Trump To Leave Hospital, Tells Americans Not To ‘Be Afraid of COVID’

File photo: President Donald Trump announces that the Food and Drug Administration is issuing an emergency authorization for blood plasma as a coronavirus treatment during a press conference in James S. Brady Briefing Room at the White House on on August 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. Pete Marovich/Getty Images/AFP

 

President Donald Trump announced he is leaving the hospital Monday where he received emergency treatment for Covid-19, telling Americans, who’ve seen nearly 210,000 people die from the virus this year, that they have nothing to worry about.

Trump’s Twitter statement, declaring himself rejuvenated and telling Americans “don’t be afraid of Covid,” came hours after his own chief spokeswoman tested positive for the virus — the latest in an outbreak raging within the White House.

“I will be leaving the great Walter Reed Medical Center today at 6:30 P.M. Feeling really good!” Trump tweeted.

“Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life. We have developed, under the Trump Administration, some really great drugs & knowledge. I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

 

In this file photo taken on September 29, 2020 US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. MANDEL NGAN / AFP

 

The 74-year-old Republican, who faces an uphill reelection battle against Democrat Joe Biden in less than a month, has been doing everything to try to project strength and confidence since his hospitalization Friday.

But a combination of White House secrecy, conflicting information from officials and the outbreak in Trump’s own staff and political circle has undermined his credibility.

In a briefing from the hospital, presidential physician Sean Conley said Trump is in good shape again, following an aggressive cocktail of therapeutic drugs.

“He’s back, yeah,” Conley said.

But Conley said Trump would not be “entirely out of the woods” for another week and he conceded that the mix of medicines meant “we’re in a bit of uncharted territory.”

Once in the White House, it’s not clear how free Trump will be to move about. The facility has a large medical team of its own which will monitor the president in case of relapse.

Doctors say Trump is being given the steroid dexamethasone, usually associated with serious Covid-19 cases, and two experimental therapeutic drugs. In another sign of how serious his bout with Covid was, at least initially, doctors say that he was given extra oxygen on Friday — a fact they initially omitted.

– Sickness around Trump –

Despite Trump’s characteristic claim that Covid-19 should not be of major concern, polls show it is a huge worry for Americans. His widely panned handling of the crisis this year is also reckoned to be the main reason Biden, 77, is surging in polls ahead of the November 3 election day.

White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany arrives to speak with reporters outside the West Wing of the White House on October 2, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

The United States has the biggest reported toll of any country in the global pandemic.

Illustrating the divide between the reality described by health experts and the Trump White House’s defiance, Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany became the latest to announce a positive test result on Monday.

Other positive cases close to Trump now include his wife Melania, his close aide Hope Hicks, his campaign manager Bill Stepien, two of McEnany’s assistants according to US media, and more than half a dozen others from the president’s circle both inside and outside the White House.

– Trump singlehandedly ‘defeats’ Covid? –

Beset by revelations that he avoids paying almost any income tax and a slew of other scandals, Trump was already behind Biden when he fell ill.

But the biggest liability in his scramble for a second term was always his handling of the pandemic.

For months, Trump has given the appearance of trying to wish away the catastrophe and get back to his reelection narrative of a strong economy.

Trump now looks poised to try and claim that in getting quickly out of hospital he has personally vanquished the virus — and will go on to do the same for the rest of the country.

Trump is “battling as tough as only President Trump can,” campaign spokeswoman Erin Perrine said on Fox News.

An unofficial White House themed gift shop announced Monday it will sell a commemorative coin titled “President Donald J. Trump Defeats COVID” for $100.

– Biden gets advantage –

For all of Trump’s determination to reassert himself, he has already lost several precious days of a campaign that revolves heavily around his large-scale rallies and image of personal strength.

On the day he announced his positive test he had been due to hold a rally in Florida. The next day he was to have flown to another important battleground, Wisconsin, ignoring the fact he was to gather crowds in one of the worst coronavirus hotspots in the country.

Biden meanwhile has maintained his slow-but-steady campaign which has always emphasized health precautions — a pared-back style that Trump calls weakness and mocked as recently as last week. The Democrat was in Florida on Monday.

The upheaval has led to unusual interest in this Wednesday’s televised debate between the vice presidential candidates — Republican Mike Pence and Biden’s pick, Kamala Harris.

AFP

Obama Aims Criticism At Trump In Eulogy For John Lewis

 

A photo combination created on May 9, 2020 of former US President, Barack Obama and current US President, Donald Trump.
A photo combination created on May 9, 2020 of former US President, Barack Obama and current US President, Donald Trump.

 

 

Former US leader Barack Obama launched his sharpest attack to date on President Donald Trump on Thursday, condemning the use of federal agents against protesters and attempts at voter suppression.

“Today we witness with our own eyes, police officers kneeling on the necks of black Americans,” Obama said in a fiery eulogy at the emotional funeral service in Atlanta of civil rights leader John Lewis.

