Macron: No planet B rebuke to Trump

A day after putting on a show of bonhomie and unity with Donald Trump the French President Emmanual Macron switched to plan B in a speech to the US Congress, criticising a number of Trump policy positions.

Macron spoke against isolationism and nationalism, and one of his biggest rebukes was over climate change, saying there was no planet B.

RNZ: Macron attacks nationalism in speech to US Congress

French President Emmanuel Macron has used his speech to the joint houses of the US Congress to denounce nationalism and isolationism.

Mr Macron said such policies were a threat to global prosperity.

The speech was seen as rebuking Donald Trump, who has been accused of stoking nationalism and promoting isolationism through his America First policies.

Mr Macron said the US had invented multilateralism and needed to reinvent it for a new 21st Century world order.

The French president was given a three-minute standing ovation as he took his place in the chamber for his speech.

On isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism:

Mr Macron said isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism “can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears. But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. It will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens”.

He added: “We will not let the rampaging work of extreme nationalism shake a world full of hopes for greater prosperity.”

He said the UN and the Nato military alliance might not be able to fulfil their mandates and assure stability if the West ignored the new dangers arising in the world.

On trade…

…Mr Macron said that “commercial war is not the proper answer”, as it would “destroy jobs and increase prices”, adding: “We should negotiate through the World Trade Organization. We wrote these rules, we should follow them.”

On Iran…

…Mr Macron said his country would not abandon a nuclear deal with Tehran that was agreed by world powers when President Barack Obama was in office but which Mr Trump has branded “terrible”.

Mr Macron said: “This agreement may not address all concerns, and very important concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something more substantial instead.”

Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never.”

On the environment…

… he said by “polluting the oceans, not mitigating CO2 emissions and destroying biodiversity we are killing our planet. Let us face it, there is no Planet B”.

Trump has not responded yet. Prior to Macron’s speech:

I haven’t heard that reported anywhere. Instead Washington is abuzz with Macron’s plan B.

Presidential parade

An ex-presidential line-up.

That was taken at ex-First Lady Barbara Bush’s funeral.

President Trump didn’t attend the funeral, which was not out of the ordinary. USA Today: President Trump was not at Barbara Bush’s funeral – here’s why

President Trump did not attend former first lady Barbara Bush’s funeral on Saturday in Houston.

Instead, first lady Melania Trump was there representing the Trumps, continuing a tradition of first ladies attending the funerals of their predecessors.

The White House told the BBC Trump wouldn’t attend “to avoid disruptions due to added security, and out of respect for the Bush Family.”

Trump’s absence isn’t unusual for a sitting president. The last president to attend a first lady’s funeral was John F. Kennedy, who went to Eleanor Roosevelt’s service in 1962.

Former president Barack Obama did not attend Nancy Reagan’s funeral in 2016 or Betty Ford’s in 2011, and Bill Clinton did not attend the funeral of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Clinton did speak at a graveside service for her at Arlington National Cemetery in 1994.

A president in attendance would be potentially quite disruptive with all the security involved.

CNN: President Trump won’t attend Barbara Bush funeral, to ‘avoid disruptions’

Former President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter will not attend, as Jimmy Carter will be on a trip overseas and Rosalynn Carter is recovering from recent intestinal surgery, a spokesperson for the Carter Center said in a statement Thursday.

Bush, the matriarch of a Republican political dynasty and a first lady who elevated the cause of literacy, died Tuesday. She was 92.

There could have been unnecessary controversy if Trump had attended, as Barbara Bush had strongly criticised him during the presidential campaign. Snopes has a summary:

During the 2016 campaign, Barbara Bush didn’t hold back in her critiques of then-candidate Donald Trump. In the course of a CNN interview, for example, she proclaimed that “[Trump] doesn’t give many answers to how he would solve problems. He sort of makes faces and says insulting things … He’s said terrible things about women, terrible things about the military. I don’t understand why people are for him, for that reason. I’m a woman … I’m not crazy about what he says about women.”

In another interview with CBS, Bush again lambasted Trump for his comments about women and called him a “comedian” or a “showman”:

Trump beat off a challenge from her son Jeb Bush in the Republican nomination for the 2016 presidential campaign.

