We must unify around our shared values, rise above partisan rancour: Trump in farewell message

Agencies
January 20, 2021

We must unify around our shared values, rise above partisan rancour: Trump  in farewell message | Hindustan Times

Washington, Jan 20: Praying for the success of Joe Biden in keeping America safe and prosperous and extending his best wishes, outgoing US President Donald Trump in his farewell video message said that now more than ever, Americans must unify around their shared values and rise above partisan rancour to forge their common destiny.

Trump, in a pre-recorded video message released by the White House on Tuesday, said to serve as the President has been an honour beyond description. Thank you for this extraordinary privilege. And that's what it is -- a great privilege and a great honour, he said.

This week, we inaugurate a new administration and pray for its success in keeping America safe and prosperous. We extend our best wishes, and we also want them to have luck -- a very important word, Trump said on the eve of his departure from the White House for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Wednesday afternoon, he would be succeeded by Joe Bide as the 46th President of the United States. Trump has announced that he will not attend the inauguration of his successor.

Indian-origin Kamala Harris would be sworn in as the Vice President of the US. Outgoing Vice President Mike Pence would be present during the inaugural ceremony at the Capitol Hill, facing the majestic National Mall.

In his video that lasted a little less than 20 minutes, Trump addressed the storming of the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, which is considered as one of the darkest days in the history of American democracy and sought unity from his fellow Americans.

All Americans were horrified by the assault on our Capitol. Political violence is an attack on everything we cherish as Americans. It can never be tolerated. Now, more than ever, we must unify around our shared values and rise above the partisan rancour, and forge our common destiny, Trump said.

Listing out some of the key accomplishments of the US government from January 20, 2017 to January 20, 2021, Trump said his administration achieved more than anyone thought possible.

Nobody thought we could even come close, he said as he referred to the largest package of tax cuts, slapping tariffs on China, achieving energy independence and development of a COVID-19 vaccine in a record short span of time.

We restored American strength at home and American leadership abroad. The world respects us again. Please don't lose that respect, Trump said, adding that his administration revitalized US alliances and rallied the nations of the world to stand up to China like never before.

He further said as a result of "our bold diplomacy and principled realism", the US achieved a series of historic peace deals in the Middle East. "Nobody believed it could happen. The Abraham Accords opened the doors to a future of peace and harmony, not violence and bloodshed. It is the dawn of a new Middle East, and we are bringing our soldiers home, he said.

He also asserted that he was "especially proud to be the first President in decades who has started no new wars .

Trump, 74, said as he leaves the White House after four years, he has been reflecting on the dangers that threaten the priceless inheritance all Americans share.

As the world's most powerful nation, America faces constant threats and challenges from abroad. But the greatest danger we face is a loss of confidence in ourselves, a loss of confidence in our national greatness. A nation is only as strong as its spirit. We are only as dynamic as our pride. We are only as vibrant as the faith that beats in the hearts of our people, he said.

Trump said the key to national greatness lies in sustaining and instilling the shared national identity. That means focusing on what Americans have in common -- the heritage they all share.

At the centre of this heritage is also a robust belief in free expression, free speech, and open debate. Only if we forget who we are, and how we got here, could we ever allow political censorship and blacklisting to take place in America. It's not even thinkable. Shutting down free and open debate violates our core values and most enduring traditions, he said.

Trump, in the aftermath of the January 6 riot at the US Capitol, has been banned by the majority of the social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. He has described this as an assault on free speech.

In America, we don't insist on absolute conformity or enforce rigid orthodoxies and punitive speech codes. We just don't do that. America is not a timid nation of tame souls who need to be sheltered and protected from those with whom we disagree. That's not who we are. It will never be who we are, he said on Tuesday on the eve of his departure.

Trump in his farewell speech indicated that he might be out of the White House, but he will continue to have an active public life.

Now, as I prepare to hand power over to a new administration at noon on Wednesday, I want you to know that the movement we started is only just beginning. There's never been anything like it. The belief that a nation must serve its citizens will not dwindle but instead only grow stronger by the day, Trump said.

I go from this majestic place with a loyal and joyful heart, an optimistic spirit, and a supreme confidence that for our country and for our children, the best is yet to come, he said.

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Agencies
February 22,2021

Image result for EU Council condemns military coup in Myanmar, ready to impose sanctions

Brussels, Feb 22: The European Union (EU) has strongly condemned the military coup in Myanmar and is considering sanctions against the individuals responsible for ousting the country's civilian government, the EU Council said on Monday.

"The European Union calls for de-escalation of the current crisis through an immediate end to the state of emergency, the restoration of the legitimate civilian government and the opening of the newly elected parliament," the Council said in a statement published on its website.

The council called for the results of the democratic elections held on November 9, last year to be respected and demanded that the military must renounce its action.
The European Union is "deeply concerned about reports of intimidation". Strong engagement with civil society and support for human rights defenders and journalists will remain a key priority, the council said.

The EU Council also added that it was ready to impose sanctions against the individuals responsible for the military coup.

"In response to the military coup, the European Union stands ready to adopt restrictive measures targeting those directly responsible. All other tools at the disposal of the European Union and its Member States will be kept under review. The European Union will seek to avoid measures which could adversely affect the people of Myanmar/Burma, especially the most vulnerable. The Council invites the High Representative and the European Commission to develop appropriate proposals in this regard," the Council's statement read further.

The Council also said that the bloc will continue to provide humanitarian assistance, in accordance with the principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, to refugees and displaced persons in Myanmar/Burma and the region, including the Rohingya, in line with its longstanding engagement and its pledges during the International Rohingya Donor Conference that it co-chaired on 22 October 2020.

