South Africa’s deputy president slams government corruption

By CHRISTOPHER  TORCHIA,  ASSOCIATED PRESS

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South Africa’s deputy president on Wednesday denounced government corruption in what was seen as a rebuke to President Jacob Zuma, who has faced calls for his resignation because of scandals and graft concerns.

“We now know, without any shred of uncertainty, that billions of rands of public resources have been diverted into the pockets of a few,” Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa said, according to local media organization News24. There are just over 13 South African rands to the U.S. dollar. Read more…..

 

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Today, we enter the second day of the 2017 Presidential campaigns.

After very successful rallies in Ruhango and Nyanza Districts yesterday, RPF- Inkotanyi candidate, Paul Kagame is scheduled to meet supporters in Nyaruguru District in the morning and later he travels to Gisagara District for his final rally of the day.

Frank Habineza, the flag bearer and president of Democratic Green Party of Rwanda, will be in Nyamasheke District, Western Province.

Meanwhile, independent candidate Phillipe Mpayimana heads to Muhanga and Nyanza districts for the second day of his campaigns. Read more….

Opposition Parties In Zimbabwe Request Mugabe To Resign

Opposition parties have requested  the country’s President Robert Mugabe to resign from office.

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Their request revolves on the insinuation the the ailing 93 year old ruler, is presiding affairs of Government from the hospital where he is currently receiving treatment.

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Reports have it that President Mugabe has left for  an unscheduled trip to Singapore.Read more…..

Democrats Protest Senate Republican Health Care Secrecy

They called for open committee hearings and more time to consider the bill before a Senate vote.

U.S. President Trump turns to Speaker Ryan as he gathers with Republican House members after healthcare bill vote at the White House in Washington
U.S. Democrats took to the Senate floor on Monday to throw a spotlight on behind-the-scenes efforts by the Republican majority to repeal former President Barack Obama’s healthcare law, known as Obamacare. Continue reading  @ HUFF POST

Tanzania: Nape Asks Magufuli to Act On Kidnapping

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Dar es Salaam — Former Information minister Nape Nnauye yesterday asked President John Magufuli to form an independent commission of inquiry to probe into the escalating acts of kidnap and torture in the country.

Addressing his Mtama constituents at a rally for the first time since he was sacked late last month from the cabinet position, Mr Nnauye said the situation was getting out of hand. The event was beamed live by online media platforms.

He said to arrest the situation and clear away a cloud of fear that is slowly creeping into the hearts and minds of Tanzanians, the commission should be formed to uncover the truth behind the abductions and report back to the Head of State for appropriate action.

According to Mr Nnauye, the incidents that the commission should probe include the disappearance of Chadema cadre Ben Saanane, the night raid on Clouds Media Group (CMG) studios and the alleged kidnapping of hip-hop star Roma Mkatoliki and his colleagues who were, however, ‘found’ yesterday.

“This is my humble advice to my President, because all these heinous acts are creating public hatred against him. People are starting to believe that the goons who are perpetrating these acts are sent by him,” said Mr Nnauye. “For my President to stay away from this hatred, he should form the commission and let the truth be known and the culprits punished according to the laws of the land.”

“A person can’t just disappear like a fly. Worse enough, those who are doing these things are the ones with the responsibility of protecting the people and their property. Now Tanzanians live in fear, once they step outside their homes they are not sure if they will return safe and alive. When it reaches a point when the people cannot trust their government with their security, then that government is doomed.”

The youthful lawmaker suggested that if the President finds this approach difficult to implement, then Parliament, as an independent pillar of the State, must take the responsibility and act accordingly.

According to him, the attacks also hurt the image of the ruling party, CCM, in the public eyes.

“We are all CCM members here, aren’t we? Aren’t people angry against the party for letting these gangsters act in a manner that is alien to our country? People in the streets are talking and if we don’t arrest these events, then CCM will have a difficult time in the 2020 elections,” he said. “Again, I humbly advise him (Dr Magufuli) as my party chairman to distance CCM from the growing anger directed at him, and the only way to do so is by letting the truth out.” He also said, internationally, the good image of Tanzania as a beacon of peace would suffer if the government is not going to put an end to such acts of abductions.

“The world is like a village nowadays. What is going on in the country is reported throughout the world, and this happens instantly. We should arrest this situation before the international community isolates us for not upholding the rule of law.”

Wearing a brave face, Mr Nnauye told his voters that he was ready to die for speaking the truth.

