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THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:43 pm

US cities, states defy Trump, still back Paris climate deal.

BONN, Germany (AP) — A group of U.S. states, cities, businesses and universities said Saturday they are still committed to curbing global warming even as U.S. President Donald Trump's administration is walking away from the Paris climate accord.

But the alliance, which has an economy larger than Japan and Germany combined, says it won't be able to achieve the necessary cut in greenhouse gas emissions without some efforts at the federal level.

"It is important for the world to know, the American government may have pulled out of the Paris agreement, but the American people are committed to its goals, and there is nothing Washington can do to stop us," former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a global climate meeting in Bonn, Germany.

Gov. Jerry Brown of California echoed those comments. "In the United States, we have a federal system, and states have real power as do cities. And when cities and states combine together, and then join with powerful corporations, that's how we get stuff done," he said.

His speech was briefly interrupted by anti-coal and anti-fracking protesters, who held up banners and shouted "We're still in! Trump's still out!" The group calling itself "America's Pledge" said states, cities and private groups have been taking considerable steps to reduce emissions by promoting renewable energy use and climate-friendly transportation systems.

"This is a pledge, and it's a pledge that you can cash, because it's real," Brown said. "We are doing real stuff in California." In a report, however, the group said that "we cannot underscore strongly enough the critical nature of federal engagement to achieve the deep decarbonization goals the U.S. must undertake after 2025."

Daniel Firger, one of the report's contributors, said it was intended to show that many in the U.S. aren't prepared to wait for Trump to change his mind on climate change again or wait for the next administration to tackle the issue.

"The good news around Trump's announcement to withdraw is that it has galvanized a groundswell of bottom-up support from all corners of the U.S. economy," Firger told The Associated Press. Cities, regions and businesses in other nations around the world could look to the group for inspiration and support, he said, noting that the lessons learned by local authorities and businesses in the U.S. could be applied elsewhere.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sat Nov 11, 2017 12:50 pm

Trump pushes 'America first' during tough trade talk in Asia.

DANANG, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump stood before a summit of Asian leaders keen on regional trade pacts and delivered a roaring "America first" message Friday, denouncing China for unfair trade practices just a day after he had heaped praise on President Xi Jinping in Beijing.

"We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of anymore," Trump told CEOs on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference. "I am always going to put America first, the same way that I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first."

The president — who pulled the United States out of the Pacific Rim trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — said the U.S. would no longer join "large agreements that tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible."

Instead, he said, the U.S. will pursue one-on-one trade deals with other nations that pledge fair and reciprocal trade. The message stood in sharp contrast to the behind-the-scenes negotiations taking place among other countries at the summit on a successor to TPP.

As for China, Trump said he'd spoken "openly and directly" with Xi about the nation's abusive trade practices and "the enormous trade deficits they have produced with the United States." It was a stark change in tone from the day before, when Trump was Xi's guest of honor during a state visit in Beijing. There, Trump opted for flattering Xi and blaming past U.S. presidents for the trade deficit.

Trump said China's trade surplus, which stood at $223 billion for the first 10 months of the year, was unacceptable. He repeated his language from Thursday, when he said he did "not blame China" or any other country "for taking advantage of the United States on trade."

But Trump added forceful complaints about "the audacious theft of intellectual property," ''massive subsidizing of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises," and American companies being targeted by "state-affiliated actors for economic gain" — without singling China out by name.

U.S. officials have raised similar concerns in the past about China, especially with regard to intellectual property. On Saturday, Trump attended meetings with leaders of the 21-member APEC countries. Later in the day, he was to fly to Hanoi, the capital, to attend a state banquet before formal meetings Sunday with Vietnam's president and prime minister.

In a major breakthrough, trade ministers from 11 nations remaining in the Trans-Pacific Partnership — representing roughly 13.5 percent of the global economy — said Saturday they had reached a deal to proceed with the free-trade pact after it was thrown into doubt when Trump abandoned it.

Behind the scenes, White House officials quietly negotiated with the Kremlin over whether Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin would hold a formal meeting on the sidelines in Danang, with the Russians raising expectations for such a session.

