Tag Archives: United States

EndSARs: Stop killing peaceful protesters! – Biden tells Buhari.

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Biden’s statement came hours after a former secretary of states Hillary Clinton Tuesday night asked Nigerian authorities to “stop killing” persons protesting against police brutality in the country.

Former United States Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has called on Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari to stop the ongoing violent crackdown on protesters in the country.

“I urge President Buhari and the Nigerian military to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths,” Biden said in a statement.

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“I encourage the government to engage in a good-faith dialogue with civil society to address these long-standing grievances and work together for a more just and inclusive Nigeria.

“My heart goes out to all those who have lost a loved one in the violence.”

He urged the United States to “stand with Nigerians who are peacefully demonstrating for police reform and seeking an end to corruption in their democracy.”

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– What Actually Happened –

Security forces on Friday shot sporadically at unarmed protesters who were protesting against police brutality at Lekki area of Lagos State.

About 7 persons were feared dead from the shooting in Lagos on Tuesday night with more than 10 people dead earlier in different demonstrations in Nigeria.

Scenes of people removing a bullet from someone’s wound and pleading for help were broadcast in a live video by DJ Switch, a popular disc jockey, to 150,000 Instagram viewers.

Amnesty International Nigeria said there was no justification for the “excessive use of force” against the peaceful, unarmed protesters.

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The protests against police brutality, harassment, extortion and extrajudicial killings had attracted thousand to streets in different parts of Nigeria.

Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu ordered the round-the-clock shutdown in the sprawling economic hub on Tuesday, claiming the protests had “degenerated into a monster” as violence flared in a string of cities.

Sanwo-Olu on Wednesday said the shooting and killing of the unarmed protesters was an “unfortunate incident.”

“I recognize the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” the governor said.


#Newsworthy…

EndSARs: Hillary Clinton reacts to killing of protesters in Nigeria. #StopNigeriaGov’t

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Witnesses told AFP that shots were fired at the crowd of over 1,000 peaceful demonstrators to disperse them several hours after the authorities declared an open-ended lockdown in Lagos in the face of spiralling protests.

Former United States secretary of states Hillary Clinton Tuesday night asked Nigerian authorities to stop “killing” persons protesting against police brutality in the country.

Clinton is one of the few high-profile American politicians that have spoken against the brutality meted out to protesters since demonstrations began about two weeks ago.

Congresswoman woman Ilhan Omar tweeted in support of the protesters last week.

“I’m calling on @mbuhari and the @hqnigerianarmy to stop killing young #EndSARS protesters,” Clinton said on Twitter, ending her post with #StopNigeriaGovernment.

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– What Actually Happened –

“We were all sitting down, peacefully, and they shut down the lights and the billboards, everyone started screaming,” a protester called Toye told AFP, asking that her full name not be used.

“They came to us, but I don’t know who it was. They were shooting, and everyone was running for his life.”

Another protester, Innocent, said he was helping to ferry the wounded to nearby hospitals.

“Currently I have two people that I rush in my car, a woman and a guy, who are in very critical conditions,” he said.

“I rushed two people already to hospital. One was shot at the back, and one was shot at the stomach.” .

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Scenes of people removing a bullet from someone’s wound and pleading for help were broadcast in a live video by DJ Switch, a popular disc jockey, to 150,000 Instagram viewers.

Earlier defiant protesters at the scene had sung the national anthem and pledged to remain out on the streets despite the stay-at-home order.

Anger over abuses by the police’s loathed Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) erupted into widespread protests some two weeks ago that drew thousands onto the streets.

Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu ordered the round-the-clock shutdown in the sprawling economic hub on Tuesday, claiming the protests had “degenerated into a monster” as violence flared in a string of cities.

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“Criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem,” he wrote on Twitter, insisting that only essential workers should stay out on the streets.

“We will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state.”

As the tone hardened from the authorities, Nigeria’s police chief ordered anti-riot units deployed around the country.

“The force will henceforth exercise the full powers of the law to prevent any further attempt on lives and property of citizens,” a statement said


#Newsworthy…

Any sale of Arms to Iran could attract sanctions – Pompeo warns.

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The embargo on the sale of conventional arms to Iran was due to begin expiring progressively from October 18 under terms of the UN resolution that confirmed the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday said that arms sales to Iran would breach UN resolutions and result in sanctions, after Tehran said the longstanding UN embargo on arms trade with the Islamic republic had expired.

