Mexico’s New Leader Opens Presidential Residence To Public

Handout photo released by Lopez Obrador’s press office of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (C), his wife Beatriz Gutierrez Muller (R) and Vice-Chairwoman of the National People’s Congress of China Shen Yueyue, December 1, 2018, during AMLO’s inauguration.  daniel Aguilar / Lopez Obrador’s Press office / AFP

On Friday night, Mexico’s presidential residence was the scene of a gala reception for the king of Spain. 

Hours later, its doors were thrown open so tens of thousands of ordinary people could stare slack-jawed at its opulent rooms.

Welcome to the new Mexico of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Mexico’s new leader is an anti-establishment leftist who has made it his trademark to reject the trappings of power.

He has cut his own salary by 60 percent, put the presidential jet up for sale, eliminated the presidential security detail and forsaken the presidential residence, Los Pinos, opting to stay in his own modest home.

But he didn’t stop there.

Within hours of officially starting his six-year term at midnight on Saturday — even before taking the oath of office — Lopez Obrador, 65, had opened up the sprawling residence to the public.

In scenes reminiscent of the fall of Moamer Kadhafi in Libya, Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Viktor Yanukovych in Ukraine, huge crowds of ordinary Mexicans were suddenly meandering through the lavish rooms and leafy grounds of what had hours earlier been the country’s most heavily guarded seat of power.

The difference is that Lopez Obrador did not replace some reviled dictator in a bloody regime change: he won a democratic election to replace Enrique Pena Nieto.

But he is using Los Pinos to hammer home his message that Mexico — which had been governed by the same two parties for 89 years until his landslide victory — has been ruled by a “mafia of power” that lived like kings by stealing the nation’s resources and the hard-earned taxes of ordinary people.

‘Very ostentatious’ 

Judging by the reactions at Los Pinos — which received 85,000 visitors in the first two days — that public relations coup appears to be working.

“This is very ostentatious. I never imagined a place like this,” said Alejandra Barreto, 50, a shopkeeper from the central state of Puebla who was visiting Mexico City.

“The rooms are frankly enormous. Why would one family need all this?”

After waiting in long lines, visitors were able to stroll up a stone avenue lined with statues of the presidents who have lived at Los Pinos since 1935 and wander through the series of mansions that form the compound.

The first stop is the plush office suites used by the three most recent presidents.

Then visitors arrive at the second-story presidential bedroom, complete with a dressing room of some 30 square meters (325 square feet) and a palatial TV room.

On the first floor, there is a dining room with a 28-seat table, where Pena Nieto’s family ate daily.

In the basement, there is a private movie theater with 35 reclining leather armchairs.

‘Breaking paradigms’ 

Officially, the residence is now a cultural center.

But besides a scattering of musicians playing in the halls, there was not much culture on display the first day. The culture ministry, which now controls the complex, had no time to revamp it.

Instead, the objective appeared to be to show Mexicans just how large their leaders had been living while the rooms were still practically warm with their presence.

“This is a pharaonic situation. It’s completely unreal for any Mexican,” said Gilberto Gutierrez, 30, from the northern state of Aguascalientes and a local leader in Lopez Obrador’s party, Morena — now Mexico’s largest party, with majorities in both houses of Congress for its coalition.

With 56,000 square meters in all, Los Pinos is 14 times the size of the White House.

“It’s a place that marks the enormous distance between (Mexican leaders) and the rest of the population, and also the ostentatious way that the country’s politicians have lived,” said political analyst Hernan Gomez, who visited on the first day.

Ileana Ramirez, a 43-year-old domestic worker, agreed after sitting on the lawn at Los Pinos to watch a huge screen broadcasting Lopez Obrador’s inaugural address, in which the new president promised a “deep and radical transformation.”

“He is breaking the paradigms of everything we’ve lived our entire lives. For as long as I can remember, I’d never felt like power was in the hands of the people,” she said.

AFP

‘Facebook Vied To Conceal Russia Meddling’

 

Facebook misled the public about its knowledge of Russian hackers’ use of the powerful platform to meddle in the 2016 US presidential election, a New York Times investigation reported on Thursday.

It also said Facebook has at times smeared critics as anti-Semitic or tried to link activists to billionaire investor George Soros, and tried to shift public anger away toward rival tech companies.

In a lengthy investigative piece that is likely to trigger political repercussions in Washington, the Times argued that Facebook’s way of dealing with crisis was to “delay, deny and deflect.”

It said its article was based on interviews with more than 50 people, including current and ex-Facebook executives and other employees, lawmakers and government officials, lobbyists and congressional staff members.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and chief operating officer Cheryl Sandberg, were both so bent on growing the company that they “ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view,” the report said.

On Russia, Zuckerberg declared in the fall of 2016 that it was “crazy” to think Facebook had been used to help Donald Trump win the US presidency, but the report said in-house experts knew this not to be the case.

In fact, the Times said, for over a year Facebook had amassed evidence of Russian activity through an investigation led by its former security chief, Alex Stamos.