“We can witness our federal government sending agents to use tear gas and batons against peaceful demonstrators,” the former president said.

Obama did not mention Trump by name but he was clearly referencing moves by the Republican president, who used troops to clear protestors from Lafayette Square outside the White House and sent federal agents to put down demonstrations in Portland, Oregon.

Obama also took a jab at alleged Republican attempts to suppress the minority vote and Trump’s repeated attacks on mail-in voting less than 100 days ahead of the November contest against Democrat Joe Biden.

“Even as we sit here, there are those in power who are doing their darnedest to discourage people from voting by closing polling locations and targeting minorities and students with restrictive ID laws and attacking our voting rights with surgical precision, even undermining the postal service in the run-up to an election that’s going to be dependent on mail-in ballots so people don’t get sick,” he said.

 

U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event about regulatory reform on the South Lawn of the White House on July 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP
File photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during an event about regulatory reform on the South Lawn of the White House on July 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

 

Trump launched another broadside on Thursday against mail-in voting, which is expected to play a prominent role in November’s election because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history,” Trump said. “It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???”

– ‘Continue his cause’ –

Paying tribute to Lewis, who died on July 17 at the age of 80, Obama said the congressman’s lifelong fight for African-Americans’ civil rights had paved the way for him to become America’s first black president.

Lewis, a 17-term Democratic congressman from Georgia, did “everything he could to preserve this democracy and as long as we have breath in our bodies, we have to continue his cause,” Obama said.

 

This screen grab from a video released courtesy of The Obama Foundation shows MBK (My Brother’s Keeper) Alliance Virtual Town Hall with President Obama on “Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence” live streamed on June 3, 2020. THE OBAMA FOUNDATION / AFP

 

“As long as young people are protesting in the streets hoping real change takes hold, I’m hopeful,” he said. “But we can’t casually abandon them at the ballot box. Not when few elections have been as urgent on so many levels as this one.”

Lewis’ funeral service was also attended by former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and House speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Former president Jimmy Carter, 95, was unable to attend but sent a letter which was read out to the mourners in the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Martin Luther King Jr served as pastor in the 1960s.

“His enormous contributions will continue to be an inspiration for generations to come,” Carter wrote.

Bush, a Republican, said he had his “differences” with Lewis, a Democratic stalwart, but “we live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis.”

“He believed in humanity and he believed in America,” Bush said.

In his tribute, Clinton referenced a column that Lewis wrote to be published in The New York Times on the day of his funeral service.

“Though I may not be here with you, I urge you to answer the highest calling of your heart and stand up for what you truly believe,” Lewis wrote.

“So I say to you, walk with the wind, brothers and sisters, and let the spirit of peace and the power of everlasting love be your guide.”

“It is so fitting that on the day of his service he leaves us our marching orders,” Clinton said. “I suggest we salute, suit up and march on.”

Before Thursday’s funeral, Lewis’ body lay in state at the US Capitol, a rarely bestowed honor, so Americans could pay their final respects.

On Sunday, a lone caisson carried Lewis’ body across the Alabama bridge where in 1965 a policeman fractured his skull during a protest that helped forge his reputation as a fearless civil rights leader.

Lewis’ death came in a year during which “Black Lives Matter” protests against police brutality have brought thousands onto US streets, underscoring the still-raw depths of the country’s racial history.

Lewis grew up in the Alabama city of Troy. His parents were sharecroppers, and he once worked in a cotton field. While attending segregated schools, Lewis was inspired by the peaceful protests of civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King.

AFP

US Poll: Obama Helps In Raising $11m For Biden Campaign

File: This screen grab from a video released courtesy of The Obama Foundation shows MBK (My Brother’s Keeper) Alliance Virtual Town Hall with President Obama on “Reimagining Policing in the Wake of Continued Police Violence” live streamed on June 3, 2020. THE OBAMA FOUNDATION / AFP

 

 

Barack Obama helped raise $11 million for White House hopeful Joe Biden during a Tuesday virtual fundraiser where the former president said a “great awakening” among Americans could help defeat Donald Trump in November’s election.

The two-term Democrat proved a major draw, bringing in a substantial audience and raising over $11 million in total, making it the most successful finance event of the entire campaign, according to Biden press secretary TJ Ducklo.

Some $7.6 million of that came from 175,000 grassroots donors “who continue to power this campaign every single day,” Ducklo tweeted.

Obama’s split-screen appearance with the Democratic presidential candidate was his first with Biden since he endorsed his former vice president in mid-April.

“I am here to say the help is on the way if we do the work, because there’s nobody I trust more to be able to heal this country and get back on track than my dear friend Joe Biden,” said Obama.

“What makes me optimistic is the fact that there is a great awakening going on around the country, particularly among younger people” who are “fed up with the shambolic, disorganized, mean-spirited approach to governance that we’ve seen over the last couple of years,” he added.

