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US bomb threats: Critics blame Trump’s toxic rhetoric

US President Donald Trump called for "more civility" in politics after a string of parcel bombs targeted prominent politicians. Critics claim his attacks on the media and Democrats provide fuel for political violence. Deep divisions and the specter of political violence erupted in the United States Wednesday after a string of parcel bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and news outlet CNN. At least seven packages were intercepted before they reached former President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and others. None of the parcels exploded and nobody was hurt. The FBI has launched an investigation. US President Donald Trump condemned political violence and called for unity, but Democrats and critics were quick to put the blame on the president's often vitriolic rhetoric. Read more: Opinion: Politically motivated violence in Trump's America is no surprise At a rally in Wisconsin ahead of the November 6 mid-term vote that could see Democrats take control of one or both houses of Congress, Trump told supporters the media had a responsibility "to stop the endless hostility and constant negative and oftentimes false attacks and stories." "Any acts or threats of political violence are an attack on our democracy itself," Trump said. "We want all sides to come together in peace and harmony." But he also said that those "engaged in the political arena" must stop treating political opponents as being "morally defective." "No one should carelessly compare political opponents to historic villains, which is done often," he said. Critics lay the blame at Trump's door Former CIA Director John Brennan, who had a parcel bomb addressed to him at CNN's office in New York, said he may have been targeted because of his strong criticism of Trump. Brennan is actually an analyst for NBC. "If I and others are being targeted because we're speaking out ... it's a very unfortunate turn of events," he said at an event in Austin. "Donald Trump too often has helped to incite these acts of violence" but "I'm hoping that maybe this is a turning point." The media has often been at the center of Trump's barbs against "fake news" and he has labeled journalists as "enemies of the people." CNN is one of the president's favorite targets. CNN president Jeff Zucker issued sharp criticism of Trump's verbal assaults on the media. "There is a total and complete lack of understanding at the White House about the seriousness of their continued attacks on the media," said Zucker. "Words matter. Thus far, they have shown no comprehension of that." Senator Chuck Schumer and Representative Nancy Pelosi, two top Democrats, said in a statement that Trump's "words ring hollow until he reverses his statements that condone acts of violence." "Time and time again, the President has condoned physical violence and divided Americans with his words and his actions: Expressing support for the Congressman who body-slammed a reporter, the neo-Nazis who killed a young woman in Charlottesville, his supporters at rallies who get violent with protestors, dictators around the world who murder their own citizens, and referring to the free press as the enemy of the people," they said. Soros targeted The spree of parcel bombs started on Monday with one sent to the New York home of George Soros, a financier of liberal causes who is a bete noire of the far-right. In recent weeks, Soros has been accused by conservatives of trying to undermine Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination and backing a caravan of Central American migrants trying to reach the United States. Laura Silber, a spokeswoman for Soros' Open Society Foundations, blamed toxic political rhetoric for the bomb scares. "The hateful rhetoric that dominates politics in the US and in so many countries around the world breeds extremism and violence," Silber said in a statement. "In this climate of fear, falsehoods and rising authoritarianism, just voicing your views can draw death threats."

US President Donald Trump called for “more civility” in politics after a string of parcel bombs targeted prominent politicians. Critics claim his attacks on the media and Democrats provide fuel for political violence. Deep divisions and the specter of political violence erupted in the United States Wednesday after a string of parcel bombs were sent to prominent Democrats and news ... Read More »

