Trump consider ordering FBI to disprove dossier prostitute claim – Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey, recounted how he informed Trump about the dossier allegation before the inauguration and that Trump raised the issue again at a private dinner, during which Trump said he may order the FBI to investigate the allegation to disprove it, in an interview broadcast on Friday

The former director said he remembered wondering, “how could your wife think there was a 1 percent chance you were with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow?”

Comey said President Donald Trump last year mulled ordering the bureau to investigate the most salacious allegation in a controversial dossier — that Trump was with prostitutes in Moscow in 2013, and Russians filmed the encounter.

He also disclosed that, he told Trump that it ultimately was up to the president to decide whether to open a probe but cautioned that doing so could “create a narrative” that the FBI was investigating him, Comey told ABC News’s George Stephanopoulos in his first interview ahead of his book’s publication next week.

Trump brought up the allegation several times — including during a private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017 — before firing Comey only months into his new administration. Trump’s motivation for wanting an investigation? Comey said Trump told him that “if there is even a 1 percent chance my wife thinks that’s true, that’s terrible.”

Taking to Twitter shortly after the tape aired, Trump called Comey an “untruthful slime ball” and attacked his tenure as FBI leader. The president’s comments came after Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in her own tweet assailed the credibility of the lawman, and Republicans readied a campaign to discredit him.

“James Comey is a proven LEAKER & LIAR. Virtually everyone in Washington thought he should be fired for the terrible job he did-until he was, in fact, fired,” Trump said in a tweet.

In a follow-up message, he said Comey was “a terrible Director of the FBI.”

“I’m a flawed human being. But there is literally zero chance my wife would think that was true,” he added.

Comey said he still doesn’t know the truth of the allegation.

“I don’t know whether the current president of the United States was with prostitutes peeing on each other in Moscow in 2013,” he said. “It’s possible. But I don’t know.”

Cosby accuser to face cross-examination in sexual assault trial

By News Desk and Agency Report

Veteran actor, Bill Cosby’s defense team is set to cross-examine a witness who claims the comedian drugged her for four days and sexually molested her in 1984, as his retrial for assaulting another woman resumes in a Pennsylvania court, on Wednesday

Heidi Thomas, an aspiring actress who met Cosby for career coaching, testified on Tuesday that Cosby gave her spiked wine that kept her stupefied for four days, and she awoke to find him naked and attempting to force himself on her.

Her accusations are not the basis of the case as Cosby is on trial on charges of assaulting another woman 20 years later. But unlike in the first trial, which ended in a mistrial last year when a deadlocked jury failed to reach a verdict, the judge is allowing up to five other accusers to testify against Cosby.

The 80-year-old entertainer, once known as America’s Dad for his endearing role on the 1980s television hit “The Cosby Show,” is charged with aggravated indecent assault of Andrea Constand, now 44, in 2004. He denies wrongdoing, saying any sexual contact was consensual, and his lawyers have portrayed Constand as a money-grubbing con artist who falsified her claims. Cosby paid her $3.4 million in 2006 to settle a civil lawsuit.

When she awoke, she said, she found Cosby naked, attempting to force his penis into her mouth.

“I felt I must have said something that was misunderstood,” Thomas said. “I wanted to fix it. Your reputation is everything. It’s easy to be accused of sleeping your way to the top. He said he was going to be my mentor and I could call anytime if I needed advice.”

Cosby’s defense lawyers briefly cross-examined Thomas on Tuesday before court adjourned and were due to resume on Wednesday morning.

Although some 50 women have accused Cosby of molestation, all but one of the incidents were too old to be prosecuted.

Pope urges people to rediscover shame

Pope Francis led Roman Catholics in Good Friday services under tight security, urging people, including ministers of his Church, to rediscover the capacity to feel shame for their role in the world’s ills.

Francis, 81, presided at a traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession around Rome’s ancient Colosseum attended by 20,000 people on the day that Christians commemorate Jesus’ death by crucifixion.

Security was tighter than last year, with more checks as participants approached the area. This week, Italian police carried out four raids against suspected supporters of Islamist terrorism, arresting seven people, including one man who was planning a truck attack.

 The Colosseum, in Rome’s historic center, is one of the tourist attractions in the city where police have set up military jeeps and armored vehicles to form barriers against truck attacks. Several have also been set up near the Vatican.

Francis wove his comments, made at the end of the torchlight service, around the themes of shame and repentance, conjuring up the image of a modern world where pride, arrogance and selfishness often trump humility and generosity.

