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  • Trump sacks Rex Tillerson, replaces him with CIA's Mike Pompeo

    Trump cites differences with Rex Tillerson as reason for his departure as secretary of state.



    US President Donald Trump has sacked Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, citing differences, and replaced him with CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

    "Mike Pompeo, director of the CIA, will become our new secretary of state. He will do a fantastic job," Trump tweeted on Tuesday. "Thank you to Rex Tillerson for his service!" the president added.

    According to the Washington Post, Trump asked Tillerson to leave the post last Friday. 

    Tillerson cut short his trip to Africa on Monday and returned to Washington, DC prompting questions about his future at the State Department.

    In a statement on Tuesday, Trump said that "a great deal has been accomplished over the last 14 months" with Tillerson as the US' top diplomat. 

    Trump also said on Twitter that Deputy CIA Director Gina Hapsel will replace Pompeo as the head of the agency. He added that she is "the first woman so chosen". 



    Trump-Tillerson differences

    The move by Trump is the biggest shakeup of his cabinet since taking office. 

    Reports surfaced last October that Trump was looking to replace the embattled Tillerson with the CIA director.

    Tillerson, a former top executive for the energy giant Exxon, took office on February 1, 2017. 

    The US president and now-outgoing secretary of state have not seen eye-to-eye on a number of issues including the Iran nuclear deal and the Gulf crisis. 

    "We disagreed on things," Trump told reporters outside the White House on Tuesday, adding that the pair "were not really thinking the same".  

    Tillerson has criticised Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt - which cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017 - from the onset. 

    He urged the Gulf states to ease the blockade, which contradicted what appeared to be Trump's initial support for the move. 

    According to US media, Trump wanted to have a new team in place before talks between the administration and North Korea began. 

    "The president wanted to make sure to have his new team in place in advance of the upcoming talk with North Korea," AFP news agency quoted a unnamed senior US official as saying. 

    Last week, it was revealed that Trump had accepted an invitation to meet North Korea's Kim Jong-un, following months of a diplomatic standoff that saw the two leaders exchange fiery military threats and personal insults. 

    Mike Pompeo praised by Trump

    Trump said on Tuesday that Pompeo has a "proven record of working across the aisle". 

    He added: "I have gotten to know Mike very well over the past 14 months, and I am confident he is the right person for the job at this critical juncture." 

    Pompeo has been a controversial figure since first becoming a Congressman from Kansas 2010. 

    In 2013, he was criticised by Muslim community and others for saying that their silence on violence committed by "extremists" was "deafening". 

    "Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts, and more importantly still, in those that may well follow," Pompeo said. 

    Pompeo has been a staunch critic of the 2015 landmark Iran deal, which Trump has called the "worst deal ever made". 

    Pompeo has called for the scrapping of the deal, saying in October that Iran was "mounting a ruthless drive to be the hegemonic power in the region". 

    He is known to be one of the most hawkish voices on North Korea in Trump's inner circle, according to Reuters news agency. 


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  • Saudi corruption sweep to move to trial with 95 detained

    authorities are still holding 95 people in a purported anti-corruption campaign that was launched nearly three months ago by the kingdom's influential crown prince, Saudi press quoting the attorney general reported on Wednesday.


    A Saudi infographic shared on social media said that detainees who have not agreed on financial settlements to close their case will soon be referred to the Public Prosecution for trial.

    Billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal is reportedly among those still being held since early November when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the stunning arrests of top princes, businessmen and officials. The prince is chairman of the publicly traded Kingdom Holding, which has investments in twitter, Apple, Citigroup, and the Four Seasons hotel chain. He is also an investor in ride-sharing services Lyft and Careem.

    If a financial agreement cannot be reached, the attorney general has previously said that detainees will be prosecuted, investigated further and could face six months or more imprisonment.

    At least 11 princes were among those detained in the surprise sweep that began Nov. 4. Many of the detainees have been held at the luxurious Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh, which has been closed to the public since. The hotel's website is taking reservations again starting Feb. 14.

    While the Saudi public has for decades complained of rampant government corruption and misuse of public funds by top officials, the arrests of top business figures and princes, and the secrecy shrouding who was detained and what their alleged crimes were, have foreign investors worried.