Biden said he agreed with Obama’s remarks on political change. He also suggested world leaders have grown weary of Trump, saying “they’re desperately, desperately waiting for American leadership.”

Biden has held no in-person campaign rallies since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

He has largely remained in his Delaware home, using social media, television interviews or advertisements to attack Trump for what he says is an inadequate, failed effort to contain the virus’s spread or improve economic conditions for millions of suffering Americans.

Trump, meanwhile, has disregarded his own government’s guidelines and held several in-person events, including a weekend rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The president followed up with a Tuesday rally in Phoenix. Both locations are experiencing spikes in new coronavirus cases, but most attendees did not wear masks.

Biden’s online event confirmed the continued popularity of the nation’s first black president, and the campaign said it “highlights the power of the grassroots movement” as it launches a more intense spirit of campaigning.

Obama spoke of the urgency of advocating for broader systemic change during a period of heightened tensions over racial injustice and police brutality.

“Whatever you have done so far isn’t enough,” Obama told listeners, urging them to use the momentum of recent coast-to-coast street protests as a catalyst for political change.

“We have this unique chance to translate a growing awareness of injustice in society into actual legislation and institutional change,” Obama said.

In May, Biden and the Democratic Party raised nearly $81 million, 10 percent more than Trump, although the president has more overall campaign cash.

Obamas’ First Film Wins Best Documentary Oscar

Mark Ruffalo presents the Documentary – Feature – award for ‘American Factory’ to Julia Reichert, Steven Bognar, and Jeff Reichert onstage during the 92nd Annual Academy Awards. Kevin Winter/Getty Images/AFP

 

The Barack and Michelle Obama-produced film “American Factory” snagged an Oscar on Sunday for Best Documentary — a win for Netflix, which backed the story of a manufacturing plant in the US Midwest reopened by a Chinese billionaire.

The film charts a Rust Belt community’s journey from optimism at the giant plant’s reopening, which brought back vital jobs, towards creeping anger and disillusionment, as the Chinese management imposed strict, exhausting demands on workers — and sacked those who did not comply.

“Our film is from Ohio and China,” director Julia Reichert said. “But it really could be from anywhere that people put on a uniform, punch a clock, trying to make their families have a better life.”

“Working people have it harder and harder these days, and we believe that things will get better when workers of the world unite,” she said in accepting her statuette.

Co-directed by Reichert and Steven Bognar, the film is an all-access look at how both American and Chinese workers, from blue-collar to management, had their lives transformed by powerful global economic forces.

Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert (R) and steven Steven Bognar (L) pose in the press room with the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature for “American Factory”. Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN / AFP

 

 

The story was moving enough to catch notice from none other than the Obamas.

The former first couple acquired “American Factory” early last year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it had won the directing award.

It was released on Netflix in August 2019 as the first offering from the former first couple’s Higher Ground Productions company.

The film’s co-producer and the factory’s chairman were unable to leave China for the ceremony, due to White House restrictions on travel over the coronavirus panic.

“That inconvenience pales when compared to people losing their lives, suffering because of this virus,” co-director Bognar said backstage.

The Obamas congratulated Reichert and Bognar for their win Sunday, with the former president calling the film “a complex, moving story about the very human consequences of wrenching economic change.”

“Glad to see two talented and downright good people take home the Oscar for Higher Ground’s first release,” he tweeted.

The former first lady said she was “glad to see their heart and honesty recognized — because the best stories are rarely tidy or perfect.”

“But that’s where the truth so often lies,” she tweeted.

“American Factory” bested “The Edge of Democracy,” “The Cave,” “For Sama” and “Honeyland” to take the Oscar.

AFP

Burna Boy, Rema Make Obama’s Favourite Music List For 2019

 

Burna Boy’s Anybody and Rema’s Iron Man have been included in former US President Barack Obama’s Favourite Music List for 2019.

This is according to a post by the former US president on the micro-blogging site, Twitter.

In his post, Obama noted that he had drawn the list from a variety of music genres.

The post read, “From hip-hop to country to The Boss, here are my songs of the year. If you’re looking for something to keep you company on a long drive or help you turn up a workout, I hope there’s a track or two in here that does the trick.”

READ ALSO: Sue Lyon, Who Shocked Moviegoers As Young ‘Lolita,’ Has Died At 73

 

Michelle Obama Steals Show At The Grammys, Delights Crowd With Girl Power Message

LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 10: (L-R) Lady Gaga, Jada Pinkett Smith, Alicia Keys, Michelle Obama, and Jennifer Lopez speak onstage during the 61st Annual GRAMMY Awards at Staples Center on February 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for The Recording Academy/AFP Emma McIntyre / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Michelle Obama made a surprise appearance on the Grammys stage Sunday to deliver a message about music and women’s empowerment alongside superstars Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, host Alicia Keys and actress Jada Pinkett-Smith.