Speaking in somber tones, he spoke of “shame because so many people, even some of your (God’s) ministers, have let themselves be deceived by ambition and vainglory, thereby losing their worthiness .. “

Since his election in 2013, Francis has often urged Catholic priests and prelates to live simply, to serve others, and not to seek careers and status in the Church or in society at large.

Good Friday, the most somber day of the Christian liturgical calendar, commemorates the day the Bible says Jesus was crucified. The Way of the Cross service marks 14 events, called stations, from the time Roman governor Pontius Pilate condemns Jesus to death until his burial in a tomb.

Francis said many people in the world today should feel “shame for having lost a sense of shame”, adding that shame could be seen as a “grace” from God.

 

U.S.-led coalition helps to build new Syrian force, angering Turkey

The U.S.-led coalition is working with its Syrian militia allies to set up a new border force of 30,000 personnel, the coalition said on Sunday, a move that has added to Turkish anger over U.S. support for Kurdish-dominated forces in Syria.

A senior Turkish official told Reuters the U.S. training of the new “Border Security Force” was the reason that the U.S. charge d‘affaires was summoned in Ankara last week, and President Tayyip Erdogan’s spokesman said the development was worrying and unacceptable.

The force, whose inaugural class is currently being trained, will be deployed at the borders of the area controlled by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – an alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria dominated by the Kurdish YPG.

In an email to Reuters, the coalition’s Public Affairs Office confirmed details of the new force reported by The Defense Post. About half the force will be SDF veterans, and recruiting for the other half is under way, the Public Affairs Office said.

The force will deploy along the border with Turkey to the north, the Iraqi border to the southeast and along the Euphrates River Valley, which broadly acts as the dividing line separating the U.S.-backed SDF and Syrian government forces backed by Iran and Russia.

U.S. support for the SDF has put enormous strain on ties with NATO ally Turkey, which views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – a group that has waged a three-decade insurgency in Turkey and is considered a terrorist group by the European Union, Turkey and the United States.

-Reuters

U.S. immigration policy forces farm sector to go automated

By Abolaji Adebayo with Agency report

As the U.S. policy on illegal immigration got tougher, farmers, especially dairy owners have been urged to buy robots to milk their cows due to imminent reduction in the farm workers.

It was reported that President Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration through stepped-up arrests and border enforcement has shaken the U.S. agricultural sector, where as many as 7 in 10 farm workers were undocumented, according to the American Farm Bureau Federation.

In addition, Republican lawmakers in Congress have introduced legislation that would require all employers to check social security numbers against federal databases to ensure their workers are in the country legally, something that is now voluntary in all but a handful of states.

The get-tough approach “has created a great deal of anxiety,” said the Chief Executive of the U.S. Dairy Export Council, Tom Vilsack, who was U.S. Agriculture Secretary for eight years under President Barack Obama.

He said the shift came as the industry was already struggling to cope with a shrinking, aging workforce, adding that the policy was ratcheting up pressure on the sector to embrace new technology.

According to him, farmers and food companies were increasingly moving to automate dairy operations, chicken processing, crop production and harvesting, adding that delicate crops such as strawberries and peaches were being considered for mechanization.

“You wouldd be a fool to not have a plan that moves you that way,” said Duff Bevill, who owned a vineyard management company in Sonoma County, California.

Pilgrim’s Pride Corp, (PPC.O) the second largest U.S. chicken producer, this year cited a tightening migrant labor market as key to its decision to invest in robots and X-ray technology for its slaughterhouses.

The goal, according to media report, was to swap human hands for machines that could debone the front half of chickens and perform other chores.

“We are investing heavily in automating our processes, taking labor out and making jobs easier,” Pilgrim’s CEO, William Lovette said in an earnings call.

He said the company also decided to increase wages.

The largest North American producer of fresh garlic, Christopher Ranch will spend about $1 million this year for a new Spanish-made robot in its packing plant that inserts garlic heads into sleeves, according to Ken Christopher, vice president of the family-owned business.

A 2014 report by WinterGreen Research forecast significant growth in the use of robotics in “every aspect of farming, milking, food production” and other agricultural enterprises.

The report put the market for agricultural robots at $817 million in 2013 and projected that it would reach $16.3 billion by 2020.

A third-generation strawberry farmer in Florida, Gary Wishnatzki, said scarce labor convinced him to raise $5 million so far to build a robotic strawberry picker that he hopes someday will reduce his industry’s need for field hands.

