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Found 275 results

  1. US President Donald Trump speaks following a meeting in Trump Tower, in New York City, US, August 15, 2017. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump will meet Friday with his national security team at Camp David, as he mulls whether or not to send more American troops to war-ravaged Afghanistan. The administration is split over what stance to adopt on the longest-running war in US history. Possible plans include sending thousands of more troops into the nearly 16-year conflict, or taking the opposite tack and pulling out, leaving private military contractors to help the Afghans oversee the fragile security situation. "The president along with the vice president will meet with the national security team on Friday at Camp David to discuss the South Asia strategy," the White House said. Trump's generals have called the Afghan conflict a "stalemate" and even after years of intensive help from the US and other NATO nations, Afghanistan's security forces are still struggling to hold back an emboldened Taliban. In an early move to address the situation, Trump gave his Pentagon chief, former general Jim Mattis, broad powers to set troop numbers. But several months later, the level remains stuck at about 8,400 US and about 5,000 NATO troops, mainly serving in a training and advisory capacity. Mattis wants to wait until the White House has come up with a coherent strategy for not just Afghanistan but the broader region, notably Pakistan and how it deals with terror groups before he commits to adjustments. But reports have suggested that other Trump advisers, including his influential strategy chief Steve Bannon, favour cutting American losses by pulling out or sending private military contractors to replace troops.
  2. US President Donald Trump speaks about the violence, injuries, and deaths at the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville as he talks to the media in Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, US, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque WASHINGTON/NEW YORK: President Donald Trump disbanded two high-profile business advisory councils on Wednesday after several chief executives quit in protest over his remarks blaming weekend violence in Virginia not only on white nationalists but also on anti-racism activists who opposed them. A parade of prominent Republicans and US ally Britain also rebuked Trump, leaving him increasingly isolated after his comments on Tuesday about the bloodshed in the college town of Charlottesville further enveloped his seven-month-old presidency in controversy. The mayor of Phoenix asked Trump to delay a rally planned for next Tuesday, an appeal the president appeared to reject. A memorial service was held on Wednesday in Charlottesville for 32-year-old Heather Heyer, killed when a car ploughed into anti-racism protesters. A 20-year-old Ohio man said to have harboured Nazi sympathies has been charged with murder. Trump, a real estate magnate who had never before held public office, was elected president in November touting his experience in the business world and ability to strike deals. But some of the Republican president's actions and words have alienated many corporate leaders. Trump said he would dissolve the American Manufacturing Council and the Strategic and Policy Forum after eight executives including Campbell Soup Co CEO (CPB.N) Denise Morrison and 3M Co CEO (MMM.N) Inge Thulin quit the panels. Both of the councils were moving to disband on their own when Trump made his announcement on Twitter. "Rather than putting pressure on the businesspeople of the Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum, I am ending both," he wrote. The Strategic and Policy Forum was headed by Blackstone Group (BX.N) CEO Stephen Schwarzman, a close ally of Trump in the business world. Schwarzman organized a call on Wednesday for member executives to voice concerns after Trump's comments, and an overwhelming majority backed disbanding the council, two sources said. Schwarzman then called Trump to tell him about the decision to disband. "Racism and murder are unequivocally reprehensible and not morally equivalent to anything else that happened in Charlottesville," Morrison said. JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) CEO Jamie Dimon, a member of one of the panels, said in a statement that "fanning divisiveness is not the answer." Dow Chemical Co (DOW.N) Chief Executive Andrew Liveris, who headed the manufacturing council, said he told the White House on Wednesday that "in the current environment it was no longer possible to conduct productive discussions." The Strategic and Policy Forum was intended to advise Trump on how government policy impacts economic growth, job creation and productivity. The manufacturing council was designed to promote US job growth. Along with the snubs from business leaders, Trump was rebuked by a string of Republicans including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ohio Governor John Kasich, Senator Lindsey Graham and former US presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. The president needs the support of fellow Republicans as he tries to push his policy agenda, including tax cuts, through a Congress that is controlled by the Republicans. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, said Trump would "enflame emotions and further divide our nation" if he used next week's rally to pardon Joe Arpaio, a former Arizona sheriff who was found guilty last month of criminal contempt of court. Arpaio gained a national profile due to his harsh treatment of inmates and outspoken opposition to illegal immigration. Shortly after Stanton's statement, Trump urged supporters on Twitter to attend the rally. Few public figures have voiced support for Trump over his response to the violence. Vice President Mike Pence, who is cutting short a trip to Latin America, told reporters in Chile that "I stand with the president and I stand by those words." Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke praised Trump's "honesty and courage." Richard Spencer, head of a white nationalist group, lauded the president for "speaking the truth." US stocks ended slightly firmer but off the day's highs as investors worried that the backlash to Trump's remarks could stunt his ability to deliver on pro-business promises. Possible resignations A former senior Trump administration official raised the prospect that some White House officials could quit because of Trump's comments. The demise of the councils raised Wall Street speculation that senior administration figures such as White House economic adviser Gary Cohn or US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin might step down to avoid the tarnish of being associated with Trump. Cohn, Mnuchin and Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stood awkwardly by Trump during his remarks at Trump Tower on Tuesday. "He's worried about his reputation being trashed, which is much more valuable to him than anything else," the former administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said of Cohn. McConnell, who last week drew Trump's ire over the Senate's failure to pass health care legislation, issued a statement saying "messages of hate and bigotry" from white supremacists, should not be welcome in the United States. McConnell's statement did not mention Trump by name. The Republican Jewish Coalition, a group whose board includes big party donors including casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, called on Trump to "provide greater moral clarity in rejecting racism, bigotry and antisemitism." There is "simply no place" in American public discourse for "hate and violence" displayed in Charlottesville, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said before meeting with Canada's foreign minister. 'Blame on both sides' Trump's remarks on Tuesday were a more vehement reprisal of his initial response to the bloodshed. At a heated news conference in New York, he said, "there is blame on both sides" of the violence, and that there were "very fine people" on both sides. In London, British Prime Minister Theresa May offered a rare rebuke of Trump from so close a US ally. "I see no equivalence between those who propound fascist views and those who oppose them and I think it is important for all those in positions of responsibility to condemn far-right views wherever we hear them," May told reporters. Politicians in Germany, which has tough laws against hate speech and any symbols linked to the Nazis who murdered six million Jews in the Holocaust, expressed shock at the images of people in Charlottesville carrying swastikas and chanting anti-Jewish slurs. The country's justice minister accused Trump of trivializing anti-Semitism and racism. Senior American military officers usually stay clear of politics, but two more of the US military's top officers weighed in on Wednesday, without explicitly mentioning Trump. US Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley wrote on Twitter, "The Army doesn't tolerate racism, extremism, or hatred in our ranks. It's against our Values and everything we've stood for since 1775." Air Force Chief of Staff General Dave Goldfein? said on Twitter that "I stand with my fellow service chiefs in saying we're always stronger together." Their comments followed similar ones from the top officers of the Navy and Marine Corps.
  3. WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Wednesday praised North Korea's leader for backing off on plans to fire missiles toward the US Pacific territory of Guam. "Kim Jong-Un of North Korea made a very wise and well-reasoned decision. The alternative would have been both catastrophic and unacceptable!" Trump wrote on Twitter. Trump stunned the world last week by warning North Korea it faced "fire and fury" if it continued to threaten the US or its allies with its ballistic missile program. His impromptu comments while on vacation in New Jersey were interpreted as raising the prospect of a US nuclear attack against North Korea. The unpredictable and isolated North Korean leader on Tuesday had been briefed by his missile forces on a "plan for an enveloping fire at Guam," according to the North's official KCNA news agency. But afterward, according to KCNA, he decided to postpone the operation to "watch a little more the foolish and stupid conduct of the Yankees" and not to go ahead unless the US commits more "reckless actions." Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said after Kim postponed the threat that Washington remains ready for talks. But he added that would be up to Kim when such negotiations would begin.
