Trump says missiles ‘will be coming’

US President Donald Trump has tweeted that Russia should “get ready” for missiles to be fired at its ally Syria, in response to an alleged chemical attack near Damascus on Saturday.

“Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and ‘smart!'” Mr Trump said in his tweet.

Senior Russian figures have threatened to meet any US strikes with a response.

President Bashar al-Assad’s government denies mounting a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Douma.

In one of his tweets on Wednesday, Mr Trump called the Syrian leader a “gas killing animal”.

In another, he painted a dark picture of US-Russia relations but said it did not have to be that way.

The US, UK and France have agreed to work together and are believed to be preparing for a military strike in response to the alleged chemical attack at the weekend.

[BBC]

Former ambassador to Vietnam: Trump wanted me to send back refugees

Former U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Ted Osius said he resigned from his post last year after the Trump administration asked him to pressure the Vietnamese government to receive more than 8,000 Vietnamese refugees marked in the U.S. for deportation.

The vast majority of the people targeted for deportation — sometimes for minor crimes — were war refugees who had established lives in the U.S. after fleeing the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago, Osius wrote in an essay this month for the American Foreign Service Association.

“And they were to be ‘returned’ decades later to a nation ruled by a communist regime with which they had never reconciled. I feared many would become human rights cases, and our government would be culpable,” he wrote.

The State Department declined to comment Friday. The Department of Homeland Security did not immediately reply to a request for comment. Osius, now vice president of Fulbright University Vietnam, a private, nonprofit institution in Saigon, described his three-year tour as U.S. ambassador in Hanoi as “the high point of my 30-year career in the Foreign Service and the honor of a lifetime.” Efforts to reach him through the university and the foreign service association Friday were unsuccessful.

Osius’s admission took on significant resonance in San Jose, which is home to more than 100,000 Vietnamese Americans, one of the largest populations of Vietnamese-born people outside of Vietnam.

It comes months after Vietnamese activists across the country, including many in the Bay Area, raised concerns that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement was rounding up undocumented immigrants from Vietnam in unprecedented numbers that left communities shocked and fearful. They estimated more than 100 Vietnamese were detained across the country in October alone.

The surge in ICE activity appeared to spring in part from the Trump administration’s aggressive efforts to deport immigrants with criminal records, even in circumstances where their home countries haven’t traditionally cooperated with U.S. removal orders. In the past, immigrants in that situation have been allowed to stay in the U.S., but the Trump administration has been pressing Cambodia and Vietnam, in particular, to take back their deportees.

The result is that immigrants who have established roots and lives in the U.S. in spite of their eligibility for deportation are suddenly being detained and shipped out.

Vietnamese and U.S. officials in 2008 signed a repatriation memorandum that in part said Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in America before 1995 would not be subject to deportation. Activists, however, say some of the individuals being detained arrived before 1995, leaving them to wonder whether some of these deportations are illegal. Several organizations filed a lawsuit against the federal government in February for violating its repatriation agreement with Vietnam.

“It falls in line with what we predicted about this administration,” said Nate Tan, a member of the Asian Prisoner Support Committee in Oakland. “I’m not shocked. It’s disheartening and not surprising that this administration is working so hard to deport people who are refugees.”

In his essay, Osius said he feared “this repulsive policy” would destroy any chances Trump had in fulfilling other goals for relations with Vietnam, among them reducing trade deficit, strengthening military relations and coping with regional threats, such as those from North Korea.

“I voiced my objections, was instructed to remain silent, and decided there was an ethical line that I could not cross if I wished to retain my integrity. I concluded that I could better serve my country from outside government, by helping to build a new, innovative university in Vietnam,” he wrote.

Phi Nguyen, litigation director at Asian Americans Advancing Justice in Atlanta, said she’s happy the former diplomat spoke out.

“A lot of what’s been happening has happened behind closed doors,” she said. “I’m encouraged to see somebody going public with speaking out against this policy that the Trump administration is implementing, not only with respect to Vietnam but also with Cambodia, Iraq and Somalia and all of the countries that historically have not repatriated people who are ordered deported.”

[Mercury News]

Trump Says Mexicans ‘Want To Take Advantage of DACA’ While Walking Into Church on Easter

What would a trip to church near Mar-a-Lago on Easter Sunday be for President Donald Trump without attacking one of our nearest and closest allies?

The president stopped and spoke with reporters alongside First Lady Melania Trump on Sunday, echoing tweets he posted to his Twitter page hours earlier. Trump slammed Mexico once again for refusing to fund his border wall proposal, saying “Mexico has got to help us at the border, and a lot of people are coming in because they want to take advantage of DACA.”

As Trump was speaking, first daughter Tiffany Trump appeared to just arrive to the church, walking up to her father and blowing a kiss to the first lady. Trump, holding hands with Melania, did not acknowledge Tiffany as he continued to speak about issues at the U.S.-Mexico border.