As speculation built, the two sides tried to craft the framework of a deal that Trump and Putin could announce in a formal bilateral meeting, according to two administration officials not authorized to speak publicly about private discussions.

Though North Korea and the Ukraine had been discussed, the two sides focused on trying to strike an agreement about a path to resolve Syria's civil war once the Islamic State group is defeated, according to officials. But the talks stalled and, just minutes before Air Force One touched down in Vietnam, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the meeting was off.

When asked about the outcome, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov later snapped at reporters: "Why are you asking me? Ask the Americans." Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that even without a formal meeting, "Both presidents are in town, and their paths will cross one way or another."

That they did Friday night during the summit's welcome gala: The two men, each wearing traditional Vietnamese shifts, shook hands and greeted one another as they stood side-by-side for the group photo of world leaders.

The two men shook hands and spoke briefly again during Saturday's meeting, according to a Fox News videographer who was the only American journalist allowed into the room. Journalists traveling with Trump were not permitted to observe any of the APEC events he participated in.

Trump and Putin were also seen chatting as all leaders walked to an outdoor location for their traditional group photo.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Sun Nov 12, 2017 9:10 am

Trump: 'I'm with our agencies' on Russian election meddling.

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) — President Donald Trump on Sunday said he believes U.S. intelligence agencies, which have concluded that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. But Trump also said he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is sincere when he says Russia didn't interfere.

"I believe that he feels that he and Russia did not meddle in the election," Trump said of Putin at a news conference with Vietnam's president in Hanoi. "As to whether I believe it, I'm with our agencies."

He added, "As currently led by fine people, I believe very much in our intelligence agencies." Top U.S. intelligence officials, including those at the CIA, have concluded that Russia interfered in the election to help the Republican Trump defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton. A special counsel and multiple Congressional committees are also investigating potential collusion between Moscow and Trump campaign aides. That probe has so far led to the indictments of Trump's former campaign chairman and another top aide for financial and other crimes unrelated to the campaign, as well as a guilty plea from a Trump foreign policy adviser.

It's a question that has followed Trump since January, when he said for the first time at a press conference in Trump Tower shortly before taking office that he accepted Russia was behind the election year hacking of Democrats that roiled the White House race.

"As far as hacking, I think it was Russia," Trump said then, quickly adding that "other countries and other people" also hack U.S. interests. But the issue wasn't settled. Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One on Saturday on his way to Hanoi, Trump had said that Putin again vehemently denied the allegations — this time on the sidelines of an economic conference in the seaside city of Danang. Trump danced around questions of whether he believed Putin, but stressed Putin's denials. He also accused Democrats of using the issue to try to sabotage relations between the two countries, putting lives at risk.

"Every time he sees me, he said: 'I didn't do that.' And I believe — I really believe — that when he tells me that, he means it," Trump said, arguing that it made no sense for him to belabor the issue.

"I'd rather have him get out of Syria, to be honest with you. I'd rather have him, you know, work with him on the Ukraine than standing and arguing," he said. Trump also lashed out at the former heads of the nation's intelligence agencies, claiming there were plenty of reasons to be suspicious of their findings. "I mean, give me a break. They're political hacks," Trump said, citing by name James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, John Brennan, the former CIA director and his ousted ex-FBI director James Comey, whom Trump said was "proven now to be a liar and he's proven to be a leaker."

In a tweet sent Sunday from Hanoi, Trump bashed the "haters and fools" he said were questioning his efforts to improve relations with Russia and accused critics of "playing politics" and hurting the country.

Trump's Saturday comments sparked criticism from lawmakers with ties to the intelligence community. Rep. Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who is his party's top member on the House's intelligence committee, said in a statement that Trump "fools no one" and that the president understands how the Russians intervened in the election through hacking, social media and television coverage of the presidential race.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the party's presidential nominee in 2008, said in a statement that Trump's faith in Putin's denial was "naive." "There's nothing 'America First' about taking the word of a KGB colonel over that of the American intelligence community," McCain wrote, referring to Putin's former career in Soviet intelligence. "Vladimir Putin does not have America's interests at heart."

