Home Tags Posts tagged with "donald trump"

donald trump

0

President Donald Trump has warned Americans to prepare for the “toughest week” of the coronavirus pandemic yet, predicting a surge in deaths.

At his daily briefing, the president said “there will be death” in a grim assessment of the days ahead.

Donald Trump sought to reassure the worst-hit states, promising medical supplies and military personnel to combat the virus.

However, in contrast to his warning, President Trump suggested easing social-distancing guidelines for Easter.

At a news conference at the White House on April 4, he said: “We have to open our country again.

“We don’t want to be doing this for months and months and months.”

President Trump’s calls to relax restrictions on life came on the day confirmed coronavirus infections in the US surpassed 300,000, the highest number in the world.

Image source Flickr

Coronavirus: President Trump Won’t Wear Face Mask Despite CDC Guidance

Coronavirus: China Observes Three-Minute Silence for Covid-19 Victims

Coronavirus: Global Cases Pass 1 Million

As of April 4, there were almost 8,500 deaths from Covid-19 in the US, with most in New York state – the epicenter of the outbreak.

On the same day, New York state recorded 630 more Covid-19 deaths, another daily record that takes its toll to 3,565. New York state now has almost as many cases – over 113,000 – as the whole of Italy.

The president gave a candid assessment of what lies ahead for the US in the coming weeks.

He said: “This will be probably the toughest week between this week and next week, and there will be a lot of death, unfortunately, but a lot less death than if this wasn’t done but there will be death.”

To support states in their fight against Covid-19, President Trump said his administration would be deploying a “tremendous amount of military, thousands of soldiers, medical workers, professionals”.

The military personnel will “soon” be advised of their assignments, the president said, adding that “1,000 military personnel” were being deployed to New York City.

President Trump also addressed his use of the Defense Production Act, a Korean-War-era law which gives him powers to control the production and supply of US-made medical products.

He said he was “very disappointed” with 3M, a US company that makes masks, saying it “should be taking care of our country” instead of selling to others.

However, the president rejected accusations that the US had committed an act of “modern piracy” by redirecting 200,000 Germany-bound masks for its own use.

On the question of easing social-distancing restrictions, President Trump reiterated a familiar theme.

President Trump has said: “The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself.”

Elsewhere in the world, there has been cause for optimism as the number of new infections and deaths from coronavirus has started to gradually diminish.

Globally, more than 60,000 people have died and more than 1.1 million have been infected, Johns Hopkins University says.

0

President Donald Trump has said he will not wear a face mask despite new medical guidelines advising Americans to do so.

He said he could not see himself greeting “presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens” in the Oval Office while wearing one.

President Trump stressed that the guidance released on April 3 was “voluntary”.

“You do not have to do it,” he said.

“I don’t think I’m going to be doing it.”

The guidelines issued by the CDC came as the US reported more than 1,100 deaths in a single day – the highest total for a 24-hour period anywhere in the world.

According to Johns Hopkins University, the US has so far confirmed 278,458 cases of Covid-19 and more than 7,000 deaths.

New York state remains the worst affected area, with nearly 3,000 deaths, and state governor Andrew Cuomo has appealed for help from other parts of the US.

Until now, US health authorities had said that only the sick, or those caring for patients of coronavirus, should wear masks, but newer studies suggest that covering up one’s face is important to prevent inadvertent transmission.

Coronavirus: China Observes Three-Minute Silence for Covid-19 Victims

Coronavirus: Global Cases Pass 1 Million

Coronavirus: President Donald Trump Warns of “Very Painful Two Weeks”

President Trump said on April 2: “From recent studies we know that the transmission from individuals without symptoms is playing a more significant role in the spread of the virus than previously understood.”

However, the president told reporters after announcing the CDC’s new guidance: “I just don’t want to do it myself.”

“Sitting in the Oval Office… I somehow don’t see it for myself.”

Americans are now advised to use clean cloth or fabric to cover their faces whilst in public. Officials have stressed that medical masks remain in short supply, and should be left for healthcare workers.

The CDC guidance comes as the number of cases globally climbs past one million.

President Trump announced the guidance at the White House daily coronavirus briefing, but repeatedly emphasized that the advisory was “voluntary”.

0
Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has warned of a “very painful two weeks” ahead, as the seriousness of the coronavirus outbreak hit the US.

He said US deaths could reach 100,000, as the global infection toll rises above 800,000.

The president urged Americans to follow guidelines, calling it “a matter of life and death”.

The US death toll surpasses 4,000 and there are fears as many as 200,000 people could die there.

On March 31, the White House said projections show between 100,000 and 200,000 Americans could die with Covid-19.

The projection is based on some people not doing everything they can to stop the spread, US coronavirus coordinator Deborah Birx explained.

Coronavirus: More US States Announce Lockdown Orders

Coronavirus: Instacart and Amazon Workers Plan Strike for Better Protection

Coronavirus: US Federal Social Distancing Guidelines To Be Extended Until April 30

US infectious disease chief Anthony Fauci said that “as sobering a number as that [100,000] is, we should be prepared for it. Is it going to be that much? I hope not and the more we push on mitigation the less likely it would be that number.

“But being realistic, we need to prepare ourselves… it will be difficult – no one is denying we are going through a very difficult time right now.”

President Donald Trump is expected to help businesses in America by allowing them to delay payments on certain tariffs.

The US imposes tariffs – fees for importing certain products from overseas – on a raft of goods, including steel from China.

However, the president is expected to waive payment of these fees for 90 days to help improve US companies’ cashflows as they struggle with lockdowns.

The 90-day breathing space will apply to specific goods from “most-favored nations”, although these are not expected to include imports from China or Europe.

Around 400 chief executives of small, medium, and large companies in the US urged President Trump in a letter on March 31 to delay the collection of these fees for up to 180 days.

The cash would normally be paid direct to the US government.

0
Image source Wikipedia

Federal coronavirus guidelines such as social distancing will be extended across the US until at least April 30, President Donald Trump has said.

The president had previously suggested that restrictions could be relaxed as early as Easter, which falls in mid-April.

He said: “The highest point of the death rate is likely to hit in two weeks.”

President Trump appeared to be referring to peak infection rates that experts fear could overwhelm hospitals.

White House medical adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci had earlier warned that the virus could kill up to 200,000 Americans.

He said that it was “entirely conceivable” that millions of Americans could eventually be infected.

The US now has more than 155,000 confirmed cases.

As of March 29, 2,493 deaths had been recorded in the country in relation to Covid-19, according to figures collated by Johns Hopkins University.

Coronavirus: President Trump’s U-Turn on New York Quarantine

Coronavirus: President Trump Signs Largest-Ever US Financial Stimulus Package

Coronavirus: US Has Now More Confirmed Cases than Any Other Country

The US last week became the country with the most reported cases, ahead of Italy and China.