Migrant caravan ‘could not be larger gift’ for Donald Trump

In a replay of his 2016 campaign, President Trump is whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment to stoke his base for the midterm election. But it will do nothing to stop what is a slow moving train wreck in Latin America. "Remember the midterms", US President Donald Trump reminded his 55 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday in a sequence of tweets focused on the so-called migrant caravan that is making its way through Mexico towards the US border. If there was ever any doubt that Trump would forego the attention-grabbing visuals of thousands of Latin American migrants braving brutal conditions to trek tens of miles per day in hopes of reaching the US, a series of presidential tweets sent out in the past couple of days erased it. Using military jargon to describe the caravan and alleging — without offering evidence — that criminals and "unknown Middle Easterners" were part of the group, Trump faulted Democrats and US courts for standing in the way of a tougher immigration policy, and El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, the home countries of most of the migrants, for not preventing them from making the journey. "The timing of this could not be a larger gift to President Trump and the Republican Party in advance of the midterm elections", said Cynthia Arnson, director of the Wilson Center's Latin America program. She noted that, ahead of competitive midterm elections, Trump — by associating immigrants with crime — was simply going back to his electorally successful 2016 campaign playbook. "I think that's precisely why President Trump is going to his Twitter account and making all kinds of harsh statements to appeal to his base and to stoke that kind of fear", said Arnson. "There has been a consistent messaging from this White House to equate migrants with violent crime and the evidence is actually quite the contrary." Trump's controversial effort to turn the plight of thousands of migrants desperate enough to make the consequential decision to leave their homes to go on an arduous journey they hope will somehow enable them to find a safe haven in the United States is unlikely to sway any undecided voters. But it may well succeed in rallying his core base of supporters, which in a close election could be enough to eke out a victory. "This election is going to be won by turnout", said Karen Alter, a political scientist at Northwestern University. "Trump is trying to dial up the fear dial to distract to an area where he is being perceived as stronger, mainly his willingness to crack down on immigration, in hopes that that affects the turnout." Key issue for GOP A Pew Research Center poll published earlier this month appears to support the strategy of focusing on immigration to boost Republican turnout. "Illegal immigration is the highest-ranked national problem among GOP voters, but it ranks lowest among 18 issues for Democratic voters", found Pew researchers. Trump's push to elevate the migrant caravan to an urgent national security issue may bring in Republican votes, but it is disingenuous and does nothing to solve a migrant crisis that has been ongoing in ebbs and flows since 2014 when the first groups of unaccompanied minors entered the US during the Obama administration, noted the scholars. "The larger issue is that there is a slow moving train wreck going on in Latin America of governments that are falling apart and they are generating refugee crises", said Alter. In El Salvador, Honduras and other countries the security situation for people has become so dire now that families simply feel they cannot stay there. With governments unable to provide even the most basic protection for the people, corrupt police forces and ultra-violent gangs and drug cartels taking over, the choice for citizens is easy. Complete desperation "They are leaving out of complete desperation", said Alter. "And since they are leaving out of desperation, nothing that President Trump yells in his tantrum — 'I am going to remove foreign aid, I am going to build a wall' — none of that can stop desperate people who are literally facing life and death situations." What's more, nixing foreign aid to the deeply impoverished nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras will only increase the country's troubles and potentially cause even more people to seek refugee in the US. "There is nothing that could be more counterproductive in the medium and long term, because the only lasting resolution to the migrant crisis is to be found in the region and to changing the conditions of deprivation and violence that continue to cause people to flee because they feel they have no future and no safety within their own borders", said Arnson. Address root causes But that, said the scholars, would require the change of US policy toward a region that it has ignored far too long to its own and the region's detriment. "We are going to need to pay much more attention to our backyard than we have been paying attention to it recently", said Alter. "And the good news is that we don't actually have Muslim fundamentalist terrorists in Latin America and that these are really internal crises that you actually might have a chance to address." But instead of focusing on the much more difficult task, of addressing the root causes of the ongoing migrant crisis in the region, Trump has chosen the very convenient path "to throw these chaos bombs to distract the media, to distract the American public and to try to motivate people to turn out in the midterm elections."

