Diplomatic row: Pakistan imposes travel ban on US diplomats

US

The Pakistani government has reterliated the travel ban imposed on its diplomats by the United Staes.
The Pakistan Foriegn Ministry on Friday announced travel restrictions on U.S. diplomats in the country.
Pakistan and the U. S. had announced restrictions on diplomats after a U.S. embassy vehicle driven by Colonel Joseph Emanual Hall, defence and air attache of the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, killed a Pakistani motorcyclist in Islamabad on April 7.
Pakistan on Thursday confirmed that its diplomats in the U. S. would face travel restrictions from May 11.
The United States had earlier planned to counter attack the curbs from May 1, but deferred the move for 10 days.
“The restrictions will be implemented on Friday and these will be on a reciprocal basis.
`However, negotiations are ongoing between the two sides on the matter,’’ Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said when asked to confirm reports whether the restrictions will be enforced or not.
The relations between the two sides have been under pressure after President Donald Trump accused Islamabad in January of lying to the U. S. and offering “little help in hunting terrorists.’’ Washington later suspended its security assistance to Pakistan.

Trump administration to send 57,000 Hondurans in the U.S. home

The Trump administration has decided to end a temporary program that allows 57,000 Hondurans to live and work in the United States, three people familiar with the plans told McClatchy.
Hondurans who came to the United States after Hurricane Mitch devastated their country in 1998 will be given 12 to 18 months to return to their native county or seek another form of legal residency.
The Department of Homeland Security will announce the program’s end as early as Friday afternoon. Officials there are expected to say conditions in Honduras have improved enough for people to return, though some have lived in the United States for two decades.
One of the poorest and most violent countries in the region, Honduras has been plagued by gang violence and drug trafficking, which has forced tens of thousands to flee to the United States annually.
Jill Marie Bussey, director of advocacy for the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, one of many groups pushing the administration to allow Hondurans to stay, met with DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen this week.
Bussey said the administration gave her no indication that Hondurans in the U.S. would be protected from deportation but said officials want to work with Congress to find a permanent solution for the immigrants. She said groups like hers have heard that before.
“They’re willing to cut back these protections from deportation to end people’s work authorizations and then say somewhere down the road we’ll find some congressional solutions,” Bussey said. “Yet when congressional solutions become part of the debate and it actually moves somewhere and we see progress, we have a complete misdirection from the administration.”
Tyler Q. Houlton, a DHS spokesman, said Friday morning that no decision has been made.
More than 300,000 immigrants from about a dozen countries have been allowed to stay in the United States since the Temporary Protected Status program was created in 1990 by Congress. The program was designed to give people whose countries are devastated by natural disasters or other crises a temporary sanctuary until the conditions improve enough to return.
The administration has already let protections for several countries expire, including El Salvador, Haiti, Nicaragua, Sudan, Liberia and Nepal. Haiti, El Salvador and Honduras comprise most of the recipients
“The hurricane that struck Honduras in 1998 is not the reason why its citizens still enjoy TPS protection in 2018,” said RJ Hauman, government relations director at the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which seeks to reduce immigration. “They are still here because the people who willingly accepted our temporary offer, their advocates, and their governments have abused our generosity and managed to get the program extended far beyond any reasonable definition of temporary.”
Fifty-six members of Congress signed a petition this week urging Nielsen to renew protections for Honduras, who include 46,700 workers in the United States, according to the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. There are 53,500 U.S.-born children with Honduran parents who are TPS holders, according to the group.
“Despite substantial efforts made by the United States and the international community to improve conditions in Honduras, the damage of these cataclysmic events compounded by the residual effects of disease, violence, and poverty have resulted in a stagnant recovery, the lawmakers wrote. “Conditions simply have not sufficiently improved to safely and productively reintegrate TPS recipients in their home communities.”
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke delayed a TPS decision on Hondurans in November after she reportedly felt pressure by White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to end the protections. Duke left the administration in April.
At the time, the country was headed into a presidential election. President Juan Orlando Hernandez eventually won a second term amid fraud allegations that sparked protests that killed more than 30 people.
Orlando Lopez, a Honduran TPS holder living in Miami, told reporters on a call this week said he was worried about what would happen if TPS ends. “Not only would there be chaos caused here by this decision, but there would be an even worse burden placed on my country which is not able to receive us,” he said.