Speaking during the latest Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House on March 29, President Trump said that measures such as social distancing were “the way you win”, adding that the US “will be well on our way to recovery” by June.

Suggesting that the “peak” of death rates in the US was likely to hit in two weeks, President Trump said that “nothing would be worse than declaring victory before victory is won – that would be the greatest loss of all”.

Analysts suggest that when President Trump referred to a peak in the “death rate”, he probably meant the total number of recorded infections.

0
Image source Wikipedia

President Trump backs down after saying he is considering a quarantine on New York and two other states.

He has said quarantining New York “will not be necessary”, after Governor Andrew Cuomo said doing so would be “preposterous”.

The president said the latest decision was taken on the recommendation of the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

Donald Trump had earlier said he might impose a quarantine on New York, and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, to slow the spread of Covid-19.

There are more than 52,000 cases in New York.

New York has about half of the total confirmed Covid-19 cases in the entire US.

Coronavirus: President Trump Signs Largest-Ever US Financial Stimulus Package

Coronavirus: US Has Now More Confirmed Cases than Any Other Country

President Trump tweeted that instead of quarantine, a “strong travel advisory” would be issued to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut by the CDC.

The CDC then published a statement urging residents of those three states to “refrain” from all non-essential domestic travel for 14 days.

It said the advisory did not apply to “critical infrastructure” service providers, including healthcare professionals and food suppliers.

Speaking to reporters on March 28 about the situation in New York, President Trump said: “We’d like to see [it] quarantined because it’s a hotspot… I’m thinking about that.”

He said it would be aimed at slowing the spread of the virus to other parts of the US.

He said: “They’re having problems down in Florida. A lot of New Yorkers are going down. We don’t want that.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo responded by saying that quarantining the state of New York would be “preposterous” and “anti-American”.

“If you said we were geographically restricted from leaving, that would be a lockdown.”

The governor said New York had already implemented “quarantine” measures, such as banning major gatherings and ordering people to remain at home, but that he would oppose any “lockdown” efforts.

Andrew Cuomo told CNN: “Then we would be Wuhan, China, and that wouldn’t make any sense.”

He added that this would cause the stock market to crash in a way that would make it impossible for the US economy to “recover for months, if not years”.

“You would paralyze the financial sector,” he said.

Governor Cuomo added later: “I don’t know how that can be legally enforceable. And from a medical point of view, I don’t know what you would be accomplishing.

“But I can tell you, I don’t even like the sound of it.”

He also said he would sue nearby Rhode Island if the authorities there continued targeting New Yorkers and threatening to punish them for failing to quarantine.

On March 27, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo deployed National Guard troops to stop cars with a New York license plate, to remind them of their state’s advice that they quarantine.

Soldiers are going door-to-door in coastal vacation communities to ask if any residents have recently visited New York City.

President Trump has signed into law the largest-ever US financial stimulus package, worth $2 trillion, as the country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.

The House of Representatives passed the cross-party bill two days after the Senate debated its provisions.

On March 25, the number of Americans filing for unemployment surged to a record high of 3.3 million people.

As of March 27, the US has more confirmed cases of coronavirus than any other country, with more than 100,000 positive tests.

No Democratic lawmakers were invited to the historic signing ceremony, which was held at the White House, though the president thanked both parties “for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first”.

President Trump said the package was “twice as large” as any prior relief bill.

He said: “This will deliver urgently needed relief to our nation’s families, workers and businesses.”

Just before signing the act into law, President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA), which gives the president the power to force private industries to create items required for national defense.

Coronavirus: US Has Now More Confirmed Cases than Any Other Country

Coronavirus: Russia Postpones Vote on Vladimir Putin Staying in Power

Coronavirus: Prince Charles Tests Positive for Virus

President Trump said the order will compel General Motors (GM) to manufacture much-needed medical ventilators for the federal government.

Earlier in the day, President Trump tweeted that GM had promised to “give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, very quickly “.

“Now they are saying it will only be 6,000, in late April, and they want top dollar,” he said, threatening to invoke the DPA.

During the bill signing, President Trump said that “tremendous [medical] supplies” would be coming soon, adding: “We’ve had great results on just about everything we’re talking about.”

On March 27, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced eight temporary hospitals to meet an expected surge in cases.

He said 519 people had died in the state – the worst-hit in the US – and there were 44,635 confirmed cases.

Democrats and Republicans in the Democratic-led House approved the stimulus package by voice vote on March 27 following a three-hour debate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said: “Our nation faces an economic and health emergency of historic proportions due to the coronavirus pandemic, the worst pandemic in over 100 years.”

Members of the House had been ready to conduct the vote at their homes but were forced to return to Washington at the last minute after a Republican representative from Kentucky demanded a quorum of half the chamber be present.

Thomas Massie – who objected to the stimulus package saying it contained too much spending – also sought to delay proceedings by demanding a formal recorded vote, as opposed to a voice vote, but was overruled.

President Trump vented his fury at Thomas Massie on Twitter, calling him a “third-rate grandstander” and demanding he be thrown out of the Republican party.

The new law enables direct payments to individuals and companies whose livelihoods and businesses have been affected by the pandemic.

It seeks to deliver $1,200 to every American earning less than $75,000 per year and $500 to the parents of every child.

The law also gives money directly to state governments, and bolsters the unemployment benefits program.

Under the law, jobless benefits will be extended to those not normally covered, such as freelancers and workers in the gig economy.

It also offers loans and tax breaks to companies that face going out of business, as one in every four Americans is ordered to remain at home and only go outside for essential needs.

Officials across the US have closed restaurants, bars, cinemas, hotels and gyms in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

Auto companies have halted production and air travel has fallen dramatically. According to economists, a fifth of the US workforce is on some form of lockdown.

With almost 1,500 virus-related fatalities, the US death toll remains lower than those in Italy and China. But there are virus hotspots in New York, New Orleans and Detroit.

0

Ben McAdams and Mario Diaz-Balart became the first members of Congress to test positive for the Covid-19.

The office of Congressman Ben McAdams, a Utah Democrat, said on March 18 that he had tested positive for the virus.

The representative said he developed “mild cold-like symptoms” after returning from Washington DC on March 14.

Ben McAdams said he immediately self-isolated at home, but “my symptoms got worse and I developed a fever, a dry cough and labored breathing”.

According to the statement, his doctor referred him on March 17 for a Covid-19 test, which came back positive on March 18.

Ben McAdams, 45, said he would remain in self-quarantine until he had recovered.

Mario Diaz-Balart, a Florida Republican, also announced on March 18 that he had tested positive for coronavirus.

The 58-year-old tweeted from self-quarantine at his flat in Washington DC: “I’m feeling much better. However, it’s important that everyone take this seriously.”

