NSCDC Officials Commence Security Tour In Northeast Schools

NSCDC boss Mohammadu Abdullahi and officers interacting with students in Government Secondary School Hong  (Boarding school), Adamawa on Saturday.

 

The Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) has commenced the deployment of its personnel to secure secondary schools in the northeast.

This follows President Muhammadu Buhari’ s directive that the NSCDC should be involved in providing security following the recent abduction of over a hundred girls from the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe state.

The Commandant General of the NSCDC Mohammadu Abdullahi has therefore, commenced the tour with Adamawa state on Sunday.

He visited the Government Girls Secondary School Gombi in Gombi local government area, as well as the Government Secondary School Hong.

Read More: Buhari Orders Deployment Of NSCDC Officials To Northeast

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Tributes To ‘Inspiration’ Hawking As Curtain Falls On Paralympics

A general view during the closing ceremony of the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympic Games at the Pyeongchang Stadium in Pyeongchang on March 18, 2018.
Jung Yeon-je / AFP

 

The Pyeongchang Winter Paralympics closed Sunday with a dazzling ceremony featuring light shows, dancing and music, as well as tributes to late wheelchair-bound British physicist Stephen Hawking as an “inspiration”.

Nine days of sporting action ended earlier in the day with a flurry of events, including victory for the United States in a hard-fought sledge hockey final, helping them to top the medals table with 36 overall.

North Korea’s athletes, who made their country’s Winter Paralympics debut in Pyeongchang, were absent from the closing ceremony after heading home early, but it was a minor sticking point after the rapid inter-Korean thaw of recent weeks.
With thousands packing out the Pyeongchang Olympic Stadium, International Paralympic Committee president Andrew Parsons used his closing address to pay tribute to Hawking, who died last week aged 76.

The scientist is seen as an inspiration by Paralympians. He never let his acute physical disability stop him from pursuing his dreams, and is fondly remembered for opening the London 2012 Games.

Parsons hailed him as “a genius of a man, a pioneer and inspiration to us all”.

“While Hawking tested the limits of his imagination, Paralympians, you have once again pushed the boundaries of human endeavour,” he said.

“Your logic-defying performances have focused the world not on what holds you back, but on what motivates you and pushes you forward.”

Hawking developed a form of motor neurone disease in his 20s that left him confined to a wheelchair, almost completely paralysed and only able to speak through a voice synthesiser.

But his disability did not stop him pursuing his ambition of unlocking the secrets of the Universe, and his best-selling book “A Brief History of Time” made him a household name.

In a memorable speech at the opening of the 2012 Games, Hawking urged Paralympians to “look up at the stars and not down at your feet”.

– Triumph over adversity –

Athletes carried their countries’ flags into the stadium at the closing ceremony but North Korea’s was brought in by a Games volunteer, after Pyongyang’s delegation headed home a few days ago.

Pyongyang sent two novice sit-skiers to the Games and they finished at or near the back of their two events, but were still welcomed by South Korean fans delighted at the latest sign of detente on the Korean peninsula.

The rapprochement began at last month’s Winter Olympics, when the North sent 22 athletes to the Games and the two Koreas marched under a united flag at the opening ceremony.

The North’s presence at the Paralympics was low-key compared to the Olympics — as well as leaving before the end, the North did not march with the South at the opening.

Sunday’s closing ceremony included traditional Korean music and dancing, and also modern rock and pop, with K-pop star Ailee among the performers.

There were also disabled performers, including a dancer with a hearing impairment and a wheelchair-bound dancer.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the Paralympic flag was hauled down and handed to the mayor of Beijing — which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

In a fitting finale to the Games’ high-octane sporting action, the USA earlier Sunday beat Canada 2-1 with a dramatic goal in overtime to defend their Paralympic sledge hockey title.

It brought Team USA’s gold medal haul to 13.

Russian athletes — competing as neutrals after their country was banned due to a doping scandal — picked up eight gold medals, second-highest after the USA and tied with Canada.

The Winter Paralympics broke records for ticket sales, which topped 340,000, as well as for the number of athletes competing at 567.

There were numerous tales of triumph over adversity.

Dutch snowboarder Bibian Mentel-Spee won two gold medals despite having had cancer surgery twice in recent months.

