Donald Trump is, once again, taking credit for jobs he had no part in creating
Trump really, really wants you to think he’s bringing jobs back to the country, even though it isn’t true
The president-elect bragged on Wednesday about brokering a deal in which Sprint will bring 5,000 jobs to the United States and another company, OneWeb, will bring 3,000 jobs into this country. This is consistent with a theme that Trump has been spouting off about on Twitter all week — namely, that he deserves credit for the nation’s currently prosperous economic conditions.
“Because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they’re going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States,” Trump said to reporters outside his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Wednesday. “Masa and some other people were very much involved with that.”
The problem is that, like so much of what Trump says, it simply isn’t true.
The Wall Street Journal reported on a $100 billion tech investment deal in October, before Trump even became president-elect. ABC News has confirmed that the 5,000 Sprint jobs are part of a 50,000 job deal that SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son had planned weeks ago.
Although Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure has been happy to share credit for the deal with Trump on Twitter, neither he nor any of the other participants have offered a scintilla of evidence that Trump played any kind of role.
While it’s understandably why the business community wishes to remain on Trump’s good side, it doesn’t do America any favors when Trump gets credit for creating jobs without actually having to do anything. Now the president-elect can add lying about the Sprint deal to his lies about the Ford deal and the Carrier deal.
Nigerian police say they foil plot to bomb Lagos bridge
ABRAKA, Nigeria – Nigerian police say they have arrested a leader of oil militants along with explosives they say he plotted to use to bomb a bustling bridge in Lagos, the country’s commercial hub.
A police statement Thursday says Abiodun Amos was hunted down to a riverbank hideout. He was found along with two boxes of explosives, 125 detonators and two assault rifles.
The statement says he has identified others still at large among “criminal militant elements planning a series of attacks on government infrastructures and facilities in Lagos state.”
The 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) Third Mainland Bridge usually is crammed with traffic.
Militants previously had restricted their attacks to oil installations, slashing Nigeria’s petroleum production. Militants want a larger share of oil proceeds for residents as oil pollution has destroyed their agriculture and fishing.
Pope Francis’ Christmas Message to the World
The Vatican’s official English-language translation of Pope Francis’ Christmas message, delivered on Wednesday in Italian from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica.
Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors (Luke 2:14)
Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, Happy Christmas!
I take up the song of the angels who appeared to the shepherds in Bethlehem on the night when Jesus was born. It is a song which unites heaven and earth, giving praise and glory to heaven, and the promise of peace to earth and all its people.
I ask everyone to share in this song: it is a song for every man or woman who keeps watch through the night, who hopes for a better world, who cares for others while humbly seeking to do his or her duty.
Glory to God!
Above all else, this is what Christmas bids us to do: give glory to God, for he is good, he is faithful, he is merciful. Today I voice my hope that everyone will come to know the true face of God, the Father who has given us Jesus. My hope is that everyone will feel God’s closeness, live in his presence, love him and adore him.
May each of us give glory to God above all by our lives, by lives spent for love of him and of all our brothers and sisters.
Peace to mankind.
True peace is not a balance of opposing forces. It is not a lovely “façade” which conceals conflicts and divisions. Peace calls for daily commitment, starting from God’s gift, from the grace which he has given us in Jesus Christ.
Looking at the Child in the manger, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick. Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!
Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world.
Grant peace to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.
Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favorable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.
Lord of life, protect all who are persecuted for your name. Grant hope and consolation to the displaced and refugees, especially in the Horn of Africa and in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Grant that migrants in search of a dignified life may find acceptance and assistance. May tragedies like those we have witnessed this year, with so many deaths at Lampedusa, never occur again!
Child of Bethlehem, touch the hearts of all those engaged in human trafficking, that they may realize the gravity of this crime against humanity. Look upon the many children who are kidnapped, wounded and killed in armed conflicts, and all those who are robbed of their childhood and forced to become soldiers.
Lord of heaven and earth, look upon our planet, frequently exploited by human greed and rapacity. Help and protect all the victims of natural disasters, especially the beloved people of the Philippines, gravely affected by the recent typhoon.