Coronavirus: All 50 US States Now Have Confirmed Cases

Coronavirus: Americans May Get $1,000 from Government as Part of $1TN Stimulus

Donald Trump: “Coronavirus Crisis Could Last Until End of Summer”

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has vowed the US will achieve “total victory” over the coronavirus, describing himself as a “wartime president”.

At a White House press conference, the president was asked by a reporter whether he considered the country to be on a war footing in terms of fighting the virus.

He said: “It’s a war.

“I view it as a, in a sense, a wartime president.”

President Trump spoke as he revived a Korean War-era measure allowing the US to ramp up production of vital medical supplies.

According to estimates, the US has more than 9,300 cases of Covid-19 and has seen 150 deaths so far.

Globally there are some 220,000 confirmed cases and over 8,800 deaths.

President Trump has been holding daily briefings on the emergency this week after being accused of playing down the outbreak in its early stages.

He said: “We must sacrifice together, because we are all in this together, and we will come through together. It’s the invisible enemy. That’s always the toughest enemy.

“But we are going to defeat the invisible enemy. I think we are going to do it even faster than we thought, and it’ll be a complete victory. It’ll be a total victory.”

President Trump announced he was signing the 1950 Defense Production Act, which empowers the president to direct civilian businesses to help meet orders for products necessary for national security.

However, the president said later on Twitter that he would only invoke the measure “in a worst case scenario in the future”.

President Trump also described as an “absolute, total worst case scenario” a warning by his Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, that the pandemic could send US unemployment rocketing to 20%.

He said two US Navy hospitals ships would be pressed into service to help alleviate an expected shortage of sick beds.

The USNS Comfort is expected to be sent to New York Harbor, though defense officials said it is currently undergoing maintenance in Virginia.

The other vessel, USNS Mercy, is being prepared to deploy to a location on the West Coast.

During the press conference, President Trump again rejected suggestions that his use of the term “Chinese virus” to describe Covid-19 was racist.

The US-Canada border, the world’s longest, was effectively closed, except for essential travel and commerce.

President Trump also announced a new crackdown on immigrants or asylum seekers crossing the US-Mexico border.

The president said his administration would invoke a statute that allows people to be blocked in order to prevent the spread of communicable diseases.

0
Image source: Wikipedia

The US coronavirus emergency could last until the end of the summer or even longer, President Donald Trump told reporters at the White House on March 16.

The US has so far had 4,100 cases of the virus and 71 deaths.

The president said over the next 15 days, Americans should not gather in groups of more than 10 people and avoid bars, restaurants, food courts and crowds.

Donald Trump said the US is facing “an invisible enemy” that is “so contagious”.

According to a tally from Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 174,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus globally and over 6,700 deaths.

Under the US coronavirus task force’s new guidelines, President Trump urged all older Americans to stay home.

Work and schooling should be at home.

Discretionary travel, shopping trips and social visits should be avoided.

Anyone in a household who tests positive for the virus should stay at home along with everyone who lives there.

First Coronavirus Vaccine to Be Tested on US Volunteers

Coronavirus: France and Spain in Partial Lockdown

Coronavirus: President Donald Trump Declares National State of Emergency

Asked how long the emergency will last, President Trump said: “People are talking about July, August, something like that, so it could be right in that period of time where I say, it washes through.”

The president continued: “They think August, could be July, could be longer than that.”

He said he was not considering a national curfew or lockdown, though added: “We may look at certain areas, certain hot spots as they call them.”

President Trump said he had not yet decided to close the US-Canada border, but told reporters it was something the administration was considering.

He also addressed issues of testing, as the US has been criticized for lagging far behind smaller countries in getting tests out to the states.

Officials said on March 16 that a million tests were currently available and more would be coming this week.

“A lot of testing has been going on,” President Trump said, though he also noted that those without symptoms should not get the test.

“Not everybody should run out and get the test, but we’re able to handle tremendous numbers.”

Health officials also said they are due to add 30 million masks to the US supply and are shipping out gear and health workers to bolster local testing efforts.

Asked how he would score his administration’s response to the crisis on a scale of one to 10, President Trump said: “I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job.”

White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who joined the president, issued an appeal directly to millennials, asking them to limit social contact.

She said: “They are the core people that will stop this virus.

“We really want people to be separated.”

Dr. Birx also warned against socializing even if people feel well.

She said: “We know that there is a large group of infected people who are asymptomatic, who continue to spread the virus.”

VP Mike Pence, who is leading the coronavirus taskforce, told reporters he had not been tested yet.

He said: “I’m in regular consultation with the White House physician and he said I’ve not been exposed to anyone for any period of time that has had the coronavirus and that my wife and I have had no symptoms.”

0
Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency to help handle the growing outbreak of COVID-19.

The move allows the federal government to tap up to $50 billion in emergency relief funds.

It loosens regulations on the provision of healthcare and could speed up testing – the slow pace of which has been criticized widely.

There are 1,701 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US, and 41 deaths.

Several states have taken measures to stem the infections rate, including banning large gatherings, sporting events and closing schools.

The new coronavirus originated in China last December, but Europe is now the “epicenter” of the global pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said on March 13, as several European countries reported steep rises in infections and deaths.

Italy has recorded its highest daily toll yet – 250 over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 1,266, with 17,660 infections overall.

The Trump administration has come under recent scrutiny over its failure to provide Americans with widespread coronavirus testing.

Coronavirus: President Donald Trump Announces Travel Restrictions from Europe to US

Coronavirus: WHO Labels Outbreak as A Pandemic

Coronavirus: Italy in Full Lockdown to Curb COVID-19 Spread

The decision on the state of emergency was announced by President Trump in a live address from the White House Rose Garden.

The “next eight weeks are critical,” President Trump said.

What are the measures envisaged as part of the emergency response?

The US Health Secretary Alex Azar and health officials can waive certain laws and license requirements, giving more flexibility to healthcare providers.

Hospitals have been asked to activate their emergency preparedness plans.

Up to 500,000 additional coronavirus tests will be available by early next week, though authorities are not recommending tests without clear need; private labs and vaccine developers will be able to provide five million coronavirus tests within the month, though authorities are not recommending tests for those without symptoms.

Interest on all student loans is to be waived until further notice as a measure to ease the burden for students as universities and colleges across the country shut their doors.

Democrats in Congress and heavily-affected states had been urging President Trump to issue the order, which will also allow more people to qualify for government health insurance.

Urged again to explain why he hasn’t taken a coronavirus test following reports that he has been in the company of people who have tested positive recently, President Trump said he had no symptoms and there was no need for a test. But he added that he was likely to have one “fairly soon”, anyway.

President Trump’s travel ban on 26 European countries, which was met with anger and confusion this week, will go into effect on March 13 at midnight EDT.

The 1988 Stafford Act gives the president alone the ability to direct the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to co-ordinate a national response to “natural catastrophes” within the US.

