Here are the reasons for Trump’s economic war with China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE GUARDIAN NEWS)

 

Here are the reasons for Trump’s economic war with China

On Friday the US president ‘hereby ordered’ companies to halt business with China, among other attacks – how did we get here?

Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on 29 June.
 Donald Trump and Xi Jinping in Osaka, Japan, on 29 June. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

Even by Donald Trump’s standards his Twitter rant attacking China on Friday was extraordinary. In a series of outbursts Trump “hereby ordered” US companies to stop doing business with China, accused the country of killing 100,000 Americans a year with imported fentanyl and stealing hundred of billions in intellectual property.

The attack marked a new low in Sino-US relations and looks certain to escalate a trade war already worrying investors, manufacturers and economists who are concerned that the dispute between the two economic superpowers could trigger a recession.

Not so long ago Trump called China’s president, Xi Jinping, “a good friend”. Now he is an “enemy”. How did we get here?

China, China, China

On the campaign trail Trump railed against China accusing it of pulling off “one of the greatest thefts in the history of the world” and “raping” the US economy.

Trump repeated the word China so often it spawned a viral video of him saying it over and over again. The attacks were a hit with voters and helped get him elected. He has continued lambasting China – to cheers – at rallies ever since.

Pinterest

His main beef? The trade deficit.

Trade deficit

The US imported a record $539.5 bn in goods from China in 2018 and sold the Chinese $120.3 bn in return. The difference between those two numbers – $419.2 bn – is the trade deficit.

That deficit has been growing for years as manufacturing has shifted to low-cost China and, according to Trump, it explains the hollowing out of US manufacturing.

For Trump, and especially for his adviser Peter Navarro, who once described China as “the planet’s most efficient assassin”, trade deficits represent an existential threat to US jobs and national security. China makes up the largest part of the US trade deficit but those fears are also behind his disputes with the EU, Canada and Mexico.

His detractors argue these deficit worries are hyperbole and a result of the US’s stronger economy, which allows consumers to buy goods at cheaper prices.

The truth is probably somewhere in between.

While it’s true that unemployment is at record lows and consumers continue to prop up the economy, manufacturing jobs have been lost (automation is also to blame for this) and with them wage growth (although the hollowing out of unions plays a part here).

But it is not just deficits that concerns Trump.

Thieves

China has a deserved reputation for intellectual property theft. On Friday, Trump estimated China robs the US of “hundreds of billions” a year in ideas.

In March, a CNBC poll found one in five US corporations had intellectual property stolen from them within the last year by China.

According to the Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property, the theft costs $600bn a year.

Beijing bucks

Like Tesla, Nio, a Chinese electric vehicle (EV) company, is suffering as subsidies for EVs are phased out. Unlike Tesla, Nio has Xi. China is pumping $1.5 bn into the company to keep it on the road, the latest in a series of handouts that the Trump administration believes are unfair.

Cheap steel and aluminium, subsidized by the Chinese government, are the origins of this trade dispute. According to the White House, last year alone China dumped and unfairly subsidized goods including steel wheels, tool chests and cabinets and rubber bands on to the US market.

To be fair the US too is more than willing to bail out its industries (see: the banks or the automakers) at the taxpayers’ expense. But at this point “fair” is not up for discussion.

Currency manipulator

Earlier this month the US officially accused China of manipulating its currency “to gain unfair competitive advantage in international trade”.

It was the first time since 1994 that such a complaint has been made official and comes as the dollar has strengthened against world currencies. The dispute adds another layer of tension to a complex situation.

China disputed the charge accusing the US of “deliberately destroying international order” with “unilateralism and protectionism”.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) appears to be on China’s side, arguing the devaluation of the yuan is largely in line with worsening economic conditions in China.

What happens next?

The US has now slapped billions of dollars on tariffs on Chinese goods. China retaliated, again, on Friday with more levies on US goods. China’s economic growth has slowed to levels unseen since 1992; US economic forecasts have also been cut.

