North Dakota Cannabis News

Auto Added by WPeMatico

By and ,

TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump failed to commit to remaining within the Paris climate agreement during a two-day meeting with world leaders that ended here Saturday, but tweeted that he was still considering it and would announce a final decision “next week.”

In a final communique, the Group of 7 industrialized countries said that the United States “is not in a position to join the consensus.” The other six members reaffirmed their commitment to swiftly implement the 2015 accord to limit greenhouse gas emissions.

The G7 summit marked the last stop of Trump’s first overseas trip, a grueling, nine-day tour that included high level discussions in the Middle East and NATO, as well as a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

After leaving this picturesque town on the rugged Sicilian hillsides, Trump helicoptered to the U.S. Naval Air Station at Sigonella on the island to board Air Force One for the flight home. He summed up his journey in a rousing, campaign-style speech to assembled U.S. service members at the base promising it would pave the way for “a lot of strength” and “a lot of peace.”

“From Saudi Arabia to Israel to NATO to the G-7, we made extraordinary gains on this historic trip to advance the security and prosperity of the United States, our friends and our allies,” Trump said. “And we paved the way for a new era of cooperation among the nations of the world to defeat the common enemy of terrorism.”

Trump reflected on how many places he had visited, saying “we have been gone for close to nine days…and I think we hit a home run, no matter where we are.”

Earlier, in an off-camera press briefing for reporters, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said of the climate discussions: “We’re all trying to get to the right place, respectful of each other.” He described a “very robust conversation…a lot of give and take” in discussions that included leaders from Japan, Britain, France, Germany, Canada and Italy.

Asked if Trump had given a sign of which way he was leaning on the accord, which he called a job killer and vowed to rip up during his campaign, Cohn said “I don’t know.”

After a first round of meetings Friday, Cohn, who favors retaining the agreement, said Trump’s position was “evolving.”

White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who briefed reporters along with Cohn, said Trump had “delivered on all three” of his core objectives for the trip: reaffirming American global leadership and alliances, solidifying “key relationships” with world leaders, and bringing a message of tolerance and unity against terrorism to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Both McMaster and Cohn refused to respond to questions about Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the subject of a new controversy roiling Washington after a Washington Post story revealed he had a discussion with the Russian ambassador to the United States about the possibility of establishing a back-channel line of communications with Russia.

“I’m not prepared to talk about it,” McMaster said, adding that he and Cohn were only briefing the media about Trump’s trip.

Recounting what they described as successes over the past week, they noted pledges by Arab countries — made during Trump’s first stop in Saudi Arabia — to step up their coordination in the fight against terrorism, including a renewed crackdown on militant financing coming from their countries, and to “end” destructive Iranian activity in the region.

Sunni Saudi Arabia, McMaster said in a comment that may roil the Shiite minority that comprises about 15 percent of Muslims, as well as other Sunni Muslim allies, is “America’s strongest partner in the Muslim world and arguable…the strongest Muslim voice.”

Cohn spoke of the most “amazing deals that have really been made by an administration ever” that Trump had clinched in Riyadh, including both private sector investments and arms sales. He put the total at “close to half a trillion” dollars, although the administration initially put the figure at $380 billion and has provided no detail of finalized agreements.

McMaster called “baseless” reports that European leaders were concerned that Trump failed to restate the U.S. commitment to Article 5 of the NATO charter during an alliance summit in Brussels. The provision pledges all 28 NATO members to treat an attack against any of them as an attack against all.

“He made a decision not to say it. It was implicit in the speech,” McMaster said of the speech Trump delivered to the alliance, in which he recalled that Article 5 had only once been invoked, following the September 2001 terrorist attack in the United States. “It’s a matter of fact that the United States and the president stand firmly behind our Article 5 commitment,”McMaster said.

McMaster said that “many of the allies” had privately approached him and President Trump to thank him for aggressively pressing NATO members to spend more on defense.

On the climate agreement, Cohn said that he could not say where Trump was in his thinking on the issue. “What you’re asking me to do is tell you what’s inside the president’s mind. I’m not qualified to do that,” said Cohn, who has briefed the president numerous times on the issue and attended the G7 meetings about it.

When asked why Trump had not held a news conference or spoken with reporters accompanying him on his travels, Cohn said Trump had been working “non-stop.” U.S. presidents traditionally hold news conferences when they travel overseas.

“One thing you have to admit,” he said of the president, “since he left last Friday he has put in 14-15-18-20-hour, literally” of work each day.

When it was pointed out that every other leader at the G7 had scheduled a press conference at the conclusion of the meeting, Cohn, who was speaking in front of a television screen on which Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni was speaking to the media, Cohn said, “I’m not sure that’s true.”

Not far from the summit meeting, which was held in a historic monastery-turned-luxury hotel on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, several thousand demonstrators had assembled to march toward police barricades.

One group carried banners objecting to Europe’s treatment of migrants from Africa and the Middle East. Another, calling itself “Women Against Trump,” planned to protest what marchers said was the president’s “sexism.”

By the time the protest march began weaving its way along a narrow, seaside street toward the heavily armed security presence, however, Trump had already left.

Stefano Pitrelli in Sicily contributed to this report.

[email protected]

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

By Colleen Barry, Sylvie Corbet, and David McHugh | AP,

TAORMINA, Sicily — Seven wealthy democracies ended their summit Saturday in Italy without unanimous agreement on climate change, as the Trump administration plans to take more time to say whether the U.S. is going to remain in the Paris accord on limiting greenhouse gas emissions.

The other six nations in the Group of Seven agreed to stick with their commitment to implement the 2015 Paris deal that aims to slow down global warming.

The final G-7 statement, issued after two days of talks in the seaside town of Taormina, said the U.S. “is in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics.”

