’s Granddaughter Sues US Government

JFK Fatal Limo License Plates Fetch $100,000 at Auction

One memo tells how a British regional newspaper, the Cambridge News, received an anonymous call about “some big news” in the US, hours before the assassination.

A copy of the memo was released by the National Archives in July, but had gone unreported.

JFK was shot dead on November 22, 1963 as he travelled through Dallas in an open-topped limousine.

The Warren Commission’s report into the shooting, published in September 1964, said that Lee Harvey Oswald had fired the fatal shots from the Texas School Book Depository building.

There was “no evidence that either Lee Harvey Oswald or Jack Ruby was part of any conspiracy, domestic or foreign”, the commission said.

A 1992 law passed by Congress required all records related to the assassination – around five million pages – to be publicly disclosed in full within 25 years.

The deadline was October 26.

More than 90% of the files were already in the public domain.

Allegations of a government cover-up are unlikely to be assuaged by reports that the CIA, FBI, Department of State and other agencies lobbied at the last minute to keep certain documents under wraps.

In a memo directing heads of executive departments to release the files, President Trump said the American public deserves to be “fully informed about all aspects of this pivotal event”.

“Therefore, I am ordering today that the veil finally be lifted,” he wrote.

Some redacted documents are undergoing a further six-month review, but it is possible those records could stay secret after the deadline on April 26, 2018.

According to White House officials, President Trump was reluctant to agree to agency requests to hold the remaining documents.

“I have no choice – today – but to accept those redactions rather than allow potentially irreversible harm to our Nation’s security,” the president added in his memo.

The JFK assassination records have been released on the National Archives website.

President Donald Trump has declared the nationwide opioid crisis a public health emergency.

Calling the epidemic “a national shame”, President Trump announced a plan to target the abuse of opioids, which kill more than 140 Americans each day.

Donald Trump has previously promised to declare a national emergency, which would have triggered federal funding to help states combat the drug scourge.

The move instead redirects grant money to be used in dealing with the crisis.

Image source Wikipedia

Donald Trump to Allow Opening of Classified Files on JFK Assassination

Trump Administration Rolls Back Free Birth Control Access

Donald Trump Bans Transgenders from US Military

On October 26, President Trump said at the White House: “More people are dying from drug overdoses today than from gun homicides and motor vehicles combined.

“These overdoses are driven by a massive increase in addiction to prescription painkillers, heroin and other opioids.”

The president added: “The United States is by far the largest consumer of these drugs using more opioid pills per person than any other country by far in the world.”

According to senior White House officials, Donald Trump is signing a presidential memorandum directing his acting health secretary to declare a nationwide public health emergency and ordering all federal agencies to take measures to reduce the number of opioid deaths.

The order will also ease some regulations to allow states more latitude in how they use federal funds to tackle the problem.

However, the White House plans to fund the effort through the Public Health Emergency Fund, which reportedly only contains $57,000.

The Trump administration will then work with Congress to approve additional funding in a year-end spending package, senior officials said.

Proponents suggest President Trump’s announcement is a critical step in raising awareness about the nationwide epidemic, while some critics argue the move does not go far enough.

Republicans have announced parallel Congress investigations into a uranium deal under President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton’s emails.

One committee will investigate how the Obama administration approved a 2010 acquisition that gave Russia control of 20% of the US uranium supply.

Two other panels will scrutinize the FBI decision not to charge former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton over her private email server.

Democrats pilloried the investigations as “a massive diversion”.

Both issues to be placed under the spotlight by the committees are longstanding political grievances of President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump’s campaign aides are currently the subject of congressional investigations into whether they colluded with alleged Russia attempts to sway last year’s presidential election.

On October 24, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Oversight Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy announced investigations into the previous administration.

They said there were “outstanding questions” about the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Bob Goodlatte and Trey Gowdy said they wished to know why former FBI director James Comey chose to divulge the inquiry into Hillary Clinton, but not the one about Trump aides and Russia.

Image source AP

Hillary Clinton Blames Election Loss on FBI Director James Comey

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FBI Clears Hillary Clinton In New E-mail Investigation

Meanwhile, Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced his panel’s investigation into the sale of a Canadian mining company that had mines in the American West.

