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Washington Diary: Royal Turf War between Donald Trump and President Barack Obama

"Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!" wrote Trump. "As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th"

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Donald Trump and Barack Obama at White House. VOA

Washington, December 31, 2016: One country, one flag and one President. Then there is the President-elect. One thinks “Yes, we (still) can.” The other can’t wait to undo it before his date with destiny — January 20.

Twenty days before Donald Trump gets the keys of the White House, sparks are flying in a right royal turf war between him and its first black tenant, Barack Obama.

Call it a desire to save his legacy or pique over the stunning defeat of his chosen successor, Hillary Clinton, Obama is trying to erect “roadblocks”, as the mogul sees them, on issues ranging from environment to ties with Israel and Russia.

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To “punish” Russia in what American spooks branded operation “Grizzly Steppe” to help Trump in the presidential poll, Obama expelled 35 Russian “spies” and closed two Russian recreation compounds.

For their “malicious cyber activity,” and phishing expeditions, Russians allegedly used several outlandish secret code names like “Seadaddy,” “Hammertoss,” “Energetic Bear,” “Fancy Bear and “Carberp.”

Ever sceptical of the spooks’ finding that the Russians had hacked into Democratic Party and the rival Clinton campaign chief’s emails, Trump was not impressed. The country needs to “move on to bigger and better things,” he responded with atypical restraint.

“Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people,” Trump agreed to meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week “to be updated about the facts of this situation.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin too did not take the bait. Declining “to create problems for American diplomats” in a deft political move, he instead invited children of US diplomats to celebrate the New Year and Russian Orthodox Christmas at the Kremlin.

Breaking rank with his own Republican Party leaders, Trump, who wants to mend fences with Moscow called Putin “very smart!” for his “great move on delay” in responding to the ‘lame duck’ Obama administration’s provocation.

Earlier, as the US abstained on a UN resolution condemning Israel for Jewish settlements in the West Bank, a livid Trump tweeted: “We cannot continue to let Israel be treated with such total disdain and disrespect.”

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“Stay strong Israel, January 20th is fast approaching!” wrote Trump. “As to the UN, things will be different after Jan. 20th.”

“Doing my best to disregard the many inflammatory President O statements and roadblocks. Thought it was going to be a smooth transition – NOT!” Trump complained in another tweet.

But what really got the mogul’s goat was Obama’s claim that he would have defeated Trump if he was allowed to run for a third term.

“President Obama said that he thinks he would have won against me. He should say that but I say NO WAY!” Trump responded though Obama’s criticism appeared directed more at Clinton.

“Hillary Clinton performed wonderfully,” but sure of victory, she “played it safe,” and missed opportunities to present a narrative that would have appealed to voters, Obama suggested.

But loathe to give up a good fight, Trump doubled down saying, “Obama campaigned hard (and personally) in the very important swing states, and lost. The voters wanted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!””The world was gloomy before I won – there was no hope. Now the market is up nearly 10 percent and Christmas spending is over a trillion dollars!” he tweeted.

Taking yet another jab at Obama, the mogul thanked himself as “the US Consumer Confidence Index surged. to its HIGHEST LEVEL IN MORE THAN 15 YEARS! Thanks Donald!”

Obama may or may not have won in a presidential contest against Trump, but he bested the billionaire 22 percent to 15 percent in a Gallup poll to retain his title as America’s most admired man for the ninth year.

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And Hillary Clinton might have lost the race for the White House, but for the 15th year in a row, she was America’s most admired woman – a title she has won a record 21 times.

Another AP-Times Square Alliance poll found that Democrats were more likely to say 2016 was worse for them with a Miami University professor using just three words to explain why: “Trump, Trump, Trump.”

But having won the poll that mattered, Trump did not fire a tweet to contest either poll or call them rigged as winners and losers of 2016 mulled what it could be and what 2017 would be. (IANS)

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US to begin Jerusalem Embassy move preparations: Tillerson

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Photo: wikimedia commons

Washington, Dec 7. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has stated that the State Department will “immediately” act on President Donald Trump’s order and start preparations to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump announced in a televised speech that he officially recognises Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and instructed the State Department to relocate the US embassy to the city, reports Xinhua news agency. (Read: Trump to Announce US Recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli Capital, Move Embassy)

Tillerson, who is on a Europe visit, said in a statement on Wednesday night that the US has consulted with “many friends, partners and allies” about the relocation ahead of Trump’s decision.