“Drawing a pistol on me is just like killing me, so I’m ready to face death. It is very possible that these goons are above police. If the minister for Home Affairs says that the guy who drew a pistol on me is not a police officer and nothing has so far been done against him, then that means police do not have a clearance to arrest him. Therefore, if we are to leave the matter in their hands [police], this will get us nowhere.”

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Mr Nnauye said he joined CCM not because his father (the late Brigadier Moses Nnauye) was a cadre, but because of the party’s ideology including standing for truth.

“I campaigned day and night for CCM to win in 2015 because I believed the country would be safe in CCM hands.”

“I continue to believe that the country will continue to be safe as long as Tanzanians, especially the youth will choose to be strong and stand for the truth without fear. If one commits an error, no matter how big it is we should tell him that he or she has erred. Failure to do so, we will be committing a sin that will torment us and our next generations.”

The firebrand politician had earlier received a traditional hero’s welcome whereby lined up women sleeping on their bellies let him walk on their backs just like how a home returning triumphant king was treated in the old days.

Mr Nnauye was sacked after receiving a damning report by the committee that he had formed to probe the night raid on Clouds Media studios by the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner who was accompanied by some armed officers. Following the report, the media has slapped the RC with a media blackout.

Mr Nnauye told his voters that his sacking was not a big deal, and that the President had full constitutional powers to appoint whoever he wanted as minister or to drop them.

Additional report by Mwanja Ibadi in Mtama.

FULL SPEECH: President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress

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Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America:

Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains.  Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.

Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice –- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present.

That torch is now in our hands.  And we will use it to light up the world.  I am heretonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart.

A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning.

A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation.

And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.

What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit.

Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead.

All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free.

In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence.

It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world.

But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children?

I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future.

For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries.

We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land.

We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate.

And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled.

Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet.  The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns.

But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country.

Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.

Dying industries will come roaring back to life.  Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need.

Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve.

Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land.

Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop.

And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity.

Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.

It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises.

Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs.

The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record.  We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government.  We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers.

We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government.


We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job‑crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners.

We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel.

We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership.

With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams.

To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime.

I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation.

We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted.

At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security.  By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our communities safer for everyone.  We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos.  We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders.

For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime.

As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens.  Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised.

To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question:  what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?

Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States.  We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism.

According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country.  We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center.

We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world.

It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur.  Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values.

We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists.

That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm.

As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs.  We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet.

I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel.

Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution.  I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight.  Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice.  To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law.  He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination.

Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited.

Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force.

Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps.

More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working.

We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years.

In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined.

We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars.

And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters.

Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party.  It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history.

But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave.

Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world.

My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.  At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class.

We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers.

Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing.

I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson.  In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House.

At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business?  They said that it’s good.  I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales.  They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate.  They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent.

They weren’t even asking for change.  But I am.

I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE.

The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.”

Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies and workers, be taken advantage of anymore.

I am going to bring back millions of jobs.  Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration.  The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers.

Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system.  It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially.  Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon.  According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year.

Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits:  it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and help struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class.

I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws.

If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades.

Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system.  The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding.

America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling.  With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice.  And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate.

To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs.

This effort will be guided by two core principles:  Buy American, and Hire American.

Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.

Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America.  The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do.

Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits.  As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone.  Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing.

One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all.

Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan?

We now know that all of those promises have been broken.

Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans.  Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity.

So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster.

Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans:

First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges.

Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government.

Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out.

Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately.

Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care.

Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed.  Every problem can be solved.  And every hurting family can find healing, and hope.

Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done?  On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people.

My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure.

True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future.

An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all.

Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley.  Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old.  She was not expected to live past 5.

On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child.  He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life.  Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame.

Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter.

But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need.

If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our Government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan.

In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles.

But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child.

Education is the civil rights issue of our time.

I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children.  These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them.

Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather.  As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice.  But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program.  Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college.  Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work.

We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha.

But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence.

The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century.

In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone –- and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher.

This is not acceptable in our society.

Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job.

But to create this future, we must work with –- not against -– the men and women of law enforcement.

We must build bridges of cooperation and trust –- not drive the wedge of disunity and division.

Police and sheriffs are members of our community.  They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound.

We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement.

And we must support the victims of crime.

I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims.  The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement.  We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and silenced by special interests.

Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them.

Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis.

Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison.  Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback.  But he never got the chance.  His father, who is in the audiencetonight, has become a good friend of mine.

Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis.  Their husbands –- Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis –- were slain in the line of duty in California.  They were pillars of their community.  These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations.

Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna.  Jenna:  I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you.

To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica:  I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice.  Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory.

Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win.

I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history.

My budget will also increase funding for our veterans.

Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them.

The challenges we face as a Nation are great.  But our people are even greater.

And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform.

We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens.  Ryan died as he lived:  a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation.

I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.”  Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity.  For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him.

To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform.

Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world.  It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe.

We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism.

But our partners must meet their financial obligations.

And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.

We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost.

We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations.

Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path.  My job is not to represent the world.  My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more.

We must learn from the mistakes of the past –- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world.

The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding.

America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align.  We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict.

We want peace, wherever peace can be found.  America is friends today with former enemies.  Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars.  This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world.

Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free.

On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our Nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial.  At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their creations.

Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time.

Remington unveiled the first typewriter.  An early attempt was made at electric light.

Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen.

Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year.

Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people.

Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope.

American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream.

Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect.

And streets where mothers are safe from fear — schools where children learn in peace — and jobs where Americans prosper and grow — are not too much to ask.

When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before. For all Americans.

This is our vision. This is our mission.

But we can only get there together.

We are one people, with one destiny.

We all bleed the same blood.

We all salute the same flag.

And we are all made by the same God.

And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began.

The time for small thinking is over.  The time for trivial fights is behind us.

We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts.

The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls.

And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action.

From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –-

inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –-

and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts.

I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit.  I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country.  And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and —

Believe in yourselves.

Believe in your future.

And believe, once more, in America.

Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.

Source : The Hill

U.S. Court To Hear Arguments Tuesday On Trump’s Travel Ban

A U.S. district judge in Seattle on Friday suspended Trump’s order.

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By Dan Levine and Timothy Gardner

SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Justice Department will face off with opponents in a federal appeals court on Tuesday over the fate of President Donald Trump’s temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority countries, his most controversial act since taking office last month.

Last Friday, U.S. District Judge James Robart suspended Trump’s ban, opening a window for people from the seven affected countries to enter the country.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco will hear arguments over whether to restore the ban from Justice Department lawyers and opposing attorneys for the states of Minnesota and Washington at 3 p.m. PST (6.00 p.m. ET).

In a tweet on Monday night, Trump said: “The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real, just look at what is happening in Europe and the Middle-East. Courts must act fast!”

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Trump has said the travel measures are designed to protect the country against the threat of terrorism. He has derided Robart, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, as a “so-called judge.”

In a brief filed on Monday, the Justice Department said the suspension of Trump’s order was too broad and “at most” should be limited to people who were already granted entry to the country and were temporarily abroad, or to those who want to leave and return to the United States.

Opponents say the 90-day ban barring entry for citizens from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and imposing a 120-day halt to all refugees, is illegal. The state of Washington argues it has suffered harm, saying some students and faculty at state universities had been stranded overseas because of the ban.

The Republican president’s Jan. 27 executive order sparked protests and chaos at U.S. and overseas airports in the weekend that followed.

All the people who had carried out fatal attacks inspired by Islamist militancy in the United States since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks had been U.S. citizens or legal residents, the New America think tank said. None came to the United States or were from a family that emigrated from one of the countries listed in the travel ban, it said. (http://bit.ly/2keSmUO)

UPHILL FIGHT?

Trump faces an uphill battle in the liberal-leaning San Francisco court. Two members of three-judge panel that will hear the arguments were appointed by former Democratic Presidents Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and one was appointed by Bush.

Appeals courts are generally leery of upending the status quo, which in this case is the lowercourt’s suspension of the ban.

Opponents of the ban received far more filings in support of their position than the Department of Justice. Washington state’s challenge was backed by about a dozen friends-of-the- court briefs submitted by at least 17 state attorneys general, more than 100 companies, and about a dozen labor and civil rights groups. About a dozen conservative groups supported the government in three such briefs.

The appeals court was focusing on the narrow question of whether the district court had grounds to put the order on hold. The bigger legal fight over whether Trump had authority to issue the order will be addressed later in the litigation.

