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  • IS confirms death of top leader al-Baghdadi


    FILE PHOTO: A man purported to be the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi making what would have been his first public appearance, at a mosque in the centre of Iraq's second city, Mosul, according to a video recording posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, in this still image taken from video. (REUTERS photo)

    BAGHDAD, July 11 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic State (IS) militant group has confirmed the death of its top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a local news website reported on Tuesday.

    "Daesh organization (IS group) circulated a brief statement through its media in the (IS-held) town of Tal Afar in the west of Mosul, confirming the killing of its leader al-Baghdadi without giving further details," Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News said on its website.

    "Daesh said in its statement that the name a new caliph (Islamic top leader) will be announced soon, calling on the (IS) militants to continue their steadfastness in the redoubts of the caliphate and not being dragged behind the sedition," al-Sumaria said, citing an anonymous source from Nineveh Province.

    "The announcement caused widespread uproar among supporters of the organization," the website said.

    The news report came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared Mosul liberated from IS after nearly nine months of fierce fighting to dislodge the extremist militants from their last major stronghold in Iraq.

    "I declare to the whole world the end, failure and collapse of Daesh state, the state of IS group terrorism, which they announced it here in Mosul three years ago," Abadi said in a speech in Mosul.

    On Oct. 17, 2016, Abadi announced the start of a major offensive to retake Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq.

    Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, came under IS control in June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.

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    Kenya is the first African country to start using a generic version of the latest AIDS drug that can improve and prolong the lives of tens of thousands of people who suffer severe side effects and resistance to other treatments.

    A generic of Dolutegravir (DTG), first approved in the United States in 2013, is being given to 20,000 patients in Kenya before being rolled out in Nigeria and Uganda later this year, with the backing of the health agency UNITAID.

    DTG is the drug of choice for people with HIV in high-income countries who have never taken antiretroviral therapy before and for those who have developed resistance to other treatment.

    “I had constant nightmares and no appetite,” said Nairobi resident Doughtiest Ogutu, who started taking the drug this year because of her resistance to other treatments.

    “My appetite has come back… My body is working well with it.”Ogutu, who has been living with HIV for 15 years, said her viral load – the amount of HIV in her blood – has fallen tenfold from 450,000 to 40,000 since she started on DTG.

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  • China buys its first African colony for a meagre $40 million

    Zimbabwe is back in the news. Or, it was. For about two days. European and Western media have dutifully reported on the series of painful economic crises the country has suffered since independence with the occasional “so-bad-it’s-funny” article on the birthday celebrations of the country’s long-time President Robert Mugabe. But the full tragedy is that the country is entering its second century of colonial rule, having enjoyed a 35 year stint of totalitarian independence in the middle, and no one seems to care.

    I respect the points made in Augustine’s Chipungu’s article for CapX last month, yet can’t help but feel certain comments are missing some ugly truths. For example, it may be true that if “you divide the top 28 top country destinations for Chinese investment… the balance tips in favour of democratic societies such as Botswana and South Africa”. But this is largely irrelevant information if Chinese investment is actively preventing democracy from taking hold in other countries.

    China’s presence in Zimbabwe is not new. However, the scale of infiltration may have been missed by Western media, or is being ignored.

    Although formal diplomatic relations with China were only established on the 18th of April 1980, this friendship started from a shared ideological belief in Marxist-Leninism. Mugabe, whilst the exiled leader of Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU; later, ZANU-PF), his political party, explicitly stated that he wanted one branch of his guerilla army, ZANLA, to have a political orientation stemming from his supposed Marxist-Leninist philosophy. This alliance of ideas produced the notorious 5th Brigade, who were trained by Zimbabwe and China’s mutual ally, North Korea, and supplied with arms by Beijing. The depth of their ideological motivation can be measured by the fact ZANU turned against fellow revolutionary group ZAPU who were also socialist and funded by the Soviet Union.

