When he arrived, Trump held a brief ceremony to award a Purple Heart medal to Army Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos, who was wounded in Afghanistan on March 17.
“When I heard about this … I wanted to do it myself,” Trump said during the ceremony. “Congratulations on behalf of Melania and myself and the entire nation. Tremendous.”
😑 😑 😑
Shakin’ my damn head.
There’s nothing congratulatory about receiving a Purple Heart. No service member signs up for the military hoping to get a leg blown off, or a bullet lodged inside them. No service member is banking on ending up paralyzed for the rest of their life, or left with chronic pain that they have to cope with on a daily basis.
Sgt. 1st Class Alvaro Barrientos doesn’t think he’s won something. But, when he signed up for the Army, he knew it was a possibility that he could be injured, or even killed, and he did it anyway. Every service member knows the risk and they choose to put themselves in harm’s way regardless.
Trump still doesn’t seem to get that.
This isn’t the first time he has treated the Purple Heart like some kind of prize you get at the bottom of a cereal box. In August 2016, after retired Lt. Col. Louis Dorfman handed him his own Purple Heart, Trump said, “I always wanted to get the Purple Heart. This was much easier.”
Trump doesn’t seem to understand that no one wants a Purple Heart, because you don’t earn it without giving something up in return. As Elana Duffy wrote last year, “I didn’t want the award because I knew it meant at least a piece of me would be left behind. We didn’t get the award; we each traded something for it. We traded our brains, our limbs, and many times our lives for that piece of metal.”
Until Trump acquires some awareness of what military service actually entails, he should just smile and nod and stick to these five words, “Thank you for your service.” Once he masters those, then he can move onto more complex phrases like, “You have inspired the future generation with your courage and sacrifice.”
But, for now, he needs to keep it simple before he ends up chest-bumping a combat veteran for “winning” the Medal of Honor.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) told the mother of a service industry worker who has benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion that her son should get a better job if he wants decent insurance when Obamacare is repealed.
The woman, a constituent of Davidson’s in former House Speaker John Boehner’s old district, explained to Davidson at a town hall in Enon, Ohio on Tuesday night first covered by ShareBlue that her grown son lacked health insurance for four years, because his job in the service industry did not provide it. He received coverage through Medicaid when Obamacare expanded the program by offering to pick up almost all of the costs for states that lowered their eligibility thresholds.
She is now worried about President Donald Trump’s plan to rollback the landmark law’s Medicaid expansion, fearing it will leave her son with the bare-bones catastrophic health insurance, which, she said, is “basically no insurance at all.”
“Can you explain why my son and millions of others in his situation are not deserving of affordable, decent health care that has essential benefits so that he can stay healthy and continue working?” she asked.
Her son’s best route to getting decent insurance without Medicaid is to find work in an industry where employers provide it, according to Davidson.
“OK, I don’t know anything about your son, but as you described him, his skills are focused in an industry that doesn’t have the kind of options that you want him to have for health care. So, I don’t believe that these taxpayers here are entitled to give that to him. I believe he’s got the opportunity to go earn those health benefits,” he responded, eliciting boos from the crowd.
You can watch their full exchange at the 37-minute mark in the video above.
The woman’s reference to “essential benefits” alludes to the fact that House Republican leaders at one point tried to win over hardline conservatives by removing federal regulations requiring insurance plans to cover 10 basic benefits, including trips to the emergency room, as well as maternity and newborn care. In lieu of these benefits, low-premium, high-deductible catastrophic plans could cover even fewer procedures than they do now.
But Davidson implied that finding a better plan was as simple as shopping for a higher-quality consumer product like a cellphone.
“If he doesn’t want a catastrophic care plan, don’t buy a catastrophic care plan. If you don’t want a flip-phone, don’t buy a flip-phone,” Davidson said, eliciting loud groans from the audience.
“I’m sorry, health care is much different than a cell phone and I’m tired of people using cell phone analogies with health care,” the woman responded, before walking away from the microphone.
Davidson’s metaphor resembled remarks by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who suggested in March that people should not buy iPhones if they wanted the money to pay for health insurance.
But as Davidson’s constituent noted at the town hall ― and many observers pointed out when Chaffetz said it ― buying health insurance is completely different than shopping for everyday consumer products.
Consumers do not have the same power to command lower prices for health care, since it is not a product they can choose to not have. People also often lack the information and resources to choose a health care provider based on its cost value.
Those are just a couple reasons why health insurance is wildly more expensive than paying for a phone bill ― and obtaining coverage would remain perilously out of reach for millions of Americans without help from the government.
That’s a big deal, because unlike phones, Americans’ lives would be at risk if they did not have health care.
