Trump’s insulting introduction to London

Plenty of publicity was assured for Donald Trump’s visit to London, as he and the Mayor of London traded insults. Trump also took aim at the mayor of new York. He tweeted as he arrived:

, who by all accounts has done a terrible job as Mayor of London, has been foolishly “nasty” to the visiting President of the United States, by far the most important ally of the United Kingdom. He is a stone cold loser who should focus on crime in London, not me.

Kahn reminds me very much of our very dumb and incompetent Mayor of NYC, de Blasio, who has also done a terrible job – only half his height. In any event, I look forward to being a great friend to the United Kingdom, and am looking very much forward to my visit. Landing now!

I’m not sure about the great friends thing, but this ensures he will keep plenty of bitter enemies. His feud with Khan goes back some time

Washington Post: The long and bitter feud between Trump and London Mayor Sadiq Khan

When presidents embark on prestigious state visits abroad, in the past they were expected to leave their political disputes at home and put on a friendly face for the nation hosting them.

But when President Trump arrived in London on Monday for a long-delayed state visit to Britain, he ignored both customs. Circling back to a long feud with Sadiq Khan, London’s first Muslim mayor and a vocal critic of Trump, the president tweeted [as above].

Khan, his own supporters say, has managed to hit the president where it hurts most, by winning election in a liberal and diverse city on promises that go against Trump’s core policies, granting permission for a “Trump baby” balloon to fly over the skies of London during Trump’s work visit there last year and deploying his own biography to try to prove Trump wrong.

Khan has been provocative, and Trump is easily provoked.

Before Khan was elected mayor, he told The Washington Post’s Karla Adam that Trump was seeking “to divide communities rather than unite them.” Khan repeatedly said in jest that his Muslim faith could pose problems during future U.S. visits.

“I’ll need to rush to come to America before November, because if Trump wins, I’ll be banned from coming,” Khan told The Post.

After becoming mayor, Khan, a Hillary Clinton supporter, doubled down, telling the BBC, “Donald Trump’s ignorant view of Islam could make both our countries less safe: It risks alienating mainstream Muslims around the world and plays into the hands of the extremists.”

Khan comfortably won the London mayoral election in 2016. Initial vote:

  • Shadiq Khan (Labour) 1,148,716 (44.2%)
  • Zac Goldsmith (Conservative) 909.755 (35%)
  • Siân Berry (Greens) 150,637 (5.8%)

Nine other candidates failed to get the 5% required to make the next round. Khan won with 58.8% in the final head to head count with Goldsmith.

In a recent poll Khan was well in front, with 43% support overall and 64% in a head to head with his closest rival.

Trump has now arrived in London:

There are the inevitable tweets:

London part of trip is going really well. The Queen and the entire Royal family have been fantastic. The relationship with the United Kingdom is very strong. Tremendous crowds of well wishers and people that love our Country. Haven’t seen any protests yet, but I’m sure the Fake News will be working hard to find them.

Great love all around. Also, big Trade Deal is possible once U.K. gets rid of the shackles. Already starting to talk!

Trump has some support, but a lot more opposition.

Live by social media, truth by social media.

Independent: Trump fans in London defend ‘hero’ president as thousands prepare to protest

Amid the threat of major protests during his UK state visit, a handful of Donald Trump supporters gathered outside Buckingham Palace to welcome the US leader – calling him a “hero” whose presidency the next British prime minister should try to emulate.

Jerry and Lisa Foster, from Hallendale Beach in Florida, said they wanted to show their support for their president, who was the best since Ronald Reagan.

Those views were echoed by Russell, 48, from Shropshire, who, wearing a ‘make America great again’ hat declined to give his surname because of the animosity he said the cap attracted.

“The beloved Mr Trump is a hero,” he said.

“Those people who are calling for him to be banned from the UK are fascist. And don’t forget, not everyone in the UK is against him. We need a Trump-like figure in Downing Street.”

But: Mass protests planned for Trump’s state visit to the UK

Mass protests have been planned for President Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit to the U.K., just a year after the giant “Trump Baby” blimp sparked controversy in London.

Protest banners were unfurled over London’s Vauxhall bridge bearing the message: “Resist Trump. Resist Racism. Resist Cruelty. Resist Hate. Resist Sexism.”