 

 

 

Nikki Haley’s stand against White House wavering and waffle

President is well known to be unpredictable – he plays on it – but this has often resulted in mixed messages from himself and from White House staff. Discipline and co-ordination are often lacking, to the extent sometimes that the White House looks disorganised and confused. It can certainly be confusing.

This week U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke on Russian sanctions, was slapped down by the White House, but she slapped back, and this prompted an apology.

Weekly Standard editorial: A Failure to Communicate

Tight messaging and internal discipline don’t make a presidency—the Obama administration was extremely disciplined in its public pronouncements, and it was a disaster in almost every respect. But the present administration suffers from an almost total lack of coherence in its communications to the public and that debilitation has consequences beyond mere politics.

The problem can be located in the Oval Office: When President Trump makes a decision, or reverses one, he doesn’t always tell the relevant people.

This week, it was U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley’s turn.

Haley wasn’t fired but reprimanded—wrongly. On Sunday, April 15, speaking on Face the Nation, she announced the imposition of new sanctions on Russia for its nefarious abetting of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime. She said what she had thought, almost certainly correctly, was the president’s position: “Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday if he hasn’t already and they will go directly to any sort of companies that were dealing with equipment related to Assad and chemical weapons use.”

… in this case she appears to have stated exactly what the cabinet had agreed to do.

Only later—evidently without bothering to apprise his subordinates—the president changed his mind. From Mar-a-Lago, Larry Kudlow, the president’s national economic adviser, contradicted Haley. She had, Kudlow told reporters, gotten “ahead of the curve” by announcing the new sanctions; the ambassador may have had “some momentary confusion about that.”

Another White House official told the Washington Post that Haley’s remark was “an error that needs to be mopped up.”

Haley responded to Kudlow curtly. “With all due respect,” she was quoted by Fox News’s Dana Perino as saying, “I don’t get confused.”

Later, and very much to his credit, Kudlow called Haley to apologize. “She was certainly not confused,” he told the New York Times. He was “totally wrong” to speak as he did.

What almost certainly happened is that the president balked on the sanctions, his national security team sans Haley agreed to the change, and either someone forgot to tell Haley or everyone did. This is what happens when a president and his staff haven’t quite established its decision-making process and fails to keep everyone informed.

It seems to be a common failing of Trump and his administration.

Trump famously values unpredictability. We wish he wouldn’t use it so often against his own staff.

It would be good if he didn’t use it so much against the US either. A chaotic presidency is high risk – some things may work out well, due to or despite Trump chaos, but it seems just a matter of time before mistakes or misinformation mires the country in major muck.

Haley has come out of this looking strong and bold, she is one of the star performers of a very mixed administration. And that has refueled speculation about her political ambitions.

The Hill: Haley spat fuels political chatter around White House

Nikki Haley’s public spat with the White House has underscored Trump World’s obsession about the political ambitions of people in the president’s orbit.

Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, raised eyebrows Tuesday when she hit back at the White House after top economic adviser Larry Kudlow accused her of being confused when she prematurely announced new sanctions against Moscow on Sunday.

Nonetheless, the comments had Trump allies saying that Haley is thinking too much of her own political brand.

“Clearly she has machinations for higher office and will do anything to continue rising, even if it eventually means throwing President Trump and his administration under the bus,” said one former White House official.

The White House tried to throw Haley under a bus, but she fought back and won.

It wouldn’t be difficult to look better than Trump (or Hillary Clinton). Haley looks like she would potentially be a big improvement.

A GOP strategist in contact with the White House said “there is no doubt” that Haley has eyes on a higher office, but that it is highly unlikely she will be running for the White House in the near term.

At the age of 46, Haley’s future in politics could go beyond Trump’s presidency — which his supporters expect to last through 2024.

Haley’s defenders say it is natural for her speak out to maintain her integrity when she is criticized publicly.

Integrity stands out amongst the current chaos because it is in short supply.

“She has to stand up for herself because she is being characterized as confused,” said the GOP strategist.

“I think it is a question of competency and she is obviously competent,” said the former White House official when asked about the president’s feelings about Haley.

The ambassador has not become enmeshed in the type of ethics scandals that have plagued other Cabinet heads and her charisma and outspokenness, while grating to some, can be an asset for the president.