“The United States is prepared to use its domestic authorities to sanction any individual or entity that materially contributes to the supply, sale, or transfer of conventional arms to or from Iran,” Pompeo said in a statement.


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“Every nation that seeks peace and stability in the Middle East and supports the fight against terrorism should refrain from any arms transactions with Iran.”

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Tehran, which could now purchase weapons from Russia, China and elsewhere, has hailed the expiration as a diplomatic victory over its archenemy the United States, which had tried to maintain an indefinite freeze on arms sales.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear deal in 2018 and has unilaterally begun reimposing sanctions on Iran.

Pompeo said that “for the past 10 years, countries have refrained from selling weapons to Iran under various UN measures. Any country that now challenges this prohibition will be very clearly choosing to fuel conflict and tension over promoting peace and security.”


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Twitter suspends fake black Trump’s account.

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Twitter suspended the identified profiles because they were deceiving users about their intention and their identity, and were therefore deemed to be manipulating public debate.

Twitter said Tuesday it had suspended several fake accounts purporting to be African Americans who support President Donald Trump and which had succeeded in garnering several thousand followers in just a few days.

“Our teams are working diligently to investigate this activity and will take action in line with the Twitter rules if Tweets are found to be in violation,” said a spokesman for the San Francisco-based company.

Darren Linvill, a professor at Clemson University who specializes in disinformation on social media, published some examples of the fake accounts on Twitter, accusing them of using “digital black face.”

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“Yes IM BLACK AND IM VOTING FOR TRUMP!” said one of the examples he shared, under the name of Ted Katya on September 17. “Libs won’t like that but I don’t care!!!”

The tweet was shared 6,000 times and “liked” more than 16,000 times.

Most of the accounts “used images of real Americans in their profiles,” Linville said, and some of them had tens of thousands of followers.

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The company forbids using the platform “to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behaviour that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience on Twitter,” according to guidelines published last month.

Under heavy criticism, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have mobilized in the run-up to the November 3 election to show they have learned the lessons of the scandals in 2016 when they were used to spread false or misleading information ahead o the US elections, some of the concerted campaigns initiated by foreign powers such as Russia.

The platforms have made progress in dismantling large-scale disinformation campaigns but now face a number of smaller-scale attempts to disseminate falsehoods through accounts like those suspended on Tuesday.

The people behind such campaigns often use themes linked to current events and which inflame public opinion, such as the coronavirus or the Black Lives Matter movement, to draw in as many followers as possible.


#Newsworthy…

Just in: End provocation against Greece – Germany, U.S asks Turkey.

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“Coercion, threats, intimidation and military activity will not resolve tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean.”

Turkey’s two key Western allies, the United States and Germany, on Tuesday urged it to pull back a ship it has returned to waters contested with Greece, with Washington denouncing the “calculated provocation.”

The Turkish navy said Sunday that the Oruc Reis exploration vessel was heading back to energy-rich eastern Mediterranean waters between the Greek island of Crete and Cyprus, weeks after it left amid an agreement for talks.

In a strongly-worded statement, the State Department said the US “deplores” the decision by Turkey and noted that Greece “asserts jurisdiction” over areas where the ship plans to operate through October 22.

“We urge Turkey to end this calculated provocation and immediately begin exploratory talks with Greece,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

“Turkey’s announcement unilaterally raises tensions in the region and deliberately complicates the resumption of crucial exploratory talks between our NATO allies Greece and Turkey,” she said.

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Turkey last sent the ship into contested waters in August backed by warships, alarming both Greece and Cyprus, which is partially occupied by Ankara.

Greece responded by staging military exercises but tensions eased when both Ankara and Athens agreed to talk through the crisis.

Greece said Tuesday there could be no diplomatic solution until the ship is withdrawn.

Greece “will not sit at the table for exploratory talks while the Oruc Reis and escorting warships are out there,” Minister of State George Gerapetritis told Parapolitika radio.

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He said Athens would “emphatically” raise the dispute at a European council meeting starting Thursday.

Germany steps up tone
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month said that the withdrawal of the ship was a chance to give diplomacy a chance.

But Turkish officials also insisted the ship was only undergoing planned maintenance and would return to the eastern Mediterranean to continue its work.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, speaking ahead of a trip to Cyprus and Greece, said that Turkey “must end the cycle of detente and provocation if the government is interested in talks.”

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“If there should be renewed Turkish gas exploration in the more controversial sea areas in the eastern Mediterranean, this would be a serious setback for efforts to de-escalate,” Maas said.