American farmers were the first to feel the result, as China has canceled orders, and manufacturers are increasingly gloomy. So far US consumers have not felt the pinch but JP Morgan estimates the average US household will end up paying $1,000 a year for goods if the latest set of tariffs go through.

The unanswerable question is whether any of this will sway Trump. If his supporters continue to see a trade war with China – and the pain it will cause – as the necessary price to Make America Great Again, then the answer is probably no.

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President Trump once joked about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF SALON NEWS)

 

President Trump once joked about trading Puerto Rico for Greenland: report

Trump has had a rocky relationship with Puerto Rico, and he appears to find the idea of getting rid of it appealing

SHIRA TARLO
AUGUST 22, 2019 4:27 PM (UTC)
In the months before President Donald Trump expressed interest in purchasing Greenland, he reportedly joked in a meeting with aides about trading Puerto Rico for the semi-autonomous Danish island, which is not for sale.

Trump has had a tumultuous relationship with Puerto Rico’s leadership, especially in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which tore through the U.S. territory in September 2017 and killed thousands of people and left more without power — all amid a decade-long financial crisis.

The president has previously called Puerto Rican officials “incompetent and corrupt” and opposed sending additional federal aid to the territory after Hurricane Maria. He also claimed, without evidence, that Puerto Rico’s government was using disaster relief money to pay off debts.

Earlier this year, White House press secretary Hogan Gidley twice referred to Puerto Rico as “that country” in a televised interview, in which he defended a series of disparaging remarks Trump made about the island.

Given his rocky relationship with Puerto Rico’s leadership, it is likely the notion of trading it for Greenland appealed the former real estate developer, who likened the proposed acquisition to a “large real estate deal.”

Trump’s play for Greenland was swiftly squashed, however, as Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the idea of selling the territory “absurd” and declared it is “not for sale.”

He thanked Frederiksen on Tuesday for being “so direct,” because it saved “a great deal of expense and effort” only to change his tone a day later amid a global laughing fit.

“It was nasty,” Trump said of the prime minister’s statement. “I thought it was an inappropriate statement. All she had to do is say, ‘No, we wouldn’t be interested.'”

He then made clear that he interpreted the prime minister’s response as a personal affront to the U.S.

“She’s not talking to me. She’s talking to the United States of America,” he said. “You don’t talk to the United States that way, at least under me.”

The president later took to Twitter to further assail the longtime U.S. ally over its contributions to NATO’s military budget. He then took aim at NATO as a whole for not spending enough on the military.

“For the record, Denmark is only at 1.35% of GDP for NATO spending. They are a wealthy country and should be at 2%,” he wrote, referring to the goal set by the alliance for members to spend at least 2% of their gross domestic product on defense. “We protect Europe and yet, only 8 of the 28 NATO countries are at the 2% mark.”

Trump also canceled his scheduled trip to Denmark next month, even though he initially said the planned trip was unrelated to his interest in purchasing Greenland. In cancelling the trip, however, Trump noted it was scrapped for that exact reason.

Frederiksen decided not to fire back.

“I’m not going to enter a war of words with anybody, nor with the American president,” she said on Danish television, adding that she found the Danish response to the cancellation of Trump’s visit “good and wise.”

It fell to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to downplay Trump’s explosive rhetoric and take up damage control duty. He called Danish Foreign Minister Jeppe Kofod on Wednesday to express “appreciation for Denmark’s cooperation as one of the United States’ allies,” State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

“Appreciate frank, friendly and constructive talk with @SecPompeo this evening, affirming strong US-DK bond,” Kofod wrote on Twitter. “US & Denmark are close friends and allies with long history of active engagement across globe. Agreed to stay in touch on full range of issues of mutual interest.”

 

SHIRA TARLO

Contact Shira Tarlo at [email protected] Follow @shiratarlo.

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Trump says he wanted to give himself Medal of Honor

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLITICO NEWS)

 

WHITE HOUSE

Trump says he wanted to give himself Medal of Honor

President Donald Trump claimed to laughter on Wednesday that he sought to give himself a Medal of Honor, but decided not to after being counseled against the move by aides.