“Music shows us that all of it matters — every story within every voice, every note within every song,” said the former first lady, looking glam in a sparkling gunmetal pantsuit with a 1970s-esque wrap jacket.

“Is that right, ladies?” she said to resounding applause.

The Recording Academy behind the awards gala has faced a barrage of criticism for not embracing diversity within its ranks, after nearly muting women nominees at the show last year.

This year, five of the eight nominees for Album of the Year are women: rapper Cardi B, folk-rock singer Brandi Carlile, pop futurist Janelle Monae, R&B prodigy H.E.R. and country star Kacey Musgraves.

At the start of the segment, Lady Gaga — a triple winner so far on the night — said: “They told me I was weird… And music told me not to listen to them.”

READ ALSO: Full List Of Nominees And Winners At The 2019 Grammy Awards

Lopez — who has parlayed her successful music career into acting — said that music “kept me moving from the block to the big stages and even bigger screens.”

Pinkett-Smith added: “Every voice we hear deserves to be honored and respected.”

And Obama added: “Whether we like country or rap or rock, music helps us share ourselves, our dignity and sorrows, our hopes and joys. It allows us to hear one another, to invite each other in.”

Obama quickly started trending on Twitter.

The moment came at the start of a show showcasing the female talent in the music business, one year after women were largely snubbed in the major categories.

Neil Portnow, the head of the Recording Academy, told women last year to “step up” if they wanted to do better on Grammys night.

The brazen comment drew outrage and Portnow said he would step down when his contract expires this summer.

On Sunday, the message was unmistakable — one of diversity.

“Thank you so much, ladies, for your light, your message of love, your sisterhood,” said Keys, the first woman to helm the show in 14 years.

“Give it up for these magnificent goddesses!” said Keys.

 

AFP

Obama Protege Julian Castro Joins 2020 Presidential Race Against Trump

Former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Juliàn Castro announces his candidacy for President of the United States in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas on January 12, 2019. SUZANNE CORDEIRO / AFP

 

Julian Castro, the telegenic former mayor of San Antonio, Texas and Obama-era cabinet member, launched his bid to become the nation’s first Hispanic president Saturday, emphasizing a message of hope and diversity at a time when Americans are locked in angry debate over immigration and border security.

“I am a candidate for president of the United States,” the 44-year-old Castro told a crowd in San Antonio’s historic Guadalupe Plaza, during a speech that frequently invoked the immigrant heritage that brought his family to the US from Mexico.

Often called a rising star in the Democratic Party, Castro, who was Obama’s housing secretary — and the youngest member of that cabinet — is expected to be part of a diverse field of candidates eager to challenge President Donald Trump.

At a time when the federal government has been partly shut down over Trump’s demand for funds to build a wall on the Mexican border, Castro sounded a contrasting message.

He said San Antonio, a city that is nearly two thirds Hispanic, “represents America’s future: diverse, fast-growing, optimistic.”

“Yes, we must have border security, but there is a smart and humane way to do it. And there is no way in hell that caging children is keeping us safe,” Castro said.

“We say no to building a wall and say yes to building community,” he added, to roars from the crowd.

Trump wants the border wall to block illegal immigrants he has sought to equate with crime, drugs and gangs.

“There is a crisis today — it’s a crisis of leadership. Donald Trump has failed to uphold the values of our great nation,” Castro said.

Urging his supporters to look around the blue-collar neighborhood where he grew up, Castro said, “there are no frontrunners that are born here, but… with big dreams and hard work, anything is possible in this country.”

A brother in Congress 

He added that his grandmother Victoria would surely have been amazed when she arrived from Mexico in 1922 — she went on to work as a maid and a cook — had she known that one grandchild would end up in Congress and the other as a presidential candidate.

Castro’s twin brother Joaquin, who introduced him Saturday, is a congressman. The two rode to the event together on the same bus line that once took them to public school.

Julian Castro’s strong oratorical skills, experience in the Obama cabinet and as mayor of the nation’s seventh largest city, coupled with his charisma, could help propel him into the top tier of Democratic candidates.

Castro’s national profile rose sharply in 2012 when he became the first Latino to deliver a keynote speech at the Democratic national nominating convention.

A Latino candidate would be expected to generate enthusiasm among the country’s large and growing population of Hispanic voters, around two-thirds of which supported Hillary Clinton in 2016.

But he would start out as one of the underdogs in a political showdown that may well feature heavyweights like former vice president Joe Biden, US senators Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris, and perhaps even billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg.

Another Democrat, 37-year-old Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii — a lifelong surfer — announced Friday that she too will seek the party’s presidential nomination.

Castro is the third candidate with a Latino background to seek the presidency in recent years after two Republicans — Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida — unsuccessfully faced Trump in that party’s 2016 primary campaign.

