CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY IF CNN)

 

CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain

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Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain

Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain 02:18
Programming note: CNN will air “Remembering Anthony Bourdain,” a special report on the life and legacy of the chef, storyteller and writer, tonight at 10 p.m. ET.

New York (CNN)Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.

CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.
Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, “Parts Unknown.” His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning.
Anthony Bourdain on January 4, 2017, in Port of Spain, Trinidad

Asking for help

The suicide rate in the United States has seen sharp increases in recent years. Studies have shown that the risk of suicide declines sharply when people call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.

The lines are staffed by a mix of paid professionals and unpaid volunteers trained in crisis and suicide intervention. The confidential environment, the 24-hour accessibility, a caller’s ability to hang up at any time and the person-centered care have helped its success, advocates say.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement Friday morning. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller.
“His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”
Bourdain joined CNN five years ago. In an email to employees, the network’s president, Jeff Zucker, remembered him as an “exceptional talent.”
“Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it,” Zucker wrote.
Viewers around the world felt connected to Bourdain through his fearless travels, his restless spirit and his magical way with words. Fans, fellow chefs, celebrities and friends reacted to his death with stunned sorrow.
“My heart breaks for Tony Bourdain,” CNN’s chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, wrote on Twitter. “May he rest in peace now.”
President Donald Trump extended his condolences to Bourdain’s family on Friday morning. “I enjoyed his show,” Trump said. “He was quite a character.”
Former President Barack Obama recalled a meal he shared with Bourdain in Vietnam while Obama was on a trip through Asia in 2016 — an encounter captured in a “Parts Unknown” episode that year.
“‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.’ This is how I’ll remember Tony,” Obama posted to Twitter on Friday. “He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
For the past year, Bourdain had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento. She remembered Bourdain as someone who “gave all of himself in everything that he did.”
Last year he advocated for Argento as she went public with accusations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. “He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated.”
Bourdain’s death came days after fashion designer Kate Spade died in an apparent suicide Tuesday at her Manhattan apartment.
Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the United States over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

‘The Elvis of bad boy chefs’

Bourdain was a master of his crafts — first in the kitchen and then in the media. Through his TV shows and books, he helped audiences think differently about food, travel and themselves. He advocated for marginalized populations and campaigned for safer working conditions for restaurant staffs.
Along the way, he received practically every award the industry has to offer.
In 2013, Peabody Award judges honored Bourdain and “Parts Unknown” for “expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure.”
“He’s irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious,” the judges said. “People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document.”
The Smithsonian once called him “the original rock star” of the culinary world, “the Elvis of bad boy chefs.” His shows took him to more than 100 countries and three networks.
While accepting the Peabody award in 2013, Bourdain described how he approached his work.
“We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said, “we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”
Friends and acquaintances on Friday remembered Bourdain’s curiosity for the world’s variety of cultures and cuisine rubbing off on them. They included author and humorist John Hodgman, who recalled eating with Bourdain some 14 years ago.
“He was big even then, but he took time to sit with me in Chinatown to talk ‘weird’ food for a magazine piece I was writing. He taught me that our ‘weird’ is the world’s delicious,” Hodgman wrote on Twitter. “We ate chicken feet. The afternoon vibrated with life. RIP.”
Chef Gordon Ramsay said Bourdain “brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.”

From ‘happy dishwasher’ to addiction to fame

Bourdain grew up in Leonia, New Jersey, and started working in kitchens in his teens — including on Massachusetts’ Cape Cod during the summer.
“I was a happy dishwasher,” he said in a 2016 interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” “I jokingly say that I learned every important lesson, all the most important lessons of my life, as a dishwasher.”
It was during those early jobs, he said, that he began using drugs, eventually developing a heroin addiction and other problems that he later said should have killed him in his 20s. He often talked of his addiction later in life.
“Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin — I know what that’s like,” Bourdain said in a 2014 “Parts Unknown” episode highlighting an opioid crisis in Massachusetts.
After spending two years at New York’s Vassar College, he dropped out and enrolled in culinary school. He spent years as a line cook and sous chef at restaurants in the Northeast before becoming executive chef at Manhattan’s Brasseries Les Halles.
But it was his writing that put him on the map in his early 40s.
Bourdain drew widespread public attention with his 1999 New Yorker article, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” about the secrets of kitchen life and shady characters he encountered along the way.
“In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family,” he wrote.
Anthony Bourdain on pushing boundaries