In a replay of his 2016 campaign, President Trump is whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment to stoke his base for the midterm election. But it will do nothing to stop what is a slow moving train wreck in Latin America. “Remember the midterms”, US President Donald Trump reminded his 55 million followers on Twitter on Tuesday in a sequence of tweets ... Read More »

Donald Trump confirms US will pull out of nuclear arms pact with Russia

President Donald Trump has announced he will pull the United States out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal with Russia. The president has accused Russia of violating the 1987 pact, but provided no further details. The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. Trump justified the move by accusing Moscow of violating the 1987 nuclear arms pact , but refused to provide further details. "[Russia] has been violating it for many years. I don't know why President Obama didn't negotiate or pull out," the president said following a campaign stop in Elko, Nevada. "We're not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement and go out and do weapons [while] we're not allowed to. We are going to terminate the agreement and then we are going to develop the weapons." Trump went on to indicate that he would reconsider, provided Russia and China agreed to sign up to a fresh nuclear deal. China is party to the current pact. "We'll have to develop those weapons, unless Russia comes to us and China comes to us and they all come to us and say let's really get smart and let's none of us develop those weapons, but if Russia's doing it and if China's doing it, and we're adhering to the agreement, that's unacceptable," Trump said. The landmark agreement, signed by then-leaders Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, prohibits the US and Russia from possessing, producing or testing ground-launched cruise missiles with a range of 300 to 3,400 miles (500 to 5,500 kilometers). US dreaming of 'unipolar world': Russia Russia has responded to Washington's impending withdrawal from the arms treaty by accusing it of striving to become the world's only superpower. "The main motive is a dream of a unipolar world. Will it come true? No," Moscow's state-run news agency RIA Novosti quoted a foreign ministry official as saying. "This decision is part of the US policy course to withdraw from those international legal agreements that place equal responsibilities on it and its partners and make vulnerable its concept of its own 'exceptionalism.'" Russian Senator Alexei Pushkov took to Twitter to condemn the move as "the second powerful blow against the whole system of strategic stability in the world," with the first being Washington's 2001 withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told the TASS state news agency that Trump's planned move was dangerous. "This would be a very dangerous step that, I'm sure, not only will not be comprehended by the international community but will provoke serious condemnation," he said. Second Trump-Putin summit still in the pipeline Trump's announcement comes just as US National Security Adviser John Bolton is set to begin a series of visits to Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia. In Moscow, Bolton is expected to begin preparations for a second summit between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although no date has yet been announced, a meeting is expected in the near future. That could be in November, when the two leaders will be in Paris for a commemoration ceremony marking the end of World War I. Another possibility would be around the time of the next G20 leaders' summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, slated to begin November 30. Tensions between Russia and the US remain strained over the Ukraine crisis, the conflict in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential vote and the upcoming midterm elections.

President Donald Trump has announced he will pull the United States out of a Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal with Russia. The president has accused Russia of violating the 1987 pact, but provided no further details. The United States will withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, President Donald Trump announced Saturday. Trump justified the move by accusing ... Read More »

