Obama Formally Orders Budget Cuts, Blames Congress

U.S. President Barack Obama

President Barack Obama formally ordered broad cuts in government spending on Friday night after he and congressional Republicans failed to reach a deal to avert automatic reductions that could dampen economic growth and curb military readiness.

As the United States staggered into another fiscal crisis, the White House predicted that the spending cuts triggered by the inability of Obama and lawmakers to forge a broader deficit-reduction agreement would be “deeply destructive” to the nation’s economic and national security.

“Not everyone will feel the pain of these cuts right away. The pain though will be real. Beginning this week, many middle-class families will have their lives disrupted in significant ways,” Obama told journalists after his meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders.

Late on Friday, Obama signed an order that put in effect the across-the-board government spending cuts known as “sequestration.” Government agencies will now begin to hack a total of $85 billion from their budgets between Saturday and October 1.

Half of the cuts will fall on the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the reductions put at risk “all of our missions.

Congress and Obama could still halt the cuts in the weeks to come, but neither side has expressed any confidence they will do so. Both Democrats and Republicans set the automatic cuts in motion during feverish deficit-reduction efforts in August 2011.

MARKETS SHRUG OFF CRISIS

Friday’s events marked the first budget showdown in Washington of many in the past decade that was not somehow resolved at the last minute – often under pressure from rattled financial markets. Markets in New York shrugged off the stalemate in Washington on Friday as they have for months.

Democrats predicted the cuts could soon cause air-traffic delays, meat shortages as food safety inspections slow down, losses to thousands of federal contractors and damage to local economies across the country, particularly in the hardest-hit regions around military installations.

At the heart of Washington’s persistent fiscal crises is disagreement over how to slash the budget deficit and the $16 trillion national debt, bloated over the years by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and government stimulus for the ailing economy.

Obama wants to close the fiscal gap with spending cuts and tax hikes. Republicans do not want to concede again on taxes after doing so in negotiations over the “fiscal cliff” at the New Year.

Public outrage, if it materializes, would be the most likely prod for a resolution as the impact of the spending cuts starts to be felt in the coming weeks and months.

As a percentage of total government spending every year, $3.7 trillion, the actual spending reductions are small. But because safety-net programs such as Social Security and Medicare will be untouched, the brunt falls mostly on federal government employees rather than direct recipients of aid.

The U.S. government is the nation’s largest employer, with a workforce of roughly 2.7 million civilians spread across the country. If the cuts stay in place, more than 800,000 of those workers could see reduced work days and smaller paychecks between now and September.

Furlough notices warning employees and their unions started to go out earlier this week and the pace picked up on Friday after it became clear that talks at the White House between Obama and congressional leaders would be fruitless.

While the International Monetary Fund warned that the belt-tightening could slow U.S. economic growth by at least 0.5 of a percentage point this year, that is not a huge drag on an economy that is picking up steam.

‘THE SPENDING PROBLEM’

Many Republicans accuse the Obama administration of overstating the effects of the cuts in order to pressure them into agreeing to a solution to the White House’s liking.

A deal proved elusive as Obama met at the White House with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, the top Republican in Congress, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, as well as the top two Democrats in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi.

“The discussion about revenue, in my view, is over. It’s about taking on the spending problem,” Boehner said after the meeting.

Asked why he did not just refuse to let congressional leaders leave the room until they had a deal, Obama told reporters: “I am not a dictator. I’m the president. So, ultimately, if Mitch McConnell or John Boehner say, ‘We need to go to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service block the doorway, right?”

The across-the-board cutbacks were mandated by a deficit reduction law, structured to be so disruptive that Congress would ultimately replace them with more targeted savings. But partisan gridlock has prevented agreement on where to save.

The White House budget office sent a report to Congress detailing the spending cuts. Some 115,000 employees of the Department of Justice – including prosecutors and the FBI – were among the first to get the official word of furloughs.

The government also sent letters to several state governors advising them of cuts to services like the Head Start education program in California and military facilities in Virginia.

Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty expressed rare public frustration with the United States for lurching from crisis to crisis.

One reason for the inaction in Washington is that both parties still hope the other will either be blamed by voters for the cuts or cave in before the worst effects predicted by Democrats come into effect.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Friday showed 28 percent of Americans blamed congressional Republicans for the sequestration mess, 18 percent thought Obama was responsible and 4 percent blamed congressional Democrats. Thirty-seven percent blamed them all, according the online poll.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts 750,000 jobs could be lost in 2013, and federal employees throughout the country are looking to trim their own costs.

“The kids won’t go to the dentist, the kids might not go to the doctor, we won’t be spending money in local restaurants, local movie theaters,” said Paul O’Connor, president of the Metal Trades Council, which represents 2,500 workers at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.

After weeks of White House warnings about the cuts causing disruption, Obama acknowledged it might be a while before effects fully kicked in. “We will get through this. This is not going to be an apocalypse,” Obama said.