Uranium One – which owned a fifth of US uranium supplies – was acquired seven years ago by Russian state-owned company Rosatom.

President Donad Trump tweeted on October 19: “Uranium deal to Russia, with Clinton help and Obama Administration knowledge, is the biggest story that Fake Media doesn’t want to follow!”

The State Department, under Hillary Clinton, helped approve the deal.

Last week, The Hill reported that at the time of the sale the FBI was investigating alleged attempts by Russia to gain influence in the US nuclear industry through bribery and extortion.

The New York Times and The Hill have reported that Russian nuclear officials and Uranium One’s chairman donated millions of dollars to the Clinton charitable foundation.

Devin Nunes told reporters at Capitol Hill on October 24: “One of the things we are concerned about is whether or not there was an FBI investigation, was there a DOJ investigation and if so, why was Congress not informed of this matter.”

However, Democratic congressmen accused Republicans of creating a distraction.

Elijah Cummings and John Conyers in a statement on October 24: “This new investigation is a massive diversion to distract from the lack of Republican oversight of the Trump administration and the national security threat that Russia poses.”

In an interview with C-SPAN on October 23, Hillary Clinton said that the Uranium One allegations are “baloney”.

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President Donald Trump has announced his plans to allow the opening of a trove of long-classified files on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy.

In a Twitter post, he said he would allow the release “subject to receipt of further information”.

The files are scheduled to be opened by the US National Archives on October 26, but the president is entitled to extend their classified status.

JFK was shot dead by a sniper on November 22, 1963 in Dallas, Texas.

The National Archives has already released most documents related to the assassination but a final batch remains under lock and key.

Image source Wikimedia

JFK assassination 50 years on

JFK Assassination Film: Orville Nix’s Granddaughter Sues US Government

JFK Fatal Limo License Plates Fetch $100,000 at Auction

President Trump tweeted: “Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened.”

Congress ruled in 1992 that all JFK documents should be released within 25 years, unless the president decided the release would harm national security.

The archive contains more than 3,000 previously unreleased documents, and more than 30,000 that have been released before but with redactions.

It is unclear whether President Trump intends to allow the release in full or with redactions.

According to a Washington Post report, JFK assassination experts do not think the last batch of papers contains any bombshells.

However, the files may shed more light on Lee Harvey Oswald’s activities in Mexico City just months before the assassination.

Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested in Dallas on the day of the shooting and charged with the president’s murder. He denied the charges, claiming he was a “just a patsy”.

He was gunned down by nightclub owner Jack Ruby while in police custody two days later, and the plot to kill JFK became the most powerful conspiracy theory in American history.

Ex- Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have expressed their concerns regarding the current political climate in the US, in comments seen as a veiled rebuke of President Donald Trump’s leadership.

Barack Obama urged Americans to reject the politics of “division” and “fear”, while George W. Bush criticized “bullying and prejudice” in public life.

They were speaking separately and neither mentioned President Trump by name.

Donald Trump, who has been critical of his two predecessors, is yet to comment.

Ex-presidents traditionally shy away from commenting publicly on their successors, and Barack Obama said on leaving office he would extend that courtesy for a time to Donald Trump, as George W. Bush had to him.

Barack Obama has broken his silence since to issue statements on President Trump’s efforts to dismantle ObamaCare, as well as his controversial “Muslim ban” and decision to abandon the Paris climate accord.

Speaking at a Democratic campaign event in Newark, New Jersey, Barack Obama said Americans should “send a message to the world that we are rejecting a politics of division, we are rejecting a politics of fear”.

The former president added: “What we can’t have is the same old politics of division that we have seen so many times before that dates back centuries.

“Some of the politics we see now, we thought we put that to bed. That’s folks looking 50 years back. It’s the 21st Century, not the 19th Century. Come on!”

Image source Flickr

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Barack Obama touched on similar themes at another event later in Richmond, Virginia, saying: “We’ve got folks who are deliberately trying to make folks angry, to demonize people who have different ideas, to get the base all riled up because it provides a short-term tactical advantage.”

Speaking just hours earlier in New York, George W. Bush said: “Bigotry seems emboldened. Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.

“There are some signs that the intensity of support for democracy itself has waned – especially among the young.”

Americans, the former president said, have “seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty”.

“At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together.

“We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.”