Anthony Bourdain on pushing boundaries 00:36
The article morphed into a best-selling book in 2000, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” which was translated into more than two dozen languages.
“When the book came out, it very quickly transformed my life — I mean, changed everything,” he told NPR.
Bourdain found himself on a path to international stardom. First, he hosted “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network, then moved to the Travel Channel with “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” a breakout hit that earned two Emmy Awards and more than a dozen nominations.
In 2013, both Bourdain and CNN took a risk by bringing him to a network still best known for breaking news and headlines. Bourdain quickly became one of its principal faces and a linchpin of its prime-time schedule.
Season 11 of “Parts Unknown” premiered last month on CNN, with destinations including Uruguay, Armenia and West Virginia.
The 'insanely good' food of Hong Kong

The ‘insanely good’ food of Hong Kong 01:09
In his final weeks, Bourdain said he was especially looking forward to an episode about Hong Kong, which aired Sunday.
He called it a “dream show” in which he linked up with longtime Hong Kong resident and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.
“The idea was just to interview him and maybe get him to hold a camera. He ended up being director of photography for the entire episode,” Bourdain told CNN in April. “For me it was like asking Joe DiMaggio to, you know, sign my baseball and instead he joined my Little League team for the whole season.”
The show’s website on Friday posted an homage to Bourdain featuring one of his many oft-repeated quotations — one that seemed to embody his philosophy: “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food.”
How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

Should Donald Trump Apologize For Telling The Truth About Islamic Relations?

Should Donald Trump Apologize For Telling The Truth About Islamic Relations?
(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON MARCH 11th OF 2016)
Israel & the Region   (This information is from the Times of Israel and from the Associated Press)

Muslim group to Trump: Apologize for saying ‘Islam hates us’

Civil rights organization says candidate’s rhetoric ‘reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world’

March 11, 2016, 1:54 am 30

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, NC, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP/Gerry Broome)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, NC, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP/Gerry Broome)

FAYETTEVILLE, NC — A leading Muslim civil rights group is calling on GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to apologize for his claim that “Islam hates us.”

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired Wednesday night, Trump was asked whether he thinks Islam is at war with the West.

“I think Islam hates us,” Trump responded. “There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.”

The statement drew swift condemnation from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called on Trump to apologize for the comment, as it has in response to other comments Trump has made.

 

“Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric does not reflect leadership, but instead reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world,” Nihad Awad, the group’s national executive director said in a statement. The group suggested Trump could do so at Thursday evening’s GOP debate.

Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad. (screen capture: YouTube)

Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad (screen capture: YouTube)

Trump’s statement also became an issue for Florida’s Republican Governor, Rick Scott, who repeatedly sidestepped questions in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Scott, who says he will not endorse in the primary but is friends with Trump, was asked whether he thinks “Muslims in the state of Florida hate America.”

Scott instead shifted his answer to more general themes, calling Florida “the best melting pot in the world” and saying: “We love everybody coming to our state.” The avoidance prompted host Mika Brzezinski to suggest ending the interview early.

 

The questions come as Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential contest, locking up delegates, despite a series of controversial statements.

Trump has called for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the US and has advocated “going after” the wives and children of suspected Islamic jihadists in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Critics have argued that Trump’s plans would only exacerbate problems by alienating more moderate Muslims.

Trump and other Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama and the Democratic candidates for failing to use the term “radical Islamic” when referring to Muslim jihadists or attacks by them.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton once explained she avoids the term because it “sounds like we are declaring war against a religion.”

Asked by CNN’s Cooper whether he thought there was a “war between the West and radical Islam” or “war between the West and Islam itself,”Trump replied: “It’s radical, but it’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”

Trump was also pressed on his vow to work to “broaden” laws restricting waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques if he’s elected president in order to level the playing field between militants and the US.

Trump ruled out the US beheading Islamic State militants, but again did not provide additional specifics when pressed on what he’s envisioning when he says, “we have to play with a tougher set of rules.”

CAIR claims that the rhetoric of Trump and other Republican officials is at least partially to blame for a spike in anti-Muslim incidents across this country in recent months.

