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Trump names Robert O’Brien as new national security adviser

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 U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday named Robert O’Brien, the current envoy for hostage affairs, as national security adviser following the ouster of John Bolton last week.

“I have worked long & hard with Robert. He will do a great job!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

In his current role, O’Brien “leads the U.S. government’s diplomatic efforts on overseas hostage-related matters,” according to his biography on the State Department’s website.

O’Brien was involved in the release of US.. rapper ASAP Rocky by Swedish authorities in August, after the musician had been detained in connection with a street brawl in Stockholm.

The special envoy was in the courtroom during the trial, which stirred diplomatic tensions as Trump demanded the rapper’s release.

O’Brien previously co-chaired the State Department’s justice reform initiative in Afghanistan, as well as advised the government on the trafficking of antiquities, according to his biography.

He worked with Bolton at the United Nations under President George W. Bush, who appointed him in 2005.

O’Brien takes over as Trump’s fourth national security adviser, following the departures of Bolton, Michael Flynn and HR McMaster.

Trump said last week that he had asked Bolton to resign, citing strong differences of opinion with his hawkish assistant in the latest shake-up of an already turbulent White House.

Bolton’s ouster came as a surprise, with the White House putting out an advisory just an hour before Trump’s announcement, saying that Bolton would be taking part in a media briefing with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Bolton also continued to post administration policy on social media right up until Trump’s announcement.

However, Trump had previously hinted at his disagreements with Bolton on foreign policy, and observers had regularly noted that the two made an odd couple, with the president more isolationist and the national security adviser an interventionist.

Bolton appeared to be waging numerous battles within the White House, most recently over Afghanistan and North Korea, that seemed at odds with the president’s wishes.

He was also behind the hard-line approach to countries such as Iran and Venezuela.

Bolton’s deputy, Charlie Kupperman, stepped into the role until the appointment of a new security adviser.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

Economy

Adesina: HURIWA asks President Trump to call America’s representative at AfDB to order

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Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), a Civil Rights Advocacy group has urged President Donald Trump to call its Executive Director at the African Development Bank (AfDB), Stephen Dowd to order.

Mr Emma Onwubiko, the National Coordinator of HURIWA gave the advice in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday.

NAN recalls that the United States Department of Treasury had called for an independent probe of allegations levelled against Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB president on alleged corruption after being cleared by the bank’s ethics committee.

Onwubiko said he didn’t believe the United States could be directly involved in this crisis but alleged that it was from individuals with clandestine agenda that was unfavourable to Africa.

He explained that if U.S didn’t call its representative to order, it would expose the country to public ridicule and as well hurt American’s interest in Africa.

According to him, the mission for probe of Adesina is to discredit the candidacy of the AfDB boss, thereby, stopping his re-election slated for August.

The coordinator said that these futile attempts to discredit Adesina with frivolous allegations about his style of governance had already been put to bed by the Ethics Committee of the Bank.

He added that the Ethics Committee comprised the Executive Directors from all 81 shareholding countries, adding that it was surprising that in spite of this, the United States executive director at the bank was calling for an independent probe, which he said was unheard of in the history of multilateral banks.

“This is a distraction from the strong corporate governance structure that African Heads of State established at the bank.

“We vehemently frown upon attempts to mislead and arm-twist the Treasury Secretary of the United States to discredit the internal governance system put in place by the founders of the Bank.

“By misleading the Treasury into his personal battle, the United States executive director has displayed desperation and confirmed the popular belief that he was indeed the unseen hand in the petitions against President Adesina.

HURIWA affirmed that there are empirical data that have shown that the bank has done tremendously well under President Adesina since he assumed office in 2015.

“It must be restated that it was in recognition of this sterling stewardship that the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States have unanimously endorsed Adesina for a second term in office.

HURIWA believes that as COVID-19 ravages economies, the U.S government has many countries looking up to it to provide leadership in finding a cure, and remain a global power.

“This is not the time for America to allow its name to be dragged in the mud by its seemingly overzealous representative on the board of a critical institution as the AfDB,’’ he stated.

Edited By: Ese E. Ekama (NAN)

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U.S. first representative to AfDB urges Trump administration to support Adesina

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Ambassador Harold Doley, the United States (U.S) first ever Representative to the African Development Bank (AfDB), has urged President Donald Trump’s administration to support the bank’s President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina.

Doley gave the advice in an open letter addressed to the U.S Secretary of the Treasury which was accessed by the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Sunday.

NAN recalls that Ambassador Doley was nominated by former U.S President Ronald Reagan to serve as first U.S Executive Director of AfDB from 1983 to 1985.

The ambassador, who said supporting AfDB was a good business for America, noted that since taking office in 2015, the current president of the bank had rapidly restructured the bank and refined its focus through a high5 strategy.

