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

Obama, Bush Lead Dignitaries To McCain’s Funeral

Former US Presidents Barack Obama and George Bush speak at Senator McCain’s funeral in Washington DC on Saturday. Credit: AFP

 

Former US Presidents, Barack Obama and George Bush, led dignitaries to bid the late American Senator John McCain farewell.

Both leaders praised McCain for making them “better”  and embodying the virtue of placing country over party, the stunning contrast between the unifying ceremony and an outcast Trump only highlighted the astonishing state of US politics.

President Donald Trump himself was notably absent — fleeing the capital to head to one of his golf courses in Virginia just as eulogies to McCain were being delivered.

Millions of Americans, friends and well-wishers tuned in to the nationally televised memorial attended by almost all of Washington’s past and present powerbrokers.

See photos below:

 

 

Bush, Obama Extol McCain’s Virtues At Washington Funeral

Honor Guards carry the casket of Senator John McCain out of the Washington National Cathedral for the funeral service for the late Senator John McCain, September 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images/AFP

 

Two ex-presidents from opposing parties united 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 trafficked by Donald Trump.

As millions tuned in to the nationally televised memorial attended by almost all of Washington’s past and present powerbrokers, Trump himself was notably absent — fleeing the capital to head to one of his golf courses in Virginia just as eulogies to McCain were being delivered.

As Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama praised McCain for making them “better” leaders and embodying the virtue of placing country over party, the stunning contrast between the unifying ceremony and an outcast Trump only highlighted the astonishing state of US politics.

Hailing his friend as “an extraordinary man,” warrior and patriot who embodied what is best in America, Obama said McCain “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.

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 John McCain.

McCain was conservative, to be sure, “but he did understand that some principles transcend politics, and some values transcend party,” Obama said.

“Our public life, our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult,” Obama said.

“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.

Heavyweights from both parties gathered at the venerated cathedral, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, former vice presidents Al Gore and Dick Cheney and former secretaries of state Madeline Albright, John Kerry and Henry Kissinger, who address the gathering and hailed McCain‘s “honor.”

The president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner were also present, along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly and Hollywood icon Warren Beatty.

Withering rebuke 

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

At the funeral, Meghan McCain delivered a tear-filled tribute to her father using the words of Trump’s campaign slogan as a withering rebuke of the president.

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

Trump’s name was not mentioned during the ceremony, but Meghan McCain‘s references to him unmistakable.

“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 of her father, criticizing “those who lived lives of comfort and privilege while he suffered and served.”

Earlier Saturday McCain‘s flag-draped casket was taken by honor guard from the US Capitol and placed in a black hearse, which stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial to allow his widow Cindy McCain to lay a wreath honoring all of those who died in the conflict.

That the men who vanquished McCain in their presidential battles were asked to speak was seen as a testament to his commitment to looking beyond party and signaling that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, are rowing together in the same boat.

AFP

Bush, Obama To Eulogise McCain At Final Farewell

 

 

Late US Senator John McCain will receive his final public sendoff Saturday in a nationally televised ceremony featuring eulogies from two former Presidents, but with current commander in chief Donald Trump conspicuously absent from the proceedings.

Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama will deliver remarks honoring their friend and former White House challenger, at a memorial service in Washington’s National Cathedral that McCain planned himself in recent months as he battled brain cancer.

That the men who vanquished McCain in their presidential battles were asked to speak is a testament to the former war prisoner’s commitment to looking beyond party and signalling that Americans, regardless of political affiliation, are rowing together in the same boat.

Amid today’s inflammatory political environment the message could serve as a soothing balm for a nation bruised by two years of divisive discourse.

And the absence of Trump, whose bitter feud with McCain has wrangled US politics during that time, will serve as a final rebuke of the president, highlighting the clash between a Republican elder statesman and the current president from his own party.

McCain’s last public event, before he is laid to rest Sunday in a private ceremony at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, comes a day after he was accorded the rare recognition of lying in state in the US Capitol.

While members of Congress honored one of their own in a touching ceremony that featured an address by Vice President Mike Pence, Trump was again not there.

Instead he holed up in the White House and remained uncharacteristically silent on Twitter during the ceremony, before flying to a political event in North Carolina later in the day.

