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Public smiles, private problems as Saudi prince visits White House

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince received an effusive welcome Tuesday at the White House from US President Donald Trump, who hailed a “great friendship” with the kingdom — but made no public mention of the sticking points in the burgeoning alliance. In front of the cameras, it was all back-slapping, handshakes, smiles and warm [...] The post Public smiles, private problems as Saudi prince visits White House appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource: manilatimes_net manilatimes_netMar 21st, 2018

US First Lady Melania Trump reappears after ‘vanishing act’

Melania Trump attended a White House event for military veterans on Monday, ending a 25-day absence from the public eye that had sent the rumor mills into overdrive. The US first lady, known for her privacy and independence, had not been seen in public following a surgery last month. In pictures posted on her official Twitter account, she was seen sitting next to President Donald Trump at a private reception for families of US soldiers killed in action. She and Trump "were honored to pay tribute to our fallen heroes. Thank you to the Gold Star families that joined us in celebration & remembrance," the tweet said. Melania, 48, had not been spotted since May 10, when she jo...Keep on reading: US First Lady Melania Trump reappears after ‘vanishing act’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 5th, 2018

Cyberattacks are costly, and things could get worse: US report

        Cyberattacks cost the United States between $57 billion and $109 billion in 2016, a White House report said Friday, warning of a "spillover" effect for the broader economy if the situation worsens. A report by the White House Council of Economic Advisers sought to quantify what it called "malicious cyber activity directed at private and public entities" including denial of service attacks, data breaches and theft of intellectual property, and sensitive financial and strategic information. It warned of malicious activity by "nation-states" and specifically cited Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea. The report noted particular concern over ...Keep on reading: Cyberattacks are costly, and things could get worse: US report.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsFeb 17th, 2018

Bolton says he’s no longer allowed to see Trump – CNN News

A hawkish ally of Donald Trump claims he cannot see the President due to &'8220;staff changes&'8221; at the White House. John Bolton, a former US ambassador to the UN who at one point was a candidate to lead the State Department, claimed in a National Review op-ed published Monday that his plan for the US to exit the Iran nuclear deal had to be presented publicly, because staff changes at the White House have made &'8220;presenting it to President Trump impossible.&'8221; CNN has reached out to the White House for comment. His alleged snubbing is the latest development in the tug-of-war for influence over Trump's White House between firebrands such as Bolton and those who have taken a more moderate approach to foreign policy, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis. Bolton's op-ed comes days after Sebastian Gorka, who advocated a hawkish stance against terrorism, left his position as a White House adviser. Chief of staff John Kelly, who assumed the role in late July, has been conducting a review of the West Wing that includes assessing individual staffers' portfolios. In a memo drawn up after a July directive from Steve Bannon, the recently ousted White House chief strategist, Bolton pushes for selling the idea of leaving the Iran deal to the public in a &'8220;white paper&'8221; and lays out a strategy for the &'8220;campaign&'8221; and its &'8220;execution.&'8221; Bolton has been frustrated at the rise of more traditional foreign policy thinkers within the White House, such as Mattis and Tillerson, who have favored remaining in the deal. The agreement curbs Iran's nuclear weapons program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions. Iran remains under multiple sanctions for terrorism-related activities. &'8220;Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity,&'8221; Bolton writes. Where proponents of the deal, including lawmakers and former Obama administration officials, see the pact as a way to get visibility on Iran's nuclear activities, and, at least for the time being, stop it's nuclear program, Bolton sees only danger. &'8220;The JCPOA is a threat to US national-security interests, growing more serious by the day,&'8221; Bolton writes, though he doesn't offer evidence. &'8220;If the President decides to abrogate the JCPOA, a comprehensive plan must be developed and executed to build domestic and international support for the new policy.&'8221; His memo, he says, fills that function. &'8220;It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, 100-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement,&'8221; Bolton writes. He adds that there is no need to wait for the next deadline in October, when the US must next certify that Iran is sticking to the deal. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the JCPOA, was an international agreement hammered out over 20 arduous months of negotiations. China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK, the US, the EU and Iran reached a deal in July 2015 and it was implemented in January 2016. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency has regular access to nuclear sites inside Iran and verifies that it is implementing its side of the deal; in exchange, the US, UN and EU lifted nuclear related sanctions. Every 90 days, the US president must certify that Iran is keeping up its end of the deal. Trump campaigned against the deal and continues to criticize it, but because Iran is complying, he has certified it twice on the advice of his national security staff. But officials in his administration have clearly been looking for ways to find wiggle room to get out of the deal. Some, like US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, have used the line that Iran is not complying with the &'8220;spirit&'8221; of the deal, pointing to Tehran's activities in the region, including its support for Houthi rebels in Yemen and its backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Bolton says that Trump can bolster his case for abrogating the deal &'8220;by providing new, declassified information on Iran's unacceptable behavior around the world.&'8221; These activities, though, are not part of the JCPOA, deliberately left as a separate issue by the Obama administration and the other international negotiators, who said that to include every single gripe with Iran would make negotiations too unwieldy to resolve. Some proponents of the deal, watching the Trump administration's moves, are already campaigning to keep it. They point to the security consequences of an Iran without constraints on its nuclear weapons program and to the economic fallout as European and Asian firms would likely continue to do business with Tehran while US firms are shut out. &'8220;Accordingly,&'8221; Bolton writes, &'8220;we must explain the grave threat to the US and our allies, particularly Israel.&'8221; But many in Israel's security establishment argue for keeping the deal in place, and making sure its implementation is as rigorous as possible. Bolton makes the case for a four-step campaign that begins with &'8220;early, quiet consultations with key players such as the UK, France, Germany, Israel and Saudi Arabia, to tell them we are going to abrogate the deal based on outright violations and other unacceptable Iranian behavior, and seek their input.&'8221; That would be followed by a detailed white paper that includes declassified intelligence explaining why the deal hurts US security interests; a diplomatic campaign against the deal, especially in Europe and the Middle East; and efforts to sway lawmakers and the [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsAug 30th, 2017