According to him, the strategy has directly impacted the lives of millions of Africans.

He stated that this was achieved through strategic investment in energy, and electricity, agriculture, technology that significantly improved food security, access to private sector finance, improved transport infrastructure, water and sanitation.

In 2019, with U.S support, the AfDB stakeholders approved a general capital increase of 115 billion dollars, the largest in the bank’s 56 years history. The increase more than doubled capital from 93 billion dollars to 208 billion dollars.

Also in 2019, the bank’s concessional Window, the African Development Fund, received a 35 per cent replenishment with donor contributions.

U.S shares of 499,695,200 dollars represents 7.81 per cent of total subscriptions are a critically needed resource for low income countries and transition states.

“Ultimately, supporting Africa’s private sector is critical for social and economic development. In 2018, Adesina led an unprecedented effort to attract global investment into Africa through the inaugural Africa Investment Forum” he added.

Edited By: Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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Trump eyes Mars as U.S. launches first human spaceflight in 9 years

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The U.S. President, Donald Trump, says American astronauts would return to the moon by 2024.

Speaking after the successful launched of the country’s first human spaceflight in nine years, Trump said the aim was to “establish a permanent presence in space and a launching pad to Mars’’.

“The first woman on the Moon will be an American woman and the first nation to land on Mars will be the United States of America.

“Space travel is not a feat of engineering alone, it’s also a moral endeavour, a measure of a nation’s vision, its willpower and its place in the world.

“Exploration is a test of our values.

“The best is yet to come,’’ the president told Americans, who had cause to celebrate in what has been a trying period for the country.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, built by a private American aerospace manufacturing company, SpaceX, blasted off the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida at 3.22 p.m. (8.22 p.m. on Saturday Nigerian time).

Onboard the capsule are America astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, who are on a 19-hour journey to the International Space Station.

This is the country’s first human spaceflight through a government-private partnership between the U.S. space agency, NASA and SpaceX.

The STS-135 mission of July 8, 2011, was the last time the U.S. launched astronauts from its soil.

Between then and the latest mission, the U.S. astronauts were flown to the International Space Station through the Soyuz Capsule in Russia.

Tagged “Launch America”, the mission was originally scheduled to begin on Wednesday but had to be postponed just 17 minutes to launch due to bad weather.

According to vox.com, it is an expensive mission that is supposed to cost $86 million per astronaut.

But SpaceX is reportedly charging only $55 million dollars per astronaut for one complete round trip.

Trump acknowledged this when he said the NASA-SpaceX partnership had given America “an unmatched power” in a spaceship that puts astronauts into orbit “at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle’’.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that by this development, space exploration is no longer limited to the government.

NASA’s administrator, Mr Jim Bridenstine, told newsmen prior to the launch that space exploration would neither be successful nor sustainable if “government is the only one doing things in space’’.

This is the beginning of “taxi” rides to the space station, where commercial spaceflight enters a new phase, reports the BBC.

Trump congratulated the Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX, Mr Elon Musk, for fulfilling a dream he had nursed for decades.

“From now on the U.S. will leverage the fast-growing capabilities of our commercial sector.

“We will use rockets and spacecraft designed, built, owned and launched by private American companies at a fixed price for the American taxpayer.

“Today’s launch makes clear the commercial space industry is the future, the president said.

According to reports, Crew Dragon is on a test mission intended to complete the validation of SpaceX’ hardware for human-rated spaceflight operations.

The success of this mission will earn the company NASA certification for commercial crew missions to and from the International Space Station.

During the mission, expected to last between 30 and 90 days, the astronauts will test the capabilities of Crew Dragon, including its ability to dock and undock from the space station among others.

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Europe urges Trump to reconsider decision to withdraw from WHO

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Reconsideration

Stockholm, May 30, 2020  European leaders called on U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday to rethink his decision to terminate the U.S.’ relationship with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump announced the decision on Friday, arguing the UN agency has failed to respond to U.S. concerns about its handling of the virus, which originated in China.

A spokesperson said the WHO, the founders of which include the U.S., had no comment to make on Saturday.

The European Commission was more vocal. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on Trump to reconsider, saying only global cooperation and solidarity could help to combat the virus.

Global cooperation is needed rather than solo efforts, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told newspapers belonging to the Funke media group.

He and Development Minister Gerd Mueller both called Trump’s move the “wrong signal at the wrong time.”

These concerns were echoed in Sweden, where a cabinet member said the move could lead to significantly more deaths.

“I think it’s very serious. It risks creating a situation where the WHO must cut down on operations that support poor countries instead of scaling them up,” Peter Eriksson, minister for international development cooperation, told Swedish broadcaster SVT.