Trump was in Hanoi for a brief state visit. He was traveling to the Philippines later Sunday — the last stop of his five country trip — for a pair of summits. In brief remarks after his arrival at Hanoi's presidential palace, Trump offered Vietnam help negotiating with China on disputes over the South China Sea. Beijing's island-building there has drawn criticism from Washington, which argues the U.S. has a national interest in freedom of navigation in sea lanes critical for world trade. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson earlier this month said China's "provocative actions" challenged international law and norms.

"If I can help mediate or arbitrate, please let me know," Trump offered. "I'm a very good mediator and a very good arbitrator. I've done plenty of it from both sides." Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said he preferred to settle the dispute through "peaceful negotiations" and "with respect for diplomatic and legal process in accordance with international law."

Trump also said he hoped to have more help from Chinese President Xi Jinping as well as Russia, when it comes to isolating North Korea, in an effort to pressure the country to abandon its nuclear weapons program. "President Xi I think is going to be a tremendous help. I hope Russia likewise will be a tremendous help," Trump said. "I think they can make a big difference."

Earlier, Trump had exchanged schools yard taunts with the country's leader Kim Jong-un. "Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me "old," when I would NEVER call him "short and fat?" Trump tweeted from Vietnam, adding: "Oh well, I try so hard to be his friend - and maybe someday that will happen!"

Asked whether he could really be friends with Kim, Trump said, "I think anything's a possibility. Strange things happen in life." Trump and Putin did not have a formal meeting while they were in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, but the two spoke informally several times and reached an agreement on a number of principles for the future of war-torn Syria.

Trump's comments made clear that Trump still does not take the meddling seriously and sees little benefit in punishing a nation accused of undermining the most fundamental tenet of American democracy: free and fair elections. They also suggest that Trump is unlikely to work aggressively to try to prevent future meddling despite repeated warnings from senior intelligence officials that Russia is likely to try to interfere again.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:45 pm

Trump Jr.'s WikiLeaks exchange adds intrigue to Russia probe.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's oldest son released a series of private Twitter exchanges between himself and WikiLeaks during and after the 2016 election, including pleas from the website to publicize its leaks.

Donald Trump Jr.'s release of the messages on Twitter came hours after The Atlantic first reported them Monday. In the exchanges — some of them around the time that the website was releasing the stolen emails from Democrat Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman — WikiLeaks praises his father's positive comments about WikiLeaks and asks Trump Jr. to release his father's tax returns to the site.

The revelations are sure to increase calls in Congress to have Trump Jr. testify publicly as part of several committee probes into Russian interference in the 2016 election. And they add a new element to the investigations that have been probing for months whether Trump's campaign colluded in any way with the Russian government.

In an intelligence assessment released last January, the NSA, CIA and FBI concluded that Russian military intelligence provided hacked information from the DNC and "senior Democratic officials" to WikiLeaks. WikiLeaks has denied that Russia was the source of emails it released, including those from Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta.

The private messages released by Trump Jr. show him responding to the WikiLeaks account three times, at one point agreeing to "ask around" about a political action committee WikiLeaks had mentioned. He also asked the site about a rumor about an upcoming leak. The messages began in September 2016 and ran through July.

Trump Jr. downplayed the exchanges as he released them. "Here is the entire chain of messages with @wikileaks (with my whopping 3 responses) which one of the congressional committees has chosen to selectively leak," he tweeted. "How ironic!"

Trump Jr.'s lawyers had released the exchanges to three congressional committees that have been investigating Russian intervention in the 2016 election and whether there were any links to Trump's campaign.

In a statement, Trump Jr.'s lawyer said thousands of documents had been turned over to the committees. "Putting aside the question as to why or by whom such documents, provided to Congress under promises of confidentiality, have been selectively leaked, we can say with confidence that we have no concerns about these documents and any questions raised about them have been easily answered in the appropriate forum," said Alan Futerfas.