  4. WASHINGTON: Donald Trump found himself in the eye of a political storm Wednesday after his stunning remarks on the unrest in Charlottesville, which sparked unease within his own camp and could be a turning point in his already chaotic presidency. Just about 200 days into his term, the US leader crossed a red line in saying there was "blame on both sides" for the melee, which began when a rally by white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue turned violent, as they clashed with counter-protesters. The violent fracas in the Virginia college town ended in tragedy when a 20-year-old suspected Nazi sympathizer, James Fields, plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, leaving one woman dead and 19 others injured. Trump's defiant statements, delivered in a caustic way at Trump Tower and immediately hailed by a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan for their "courage," left many lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, speechless. Many observers were left with the impression that the unscripted Trump of Tuesday was the real Trump - rather than the man who delivered a more measured statement from the White House on Monday in which he firmly denounced racism. In a clear sign of embarrassment, Republican lawmakers did not line up to defend the real estate mogul-turned-president, as they have repeatedly done since he took office in January. Those who did speak criticised him. "In Charlottesville, the blame lays squarely on the KKK and white supremacists," the leader of the Republican National Committee, Ronna Romney McDaniel, told ABC News. "He has to fix this and Republicans have to speak out. Plain and simple," Ohio governor John Kasich, who battled Trump for the Republican presidential nomination last year, told NBC's "Today" show. "President Trump needs to listen to the people before he takes this presidency in a place that is not acceptable for our country." Obama tweet makes history Trump's remarks - made at an impromptu press conference that was expected to focus on infrastructure reforms - put the white supremacists and counter-demonstrators on equal moral ground. "I think there is blame on both sides," Trump said, as his new chief of staff, former Marine general John Kelly, stood rigidly near him. "You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now," Trump continued. "What about the alt-left that came charging... at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? (...) There are two sides to a story." He also said there were "very fine people, on both sides." "Why are we surprised that a @POTUS, who began his campaign with appeals to bigotry, would give comfort to bigots?" said David Axelrod, a former top aide to Barack Obama. Some observers noted that for years, Trump fomented a conspiracy theory with racial overtones that Obama was not born in the United States, before making an about-face at the end of his White House campaign. Trump had suffered the first wave of indignation immediately after Saturday's events when critics said his comments were too vague and did not go far enough to denounce neo-Nazis and KKK members at the Charlottesville rally. Obama, his predecessor, had reacted by tweeting a quote from Nelson Mandela: "No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin or his background or his religion." The tweet is now the most "liked" ever sent on the social network, Twitter said Wednesday. In an editorial, The New York Times said Trump's behaviour "has become distressingly unsurprising." "Washington politicians had hoped the recent appointment of John Kelly, a retired Marine general, as his chief of staff would instill some discipline in his chaotic administration," the paper said. "But the root of the problem is not the personnel; it is the man at the top."
  5. US Army soldiers from the 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery, fire a howitzer artillery piece at Seprwan Ghar forward fire base in Panjwai, Kandahar, Afghanistan, June 12, 2011. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/Files KABUL: The Taliban told US President Donald Trump in an open letter on Tuesday that the military situation in Afghanistan was "far worse than you realize", and sending in more troops would be self-destructive. A senior Taliban official told Reuters the rare decision to address Trump directly was timed to coincide with the president's deliberations on the future of US policy in Afghanistan. "Previous experiences have shown that sending more troops to Afghanistan will not result in anything other than further destruction of American military and economical might," the Taliban said in the lengthy English-language letter. It criticised the Afghan government as "stooges", "lying, corrupt leaders" and "repulsive sellouts" who were providing Washington with "rosy pictures" of the military position. The Taliban waged an increasingly violent insurgency against the Western-backed Afghan government since losing power in a US-led invasion after the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001. Those attacks were planned by al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden from a base in Afghanistan. "The war situation in Afghanistan is far worse than you realize!" the letter said, arguing that the only thing preventing the Taliban from seizing major cities was a fear of causing civilian casualties. The senior US commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has requested several thousand additional troops to act as advisers to the struggling Afghan security forces. Influential voices including Republican Senator John McCain have also urged an "enduring" US military presence in Afghanistan. But such plans have faced scepticism in the White House, where Trump and several top aides have criticized years of American military intervention and foreign aid. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters on Monday that the Trump administration was "very, very close" to a decision on Afghanistan, adding that all options were on the table. However, U.S officials believe it could take weeks for a South Asia strategy to be approved. "We have noticed that you have understood the errors of your predecessors and have resolved to thoroughly rethink your new strategy in Afghanistan," the Taliban told Trump. "A number of warmongering congressmen and generals in Afghanistan are pressing you to protract the war in Afghanistan because they seek to preserve their military privileges." Some Taliban leaders disagreed with publishing the letter as they believe the group is close to being able to end the war on its own terms, while the "Americans are no longer in a position to fight this never-ending war," one Taliban official said. The first official said the Taliban was open to "discuss all issues with the United States for bringing peace to Afghanistan" if American troops are withdrawn. "Everyone now understands that the main driver of war in Afghanistan is foreign occupation," the Taliban letter said. "The Afghans have no ill-intention toward the Americans or any other nation around the world but if anyone violates their sanctums then they are mighty proficient at beating and defeating the transgressors."
  6. US President Donald Trump ? flanked by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (L) and US Secret Service agents (R) ? stops to respond to more questions about his responses to the violence, injuries, and deaths at the 'Unite the Right' rally in Charlottesville after speaking to the media in Trump Tower, Manhattan, New York, US, August 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque US President Donald Trump unabashedly insisted on Tuesday that both left- and right-wing extremists resorted to violence during a weekend rally by white nationalists in Virginia and that some present were peacefully protesting plans to remove a Confederate monument when the upheaval began. Trump, taking questions from reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, reverted to his initial comments blaming "many sides" for Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, a day after bowing to pressure to explicitly condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazi, and white supremacist groups. "They came at each other with clubs ? it was a horrible thing to watch," Trump said during what was supposed to be an announcement about his administration's infrastructure policy. He also said left-wing protesters "came violently attacking the other group". Trump has faced a storm of criticism from Democrats and members of his own Republican Party over his response to the deadly violence, which erupted after white nationalists converged in Charlottesville for a "Unite the Right" rally in protest of plans to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army during the US Civil War. Many of the rally participants were seen carrying firearms, sticks, and shields. Some also wore helmets. Counter-protesters likewise came equipped with sticks, helmets, and shields. The two sides clashed in scattered street brawls before a car ploughed into the rally opponents, killing one woman and injuring 19 others. James Fields ? a 20-year-old Ohio man said to have harboured Nazi sympathies ? was charged with murder. Two state police officers also were killed that day in the fiery crash of the helicopter they were flying in as part of crowd-control operations. Addressing the melee for the first time on Saturday, Trump denounced hatred and violence "on many sides". The comment drew sharp criticism across the political spectrum for not explicitly condemning the white nationalists whose presence in the Southern college town was widely seen as having provoked the unrest. Critics said Trump's remarks then belied his reluctance to alienate extreme right-wing organizations, whose followers constitute a devoted segment of his political base despite his disavowal of them. Yielding two days later to a mounting political furore over his initial response, Trump delivered a follow-up message expressly referring to the "KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists and other hate groups" as "repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans." Trump's detractors dismissed his revised statements as too little too late, but his remarks on Tuesday casting blame on both sides and suggesting that not everyone attending the rally was a white supremacist newly inflamed the controversy. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke immediately applauded Trump on Twitter. "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa," Duke wrote, referring to Black Lives Matter (BLM) and anti-fascists. Democrats seized on Trump's latest words as evidence that Trump sees white nationalists and those protesting against them as morally equivalent. "By saying he is not taking sides, Donald Trump clearly is," Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer of New York, said. "When David Duke and white supremacists cheer your remarks, you're doing it very, very wrong." In a similar vein, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe ? a Democrat ? said Trump's characterization of the violence missed the mark. ?Neo-Nazis, Klansmen, and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred, and looking for a fight. One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not 'both sides,'" Richard Trumka ? president of the AFL-CIO labour federation representing 12.5 million workers ? became the latest member of Trump's advisory American Manufacturing Council to resign in protest. Trumka said, "We cannot sit on a council for a president who tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism," Trumka said. "President Trump's remarks today repudiate his forced remarks yesterday about the KKK and neo-Nazis." Three other members of the council ? the chief executives of pharmaceutical maker Merck & Co Inc, sportswear company Under Armour Inc, and computer chipmaker Intel Corp ? resigned on Monday. In his remarks on Tuesday, Trump also sympathized with protesters seeking to keep Lee's statue in place but offered no equivalent remarks for those who favoured its removal. "You had people in that group ? that were there to protest the taking down of a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name," Trump said. Trump also grouped former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson ? two of the nation's founding fathers ? together with Confederate leaders such as Lee, Jefferson Davis, and Stonewall Jackson, who fought to separate Southern states from the Union, noting that all were slave owners. "Was George Washington a slave owner? Will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? ? Because he was a major slave owner," Trump said. On Tuesday, Trump explained his initial restrained response by saying, "The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don't make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts." In a sometimes heated exchange with reporters shouting questions, Trump said, "You also had people that were very fine people on both sides." Trump said that while neo-Nazis and white nationalists "should be condemned totally", protesters in the other group "also had trouble-makers. And you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group too".
