US Secretary Of State Comes To Trumps Rescue Over “Shithole Country Saga”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has in a bid to help US president Donald Trump out of his shocking words referring to African countries as Shit Hole Countries said that the U.S has built strong relationships with African Countries and is interested in having such ties with them in future

Recall that on Thursday, U.S. media reported that President Trump behind closed doors made a statement, in which he called Haiti and African states “shithole countries.”

“We have very positive relationship with African nations, we share a number of security issues.

“We share a number of economic development issues and I think those leaders know that the United States wants that relationship to continue to be strong,” Tillerson said at a news conference in Vancouver, answering a question on impact of Trump’s reported statement on Washington’s ties with Africa.

The diplomat expressed hope that the African nations also want to maintain the relationship with Washington.

 

Trump’s First Wife Admits He Says Silly Things

Ivana Trump, US President Donald Trump’s first wife admitted that her ex-husband  may occasionally say “silly” things but he’s “definitely not racist.

She disclosed this on the UK’s Good Morning Britain TV show about the President’s vulgar remarks about African nations last week and Ivana Trump said she did not believe they showed he was racist “sometimes he says things that are silly,” she said.

Ivana Trump’s comments re-affirms the President’s own remarks to reporters at a dinner photo opportunity in Florida on Sunday night that where he said “I’m not a racist. I am the least racist person you have ever interviewed.”

Ivana Trump told the ITV network’s morning show that she didn’t think Trump “is going to do anything irrational,” adding “he’s a stable genius, definitely. He’s very stable, very focused, very organized,” Ivana Trump said.

 

 

Trump Threatens To Cut Aid To Countries Supporting UN Resolution Against Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

The U.S. President, Donald Trump, has threatened to cut financial aid to countries that back a United Nations resolution opposing the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Mr. Trump earlier in December formally recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and said the U.S. embassy will be moved to the disputed city.

The U.S. decision was condemned by other World leaders. The UN Security Council voted against recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Security Council resolution affirmed that any decisions on the status of Jerusalem were “null and void and must be rescinded”, and urged all states to “refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the holy city”. The U.S., however, vetoed the resolution.

A similar vote is now being taken to the UN General Assembly where there is no veto. The emergency session at the request of the Palestinians will hold on Thursday to take the vote. Nigeria and most other countries of the World are expected to vote in favour of the resolution.

It is in expectation of this vote that Mr. Trump spoke on Wednesday.

“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” the American leader told reporters at the White House.

“Let them vote against us. We’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Both Israel and Palestine want Jerusalem as their capital with most countries of the World supporting a two-state solution that would see East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Putin, Trump Discuss North Korea In Phone Call

Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump discussed the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear program in a phone call Thursday, in which the US president took the unusual step of thanking his Russian counterpart for praising America’s economy.

The two heads of state discussed “the situation in several crisis zones, with a focus on solving the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula,” the Kremlin said in a statement, without elaborating.

The White House said the two “discussed working together to resolve the very dangerous situation in North Korea.”

But Trump’s thanks to Putin took top billing in the US statement.

“President Trump thanked President Putin for acknowledging America’s strong economic performance in his annual press conference,” it said.

Earlier in the day, Putin told his press conference: “Look at how the markets are reacting, they are growing. This shows confidence in the American economy. With all due respect to (Trump’s) opponents, these are objective facts.”

The pair have lavished praise on each other in the past, with commentators describing their cozy relationship as a “bromance.”

Special counsel Robert Mueller is currently investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow to tilt the White House race in his favor.

Washington this week said it was ready to talk to North Korea — which has launched several intercontinental ballistic missiles in recent months — “without preconditions.”

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that while the Trump administration was still determined to force Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal, it was willing to “have the first meeting without preconditions.”

Putin, in his annual press conference with hundreds of journalists in Moscow, welcomed the United States’ “awareness of reality” in the crisis.