While France has staunchly backed Greece throughout the standoff with Turkey, Germany had irked many Greeks in August with what they perceived as a low-key response by Europe’s largest economic power.

Erdogan has a cordial relationship with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has worked with Turkey both on stemming the flow of Syrian and other refugees into Europe and over the crisis in Libya.

Erdogan has also cultivated close ties with US President Donald Trump, who said of the Turkish leader in an interview for investigative journalist Bob Woodward’s latest book: “The tougher and meaner they are, the better I get along with them.”

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The US relationship has nonetheless been expanding quickly with Athens, in part over its growing embrace of US ally Israel.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last month visited Greece in a show of support in which he voiced hope over then easing tensions with Turkey.

Under Erdogan, Turkey has been newly assertive on multiple fronts, not just against historic rival Greece.

Erdogan in recent weeks has encouraged Azerbaijan in its campaign to end “occupation” of the Nagorno-Karabakh area by Armenia as the neighbours engage in their most serious fighting since 1994.


#Newsworthy…

EndSARs: Over 10,000 signs petition to ban top public office holders from US visa.

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The US also threatened to impose further sanctions on politicians who sow conflict during the recently held Edo and Ondo States elections.

As the #EndSars movement continues to gain momentum, a petition to the United States government to impose visa restrictions on all Nigerian public office holders and high-ranking police officers has received over 10,000 signatures as of Sunday morning.

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The petition, started by data journalist Farida Adamu, was created on Friday to nudge top officials to “take needful actions instead of their current taciturnity,” a description on change.com said.

Last month, the US, in a statement, said it had imposed visa restrictions on select individuals for their role in causing electoral violence or “undermining democracy” during the Kogi and Bayelsa States 2019 elections.

“Though visa restrictions may not be foolproof, the peaceful election conducted a few days after the release of your statement asserts that your statement holds so much significance,” the petition, written as a letter to the US Department of State, read.

“It is with this belief in your commitment that we, as Nigerian youths, request that you make the blanket restriction as highlighted above on all public office holders in the country.”

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Many Nigerians have taken to the streets in recent days to call for the scrapping of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, an infamous police unit notorious for hounding and harassing innocent civilians.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, has announced a ban on routine patrols for SARS officials among other measures.

President Muhammadu Buhari has also said he is committed to ensuring the police are responsible to the people.

But critics say the Federal Government’s response is mere rhetoric and protests have continued.


#Newsworthy…

Nagorno-Karabakh war: France, Russia & US set to meet. [More Stories]

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As international mediators head to Geneva, Armenia and Azerbaijan report further casualties.

  • France, US, Russia to hold talks in Geneva
  • Turkey says the Minsk Group should not be involved in mediating the conflict
  • Azerbaijan says city of Ganja shelled by Armenian forces, killing one civilian
  • Baku claims 30 Azeri civilians killed to date, but does not release military casualties
  • Nagorno-Karabakh says death toll among military rises to 350

France, the United States and Russia will step up efforts to end fighting between Azeri and ethnic Armenian forces in the South Caucasus by holding talks in Geneva, as fears of a regional war grow.

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French Minister of Foreign Affairs Jean-Yves Le Drian said Russian, French and US representatives would also meet in Moscow on Monday to look at ways to persuade the warring sides to negotiate a ceasefire.

The three countries are co-chairs of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE) Minsk Group that mediates over Nagorno-Karabakh.

Turkey has accused the group of neglecting the conflict and said it should not be involved in mediation.

Le Drian hit back at Turkey, reiterating accusations – denied by Ankara – that it is involved militarily and saying this fuelled the “internationalisation” of the conflict.

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• HISTORIC ARMENIA CATHEDRAL DESTROYED IN KARABAKH •

Armenia said that Azerbaijani forces had shelled a historic cathedral in Nagorno-Karabakh’s city of Shusha, where AFP journalists saw the church had suffered serious damage.

There was a gaping hole in the roof of the Ghazanchetsots (Holy Saviour) Cathedral, an iconic site for the Armenian Apostolic Church.

Rubble was strewn about the floor, pews were knocked over and the interior was covered in dust from parts of the building’s limestone walls that had been hit. A section of its metallic roof had collapsed and fallen to the ground outside.

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• ARMENIA DISMISSES HEAD NSS •

Armenia on Thursday dismissed Argishti Kyaramyan, the head its National Security Service, the Interfax news agency reported citing a presidential decree.

• TURKEY FOREIGN MINSTER COMMENTS •

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said that the “status quo has to be changed” regarding the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia adding that Turkey respects the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.