Trump asked me to let Flynn investigation go – CNN News

Fired FBI Director James Comey aimed a dagger blow at Donald Trump Wednesday, saying the President had demanded his loyalty, pressed him to drop a probe into ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and repeatedly pressured him to publicly declare that he was not under investigation. Comey magnified the political crisis engulfing the White House by releasing his opening statement ahead of a blockbuster appearance on Capitol Hill on Thursday. The dramatic document sketched a stunningly detailed account of Comey's intimate meetings with the President, included direct quotes from Trump and revealed the former FBI chief's discomfort with the President's behavior. The testimony appeared to bolster the case of Trump critics who believe that the President may have obstructed justice and abused his power in his dealings with Comey, who he later fired. Comey said that Trump asked him to drop FBI investigations into Flynn centering on his calls with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition, which eventually led to his dismissal as national security adviser after it emerged he had lied about the conversations to Vice President Mike Pence. Interactive: The many paths from Trump to Russia He wrote that Trump said: &'8220;'I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.&'8221; &'8220;I replied only that 'he is a good guy.'&'8221; Comey wrote, describing a private meeting with Trump in the Oval Office on February 14, then added: &'8220;I did not say I would 'let this go.'&'8221; The exchange took place after a meeting between Trump and senior intelligence and homeland security officials, after which the President asked to speak to the FBI Director alone. Comey said in his testimony that he understood the President to be requesting that he drop the investigation into Flynn, who had resigned the day before. But he says he did not understand Trump to be referring to the wider Russia investigation. &'8220;Regardless, it was very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency.&'8221; Trump critics contended that this encounter appears to be tantamount to an inappropriate pressure on the FBI by the President, an allegation that if proven could have dire consequences for Trump's presidency itself. Comey's account of this encounter conflicts with Trump's own statements. At a press conference on May 18, the President was asked whether he had asked the FBI Director to pull the plug on the Flynn component of the Russia investigation. &'8220;No, No, next question,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;There is a criminal investigation going on of one of the President's top associations &' he gets fired, he is under under investigation and the President brings in the FBI Director and says 'please stop your investigation,'&'8221; said CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. &'8220;If that isn't obstruction of justice, I don't know what is,&'8221; Toobin said. But Trump's defenders were quick to seize on the document as well, arguing that it supported Trump's claims that the former FBI chief had told him three times that he was not personally being investigated in the Russia probe. Comey wrote in his testimony that he twice told Trump he was not being investigated once before the inauguration and once when he was President and also said that he had told congressional leaders that the FBI was not &'8220;personally investigating President Trump.&'8221; Trump's camp argued that fact vindicated the President and sought to use it to sweep away the Russia questions that have been clouding his White House ever since the inauguration. &'8220;The President is pleased that Mr. Comey has finally publicly confirmed his private reports that the President was not under investigation in any Russian probe,&'8221; said Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal attorney. &'8220;The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda.&'8221; Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen told CNN, &'8220;Comey's statement released today needs to be carefully scrutinized as his testimony claims the president was concerned about the dossier.&'8221; The Republican Party also singled out the same helpful passages of Comey's testimony. &'8220;President Trump was right,&'8221; said Republican National Committee Chairwoman McDaniel. &'8220;Director Comey's statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along &'8212; he was never under investigation,&'8221; McDaniel said in a statement that did not mention the other aspects of Comey's testimony. The testimony was posted without notice on the website of the Senate Intelligence Committee, instantly electrifying Washington, which has been on edge for days ahead of Comey's planned testimony. The dramatic intervention was classic Comey: the towering FBI chief, branded a &'8220;showboat&'8221; by Trump, has a reputation for theatrical public coups, and his move will only intensify the anticipation for his appearance on Thursday. &'8220;The President feels completely and totally vindicated. He is eager to continue to move forward with his agenda.&'8221; Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen told CNN, &'8220;Comey's statement released today needs to be carefully scrutinized as his testimony claims the president was concerned about the dossier.&'8221; The Republican Party also singled out the same helpful passages of Comey's testimony. &'8220;President Trump was right,&'8221; said Republican National Committee Chairwoman McDaniel. &'8220;Director Comey's statement reconfirmed what the president has been saying all along &'8212; he was never under investigation,&'8221; McDaniel said in a statement that did not mention the other aspects of Comey's testimony. The testimony was posted without notice on the website of the Senate Intelligence Committee, instantly electrifying Washington, [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsJun 8th, 2017