The offhand remark from the president came during his address to the 75th annual national convention of American Veterans, a volunteer-led veterans service organization also known as AMVETS.

At the event in Louisville, Kentucky, Trump singled out for praise WWII veteran and Medal of Honor recipient Woody Williams.

“Thank you, Woody. You’re looking good, Woody. Woody’s looking good,” Trump said.

“That was a big day, Medal of Honor. Nothing like the Medal of Honor,” he continued. “I wanted one, but they told me I don’t qualify, Woody. I said, ‘Can I give it to myself anyway?’ They said, ‘I don’t think that’s a good idea.’”

Amid scattered chuckles, Trump concluded: “Great, great people. These are great, great men and women that get congressional Medal of Honor. Thank you, Woody.”

The president’s assessment that he should receive the nation’s highest award for acts of military valor followed his statement earlier Wednesday afternoon that he is “the chosen one” in relation to his administration’s trade conflict with China — a proclamation he turned to the sky to deliver.

Trump never served in the military and was granted five draft deferments — four for college and one for bone spurs in his heel.

The Trumpian Idiot Strikes Again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CBS NEWS)

 

Less than a day after President Donald Trump outraged many members of the Jewish community for his comments about their loyalty, he tweeted out the claim that Israeli Jews view him as the “second coming of God.”

In a series of tweets Wednesday morning, Mr. Trump quoted conservative radio host and known conspiracy theorist Wayne Allyn Root, who practically declared the president the Messiah during his show Tuesday night.

Quoting Root’s tweet, Mr. Trump shared the message that he is “the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world,” that “the Jewish people in Israel love him like he’s the King of Israel” and even that “They love him like he is the second coming of God.”

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him….

35.7K people are talking about this

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for…..

27.8K people are talking about this

Mr. Trump said “Wow!” and thanked Root for the “very nice words.”

Root is a self-described “Jew turned evangelical Christian” and the author of a 2015 book titled “Angry White Male: How the Donald Trump Phenomenon Is Changing America,” which had a forward by now-indicted Trump associate Roger Stone.

Root is also known for promoting bogus right-wing conspiracy theories. He attended Columbia University while Barack Obama was also studying there, then later falsely claimed that Mr. Obama did not actually attend the school. More recently, he falsely said on Twitter that the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, which killed 58 people, was an act of Muslim terrorism. The gunman was not Muslim and investigators were unable to determine a motive.

The latest tweets come a day after President Trump criticized “any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat,” saying it “shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” Leaders in the Jewish community raised concerns that the president was promoting anti-Semitic stereotypes by casting Jews as disloyal. Such accusations have a long and disturbing history of being used against Jews, said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League.

Polling shows that a majority of Jewish Americans identify as Democrats and did not vote for Mr. Trump in 2016.

Greenland, Donald ‘The Idiot’ Trump Shows His ‘Shallow Ass’ Again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

How Greenland explains Donald Trump’s entire presidency

(CNN)Donald Trump won’t be going to Denmark in 10 days. Because the Danes won’t sell him Greenland.

 