Dear brothers and sisters, today, in this world, in this humanity, is born the Savior, who is Christ the Lord. Let us pause before the Child of Bethlehem. Let us allow our hearts to be touched, let us allow ourselves to be warmed by the tenderness of God; we need his caress. God is full of love: to him be praise and glory forever! God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.
Pope donates 6 million euro to Ukraine relief efforts for Christmas
Pope Francis has decided to distribute 6 million euros to projects that assist people currently living in troubled regions of the Ukraine as a Christmas gift. The sum is only part of the 12 million that’s been collected since April and will be given to more than 2 million people in need.
ROME – After taking up a collection earlier this year to aid families affected by the ongoing crisis in Eastern Ukraine, Pope Francis has decided to distribute an initial sum of 6 million euros to different charity projects as a Christmas gift.
“In the name of the Holy Father, at Christmas the first installment of the aid for the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine will be paid,” a December 23 communique from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum read.
The sum of nearly 6 million euro is only part of the 12 million that’s been collected since April, and is destined for more than 2 million people “without distinction of religion, faith or ethnic background.”
It will go to projects that assist people currently living in the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk, Kharkiv and Dnepropetrovsk, which have been hit hardest by the conflict.
The funds were raised in large part as the result of Pope Francis’s decision to take up an April 24 collection in all the Catholic parishes of Europe to promote humanitarian support for all those suffering or displaced due to the fighting in eastern Ukraine.
After the collection, the pope in June entrusted the Vatican’s charity council ‘Cor Unum’, with the task of forming a committee, which was given a year-long mandate, to decipher the most urgent needs and to get the help to where it’s most required.
Led by Bishop Jan Sobilo, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Kharkiv-Zaporizhia, the committee, headquartered in Zaporizhia, has been working alongside the Apostolic Nuncio in Ukraine, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti.
According to the communique, from the moment the committee began their work in July members have “chosen and evaluated the aid projects” presented to them by both Christian charity organizations and by international agencies.
Now, having made their decisions, the committee will use the funds to finance 20 “large-scale” projects with individual contributions of up to 250,000 euros, as well as 39 initiatives “of solidarity” for amounts of up to 20,000 euros.
The total sum of 6 million, according to the communique will be distributed with the help of the apostolic nunciature in Ukraine and will support projects that offer assistance “in the areas of food, housing, medicine and hygiene.”
Conflict erupted in Ukraine in November 2013, when the former government refused to sign the Association Agreement with the European Union, leading to months of violent protests.
Tensions deepened in February 2014, when the country’s former president was ousted following the protests, and a new government appointed. In March of that year, Ukraine’s eastern peninsula of Crimea was annexed by Russia, and pro-Russian separatists have since taken control of eastern portions of Ukraine.
Several attempts at a ceasefire have fallen through, and fighting continues to ravage Ukraine’s eastern regions.
According to a recent report from the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations for Human Rights (OHCHR), from its beginning in April 2014 to December 2016, the conflict has so far caused 9,758 deaths with 22,779 wounded.
More than 2 million others have been forced to flee due to violence and a lack of basic humanitarian necessities such as food and medicine. Those who have fled to other areas of the country often can’t find work or adequate housing, leaving them largely dependent on charity.
In Amina Mohammed and Modern Biotechnology We Stand – A Press Briefing
TEXT OF A PRESS CONFERENCE BY THE ALLIANCE OF CSOs FOR EFFECTIVE BIOSAFETY FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF MODERN BIOTECHNOLOGY IN NIGERIA HELD IN ABUJA ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22,2016, READ BY EDEL-QUINN AGBAEGBU, MEMBER OF THE COORDINATING COMMITTEE FOR THIS CONFERENCE
Gentle men of the Press,
Representatives of Civil Society Organisations and Associations in Nigeria,
It is with deep pleasure that I stand here to address you all this afternoon, on behalf of Every Woman Hope Centre, Centre for Environmental Education and Development, Partnership for Rural Women Development, Jomurata Community Care Initiative and African Greens Revolution among others, an alliance to ensure an effective biosafety in the application of modern biotechnology for protection of human health, secured biodiversity, food security and socio-economic development in Nigeria. It is in furtherance of these noble objectives that we called you all to alert you about a strange development, bordering on gross misinformation which was reported as having been dished out to the public by way of Press Release from a group called Global Prolife Alliance(GPA).