Central American migrants vote to reform caravan, continue march toward US

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue marching toward the US border. The migrants in question, most of whom are from Honduras, had entered Mexico without registering by crossing the Suchiate River on the border with Guatemala, either by swimming or on makeshift rafts. It followed a chaotic day at the border on Friday when thousands surged through a series of police lines and barricades, only to ultimately be pushed back by Mexican officers in riot gear. Thousands remain stranded on the bridge connecting the two nations. Rodrigo Abeja, one of the caravan's leaders, told The Associated Press the group that crossed the border would move toward the Mexican city of Tapachula on Sunday morning. "We don't yet know if we will make it to the (US) border, but we are going to keep going as far as we can," he said. The migrants gathered in a park on the Mexican side of the river crossing shouting "Let's all walk together!" and "Yes we can!" Mexico allows women, children to register as migrants Meanwhile, authorities at Mexico's southern border on Saturday allowed small groups of women and children to enter the country and be processed by immigration officials. Those migrants were then taken to a shelter in Tapachula, some 25 miles (40 kilometers) from the border. Most of the women and children had spent the night sleeping out in the open, either on the packed border bridge or in the Guatemalan border city of Tecun Uman. Mexican authorities have insisted that those still stranded on the bridge crossing will have to file asylum claims one-by-one to gain access to the country. It remains unclear whether their applications are likely to be accepted. Meanwhile, the Guatemalan government has organized a fleet of buses to take the migrants back to their native Honduras. Initial estimates suggest over 300 people have already taken up the offer. Trump: Migrant caravan politically motivated The migrant caravan's decision to continue travelling toward the US comes despite assertions by US President Donald Trump on Friday that not a single one of them would be allowed to enter the United States "on [his] watch." Trump has sought to make the caravan and US border security a central issue ahead of midterm elections in just over two weeks' time. The president kept up that rhetoric during a rally in Elko, Nevada, on Saturday. "The Democrats want caravans, they like the caravans. A lot of people say 'I wonder who started that caravan?'" he said. Trump went on to praise Mexican authorities for trying to halt the caravan's progress. "Mexico has been so incredible. Thank you Mexico and the leaders of Mexico, thank you," he said. "And you know why, because now Mexico respects the leadership of the United States." However, Mexico's increasingly no-nonsense approach to the large inflows of migrants has largely come on the back of Trump's threats to cut aid and shut down the US-Mexico border if authorities did not stop them. Back in Guatemala, Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez and his Guatemalan counterpart Jimmy Morales echoed Trump's politicized theme as the pair met Saturday to discuss the crisis. "This migration has political motivations," said Morales, "which is violating the borders and the good faith of the states and of course putting at risk the most important thing, people." Hernandez also deplored "the abuse of people's needs" for "political reasons." Honduras, where most of the migrants are from, has seen violent street gangs brutally rule over large swathes of turf for years. With a homicide rate of nearly 43 citizens per 100,000, the country ranks among the poorest and most violent in the Americas

Some 2,000 Central American migrants who managed to cross from Guatemala into Mexico have vowed to continue marching toward the US. President Donald Trump has politicized the caravan ahead of the midterm elections. About 2,000 Central American migrants who successfully crossed the Guatemalan border into Mexico voted in a show of hands on Saturday to reform their caravan and continue ... Read More »

Donald Trump threatens to shut US-Mexico border with troops

US President Donald Trump has threatened to order the military to close the US-Mexico border to stop an "onslaught" of migrants. Mexico itself geared up for the arrival of up to 3,000 people from Honduras on its border. US President Donald Trump on Thursday accused the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of conducting an "assault" on the United States by allowing people to travel north into Mexico. He went on to threaten to use the military to close the border if Mexico did not stop the migrants traveling through the country to the United States. Trump appealed to Mexico to stop the migrants, and also warned that he would stop aid payments to Central American countries "which seem to have almost no control of their population." Trump's threats — which appeared in a string of tweets — came as thousands of migrants made their way through Guatemala toward the Mexican border. One single caravan, estimated to include between 1,500 to 3,000 people, left Honduras headed north last Saturday. Many, seeking to escape gang violence and poverty, are believed to be seeking a route to the United States. Some told the AFP news agency that they planned to enter Mexico en masse. Trump's tweets also blamed Democrats for the situation, claiming that weak laws were to blame, and said the migrants included criminal elements. It remained unclear whether Trump's threat would result in any military deployment. Read more: US-Mexico border scandals sink bilateral ties to historic low Huge quantities of goods and hundreds of thousands of people move across the border legally each day. Trump has made immigration across the border from Mexico, including his call for a wall across the frontier, a central policy in his administration. His administration's policy of separating familes and detaining thousands of children, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, prompted widespread condemnation. Playing to the crowd? While Trump's tweets on Thursday were particularly robust, Mexico's foreign minister-designate Marcelo Ebrard downplayed them, saying they were aimed at his US political base. "The position of President Trump is the one he has always raised," Ebrard told local radio station Radio Centro. "It was predictable and also the election process is very close, so he is making a political calculation." Read more: Migrants gamble with their lives on the 'death train' Mexico has said it will ask the United Nations refugee office for help with the arrival of the Honduran migrants, who include many families with children. Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said he planned to make the formal request in a meeting with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New York. "For the Mexican government it is essential first to respect and protect the human rights and fundamental dignity of all of the migrants and to do so under a logical and humanitarian and respectful treatment," said Videgaray.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to order the military to close the US-Mexico border to stop an “onslaught” of migrants. Mexico itself geared up for the arrival of up to 3,000 people from Honduras on its border. US President Donald Trump on Thursday accused the Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras of conducting an “assault” on ... Read More »

