Donald Trump says getting closer to declare national emergency
Washington: US President Donald Trump has said he is getting closer to declaring a national emergency to secure funding for a wall along the country’s southern Mexico border to prevent illegal immigrants from entering America. A national emergency would allow Trump to proceed with a wall without congressional approval and give him executive powers to reallocate disaster relief funds to the southern Mexico border.
Trump told CBS News’ ‘Face the Nation’ programme that the ongoing negotiations with the opposition Democrats over border security are a waste of time. He also accused US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi of being very rigid and doing bad politics.
“I think that she was very rigid – which I would expect – but I think she’s very bad for our country. She knows that you need a barrier, she knows we need border security. Basically, she wants open borders, she does not mind human trafficking,” he said as he accused Pelosi of doing very bad politics.
Pelosi, by her stand against the wall, is costing the country hundreds of billions of dollars, Trump said. “She is doing a terrible disservice to our country,” the US president said. In the interview, as reported by CBS News, he said that negotiations with the opposition Democrats – which started after the government shutdown ended – are a waste of time.
“We will be looking at a national emergency, because I don’t think anything is going to happen. I think the Democrats don’t want border security. And when I hear them talking about the fact that walls are immoral and walls don’t work — they know they work,” he told reporters earlier in the day. Trump insisted that he is building the wall and will continue building it, as this is the only way to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into the country.
“I think there’s a good chance that we’ll have to do that. But we will, at the same time, be building – regardless, we’re building wall and we’re building a lot of wall. But I can do it a lot faster the other way,” the president said. Claiming that there are three caravans heading towards the US, he said if there was a wall, it would not even be a problem.
“But we’ve sent 2,500 military down to help Border Patrol and law enforcement. I have to say, the military has done an incredible job, including helping us with some walls and some fences, which are very nice to say.
“Unsecure borders give traffickers free and clear passage to transport their victims into the United States. It’s a tremendously big money-maker for some very, very bad people,” Trump said. Meanwhile, Pelosi’s office accused Trump of making reckless remarks.
“President Trump’s recklessness didn’t make us safer, it undermined our security with 35 days of border patrol agents, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, FBI agents and Homeland Security personnel missing paychecks,” said Drew Hammill, her spokesman. “Democrats have put forward strong, smart and effective border security solutions in the bipartisan conference committee, while the President still refuses to take a second shutdown off the table. “The President’s wild and predictable misrepresentations about Democrats’ commitment to border security do nothing to make our country safer,” she said.
US: 5 killed in two shooting incidents in Louisiana
Washington: At least five people were killed in two shooting incidents in the US state of Louisiana, police said, adding a manhunt was underway to nab the suspect. Dakota Theriot, 21, is accused of killing his parents, Elizabeth and Keith Theriot, both 50, in the town of Gonzalez in Ascension and three more people in Livingston, CNN reported. “This is probably one of the worst domestic violence incidents I’ve seen in quite a while,” said Ascension Parish Sheriff Bobby Webre on Saturday.
The suspect has been charged with two counts of first degree murder, illegal use of weapons and home invasion, Webre told the media. Before killing his parents, Dakota Theriot murdered Billy Ernest, 43, Summer Ernest, 20, and 17-year-old Tanner Ernest on Saturday morning.
According to Webre, the suspect’s parents were alive when deputies arrived at their home later on Saturday and identified their son as the gunman in the Livingston killings. “We don’t know what kind of resources he has or how far he can run. But we don’t think he has great means and a lot of resources,” CNN quoted the Sheriff as saying. Investigators were trying to determine the motive behind the shootings. Webre said detectives have not been able to talk anyone who knows the suspect well.
Hindu Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to hold campaign on Feb 2 for US Presidential elections 2020
Washington: Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu Congresswoman, plans to hold a rally on February 2 in the US state of Hawaii to formally launch her 2020 White House bid, her campaign has announced. Gabbard, who is not of Indian descent but comes from a Hindu family in Hawaii, will use the rally in Oahu to “gather with friends, family, and supporters to share her vision for the future of our nation”, her campaign said on Friday.
The 37-year-old four-term Democratic congresswoman announced her presidential bid earlier this month during an interview with CNN. She released her first ad on Thursday, highlighting her military service, the Hill newspaper reported.
“Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Army National Guard for nearly 15 years, deployed twice to the Middle East and is one of the first female combat veterans ever elected to Congress. She continues to serve as a Major in the Army National Guard,” her campaign said in a statement announcing the rally.
Gabbard, who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, is the only military veteran to declare her candidacy and could be relying on her two tours in the Middle East to differentiate her from many Democratic presidential candidates, including Indian and African-Jamaican descent Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Housing Secretary Julian Castro.
The Congresswoman is popular for some progressive policies, though she received flak even within her own party over a 2017 meeting with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and past positions opposed to LGBTQ rights. Gabbard issued an apology last week for her past comments and stances on LGBTQ issues, but said she didn’t regret meeting the Syrian leader as American leaders must meet foreign leaders “if we are serious about the pursuit of peace and securing our country”. At the time, Gabbard drew a comparison between her meeting with Assad to President Donald Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim-Jong un in 2018.