In their press release, the content of which our group has read, the Global Prolife Alliance (GPA) criticized the recent appointment of Amina J. Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister for Environment, as the United Nations (UN) Deputy Secretary General. The GPA alleged that the appointment of Amina Mohammed was a payback for the introduction of GMO Foods in Nigeria. The statement is unpatriotic and malicious on the personality of Amina J. Mohammed, the Minister of Environment of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
It is a global Knowledge that she was already in the UN system before this latest ministerial appointment. On June 7, 2012, Amina Mohammed was appointed as a Special Adviser on Post-2015 Development Planning by the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon. Notable references on Amina Mohammed Curriculum Vitae include; Ban Ki-Moon, Professor Jerry Sachs and Former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
It should be noted that Nigeria is not a pariah nation but a responsible and respected member of the global community and Nigerians irrespective of gender are qualified and entitled to work at all levels in any national or international body. Therefore, to lay a claim that the appointment of Amina Mohammed is for the purpose of reward is untenable.
We expect the GPA and its principal promoter, Dr.Phillip Njemnaze to retract their statement, which we believe was made in error and promptly apologize to Amina J. Mohammed, Nigerians and the United Nations for propagating falsehood on issues about the role of modern biotechnology in agriculture for sustainable development in Nigeria and the alleged role played by the Honorable Minister of Environment in the perceived introduction of the scientific breakthrough in Nigeria. It is science that rules the world and Nigeria cannot afford to be isolated from the trend. Oppositions and informed criticisms are good for checks and balances but should not clog the wheels of progress.
GPA twisted verifiable fact on the matter when they stated, among others, that two permits issued some months ago by the National Biosafety Management Agency, NBMA, wholly amounted to a forced introduction of GMO crops into Nigeria. This is not correct as the authorization by NBMA in the permits was in line with the standard regulatory practice and process as provided by the Cartegena Protocol for the commercial release biotechnological products. There is a constitutional requirement of the Federal Government of Nigeria to protect the public health and the biodiversity through the activities of NBMA. We rather recommend collaboration with the duly approved agency mandated to achieve this global biodiversity conservative targets through its most effective administration and qualified scientists and researchers.
GPA was criticizing and making much ado about the wisdom which the Federal Government, through the Ministry of Environment, exhibited in allowing Nigeria to embark on Confined Field Trials which is a globally acceptable scientific practice. NBMA and the parent ministry went into it on a cautious note. We should encourage them to conclude the process. If the experiment is good, Nigeria will say goodbye to hunger.
The recent press release by Dr Njemanze and his GPA clearly shows that they are behind the rest of the world. Rather that joining others to appreciate science and what it hold for the future of food security in Nigeria, the critics of GMO crops are now turning out to be alarmists by alleging that GMO crops are poison and that they pose threat to food security and national security too.
Dr. Njemanze is a lone voice. Let me draw your attention to how the Nigeria Academy of Science (NAS), the bigger authority and indeed, voice of science in the Nigeria has messed up the position of Dr Njemanze and his GPA on the status of GMO foods at present. During a media roundtable on GMOs in Nigeria, on November 16, 2016, at its office in Lagos, the NAS stated unequivocally that the country is ready for GMO products and that they are safe for both production and beneficial to the nation, based on carefully-documented evidence from developed countries.
