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Russians on Sunday went out to partake in the presidential election in which Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term in office.

With the vast country stretching across 11 time zones, voting began in the Russian far-east at 20:00 GMT on Saturday, and opened in Moscow nine hours later.

Putin’s return to the Kremlin for another six-year term faces opposition from seven other candidates including a millionaire communist, Pavel Grudinin, a former reality television host, Ksenia Sobchak and veteran nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

Speaking on national TV in Moscow, Putin said he would be happy about a result that gives him the “right to perform the duties of president”.

Putin’s main challenger, Alexei Navalny, has been prohibited from standing, for legal reasons. Navalny has since urged voters to boycott the election.

Vladimir Putin, 65, has been Russia’s dominant leader since 1999, either as president or prime minister.

In some regions, Russians were being encouraged to vote with the offer of free food and discounts in local shops, according to local reports.

Sunday’s vote falls on the fourth anniversary of a treaty, signed by President Putin, that formally declared Crimea part of Russia following its annexation from Ukraine.

Kiev, in retaliation, has barred Russians living in Ukraine from partaking in the polls.  It said access to Moscow’s diplomatic missions would be blocked.

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US govt imposes visa ban on Nigerians sabotaging Democracy

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The US government has announced visa restriction on Nigerians who “sabotaged” the country’s democracy.

This was made known in a statement signed by Morgan Ortagus, spokesperson of the US department of state.

“The United States is a steadfast supporter of Nigerian democracy. We commend all those Nigerians who participated peacefully in the February and March 2019 elections and have worked to strengthen Nigerian democratic institutions and processes,” the statement read.

“As Nigeria marks the twentieth anniversary of a return to democratic rule this year, we remain committed to working together to continue to advance democracy and respect for human rights and achieve greater peace and prosperity for both our nations. We condemn those whose acts of violence, intimidation, or corruption harmed Nigerians or undermined the democratic process.

“In a January 24 statement, the U.S. government said that we would consider consequences – including visa restrictions – for individuals responsible for undermining the Nigerian democratic process or for organising election-related violence. To that end, the Secretary of State is imposing visa restrictions on Nigerians believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining democracy in Nigeria. These individuals have operated with impunity at the expense of the Nigerian people and undermined democratic principles and human rights.”

The department of state also emphasised that the actions announced are specific to certain individuals and not directed at the Nigerian people or the newly elected government.

The names of the affected persons were not disclosed.

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U.S. President Donald Trump congratulates Boris Johnson

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U.S. President Donald Trump has welcomed the election of Boris Johnson as the Conservative Party’s new leader and soon-to-be British prime minister.

“Congratulations to Boris Johnson on becoming the new Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

“He will be great!” Trump wrote on Twitter

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Nigerians in America jittery as Trump begins raid of illegal immigrants

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There are indications that some Nigerians may be affected in the ongoing raids on undocumented aliens ordered by the United States President, Mr Donald Trump.

The raids, being carried out by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, began a few days ago.

The New York Times reported that ICE commenced the arrests of potentially thousands of undocumented immigrants on Sunday.

The development has led to apprehension among legal and illegal foreigners including Nigerians living in the US and Nigeria.

It reported that ICE agents were targeting at least 2,000 immigrants for deportation across 10 major cities and could also sweep up immigrants who were not the initial targets.

The NYT recalled that Trump had on June 17 tweeted that the following week, ICE would begin removing “millions” of undocumented immigrants from the US.

But on June 22, he said he would hold off for two weeks.

However, indications emerged on Thursday that the raid had begun in the planned cities with so many undocumented foreigners staying away from work.

Besides, it was learnt that a few Nigerians had already been invited for questioning by the immigration authorities.

A resident of Texas, who craved anonymity, said her Nigerian neighbour was invited for interrogation , but was quick to add that most Nigerians in the US were documented.

“The raid is principally targeted at undocumented immigrants who crossed the border from neighbouring Mexico. Those being targeted already have court sanctioned removal orders. Any other deportation outside this is viewed as collateral.

“Some Nigerians who did asylum but failed have been issued removal order. My Nigerian neighbour was arrested and detained last week. I also understand that some others have been interrogated in their homes,” she said.

Further findings revealed that residents of Houston, Texas, were apprehensive as ICE agents began raid on undocumented aliens.

A resident revealed hat most places where illegal aliens work were deserted on Thursday, while streets were scanty.

The raids, which will also focus on recent arrivals to the country, are slated for Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and San Francisco, according to a CNN report.