Trump tweeted he would decide on Paris next week. The announcement on the final day of the U.S. president’s first international trip comes after he declined to commit to staying in the sweeping climate deal, resisting intense international pressure from his peers at the summit.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni, who chaired the meeting, said the other six “won’t change our position on climate change one millimeter. The U.S. hasn’t decided yet. I hope they decide in the right way.”

Gentiloni said climate was “not a minor point” and that he hoped the United States would decide “soon and well” because the Paris accords “need the contribution of the United States.”

French President Emmanuel Macron also chimed in on the climate issue, praising Trump’s “capacity to listen.” Macron said he told Trump it is “indispensable for the reputation of the United States and the interest of the Americans themselves that the United States remain committed” to the Paris climate agreement.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel was more downbeat, calling the G-7 climate talks “very difficult, if not to say, very unsatisfactory.”

Trump held no news conferences during his nine-day overseas trip, allowing him to avoid questions about investigations into his campaign’s ties with Russian officials. His top economic and national security advisers refused to answer questions during a press briefing Saturday.

The G-7 leaders had better luck finding agreement on the other problematic topic at the summit, trade.

They restored a vow to fight protectionism — the use of import taxes and skewed regulations that favor domestic producers over their foreign competitors. The no-protectionism pledge had been a part of previous G-7 statements but was omitted after a meeting of the group’s finance ministers’ earlier this month in Bari, Italy. This time the G-7 leaders reiterated a “commitment to keep our markets open and to fight protectionism.”

The Trump administration has argued that trade must be balanced and fair as well as free. His Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, has said the United States reserves the right to be protectionist if trade arrangements are unfair to U.S. companies and workers.

Trump’s position appeared to be addressed by new language that said the member countries would be “standing firm against all unfair trade practices.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the G-7 also agreed to step up pressure on North Korea, including sanctions. He told reporters it was the first time that the G-7 had recognized the North Korean threat as a priority issue.

“The threat has entered a new stage (as North Korea tests missiles and nuclear weapons) … there is a danger it can spread like a contagious disease,” Abe said.

The leaders also agreed on two other topics: closer cooperation against terrorism in the wake of the concert bombing in Manchester that killed 22 people, and on the possibility of putting more sanctions against Russia over its conflict with Ukraine if Russian behavior requires that.

Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy for the Union of Concerned Scientists, an advocacy group in Washington, said the discord over climate change was unusual for G-7 meetings.

“There have been differences, to be sure, in some past summits, but not a sharp open split like this,” he said.

Meyer said many U.S. states, cities, and companies are moving forward on climate action while the Trump administration is “waffling” on the Paris Agreement.

“President Trump should join these leaders in protecting Americans from the mounting impacts of climate change and reaping the economic benefits of the clean energy revolution, rather than trying to shore up the flagging fortunes of the polluting coal and oil industries,” Meyer said.

The G-7 is an informal gathering that meets every year under a rotating chairmanship. Its decisions are not binding as an international treaty would be, simply representing the leaders’ political commitment to carry through on their collective decisions. The member countries are: Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Germany, the United States and the UK. The European Union also attends.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

It would take a colossal dash cam—rolling 24 hours a day, filming in Cinerama, capturing it all in surround sound—to retain all the Donald Trump and Russianews that sailed by this week. As Air Force One carried Trump to the Middle East and Europe in the first big trip of his presidency, the images broadcast back home made him look like the star of a musical comedy directed by Robert Altman. There was some goofy sword dancing in Saudi Arabia, gaffe-ing in Israel, where he said he hadn’t said “Israel” to the Russians, and some body-control issues in Brussels as he dispensed semi-secret handshakes, under-basket elbows and lectures to befuddled European leaders who shunned him.

This was the week that the seeds of scandal and ineptitude planted over the past six months finally sprouted their first shoots, wrapping green tendrils around the president’s ankles and around the throats of his aides, yanking them to earth. This was the week the idea that Trump could stall or outrun his tormentors was put to rest as two congressional committees, one special counsel, the FBI and the deep state pressed him from every angle. Trump is now caught in history’s grinder, and the sparks and noise emitted are lighting up the media universe.

Story Continued Below

By the time the president returns to Washington Sunday, he’ll need an action director to document the political intrigue that has morphed like a B-movie swamp monster since he left. How will Trump counter? With gentle weeding, political herbicide, a gas-fired weed-whacker, or napalm? The scandal that has no name is unspooling like a police procedural in congressional hearings and news stories in the Washington Post and New York Times. The Post landed the most damaging story at the beginning of the week. A blind sourced piece alleged that the president had asked both the director of national intelligence, Daniel Coats, and the head of the NSA, Michael S. Rogers, to help him stall the FBI investigation into the Trump campaign’s Russia connections. What appears to have prompted Trump’s request was then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s March 20 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee about his Trump-Russia investigations.

According to the press, President Trump attempted to set Jersey dividers between his campaign and the DNI, the head of the NSA, and the head of the FBI (as the Times reported last week). Add to this intrigue Sally Yates’ recent testimony before Congress in which the former acting Attorney General said she was fired after informing the White House that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn appeared to be mobbed up with the Russians. Meanwhile, investigative flypaper has trapped son-in-law Jared Kushner, who we learned sought to set up a secret backchannel with the Russians during the transition that would be run out of Russian embassy on Russian gear! No small wonder then, thatanonymous sources have pronounced him a focus of the FBI’s Russia investigation. Not even John le Carré could pitch this cartwheeling plot to Hollywood.

The Post based its Monday DNI/NSA blockbuster on anonymous sources—but the sourcing wasn’t “trust us” vapor. The Post wrote that “two current and two former officials” had shared the stories, making the scoop a joint Trump and Obama administrations exercise in tattling. (Everybody needs to brush up on their “deep state” theorizing if they’re not already.) A contemporaneous memo of the Trump-Rogers conversation exists, the Post reported, similar to the ones Comey reportedly wrote after Trump shook him down repeatedly.