Republicans lose patience with FBI on Russia, Trump campaign ties information – CNN News

Top Republicans in Congress expressed their dissatisfaction Wednesday about getting answers from the FBI, as lawmakers trying to investigate Russia's meddling in the US election say they've continued to see no evidence of President Donald Trump's claim that he was wiretapped by his predecessor. The FBI's decision to brief the Senate Judiciary Committee comes after the committee's Chairman, Sen. Chuck Grassley, threatened to not schedule a vote for Rod Rosenstein to be deputy attorney general unless his panel got the FBI briefing he and the committee's top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, requested weeks ago. Grassley &'8212; a stalwart Republican with a powerful post &'8212; expressed his exasperation the FBI hours before a private meeting at the Capitol with Comey. He called the scheduled meeting a &'8220;positive step,&'8221; but also added: &'8220;I don't want to say that's enough at this point.&'8221; Grassley said he was frustrated that officials haven't been as forthcoming as lawmakers would like, and said his committee hasn't been given the respect it deserves for its oversight of the executive branch. &'8220;That's very irritating,&'8221; Grassley told CNN. He wasn't the only Republican venting his displeasure: Sen. Lindsay Graham, who sits on a subcommittee that's seeking FBI answers, said earlier that he would subpoena the agency for information if it wasn't provided to him and fellow subcommittee member Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse. &'8220;We wrote a letter &'' Sen. Whitehouse and myself &'' wanting to know if there's evidence of a warrant issued by the Trump campaign,&'8221; the South Carolina Republican told CNN's Chris Cuomo on &'8220;New Day. &'8220;He hasn't answered that letter or confirmed if there's a real investigation of the Trump campaign.&'8221; &'8220;He needs to answer the letter and give the nation some information about what's going on here,&'8221; Graham said. Whitehouse and Graham said later Wednesday they had received a letter from the FBI saying they would respond to their questions next week in a classified letter. It was also announced Wednesday that Comey will testify at the House Intelligence Committee on March 20 hearing and there will be a second hearing in the committee March 28, the committee's chairman said. In a Fox interview with Tucker Carlson Wednesday, the President defended his decision to tweet about wiretapping before producing evidence by hinting &'8212; again without evidence &'8212; that more information will emerge in the weeks to come, presumably proving his point. &'8220;Wiretap covers a lot of different things,&'8221; Trump said. &'8220;I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.&'8221; House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes said he does not believe Trump's claim that Obama wiretapped him, but said it's possible Trump communications may have been gathered in &'8220;incidental&'8221; intelligence collection. &'8220;I don't believe Trump Tower was tapped,&'8221; Nunes told reporters Wednesday. &'8220;We don't have any evidence that that took place and, in fact, I don't believe &'8212; just in the last week of time, the people we've talked to &'8212; I don't think there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,&'8221; Nunes said at a news conference in reference to the claim originally made by Trump several weeks ago. Nunes and Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said they want to see any evidence of wiretapping by their March 20 hearing or they may also issue a subpoena for the records. Asked if he had seen any evidence that Trump aides spoke with Russian officials other than Russian ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak, Nunes said, &'8220;Not that I'm aware of.&'8221; But Schiff added: &'8220;I wouldn't answer that question as categorically as my colleague. We're not privileged to talk about the contents of the investigation but, you know, I think we need to be very precise when we talk about this. And I just don't think that we can answer it categorically in this forum.&'8221; Nunes and Schiff also sent a letter to the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency demanding information on the leaks regarding Russia's contact with Trump advisers by Friday. The two leaders of the House investigation said their work has been stalled so far by trouble accessing computers used by the director of national intelligence &'8212; Schiff said he has been taking handwritten notes when he views evidence. The two have not yet interviewed former national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn and declined to say whether he would appear at a public hearing. Schiff added that he is very concerned about Trump adviser Roger Stone's admission that he communicated with &'8220;Guccifer 2.0&'8221; &'8212; who was later determined by intelligence agencies to be a Russian hacker or group of hackers. Stone has described his contact with Guccifer as limited to a &'8220;brief exchange with him on Twitter&'8221; and any suggestion otherwise, he told CNN, is &'8220;a fabrication.&'8221; The White House has vacillated on Trump's claims in the last two days. Press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Trump did not mean literally that Obama personally wiretapped him. But on Tuesday, Spicer said Trump was &'8220;extremely confident&'8221; he would be vindicated by the evidence. &'8220;I think there's significant reporting about surveillance techniques that existed throughout the 2016 election,&'8221; Spicer said, without providing any examples. &'8220;He feels very confident that what will ultimately come of this will vindicate him,&'8221; Spicer said. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Wednesday he never gave Trump any reason to believe the GOP candidate [&'].....»»

Category: newsSource:  mindanaoexaminerRelated NewsMar 16th, 2017

Top Saudi prince to meet Trump in White House visit

RIYADH — The White House confirmed yesterday that President Donald Trump will meet this week with Saudi Arabia's second-in-line to the throne in the highest-.....»»

