- U.S. Evicts Russians For Spying, Imposes Sanctions After Election Hacks
President Barack Obama on Thursday ordered the expulsion of 35 Russian suspected spies and imposed sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies over their involvement in hacking U.S. political groups in the 2016 presidential election.
The measures, taken during the last days of Obama’s presidency, mark a new post-Cold War low in U.S.-Russian ties, which have deteriorated over differences about Syria and Ukraine.
Allegations by U.S. intelligence agencies that Russian President Vladimir Putin personally directed efforts to intervene in the U.S. election process by hacking mostly Democrats have made relations even worse.
“These actions follow repeated private and public warnings that we have issued to the Russian government, and are a necessary and appropriate response to efforts to harm U.S. interests in violation of established international norms of behavior,” Obama said in a statement from vacation in Hawaii.
“All Americans should be alarmed by Russia’s actions,” he said.
It was not clear whether President-elect Donald Trump, who has repeatedly praised Putin and nominated people seen as friendly toward Moscow to senior administration posts, would seek to roll back the measures once he takes office on Jan. 20.
Trump has brushed aside allegations from the CIA and other intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the cyber attacks but on Thursday he said he would meet with intelligence officials soon.
“It’s time for our country to move on to bigger and better things,” Trump said in a statement. “Nevertheless, in the interest of our country and its great people, I will meet with leaders of the intelligence community next week in order to be updated on the facts of this situation,” he said, without mentioning Russia.
The Kremlin, which denounced the sanctions as unlawful and promised “adequate” retaliation, questioned whether Trump approved of the new sanctions. Moscow denies the hacking allegations.
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia was behind hacks into Democratic Party organizations and operatives ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election. U.S. intelligence officials also say that the Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Trump, a Republican, defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Should Trump seek to overturn Obama’s measures, he would likely encounter wide bipartisan Congressional opposition.
U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan, the top Republican in Congress, said Russia “has consistently sought to undermine” U.S. interests and the sanctions were overdue.
Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham said they intended to lead effort in Congress to “impose stronger sanctions on Russia.”
Opposition from Trump could generate bipartisan discord early in his administration. “This is going to be a key source of tension post-inauguration,” said Eric Lorber, a senior associate at the Financial Integrity Network, which advises banks on sanctions.
SPIES AND SANCTIONS
Obama put sanctions on two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and the FSB, four GRU officers and three companies “that provided material support to the GRU’s cyber operations.
He said the State Department declared as “persona non grata” 35 Russian intelligence operatives and is closing two Russian compounds in New York and Maryland that were used by Russian personnel for “intelligence-related purposes”. The State Department originally said the 35 were diplomats.
The 45-acre complex in Maryland includes a Georgian-style brick mansion, swimming pool, tennis courts, and cottages for embassy staff.
A senior U.S. official told Reuters the expulsions would come from the Russian embassy in Washington and consulate in San Francisco. The Russian embassy declined to comment.
The Russians have 72 hours to leave the United States, the official said. Access to the two compounds will be denied to all Russian officials as of noon on Friday.
The State Department has long complained that Russian security agents and traffic police have harassed U.S. diplomats in Moscow, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has raised the issue with Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.
The U.S. official declined to name the Russian diplomats who would be affected, although it is understood that Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak, will not be one of those expelled.
Obama said the actions announced on Thursday were just the beginning.
“These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities. We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized,” Obama said.
A report detailing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election as well as cyber attacks in previous election cycles would be delivered to Congress in the coming days, he said.
The sanctions were the strongest response yet by the Obama administration to Russia’s cyber activities, however, a senior administration official acknowledged that Trump could reverse them and allow Russian intelligence officials back into the United States once he takes office. He said that would be inadvisable.
Obama amended an executive order originally issued in April 2015 to respond to cyber hacking to include sanctions on those who tamper with information to interfere with an election.
Trump said in October he would “cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama” on his first day in office, without saying who would determine their constitutionality.
Lagos Imposes 24 Hour Curfew as #EndSARS Protest Turns Violence
Sanwo-Olu Imposes 24 Hour Curfew in Lagos as Hoodlums Hijacked #EndSARS Protests
The Executive Governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Tuesday, imposed a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the state as peaceful #EndSARS protest turned violence amid the destruction of properties and lives.