    State-linked Sabq news website quoted Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb on Wednesday as saying 90 detainees in total have been released after agreeing to settlements involving cash, real estate and other assets. He says a total of 350 people were questioned in the sweep.

    Among those detained were two of the late King Abdullah's sons, including Prince Miteb bin Abdullah who was fired from his post as head of the National Guard the night of his arrest. After paying an undisclosed sum, the prince was released and later photographed smiling with his younger cousin, the 32-year-old crown prince, at a horse race in late December. Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was even filmed kissing Prince Miteb's shoulder in a sign of respect.

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  • The U.S. Department of State announces its 2019 U.S. Diversity Visa Lottery Program will open registration Tuesday, Oct. 3.

    The U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa is pleased to announce that the 2019 Diversity Visa (DV) Program registration will open at 7:00pm locally (GMT +3) on Tuesday October 3, 2017 and will close at 7:00pm locally (GMT +3) on Tuesday November 7, 2017. Ethiopian citizens are among those eligible to participate.


    Each year the United States administers the Diversity Visa Immigrant Program from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For the 2019 program, 50,000 DVs will be available worldwide and no more than seven percent of the total visas available can go to nationals of any one country.  Only electronic applications are accepted. For complete information and to register, applicants must go to dvlottery.state.gov


    U.S. immigration law requires that every DV winner must at least complete a formal course of elementary and secondary education comparable to completion of a 12-year course of study in the United States.  In Ethiopia, an ESLCE (12th grade) or Higher Education Entrance Qualification certificate showing at least five passing grades, or a university degree are sufficient. Vocational training in Ethiopia – known as TVET – cannot be considered a substitute for high school education and does not meet the education criteria for DV eligibility. In some cases, applicants may substitute have two years of recent work experience in certain limited fields. Applicants should visit onetonline.org to see if they qualify for a DV based on their work experience.


    The U.S. Embassy encourages applicants to apply on their own although applicants are allowed to have someone else submit on their behalf. No matter who completes the form, the applicant is responsible for ensuring their applications are complete. Entries that are not correct or complete may be disqualified. It is free to register for the program, but each applicant may only submit one entry and multiple entries will result in disqualification.  Entrants who submit more than one entry will be disqualified.


    Interested applicants are warned to beware of fraudulent offers to “help” them obtain a Diversity Visa.  The selection process is random and there is no way for an outside actor to influence the selection.   Similarly, there are no fees related to submitting an entry.  The only time applicants will need to pay a fee is if they are selected for an interview.


    Read more: http://ow.ly/fMSA30fzcmu


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  • You’re not allowed to fall in love with an American

    You’re not allowed to fall in love with an American under Trump’s new visa rules

    Donald Trump’s just made it even harder for those trying to enter the states. He’s given immigration officials new grounds to deny entry — asking all those who require a visa to follow-through on their stated plans for at least three months. Failure to do so will make it harder for them for renew their visa or change its status.

    So if you’re in America for work, fall in love with a citizen and get married, it would be presumed that you have deliberately lied and will make living in the states difficult in the future.

    Diane Rish, associate director of government relations at the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told The New York Times: ‘If someone comes to the U.S. as a tourist, falls in love and gets married within 90 days and then applies for a green card, this means the application would be denied. This is a significant policy change.’
    In separate visa news, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has resumed processing all pending H-1B visa petitions.
    It was temporarily suspended by the Trump administration to halt the rush on applications.

    Read More : metro.co.uk

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  • The world’s most welcoming countries – as voted by you

    Whether it’s a friendly face at check in or a taxi driver who’s full of useful tips, nothing beats getting a warm welcome on your travels – and our interactions with local people have a huge impact on how we view countries as a whole. This month, we asked our Face book and Twitter followers to share where they've found the most hospitable places around the world. Here’s what they said.

    10. Bolivia

    This South American country has been voted among the world’s least friendly tourist destinations in the past – but we’ve always thought Bolivia has been a bit misunderstood. And it looks like our readers agree. As long as you make an effort to learn some key phrases in the local languages, you’ll find out exactly how hospitable Bolivians can be. From the otherworldly Salar de Uyuni to the vast, sapphire-blue Lake Titicaca, the country’s spectacular sights make it worth going the extra mile.