Futerfas didn't say which forum he was referring to, but Trump Jr. was interviewed behind closed doors by Senate Judiciary Committee staff in September. A person familiar with that meeting said the private Twitter messages were discussed. The person declined to be identified because the transcript of that interview hasn't been made public.

In one message dated Oct. 3, 2016, the WikiLeaks Twitter account sent Trump Jr. an article that included critical comments Clinton had made about WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange and said "it'd be great if you guys could comment on/push this story."

Trump Jr. replied: "Already did that earlier today. It's amazing what she can get away with." Two minutes later, Trump Jr. sent another message: "What's behind this Wednesday leak I keep reading about?"

Longtime Trump associate Roger Stone had tweeted the day before that on Wednesday, "Hillary Clinton is done," referencing WikiLeaks. The WikiLeaks Twitter account never responded, but days later WikiLeaks started rolling out Podesta's stolen emails. After the emails were released, WikiLeaks sent Trump Jr. a searchable link of the emails. Trump Jr. tweeted that link two days later, on Oct. 14, 2016, The Atlantic noted.

The rest of the messages are one-sided, with WikiLeaks sending Trump Jr. messages through July 2017. They include praise for his father for mentioning them on the campaign trail, a plea to release Trump's taxes to the site and advice on Election Day that Trump should not concede if he lost. One message suggested Trump encourage Australia to appoint Assange as U.S. ambassador.

In July, the Twitter account messaged Trump Jr. to ask him to give the site emails surrounding a meeting he and other Trump associates held with Russians during the campaign. Trump Jr. then released them himself.

Vice President Mike Pence responded quickly to the revelations, issuing a statement through his press secretary that he knew nothing about the situation. "The vice president was never aware of anyone associated with the campaign being in contact with WikiLeaks," said spokeswoman Alyssa Farah. "He first learned of this news from a published report earlier tonight."

Assange tweeted after The Atlantic report that he couldn't confirm the messages but then defended them after Trump Jr. released them. "WikiLeaks appears to beguile some people into transparency by convincing them that it is in their interest," Assange tweeted.

On Tuesday, former WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said he never met anyone in the Trump campaign. Hrafnsson said he could not say whether anyone else on WikiLeaks' team had met with Trump staffers, noting that he stepped away from his full time role with the organization in early 2016, before Trump became the Republican nominee.

Democrats swiftly reacted to the report, saying Trump Jr. should provide more information. California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, says it "demonstrates once again a willingness by the highest levels of the Trump campaign to accept foreign assistance."

Schiff also pointed to Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked for Trump's campaign and reached out to WikiLeaks before the election about obtaining emails related to Clinton, according to the company's CEO.

Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the panel should subpoena the documents and force Trump Jr. to publicly testify. "There seems to be no reasonable explanation for these messages," Blumenthal said.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley had said he would call Trump Jr. to publicly testify after the private interview in September. But negotiations over witnesses broke down last month amid disagreements with Democrats on the panel.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are also expecting to interview Trump Jr., but those interviews are expected to be behind closed doors.

For screenshots see link.
https://www.mail.com/int/news/us/8079472-trump-jrs-wikileaks-exchange-adds-intrigue-to-russ.html#.1258-stage-hero1-1
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Nov 15, 2017 5:57 am

China sending envoy to North Korea following Trump visit.

BEIJING (AP) — Following President Donald Trump's visit to Beijing, China said Wednesday it is sending a high-level special envoy to North Korea amid an extended chill in relations between the neighbors over Pyongyang's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Song Tao, the head of China's ruling Communist Party's International Liaison Department, will travel to Pyongyang on Friday to report on outcomes of the party's national congress held last month, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Xinhua said Song would carry out a "visit" in addition to delivering his report, but gave no details about his itinerary or meetings. It also made no mention of Trump's trip to Beijing or the North's weapons programs, although Trump has repeatedly called on Beijing to do more to use its influence to pressure Pyongyang into altering its behavior.

Song would be the first ministerial-level Chinese official to visit North Korea since October 2015, when Politburo Standing Committee member Liu Yunshan met with leader Kim Jong Un. Liu delivered a letter to Kim from Chinese President Xi Jinping, expressing hopes for a strong relationship, although the respite in frosty ties proved short lived. Vice Foreign Minister Liu Zhenmin visited Pyongyang in October of last year.