“We’re going to have to really see, and they had a great chance — the Democrats blew it,” he added. “But Mexico has got to help us at the border. They flow right through Mexico, they send them into the United States. It can’t happen that way anymore.”

Not exactly the typical message of unity and peace a president bestows on a holy day like Easter. But Trump will have another shot when he flies back to Washington later in the day to host Easter at the White House.

Watch a clip of the moment Trump stopped to speak with reporters outside of church via MSNBC above.

Trump cancels UK visit and blames Obama

US President Donald Trump has cancelled his visit to the UK in February, during which he was to open a new embassy in London. He tweeted that he was not a “big fan” of the $1bn (£738m) building in Vauxhall, in the south of the city, commissioned by his predecessor Barack Obama. The ceremony may now be overseen by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Trump had enraged politicians in the UK in November when he retweeted several inflammatory videos from far-right group Britain First – a move that Mrs May said was “wrong” and which prompted British MPs to describe Mr Trump as “fascist”, “stupid” and “racist, incompetent or unthinking”.

This planned trip was not the full state visit agreed between the UK and the US, but for which no date has yet been set.

[BBC, Financial Times]

Reality

The president is claiming he’s not going to visit a top ally because he’s unhappy about a real estate decision by the Obama administration, however the decision to build a new embassy was made in October 2008 during the George W. Bush administration.

Trump Threatens to End American Aid: ‘We’re Watching Those Votes’ at the U.N.

President Trump threatened on Wednesday to cut off American aid to any country that votes in favor of a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly denouncing his recent decision to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Mr. Trump’s statement, delivered at his last Cabinet meeting of the year, followed a letter from the American ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, in which she warned that the United States would take note of any country that votes in favor of the measure.

“All these nations that take our money and then vote against us at the Security Council or the assembly, they take hundreds of millions of dollars and billions of dollars and they vote against us,” Mr. Trump said. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”

Mr. Trump added that “people are tired of the United States — people that live here, our great citizens that love this country — they’re tired of this country being taken advantage of and we’re not going to be taken advantage of any longer.”

It is difficult to see how Mr. Trump could deliver on his threat to cut financial assistance, since it could involve cutting off aid to a number of strategic allies. The United States has given $77.4 billion in foreign aid to Egypt between 1948 and 2016, according to the Congressional Research Service, including about $1.3 billion in annual military aid since 1987.

The General Assembly is scheduled to vote on Thursday on a resolution that would condemn Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem, which is fiercely contested by Israelis and Palestinians, and urge other countries not to move their embassies to that city from Tel Aviv.

Mr. Trump said earlier this month that the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem, though administration officials said a move was several years away because of logistical issues in constructing a new embassy complex.

On Monday, the United States used a rare veto to block a resolution in the Security Council calling for the administration to reverse its decision on Jerusalem. The vote on the resolution, which was drafted by Egypt, was 14 to 1, suggesting there would be a similarly lopsided margin against the United States in the 193-member General Assembly.

[The New York Times]

Trump Scolds the Wrong Theresa May After Criticism Over Him Sharing Anti-Muslim Videos

The President of the United States, who shared a racist far-right group’s unverified anti-Muslim videos, responded to criticism from the office of Prime Minister Theresa May––who felt that the President of the United States should NOT be sharing a racist far-right group’s unverified anti-Muslim videos––by saying that she should not “focus on me” and focus on radical Islam instead, but in doing so he TAGGED THE WRONG THERESA MAY.

The account he linked to does not belong to the British prime minister, it belongs to another woman named Theresa who’s about to get a lot of angry and confused tweets.

Theresa May’s account is @theresa_may.

[Mediaite]

Reality

There’s no evidence of extremist takeover of areas in Europe or the United States. This is a myth pushed by Fox News that has no basis in reality.

Update

The President deleted the tweet and corrected it.

Donald Trump retweets far-right group’s anti-Muslim videos

Donald Trump has retweeted three inflammatory videos from a British far-right group.

The first tweet from Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, claims to show a Muslim migrant attacking a man on crutches.

This was followed by two more videos of people Ms Fransen claims to be Muslim.

Responding to Mr Trump’s posts, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said it was “wrong for the president to have done this”.

Britain First was founded in 2011 by former members of the far-right British National Party (BNP).

The group has grabbed attention on social media with controversial posts about what they deem “the Islamification of the UK”.

It has put up members to run in European elections and by-elections on anti-immigration and anti-abortion policies, but has not secured any seats.

It also contested the most recent London mayoral election, receiving 1.2% of the vote.

The original video was shared by US conservative commentator Ann Coulter who Mr Trump follows.

Ms Fransen has more than 52,000 followers on Twitter.

She responded enthusiastically to Mr Trump sharing her tweets. She posted on her account: “Donald Trump himself has retweeted these videos and has around 44 million followers!”

“God bless you Trump! God bless America!” she added. The message was also shared on Britain First’s Twitter account.

Donald Trump is once again using Twitter to weigh in on contentious religious-tinged political issues in the UK.

