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The United States said yesterday it was no longer blocking aid to Ethiopia over its controversial mega dam but voiced hope for a diplomatic solution involving Egypt and Sudan.

The Administration of President Donald Trump, a steadfast ally of Egypt’s leader, in September suspended around US$272 million to Ethiopia, accusing it of intransigence as US-brokered talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam broke down.

President Joe Biden’s Administration is conducting a policy review on the project, which Egypt and Sudan consider an existential threat, but said it was no longer leveraging aid.

“The United States has decided to delink its temporary pause on certain assistance to Ethiopia from the United States policy on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, or GERD,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.

“We continue to support collaborative and constructive efforts by Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to reach an agreement on the GERD,” he said.

Price said that a resumption of assistance would be tied to unspecified other factors but that humanitarian aid would be exempt.

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Both the Biden and Trump administrations have voiced alarm over the humanitarian situation in the northern Tigray region where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in November launched an offensive in response to an attack on federal army camps blamed on the local ruling party.

Trump was a close ally of Egypt’s general-turned-President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, and publicly mused in October that Egypt could bomb the dam – leading Ethiopia to accuse the then US leader of trying to provoke a war.

Egypt is not believed to have any attack plans but it relies on water from the Nile for 97 per cent of its needs, and fears a crisis if Ethiopia goes ahead with the second phase of filling the dam.

Sudan is also heavily dependent on Nile water and on Wednesday recalled its ambassador to Ethiopia for consultations as tensions worsened.
(AFP)

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Donald Trump

Trump will reportedly slam President Biden during upcoming CPAC speech

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Former President Trump will slam President Biden on various issues such as immigration and China during his upcoming speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), Fox News reported, citing “sources familiar with the speech.”

The outlet said that the former president is not expected to officially throw his hat in the ring for a 2024 presidential run, noting that sources said Trump would be between “warming up to the idea of a 2024 run, and walking right up to the line of announcing another campaign.” 

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Trump is slated to deliver remarks at the CPAC event in Orlando on Sunday.

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Donald Trump

Trump Appeals Suspension to Rejoin Facebook, Instagram

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. The decision is expected to take around two and a half months.

Former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, who is a co-chair of the oversight board, told UK’s Channel 4 News that they are currently looking into the appeal concerning Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. The board was set up to be an independent group to hear users’ appeals and is comprised of 19 former politicians, journalists, and academics.

“It’s a very high profile case but that is exactly why the Oversight Board was created in the first place,” Thorning-Schmidt said.

In a statement to The Epoch Times, the board confirmed that “a user statement has been received in the case before the Oversight Board concerning President Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.”

“We will have no further comment concerning that statement until the Board has issued its decision,” they added.

Trump’s office did not immediately respond to The Epoch Times’ request for comment.

Thorning-Schmidt said that the board has 90 days to render a decision, adding that although the members would like to expedite the process, the time frame is necessary to allow for translations and experts to share their opinions.

The board is also reviewing public comments on Trump’s appeal. Thorning-Schmidt said they have already received “thousands” of public comments in this case.

Facebook suspended Trump indefinitely in early January following the breach of the U.S. Capitol. The Silicon Valley company was not the only platform to ban Trump amid a campaign these companies say is to remove harmful content from their platforms. Twitter, Google, Snapchat, Twitch, and other platforms also suspended Trump’s access around the same time.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg justified his company’s censorship by claiming the risks of Trump using the platform through Inauguration Day were too great.

“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete,” Zuckerberg said in a statement at the time.

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On the day that the Capitol was breached as Congress was gathered to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election, Trump made two posts on Facebook that the company found objectionable and removed, publicly citing Trump’s “use of our platform to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.”

In both of the posts, one being a video, Trump told his supporters that “we have to have peace” and told them to “go home.”

Facebook said it removed the two posts for violating its Community Standard on Dangerous Individuals and Organizations under its policy prohibiting praise, support, and representation of events that Facebook designates as “violating.”

Later, after reviewing Trump’s communications outside the platform, Facebook determined to extend the block indefinitely.

Trump said last week that he was looking into options to return to social media including joining an existing platform or creating his own. He has, however, ruled out re-joining Twitter, which he called “very boring” after many conservative users departed from the platform after his permanent ban.

Perceived unbalanced moderation of users’ content by social media companies has raised concerns over First Amendment rights and a lack of checks and balances for decisions made by Big Tech companies.

Congress is looking to hold Big Tech companies accountable for their actions and has been seeking to legislate a new antitrust law. On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee announced a March 25 hearing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, who will be expected to testify on misinformation on online platforms.

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Arizona GOP

GOP split over whether to ‘bend the knee’ by visiting Trump at Mar-a-Lago

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Republican lawmakers are split over whether to pay tribute to Donald Trump by visiting the former president at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) are visiting for a Saturday night fundraiser at Mar-a-Lago to help raise money for the 2022 re-election campaign of Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT).

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago on Tuesday and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) was spotted at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is planning a visit.

But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) won’t be going.

“The Kentucky Republican is ‘not going to bend the knee’ and travel to Mar-a-Lago, a close McConnell associate told CNN, adding that McConnell will ‘probably never speak’ to Trump again if he can avoid it,” CNN reported Saturday.

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“If they don’t figure it out soon, some GOP leaders fear, there could be a major crash ahead. As some see it, that presents the greatest risk for McConnell, who — despite his power in the Senate — isn’t nearly as popular as Trump with Republican voters across the country,” CNN explained.

“It’s a “collision between a tractor-trailer and a Volkswagen,” said one person familiar with both Trump and McConnell’s thinking, emphasizing the damage that Trump and his massive base of loyal supporters are capable of inflicting.”
(Raw story)

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