Turkey has publicly backed Azerbaijan in the conflict and said it was ready to provide military assistance, should Azerbaijan request it.

Speaking at the annual Globsec forum in Bratislava, Cavusoglu also added that he was against any conflict in the Black Sea region, adding that Turkey is not flirting with Russia and supports the territorial integrity of Ukraine.


#Newsworthy…

US Election: I will not participate in debate with Biden – Trump spills

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Second debate on October 15 will be virtual, with Trump and his challenger Biden participating from remote locations.

US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he would not participate in a debate with Democrat Joe Biden under a new format announced by the debates commission in which each candidate would appear at remote locations.

In an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo, Trump said the new virtual format announced by the Commission on Presidential Debates was not acceptable to him.


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“I’m not going to do a virtual debate,” he said.

The commission said that the debate, planned on October 15, would see the audience, who typically ask the candidates questions in the town-meeting format, and moderator Steve Scully would gather in one spot in Florida, Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts.

The decision was made “to protect the health and safety of all involved,” the commission added.

Last Thursday Trump tested positive for COVID-19, raising concerns that during the first debate on the preceding Tuesday he had infected Biden and moderator Chris Wallace. Biden has tested negative.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: Reports from White House conflict Trump’s on his condition.

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US president ‘feeling better’ in hospital but chief of staff says Trump’s symptoms ‘very concerning’.

Trump’s address came just hours after differing assessments of his health from administration officials

  • US President Donald Trump says in a recorded message that he was feeling ill when he arrived at the Walter Reed medical centre but now feels better.
  • US president was moved to the military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, for treatment after testing positive for COVID-19.
  • Earlier, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said president’s symptoms were “very concerning”.
  • Trump diagnosis forced him to withdraw at least temporarily from the campaign,  raising questions about its potential effects on the November 3 election.

#Newsworthy…

Just in: Morocco signs 10-year military co-op deal with United States

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The United States Secretary of Defense Mark Esper signed a 10-year military cooperation deal in Rabat, Morocco on Friday — two days after signing a similar deal in Tunisia as he made his final stop on a North African tour aimed at strengthening the fight against Islamist extremists in war-torn Libya and the Sahel-Sahara region.

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Nasser Bourita, Morocco’s Foreign Minister, shared a few words in a public address, “Our long-standing alliance has not only endured the test of time. We have stood side by side throughout the major challenges that shaped the 20th century, and we have transitioned into the 21st century stronger than ever.”

A sentiment which seems to be shared by the States who sees Morocco as a key ally in this terrorist-challenged area of the continent. Esper followed in kind, “Now more than ever, our two nations are working closely together to tackle the challenges of an increasingly complex security environment – ranging from counterterrorism and other transnational threats to regional instability and broader strategic challenges.”

The goal of Esper’s visit was to reinforce mutual cooperation between the two nations as Morocco already hosts the largest annual US joint military exercise in Africa, “African Lion” — cancelled this year in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

His visit came as talks between Libyan rivals were set to restart Friday evening in Bouznika, near Rabat, according to a Moroccan official.


#Newsworthy…

COVID-19: US President, Donald Trump and wife, Melania test positive.

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US President Donald Trump said early Friday he and First Lady Melania had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“Tonight, @FLOTUS and I tested positive for COVID-19. We will begin our quarantine and recovery process immediately. We will get through this TOGETHER!,” Trump tweeted.

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Trump went into quarantine Thursday night after potential Covid-19 exposure, as more restrictions loomed in Europe in an attempt to contain the deadly pandemic.

Trump’s close White House aide Hope Hicks had tested positive earlier in the day.

Hicks was on board Air Force One with the president as he travelled to Cleveland, Ohio for the first presidential debate with his rival, Democrat Joe Biden, on Tuesday.

And she also joined Trump on his trip to a campaign stop in Minnesota on Wednesday.


#Newsworthy…

U.S. defense sec, Mark Esper arrives Tunisia on tour to North Africa.

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US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived Wednesday in Tunisia, his first stop on a North Africa tour where he was set to reaffirm US engagement in the Maghreb region.

As the raging conflict in neighbouring Libya has attracted foreign jihadists and world powers backing rival sides, Washington has increasingly cooperated with the Tunisian military, particularly on counter-terror operations.

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Esper was set to meet President Kais Saied and Defence Minister Ibrahim Bartagi before delivering a speech at the North Africa American Cemetery in Carthage, where over 2,800 American soldiers were buried, most of them killed during World War II.