Outside Washington all the memo-writing must look like professional ass-covering. To Trump’s steadfast supporters, it must look like the first steps in a coup against their leader. Inside the swamp, officials have long generated exonerating paper trails just in case trouble rears. What’s the likelihood that a contemporaneous memo covering the Trump-Coats conversation exist? High, I’d say. What are the chances that these memos will be subpoenaed by independent counsel Robert Mueller if they exist? One hundred percent. Never underestimate the imitative power of the American public, which often looks to Washington for inspiration. Soon, perhaps, hotel clerks and Uber drivers will be writing their own contemporaneous memos and asking Washington which paper is best for archival preservation. The words must burn, but the paper should be acid-free.

By Tuesday, visible sources had robbed the media spotlight from blind ones as Coats issued a no comment at a Senate hearing when asked if the Post‘s reporting was right—had Trump urged him to shutter the FBI investigation? “It’s not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that,” Coats said, repeating himself when asked again if, hypothetically, a president were to make such a request.

At a separate congressional hearing held Tuesday, former director of the CIA John O. Brennan confessed that suspicions of Russian manipulation of Trump campaign associates had first been raised in the summer, and that he forwarded his worries to FBI which started the Trump-Russia investigation in July. “The Russian intelligence threat is a serious one, and this is just one manifestation of the nature of that threat,” Brennan said. “It should be clear to everyone that Russia brazenly interfered in our 2016 presidential election process.”

Brennan served additional fresh meat to the committee. The Russians “try to suborn individuals and try to get individuals, including U.S. individuals, to act on their behalf, wittingly or unwittingly,” he said. Obviously alluding to Michael Flynn, he said, “Frequently, people who go along a treasonous path do not know they are on a treasonous path until it is too late.” Yet for all his scintillating testimony, Brennan didn’t advance the case for Trump-Russia collusion, as Bryon York commented in the Washington Examiner.

As cable’s talking heads reminded us again and again, the Trump-Russia investigation can no longer be considered just a collusion probe. Sensing legal turbulence ahead, Trump has hired an outside counsel, Marc E. Kasowitz, famous for representing the mogul in an unsuccessful libel suit against New York Times reporter Tim O’Brien—O’Brien wrote that Trump wasn’t a billionaire!Flynn has donned a 5th Amendment cloak to protect him from congressional subpoenas, a strategy that might not work when it comes to his business records. The FBI is expected to seek from Kushner detailed records of where he traveled, whom he visited, what the nature of his relationship with Flynn was, what sort of loans he applied for, and what kind deals he cut during the campaign and transition. Kushner is not a suspect, but the leak that labeled him a target means the feds are interested in his complete “patterns of activity,” enough to give anyone the willies.

The river that is the Trump-Russia story may connect to countless tributaries. Wall Street Journal explorers mapped one such stream this week, finding that hackers, presumably Russians, had leaked 2.5 gigabytes of Democratic voter-turnout analyses to Florida Republican consultant Aaron Nevins, who forwarded a summary of it to Trump intimate Roger Stone. How much does it bother Nevins that the leakers might be Russians?

“If your interests align,” Nevins said, “never shut any doors in politics.”

Each presidential administration ends up being viewed through a lens, rarely of its own choosing. The scandal that really needs a name(as long as it doesn’t end in “gate”)has now become the lens through which we now view Donald Trump. Each investigative lash struck by the press, every finding advanced by congressional committees and each probe by the federal sleuths will streak the Trump portrait in the unflattering colors of scandal. No matter what Trump says, no matter what he does, every news story will be framed inside the continuing investigation. Not yet convicted of anything, he’s already history’s prisoner.

******

Send comments to [email protected]. Subscribe to my email alerts, follow my Twitter feed, heed my RSS feed.

Jack Shafer is Politico’s senior media writer.

More from POLITICO Magazine

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Between 5,000 and 7,000 hate crime incidents are reported each year to the FBI. This is how a hate crime is defined and how federal and state authorities prosecute them. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)

Two men were stabbed to death Friday on a light-rail train in Portland, Ore., after they tried to intervene when another passenger began “ranting and raving” and shouting anti-Muslim hate speech at two young women, police said.

According to witnesses, a white male passenger riding an eastbound MAX train early Friday afternoon began yelling what “would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions,” police said. Some of the slurs were directed at two female passengers, one of whom was wearing a hijab, according to police.

“This suspect was on the train and he was yelling and ranting and raving a lot of different things, including what we characterized at hate speech or biased language,” Portland police spokesman Pete Simpson said at a news conference Friday evening.

At least two men tried to calm the ranting passenger down, but “they were attacked viciously by the suspect” when they did, Simpson said.

“It appears preliminarily that the victims — at least a couple of them — were trying to intervene in his behavior, deescalate him and protect some other people on the train when [the suspect] viciously attacked them,” Simpson said.

Jeremy Joseph Christian (Courtesy Portland Police Bureau)

About 4:30 p.m. Friday, police responded to calls of a disturbance at the Hollywood Transit Station in east Portland. There, they found three stabbing victims, all adult men. Despite attempted lifesaving measures, one died at the scene, and another was pronounced dead at a hospital, police said.

The third victim is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries and is expected to survive, Simpson said Friday.

Based on witnesses’ statements, officers on Friday were able to locate and arrest the suspect, who had fled the train on foot.

Police identified the suspect early Saturday morning as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian, of north Portland. Christian is being held without bail on two counts of aggravated murder, one count of attempted murder, two counts of intimidation in the second degree and one count of possession of a restricted weapon as a felon.

The deceased victims’ identities have not yet been released, pending an autopsy by the Oregon State Medical Examiner in Portland late Saturday morning, police said.