"In this context, the EU repeats its call for free and unhindered humanitarian access and stands ready to step up its humanitarian assistance for all needs, if required. The Council reiterates the need to address the root causes of the crisis in Rakhine State and to create conditions necessary for the safe, voluntary, sustainable and dignified return of refugees and displaced persons, in accordance with international standards," the council added.

On February 1, Myanmar's military seized power, announcing a one-year state of emergency and vowing to take action against alleged voter fraud during the November 8 general election, which was won by Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party.
The military said it was committed to the democratic system and vowed to hold new and fair elections after the state of emergency ended. 

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Agencies
February 21,2021

Image result for Facebook takes down main page of Myanmar military

Washington, Feb 21: Facebook on Sunday deleted the main page of the Myanmar military under it standards prohibiting the incitement of violence, the company said, a day after two protesters were killed when police opened fire at a demonstration against the Feb 1 coup.

"In line with our global policies, we’ve removed the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page from Facebook for repeated violations of our Community Standards prohibiting incitement of violence and coordinating harm," a Facebook representative said in a statement.

The Myanmar military is known as the Tatmadaw. Its True News page was not available on Sunday.

The military spokesman did not respond to a Reuters phone call seeking comment.

Two people were killed in Myanmar's second city Mandalay on Saturday when police and soldiers fired at protesters demonstrating against the overthrow of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, emergency workers said, the bloodiest day in more than two weeks of demonstrations.

Facebook in recent years has engaged with civil rights activists and democratic political parties in Myanmar and pushed back against the military after coming under heavy international criticism for failing to contain online hate campaigns.

In 2018, it banned army chief Min Aung Hlaing - now the military ruler - and 19 other senior officers and organisations, and took down hundreds of pages and accounts run by military members for coordinated inauthentic behaviour.

Ahead of November elections, Facebook announced it had taken down a network of 70 fake accounts and pages operated by members of the military that had posted either positive content about the army or criticism of Suu Kyi and her party.

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Agencies
February 23,2021

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San Francisco, Feb 23: Boeing has recommended that airlines ground all 777s with the type of engine that blew apart after takeoff from Denver this past weekend, and most carriers that fly those planes said they would temporarily pull them from service.

The US Federal Aviation Administration ordered United Airlines to step up inspections of the aircraft after one of its flights made an emergency landing at Denver International Airport on Saturday as pieces of the engine's casing rained on suburban neighbourhoods.

None of the 231 passengers or 10 crew were hurt, and the flight landed safely, authorities said.

United is among the carriers that has grounded the planes.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson identified the focus on the stepped-up inspections as hollow fan blades unique to the Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine model and used solely on Boeing 777s.

Dickson's statement said the conclusion was based on an initial review of safety data and would likely mean grounding some planes.

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said during a virtual news conference Monday night that a fractured fan blade found in the engine had visible signs of damage consistent with metal fatigue.

The broken blade hit and fractured the blade next to it as the engine broke apart, according to a preliminary investigation.

Sumwalt said the blade that fractured first was being flown on a private jet to Pratt & Whitney's headquarters Monday night to be examined under the supervision of NTSB investigators.

Our mission is to understand not only what happened, but why it happened, so that we can keep it from happening again, he said.

Boeing said there were 69 777s with the Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines in service and another 59 in storage and affirmed they should be grounded until the FAA sets up an inspection regime.

United had 24 of the planes in service; it is the only US airline with the engine in its fleet, according to the FAA.

Two Japanese airlines have another 32. Japan ordered the planes out of service, according to the financial newspaper Nikkei, while noting that an engine in the same family had trouble in December.

In South Korea, Asiana Airlines grounded nine, seven of which were in service, and Korean Air said it grounded 16 aircraft, six of which are in service.

We are working with these regulators as they take actions while these planes are on the ground and further inspections are conducted by Pratt & Whitney," Boeing said in a statement, referring to American and Japanese regulators.

The engine maker said it was sending a team to work with investigators.

The emergency landing this past weekend is the latest trouble for Boeing, which saw its 737 Max planes grounded for more than a year after two deadly crashes in 2019 and is suffering amid the huge reduction in air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Max planes began returning to the skies late last year a huge boost for the aircraft maker, which lost billions during the grounding because it has been unable to deliver new planes to customers.

Video posted on Twitter from Saturday's emergency showed the engine fully engulfed in flames as the plane flew.

Freeze frames from different video taken by a passenger sitting slightly in front of the engine and also posted on Twitter appeared to show a broken fan blade in the engine.

Passengers, who were headed to Honolulu, said they feared the plane would crash after an explosion and flash of light, while people on the ground saw huge chunks of the aircraft pour down, just missing one home and crushing a truck. The explosion, visible from the ground, left a trail of black smoke in the sky.

United says it will work closely with the FAA and the NTSB to determine any additional steps that are needed to ensure these aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards and can return to service.

The NTSB said the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder were transported to its lab in Washington so the data can be analyzed. NTSB investigations can take up to a year or longer, although in major cases the agency generally releases some investigative material midway through the process.

Japan's Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism said an engine in the PW4000 family suffered trouble on a Japan Airlines 777 flying to Tokyo from Naha on December 4.

The airline has said the plane had engine trouble after takeoff and returned to Naha. An inspection showed damage to the engine case and missing fan blades, according to the airline. Stricter inspections were ordered in response.

Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways will stop operating a combined 32 planes with that engine, Nikkei reported.

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