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“Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time,” Trump tweeted Tuesday night. “The Prime Minister was able to save a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark by being so direct. I thank her for that and look forward to rescheduling sometime in the future!”
It’s easy to dismiss this episode as just another Trumpian flight of fancy that didn’t work out. But take a minute and you start to realize that the whole Greenland incident, which lasted a total of five days, is broadly emblematic of the entire approach that Trump has taken to being president. The Greenland episode is the Trump presidency.
Consider how we got here:
1) The Wall Street Journal reported last Thursday that Trump has repeatedly quizzed aides on the possibility of buying Greenland.
2) On Sunday, before boarding Air Force One in New Jersey to head back to Washington, Trump addressed the story for the first time. Here’s the key part of what he said (bolding is mine): “Denmark essentially owns it. We’re very good allies with Denmark. We protect Denmark like we protect large portions of the world. So the concept came up and I said, ‘Certainly, I’d be. Strategically, it’s interesting, and we’d be interested.’ But we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not number one on the burner, I can tell you that.”
3) Denmark’s government freaks out. “Greenland is not for sale. Greenland is not Danish. Greenland belongs to Greenland,” Frederiksen, the Danish Prime Minister, told the newspaper Sermitsiaq on Sunday. “I strongly hope that this is not meant seriously.”
4) Trump cancels the Denmark trip, citing Fredericksen’s comments that Greenland isn’t for sale.
5) Trump is asked about the whole thing and tells reporters that he thought the prime minister’s statement (that the idea of selling Greenland to the US was “absurd”) was “nasty” and “inappropriate.”
What a whirlwind!
Now consider the Greenland purchase in the context of Trump’s broader presidency. It meets all the criteria that have come to define his “modern-day presidential” approach to the job.
*Come up with a totally off-the-wall idea, with a whiff of America-gets-its-way-no-matter-what in there
*Idea leaks — or the White House leaks it as a trial balloon — to the media, with the caveat that his aides aren’t sure if he is serious about it
*Downplay idea, insisting the media got it wrong — even while leaving the door open to doing the deal if the other side is open to it
*Take ball and go home when off-the-wall idea is rejected, jeopardizing relationship with longtime strategic ally
See, the Greenland story really does have it all! It is the Trump presidency in microcosm. He says and does absolutely wild things. Even his top staffers aren’t sure how serious he is about it, and, therefore, don’t know whether to actually pursue it. The idea leaks to the media and immediately becomes a thing. Trump freelances, making up his views as he goes. A semi-serious conversation about whether any of this is even possible begins even as the intended target starts to freak out. Trump, either spurred or spurned by all of the attention, leans in — to it all. Then it all unravels because, as we later learn, he was winging it all along. There was never any “there” there — just Trump saying stuff.
(A quick sidebar on the this-is-all-a-strategic-distraction from gun control or immigration, etc., argument: No, it isn’t. Is there anything you have seen in Trump’s time in office that would lead you to believe that he is capable of that sort of strategic planning and execution? It’s readily apparent at this point that Trump is just saying stuff — and then reacting to how those things land with the general public. There is no three-dimensional chess. There’s not any kind of chess being played.)
Greenland was never for sale. Mexico was never going to pay for the wall. His inauguration crowd was never the largest in history. There was not blame on both sides in the white supremacist riots in Charlottesville. Immigrants were never invading our country in hordes. Background checks were never going to happen.
You get the idea. It’s the Trump presidency.

Trump: King Of Israel?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday thanked a conspiracy theorist for saying Jews in Israel love the president “like he’s the King of Israel” and doubled down on his efforts to pit American Jews against one another, accusing Jewish voters of disloyalty if they voted for Democrats.

It was the second day in a row that Mr. Trump addressed Jews and loyalty, a theme evoking an anti-Semitic trope that Jews have a “dual loyalty” and are often more loyal to Israel than to their own countries.

“If you want to vote Democrat, you are being very disloyal to Jewish people and very disloyal to Israel,” Mr. Trump said Wednesday at the White House.

Speaking to reporters as he left the White House on his way to Louisville, Ky., to address a veterans group, Mr. Trump said his remarks were not anti-Semitic.

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Trump thanked the conservative radio host Wayne Allyn Root for lavishing praise on Mr. Trump for his successful diplomacy with Israel. Mr. Root is a one-time vice-presidential nominee for the Libertarian Party who now hosts a radio show on Newsmax TV and often promotes conspiracy theories.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“Thank you to Wayne Allyn Root for the very nice words. “President Trump is the greatest President for Jews and for Israel in the history of the world, not just America, he is the best President for Israel in the history of the world…and the Jewish people in Israel love him….

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

….like he’s the King of Israel. They love him like he is the second coming of God…But American Jews don’t know him or like him. They don’t even know what they’re doing or saying anymore. It makes no sense! But that’s OK, if he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s good for…..

23.5K people are talking about this

Broadcasting Mr. Root’s words to the president’s more than 63 million Twitter followers and repeating his provocative message to American Jews, Mr. Trump drew immediate accusations that he was fanning anti-Semitic views.