Both ex-presidents have until now largely avoided commenting publicly on President Trump’s policies.

Before his election last year, Donald Trump was highly critical of both Barack Obama and George W. Bush, describing each of them at one time or another as “perhaps the worst president in the history” of the US.

Since his inauguration in January, Donald Trump’s combative style and direct public comments on a number of key issues have caused controversy both among Democrats and Republicans.

The president has regularly blamed the media, which he says do not focus on his achievements and instead choose to concentrate on what he describes as “fake news”.

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President Donald Trump has lashed out at Puerto Rico officials over their criticism of US relief efforts on the island following Hurricane Maria.

Hurricane Maria a week ago killed 16 people in Puerto Rico and left millions in need of aid.

In a series of tweets, President Trump said that Puerto Rican officials showed “poor leadership ability” and “want everything to be done for them”.

His comments come after the Mayor of San Juan made a desperate plea for federal help.

In a news conference, Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz said: “We have no time for patience any more.

“I am asking the president of the United States to make sure somebody is in charge that is up to the task of saving lives.

“I am done being polite. I am done being politically correct. I am mad as hell.”

The mayor then appeared in a T-shirt that said “Help us, we’re dying” for a CNN interview.

Carmen Yulin Cruz, who is living in a shelter after her home was destroyed, said Puerto Rico is set to be without power for six to eight months after the storm damaged 90% of homes on the island.

More bad weather is in the offing, with the National Weather Service in San Juan warning that a strong thunderstorm would imminently affect the east of the island, with torrential rain and strong winds expected.

Almost half Puerto Rico’s 3.4 million-population is without drinking water, the Defense Department said on September 28.

Efforts are being made on the island to clear road access and restore hospitals to working conditions.

Image source defense.gov

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In a series of tweets on September 30, President Trump suggested the mayor had been told “to be nasty to Trump” by his Democratic opposition.

The president also said he would visit Puerto Rico on October 3 with First Lady Melania.

The visit comes after widespread criticism of his administration’s response to the hurricane.

Responding to President Trump’s tweets in an interview, Carmen Yulin Cruz said: “I was asking for help. I wasn’t saying anything nasty about the president.

“I will continue to do what I have to do, say what I have to say, compliment the people that I have to compliment, and call out the people that I need to call out.

“This isn’t about me. This isn’t about anyone. This is about lives that are being lost.”

On September 28, President Trump announced shipping restrictions had been lifted to help provide aid to Puerto Rico.

The US military general in charge of the relief operation said on September 29 that about 4,500 troops were already involved.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said 95% of Puerto Rico remained without power and 55% of people did not yet have access to drinking water, but that most petrol stations had reopened.

Concerns were raised on September 28 that thousands of shipping containers of aid were sitting in a San Juan undistributed. Ground transportation has been hindered by a lack of fuel and blocked roads.

The US navy has deployed a hospital ship and has assigned engineers to repair the island’s damaged power grid, the Department of Defense said on September 29.

Puerto Rico is a US territory but does not have direct voting representation.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the US is in “direct contact” with North Korea.

He also said Washington was “probing” the possibility of talks with Pyongyang, “so stay tuned”.

During a trip to China, Rex Tillerson said: “We have lines of communications to Pyongyang.

“We’re not in a dark situation.”

In recent months, North Korea and the US have engaged in heated rhetoric, but it was not previously known they had lines of communication.

President Donald Trump has threatened to annihilate North Korea, saying Kim Jong-un, “is on a suicide mission”, which led the North Korean leader to release a statement vowing to “tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire”.

On September 30, North Korea continued the rhetoric, releasing a statement calling President Trump an “old psychopath” bent on the “suicidal act of inviting a nuclear disaster that will reduce America to a sea of flames”.

Photo AP

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The war of words comes against a backdrop of repeated missile tests and North Korea’s claim that, on September 3, it successfully tested a miniaturized hydrogen bomb which could be loaded on to a long-range missile.

The tests were internationally condemned, with the UN bringing in sanctions against the secretive country in an attempt to force it to stop its weapons program.

Rex Tillerson is in China meeting with President Xi Jinping and other officials, hoping to encourage them to implement the sanctions.

China this week told North Korean businesses operating in its territory to close down. However, China remains keen to see negotiations with North Korea.

