The United States says it is ”deeply concerned’’ by recent draft decree published by Russian authorities targeting media entities funded by the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) in Russia.
In a statement on Monday, United States Secretary of State, Mr Michael Pompeo, said the decree would ”impose new burdensome requirements that will further inhibit ’s and VOA’s ability to operate within Russia’’.
When operational, the decree would require foreign media outlets to create a legal entity within Russia to carry out any financial transactions among other measures.
Pompeo said: ”For more than 70 years, VOA and have been vital sources of independent news and information for the people of Russia.
“This decree will impose new burdensome requirements that will further inhibit ’s and VOA’s ability to operate within Russia, compounding the significant and undue restrictions these outlets already face.
“We remain troubled by the ongoing crackdown on independent press in Russia and call on the country to uphold its international obligations and OSCE commitments to freedom of expression.
“We urge the Russian government to reconsider these actions, which will further damage the bilateral relationship.’’
The Russia’s decision came after the appointment of Michael Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker with ties to Steve Bannon, a Trump’s loyalist, as the Chief Executive Officer of USAGM.
One of Pack’s first decisions was the sacking of heads of , Radio Free Asia and the Middle East Broadcasting Network, a move that drew criticisms.
USAGM was established after World War II to bring US radio broadcasts to an international audience, runs five different networks that bring news to 350 million people in 100 countries and 61 languages.
Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Felix Ajide (NAN)
Reed grabs halfway lead, as Tiger misses cut at United States Open
Former Masters champion Patrick Reed put his sterling short game on display to grab the United States Open halfway lead on Friday.
Tiger Woods finished well outside the cut in windy conditions which humbled many of the game’s top golfers.
Reed only hit five fairways on a tough scoring day at Winged Foot but made a slew of stunning recoveries.
He then needed only 25 putts en route to an even-par 70 that left him at four under on the week and one shot clear of Bryson DeChambeau (68).
“I feel like the game is where it needs to be. I feel good,” said world number 10 Reed. “I just need to tighten a few things up here or there, but the short game is sharp, and when I play around a place like this, that’s what you need.”
Reed, who started the day one shot back of overnight leader Justin Thomas, grabbed the outright lead with a birdie on his final hole, the par-five ninth.
That was where his shot from a greenside bunker settled five feet from the cup.
Unlike the first round when 21 players finished under par in soft conditions, Winged Foot proved a much sterner test on Friday.
DeChambeau, Bubba Watson (69) and Hideki Matsuyama (69) were the only players from a 144-player field to break par.
DeChambeau, who has turned heads this year with his new physique and prodigious length off the tee, went out in the morning wave.
He muscled his way around a scorecard-shredding Winged Foot course like few others can.
The world number nine finished his round with a monstrous eagle at the par-five ninth hole where, after a 380-yard drive, he stuffed a pitching wedge to six feet.
“Confidence is at an all-time high right now, driving it well, iron play is fantastic, wedging is getting better each and every day, and I’m putting it like I know I can,” said DeChambeau, whose best major finish was a share of fourth place at this year’s PGA Championship.
Thomas (73), Spain’s Rafa Cabrera Bello (70) and Harris English (70) were all two shots off the pace heading into the weekend.
This was a tournament that was originally scheduled for mid-June but postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Masters champion Woods (77) missed the cut for the eighth time in his last 15 majors after a round during which he made five bogeys and two double-bogeys over a miserable 11-hole run.
“Physically it was frustrating that I didn’t drive the ball as well as I needed to,” said Woods.
“Iron play was pretty much the way it has been. It’s been good, and I finally putted well. But on this golf course it’s imperative that you hit fairways, and I did not do that.”
Phil Mickelson’s latest bid to complete the career Grand Slam of golf’s four majors fell apart as the six-times runner-up carded a 74
He missed the cut after posting one of the worst 36-hole scores of his major career.
Among the others to miss the cut were defending champion Gary Woodland, PGA Championship winner Collin Morikawa, and top-20 players Tyrell Hatton, Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Fitzpatrick and Justin Rose.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Visa Ban: FG says sanctioning electoral offenders disrespectful to Nigeria’s sovereignty
The Nigerian government has said it considers it disrespectful to the Sovereignty of the country for any outside country to apply punitive measures such as visas restriction on its citizens.
The Nigerian government made this known in a statement issued by Mr Ferdinand Nwonye, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday in Abuja.
The News Agency of Nigeria , reports that this comes as a response to the recent announcement of the United States and the United Kingdom to impose visa restrictions on those who undermine electoral processes.
The Nigerian Government said it was committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to state that the Nigerian government has taken note of the concerns of some of our partners, especially the United States and UK governments regarding the elections in Edo and Ondo States.