 

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Macron to become next French president after beating back Le Pen and her populist tide

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Macron to become next French president after beating back Le Pen and her populist tide

What Emmanuel Macron’s victory means for France and the world
 
Centrist Emmanuel Macron is on track to win the French presidency defeating Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, a strongly anti-immigrant populist party. Macron, 39, will now become France’s youngest head of state since Napoleon Bonaparte.(Adam Taylor, Jason Aldag/The Washington Post)
May 7 at 2:30 PM
France on Sunday shrugged off the siren call of right-wing populism that enchanted voters in the United States and United Kingdom, rejecting anti-E.U. firebrand Marine Le Pen and choosing as its next president Emmanuel Macron, a centrist political neophyte who has pledged to revive both his struggling country and the flailing continent.The result brought to a close a tumultuous and polarized campaign that defied prediction at nearly every turn, though not at the end. Pre-election polls had forecast a sizable Macron victory, and he appeared to have delivered, with projections issued after polls closed showing him with around 65 percent of the vote.

In a statement to the AFP news service, Macron said the country had “turned a new page in our long history. I want it to be a page of hope and renewed trust.”

He was expected to deliver a victory speech later Sunday night in the grand courtyard of Paris’s Louvre Museum, where news of his win spawned raucous cheers among thousands of flag-waving Macron backers.

“I feel relieved,” said Valentin Coutouly, a 23-year-old student who described himself as “European to the core” and who was celebrating on a chilly May night. “I think we were all afraid that Le Pen could actually win. We realized in the end that it was possible.”

France’s Macron votes in crucial presidential poll

 

 
After a tumultuous presidential election campaign filled with scandal and surprises, favorite Emmanuel Macron cast his vote on Sunday, May 7. (Reuters)

At her own gathering at a Paris restaurant, a downcast Le Pen conceded defeat, telling her demoralized supporters that the country had “chosen continuity” and said the election had drawn clear lines between “the patriots and the globalists.”

The outcome will soothe Europe’s anxious political establishment, which had feared a Le Pen victory would throw in reverse decades of efforts to forge continental integration.

But it instantly puts pressure on Macron to deliver on promises made to an unhappy French electorate, including reform of two institutions notoriously resistant to change: the European Union and the French bureaucracy.

At 39, the trim, blue-eyed and square-jawed Macron will become France’s youngest leader since Napoleon when he is inaugurated this weekend, and his election caps an astonishing  rise.

With a background in investment banking and a turn as economy minister under a historically unpopular president, he may have seemed an ill fit for the anti-establishment anger coursing through Western politics.

But by bucking France’s traditional parties and launching his own movement – En Marche, or Onward — Macron managed to cast himself as the outsider the country needs. And by unapologetically embracing the European Union, immigration and the multicultural tableau of modern France, he positioned himself as the optimistic and progressive antidote to the dark and reactionary vision of Le Pen’s National Front.

Le Pen, 48, has long sought to become the first far-right leader elected in Western Europe’s post-war history. Sunday’s vote frustrated those ambitions, but is unlikely to end them.

By winning around 35 percent of the vote, she nearly doubled the share won by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in the 2002 election, the only other time the National Front’s candidate has made it to the second round. The result seemed to cement the party’s long march from the political fringe to the center of the nation’s unhappy political discourse, if not the pinnacle of its power.

Struggling with chronically high unemployment and recurrent terrorist attacks, France’s mood on the day of its presidential vote was reflected in the dark clouds and chilly spring rains that blanketed much of the country.

Nonetheless, the public voted at a rate that would be the envy of many Western democracies: From the chic neighborhoods of Paris to the struggling post-industrial towns of the French countryside, turnout nationwide was expected to reach 75 percent, down slightly from previous votes.

No matter whom French voters picked, the choice was bound to be historic.

The dominant two parties of France’s Fifth Republic were both eliminated in the first round. The center-left Socialists were decimated, brought low by the failure of current President Francois Hollandeto turn around the economy or to prevent a succession of mass-casualty terrorist attacks.

The center-right Republicans, meanwhile, missed what was once seen as a sure-fire bet at returning to power after their candidate, former prime minister Francois Fillon, was hobbled by a series of corruption allegations.

The two candidates who remained, Le Pen and Macron, both traced an outsider’s path as they sought residence at the Élysée Palace.

Of the two, Macron had the more direct route. But his campaign still had to overcome all the usual challenges of a start-up, plus some extraordinary ones — including the publication online Friday night of thousands of hacked campaign documents in a cyber-attack that aroused suspicions of Russian meddling.