Organizers of the protests from the “Together Against Trump” organization told ABC News that protests are planned at Buckingham Palace on Monday, when the president will be attending a state banquet with the Queen, and on Tuesday, when he will be visiting Prime Minister Theresa May.

The protest at Buckingham Palace is expected to be a small event, with only 66 people so far registered as “attending” on the Facebook event entitled: Protest at the Palace: Spoil Trump’s Banquet.

However, the protest on Tuesday, beginning in London’s historic Trafalgar Square at 11 a.m. local time, is expected to be a much more dramatic affair. Nearly 8,000 people are registered for the Facebook event, while another 33,000 social media users have said they are “interested” in it as of Sunday morning.

A spokesperson from the “Together Against Trump” group told ABC News that they expect protests to take place throughout the country, but that the event in Trafalgar Square is the main event.

A number of Facebook groups, including the “Stop Trump Coalition” and “Stand up to Trump,” have come together to organize the protests against his state visit, so that the “world will know that people here reject him and his toxic politics.”

Trump’s visit was always going to be controversial and opposed by some.

 

 

Ardern in China today

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is making a quick visit to China today.

It’s been a long time coming but the prime minister has arrived in Beijing for whirlwind meetings with the most senior figures in the Chinese administration.

And there’s a lot to talk about.

Huawei, trade, cyber security and regional defence and security are just some of the delicate issues Jacinda Ardern is likely to broach with Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.

The stakes are high as New Zealand looks to put to rest any speculation about the state of its relationship with a key trading partner and a global power player.

The timing of the visit is not ideal, coming just weeks after the horrific shootings in Christchurch, but the importance of the relationship is underscored by the fact Ms Ardern has chosen to go ahead, albeit with a lot shorter trip than originally planned.

“China is a friend”, said Ms Ardern – speaking before she left New Zealand. “And despite our different perspectives, on some issues, our relationship, I believe, it is a mature and resilient one.”

While short at least this visit breaks to ice with China. Time will tell how New Zealand-China relations go as a result of this – on it’s own it’s unlikely to make much difference, but given Ardern’s international prominence over the last few weeks she may be taken more notice of than she would have been earlier.

Trump has surprise visit to Iraq

From Gezza:

In a surprise trip to Iraq, late on Christmas Night US President Donald Trump defended his decision to withdraw US forces from Syria where they have been helping battle Islamic State militants.

“We’re no longer the suckers, folks,” Trump told American servicemen and women at a base in western Iraq. “We’re respected again as a nation.”

Trump said it’s because of US military gains that he can withdraw 2000 forces from Syria. During his first visit to a troubled region, Trump also said he has no plans to withdraw US forces from Iraq.


Members of the military cheer as Trump speaks

He said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has agreed to take out “any remnants” of Isis left in Syria. The US presence in Syria was not meant to be “open-ended,” he said, adding that other wealthy nations should pay for rebuilding Syria.

“The nations of the region must step up and take more responsibility for their future,” said Trump, who said there would be a “strong, deliberate and orderly withdrawal” of US forces from Syria.

More (quite a lot more) …
https://www.stuff.co.nz/world/americas/109612177/president-donald-trump-makes-surprise-visit-to-iraq

Trump visiting United Kingdom

Donald Trump’s controversial visit to the United Kingdom has begun, at the same time a poll has been released saying that 50% of British people polled don’t want him to visit, but with Trump claiming “I think they like me a lot in the UK’.

BBC – Donald Trump: US president heads to dinner with Theresa May

The event at Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire, is expected to focus on post-Brexit trade, and comes days after Mr Trump said the UK was in “turmoil”.

Protesters have gathered outside the US ambassador’s residence in London, where the Trumps are staying tonight, and near Blenheim Palace.

Extra security is in place to police the protests, but Mr Trump has said that Britons “like me a lot” and that he feels “fine” about any such protests.

Speaking at the Nato summit in Brussels before he arrived, Mr Trump said the UK was a “hot spot right now”.

Trump has had a say on Brexit – Donald Trump: Brexit is turning out ‘a little bit differently’

The US president said “Brexit is Brexit” but it was turning out “a little bit differently” with the UK “partially involved” with the EU.

“Maybe they’re taking a little bit of a different route,” he went on.