“She is a well-spoken female conservative and for better or for worse, that goes a long way with a lot of people. There is a deficit of that in the GOP,” the former official said.

The US could do a lot worse than having Haley as president – like now (deliberate double meaning).

Trump pushing weapon sales to Middle East

You would have to be cynical to think that this has anything to do with The ‘virtue-bombing’ of Syria.

 Arming the world: Inside Trump’s ‘Buy American’ drive to expand weapons exports

In a telephone call with the emir of Kuwait in January, U.S. President Donald Trump pressed the Gulf monarch to move forward on a $10 billion fighter jet deal that had been stalled for more than a year.

With this Oval Office intervention, the details of which have not been previously reported, Trump did something unusual for a U.S. president – he personally helped to close a major arms deal. In private phone calls and public appearances with world leaders, Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry, analysts said.

Trump’s personal role underscores his determination to make the United States, already dominant in the global weapons trade, an even bigger arms merchant to the world, U.S. officials say, despite concerns from human rights and arms control advocates.

Those efforts will be bolstered by the full weight of the U.S. government when Trump’s administration rolls out a new “Buy American” initiative as soon as this week aimed at allowing more countries to buy more and even bigger weapons. It will loosen U.S. export rules on equipment ranging from fighter jets and drones to warships and artillery, the officials said.

Human rights and arms control advocates warn that the proliferation of a broader range of advanced weaponry to more foreign governments could increase the risk of arms being diverted into the wrong hands and fueling violence in regions such as the Middle East and South Asia.

There’s good bomb business in the Middle East in particular, even under the guise of virtue bombs.

The ‘virtue-bombing’ of Syria

There has been a lot of questioning of what looked like a largely symbolic missile strike on Syria. Donald Trump in particular, with the aid of the UK and France, made a big deal about ‘mission accomplished’, with limited damage of questionable targets and no idea what the flow on effects might be.

There are suspicions there may have been collusion with Russia, and one could wonder if Syria even volunteered some harmless uninhabited targets. If the US knew there were chemical weapon laboratories where they claim them to be why did they wait until chemicals had allegedly been used against civilians?

I think a high degree of scepticism is warranted with any claims from any side of this murky Middle East mess.

However Brendan O’Neill at spiked is in little doubt. He claims: THE WEST’S VIRTUE-BOMBING OF SYRIA IS A DISASTROUS MISTAKE

Our governments have made themselves the allies of ISIS.

We’ve had virtue-signalling – now we have virtue-bombing. A military strike designed not to defeat an enemy, or take territory, or achieve any kind of tangible political goal, but rather to make a showy statement about our presumed moral decency. A violent tweet. The military wing of gesture politics. The pursuit of PR by other means.

The American, British and French assault on targets in Damascus at the weekend is an example of virtue-bombing. spiked is not a pacifist publication, but it is very clear to us that this is an act of war unanchored from geopolitical reason and ungoverned by the very basics of political judgement.

This joint intervention will do nothing to help the people of Syria and in fact could make their terrible lot worse. As even some in the pro-bombing camp recognise, taking out a few alleged chemical-weapons facilities will not stem the bloodshed in a war in which the vast majority of people are killed by conventional means.

And as they occasionally confess, weakening one alleged part of the Assad regime’s military apparatus will do nothing to dent the Assad-Russia-Iran alliance to win back Syrian territory from the various opposition forces, some of whom are disturbingly backward movements given to beheading dissidents, obliterating women’s liberty, and enforcing 7th-century diktats.

In fact it could end up strengthening that alliance, through escalating the ante so that this alliance is now not only concerned with defending Assad’s authority over Syria, but also with defending its own global and domestic reputations against a new militaristic alliance of Western powers.

…the second thing it will do is boost the very species of Islamist extremism that has in recent years declared existential war upon the West and which in Europe has massacred almost 500 people in the past five years alone. Such groups, rife in the vortex that Syria has become, will benefit directly from the Western alliance’s actions.

This is perhaps the most shocking element of the strikes on Damascus: they make Western powers and their media cheerleaders objectively into the allies of some of the darkest, foulest movements at work in the world today.

From ISIS to the Army of Islam to al-Nusra (now Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), the movements lined up against Assad are far from the ‘rebels’ some Western media coverage would have us believe. They are ruthless religious extremists whose victory in Syria would make the Assad regime, with all its authoritarianism and anti-democracy, look like a pleasant memory in comparison.