AFP

Jonathan Accuses Obama Of Working For His Defeat

Goodluck Jonathan                                                           Barack Obama

 

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has accused Barack Obama of pushing for his defeat in the 2015 Presidential election.

Mr Jonathan who lost the election to President Muhammadu Buhari blasted the then United States President of taking an unusual step by “prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition” in the election.

The claim was part of several made by the former Nigerian leader in his new book, ‘My Transition Hours’, launched in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Tuesday.

“On March 23, 2015, President Obama himself took the unusual step of releasing a video message directly to Nigerians all but telling them how to vote,” Mr Jonathan wrote.

“In that video, Obama urged Nigerians to open the “next chapter” by their votes. Those who understood subliminal language deciphered that he was prodding the electorate to vote for the opposition to form a new government.”

For Mr Jonathan, the message undermined Nigerians and smacked of hypocrisy.
“The message was so condescending, it was as if Nigerians did not know what to do and needed an Obama to direct them,” he said.

The former Nigerian leader added that although Obama, in his message, said “all Nigerians must be able to cast their votes without intimidation or fear,” his government was vehemently and publicly against the postponement of the elections to enable the military defeat Boko Haram and prevent them from intimidating voters.

“This was the height of hypocrisy!” Jonathan declared.

Jonathan’s grouse with Obama went beyond the video. He narrated in the book that the actions of the then U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, especially his visit to Nigeria after the elections were rescheduled from February 2015 to March belied a plot to humiliate him.

This, he explained, was because even though the decision to postpone the elections was taken by INEC after a meeting of the Council of State, Kerry refused to accept that it was in the interest of the country and the electorate.

“In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling,” he said.
This did not sit well with Mr Jonathan and he stated as much in the book.

He wrote, “How can the U.S. Secretary of State know what is more important for Nigeria than Nigeria’s own government?

“How could they have expected us to conduct elections when Boko Haram controlled part of the North East and was killing and maiming Nigerians? Not even the assurance of the sanctity of May 29, 2015 handover date could calm them down. In Nigeria, the Constitution is very clear. No President can extend his tenure by one day.”

Despite the criticism that followed the decision to reschedule the election, Jonathan insisted that the decision was the right one and it paid off.

He said, “Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendably dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by the terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point I handed over to my successor on May 29, 2015.

“We conducted the elections peacefully, even if there were issues raised about its fairness. At least, the nation was relieved that the election held peacefully and that there was no post-election violence.”

Read an excerpt from the book about how the elections were postponed and the pressure that followed below:

“The decision and announcement to postpone the elections were eventually made by the only body which could do so under the Constitution. I should talk briefly about the INEC here because of the insinuations that my administration muscled INEC to make the pronouncement. Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth as people came to realise. Yes, the posture of INEC could appear edgy, but it knew it was not ready and that the election was too important to mess up.

“The PVC shortage was everywhere. The lopsided collection of PVC caused an uproar that grew into a national din. The suspected housing of PVCs in the custody of non-INEC personnel was an issue. There were also issues with card readers. All of these happening despite years of preparation and substantial funds made available. It was all building up to a perfect storm, but those were INEC’s problems which we were willing to help resolve.

“Even then, the security of our country was our job and the military advised as they deemed fit. Before the election was eventually rescheduled by INEC, I summoned all the Service Chiefs, the NSA, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Director General of State Security (DG DSS), among others to get further information. Then I called a meeting of the Council of State and requested the heads of security services and the INEC chairman to attend. These were not apolitical, but at least they could rise above politics and represent the interest of the entire country. At the end of deliberations, it was agreed that the elections should be postponed for six weeks in order to create a safer environment for voters and officials on Election Day.

“Let me add that the Council of State comprises all former Presidents and Heads of State, all former chief justices of the federation, and all 36 serving State Governors who are from different political parties.

“The INEC was then directed to hold meetings with political parties while the NSA was to brief them on the security angle to the rescheduling. The vote in favour of the rescheduling was overwhelming. INEC thereafter announced the rescheduling of the election to the nation. I must add that beyond security concerns, one finds it difficult to understand how INEC or the political parties would want elections held at a time when more than 30% of the Nigerian electorate were yet to get their PVCs. This would have disenfranchised a significant portion of the electorate.

“The foreign pressure on the issue of election rescheduling was intense. They maintained the curious posture of one who had been deceived before and therefore had every reason to cede no credence to our position. But there was no reason to have such a posture.

“The United States and the United Kingdom were especially agitated. David Cameron, then the U.K. Prime Minister, called to express his concern about the election rescheduling, just as John Kerry came from the United States to express further worry. It was at best unusual and sobering. In fact, John Kerry did not accept our reasons for the rescheduling.

“It was unbelievable because at the back of our minds we knew why the agitation was beyond what meets the eye. There were deeper political interests.