Although President Trump and House Republicans have already failed to negotiate an Obamacare replacement bill at least twice, the White House is dead-set on trying again as part of negotiations to continue funding the government. The latest idea floated by budget director Mick Mulvaney would involve trading Democrats a dollar in Obamacare funding for every dollar they approve for construction of the wall.
In an era of profound cultural transformation, elections and referendums have very real consequences ― such as the repeal of environmental regulations or crackdowns on press freedom. But as much as they reveal how markedly divided societies are at this historical moment, they settle little. For those who are nostalgic for an ideal past, the challenges of a complex future wrought by globalization, digital disruption and increasing cultural diversity remain unresolved. For those looking ahead, there is no going back. The present political reaction is only the first act, not the last. It is the beginning, not the end, of the story of societies in fluid transition.
The recent Turkish referendum, like Brexit and U.S. President Donald Trump’s election, fits a pattern of a territorial divide. Residents in large cities and coastal zones linked to global integration and cosmopolitan culture represented just under half of the vote; rural, small-town and Rust Belt regions linked more to the traditions and economic structures of the past were just over half. But there is also a major difference. The populist, nationalist narrative that won the day in Great Britain and the United States championed the “left behind” and splintered the unresponsive mainstream political parties. In Turkey, the day was won by a conservative, pious and upwardly mobile constituency already empowered by some 15 years of rule by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party. The cultural duel there, backed up by neo-Islamist and nationalist statism, will thus be more intense than elsewhere.
In an interview following the historic vote in her country, novelist Elif Shafaksays, “The referendum has not solved anything. If anything, it deepened the existing cultural and ideological divisions.” She also laments the decline of Turkey’s long experiment as a majority-Muslim country attempting to balance culture, secularism and Western democracy. “This is the most significant turning point in Turkey’s modern political history,” she declares. “It is a shift backwards; the end of parliamentary democracy. It is also a dangerous discontinuation of decades of Westernization, secularism and modernization; the discontinuation of Atatürk’s modern Turkey.”
Writing from Istanbul, Behlül Özkan explains the details of the constitutional referendum, how the playing field was tilted in Erdoğan’s favor and how it will have massive implications for Turkey’s future. He also emphasizes the historic importance of Turkey’s reverse. Özkan cites the political theorist Samuel Huntington who, in an essay decades ago on transitions from authoritarian rule, once defined Turkey as a clear example of a one-party system becoming more open and competitive under the constitution put in place by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. It is rare in history to move in the other direction, as Erdoğan has now accomplished.
Also writing from Istanbul, Alev Scott believes Turkey is in for “a decade of paranoia under a modern-day Sultan” who was unnerved by the slim margin of his victory. Noting a widely circulated photograph of the president at his moment of triumph, she saw a man not “celebrating victory” but “a man alarmed by near-defeat.”
Even as critics within Turkey and others abroad expressed concern over the extinguishing of democracy, Trump again showed his affinity for strongman politics by calling to congratulate Erdoğan on his victory. Yet, as with other countries from India to Argentina, there is likely another element as well to this potentially budding bromance. Sam Stein and Igor Bobic report on ethical issues raised by Trump’s business ties with Turkey. In 2012, Erdoğan joined Trump and his family to mark the opening of Trump Towers Istanbul.
(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.
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.
Let’s keep defending our progressive values. Thank you for this discussion @BarackObama.
Unlike Le Pen’s hardline stance in the wake of this week’s terror attack, Macron sounded a decidedly Obama-esque note. “Do not give in to fear, do not give in to division, do not give in to intimidation,” Macron said. “The choice that you have to make on Sunday must be a choice for the future.”
French election: Related content
Opinion: The stakes for the French election just got higher
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.
Trump Just Tried To Show Off For Italy’s Prime Minister And Humiliated Himself
President Trump started his White House press conference by reading from a prepared speech. He should have stayed on script. (Video below.)
“Through the ages, your country has been a beacon of artistic and scientific achievement,” Trump read aloud.
“From Venice to Florence, from Verdi to Pavarotti,” he continued before looking away from his script, and adding “friend of mine. Great friend of mine.”
Many in attendance, along with Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, certainly knew that Italian opera legend Luciano Pavarotti is not Trump’s friend, as he has been dead for ten years.
Pavarotti, a national treasure for Italians, was considered one of the greatest voices of all times, was a legendary tenor who mastered both opera and popular music. For the President of the United States to claim him as a current friend is the equivalent of Italy’s Prime Minister announcing that he had just had a lovely time with Abraham Lincoln or Muhammad Ali.
Enjoy the latest example of Trump showing the world he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. At least no one got hurt this time.
