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CNN to shun Trump’s White House Christmas party

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International media firm, the Cable News Network (CNN) says it will be staying away from the White House Christmas party for the media following its ongoing feud with U.S. President Donald Trump.

The news network famously dubbed “Fake News” by Trump said freedom of press is being threatened in the U.S. by the president’s action.

“CNN will not be attending this year’s White House Christmas party,” a CNN spokesperson told Politico.

“In light of the president’s continued attacks on freedom of the press and CNN, we do not feel it is appropriate to celebrate with him as his invited guests.

“We will send a White House reporting team to the event, and report on it if news warrants.”

The annual gathering slated for 2 p.m. on Dec. 1, is usually an event where reporters can socialise with members of the White House administration. But ties between the Trump administration have been strained, particularly in recent days.

News of CNN’s plans to boycott the event was greeted positively by White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. “Christmas comes early,” she tweeted. “Finally good news from @CNN.”

The president took to Twitter earlier in November to criticise the firm, saying he was “forced to watch” it while on an overseas trip to Asia, and the experience reminded him why he dislikes the channel so passionately.

“While in the Philippines I was forced to watch @CNN, which I have not done in months, and again realised how bad, and FAKE, it is,” Trump wrote. “Loser!”

And on Monday, the president tweeted that CNN should be part of “a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favourite President (me).

“They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

CNN sources told Politico that Trump’s tweet slamming CNN International was deemed unsafe because of concerns that it endangered journalists operating out of areas or countries hostile to the media.

News of the Christmas party boycott, follows an opinion piece on the CNN’s website Sunday, in which writers Hossein Derakhshan and Claire Wardle called for scrapping the term “fake news.” Use of the phrase, the authors claimed, is “not only self-defeating, it oversimplifies a very complex problem,” and has since “become meaningless” during the past year.

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Foreign

CNN sues White House for barring reporter

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CNN sued Donald Trump’s administration on Tuesday, alleging the White House violated journalist Jim Acosta’s rights under the constitution by revoking his press credentials following a heated exchange with the US president.

“The wrongful revocation of these credentials violates CNN and Acosta’s First Amendment rights of freedom of the press, and their Fifth Amendment rights to due process,” the news network said in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “We have asked this court for an immediate restraining order requiring the pass be returned to Jim, and will seek permanent relief as part of this process.”

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Austria pulls out of UN global migration pact

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Austrian flag

Austrian flag

Austria on Wednesday backed out of a UN pact on migration over concerns that it will blur the line between legal and illegal migration.

The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration was approved in July by all 193 UN member nations except the United States, which backed out in 2017.

Hungary also backed out of the pact.

Hungary’s right-wing government, led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban, a hard-liner on immigration, has said it will not sign the final document at a ceremony in Morocco in December.

Poland, which has also clashed with Brussels by resisting national quotas for asylum seekers, is considering the same step.

“We have decided that we will not join the pact,” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, a conservative and an immigration hard-liner who governs in coalition with the far-right Freedom Party, told ORF radio.

Austria will not send an envoy to the signing ceremony in Morocco and will abstain from a UN vote on the pact next year, ORF and news agency APA said, citing Kurz and far-right Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache, adding that the cabinet would formally approve the move on Wednesday.

“We will therefore abstain in the vote at the U.N. General Assembly in the year 2019,” Kurz told ORF.

He and Strache expressed concerns about the pact this month, saying it could restrict sovereignty.

Government officials were not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

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Khashoggi’s murder planned days in advance: President Erdogan

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President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, says Jamal Khashoggi’s death planned in advance by Saudis

President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, says Jamal Khashoggi’s death planned in advance by Saudis

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was intricately planned days in advance and asked for the trial of the 18 assassins in Istanbul.
Erdogan had promised that his speech in Ankara to party men would give the “naked truth” about the killing and he gave a host of new details while still saying Turkey wanted answers to key questions, including who gave the orders.