The stabbing attack shocked the city.

“It’s horrific. There’s no other word to describe what happened today,” Simpson said Friday. “It is simply horrible.”

The attack shut down the Hollywood Transit Station and Portland MAX trains in both directions for several hours Friday evening.

Simpson noted then that several passengers, including the two young women thought to be the target of the man’s anti-Muslim slurs, had left the train after the stabbings. He urged any witnesses to come forward to give statements to police. Simpson added that it did not appear that the suspect or the victims had any relationship with one another.

“We don’t know if (the suspect) has mental-health issues or was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or all of the above,” Simpson said. “With this incident, we’re obviously in early stages of the investigation.”

The attacks occurred just as Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, was set to commence at sunset Friday. Simpson said that Portland police had already reached out to Muslim organizations, mosques and imams in the community to talk about extra patrols during Ramadan — and that those extra patrols would continue.

“Our thoughts are with the Muslim community,” Simpson said Friday. “As something like this happens, this only instills fear in that community.”

The attack prompted a slew of outraged responses Friday from Oregon residents and lawmakers, as well as nationally.

Terrible tragedy on Portland’s Max Train. Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil. https://t.co/RMB5ltQlop

— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) May 27, 2017

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly called the incident “especially sad and disturbing” in a statement on behalf of Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, who was traveling Friday night, and the City Council, according to KGW News.

“People lost their lives or were injured because they stood up to hate,” Eudaly said in the statement. “We need to offer our heartfelt support to the women and others who were targeted. The courage of the people who stood up for them is a reminder that we as a city need to stand together to denounce the hate.”

Multnomah County officials announced that its mental-health call center would be available 24 hours a day for those affected by the MAX train stabbing.

“We are very sad. Ramadan started just a couple hours ago,” Imtiaz Khan, president of the Islamic Center of Portland, told Oregon Public Broadcasting on Friday night. “We are very sorry for the two men who tried to do the right thing. … Of course people from the Muslim community are concerned. And, unfortunately, the easy targets are women because of the headscarf.”

The Portland Mercury, a local newspaper, reported that Christian was a “known right wing extremist and white supremacist” who had attempted to assault protesters at local demonstrations in the past.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a Facebook page they said belonged to Christian showed he held racist, white supremacist and extremist beliefs. On that profile, the Facebook user said he supported creating a “White homeland” in the Pacific Northwest and declared on April 9 that he had “just Challenged Ben Ferencz (Last Living Nuremberg Persecutor) to a Debate in the Hague with Putin as our judge. I will defend the Nazis and he will defend the AshkeNAZIs.”

On April 19, the anniversary of the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, the user praised bomber Timothy McVeigh in another status update.

“May all the Gods Bless Timothy McVeigh a TRUE PATRIOT!!!” he wrote. McVeigh was sentenced to death for the 1995 bombing, which killed 168 and was the deadliest terrorist attack on American soil before Sept. 11, 2001.

On April 28, the same Facebook user shared a meme that showed a picture of Confederate statues being removed.

“If we’re removing statues because of the Civil War, We should be removing mosques because of 9/11,” the meme stated.

That same day, the user posted a lengthy Facebook status “too (sic) all my Portland Peeps” encouraging them to attend a free speech rally in Portland:

I will be there Demasking anyone with a mask. I will attend in Lizard King Regalia as a Political Nihilist to Provoke both Sides and attempt to engage anyone in a true Philosophy and Political Discussion. This Is what I have done for the last 6 years in front of Powell’s Books Downtown. I take the Role of International Patriot and Revolutionary VERY SERIOUS BUT YOU ALL KNOW I AM THE MOST LAID BACK DUDE IN THE WORLD- Until you cross that line then nothing will stop our COME TO JESUS TALK FRIEND OR FOE.

By Saturday morning, the page was flooded with furious comments from people who had linked him with the Portland train stabbing suspect. An SPLC spokeswoman told The Washington Post on Saturday that the group had confirmed this was Christian’s Facebook page by corroborating his mugshot likeness with pictures the Facebook user had shared, as well as with other reporting. Portland police did not respond to inquires about the authenticity of the account.

This post has been updated.

Read more:

A neo-Nazi converted to Islam and killed 2 roommates for ‘disrespecting’ his faith, police say

Imams in U.S. take on the anti-vaccine movement during Ramadan

Muslim students tried to meet with a lawmaker. They were first asked: ‘Do you beat your wife?’

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Sergey Kislyak reported to his superiors in December that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, asked him about setting up a communications channel between the transition team and the Kremlin using Russian facilities in the United States. (Alice Li,McKenna Ewen/The Washington Post)

TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Saturday he “would not be concerned” about having a back-channel communications system with Russia, though he and other top White House officials refused to comment specifically on the growing controversy surrounding Jared Kushner.

A press briefing here at the conclusion of Trump’s maiden foreign trip was overtaken at times by questions about Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Friday’s Washington Post report that Kushner had discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin.

The Post reported earlier in the week that Kushner — who helped plan the Middle East portion of Trump’s trip and traveled with the president to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican — is now a focus of the FBI investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

McMaster and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who together briefed reporters Saturday, were unwilling to discuss the Kushner matter, as was White House press secretary Sean Spicer. White House officials insisted the briefing be conducted off-camera, preventing photographers or television cameras from documenting it.

As McMaster and Cohn took the stage in the briefing room, a television screen just over their shoulder played CNN, which at that moment aired a discussion of the Kushner-Russia story under a “breaking news” banner.

“We’re not going to comment on Jared,” Cohn said. “We’re just not going to comment.”

McMaster said he could not talk about Kushner’s talks with Russia because “it’s not something that I’ve in any way been involved with or that I have any knowledge of.”