New Orleans is also on the list, but the city tweeted last week that US ICE said it would suspend operations through last weekend in areas hit by Tropical Storm Barry, which weakened to a tropical depression Sunday.

The response of the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Diaspora Commission, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa, was still being awaited as at the time of filing this report.

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Trump reveals plan to deport illegal Nigerian migrants, others in US

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United States President, Donald Trump, has approved the massive arrest of Nigerians and citizens of other countries who are illegally living in the country, beginning from Sunday, July 14, 2019.

The raid will reportedly take place in at least 10 major cities of the U.S.

The New York Times on Thursday quoted sources in the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as saying the agency will begin a “nationwide raid and arrest of thousands of immigrant family members who are undocumented in the country.”

The DHS officials told the newspaper that the raid will include collateral deportations.

The development is coming barely two months after the US government declared that an estimated 29,723 Nigerians who entered the U.S with either non-immigrant tourism or business (B1/B2) visas between October 1, 2017, and September 30, 2018, overstayed in the country.

According to the ‘The fiscal Year 2018 Entry/Exit Overstay Report’ released by the Trump government, this set of Nigerian immigrants refused to leave the U.S after their visas expired.

The report stated that 195,785 Nigerians who were given visas into the U.S were expected to leave “within the above window.”

Illegal immigrants who restrict their movements may escape the raid as the operatives are legally not allowed to forcibly enter a home.

Those specifically being targeted, according to the report, are those whose deportation have been ordered as a result of their failure to appear in court or who have continued to stay in the country illegally.

President Trump’s directive on the raid is said to be aimed at curbing the rising illegal immigrant overstay in the U.S.

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Iran threatens to destroy Israel in 30 minutes

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A senior Iranian official has threatened that his country will wipe out Israel in 30 minutes,

Iran’s Mehr News Agency reports that Mojtaba Zolnour, the chairman of the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, threatened Israel with retaliation that would entirely destroy the country.

“If the U.S. attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan,” Zolnour said on Monday, according to Mehr.

However, this is not the first time Zolnour has threatened Israel.

He gives Israel slightly more leeway this time than he did in his previous threats.

Two years ago, un 2017, Zolour threatened the U.S. and then expanded his threat to include Israel.

The US army’s fifth fleet is “all within the range of Iran’s missile systems and they will be razed to the ground if the enemy makes a mistake,” Zonour had said.

Doubling down on Karimpour threat, he added, “And only 7 minutes are needed for the Iranian missile to hit Tel Aviv.”

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Trump accuses China of dollar manipulation, urges America to do same

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President Donald Trump has accused China and Europe of playing a “big currency manipulation game,” urging the United States to match the effort.

The president’s critics said the advice directly contradicts official American policy not to manipulate the dollar’s value to gain trade advantages.

Taking to his verified Twitter handle @realDonaldTrump on Wednesday, Trump asserted, “China and Europe playing big currency manipulation game and pumping money into their system in order to compete with USA. We should MATCH, or continue being the dummies who sit back and politely watch as other countries continue to play their games – as they have for many years!”

Specialist in International Trade and Finance, Jonathan E. Sanford, says “currency manipulator” is a term used to indicate countries that manipulate the rate of exchange for purposes of preventing effective balance of payments adjustment or gaining unfair competitive advantage in international trade.

“It is also applied to countries that intervene in their own foreign exchange markets,” he adds.

An Online think-thank, the Congressional Research, notes that the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation approach the issue of currency manipulation differently.

“The IMF Articles of Agreement prohibit countries from manipulating their currency for the purpose of gaining unfair trade advantage, but the IMF cannot force a country to change its exchange rate policies,” the research site says.

It adds that the WTO has rules against subsidies, but these are very narrow and specific and do not seem to encompass currency manipulation.

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Whoever begins war will not be the one to end it, Iran warns Trump

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Iran’s foreign minister on Thursday warned US President Donald Trump he was mistaken to think a war between their countries would be short, as Washington sought NATO’s help to build an anti-Tehran coalition.

The latest developments in the Iran-US standoff came as a diplomatic source in Vienna said Tehran would not exceed a uranium stockpile limit agreed with world powers, contrary to what it had said earlier this month.

Iran had said it expected to surpass on Thursday the agreed 300-kilogram (660-pound) maximum reserve of enriched uranium because it no longer felt bound by certain limits contained in the 2015 deal, which the United States unilaterally pulled out of in May 2018.