However, he called on all sides to “stop aggravating the situation” and said Moscow did not recognize North Korea’s status as a nuclear power.

AFP

Thousands Protest In Jakarta Against Trump’s Jerusalem Move

Thousands of Indonesian Muslims protested Sunday in Jakarta against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the latest global show of solidarity with the Palestinians.

Demonstrators many in white Islamic robes and skullcaps gathered outside the US embassy in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country to vent their anger against the unilateral decision.

Protesters carried Palestinian flags and banners saying “We are with the Palestinians” and “Pray for Palestine”.

The rally in Indonesia’s capital drew a crowd of at least 5,000 people, police said.

Trump’s move on Wednesday to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital upended decades of American diplomacy, causing an overwhelming global diplomatic backlash and sparking Palestinian protests and clashes with Israeli security forces.

The status of Jerusalem is deeply sensitive for Muslims, and protesters have taken to the streets in cities across the world following the policy shift.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo said Thursday he “condemned” Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, and ordered the US ambassador in Jakarta to be summoned over the move.

The Islamist Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS — which organised the Jakarta rally and several others around the country — slammed Trump’s decision as a declaration of “hostility to Muslims throughout the world.”

AFP

Israel Pounds Gaza Strip In Response To Hamas Rockets

Israel launched fresh airstrikes in the Gaza Strip on Saturday in response to rocket fire from the enclave and the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group said two of its gunmen were killed in the bombings.

Militants fired at least three rockets toward Israeli towns from the Hamas-controlled strip on Friday, which was declared a “day of rage” by Palestinian factions protesting U.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“Israeli Air Force aircraft targeted four facilities belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the Gaza Strip.

“They are two weapons manufacturing sites, a weapons warehouse, a military compound,” the Israeli military said in a statement.

A Hamas source confirmed the two men killed in the strikes belonged to the group which urged Palestinians to keep up confrontation with Israeli forces.

Two more Palestinians were killed in clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza border on Friday and scores more were wounded there and in the occupied West Bank during the protests.

Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands more protesters took to the streets on the Muslim holy day to express solidarity with the Palestinians and outrage at Trump’s reversal of decades of U.S. policy.

Trump’s announcement on Wednesday has infuriated the Arab world and upset Western allies. The status of Jerusalem has been one of the biggest obstacles to a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians for generations.

Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital.

Palestinians want the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future independent state of their own.

Most countries consider East Jerusalem, which Israel annexed after capturing it in the 1967 Middle East War, to be occupied territory.

It includes the Old City, home to sites considered holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.

For decades, Washington, like most of the rest of the international community, held back from recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, saying its status should be determined as part of the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

The Trump administration argues that the peace process has become moribund, and outdated, as such policies need to be jettisoned for the sides in the conflict to make progress.

Trump also said he would fulfil his campaign promise and begin the process of moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, where no other country has an embassy.

Reuters

Muslims Stage Massive Protest Against Trump’s Jerusalem Plan

Thousands of protesters in Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia joined rallies on Friday to condemn Washington’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, as authorities tightened security outside U.S. embassies.

Leaders in both Asian countries have joined a global chorus of voices condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s move. Several thousand protesters, some shouting anti-U.S. slogans and burning an effigy of Trump, gathered in front of the American embassy in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

In Indonesia, hundreds of protesters mostly clad in white were arriving outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, capital of the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country. Some wore checkered scarves and waved Palestinian flags, while others shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest).

“We have prepared personnel and patrols to secure the U.S. embassy. We are expecting between 500 and 1,000 demonstrators,” said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono. The U.S. embassy in Jakarta advised its citizens to avoid areas where there were demonstrations and said its consulate in Indonesia’s second-biggest city Surabaya had suspended public services on Friday.

Indonesia has been a long-running supporter of the two-state solution in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and there have been public demonstrations in support of Palestine in recent years. Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Thursday urged the United States to reconsider its decision and instructed his foreign minister to summon the U.S. ambassador for an explanation.