[Russian ambassador told Moscow that Kushner wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin]

McMaster, a decorated three-star Army general, was asked whether he would be concerned if an official on his National Security Council staff or elsewhere in the Trump administration sought a back-channel communications system with the Russian embassy or the Kremlin in Moscow.

“No,” McMaster said. “We have back-channel communications with a number of countries. So, generally speaking, about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner.”

He continued, “No, I would not be concerned about it.”

The press briefing grew tense, in part because Trump has refused to hold a news conference of his own or answer questions in an extended format with journalists during his marathon foreign trip. U.S. presidents traditionally hold news conferences when they travel overseas.

Cohn defended Trump’s decision to evade the news media, citing the president’s “robust” travel schedule.

“The president, since he left New York [he later corrected himself to say Washington] has been dealing with foreign leaders, he’s been dealing with jobs, he’s been dealing with economic growth, he’s been dealing with diplomacy, he’s been dealing with unfair trade, he’s been dealing with Paris [climate agreement], he’s been dealing with China,” Cohn said. “His agenda has been overflowing. He’s been fully consumed with what’s going on here.”

Still, the Kushner questions persisted. When the first one was raised, McMaster punted it to Spicer.

“I’ll ask Sean to cover that later,” McMaster said.

Spicer, seated in the corner of the room, interjected, “We have nothing.”

Indeed, once McMaster and Cohn called an end to their briefing, which lasted about a half an hour, Spicer and other administration spokespeople hurried out of the room.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

TAORMINA, Italy — President Trump declined to endorse the Paris climate accords on Saturday, saying he would decide next week whether the United States would pull out of the 195-nation agreement.

Mr. Trump’s lack of a decision after three days of contentious private debate and intense lobbying by other leaders came even as the six other G-7 nations reaffirmed their commitment to cutting planet-warming pollution in a joint statement issued on Saturday afternoon.

The lobbying essentially ended in a stalemate, with Mr. Trump remaining opaque about his intentions regarding the 2015 pact as he prepared to return home after a nine-day overseas trip. It underscored the continuing division between the United States and its allies about the global environmental pact.

The joint communiqué makes clear that all the G-7 nations except the United States remained determined to carry out the Paris agreement. It says: “Expressing understanding for this process, the heads of state and of government of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom, and the presidents of the European Council and of the European Commission reaffirm their strong commitment to swiftly implement the Paris Agreement.”

In a Twitter message posted before the joint statement was officially released, Mr. Trump said: “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”

The reaction was swift and critical. Alden Meyer, the director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “President Trump’s continued waffling on whether to stay in or withdraw from the Paris Agreement made it impossible to reach consensus at the Taormina summit on the need for ambitious climate action. But he stands in stark isolation.”

Jennifer Morgan, the executive director of Greenpeace International, said, “President Trump should now return to Washington and make the right decision, take climate change seriously and take action with the rest of the world.”

The G-7 statement provides the United States more time to resolve internal White House debates about whether to pull out of the pact. It says the United States is “in the process of reviewing its policies on climate change and on the Paris Agreement and thus is not in a position to join the consensus on these topics.”

Gary D. Cohn, the director of the national economic council, said, “There was a lot of give-and-take between the different countries in the room.” But he insisted that the other countries understood Mr. Trump’s refusal to make a decision on the Paris accord, even if they did not support it.

“They understand the president’s only been in office for a certain period of time, and they respect that,” Mr. Cohn said. “They understand where we are; we understand where they are.”

“We’re all allies,” he added, “we’re all trying to get to the right place and be respectful of each other.”

For Mr. Trump, the lack of a decision on the climate accord was an uncertain ending to an ambitious first trip as president that began as a respite from a barrage of scandal at home.

Beleaguered White House aides — who were aboard Air Force One flying to Riyad when they watched the allegations that Mr. Trump had called his F.B.I. director a “nut job” — hoped the trip would provide a much-needed change of subject.

In some ways it did — if only because the White House engineered the trip to keep Mr. Trump far away from reporters who could ask him questions. They scheduled no news conferences and put the president only in highly controlled situations: a brief photo session with a foreign leader, a teleprompter speech, a ceremonial gathering with other leaders.

In Saudi Arabia and Israel, Mr. Trump was surprisingly disciplined, sticking to his script and delivering two speeches that set a clear course for his approach to the Middle East. His rapturous welcome in both countries suggested the United States could make a new start with allies who had grown restive during the Obama administration.

In Europe, however, the pugnacious side of Mr. Trump reasserted itself. He harangued NATO members on their contributions to the alliance, demanding more from other countries. He declined to reaffirm explicitly commit the United States to defend its allies in the case of an attack. He picked a fight with Germany on trade and won derisive headlines after muscling the prime minister of Montenegro aside during a photo shoot.

“His advisers tried to make him understand that there are some allies that are really nervous and needed reassurance,” said Volker Perthes, the director of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs. “He managed to do it with the Saudis and the Israelis.”

But Mr. Perthes said the president’s harsh attacks on Iran, even if they were applauded in Saudi Arabia and Israel, carried the seeds of future tensions in the region.

“Do we get closer to stability in the Middle East if we continue to polarize, if we continue to divide?” he asked.

On climate, Mr. Trump had long railed against what he said were the economic dangers of the global climate agreement. A desire for flexibility had been a key demand by the president, who has said the accords could be costly for American businesses and drain jobs in the United States.

Neither Mr. Trump nor senior White House officials traveling with him made an immediate announcement about whether the United States would stay in the climate agreement, which was signed by former President Barack Obama. White House officials had said before Mr. Trump’s inaugural overseas trip as president that he intended to wait until he returned to Washington to make a final decision.

But advocates for stronger action to confront climate change said the message from the joint statement was that Mr. Trump remained unconvinced of the accords’ value.