  7. Trade tensions between the United States and China heated up on Tuesday as Beijing warned that it "will not sit idle" if a US probe into its intellectual property practices leads to sanctions. President Donald Trump's decision to order the investigation comes on top of strains between the two nations over how to handle Beijing's ally North Korea. Trump on Monday signed a memorandum directing US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether Chinese policies hurt American investors or companies - with retaliatory measures a possible outcome. "We will stand up to any country that unlawfully forces American companies to transfer their valuable technology as a condition of market access. We will combat the counterfeiting and piracy that destroys American jobs," Trump said. "Washington will turn a blind eye no longer," Trump said, vowing to safeguard copyrights, patents and other intellectual property that are "vital to our security and to our prosperity". The president said the US would no longer tolerate Beijing's "theft" of US industrial secrets, long a concern of major foreign corporations seeking a share of the huge Chinese market. "We will engage in a thorough investigation and, if needed, take action to preserve the future of US industry," Lighthizer said. China's commerce ministry issued a statement voicing "serious concern" and warning that any US trade protectionism "will definitely harm bilateral trade relations". "If the US side take actions that impair the mutual trade relations, disregarding the facts and disrespecting multilateral trade rules, China will not sit idle," the statement said. The ministry said the country "is definitely going to adopt all appropriate measures to vigorously defend the lawful rights and interest of China." The United States is China's second-largest trading partner after the European Union, but Washington and Beijing have seen their relations grow increasingly fraught since a promising summit between Trump and China's Xi Jinping in April. Multiple trade disputes The new intellectual property inquiry joins numerous investigations launched by Washington into Chinese trade practices, notably those concerning steel and aluminum and their national security consequences, which the Trump administration began earlier this year. However, the start of a US probe will not immediately result in open confrontation. Lighthizer will first need to reach a preliminary finding of unfair practices by China before opening a formal investigation, which could take as much as a year, administration officials said. The Chinese commerce ministry said the country has "always been paying high attention to intellectual property right protection, continuously perfecting the legislation", and that the progress it has made on that front is "obvious to all". Yang Zhao, chief China economist at Nomura research firm, said a US tariff penalty would only cause minor impacts on the Chinese economy and fall short of a full blown trade war. "The decision to launch this probe may raise the risk of tit-for-tat trade protectionism," Zhao said in a note. "But we believe the Trump administration's strategy is more likely to be one that looks to raise its bargaining power to reach a better longer-lasting solution over the start of, or the threat of, a real trade war." Since launching his successful run for the White House and then taking office, Trump has frequently accused China of undermining the US economy. The bilateral US trade deficit with China approached $350 billion in 2016, and Trump has repeatedly blamed Chinese imports for gutting employment in US sectors such as steel. Last week, Washington announced preliminary sanctions against Chinese imports of aluminium foil. But so far, the US has not imposed heavier trade measures on Chinese goods. North Korea a bargaining chip? On Thursday, Trump reiterated the suggestion that he could soften his position on trade if Beijing were to do more to help rein in nuclear-armed North Korea. China said it would halt iron, iron ore and seafood imports from North Korea starting Tuesday, in accordance with new UN sanctions that Beijing voted to approve. US administration officials, however, have denied any link between the latest trade action and Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions. Beijing echoed this view Monday, with the foreign ministry saying the two matters were "totally different." Despite Monday's expected action, Trump has so far refrained from making good on threats of retaliatory trade measures against China. This includes in particular concerns over Beijing's requirement that foreign companies establish local joint ventures. According to Washington, this can mean surrendering technological know-how to Chinese partners.
  8. White nationalists carry torches during the rally CHARLOTTESVILLE: US President Donald Trump´s remarks condemning violence at a white nationalist rally were meant to include the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, the White House said on Sunday, a day after he was criticized across the political spectrum for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists. US authorities opened an investigation into the deadly violence in Virginia, which put renewed pressure on the Trump administration to take an unequivocal stand against right-wing extremists occupying a loyal segment of the Republican president´s political base. A 32-year-old woman was killed and 19 people were injured, five critically, on Saturday when a man plowed a car into a crowd of people protesting the white nationalist rally in the Southern college town of Charlottesville. Another 15 people were injured in bloody street brawls between white nationalists and counter-demonstrators who fought each other with fists, rocks and pepper spray. Two Virginia state police officers died in the crash of their helicopter after assisting in efforts to quell the unrest, which Mayor Mike Signer said was met by the presence of nearly 1,000 law enforcement officers. Former US Army enlistee James Alex Fields Jr., 20, a white Ohio man described by a former high school teacher as having been "infatuated" with Nazi ideology as a teenager, was due to appear in court on murder and other charges stemming from the deadly car crash. The federal "hate crime" investigation of the incident "is not limited to the driver," a US Justice Department official told Reuters. "We will investigate whether others may have been involved in planning the attack." Democrats and Republicans criticized Trump for waiting too long to address the violence - his first major crisis on the domestic front that he has faced as president - and for failing when he did speak out to explicitly condemn white-supremacist marchers who ignited the melee. Trump on Saturday initially denounced what he called "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides." On Sunday, however, the White House added: "The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi, and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together." The statement was emailed to reporters covering Trump at his golf resort in New Jersey and attributed to an unidentified "White House spokesperson." SOLIDARITY WITH CHARLOTTESVILLE Memorial vigils and other events showing solidarity with Charlottesville´s victims were planned across the country on Sunday to "honor all those under attack by congregating against hate," a loose coalition of civil society groups said in postings on social media. Virginia police have not yet provided a motive for the man accused of ramming his car into the crowd. But US prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have opened a civil rights investigation, FBI and Justice Department officials said. Democrats and Republicans criticized Trump for waiting too long to address the violence Derek Weimer, a history teacher at Fields´ high school, told Cincinnati television station WCPO-TV that he remembered Fields harboring "some very radical views on race" as a student and was "very infatuated with the Nazis, with Adolf Hitler." "I developed a good rapport with him and I used that rapport to constantly try to steer him away from those beliefs," Weimer recounted, adding that he recalled Fields being "gung-ho" about joining the Army when he graduated. The Army confirmed that Fields reported for basic military training in August 2015 but was "released from active duty due to a failure to meet training standards in December of 2015." The Army statement did not explain in what way he failed to measure up. Fields is being held on suspicion of second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and a single count of leaving the scene of a fatal accident, authorities said. REPUBLICAN SENATORS CRITICIZE RESPONSE On Sunday before the White House statement, US Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado, who chairs the Republican Party´s Senate election effort, urged the president to condemn "white supremacists" and to use that term. He was one of several Republican senators who squarely criticized Trump on Twitter on Saturday. "Calling out people for their acts of evil - let´s do it today - white nationalist, white supremacist," Gardner said on CNN´s "State of the Union" program on Sunday. "We will not stand for their hate." Virginia police, FBI probe deadly violence at white nationalist rally The clashes highlight how the white supremacist movement has resurfaced under the 'alt-right' banner Sunday´s White House statement elaborating on Trump´s initial comment on the Charlottesville clashes was followed hours later by even tougher rhetoric against white nationalists from Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to Colombia. "We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo Nazis or the KKK," Pence said. "These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms." Mayor Signer, a Democrat, blamed Trump for helping foment an atmosphere conducive to violence, starting with rhetoric as a candidate for president in 2016. "Look at the campaign he ran, Signer said on CNN´s State of the Nation." "There are two words that need to be said over and over again - domestic terrorism and white supremacy. That is exactly what we saw on display this weekend." Jason Kessler, an organizer of Saturday´s "Unite the Right" rally, which was staged to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate army commander General Robert E. Lee from a park, said supporters of the event would not back down. The rally stemmed from a long debate over various public memorials and symbols honoring the pro-slavery Confederacy of the US Civil War, considered an affront by African-Americans. Kessler attempted to hold a press conference outside city hall in Charlottesville on Sunday but was quickly shouted down by counter-protesters.