“In attendance at the meeting of the Council of State where the decision to reschedule the election was taken were almost all the living former Heads of State of this country. That should have convinced John Kerry of the good intentions of the government. He cannot claim to love and defend Nigeria more than all our former heads of state present at the meeting. I have stated earlier how Kerry’s visit was designed to humiliate a sitting Nigerian President and clearly take sides in the country’s election.

“Anyhow, the six weeks served us well. We received the military equipment we were expecting within that period and our Armed Forces commendably dealt a deserving blow on the terrorists and repossessed all territorial areas of Nigeria previously occupied by the terrorists. Boko Haram was deflated up to the point I handed over to my successor on May 29, 2015.

“We conducted the elections peacefully, even if there were issues raised about its fairness. At least, the nation was relieved that the election held peacefully and that there was no post-election violence.”

Trump Versus Obama On Final US Midterm Elections Campaign Weekend

Former US President Obama is playing a more prominent role in campaigns for the midterm elections. Polls point to the Democrats capturing at least the House of Representatives, threatening the billionaire President Donald Trump with an opposition finally able to block policies.

 

After boasting about the economy and raising fears over immigration, US President Donald Trump is facing pushback from his predecessor Barack Obama, who is taking on an increasingly prominent role in the final weekend of campaigning before midterm elections in which Republican control of Congress is threatened.

With rallies planned in Montana and Florida, a state he had already visited on Wednesday, Trump on Saturday is keeping up his relentless campaign schedule before Tuesday’s ballot, which has become a referendum on his unconventional presidency.

“Heading to Montana and Florida today! Everyone is excited about the Jobs Numbers – 250,000 new jobs in October. Also, wages rising. Wow!” Trump said on Twitter Saturday morning.

The campaigning comes one week after a gunman, who allegedly hated immigrants and Jews, killed 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, and after a fanatical Trump supporter was arrested in Florida on charges of mailing homemade bombs to more than a dozen Trump opponents, including Obama.

At a moment of deep national division, with the political temperature soaring, the president’s critics say he has helped create an atmosphere in which the two attackers felt comfortable to carry out their crimes.

Trump says his Republicans are in a good position ahead of the midterm congressional elections, particularly with new employment figures out showing the economy booming.

But polls point to the Democrats capturing at least the House of Representatives, threatening the billionaire president with the specter of an opposition finally able to block policies and dig into his highly opaque personal finances.

In the last stages of the campaign, Trump is dueling with former president Obama, who came out of relative seclusion to appear at a Florida rally on Friday.

Obama is to campaign again Sunday in his hometown of Chicago, as well as in Indiana, where the seat of Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is in danger.

America at ‘a crossroads’

At a rally on Friday, Trump called America’s first black president “Barack H. Obama,” a reference to Obama’s middle name of Hussein. Before his presidential run, Trump fanned conspiracy theories about the origins of Obama, who was born in Hawaii.

Obama explained his re-emergence on Friday at a Georgia rally in support of Stacey Abrams, who is seeking to be the first black female governor of any US state.

“I’m here for one simple reason: to ask you to vote,” Obama said. “The consequences of any of us staying home are profound because America is at a crossroads… The character of our country is on the ballot.”

Trump has brought an unprecedented brand of confrontational politics to the White House, and clearly enjoys a fight.

Friday’s latest official jobs figures, which showed 250,000 net new positions in October — ahead of forecasts — gave him a golden opportunity to crow over what he almost daily claims to be the world’s “hottest economy.”

But if, on the one hand, the president has been touting the United States as a land of plenty with jobs for all, on the other he has stirred fear and loathing.

Even as illegal immigration has dipped to a quarter of what it was in 2000, Trump claims that the country faces an “invasion” of Central Americans.

He has ordered regular army troops to the US-Mexican border as a caravan of a few thousand impoverished migrants slowly marches toward the boundary. He has also announced “tent cities” to detain people demanding political asylum, and claimed the power to scrap the right to citizenship for anyone born on US soil — until now considered protected by the US Constitution.

A military spokesman said that more than 7,000 US soldiers will be positioned in states bordering Mexico by the end of the weekend.

Newsweek reported that it had obtained documents which showed intelligence officials did not anticipate high involvement of criminal gangs among the migrants, and that the administration anticipates only a minority of those in the caravan would actually reach the border.

Trump last week tweeted that “many Gang Members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan.”

Obama decried Trump’s troop deployment as a “political stunt” serving to “get folks angry and ginned up.”

He added: “There’s just constant fear-mongering to distract from the record.”

At his rally in Indianapolis on Friday, Trump warned against voting for Democratic blue instead of Republican red.

“A Republican Congress means more jobs, less crime,” he said.

“A blue wave would equal a crime wave, very simple. And a red wave equals jobs and security.”

AFP

Trump Accused Of Inciting Violence After Bombs Are Sent To Obama, Clinton

 

No Place For Acts Of Political Violence In US – Trump
US President Donald Trump.  photo: Brendan Smialowski / AFP

 

Critics of Donald Trump accused him of inciting violence after pipe bombs were sent to Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, CNN and other figures that are loathed by the president’s supporters.