“They won’t exceed it today,” the diplomatic source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP in Vienna on the eve of a meeting by a commission that oversees the nuclear deal.

The source suggested there might be a “political reason” for this, given intensified efforts by European governments in recent days to de-escalate tensions in the Gulf region.

The tensions, sparked by Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal, were exacerbated earlier this month when Iran shot down a US spy drone over the strategic Gulf after a series of tanker attacks that Washington blamed Tehran for despite its denials.

Since then the arch-foes have been locked in a war of words, which escalated this week when Trump announced new sanctions against Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif.

– ‘Short war is illusion’ –
“‘Short war’ with Iran is an illusion,” Zarif wrote on Twitter a day after Trump said he does not want a war with Iran but warned that if fighting did break out, it “wouldn’t last very long”.

The Iranian foreign minister added: “Whoever begins war will not be the one ending it.”

On Wednesday, Trump hinted that any conflict would be waged with air strikes, saying there would be no US boots on the ground.

In an interview on Fox Business Network, Trump was asked if America was going to go to war with Iran.

“Well, I hope we don’t but we’re in a very strong position if something should happen. We’re in a very strong position,” Trump said.

“It wouldn’t last very long, I can tell you that. And I’m not talking boots on the ground.”

His remarks came after Iranian President Hassan Rouhani tried to rein in the crisis between the two sides, saying that Tehran “never seeks war” with Washington.

The US envoy for Iran, Brian Hook, said Thursday there would be no let up for the Islamic republic.

“We will continue to increase our pressure on Iran until it behaves like a normal regime and comes back to the negotiating table,” he said in Paris.

But as the tensions remained high, the acting US defence chief pressed NATO allies to join Washington’s efforts to squeeze Iran and ensure the safety of ships in the Gulf after the tanker attacks.

Mark Esper urged allies to “consider public statements condemning Iran’s bad behaviour and making the point that we need to have freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz”.

He also sought to “internationalise” the Iran issue, at a meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels devoted to discussing the Iran-US crisis.

– ‘Maximum pressure’ –
Many European countries have been alarmed at the Trump administration’s hawkish approach to Iran, fearing the US policy of “maximum pressure” is counterproductive and could lead to war.

Any NATO involvement in the Gulf would need unanimous support from all 29 member states, and given European unease this would be extremely difficult to achieve.

“We would like to see more calm from the two actors but we really don’t want this to become a NATO issue,” said a diplomat from the alliance in Brussels.

Under the landmark deal with world powers in 2015, Iran pledged to reduce its nuclear capacities for several years and to allow inspectors into the country to monitor its activities in return for relief from international sanctions.

The deal set a limit on the number of uranium-enriching centrifuges, and restricted Iran’s right to enrich uranium to no higher than 3.67 percent, well below weapons-grade levels of about 90 percent.

But after being hit by waves of crippling UN sanctions, the Islamic Republic said in May it would gradually step away from its commitments.

Tehran has also threatened to start enriching uranium above the agreed purification level of 3.67 percent starting from July 7.

AFP.

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Swedish lawmakers wash their own clothes — and earn in a year what a Nigerian senator gets in 60 days

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Lawmakers in Sweden have no official cars, enjoy no immunity, use public transport, and wash their own clothes themselves — in public laundries!
This is a world of difference away from what obtains in Nigeria, where lawmakers get special treatment, official vehicles, luxury and heavy running costs — which are separate from what they get as salaries.
The speaker of the house of representative also travels in crowded buses and trains; only the Prime minister is said to have the rights to use an official car. The politicians are treated as ordinary citizens.
In an op-ed for the Mail and Guardian, Claudia Wallin, a Brazilian journalist who has been in Sweden since 2003, said this may be odd to lawmakers from other parts of the world, where senators and representatives are used to a life of luxury.
With this system, Sweden has transformed itself from “an impoverished, agricultural society into one of the wealthiest, most socially just and least corrupt countries in the world”.
According to Business Insider , an MP in Sweden earns $78,000 a year — and while this might seem like a lot, it is only “about two times more than that of an elementary school teacher” in the country.
To put in proper context, $78,000 (N23.9m) — which a Swedish MP gets in a year — is less than what a Nigerian senator gets as running cost for two months. The senator gets $44,052.86 a month, and $88,105.72 in two months.
This does not include official cars, furniture allowance, hardship allowance, welcome package, severance package, and the many more allowances hidden from the public.
When President Emmanuel Macron of France visited Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in 2017, both men and their officials were said to have used a public bus for one of their trips.
Source: TheCable

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