China's Communist Party and North Korea's ruling Workers' Party have longstanding ties that often supersede formal diplomacy, even while Beijing has long been frustrated with Pyongyang's provocations and unwillingness to reform its economy.

China is also North Korea's largest trading partner and chief source of food and fuel aid, although it says its influence with Kim's regime is often exaggerated by the U.S. and others. While it is enforcing harsh new U.N. sanctions targeting the North's sources of foreign currency, Beijing has called for steps to renew dialogue.

Beijing is also opposed to measures that could bring down Kim's regime, possibly depriving it of a buffer with South Korea and the almost 30,000 U.S. troops stationed there, and leading to a refugee crisis and chaos along its bother with the North.

In Beijing last Thursday, Trump urged Xi to pressure North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program. China can fix the problem "easily and quickly," Trump said in remarks to journalists alongside Xi. He urged Xi to "hopefully work on it very hard."

"If he works on it hard, it will happen. There's no doubt about it," Trump said. While calling the visit significant, a top Chinese expert on North Korea relations downplayed any connection with Trump's statements in Beijing, saying it fit a pattern of traditional exchanges between the two parties following significant events such as national congresses.

"Representatives are dispatched to brief the other side at a chosen time and chosen level. It is a tradition and it is unnecessary to connect it with Trump's visit to China," said Guo Rui, researcher at the Institute for North Korean and South Korean Studies at Jilin University in northeastern China.

However, he said the visit "shows China's willingness to see a continuous development of the friendly relations between the two sides." "Although the Korean Peninsula situation has been evolving fast with worrisome indications, the two parties are maintaining normal exchanges and that is of significance for stabilizing the bilateral relations and the peninsular situation," Guo said.

North Korea staged its sixth nuclear test on Sept. 3, detonating what it claimed was a hydrogen bomb, and last fired a ballistic missile over the Japanese island of Hokkaido into the Pacific Ocean on Sept. 15.

Since then, there has been a lull in such activity, leading to some hopes in Beijing that Pyongyang might be responding to international pressure and becoming more amenable to talks.
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Re: THE TRUMP DISASTER AREA

Post  Lamplighter on Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:22 pm

North Korea 'sentences Trump to death' for insulting Kim Jong-un.

Regime-run newspaper says US president is ‘hideous criminal’ after he said North was a ‘cruel dictatorship’ and Kim ‘short and fat’.

North Korea’s state media has criticised Donald Trump for insulting leader Kim Jong-Un, saying the US president deserved the death penalty and calling him a coward for cancelling a visit to the inter-Korean border.

An editorial in the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun focused its anger on Trump’s visit to South Korea last week, during which he denounced the North’s “cruel dictatorship” in a speech to legislators in Seoul.

The visit was part of a marathon five-nation Asia tour by the US president aimed largely at galvanising regional opposition to the North’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

“The worst crime for which he can never be pardoned is that he dared [to] malignantly hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership,” the editorial said.

“He should know that he is just a hideous criminal sentenced to death by the Korean people,” it added.

Since becoming president, Trump has engaged in an escalating war of words with Kim Jong-un, trading personal insults and threats of military strikes and raising concerns about an outbreak of hostilities.

Towards the end of his Asia tour, he sent a tweet from Hanoi that took the verbal jousting to a new level, taunting the North Korean leader over his height and weight.

“Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat’?” he tweeted.

The members of the ruling Kim dynasty – past and present – enjoy near god-like status in North Korea, which has demonstrated extreme sensitivity to any remark that might be seen as mocking or disrespectful of the leadership.

The editorial also took a dig at Trump’s failure to tour the demilitarised zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas – a traditional stop-off for senior US officials visiting the South.

Trump’s helicopter taking him to the DMZ had turned back after just five minutes due to bad weather – an explanation the newspaper dismissed.

“It wasn’t the weather,” the editorial said: “He was just too scared to face the glaring eyes of our troops.”
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