“First they (the Saudis implicated) removed the hard disc from the camera system,” Erdogan said. “This is a political murder,” he added.

Erdogan said that all information, evidence that has been revealed until now showed that Khashoggi was the victim of a “savage” murder, Anadolu news agency reported.

Erdogan said Saudi teams made explorations in Istanbul’s Belgrad Forest and the northwestern province of Yalova before murdering Khashoggi.

Erdogan also said that the Saudi government formally admitted to the killing of Khashoggi 17 days after his murder.

“Vienna convention would not allow such a ‘savage’ murder,” Erdogan said.

“Diplomatic immunity, which is a part of the Vienna Convention, will be opened to debate,” he said.

President Erdogan also proposed that the 18 suspects involved in the murder should stand court trial in Istanbul as the murder was committed there.

“Everyone, those who ordered his murder and those who executed it, should answer for their doing,” Erdogan said, labelling the killing of Khashoggi a “political murder”.

Erdogan also said anyone from countries other than Saudi Arabia who might have been accessory to the grisly murder should be investigated too.

“It is very important that such a critical investigation should be conducted by a neutral and fair committee,” he said.

Erdogan also said that putting the blame on a few security and intelligence officers would not convince Turkey or the international community.

“Conspiracy attempts against the reputation of Turkey on international media has not and will not stop us from trying to search for facts,” Erdogan said, vowing to unveil all aspects of the Khashoggi murder.

“Turkey, aside from its own sovereign rights, will follow the issue in the name of the international community as a representative of humanity’s common conscience,” Erdogan added.

Separately, Erdogan offered condolences to the family and relatives of Khashoggi.

Hours before Erdogan delivered his speech to ruling party lawmakers, a major Saudi investment forum opened in Riyadh under the heavy shadow of the murder after key delegates pulled out.

The murder of the Washington Post contributor has damaged the international reputation of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who has spearheaded a reform drive in the kingdom.

Erdogan did not mention Prince Mohammed by name in the speech but said he was confident of the full cooperation of his father Saudi King Salman in the probe.

Saudi Arabia only confirmed the killing more than two weeks after the event. The killing has alarmed even Saudi Arabia’s staunchest Western allies.

A former royal family insider turned critic of the Saudi crown prince, Khashoggi, 59, disappeared after he entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 to collect a document for his upcoming marriage.

The case has shone the spotlight on the crown prince, who was credited with reforms including giving women the right to drive but is now accused of having ordered Khashoggi’s murder — a claim Riyadh denies.

The timing of the controversy could not be worse for Prince Mohammed as the investment summit, dubbed “Davos in the desert”, began in Riyadh, overshadowed by big name cancellations and Erdogan’s threat of revelations.

Dozens of executives, including from banks Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, ride-hailing app Uber and Western officials such as International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde have pulled out of the three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII).

French energy giant Total’s head Patrick Pouyanne, however, said he would attend the meeting, arguing that “empty chair politics” do not advance human rights.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin would not export arms to Riyadh “in the current situation,” despite Germany’s approval last month of 416 million euros’ ($480 million) worth of arms exports in 2018.

Despite also pulling out of the summit, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met the crown prince behind closed doors for bilateral talks in Riyadh. CIA Director Gina Haspel, meanwhile, headed for Turkey, although details of her trip were not immediately clear.

White House advisor and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, believed to have close ties with the crown prince, said he had urged him to be “fully transparent”, stressing that “the world is watching”.

Speaking in Jakarta, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir vowed “a thorough and complete investigation”. He said procedures would be put in place to “ensure that something like this can never happen again.”

With Khashoggi’s remains still missing, Turkish police have found an abandoned car belonging to the Saudi consulate in an underground car park in the Sultangazi district of Istanbul, state media said.

CNN broadcast images apparently showing a Saudi official playing a body double for Khashoggi, wearing the journalist’s clothes, exiting the consulate.

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