The outcome of Sunday’s vote will have profound implications not only for France’s 67 million citizens, but also for the future of Europe and for the political trajectory across the Western world.

After a pair of  dramatic triumphs for the populist right in 2016 – with Brexit in the U.K., and Donald Trump in the U.S. – France’s vote was viewed as a test of whether the political mainstream could beat back a rising tide.

Many of Europe’s mainstream leaders — both center-right and center-left – lined up to cheer Macron on after he punched his ticket to the second round in a vote last month. The endorsements were a break from protocol for presidents and prime ministers who normally stay out of each other’s domestic elections.

But they reflected the gravity of the choice that France faced. A victory by Le Pen was seen as a possible market-rattling death blow to decades of efforts to draw Europe more closely together, with the country’s new president expected to lead campaigns to take the country out of both the E.U. and the euro.

Former U.S. president Barack Obama had also endorsed Macron, and the young French politician often appeared to be trying to emulate the magic of Obama’s 2008 campaign with speeches that appealed to hope, change and unity — while eliding many of the details of his policies.

The current White House occupant, Trump, was  cagey about his choice, saying before the first round that Le Pen was “the strongest on borders and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France.” He predicted that she would do well, but stopped short of endorsing her.

On the campaign trail this spring, Le Pen’s rhetoric had often echoed Trump’s, with vows to put “France first” and to defend “the forgotten France.” She also condemned globalist cosmopolitans – Macron chief among them — who she said did not have the nation’s interests at heart.

But she had distanced herself from Trump since his inauguration, often declining to mention him by name, and analysts said her association with the unpopular American president may have hurt her among French voters.

Macron shares almost nothing with Trump except one key fact: Like the New York real estate tycoon, Macron became president of his country on his first run for elective office.

The son of doctors who was raised in the northern city of Amiens, Macron had to teach himself the basics of campaigning on the fly in the white-hot glare of a presidential race.

Vowing repeatedly during the campaign to borrow from both left and right, he will now have to learn how to govern a country without the backing of any of its traditional parties.

Instead, he has a movement that he built from scratch, and now faces the immediate challenge of getting En Marche allies elected to the National Assembly.

That vote, due next month, will determine whether Macron has the parliamentary support he needs to enact an agenda of sweeping economic reforms, many of which are likely to unsettle the country’s deeply entrenched labor unions.

Despite his victory, pre-election polls showed that most of Macron’s supporters saw themselves voting against Le Pen rather than for him.

That was reflected on the streets Sunday, with voters even in well-to-do and heavily pro-Macron neighborhoods of Paris saying they felt more resigned than excited.

“On the one hand you have a far-right party that will take us straight to disaster,” said Gilbert Cohen, a retired 82-year-old engineer who cast his ballot amid the vaulted ceilings of Paris’s 17th century Place des Vosges, a former royal residence that was also home to Victor Hugo. “On the other, you have the candidate who’s the only reasonable choice we have.”

Cohen described Macron as “brilliant.” But, he said, the new boy wonder of French politics “can’t govern by himself.”

Elsewhere in France, the mood was even more markedly downbeat. In Laon, a small and struggling city 90 miles north of Paris, many voters said they were so disillusioned by the choice that they would cast a blank ballot.

Others said their disenchantment had led them to Le Pen – and a hope that, despite the polls, she could still eke out a victory that would bring the radical break for France that they crave.

“We’ve had 50 years of rule from the left and the right,” said Francis Morel, a 54-year-old bread maker who cast his ballot for Le Pen. “Nothing has changed.”

The mood was considerably more upbeat Sunday night at the Louvre, where Macron supporters gathered in what was once the seat of French kings for their candidate’s victory celebration.

Stéphanie Ninel, 31, a technician, said she had been at the Louvre since just after lunchtime, braving the chilly weather to snag a prime position in the crowd.

“I’ve been old enough to vote in three elections now,” she said. “But this is the first time I feel I’ve been able to vote for someone with actual conviction. He’s a new person, and he demands a new politics.”

Stanley-Becker reported from Laon and McAuley from Paris. Benjamin Zagzag in Laon and Virgile Demoustier in Paris contributed to this report.

Reasons Why The Civilized World Should Care About France’s Presidential Election

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

(CNN) A presidential election in France is not usually the sort of thing that I would tell you to pay attention to. After all, it’s hard enough to convince people that they should pay attention to elections in this country.