President Trump said last month that “talking is not the answer”.

However, there were reports of so-called back channels between the two administrations.

According to the Associated Press, the US and North Korea had been engaged in quiet discussions for months, with “diplomatic contact… occurring regularly” between the US envoy for North Korea policy and “a senior North Korean diplomat at the country’s UN mission”.

Rex Tillerson has also previously hinted there are channels available between the two countries, AP added.

More widely known is the role Sweden plays in negotiating with North Korea on Washington’s behalf.

In August, Ulv Hanssen from the Swedish Institute of International Affairs told Reuters Sweden could step in again because it was trusted by both US and North Korea.

“Sweden has done so on numerous occasions before, especially in relation to imprisoned Americans,” he said.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry declined to comment on the speculation.

Health Secretary Tom Price has been forced to resign after using expensive private planes for official business.

Tom Price previously apologized after making 26 private flights since May at a cost of $400,000 to taxpayers.

Government officials, except those dealing with national security matters, are required to take commercial flights for work related travel.

Three other members of President Donald Trump’s cabinet are under scrutiny for using private planes while on the job. According to Politico and the Washington Post, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew from Las Vegas to Montana last June on a private jet that cost taxpayers more than $12,000. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is accused of flying with his wife to view last month’s solar eclipse. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt has spent more than $58,000 on non-commercial travel.

Image source Flickr

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A White House statement said President Trump had accepted Tom Price’s resignation, adding that Don J. Wright had been designated as acting health secretary.

An investigation by the political news website Politico found that Tom Price’s travels had cost more than $1 million.

As well as the $400,000 for private flights, that figure includes the cost of military aircraft used for Tom Price’s trips abroad, Politico added.

President Trump had earlier said he was “not happy” with the expense.

Hours before Tom Price’s resignation, President Trump told White House reporters: “He’s a very fine man. We’re going to make a decision sometime tonight. He’s a very, very fine man.”

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Mark Zuckerberg has rejected President Donald Trump’s comments that Facebook has always been against him.

President Trump accused Facebook of “collusion” on Twitter, branding it “anti-Trump”.

He made the same claim against the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Facebook will shortly hand over 3,000 political adverts to congressional investigators probing alleged Russian meddling in the US election.

The social network believes the ads were probably purchased by Russian entities during and after the 2016 presidential contest.

Facebook, Twitter and Google have been asked to testify before the US Senate Intelligence Committee on November 1 about the allegations of Russian interference.

Google and Facebook have confirmed they have received invitations to attend the committee hearing, but none of the social media giants have yet said they will be present.

Image source Wikimedia

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In a Facebook post responding to President Trump’s criticism, the social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said he was striving to make “a platform for all ideas”. He said that aside from “problematic ads”, Facebook’s impact ranged from “giving people a voice, to enabling candidates to communicate directly, to helping millions of people vote”.

Mark Zuckerberg noted that both ends of the political spectrum were upset about content they disliked, and that liberals in the US had accused him of enabling President Trump’s victory.

The 33-year-old said the candidates’ campaigns had “spent hundreds of millions advertising online,” which he called “1000x more than any problematic ads we’ve found”.

Mark Zuckerberg said he regretted saying on the day Donald Trump was elected that it was “crazy” to say that misinformation on Facebook changed the election’s outcome, because it sounded dismissive.

He promised Facebook would “continue to build a community for all people” – and to “defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections”.

Mark Zuckerberg’s response attracted 65,000 “likes” within two hours of being posted.

Russia has long denied any form of interference in the US election, and President Trump has railed against allegations that his staff had improper links to Russia.

However, US intelligence agencies have concluded Russia tried to sway the vote in favor of Donald Trump. Congressional committees and an FBI inquiry are currently probing the matter.

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In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump has defended his reaction to the disaster in Puerto Rico, which has been ravaged by Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Much of Puerto Rico territory has lost power, while residents say they are running low on medicines and food.

Critics have accused President Trump of being slow to respond, and of showing more concern for Texas and Florida after they were hit by hurricanes.

President Trump has announced he will visit Puerto Rico next week.

Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico on September 20, killing 16 people and knocking out electricity, water and telephone services.

The hurricane tore through the island as one of the most powerful storms in nearly 90 years.