(Additional reporting by Peter Henderson in San Francisco)

 Source : Reuters

Black Ops, alternate facts and damn lies: The ANC’s escalating credibility crisis

Ranjeni Munusam

South Africa

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As more details emerged at the weekend about the covert operation to pump up the ANC’s election campaign and spread fake news about opposition parties, the party continued to deny knowledge and involvement. It has “nothing to do with the ANC” was spokesperson Zizi Kodwa’s response to a report of a secret recording implicating ANC general manager Ignatius Jacobs in the war room operation to influence public opinion during the election period. This is not only about the criminal acts and big personalities being shamed. It is also about the erosion of trust and further diminishing of the ANC’s credibility. By RANJENI MUNUSAMY.

There is already a big problem deciphering the messaging of the ANC. Who carries the true voice of the ANC? President Jacob Zuma? ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe? ANC Deputy Secretary-General Jessie Duarte? National spokesperson Zizi Kodwa? ANC chief whip and communications subcommittee head Jackson Mthembu? ANC elections head Nomvula Mokonyane?

All these people speak for and on behalf of the ANC. Rarely do you find them saying the same things.

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Then there is the problem of who is the authentic ANC? The national executive committee elected at the last national conference in Mangaung in 2012? The Zuma camp elected at Polokwane in 2007 – before they all turned on each other? Thabo Mbeki’s ANC? Nelson Mandela’s ANC? The ANC in exile? The struggle veterans who have served in the party structures for over 40 years?

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Of course, the ANC prides itself on being a “broad church” made up of and representing people from all walks of life. But it is problematic when the interests and messaging of those who lead the party are conflictual. It is even more of a dilemma when doubt is cast about whether the elected leadership represents the true values and essence of the ANC.

After the ANC’s decline in the 2014 election, it was quite clear that the 2016 local government elections would be an uphill climb for the party and that they were in serious danger of losing control of the metros. It is hardly surprising therefore that the ANC would have employed new tools, particularly social media, and additional resources for its election campaign.

But if there was confusion previously about the ANC’s voice and messaging, the 2016 campaign splintered these even more. It became difficult to identify what exactly the ANC was telling its voters with an explosion of people speaking, seemingly on behalf of the ANC.

Official campaign messages were drowned out by crude attacks on the opposition, social media bullying of journalists, celebrity “twars”, government spokespeople usurping the ANC’s voice, and concerted efforts to present the ANC as “trendy”. Selfies of people in ANC regalia flooded social media. The ANC even held a fashion show to showcase its brand. The “dab” was all the rage.

It certainly was an energetic and obviously high-budget campaign. With all this activity, the ANC suffered heavy losses in the election, dropping to 53.9% nationally and losing control of three metros. One of the main reasons for this is that through all the noise and Twitter trends, the ANC did not pay significant attention to the issues that impacted on voters. Delivery failures, corruption, wastage of taxpayers’ money, scandals involving ANC leaders and the refusal to be held accountable all created negative perceptions among the electorate.

It is convenient to blame the media for generating and fuelling these negative perceptions. But the reality is that the ANC created the basis for adverse commentary in the media by failing to do its job or doing it badly.

We now know that the ANC campaign went beyond what was apparent and engaged in a “black ops” manoeuvre to influence public opinion. Amabunghane  that a covert war room was set up on behalf of the ANC with a planned budget of R50-million to pay people to create false narratives favouring the ANC and targeting opposition parties. This included printing fake opposition posters, which is in violation of the Municipal Electoral Act and the election code of conduct.

The story broke after public relations consultant Sihle Bolani, who worked on this covert campaign, brought a case against the ANC for non-payment. It created a sensation because of the large amount of money and the personalities involved, one of which is Shaka Sisulu, grandson of struggle icon Walter Sisulu. The story also proved that certain people were being paid for their pro-ANC tweets.

On Sunday, amaBhunganerevealed in the City Press that Bolani had secretly recorded meetings with ANC officials at the party headquarters, Albert Luthuli House. The recordings implicate the ANC’s general manager Ignatius Jacobs in directing the campaign to take a “dig at [the ANC’s] opponents” and also confirmed that R50-million was the targeted budget for the campaign.

Despite attempts by the ANC and Sisulu to distance themselves from the activities of the war room and to play down the black ops campaign, there are serious implications.

The claim that the ANC’s senior leadership did not know about the war room is no excuse for what happened. How could millions of rand be raised in the name of the ANC without the knowledge of the officials? The fact that it was done during an election campaign is even more damning as all parties should be extra careful to avoid scandals during an election period. Second, how could a covert operation be run from the ANC headquarters without anyone else knowing about it? What else goes on in that building, possibly illegally, that the officials do not know about?