In the interview, Assad asked: “We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun. Were they dead at all?”(AFP)
Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad said a suspected chemical weapons attack was a “fabrication” to justify a US strike on his forces, in an exclusive interview with AFP in Damascus.The embattled leader, whose country has been ravaged by six years of war, said his firepower had not been affected by the attack ordered by US President Donald Trump, but acknowledged further strikes were possible.Assad insisted his forces had turned over all their chemical weapons stocks years ago and would never use the banned arms.
The interview on Wednesday was his first since a suspected chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhun.
“Definitely, 100 percent for us, it’s fabrication,” he said of the incident.
“Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists. They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack,” added Assad, who has been in power for 17 years.
At least 87 people, including 31 children, were killed in the alleged attack, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor.
But Assad said evidence came only from “a branch of Al-Qaeda,” referring to a former jihadist affiliate that is among the groups that control Idlib province, where Khan Sheikhun is located.
Images of the aftermath, showing victims convulsing and foaming at the mouth, sent shockwaves around the world.
But Assad insisted it was “not clear whether it happened or not, because how can you verify a video? You have a lot of fake videos now.”
“We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun. Were they dead at all?”
He said Khan Sheikhun had no strategic value and was not currently a battle front.
“This story is not convincing by any means.”
The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has begun an investigation into the alleged attack, but Russia on Wednesday blocked a UN Security Council resolution demanding Syria cooperate with the probe.
And Assad said he could “only allow any investigation when it’s impartial, when we make sure that unbiased countries will participate in this delegation in order to make sure that they won’t use it for politicised purposes.”
He insisted several times that his forces had turned over all chemical weapons stockpiles in 2013, under a deal brokered by Russia to avoid threatened US military action.
“There was no order to make any attack, we don’t have any chemical weapons, we gave up our arsenal a few years ago,” he said.
“Even if we have them, we wouldn’t use them, and we have never used our chemical arsenal in our history.”
The OPCW has blamed Assad’s government for at least two attacks in 2014 and 2015 involving the use of chlorine.
The Khan Sheikhun incident prompted the first direct US military action against Assad’s government since the war began, with 59 cruise missiles hitting the Shayrat airbase three days after the suspected chemical attack.
Assad said more US attacks “could happen anytime, anywhere, not only in Syria.”
But he said his forces had not been diminished by the US strike.
“Our firepower, our ability to attack the terrorists hasn’t been affected by this strike.”
Spanish police have arrested a Russian programmer following US allegations of large-scale hacking.
Pyotr Levashov was held in Barcelona on Friday and is remanded in custody.
Spanish police said Mr Levashov controlled a botnet called Kelihos, hacking information and installing malicious software in hundreds of thousands of computers.
The arrest was part of a “complex inquiry carried out in collaboration with the FBI”, police said.
Mr Levashov is subject to a US international arrest warrant and a Spanish court will hear whether he can be extradited.
Much of his alleged activity involved ransomware – blocking a computer’s access to certain information and demanding a ransom for its release.
Mr Levashov’s wife Maria told Russian broadcaster RT that the arrest had been made in connection with allegations that Russians had hacked the US presidential election.
She said Spanish police had told her the arrest was in connection with “a virus which appears to have been created by my husband and is linked to [Donald] Trump’s victory”.
However, Agence France-Presse news agency quoted a source close to the matter in Washington as saying that Mr Levashov’s detention was “not tied to anything involving allegations of Russian interference with the US election”.
A US intelligence report released in January alleged that Vladimir Putin had tried to help Mr Trump to victory, allegations strongly denied the Russian president.
Mr Trump later commented that the outcome of the election had not been affected.
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.
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.
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.
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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.”
President Xi Jinping and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto shake hands after a signing ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki yesterday. The visit is Xi’s first trip to a European Union member state this year. Today he will travel to Florida to meet US President Donald Trump. — AFP
CHINA and Finland yesterday agreed to establish and promote a “future-oriented new-type cooperative partnership,” with both sides pledging to enhance political mutual trust and deepen pragmatic cooperation.
During talks between visiting President Xi Jinping and his Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto, the two heads of state stressed that to build a more forward-looking and strategic bilateral relationship that keeps pace with the times was in the fundamental interests of both countries.
“China and Finland are good friends and partners who respect each other, treat each other as equals and enjoy mutually beneficial cooperation,” Xi said. “The peoples of our two countries have always cherished a friendly sentiment toward each other.”
Noting that the development needs of China and Finland fit well with each other, Xi called on both sides to increase high-level exchanges, build up strategic mutual trust, explore potentials for cooperation and give support to each other in development.
Niinisto warmly welcomed the Chinese president for his visit on the occasion of the centenary of Finland’s independence.
Finland highly values China’s achievements in development and its important role in international affairs, he said.