Pakistan’s Hari Singh Nalwa fort to become museum
written by Agencies FPJ -Peshawar: The government in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has decided to convert a historic fort built by a Sikh commander into a museum. The fort in Haripur district was named after Hari Singh Nalwa, the commander-in-chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire. The fort was built by Nalwa in 1822 over an area of 35,420 square feet.
Nalwa was Commander-in-Chief of the Sikh Khalsa Army, the army of the Sikh Empire. The archaeology department of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa sent a note to Chief Minister Mehmood Khan for taking control of the fort and its opening for the tourists. The district administration Haripur has expressed readiness to handover the fort to the archaeology department. The Britishers also carried out some construction work in the fort.
13 dead in 2 days of unrest in Venezuela
Caracas: Thirteen people have died during two days of unrest in Venezuela amid protests against leftist leader Nicolas Maduro, a Caracas-based rights group reported on Thursday. The deaths, mostly from gunshot wounds, were recorded in the capital and across the country, along with reports of looting in Brazilian border state Bolivar, the Venezuelan Observatory of Social Conflict told AFP.
Unrest first kicked off on Monday when 27 soldiers rose up against Maduro at a command post in Caracas, calling upon people to “take to the streets” in a video circulated on social media. But the most fierce began on Tuesday night in Caracas and Bolivar — continuing Wednesday across Venezuela on a day of huge opposition-backed protests against Maduro.
In Bolivar’s San Felix, protesters burned a statue of former president Hugo Chavez late on Tuesday night. On Wednesday, anti-riot police confronted protesters in east Caracas following the march called for by opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself Venezuela’s interim president as part of his aim to remove Maduro. Apart from the capital Caracas, deaths were reported in Tachira, Barinas, Portuguesa, Amazonas and Bolivar states.
Russia slams ‘usurpation’ of power
Moscow: Russia on Thursday slammed what it called foreign interference in Venezuela and denounced the opposition’s “usurpation of power”, calling President Nicolas Maduro the crisis-hit country’s legitimate leader. In a strongly-worded statement backing Moscow ally Maduro, the Russian foreign ministry warned that international support for opposition leader Juan Guaido, who declared himself interim President on Wednesday, was a “direct path to lawlessness and bloodshed”.
“Only Venezuelans have the right to determine their future. Destructive outside interference, especially in the current extremely tense situation, is unacceptable,” it said. In a separate statement to reporters, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman slammed attempts by the opposition to usurp power.
“We consider the attempted usurpation of power in Venezuela as… a breach of the foundations of international law,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters during a conference call. “Maduro is the legitimate head of state,” he added. On Wednesday, the US and major South American nations recognised Venezuelan Guaido as interim leader, while the UN urged dialogue in Caracas to avoid “disaster”, leaving Maduro increasingly isolated.
The Kremlin has backed Maduro who has been hit by US and EU sanctions, and ostracised as a dictator by Western powers for his brutal suppression of the opposition. Moscow warned Washington against any attempts to militarily intervene in Venezuela.
“We caution against any such reckless steps fraught with catastrophic consequences,” the foreign ministry said.
Moscow said Washington’s “cavalier” actions in the country showed the US ignored norms of international law, claiming it wanted to push through a change of power in Venezuela.
Russia has extensive economic interests in Venezuela and invested billions of dollars in its energy sector. Meanwhile, China said on Thursday it opposed external interference in Venezuelan politics. China is Venezuela’s main creditor and Maduro visited the country in September, striking energy and gold mining deals as he sought Beijing’s support to help his crisis-hit nation. Maduro now faces trouble at home, where Guaido proclaimed himself acting president on Wednesday amid rival protests in Caracas.
“China has consistently pursued the principle of not interfering with other countries’ internal politics, and opposes the interference (in) Venezuelan affairs by external forces,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in Beijing.
“We are paying close attention to the current situation in Venezuela and are calling on all parties to remain rational and calm, and to seek a political resolution to Venezuela’s problem through peaceful dialogue within Venezuela’s constitutional framework,” Hua added.
Venezuela, America ties on the brink
Caracas: Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro announced on Thursday he was breaking off diplomatic ties with the US after President Donald Trump recognised opposition leader Juan Guaido as the South American country’s “interim President”. “I’ve decided to break diplomatic and political relations with the imperialist government of the United States,” said Maduro to thousands of supporters in Caracas. “Get out! Leave Venezuela, here there’s dignity, damn it,” he said, giving the US delegation 72 hours to quit the country.
Guaido, the head of the opposition-controlled legislature, caused a sensation on Wednesday when he told a crowd of tens of thousands of opposition supporters that he was declaring himself “acting President”. Trump was the first foreign leader to react and threw his backing behind Guaido, describing the National Assembly as “the only legitimate branch of government duly elected by the Venezuelan people”.
Speaking from a balcony at the presidential palace in Caracas, Maduro accused the US government of “attempting a coup d’etat”. “The extremist policy of the Trump govt against Venezuela is a very serious irresponsibility, it’s a very serious folly,” said Maduro. “Trying to impose a government by extra-constitutional means, we cannot accept that.”