The most serious indictment on the ANC leadership is why so many people felt comfortable in engaging in surreptitious and illegal behaviour on the ANC’s behalf. Did they not fear getting caught out and facing negative repercussions for trying to manipulate South African voters?

Is it that the prevailing atmosphere in the ANC is to disrespect the public and to treat people like idiots? Was that the reason this group of people felt it was perfectly acceptable to raise millions of rand and wilfully engage in behaviour to deceive voters, all in the name of the ANC?

The ANC cannot simply wash its hands or throw someone under the bus. If it wants to affirm its credibility, there needs to be a thorough investigation into who was involved, how the money raised was spent and a disclosure of all the activities of the war room. Those who committed illegal acts, such as producing fake opposition party posters, should be charged.   

But the ANC also needs to ask itself some hard questions.

Why has it surrendered its brand and its voice to a range of people who use and abuse them as they please? Why are government spokespeople speaking for the ANC and using the party to elevate their own status? Why are celebrities engaging in social media fights on behalf of the ANC? Why do so many people feel entitled to use the ANC brand to amass wealth for themselves?

And why is the ANC’s image so diminished?

The answer to these questions is that the ANC leadership has lost control and is disrespected by the very people who claim to be advancing their cause. If the ANC wants to deal with the chaos in its communications structure, it must shut down the gallery of illegitimate people peddling “alternate facts” and outright lies on the party’s behalf.

The ANC should wake up to the fact that neither “fake news” nor “paid Twitter” has helped the party win votes or public confidence. The social media pseudo-celebrity pack are in fact doing further damage to the ANC brand and eroding the credibility of the party.

Hillary Clinton had the world’s biggest stars campaigning for her and still lost the US elections to someone who could not even get a G-grade celebrity to sing at his inauguration. The next election in South Africa will be won by whoever best taps into people’s interests and needs. And there will be dire consequences for those who continue to lie to and disrespect the people of this country.

Photo: ANC’s Top Six at the January 8th rally in Soweto, 2017. (Greg Nicolson / Daily Maverick)

Source : Daily Maverick

Tanzania: Mutungi Defends Release of Sh370 Million Subvention to CUF

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Dar es Salaam — The Registrar of Political Parties, Judge Francis Mutungi, yesterday refuted claims by chairman of the Civic United Front Supreme Governing Council, Mr Julius Mtatiro, that the party’s subvention funds were siphoned out of the Treasury.

According to Judge Mutungi, the Sh369 million was legally released from the treasury to a valid CUF account operated by party’s national leaders, not otherwise.

The registrar also said his office was open and if there’s any query it should be tendered in writing. “My office is an institution, we expected to receive formal complaint on the issue. But why those who are claiming foul play did not hold their press conference in their party offices?” he said.

Judge Mutungi said they recognise only one CUF which is led by Prof Ibrahim Lipumba as chairman and Mr Seif Sharif Hamad as secretary general.

Back in August, the registrar blocked CUF’s monthly subventions (the party is entitled to Sh117 million per month) and wrote to Prof Lipumba and Mr Hamad telling them that, the funds cannot be released until the wrangles were resolved.

“Before releasing the funds, we communicated with the party leaders and when we established that there were no chaos, we channelled the funds to their account,” he said, adding: “Now, what they are doing signals that still there are wrangles, but I don’t know about that, let wait and see.”

On Tuesday, Mr Mtatiro, yesterday accused the office of the Registrar and Prof Lipumba of siphoning the funds from the treasury last Thursday (January 5, 2017).

From the treasury, the cash, according to Mr Mtatiro, was deposited the party’s NMB account at Temeke Branch instead of the party’s national account which is operated by the chief accounting officer, who according to the CUF Constitution is the party’s secretary general, Mr Hamad.

The Temeke account’s signatories are Prof Lipumba’s top aides Ms Magdalena Sakaya (deputy secretary general – Mainland) and Thomas Malima (finance director).

Mr Mtatiro have accused them of transferring the funds to a private account and laundered it. He also accused the bank of letting the foul play to happen.

NMB senior manager of corporate affairs and public relations, Ms Jocelyne Kamuhanda, told The Citizen yesterday that the bank had seen the accusations in the press but they can’t discuss the matter with the media. “We cannot disclose clients’ details to any third party,” she said.

Reached for comment, the director of communication supporting the side of Prof Lipumba, Mr Abdul Kambaya, confirmed that they received the cash but they couldn’t involve Mr Hamad since he could have blocked the transactions.

Source : The Citizen