American skier Oksana Masters – born with multiple birth defects due to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster — also won double gold.

Outbursts Only Increase Pressure On Defiant Mourinho

United Boss Admits Concern At Herrera Injury In Sevilla Draw
Jose Mourinho leaves the pitch at the end of the football match between Manchester United and Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on February 3, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

First came the impassioned defence of his record as Manchester United manager, then a stinging rebuke of his players’ “lack of personality” to meet the demands of the 20-time English champions from Jose Mourinho.

The outspoken Portuguese coach is no stranger to causing controversy, but his astonishing rant aimed at his own squad despite beating Brighton 2-0 in snowy conditions at Old Trafford on Saturday only served to cast more doubt on whether he will be handed a third season in charge.

“My calculation is that without pressure, they don’t perform well,” argued Mourinho, when questioned whether his public criticism could backfire should his players’ react negatively.

“What can I lose? And the ones that are always there are the ones that will always be there. And that is an example of personality.”

United are still reeling from a bitterly disappointing Champions League last 16 exit at the hands of Sevilla.

Mourinho reacted angrily to criticism of his cautious approach in both legs against the Spanish side, who are languishing in fifth in La Liga, with a 12-minute rant in his pre-match press conference on Friday.

In seven seasons under four different managers, Mourinho pointed out that United’s best performance in the Champions League has been one quarter-final appearance, and the club’s highest finish in the Premier League since legendary former manager Alex Ferguson retired was fourth.

Mourinho’s actions spoke almost as loudly as his words. Two of United’s biggest signings of his time in charge, Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba, were dropped and not even introduced as substitutes against Brighton.

Other than Nemanja Matic, who set up Romelu Lukaku’s opener before heading home United’s second himself, Mourinho lambasted what he described as a “lack of personality, lack of class and lack of desire.”

– New contract no guarantee –

As recently as January, Mourinho was handed a new contract till 2020 by the United hierarchy.

However, history from Mourinho’s nomadic coaching career shows that is no guarantee of a long-term stay.

Mourinho signed a new deal in August 2015 of his second spell in charge of Chelsea, only to be sacked four months later after a disastrous start to their Premier League title defence.

His latest outburst struck a similar tone to his final match in charge of Chelsea when, after a 2-1 defeat at Leicester, he claimed his work on the training ground had been “betrayed” by players not following instructions.

Like his time at Real Marid, Mourinho’s second departure at Chelsea came in a turbulent third season once his message to a talented squad began to fall on deaf ears.

Worryingly for United, Mourinho’s reserves already appear to be running low in the final stages of his second campaign, when he has traditionally been most successful.

Unlike both spells at Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, there will be no title to crown his second season.
Despite sitting second in the Premier League, United trail local rivals Manchester City by 16 points in the Premier League, and could even face the indignity of seeing City seal the league when they face each other in three weeks’ time.

As British newspaper The Telegraph wrote on Sunday, “a trophy could still be salvaged from the wreckage” in the FA Cup.
However, that didn’t help Mourinho’s predecessor Louis Van Gaal, who won the FA Cup in his final game in charge only to be soon dismissed.

“When a manager publicly challenges his players in a bid to defend their own reputation, it is their reaction that decides whether it was a blunder or not,” added the Telegraph’s match report.

If Mourinho can’t get his players back on side, and the likes of Sanchez and Pogba performing on the pitch in the final few weeks of the season, the United board have a huge decision to make on whether to persist for a third act.

Vladimir Putin In 10 Dates

Putin Orders Alternative Olympic Games For Banned Athletes
File photo: President Vladimir Putin/ Alexey NIKOLSKY / SPUTNIK / AFP

Vladimir Putin, who is expected to win a fourth term as Russian president in Sunday’s election, has reimposed the Kremlin’s grip over society since taking power 18 years ago.

Here are key dates in the life of the 65-year-old former KGB officer:

– October 7, 1952: Putin is born into a poor working-class family in Leningrad, now called Saint Petersburg.

– 1998: He is named head of the FSB security service, the successor to the KGB, having joined the service in 1975.

– 1999: As Boris Yeltsin’s prime minister, he oversees the launch of a second war to crush rebels in Chechnya. When Yeltsin resigns on New Year’s Eve, Putin takes over as president, being officially elected in March 2000.