With midterm elections less than two weeks away, Trump reacted Wednesday to the rapid-fire spate of bomb alerts by first calling for unity, but then reverting to attacking the media.

CNN is known for its often critical coverage of the Trump administration and has constantly provoked the ire of the president, who defeated Clinton in 2016 to succeed Obama.

From the White House, Trump first said “acts of political violence” have “no place in the United States.”

“Those engaged in the political arena must stop treating political opponents as being morally defective,” he later told a campaign rally in Wisconsin, before switching his criticism back to the media.

“The media also has a responsibility to set a civil tone and stop the endless hostility and constant negative, and often times false attacks and stories,” he added. “They’ve got to stop.”

#MAGABomber trended as users flooded Twitter with accusations that Trump had incited the attempted attacks and highlighting the toxic remarks he has leveled against the pipe bomb targets in the past.

The spree began Monday with a device found at the New York home of billionaire liberal donor George Soros.

The FBI said a total of seven suspicious packages were sent in New York, Washington and Florida, including to Obama’s attorney general Eric Holder and two to Maxine Waters, a California lawmaker, one in Los Angeles and one in the Washington area.

The packages were sent in manila envelopes with bubble wrap, marked with computer-printed address labels. Each listed Debbie Wasserman Schultz, former chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, as the sender.

The return address included misspellings of Wasserman Schultz’s last name, the FBI said.

A photo of the device sent to CNN showed it to be a short length of pipe wrapped in black tape, with wires sticking out of either end.

Another suspicious package addressed to former vice president Joe Biden was also intercepted, ABC News reported Wednesday night. The FBI said it could not confirm this.

FBI Director Christopher Wray appealed for help from the public, saying, “We ask anyone who may have information to contact the FBI. Do not hesitate to call; no piece of information is too small to help us in this investigation.”

 ‘False attacks and stories’ 

Liberal and left-wing critics accuse Trump’s rhetoric-laden “Make America Great Again” presidency of emboldening right-wing extremists. He has endorsed the body-slamming of a reporter and denounces critical press.

“There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media,” said CNN president Jeff Zucker.

“Words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that.”

CNN evacuated its New York bureau after the pipe bomb was found in the mailroom together with an envelope containing white powder. A bomb squad secured the device, police said.

The packaging was addressed care of CNN to former CIA director John Brennan, who has appeared on the channel as a guest and is perhaps Trump’s toughest critic from the national security community.

The Secret Service intercepted the package addressed to Clinton at the home she shares with her husband, former president Bill Clinton, north of Manhattan on Tuesday, and a second package addressed to Obama’s Washington home on Wednesday.

There has been no claim of responsibility and no one was yet known to have been arrested.

Top Democrat lawmakers Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer accused Trump of condoning “physical violence and dividing Americans.”

‘Effort to terrorize’

“It’s a time of deep divisions, and we have to do everything we can to bring our country together,” said Clinton, who has remained an outspoken political force despite her stunning loss to Trump in 2016.

The Secret Service said the packages were “identified during routine mail screening procedures” and that neither Clinton or Obama were ever at risk of receiving them.

Republican lawmakers followed the White House in issuing condemnations.

Soros, the target of the first device, has long been a hate figure for right-wing groups and lives in Bedford, New York, not far from the Clintons.

The 88-year-old is one of the world’s richest men and supported Clinton in 2016. He has been accused by nationalists of sponsoring protests and seeking to push a liberal, multicultural agenda.

Trump has accused Soros of paying demonstrators opposed to Brett Kavanaugh, whose nomination to the Supreme Court was almost derailed after he was accused of attempted rape as a teenager.

AFP

Trump Blasts Ex-Secretary Of State Kerry For Iran meetings

US President Donald Trump                                                                         AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS KAMM

 

President Donald Trump lashed out at former Secretary of State John Kerry for his meetings with Iran’s foreign minister after the Obama-appointee had left office.

“John Kerry had illegal meetings with the very hostile Iranian Regime which can only serve to undercut our great work to the detriment of the American people,” Trump said on Twitter late Thursday.

“He told them to wait out the Trump Administration!” he said, ending his Tweet with the word “BAD!”

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks during a Commonwealth Club of California event at the Marines’ Memorial Theatre on September 13, 2018, in San Francisco, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AF

 

Kerry, who negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which Trump scrapped this year, said during a tour to promote his new book “Every Day is Extra” that he had met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif “three or four times” since he left office and Trump had entered the White House.

Asked by conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt on Wednesday if he had offered Zarif advice on how to deal with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact, he replied: “No, that’s not my job.

“What I have done is tried to elicit from him what Iran might be willing to do in order to change the dynamic in the Middle East for the better.