  9. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un may have been trading threats, but someone imagined what it would be like if they both traded hair. Well, the result is something we didn't know we wanted, but we sure as hell needed. Both of the leaders are in the news these days with a looming threat of an all-out war, but that will never stop the internet from poking fun at these two powerful men. A Reddit user ‘hairswapped' them and, honestly, the pictures are making me kind of uncomfortable. © Imgur I can't decide if they both look better or worse after swapping their hair. And I'm not the only one. 'Did they both just become, somehow, more beautiful?' one user asked. 'This has been the worst trade deal in the history of trade deals, maybe ever?' another user said. Seems like people were actually digging Kim's new blond do. One user said, 'Am I the only one that thinks Kim actually looks kinda good here?' Another user wrote: 'Woah, that hair really works for KJU, he looks super friendly. Trump kinda looks like Vince McMahon's chubby older brother.' Someone said Kim looks like a ‘fat, jolly, and pretty likable guy', and I can see that. He does look very friendly. Someone also pointed out that Trump's new hair made him look like 'an orange version of Moe from the Three Stooges' or Miss Trunchbull from the movie ‘Matilda'. © Twitter What do you think? Should Kim Jong-un actually go blond and have more fun?
  10. US President Donald Trump (left) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (right). PHOTO: File BEIJING: in a phone call Saturday to avoid "words and deeds" that would "exacerbate" the already-tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, state television reported. Xi also called on "relevant parties to maintain restraint" and to "persist in the general direction of dialogue, negotiations and a political settlement", CCTV said.
  11. US President Donald Trump speaks to the press on August 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. AFP/Jim Watson WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Friday ignored international calls for restraint in his face-off with North Korea, warning Pyongyang that it would "truly regret" taking any hostile action, as the US military is "locked and loaded." Trump has been engaged all week in a war of words with the North over its weapons and missile programs, as US media reported Pyongyang has successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead. The Republican billionaire has progressively ramped up the tone throughout the week ? after brandishing a threat of unleashing "fire and fury" on Pyongyang, he said Thursday maybe that statement "wasn't tough enough". The North's official KCNA news service countered in an editorial that "Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war," calling the US "the heinous nuclear war fanatic". The saber-rattling has intensified daily, sparking worldwide concerns that a miscalculation by either side could trigger a catastrophic conflict on the Korean peninsula. China, Russia, and Germany have urged both sides to tone down the rhetoric. "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully, Kim Jong Un will find another path!" Trump wrote Friday from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, where he is on a working vacation. Later in the day, he lashed out at Pyongyang's plans to launch missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, urging Kim to heed his warnings. "I hope that they are going to fully understand the gravity of what I said, and what I said is what I mean," Trump told reporters. "If he does anything with respect to Guam or anyplace else that's an American territory or an American ally, he will truly regret it, and he will regret it fast." 'Be cautious' China ? Pyongyang's main diplomatic ally ? urged Trump and Kim to avoid any further escalation. "We call on the relevant parties to be cautious with their words and actions, and contribute more toward easing tensions and enhancing mutual trust," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said in a statement. Beijing has repeatedly pushed resuming long-dormant six-party talks to peacefully resolve the mounting tensions, but its position has been overshadowed by Trump and Kim's emerging game of brinkmanship. Trump has called on China to "do a lot more" to heap pressure on Kim. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was "very alarmed" at Trump's tough talk, and said Washington should take the first step toward cooling tensions. "When a fight has nearly broken out, the first step away from the dangerous threshold should be taken by the side that is stronger and smarter," Lavrov said. German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the intensifying chorus of calls for restraint, saying diplomacy was the answer. "Germany will very intensively take part in the options for resolution that are not military but I consider a verbal escalation to be the wrong response," she said. Nearly a week ago, the UN Security Council unanimously passed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang over its weapons program, including export bans, a new punishment that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year. "This is clearly a time for all the parties to focus on how to de-escalate and lower the tensions," said the spokesman for United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Stephane Dujarric. Tensions on the Korean peninsula tend to increase when Seoul and Washington launch major military joint exercises, and the next, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is set to kick off around August 21. 'Tragedy of war' US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared intent Thursday on easing the tension, describing the prospect of war as "catastrophic" and saying diplomacy remained the priority. Asked Friday if Mattis was aware of Trump's latest tweet, spokesman Colonel Rob Manning simply said the Pentagon chief was "in close and constant contact with the president." A White House official noted: "There are military plans for just about any crisis we may face in the world. (?) This isn't anything new." In China, the state-run Global Times said Friday that Beijing should "stay neutral" and not intervene on Pyongyang's side if it triggered a conflict. Meanwhile in South Korea, calls mounted for Seoul to develop atomic weapons of its own, with the Korea Herald saying in an editorial: "Now is time to start reviewing nuclear armament." 'Bereft of reason' Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests, including two successful intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) test launches in July that are believed to have brought much of the US mainland within range. North Korea raised hackles in the United States when it announced a detailed plan to send four missiles over Japan and towards Guam, an island territory of some 165,000 people, where some 6,000 US soldiers are based. Pyongyang said the scheme to target the island, a key US military outpost in the western Pacific, was intended to "signal a crucial warning" as "only absolute force" would have an effect on a US leader "bereft of reason." The tough talk caused global markets to plunge this week, with stocks in the red again Friday in Asia and much of Europe.
  12. US President Donald Trump on Friday threatened military intervention in Venezuela, a surprise escalation in Washington's response to Venezuela's political crisis. Venezuela has appeared to slide toward a more volatile stage of unrest in recent days, with anti-government forces looting weapons from a military base after a new legislative body usurped the authority of the opposition-controlled congress. "The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary," Trump told reporters. More than 120 people have been killed in Venezuela and thousands arrested in over four months of unrest. The government in Caracas did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump's threat. Venezuelan authorities have long said US officials were planning an invasion. A former military general told Reuters earlier this year that some anti-aircraft missiles had been placed along the country's coast for precisely that eventuality. In Washington, the Pentagon said the US military was ready to support efforts to protect US citizens and America's national interests, but that insinuations by Caracas of a planned US invasion were "baseless." Trump's suggestion of possible military action came in a week when he has repeatedly threatened a military response if North Korea threatens the United States or its allies. Asked if US forces would lead an operation in Venezuela, Trump declined to provide details. "We don't talk about it but a military operation - a military option - is certainly something that we could pursue," he said. "MADURO MUST BE THRILLED" The president's comments conjured up memories of gunboat diplomacy in Latin America during the 20th century, when the United States regarded its "backyard" neighbours to the south as underlings who it could easily intimidate through conspicuous displays of military power. The US military has not directly intervened in the region since a 1994-1995 operation that aimed to remove from Haiti a military government installed after a 1991 coup. Trump's comments could be an asset to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro by boosting his credibility as a national defender. "Maduro must be thrilled right now," said Mark Feierstein, who was a senior aide on Venezuela matters to former US president Barack Obama. "It's hard to imagine a more damaging thing for Trump to say." The United States sanctioned Maduro and other Venezuelan officials in July after Maduro established a constituent assembly run by his Socialist Party loyalists and cracked down on opposition figures. The assembly's election drew international condemnation and critics have said it removed any remaining checks on Maduro's power. Washington has not placed sanctions on the OPEC member's oil industry, which supplies America with about 740,000 barrels per day of oil. Venezuela possesses a stockpile of 5,000 Russian-made MANPADS surface-to-air weapons, according to military documents reviewed by Reuters. It has the largest known cache of the weapons in Latin America, posing a concern for US officials during the country's mounting turmoil. The United Nations Security Council was briefed behind closed doors on Venezuela in May at the request of the United States. At the time, US Ambassador Nikki Haley said Washington was just trying to raise awareness of the situation and was not seeking any action by the 15-member Security Council.