Donald Trump moves to leave postal union in latest jab at China

A 144-year-old postal treaty has become the latest battleground in the Trump administration's escalating trade war with China. Washington claims the UN treaty benefits China and other countries at the expense of the US. President Donald Trump is preparing to withdraw the United States from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) over accusations that the treaty disadvantages the US, White House officials said on Wednesday. The UPU is a 144-year-old United Nations treaty that coordinates international postal policies. Part of the treaty also allows China and other countries to ship packages to the US at lowered rates. Two senior White House officials, who spoke under condition of anonymity, informed reporters that Trump hopes to renegotiate the treaty even as it begins to withdraw from the postal union. They argued that the treaty allows foreign postal services, especially in China but also in Germany, to take advantage of cheap shipments to the US. Officials said it is cheaper to ship certain packages to the US from abroad than it is to send them domestically. "People are getting hurt in this country by an unfair system," one of the officials told reporters on a conference call. Targeting China The administration officials also said that the treaty is causing the US Postal Service to lose $300 million (€260 million) a year and said people smuggling the narcotic fentanyl use the treaty to cheaply ship the drug from China to the US. Under the current UPU agreement, foreign merchants are able to ship small packages weighing 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds) or less at a discounted rate to the US. The Trump administration hopes to renegotiate treaty to allow the US to set its own rates for such packages to cover the cost of delivery. Officials stressed that the goal is not to leave the UPU, even as they announced Trump's intention to withdraw from the treaty. The National Association of Manufacturers supported Trump's move, calling the UPU "outdated" in the age of e-commerce. "Manufacturers and manufacturing workers in the United States will greatly benefit from a modernized and far more fair arrangement with China," Jay Timmons, the president of the association, said in a statement. Wednesday's announcement is the latest move by the Trump administration to remove the United States from multi-lateral organizations and agreements that it believes disadvantage the country. Washington is already embroiled in a trade war with Beijing. In recent weeks, the US has imposed tariffs on around $250 billion-wroth of Chinese products while Beijing responded by targeting $110 billion in US goods.

A 144-year-old postal treaty has become the latest battleground in the Trump administration’s escalating trade war with China. Washington claims the UN treaty benefits China and other countries at the expense of the US. President Donald Trump is preparing to withdraw the United States from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) over accusations that the treaty disadvantages the US, White House ... Read More »