– 2004: He is re-elected president.

– 2008: In line with a constitutional limit, at the end of his second term Putin hands power to his protege Dmitry Medvedev and becomes prime minister.

– 2012: He returns as president, for a term which has been extended from four to six years, amid unprecedented opposition protests.

– 2013: After three decades of marriage, he divorces Lyudmila with whom he has two daughters.

– 2014: He annexes the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, sparking the worst diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

– 2015: Gives military backing to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

– 2017: In December, he announces he will seek a new six-year term as president in March 2018.

Russian Presidential Election: Polls Open In Moscow

Russian paratroopers vote at a polling station during Russia’s presidential election in Stavropol on March 18, 2018.
Danil Semyonov / AFP

Voting opened Sunday in Moscow in Russia’s presidential election, with President Vladimir Putin set to secure a historic fourth Kremlin term amid escalating tensions with Britain and its allies over a spy poisoning.

Polling stations opened in the far east of the vast country at 2000 GMT Saturday and will close in Kaliningrad, Russia’s enclave on the EU border, at 1800 GMT on Sunday.

Since the disintegration of the USSR or the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, here are five major dates in Russia.

– 1991: the Soviet Union dies –

December 8, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, elected six months earlier at the first multi-party ballot, agrees with his Belarussian and Ukrainian counterparts to replace their union, the USSR, with a commonwealth.
As the Soviet Union disintegrates, leader Mikhail Gorbachev resigns. The USSR ceases to exist in international law on December 31, 1991.

Yeltsin launches a raft of free-market reforms and ruthlessly expands his powers, presiding over rampant corruption and a sell-off of assets to allied oligarchs.

He is discredited further by a severe financial crisis in the summer of 1998 which leaves millions of Russians in poverty, with the health and education systems collapsing.

– 1999: Putin arrives –

When Yeltsin resigns on New Year’s Eve, 1999, he names his prime minister, the ex-spy chief Vladimir Putin, as president.

Putin is elected in March 2000 and then again in 2004.

As Yeltsin’s prime minister, Putin had overseen the launch of a second war to crush separatist rebels in Russia’s North Caucasus region of Chechnya, sealing his image as a strongman.

The separatists had carried out a series of bloody attacks which traumatised Russians.

Tens of thousands die in Moscow’s bombing of the regional capital Grozny before the conflict ends in 2009.

During his first two terms as president, Putin asserts his dominance over parliament and regional governors, imposes control over the media and empowers the security services.

He also sidelines influential oligarchs from politics, including Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the ex-Yukos chief, who is jailed for 10 years.

Russia’s economy recovers, thanks to high energy prices, a strict control of monetary policy and reform.

– 2008: Interim president –

At the end of his second term in 2008, Putin — in line with the constitution — hands the presidency over to his protege Dmitry Medvedev and takes the post of prime minister.

He is widely seen as retaining the reins of power, however, and remains Russia’s most popular figure.

– 2012: Putin’s comeback –

Putin scores a crushing first-round presidential election victory in March 2012 that he insists is honest but the opposition and international observers say is tainted.

On the eve of his inauguration for a term extended to six years, thousands of protesters stage a so-called March of Millions, which is repressed by police.

A crackdown on civil society follows Putin’s return to power, with activists arrested, the Pussy Riot rock band jailed and draconian new laws passed.

– 2014: Russia flexes muscles –

In March 2014, Putin annexes the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which sparks the worst diplomatic crisis between Russia and the West since the Cold War.

The move prompts the European Union and United States to impose sanctions on Russia.

Moscow is also accused of backing pro-Russian separatists in the east of the strategically placed former Soviet republic.

Russia’s role as a key international player is sealed when in September 2015 it intervenes in Syria, turning the tables in the civil war in favour of ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Four Killed, 19 Trapped In Philippine Hotel Fire

Heavy smoke engulfs the Waterfront Manila Pavilion building, after a fire broke out at the hotel and casino complex in Manila on March 18, 2018.
TED ALJIBE / AFP

 

Four people were killed and 19 feared trapped by a major hotel fire in the Philippine capital Manila on Sunday, with others plucked from the rooftop by helicopter, authorities said.