But, even before the latest terror attack in the country earlier this week, the race to be the next leader of France was one with implications not only for the US but for the rest of the world.
The reason is the presence of Marine Le Pen in the race. Le Pen, who most polls suggest will finish first or second when the first round of voting concludes Sunday night in France, is an avowed nationalist who has taken a hard-line approach on immigration and Islamic terrorism.
In the wake of the shootings on the Champs Elysees Thursday that left a police officer dead, Le Pen called for the closing of all “Islamist” mosques in the country and the immediate expulsion of those on France’s equivalent of a terror watch list.

exp GPS Bernard-Henri Levy France attack election_00011201

 How French terror attack will change election

That episode is widely speculated as likely to aid Le Pen in the final hours of the campaign, reinforcing the dangers posed by terrorism. (ISIS has claimed credit for the attack.) President Trump joined that speculation in an interview with the Associated Press Friday in which he said the latest attack will “probably help” Le Pen.
“[Le Pen] is strongest on borders, and she’s the strongest on what’s been going on in France,” Trump said.
Trump’s comments about Le Pen came just a day after former President Barack Obama called Emmanuel Macron, the center-left candidate seen as Le Pen’s sturdiest challenger.
“The main message that I have is to wish you all the best in the coming days,” Obama can be heard telling Macron in a recording of the video the candidate posted on Twitter Thursday. “Make sure you that, as you said, you work hard all the way through. Because, you never know — it might be that last day of campaigning that makes all the difference.”
Even before Trump and Obama got involved in the French election, it was already regarded as the latest test of the sweeping global populism that led to Britain’s stunning break from the European Union and Trump’s staggering victory stateside last November. Le Pen has positioned herself as a strident nationalist who believes immigration has eroded the idea of France and that it needs to be seriously curtailed.
No one — including Le Pen — is expected to win the 50% of the vote necessary to win the presidency outright on Sunday. (Aside from Le Pen and Macron, Francois Fillon, the center-right candidate, and Jean-Luc Melenchon, the far-left candidate, are expected to draw significant support in the first round of voting.)
A runoff between the top two vote-getters would be on May 7. If, and this looks likely if the polls are to be believed, that runoff features Le Pen against Macron, you can expect to hear a lot more about the French election and what it all means for the global populist movement that delivered Donald Trump to the White House in the coming weeks.

The Emerging Trump Doctrine: Don’t Follow Doctrine

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Photo

The damage on Friday after a reported airstrike by the Syrian government in the rebel-held town of Douma, on the outskirts of Damascus. CreditAbd Doumany/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — As he confronted a series of international challenges from the Middle East to Asia last week, President Trump made certain that nothing was certain about his foreign policy. To the extent that a Trump Doctrine is emerging, it seems to be this: don’t get roped in by doctrine.

In a week in which he hosted foreign heads of state and launched a cruise missile strike against Syria’s government, Mr. Trump dispensed with his own dogma and forced other world leaders to re-examine their assumptions about how the United States will lead in this new era. He demonstrated a highly improvisational and situational approach that could inject a risky unpredictability into relations with potential antagonists, but also opened the door to a more traditional American engagement with the world that eases allies’ fears.

As a private citizen and candidate, Mr. Trump spent years arguing that Syria’s civil war was not America’s problem, that Russia should be a friend, and that China was an “enemy” whose leaders should not be invited to dinner. As president, Mr. Trump, in the space of just days, involved America more directly in the Syrian morass than ever before, opened a new acrimonious rift with Russia, and invited China’s leader for a largely convivial, let’s-get-along dinner at his Florida estate.

In the process, Mr. Trump upended domestic politics as well. He rejected the nationalist wing of his own White House, led by Stephen K. Bannon, his chief strategist, who opposes entanglement in Middle East conflicts beyond fighting terrorism and favors punitive trade measures against Beijing. And Mr. Trump, by launching the strike on Russia’s ally Syria, undercut critics who have portrayed him as a Manchurian candidate doing the bidding of President Vladimir V. Putin after the Kremlin intervened in last year’s election on his behalf.

Continue reading the main story

Given his unpredictability, none of this means that Mr. Trump has pivoted permanently in any of these areas. The White House has prepared an executive order that the president may sign in coming days targeting countries like China that dump steel in the American market. And Mr. Trump is sending Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson on Tuesday to Moscow, where he will have the additional task of trying to smooth over the rancor of recent days, in addition to exploring whether Russia could be a real partner in battling the Islamic State in Syria.

