Obama says ‘yes we did’ in farewell address

US President Barack Obama. (Reuters)
Updated 11 January 2017
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Obama says ‘yes we did’ in farewell address

CHICAGO: President Barack Obama addressed America and the world for the final time as president Tuesday, in a speech that was both a tearful goodbye and a call to arms.
Capping his eight years in the White House, Obama returned to his adoptive hometown of Chicago to recast his “yes we can” campaign credo as “yes we did.”
Listing landmarks of his presidency — from the Iran nuclear deal to reforming health care — much of the speech was dedicated to lifting up supporters shaken by Donald Trump’s shock election.
Obama called on them to pick up the torch, fight for democracy and forge a new “social compact.”
“For all our outward differences, we are all in this together,” he said warning that partisanship, racism, and inequality all threatened democracy. “We rise or fall as one.”
“All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.”
The incoming Republican president has smashed conventions, vowed to efface Obama’s legacy and hurled personal insults left and right, while in a virtually unprecedented move US intelligence has accused the Kremlin of seeking to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
Democrats, cast into the political wilderness with the loss of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives plus a majority of statehouses, are struggling to regroup.
Obama painted the task ahead as a generational challenge.
“A faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might” he said, had allowed the United States to “resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies.”
In comments that resonate as Americans ponder whether Russia helped to put Trump in the White House, Obama said “that order is now being challenged.”
“First by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power.”
“The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. “
Obama’s last trip on Air Force One was a pilgrimage to his adoptive hometown, where he addressed a sell-out crowd of some 18,000 not far from where he delivered his victory speech eight years ago.
Diehard fans — many African Americans — braved Chicago’s frigid winter to collect free tickets, which were selling for upwards of $1,000 a piece on Craigslist.
They were joined by First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill — who the president described as “family” in an emotional finale to his speech.
Wiping a tear from his eye, Obama paid poignant tribute to his own family, his daughter Malia who was present and Sasha who was not, and the first lady who he addressed as his best friend.
“You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor,” he said. “A new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.”
With an approval rating hovering around 55 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll, Obama still carries considerable political weight.
Some 51 percent of Americans polled believe that Trump is doing a bad job as president-elect.
Trump’s unorthodox politics have thrown the 55-year-old Obama’s transition and post-presidency plans into flux.
Having vowed a smooth handover of power, Obama has found himself being increasingly critical of Trump as he prepares to leave office on January 20.
After that there will still be a holiday and an autobiography, but Obama could find himself being dragged backed into the political fray if Trump were to enact a Muslim registry or deport adults brought to the United States years ago by their parents.
Having vowed to take a backseat in politics, Obama’s second act could yet be as politically engaged as Jimmy Carter — whose post-presidency has remade his image as an elder statesman.
Many Obama aides who had planned to take exotic holidays or launch coffer-replenishing forays into the private sector are also reassessing their future and mulling a return to the political trenches.
Obama’s foundation is already gearing up for a quasi-political role — funneling idealistic youngsters into public life.


86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

Updated 25 June 2018
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86 people killed in central Nigeria violence: police

  • Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009
  • The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades

JOS, Nigeria: Eighty-six people have been killed in an attack by suspected nomadic herders against farming communities in restive central Nigeria, police said on Sunday.
The discovery in the Barikin Ladi area of Plateau state came after days of violence apparently sparked by an attack by ethnic Berom farmers on Fulani herders on Thursday.
State police commissioner Undie Adie said a search of Berom villages in the area following clashes on Saturday found “86 persons altogether were killed.”
Adie told reporters six people were also injured and 50 houses razed. Bodies of those who died have been released to their families, he added.
The deaths are the latest in a long-running battle for land and resources that is putting President Muhammadu Buhari under pressure as elections approach next year.
The violence — fueled by ethnic, religious and political allegiances — has killed thousands over several decades.
Analysts believe it could become Nigeria’s biggest security concern, eclipsing Boko Haram’s Islamist insurgency that has left at least 20,000 dead since 2009.
The Plateau state government said it had imposed restrictions on movements in the Riyom, Barikin Ladi and Jos South areas “to avert a breakdown of law and order.”
“The curfew takes effect immediately... and movement is restricted from 6:00 p.m. (1700 GMT) to 6:00 am, except (for) those on essential duties,” said spokesman Rufus Bature.
On Sunday, ethnic Berom youths set up barricades on the Jos-Abuja highway and attacked motorists who looked “Fulani and Muslim,” according to those who escaped the violence.
Plateau state police spokesman Tyopev Terna and Major Adam Umar, from the military taskforce in the state capital, Jos, confirmed the blockade and vandalism to several cars.
There were no official reports of deaths but Baba Bala, who escaped the violence on the road, said at least six people were killed.
“I was lucky the convoy of the (Plateau) state government was passing through the scene of the attack shortly after I ran into the attackers,” he said.
“I escaped with smashed windscreens and dents on my car. I saw six dead bodies and several damaged cars.”