In the past, he’s attacked London Mayor Sadiq Khan for mishandling a militant attack just hours after it occurred. He misattributed a rise in crime in England and Wales to the “spread of radical Islamic terror”. Now, he has retweeted a series of unverified videos posted by a far-right British nationalist group.

For the president, directing attention toward the UK seems to serve a domestic political purpose.

He cites events and opinions there as a warning to Americans of what could happen in the US if they do not heed his policy prescriptions on immigration and border security. The Muslim ban, the US-Mexico wall, increased deportations, the sharp reductions on refugee resettlement – it’s all part of the president’s “national security” package.

While most Americans probably haven’t heard of Britain First and are unfamiliar with European radical nationalist movements, there are white supremacist groups in the US that follow the actions of these overseas operations quite closely. The president on Wednesday signalled that he watches them too.

Earlier this month, Ms Fransen was charged with using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” during speeches she made in Belfast.

She will appear at Belfast Magistrates’ Court on Thursday 14 December.

[BBC News]

US to Withdraw From UNESCO Cultural Agency

The Trump administration on Thursday said it would withdraw the United States from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), citing anti-Israeli bias from the organization.

UNESCO was informed of the administration’s decision on Thursday. The State Department said the U.S. would instead seek to be a permanent observer to UNESCO, which promotes collaboration among countries through culture, education and science.

This is not the first time the United States has withdrawn from the organization, nor is it the first time the United States has criticized UNESCO for anti-Israeli bias. The United States also withdrew from the organization during the Cold War under President Ronald Reagan.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. slashed $80 million per year of its funding for the organization, according to Foreign Policy, a move that followed UNESCO’s admittance of Palestine as a member.

The cuts have increased the money owed by the United States to UNESCO to $500 million, the magazine reported.

Fights over Israel and the Palestinian cause have been frequent flashpoints for the United States under past administrations.

Israel last year summoned its UNESCO ambassador after the organization declared that one of Jerusalem’s holy sites is specifically a “Muslim holy site of worship,” according to Reuters.

The U.S. will still be involved with the organization “as a non-member observer state,” the State Department said.

The goal is “to contribute U.S. views, perspectives and expertise on some of the important issues undertaken by the organization, including the protection of world heritage, advocating for press freedoms, and promoting scientific collaboration and education.”

The withdrawal will become official on Dec. 31, 2018.

[The Hill]

Trump Told Theresa May He Won’t Visit UK Until He’s Sure He’ll Get a Warm Welcome

U.S. President Donald Trump petulantly informed U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May that he won’t be making any official state visits to her country unless she can guarantee that people will be nice to him, according to reports.

“I haven’t had great coverage out there lately, Theresa,” Trump told May in a private conversation that was transcribed by aides and reported by senior diplomats to British newspaper The Sun.

May replied stiffly, “Well, you know what the British press are like.”

“I still want to come, but I’m in no rush,” Trump reportedly said to May. “So, if you can fix it for me, it would make things a lot easier.”

“When I know I’m going to get a better reception,” the president said, “I’ll come and not before.”

One of the Sun’s sources said that May “tried to explain she has no power to dictate how newspapers and media might decide to cover his visit.”

“After all,” the individual said. “We are not North Korea.”

Trump, the source said, simply would not agree on a date for a state visit until “people support him coming.”

Trump has been an object of scorn and derision to the majority of the British public. His ham-handed attempts to bend local laws to accommodate a Trump golf course in Scotland have alienated and angered locals. The U.K. Parliament featured a lively debate earlier this year over whether Trump should not only be disinvited from state visits, but whether he should be banned from the country altogether.

[Raw Story]

Donald Trump Jr. Joins Father in Bashing London Mayor After Terror Attack

London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s time would be better spent addressing the terrorism in his own city instead of attacking U.S. President Donald Trump, the president’s son said in an interview that aired Tuesday morning.

“Rather than the mayor of London attacking maybe he should do something about it,” Donald Trump Jr. said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “Maybe he should do something to fix the problem rather than just sit there and pretend there isn’t one. I think that’s an important message.”

The president first criticized Khan, via a post to Twitter, in the hours after the London terrorist attack, quoting the mayor out of context to suggest that he was downplaying the severity of the incident. A spokesman for Khan responded that the mayor “has more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks.”

The president lobbed another insult across the ocean Monday morning, again via Twitter, criticizing what he called a “pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement. MSM is working hard to sell it!”

Nonetheless, Donald Trump Jr. suggested that his father will ultimately be vindicated and that a more proactive approach would ultimately be to London’s benefit.

“Every time he puts something out there he gets criticized by the media all day every day by everyone else and guess what? Two weeks later he’s proven to be right,” the president’s son said. “It happened again and we keep appeasing it and keep saying, ‘okay, it’s going to be great. We’re going to hold fast and we’re going to keep calm and carry on.’ Maybe we have to keep calm and actually do something. And I think that’s what he’s trying to say because he’s been proven right every time.”

[Politico]

Media

BBC News

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