The CEO of Taylor Farms, a Salinas, California producer of salads and chopped vegetables for stores and restaurants, Bruce Taylor, also disclosed that his company has automated 20 percent of its packing plant.

He said the company has also teamed with an equipment maker to build a mechanized romaine harvester that is currently in use, and it is exploring automation for iceberg lettuce, broccoli and other field crops, Taylor said.

The number of people caught trying to enter the United States illegally from Mexico dropped almost 60 percent between February and May compared the same period last year, according to government figures.

Between late January and early September, the number of individuals arrested in the interior of the country by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rose almost 43 percent over the same period in 2016.

Man shot for wrong sexual perfomance

NewsDesk

A 21-year-old escort in Washington USA, Marissa Wallen has been arrested for shooting a man in the head for wrongly performing a sex act with her.

Reports have it that Wallen had shot her victim twice in the head and left him to die but police later found the man alive after three days.

The man was taken to the hospital and unable to speak, but he communicated with hand signals.

On her arrest, Wallen disclosed that she was an escort and had been hired to have sex with the victim.

She told the police she shot the victim twice in the back of the head for performing a sex act wrong.

The 21-year-old who allegedly displayed little remorse was also accused of robbing the victim.

According to court documents, police received a call on October 24 from the victim’s employer, who was concerned with his employee’s absence at the work in the following morning.

The document narrated that the police went to the victim’s unlocked house in which he was found sitting against a wall in the master bedroom.

The victim, according to the document, was taken to Providence Medical Center’s Intensive Care Unit.

It stated that the police thereafter obtained a search warrant to the victim’s house and detected that credit cards and a handgun were missing from the home.

The law enforcement agent identified Marissa Wallen as a young woman coming to the home five different times between October 7 and 2 after reviewing a security footage from the victim’s home.

It was clear from the footage that Wallen and the victim were having sexual relations.

The security footage from October 21 showed the last time Wallen entered the home, walked in and left a short time later, and that Wallen was using the victim’s credit cards at Macy’s and other locations.

“A check on the victim’s credit cards showed 82 charges totaling more than $10,000 was made between October 22 and November 5.

“Wallen was clearly proud of her life as an escort and even asked us to call one of her clients so that he could post her bail,” court documents alleged.

She was eventually charged in Snohomish County court with first-degree robbery, first-degree assault and first-degree theft, on a bail set for $1 million dollars.

China agrees to buy $5bn U.S. soybeans 

By Abolaji Adebayo

Following the trade accords between U.S. and China, the Chinese government has shown intention to purchase additional 12 million tonnes of soybeans worth $5billion from the U.S. in the 2017/18 marketing year.

The non-binding agreements, disclosed by the U.S. Soybean Export Council (USSEC) in a statement, were among a series of trade accords announced during the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump to Beijing.

China is the world’s top soybean buyer and the U.S. its second supplier after Brazil.

In the first agreement, signed on November 8, the China Chamber of Commerce of Foodstuffs and Native Produce said it intended to purchase eight million tonnes of U.S. soybeans worth 3.4 billion dollars.

A second agreement was signed on Thursday between grains trader ADM, and China’s COFCO for intent to purchase four million tonnes of soybeans worth 1.6 billion dollars, said the USSEC.

The two deals followed a pledge by Chinese importers to buy 12.53 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans during a visit to the U.S. in July.

China’s agriculture ministry revised up its forecast for soybean imports in the 2017/18 crop year on Thursday to 95.97 million tonnes from a previous forecast of 94.5 million tonnes.

IMF defends Japanese bank huge asset purchase policy amidst high inflation

By Abolaji Adebayo

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has absolved Bank of Japan of growing criticism against its huge asset purchases policy while the country still battled with high inflation.

Justifying its action, the world apex financial institution claimed that the massive monetary policy was in line to curtail rising inflation, urging the country to maintain stimulus to support struggling consumer prices.

Against the Japanese bank’s rolled order, the critics had argued that the policy had been distorting markets and pushing Tokyo stock prices, which hit a near 26-year high this week,  beyond levels justified by economic fundamentals.

The Managing Director, IMF, Christine Lagarde, said that Bank of Japan Governor, Haruhiko Kuroda, had put in place right measure by committing to keep money spigot wide open until inflation hits his ambitious 2 per cent target.

Speaking in Japan on Wednesday, Lagarde stated that one of strengths of central bankers were to be very clear in communication and as well be determined in resolve, which clearly Kuroda had demonstrated.