These groups have enforced terrible rule in places like Raqqa, Ghouta and East Aleppo and have committed barbarous crimes against civilians, including, it is widely suspected, with their own use of chemical weapons. These outfits will welcome the Western alliance’s actions and will see the West’s heaped pressure on Assad as a green light to their own violent ideological push against the regime.

These air strikes are in essence a military wing of Islamist extremism, providing military cover and even moral rejuvenation to an anti-Assad movement that has virtually no positive qualities.

The many sided mess in Syria, along with the many country meddling, is likely to have been hardly affected by the missile strike. It might have served as a bit of a warning, but Trump has already said he wants the US out of Syria, so it could simply be seen as a hit and run.

It might have deterred the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons, but they have plenty of other weapons of mass misery to deploy, as has been happening over the nine year long civil war.

Trump (and probably also May and Macron) was playing more to his domestic audience. What better way to divert from his substantial problems at home than to display military might on the other side of the world.

Syria appears to have been used as a cynical PR tool by the US. It could well be nothing more than virtue signalling, with very high risks attached (like the possibility of a superpower war).

And if Trump was virtuously concerned about the alleged chemical attack and reacted according to moral imperative that is also a worry, given the number of things he seems to be annoyed about. At least Twitter is relatively harmless.

A lot of what is happening in Syria far from harmless, and largely ignored by Trump.

It does have an appearance of cherry picking virtue bombing, with some major PR bombing to go with it.

Back here in New Zealand we have it well covered. Prime Minister Jacinda utterly accepts whatever.

‘Perfectly executed’, restrained Syria missile strike applauded and slammed

After days of rhetoric and threats the US, UK and France launched a strike against Syrian government targets yesterday. The talking game has resumed.

BBC – Syria air strikes: Trump hails ‘perfect’ mission

The US, UK and France attacked three government sites, targeting what they said were chemical weapons facilities.

More than 100 missiles struck in response to a suspected deadly chemical attack on the town of Douma last week.

A Pentagon briefing on Saturday said the strikes had “set the Syrian chemical weapons programme back for years”.

Later there was a bitter exchange between the US and Russia at the United Nations.

The wave of strikes is the most significant attack against President Bashar al-Assad’s government by Western powers in seven years of Syria’s civil war.

Responding to the strikes, Mr Assad said in comments published by his office: “This aggression will only make Syria and its people more determined to keep fighting and crushing terrorism in every inch of the country.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he condemned the Western strikes “in the most serious way”.

Russia, whose forces are bolstering Syria’s government, had threatened military retaliation if any Russian personnel had been hit.

Reuters – Most rockets in Western attacks on Syria were intercepted: Russia

Russia’s defense ministry said on Saturday that the majority of missiles fired during the overnight attack on Syria by U.S., British and French forces were intercepted by Syrian government air defense systems, TASS news agency reported.

According to Interfax news agency, Russia’s defense ministry also said that Syria intercepted the U.S. and allied attacks using Soviet-produced hardware, including the Buk missile system.

Russia, an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has responded angrily to the strikes, while Syrian state media called them a “flagrant violation of international law.”

There was no agreement at the United Nations for the strike – because of course Russia vetoed, so it was unilateral military action.

We have hardly got the capability for being involved in a missile strike. Has new Zealand got any missiles?

Ghahraman has been attacked for ‘supporting a despot’ but she has a point. International law should be important, and while violence is sometimes necessary to  confront and end violent actions it is highly debatable whether the missile strike in Syria will do anything to end the seven year civil war there.

If history has taught us anything, it is that violence doesn’t and hasn’t ever stopped violence, in that region or elsewhere. So it matters, and is telling to me, that everyone involved is well aware that strike action is almost certainly not going to make victims safe, stop the use of chemical weapons, or end the war. The airstrikes must be seen for what they are: a continuation of a policy that protects American and western interests and a breach of international law.

While the question of lawfulness may seem pedantic in the face of chemical warfare, the opposite, an acceptance of a “might is right” ad hoc approach to something as grave as the integrity of international borders and the use of force, is worth guarding against with vigilance. Leaving the US to do what it wants creates a precedent that we have to live with in future, at the whim of the Trumps in this world, with little respect for the rules and airstrike capability to match. New Zealand, as a small country that relies on multilateralism and the rule of law, needs to stand up against ad hoc unlawful international violence.