The academy noted that the technology, though new with expected fears and concerns, would be useful to the country because of its potential to boost the nation’s agriculture, which would resolve food insecurity. The outgoing president of NAS, Prof. Oyewale Tomori, said though the technology seems fresh, but nothing is new with it, as the academy, in accordance with its mandate, has examined available evidence from researches in advanced countries. Tomori, who noted that there were no forecasts of long-term effect, stressed: “We cannot predict the future and what is going to happen with these GMOs, but so far so good, there are no problems from where they have been used; but that does not mean that it is going to be good forever. We must be on the alert to know when changes are coming up.”
Another speaker, a professor of plant breeding and crop biotechnology with the Department of Genetic and Biotechnology, University of Calabar, Effiom Ene-Obong, said there were no scientific evidence that agree with the raised health concerns of GMOs worldwide, “as they are safe for both production and consumption.” He noted that “though genetically modified foods are not commercially produced in Nigeria yet, three quarters of countries in the world are keyed into them and as a new technology, fears being entertained are expected, but rather, the benefits outweigh the worries”.
Ene-Obong added: “Before these products are sent into the market, lots of trials and investigations are done by so many agencies, such as the Academy of Sciences Worldwide, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), World Health Organisation (WHO), to monitor and make sure they are safe for human consumption and they have recommended”. We Stand with NAS on this subject.
The world is moving but Njemanze and his group wants us to remain static. He is like some who still stick for witchcraft instead of embracing science. If Nigeria was to follow his line of thought, we may, perhaps be killing twins till date. He claims that GMOs are poisonous and a threat to Nigeria.
Finally, a word on the suitability of Amina Mohammed for the UN job. More Nigerians should stand up to thank the UN for identifying yet, another good person from Nigeria. It should also be a new testament that Buhari is listening. More qualified women in Nigeria should stand up to be counted. And this shows that Dr. Njemanze and his group did not know what they are saying. She is a star in the international firmament .We stand in support of the Minister of environment for the UN job. She is great woman who does great things. She has been excellent in the discharge of her duties before. She will do it again for Nigeria and humanity.
I welcome you all once again to this press conference and I hope that conference will offer us opportunity to reflect deeply in our hearts on our desire for a holistic biosafety regulations in mainstreaming modern biotechnology in Nigeria.
Edel-Quinn Agbaegbu (Representative of the Alliance).
China remains America and the world’s greatest geopolitical threat – not Russia
Mitt Romney may have been correct, in 2012, when he said that Russia was America’s greatest geopolitical threat. Notwithstanding Russia’s current bad behavior, Romney’s assessment is no longer correct.
China is now America’s (and the world’s) greatest geopolitical threat. China has allegedly hacked the federal government, something some foreign policy experts consider an act of war. This is in addition to hacking American companies and stealing their intellectual product.
China wants to be the world’s new singular economic and military superpower. China wants to control the China Sea – a vital global economic artery – through military force so that it can intimidate and dominate its regional neighbors and control global trade.
While Americans are focused on the Russian email intrigue, China is militarizing man-made islands in the China Sea to eliminate the international norm of freedom of the sea.
The U.S. needs to deploy more aircraft carriers to Asia and help Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan build missile defense systems similar to the “Iron Dome” system in Israel. America must also strengthen our relationships and alliances in our own hemisphere, especially in Latin-South-and Central America as well as the Caribbean. This includes building on the Obama opening to Cuba.
Additionally, America needs to invest in Africa. We must help the nations on the continent strengthen and grow their economies and fight terrorists and work with India to strengthen its economy and military including a missile defense system.
Rebuilding America’s infrastructure, cutting taxes and deporting undocumented immigrants will not be enough to make America richer so it can spend more on the military.
To create more jobs and grow the American economy to have the funds to reduce the national debt and invest more in the military, there must be people around the world who can afford to buy American goods, services and products, and have the willingness to do so.
America must help build foreign markets for American goods, services and products and help ensure freedom of the sea and sky to protect the movement of global commerce.
Our nation will have to work with Russia, Jordan and the Saudis to bring peace and stability to Syria and the broader Middle East. Part of that effort will have to include strengthening America’s energy security and independence from Middle Eastern oil.