There are currently more than 30 national emergencies in effect.

President Trump has declared several national emergencies in his presidency, including one last year to redirect military funds to build a southern border wall to prevent illegal immigration.

Joe Biden has strengthened his position as front-runner in the Democratic race to take on President Donald Trump in November’s White House election.

On March 10, he won Michigan, the biggest prize of primary voting, extending his lead over main rival Senator Bernie Sanders.

Five other states – Washington, Missouri, Mississippi, Idaho and North Dakota – voted on March 10.

The former vice-president also swept aside Bernie Sanders in Missouri, Mississippi and Idaho.

The Vermont senator won North Dakota, with results from Washington state still outstanding on March 11.

It is unclear if Bernie Sanders would fight on until the party convention in July.

The Democrats’ next big election milestone is in a week’s time when 577 delegates are up for grabs.

To secure the nomination, a candidate needs the support of 1,991 delegates. Before March 10 vote, Joe Biden had 648 to Bernie Sanders’ 563.

Joe Biden had lagged behind his Democratic rivals in early voting states, but rebounded after big wins on Super Tuesday and endorsements from several former nomination rivals.

His campaign looked all but lost at the start of the primary season in February. The 77-year-old finished a poor fourth in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary.

However, the turn came with South Carolina – where he won due to the support of the large African-American community – and on the Super Tuesday he won 10 out of 14 states at stake, establishing a sizeable lead over Bernie Sanders.

Thanking supporters from Philadelphia on March 10, Joe Biden said Democrats, including supporters of Bernie Sanders, could beat Donald Trump.

White House 2020: What Are Primaries and Caucuses?

Bernie Sanders, 78, enjoys widespread support among young voters, but has so far failed to turn that into electoral success.

The Democratic Party has been involved in a lengthy internal debate aimed at deciding which candidate has the best chance of denying President Trump a second term in office this autumn.

Once a crowded field of more than two dozen, celebrated for its women and candidates of color, the Democratic contest is now a race between two white male septuagenarians.

Joe Biden, a moderate, and Bernie Sanders, a staunch left-winger, offer starkly different visions for America’s future.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has decided to end her presidential campaign following disappointing Super Tuesday results.

A favorite of the liberal left, the 70-year-old had been a front-runner in the Democratic field.

The Democratic contest to take on President Donald Trump in November is now seen as a two-horse race between former VP Joe Biden, 77, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, 78.

Elizabeth Warren said she needed some time to decide who to support.

Her departure may clear the path for Bernie Sanders in particular – the sole progressive candidate left in the race.

Despite early momentum for her campaign, Elizabeth Warren failed to convert enthusiasm into votes in the first primary contests of 2020, not winning a single state.

White House 2020: What Are Primaries and Caucuses?

With Elizabeth Warren’s departure, a Democratic race that began with a record high of female candidates is now effectively left to two male front-runners, who praised her and her campaign.

Asked how she made the decision to drop out, Elizabeth Warren said she returned to the issues that anchored her campaign – the vast costs of student loan debt, healthcare, and childcare that plague millions of Americans.

The former Harvard law professor was vaulted into the political arena more than a decade ago as she pushed for tougher regulation of the financial sector after the 2008 economic collapse.

In 2010, Elizabeth Warren helped the Obama White House set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a Wall Street watchdog agency she championed.

Two years later, Elizabeth Warren rode that momentum to a seat in the Senate for Massachusetts.

In a remarkable rebound for his campaign, Joe Biden has won nine of the 14 states that voted to pick a Democratic White House candidate on Super Tuesday.

The former vice-president to Barack Obama overturned predictions to narrowly take the key state of Texas from his main challenger, Bernie Sanders.

However, Bernie Sanders is projected to win California – the biggest prize of the night – as well as three other states.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders lead the race to face Republican President Donald Trump in November.

Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spent more than $500 million of his own money on his campaign, but did not win a single state.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, once the frontrunner in the race, suffered a humiliating defeat to Joe Biden in her home state of Massachusetts.

Super Tuesday awards more than 1,300 of the 1,991 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic White House nomination in July.

As things stand, Joe Biden has 402 delegates and Bernie Sanders 314. However, results from California, which has 415 delegates, could affect the current standing.

Only last month, Joe Biden’s campaign was all but written off by some observers after he finished a poor fourth in the Iowa caucuses and fifth in the New Hampshire primary.

Joe Biden won Texas – the second biggest state with 228 delegates – along with Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia.

Maine, which has 24 delegates, is also yet to declare but partial results put Joe Biden slightly ahead of Bernie Sanders.

Virginia and North Carolina are crucial because they are key swing states in the 2020 election.

White House 2020: What Are Primaries and Caucuses?

Iowa Caucuses 2020: Voters to Choose Their Preferred Nominees for White House Race
4 Things We Learnt From The Iowa Caucuses

Exit polls across the board suggested Joe Biden attracted large majorities of African-American voters, a crucial bloc for the Democratic Party.

Joe Biden, 77, also appears to have won among the type of suburban voters who pollsters say have been turning away from the current president.

If Bernie Sanders, 78, does win California, as the Associated Press news agency projects, he will pick up the lion’s share of the whopping 415 delegates that the Golden State sends to the party convention.

The left-wing senator also won his home state of Vermont, along with Colorado and Utah.

Bernie Sanders had been heavily favored to win Texas, but it was finally claimed by Joe Biden.

In a victory speech, Bernie Sanders lambasted President Trump, but also took a shot at Joe Biden.

He said: “We’re taking on the political establishment.

“You cannot beat Trump with the same-old, same-old kind of politics.”

The next primaries take place on March 0 in Michigan, Washington state, Idaho, Mississippi, Missouri and North Dakota, with 352 delegates available.

0
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaidó was met with protests at the airport after returning home from an international support-building tour.

Supporters of President Nicolás Maduro shouted “fascist!”, grabbed Juan Guaidó’s shirt and pushed him in the airport just outside the capital Caracas.

Juan Guaidó, 36, defied a travel ban to go to Colombia, Europe, Canada and the US, and met President Donald Trump.

He is considered the legitimate leader of Venezuela by more than 50 countries.

However, President Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela’s left-wing leader who enjoys the support of the military, has remained in power.

Venezuela: Juan Guaido Storms Parliament to Be Sworn In as Speaker

Venezuela: Juan Guaido Accused of Coup Bid

Venezuela Crisis: Russia Condemns Foreign Powers for Backing Juan Guaido

One of the protesters, who shouted at Juan Guaidó and threw a liquid at him, was wearing the uniform of the state-owned airline Conviasa, which has been directly hit by US sanctions.

There were also scuffles between the protesters and supporters of Juan Guaidó, who had gone to the airport to welcome him.

Lawmakers loyal to Juan Guaidó had to walk to the airport after the bus they were traveling in was stopped by police.