About 44% of the 3.5 million residents living on the island are still without clean drinking water six days after the storm barreled through, the Defense Department said on September 26.

Image source WhiteHouse.gov

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Puerto Rico’s government has asked a judge to defer key deadlines in its bankruptcy case as it grapples with Maria’s devastation.

President Trump came under fire after he spent the weekend focusing on a feud with NFL players and coaches, instead of acknowledging the Puerto Rico disaster.

He tweeted about the crisis on September 25 – but angered critics by suggesting that Puerto Rico’s $72 billion debt needed to be addressed amid its appeal for relief aid: “Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water and medical are top priorities – and doing well. #FEMA.”

On September 26, the White House announced that President Trump had increased federal funding and assistance for debris removal and emergency protective measures in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the storm.

The president said he would visit Puerto Rico on October 3 – nearly a fortnight after the storm struck – because it was the “earliest I can go without disrupting relief efforts”.

President Trump may also visit the US Virgin Islands, which was hit by both Hurricane Maria and Irma.

He said his administration was doing a “really good job” and that the Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, was “so grateful”.

President Trump said rescue efforts were complicated because Puerto Rico was offshore.

“This is a thing called the Atlantic ocean, this is tough stuff,” he said.

He added: “Puerto Rico is very important to me. The people are fantastic. I grew up in New York so I know many Puerto Rican people.”

Ricardo Rossello told Reuters President Trump’s handling of the disaster had been “excellent” and that the government had “responded very quickly” to the crisis.

More than 10,000 US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) staff are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands to assist with relief efforts, according to the agency.

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The US has expanded its travel ban to include people from North Korea, Venezuela and Chad.

According to the White House, the new restrictions follow a review of information sharing by foreign governments.

President Donald Trump issued a presidential proclamation on September 24.

He said in a post on Twitter: “Making America safe is my number one priority. We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet.”

The restrictions on Venezuelans apply only to government officials and their family members.

The three new countries join five others from President Trump’s original travel ban: Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia. However, the new proclamation removed restrictions that were placed on Sudan.

Image source Wikipedia

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President Trump’s original ban was highly controversial, as it affected six majority-Muslim countries, and was widely labeled a “Muslim ban”.

The travel ban was subject to a range of legal challenges and several large-scale protests, and is due to be considered by the US Supreme Court in October, having been partly reinstated in July.

The American Civil Liberties Union rights group said the addition of the new countries “doesn’t obfuscate the real fact that the administration’s order is still a Muslim ban”.

It is not yet clear how President Trump’s new proclamation, which changes several key elements, will affect that legal challenge.

The addition of North Korea and Venezuela now means not all nations on the list are majority-Muslim.

The criteria for the new ban list is now based on vetting procedures and co-operation, and the restrictions have now been “tailored” on a country-by-country basis. The White House said North Korea did not co-operate with the US government “in any respect” and failed all requirements – and so all travel to the US by its citizens has been banned. Chad, while an important counter-terrorism partner, did not share terrorism-related and other public information the US required – business and tourist visas for its nationals are suspended. Only “certain Venezuelan government officials and their immediate family members” have been banned – its government has recently been hit with economic sanctions by the US, who now say it does not co-operate “in verifying whether its citizens pose national security or public-safety threats” and does not receive deported nationals willingly.

Most of the restrictions come in the form of suspension of B-1 and B-2 business and tourist visas, and they do not appear to be time-limited in the way that President Trump’s former executive order was.

In a fact sheet accompanying President Trump’s proclamation, the White House said that while Iraq also falls short of the required criteria, the country was not included in the new restrictions “because of the close co-operative relationship between the United States” and their part in fighting so-called Islamic State.

The restrictions come into effect on October 18, but will not apply to those already in possession of a valid visa, the White House said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The US is seeking a range of new UN sanctions against North Korea, including an oil ban and a freeze on leader Kim Jong-un’s assets.

The draft resolution circulated to the Security Council members comes after Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test and repeated missile launches.

North Korea also claims to have developed a hydrogen bomb and continues to threaten to strike the US.

China and Russia are both expected to oppose further sanctions.

Pyongyangis already under highly restrictive sanctions imposed by the UN that are intended to force the leadership to curtail its weapons programs.