Source: MSN.COM

Buhari’s visit: US to repatriate $500m looted fund

Buhari

The visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to U.S. President Donald Trump has yielded the finalisation of negotiations to repatriate more than 500 million dollars (about 190 billion Naira) of Nigeria’s looted money traced to the U.S.
Nigeria’s Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, told the Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Washington, DC, that he and the Attorney-General of the U.S. would be meeting on Tuesday to finalise the agreement.
Malami explained that the technicalities involved were being taken care of by both officials of the Nigerian Governments and also from the U.S. side.
He said: “On the part of assets recovery, we have made considerable progress through this visit.
“There’s goodwill by the two presidents to have a road map for the repatriation of illicit funds and assets traced to the U.S. as proceeds of illicit transactions.
“This illicit funds and assets are to the tune of 500 million dollars and above for immediate repatriation.
“We are looking at the shortest practicable time for it to be repatriated.
“There is political commitment demonstrated by the two presidents.
“The over 500 million dollars is not all the recovery, it is only for the immediate repatriation while we continue with our efforts to recover more”.
Malami defended Nigeria’s human rights record, saying the Buhari’s administration is the first in the history of Nigeria to pay compensation for human rights violations.
He said in April, the Federal Government paid N135 million for the eight Apo traders who were found to have been victims of extra judicial killings by the Nigeria Police.
“Of the police officers indicted, two were sentenced to death. The payment of compensation was also as a result of the recommendation by the National Human Rights Commission and government did not appeal against it,” he said.
He noted that Trump approved of what Buhari’s administration is doing.
“Trump said Buhari is a great leader; he said he has a great respect for him; and he said Buhari has cut down on corruption,” Malami said.
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Source: NAN

Florida Governor Rick Scott signs gun-safety bill into law, following Parkland School shooting

Rick Scott

Florida Governor Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a bill from the legislature that raises the legal age for buying rifles, imposes a three-day waiting period on all gun sales and allows the arming of some school employees.

The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Act is named after the school in Parkland, Florida, at which a gunman with a semiautomatic assault-style rifle killed 17 students and faculty on Feb. 14.

“Today should serve as an example to the entire country that government can and must move fast,” Scott, a Republican, said in remarks before the signing, surrounded by survivors from the shooting and their families. He said the bill was a compromise balancing concerns of both gun-control and gun-rights advocates.

Student survivors from the Parkland shooting had advocated for some of the new restrictions passed by the legislature, over the objections of the National Rifle Association, the powerful gun lobbying organization.

But the legislature decided against including one of their chief demands: a ban on semiautomatic assault-style rifles of the kind used to kill their classmates.

Among the most scrutinized measures of the new law is a program allowing school staff to be trained and armed to defend against future shootings. The bill was passed by the legislature after language was included exempting most teachers from taking part in part to earn the support of Democrats and Scott, who said he was opposed to arming teachers.

Scott said he was still not persuaded by the measure but would sign the bill all the same.

“I am glad, however, that the plan in this bill is not mandatory, which means it will be up to locally elected officials,” Scott said. “If counties don’t want to do this, they can simply say no.”

Source: REUTERS

Breaking: US Navy says aircraft with 11 aboard crashed into Pacific

US

The US Navy says an aircraft carrying 11 crew and passengers has crashed into the Pacific Ocean while on the way to the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.
The Japan-based 7th Fleet says in a statement that the search and rescue operation has been launched from the carrier.
It says the ship was operating in the Philippine Sea when the crash occurred at 2:45 p.m. Japan time.
It says the names of the crew and passengers are being withheld pending next of kin notification.

