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Obama holds final press conference as President

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Washington, Jan 19 : Barack Obama held his last press conference as the President of the US to offer an assured outlook for a country governed by Donald Trump who is slated to take charge on Friday, a media report said.

“At my core I think we’re going to be OK,” Obama said on Wednesday during the conference at the White House.

“We just have to fight for it, work for it, and not take it for granted.”

“I know that you will help us do that,” CNN quoted the President as saying.

In his question-and-answer session with reporters, Obama said that after two terms of political warfare with Republicans, he was emerging unbowed in his faith in the US and its citizens. But he continued to express concerns about his successor’s stance on Russia and his readiness for office.

“I believe in this country. I believe in the American people. I believe that people are more good than bad,” Obama said.

“I believe tragic things happen. I think there’s evil in the world, but I think at the end of the day, if we work hard and if we’re true to those things in us that feel true and feel right, that the world gets a little better each time.”

Conceding that Trump may not take his advice on issues, Obama said he would avoid weighing in on specific policy matters during his post-presidency, using his time instead to write and “not hear myself talk so darn much”, CNN reported.

Obama also took advantage of the conference to defend the importance of guaranteeing freedom of the press, given that the president-elect has openly insulted several media outlets that he said are “dishonest”.

He said that a free press is “essential” to US democracy, and he took pains to provide an example to his successor by taking questions during the press conference from a wide variety of journalists: progressive, conservative, Latino, African American, foreign and a one specialising in reporting on LGBT rights issues, Efe news reported.

Obama also defended some of his recent moves as President, including his decision to eliminate the “wet foot, dry foot” policy on Cuban migrants, which he said represented “a carryover of an old way of thinking that didn’t make sense in this day and age” within the context of normalising relations with Cuba.

He also said that it made sense for him to commute the prison sentence of former US soldier Chelsea Manning, who in 2010 leaked numerous secret documents to WikiLeaks and who will be able to leave prison in May.

Despite Republican criticism, Obama said that he felt “very comfortable” with his decision on Manning, who “has served a tough prison sentence” after “due process was carried out,” and he added that he did not agree with the idea that her release sends a message that people who leak classified documents will remain unpunished.

He also defended his decision last December to have the US abstain from voting in the UN Security Council on – and not veto – a resolution condemning Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, saying that he felt it was important to “send a signal, a wakeup call” to Israel that the time for implementing a two-state solution in the region may be ending.

Obama also referred to Trump’s recent remarks on the possibility of ending sanctions against Russia for its interference in Ukraine in exchange for cuts in the US and Russian nuclear arsenals.

“The reason we imposed the sanctions … was not because of nuclear weapons issues, it was because the independence and sovereignty of a country, Ukraine, had been encroached upon by force, by Russia. That wasn’t our judgment, that was the judgment of the entire international community,” he said, going on to advise Trump not to “confuse” the issue of Ukraine with nuclear matters.

The president closed the press conference on an optimistic note despite the fears of many regarding Trump’s election win and what it may portend for US domestic and international policy, Efe news added.

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America

US unemployment rate falls to 50-year low

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The U.S. unemployment rate fell in September to a new five-decade low of 3.5%, while employers added a modest 136,000 jobs.

The Labor Department says that despite the ultra-low unemployment rate, which was down from 3.7% in August, average hourly wages slipped by a penny. Hourly pay rose just 2.9% from a year earlier, lower than 3.4% at the beginning of the year.

Hiring has slowed this year as the U.S.-China trade war has intensified, global growth has slowed, and businesses have cut back on their investment spending. Still, hiring has averaged 157,000 in the past three months, enough to lower the unemployment rate over time.

The unemployment rate for Latinos fell to 3.9%, the lowest on records dating from 1973.

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America

Trump embarrassed by TV channel

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

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New York, Sep 26 : US President Donald Trump was subjected to an embarrassment when the MSNBC news channel cut away from his press conference while he was speaking on the controversy surrounding him over the Ukrainian probe against former Vice President Joe Biden.

Trump on Wednesday was addressing the press conference against the backdrop of impeachment proceedings announced against him by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi following allegations that he put pressure on the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to order a probe against Biden whose family has business interests there.

The allegation against Trump came to light because of a whistleblower and a transcript of the conversation between him and Zelensky in July, which has become public.

As Trump was speaking to the media after meeting Zelensky to clarify his position, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace cut into it, saying: “We hate to do this but the President isn’t telling the truth.”

She added that Trump was trying to do it to deflect the attention from his impeachment.

According to the transcript of the telephonic conversation that has gone public, Trump is heard asking Zelensky to “do us a favour”, after the latter expresses gratitude for the military aid the US provided to his country.

Trump’s words of “do us a favour” is seen as a quid pro quo for the American military aid, because of which the impeachment proceedings have been announced.

After Wallace cut the press conference, her guest on the programme, justice and security analyst Matthew Miller, rebuked Trump for saying that Biden and his son had done wrong.

“This story has been looked at and thoroughly debunked by everyone involved,” Miller said, adding the real issue was whether Trump’s conduct is “impeachable”.

Trump is facing problem at a time when he is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.

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America

Kim Jong-un receives ‘excellent’ letter from Trump

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Pyongyang, June 23 North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has received a personal letter with “excellent” and “interesting” content from US President Donald Trump, Pyongyang’s state media said on Sunday.

“After reading the letter, the Supreme Leader of the Party, the state and the armed forces said with satisfaction that the letter is of excellent content,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to its leader.

“Appreciating the political judging faculty and extraordinary courage of President Trump, Kim Jong-un said that he would seriously contemplate the interesting content,” it added.

The KCNA did not disclose when and how the letter was delivered to Kim, reports Yonhap News Agency.

The letter appears to be in response to the one Kim sent to Trump recently in time for the anniversary of their first-ever summit in Singapore last June.

Trump had described Kim’s letter as “beautiful” and “very warm”. He also emphasized that the relationship between them remains strong and that “something will happen that’s going to be very positive”.

The exchange of correspondence between the leaders renewed hopes for a resumption of denuclearization talks which have stalled since the breakdown of their second summit in February.

The summit collapsed as Pyongyang wanted sanctions relief as a corresponding measure in exchange for dismantling its Yongbyon nuclear complex, while Washington insisted that sanctions should remain in place until the North completely gives up its nuclear weapons programme.

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