The blaze at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion, a hotel and casino complex, was still raging six hours after it began on Sunday morning, prompting more than 300 people to flee the area and six to be brought to hospital, fire and city officials said.

Of the four who died, two were identified as hotel employees, said Manila city’s disaster risk reduction chief, Johnny Yu.

“The two are a security guard and a treasury officer. They were likely trapped, suffered from suffocation and were brought to the hospital but declared dead on arrival,” Yu told reporters, adding 19 were missing.

Firemen try to escape from heavy smoke at the Waterfront Manila Pavilion building, after a fire broke out at the hotel and casino complex in Manila on March 18, 2018. Four people were killed and 19 feared trapped by a major hotel fire in the Philippine capital Manila on March 18, with others plucked from the rooftop by helicopter, authorities said.
TED ALJIBE / AFP

Authorities were investigating the cause of the fire, which is believed to have begun in the casino or mezzanine area of the 21-floor hotel which regularly hosted both locals and foreigners, Yu added.

Responders sent a helicopter to rescue people trapped on the rooftop and officials launched a ground operation to get the others out.

Manila is one of 16 cities making up Metro Manila. Nearby cities were helping put out the blaze, Manila’s fire department said.

“This is a major fire. There were those who inhaled the smoke and were brought to the hospital,” senior fire officer Marlon Banaag told AFP.

Deadly blazes break out regularly in the Philippines, particularly in slum areas where there are virtually no safety standards.

The deadliest in recent years was in suburban Manila where 72 people died in 2015 at a factory which makes rubber slippers.

In the southern city of Davao, 38 people were killed in December 2017 by a fire that ravaged a shopping mall and a call centre.

Israel Bombs Gaza ‘Underground’ Complex After Blast

A Palestinian man checks the site of an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on March 18, 2018. Israeli military aircraft carried out a raid against a Hamas target in the Gaza Strip overnight after an explosive device detonated near the border with Israel, the military said.
MAHMUD HAMS / AFP

 

Israel’s military carried out an air raid overnight against an underground Hamas facility in the Gaza Strip and destroyed a separate tunnel under construction that could be used for attacks, it said Sunday.

No casualties were reported in either operation, which came after an explosive device was detonated near the Gaza border with Israel, the latest in a string of such incidents.

Israel’s military said the operation to destroy the tunnel involved new technology it has been working on to detect them.

“Our policy is to act resolutely against any attempt to harm us and systematically eliminate the terror tunnel infrastructure, and we will continue doing so,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

The new tunnel under construction by Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip, was being dug to link up with an older one in the south of the Palestinian enclave, according to military spokesman Jonathan Conricus.

The new tunnel had not reached Israeli territory and was within several hundred metres of the border fence, near the Kerem Shalom goods crossing and in the area of the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, he said.

Israel had been monitoring the work before the operation, said Conricus.

It was destroyed by filling it with an unspecified material and explosives were not used, he said, declining to elaborate further.

Israeli soldiers carried out the operation from the Israeli side of the border fence, he said.

Conricus also did not describe in more detail what he said was an underground facility struck in the air raid in the central Gaza Strip.

“It was a subterranean complex, a military complex,” he said.

Gaza resident Amal Malaka spoke of her fear as the strike was occurring.

“We heard the sound of shelling, the whole of the house shaking and the windows too,” she told AFP.

“My children were afraid and the girls fell down from the bed.”

Late Saturday, an explosive device went off in the northern Gaza Strip near Israel’s border fence, the army said in an earlier statement, with no casualties reported.

Israel had already retaliated once in the immediate aftermath of the explosion, with tanks targeting a Hamas observation post.

According to Palestinian sources, the tank fire slightly injured one person.

Two explosive devices were detonated Thursday along the border, which had already provoked Israeli attacks on Hamas positions.

On February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but Israel held Hamas responsible as the de facto power in the Palestinian enclave.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2014. The strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade.

Lagos International Squash Classics Kicks Off March 19

File photo: Lagos International Squash Classics

 

The 2018 Lagos International Squash Classics will serve off tomorrow, Monday, March 19 with the qualifying round at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Hall of Teslim Balogun Stadium.

14 countries including host – Nigeria, are expected to compete in the $20,000 prize money tournament listed by the Professional Squash Association (PSA).