Washington in 2015 classified Tunisia as a Major Non-NATO Ally, allowing for reinforced military cooperation.

Since 2011, it has invested more than $1 billion in the Tunisian military, according to Washington’s Africa command, Africom.

The US armed forces organised a military air display in March on the southern island of Djerba.

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Tunisia in 2016 denied a Washington Post report that it had allowed the US to operate drones from its territory for missions in Libya against the Islamic State group.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper addresses reporters during a media briefing at the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

But a court martial in 2017 in a case of sexual harassment by an American officer, reported in the US defence press, publicly confirmed the presence of an American squadron operating drones from within a Tunisian base in the northern region of Bizerte.

This May, the head of Africom said the US would send more troops to the country in light of the deteriorating situation in Libya, triggering an outcry in Tunisia.

Africom later clarified that it was only deploying “a small training unit” that would not engage in combat missions, and the Tunisian government said there were no plans for an American base in the country.

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Esper, during his Tunisia visit, was due to warn of growing Russian and Chinese influence on the continent, according to a US official speaking before the trip.

The other goal of the visit was to reinforce ties and discuss the threat of jihadists such as the Islamic State group, the official said.

Esper was set to visit neighbouring Algeria on Thursday, becoming the first US defense secretary to do so since Donald Rumsfeld in 2006.

Esper will then head to Morocco, the other US Major Non-NATO Ally in the Maghreb region.


#Newsworthy..

Breonna Taylor: Protesters defy second night of curfew. [United States] #BLM

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More than 1,000 people defied a second night of curfew in the US city of Louisville to protest over the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, with some seeking refuge in a church.

Two officers were shot during clashes in Louisville a day earlier after authorities announced a grand jury had decided not to charge anyone in connection with the death of Taylor — a 26-year-old black woman shot dead in her apartment by police earlier this year.

“Until we afford Black people the basic rights promised by our founders — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — and end the rampage of the devil of racism, we will know no peace,” her family’s lawyer Ben Crump said in an opinion piece in The Washington Post.

Over a thousand people protested Thursday evening in the city center, much of which was closed to traffic, with several shops boarded up in anticipation of more violence.

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“No way we can be peaceful any longer,” said Michael Pyles, a 29-year-old black man who said he has been protesting for 120 days, and had a 9mm handgun on his hip.

“We’re out here to protect our people and the people who support us,” he said. “We are under attack.”

Grace Pennix, 19, who is also African American, said she can’t help but place herself in Taylor’s shoes.

“I often be passing by my front door and thinking, dang, the police could be coming at my door and shoot me and kill me just like they did with Breonna.

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“It could be me, my friend, cousin, aunt, mom,” she said.

Protestors stage a photo on the steps of the Louisville Metro Hall in downtown Louisville, Kentucky on September 24, 2020. – More than 1,000 people defied a second night of curfew in the US city of Louisville to protest over the lack of criminal charges in the police killing of Breonna Taylor, with some seeking refuge in a church. Two officers were shot during clashes in Louisville a day earlier, after authorities announced a grand jury had decided not to charge anyone in connection with the death of Taylor — a 26-year-old black woman shot dead in her apartment by police earlier this year. (Photo by Jeff Dean / AFP)

With a 9:00 pm to 6:30 am curfew in place through the weekend, about a hundred protesters in violation of the rule Thursday sought refuge at the First Unitarian Church late Thursday.

Heavily armed police surrounded the building, and helicopters whirled overhead, but the demonstrators were allowed to leave around 11 pm.

Authorities arrested at least 24 people on charges including unlawful assembly, failure to disperse and riot in the first degree, police said, though the city appeared to avoid the violence of the previous evening.

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Demands for justice
Taylor’s death has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement and the grand jury decision sent fresh demands for racial justice billowing across the country.

Two police officers were shot and wounded Wednesday as thousands flooded the streets of Louisville to protest the grand jury’s decision. Both are expected to recover.

Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder said a suspect, Larynzo Johnson, had been arrested and charged with two counts of assault and 14 counts of “wanton endangerment.”

Schroeder said there had been a total of 127 arrests overnight Wednesday across the city, Kentucky’s largest with a population of 600,000, and at least 16 instances of looting.

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Law and order
Taylor, an emergency room technician, was shot dead on March 13 after three plainclothes policemen executing a search warrant in the middle of the night burst into the apartment.

Taylor’s boyfriend exchanged fire with the officers, who he said he thought were intruders.