Category: newsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMar 13th, 2017

Obama to block Saudi 9/11 prosecution

WASHINGTON: Barack Obama will on Friday veto legislation allowing 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia, risking public outrage and the first congressional override of his presidency. The White House confirmed Thursday that Obama would veto the legislation.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsSep 23rd, 2016

Obama speech to mark 100 years since Mandela s birth

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Former US president Barack Obama will deliver a speech to a crowd of 15,000 people in South Africa on Tuesday, July 17, as the centerpiece of celebrations marking 100 years since Nelson Mandela's birth. Obama has made relatively few public appearances since leaving the White House in 2017, ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated News21 hr. 29 min. ago

Egypt-Saudi spat provides backdrop to their World Cup clash

VOLGOGRAD, Russia --- In theory, it's an inconsequential match between two teams already eliminated from the World Cup. In reality, Monday's clash between Egypt and Saudi Arabia is about pride, politics and maybe some score settling too. Fans in the two nations are locked in a public quarrel pitting Saudi Arabia's top sports official --- a maverick and a confidante of the kingdom's powerful crown prince --- against Egypt's biggest soccer club over the fate of millions he poured into the club's coffers during his brief tenure as the club's honorary chairman. Inappropriate comments by the official, Turki Alsheikh, about Egypt's Mohamed Salah, fueled the spat, dragging mil...Keep on reading: Egypt-Saudi spat provides backdrop to their World Cup clash.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 23rd, 2018

As Saudis wilt on field, kingdom pursues soccer power grab

By Rob Harris, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — The Saudis have ambitions to seize control over parts of international soccer. Losing 5-0 by Russia in the World Cup opener shows they might have bigger problems at home. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had to endure the humiliation in the stadium on Thursday, with Saudi Arabia's mauling in Moscow coming at the hands of a side just below the Saudis in the FIFA rankings. Coach Juan Antonio Pizzi studiously sidestepped a question about whether his federation had been distracted lately. But it has. Just when the Saudis had a first World Cup appearance in 12 years to prepare for, the federation has been mounting a power grab of soccer far beyond the kingdom. What appears the creation of just another bureaucratic institution within the sport could actually have wider ramifications. On its face, the establishment of the South West Asian Football Federation by the Saudis, including the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, to help to develop the game appears a benevolent undertaking, especially when the existing regional governing body is so vast. "Football is about growth and if you don't grow economically, socially, technically, you will not be moving," Saudi federation president Adel Ezzat told The Associated Press. "It's not enough for us to be in the World Cup. "We have a vision that an Asian country will win the World Cup one day, but there must be a start for that. Football is underdeveloped in many areas in Asia." Is the Asian Football Confederation to blame? "Ambitions have to be higher than winning the Asian Cup," Ezzat said. Confederation president Sheikh Salman, a Bahraini, said he "had no objection to the creation of SWAFF as long as it remains as a football body outside of the AFC's zonal structure." Scratch deeper below the surface and the true objectives of the new body seem a little cloudy. It is unclear why SWAFF is required when there are already regional offshoots of the AFC, including the West Asian Football Federation, which is led by Jordan's Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein who resisted an attempt by the Saudis to seize power of his organization before the new regional force emerged. "It will help Asia and it will help FIFA," Ezzat told The Associated Press. "We don't see anything wrong creating that connection between the south and the west. Football needs to grow." Ezzat maintained that SWAFF had followed the right legal steps to avoid breaching the rules of world football's governing body. Ezzat said FIFA governance committee head Mukul Mudgal had been dispatched by FIFA President Gianni Infantino to the SWAFF meeting on May 31 in Jeddah. The Indian judge denied he was in attendance. SWAFF said the founding members also include Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bahrain, Maldives, Yemen, Oman and Kuwait. Oman Football Association General Secretary Said Othman Al Bulushi told the AP his nation was waiting to assess the statutes and legality of the body within FIFA before confirming its membership. The entire Gulf is not in SWAFF. Take a look at the map and three countries in particular are missing: Iran, Qatar and Yemen. "It's not about the geographic map," Saudi federation president Adel Ezzat said. "It's about zones." Could it also be about politics? For three years, a Saudi-led coalition has been trying to drive out Iranian-aligned Shiite rebels known as Houthis from Yemen to break the civil war in the Arab world's poorest nation and restore the exiled government. Across the Gulf, the Saudis are part of a quartet, including the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain, which has spent the last year putting the squeeze on Qatar. Diplomatic ties with the energy-rich country have been severed amid allegations that Qatar supports extremist groups in the region, which Doha denies. The Qataris, though, have plowed ahead with preparations to host an event that will put them at the center of the world's attention: the next World Cup in 2022. Ezzat won't discuss Qatar, or the 2022 World Cup. Turki Al-Sheikh, head of Saudi Arabia's General Sports Authority, has been less circumspect, demanding earlier this year that Qatar be stripped of the hosting rights if corruption around its bid was proven. For now, in Saudi sights is Qatar's flagship sports network, which owns exclusive Middle East and North African rights to the World Cup. The BeIN Sports coverage of the Russia World Cup opener was watched across Saudi Arabia — but on a pirate channel. The beoutQ signal is transmitted by a Riyadh-based satellite provider, whose largest shareholder is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Still, the BeIN coverage was seized on by Al-Sheikh to threaten legal action against the network for "wrongdoings against KSA, its sports and officials, and for exploiting sports to achieve political goals." In a tweet, Al-Sheikh added Friday that this "proves Saudi authorities' true stance when banning this network from airing on its soil." Soccer's world body, though, is finally intervening. FIFA said it is "exploring all options to stop the infringement of its rights, including in relation to action against legitimate organizations that are seen to support such illegal activities." What FIFA would not say is whether Infantino raised Qatar's concerns when he watched the opener in the Luzhniki Stadium alongside the Saudi crown prince. Infantino has been a keen visitor to Saudi Arabia over the last year, including meeting King Salman, as intrigue has swirled about the country's role in a consortium's plans to underwrite $25 billion to launch a vastly expanded Club World Cup and an international Nations League. "He knows for a fact the importance of Saudi Arabia in the region," Ezzat said. "That's why I believe he is paying a lot of attention to Saudi Arabia. ... That's a very important sign. (FIFA) know this country can play a very important role in the development of football." Infantino, though, said he believed the backing for the new competitions was "not part of a wider Saudi sports grab." The proposals have stalled because of opposition within the council to Infantino's secrecy over the financial backers. Growing football is part of a sweeping "Vision 2030" plan to wean Saudi Arabia off its near-total dependence on oil money. Prince Mohammed is trying to push Saudi Arabia to become a more cosmopolitan nation that appeals to international investors. Ezzat wants to create new soccer competitions under the auspices of SWAFF and invite countries to participate from beyond the region — particularly Europe. "The country is going through an important change," Ezzat said. "Football can be a catalyst for change. The FIFA president I'm sure knows this very well. ... My country can play an important role in football." Just not the Saudi national team at the moment......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 16th, 2018