  13. Former US Vice President Al Gore attends a screening of 'An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power' in Los Angeles, California, US, July 25, 2017. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files LONDON: Former US Vice President Al Gore said on Friday that President Donald Trump's rejection of the Paris climate change agreement was fueling, rather than weakening, momentum among environmental activists. Gore, whose follow-up to his 2006 Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth is showing in movie theatres worldwide this month, said governments and companies had stepped up since Trump's decision in June to withdraw from the 2015 global pact. "The entire world the next day re-doubled their commitments to the Paris agreement and in the US, the governors of our largest states and hundreds of mayors, thousands of business leaders all stood up to fill the gap and said 'We are still in the Paris agreement,'" Gore told Reuters Television. "I do think that the reaction to Donald Trump is actually driving much more momentum in the climate movement," he added. An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power ? Gore's new documentary ? argues that fighting climate change is a moral battle, on a par with the civil rights movement in the United States or the fight for gay rights. Shot mostly before Trump's election, it also shows the Republican on the 2016 campaign trail promising to abolish environmental regulations and boost the coal and oil industries. An Inconvenient Truth is credited with bringing climate change into the mainstream political discourse in the United States a decade ago. It won the best documentary Oscar in 2007 and helped propel Gore to a Nobel Peace Prize, which he shared with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
  14. US President Donald Trump speaks to reporters after a security briefing at his golf estate in Bedminster, New Jersey, US, August 10, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst BEDMINSTER: President Donald Trump said on Friday he was being sarcastic when he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for saving the United States money by ordering cuts in US diplomatic staff in Russia. Asked whether he was being sarcastic, Trump told reporters, "In order to reduce our payroll, absolutely. I think you know that," Trump said without explicitly criticising the move. Breaking nearly two weeks of silence on Putin's July 30 order cutting US embassy and consulate staff by nearly two thirds, Trump said on Thursday: "I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll," adding "there's no real reason for them to go back". Trump's remarks rekindled criticism of his kid-glove handling of Putin, especially as he has not shied away from being highly critical of members of his own party, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Putin, reacting to new sanctions imposed by the US Congress and reluctantly signed into law by Trump, ordered Washington to cut its diplomatic and technical staff by 755 people by September 1. Many of those affected likely will be local Russian staffers. It was also a reaction to former President Barack Obama expelling 35 Russian diplomats from the United States last December over the intelligence agency reports. "I was just speaking to the Secretary (of State Rex Tillerson) and we're talking about coming up with an answer [?] by September 1st we'll have a response," Trump said. Congressional committees and a special counsel are investigating the conclusions of US intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the 2016 election campaign by hacking and other methods to help Trump, a Republican. They are also looking into possible collusion between the campaign and Russian officials. Moscow has repeatedly denied meddling in the election and Trump denies any campaign collusion. During his campaign and since becoming president, Trump has consistently called for better ties with Russia, declined to criticise Putin and refused to unequivocally embrace the conclusions of the intelligence agencies. Trump's remarks were immediately denounced by current and former US officials who have served both Republican and Democratic administrations. The remarks also raised some eyebrows in Europe. ?I would have to say in my experience (it is) one of the most bizarre things I have ever heard from any government official, not just the US," Ojars Kalnins, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Latvian parliament, told Reuters earlier on Friday. "Thanking another foreign leader for firing people from their embassy is unprecedented. It?s bizarre."
  15. President Donald Trump on Friday turned up the heat on North Korea, warning Pyongyang that the US military is "locked and loaded" in the event of a misstep by the totalitarian state, despite mounting international calls for restraint. Trump launched another salvo at the regime of Kim Jong-Un to keep its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs in check, as the North's official news agency accused the US of driving the situation "to the brink" of war. The latest Twitter threat from the Republican billionaire leader came as concerns swelled worldwide that a miscalculation by either side could trigger a catastrophic conflict on the Korean peninsula. "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" Trump wrote from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, where he is spending two weeks. The official KCNA news service countered in an editorial that "Trump is driving the situation on the Korean peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war," calling the US "the mastermind of nuclear threat, the heinous nuclear war fanatic." Earlier on Friday, China - Pyongyang's main diplomatic ally - had urged Trump and Kim to tone down the saber-rattling. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called on both sides to avoid "going down the old path of alternately showing strength and continuously escalating the situation." "We call on the relevant parties to be cautious with their words and actions, and contribute more toward easing tensions and enhancing mutual trust," Geng said in a statement. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was "very alarmed" at Trump's tough talk, saying Washington should take the first step toward cooling tensions. "When a fight has nearly broken out, the first step away from the dangerous threshold should be taken by the side that is stronger and smarter," Lavrov said. International calls for restraint Beijing has repeatedly pushed resuming long-dormant six-party talks to peacefully resolve the mounting tensions, but its position has been overshadowed by Trump and Kim's emerging game of brinkmanship. China's proposal for North Korea to halt its weapons programs in exchange for a suspension of military drills by the United States and South Korea - seen by Pyongyang as provocative - has essentially been ignored. Trump has progressively ramped up the tone throughout the week -- after brandishing a threat of unleashing "fire and fury" on North Korea, he said Thursday maybe that statement "wasn't tough enough." He warned Pyongyang it should be "very, very nervous" of the consequences if it even thinks of attacking US soil, after Kim's regime said it was readying plans to launch missiles towards the US Pacific territory of Guam. Trump also called on China to "do a lot more" to heap pressure on Kim. German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined the intensifying chorus of calls for restraint, saying diplomacy was the answer. "Germany will very intensively take part in the options for resolution that are not military but I consider a verbal escalation to be the wrong response," she said. Nearly a week ago, the UN Security Council unanimously passed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang over its weapons program, including export bans, a new punishment that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year. Tragedy of war US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared intent Thursday on easing the tension, describing the prospect of war as "catastrophic" and saying diplomacy remained the priority. Asked Friday if Mattis was aware of Trump's latest tweet, spokesman Colonel Rob Manning simply said the Pentagon chief was "in close and constant contact with the president." Concerning the prospect of forthcoming military action, Manning told AFP: "We maintain a high state of readiness to deal with the North Korean threat in conjunction with our allies and partners in the region." A White House official noted: "There are military plans for just about any crisis we may face in the world. (...) This isn't anything new." In China, the state-run Global Times said Friday that Beijing should not intervene on Pyongyang's side if it triggered a conflict. Beijing should "make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral," it said in an editorial. Meanwhile in South Korea, calls mounted for Seoul to develop atomic weapons of its own, with the Korea Herald saying in an editorial: "Now is time to start reviewing nuclear armament." Bereft of reason Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests, including two successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launches in July that brought much of the US mainland within range. North Korea raised hackles in the United States when it announced a detailed plan to send four missiles over Japan and towards Guam, an island territory of some 165,000 people, where some 6,000 US soldiers are based. Pyongyang said the scheme to target the island, a key US military outpost in the western Pacific, was intended to "signal a crucial warning" as "only absolute force" would have an effect on a US leader "bereft of reason." The tough talk has caused global markets to plunge this week, with stocks in the red again Friday. Tensions on the Korean peninsula tend to increase when Seoul and Washington launch major military joint exercises, and the next, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is set to kick off around August 21.
  16. US President Donald Trump speaks during a security briefing on August 10, 2017, at his Bedminster National Golf Club in New Jersey. AFP/Nicholas Kamm BEDMINSTER: President Donald Trump said Thursday that he did the US military a "great favor" by banning transgender troops from the armed forces. Trump, speaking to reporters at his New Jersey country club, said the issue of transgender service members had been "complicated" and "confusing" for the military. "Look, I have great respect for the (transgender) community," Trump said. "I think I have great support ? or I've had ? great support from that community. "I got a lot of votes." But Trump said the issue of transgender troops has been a "very difficult situation" for the US armed forces. "As you know, it's been a very complicated issue for the military," he said. "It's been a very confusing issue for the military. "I think I'm doing the military a great favor." In a series of three tweets last month, Trump upended an Obama-era policy of more than a year that allowed transgender troops to serve openly. His announcement came with little or no coordination with the Pentagon and landed while Defense Secretary Jim Mattis was on vacation, leaving the astonished department scrambling to come up with a coherent response. Five transgender women in the US military filed suit against Trump and the Pentagon this week over the ban. In a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday, the five plaintiffs from the Air Force, Coast Guard and the Army said they faced uncertainty about their futures, including whether they would be fired or lose post-military and retirement benefits. The lawsuit was filed against Trump, Mattis and various other senior military officials by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and GLAAD, a legal advocacy group. All the unidentified "Jane Doe" plaintiffs were previously men who have transitioned to being female. The number of transgender troops among America's 1.3 million active duty service members is small, with estimates ranging from between 1,320 and 15,000. In the two weeks since Trump's tweets, the White House has still not provided the Pentagon with clear directives on how it should implement a transgender ban, so the current policy remains in place for now.