With inflation distant from its target, the BOJ declared that it would not reverse its huge stimulus even as its U.S. and European counterparts eyed an exit from crisis-mode policies.

On his part, the Board Member, Yukitoshi Funo, also defended the bank’s huge asset purchases, saying there was no need to slow its purchases of exchange-traded funds (ETF) from current pace of 6 trillion yen ($53 billion) per year.

He maintained that stock prices were not overheating and that it was favorable that the market benchmark had risen.

While Funo, a former auto executive, ruled out the chance of an immediate withdrawal of stimulus, he said the BOJ should be vigilant to threats that prolonged monetary easing pose.

“We’re not assuming we won’t make any changes to all of our various policy tools until 2 percent inflation is achieved,” he said, leaving open the chance of tweaking some parts of the framework before others.

There were views that the comment reflected a growing view within the BOJ that its next move should be to roll back, not ramp up, its stimulus given the rising cost and diminishing returns of the program, although there are varying opinions on how and when policy should be tweaked.

Meanwhile, Lagarde noted that the diverging policy paths of major central banks have not led to massive and disruptive capital outflows in Asia, appreciating the cautious approach and clear communication by central bankers on their policy shifts.

“We believe these conditions can help to ensure that monetary policy changes do not provoke unnecessary capital flow movements,” she said.

U.S, Japan plans mutual trade after 25yrs

By Abolaji Adebayo

The United State Government has concluded plans to open talk with Japan on reciprocal trade after 25 years of proper trade between the both countries.

It was gathered that reciprocal trade involves an agreement between two countries which provide for exchange of goods between them at lower tariffs and better terms than that exist between one of the countries and other countries

The US President, Donald Trump, made this known on his arrival in Japan on Sunday as he kicked off a 12-day Asian trip on diplomatic and trade discussion with leaders of the Asian countries.

Trump was also looking to present a united front with Japan against North Korea through meetings with its Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile tests.

He told reporters on Air Force One en route to Asia that North Korea would figure prominently in discussions, and also singled out trade, which he said had been “badly handled” in the region for years.

“One of the things we’re going to be very focused on is trade because trade has not been done well for 25 years by the United States with this part of the world, with any part of the world,” he said on Air Force One. We’re going to be discussing reciprocal trade. Fair, free but reciprocal,” he said.

Sources said that trade talks would receive much of the president’s attention during Trump’s trip as he tries to persuade Asian allies to agree to policies more favorable to the United States, a point Trump emphasized.

“A centerpiece of the trip will be a visit to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Danang, Vietnam, where Trump will deliver a speech in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region, which is seen as offering a bulwark in response to expansionist Chinese policies.”

In brief pre-dinner remarks, Trump said U.S.-Japan ties were closer than ever, adding that much of the discussion would center on trade and security.

Trump also said he planned to meet Russian President, Vladimir Putin, during his trip, the longest Asian tour by any U.S. leader since George H.W. Bush in 1992.

Abe told reporters before Trump’s arrival that he welcomed the visit as a chance to deepen bilateral ties by building on the “friendship and trust” between the two leaders, fostered by several meetings that included a round of golf in Florida earlier this year.

UN condemns UNIMAID suicide attack

By Newsdesk

The Secretary-General, United Nation (UN), António Guterres, has condemned suicide bomb attack at University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID), urging the Federal Government prevent such future dastardly act.

Guterres, however, reiterated the UN’s support to Nigeria in the ongoing fight against terrorism and violent extremism.

The Secretary-General, in a statement by his spokesman, Stéphane Dujarric, condemned the series of suicide bombing attacks in Borno State.

The statement added that the Secretary-General extended his condolences to the people and Government of Nigeria for the loss of lives and property.

Guterres also wished a quick recovery to those injured in the series of suicide bombing attacks and called on the government to make sure that the perpetrators of the dastardly act would be speedily brought to justice.

It would be recalled that five Boko Haram members had in a multiple explosions that shook Maiduguri, the Borno State Capital killed 16 persons while 13 others were confirmed injured by the police on Monday.

The Borno State Commissioner of Police, Damien Chukwu, confirmed this to newsmen at a press briefing and said that the five members of the gang, two female and three male suicide bombers gained entry into the premises of the University of Maiduguri, and detonated a bomb (PBIED), strapped to his body, near the Rapid Response Services Office building.

According to him, the suicide bombers died while three of the university’s security personnel on duty sustained severe injury.