America has been trying to maintain a post WW II structure of the world that is just no longer realistic. The new reality of the 21st Century has to be acknowledged and used to inform the creation of a new American foreign policy framework and global consensus.
Investigating and responding to Russia’s hacking of the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts must also include a serious and objective analysis of how to respond to China and North Korea’s hacking of the federal government and American businesses.
The failure to properly respond to prior incidents of foreign hacking, in the United States, is a part of the reason why Russia felt emboldened enough to hack the DNC and John Podesta’s email accounts.
The reality is that America is not fully prepared to defend the nation against cyber war.
It’s time to put partisanship aside and get to work on properly preparing our nation for the new challenges and adversaries before us and those to come.
Finally, journalists need to understand that their hyperbolic coverage of investigating the Russia hacking story is strengthening Putin on the world stage as a grand geopolitical strategist, (Ivan Krastev, Russia Isn’t Pulling All The Strings, The New York Times, December 21, 2016.)
Domestically, so-called establishment and mainstream media outlets are also significantly undercutting their own credibility. Far too many journalists are now engaged in ahistorical partisan advocacy as opposed to objective fact based reporting historically contextualized.
Putin has destabilized and further divided our nation without firing a shot while elevating his own stature on the world stage. This has been accomplished, in part, by media coverage. The safety and prosperity of our nation depends on how we view the world and respond to its changing needs and circumstances.
♦ Robinson and Adams are members of the faculty of the Political Science Department at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas.
West African States Threaten Military Action in Gambia
West Africa’s regional bloc has threatened to use force in Gambia if the country’s longtime leader does not step down in January as scheduled, following his loss in presidential elections.
The chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Marcel de Souza, told reporters Friday that the bloc has a standby force.
“The deadline is January 19, when the mandate of [President Yahya] Jammeh expires,” de Souza said. “If he doesn’t go, we have a standby force, which is already on alert.” He said the force should be able to intervene “to restore the will of the people.”
De Souza said ECOWAS had chosen Senegal to lead any military operation. Senegal, which geographically surrounds Gambia on three sides, had previously said that military action would be a last resort.
The regional group has been leading diplomatic efforts to try to persuade Jammeh to step down.
Jammeh, who has ruled Gambia for 22 years, initially accepted defeat after December’s presidential election, but a week later he changed his mind. He said voting irregularities made him question the win by opposition candidate Adama Barrow.
The president has said ECOWAS has no authority to meddle in Gambia’s internal affairs.
Took power in coup
Jammeh, 51, has ruled the tiny West African nation since taking power in a military coup in 1994. He won four subsequent elections that critics said were neither free nor fair and supported a 2002 constitutional amendment that removed presidential term limits. He once said he could rule Gambia for “a billion years.”
Rights groups have often accused Jammeh of having political opponents and journalists either arrested or killed.
Barrow, also 51, represented a coalition of seven opposition parties that challenged Jammeh in December’s election. Gambia’s Independent Electoral Commission said that Barrow won 263,000 votes, or 45 percent of the total, while Jammeh took 212,000 votes, about 36 percent. A third candidate, Mama Kandeh, won 17 percent.
Gambia’s Supreme Court will hear a case next month, brought by Jammeh, that seeks to cancel results of the December election.
Gambia, a former British colony, occupies a narrow sliver of land surrounded by French-speaking Senegal. About 880,000 Gambians were eligible to vote in the December 1 poll, which took place under a complete communications blackout, including social media platforms.
19 Entertainers on Whether They’d Perform at Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration
This year, however, might present a unique set of challenges for booking talent for the inauguration, which had confirmed only Jackie Evancho as of Wednesday. It’s also worth noting that during the 2016 presidential election, many actors and singers were vocal supporters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Of the artist friendly with Trump, Kanye West has praised and met with the President-elect, while Dee Snider has sung “We’re Not Gonna Take It” with Trump, later clarifying this was not and endorsement. With that in mind, here’s a look at the entertainers who have spoken out so far on whether or not they would perform at the inauguration for Donald Trump.