    Members of the 5th Brigade were active in Matabeleland to the West of Rhodesia, where they targeted Ndebele tribes who did not support Mugabe who is from a Shona tribal background. (Their main political tactic gukuruhundi roughly translates as “the early rain which washes away the chaff before the spring rains”.) This coercion and intimidation at the polls secured Mugabe an unexpected landslide victory in 1980: he won 62.99 per cent of the votes in the black elections. China’s role in this electoral success was not just acknowledged, but formally recognised in 2001 when it was given “Favoured Nation Status” by the government for helping it during the liberation struggle.

    However, the relationship between the two countries truly peaked in October 2015. A private association of Chinese citizens based in Hong Kong, known as the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts, awarded Robert Mugabe the Confucius Peace Prize. Why this secretive group, which has murky ties to the Chinese government, awarded the Chinese version of the Nobel Peace Prize to Mugabe remains unknown.

    Since independence, China has invested heavily in Zimbabwe, despite European and World Bank sanctions. From 2000 to 2012, approximately 128 Chinese official development projects were identified in Zimbabwe. For example:

    * Around US$144m has been pumped into Harare City Council for water infrastructure and sewerage rehabilitation.

    * A multi-million dollar high-speed train service between Harare and Bulawayo was announced by China Railway Corporation in 2012.

    * The Matabeleland Zambezi Water Pipeline project has been contracted by China Dalian Technical Group, and China has already budgeted US$864 million that will be extended through China’s Eximbank.

    * Anhui Foreign Economic Construction (Group) Co. is close to completing the construction of a US$300 million 300-bed hotel adjacent to the National Sports Stadium, while an extra US$580 million has been pumped into a giant shopping mall.

    * Tianze Tobacco Company, established in 2005 by China Tobacco Import & Export Corporation, has extended a cumulative $100m in interest-free loans to local tobacco farmers and controls over 72% of the crop through contract farming. ( A nice alliance as Zimbabwe is the world’s 5th largest producer of tobacco, and 68% of Chinese men smoke.)

    Despite this, Zimbabwe recorded a trade deficit of US$290.99 million in December of 2014. Between 1991 and 2014, the average trade deficit was US$422.44 million, reaching a crisis point of over US$5 billion in 2011.

    After the violent land expropriations in 2000, symbolising the loss of the rule of law in Zimbabwe, GDP fell by about 26% in two years, and inflation was more than 600% by the beginning of 2004. This triggered the downward spiral. As legally defended property ceased to exist, economic activity decreased. The banking sector was disrupted as borrowing and entrepreneurial activity dropped because property titles couldn’t be offered to the banks as a collateral loan. Incentives to engage in entrepreneurial activities were eliminated and foreign investment flatlined. Agricultural production levels sharply dropped as commercial farmers fled, taking their knowledge of sophisticated farming practices to other countries. Zimbabwe’s dire economic performance was no secret.

    Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009, making the South African rand and US dollar legal tender in the country. Since then it has also added the British pound. These moves failed to curtail inflation, and six months ago, Zimbabwe’s central bank announced that it was completely phasing out the local currency. After years of hyperinflation (peaking at 79.6 sextillion%) the Zimbabwean dollar had become virtually worthless. 250 trillion Zimbabwe dollars was worth just $1. To illustrate: one local woman took her wheelbarrow to the bank in Harare, the capital, in order to carry the amount of bills she would need to purchase anything. On her way back to her car she was robbed. Two young men seized the wheelbarrow, emptied the cash at her feet, and ran off with the wheelbarrow.

    Where does China come on the scene? In a move that initially appears unnecessary considering the other currencies in place, Zimbabwe has just announced that it would adopt the Chinese yuan as an official currency.

    The stated goal of using of the yuan is increasing bilateral trade, namely helping African countries export more to China. The first step, according to Zimbabwe’s finance minister Patrick Chinamasa, is that Chinese tourists would be allowed to pay for services in yuan. He claims that use of the yuan “will be a function of trade between China and Zimbabwe and acceptability with customers in Zimbabwe”. The yuan has not yet been approved for public transactions in the Zimbabwean market, which is currently dominated by the US dollar, but is due to be activated early this year.

