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This is not the first time the United States has withdrawn from the organization, nor is it the first time the United States has criticized UNESCO for anti-Israeli bias.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

President Trump Calls London Mayor’s Words ‘Pathetic Excuse’

President Trump maintained his feud Monday with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, two days after a terrorist attack in the British capital.

“Pathetic excuse by London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement,” Trump tweeted. “MSM is working hard to sell it!”

Trump, who also hit Khan for “alarmed” comment on Sunday, did take it out of context — the mayor was referring to the increased police presence in the city in the wake of the Saturday night attack, not to the attack itself.

Kahn’s statement in full:

My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today. You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers. There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world. You saw last night as a consequence of our planning, our preparation, the rehearsals that take place, the swift response from the emergency services tackling the terrorists and also helping the injured.

The mayor has not responded to the president, but a spokesman told British media that Khan has “more important things to do than respond to Donald Trump’s ill-informed tweet that deliberately takes out of context his remarks.”

During Monday’s press briefing, Trump spokesperson Sarah Sanders said that she did not see Trump’s comments as “picking a fight with the mayor of London at all.” Rather, he was trying to make a point about national security.

[USA Today]

 

 

Trump Blasts London Mayor, Political Correctness After Terror Attacks

President Trump responded to the terror attacks in London by taking aim at London’s mayor, political correctness and gun control.

In a series of early morning tweets, the president derided and misrepresented Mayor Sadiq Khan’s attempt to calm Londoners after the third terror attack in Britain in less than three months.

“At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is “no reason to be alarmed!” said Trump.

In responding to the attacks, Khan told Londoners there’s no “reason to be alarmed” by an increased police presence over the coming days while vowing of the terrorists that “we will never let them win.”

“We must stop being politically correct and get down to the business of security for our people. If we don’t get smart it will only get worse,” Trump said on Twitter. On Saturday night, police said seven people died and at least 48 were injured after a van plowed into pedestrians on London Bridge and assailants went on a stabbing rampage at nearby Borough Market.

In a final tweet, Trump also seemed to blast the gun control debate in the United States. “Do you notice we are not having a gun debate right now? That’s because they used knives and a truck!” said Trump.

Britain has stricter gun laws than in the U.S. and prohibits semi-automatic rifles. In 2011, the U.K. had 0.07 gun homicides for every 100,000 people; the U.S., by contrast, had 3 gun homicides for every 100,000. Further, the U.S. permits individuals on its terror watch list equal gun rights, including purchasing high-capacity weapons like the one Omar Mateen used last year to kill 49 people at an Orlando night club.

Trump’s criticism of the mayor drew fire from Republicans in the U.S., including Doug Heye, a strategist and former top aide to House Republican leadership.

“I can’t imagine Theresa May tweeting like this to the mayor of Orlando or San Bernadino,” said Heye.

[USA Today]

Reality

What Mr Khan actually said was that there is no reason to be alarmed about the increased police presence on the streets after the attack.

“My message to Londoners and visitors to our great city is to be calm and vigilant today,” Mr Khan said. “You will see an increased police presence today, including armed officers and uniformed officers.

“There is no reason to be alarmed by this. We are the safest global city in the world. You saw last night as a consequence of our planning, our preparation, the rehearsals that take place, the swift response from the emergency services tackling the terrorists and also helping the injured.”

 

Trump Fires Back at Merkel, Says Germany is ‘Very Bad’ For The US

President Donald Trump has criticized Germany once again for its large trade surplus with the U.S. and its low contributions to NATO, saying this attitude is “very bad” for the United States.

The comments made on Twitter take current tensions in U.S.-German relations a notch higher.

Chancellor Angela Merkel said at an election rally on Sunday that Germany and the European Union can no longer rely on the United States.

“The times in which we could completely depend on others are, to a certain extent, over,” she told the rally in Munich.

“I’ve experienced that in the last few days. We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands,” she said. Her comments came as she steps up her campaign in the September federal election.

The image of friendly relations between Germany and the U.S. seems distant since Trump took office. His administration has previously said that Germany’s trade surplus is a result of the country’s manipulation of the euro.

Germany fought back arguing that it doesn’t have powers to manipulate the euro and the only reason consumers opt for its products is because they are more competitive.

Data released last February by the German Federal Statistics Office showed that Germany’s trade surplus rose to 252.9 billion euros ($270.05 billion) in 2016, surpassing the previous high of 244.3 billion euros in 2015. If it were a single trade partner, Germany would be the fifth largest in total trade flows with the U.S. But it runs the third largest trade surplus, after China and Japan.

Meanwhile, contributions to the defense alliance NATO has emerged as another problem between Berlin and Washington. Trump has repeatedly asked NATO allies to step up their contributions. At the moment, only 5 of the 28 members fulfill the target of paying at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense.