The exit of the United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas polluter after China, would not immediately dissolve the climate pact, which was legally ratified last year. But it would profoundly weaken the strength of the deal and pave the way for other countries to withdraw from it.

Some climate diplomats noted that the rest of the world may be growing weary of America’s back-and-forth on climate change policy. In 1997, the United States joined the world’s first climate treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, under the leadership of Vice President Al Gore, but later withdrew during the Bush administration.

Then Mr. Obama led the way in forging and signing on to the Paris accords, but the latest move by Mr. Trump nearly, albeit not entirely, negates that move.

“At some juncture other countries are going to get sick of us joining in, pulling out, joining in and pulling out and say, ‘Are we really going to work with the U.S. on this anymore?’” said Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that produces scientific reports designed to inform global policy makers.

Mr. Trump’s supporters, particularly coal state Republicans, are eager for him to withdraw from the Paris accords, seeing such a move as a fulfillment of a signature campaign promise. Speaking to a crowd of oil rig workers last May, Mr. Trump vowed to “cancel” the agreement.

Coal miners and coal chief executives in states like Kentucky and West Virginia have pushed hard for Mr. Trump to reverse any and all of President Barack Obama’s climate change policies, which are ultimately aimed at reducing the widespread use of burning coal, the largest contributor to global warming.

In a May 23 letter to Mr. Trump 10 state attorneys general, West Virginia’s attorney general, Patrick Morrissey, wrote, “Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement is an important and necessary step toward reversing the harmful energy policies and unlawful overreach of the Obama era.”

On trade, Mr. Trump pushed his demand that trade agreements the United States negotiates with other countries must be fair, as well as free, with reciprocity on tariffs and other barriers. The Trump administration has taken particular aim at Germany, accusing it of depressing the value of the euro to make its exports more competitive and to undercut American goods.

In a meeting with leaders of the European Union in Brussels on Thursday, Mr. Trump complained about imports of German cars, threatening to stop them and calling Germany “very bad” on trade.

German officials pointed out that its two leading luxury automakers, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, have sprawling assembly plants in the United States. They are also frustrated that Trump officials repeatedly raise the prospect of negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with Germany, something that the nation, as a member of the European Union, cannot do.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

By Associated Press,

TAORMINA, Sicily — The Latest on President Donald Trump’s visit to Europe (all times local):

3:35 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s top advisers are refusing to address reports that his son-in-law and a top Russian diplomat may have discussed setting up a secret communications channel.

In a press conference in Sicily, Saturday, advisers H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn declined to comment on new revelations about Jared Kushner’s communications with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak (SER’-gay KISS-lee-yak).

The Washington Post reported Friday that Kislyak told his superiors that he and Kushner discussed setting up a back channel between Trump’s transition team and the Kremlin.

The White House in March confirmed that Kushner and Kislyak met at Trump Tower in December for what one official called a brief courtesy meeting.

McMaster adds, “we have back channel communications with a number of countries.”

He says, “it allows you to communicate in a discreet manner.”

___

3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump’s top national security adviser says it’s a “matter of fact” that the United States stands behind NATO’s common defense principle.

Trump notably did not explicitly endorse Article 5 of the NATO charter during his remarks in Brussels earlier this week. He used the remarks to blast NATO members who don’t fulfill pledges to put 2 percent of their gross domestic product toward defense.

H.R. McMaster says Trump’s support for Article 5 was “implicit in the speech.” He says there was no conscious decision for the president to not specifically endorse the “one of all, all for one” principle, which underpins the military alliance.

Trump was sharply critical of NATO prior to his inauguration, calling the alliance “obsolete” but has since expressed support for it.

___

3:15 p.m.

The White House says G-7 leaders had a “very robust” conversation before issuing a final statement giving President Donald Trump more time to decide whether to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement.

Trump has resisted pressure from European leaders to stay in the landmark accord. But he said earlier Saturday in a tweet that he’ll announce a final decision next week after he returns to the White House.

Nearly 200 nations, including the U.S., agreed in 2015 to voluntarily reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

White House economic adviser Gary Cohn says statements issued after summits like the G-7 are always a “give and take.” He says the final document reflects that other countries respect the U.S. decision to take more time before making a final decision.

___

2:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump says he’ll make a final decision next week on whether the U.S. will stay in the Paris climate agreement.

Trump made the surprise announcement in a tweet after resisting pressure from European leaders to stay in the agreement.

Nearly every nation that signed the 2015 agreement has agreed to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

The president tweeted Saturday, “I will make my final decision on the Paris Accord next week!”

Trump’s pending review of U.S. climate policies has left environmentalists bracing for the possibility of bland G-7 promises that say little after years of increasingly stronger commitments to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Trump once proclaimed global warming a Chinese hoax.

___

2 p.m.

President Donald Trump and Canada’s prime minister met on the sidelines of the G-7 summit to discuss economic issues.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office says they also addressed trade cooperation and efforts to boost job creation on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border.

Tensions recently escalated between the two countries after the Trump administration imposed new tariffs on softwood lumber from Canada and railed against its pricing of domestic milk to cover more dairy ingredients, which impacts U.S. dairy producers.

Trump and Trudeau also discussed “issues of global concern.”

The White House did not disclose the meeting ahead of time, and officials offered no comment after it was announced by the Canadians.

___

12:15 p.m.

President Donald Trump says NATO will be stronger because member countries have increased payments “considerably.”

Trump tweeted Saturday, “Many NATO countries have agreed to step up payments considerably, as they should. Money is beginning to pour in- NATO will be much stronger.”

NATO countries do not pay the U.S. or NATO directly. They spend domestically on weapons or other defense-related needs.

The president supports ongoing efforts to push member countries to spend at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. Only five members currently meet the target, but the other nations are committed to the goal by 2024.

Trump is meeting with leaders from the G-7 nations in Sicily.

