Trump extends war of words with civil rights leader Lewis

US President-elect Donald Trump shakes hands with Martin Luther King III during a meeting in New York. (AFP)
Updated 18 January 2017
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Trump extends war of words with civil rights leader Lewis

WASHINGTON: US President-elect Donald Trump extended his war of words with African-American civil rights leader John Lewis on Tuesday, accusing the Democratic congressman of lying when he said Trump’s inauguration would be the first that he would miss.
“John Lewis said about my inauguration, ‘It will be the first one that I’ve missed.’ WRONG (or lie)! He boycotted Bush 43 also because he ‘thought it would be hypocritical to attend Bush’s swearing-in.... he doesn’t believe Bush is the true elected president.’ Sound familiar!” Trump said in a pair of posts on Twitter.
Trump initially clashed with Lewis on Twitter over the weekend after the congressman from Georgia questioned the legitimacy of his Nov. 8 election victory, because of US intelligence agencies’ conclusion that Russia meddled in the campaign. Lewis also said he would not attend Trump’s swearing-in this Friday and that “It will be the first one that I miss since I have been in the Congress.”
Lewis’ remarks were released last Friday at the beginning of the long holiday weekend that honors slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Trump responded on Saturday by tweeting that Lewis had falsely complained about the election results and instead “should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to mention crime infested).”
“All talk, talk, talk — no action or results. Sad!” Trump wrote on Saturday.
On Tuesday, Trump continued the battle, saying Lewis lied and quoting an article in The Washington Post in 2001 that said Lewis spent that Inauguration Day in his Atlanta district rather than see Republican President George W. Bush sworn in.
On Monday, Martin Luther King’s daughter said that “God can triumph over Trump,” but the slain civil rights leader’s son struck a conciliatory tone after meeting with Trump.
Bernice King, King’s youngest daughter, told a gathering at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta not to give up hope and “Don’t be afraid of who sits in the White House.”
“God can triumph over Trump,” she said, drawing a standing ovation, one of several times she was interrupted by thunderous applause.
Trump offered praise for King in a Twitter post on Monday, a few hours before meeting King’s oldest son, Martin Luther King III, in New York.
“Celebrate Martin Luther King Day and all of the many wonderful things that he stood for. Honor him for being the great man that he was!” Trump tweeted.
Trump and King III emerged from an elevator together, shaking hands. Trump said goodbye to King, then returned to the elevator without answering questions.
King said they had a constructive meeting to discuss how to improve the US voting system, which King considers broken, but he skirted questions about whether he was offended by Trump’s comments on Lewis.
“First of all I think that in the heat of emotion a lot of things get said on both sides. I think at some point I bridge-build. The goal is to bring America together,” King said.
Bush was declared the winner of the 2000 election after the Supreme Court halted a protracted recount of a very close election in Florida between him and Democratic candidate Al Gore.
Trump’s attacks on Lewis offended many Americans including some of Trump’s fellow Republicans. Trump drew just 8 percent of the black vote in the November election.


Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

Updated 9 min 46 sec ago
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Greece ‘turning a page’ as eurozone declares crisis over

  • The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
  • EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici: “The Greek crisis ends here tonight.”

ATHENS: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Friday said the country was “turning a page” after eurozone ministers declared its crisis over as they granted Athens debt relief under a bailout exit strategy.
The eurozone ministers’ agreement comes nearly a decade after Athens finances spun out of control, sparking three bailouts and threatening the country’s euro membership.
“Yesterday we reached a historic agreement on Greece’s debt with the Eurogroup,” Tsipras told the country’s president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos.
“We are turning a page,” he said, adding that Greece had to remain on the path of reform.
Following the eurozone ministers’ hard-fought agreement declared earlier Friday, Greece is slated to leave its third financial rescue since 2010 on August 20.
“The Greek crisis ends here tonight,” said EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici, after marathon talks in Luxembourg.
The deal was expected to be an easy one, but last-minute resistance by Germany — Greece’s long bailout nemesis and biggest creditor — dragged the talks on for six hours.
The ministers agreed to extend maturities by 10 years on major parts of its total debt obligations, a mountain that has reached close to double the country’s annual economic output.
They also agreed to disburse €15 billion ($17.5 billion) to ease Greece’s exit from the rescue program.
This would leave Greece with a hefty €24 billion safety cushion, officials said.
“The agreed debt relief is bigger than we had expected,” Citi European Economics said in a note.
“In particular, the 10-year extension of the EFSF loans’ maturity and most importantly the grace period on interest payments is a significant development,” they added.
“The Greek government is happy with the agreement,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said after the talks.
But “to make this worthwhile we have to make sure that the Greek people must quickly see concrete results... they need to feel the change in their own pockets,” he added.
The eight-year crisis toppled four governments and shrank the economy by 25 percent. Unemployment soared and still hovers over 20 percent, sending thousands of young educated Greeks abroad.
Optimism is tempered by Greece’s remaining fiscal obligations, which will demand serious discipline, observers say.
“This is a very tight program. A surplus of 3.5 percent to 2022 and 2.2 percent (on average) to 2060 is not easy at all,” Kostas Boukas, asset management director at Beta Securities, told Athens 9,84 radio.
“We’ll have to see if the pledges will be kept, especially as they depend on international developments as well,” he said.
Under pressure from its creditors, Greece has already agreed to slash pensions again in 2019, and reduce the tax-free income threshold for millions of people in 2020.
Further cuts will be made to maintain the 3.5-percent surplus, if necessary.
“It would be a terrible mistake to cultivate illusions that the end of the bailout means a return to normality,” said pro-opposition daily Ta Nea.
“What follows is tough oversight which no other country has experienced in a post-bailout period,” the daily said.
The European Commission has already specified that Greece will remain under fiscal supervision until it repays 75 percent of its loans.
Athens has received €273.7 billion in assistance since 2010, enabling it to avoid punishing borrowing rates on debt markets.
The International Monetary Fund, led by the tough-talking Christine Lagarde, welcomed the debt relief, but cited reservations about Greece’s obligations over the long term.
“In the medium term analysis there is no doubt in our minds that Greece will be able to reaccess the markets,” Lagarde said after the talks.
“As far as the longer term is concerned we have concerns,” she added.
The reform-pushing IMF played an active role in the two first Greek bailouts, but took only an observer role in the third in the belief that Greece’s debt pile was unsustainable in the long term.