He called on Venezuela’s state agencies to “close ranks” in favour of “democracy” and repeated his call for loyalty from the armed forces. “To my command, maximum loyalty, maximum unity, maximum discipline so that we win this battle together!” said Maduro. “Always loyal, never traitors!”
Meanwhile, the US upholded its decision to recognise Guaido as the interim President of Venezuela, stating beleaguered Maduro did not have the “legal authority to break diplomatic relations” with the US or declare its diplomats “persona non grata”. “The US maintains diplomatic relations with Venezuela and will conduct our relations with Venezuela through the government of interim President Guaido, who has invited our mission to remain in Venezuela,” a statement by Secy of State Michael Pompeo read.
China conducts mock intercontinental ballistic missile strike exercise
Beijing: China’s Rocket Force, the strategic and tactical missile operator of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), has conducted a simulated intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike mission from an underground bunker against an imaginary enemy, official media here reported.
China Central Television (CCTV), which carried the news, however, did not disclose the details about the location and time of the exercise. The Rocket Force was set up by the PLA three years ago as President Xi Jinping stepped up efforts to modernise the 2 million-strong Chinese military, the world’s largest force. The Rocket Force was carved out from the second artillery corps and it functioned in coordination with the Strategic Support Force which focussed on navigation and cyber technology support.
China’s land-based ICBM has a flight range of 12,000 km and could potentially hit targets in the US, state-run Global Times reported. Revealing the ICBM test, the CCTV report said long-term survival training in closed environments has become routine for the troops to ensure counterattack capability in case a war breaks out, the report said. Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times that China’s strategic missiles are usually placed in deep, protective bunkers.
As China promises to never use nuclear weapon first and will only use them in a counterattack, its strategic missile storage facilities must be able to survive the first wave of hostile nuclear strike, Song said, noting that the underground bunkers are invaluable in protecting Chinese missiles from being destroyed and prepare for counterattacks. China’s highest science and technology award of 2018 was given to academician Qian Qihu for his achievements in fortifying these nuclear defence facilities under mountains.
PLA troops have experienced three weapon upgrades in the past 60 years, and missiles now have a longer range, and are more accurate and more powerful, CCTV report said. China has a range of missiles which included the Dongfeng-26 ballistic missile, which can be fired at short notice and fitted with a nuclear warhead. The Dongfeng-21D land-based anti-ship ballistic missile described as a “carrier killer,” and the Dongfeng-16G conventional missile designed for precision strikes against key enemy targets.
Song said the three generations of ICBMs could be the DF-5, DF-31 and DF-41, all of which are capable of striking targets more than 10,000 kms away with a deviation of less than a few dozen meters, carrying single or multiple thermonuclear warheads. Without a first strike against China, China will never use the weapons, the analyst said. The DF-41, China’s mysterious and most advanced ICBM, might make its public debut on October 1, the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China’s founding, as a military parade is expected to be held in Beijing on that day, Song said.
China’s military has cut the size of its land-based army by about 50 per cent and significantly boosted its navy and air force as part of an “unprecedented” strategic shift designed to transform the PLA into a comprehensive modern force. The Chinese military has significantly boosted its navy, air force and new strategic units and downsized its land-based army.
NASA replaces astronaut Eric Boe for 1st Boeing mission to International Space Station
Washington: The US space agency has replaced one of the astronauts assigned to fly on the first crewed test launch of a first-time Boeing capsule to take passengers to the International Space Station (ISS). NASA announced late Tuesday that astronaut Eric Boe will no longer fly on the mission owing to unspecified “medical reasons.” NASA astronaut Mike Fincke has been added to the crew.
“He previously served as an International Space Station flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 9, and commanded the station on Expedition 18,” said the space agency. This will be Fincke’s fourth trip to space since joining the astronaut corps in 1996.
Fincke will begin training immediately alongside NASA’s Nicole Mann and Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, who were both assigned to the mission in August 2018. The Starliner’s Crew Flight Test will be the first time that the new spacecraft, which is being developed and built by Boeing as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, is launched into space with humans on board. An uncrewed flight test of the Starliner will test the spacecraft’s critical systems prior to Fincke, Ferguson and Manna’s launch, said NASA.
Death toll in Mexico pipeline fire rises to 93
Mexico City: The death toll in a massive fire at an illegally tapped pipeline in Mexico has risen to 93 after more injured died at hospitals. Health Secretary Jorge Alcocer said Tuesday that 46 victims who were severely burned were still in hospitals, two of them in Galveston, Texas. The victims were gathering gasoline from an illegal pipeline tap in the central state of Hidalgo on Friday when the gas ignited, littering an alfalfa field with charred bodies.
The government reported Monday that an astonishing total of 14,894 such illegal taps had been found in 2018, an average of about 41 per day nationwide. Hidalgo had 2,121 taps, more than any other state. The fire occurred in the town of Tlahuelilpan, where 38 taps were found in 2017 and 23 in 2018.