Already, eight players have been seeded in the men’s event while four women including Nigeria’s Yemisi Olatunji made the seeding list.

The qualifying round will herald the commencement of the championship with players jostling for the four slots available in the main draw of the men and women events.

Babatunde Ajagbe is the only Nigerian starting his campaign from the main draw in the men’s event while Olatunji will lead eight other Nigeria players to start their campaign from the main draw of the women’s event.

Egyptian players dominated the eight-man men’s seeding list with Karim Ali Fathi topping the list while Czech Republic’s Eva Fertekova tops the four-man women’s seeding list.

Four qualifiers are expected to break into the main draw from the qualifying round in the men’s category while four will also make it to the women’s division.

Most of the top players are already in Lagos in readiness for the main draw scheduled to begin on Wednesday, March 21.

The world ranking event would afford the players to amass points for their global rating.

The men’s category will share $15,000 while the women will be aiming for the $5000 purse.

With foreigners most times dominating the men’s event, local players are eager to turn the tide this year and they have started their preparation in readiness to claim the titles.

Aside top playing nations like France and Egypt, other nations listed for the six-day tournament include England, Germany, Switzerland, Portugal, Ireland, Iraq, South Africa, Belgium, United States, Pakistan, India and Czech Republic.

The men will share $15,000 while the women will be aiming for the $5000 purse for the tournament.

The PSA-sanctioned tournament is funded by the Lagos State Government and it is being organized by the Lagos State Squash Association (LSSA) and supported by the Nigeria Squash Federation (NSF).

Buhari Orders Deployment Of NSCDC Officials To Northeast

Killings: Buhari Is Interested In Enduring, Not Cosmetic Solutions – Adesina
File photo: President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the deployment of officials of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) to secure secondary schools in the northeast region.

This is part of efforts to provide more security for students and the community at large, following the abduction of over 100 girls from the Government Girls Science Technical College (GGSTC) in Dapchi, Yobe state, about a month ago.

The Commandant General of the NSCDC Mohammadu Abdullahi, on Saturday, commenced the tour with Adamawa state.

On arriving at the Government Girls Secondary School Gombi in Gombi local government area, the Commandant General expressed shock that the school which has been in existence since 1976, had no fence.

He also visited the Government Secondary School Hong in Hong local government area of the state, where he interacted with the students and principals and noted some of their complaints.

“My call to the state government is to intervene especially in terms of feeding, since it is a boarding school. The students are supposed to be fed thrice if it is possible and also the fencing of the school,” one of the schools’ principal said.

In response, the NSCDC boss said: “The President has said we should come and provide security. What happened in Chibok and Dapchi, should not happen here.

“That is why we have sent our men to come and guard here. We have our men in front of your schools with their arms 24 hours so that you will study under a very conducive and secure atmosphere. Your principal has told us the little problems you have, I’ll make sure that it is addressed,” he assured the students.

Addressing journalists after the tour, Abdullahi decried the poor state of the schools but however, promised to report back to the President and ensure all their complaints are resolved.

This comes weeks after President Buhari ordered the Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris (On January 9) to relocate to Benue state following attacks by killer herdsmen which has left hundreds dead.

Things, however, took a different turn when the President who was visiting the state for the first time since the killings started on New Year’s Day, said he was unaware that the IGP had flouted his orders.

According to the state government, the IGP spent only one day in the state and then proceeded to Nasarawam – a development which was contrary to the directive of the President.

While that has since fueled another debate and series of criticisms from Nigerians, has summoned the IGP to explain the reason behind his non-compliance.

Read Here: Buhari Summons IGP, Demands Explanation Over Benue Controversy

Pulling No Punches: Saudi Woman Boxer Breaks Exercise Taboo


Saudi gym owner Halah Alhamrani, 41, trains in her gym centre in the coastal city of Jeddah on February 19, 2018. AMER HILABI / AFP

 

Throwing punches in a gym tucked away from prying eyes, a Saudi female boxing trainer asserts a right long denied to many women in the conservative kingdom — the right to exercise.

Halah Alhamrani, 41, runs a gym for women called FlagBoxing — its motto is Fight Like A Girl — in the western Red Sea city of Jeddah, offering fitness classes such as callisthenics, CrossFit, boxing and kickboxing.