“It is the height of hypocrisy to use Christian theology to bully Jews and to push out some messianic complex — literally, it’s hard to think of something less kosher than telling the Jewish people you’re the king of Israel, and therefore, we should have some fidelity to you for that reason,” Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti-Defamation League, said Wednesday on CNN. “I don’t know if he’s read the Bible, but in the Old Testament, that’s not what we believe.”

Last week, lawmakers were outraged that Israel, with Mr. Trump’s approval, barred two Muslim members of Congress from making an official visit because of their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which pressures Israel on Palestinian issues.

Mr. Trump has tried to make the two Democratic lawmakers, Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the face of the Democratic Party after they made comments this year that were critical of American support of Israel. Though their views on Israel are far from representing the majority of the Democratic Party, Mr. Trump has seized on the divide and is trying to sell it to Jewish voters as a reason to support him.

Winning over Jewish voters would be a significant shift for Mr. Trump, as nearly 80 percent of Jewish Americans voted for Democrats during the 2018 midterm elections, according to the Pew Research Center.

Some of the president’s Jewish supporters defended Mr. Trump for the second day in a row.

The Republican Jewish Coalition said the organization takes Mr. Trump “seriously, not literally.”

In a Twitter post on Wednesday after Mr. Trump repeated his “loyalty” charge, the Republican Jewish Coalition wrote, “President Trump is pointing out the obvious: for those who care about Israel, the position of many elected Democrats has become anti-Israel.”

Representative Lee Zeldin of New York, a Republican who is Jewish, praised Mr. Trump for his support of the Jewish community and Israel. Mr. Zeldin said the president was right to push back on the “Omar/Tlaib wing of the Dem party.”

“He’s a fighter & wont back down. On these policy priorities, he’s correct,” Mr. Zeldin wrote in a tweet.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, also addressed Jewish Republicans on Wednesday, with a different message.

“To my fellow American Jews, particularly those who support @realDonaldTrump: When he uses a trope that’s been used against the Jewish people for centuries with dire consequences, he is encouraging — wittingly or unwittingly — anti-Semites throughout the country and world,” Mr. Schumer wrote Wednesday on Twitter. “Enough.”

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Jewish leaders outraged by Trump saying Jews disloyal if they vote for Democrats

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Jewish leaders outraged by Trump saying Jews disloyal if they vote for Democrats

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Tuesday criticized Jewish Americans who vote for Democrats, saying “it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”

Trump was speaking to the press in the Oval Office about two Democratic congresswomen barred from entering Israel over their involvement in the movement to end international support for the country because of its policies toward Palestinians.
“Five years ago, the concept of even talking about this — even three years ago — of cutting off aid to Israel because of two people that hate Israel and hate Jewish people — I can’t believe we’re even having this conversation,” Trump added. “Where has the Democratic Party gone? Where have they gone where they’re defending these two people over the State of Israel?”
He added, “I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat — it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”
The remark led critics to argue the President was dabbling in the anti-Semitic trope of “dual loyalty,” which questions the loyalty of Jewish citizens.
“It’s unclear who @POTUS is claiming Jews would be ‘disloyal’ to, but charges of disloyalty have long been used to attack Jews. As we’ve said before, it’s possible to engage in the democratic process without these claims. It’s long overdue to stop using Jews as a political football,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted later Tuesday.
Halie Soifer, executive director of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, called the comments “yet another example of Donald Trump continuing to weaponize and politicize anti-Semitism.”
“If this is about Israel, then Trump is repeating a dual loyalty claim, which is a form of anti-Semitism. If this is about Jews being ‘loyal’ to him, then Trump needs a reality check. We live in a democracy, and Jewish support for the Republican Party has been halved in the past four years,” Soifer added.
J Street, a liberal advocacy group focused on reaching a resolution between Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement, “It is dangerous and shameful for President Trump to attack the large majority of the American Jewish community as unintelligent and ‘disloyal.’ “
The President has suggested that Jewish Americans, who are traditionally staunch supporters of the Democratic Party, are leaving it. But polling suggests that Jewish Americans continue overwhelmingly to be Democrats and opposed to Trump.
Jewish Americans voted for the Democratic Party by about a 3:1 margin in the 2018 midterm elections. And Jewish Americans are far more likely to call themselves Democrats than Republicans.
Trump has previously suggested Jewish Americans have a dual loyalty to Israel and its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, including when he told the Republican Jewish Coalition in April that Netanyahu was “your prime minister.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition defended Trump’s statement on Tuesday, tweeting, “President Trump is right, it shows a great deal of disloyalty to oneself to defend a party that protects/emboldens people that hate you for your religion.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for comment.