    Many see this as part of China’s has push to internationalize its currency. Late last month, the International Monetary Fund’s Executive Board voted in favor of acknowledging the yuan as one of the world’s top currencies. Therefore it is unclear why use of the yuan in Zimbabwe, a failing economy, should be a priority for China. The decision to make Chinese currency legal tender in Zimbabwe hints at a more sinister colonialist relationship.

    The motives for Zimbabwe are also suspicious. Having China as an ally adds an ideological smokescreen, which has advantages both domestically and internationally. Revolutionary myths continue to serve the political function of mobilising domestic support, while close ties with China ward off criticism from Western states conscious of their colonial past. Unfortunately for Zimbabweans, Mugabe’s personal brand of socialism is limited to exploiting existing resources, with no plans regarding how to create wealth. The poverty-stricken nation has apparently learnt nothing from China’s rise. Instead, it has mismanged its way into impoverishment. From 1985 to 1987, agriculture contributed an average of 13% of Zimbabwe’s GDP and provided more than 90% of its food requirements. By 2013, in contrast, the World Food Programme estimated that 2.2 million people — equal to a quarter of the rural population — needed food assistance. If well managed, the country could cater for the whole continent. Instead, its people face starvation.

    So China may seem an attractive benefactor. In November 2012, the Zimbabwean government received grain worth more than US$15 million from the Chinese government as a flat-out donation to prevent several communities disappearing to famine. Zimbabwe also desperately needs China to supply what little infrastructure it can hope for. The 2003 disagreement with the EU led to targeted sanctions, capital flight, and economic depression. Many Western leaders had hopes that this international pressure would cause the Mugabe regime to implode. It has not, but it has left Zimbabwe is in dire need of trading partners, with China there to fill the void.

    Yet since then, Zimbabwe further isolated itself. In 2011, in a stunning case of irony, Zimbabwe central banker Gideon Gono made it clear he wished to avoid the US dollar as a transplant currency. He “warned that Zimbabwe’s nascent economic recovery is at the mercy of the United States dollar, which is facing new pressures from the Euro-zone debt crisis”, positioning Zimbabwe further from Western democracies.

    It seems unlikely the move away from the dollar was truly out of fears over the Eurozone stability. Far more plausible is that Chinese pressure has coerced the government into distancing Zimbabwe from other global powers. Central Intelligence Organisation documents suggest that China continues to play a central role in retaining President Robert Mugabe in his political seat, finding that high level military officers work closely with the local army in poll strategies, while Beijing bankrolls Mugabe’s party. The construction of the new National Defence College in 2010 (to the tune of US$98 million, on loan from the China Export and Import Bank) strengthens these suspicions. Furthermore, the currency adoption is actually part of a deal in which Beijing will also cancel $40 million in debt. Zimbabwe is adopting the yuan because it is propped up by the yuan. It may have had little choice in the matter.

    The yuan has indeed been making inroads elsewhere on the continent. Kenya and South Africa both host clearinghouses that enable traders to conduct transactions between local currencies and the yuan without going through the US dollar first. China’s expansive economic connections in Africa make the widespread introduction of the yuan on the continent a welcome development for them, and the myriad of weak currencies in the region only aids this aim.

    But China is now Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner, and purchases 27.8% of the country’s exports. Murray & Roberts, a top construction firm in Zimbabwe have noted that the Chinese are also dominating Zimbabwe’s construction industry, taking the few projects on offer. According to their spokesperson: “The Chinese have also taken over the telecommunications industry and we face stiff competition because they have cheaper and more skilled labour. M&R is contemplating joining hands with Chinese construction firms, who have been given major projects in the region.”

    Zimbabwe has witnessed an economic uptick in recent years (brought about, in part by rising commodity prices, as well as a diversification of foreign investment options) but these short-term gains can only thinly mask the danger Mugabe is putting Zimbabwe in. Adopting a foreign currency can put a lid on hyperinflation, but it’s very difficult to reverse the process. Zimbabwe is now entirely in the hands of the Chinese. If they cut off their oxygen supply to the Sub-Saharan nation, Zimbabweans will not have long to wait before their country gives up the ghost.