Moreover, the missile strike, in response to a chemical weapons attack, was intended to be a limited, one-time operation, and the president seemed determined to quickly move on. After announcing the attack Thursday evening, he made no mention of it Friday during public appearances, nor on Saturday during his weekly address. As of Saturday morning, the Twitter-obssessed president had not even taunted President Bashar al-Assad of Syria online, although he did thank the American troops who carried out the missile strike.

“Our decisions,” Mr. Trump said in the Saturday address, “will be guided by our values and our goals — and we will reject the path of inflexible ideology that too often leads to unintended consequences.”

That concept, flexibility, seems key to understanding Mr. Trump. He hates to be boxed in, as he mused in the Rose Garden last week while contemplating the first new military operation of his presidency with geopolitical consequences.

“I like to think of myself as a very flexible person,” he told reporters. “I don’t have to have one specific way.” He made clear he cherished unpredictability. “I don’t like to say where I’m going and what I’m doing,” he said.

That flexibility was a hallmark of his rise in real estate, and if critics preferred the word erratic, it did not bother Mr. Trump — it has since worked well enough to vault him to the White House. But now that he is commander in chief of the world’s most powerful nation, leaders around the world are trying to detect a method to the man.

“There is no emerging doctrine for Trump foreign policy in a classical sense,” said Kathleen H. Hicks, a former Pentagon official who is now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There are, however, clear emerging characteristics consistent with the attributes of the man himself: unpredictable, instinctual and undisciplined.”

On Syria, Mr. Trump had mocked President Barack Obama for setting a “red line” against the use of chemical weapons and urged him not to launch a punitive strike against Syria after Mr. Assad crossed it in 2013. That attack, with a death toll of 1,400, dwarfed last week’s toll of 84. And just days before last week’s attack, Mr. Tillerson indicated that Washington would accept Mr. Assad’s remaining in power.

Photo

An injured child being treated after the strike. CreditAbd Doumany/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Indeed, critics, including Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, argued that Mr. Assad felt free to launch a chemical attack precisely because Mr. Trump’s administration had given him a green light. Russia, critics added, did not constrain Mr. Assad because it has had a blank check from an overly friendly Trump administration. And Mr. Trump’s efforts to bar Syrian refugees from the United States, they said, sent a signal that he did not care about them.

“President Trump seems not to have thought through any of this, or have any kind of broader strategy, but rather to have launched a military strike based on a sudden, emotional decision,” Senator Christopher S. Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, wrote in an article for The Huffington Post on Saturday.

Mr. Assad is not the only leader testing Mr. Trump. North Korea has test-launched missile after missile in recent weeks, almost as if trying to get Mr. Trump’s attention. So far, he has been measured in his response, urging President Xi Jinping of China during his visit at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida to do more to rein in North Korea. But national security aides have also prepared options for Mr. Trump if China does not take a more assertive stance, including reintroducing nuclear weapons in South Korea.

Mr. Trump’s action in Syria was welcomed by many traditional American allies who had fretted over Mr. Obama’s reluctance to take a greater leadership role in the Middle East, and feared that Mr. Trump would withdraw even more. After the missile strike, Israeli news outlets were filled with headlines like “The Americans Are Back,” and European leaders expressed relief both that he took action and that he did not go too far.

“We have learned that Trump is not so isolationist as many Europeans feared he would be — he appears to care about victims of a gas attack in Syria,” said Charles Grant, director of the Center for European Reform in London. “We have learned that he understands that U.S. influence had suffered from the perception — which grew under Obama — that it was a power weakened by its reluctance to use force.”

That touches on another animating factor as Mr. Trump deals with foreign challenges — doing the opposite of whatever Mr. Obama did. Mr. Trump’s first instinct after the Syrian chemical attack was to blame Mr. Obama for not enforcing his red line, never mind that Mr. Trump had urged him not to at the time. Even as he announced the missile strike on Thursday night, Mr. Trump asserted that his predecessor’s handling of Syria had “failed very dramatically.”

Intentionally or not, though, Mr. Trump adopted language similar to that used by Mr. Obama and many other presidents in defining American priorities. While in the past Mr. Trump said the United States did not have a national interest in Syria, last week he said instability there was “threatening the United States and its allies.”