Journalists reported being attacked and having their kit stolen by those who had turned out to boo Juan Guaidó.

His office later said that a relative who was travelling with him had been held by airport officials, and had not been seen since.

Meanwhile, without directly naming Juan Guaidó, President Maduro told his supporters to focus on “defending Venezuela”.

He said at a ceremony that was broadcast on state television: “Let’s not get distracted by stupidities, by dummies, by traitors to the homeland.”

Nicolas Maduro’s second-in-command Diosdado Cabello also denounced Juan Guaidó’s three-week tour as a “tourism trip”, and said he did not expect anything to change after his return.

“He is nothing,” Diosdado Cabello added.

President Maduro and his officials have threatened Juan Guaidó in the past, but these threats have, so far, not led to him being harmed or detained.

Despite this being the second time he defied a court-imposed travel ban, Juan Guaidó was not arrested.

After landing, Juan Guaidó addressed a rally of about 500 people in Caracas, where he called for renewed protests against the president.

During Juan Guaidó’s visit to the US, President Trump promised to “smash” Nicolas Maduro’s government.

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

At his annual State of the Union address, President Donald Trump has hailed the “great American comeback”.

His speech to Congress exposed sharp divisions at the top of US politics.

President Trump was speaking on the eve of his expected acquittal on corruption charges in his impeachment trial.

At one point the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped up a copy of the president’s speech behind him.

Donald Trump delivered the nationally televised speech in the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, where he was impeached in December.

His trial in the Senate culminates on February 5 but with Republicans in charge there he is all but certain to be cleared and escape being thrown out of office.

President Trump did not mention impeachment at all in his speech although he did jab at Democrats.

Republican lawmakers chanted “four more years” as Donald Trump prepared to speak, urging him on for November’s White House election.

The State of the Union address is a speech delivered by the president to Congress towards the beginning of each calendar year in office.

The speech is usually used as a chance to report on the condition of the nation, but also allows the president to outline a legislative agenda and national priorities.

State of the Union 2016: Barack Obama Delivers Final Address

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has been one of the president’s fiercest critics – she was the one who first launched formal impeachment efforts last year. President Trump has frequently taunted her as “Crazy Nancy”.

It was the first time the two had come face-to-face since Nancy Pelosi stormed out of a White House meeting four months ago.

Before President Trump began speaking at the podium in the well of the House, he appeared to snub the outstretched hand of Nancy Pelosi, America’s most powerful elected Democrat.

The House speaker, critics noticed, skipped the traditional introduction welcoming the president as a “distinct honor”.

When President Trump accused Democrats of planning to force American taxpayers to provide unlimited free healthcare to undocumented immigrants, Nancy Pelosi was observed twice mouthing: “Not true.”

Nancy Pelosi stunned onlookers by shredding a copy of the president’s remarks as he concluded.

She told reporters afterwards her gesture was “the courteous thing to do, considering the alternatives”.

Nancy Pelosi did rise to applaud the president more than once, including when he promoted his pet project of infrastructure investment, a possible area of bipartisan co-operation.

President Trump struck an upbeat note in a speech lasting one hour and 18 minutes that contrasted sharply with his lament of “American carnage” in his 2017 inaugural presidential address.

In an implicit rebuke to his predecessor Barack Obama, President Trump told his audience: “In just three short years, we have shattered the mentality of American decline and we have rejected the downsizing of America’s destiny.

“We are moving forward at a pace that was unimaginable just a short time ago, and we are never going back!”

President Trump repeatedly swiped at Democrats, including left-wing candidates such as Bernie Sanders, who are vying to challenge him for the presidency.

As is tradition, President Trump invited several special guests, including Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó, military veterans and the brother of a man killed by an undocumented immigrant.

In a move certain to infuriate liberal critics, President Trump announced he would award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, to firebrand conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who revealed this week he has lung cancer.

First Lady Melania Trump bestowed the honor on an emotional Rush Limbaugh as the president spoke.

A protester was escorted from the chamber while President Trump defended gun rights. It was Fred Guttenberg, the father of Jaime Guttenberg, a student killed in a mass school shooting at Parkland, Florida, in February 2018.

Fred Guttenberg was a guest of Nancy Pelosi.

Each year after the State of the Union speech, a member of the main opposition party is tasked with responding and this year it fell to Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The governor accused the president of failing to fix America’s problems.

She said: “Bullying people on Twitter doesn’t fix bridges – it burns them.”

As they did last year, many female Democrats – including Nancy Pelosi – wore white as tribute to the suffragettes who won the vote for US women a century ago.

Several liberal Democratic lawmakers, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Maxine Waters of California, boycotted President Trump’s address.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that she would “not use my presence at a state ceremony to normalize Trump’s lawless conduct & subversion of the Constitution”.

Other left-wing Democrats, including Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, walked out during President Trump’s speech.

As is traditional during the State of the Union, one member of the president’s cabinet did not attend the address.

He or she remains at a secret location to make sure the government can continue should calamity befall the nation’s president, vice-president and other top leaders.

This time, that person, who is known as the designated survivor, was Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.

Photo: Donald Trump Twitter

Standing alongside Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House, President Donald Trump has presented his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, promising to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.

President Trump proposed an independent Palestinian state and the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements.

He said his proposals “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas dismissed the plans as a “conspiracy”.

He said in a TV address from Ramallah in the West Bank: “I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass.”

The blueprint, which aims to solve one of the world’s longest-running conflicts, was drafted under the stewardship of President Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

Thousands of Palestinians protested in the Gaza Strip earlier on January 28, while the Israeli military deployed reinforcements in the occupied West Bank.

President Donald Trump: Israeli Settlements Could Complicate Peace Process with Palestinians

Israel Approves Controversial Jewish Nation State Bill

The joint announcement came as both President Trump and PM Netanyahu faced political challenges at home. Donald Trump is the subject of an impeachment trial in the Senate while the Israeli PM on January 28 dropped his bid for immunity on corruption charges. Both men deny any wrongdoing.

David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, said that the timing of the announcement was not tied to any political development, adding it had been “fully baked” for some time.

President Trump’s proposals are:

  • The US will recognize Israeli sovereignty over territory that Donald Trump’s plan envisages being part of Israel. The plan includes a conceptual map that President Trump says illustrates the territorial compromises that Israel is willing to make.
  • The map will “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem”, where President Trump says the US would open an embassy. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) said President Trump’s plan would give Palestinians control over 15% of what it called “historic Palestine”.
  • Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital”. Both Israel and the Palestinians hold competing claims to the holy city. The Palestinians insist that East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war, be the capital of their future state.
  • An opportunity for Palestinians to “achieve an independent state of their very own” – however, he gave few details.
  • “No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes” – suggesting that existing Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank will remain.
  • Israel will work with the king of Jordan to ensure that the status quo governing the key holy site in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif to Muslims is preserved. Jordan runs the religious trust that administers the site.
  • Territory allocated to Palestinians in President Trump’s map “will remain open and undeveloped for a period of four years”. During that time, Palestinians can study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and “achieve the criteria for statehood”.