    Woman enjoying an ice-cream in Bolivia

    Sandeep Achetan/Flickr


    9. Finland

    Finns are famous for being uncommonly reserved, but that doesn't mean they’re not a welcoming bunch – all you have to do is join them in the sauna to find out. Sweating it out together has become a national obsession, and you’ll no doubt come away from the experience with plenty of new friends. Once you've beaten each other with a bunch of leafy twigs and plunged feet first into a pool just a shade above freezing, you’ll at least have plenty to talk about.


    Sauna lake in Finland, Europe



    8. Myanmar

    Cut off from the rest of the world for decades, Myanmar only recently began emerging from its period of isolation – and now is a fascinating time to go. Visit any one of the traditional teahouses to meet the friendly locals, who generally still view tourists as a novelty. In 2016, Myanmar was voted the world’s most generous country in the World Giving Index for the third year running. The index takes into account the kindness to strangers, so you can expect to be warmly received on your travels.


    Myanmar, Asia



    7. Kenya

    It’s likely that the spindly acacia trees, dusty plains and ochre-hued sunsets that come to mind when you think of Africa belong to Kenya. It hosts a breathtaking range of natural habitats, from the reefs and lagoons of the Indian Ocean to the fertile plains of the Maasai Mara. And its cultural heritage – with more than 40 ethnic groups – is just as rich. It’s common for locals here to speak three languages – their own, Swahili and English – so you’ll find it easy to start up a conversation.


    Zebras in Maasai Mara, Kenya



    6. Indonesia

    Home to everything from rumbling volcanoes to orangutan-filled rainforest's, and surrounded by some of the best dive sites in the world, Indonesia’s 17,000 tropical islands are extraordinarily diverse. Meanwhile, the people that live here share around 300 ethnicities and many hundreds of languages between them. Locals are outgoing and accustomed to seeing new faces, so you shouldn't be surprised if a complete stranger introduces themselves.


    Children fishing in Indonesia, Asia



    5. Japan

    Stepping off the plane and into Japan can feel a bit like strolling onto another planet. There’s everything from ramen vending machines to futuristic capsule hotels to get your head around – and the rules of etiquette can seem just as tricky to navigate. But there’s no need to worry, as Japan is regularly heralded as one of the most welcoming and hospitable countries in the world. That means you don’t have to fret if you’ve accidentally forgotten to switch to toilet slippers or committed a chopstick-related faux pas.


    Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

    People on the streets in Tokyo, Japan

    Moyan Brenn/Flickr


    4. Colombia

    Colombia is widely regarded as one of South America’s rising stars, with the gradual decline of the drug cartels and improving security conditions finally granting access to its charming colonial cities, cloud forests and palm-fringed beaches. Locals here are famous for their hospitality, and you’ll no doubt get to experience this first-hand with a visit to the country’s underrated capital city or thriving Medellín.


    Street view of a comuna in Medellin, Colombia

    Pedro Szkely/Flickr


    3. Uganda

    Once dubbed “the pearl of Africa” by Winston Churchill, Uganda still has plenty to be proud of, including a healthy population of mountain gorillas, the source of the world’s longest river and the Mountains of the Moon, the continent’s tallest range. Many years of civil strife have largely kept it under the tourist radar, though travellers have begun flocking back in recent times with the fostering of stability. Now, you’ve voted it one of the most welcoming countries on Earth, so it’s the perfect time for a trip.


    Mountain gorilla in Uganda

    Rod Waddington/Flickr


    2. India

    In big Indian cities such as Delhi and Mumbai, you’re almost guaranteed to meet a new person every minute – and the welcome could initially seem a shade too warm. Everywhere you go, local people may introduce themselves, stare at you, or take photos, and you might even find yourself faced with awkward questions such as “Do you have a boyfriend?” or “How much money do you earn?” All of this is perfectly normal in India, and it’s simply a friendly way of showing interest in a new face.


    Colourful dresses in India



    1. Ethiopia

    Top of the list sits Ethiopia, a profoundly beautiful East African country with a history that stretches back many thousands of years. It was never colonized, so the tribal customs and hospitable traditions you can see here are largely just as they've always been. Take the Ethiopian coffee ceremony: the women of the household meticulously roast, grind and boil the aromatic beans, before presenting three consecutive cups of exceptionally fresh coffee to their guests. The process can last for hours, but it’s considered a real mark of friendship.


    Ethiopian coffee ceremony, Africa
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