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Flynn resigns as US national security adviser amid Russia controversy

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Washington: White House national security adviser Michael Flynn resigned on Monday night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the US, the media reported. “I inadvertently briefed the Vice President-elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian ambassador. I have sincerely apologised to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology,” Flynn wrote according to a copy of his resignation letter obtained by CNN.

“I am tendering my resignation, honoured to have served our nation and the American people in such a distinguished way,” he wrote. “I know with the strong leadership of President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence and the superb team they are assembling, this team will go down in history as one of the greatest presidencies in US history.” The move comes less than a month into the job, making him one of the shortest-serving senior presidential advisers in modern history. General Keith Kellogg will be the interim national security adviser, sources told CNN.

He most recently served as National Security Council chief of staff. A senior administration official said Kellogg, retired General David Petraeus and former Vice Admiral Bob Harward are possible replacements for Flynn. Flynn stepped down after days of reports that he had spoken to the ambassador in December about American sanctions against Russia, weeks before Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.  He previously had denied that he had any substantive conversations with Ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak, and Pence repeated that claim in television earlier this month.

But earlier on Monday, a former administration official said the Justice Department last month warned the White House that Flynn had not been fully forthright about his conversations with the ambassador, the New York Times reported.  As a result, the Justice Department feared that Flynn could be vulnerable to blackmail by Moscow. Officials said Pence has told others in the White House that he believed that Flynn lied to him by saying he had not discussed the topic of sanctions on a call with the Russian ambassador in late December.  Even the mere discussion of policy – and the apparent attempt to assuage the concerns of an American adversary before Trump took office – represents a remarkable breach of protocol, the daily said.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been examining Flynn’s phone calls as he has come under growing questions about his interactions with Russian officials and his management of the National Security Council.  Earlier on Monday, Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, told reporters that “the president is evaluating the situation.”  Spicer said Trump would be talking to Pence and others about Flynn’s future. In a sign of the internal confusion over Flynn’s status, the statement from Spicer came shortly after the president’s counsellor, Kellyanne Conway, said in an interview on MSNBC that Flynn had the “full confidence of the President”. The White House confirmed on Monday that Flynn had apologised to Pence.

 

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Ayodhya: SC orders allotment of alternative land to Muslims for mosque

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The Supreme Court on Saturday pronounced its verdict in the politically sensitive case of Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land dispute in Ayodhya. The five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, includes Justices SA Bobde, DY Chandrachud, Ashok Bhushan and S Abdul Nazeer.

The Ayodhya dispute, India’s longest-running historical, political and socio-religious debate, culminated on Saturday when the country’s Supreme Court ruled on the title suit of the 2.77 acre land in this Uttar Pradesh town that is claimed both by Hindus and Muslims.

There was unprecedented security in Uttar Pradesh as well as other parts of India with Prime Minister Narendra Modi stating that the judgement would not be anyone’s ‘victory or defeat’ but ‘would give strength to India’s tradition of peace, unity and amity’.

Here are highlights from the verdict:

* Sharp at 10.30 am, the 5-judge bench assembled to read out the verdict.

* The bench dismissed the appeal of the Shia Waqf Board, pronouncing an unanimous verdict in the case. Shia Waqf board’s claim was over the disputed structure. Court says the land is held by the government, according to revenue records.

* SC said the disputed land was government land in revenue records.

* SC referred to the content of the lawsuit of devotee Gopal Singh Visharad — the first to approach court in 1950 — seeking right to worship at the site.

* Top court held that Nirmohi Akhara’s suit is barred by limitation, not a shebait or devotee of deity Ram Lalla.

* SC lent credence to the archeological evidence on the disputed site.

* SC said that terming the archeological evidence as merely an opinion would be a great disservice to the Archeological Society of India.

* The Apex court said the Babri mosque was not built on vacant land. The underlying structure was not an Islamic structure.

* Court said the fact that there lied a temple beneath the destroyed structure has been established by the ASI.

* ASI had not established whether temple was demolished to build the mosque.

* Hindus consider this place as birthplace of lord Ram, even Muslims say this about disputed place: SC

* Faith of Hindus that Lord Rama was born at demolished structure is undisputed: SC

* The existence of Sita Rasoi, Ram Chabutra and Bhandar grih are the testimony of the religious fact of the place: SC

* Title cannot be established on ground of faith, belief; they are kind of indicator for deciding dispute: SC

* Evidence suggests Hindus were in possession of outer court yard, says SC

* Extensive nature of Hindus worshipping at outer courtyard at site has been there: SC

* Evidence suggest Muslims offered Friday prayers at mosque which indicates they have not lost possession: SC

* Despite obstruction caused in offering prayers at mosque, evidence suggest that there was no abandonment: SC

* Iron railing was set up at site in 1856-1857, it suggests Hindus kept worshipping at the site: SC

* Muslims have not adduced evidence they were in exclusive possession of dispute site: SC

* Muslims were not in possession of outer courtyard of the site: SC

* UP Sunni Central Waqf Board has failed to establish its case in Ayodhya dispute: SC

* On the contrary, Hindus established their case that they were in possession of outer courtyard: SC

* SC directs allotment of alternative land — of 5 acres — to Muslims to build new mosque.

* Damage to Babri mosque was violation of law: SC

* SC asks Centre to frame scheme within 3 months and set up a trust for construction of a temple.

* SC dismisses plea of Nirmohi Akhara seeking control of entire disputed land.

* Possession of disputed 2.77 acre land will remain with central government receiver for the temple: SC

* Centre, UP govt can monitor together future actions by authorities: SC

* SC grants entire 2.77 acre of disputed land in Ayodhya to deity Ram Lalla.

* SC directs Centre and UP govt to allot 5 acre land to the Muslims at a prominent place for building mosque.

* SC asks Centre to consider granting some kind of representation to Nirmohi Akhara in setting up of trust.

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