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‘Nothing untoward’ in Belfast security alert

A suspicious object which sparked a security alert in north Belfast was deemed “nothing untoward”.

Pacific Avenue, just off the Antrim Road was closed and the Army bomb squad called to the scene.

Deputy Mayor or Belfast, Mary Ellen Campbell said a suspected pipe bomb was behind the alert and residents evacuated from their homes. Police added: “A security alert which started earlier at Pacific Avenue in north Belfast has ended . Police say nothing untoward was found .

The road has now been reopened to traffic.”

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Steve Bannon threatened to quit if removed from National Security Council, say reports

Few things give Washington pundits1 more pleasure than monitoring the varying fortunes of White House officials – especially when those officials are somewhat controversial. So there was no some furore when it was revealed Steve 2Bannon3, the far right adviser to Mr Trump, had been removed from his position on the National Security Council . It has now been reported the former Breibart publisher threatened to quit the administration as he fought to retain the role. The New York Times said Mr Bannon s allies denied he threatened to leave, and sought instead to portray the move as a natural evolution as the government settled in.

Susan Rice operationalised the NSC . during the last administration, Mr Bannon said in a statement, mentioning Barack Obama s national security adviser.

I was put on the NSC with General Michael Flynn to ensure that it was de-operationalised .

General McMaster has returned the NSC to its proper function. Yet within Washington, the decision to remove Mr Bannon from the NSC s principals committee – a move that was said have been orchestrated by Lt Gen HR McMaster, Mr Trump s national security advisor – was seen as possible indication that the far right former navy officer s fortunes may be waning. Steve Bannon being talked about will be his kiss of death

For the first weeks of the administration, Mr Bannon s hand appeared to be present at every decision of any importance . He encouraged Mr Trump to attack the media, and revelled in personally denouncing reporters as the opposition . He pushed Mr Trump to retain the chaotic management style that had marked the election campaign.

Yet it is possible that Mr Bannon s influence may be diminishing, as Mr Trump turns increasingly to those he believes he can trust the most – family members such as Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner. His eldest daughter has taken a position as federal employee within the White House, as has Mr Kushner, the former real estate magnate who appears to have been given responsibility for everything from relations with China to bringing peace to the Middle East . This week, there was much scorn as Mr Kushner was photographed during a visit to Iraq to meet with US and Iraqi military officials.

The newspaper said Mr Bannon s enemies, inside and outside the White House, celebrated what they saw as a defeat for a man who has been seen as the power behind the presidency.

He didn t belong on the principals committee to begin with – doesn t really belong in the White House at all, said Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California .

I hope that this is a sign that McMaster is taking control of the National Security Council.

Others speculated that Mr Trump may have acted partly out of annoyance over reports that suggested that Mr Bannon, and not he, was the person actually running the country.

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Steve Bannon ‘removed from National Security Council’ but remains Donald Trump’s chief strategist

Donald Trump s controversial, right-wing advisor Steve Bannon has reportedly been stripped of his position within the National Security Council in a shake-up ordered by the president. Washington observers were startled after Mr Trump took office, when Mr Bannon, a person with minimal foreign policy experience, was given a senior role on the council . He was even made a member of the council s so-called principals committee, in preference for military officials who usually take up such roles. But Bloomberg News said that in a shake-up, Mr Trump had removed his political confidant from the NSC, a body that advises the president on matters relating to national security . It said, he had also downgraded the role of his Homeland Security Adviser, Tom Bossert.

It said that National Security Advisor, HR McMaster, has been given responsibility for setting the agenda for meetings of the NSC or the Homeland Security Council. He has also been authorised to delegate that authority to Mr Bossert, at his discretion. Steve Bannon being talked about will be his kiss of death

Bloomberg said according to a regulatory filing, under the move, national intelligence director, Dan Coats, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Corps General Joseph Dunford, will again become regular attendees at the principals committee.

Mr Bannon, the former executive chairman of Breitbart News, was elevated to the National Security Council s principals committee at the beginning of Mr Trump s presidency .

The move drew widespread criticism from Washington s foreign policy establishment.

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