“I’ve been very blunt to Foreign Minister Zarif, and told him look, you guys need to recognize that the world does not appreciate what’s happening with missiles, what’s happening with Hezbollah, what’s happening with Yemen,” he added, echoing the current administration’s denunciation of Tehran’s “malign” influence.

Conservative commentators immediately leapt on the act as evidence of “treason,” with some calling for Kerry to go to “prison.”

Asked by a Republican lawmaker during a congressional hearing about the so-called shadow diplomacy, Manisha Singh, an assistant secretary of state, said Thursday: “It’s unfortunate if people from a past administration would try to compromise the progress we’re trying to make in this administration.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert added: “I’ve seen him brag about the meetings that he has had with the Iranian government and Iranian government officials. I’ve also seen reports that he is apparently providing, according to reports, advice to the Iranian government.

“The best advise that he should be giving the Iranian government is stop supporting terror groups around the world.”

AFP

Bush, Obama, Kerry, Others Honour McCain At Funeral

Guests arrive at the Washington National Cathedral for the funeral service for the late Senator John McCain, September 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. PHOTO: Drew Angerer / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Two ex-presidents from opposing parties united on Saturday in homage to late senator and American patriot John McCain, in a momentous farewell ceremony that also rebuked the politics of toxicity and division by Donald Trump.

As millions tuned in to the nationally televised memorial attended by the breadth of Washington powerbrokers, Trump himself was notably absent — leaving the capital to head to his golf club in Virginia just when eulogies to McCain were being delivered.

And while Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama offered subtle swipes at the current commander in chief, McCain’s daughter Meghan used the words of Trump’s campaign slogan to deliver a searing, unmistakable rebuke.

“The America of John McCain has no need to be made great again because America was always great,” she said, to extended applause.

As Bush and Obama praised McCain for repeatedly placing country over party or self, the stunning contrast between the unifying ceremony under the neo-Gothic arches of Washington National Cathedral and an outcast Trump only highlighted the astonishing state of US politics.

Hailing his friend as “an extraordinary man” who embodied what is best in America, Obama said McCain, who battled fiercely but respectfully in the political arena, “made us better presidents — just as he made the Senate better, just as he made the country better.”

He was echoing similar sentiments expressed minutes earlier by Bush, who defeated McCain in a “hard fought” Republican primary battle in 2000, only to see that bitter rivalry melt away into a lasting friendship.

‘Same team’

While Bush and Obama hail from different parties, their message Saturday was clear: US politics can and should rise to a higher level with the example set by McCain.

“We never doubted the other man’s sincerity or the other man’s patriotism — or that when all was said and done, we were on the same team,” Obama said of his rough but respectful campaign battles with McCain.

So much of today’s politics, “our public discourse, can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult,” he added.

“It’s a politics that pretends to be brave and tough but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that.”

McCain’s final public ceremony before his private burial Sunday at the US Naval Academy in nearby Annapolis, Maryland highlighted the warrior politician’s call for healing.

“Perhaps above all John detested the abuse of power, could not abide bigots and swaggering despots,” said Bush, as Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner sat in attendance.

Trump’s Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly were also present.

But it was the gathering of heavyweights from both parties past and present that drew more attention, including Bill and Hillary Clinton; former vice presidents Al Gore, Dick Cheney and Joe Biden; and former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright and John Kerry.

International dignitaries were also in attendance. On the guest list provided by funeral organizers was President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine, where McCain helped support opposition to Russian aggression, and Russian opposition figure Vladimir Kara-Murza.

Withering rebuke

McCain, who died last Saturday at age 81, has been lionized over the past week of emotional commemorations, including his congressional colleagues bestowing him the rare honor of lying in state in the US Capitol on Friday.

At the funeral, which McCain spent months organizing as he battled cancer, Meghan McCain delivered a tear-filled tribute to her father.

And while Trump’s name was not mentioned during the ceremony, McCain’s daughter drew a clear and damning distinction between her father and Trump’s combative politics.

“We gather here to mourn the passing of American greatness — the real thing, not cheap rhetoric from men who will never come near the sacrifice he gave so willingly,” she said, criticizing “those who lived lives of comfort and privilege, while he suffered and served.”

Earlier Saturday, the flag-draped casket of McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam for more than five years, was taken by honor guard from the US Capitol and placed in a black hearse.

It stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to allow his widow Cindy McCain to lay a wreath honoring all who died in the conflict.

She had been stoic throughout days of commemorations for her husband, but on Saturday during opera singer Renee Fleming’s performance of the ballad “Danny Boy,” she lay her head on son Jack’s shoulder and wept.

“Today we lost our hero, our friend, our mentor, our father, our grandfather and our husband. Together we mourn and together we go on,” she wrote on Twitter.

Aside from Trump, another notable figure not invited to the funeral was McCain’s 2008 running mate Sarah Palin, who became associated with the far-right movement that in some ways nurtured white identity politics.

AFP