In a statement released by the governor through his official Twitter account @jidesanwoolu, the governor said “I have watched with shock how what began as a peaceful #EndSARS protest has degenerated into a monster that is threatening the well-being of our society.
“Lives and limbs have been lost as criminals and miscreants are now hiding under the umbrella of these protests to unleash mayhem on our state. As a government that is alive to its responsibility and has shown a commitment to the movement #ENDSARS, we will not watch and allow anarchy in our dear state.”
“I, therefore, hereby impose a 24-hour curfew on all parts of the State as from 4pm today, 20th October,2020. Nobody, except essential service providers and first responders must be found on the streets.”
This was after reports of numerous attacks and destruction of properties by certain elements that the Nigerian youths claimed were sponsored by politicians to disrupt their agitation and invalidate the entire protest.
On Monday, prisoners were freed in Benin, Edo State by unknown individuals either sponsored by politicians or part of the protesters that gone rogue or with different agenda.
In Abuja, a group of thugs (sponsored or not) burnt several vehicles claimed to be parked by peaceful protesters while in Lagos, the story is not different as unscrupulous elements have been stealing and attacking people.
With a 24-hour curfew now in place in Lagos and Edo States, the youths agitating may be forced to eventually meet with the government to discuss their demands and implementation methodology.
Buhari Bows to Pressure, Overhauls Murderous Police Unit, SARS
FG, NPF Dissolve SARS Amid Nationwide Protests
President Muhammadu Buhari has finally bowed to pressure to disband the murderous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
In a statement released on Sunday, Mohammed Adamu, Nigeria’s Inspector General of Police, said the Special Anti-Robbery Squad unit had been abolished “with immediate effect”. He, however, said SARS officers would be redeployed to other police units, formations and commands that the Nigerian people are saying also needs reform.
This was after President Buhari had said he met with the Inspector General of Police on Saturday to discuss reform of the UNIT against a complete overhaul being pushed by millions of harassed, dehumanised and disrespected Nigerian youths.
The statement further aggravated Nigerian youths, who encouraged Nigerians abroad to stage protests across the nation’s embassies in a move to draw international media and organisations to the plight of youths in Africa’s largest economy. Sensing chaos amid expected economic recession in the third quarter, President Buhari and the Nigeria Police Force quickly dissolved the murderous anti-robbery squad to force decorum and calm millions of angry Nigerian youths.
Nigerian youths, both celebrities, influencers and regular people, have used their social media backed with action to compel the Nigerian government, known for blatant disrespect, disregard and the use of counter-protests to suppress and discredit dissenting voice, to finally put to an end a police unit that has killed several youths for owning an iPhone, having a laptop, driving a car or even looking good.
This is a win for the Nigerian youths and sent a strong message to the leaders that youths will no longer tolerate their excesses and henceforth would be demanding accountability, transparency and the right implementation of the rule of law regardless of class, status or position.
To the youths, it validated what the majority have been clamouring for, UNITY that transcends tribes and religions. If Nigerian youths stick together and continue to demand change in one voice with civil disobedience, we will eventually have a Nigeria we all can be proud of.
Congratulations to US!.
LAMATA Says Lagos Red Rail Project to be Operational by October 2022
Lagos Red Rail Project to be Operational in 24 Months
Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) has said the ongoing Lagos Red Rail Line project will be completed for operation in the next 24 months, October 2022 to be precise.
Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, the Managing Director, LAMATA, disclosed this at a milestone meeting on the implementation of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red and Blue Line projects in Lagos on Tuesday.
In the meeting with contracts, Akinajo said the gathering was to reaffirm the established positions on timelines for delivery of the rail lines to passengers, according to a statement titled ‘Lagos red rail line will be operational in 24 months’ and signed by Kolawole Ojelabi, Assistant Director, Corporate Communication, LAMATA.
She said, “The red line is supposed to be a quick win because it will share tracks with the Nigerian Railway Corporation on its Lagos – Ibadan rail corridor. There will be no delays, no budget or cost overrun and there will not be any shift in delivery date.
“Our meeting is to take stock of what we have done so far since this project started and to re-emphasise that there is no room for slippage in the delivery of the red line.”
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