In Malaysia, leaders from the ruling party United Malay National Organisation and the popular right wing Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, led the rally and representatives of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas are expected to join.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the thorniest barriers to a lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace. Its eastern sector was captured by Israel in a 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognised internationally. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem for the capital of an independent state they seek.

 

President Donald Trump Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital

Senior U.S officials have said President Donald Trump on Wednesday will recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and set in motion the relocation of the U.S. Embassy to the ancient city.

The decision would upend decades of U.S. policy and risks fueling violence in the Middle East.

Facing an outcry of opposition from Arab capitals, Trump, in a landmark speech, will announce he has ordered the State Department to begin developing a plan to move the embassy from Tel Aviv in what is expected to be a process that takes three to four years, the officials said.

He will not set a timetable for the move.

Trump will sign a national security waiver that authorizes him to delay the embassy relocation for now since the U.S. diplomats do not yet have a building in Jerusalem to move into, security arrangements or housing for diplomats, the officials said.

Still, Trump’s endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would reverse long-standing U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians.

The Palestinian wants East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions.

The officials, who briefed reporters ahead of Trump’s speech at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT) on Wednesday, insisted that Trump’s decision, intended to fulfill a key campaign promise.

The officials said it was not meant to pre-judge the outcome of eventual talks on the final status of Jerusalem or other major disputes between the two sides.

Instead, one of the officials contended that Trump’s announcements reflected the “historic reality” of Jerusalem as the centre of Jewish faith and the “modern reality” that it is the seat of the Israeli government.

Such arguments are not likely to sway the Palestinians and the broader Arab world.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman, all received telephone calls from Trump on Tuesday.

They, however, joined a mounting chorus of voices warning that unilateral U.S. steps on Jerusalem would derail a fledgeling U.S.-led peace effort that has stymied previous U.S. administrations and unleash turmoil in the region.

The White House said Trump had also spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close U.S. ally and longtime proponent of a U.S. embassy move to Jerusalem.

Netanyahu was the only leader whose office did not release a statement following the call.

A senior Israeli minister welcomed Trump’s decision while vowing that Israel would be prepared for any outbreak of violence.

Trump appears intent on satisfying the pro-Israel, right-wing base, including evangelical Christians, that helped him win the presidency but was disappointed when he delayed the embassy move in June.

No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war and later annexed it, an action not recognized internationally.

But Trump’s decision could also upset the peace effort led by his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, in pursuit of what the U.S. president has called the “ultimate deal”.

Still, internal deliberations over the status of Jerusalem were tense.

Vice President Mike Pence and David Friedman, U.S. ambassador to Israel, pushed hard for both recognition and embassy relocation.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis opposed the move from Tel Aviv, according to other U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

An impatient Trump finally weighed in, telling aides last week he wanted to keep his campaign promise.

 

US Supreme Court Back Trump’s Travel Ban

The US Supreme Court said Monday that the government could fully enforce a revised ban on travelers from six mainly Muslim countries pending appeal, backing President Donald Trump in the year-long battle over the controversial measure.

The court stayed October rulings from two lower courts that had blocked implementation of the ban on visitors from Chad, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen while legal challenges to it continued.

The third version of Trump’s travel ban, unveiled in September, drew immediate challenges in federal appeals courts in Richmond, Virginia and San Francisco, California.

Plaintiffs argued that the measure targets Muslims in violation of the US Constitution and did not advance security goals as the government claimed.

The challengers convinced the lower courts to put implementation on hold while they and government lawyers fight out the legality of the policy.

But the Trump administration, which says the ban is crucial to protect US national security and deter terror attacks, secured strong support from the Supreme Court in a 7-2 vote to let the government move ahead while the appeals continue.

“We are not surprised by today’s Supreme Court decision permitting immediate enforcement of the President’s proclamation limiting travel from countries presenting heightened risks of terrorism,” the White House said.