In the absence of any deal at all, the Pentagon will be forced to slice 13 percent of its budget between now and September 30.

In his first Pentagon news conference since he was sworn in on Wednesday, Hagel struck a more moderate tone than many other defense officials who have said the spending reductions would be devastating or could turn the U.S. military into a second-rate power.

“America … has the best fighting force, the most capable fighting force, the most powerful fighting force in the world,” he said. “The management of this institution, starting with the Joint Chiefs, are not going to allow this capacity to erode.”

Most non-defense programs, from NASA space exploration to federally backed education and law enforcement, face a 9 percent reduction.

Moving to head off a new budget crisis later this month, Boehner said the Republican-led House would move a “continuing resolution” to fund government through the rest of the fiscal year, thus hopefully averting a government shutdown.

3 Journalists Arrested For Inciting Killers Of Vaccinators

Three Nigerian journalists have been arrested for allegedly inciting the killing of the 9 health workers in Kano state, northeast Nigeria, on Friday.

Confirming the arrest, the state police commissioner, Ibrahim Idris, said the three journalists were detained for saying on a radio show that polio immunisations were an anti-Islam western conspiracy to cause infertility in women.

Mohammed Gama, Yakubu Fagge and an intern, attached to Wazobia FM in the city, allegedly made the statement two days before the 9 workers administering the vaccines were killed.

The gunmen on motorbikes shot dead the vaccinators in two separate attacks. Although no one claimed responsibility, Islamist militant group Boko Haram, is known to have has condemned the use of western education.

It is feared that the killings could hamper efforts by international health organisations to rid the north of the polio virus.

Keshi Unsure Of Yobo, Moses Over Ethiopia Clash

Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, has said he is doubtful of defender Joseph Yobo’s return and that of Victor Moses for the final group clash against Ethiopia which is a must-win for the Super Eagles.

Victor Moses who was side-lined against Burkina Faso in Nigeria’s opener which ended in a draw due to injury, was later fielded in the second game against Zambia which also ended in a draw and has also been declared not fully fit. Yobo was side-lined in the second game due to ankle injury in the first game. The defender has also been declared not fully fit but are both in training with the squad.

According to Super Eagles Group C standing, the Super Eagles must record a significant win with more goals against Ethiopia in the final group match on Tuesday if they want to scale through the group clashes into the quarterfinals.

Keshi said this while speaking to journalists even though he has not made his final decision on the two players.

But on hand for Yobo’s replacement is reserve defender Azubuike Egwuekwe, who has recovered from illness.

With second batches of games done with in group C, Burkina Faso are the group leaders with 4 points after thrashing Ethiopia 4-0, while Zambia who are on the second spot played a 1-1 draw with the Super Eagles with 2 points and Nigeria on the third spot with 2 points also and lastly Ethiopia with 1 point.

Winners of the group will be meeting Togo in the next round while the second qualifier from the group will meet Cote d’Ivoire.

 

Partizan Belgrade Denies Markovic’s Sale To Chelsea

Reports making the rounds in England is that European Champions Chelsea have landed themselves a news signing, Serbian Lazar Markovic from Partizan Belgrade as Partizan and Stamford Bridge club are close to signing a deal on the youngster from Serbia.

The club’s management openly denied this move, saying the player is not due to leave the club until 2016 as the 18 year old signed professional forms with Partizan Belgrade in 2011 on a five year deal, which has made it impossible for the player to leave the club until July 2016.

Despite being only 18 years old Markovic has already represented his country. He made his debut early this year and became the youngest player ever to represent the Serbian national team. He currently has five caps to his name.

Markovic is represented by LIAN Sports and that’s the same agent group who brought Matija Nastasic and Marko Marin to the Premier League last summer. They also have Stevan Jovetic and Adem Ljajic as clients and both have been rumoured to be a targets for Chelsea several times. Linking the players with moves to Chelsea helps increase their profile and availability and is often followed by interviews in the press from the agency.

The rumours of a deal have been followed by a denial from Partizan and their sporting director Ljubisa Tumbakovic is quoted by Calciomercato.it as saying “I swear on my mother, I know nothing about it. On Saturday I spoke with the president Dragan Djuric and he confirmed that he knew nothing of a transfer of Markovic to Chelsea. Perhaps journalists are better informed than us.”

And right on queue his agent has been quoted by the same outlet as saying a deal won’t happen in January “Markovic has a contract with Partizan. Move in January? I can assure you that [a move] will not start in the next session of the market and then we’ll see.”

LIAN Sports are increasingly seeking out opportunities in England for their players and the reported interest in Markovic coincides with a growing awareness of young talent in Serbian football.

Arsenal has also been linked with both Markovic and Ljajic recently.

Obama’s acceptance speech aimed at uniting Americans – Sunday Dare

A former head of the Hausa service of the Voice of America, Sunday Dare has claimed that President Barack Obama’s victory speech after his re-election was targeted at uniting Americans because a whole lot of issues brought division into the country before the elections.