China’s Xinjiang region legalizes Muslim internment camps

China's regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of "education and training centers" to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are internment camps in which as many as 1 million minority Muslims have been placed in the past 12 months, according to rights groups and NGO reports. The amended legislation states that Chinese regional governments "can set up vocational education and training centers ... to educate and transform those who have been influenced by extremism." However, besides teaching the Mandarin language and providing vocational skills, the new clause directs centers to provide "ideological education, psychological rehabilitation and behavior correction." Beijing denies that the centers serve as internment camps but has admitted that even petty criminals have been sent to such centers. Former detainees have told rights group that they were forced to denounce Islam and made to profess their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party. "It's a retrospective justification for the mass detainment of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang," James Leibold, a scholar of Chinese ethnic policies at Melbourne's La Trobe University, told the AP news agency "It's a new form of re-education that's unprecedented and doesn't really have a legal basis, and I see them scrambling to try to create a legal basis for this policy." Members of the Uighur, Kazakh and other Muslim minorities who live abroad have indicated they have been unable to contact their relatives in China. The Chinese government has for decades tried to suppress pro-independence movements among Xinjiang's Muslim community, spurred largely out of frustration over the influx of migrants of migrants from China's Han majority. Chinese authorities say that extremists in the region have ties to terror groups, but have given little evidence to support that claim. The latest legislation comes after the regional government launched a crackdown on halal products and banned the wearing of veils. China faces international condemnation over camps Following the Xinjiang region's law change, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers proposed legislation on Wednesday urging President Donald Trump to condemn the "gross violations" of human rights in the northwestern Chinese region. The proposal put forward by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China calls on Trump to press his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to immediately shut down what they described as "political re-education camps." It also proposes imposing sanctions against Xinjiang's Communist Party chief Chen Quanguo under the Magnitsky Act, which would prevent him from entering the US and freeze any assets he has in US banks. Read more: China's Xinjiang Muslims 'require DNA samples' for travel documents "China's authoritarianism at home directly threatens our freedoms as well as our most deeply held values and national interests," Florida Senator Marco Rubio and New Jersey Representative Chris Smith, both Republicans, said in a joint statement. The European Union's top foreign policy official Federica Mogherini expressed similar concerns last week. The proposed measures by US lawmakers come as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to escalate over tariff disputes and American complaints over China's technology policy.

China’s regional government in Xinjiang has amended its laws to effectively legalize internment camps targeting Muslim minorities. Some 1 million Muslims are currently thought to be held in such centers. Chinese authorities in the far-northwestern region of Xinjiang on Wednesday revised legislation to permit the use of “education and training centers” to combat religious extremism. In practice, the centers are ... Read More »

US Ambassador to UN Nikki Haley resigns

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country's envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump said Haley would leave the administration "at the end of the year," adding that she had done an incredible job. The president said that together, they had "solved a lot of problems." "We hate to lose (you)," Trump said. "Hopefully, you'll be coming back at some point. Maybe a different capacity. You can have your pick." No reason for the resignation has yet been provided. Haley insisted she was not planning to run for president against Trump in 2020, saying only that being ambassador had "been the honor of a lifetime," and that it was "important to understand when it's time to stand aside." Her departure is being seen as a blow for the White House just weeks before the US midterm election. Haley's is the latest resignation in a leadership team with a relatively high turnover — Trump has already lost one secretary of state and two national security advisers. Read more: Is the UN facing budget cuts under Trump? DW's Washington correspondent, Maya Shwayder, described the resignation as a big loss, saying that Haley was a well-respected diplomat within the administration. Before being chosen as Trump's ambassador in November 2016, Haley, 46, served as governor of the state of South Carolina — the first woman to hold the post. As governor she was a vocal critic of Trump's remarks on immigrants during the 2016 presidential campaign. She also gained a reputation as a racial conciliator after leading the campaign to take down the Confederate flag at the South Carolina State House in 2015. Haley's limited foreign policy experience made her a surprising pick for UN ambassador. In the role, she represented Trump's often unpopular agenda at the UN, advocating a hard-line stance on Iran, cutting the UN budget and leading the US withdrawal from the UN Human Rights Council after accusing the body of being anti-Israel. Last month, she coordinated Trump's first time chairing the UN Security Council. "Look at what has happened in two years with the United States on foreign policy. Now, the United States is respected," Haley told reporters at the White House. "Countries may not like what we do, but they respect what we do." UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres expressed his "deep appreciation for the excellent cooperation and support" that Haley has shown, his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Israeli UN Ambassador Danny Danon thanked Haley for being a "true friend" to the country. "Thank you for representing the values common to Israel and the United States," he said in a statement. The top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations committee, Bob Menendez, said he was "deeply concerned about the leadership vacuum" created by Haley's resignation, and called it "yet another sign of the Trump administration's chaotic foreign policy." Trump said he would name her successor in the next two to three weeks.