“The proclamation is lawful and essential to protecting our homeland. We look forward to presenting a fuller defense of the proclamation as the pending cases work their way through the courts,” it added.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, criticized the ruling.

“This decision ignores the very real human consequences to American citizens and their families abroad imposed by President Trump’s Muslim Ban 3.0,” said CAIR National Litigation Director Lena Masri.

The Supreme Court justices said they expect the lower appeals courts to expedite their decisions, leaving open the possibility that the policy could return to the Supreme Court in yet another legal challenge to the White House.

The San Francisco court will hear the case on Wednesday and the Richmond court on Friday.

– Open-ended ban –

The ban also covers people from North Korea and a selection of senior officials from Venezuela, but its main focus is travelers from the six mainly Muslim countries.

Trump has battled to implement a travel ban since just after he became president on January 20, after having repeatedly promised during last year’s election campaign to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.

Those promises have undermined the administration’s argument in a series of court challenges that its policy is not Muslim-focused but rather based on security needs.

After Monday’s court ruling the Department of Homeland Security said: “the administration’s common sense travel restrictions on countries that do not meet basic security standards and do not share critical information with us about terrorists and criminals are designed to defend the homeland and keep Americans safe.”

The initial ban was to be for 90 days, ostensibly to give the US and the targeted countries time to implement tougher and more thorough vetting procedures for visitors.

After rolling court battles, the 90 day ban was finally allowed in June. Meanwhile, vetting for US-bound travelers from every country has intensified.

But when the six-country ban expired in September, the administration sought to replace it with an open-ended ban, with Chad added to the list while Sudan was removed, and North Korea and Venezuela appended as well.

Immigration and civil rights activists maintain it still essentially targets Muslims, which would violate the US Constitution’s guarantees of religious rights.

When Trump last week retweeted three video clips from an extremist British group that vilified Muslims, his critics said it supported the idea that his immigration policies were anti-Muslim.

“President Trump’s anti-Muslim prejudice is no secret — he has repeatedly confirmed it, including just last week on Twitter,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“It’s unfortunate that the full ban can move forward for now, but this order does not address the merits of our claims. We continue to stand for freedom, equality, and for those who are unfairly being separated from their loved ones.”

AFP

US Withdraws From UN Refugees, Migrants Commitment

The United States has withdrawn from a United Nations pact to commit to protect and preserve rights of migrants and refugees.

Donald Trump’s administration said the agreement, known as the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants, was “inconsistent” with its policies.

In September 2016, the 193 members of the UN General Assembly unanimously adopted a set of commitments that pledged to uphold the rights of refugees, help them resettle and ensure they have access to education and jobs.

A statement from the US read: “The New York Declaration contains numerous provisions that are inconsistent with US immigration and refugee policies and the Trump Administration’s immigration principles.

“As a result, President Trump determined that the United States would end its participation in the Compact process that aims to reach international consensus at the UN in 2018.”

The American Ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said the country would continue its “generosity” in supporting migrants and refugees around the world, but that “our decisions on immigration policies must always be made by Americans and Americans alone.”

“We will decide how best to control our borders and who will be allowed to enter our country. The global approach in the New York Declaration is simply not compatible with US sovereignty.”

Under Trump and his “America First” policies, the US has withdrawn from several global commitments made under the administration of president Barack Obama, including the Paris climate deal.

More recently, American pulled out of the Paris-based culture and education body, UNESCO, accusing it of “anti-Israel bias.”

ITV

Trumps Former Advisor, Flynn Pleads Guilty To Allegation

Donald Trump’s former top advisor Michael Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI over his contacts with Russia, in a dramatic escalation of the probe into possible collusion between the president’s campaign team and Moscow.

The 58-year-old Flynn — a retired three-star Army general — is the most senior figure indicted in special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s sprawling investigation into Russian interference in last year’s election.