He also tweeted, “Big G7 meetings today. Lots of very important matters under discussion. First on the list, of course, is terrorism.”

___

11:30 a.m.

Leaders of seven wealthy democracies have reached a deal to give the Trump administration more time to tell them whether the United States plans to stay in the Paris climate agreement.

A person familiar with the negotiations at the Group of Seven summit said that six members of the G-7 would stick with their endorsement of the Paris deal, and await a decision from the U.S.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter before the formal announcement.

The G-7 members were still wrestling over a statement on trade and whether it would condemn protectionism, as previous group statements have.

President Donald Trump has pushed back against earlier group statements opposing protectionism and has argued trade must be balanced and fair as well as free.

-By David McHugh

___

9:47 a.m.

President Donald Trump is kicking off the final day of his first trip abroad with a meeting with Group of Seven and African nation leaders.

Trump is seated between Beji Caid Essebsi, president of Tunisia, and Mahamadou Issoufou, the president of Niger, for his first meeting of the day.

He was also spotted chatting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before the session began.

It’s the final day of the president’s nine-day trip. He’ll be returning to Washington, D.C. late Saturday.

___

9:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump is in Taormina, Sicily for a second day of meetings with Group of Seven wealthy nation leaders.

Leaders from the G-7 countries were expected to gather at the San Domenico Palace Hotel on Saturday morning.

Trump is set to engage in discussions about the global economy and climate. He will also participate in a meeting with African nations, including Niger and Tunisia.

This is the final day of Trump’s first official trip abroad.

After the G-7 summit of economically advanced countries, the president will address American troops on an Italian base before departing for home.

The G-7 includes the U.S., Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United Kingdom.

___

7:15 a.m.

President Donald Trump will return to Washington having rattled some allies and reassured others, but his White House still sits under a cloud of scandal.

Trump will spend Saturday at the second day of the G-7 summit in Sicily, bringing to an end a nine-day trip that started in Saudi Arabia and Israel before moving on to Europe.

The trip has gone off without a major misstep, with the administration touting the president’s efforts to create a new coalition to fight terrorism while admonishing partners in an old alliance to pay their fair share.

In Washington, though, a newly appointed special counsel is just beginning his investigation into links between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Two people are dead and one was injured after a stabbing on a train in Portland, Ore., on Friday afternoon.

Police say the disturbance began when a man on a light-rail train “began yelling various remarks that would best be characterized as hate speech toward a variety of ethnicities and religions.” Among the subjects of his diatribe were two young women who appeared to be Muslim; one was wearing a hijab.

Portland police have charged Jeremy Joseph Christian with two counts of murder and one count of attempted murder.

Portland Police Bureau

hide caption

toggle caption

Portland Police Bureau

“In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him and appeared to try to intervene with his behavior and some of the people that he was yelling at,” Sgt. Pete Simpson toldThe Oregonian. “They were attacked viciously.”

The suspect stabbed three people before fleeing the train; police located him and took him into custody.

One victim, identified as an adult male, died at the scene. Two other victims were taken to the hospital, where one was pronounced dead; the other is injured but expected to survive.

Police identified the suspect as 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian of North Portland. He has been booked on two counts each of aggravated murder and intimidation in the second degree, and one count each of attempted murder and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that Simpson said that, though the attack happened just before the start of Ramadan, police weren’t yet sure the attack was “religiously motivated.”

[embedded content]

Police Sgt. Pete Simpson describes the attack on a Portland train on Friday.

The OregonianYouTube

“These were folks just riding the train and unfortunately got caught up in this,” Simpson said. “He was talking about a lot of different things, not just specifically anti-Muslim.”

Imtiaz Khan, President of the Islamic Center of Portland, told OPB that since the election, hate speech and harassment of the Muslim community have increased.

“We are very sad. Ramadan started just a couple hours ago,” said Khan. “We are very sorry for the two men who tried to do the right thing.”

Khan said that “Of course people from the Muslim community are concerned. And unfortunately the easy targets are women because of the headscarf.”

The two women left before police arrived on the scene; detectives would like to speak with them and other witnesses.

Police say the state medical examiner will conduct autopsies late Saturday morning, after which the names of the three victims will be released.

Christian will be arraigned on Monday and could face additional charges.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Two men have been killed as they tried to stop a man abusing two women who appeared to be Muslim, police in the US city of Portland say.

The abusive man turned on the two men and fatally stabbed them, police said.

The incident happened on a commuter train. Another passenger was wounded before the attacker was arrested.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations urged President Trump to speak out against increasing Islamophobia in the US.

It accused the president of exacerbating the trend with his statements and policies.

The attack took place at about 16:30 local time (00:30 GMT) on a train at Hollywood Transit Station, police said in a statement. One of the victims died at the scene, the other died in hospital.

Police have identified the suspect as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35. He has been charged with offences including aggravated murder, attempted murder, intimidation and being a felon in possession of a restricted weapon.

“Suspect was on the train and he was yelling and ranting and raving a lot of different things, including what would be characterised as hate speech or biased language,” said Sgt Pete Simpson.

“In the midst of his ranting and raving, some people approached him, appeared to try to intervene with his behaviour. Some of the people that he was yelling at, they were attacked viciously by the suspect, resulting in the two deaths and one injury.”

Jeremy Joseph Christian was arrested shortly after he got off the train. The two women he was abusing – one of whom was said by eyewitnesses to have been wearing a headscarf – left the scene before police could speak to them.

However one of the girls’ parents later told the Oregonian newspaper that they were teenagers, one black and one Muslim.

Dyjuana Hudson said the attacker “was saying that Muslims should die. That they’ve been killing Christians for years”.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico

Former CIA Director John Brennan testified this week that he was concerned over intelligence he saw showing contacts between President Trump’s campaign and Moscow. 

