Capitol: Obama speaks as ‘normalcy’ restored, curfew imposed

Former U.S. President Barack Obama has said history will not be kind to incumbent President Donald Trump over the violence that erupted at the Capitol, Washington D.C, on Wednesday.

The Capitol Building is the seat of the American Congress, equivalent to Nigeria’s national assembly.

Earlier on, pro-Trump protesters had besieged the Capitol in a move to prevent the Congress from certifying the electoral college votes that gave Joe Biden, candidate of the Democratic Party in the November 2020 election, victory.

In the chaos that ensued, a woman, identified as a 35-year-old Ashli Babbitt, former Air Force veteran from San Diego, was shot. She died in the process. Three more persons also reportedly died in ”medical emergencies.”

Several police personnel and protesters were said to have been injured in the ensuing violence leading to a declaration of curfew by the local police chief.
After the Capitol had been secured and some sort of normalcy restored, the Congress and the Senate later reconvened to continue with the congressional certification of Mr Biden’s electoral college victory.
However, condemning the violence mostly perpetrated by Mr Trump’s supporters, Mr Obama said “history will rightly remember today’s violence at the Capitol, incited by a sitting president who has continued to baselessly lie about the outcome of a lawful election, as a moment of great dishonor and shame for our nation.”
Mr Obama, a strong Biden backer, said Americans would be kidding themselves if they treated the chaos as a total surprise.
He blamed the Republican Party and the conservative media for egging on their followers to go violent should Mr Biden’s victory be upheld.

​Trump warns Iran over attack on U.S. embassy in Baghdad

President Donald Trump has delivered a stern warning to Iran over alleged rocket attacks on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

The warning came in a tweet which includes a photograph of three unexploded rocket shells that the president claimed came from Iran.

“Our embassy in Baghdad got hit Sunday by several rockets.

“Three rockets failed to launch. Guess where they were from? IRAN.

“Now we hear the chatter of additional attacks against Americans in Iraq.

“Some friendly health advice to Iran: If one American is killed, I will hold Iran responsible.

“Think it over,’’ the tweet reads.

In a statement on Wednesday, the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) alleged that Sunday’s attack was “almost certainly conducted by an Iranian-backed rogue militia group’’.

Reports say several missiles were fired at the heavily secured Baghdad’s diplomatic zone, leaving an Iraqi soldier injured at a security checkpoint.

The military reportedly said several buildings and cars were damaged after most of the rockets landed in a residential neighbourhood near the U.S. embassy.

The embassy said the explosions caused minor damage to its compound but that there were no injuries or casualties.

In a statement, the spokesman of CENTCOM, Capt. William Urban said 21 rockets were fired on the area which he said was the largest rocket attack since 2010.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “strongly” condemned the attack, blaming it on militias linked to Iran.

The two countries came close to war in January after Iran claimed responsibility for multiple rocket attacks on two military bases housing U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it fired the missiles in retaliation for the death of Iranian top military commander, Qassem Soleimani, in a U.S. strike in Iraq days earlier.

The world held its breath as Trump went into a Security Council meeting following the attack.

Addressing a news conference after the meeting, Trump ruled out an attack against Iran, saying an assessment of the damage showed that no American soldier was harmed. (NAN)

​Breaking: U.S. House passes historic bill to legalise marijuana

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday passed a bill that seeks to decriminalise the use of marijuana at the federal level.

Initiated by Democrats, the Marijuana Opportunity, Re-investment and Expungement Act contains provisions for “re-assessment of prior marijuana-related convictions”.

It also seeks investments in services for people caught up in the country’s war on drugs, and opening up of funding by the Small Business Administration for legitimate cannabis-related businesses.

The historic bill sailed through with 228-164 votes, with just five Republicans voting in favor and six Democrats against.

Supporters described the proposal, which has a slim chance of approval by the Republican-controlled Senate, as a rejection of the country’s war on drugs.

Medical cannabis is legal in 36 states and the District of Columbia (DC), while 15 states and DC have legalised the substance for adult recreational use.

During debate on the bill, Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Mr Jerry Nadler, a Democrat, said the legislation would reverse “the failed policy of criminalising marijuana at the federal level”.

Nadler stated that it would also address the heavy toll “this policy has taken across the country, particularly on communities of color”.

He said: “For far too long, we have treated marijuana as a criminal justice problem instead of as a matter of personal choice and public health.

“Whatever one’s views are on the use of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use, the policy of arrests, prosecution, and incarceration at the Federal level has proven unwise and unjust.