More than six months later, a grand jury on Wednesday charged detective Brett Hankison with three counts of “wanton endangerment” over shots fired into adjoining apartments.

But neither Hankison nor the two officers who fired the shots that killed Taylor were charged in direct connection with her death.

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President Donald Trump, who is campaigning for reelection on a “law and order” platform and has repeatedly stoked fears about violence, tweeted that he was “praying” for the officers who were shot.

Seething protests have rocked America’s cities for months, with the movement’s anger fed by a stream of deaths of black people at the hands of police, and exacerbated by badly fractured national politics and inflammatory rhetoric by Trump.

Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said the two officers who had fired the shots that killed Taylor had done so in self-defense, and would therefore not be charged.

The city of Louisville settled a wrongful death suit with Taylor’s family for $12 million last week.


#Newsworthy…

US Election: Trump stiff-necked on promising to transfer power if he loses.

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United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday refused to guarantee that he will transfer power if he loses the November election, earning scorn from his Democratic challenger Joe Biden and even from within his own party.

“Well, we’re going to have to see what happens,” Trump responded when asked at a White House press conference whether he is committed to the most basic tenet of democratic rule in the United States — the peaceful handover of power upon a change of president.

Biden, who holds a steady lead over the Republican incumbent in opinion polls ahead of the November 3 vote, expressed incredulity.

“What country are we in?” the former vice president said, when asked about Trump’s comment by reporters.

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“Look, he says the most irrational things. I don’t know what to say.”

Republican Senator Mitt Romney, a frequent but rare party critic of Trump, went further, saying that any hesitation on the core constitution guarantee was “unthinkable and unacceptable.”

SHANKSVILLE, PA – SEPTEMBER 11: President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a ceremony at the Flight 93 National Memorial commemorating the 19th anniversary of the crash of Flight 93 and the September 11th terrorist attacks on September 11, 2020 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The nation is marking the nineteenth anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, when the terrorist group al-Qaeda flew hijacked airplanes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing nearly 3,000 people. Jeff Swensen/Getty Images/AFP

“Fundamental to democracy is the peaceful transition of power; without that, there is Belarus,” he tweeted.

– ‘Get rid’ of ballots -Trump followed up his remarks — unprecedented in modern times for a US president — by resuming his near daily complaint about the fairness of the election.

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Apparently referring to the increased use of mail-in ballots due to the coronavirus pandemic, he said: “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots and the ballots are a disaster.”

Trump frequently claims that mail-in ballots are vulnerable to mass fraud and are being encouraged by Democrats to rig the election.

However, there is no evidence that ballots sent through the postal service have ever led to significant fraud in US elections.

At the press conference, Trump seemed to suggest annulling what are expected to be the huge numbers of mailed-in ballots, noting that in such a scenario, he would remain in power.

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“Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There’ll be a continuation,” he said.

Trump’s latest insistence that there cannot be a free and fair presidential election came as pressure mounts over his plan to put a new, right-leaning justice on the Supreme Court.

Trump is set to nominate a replacement on Saturday for the late liberal-leaning justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died last week.

His Republican Party, which has a majority in the Senate, is then expected to quickly confirm the nominee.

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If they succeed, the nine-justice court would then likely have a strongly pro-conservative bent for years to come.

Democrats are crying foul, saying that the process should wait until the results of the election are known, allowing the winner to shape the Supreme Court.

With Trump and the Republicans mounting a series of court challenges against the use of mail-in ballots, the chances of a contested election result are considered high.

On Wednesday, Trump said he thinks the election “will end up in the Supreme Court.”


#Newsworthy…

[United States] Policeman charged over Breonna Taylor’s shooting.

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A Louisville police officer was charged Wednesday with three counts of “wanton endangerment” in connection with the shooting of Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old black woman whose name has become a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.

Judge Annie O’Connell announced the charges brought by a grand jury against Detective Brett Hankison, one of three police officers involved in the fatal shooting in March.

No charges were filed against the other two officers and the grand jury findings immediately sparked street protests in Louisville, the scene of weeks of anti-racism demonstrations.

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Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Taylor family, condemned the grand jury decision.

“3 counts of Wanton Endangerment in 1st Degree for bullets that went into other apartments but NOTHING for the murder of Breonna Taylor,” Crump said on Twitter. “This is outrageous and offensive!”

The American Civil Liberties Union condemned the grand jury charges as “not accountability and not close to justice.”

“This is the manifestation of what the millions of people who have taken to the streets to protest police violence already know: Modern policing and our criminal legal system are rotten to the core,” the ACLU said.