In August, a new round of sanctions banned exports including coal, costing North Korea an estimated $1 billion – about a third of its entire export economy.

However, some trade avenues remain open to it.

The draft US proposal calls for a total ban on supplying a range of oil products to North Korea and a ban on its textile export industry.

It also suggests freezing the assets of Kim Jong-un and the North Korean government, as well as banning him and other senior officials from travelling.

North Korean laborers would also be banned from working abroad, principally in Russia’s Far East and China.

Remittances from foreign earnings and textile exports are two of the most important remaining sources of income for North Korea.

However, it is not clear how China and Russia, which both supply oil to North Korea and wield vetoes at the Security Council, will respond to the US move.

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On September 7, China’s foreign minister Wang Yi told reporters that the council should respond further “by taking necessary measures”, but did not elaborate.

Wang Yi added that “sanctions and pressure are only half of the key to resolving the issue. The other half is dialogue and negotiation.”

China is both North Korea’s and the US’s biggest trade partner, and has supported recent sanctions against it.

President Vladimir Putin has argued that the amount of oil Russia exports to North Korea – some 40,000 tonnes – is negligible.

“It is not worth giving in to emotions and driving North Korea into a corner,” President Putin said.

Both China and Russia have been pushing for an alternative solution.

They are proposing that the US and ally South Korea stop their military drills – which anger the North – and end the deployment of the controversial anti-missile THAAD system in South Korea, in return for North Korea ceasing its nuclear and missile program.

The proposal has been rejected by the US and South Korea.

On September 7, South Korea’s military announced it had completed the deployment of THAAD, Yonhap reported.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in also met with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe, where both agreed to push for greater sanctions. Shinzo Abe called for “the greatest possible pressure” to be put on North Korea.

President Donald Trump had previously warned the US could cut off trade with countries that do business with North Korea.

The US has indicated that if the resolution is not passed when the Security Council meets on September 11 it may impose its own sanctions unilaterally.

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters on September 6: “We believe that we need to economically cut off North Korea.

“I have an executive order prepared. It’s ready to go to the president. It will authorize me to… put sanctions on anybody that does trade with North Korea.”

President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping also discussed North Korea over the phone on Wednesday, where they agreed to “take further action”, said a White House statement.

Donald Trump, who has previously threatened a military response to North Korea, told reporters this was “not our first choice”, but did not rule it out.

He added: “President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea.”

Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported that President Xi called for a “peaceful settlement of the issue” involving “dialogue combined with a set of comprehensive measures”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source Wikimedia

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ex-Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who had been convicted of criminal contempt, has been pardoned by President Donald Trump.

Joe Arpaio, 85, was found guilty after he defied a court order to stop traffic patrols targeting suspected immigrants. He was due to be sentenced in October.

President Trump had hinted at the pardon at a rally in Phoenix on August 22.

Thanking the president, Joe Arpaio said his conviction was “a political witch hunt by holdovers in the Obama justice department”.

Joe Arpaio tweeted: “Thank you…. for seeing my conviction for what it is.”

“I’m not going away,” he said, while declining to say whether he would run for sheriff again.

Image source Wikimedia

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President Trump has frequently praised the former sheriff, who is known for his controversial hard-line stance on immigration.

Joe Arpaio appeared on the campaign trail with President Trump in 2016 – describing him as “the law-and-order candidate”.

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

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

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

Joe Arpaio, who styled himself as “America’s toughest sheriff”, rose to national prominence for his sweeps of undocumented immigrants in Hispanic communities, and for detaining Spanish-speakers under suspicion of being undocumented immigrants.

In July 2017, the former sheriff was found guilty of violating a 2011 order to stop detaining immigrants.

The decision to pardon the former policeman was condemned by Democrats and civil rights groups.

Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy said it was “disheartening that [the president] set the bar so very low for his first pardon”.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton called the move a slap in the face for the Latino community and those who had been victimized.

Joe Arpaio, who was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, could have faced six months in jail at his sentencing in October.

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

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

He famously forced the prisoners to wear pink underwear and socks and old-fashioned black-and-white striped prison jumpsuits. The inmates lived outdoors while enduring sweltering Arizona desert temperatures.

Joe Arpaio also revived chain gangs, including a voluntary one for female prisoners.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image source Flickr

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

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

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

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

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

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

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