The Finnish side hopes to carry out more high-level contacts and exchanges in all areas with China, and deepen cooperation in economy and trade, investment, innovation, environmental protection, tourism, winter sports and Arctic affairs, as well as within the framework of China’s Belt and Road initiative linking Asia with Europe and Africa, Niinisto said.
Finland also wants to strengthen communication and coordination with China on major international issues and push for an even closer cooperation between the European Union and China, he said.
In a written speech delivered on his arrival, Xi first extended congratulations to the Finnish government and people on the centenary of Finland’s independence.
“Since China and Finland established diplomatic ties 67 years ago, our relationship has maintained a steady and sound development no matter how the international landscape changes,” Xi said.
“Our relationship has become a model of friendly co-existence and mutually-beneficial cooperation between countries that are different in population and size, history and culture, social system and development level,” he said.
Xi said he looks forward to having in-depth exchanges of views with Finnish leaders on the China-Finland relationship and other issues of mutual concern, thus charting the course for the future development of the bilateral relations.
“I believe that with concerted efforts of both sides, my visit will achieve a complete success,” he added.
Finland was one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China, and the first Western nation to sign an intergovernmental trade agreement with China.
Currently, Finland is China’s third largest trading partner in the Nordic region, while China has been Finland’s biggest trading partner in Asia for 14 years.
The two sides have cooperated in areas such as high technology, clean energy, innovation and Arctic research, and further cooperation on winter sports is expected as China will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Xi’s visit to Finland is his first trip to a European Union member state this year, and also his first to the Nordic region as president.
After Finland, Xi will travel to Florida today for a meeting with US President Donald Trump.
It will be the first meeting between Xi and Trump, heads of state of the two biggest economies in the world.
Holy cow folks, what a ride life has been for those of us fortunate enough to have been allowed to ride it. Think of all of the things each of us have lived through. For me, I was in second grade in Nov of 1963. Bobby and Dr King, I was 11. Nixon, China, still a kid. Vietnam and the Draft ended when I was 16.
Now these days and it seems that Russia is becoming a ‘dirty word’ in D.C. politics. Who knows, who even cares these days about what is honest or not, or just a good story. Ethics in our world seems to be only a distant memory of our childhood lives. Life is still primal above all else, what will people do in their attempt to keep the wolf out of their kitchen or into their bed. Humans have proven to be fascinating creatures, both good and bad. So many mass murderers, so many wars, so many lost lives, why, what for? Just a couple of years ago I watched a Documentary about the dollar cost to the U.S. Treasury of the U.S. led War in Afghanistan. Up to that given point in time it was $1.1 Trillion. worse was the next statement the announcer gave, he said that about 90% of the people in the country only had no more than one extra change of clothes. If those stats are correct and it wouldn’t shock me if this story is validated, its sickening. I/we are the generation of a lot of ‘awakening’ of our Country.
We’ve seen Vietnam on our family T.V.’s every night, we watched Saddam smile as he hid behind children. We all most likely can remember where they were at when we first seen and heard the audio on 9/11, then there was 5/01/11, I believe this is the day Osama lost his head. We watched Elvis live, and die. Two of the Beatles are gone. We have actually had a professional Actor become our President, no it is not President Trump, I said a professional Actor. I was speaking of Ronald Reagan of course, and we have had a ‘shocker’ of course in the election of a half Black and half White Social Worker from Chicago as our President, for two terms. We have seen ‘A Polish Pope’, we heard Johnny Carson say, good night. Now we and our children and theirs will be at war until the ‘end of days’.
I hope that each and everyone of you were able to relate to these or maybe other events in your personal life. Another one for me is the Belvidere Tornado of April 21st of 1967. There are great moments of glory like the birth of your children and your grandchildren and there is crushing heartache like the deaths of so many loved ones. I thank God everyday that I believe in Him and He in me and I feel so sad for those who beat their own chest and brag their own names. These people are dead already and they don’t even know it. This is not some kind of a suicide note, I do not believe in the ethics of suicide so that will never ever happen. I’m just reminiscing with some old friends about some of the stars and highlights and low points of our own lives. All people who have taken of your time to read this article I would like to just say thank you. I hope it gave you some smiles, and a few good memories.
truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.
El blog de Aurora Luna. Talleres de escritura creativa en Valencia. Club de lectura. Cursos de novela, poesía, cuento y narrativa breve. Recursos para escritores y herramientas para aprender a escribir en el taller literario. Reflexiones sobre creatividad y literatura. Master class, profesores, clases presenciales y seminarios de creación literaria adscritos a "LIBRO, VUELA LIBRE". Comunidad de escritores y lectores en Valencia. Dinámicas en curso y ejercicios de escritura creativa. Palabras, concursos, vuelos y encuentros literarios.
“I hope we once again have reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There’s a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts.”~ Ronald Reagan.