  17. President Donald Trump on Thursday warned North Korea it should be "very, very nervous" of the consequences if it even thinks of attacking US soil, after nuclear-armed Pyongyang said it was readying missile launch plans on the Pacific territory of Guam. The Republican billionaire dismissed any criticism of his "fire and fury" warning, saying it possibly "wasn't tough enough," given threats made by the regime of Kim Jong-Un to both Washington and its allies. Trump also said China, Pyongyang's main diplomatic ally, could "do a lot more" to pressure Kim to end his country's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. Trump's comments, made from his golf club retreat in New Jersey, came after the North announced a detailed plan to send four missiles over Japan and towards Guam, where some 6,000 US soldiers are based. Pyongyang said the scheme to target the island, a key US military outpost in the western Pacific, was intended to "signal a crucial warning" as "only absolute force" would have an effect on a US leader "bereft of reason." Trump fired back with gusto. "If North Korea does anything in terms of even thinking about an attack on anybody we love or we represent or our allies or us, they can be very, very nervous," he told reporters, with Vice President Mike Pence at his side. "And they should be... because things will happen to them like they never thought possible." 'Better get their act together' Relations between Washington and Pyongyang have been tense for months, in the wake of the North's repeated missile tests, including two successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test launches in July. Those launches put the US mainland in range. Some experts believe the second missile could potentially reach New York. The escalating saber-rattling took an unexpected turn Tuesday when Trump seemed to borrow from the North's arsenal of rhetoric, saying it faced "fire and fury like the world has never seen" if it continued to threaten the US. That prompted a defiant Pyongyang to threaten a missile attack on Guam. The war of words has set off diplomatic alarm bells, and raised fears of a miscalculation that could lead to catastrophic consequences on the Korean peninsula and beyond. The region is facing "a mini Cuban missile crisis," John Delury, a professor at Seoul's Yonsei University, told AFP. Trump dismissed the notion that his administration was delivering mixed messages and said Washington remained open to negotiations. But he once again suggested that he expected China to "do a lot more" to bring North Korea into line. "I will tell you this, North Korea better get their act together or they're going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble in this world, okay?" he added. The United Nations imposed a seventh set of sanctions on Pyongyang at the weekend that could cost North Korea $1 billion a year, with even China voting for the US-drafted proposal. The European Union announced Thursday that it was expanding its North Korean sanctions blacklist. Unusual detail In North Korea, General Kim Rak-Gyom, the commander of the North's missile forces, dismissed Trump's "fire and fury" remarks as "a load of nonsense," according to Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency. "Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason," he added. The military was expected to finalize its Guam plan by mid-August and submit it to Kim for consideration, he said. The unusually precise statement said the four missiles would be launched simultaneously and overfly the Japanese prefectures of Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi. They would have a flight time of 17 minutes 45 seconds, travel 3,356.7 kilometers (around 2,086 miles) and come down 30 to 40 kilometers away from Guam, it said -- just outside US territorial waters. Japan, which has in the past warned it would shoot down any North Korean missiles that threaten its territory, responded that it could "never tolerate" provocations from the reclusive state. Professor Yang Moo-Jin of Seoul's University of North Korean Studies said the level of detail in Pyongyang's statement was unusual. "The North appears to be saying what it is going to do is within international laws," he told AFP. "Therefore, it cannot be ruled out that the North may translate this plan into reality." Life and death Analysts said a North Korean launch towards Guam would put the US in a dilemma: if it did not try to intercept the missiles, its credibility would be damaged and the North would feel emboldened to carry out a full-range ICBM test. But if an intercept were attempted and failed in any way, it would undermine the effectiveness of the United States' ballistic missile defense system. Tensions on the Korean peninsula tend to increase when Seoul and Washington launch major military joint exercises, and the next, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, is set to kick off around August 21. "Pyongyang's interpretation of rhetoric from Washington is different from the way the West regards the North's habitual threats," said Hong Hyun-Ik, a senior researcher with the Sejong Institute. "It views such fiery rhetoric from Trump as a matter of life and death." Thousands of North Koreans marched through central Pyongyang Wednesday, waving clenched fists, as authorities put on a show of support for their stance. One banner proclaimed: "10 million hearts burn with vows to defend the fatherland until death."
  18. Uh-oh, angry Twitter rant is coming. Looks like someone played an extremely perfect prank on US President Donald Trump. A giant inflatable chicken with a little too familiar features on the Ellipse between the White House and Washington Monument in DC yesterday. Trump may be out of town, but no worries, someone is keeping a beady eye on his home while he's away. © Twitter There was also a live stream of the 30-foot-tall chicken right outside the President's residence, and apparently, it looked like it was staging a ‘coop'. It turns out that the balloon was set up by documentary filmmaker Taran Singh Brar as a way to protest the president “being a weak and ineffective leader.” Taran Singh Brar says he bought it for $1300. It's a visual protest. "Trump is too chicken to release his tax returns, to stand up to Putin" pic.twitter.com/JLohv0yl82 — Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) August 9, 2017 While talking to Huffington Post about Trump, he said, “He's too afraid to release his tax returns, too afraid to stand up to Vladimir Putin.” He also added that Trump is “playing chicken with North Korea”. Obviously, anything related to Trump always catches Twitter's eyes, here are some of the best reactions. Trump will never be a part of Mount Rushmore but he'll always have #trumpchicken — S.O.S. USA (@DeliaMacD1) August 10, 2017 Approval rating: trump: 33% COVFEFE, the #trumpChicken: 95% â¤ï¸ pic.twitter.com/Hr3HDLJvyW — Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 10, 2017 Republicans - Haha these libtards cry over everything! Also the republicans - *rages on Twitter over a deflatable chicken* #TrumpChicken — Sierra Dearns (@SierraRambles) August 10, 2017 The cost of #TrumpChicken: $1,300. The cost of seeing it outside the White House: priceless. pic.twitter.com/SyARthjiCY — AJ+ (@ajplus) August 9, 2017 Betcha anything Melania would rather be with #TrumpChicken — Deep State Todd (@OrangeWindSock) August 10, 2017 The #TrumpChicken has better hair than @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/5kvBNGvc9H — Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 10, 2017 Quite the metaphor for this presidency. @realDonaldTrump #TrumpChicken pic.twitter.com/TqnkuoaSW5 — Julie Sledjeski (@julie_dots) August 10, 2017 Now we have a real President. #TrumpChicken pic.twitter.com/9ZOveqPmfV — Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 9, 2017 "Trump Chicken" stood tall, had a crowd in Washington that loved him, and didn't say a word. He already had a better 2017 than Real Trump. — Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) August 9, 2017 #TrumpChicken deserves some type of award pic.twitter.com/p3RcNgpPWf — â»ï¸ Christopher Zullo (@ChrisJZullo) August 9, 2017 Trump was nowhere to be seen, but that didn't stop ‘Chicken Trump' from its organic, free range protest.