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  • Mourinho accused of tax fraud during Real Madrid stint

    Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has been accused of tax fraud by Spanish prosecutors investigating his time as Real Madrid's head coach.

    Portuguese-born Mourinho is accused of defrauding Spain of €3.3m (£2.9m; $3.6m) in taxes between 2011 and 2012. He has yet to comment on the claim.

    A prosecutor said he did not declare income from the use of his image rights in order to get an "illicit benefit".

    Other big names in football have been accused of tax fraud in Spain recently.

    Those include Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, who played under Mourinho and shares the same agent as him. The player is accused of defrauding tax authorities of €14.7m, by also hiding his income from image rights.

    He denies the accusations and is threatening to leave Spain. The Portuguese-born star is set to give evidence in his case on 31 July.

    Mourinho, 54, is accused of two counts of tax fraud - €1.6m in 2011 and €1.7m in 2012. The Madrid prosecutor said the case was presented to a local court.

    Other footballers accused of tax fraud in Spain include:

    • Barcelona and Argentina footballer Lionel Messi, who has been handed a 21-month jail term. His father Jorge, who manages his finances, was also convicted
    • Barcelona defender Javier Mascherano - also an Argentine - admitted tax fraud, escaping a jail term with a one-year suspended sentence
    • Barcelona and Brazilian star Neymar is also facing allegations of corruption and fraud over his transfer to the Spanish club in 2013 - a case which also involves his parents. Prosecutors allege the transfer cost much more than publicly declared, and that millions were concealed from authorities
    • Former Barcelona president Sandro Rosell, was arrested in May as part of a money-laundering investigatio
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    Including the fingerprint sensor in the screen looks to be a standard going forward, at least for future flagship smartphones -- and Vivo's device could be the first.

    The last few months have made it clear that the age of the standalone fingerprint sensor will one day come to an end. Apple is looking into packing its TouchID technology into the screen, and may actually pull it off. There was talk of Samsung doing the same with the Galaxy S8, but when that didn’t pan out, the conversation moved to the upcoming Note 8.

    Either way, somebody sooner or later is going to make it happen, and when they do, the industry will likely follow suit. Nobody expected the first to be Vivo, however.

    A post on the Chinese social networking site Weibo from industry analyst Jiutang Pan discovered by Android Authority shows a video of a Vivo device being unlocked through on-screen fingerprint recognition. Pan says the phone could make it to market in the coming months, before the next flagship iPhone’s presumed fall reveal.

    Still, the analyst says the iPhone could be the first phone outside China to launch with the feature. As for Samsung, the situation is a bit murkier. The company had to pass on the technology in the Galaxy S8, reportedly because it ran out of time perfecting its solution. You’d think that would bode well for the Note 8’s chances, but rumors suggest it will miss out as well.

    So yes, Vivo has a very real shot at being the first phone maker in the world to produce something other, much larger tech firms have been racing to ship. And while that would be surprising, it’s not completely ridiculous when you factor in the company’s modest history of innovation.

    Four years ago, Vivo released the X3 — the world’s thinnest smartphone at the time, measuring just 5.75 millimeters thick. Last November, it brought the very first phone with 6GB of RAM to the market in the form of its XPlay 5.

    Will it follow those achievements up with an even greater one? Only time will tell, but one thing is certain: don’t count on the device making it to our shores.

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  • London fire: Six killed as Grenfell Tower engulfed

    At least six people have died after a huge fire raged through the night at a west London 24-storey tower block, and police expect that number to rise.

    Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.

    Firefighters, who rescued many people, were called at 00:54 BST and are still trying to put out the fire.

    Police say there may still be people in the building who are unaccounted for.

    During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights - thought to be mobile phones or torches - flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows - some holding children.

    It is understood that "several hundred" people would have been in the block when the fire broke out shortly after midnight, most of them sleeping.


    Media captionMickey, a resident of Grenfell Tower: 'It was like a horror movie'

    Commander Stuart Cundy, of the Metropolitan Police, said the recovery operation would be "complex and lengthy", and the number of fatalities was expected to rise.