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Hankison, who has been fired from the police department, was not charged for shooting Taylor but for shots that he fired into adjoining apartments, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron said.

“I know that not everyone will be satisfied with the charges reported today,” Cameron said. “Every person has an idea of what they think justice is.”

– ‘They did knock’ –
Taylor, an emergency room technician, was shot dead in her apartment when three plainclothes police officers turned up at her door to execute a search warrant.

Cameron said reports that the officers had executed a “no-knock” search warrant were incorrect and they had announced their presence.

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“They did knock and announce,” he said. “That information was corroborated by another witness.”

Taylor’s boyfriend, who was in bed with her, grabbed a gun and exchanged fire with the officers. He later said he thought they were criminals.

LOUISVILLE, KY – SEPTEMBER 22: Multiple unidentified protesters gather around and climb cement barriers in an intersection near Jefferson Square Park on September 22, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. Jefferson Square Park has remained the epicenter for Louisville protest action following the March 13th killing of Breonna Taylor by police during a no-knock warrant at her apartment. Jon Cherry/Getty Images/AFP

The officers, who had not activated their body cameras as required, shot Taylor multiple times, killing her. A police sergeant was wounded.

Cameron said Hankison had not fired the fatal shots and the two other officers who opened fire had done so in self-defense.

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He said Hankison could face five years in prison for each count of “wanton endangerment” if convicted.

The city of Louisville settled a wrongful death suit with Taylor’s family for $12 million last week.

A state of emergency has been declared by the mayor of the city, which has a population of 600,000, with much of downtown closed to traffic.

Some downtown business owners boarded up their shops in anticipation of unrest sparked by the grand jury decision.

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Louisville police chief Robert Schroeder said the authorities would not tolerate any “violence or destruction of property.”

“We are prepared to meet any challenge we may face,” Schroeder said, calling for demonstrators to protest “peacefully and lawfully.”

The civil settlement with Taylor’s family reflected the public pressure and emotion surrounding her death, which came about two months before that of George Floyd, a black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis.

Floyd’s death triggered protests across the US against racial injustice and police brutality.


#Newsworthy…

United Nation’s consent on Iran reinstated – United States claims.

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Washington isolated as global allies and adversaries say its unilateral move targeting Tehran has no legal standing.

The United States has broken with all other permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and unilaterally declared the re-imposition of all UN sanctions against Iran – a claim rejected by Iran and the international community, including Washington’s close allies, as having no legal basis.

In a statement on Sunday following the expiration of a deadline set by the US, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo threatened “consequences” for any UN member state that does not comply with the punitive measures, which were lifted under a landmark nuclear deal that was signed between six world powers and Iran in 2015 but was abandoned by the US more than two years ago.

In addition to adhering to a conventional arms embargo that is due to expire next month, Pompeo said member states must comply with restrictions such as the ban on Iran engaging in nuclear enrichment and reprocessing-related activities; the prohibition on ballistic missile testing and development; and sanctions on transfer of nuclear and missile-related technologies.

“If UN Member States fail to fulfil their obligations to implement these sanctions, the United States is prepared to use our domestic authorities to impose consequences for those failures and ensure that Iran does not reap the benefits of UN-prohibited activity,” Pompeo said.

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His statement came a month after the US officially triggered the process aimed at restoring all UN sanctions on Iran, claiming significant Iranian violations of the Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA), the formal name for the 2015 deal that was endorsed by the Security Council.

Despite the US in May 2018 pulling out of the deal and reimposing crippling sanctions on Iran, Washington argues it is still technically a “participant” and could trigger the so-called “snapback”. This was a mechanism devised by the US negotiating team before the signing of the JCPOA that stipulated that if Iran breached its commitments, all international sanctions could snap back into place.

However, the international community, including the four other permanent Security Council members, insist the US no longer has the legal ability to force through any changes since it announced its exit from what Trump has branded “the worst deal ever” with a presidential memorandum titled Ceasing US Participation in the JCPOA.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani addressed the nation directly in a live televised cabinet meeting on Sunday. He congratulated world powers since US pressure to reinstate UN sanctions “has reached its definitive point of failure”.

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Today, he said, “will be a memorable day in the history of our country’s diplomacy”.

Rouhani added should the US try to “bully” others into adhering to its declaration of reinstating UN sanctions, Iran will have a “decisive response” to match.