India: Donald Trump’s thumbs-up photo with orphaned baby in El Paso sparks controversy

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

(TO DONALD TRUMP EVERYTHING IS ALWAYS ALL ABOUT DONALD TRUMP, HE IS SICKENING AND SHALLOW BEYOND HUMAN BELIEF, A TOTAL FRAUD!)(OPED: BY OLDPOET56)

 

Donald Trump’s thumbs-up photo with orphaned baby in El Paso sparks controversy

The optics of the picture of Donald Trump giving a thumbs-up as his wife, Melania, cradles a baby orphaned in the El Paso, Texas mass shooting struck many on social media as demonstrating a lack of empathy or respect for the gravity of the occasion by the president.

WORLD Updated: Aug 10, 2019 09:32 IST

Reuters
Reuters

Reuters
The image was taken on Wednesday at the University Medical Center of El Paso during Donald Trump’s visit to the West Texas border city.
The image was taken on Wednesday at the University Medical Center of El Paso during Donald Trump’s visit to the West Texas border city. (Melania Trump/Twitter)

A photo of US President Donald Trump smiling broadly and giving a thumbs-up as his wife, Melania, cradles a baby orphaned in the El Paso, Texas mass shooting has become a social media talking point days after the first lady posted it on Twitter.

The image was taken on Wednesday at the University Medical Center of El Paso during Trump’s visit to the West Texas border city to meet with first responders, medical personnel and surviving victims from Saturday’s gun violence at a Walmart store.

The president and his wife had travelled earlier in the day to Dayton, Ohio, for a similar hospital condolence call in the wake of a deadly shooting rampage that rocked that city just 13 hours after the bloodshed in El Paso.

The two shootings together claimed 32 lives, including that of the gunman who committed the Dayton massacre.

Trump avoided the press during both hospital visits, which were closed to media coverage, but the White House later released a brief video montage of the visits.

 

Embedded video

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

My time spent in Dayton and El Paso with some of the greatest people on earth. Thank you for a job well done!

60.1K people are talking about this

The first lady also tweeted several photos from the visit, including one that shows her standing in front of a University Medical Center of El Paso backdrop cradling a 2-month-old infant whose parents, Andre and Jordon Anchondo, were both slain in the Walmart attack, reportedly as they shielded him from gunfire.

Standing beside the first lady is the smiling president giving a thumbs-up sign. They are flanked by the baby’s aunt and an uncle, Tito Anchondo, who is also smiling and has his arm stretched around Trump’s shoulders as the four pose together.

The optics of the picture struck many on social media as demonstrating a lack of empathy or respect for the gravity of the occasion by the president.

 

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Melania Trump

@FLOTUS

I met many incredible people in Dayton, Ohio & El Paso, Texas yesterday. Their communities are strong and unbreakable. @potus and I stand with you!

19.5K people are talking about this

“A baby who was taken from home and forced to serve as a prop for the very monster whose hate killed her/his parents,” Democratic strategist Greg Pinelo wrote on Twitter in response to the photo.

But Tito Anchondo, who described himself and his slain brother as Trump supporters, told the Washington Post in an interview published on Friday that he felt consoled by the president’s visit and denied that Trump was there “pushing any kind of political agenda.”

Anchondo said he chose to take his orphaned nephew, baby Paul, to the hospital to meet the president, and said others were politicizing his family’s tragedy. The infant suffered two broken fingers in the shooting, but had since been discharged by doctors.