President Trump said: “Palestinians are in poverty and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism. They deserve a far better life.”

Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has threatened Iraq with severe sanctions after its parliament called on US troops to leave the country.

The president told reporters: “We have a very extraordinarily expensive air base that’s there. It cost billions of dollars to build. We’re not leaving unless they pay us back for it.”

Tensions are high after the US assassinated Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.

Meanwhile, Iran has vowed “severe revenge”.

The 62-year-old general spearheaded Iranian military operations in the Middle East and was regarded as a terrorist by the US.

Qasem Soleimani’s remains have now returned to Iran, where mourners packed the streets of Tehran on January 6.

Esmail Qaani, the new head of Iran’s Quds force – which Qasem Soleimani led – has vowed to expel the US from the Middle East.

Iran’s state radio quoted Esmail Qaani as saying: “We promise to continue martyr Soleimani’s path with the same force… and the only compensation for us would be to remove America from the region.”

The air strike that killed Qasem Soleimani also claimed the life of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a top Iraqi military figure who commanded the Iranian-backed Kataib Hezbollah group.

Speaking from the presidential plane, President Trump said that if Iraq asked US forces to depart on an unfriendly basis, “we will charge them sanctions like they’ve never seen before, ever. It’ll make Iranian sanctions look somewhat tame”.

Some 5,000 US soldiers are in Iraq as part of the international coalition against the ISIS group.

On January 5, the coalition paused its operations against ISIS in Iraq, and Iraqi lawmakers passed a non-binding resolution calling for foreign troops to leave.

The resolution was pushed through by the parliament’s Shia Muslim bloc – which is close to Iran.

Qasem Soleimani Death: Thousands of Mourners Gathered in Ahvaz to Receive General’s Remains

Qasem Soleimani: Iran’s Top General Killed in Baghdad Air Strike Ordered by President Trump

Iraq: US Embassy in Baghdad Attacked by Protesters

Meanwhile, Iran has announced it will no longer abide by restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, under which it agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in international inspectors in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.

President Trump abandoned the deal in 2018, saying he wanted to force Iran to negotiate a new deal that would place indefinite curbs on its nuclear program and also halt its development of ballistic missiles.

However, Iran refused and had since been gradually rolling back its commitments under the deal.

In a statement, Iran said it would no longer observe limitations on its capacity for enrichment, the level of enrichment, the stock of enriched material, or research and development.

European leaders, from Germany, France and the UK – which were all signatories to the 2015 deal, alongside China and Russia – responded with a joint statement urging Iran to refrain from “further violent action or proliferation”.

0
Image NBC News

Russian leader Vladimir Putin has thanked President Donald Trump for intelligence that helped foil “acts of terrorism” on Russian soil, a Kremlin statement announces.

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump spoke on the phone on December 29, the statement said.

According to the Kremlin, the information came via intelligence services, but it provided no further details.

Russian media is reporting the discovery of a plot to attack St Petersburg over the New Year period.

According to Tass news agency, two Russian nationals have been arrested and plans to attack a mass gathering were seized, according to a spokesperson from the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency.

President Donald Trump Denies Working for Russia

Trump-Putin Summit: Donald Trump Defends Russia over Claims of Election Interference

President Putin and President Trump have spoken on the phone and in person various times since the latter took office.

Records from the conversations show they have often talked about Syria, as well as nuclear agreements, North Korea and trade.

In December 2017, Vladimir Putin thanked President Trump for another warning from US intelligence agencies, which again apparently prevented a terrorist plot in St Petersburg, according to a White House account.

During that call, the Kremlin said President Putin had promised to reciprocate with information about terrorist threats to the US.

The US and Russian relations plummeted after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from neighboring Ukraine in 2014.

They were also strained when US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Despite this, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin have appeared to be on good terms personally – and they have vowed to co-operate on terrorism.

President Trump has indicated he is considering attending the Victory Day celebrations in Moscow next May, after an invitation from President Putin.

0
Image source Wikipedia

A newly-released government email has revealed that the White House sought to freeze aid to Ukraine just 91 minutes after President Donald Trump spoke to President Volodymyr Zelensky by phone in July.

The email, telling the Pentagon to “hold off”, was sent by a senior White House official.

In the phone call, President Trump asked the Ukrainian leader to investigate his political rival, Democrat Joe Biden.

On December 18, President Trump has been impeached for abuse of power over the issue.

Democrats say the phone call shows Donald Trump used the office for personal political gain.

A US whistleblower who heard about the conversation raised concerns, which ultimately triggered the impeachment inquiry.

The president was formally impeached by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but is unlikely to be removed from office as the case will go to trial in the Senate, where his Republican party has a majority.

The newly-released email was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity following a court order in a freedom of information case.

President Donald Trump Impeached by House of Representatives

Trump Impeachment: House Judiciary Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment

What Is Impeachment and How Does It Work?

The email shows that Mike Duffey, a senior White House official, contacted senior defense officials about withholding Ukraine’s aid just over an hour-and-a-half after President Trump ended a call with President Zelensky on July 25.

The White House declassified the Ukraine call transcript following a whistleblower complaint it was being covered-up.

The transcript shows President Trump asked Volodymyr Zelensky to “do us a favor” and investigate Joe Biden, currently a frontrunner to be the Democratic candidate in the 2020 White House race, and his son Hunter Biden, who had previously worked for a Ukrainian energy company.

In the email Mike Duffey asks that the Department of Defense “hold off” on providing aid following the administration’s plan to review.

The email reads: “Given the sensitive nature of the request, I appreciate your keeping that information closely held to those who need to know to execute direction.”

In a statement released to media on December 22, Rachel Semmel, a spokeswoman for the Office of Management and Budget, dismissed the characterization of the email.

Image source Wikipedia

The House voted to impeach President Donald Trump, setting up a trial in the Senate that will decide whether he remains in office.

The House voted on two charges – that President Trump abused his power and that he had obstructed Congress.

Nearly all Democrats voted for the charges and every Republican against.

Donald Trump has become the third US president in history to be impeached.

However, Republicans control the Senate so it is highly unlikely he will be removed from power.

As voting took place in the House, President Trump was addressing a campaign rally in Battle Creek, Michigan.

The president told a cheering crowd: “While we’re creating jobs and fighting for Michigan, the radical left in Congress is consumed with envy and hatred and rage, you see what’s going on.”

Meanwhile, the White House released a statement saying that the president was “confident that he will be fully exonerated” in a Senate trial.

Trump Impeachment: House Judiciary Committee Approves Articles of Impeachment

What Is Impeachment and How Does It Work?