Eriksson said he also feared that other countries might follow the U.S.’ decision. Last week, Trump said he would pull the plug on U.S. contributions to the WHO – which he said was between 400 million and 500 million dollars a year – if the organization did not make improvements within 30 days.

The U.S. leads the world in the number of COVID-19 deaths and Trump’s response to the pandemic has been widely criticised.

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Merkel rejects Trump’s invitation for G7 summit in Washington

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend the G7 summit in Washington due to the coronavirus pandemic, the German Press Agency reported Saturday, citing government spokesperson, Steffen Seibert.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on May 20 that he was aiming for a real G7 summit in Washington in late June as a sign of normalisation after the outbreak of the pandemic.

The summit was originally scheduled for June 10-12 at the presidential retreat of Camp David, Maryland.

In March, however, the U.S. government cancelled the arrangement because of the pandemic and scheduled a video conference instead.

Merkel had initially left open whether she would accept Trump’s invitation to participate in a video conference.

In whatever form this meeting takes place, “whether as a video conference or otherwise, I will definitely fight for multilateralism.

“That is very clear, both in the G7 and the G20,’’ the chancellor said on May 20.

AIB

Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)

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Merkel rejects Trump’s invitation for G7 summit in Washington

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not attend the G7 summit in Washington due to the coronavirus pandemic, the German Press Agency reported Saturday, citing government spokesperson Steffen Seibert.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on May 20 that he was aiming for a real G7 summit in Washington in late June as a sign of normalization after the outbreak of the pandemic.

The summit was originally scheduled for June 10-12 at the presidential retreat of Camp David, Maryland.

In March, however, the U.S. government canceled the arrangement because of the pandemic and scheduled a video conference instead.

Merkel had initially left open whether she would accept Trump’s invitation to participate in a video conference.

In whatever form this meeting takes place, “whether as a video conference or otherwise, I will definitely fight for multilateralism. That is very clear, both in the G7 and the G20,” the chancellor said on May 20.

(XINHUA)

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Trump’s plan to cut ties with WHO “awful decision”: Irish minister

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Irish Minister for Health Simon Harris on Friday described U.S. President Donald Trump‘s plan to cut ties with the World Health Organization (WHO) as an “awful decision.”

He made the remark in his twitter account shortly after Trump announced that his country is terminating its relationship with the WHO at a press conference held at the White House on Friday afternoon.

“Awful decision. Now more than ever the world needs multilateralism. A global pandemic requires the world to work together,” Harris tweeted.

“If we are looking for a villain, it’s simple — but it’s not any organization — it’s the virus,” he continued.

“We should unite in our fight against it & not fight each other,” he said.

Earlier this month in a statement issued before his address to the World Health Assembly, Harris said that “In this time of great crisis, we need unity, not division. We cannot allow the politicization of this pandemic. Ireland stands shoulder to shoulder with the WHO.” .

(XINHUA)

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Trump says U.S. “terminating” relationship with WHO

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that his country is “terminating” its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO).

“We will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump said during a press conference at the White House.

In a letter to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus earlier this month, Trump threatened to permanently cut off the nation’s funding to the WHO and “reconsider our membership” if the international body does not commit to what he called “substantive improvements within the next 30 days.”

Trump announced in mid-April that his administration would halt U.S. funding to the WHO, a roundly-criticized move that many experts have said was trying to shift blames and would be counterproductive to addressing the public health crisis.

The United States alone has reported more than 1.7 million COVID-19 cases with over 102,000 deaths, according to a count by Johns Hopkins University. Both figures are far higher than those in any other country or region.

(XINHUA)

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Bolsonaro under pressure over his Trump-following route

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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has faced more criticisms after U.S. President Donald Trump imposed a travel ban on non-U.S. citizens from the South American country, as the COVID-19 epidemic is getting worse in Brazil.

The U.S. move has provided Bolsonaro’s foes with new arsenals to satirize the Brazilian leader.

Even the US – whose president’s boots he licks – has banned the entry of Brazilians.” Valmir Assuncao, a congressman from the left-wing Workers party, tweeted.

Is Bolsonaro going to keep marching around with the American flag now?” Alice Portugal, a Communist party lawmaker, tweeted.

The local newspaper Estado de Minas put the headline “The US to Brazil: Stay at your own home” on its front page, alongside an image of Bolsonaro’s supporters holding a U.S. flag.

The United States announced the travel ban on Sunday as the number of recorded COVID-19 cases in Brazil rose to more than 363,000 and the death toll neared 23,000.

Bolsonaro used to tout his close relationship with Trump as a proof that he was leading Brazil in the right direction, and his supporters frequently wave the U.S. flag at rallies as well.

(XINHUA)

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