Though hailed by Israel, Trump’s announcement immediately drew strong opposition and widespread criticism from Arab and European countries that such a move would inflame tensions and fuel violence in the Middle East.

Tillerson said that the US had taken measures to protect Americans in the region.

“The safety of Americans is the State Department’s highest priority, and in concert with other federal agencies, we’ve implemented robust security plans to protect the safety of Americans in affected regions.”

Trump’s announcement marked a dramatic departure from his predecessors’ foreign policy.

Although the US Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 which required the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, former Presidents, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, consistently renewed a presidential waiver to delay the relocation out of consideration for national security interests.

The status of Jerusalem, revered by Muslims as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site by Jews, lies at the core of the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.

The international community does not recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and no foreign countries have their embassies in the city.(IANS)

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Sulabh International unveils World’s biggest Toilet Pot model

The NGO gave 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

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Sulabh launched biggest pot toilet models
Sulabh International in working towards improving sanitation. Wikimedia Commons

Sulabh International on Sunday launched the “world’s biggest” toilet pot model in Haryana’s Marora village — popularly known as ‘Trump village’ — on the occasion of World Toilet Day.

As per a release by the non-profit, the mega Indian-style pot, made of iron, fibre, wood and plaster of Paris, measuring 20×10 feet, was unveiled to create awareness about the use of toilets in the village dedicated to US President Donald Trump.

Sanitation expert and founder of Sulabh International, Bindeshwar Pathak, also dedicated 95 new household toilets to the residents of the village.

“This large pot replica will be shifted to Delhi’s Sulabh Toilet Museum,” the release quoted Pathak as saying.

He said the idea behind naming a village after Trump was to highlight the issue of sanitation and cleanliness globally.

Puneet Ahluwalia, a member of the ruling Republican Party in the US, said that such an initiative would go a long way to motivate masses towards cleanliness and safe sanitation. (IANS)

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Exposed! Paradise Papers reveal Tax-haven Secrets of the Super-rich! Even Queen Elizabeth II hasn’t been spared!

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

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paradise papers
Paradise Papers expose tax haven secrets of ultra-wealthy, including Queen Elizabeth. The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive - and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth. VOA

London, November 6, 2017 : A huge new leak of financial documents has revealed how the powerful and ultra-wealthy including Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate secretly invest vast amounts of cash in different offshore tax havens, media reports said on Monday.

The details come from a leak of 13.4 million files in the Paradise Papers on Sunday that expose the global environments in which tax abuses can thrive – and the complex and seemingly artificial ways the wealthiest corporations can legally protect their wealth.

The material which has come from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with 100 other media organisations including the Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

Some of the revelations in the Paradise Papers include millions of pounds from Queen Elizabeth II’s private estate that has been invested in a Cayman Islands fund and some of her money that went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families and vulnerable people.

Paradise Papers detail extensive offshore dealings by US President Donald Trump’s cabinet members advisers and donors including substantial payments from a firm co-owned by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s son-in-law to the shipping group of the US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The leak shows how social media giants Twitter and Facebook received millions in investments that can be traced back to Russian state financial institutions along with aggressive tax avoidance by multinational corporations including Nike and Apple.

It also includes information about a tax-avoiding Cayman Islands trust managed by the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s chief wealth manager.

The leak also includes how some of the biggest names in the film and TV industries protect their wealth with an array of offshore schemes and the complex offshore webs used by two Russian billionaires to buy stakes in Arsenal and Everton football clubs.

The disclosures will put pressure on world leaders including Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May who have both pledged to curb aggressive tax avoidance schemes.

The publication of this investigation for which more than 380 journalists have spent a year combing through data that stretches back 70 years comes at a time of growing global income inequality.

Offshore finance is about a place outside of one’s own nation’s regulations to which companies or individuals can reroute money assets or profits to take advantage of lower taxes reports the BBC.

These jurisdictions are known as tax havens to the layman or the more stately offshore financial centres (OFCs) to the industry. They are generally stable secretive and reliable often small islands but not exclusively so and can vary on how rigorously they carry out checks on wrongdoing. (IANS)