US President Donald Trump has announced the resignation of the country’s envoy to the UN. Nikki Haley, who had served since January 2017, is the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the administration. US President Donald Trump announced Tuesday that he had accepted the resignation of United Nations envoy Nikki Haley. Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, ... Read More »

Palestinian protest on Gaza border turns deadly

Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and at least 12 killed by Israeli security forces facing down land protests on the Gaza-Israel border. The protests are to continue until the new US Embassy is opened. Tens of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, gathered at five points along the fenced border at the start of six weeks of protests on Friday. The five sites have been set up from near the Erez border crossing in the north to Rafah, where it meets the Egyptian border in the south. At least 12 Palestinians were killed on Friday: two of them by Israeli tank fire, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The same source said 400 people were wounded by live Israeli gunfire and others were struck by rubber bullets or treated for the effects of tear gas. Organizers had called on demonstrators to stay away from the border area but as the day wore on, hundreds of young people moved closer to the frontier, from where the Israeli military kept watch. Disproportionate force? The Israeli military said Palestinians rolled burning tires and threw stones at the Israeli forces, who responded with live bullets, tear gas and fired at what they called the "main instigators." Witnesses said the Israeli military used a drone to drop tear gas over at least one location. Three sites in particular were targeted with tank fire and an airstrike after the Israelis claimed there had been a shooting attack against their soldiers. No Israeli soldier was injured. Palestinians, and Turkish authorities, accused Israel of using disproportionate force. The protest, which has the backing of Hamas, is expected to last more than six weeks, as US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital becomes final when the US Embassy moves to Jerusalem. On Friday evening, organizers encouraged demonstrators to withdraw from the border area until Saturday. 'A message to Trump' "The Great March of Return is a message to Trump," Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of the Hamas political bureau, told the crowds. "There is no concession to Jerusalem, no alternative to Palestine, and no solution but to return. This is the Palestinian people taking the initiative and making the event for the sake of Palestine ... for the sake of Jerusalem and the right of return," Haniyeh said. The protests began as Palestinians marked Land Day, commemorating the killing of six unarmed Arab protesters in Israel in 1976. Dubbed "The Great March of Return," organizers said the rallies would continue until May 15 when Palestinians commemorate the Nakba, or "catastrophe," where more than 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes or were expelled during the war that led to the creation of Israel in 1948. The date is one day after the new US Embassy in Jerusalem is expected to be formally opened. According to the United Nations, about 1.3 million of Gaza's 2 million residents are refugees or the descendants of refugees, and the protest is calling for them to be allowed to return to land that has been taken by Israel. Read more: Intifadas: What you need to know jm,law/sms (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

Hundreds of Palestinians have been injured and at least 12 killed by Israeli security forces facing down land protests on the Gaza-Israel border. The protests are to continue until the new US Embassy is opened. Tens of thousands of Palestinians, including women and children, gathered at five points along the fenced border at the start of six weeks of protests ... Read More »

Majority of South Koreans favor North Korea ‘friendship’