Relying on word-of-mouth publicity in a country where exercising in public is culturally deemed unbecoming for women, Alhamrani is working to empower a generation with little to no exposure to sports.

“On a daily basis, women who have never done sports walk into my class, some with their mothers,” Alhamrani told AFP at her gym, which opened in 2016.

“They walk out more confident. Many find their voice. The mothers approach me and say: ‘Thank you for offering such an empowering feeling’.”

– Abayas left in the locker –

At first blush, the gym screams California, not Saudi Arabia.

Wearing headbands and workout attire, women are seen lifting weights, practising sparring techniques and pounding their fists into a punching bag.

Some of them crumple up their abaya gowns and toss them into a locker. They sweat it out over thumping music.
Around 150 women, including Saudis but also other Arabs, share a sense of camaraderie.

A note scribbled on a whiteboard reads: “I can’t wait to come back!”

Another banner on the wall reads “BADASS”.

“It sometimes feels like a tea party — without the tea and cookies,” Alhamrani jokes.

– ‘My husband is unhappy’ –

Women exercising in public were long a potential target for the kingdom’s austere religious police, which has largely been neutered in recent years.

But dramatic social reforms sweeping Saudi Arabia, including a historic decree allowing women to drive from June, have shone the spotlight on figures such as Alhamrani who have long fought isolated battles for basic freedoms.

Under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 reform plan, the government is seeking to jump-start women’s sports despite the risk of riling conservatives.

Only four Saudi women featured in the Rio Olympics in 2016 after two were named in the team for London in 2012 — the first time the Gulf nation sent female athletes to the Games.

The kingdom has since then been granting more prestige to the idea, appointing prominent princess Reema bint Bandar to oversee women’s sports in the kingdom in 2016.

– Low-profile –

The country is also moving toward compulsory physical education classes for girls after a ban was scrapped in 2014.
Alhamrani is involved in shaping the new public school sports curriculum.

As the daughter of an American mother and Saudi father, she enjoyed a privilege denied most Saudi girls, in that her parents were open-minded and encouraged sports from an early age.

That start has put her on track to become one of the kingdom’s early pioneers of women’s boxing training.

For now, her low-profile gym operates out of a residential complex, behind opaque glass walls with no outdoor signage.
The location is available on her website, but even so, some first-timers have to call to find their way.

– Gym as therapy –

Some clients view the gym sessions as therapy, Alhamrani said. It offers them such a release that she says some of them end up crying.

“I used to be a timid mother who could not look people in the eye,” said a 36-year-old housewife and mother-of-four, and a regular at the gym.

“The gym gave me a voice that I had lost. It gave me strength that I never knew existed.”

But Alhamrani says some women have dropped out after they began “expressing themselves boldly” in a way that sometimes makes male relatives feel threatened.

“My husband is unhappy”, Alhamrani was told among the reasons.

Under the country’s rigid guardianship system, a male family member — normally the father, husband or brother — must grant permission for a woman’s study, travel and other activities.

Also holding back women’s sports is an acute shortage of professional female athletes and coaches.

Women’s gyms are slowly proliferating, but the idea of mixed gender sports remains taboo.

And some female professionals still caution against offending cultural sensibilities.

“Sports is empowerment,” said Lina Almaeena, a member of the kingdom’s advisory Shura Council, and director of Jeddah United, Saudi Arabia’s first women’s basketball team.

“We are not fighting for mixed gender, abaya-less sporting events. Our aim is not to go against our culture. Our goal is mass participation of women in sports.”

Trump Attacks FBI As His Lawyer Calls For End To Russia Probe

Trump Says 'No Collusion' After Russians Indicted For Election Meddling
US President Donald Trump speaks to the press in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, October 16, 2017.
SAUL LOEB / AFP

 

Donald Trump slammed the FBI as he hailed the firing of a veteran Bureau agent as a “great day for democracy,” a move his attorney said he hoped would bring an end to a probe into alleged collusion between the president’s campaign and Russia.

Critics described the axing of Andrew McCabe — the deputy of former FBI director James Comey — as a “dangerous” ploy to discredit the top US law enforcement agency as well as the work of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian influence in the 2016 election.

McCabe is a potential key witness in the Russia probe.