House Judiciary Committee Unveils Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump

After 10 hours of partisan debate on the merits of the two impeachment charges against President Trump, the House called for votes at about 20:30 local time.

The first charge is abuse of power, stemming from President Trump’s alleged attempt to pressure Ukraine to announce investigations into his Democratic political rival, Joe Biden.

It passed by 230 votes to 197, almost completely on party lines. Only two Democrats opposed – New Jersey’s Jeff Van Drew, who is set to leave the party, and Minnesota’s Collin Peterson.

The second charge is obstruction of Congress, because President Trump allegedly refused to co-operate with the impeachment inquiry, withholding documentary evidence and barring his key aides from giving evidence.

It passed by 229-198. Democrat Jared Golden of Maine voted for the first charge but opposed this.

No Republicans supported impeachment, although ex-party member Justin Amash, from Michigan, did.

Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard voted “present” on both charges – effectively an abstention. Two members were absent for personal reasons.

Being impeached places President Donald Trump alongside only two other presidents in the nation’s history – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton.

Image source Wikipedia

House Judiciary Committee has approved two impeachment articles against President Donald Trump, moving the process towards a full House vote.

The articles are expected to be voted on by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives next week.

President Trump is the fourth US president in history to face impeachment.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Donald Trump again dismissed the process as a “sham” and a “hoax”.

Today’s hearing lasted just over ten minutes before the two articles of impeachment – abuse of power and obstructing Congress – were passed by 23 votes to 17.

The vote was delayed after more than 14 hours of rancorous debate. Republicans criticized that decision by Democratic Party Chairman Jerry Nadler, accusing him of pushing back the vote to ensure more TV coverage.

What Is Impeachment and How Does It Work?

House Judiciary Committee Unveils Articles of Impeachment Against President Trump

In the abuse of power article, President Trump is accused of soliciting a foreign country to help him politically by trying to force Ukraine to launch a corruption investigation into his political rival Joe Biden, a leading Democratic presidential contender.

The president is also accused of obstructing Congress by failing to co-operate with the House investigation.

Leading Democrats agreed the articles of impeachment described over nine pages. They say that President Trump “betrayed the nation” by acting “corruptly”.

Jerry Nadler made a brief statement to reporters after the vote, calling it a “solemn and sad day” and pledged that the House of Representatives would “act expeditiously”.

However, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz said: “For Democrats, impeachment is their drug.”

Speaking from the White House Oval Office alongside the president of Paraguay, President Trump called the impeachment process “a witch hunt”, “a sham” and “a hoax”.

Donald Trump said Democrats were “trivializing impeachment” adding that they are “making absolute fools out of themselves”.

0
Image source Wikipedia

Congress can remove a president from office before the end of their term.

Impeachment is the first part – the charges – of a two-stage political process by which Congress can remove a president from office.

While it’s commonly used to mean removing someone from office, it actually refers to the filing of formal charges in Congress.

These charges then form the basis of a trial.

How does the impeachment process begin?

It has to be started by the House of Representatives, which is one of the two chambers of Congress. (The other is the Senate).

A simple majority (51%) needs to vote in favor of articles of impeachment for the process to move to the next stage.

If the House of Representatives votes to pass articles of impeachment, the Senate is forced to hold a trial.

What happens next?                  

A Senate vote requires a two-thirds majority to convict and remove the president – unlikely in this case, given that President Donald Trump’s party controls the chamber.

A team of politicians from the House of Representatives act as prosecutors. The president has their own defense lawyers and senators act as the jury.

The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over proceedings and the president is tried.

Only two US presidents in history – Bill Clinton and Andrew Johnson – have been impeached, but neither was convicted.

President Richard Nixon resigned before he could be impeached.

0
Image source Wikipedia

House Judiciary Committee has unveiled charges against President Donald Trump, a key move in impeaching him.

The first article revealed by committee chief Jerry Nadler accuses President Trump of abuse of power and the second accuses him of obstructing Congress.

The Republican president is said to have withheld aid to Ukraine for domestic political reasons.

Donald Trump has urged the Senate to try him “sooner than later”.

He insists he has done “nothing wrong” and has dismissed the impeachment process as “madness”.

If the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives Judiciary Committee votes to approve the articles later this week, they will then be submitted to the lower chamber for a full vote.

If, in turn, the articles are approved by the House, an impeachment trial in the Republican-held Senate will take place, possibly early in January.

The impeachment process was launched after an anonymous whistleblower complained to Congress in September about a July phone call by Donald Trump to the president of Ukraine.

President Trump is alleged to have committed “high crimes and misdemeanors” (a phrase from the US Constitution) on two counts outlined by Jerry Nadler:

  • The first allegation is that he exercised the powers of his public office to “obtain an improper personal benefit while ignoring or injuring the national interest”, by allegedly putting pressure on Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 presidential election;
  • The second allegation is that “when he was caught, when the House investigated and opened an impeachment inquiry, President Trump engaged in unprecedented categorical and indiscriminate defiance of the impeachment inquiry”, thereby obstructing Congress.

President Donald Trump Invited to House Judiciary Committee’s Impeachment Hearing

Trump Impeachment Hearings: Former White House Aide Fiona Hill Claims President Trump Promoted Discredited Ukraine Theory

Trump Impeachment Hearings: David Holmes Reveals What President Trump Said on Ukraine Phone Call

President Trump “sees himself as above the law”, Jerry Nadler said.

“We must be clear, no-one, not even the president, is above the law.”

In the July phone call to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, President Trump appeared to tie US military assistance for Ukraine to its launching of investigations that could help him politically.

In return for those investigations, Democrats say President Trump offered two bargaining chips – $400 million of military aid that had already been allocated by Congress, and a White House meeting for President.

Democrats say this pressure on a vulnerable US ally constitutes an abuse of power.

The first investigation President Trump wanted from Ukraine was into former VP Joe Biden, his main Democratic challenger, and his son Hunter. Hunter Biden joined the board of a Ukrainian energy company when his father was President Barack Obama’s deputy.

The second Trump demand was that Ukraine should try to corroborate a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, had interfered in the last US presidential election. This theory has been widely debunked, and US intelligence agencies are unanimous in saying Moscow was behind the hacking of Democratic Party emails in 2016.

President Trump railed at the announcement of the charges, declaring again on Twitter that it was a “witch hunt”.

In a rare sign of co-operation between the US and Iran, the two countries have conducted a prisoner swap.

The exchange involved Chinese-American researcher Xiyue Wang, who was convicted of spying in Iran and Iranian scientist Massoud Soleimani, who was held by the US. Both men deny wrongdoing.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he was glad as he announced the exchange.

Hours later, President Donald Trump tweeted: “Thank you to Iran on a very fair negotiation. See, we can make a deal together!”