“They have also expressed their intentions to take punitive measures against those who decide to, in what they termed as, undermine democracy.
“It is important to highlight that the responsibility for the conduct of elections in Nigeria solely resides with the Independent National Electoral Commission and State Independent Electoral Commissions.
“The Federal Government, and especially the President, is committed to providing all necessary logistic, financial and security support to the electoral process.
“The President has continually urged all parties and contestants to peacefully conduct themselves before, during and after the elections, and supported patriotic non-governmental initiatives such as the Abdusalami Abubakar-led Peace Committee.
“Furthermore, it should be noted that there are ample provisions in our laws to sanction violators and perpetrators of electoral violence and fraud.
“It would be considered disrespectful of the sovereignty of Nigeria for any outside authority to sit in judgment over the conduct of our citizens and apply punitive measures such as visa restriction, unilaterally.
“While we appreciate the support and encouragement of our international partners such as the EU, we urge our equally valued partners such as the UK and United States to cooperate with our relevant agencies,” the government said.
The government called on the partners to support security agencies by providing them whatever concrete evidence of observed misconduct to allow our laws and regulations to take their course.
The Nigerian government also expressed solidarity with the government and people of the United States as regards their forthcoming election, which it hoped would be free from interference and violence.
Edited By: Abiemwense Moru/Donald Ugwu
Edo election: Group lauds committee over peace accord
Centre for Transparency Advocacy (CTA), has commended Rtd. Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar-led Peace Committee for making political parties and their candidates in the Saturday Edo election to sign a peace accord.
The organisation also thanked the Oba of Benin, Ewuare II, for calling the political parties and their candidates to order.
The group’s Executive Director, Ms Faith Nwadishi, made the commendation in a pre-election statement in Abuja on Friday.
Nwadishi said that the advice by the Oba for a peaceful election should be a reference point in Nigeria’s election history.
She called for deployment of more health personnel to polling areas to guide people on the election day.
“Strict adherence to the COVID-19 protocol is imperative while Personal Protective Equipment at the polling areas are mandatory and should be enforced.
“The INEC’s directives on special treatment for nursing mothers, pregnant women and the elderly should be adhered to by ad hoc staff on the field,” she said.
Nwadishi said her organisation had deployed observers across the state to cover the elections “and we shall be sharing reports with the media and on our social media handles as they come in.
“CTA calls on all eligible and registered citizens to come out and vote for candidates of their choice as it is their right to do so. Your vote is your power and must count,” she added.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Donald Ugwu
Flooding: Sultan visits Kebbi, seeks FG’s urgent assistance for victims
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, on Friday sympathised with the Kebbi Government and its people over the recent flood disaster in the state.
The Sultan, who paid a sympathy visit to Gov. Atiku Bagudu in Birnin Kebbi, called on the Federal Government to assist all states ravaged by flood, as well as the victims.
“We came to visit the cemetery of Sheikh Abdullahi Gwandu and pray for the deceased, as well as showcase the importance of visiting the cemetery of pious people, to observe lessons and be a reminder to us that death is certain.
“Hence, we should correct our mistakes and do good deeds for ourselves and humanity.”
Abubakar also sympathised with the state government and the people of the state over the recent flood that wreaked havoc on farmlands, houses and resulted in the deaths of many people in the state.
“We are also here to sympathise with the government, our brothers and sisters, who have been affected by the recent floods in the state.
“We should know that the flood is an act from Allah, but measures should be taken as we are calling on the Federal, State Governments and well- to- do individuals, to assist farmers in all the affected states of the federation.
“Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Niger are all states with similar socio- cultural and economic backgrounds; the boundary delineation and politics should not divide us, as we are one.
“We should pray for our leaders in those states and country at large for peace to reign, and for economic prosperity to our people,” the royal father said.
The Sultan commended the four emirs in the state and the state government for their untiring efforts to ensure the maintenance of peace in Kebbi.
In his remarks, Gov. Bagudu informed the Sultan that the flood was unprecedented in the history of the state, adding that over 500,000 hectares of farmlands were affected by the flood.
“We are assuring the victims that the Federal Government will not leave us alone, as the state has started receiving assistance from philanthropists; we are sure that more will come.
“We are also committed to the dry season farming, and we are determined to replace what we have lost to flood, as soon as the water recedes,” he said.
The governor thanked the Sultan for the visit and also condoled him over the death of the District Head of Aliero, Alhaji Salihu Muhammad II, who died today.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Sultan was accompanied on the visit by the Emir of Gwandu, Alhaji Bashir Muhammad and Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Mera.
Edited By: Folorunso Poroye/ Maharazu Ahmed