Trump on Saturday via Twitter blasted the alleged “tremendous leaking, lying and corruption at the highest levels of the FBI, Justice & State.”

He also reiterated long-running criticism of the Mueller investigation, terming it a “witch hunt” and saying that it “should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime.”

– McCabe job offer –

Earlier, Trump’s personal attorney, John Dowd, told the Daily Beast that he hoped Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would follow the lead of the FBI Office of Professional Responsibility and “bring an end to alleged Russia Collusion investigation manufactured by McCabe’s boss James Comey based upon a fraudulent and corrupt Dossier.”

Dowd told the Daily Beast he was speaking for the president. But in a subsequent statement he said he had been “speaking for myself, not the president.”

McCabe, who has endured a year of withering attacks from Trump, was fired by the Justice Department late Friday, just two days before he was to retire after 21 years with the FBI.

Critics say the firing is a step in Trump’s plan to engineer Mueller’s dismissal, potentially sparking a constitutional crisis.

Mueller is also examining whether Trump might have obstructed justice, including by firing Comey last May.

One Democratic lawmaker, Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, announced Saturday that he offered McCabe a job in his office so he can complete the time necessary to retire with full federal benefits.

“My offer of employment to Mr. McCabe is a legitimate offer to work on election security,” Pocan said in a statement.
McCabe spokeswoman Melissa Schwartz was non-committal. “We are considering all options,” she told the Washington Post.

– ‘War’ on the FBI –

“Andrew McCabe FIRED, a great day for the hard working men and women of the FBI – A great day for Democracy,” Trump tweeted soon after the firing.

McCabe denied any impropriety and said he was the victim of a Trump administration “war” against the FBI and the special counsel.

McCabe kept memos of his interactions with Trump, US media reported Saturday, adding that the documents could bolster his version of events.

Comey pushed back as well. “Mr President, the American people will hear my story very soon. And they can judge for themselves who is honorable and who is not,” he tweeted.

The Justice Department said an internal investigation had found that McCabe made unauthorized disclosures to the media, and had not been fully honest “on multiple occasions” with the department’s inspector general.

“The FBI expects every employee to adhere to the highest standards of honesty, integrity and accountability,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

Lack of candor under oath is a firing offense at the FBI, but the politically-charged context of the move raised questions among McCabe’s backers.

Former CIA chief John Brennan lost his patience with Trump. “When the full extent of your venality, moral turpitude and political corruption becomes known, you will take your rightful place as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history,” he tweeted.

– ‘Not political appointees’ –

Trump, in an early afternoon tweet, belittled the media for its coverage of the story, saying: “The Fake News is beside themselves that McCabe was caught, called out and fired…”

In a second tweet he again denied any collusion with Russia.

Details of the inspector general’s probe were not made public, but it involved the FBI’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Trump’s election rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Trump has repeatedly accused McCabe and Comey of protecting Clinton from prosecution, including over her misuse of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

The inspector general’s probe was “part of an unprecedented effort by the administration, driven by the president himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn,” McCabe said in a statement.

“It is part of this administration’s ongoing war with the FBI and the efforts of the special counsel investigation.”
But one law professor defended the Justice Department’s investigators.

“These are not political appointees,” Jonathan Turley of George Washington University told CNN.

“They clearly concluded that McCabe misled them — and that he misled them on one of the core issues they were investigating.”

The White House has shown mounting frustration with the collusion probe, as it focuses ever more closely on the president’s inner circle.

Troops Kill Four Terrorists In Bauchi

File photo

 

Troops of the 33 Artillery Brigade, Operation Lafiya Dole have killed four members of a militia group whom they encountered during their patrol at Burra Junction in Ningi Local Government Area of Bauchi state.

The troops who encountered the armed men on Saturday, said on sighting them, the militia opened fire on them (the soldiers) but they acted immediately killing four of them in the process.

This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Director Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Texas Chukwu on Sunday.

Also according to the statement, another nine were said to have been arrested and the army has promised to ensure that the remaining fleeing criminals are caught.

“The troops are closely in pursuit of the fleeing militias with the view of apprehending more of them,” Chukwu stated.

Meanwhile, a soldier was said to have sustained gunshot wounds.

He was however rushed to the hospital where he was eventually stabilized.