House panel tasks BIR to look into Sereno’s possible tax liabilities

Since the missing Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN) of Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno remain missing, the House committee on justice that has been holding hearings on the impeachment case against the top magistrate in the High Court has directed the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) to begin an investigation on the possible tax liabilities of Sereno, owing to her having failed to file her SALNs for 17 years when she was still a law professor at the University of the Philippines (UP). At the resumption of the impeachment hearing to determine probable cause on the complaint filed by lawyer Larry Gadon against Sereno, panel chair Oriental Mindoro Rep. Reynaldo Umali asked BIR deputy commissioner Arnel Guballa to produce a report on or before February 19 Sereno’s tax payments. Among the basis cited by Gadon in his complaint was Sereno’s alleged failure to declare in her SALN from 2010 to 2016 her earnings as one of the private counsels of the government in the expropriation of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 in the Piatco case amounting to P30 million. Based on documents Gadon was able to secure, Sereno reportedly filed her SALN in 1998, 2002 and 2006, even as she was employed as a professor by the UP College of Law from 1986 to 2006.Guballa, who submitted the Chief Justice’s income tax return from 2004 to 2009, said Sereno declared her income as a lawyer from a law office.Asked about Sereno’s income tax payments representing her earnings from the Piatco case, Gubala said they are still in the process of investigating this.“We can answer those questions when we will have conducted a formal investigation,” said Guballa, adding they will try to come up with a proposed deficiency or anything with regard to Sereno’s income in two weeks.“We are still collating information. We can answer those questions when we have conducted a formal investigation,” he said.“We will try our best in two weeks. . . . I will try my best to come up with a proposed deficiency or whatever we can made regarding the income the Chief Justice had made,” Guballa added.Sereno’s camp had said the Chief Justice received the Piatco fee in tranches so the full amount does not appear in her 2010 statement of assets, liabilities, and net worth.The camp of Sereno had a statement explaining that “Chief Justice Sereno has accurately and properly declared all her earnings as government co-legal counsel in the PIATCO cases.”Lawyer Josa Deinla, serves as Sereno’s spokeswoman.Deinla added that the BIR has not served any deficiency assessment notice to Sereno during the years she filed her income tax returns.“This only means one thing: All her income tax filings when she was a private lawyer were accurate and proper,” she said.“We are confident that the plan of the House committee to have the CJ’s ITR filings looked into by the BIR would prove that the Chief Justice had paid the corresponding taxes for the income she earned while in private law practice,” she added.Gadon, in an interview at the sidelines of the hearing, lauded the order of the panel to the BIR saying this would bolster his complaint aganst Sereno.“First we got certifications she did not file her SALNs during her tenure with the UP College of Law. Now, we will get a clearer picture of how she might have avoided paying taxes for her earnings on the Piatco case,” said Gadon.“In fact, the statement of the BIR, CJ Sereno declared her earnings from 2004 to 2009 as income for her practice as a lawyer and not as a professor from a state university which is something she should have to explain, too,” the lawyer added.Gadon also said that the action of the justice committee directing the BIR to investigate the tax payments and tax compliance of Sereno is living proof of the principle that the law should apply to all, even to the highest magistrate of the land. Hearing on CJ’s IT consultantIt was also a time for the justice panel to hear from IT consultant Helen Macasaet, who has been paid hefty consultant fees, with a monthly paycheck much higher than what the Supreme Court justices get paid.Macasaet admitted before the committee that she was paid a hefty P250,000 a month as a consultant of the High Court, which is higher than what SC justices are earning.Macasaet defended her consultancy fee saying it was much lower than what she used to earn in her previous engagements.According to Macasaet, she used to earn P925,000 a month as an IT consultant for the GSIS. The House panel is on its 14th hearing on the impeachment case, this time, to determine if there was probable cause to impeach her.In a press statement issued by Gadon, it said that in the hearing conducted yesterday, it turned out that the IT contract of Macasaet was renewed without bidding despite changes in the terms of reference and increase of the amount of more than double the original contract. “It turned out also that the legal staff of Sereno had the whims and caprices of determining the amount of the increase and the renewals in violation of procurement laws . Worse, these violations and anomalies were done with the express approval of Sereno. Even worse , it turned out that the IT consultant was allowed to work at some point without the contract having been signed yet! All the procedures of procurement were clearly violated by Sereno, Gadon said.GMA Online reported that a court attorney from the office of the Chief Justice also yesterday during the hearing confirmed that it was the head staff of the high magistrate who had introduced the IT consultant allegedly anomalously hired by the Supreme Court.“At the resumption of the House Committee on Justice hearing, court lawyer Michael Ocampo from Sereno’s office admitted that he was the one who submitted the curriculum vitae of IT consultant Helen Macasaet who was allegedly hired by Sereno “with an excessive compensation and without public bidding.”He admitted that he submitted the CV of Macasaet to the BAC when he was requested to do so.But when asked if the court lawyer knew Macasaet personally, he said he did not but was introduced to him by CJ’s chief of staff as an IT expert,” referring to lawyer Oliveros.Oliveros eventually admitted that Macasaet is her friend.Oliveros said she can only recommend somebody’s character. I know nothing about the EISP (Enterprise Information System Plan) and about ICT.Oliveros narrated that Sereno told her that the court’s EISP had been stalled for a while, and the position of the chief of the management information system office was vacant at the time.“The chief justice requested a meeting precisely because she wanted to talk, exchange ideas with Ms. Macasaet regarding the state of the EISP. And after that initial meeting she wanted to meet Ms. Macasaet and introduce her to the person in charge of the EISP which was Atty. Michael Ocampo at the Office of the Chief Justice,” she said.Lawyer Jojo Lacanilao, one of Sereno’s spokesmen said there was nothing irregular in Macasaet’s hiring as IT consultant.“The Supreme Court hired Ms. Macasaet from among three choices through negotiated procurement because her services are highly technical in nature and, therefore, exempted from public bidding under Section 53.7 of the 2009 Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations of R.A. 9184,” he said in an earlier press statement.The House justice panel is conducting deliberations to determine probable cause in the impeachment complaint lodged against Sereno.    With GMA online report.....»»