Pointing out how the US tried to garner the support of other nuclear deal signatories following its unilateral withdrawal from the nuclear deal, Rouhani said the United States expected Iran to act irrationally, giving it an excuse to form an international coalition against the Islamic Republic.

“Today we can say the ‘maximum pressure’ of US against the Iranian nation, politically and legally, has turned to ‘maximum isolation’ for the US.”

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The president also addressed the five remaining signatories of the nuclear deal, reiterating the promise that if they fully adhere to their commitments under the accord, Iran will also fully implement its commitments.

Exactly one year after the US abandoned the nuclear deal, Iran started gradually scaling down its commitments, including those concerning its stockpile of enriched uranium. Iran still continues to grant access to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In a letter to the Security Council, the European signatories to the deal – Britain, France and Germany, or E3 – stressed UN sanctions relief for Iran would continue, adding any decision or action to reimpose them “would be incapable of legal effect”.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also told the council he would not take any action on the US declaration because “there would appear to be uncertainty whether or not any process … was indeed initiated”.

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On Sunday morning, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh told reporters the US is experiencing some of its “most bitter” times as it has chosen to stand “on the wrong side of history”.

“The message of Tehran for Washington is clear: Return to the international community. Return to your commitments. Stop this rogue and unruly behaviour. The international community will accept you,” Khatibzadeh said.

Transatlantic rift
According to Hamidreza Azizi, a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), there are clear reasons why the European powers, as well as Russia and China, oppose the US demand.

“First, it would pave the way for further arbitrary interpretation of international treaties by Washington, that may one day come back to haunt the Europeans themselves,” Azizi said

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“Second, Iran’s reaction to sanctions return would be to leave the JCPOA or even NPT,” he added, referring to the international nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that pursues nuclear disarmament.

As to why the US would engage in such a move based on shaky legal arguments, Azizi says its goal is political.

“It wants to keep Iran under the international spotlight, continuing to introduce the Islamic Republic as a threat to international peace and security,” he said, adding that the US also wants to make Europeans more cautious in dealing with Iran.

According to Azizi, the snapback showdown is the latest and most evident sign of a rift in transatlantic relations.

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“Especially if Trump gets re-elected as the US president, this will work as fuel for further disagreements between the EU and the US,” he said, pointing out that Russia and China could use the opportunity to expand their influence in Iran and the wider region.

Arms embargo
The US attempt to trigger the snapback mechanism came on the heels of another demand it made at the Security Council that left it isolated.

In mid-August, the council resoundingly rejected a US bid to extend a global arms embargo on Iran that expires on October 18 under the JCPOA.

Washington only managed to secure the support of the Dominican Republic for its proposed resolution to indefinitely extend the embargo, leaving it far short of the minimum nine “Yes” votes required for adoption. Eleven members abstained while China and Russia opposed the resolution.

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Last week, Pompeo reiterated during a briefing with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab that the US will move to reinstate UN sanctions to make the arms embargo permanent.

The US will “do its share as part of its responsibilities to enable peace, this time in the Middle East”, he said.

Zarif fired off a tweet on Thursday, saying “nothing new happens on 9/20”. He also alluded to two recent opinion pieces by John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, who had pointed out that the nuclear deal’s dispute resolution clauses are “complex and potentially lengthy” to avoid UNSC confrontations.

Citing unnamed sources, Reuters news agency reported on Friday that Trump is planning to issue an executive order in the coming days to impose secondary sanctions on anyone who would buy or sell arms to Iran, depriving them of access to the US market.

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Rising tensions
The culmination of the snapback showdown comes shortly after a fresh round of threatening rhetoric being exchanged between longtime foes, the US and Iran.

On September 13, US-based media outlet Politico published a report, citing unnamed officials, that the Iranian government is weighing an assassination attempt against Lana Marks, the US ambassador to South Africa.

The plot, the report claimed, would be executed in retaliation for Washington’s assassination of top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq in early January.

In a tweet, Trump, who is seeking re-election on November 3, said the US will retaliate with “1,000 times greater” force against any Iranian attack on its interests.

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In response, Iran cautioned the US against making “a new strategic mistake” by believing false reports and warned of a “decisive response”.

On Saturday, the head of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps issued a stern warning directly addressing Trump, saying the killing of Soleimani will be avenged but Marks is not a proportionate target.

“We will target those who were directly or indirectly involved in the martyrdom of this great man,” Major-General Hossein Salami said.

On Friday, South Africa’s State Security Agency said in a statement there is insufficient evidence to sustain the allegation of a plot to assassinate Marks.


#Newsworthy…