Israel: PM aims for Trump backing for Israel sovereignty at settlements

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)

 

Before election, PM aims for Trump backing for Israel sovereignty at settlements

Officials in Netanyahu’s office confident US president will make declaration ahead of September vote, shoring up right-wing support for premier; PMO denies report

US President Donald Trump smiles at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, after signing a proclamation formally recognizing Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (AP/Susan Walsh)

US President Donald Trump smiles at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, after signing a proclamation formally recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in the Diplomatic Reception Room at the White House, in Washington, DC, on March 25, 2019. (AP/Susan Walsh)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a public declaration from US President Donald Trump ahead of the September elections backing an Israeli move to extend its sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the West Bank, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language site, on Sunday.

While Netanyahu cannot himself take the far-reaching diplomatic step of extending Israeli sovereignty to the settlements while he is leading the current caretaker government, the Prime Minister’s Office is lobbying for public support from Trump for such a move. This would enable Netanyahu to credibly assure right-wing voters that he can and will move quickly to apply sovereignty to the settlements if he is again elected premier.

If issued, such a declaration by Trump would mark the third far-reaching diplomatic shift by the White House in under two years, after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 and moved its embassy there, and recognized Israeli control over the Golan Heights earlier this year, shortly before the previous elections.

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office on Monday told The Times of Israel that the claim that Netanyahu had asked for an US affirmation of Israel’s right to sovereignty in the West Bank is “incorrect.”

During his election campaign in April, Netanyahu pledged to gradually annex West Bank Jewish settlements, a move long backed by nearly all lawmakers in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties, and said he hoped to do so with US support.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R), US National Security Advisor John Bolton (C) and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman tour the Jordan Valley on June 23, 2019. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

In an interview published by The New York Times in June, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate. “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” he said.

An anonymous American official later said that Israel had not presented a plan for annexation of any of the West Bank, and that no such plan was under discussion with the US, while Friedman insisted the discussion was entirely theoretical. Friedman’s comments were backed by US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, though days later the special envoy said such steps should not be taken unilaterally or before the unveiling of the Trump administration’s peace plan.

US Ambassador to David Friedman (L) speaks with White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt during the opening of an ancient road at the City of David archaeological and tourist site in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem on June 30, 2019.(Tsafrir Abayov/AFP)

“Ahead of the elections, something will happen. President Trump will repeat the statements by Friedman and Greenblatt in his own words. It will likely be dramatic,” a source in the Prime Minister’s Office told Zman Yisrael.

Settler leaders said Sunday they would welcome a Trump statement to that effect, even if it applied only to settlements rather than much or more the entire West Bank territory, which Palestinians see as the core of their future state.

“We want to extend sovereignty over all areas of Judea and Samaria, but we’ll go out and dance if the Trump declaration speaks of the settlements alone,” sources in the Yesha Council umbrella group told Zman Yisrael, referring to the West Bank.

Yigal Dilmoni, the head of the Yesha Council, recently told The Times of Israel that support from Trump for the move was merely a matter of time.

“If I had expressed confidence a few years ago that Israel will indeed extend sovereignty here, I would have sounded delusional,” he said.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (L) raises a glass at a new year’s toast with Yesha Council chairman Hananel Dorani and director general Yigal Dilmoni (R) on September 17, 2018. (Yesha Council)

“Now, the American ambassador says it.  Jason Greenblatt says it. In a second, President Trump will say it. Netanyahu says it. He doesn’t say it as election propaganda; he says it because that is what is going to happen. This thing is getting closer,” said Dilmoni.

The White House has yet to reveal the political vision of its long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, though US officials have refrained from endorsing statehood for the Palestinians under a two-state framework while favoring Palestinian “autonomy.” The economic portion of the plan, which has been rejected by the Palestinians, was unveiled in Bahrain in June.