According to NATO data, Germany is currently spending 1.2 percent of its GDP on NATO. The U.S. spends 3.6 percent.

At a summit last week, Germany, like other NATO members, vowed to present an action plan on how it will increase defense spending. At the time, Trump told his allies they were being unfair toward U.S. taxpayers.

[CNBC]

Allies Distance Themselves From U.S. After Trump’s First Foreign Trip

President Trump received a largely cordial welcome on the first overseas trip of his presidency. But now that he’s returned to Washington, the foreign leaders he met with are increasingly blunt in their reviews of the American president.

In separate remarks intended mostly for domestic consumption, leaders of Germany, France and Israel all sought to distance themselves from Trump, just days after meeting with the president during his nine-day foreign trip to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Vatican City, Brussels and Italy.

Among the sources of friction: Trump’s reluctance to unreservedly commit to the North Atlantic alliance, his skepticism of a climate change accord signed on to by his predecessor, President Obama, and outreach to Palestinians in pursuit of a Middle East peace agreement.

“It’s clear that in Europe at least, that anti-Trump position plays well domestically,” said Ivo Daalder, a former U.S. ambassador to NATO in the Obama administration. “But the larger issue is that the trip didn’t go well in Europe.”

The dynamic is partly one of Trump’s brash style. “I think what grates on European leaders is the sense that he does not treat them as equals, let alone as allies,” Daalder said. “He approaches them in this confrontational way, in an attempt to constantly get a better deal out of them.”

Trump hasn’t spoken about the trip publicly, avoiding press conferences for the entire journey. But on Twitter, he pronounced the mission a triumph. “Just returned from Europe. Trip was a great success for America. Hard work but big results!” Trump tweeted on Sunday.

The reaction abroad was more cautious:

France: New French President Emmanuel Macron said his now-famous white-knuckled handshake with Trump was a deliberate attempt to demonstrate that he wouldn’t be bullied by the American president. “One must show that you won’t make small concessions, even symbolic ones, but also not over-publicize things, either,” he told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche“My handshake with him — it wasn’t innocent.”

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday at a Bavarian beer hall that Europe can no longer “fully rely” on its overseas allies. On climate issues, she said, the Group of Seven meeting was “seven against one” — counting the European Union as part of the seven (and the United States as the one). Her chief political rival took umbrage at the way Trump sought to “humiliate” Merkel in Brussels. “I reject with outrage the way this man takes it upon himself to treat the head of our country’s government,” said Martin Schulz, who is challenging Merkel for the chancellorship as an “anti-Trump” candidate. He said Trump was “acting like an autocratic leader.”

United Kingdom: British Prime Minister Theresa May is upset that American intelligence officials leaked information about the Manchester concert bombing to the media. Trump acknowledged that he got an earful from May, tweeting Sunday that she was “very angry” about the leaks. “Gave me full details!”

Israel: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said Israel has “no better friend” than Trump, appeared to hold the president at arm’s length on Monday. Speaking to members of his conservative Likud party, Netanyahu warned that a Trump-brokered peace negotiation with the Palestinians “comes at a price.” And while he welcomed U.S. support for Israel, he emphasized that “there is no such thing as innocent gifts.”

Palestinian Authority: An Israeli television station reported that Trump shouted at Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, during their meeting in Bethlehem last week yelling, “You tricked me!” and accusing the Palestinian Authority of inciting violence in the West Bank. (The Palestinians denied the report.)

Trump’s trip began in Saudi Arabia with a summit of Muslim Arab leaders — and they’re perhaps the least likely to grumble. After feeling neglected by Obama, the Saudis welcomed a $110 billion arms package and Trump’s more bellicose rhetoric toward mutual enemies like Iran and the Islamic State.

But in Europe, Trump’s “America First” foreign policy appeared to alienate other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the 68-year-old alliance intended to contain Russia — the country at the center of a growing controversy over ties to Trump aides.

At a ceremony meant to solemnize the collective defense provision of the NATO charter in Brussels, Trump failed to explicitly reassure European allies that the U.S. would come to their aid in the event of an attack. Instead, he renewed his complaints that they were not paying their fair share. (In doing so, he misrepresented the commitment by NATO allies to spend at least 2% of their economies on defense.)

And in Sicily, where leaders of the G-7 economic powers gathered, Trump continued his hard-line stance on climate and trade issues. He reportedly told Merkel that Germany was “bad” or “evil” (depending on the translation) because of its trade imbalance with the United States.

But among Trump supporters, his tough talk to foreign leaders drew raves. Sen. Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he “could not be more pleased” with Trump’s international travels.

“The trip was executed to near perfection and it appears the president has made great progress on the broad range of objectives,” he said after speaking with Trump on Sunday.