    He declined to give any details of the number of people who may be missing.

    He said it was likely to be some time before police could identify the victims, adding that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the fire.

    An emergency number - 0800 0961 233 - has been set up for anyone concerned about friends or family.

    More than 70 people have received treatment in hospital. At least 20 are known to be in a critical condition.

    At 13:00 BST, Fire Commissioner Dany Cotton said firefighters expected to be on the scene for at least another 24 hours and she would not speculate about the cause of the blaze.

    She said there were concerns that people were still inside the tower and she urged all residents to make sure they had reported themselves to police so that the authorities know they are safe.

    Prime Minister Theresa May is "deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life", said Downing Street.

    Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is to demand a government statement in Parliament on Thursday on the tragedy, the BBC understands.

    Later, police and fire minister Nick Hurd will chair a cross-party meeting to look at how the government can assist the emergency services and local authorities.


    Media captionDavid Benjamin says he was woken by a neighbour banging on the door

    Paul Munakr, who lives on the seventh floor, managed to escape.

    "As I was going down the stairs, there were firefighters, truly amazing firefighters that were actually going upstairs, to the fire, trying to get as many people out the building as possible," he told the BBC.

    He said he was alerted to the fire not by fire alarms but by people on the street below, shouting "don't jump, don't jump".

    Eyewitness Jody Martin said: "I watched one person falling out, I watched another woman holding her baby out the window... hearing screams.

    "I was yelling at everyone to get down and they were saying 'We can't leave our apartments, the smoke is too bad on the corridors

    Michael Paramasivan, who lives on the seventh floor with his girlfriend and young daughter, said he ignored official advice to stay in your home.

    "If we had stayed in that flat, we would've perished. My gut instinct told me just to get the girls out. I wrapped the little one up because of the smoke and I just got them out."

    Another resident, Zoe, who lives on the fourth floor, said she was woken by a neighbour banging on her door.

    "The whole landing was thick with smoke. The smoke alarms weren't going off but the way it spread so quickly from the fourth floor, all the way up to the 23rd floor was scary."

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  • Teddy Afro’s “Ethiopia” translated into English

    Ethiopian Professor Alemayehu Gebremariam, a Lecturer of Political Science at California State University, San Bernardino, has translated Teddy Afro’s much beloved “Ethiopia” song into English aiming for those native Ethiopians, who have born and raised abroad.

    Here you can find Professor Alemayehu’s English version poem for Teddy Afro’s Ethiopia:-

    Even if I pass [die] away
    My motherland [Ethiopia]
    She [remains] is my honor
    Indeed, [she is] my [mother] country.

    So many have died
    Guarding your [her] honor
    Against those who have crossed seas
    To dishonor you [her].

    You are the land of heroes
    [Land] Where Adam left his footprints
    The fountainhead of Ghion [river mentioned in Ch. 2, Genesis]
    [From where] your name is called out.

    Not only those who see your flag waving in the SKY
    Even those who hear the name “Ethiopia” [dare] keep quiet
    Not only those who see your flag waving in the sky
    Even those who hear the name “Ethiopia” [dare] keep quiet.

    With your rainbow [shining]
    The sky draped with your flag
    Your symbol is imprinted on the palm of the world
    And known [even] to Aryam [Ge’ez: sky above all skies, heaven].

    Mountain [ranges] of high peaks
    Have stood guard over you
    [From] The peak of mountains
    That citadel of Axum, Ethiopia.

    You are the gate to Creation
    The [beginning] chapter for the round world
    If [rainbow] colors are seen across the SKY
    It is hers [Ethiopia’s] and no one else’s.

    Even though the world calls her [Ethiopia] backward today
    She will be the front runner of the coming age
    Just let me repeat her name over and over
    Isn’t Ethiopia my own name?

    If there is less food [injera] on the table [Ethiopia is poor]
    Is it possible to TRADE one’s [poor] mother for anything else
    I will hold tight on her skirt
    And never give up hope in my mother.