This involved Russians looking at the Facebook accounts of people involved in US presidential election campaigns and, later, Russian-controlled accounts offering reporters information from hacked emails from senior Democratic Party officials.

But it was only belatedly that the company’s board was informed of the full extent of the meddling, the Times said.

 Going on the attack 

When criticism of its belated Russia admission grew, Facebook mounted a lobbying campaign led by Sandberg.

The company used a PR firm to push negative stories about its political critics and make rival companies like Google and Apple look bad, the Times said.

In July of this year, as a Facebook executive testified before a congressional committee, anti-Facebook demonstrators barged into the room and held up a sign depicting Zuckerberg and Sandberg — who are both Jewish — as the twin heads of an octopus with its tentacles around the world.

Facebook responded by lobbying a Jewish civil rights group — the Anti-Defamation League — to publicly label that criticism as anti-Semitic, the Times said.

Facebook was also said to have employed a Republican firm specializing in opposition research to discredit activists, partly by linking them to the liberal Soros, who has become a favoured target of Trump supporters and far-right conspiracy groups.

Before and since this month’s midterm elections, Facebook has shut down dozens of accounts on its own platform and on Instagram which it said were aimed at influencing the vote, and that it was exploring a possible link to Russia.

In the elections, the Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives, and the Times report is likely to add to political pressure on the company.

The world’s most popular social media platform has been on the back foot for months, including over the allegation that data from millions of Facebook users was abused by the consultancy Cambridge Analytica to help drive Trump to the White House.

AFP

INEC Declares Imo State Election Inconclusive

Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo StateThe Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared elections in Imo State inconclusive.

Before the INEC’s decision on Sunday, the incumbent Governor and candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Rochas Okorocha, was leading. He had won in 20 Local Government Areas(LGAs) out of 27 LGAs.

In a telephone interview with Channels Television, Governor Okorocha expressed confidence that he would win the elections.

“It is not the first time elections in the my state are declared inconclusive. I went through it in 2011.

“This clearly shows who the winner of the election is,” he said.

Expressing dissatisfaction with the elongated process of result announcement, the governor said out of the about 1.8 million voters, only
1.44 million collected their Permanent Voter Cards and less than 700,000 people voted which sums up to 40 per cent.

He further said that he would like to go for a supplementary election, but however, admitted that the election process was free and fair in some areas. He said turnout was not as expected.

The major contender and the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party declined making any comment on the electoral process.

This is not the first time that elections in Imo State will be declared inconclusive. In 2011, INEC also declared elections that brought Governor Okorocha in inconclusive. After investigations a supplementary election was held and Governor Okorocha, who contested then under the All Progressive Grand Alliance, was declared winner.

 

FG Raises Over 50billion Naira At Victims’ Support Fund Launch

jona2The Federal Government has realised over 50 billion Naira from donations for victims of insurgency in the north.

The various donations were made at the presidential fundraising dinner at the banquet hall of the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

Captains of industry in the banking, telecommunications, oil and gas sectors, as well as individuals, contributed to the fund.

A large part of northern and central Nigeria appeared to be targets of the attacks by Boko Haram and raising adequate funds to cater for victims of the scourge had become an important task.

The arrival of President Goodluck Jonathan, flanked by top government officials, at about 8pm, into the banquet hall kick started the long but rewarding evening.

The Chairman of the Victims Support Fund Committee listed the objectives of the fund which includes developing appropriate strategies to help persons and communities affected by Boko Haram and corporate bodies as well as philanthropists listened attentively.

It was an emotional evening as the President and guests watched documentaries and drama by children, depicting the current realities that the country faces.

The President, who later mounted the podium, restated that no terrorist group could bring down the integrity of the nation and vowed to bring all those behind terrorism to justice.

Expressing confidence that Nigerians were very good people, the President urged all citizens to allow the sorrowful period to bring out the best in them by not leaving the victims to bear the brunt of terror alone, adding that no amount would be deemed too little to give.

The President then led other donors by donating 10billion naira on behalf of the Federal Government and supervised the various huge donations made by various individuals and groups across the country.

President Jonathan, the hero of Edo state election – Doyin Okupe

Former presidential spokesman Doyin Okupe was on board the Sunrise Daily ride to discuss the Edo State Governorship election which was held and won by the incumbent Governor Adam Oshiomhole .

Doyin Okupe said, to him the true hero of the Edo State Governorship Election is the President of Nigeria; Dr. Goodluck.

Asked why by our anchor, Sulaiman Aledeh, he answered saying the President was decisive as there was state of anarchy in Edo state which built-up before the election proper and with all these the Presiden made sure every vote counted in the Edo State Election.

In furtherance, he said the President could have turned his cheeks aside and allow things to play itself out which would have allowed playing dirty between parties in contention.

He stated openly that that he was not happy Governor Oshiomhole of the ACN and the incumbent governor returned to the seat of power after the election.

 

Enjoy the rest of the interview.