[USA Today]

‘The Germans Are Bad, Very Bad’: Trump Pledges to ‘Stop’ German Car Sales to US

President Donald Trump is ready to fight Germany in an auto battle according to Germany’s Der Spiegel.

Trump got a chilly reception at the NATO summit in Belgium after attacking fellow members. But he was caught pledging a battle with German automakers as part of his anger with “back dues” he feels the country owes to NATO. As CNN’s Jake Tapper noted Thursday, “Trump seems to think it’s like a country club.”

In a discussion about the country’s trade surplus, Trump said. “The Germans are evil, very evil.”

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US, and we’ll stop that,” sources told Der Spiegel.

According to the report, EU Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker took up for Germany explaining that “free trade is good for all.”

According to a report from the “Süddeutsche Zeitung,” the EU allies were horrified by the willingness of the Americans to view global trade with such a lack of awareness. Trump’s economic consultant Gary Cohn was said to have chided German auto trade during a discussion between the US and Germany and the USA and Belgium. Trump had previously attacked them during another conversation.

“I would say to BMW if they want to build a factory in Mexico and sell cars to the US without a 35 percent tax, they can forget that,” Trump said at the time.

The report revealed that since that comment, there has been “a threat of a criminal tax” in the room.

Trump is bothered by Germany’s trade surplus because many other countries have deficits, particularly the U.S.

[Raw Story]

Trump Blasts NATO Allies for Not Paying Fair Share

Standing before NATO allies in Brussels, President Trump offered a strong rebuke of members who are not meeting defense spending obligations — saying it’s “not fair” to American taxpayers.

“I have been very, very direct with Secretary Stoltenberg and members of the alliance in saying that NATO members must finally contribute their fair share and meet their financial obligations. But 23 of the 28 member nations are still not paying what they should be paying, and what they’re supposed to be paying for their defense,” said Trump.

“This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States, and many of these nations owe massive amounts of money from past years, and not paying in those past years,” said Trump.

[ABC News]

Reality

Donald Trump made the mistake back in July 2016 of his lack of knowledge on NATO, and in his speech in a room full of our NATO allies it was clear he still does not understand how NATO works.

Ivo Daalder, the former U.S. permanent representative on NATO, called out Trump’s misunderstanding in March 2017 in a series of tweets that begin, “Sorry Mr President, that’s not how NATO works.”

“The US decides for itself how much it contributes to defending NATO. This is not a financial transaction, where NATO countries pay the US to defend them. Although it’s true that only five of 28 NATO countries spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense, many are now increasing their defense budgets. That’s a good thing, but even when they do increase their defense budgets, no funds will be paid to the US, but all funds go into a pool. Europe must spend more on defense, but not as favor (or payment) to the US. But because their security requires it.”

Donald Trump Jr. Criticizes London Mayor Just Hours After Parliament Attack

Before basic information about a terrorist attack in London was known, Donald Trump Jr. took to social media to blast the city’s mayor.

Roughly two hours after at least four people were killed near the UK Parliament, the President’s son reposted an article from last year where Sadiq Khan spoke about the dangers of living in world capitals.

“You have to be kidding me?! Terror attacks are part of living in the big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan,” Trump Jr. said alongside a piece from The Independent.

Khan’s statements last September came after the Chelsea bombing wounded 29 people with homemade explosives.

“Part and parcel of living in a great global city is you’ve got to be prepared for these things, you’ve got to be vigilant, you’ve got to support the police doing an incredibly hard job,” Khan said at the time.

It was not immediately clear what Trump Jr. found so offensive about Khan’s comments that he posted it six months later after an attack in the mayor’s city.

The leader of the Trump Organization was criticized online for his comments in the middle of an incident that resulted in the loss of several lives.

“Is this helpful @DonaldJTrumpJr? Did you even read the article before goading London’s Mayor during a live incident?” British journalist Ciaran Jenkins said.

“Khan is right. These things happen. We fight against them. But we don’t wildly over-react or let them change our way of life,” Londoner Tom Coates said, adding that he had lived through IRA bombings and the 7/7 attacks on the London Underground.

Later Wednesday, Trump Jr. retweeted an account identifying the attacker as Abu Izzadeen, a spokesperson for a terrorist-affiliated group in Britain.

But several news outlets that reported the same name eventually issued retractions and apologies after it was reveiled that Izzadeen has been in prison since 2008. As of early Thursday, Trump Jr. had not retracted his retweet or issued an apology.

London authorities reported that at least four people, including police officer Keith Palmer, were killed and 40 more were wounded when a car hit pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into a railing at Parliament.

The assailant allegedly got out of the car and fatally stabbed the officer before being shot by police.

Khan said in a statement on Twitter that his “thoughts are with those affected and their families” and expressed thanks to the police and emergency workers who responded.

(h/t New York Daily News)

1 2 3 4 5