    Before [I] finish paying her [Ethiopia] for all her favors
    Should not people say [shout out] “Unity” when they hear [the name] Ethiopia
    Ethiopia! Ethiopia! My country!
    Isn’t my honor because of you?

    You are the seed of Solomon
    Tears of the holy ones from which your leaf sprouted
    It should be nothing new [not be surprised] today to those
    Who touched [provoked] you to be burned by the fire they lit.

    Without any limitation to your glory
    In the book of your heritage with the history of the spirit of the ages [written]
    The prophets saw you from afar and wrote in their books:
    “Don’t touch Ethiopia!”

    In the north
    In the south
    In the east and in the west
    May your bounty be full!

    Begone hardship [misery] from the land [Ethiopia]
    Let your bounty be full!
    Begone hardship [misery] from your land [Ethiopia]
    Let your bounty be full!

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  • Bionic hand 'sees and grabs' objects automatically

    A bionic hand that "sees" objects and instantly decides what kind of grip to adopt has been developed by scientists.

    A computer uses a camera to assess an object's shape and size to then trigger the correct movement to pick it up.

    The technology was developed at Newcastle University and has been trialled by a small number of amputees.

    Dr Kianoush Nazarpour, a senior lecturer in biomedical engineering at the university, said the bionic hand can "respond automatically".

    'Intuitive hand'

    The device could spark a new generation of prosthetic limbs giving the wearer the ability to grip objects without the use of their brain, researchers say.

    Dr Nazarpour said: "Prosthetic limbs have changed very little in the past 100 years.

    "Responsiveness has been one of the main barriers to artificial limbs.

    Dr. Kianoush NazarpourImage copyrightPAImage captionDr. Kianoush Nazarpour has praised the "intuitive" hand that can seemingly react without thinking.

    "For many amputees the reference point is their healthy arm or leg so prosthetics seem slow and cumbersome in comparison.

    "Now, for the first time in a century, we have developed an 'intuitive' hand that can react without thinking."

    The team, whose work is reported in the Journal of Neural Engineering, programmed the hand to react within milliseconds and perform four different "grasps" suitable for picking up a cup, holding a TV controller, and gripping objects with a thumb and two fingers or a pinched thumb and first finger.

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  • Former MI6 chief Richard Dearlove says Donald Trump borrowed money from Russia during 2008 financial crisis

    The former head of MI6 has said Donald Trump borrowed money from Russia for his business during the 2008 financial crisis.

    Richard Dearlove told Prospect Magazine that “what lingers for Trump may be what deals – on what terms – he did after the financial crisis of 2008 to borrow Russian money” when other banks and lenders would not risk the money, given Mr Trump’s history of bankruptcy. 

    Mr Dearlove alleged the money was used by Mr Trump to prop up his real estate empire, which was hit hard by the financial crisis. It is not illegal to borrow money from Russian entities but Mr Dearlove, who left government in 2004, did not provide any evidence to support his claim in the interview. 

    Just days before taking office Mr Trump tweeted that Russia has never had “leverage” over him. 

    Mr Trump also recently said US-Russia relations may be at an “all-time low” following the US air strike in Russian-allied Syria after a chemical attack in the Idlib province. 

    Robert Amsterdam, a lawyer at international law firm Amsterdam & Partners with considerable experience in Russian affairs, told The Independent there was “no question” that US intelligence agencies and the FBI had information about Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities prior to the 2016 US election.

    “Trump’s relationship with Russia goes back many, many years. I’m sure the FBI was monitoring it,” he said. 

    Two parallel investigations into alleged ties between Trump associates and Russia during the 2016 presidential election as well as Russia’s alleged tampering with the election are being conducted in Congress at the moment. 

    Democrat Senator Mark Warner, Vice Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee said the tactics used by the Kremlin “send a chill down anyone who believes in the democratic process“.

    If the FBI and or other US intelligence agencies did know about any financial burden Mr Trump had with Russian lenders, it will raise further questions over why the information was not released earlier, especially given the FBI's approach to Mr Trump's opposition candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

    FBI Director James Comey infamously sent a letter on 28 October - just 11 days before Americans went to the polls - to Congress stating the agency found new, pertinent emails in its ongoing investigation into then-candidate Ms Clinton’s use of a private email server for messages containing classified information. 