Rick Astley: “Depends how big the check was! Politically, the whole world’s been shaken this year – and that was the icing on the cake. But whether it was Donald Trump or anybody else, I’m not sure I’d want to go and play at the inauguration of an American president. I don’t think that’s a place for a British artist to be, to be honest.”
Andrea Bocelli: Rumors abounded that Bocelli would be performing, but Trump inauguration committee chairman Thomas J. Barrack, Jr. set the record straight: “The Bocellis came to him and said, ‘Look, if it would be helpful to you, if you would like us to perform, we would consider it. And Donald said: ‘You don’t need to. We’re not in that kind of a framework. Thanks very much for the offer. You’re my friend. You are always welcome at the White House.’”
The Dixie Chicks: Their manager Simon Renshaw commented, “If anyone does do it, I hope that the check that they get is in the nine figures. Because it’s probably the last check they’re ever going to get…No one is prepared to normalize what is going on in the country right now.”
Jackie Evancho: The 16-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant is the only confirmed performer for the inauguration so far and expressed her delight on The Today Show. “I am so excited. It’s going to be awesome. I felt really honored to be able to sing for the office. It’s a great honor for me.”
David Foster: “For the record, I was asked to participate in the upcoming inauguration some time ago and I politely and respectfully declined. Any news outlet that is reporting otherwise is misinformed.”
Ice T: The rapper joked on Twitter that he had been approached to perform at the inauguration, but “didn’t pick up and blocked the number,” going so far as to suggest Ted Nugent, an avowed Trump supporter as an alternative. He later put to rest inquiries about his claim with a follow-up tweet.
Elton John: Though Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the presidential transition team, told the BBC that John would be performing at the inauguration, the singer’s publicist Fran Curtis sent the New York Times the following as a response to the report: “Incorrect. He will NOT be performing.”
John Legend: When asked about the popular opinion among artists who spoke up: “Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate. We tend to be more liberal-minded. When we see somebody that’s preaching division and hate and bigotry, it’s unlikely he’ll get a lot of creative people that want to be associated with him.”
Eric McCormack: The Will and Grace star said he would perform at the Inauguration in exchange for a “Lobotomy. My whole brain removed from my head…I don’t know what the line-up will be, but I hear Scott Baio’s doing dramatic readings.”
Michael Rapaport: The actor thinks anyone who performs at the inauguration “should be ashamed of themselves.” He also added that the rumored performance fee would not sway his decision. “I wouldn’t do it for money. Trump has no flavor. His supporters have no flavor.”
Beirut (AFP) – A “soldier” of the Islamic State group carried out a truck attack that killed 12 people at a Berlin Christmas market, a news agency linked to the jihadists said Tuesday.
“A soldier of the Islamic State carried out the Berlin operation in response to appeals to target citizens of coalition countries,” the IS-linked Amaq news agency said in a statement posted online.
The statement did not identify the attacker.
The truck was rammed into shoppers at the Christmas market in Berlin on Monday night, killing 12 people and wounding dozens more in what German Chancellor Angela Merkel said was a likely “terrorist” attack.
Police arrested a Pakistani asylum-seeker soon after the attack but released him on Tuesday for lack of evidence, leaving investigators to pursue their hunt for the real perpetrator.
While Germany has so far been spared the devastating jihadist carnage that has hit neighbouring France and Belgium, it has suffered a spate of attacks this year.
In some cases, the assaults have been claimed by IS and carried out by asylum seekers.
On July 18, a 17-year-old asylum-seeker wielding an axe and a knife attacked passengers on a Bavarian train, injuring five people, before being shot dead by police.
The IS group released a video purportedly featuring the attacker announcing he would carry out an “operation” in Germany, and presenting himself as a “soldier of the caliphate”.
A US-led military coalition that includes Germany has been carrying out air strikes against IS positions in Iraq and Syria since 2014.
44 years after conviction, Freedom Rider Sala Udin is pardoned by Obama
President Obama’s decision this week to issue 78 Christmas season pardons — the most of his presidency — should have special meaning for veterans of the civil rights movement.