Category: newsSource:  tribuneRelated NewsJun 7th, 2018

Talk about political football: No Eagles at the White House

By Jill Colvin and Jonathan Lemire, Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) — Taking on the NFL and football's Super Bowl champs, President Donald Trump gave the boot to a White House ceremony for the Philadelphia Eagles on Tuesday and instead threw his own brief "Celebration of America" after it became clear most players weren't going to show up. Both sides traded hot accusations about who was to blame. Trump tried to turn the fracas into a referendum on patriotism and tie it to the dispute over players who have taken a knee during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality. However, Eagles players never knelt during the "Star-Spangled Banner," throughout the 2017 season and their march to the Super Bowl. The White House accused Eagles team members of pulling a "political stunt" and abandoning their fans by backing out at the last minute. Indeed, few apparently were going to come, though some expressed disappointment that they'd been disinvited and complained Trump was unfairly painting them as anti-American. Through it all, Trump appeared to revel in fanning the flames of a culture war that he believes revs up his political base. Trump had long been leery of the Eagles' planned visit to the White House, in part because the team's owner, Jeffrey Lurie, has been a Trump critic, and because several players have been vocal critics of the league's new policy that requires players to stand if they're on the field during the national anthem or else stay in the locker room. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the team notified the White House last Thursday that 81 people, including players, coaches, managers and others would be attending the Super Bowl celebration. But she said the team got back in touch late Friday and tried to reschedule, "citing the fact that many players would not be in attendance." The Eagles proposed a time when Trump would be overseas. Eagles officials declined comment on the White House version of events, sticking with a simple earlier statement: "We are truly grateful for all of the support we have received and we are looking forward to continuing our preparations for the 2018 season." No one connected with the team said the players' reluctance to attend had anything to do with the national anthem, as Trump tried to portray the situation. And comments by star players in the current pro basketball finals indicated it's not about football. "I know no matter who wins this series, no one wants the invite anyway. So it won't be Golden State or Cleveland going," said LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was no disagreement from Stephen Curry, who angered Trump last year when he said he wouldn't go to the White House after the Warriors' NBA triumph, leading the president to disinvite him and his team. Trump, furious about the small number of Eagles who were coming, scrapped Tuesday's visit, believing a low turnout would reflect poorly upon him. He had told aides last year he was embarrassed when Tom Brady, star quarterback of that season's champion New England Patriots, opted to skip a White House visit. Instead, the president held what he dubbed a "patriotic celebration" that was short and spare. A military band and chorus delivered the Star-Spangled Banner and God Bless America, with brief Trump remarks sandwiched in between. "We love our country, we respect our flag and we always proudly stand for the national anthem," Trump said. The White House crowd of roughly 1,000, mostly dressed in business suits, was light on Pennsylvanians and heavy on administration and GOP Party officials. Several in attendance blamed the players, not the president, for torpedoing the Eagles event. John Killion, a lifelong Eagles fan who now lives in Florida and traveled to Washington to see his team, said he was "devastated and infuriated" by a breakdown he blamed on the Eagles owners. "I waited my whole life for the Eagles to win the Super Bowl and they were going to be congratulated at the White House. And I don't really care who you like or dislike, it shouldn't be about that," he said. Bill Fey, a Republican state committeeman from southern New Jersey and an Eagles fan, called the decision "a black eye as far as I'm concerned with the NFL. I think that everyone should come to the White House. This is the peoples' house." Still, he said, "I think the Eagles did what they thought was necessary. I don't blame anyone." Trump's own patriotic event was not without its controversy. Following the playing of the anthem, a heckler shouted from the audience: "Stop hiding behind the armed services and the national anthem!" prompting boos. A Swedish reporter posted video of a man kneeling as the anthem was played. In a statement Monday, Trump placed the blame on Eagles players he said "disagree with their President because he insists that they proudly stand for the National Anthem, hand on heart, in honor of the great men and women of our military and the people of our country." Besides the fact that none of the Eagles had taken a knee during the anthem in 2017, defensive end Chris Long said the NFL anthem policy change and Trump's reaction to it were not even discussed by the players in meetings about making the visit. Those deciding to stay away had various reasons beyond Trump's opposition to the protests, including more general feelings of hostility toward the president, one official said. Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, who had planned to skip the ceremony "to avoid being used as any kind of pawn," said in a statement that at the White House a "decision was made to lie, and paint the picture that these players are anti-America, anti-flag and anti-military." Trump has long railed against the protests that began in 2016 when San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began silently kneeling on the sidelines during the anthem to raise awareness around racism and, specifically, the killing of black men by police. At a rally last September, Trump suggested NFL owners fire "son of a bitch" players who "disrespect" the flag by kneeling. As for politics, Trump believes the anthem controversy is a winning issue for him and was pleased that last month's announcement of the league's new policy returned it to the news, according to people familiar with the president's thinking but not authorized to discuss private conversations. Even so, Trump made clear Tuesday he doesn't believe the policy goes far enough, tweeting: "Staying in the Locker Room for the playing of our National Anthem is as disrespectful to our country as kneeling. Sorry!" The president told one confidant Monday that he aims to revive the issue in the months leading up to the midterm elections, believing its return to the headlines will help Republicans win votes. Trump's attempt to drive a wedge between the team and its fervent fan base could have political consequences in Pennsylvania, which Trump won by just 44,000 votes in 2016. The politics are already playing out in the state's Senate race, where Republican Rep. Lou Barletta is challenging Democratic incumbent Bob Casey. Barletta attended the White House ceremony sans Eagles, "representing the proud Pennsylvanians who stand for our flag." Casey tweeted he would be "skipping this political stunt at the White House" and invited the Eagles on a tour of the Capitol instead. ___ Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Darlene Superville and Catherine Lucey in Washington, Errin Haines Whack in Philadelphia and Associated Press Pro Football writer Rob Maaddi contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2018

Get ready for Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova in Paris

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — If the upcoming French Open showdown between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova provides any of the sort of animus and back-and-forth they manage to stir up away from the court, look out. During a news conference after both won Saturday to set up the longtime rivals' fourth-round matchup at Roland Garros, Williams criticized Sharapova's autobiography as "hearsay" and twice brought up the Russian's 15-month doping ban. Producing by far the best performance in her return to Grand Slam tennis — 16 months after her last major tournament and nine months after having a baby — Williams played cleanly and powerfully in a 6-3, 6-4 tour de force against 11th-seeded Julia Goerges that lasted a mere 75 minutes and lacked much in the way of theatrics. "There is still a ways to go, but it's moving in the right direction," said Williams, who made only three unforced errors in the first set, 12 in all. "And I think that as long as it's moving in the right direction, I know I will get there." Sharapova advanced with a similarly lopsided win, 6-2, 6-1 against 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. Now comes the drama: Williams vs. Sharapova on Monday with a quarterfinal spot at stake. They have verbally clashed in the past, such as a 2013 public spat about their private lives. Williams, 36, owns 23 major singles titles. Sharapova, 31, has won five. Williams has won the French Open three times, Sharapova twice. They are the only active women with a career Grand Slam; they are two of six in history to accomplish that. Both have been ranked No. 1. But the head-to-head history is overwhelmingly in Williams' favor: She has won 19 of 21 meetings, including 18 in a row. "Quite frankly, she's probably a favorite in this match, for sure," Williams said with a chuckle. "She's been playing ... for over a year now. I just started. So I'm just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go." The last time Sharapova beat Williams was in 2004. The last time they played was in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals, Sharapova's final appearance before her 15-month drug suspension. "Well, it's been a while," Sharapova said, "and I think a lot has happened in our lives for the both of us, in very different ways." Williams was asked about Sharapova's book, which was published last year. It contains quite a bit of material about the American, including a reference to Williams crying in the locker room after losing to Sharapova in the Wimbledon final 14 years ago. "As a fan, I wanted to read the book and I was really excited for it to come out and I was really happy for her. And then the book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest," Williams said. "I was, like, 'Oh, OK, I didn't expect to be reading a book about me — that wasn't necessarily true.'" Insisting she doesn't "have any negative feelings" toward Sharapova, Williams said "the success of one female should be the inspiration to another." Seconds later, Williams made reference to Sharapova's "incident of drugs." There were plenty of other results involving top names at the French Open on Saturday. Other women moving into the fourth round included 2016 champion Garbine Muguruza, two-time runner-up Simona Halep, two-time major title winner Angelique Kerber and reigning U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens. Men's winners included 10-time champion Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Marin Cilic, No. 5 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 6 Kevin Anderson and No. 9 John Isner. The story of Day 7, though, was what everyone can look forward to on Day 9: Williams vs. Sharapova. This is Williams' first Grand Slam tournament since January 2017, when she won the Australian Open while pregnant. The American made a brief foray on the tour earlier this season, but she played only four matches. She had some problems in her initial two outings in Paris, including in the second round, when she dropped the first set against 17th-seeded Ashleigh Barty before — as Williams herself put it — "Serena came out." Against Goerges, the careless errors were largely absent. The missing energy was back. In front of a crowd that included former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, it took 15 minutes for Williams to gain the upper hand, sprinting to reach a drop shot and whip a cross-court forehand passing winner for a 3-1 lead. Williams yelled loudly and raised her fist. It was almost as if she'd never left the scene. "Any time you play against Serena, you know what you're up against. You know the challenge that is upon you," Sharapova said. "Despite the record that I have against her, I always look forward to coming out on the court and competing against the best players.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2018