It was very telling that in Trump’s statement on air strikes he did not claim the attack was consistent with the UN Charter or was a legal response to the use of chemical weapons. He simply said that the attacks were in the national security of the United States.

What he should have said was the attack served US economic interests.

I doubt that was behind Trump’s reasoning for the strike. He committed himself to a military strike via Twitter and would have risked looking week to Russia if he had not acted – not a good reason but likely to be why he acted.

The support of foreign wars by US arms manufacturers is a different (but important ) issue, but seems to think oil is the economic reason.

This war would not have been as bloody or long lived had it not been for the eager involvement of the US, Russia and their allies and for their unwillingness to pressure their regional allies, to divest from the cheap oil coming from either Iran or Saudi.

I think that the Greens would love for the price of oil to double to deter it’s use, but that would have a massive effect on the New Zealand economy.

Aotearoa is the land that gave my family and me safety and dignity when we arrived as refugees, because Kiwis stand for peace and for inclusion. What we should do is engage with the international community in ensuring the victims have access to aid, safe passage out of targeted areas, can settle as refugees without being accused of terrorism or banned from that safety by the likes of Trump. What New Zealand can do is never support any nation on the East/West divide who sponsors violence. We can, as we have always done, stand against violence, with ordinary people, sharing our values.

It is a fair point to a large extent. Getting involved in wars in the Middle East in particular seems like a fool’s errand (unless you make money off the supply of the means of destruction).

Zero war may sound like a great ideal it only works if all countries share the same commitment. If vile murderous crap happens in other countries should New Zealand tut tut and stay on the sidelines? This is a dilemma.

More specifically, if Syria kept deploying chemical weapons against their own people should New Zealand confine it’s reaction to talk at a largely impotent UN?

Politics is much more complex and difficult than some seem to think, especially international politics.

Washington Examiner – Analysis: Coalition strikes Syria, Russia blinks

Trump said last night that there will be more attacks if Assad continues to use banned weapons on the battlefield. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.”

But at the Pentagon last night, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said there are no further strikes planned at this time.  “That will depend on Mr. Assad, should he decide to use more chemical weapons in the future,” Mattis said. “But right now this is a one-time shot, and I believe it has sent a very strong message to dissuade him, to deter him from doing this.”

Despite deploying its state-of-the-art S-400 air defense system to Syria, the U.S. did not detect any effort by Russia to shoot down allied planes or missiles.

Nevertheless, Russia claims to have shot down 71 of 103 Tomahawk missiles, but it also claims that airfields were bombed that the U.S. says were not targeted. It also vaguely warned of consequences.

“We warned that such actions will not be left without consequences,” said Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. “All responsibility for them rests with Washington, London and Paris.”

That doesn’t sound like Russia blinking. Trump took a week of rhetoric before ordering the strikes. Russia may or may not act on their threats of retaliation.

It’s too soon to tell whether this will escalate or not. The stakes are very high.

US launch missile attack on Syria

As threatened by Donald Trump earlier this week he has ordered a US missile strike against targets in Syria.

The UK and France  have also taken part in the attack.

Theresa May has announced the UK involvement.

It has been described as a one off limited attack, but there must be some risk of escalation.

Probably the key thing now will be Russia’s response, having warned against any punishment of Syria for alleged chemical weapons attacks.

Statement on Syria

Jacinda Ardern

RT HON JACINDA ARDERN

This morning the Government was advised that targeted military action would be taken in response to the latest chemical weapons attack in Syria, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says.

“The Government has always favoured diplomatic efforts and a multilateral approach. The use of the veto powers at the Security Council prevented that course of action. We have always condemned the use of the veto, including by Russia in this case.

“New Zealand therefore accepts why the US, UK and France have today responded to the grave violation of international law, and the abhorrent use of chemical weapons against civilians.

“The action was intended to prevent further such atrocities being committed against Syrian civilians.

“We stand firm in our condemnation of the use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta. This is clearly in breach of international law.