McCain’s widow Cindy, his seven children and his 106-year-old mother Roberta McCain joined scores of members of Congress, state governors, diplomats and other dignitaries at the somber Rotunda ceremony.

Pence, in his tribute, told McCain’s family that “it is deeply humbling to stand before you today at the United States Capitol to commemorate the life and service of an American patriot.”

“The president asked me to be here, on behalf of a grateful nation, to pay a debt of honor and respect to a man who served our country throughout his life, in uniform and in public office.”

It was an awkward message to deliver from a president who has studiously refrained from praising McCain, either during his illness or since his death.

Their feud took root during Trump’s 2016 campaign when he questioned the notion McCain was a war hero — because he had been captured after his Navy fighter jet was shot down over Hanoi in 1967.

McCain pushed back in the following months, calling Trump’s behavior petty and “disgraceful,” and in one of his final acts in the Senate blocked the Republican effort to repeal Obama’s health care law known as Obamacare.

– Presidential dreams dashed –
McCain the aviator spent more than five years in a Vietnamese prison camp, returning home to launch a political career that saw him eventually run for president in 2000 but lose the nomination to Bush.

Eight years later, he won the nomination in a contest that seemed almost predestined — only to lose the election to Obama, who became America’s first black president.

Saturday’s ceremony could serve as a rehabilitation of sorts for Bush, who will be delivering one of his most high-profile addresses since leaving the White House nearly 10 years ago.

He has endured deep criticism for controversially leading the US into war in Iraq — an invasion that McCain steadfastly supported at first, but eventually grew to believe was a mistake.

For Obama, the moment will allow him to share his thoughts about a presidential campaign rival whose magnanimity in defeat only boosted his stature as an American statesman.

“Tonight more than any night, I hold in my heart nothing but love for this country and for all its citizens, whether they supported me or Senator Obama,” McCain said at the time.

“I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president.”

Obama, George Bush Mourn John McCain

U.S Senator John McCain

 

The former Presidents of the United States, Barack Obama, George Bush among other top dignitaries have paid tributes to John McCain who died on Saturday.

John McCain, a former prisoner of war in Vietnam who served as a U.S. senator from Arizona for more than three decades, died at the age of 81 after battling with brain cancer.

In a statement on Sunday Barack Obama and his wife Michelle said, “Few of us have been tested the way John once was or required to show the kind of courage that he did. But all of us can aspire to the courage to put the greater good above our own.

“At John’s best, he showed us what that means. And for that, we are all in his debt. Michelle and I send our most heartfelt condolences to Cindy and their family.”

George Bush said, “Some lives are so vivid, it is difficult to imagine them ended. Some voices are so vibrant, it is hard to think of them still.

“John McCain was a man of deep conviction and a patriot of the highest order. He was a public servant in the finest traditions of our country. And to me, he was a friend whom I’ll deeply miss.”

Vice President of the United States said in a statement, “Karen and I send our deepest condolences to Cindy and the entire McCain family on the passing of Senator John McCain.

“We honour his lifetime of service to this nation in our military and in public life. His family and friends will be in our prayers. God bless John McCain.”

A former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter described John McCain as a man of honour.

He said, “John McCain was a man of honour, a true patriot in the best sense of the word. Americans will be forever grateful for his heroic military service and for his steadfast integrity as a member of the United States Senate.”

A former Vice President, Joe Biden, said “As a POW, John endured the worst of what human beings can do to one another. In politics, he fell short of his greatest ambition. At the end of his life, he faced a cruel and relentless disease.

“Through it all, he never lost sight of what he believed most: Country First. And the spirit that drove him was never extinguished: we are here to commit ourselves to something bigger than ourselves.”

Trump’s Iran decision Is ‘Misguided’, Says Obama

Trump's Repeal Of Migrant Amnesty 'Cruel' – Obama
Former US President Barack Obama.  File Photo: SCOTT OLSON / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP

 

Former US president Barack Obama made a rare public criticism of his successor Tuesday, describing Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal as “misguided” and a “serious mistake.”

“The reality is clear. The JCPOA is working,” Obama said in a statement, referring to the deal his administration brokered in 2015. “That is a view shared by our European allies, independent experts, and the current US secretary of defense.”

“That is why today’s announcement is so misguided,” he added. “I believe that the decision to put the JCPOA at risk without any Iranian violation of the deal is a serious mistake.”