DENR: Almost all forestlands on Boracay occupied, have claimants

BORACAY ISLAND, AKLAN --- Almost all areas classified as forest lands on Boracay Island already have structures or are being claimed by private individuals, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). In a public hearing of the House committee on natural resources held here on Friday, DENR officials said removing illegal structures, including houses on wetlands, remained a key priority before the island could be re-opened to tourists. At least 895 illegal structures have been identified in forest lands, including in nine wetlands on the island. Of the number, 208 have been served notices of violation and notices to vacate. Under Presidential Procl...Keep on reading: DENR: Almost all forestlands on Boracay occupied, have claimants.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 2nd, 2018

Trump-Kim summit in play as Moon visits White House

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Donald Trump holds a high-stakes meeting with South Korea’s president at the White House Tuesday, talks that could decide whether the US president’s much-vaunted summit with the North’s leader Kim Jong Un goes ahead. Moon Jae-in jets into Washington on a mission to salvage a rare diplomatic opening between the US and North [...] The post Trump-Kim summit in play as Moon visits White House appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsMay 22nd, 2018

Simple and sleek for a modern royal wedding

WINDSOR, England — Meghan Markle picked a sleek sculpted dress by the British designer of couture house Givenchy for her marriage to Prince Harry on Saturday, worn with a five-meter long veil and a sparkling diamond tiara lent by Queen Elizabeth. The pure white long-sleeved gown with a boat neck had been eagerly anticipated by […] The post Simple and sleek for a modern royal wedding appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsMay 20th, 2018

Trump praises Merkel but gives little ground on trade, Iran

WASHINGTON, D.C.: US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel appeared to make little headway on high-stakes trade and security disagreements Friday (Saturday in Manila), but avoided the public bickering that has plagued their year-old relationship. Merkel left the White House, seemingly unable to secure a promise from Trump to stay in the Iran [...] The post Trump praises Merkel but gives little ground on trade, Iran appeared first on The Manila Times Online......»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimesRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Hospitals, health facilities in Aklan on code white alert

AKLAN, Philippines – Aklan's provincial health office has placed all private and public hospitals as well as other government health facilities in the province under code white alert from April 23 to May 15. The declaration is part of a contingency plan to quickly respond to emergencies during the ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsApr 25th, 2018

Decades-old Saudi cinema ban ends, public screenings start

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia launched its first commercial movie theater on Wednesday, ending a nearly 40-year ban on cinemas under a push by the crown prince to modernize the deeply conservative Muslim kingdom. A red carpet invitation-only gala event attracted senior government officials, foreign dignitaries, and select industry figures to watch Marvel’s superhero movie Black […] The post Decades-old Saudi cinema ban ends, public screenings start appeared first on BusinessWorld......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsApr 19th, 2018

Trade issues expose the limits of Trump-Abe ‘bromance’

      PALM BEACH, Florida --- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe courted the new American president with a golden driver not long after Donald Trump won the White House. He's met with the billionaire businessman more than any other world leader, and he's Trump's second-most frequent caller.   Yet the "bromance" between Trump and Abe has its limits.   Trump appeared to be successful Tuesday in reassuring Abe that he would take Japan's concerns to heart during his upcoming meeting with North Korea's Kim Jong Un. But Wednesday brought public disagreements, as Trump spurned his guest's top economic and trade priorities. Principal among them: ...Keep on reading: Trade issues expose the limits of Trump-Abe ‘bromance’.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 19th, 2018