“It is now important that these issues are returned to the United Nations multilateral processes including the Security Council,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Comey versus Trump – book bashing

The FBI director dumped by Donald trump has hit back, bashing Donald Trump in a book. The book has been bashed by critics (ahead of it’s launch).

NY Times (bashed a number of times by Trump for ‘fake news’): James Comey Has a Story to Tell. It’s Very Persuasive.

In his absorbing new book, “A Higher Loyalty,” the former F.B.I. director James B. Comey calls the Trump presidency a “forest fire” that is doing serious damage to the country’s norms and traditions.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Comey writes. “His leadership is transactional, ego driven and about personal loyalty.”

That won’t shock many people.

Fox News (regular praisers of Trump and bashers of trump critics): Comey book filled with unproven attacks on Trump, lofty praise for himself

A highly ironic headline given the habit of Trump for launching unproven attacks and loftily praising himself and demanding praise.

It’s important for every fair-minded person to remember that just because Comey makes a charge, he is not speaking gospel truth – despite his inflated sense of virtue and self-importance.

Just about anyone who’s ever been fired fancies “getting even” with the boss. Comey’s new book does that in spades, according to excerpts leaked to the media Thursday. In the process, it lowers the reputation of both the FBI and Comey, undermines the presidency and hurts the nation.

The book is seething with disdain and insults for a man the American people elected to lead our nation. Comey openly vilifies President Trump, throwing forth every insinuation and slur you can think of, even descending into petty criticism of the president’s tan, length of his ties and height.

Petty criticism is a fair comment and also highly ironic.

NY Times with details: Comey’s Memoir Offers Visceral Details on a President ‘Untethered to Truth’

The 304-page memoir by Mr. Comey is the only firsthand, insider account to emerge so far by a former Trump official describing what it was like to work in the chaotic early days of the administration. In it, Mr. Comey, a veteran law enforcement agent, writes unsparingly about Mr. Trump, calling him a tempestuous president whose connection to honesty was tenuous at best.

“This president is unethical, and untethered to truth and institutional values,” Mr. Comey writes in the book, saying his service to Mr. Trump recalled for him the days when he investigated the mob in New York. “The silent circle of assent. The boss in complete control. The loyalty oaths. The us-versus-them worldview. The lying about all things, large and small, in service to some code of loyalty that put the organization above morality and above the truth.”

With the book’s release set for next week, Mr. Comey is planning a media blitz, beginning with an intensely hyped interview with ABC News that is set to air Sunday night. Republican allies of Mr. Trump’s have already set in motion a counteroffensive, creating a “Lyin’ Comey” website aimed at discrediting the former F.B.I. chief.

Mr. Comey’s book does not include dramatic new revelations about the Russia investigation itself, which is continuing. But Mr. Comey does not pull punches as he provides rigorous detail — pulled from his contemporaneous notes — about his charged interactions with Mr. Trump during the transition and in the White House.

This must be unprecedented, a book in which an ex-FBI director blatantly bashes a sitting president. But a president with a character and record like Trump’s is also unprecedented.

The book bashes trump and the book is already taking a bashing, before it goes on sale.

Comey will probably make millions, and his reputation will be savaged by Trump defenders.

With Trump’s lying and his eccentric, bombastic,  and vainglorious behaviour on constant display it’s hard to be shocked by confirmation of his worst traits – perhaps the world should be, but until Trump does something really stupid that has an obvious and drastic effect (as opposed to stupid) that’s likely to continue unabated.

The real danger with this book is that it could provoke Trump and tip him over the edge, prompting him to actually do something damaging to the presidency or the country or the world, rather than his usual blister and ranting and raving.

The US political circus continues, absent a ringmaster.

Macron says France has proof of Syrian chemical attack

Syria and Russia have denied accusations there was a chemical attack on the town of Douma, but President Macron of France claims to have proof that chemical weapons were used.

BBC – Syria ‘chemical attack’: France’s President Macron ‘has proof’

France’s President Emmanuel Macron says he has “proof” that the Syrian government attacked the town of Douma with chemical weapons last weekend.

He said he would decide “in due course” whether to respond with air strikes.

Urine and blood samples from victims of the attack have tested positive for chlorine and a nerve agent, media reports quote US officials as saying.