    Mr Amsterdam said one possible explanation is “that the FBI has an informer who was once part of the Trump organisation” and that information was not released in order to protect that source. 

    “In my view…[the FBI] had no obligation” to share the Trump investigation but “the same rules should apply to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump,” he said. 

    Mr Amsterdam explained that Russian authorities likely have the same, if not “better,” information about Mr Trump’s financial dealings with Russian entities. 

    “One of Mr Trump’s main lenders is a bank that’s been particularly close with Russians: Deutsche Bank,” said Mr Amsterdam. 

    It is unknown if Mr Trump is still paying off the alleged 2008 debts to Russian lenders or which part of the vast Trump organisation took out the loans. 

    The Congressional investigations will also include interviews and possibly hearings with Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. 

    It has been confirmed that Vnesheconombank, a Russian state development bank, met with Mr Kushner in December 2016.

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  • North Korea 'ready for nuclear attack' amid show of force

    North Korea has warned the US not to take provocative action in the region, saying it is "ready to hit back with nuclear attacks".

    The comments came as North Korea marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-sung.

    A huge parade in Pyongyang was held amid speculation current leader Kim Jong-un could order a new nuclear test.

    Among the hardware on display appeared to be new intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.

    The show of strength comes amid mounting tension, with a US aircraft carrier group steaming towards the region.

    "We're prepared to respond to an all-out war with an all-out war," said Choe Ryong-hae, believed to be the country's second most powerful official.

    "We are ready to hit back with nuclear attacks of our own style against any nuclear attacks," he said.

    Rows of military bands and goose-stepping and sword-wielding soldiers marched through Pyongyang's main Kim Il-sung square for the "Day of the Sun" celebrations, as a black-suited Kim Jong-un watched on.

    Kim Jong-un at the paradeImage copyrightREUTERSImage captionKim Jong-un appeared relaxed and laughed with aides

    He saluted an honour guard and took his place on the podium. At times he appeared relaxed and laughed with aides.

    Military planes created the number 105 in the sky.

    With concerns that North Korea is getting closer to successfully producing a nuclear arsenal, Saturday's parade was an opportunity for Mr Kim to broadcast North Korea's current military capabilities.

    On display for the first time were what appeared to be the Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which have a range of more than 1,000 km (600 miles).

    Weapons analysts said there also appeared to be two new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles in canister launchers, but it remains unclear whether they have been tested.

    North Korea is marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-sungImage copyrightREUTERSImage captionNorth Korea is marking the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung

    The event made clear how vital the state's nuclear programme is to its future ambitions as it continues to ignore growing pressure from the US to abandon its nuclear weapons programme.

    North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches. Experts and government officials believe it is working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that can reach the US.

    On Friday, China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi warned that "conflict could break out at any moment", adding that if war occurred there could be no winner.

    Unlike at previous Pyongyang parades there did not appear to be any Chinese representatives present.

    The USS Carl Vinson, 8 April 2017Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionThe US carrier group deploying off the Korean peninsula is led by the USS Carl Vinson

    Adding to Chinese unease, US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that "the problem of North Korea" would be "taken care of".

    "If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."

    Vice-President Mike Pence will be in South Korea on Sunday as part of a 10-day Asia trip.

    The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson and an accompanying battle group have also been sent to the Korean peninsula.

    "We are sending an armada. Very powerful," Mr Trump told the Fox Business Network. "He is doing the wrong thing," he said of Kim Jong-un. "He's making a big mistake."

    However, Associated Press quoted US officials as saying that the Trump administration was focusing more on raising pressure on North Korea with the help of China rather than using military force.

    The US president has recently demonstrated his willingness to resort to military methods. He ordered a cruise missile attack on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack, and the US military just used a huge bombagainst so-called Islamic State in Afghanistan.


    Media captionHow North Korea is testing the US

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