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to Pyongyang for face-to-face talks with Kim, while 31.2 percent disagreed and expressed the belief that additional pressure – such as international sanctions - is the best way to force North Korea to moderate its behavior. The poll was conducted half-way through the Winter Olympic Games, which are being held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, and the results underline the surge in friendly feelings that ordinary South Koreans have felt towards their neighbors on the other side of the Demilitarized Zone. Read more: Olympics chief Thomas Bach set to visit North Korea And that is a direct result of a combination of sense of fear and feeling of hope among many in the South. 'Bloody nose' attack The fear for them is that US President Donald Trump intends to carry out a "bloody nose" military strike against targets in the North in an attempt to demonstrate Washington's capabilities and its willingness to use force. And the other element of the equation is hope that North Korea is genuinely interested in building a more collaborative relationship with the South and that peace is finally possible, 65 years after the end of the Korean War. "Those numbers in this poll, and others, come as no surprise to me at all," said Ahn Yin-hay, a professor of international relations at Korea University in Seoul. "There have been lots of reports of Washington planning a 'bloody nose' attack on a missile site or a nuclear facility in the North, and that makes people very worried because Pyongyang can be expected to retaliate and it is likely to target South Korea," she told DW. "South Koreans believe that a strategy of talking to the North is better than a violent approach that threatens our safety," she said. "Talking has a far better likelihood of achieving peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula." Moon is widely seen as having worked extremely hard since he took over the government in Seoul in May last year to build bridges with the North. Those approaches – including offers of talks to reduce the military threat levels, a front-line military hotline and reunions for families separated since the end of the Korean War in 1953 - were initially ignored or rebuffed by Pyongyang. The gradual ratcheting up of international sanctions in the closing months of 2017, however, appear to have convinced Kim Jong Un to be more amenable to discussions, while the timing and location of the Winter Olympic Games have provided the perfect opportunity for détente to flourish. Yet Moon is clearly in a difficult position. He may want to push ahead with a summit that may turn out to be a turning point in the bilateral relationship. It may, however, equally be a ploy by the North Korean regime to drive a wedge between Seoul and its most important security partner, Washington, as part of Pyongyang's broader long-term aim of a united Korean Peninsula controlled by the government that presently occupies the North. Read more: North Korea leader Kim Jong Un invites South Korean president to summit Historic handshake marks Korean unity at Olympic Opening Ceremony Alienating the US Moon must be careful not to alienate the US – and its present unpredictable leader – as he still needs Washington's security guarantees. Underlining the tightrope that he is walking, Moon said on Saturday that a decision on a summit with Kim is too early. "There are many expectations, but I believe they might be a little too anxious," Moon told reporters when asked about the possibility of a summit. He reiterated that there needs to be progress on the question of North Korea getting rid of its nuclear weapons before real progress can be made. There are, however, a number of areas in which progress can take place and would arguably serve as confidence-building measures for the two sides, believes Ahn. These include discussions between military leaders at the border on easing tensions and reunions of families divided by the DMZ. "If progress can be made in these areas, then I am optimistic that we could see a summit in the late summer months," she said, suggesting a meeting that would coincide with the anniversary of the June 2000 summit between Kim Jong Il and Kim Dae-jung, the then South Korean leader. Another symbolic date that could appeal to both sides might be August 15, the Liberation Day national holiday marking the end of Imperial Japan's colonial rule over the peninsula. Yet others are less positive about the outlook on the peninsula. "Of course South Koreans are saying they want the summit to happen; they do not want a war and the North Korean 'charm offensive' during the Olympics has been a huge success," said Jun Okumura, a political analyst at the Meiji Institute for Global Affairs. Read more: US wants North Korea to give up nuclear weapons as pre-condition of talks Kim Jong Un: North Korea has completed nuclear program, US will never attack Difficult situation "But Moon is in a very difficult position, stuck between the US, North Korea and even China as a major player in this situation," he said. "I do not see how Moon can square the South's relationship with the US with this meeting," he said. "And I believe that the issue of the joint US-South Korean military exercises could be the flash point." At the request of Pyongyang, the US and South Korea agreed to postpone military annual exercises that were due to be held during the Winter Olympics. North Korea is now demanding that the manoeuvers be cancelled entirely, warning that failure to do so would reverse all the positive developments in the bilateral relationship of recent weeks. Moon has a choice; one option is to bow to the North Korean demand and risk alienating the US entirely – and possibly encouraging Washington to take a unilateral approach to dealing with North Korea, which could involve the much-feared "bloody nose" approach. Alternatively, he can reschedule the exercises and face the wrath of Pyongyang. "I would say that everything hinges on these exercises and the situation is extremely dangerous at the moment," Okumura said. "A decision must be made in the next few weeks and, whatever that decision is, the ramifications will be felt this spring." Read more: Dialogue with North Korea must continue, says German President Steinmeier

More than 60 percent of South Koreans believe President Moon should sit down with Kim Jong Un at a summit designed to improve bilateral relations and ease the military tensions that have dogged the region for many years. A poll conducted on February 15 showed that 61.5 percent of South Korean adults nationwide were in favor of Moon travelling to ... Read More »

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