  19. WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump on Wednesday ratcheted up his war of words with North Korea, declaring that America's nuclear arsenal was "more powerful than ever" - even as his team insisted there was no imminent threat of danger. Hours after putting Pyongyang on notice that it faced "fire and fury" over its weapons and ballistic missile programs, Trump took to Twitter to issue another stark warning. But after North Korea said it was considering a missile strike near the US Pacific territory of Guam, Trump's top diplomat delivered a message of reassurance to its residents and military personnel as he made a stop-over on the island. Trump's "fire and fury" comments on Tuesday had triggered expressions of concern from China as well as from US allies. On Wednesday, stock markets and the dollar slipped as investors sought safe-haven investments. Trump's early morning tweets - written from New Jersey, where he is on vacation for two weeks - did little to calm frayed nerves. "My first order as President was to renovate and modernise our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before," Trump wrote. "Hopefully we will never have to use this power, but there will never be a time that we are not the most powerful nation in the world!" Americans should sleep well Trump's language towards North Korea has become increasingly hard-edged since Pyongyang carried out a pair of successful intercontinental ballistic missile tests (ICBM) in July, which put the US mainland in range for the first time. Source: AFP Guam - a 210-square-mile dot in the Pacific that is home to some 6,000 US troops - would be a far easier target were North Korea to confirm its position as a fully-fledged nuclear power. Pyongyang's KCNA state news agency reported Wednesday that plans were being drawn up for missile strikes against Guam that could be put into action at "any moment" after North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un gives the order. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who refuelled in Guam on Wednesday while flying back home from Southeast Asia, said Trump was determined to send an unequivocal message to his North Korean counterpart. "What the president is doing is sending a strong message to North Korea in language that Kim Jong-Un would understand, because he doesn't seem to understand diplomatic language," he said. Tillerson, however, said that he did not believe "there is any imminent threat" to Guam or other US targets and hoped that diplomatic pressure would prevail in the crisis. "I think Americans should sleep well at night, have no concerns about this particular rhetoric of the last few days," Tillerson said. The island's governor Eddie Calvo reassured residents there was currently "no threat" to the territory, which has a total population of more than 160,000 and houses two US military installations. In the capital Hagatna, islanders kept their cool. "It's not like there's anything we can do anyway. This is a small island. There's nowhere to run to," resident James Cruz said AFP. Rapid progress Experts have long differed over the North's exact capabilities but all agree it has made rapid progress under Kim. Last month, Pyongyang carried out its first two successful ICBM launches, the first - described by Kim as a gift to "American bastards" - showing it could reach Alaska, and the second extending its range even further, with some experts suggesting New York could be vulnerable. On Tuesday, The Washington Post quoted a US Defense Intelligence Agency analysis as saying officials think North Korea now has "nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery" - including by its ICBMs - making it a potent threat against neighbors and possibly the United States. The Pentagon did not comment on the story, but the Post said two US officials familiar with the analysis had verified the assessment's broad conclusions, and CNN said it had confirmed the report. The North's current ability to launch an accurate nuclear strike remains open to question, with analysts suggesting it has yet to overcome some major technical hurdles. After Kim's second ICBM test, some experts said it appeared the "re-entry vehicle" that would carry a warhead back into Earth's atmosphere from space had failed in the intense heat. US officials have repeatedly said this year that military action against the North was an "option on the table," though Tillerson said nothing had "dramatically changed" in the military equation in the past 24 hours. The UN Security Council unanimously approved a series of sanctions over the weekend which could cost North Korea $1 billion a year, with even the regime's main ally China voting for the US-drafted proposal. While the sanctions vote was seen as a diplomatic triumph for the US, there is widespread unease about the ramping up in tensions. The North's main ally China warned against "words and actions" that would stoke tensions, while Germany said it was watching the "increasing rhetorical escalation" with concern. France meanwhile praised Trump's "determination" in standing up to Pyongyang. Republican US Senator John McCain said Trump should tread carefully when speaking about the North, telling a US radio station: "All it's going to do is bring us closer to some kind of serious confrontation."
  20. WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS - The Trump administration appears to be granting Chinese banks dealing with North Korea a temporary reprieve from threatened US sanctions to give Beijing time to show it is serious about enforcing new UN steps against Pyongyang, US officials said. The White House has also held off on much-anticipated trade action against China after Beijing backed UN Security Council sanctions passed on Saturday, although it is unclear how long President Donald Trump will delay this given domestic pressures to make good on campaign promises to crack down on unfair trade practices. Washington has made clear it is reluctant, for the moment, to take steps that would antagonize China when its cooperation is needed to tighten the screws on its ally and neighbor North Korea over its nuclear and missile programs. US officials and UN diplomats say the threat of unilateral US. "secondary sanctions" against Chinese firms with North Korean ties and trade pressure from Washington helped persuade China to drop opposition to the new U.N. sanctions. "It played an important role to get China on board," one diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The 15 Security Council members voted unanimously on Saturday to impose the toughest U.N. sanctions yet on North Korea after it tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in July. The measures are designed to choke off a third of North Korea's $3 billion annual export revenue. China, North Korea's main trading partner, has pledged to enforce the new sanctions but some critics are skeptical given what is widely seen as Beijing's lax policing of existing restrictions. Influential Chinese state-run tabloid the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, said in a Wednesday editorial that sanctions would not stop Pyongyang's determination on its weapons' programs. "The U.S. asks China for help when it cannot solve its problems with North Korea. Some U.S. elites even want to urge China to claim full responsibility for the issue or they will threaten to retaliate," it said. "Moreover, those U.S. elites may not have considered the leverage China has over the U.S. What if China restricts the usage of iPhones and the number of Chinese students to the U.S., or imports fewer US agricultural products?" Adding to the sense of urgency, Trump warned on Tuesday Pyongyang "will be met with fire and fury" if it threatened the United States. Earlier Pyongyang said it was ready to give Washington a "severe lesson" with its strategic nuclear force in response to any U.S. military action. WATCHING CLOSELY U.S. officials said they would be watching China's enforcement closely. The administration holds in reserve a list of Chinese banks and other firms the Treasury Department has been preparing to sanction for their alleged ties to North Korea?s military programs."Right now, our focus is on carrying out the existing sanctions and ensuring compliance with the new U.N. Security Council resolution," a senior White House official told Reuters on Tuesday, adding there was "nothing imminent to announce" on secondary sanctions. The Trump administration has also been preparing to launch a high-profile investigation of China for intellectual property violations. An announcement was initially planned for last Friday but was postponed, apparently after China softened its resistance to new U.N. sanctions, diplomats said. U.S. officials said Washington?s patience with China would be limited, however, and it was important to show some progress on North Korea. "This course of action cannot be sustained indefinitely," one U.S. official said. "With his approval ratings falling even with his base, Trump is trapped between the realities of dealing with China and his campaign promises to get tough on trade." At the same time, U.S. officials acknowledge that even if the sanctions are properly enforced, there is no guarantee they will be any more effective than previous rounds, which have failed to halt steady progress in North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. According to a new U.S. intelligence assessment reported by the Washington Post on Tuesday, North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold. But U.S. intelligence officials told Reuters there was still no reliable evidence that North Korea had fully mastered the process.
  21. WASHINGTON: Hardly a week goes by without US President Donald Trump venting his frustration at the media´s coverage of his White House. "The Fake News refuses to report the success of the first 6 months," Trump tweeted Sunday in one of his latest broadsides. To fight against what it considers "Fake News" generated by the mainstream media, Team Trump is now producing what it is billing as the "Real News." The first "Real News" video appeared a little over a week ago on Trump´s Facebook page and featured the president´s daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, who is married to his son Eric. Shot against a blue backdrop advertising DonaldJTrump.com and the 2016 Trump-Pence ticket, the video, filmed at Trump Tower in New York, mimics the format of a television newscast. "Hey everybody, Lara Trump here," she begins breezily. "I bet you haven´t heard about all the accomplishments the president had this week because there´s so much fake news out there." Lara Trump goes on to note that her billionaire father-in-law has donated his presidential salary to the National Park Service and the Department of Education. "This is a president who is putting America before himself," she says, before praising his economic achievements. "The economy is booming ladies and gentlemen," the 34-year-old notes in the broadcast, reportedly paid for by Trump´s presidential campaign committee. She signs off the two-minute video, which has drawn over 2.3 million views on Facebook, by saying: "Thanks for joining us everybody. I´m Lara Trump and that is the real news." The video was followed by another over the weekend from Kayleigh McEnany, a conservative television pundit and Trump supporter. McEnany, 29, who was named spokeswoman for the Republican Party on Monday, lauds the number of jobs created since Trump took office in January and the record stock market highs. "President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction," McEnany says. "I´m Kayleigh McEnany and that is the real news," she says in her signoff for the 90-second video which has drawn over 1.5 million views. - ´State-sponsored propaganda´ - The promotional video broadcasts, dubbed "Trump TV" by some critics, have become the target of mockery from late night comedy shows. "Now that looks like state-sponsored propaganda," Late Show host Stephen Colbert said after the appearance of the first broadcast featuring Lara Trump. And it was not only comedians making the comparison. "Wow. Feels eerily like so many state-owned channels I´ve watched in other countries," Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia who served on the National Security Council under President Barack Obama, said on Twitter. While detractors attacked the "Real News" broadcasts, others noted that Obama and others before him used the White House´s media machinery to promote their accomplishments. "These critics failed to raise the red flag of propaganda when Trump´s predecessor used American tax dollars to present himself with well-produced (and pretty expensive) videos that come a lot closer to bona fide propaganda than the Trump/Pence re-election videos they´re complaining about," conservative radio host Larry O´Connor in an opinion piece on mediaite.com. A number of news outlets compared "Trump TV" with a slick weekly wrap-up of Obama achievements called "West Wing Week" that was produced by the White House.