Mr Dare was on ground with Sunrise Daily to react to the re-election of President Obama.

He also noted that Obama’s speech is aimed at bringing every American on board to let the American Democracy blossom, be it a Republican or Democrat, to put behind the election and forge ahead.

Unknown gunmen kill Somali reporter

A Somali reporter, Mohamed Mohamud Turyare on Sunday night died of injuries sustained form gunshots after being attacked by unknown gunmen.

Eyewitness reported that the reporter was attacked by unknown gunmen on his way back from a mosque in Mogadishu on October 21.

According to a colleague of the reporter, Mohamed Bashir “Turyare died in hospital last night, his health condition was not that bad until yesterday afternoon, but then he suddenly deteriorated,”

“There were plans to evacuate him for medical treatment outside Somalia, but tragically he left us too soon, like the other friends that we lost before him.”

Paying tribute was a relative of the deceased, Adan Molaim “Turyare is no more, but we wait desperately for the time when those who kill innocent journalists face justice,”

Reports have it that the death toll of journalists killed this year in the country is 17and Mohamed is the 5th from the same radio station, Independent Shabelle Radio and Television station.

Lagos Journalists protest at government house over assault

Members of the Nigerian Union of Journalists on Thursday staged a peaceful protest at the Lagos State government house Ikeja, to protest the constant harassment and brutality rendered on journalists in the state.

The protesting journalists from various media houses were disappointed at the fact that they didn’t meet the governor in the office, as he was reported to be in Saudi Arabia.

Some officials of the Lagos council of the NUJ, led the peaceful protest which started from Ladi Lawal Press Centre, Alausa, to the office of the governor.

Journalists had stormed the meeting venue as early as 8.am and the protest was to begin at 10.am
Singing songs of solidarity as they matched to the governor’s office, the journalists blocked the roads to avoid motorist from passing.

Getting to the governor’s office, the security personnel told them the governor was not around, the protesters insisted on seeing a representative.

After 40 minutes of waiting under the sun, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Information and Strategy, Lateef Raji, came to attend to the resolute journalists.

He explained that the governor was not available to attend to them as he had embarked on the Lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

He however apologized for keeping them for so long and also for the ill-treatment on the two journalists Benedict Uwalaka and Tunde Ogundeyi, saying that the government could not fold its hands and watch law-abiding citizens brutalized by overzealous persons, assuring that the perpetrators would face the music.

He, however, charged the media to carry on their duties and responsibilities without fear, as he assured of government’s support to protect citizens from needless assault from any member of the society.

AYC U-20 Prep: Flying Eagles beaten 1-0 by Rwanda

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles suffered a 1-0 defeat against Rwanda in a friendly today at the State Regional in Kigali.

It was an 85th decider after France-based striker Bon-Fils Kabanda’s goal made the difference between the two African sides.

The Flying Eagles had so many scoring chances from the blow of the whistle in the first half could make it count for them before Kabanda had the opportunity to notch up Rwanda.

At the beginning of the match, Rwanda showed some flashes when Charles Tibingana coming close to getting the opening goal for the home team with a header from inside the box which narrowly missed its mark.

And immediately Nigeria retaliated with Chidi Osuchukwu’s shot which screamed wide and minutes later striker Alhaji Gero’s effort was deflected for a corner kick.

Osuchukwu then carved out one of the best chances of the day in the 42nd minute.

His left-footed shot from inside the box was scrambled by Rwanda goalkeeper Olivier Kwizera for a corner kick.

Both Gero and right-back Shehu Abdullahi also saw their efforts failing to hit target in the dying moments of the first half.

With the Second beginning, Aminu Umar’s shot from an acute angle crashed against the side netting as Nigeria dictated the pace.

They had introduced several of their top players like Aliyu Mohammed, Uche Agbo, Jonah Usman, Harrison Egbune, Hassan Abubakar and Yahaya Adamu.

In the 63rd minute of the match, Emmanuel Sebanani ought to have put Rwanda ahead but he wasted the chance from a very big opening.

Agbo also threatened the Rwanda goal at least twice and, in between, substitute goalkeeper Usman saved a goal-bound header by Rwanda.

The match was played at the same stadium the Super Eagles held the Rwandan senior national team to a goalless draw late in February in a 2013 African Nations Cup qualifier.

The Rwandan junior side, which recently defeated Tanzania twice away from home, are billed to host Mali in a 2013 AYC qualifier the same weekend Nigeria face the Ngorogoro Stars of Tanzania.

In a post-match interview, Coach John Obuh said he will not be bothered with the score line of the game although he admitted that it was a good game even though a draw would have made more sense.

He said the real purpose of the prep game is not to lose focus ahead of the real game which is the qualifiers against Tanzania come Sunday in Tanzania and good enough he has taken on some corrections ahead of the game in Dar Es Salam.