Among the recipients was former Pittsburgh City Council member Sala Udin, a onetime Freedom Rider who was beaten up registering voters in 1960s Mississippi. But Udin had been haunted for decades by a criminal charge that grew out of his youthful activism: Driving fellow protesters home from the South, he was stopped for speeding in Kentucky and arrested after police found an unloaded shotgun and a jug of moonshine in the car.
“I’m ecstatic,” Udin emailed Yahoo News shortly after he got the call from his lawyer that his long-languishing bid for a pardon had finally been granted by Obama. After waiting patiently for years, Udin had all but given up hope. Only days earlier, amid reports that Obama was contemplating a final round of pardons, Udin had told a friend: “I refuse to allow myself to be optimistic because I don’t want to risk the disappointment. It’s not going to happen.”
Udin, 73, was the subject of a Yahoo News story last year that highlighted Obama’s relatively stingy record of using his constitutional powers to pardon criminal offenders; one critic even called him a pardon “Grinch.” At that point, Obama had issued fewer pardons than any president since James Garfield. (This is separate from Obama’s commutation of sentences, another of his broad clemency powers and one that he has used liberally to reduce the lengthy prison terms of nonviolent drug offenders — a key part of his administration’s initiative for criminal justice reform. Obama separately commuted the sentences of 153 such offenders Monday.)
But Udin had seemed a perfect candidate for a full pardon — a “poster boy” applicant, his lawyer, Margaret Love, said. In his youth, Udin (who changed his name from Samuel Howze) enlisted as a Freedom Rider for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. His assignment was to register black voters in the Mississippi Delta. In doing so, he faced intimidation from local residents and hostility from all-white police forces. “I was beaten up pretty bad and thought I was going to die,” Udin said last year, describing an incident in which he was pulled over and ordered to “get out of the car, n*****!”
In 1970, while driving back from Mississippi, Udin was stopped for speeding outside Louisville, Ky. An unloaded rifle was found in the trunk of his car (along with that jug of Mississippi moonshine.) He was charged and convicted in 1972 of carrying a firearm across state lines and spent eight months in prison.
Udin always acknowledged his guilt, but with a proviso: “At that point, although I was previously committed to nonviolence, I concluded that if I was trapped on some lonely, dark road in the South and confronted by Klansmen who threatened to kill me, I would be prepared to defend my life,” he wrote in his petition for a pardon to the Justice Department. “I concluded that I would rather be caught by the police with defensive weapons than to be caught by the Klan without them.”
Whatever the explanation, there was little dispute that Udin had gone on to live an exemplary life: He founded an African-American Culture Center in Pittsburgh. He served three terms on the Pittsburgh City Council (from 1995 to 2006), spearheading the creation of the city’s police civilian review board.
And yet, Udin — who had campaigned for Obama and gave him a $500 contribution in 2007— had heard nothing on his plea for presidential mercy for years, causing him endless frustration. Maybe, a reporter suggested, his small donation was the problem: The White House, averse to any whiff of potential scandal, might have feared that a pardon for Udin would look like a favor for a campaign contributor.
“I don’t want to say or do anything that would cause a problem for President Obama,” Udin said then. “I love him. If that’s the reason, I’ll accept it. I just don’t want it to be for any other reason.”
When first contacted about Udin’s case, a spokeswoman said last year that the White House doesn’t discuss the merits of individual cases. But White House counsel Neil Eggleston said yesterday Obama’s pardons and commutations “exemplify his belief that America is a nation of second chances.”
Forty-four years after his civil rights era conviction, Udin on Monday got his second chance. Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, who had written Obama on Udin’s behalf, said the pardon was “part of how our nation must reconcile with injustices committed against civil rights activists.” Udin, for his part, was “floating on cloud nine,” he told his hometown paper, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on Monday. “My wife and I just hugged and thanked God,” he added in an email to Yahoo News. “It’s a burden relieved from decades of carrying around the tag-line, ‘convicted felon.’ Now they have to add, ‘PARDONED ex-felon.’”