Xiyue Wang was arrested in Iran in 2016 for “collaborating with foreign governments”.

Massoud Soleimani, a stem cell expert, was arrested at a Chicago airport in 2018. He was accused violating trade sanctions by trying to export biological material to Iran.

President Donald Trump Re-Imposes Iran Sanctions Removed Under Nuclear Deal

President Donald Trump Pulls US Out of Iran Nuclear Deal

The US and Iran have had an increasingly strained relationship in recent years and share no diplomatic links.

Both countries have thanked the Swiss government for its assistance as an intermediary facilitator.

Xiyue Wang was flown in a Swiss government plane from Tehran to Zurich, and then to Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where he will undergo medical check-ups before heading home.

Massoud Soleimani was also flown to Zurich and then on to Iran.

Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted photos of himself with Massoud Soleimani after his release.

He was the first to announce the news, via Twitter: “Glad that Professor Massoud Soleimani and Mr. Xiyue Wang will be joining their families shortly.”

In a formal statement, President Donald Trump said Xiyue Wang had been “held under the pretence of espionage”.

The statement said: “Freeing Americans held captive is of vital importance to my Administration, and we will continue to work hard to bring home all our citizens wrongfully held captive overseas.”

Hua Qu, Mr

Xiyue Wang’s wife, Hua Qu, wrote in statement: “Our family is complete once again. Our son Shaofan and I have waited three long years for this day and it’s hard to express in words how excited we are to be reunited with Xiyue.

“We are thankful to everyone who helped make this happen.”

Princeton University, where Xiyue Wang was studying as a postgraduate, said in a statement it was “overjoyed” with the news of his release and was looking forward to “welcoming him back to campus”.

Xiyue Wang was arrested in Iran in August 2016 as he was leaving the country.

He had been doing research in Iran for a university dissertation and was accused of seeking to gather “highly confidential articles” for US and British academic institutions.

Xiyue Wang was sentenced to 10 years in jail for spying.

Massoud Soleimani was detained in October 2018 on accusations of attempting to export biological materials to Iran in violation of trade sanctions on the country over its nuclear program.

US-Iran tensions have risen significantly in the last two years.

After President Donald Trump took power, the US pulled out of a 2015 treaty that aimed to limit Tehran’s nuclear program.

Iran has always insisted its nuclear program is peaceful, but the US voiced concerns about potential weapon building.

President Donald Trump also reinstated sanctions on Iran, which have led to its currency plummeting and inflation soaring.

0
Image source Wikipedia

President Donald Trump has decided to delay his plans to legally designate Mexican drug cartels as terrorist groups.

He had vowed to label the gangs as terrorists after the killing last month of nine American citizens from a Mormon community in Mexico.

However, the president has put the plans on hold on the request of his Mexican counterpart, President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.

The Mexican president said: “I celebrate that he has taken our opinion into account.”

“We thank President Trump for respecting our decisions and for choosing to maintain a policy of good neighborliness, a policy of cooperation with us,” Andrés Manuel López Obrador added.

Jenni Rivera was involved with Mexican drug cartels before she died in plane crash

President Trump’s original announcement came after three women and six children of dual US-Mexican nationality were killed in an ambush in a remote area of northern Mexico.

Following the attack the victims’ community, the LeBarons, petitioned the White House to list the cartels as terror groups, saying: “They are terrorists and it’s time to acknowledge it.”

The move would have widened the scope for US legal and financial action against cartels but Mexico saw it as a violation of its sovereignty.

President Trump has now put the plans on hold.

He tweeted: “All necessary work has been completed to declare Mexican Cartels terrorist organizations.

“Statutorily we are ready to do so.”

However, he said his Mexican counterpart is “a man who I like and respect, and has worked so well with us,” adding that he was temporarily holding off on the designation and stepping up “joint efforts to deal decisively with these vicious and ever-growing organizations!”

President Trump did not comment on how long the delay would last.

Mexico’s brutal drug war claims tens of thousands of lives every year, as powerful trafficking groups battle for territory and influence.

In 2017 more than 30,000 people were killed in Mexico, with the murder rate having more than tripled since 2006.

0
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump and his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron, have set out opposing views ahead of a NATO summit in London.

In an occasionally tense press conference, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron sparred over NATO’s role, Turkey, and ISIS.

President Trump had described Emmanuel Macron’s comments about NATO as “nasty”, but the French president said he stood by his words.

World leaders gathered in London to mark the Western military alliance’s 70th anniversary.

The NATO summit has already been marked by strained relations between Turkey and other member states.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he will oppose NATO’s plan for the defense of the Baltic region if it does not back Turkey over its fight against Kurdish groups it considers terrorists.

On December 3, Emmanuel Macron and Recep Tayyip Erdogan met in Downing Street in a four-way meeting that also included German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the host, UK PM Boris Johnson.

Ties between President Trump and Emmanuel Macron were already strained amid a trade dispute, and after the French president described NATO as “brain dead” last month because, he said, the US commitment to the alliance was fading.

On December 3, President Trump hit back by saying Emmanuel Macron had been “very disrespectful”, adding that France had “a very high unemployment rate” and “nobody needs NATO more than France”.

At a joint press conference with Emmanuel Macron later, President Trump was less combative, stressing that the two countries had “done a lot of good things together”. Emmanuel Macron, meanwhile, said he stood by his comments.

The two sides then clashed over foreign ISIS fighters who were captured in Syria.

President Trump jokingly offered them to France, saying: “Would you like some nice [ISIS] fighters? You can take everyone you want.”

Sounding stern, Emmanuel Macron said “Let’s be serious” and that ISIS fighters from Europe were “a tiny minority”, and that the “number one priority” was to get rid of the terrorist group.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Shows Anti-Kurdish Video to Republican Senators

President Trump then retorted: “This is why he is a great politician because that was one of the greater non-answers I have ever heard, and that’s OK.”

He also criticized NATO countries who were paying less than the NATO guidelines of at least 2% of GDP towards the alliance.

President Trump said he did not want countries to be “delinquent” and pay less than their share, adding: “Maybe I’ll deal with them from a trade standpoint.”

Emmanuel Macron said France – which currently spends 1.84% of its GDP on defense – would reach the minimum, and acknowledged that the US had “overinvested” in NATO for several decades.

However, he added that there were other pressing issues to discuss.

The two leaders also discussed Turkey’s decision to buy a Russian S-400 missile system.

President Trump said they were “looking at” whether to impose sanctions, while Emmanuel Macron asked: “How is it possible to be a member of the alliance… and buy things from Russia?”

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have been key allies of the US-led coalition against ISIS in Syria. However, Turkey views a section of the group – the YPG – as terrorists.

Ahead of his departure for London, Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would not approve a plan to defend Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in the event of a Russian attack unless NATO recognized the Kurdish YPG militia as terrorists.