Flynn’s admission that he had secret discussions in December 2016 with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak — with direction from top officials in Trump’s presidential transition team — set Washington abuzz with speculation as to who in the Republican leader’s inner circle might next be in Mueller’s sights.

The Washington Post reported, citing unnamed sources, that one of the “very senior” officials advising Flynn to contact the Russian envoy was Trump’s son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner.

Flynn’s guilty plea, on one federal charge of making false statements to investigators, came with a pledge to cooperate with Mueller, whose focus goes beyond possible collusion with Russia to shady business dealings and whether Trump himself tried to thwart the investigation.

The White House rejected the idea that Flynn could implicate “anyone” else, as ABC News reported that Flynn would testify that Trump ordered him to reach out to Moscow — news that sent Wall Street shares tumbling.

“I recognize that the actions I acknowledged in court today were wrong,” Flynn said in a statement after a brief appearance in federal court in the US capital.

“My guilty plea and agreement to cooperate with the special counsel’s office reflect a decision I made in the best interests of my family and of our country. I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

The charge normally carries up to five years in prison, but under the terms of the plea deal, Mueller says he has recommended a lighter sentence of only up to six months in jail, court filings show.

Flynn lied over Russia contacts

Flynn admitted he lied to FBI investigators about his private discussions at the end of December 2016 with Kislyak about US sanctions imposed on Moscow by the administration of then president Barack Obama.

At the time, Flynn was a campaign and transition advisor with no official US government role, but he was clearly a top candidate to become Trump’s White House national security advisor.

Flynn eventually was given that post, but was forced to resign in February, just weeks after the president took office, due to public concerns over his contacts with Russia.

According to court documents released by prosecutors, on December 28 last year, Flynn asked Kislyak to moderate Russia’s response to new sanctions and the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats, announced by Obama in retaliation for Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election.

The documents say he took that action based on discussions with “a senior official of the Presidential Transition Team.”

After the December 29 announcement, the Obama administration was openly puzzled by Moscow’s decision not to retaliate, and began investigating possible interference by Flynn and the Trump campaign.

A week earlier, under the instruction of “a very senior member” of the transition team, Flynn also secretly asked Kislyak to defeat or delay a looming UN Security Council resolution to condemn Israel’s settlements in Palestinian territory, according to court filings.

While the two interactions do not clearly suggest collusion, they raise questions about the Trump team’s dealings with Moscow before taking office — and whether they actively worked to undermine Obama’s policies.

The White House, which has long denied any wrongdoing in relation to Moscow, said Flynn’s admitted lies about those meetings “mirror the false statements to White House officials which resulted in his resignation.”

“Nothing about the guilty plea or the charge implicates anyone other than Mr. Flynn,” said White House attorney Ty Cobb.

Trump still denies Russian interference

Since the first allegations of Russian interference last year, and despite reports from top US intelligence officials concluding it happened, Trump has dismissed the notion as “fake news” and an excuse for Democratic rival Hillary Clinton’s loss at the polls.

“Since the first day I took office, all you hear is the phony Democrat excuse for losing the election, Russia, Russia, Russia,” he tweeted last week.

But Friday’s news made clear that Trump’s inner circle could increasingly come under the microscope.

For Trump, the focus is on whether he has tried to stifle the investigation, including by firing FBI chief James Comey in May, which could draw obstruction of justice charges, the same charges that forced president Richard Nixon from office in 1974.

On social media: Comey posted a biblical verse: “But let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”

“The one individual that still seems to deny that this is a major issue is Donald Trump. And I just kind of wonder why,” Democratic Senator Mark Warner told CNN.

Fourth person charged by Mueller

Three others have been charged in the Mueller probe.

In October, Trump’s one-time campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy Rick Gates were arrested on money laundering and tax-related charges.

George Papadopoulos, a Trump campaign foreign policy advisor, pleaded guilty to a charge of lying to investigators in a deal that made clear he was cooperating with investigators.