After the election, Trump aides said there had been no communication between Trump’s campaign and any foreign elements, including Russia.

But the story has shifted since then — most notably with the news of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s conversations with Russia’s ambassador to the United States. 

Flynn is now being subpoenaed for information from the House and Senate. Separately, the Department of Justice has named a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to investigate the Russia issue. 

Here’s a look at what Trump officials have said since November on contacts between the campaign and Russia. 

November 11, 2016 

Press aide Hope Hicks tells the Associated Press that there was “no communication” between the Trump campaign and any foreign entity—including Russia. 

“It never happened,” Hicks tells the AP. “There was no communication between the campaign and any foreign entity during the campaign.” 

January 10, 2017  

Attorney General nominee Jeff SessionsJeff SessionsTrump and Russia: A timeline on communicationsHispanic Dems demand meeting with SessionsJustice Department to seek Supreme Court review in Trump travel ban caseMORE testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee that he is unaware of any Trump campaign affiliates communicating with the Russian government during the campaign, and that he himself had no such communications.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions says in response to questioning from Sen. Al FrankenAl FrankenTrump and Russia: A timeline on communicationsOvernight Energy: Trump energy nominees face Congress | OPEC to extend production cutsSenate gears up for fight on Trump’s 0B Saudi Arabia arms saleMORE (D-Minn.). “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

January 11, 2017 

Donald TrumpDonald TrumpMSNBC president Phil Griffin signs multi-year contract: reportTrump and Russia: A timeline on communicationsFederal judge drops lawsuit against Clinton over BenghaziMORE writes on Twitter,  “Russia has never tried to use leverage over me. I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA — NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!” 

January 15, 2017 

Vice President-elect Mike PenceMike (Michael) Richard PenceTrump and Russia: A timeline on communicationsTrump tries to patch things up with Comey in latest ‘Simpsons’ shortPence will attend Indy 500 raceMORE tells CBS’s “Face the Nation” that Michael Flynn did not discuss sanctions with Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. 

“It was strictly coincidental that they had a conversation,” Pence says of the December conversation between Flynn and Kislyak. “They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.” 

Pence also tells “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that no adviser or member of the campaign had contact with Russians who were trying to influence the election. 

February 13, 2017 

Flynn resigns as national security adviser, admitting to “inadvertently” providing Pence and others “incomplete information” regarding his phone calls with the Russian ambassador in his letter of resignation.

The Washington Post reported days earlier that Flynn had discussed sanctions with Kislyak and may have discussed the possibility of lifting them.

February 14, 2017 

White House press secretary Sean Spicer tells reporters at a press briefing that Trump stands by his assertion that no member of the campaign, including Flynn, had contacts with Russia before the election. 

“There’s nothing that would conclude me that anything different has changed with respect to that time period,” Spicer says.

February 16, 2017 

Trump says during a news conference that he has nothing to do with Russia, calling the reports about campaign associates’ ties to Moscow a “ruse.”

“I have nothing to do with Russia,” Trump says. “To the best of my knowledge no person that I deal with does.”

Trump acknowledges that Flynn did have contacts with the Russian ambassador — but describes it as routine contact with foreign officials, saying Flynn was “doing his job.” 

February 19, 2017 

White House chief of staff Reince Priebus denies that members or associates of the campaign had contacts with Russian officials involved in the effort to influence the election and says his assertions are backed up by members of the intelligence community. 

“The New York Times put out an article with no direct sources that said that the Trump campaign had constant contacts with Russian spies, basically, you know, some treasonous type of accusations,” Priebus tells Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We have now all kinds of people looking into this.  I can assure you and I have been approved to say this — that the top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it’s grossly overstated and it was wrong.  And there’s nothing to it.” 

Priebus also flatly denies any “collusion” between Trump affiliates and Moscow. 

March 1, 2017  

The Justice Department confirms to the Washington Post that Sessions spoke twice to Kislyak before the 2016 presidential election, once in July and once during a September meeting in his Senate office. 

Department officials say Sessions met with the Russian ambassador in his capacity as a senator and member of the Armed Services Committee.  

March 20, 2017 

FBI Director James Comey confirms in public testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the bureau is investigating Russian election interference, and any linkes between Moscow and Trump’s campaign.

The same day, Spicer says at a press briefing that Trump stands by his comments that he has no knowledge of any contacts between his campaign associates and Russia during the election — though he notes that Trump is aware of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak. Spicer says that the White House is not aware of any contacts between former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Russian operatives.

Spicer also stresses that former Obama intelligence officials have said there is 
“no evidence of a Trump Russia collusion.” 

May 8, 2017 

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates says during testimony before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee that she had warned the White House that Flynn and Kislyak had discussed sanctions immediately after realizing that Flynn had misled Pence about that fact.

Flynn’s communications with Kislyak had been picked up in routine surveillance of the Russian ambassador, she says.

“Our concern was that you have a very sensitive position like the national security adviser and you don’t want that person to be in a position where the Russians have leverage over them,” Yates says.

Yates also disputes the White House’s characterization of Flynn’s behavior as routine. 

May 23, 2017  

Former CIA director John Brennan confirms that he viewed intelligence showing people involved in Trump’s campaign had interacted with Russian officials and that the contacts “concerned” him.

He refuses to identify the individuals or speak to their level of involvement in the campaign, and says he is unsure whether the contacts amounted to “collusion.” 

“I encountered and am aware of information and intelligence that revealed contacts and interactions between Russian officials and U.S. persons involved in the Trump campaign,” Brennan says. 

May 25, 2017 

The Justice Department tells CNN that Sessions did not disclose his meetings with Kislyak on his application for a security clearance, despite a requirement to name contacts with a foreign government or its representatives in the previous seven years.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)

Read More

Powered by WPeMatico