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Trash For Brains Trump The Idiot-in Chief speaks again

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Trump undercuts plea for unity with return to political attacks

(CNN)President Donald Trump called for unity during a prepared White House address in the wake of two mass shootings over the weekend, but ahead of his trip to visit the communities impacted by gun violence, the consoler-in-chief was back to wedging a partisan divide on Twitter and in front of cameras.

On Tuesday ahead of the President’s trip to Dayton, Ohio, and El Paso, Texas, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham suggested that the President would rise above the rhetoric. She tweeted that the visit would “be about honoring victims, comforting communities, and thanking first responders & medical professionals for their heroic actions.”
“President @realDonaldTrump is a true leader doing what’s right for this nation,” she continued.
Overnight, however, Trump’s teleprompter-prepared talking points fell by the wayside, and Trump returned to targeting Democrats, and in comments to reporters Wednesday morning, he again used the El Paso attacks to call for stronger immigration laws.
Shortly after midnight on Wednesday, the President began attacking his political opponents, in a tit-for-tat response reminiscent of the language he used following deadly protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, when he equally divvied up blame to white supremacist groups and what he called the “alt-left.”
“Beto (phony name to indicate Hispanic heritage) O’Rourke, who is embarrassed by my last visit to the Great State of Texas, where I trounced him, and is now even more embarrassed by polling at 1% in the Democrat Primary, should respect the victims & law enforcement – & be quiet!” Trump tweeted shortly after midnight.
Trump, in prepared remarks Monday, called on the nation to condemn racism and white supremacy, but stopped short of acknowledging his own divisive rhetoric, and Democrats, including the President’s opponents in 2020, seized on the fact that the alleged shooter in El Paso, is believed to have authored a racist, anti-immigrant manifesto. They say Trump’s rhetoric was reflected in the language of the document.
By daybreak Wednesday, Trump was also tweeting about the Dayton shooter “supporting political figures like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and ANTIFA,” despite the fact authorities have not determined a political motivation for the perpetrator.
A Twitter account that appears to belong to the Dayton gunman retweeted extreme left-wing and anti-police posts, as well as tweets supporting Antifa, or anti-fascist, protesters. The account retweeted messages supporting Democratic Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, as well as posts against ICE agents, including one that said, “these people are monsters,” and multiple posts condemning police, and supporting Antifa protesters.
But while the El Paso gunman posted a manifesto with a clear ideology that motivated his shooting that was tied to similar themes that the President has espoused, the Dayton shooter, based on what the FBI has said, has not suggested a political motivation. Investigators described it as a fixation on violence and killing.
The President, for his part, claimed Wednesday that he’s toned his rhetoric down.
He told reporters ahead of his visit Ohio and Texas, “We have toned it down. We’ve been getting hit left and right from everybody … (including) a couple of people from Texas, political people from Texas that aren’t doing very well,” he said.
“I don’t think it works because I would like to stay out of the political fray,” he continued.
Trump said “tried to stay out” of politically dividing aspects of the mass shooting which happened over the weekend, even though he went after O’Rourke, Warren and Sanders on Twitter hours beforehand.
He also dredged up the Dayton shooter’s social media history again.
“My critics are political people. They’re trying to make points. In many cases, they’re running for President and they’re very low in the polls. A couple of them in particular very low in the polls. If you look at Dayton, that was a person who supported, I guess you would say, Bernie Sanders, I understood, Antifa, I understood, Elizabeth Warren, I understood — had nothing to do with President Trump,” Trump said.
Trump also said he doesn’t believe his rhetoric causes violence.
“No, I don’t think my rhetoric has at all. My rhetoric brings people together,” he told reporters.
Asked whether he regrets using the term “invasion” to describe immigrants coming into the US illegally, Trump responded, “I think that illegal immigration is a terrible thing for this country. I think you have to come in legally. Ideally you have to come in through merit.”
“We need people coming in because we have many companies coming into our county — they’re pouring in. And I think illegal immigration is a very bad thing for our country. I think open borders are a very bad thing for our country, and we’re stopping. We’re building a wall right now. … We need strong immigration laws. But we want to allow millions of people to come in because we need them,” he continued.