He also said that “America stands for justice,” effectively espousing a responsibility to act in cases of human rights abuses, as other presidents have at times.

Until now, Mr. Trump has largely eschewed such language. Just three days earlier, he had hosted Egypt’s authoritarian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and made no public mention of the thousands of people the Cairo government has imprisoned in a political crackdown.

“What is striking to me is a subtle yet clear shift away from the rhetoric of pure American self-interest narrowly defined, as espoused by candidate Donald Trump,” said Robert Danin, a former Middle East negotiator who is now at the Council on Foreign Relations. “What has emerged is a new language of American leadership in the world that we have not heard before from President Trump.”

Mr. Grant and others noted that the strike, coming as Mr. Trump shared a meal with Mr. Xi, could resonate in Asia as well, leaving North Korea to wonder whether the president might resort to force to stop its development of ballistic missiles.

But Ms. Hicks said Mr. Trump’s flexibility — or unpredictability — was itself “extremely risky.” If other countries cannot accurately predict what an American president will do, she said, they may act precipitously, citing the example of China’s extending its maritime claims in the South China Sea.

“Imagine if Donald Trump then took exception in ways they didn’t anticipate and major wars ensued,” she said. “Bright lines, derived from clear interests and enforced well, are generally best, and I don’t think Donald Trump likes to be constrained by bright lines.”

Should Donald Trump Apologize For Telling The Truth About Islamic Relations?

Should Donald Trump Apologize For Telling The Truth About Islamic Relations?
(THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED ON MARCH 11th OF 2016)
Israel & the Region   (This information is from the Times of Israel and from the Associated Press)

Muslim group to Trump: Apologize for saying ‘Islam hates us’

Civil rights organization says candidate’s rhetoric ‘reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world’

March 11, 2016, 1:54 am 30

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, NC, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP/Gerry Broome)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Fayetteville, NC, on Wednesday, March 9, 2016. (AP/Gerry Broome)

FAYETTEVILLE, NC — A leading Muslim civil rights group is calling on GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump to apologize for his claim that “Islam hates us.”

In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper that aired Wednesday night, Trump was asked whether he thinks Islam is at war with the West.

“I think Islam hates us,” Trump responded. “There’s a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it. There is an unbelievable hatred of us.”

The statement drew swift condemnation from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which called on Trump to apologize for the comment, as it has in response to other comments Trump has made.

 

“Donald Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric does not reflect leadership, but instead reflects a bigoted mindset that only serves to divide our nation and the world,” Nihad Awad, the group’s national executive director said in a statement. The group suggested Trump could do so at Thursday evening’s GOP debate.

Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad. (screen capture: YouTube)

Executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Nihad Awad (screen capture: YouTube)

Trump’s statement also became an issue for Florida’s Republican Governor, Rick Scott, who repeatedly sidestepped questions in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” Scott, who says he will not endorse in the primary but is friends with Trump, was asked whether he thinks “Muslims in the state of Florida hate America.”

Scott instead shifted his answer to more general themes, calling Florida “the best melting pot in the world” and saying: “We love everybody coming to our state.” The avoidance prompted host Mika Brzezinski to suggest ending the interview early.

 

The questions come as Trump continues to dominate the Republican presidential contest, locking up delegates, despite a series of controversial statements.

Trump has called for a temporary ban on foreign Muslims entering the US and has advocated “going after” the wives and children of suspected Islamic jihadists in the wake of the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Critics have argued that Trump’s plans would only exacerbate problems by alienating more moderate Muslims.

Trump and other Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama and the Democratic candidates for failing to use the term “radical Islamic” when referring to Muslim jihadists or attacks by them.

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton once explained she avoids the term because it “sounds like we are declaring war against a religion.”

Asked by CNN’s Cooper whether he thought there was a “war between the West and radical Islam” or “war between the West and Islam itself,”Trump replied: “It’s radical, but it’s very hard to define. It’s very hard to separate. Because you don’t know who’s who.”

Trump was also pressed on his vow to work to “broaden” laws restricting waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques if he’s elected president in order to level the playing field between militants and the US.

Trump ruled out the US beheading Islamic State militants, but again did not provide additional specifics when pressed on what he’s envisioning when he says, “we have to play with a tougher set of rules.”

CAIR claims that the rhetoric of Trump and other Republican officials is at least partially to blame for a spike in anti-Muslim incidents across this country in recent months.

 

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