Source: AP

Two ex-Trump aides charged in Russia probe, third pleads guilty

Trump

Federal investigators probing Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election charged President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort and another aide, Rick Gates, with money laundering on Monday.

A third former Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, pleaded guilty in early October to lying to the FBI, it was announced on Monday.

It was a sharp escalation of U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s five-month-old investigation into alleged Russian efforts to tilt the election in Trump’s favor, and into potential collusion by Trump aides.

Manafort, 68, a longtime Republican operative, and Gates were arraigned at a federal courthouse in Washington.

Both men pleaded not guilty to the charges against them in a 12-count indictment, ranging from money laundering to acting as unregistered agents of Ukraine’s former pro-Russian government.

The judge ordered house arrest for both men and set a $10 million unsecured bond for Manafort and an unsecured bond for Gates at $5 million. With unsecured bonds, they are released without having to pay but will owe money if they fail to appear in court. There will be another hearing on Thursday.

Mueller’s investigation and others by congressional committees into alleged Russian efforts to influence the election have cast a shadow over the Republican president’s first nine months in office.

Neither Trump nor his campaign was mentioned in the indictment against the pair. The charges, some going back more than a decade, center on Manafort’s work for Ukraine.

A White House spokeswoman said the indictment had nothing to do with Trump or his campaign and showed no evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia.

“We’ve been saying from Day One there’s no evidence of Trump-Russia collusion, and nothing in the indictment today changes that at all,” spokeswoman Sarah Sanders told a news briefing.

The charges against Manafort could put pressure on him to cooperate with Mueller’s Russia investigation, said Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago.

“If I were the defense lawyer I’d be looking into cooperating,” he said.

GUILTY PLEA

In a development directly related to Trump’s 2016 election campaign, it emerged on Monday that Papadopoulos, a former campaign adviser, pleaded guilty earlier this month to making false statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation agents.

Mueller’s office said Papadopoulos had lied to FBI agents about the timing of contact between him and a professor in London who claimed to have information that would hurt Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Papadopoulos, a little-known former foreign policy adviser in the campaign, made a plea bargain which stated that he has since “met with the Government on numerous occasions to provide information and answer questions,” according to a court document.

White House spokeswoman Sanders played down Papadopoulos’ campaign role, saying it was “extremely limited” and that he was a volunteer.

“He asked to do things (and) he was basically pushed back or not responded to in any way,” she told a news briefing. “Any actions that he took would have been on his own.”

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia interfered in the election, by hacking and releasing embarrassing emails and disseminating propaganda via social media to discredit Clinton.

Manafort ran the Trump campaign from June to August of 2016 before resigning amid reports he might have received millions of dollars in illegal payments from a pro-Russian political party in Ukraine.

Trump on Monday reiterated his frustration with the Mueller probe, which he has called “a witch hunt.” Moscow also denies the allegations.

“Sorry, but this is years ago, before Paul Manafort was part of the Trump campaign. But why aren’t Crooked Hillary & the Dems the focus?????,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to Clinton.

Mueller has been investigating Manafort’s financial and real estate dealings and his prior work for a political group, the Party of Regions, which backed former pro-Kremlin Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Both Manafort and Gates generated tens of millions of dollars of income from Ukraine work and laundered money through scores of U.S. and foreign entities to hide payments from U.S. authorities, the indictment said.

They concealed from the United States their work and revenue as agents of Ukrainian political parties and used their wealth to lead a “lavish lifestyle” without paying taxes on the income, it says.

Gates was a longtime business partner of Manafort and has ties to Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs. He also served as deputy to Manafort during his brief tenure as Trump’s campaign chairman.

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer called for the Trump administration to avoid interfering with Mueller’s probe.

“The rule of law is paramount in America and the investigation must be allowed to proceed unimpeded. The president must not, under any circumstances, interfere with the special counsel’s work in any way,” Schumer said.

Source: Reuters