  22. US President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in affirmed in a Sunday telephone call that North Korea poses a growing threat to most of the world after recent intercontinental ballistic missile tests, the White House said. In their call, the two leaders also welcomed the UN Security Council's unanimous passage of a resolution on Saturday imposing new sanctions on Pyongyang, the White House said in a statement. "The two leaders affirmed that North Korea poses a grave and growing direct threat to the United States, South Korea, and Japan, as well as to most countries around the world," the White House said. "The leaders committed to fully implement all relevant resolutions and to urge the international community to do so as well." The new sanctions on Pyongyang could slash North Korea's $3 billion annual export revenue by a third. North Korea has been a focus of international attention in recent months, as it has conducted a series of ballistic missile tests, including two in July that helped prompt the U.N. action. The US-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean labourers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures. Washington has threatened to exert trade pressure on Beijing and impose sanctions on Chinese firms doing business with Pyongyang. Last week, Trump signed into law a sweeping set of sanctions on North Korea passed by the US Congress. China's foreign minister said on Sunday new UN sanctions on North Korea were the right response to a series of missile tests, but dialogue was vital to resolve a complex and sensitive issue, now at a "critical juncture." North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006. The new measures, which expand the existing sanctions, were a response to five nuclear tests and four long-range missile launches. The standoff is expected to dominate Monday's ASEAN Regional Forum, a gathering of 27 foreign ministers, including former participants in halted six-party talks on North Korea - Russia, Japan, the United States, China and North and South Korea.
  23. Chicago will sue the Trump administration on Monday over threats to withhold public safety grant money from so-called sanctuary cities, escalating a pushback against a federal immigration crackdown, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced on Sunday. The federal lawsuit comes less than two weeks after Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the US Justice Department would bar cities from a certain grant programme unless they allow immigration authorities unlimited access to local jails and provide 48 hours' notice before releasing anyone wanted for immigration violations. "Chicago will not let our police officers become political pawns in a debate," Emanuel, a Democrat, said at a news conference. "Chicago will not let our residents have their fundamental rights isolated and violated. And Chicago will never relinquish our status as a welcoming city." Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants provide money to hundreds of cities, and the Trump administration has requested $380 million in funding next year. Chicago, a regular target of Republican President Donald Trump because of its murder rate, expected to receive $3.2 million this year for purchasing equipment. Emanuel said the lawsuit would prevent the Trump administration from setting a precedent that could be used to target other funding. Under Trump and Sessions, the federal government has sought to crack down on sanctuary cities, which generally offer illegal immigrants safe harbour by declining to use municipal resources to enforce federal immigration laws. Dozens of local governments and cities, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, have joined the growing sanctuary movement. The Justice Department said more Chicagoans were murdered last year than residents of Los Angeles and New York combined, and cited comments by Sessions last week saying sanctuary cities "make all of us less safe." Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a Sunday statement: "It's especially tragic that the mayor is less concerned with that staggering figure than he is spending time and taxpayer money protecting criminal aliens and putting Chicago's law enforcement at greater risk." Police and city officials in sanctuary cities have said deporting illegal immigrants who are not accused of serious crimes harms public safety by discouraging immigrants from coming forward to report crimes. Chicago's lawsuit is the first to challenge the department over the Byrne programme, though city officials said they are in contact with other cities. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra is also considering a similar lawsuit, the Sacramento Bee has reported. The Trump administration has already faced legal battles over its sanctuary city policies. Last month, a US judge refused to revisit a court order that blocked Trump's January executive order denying broader federal funds to such jurisdictions, in a case filed by San Francisco and the California county of Santa Clara.
  24. It is highly unlikely that US President Donald Trump has any idea what Rakshabandhan is, and even if he did, he wouldn't care, because it's Trump we're talking about. But, women and girls of a remote, Muslim-dominated village, which is apparently ‘symbolically' named by an NGO after Donald Trump, are sending 1001 raakhis for him. I wonder how all of these raakhis would fit on his tiny hands and wrists. © Twitter People of Marora village, which is in the backward Mewat region, are extending this gesture as, according to them, it represents the “wish of the people that ties are further strengthened between India and the US”, says the NGO which has adopted the village. The village, with a population of 1,800 people, lies under Punhana Tehshil, some 60 km from Gurgaon. Recently, this village gained a lot of popularity when Sulabh International Social Service Organisation (SISSO) chief Bindeshwar Pathak had announced to name it ‘Trump's village'. But it turned out that changing the name was ‘illegal', so the organisation was forced to remove boards mentioning the new name. © Twitter “The NGO has been conducting many welfare programs for women and girls in the village,” Monica Jain, vice president of the NGO, said. “These students have made 1001 rakhis with photos of Donald Trump and 501 rakhis for Narendra Modi. Women and girls of the village consider them their elder brothers,” she said. The raakhis are already on their way, so that they would reach Trump on August 7, the date of the festival. Along with that, the villagers have also sent invitations to both the leaders to visit the village. © Twitter “I have made 150 rakhis within three days for Trump bhaiyaa. I also written in a letter to be sent to the White House that the girls of your village want you to visit it with PM Modi,” said 15-year-old Rekha Rani, a resident of the village. Well, we'll just have to wait and see how Donald Trump reacts to all the raakhis. I hope he sends lots of gifts for all his new sisters.
  25. US President Donald Trump speaks during an announcement on immigration reform in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, US, August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria BEDMINSTER: Donald Trump, who once asked "what's the point" of vacations and often admonished his presidential predecessor for taking them while in office, embarked Friday on a 17-day holiday to one of his golf resorts. Arriving in Bedminster, New Jersey, for an extended break, the president left behind a capital grappling with a Russia scandal and buffeted by extraordinary leaks from government officials. He has also failed to seize any major legislative victories in his first seven months in office and is at odds with several Republican lawmakers on multiple fronts. The White House said Trump's Bedminster stay would be a "working vacation," and cited scheduled upgrades of the West Wing's creaky heating and cooling system during the steamy Washington summer as a reason why Trump was leaving town. "The President will continue to work over the next two weeks," said White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters. A president taking time off from a hectic schedule is nothing new. But Trump's down time is in the spotlight largely because of his relentless criticism of Barack Obama's breaks from the White House. He ripped into Obama in 2011 for playing golf and then heading to a 10-day vacation in Martha's Vineyard. "Nice work ethic," Trump tweeted at the time. "Pres. Obama is about to embark on a 17-day vacation in his 'native' Hawaii, putting Secret Service away from families on Christmas. Aloha!," Trump posted two years later. Not only did Trump attack Obama, he routinely told supporters he would eschew time off if he were elected because he would be swamped with work. "I would not be a president who took vacations," he said in 2015. "I would not be a president that takes time off." In late 2012 he tweeted his own apparent aversion to vacations: "What's the point? If you're not enjoying your work, you're in the wrong job." Despite his comments, Trump has taken considerably more time off than Obama in their respective first seven months in office. According to a Washington Post tally, by the end of August Trump will have spent all or part of 53 days at leisure during his presidency, compared with 15 days for Obama through August 2009. Much of Trump's time off took place at properties bearing his name. At the height of negotiations over health care reform, Trump chided lawmakers by saying he could not imagine "that Congress would dare to leave Washington" without sending a new health care bill to his desk. Trump ultimately failed to successfully broker a deal, the Republican health care reforms collapsed, and Congress shuttered Thursday for its month-long summer recess.