Western states are thought to be preparing for missile strikes. Russia strongly opposes such action.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov urged against “any steps which could lead to an escalation of tensions”.

President Donald Trump keeps making steps that could easily lead to escalation. He tweeted on Wednesday that missiles were “coming:

But has since sent a more confusing tweet.

Trump seems obsessed with wanting recognition for being great and for thanks for what he claims to have done.

The guy acts like a moron – and given the stakes in the international games of words he plays, a dangerous moron.

Trump looking at US rejoining TPP

Reports from the US say that President Trump has instructed advisers to look at re-entering the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, a month after it was signed by the remaining eleven countries, including New Zealand.

This looks to be a reaction to pressure from US farmers over Trump’s trade war with China,.

During the 2016 campaign Donald Trump spoke strongly against the TPP. As soon as he took office he withdrew the US from the agreement. Perhaps he thought that would kill the hole deal, but the the TPP progressed without the US, was renamed the CPTPP and was signed by the other eleven countries last month in Chile.

President Obama had promoted US participation in the TPP.

January last year: Trump Abandons Trans-Pacific Partnership, Obama’s Signature Trade Deal

President Trump upended America’s traditional, bipartisan trade policy on Monday as he formally abandoned the ambitious, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership brokered by his predecessor and declared an end to the era of multinational trade agreements that defined global economics for decades.

With the stroke of a pen on his first full weekday in office, Mr. Trump signaled that he plans to follow through on promises to take a more aggressive stance against foreign competitors as part of his “America First” approach. In doing so, he demonstrated that he would not follow old rules, effectively discarding longstanding Republican orthodoxy that expanding global trade was good for the world and America — and that the United States should help write the rules of international commerce.

Although the Trans-Pacific Partnership had not been approved by Congress, Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw not only doomed former President Barack Obama’s signature trade achievement, but also carried broad geopolitical implications in a fast-growing region. The deal, which was to link a dozen nations from Canada and Chile to Australia and Japan in a complex web of trade rules, was sold as a way to permanently tie the United States to East Asia and create an economic bulwark against a rising China.

Mr. Trump’s decision to scrap the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or T.P.P., reversed a free-trade strategy adopted by presidents of both parties dating back to the Cold War, and aligned him more with the political left. When he told a meeting of union leaders at the White House on Monday that he had just terminated the pact, they broke into applause.

“We’re going to stop the ridiculous trade deals that have taken everybody out of our country and taken companies out of our country, and it’s going to be reversed,” Mr. Trump told them, saying that from now on, the United States would sign trade deals only with individual allies. “I think you’re going to have a lot of companies come back to our country.”

Earlier this year, when it looked like the deal would go ahead without the US, there were signs Trump was rethinking, and now Senators there say he has instructed advisers to look at re-entering the deal.

CNBC: Trump told his advisors to look at re-entering massive Pacific trade deal, senators say

  • Senators say President Donald Trump wants his advisors to reconsider entering the TPP.
  • Lawmakers from agricultural states met with the president about the possible harm to farmers from Chinese retaliation to Trump’s proposed tariffs.
  • Trump left the massive 12-nation deal agreed to by President Barack Obama, and the remaining 11 nations reached a new agreement.

The president said he has instructed chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to consider trying to rejoin the Trans-Pacific Partnership, said Sens. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., and Ben Sasse, R-Neb. The senators were among the lawmakers from agricultural states who met with Trump on Thursday about the White House’s proposed tariffs on China, which farmers worry would lead to retaliation that hurts their businesses.

After the meeting, Sasse told reporters the 12-nation trade deal agreed to by President Barack Obama and abandoned by Trump would be the “single best way” to counter alleged Chinese trade abuses.

“That cheating needs to be countered. But the single best way we can counter that is by leading all the rule of law nations in the Pacific who would rather be aligned with the U.S. than be aligned with China,” he said.

With the original deal, the nations intended in part to counter China’s economic influence in the region.

In January, Trump told CNBC he would join TPP again if he could make a “substantially better deal.” He argued the agreement as previously crafted was “terrible.”

On Thursday, Sasse suggested Trump thinks the U.S. could still join in on the agreement. The president reaffirmed “multiple times” that he believes it may be easier to join the agreement now, the senator said.

Now the deal has been signed without the US it puts them in a much weaker negotiating position.