“I have long believed that the criminalization of marijuana has been a mistake, and the racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws has only compounded this mistake, with serious consequences, particularly for communities of color.”

But many Republicans, including Greg Murphy (North Carolina), opposed the bill on the ground that marijuana was responsible for increased traffic deaths and as a “gateway drug”.

“Marijuana is one of the most abused substances on this planet. Legalising weed would create revenue from taxes, but at what cost?

“Do we then start legalising cocaine? Marijuana is a gateway drug, make no mistake about that. It undoubtably leads to further and much more dangerous drug use,” he said.

Analysts say the passage of the bill by the House could influence President-elect Joe Biden’s policies on cannabis after he assumes duty in January.

While serving as a senator, Biden was tough on crimes, but soft pedaled in the run up to the Nov. 3 election.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is a strong supporter of marijuana legalisation in the Senate, and urged her colleagues to act to remove the “burden of marijuana convictions”. 


​‘He won because…’ ― Trump edges toward accepting Biden victory

United States (US) President Donald Trump appeared to edge closer towards acknowledging his election defeat in a tweet on Sunday morning, as he again railed against supposed mass fraud in the vote won by challenger Joe Biden.

“He won because the Election was Rigged. NO VOTE WATCHERS OR OBSERVERS allowed, vote tabulated by a Radical Left privately owned company,” Trump tweeted in his clearest yet admission of defeat.

Trump has refused to concede the election, and repeatedly said he intended to overturn the result through legal cases — though no evidence of mass fraud in the November 3 election has been found.

But the first two words of his Sunday tweet — two days after a slip in which he said “time will tell” if he remains president — seemed to bring him another step closer to admitting defeat.

Thousands of Trump supporters rallied in Washington on Saturday, backing his claims of fraud, with clashes erupting in the evening with rival protesters.

At least 20 people were arrested, reports said, including four for firearm violations and one for assault on a police officer.

Trump himself made a drive-past of the rally in his armoured motorcade, on his way to play golf, smiling through his limousine window to wild cheers and signs saying “Best prez ever” and “Trump 2020: Keep America Great.”

Many of Trump’s tweets over the weekend alleging the election was rigged against him have been tagged by Twitter as containing “disputed” information.

Breaking: Violence erupts in Oregon, as protesters chant ‘We want Trump out of office’

Hundreds of state police and left-wing protesters were locked in a tense standoff in downtown Portland late Wednesday after rampaging anti-Trump groups smashed shop windows a day after the election, prompting the state governor to activate the National Guard.

The Multnomah County Sheriff’s office declared a riot and made at least nine arrests, citing “widespread violence” in the city’s downtown area and repeatedly warning it could deploy munitions and tear gas.

Armed police advanced on demonstrators in unison but there were no clashes, according to an AFP reporter at the scene.

The protesters had earlier attended a peaceful rally in a downtown park hosted by a coalition of far-left, anti-capitalist groups featuring lectures and music.

“The mass gathering in downtown Portland is still declared a riot. Leave the area now,” the sheriff’s office posted on Twitter just before 8:30 pm ( 0430 GMT). It earlier said officers were being targeted with projectiles, such as glass bottles.

“In the interest of public safety, Governor Kate Brown, under advice of the Unified Command, has activated the use of the Oregon National Guard to assist local law enforcement,” it said.

Portland has been the scene of months of clashes between police and protesters, angered at the repeated killings of Black Americans by law enforcement officers across the country.

Protesters who had gathered by Portland’s river vowed to “protect the results” of Tuesday’s close-run election and held banners proclaiming “Count Every Vote” and “The Vote is Over. The Fight Goes On.”

“We want Trump out of office, that’s the main focus,” one protest leader told the crowd, to loud cheers.

But several of the demonstrators were openly carrying firearms, including rifles, and one anti-racism and anti-imperialism banner showed an image of an assault rifle, with the slogan “We Don’t Want Biden. We Want Revenge.”

Breaking: Biden wins in Dixville Notch

Former Vice President Joe Biden, has been declared winner in Dixville Notch, a tiny New Hampshire township along the US-Canada border.

The township is said to be among the first places in the country to make its presidential preference known. Biden took all five of the votes cast for president in the town.

CNN reported that the ballots were cast in the minutes after midnight, becoming some of the first cast and counted on Election Day.

By tradition, all eligible voters gather in the storied “Ballot Room” at The Balsams resort in Dixville Notch to cast their secret ballots once polls open at midnight.

Once every ballot is cast, votes are tallied and results announced — hours before anywhere else, making it a favored spot for reporters and observers eager for any hints of what is to come on Election Day.