Mr Trump backed a Leave vote ahead of the 2016 EU referendum, when he was a US presidential candidate, and he was asked for his views at the Nato summit press conference.

“It’s not for me to say,” the US president said.

“I’d like to see them be able to work it out so it can go quickly, whatever they work out.”

Guardian: ‘I think they like me a lot in the UK’, says Donald Trump – video

German reaction to Ardern visit

The visit if a prime Minister from a small remote country is not a big deal in Germany, but Jacinda Ardern has had some (relatively limited) coverage there. Collated by Geoffrey Miller in Twitter.

CIA visit ‘alternative reality’

There are claims that Donald Trump’s speech at the CIA was a PR presentation of an alternative reality, a stage managed event that has offended some in (and ex) the CIA.

CBS News: Sources say Trump’s CIA visit made relations with intel community worse

U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday.

An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”

Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.

In Trump’s only media conference as president-elect he had staff cheering him on there too.

An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams.

Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.

There were about 400 members of the workforce who RSVP’d for the event out of thousands who received an invitation in their email late last week. Officials dismiss White House claims that there were people waiting to get into the event.

And not everyone was cheering, nor cheerful about the disrespectful use of the CIA as a popularity prop.

Intelligence sources say many in the workforce were stunned and at times offended by the president’s tone which seemed to evolve into a version of speeches he’d used on the campaign trail.

The intelligence community sees itself as above politics even though as president-elect, Mr. Trump was critical of it and accused it of politically motivated leaks.

The CIA was Mr. Trump’s first official agency visit for a reason, it was to signal a new beginning.

A new beginning of a stage managed alternative reality?

It is what he said later in front of the CIA’s revered Memorial Wall (a monument to CIA officers killed in the line of duty) — complaints about the media’s coverage of his relationship with the intelligence community and its assessments of the crowd size at his inauguration —  that may be harder to erase from the minds of the intelligence community.

What Trump presents, or tries to present, may be quite different to they reality of what he achieves.

Vague poll on US ship visits

NZ Herald has a vague poll on US ship visits to New Zealand, under a misleading headline:

Kiwis torn on US ship visits

I don’t know whether Audrey Young wrote the headline or not but the article doesn’t support the ‘Kiwis torn’ claim at all.  Kiwis are probably more torn over whether to take the Herald’s silly sensationalist headlines seriously.

I doubt that many New Zealanders think much or care much about US ship visits any more. It’s 30 years since our nuclear ship ban.

The Navy has invited the US Navy, among others in the world, to its 75th birthday celebrations in November and the Pentagon is considering it.

But an acceptance would run counter to the most significant remaining reprisal against New Zealand’s anti-nuclear laws.

The US Navy has boycotted NZ ports since 1986 when New Zealand was effectively expelled from the Anzus security pact with the US and Australia.

Reprisals have eased only in recent years. The ban on the US exercising with NZ was lifted only in 2010. But even then the Kiwis were not allowed to dock in naval facilities at Pearl Harbour but had to dock at a civilian wharf. President Barack Obama overturned that particular oddity for the 2014 Rimpac exercise.

Under New Zealand law, ships may visit only if the Prime Minister is satisfied they are not carrying nuclear weapons.

So under our law there is very little risk of a nuclear ship visit. So there doesn’t seem to be any actual problem.

Prime Minister John Key believes resuming ship visits would be a positive step and extend markedly improved relations between the nations.

“Most New Zealanders can see the relationship with the United States has dramatically improved in recent times,” he told the Herald. “A ship visit that is within NZ law would be a positive step.”

The poll results:

29.4 per cent don’t want a ship to visit at all

50.2 per cent think it would be a positive move

16 per cent displayed a sense of triumphalism by preferring to think it would be a victory for New Zealand’s anti-nuclear policy

No details are given of the number of people polled or method of polling.

Labour leader Andrew Little said the 50.2 per cent confirmed that people wanted NZ to have a good relationship with the US. “It is important that we do have a good relationship with them. But what is equally important to New Zealanders is our non-nuclear status. It has defined us as a nation for the past 30 years.”

That implies that Little would have no problem with a ship visit under our current no-nuclear laws.

About 30% don’t want a a US ship visit but about 66% are either positive about a visit or ‘displayed a sense of triumphalism’. Little:

He said the three options were not exclusive and there might be people who thought a ship visit was positive, but might doubt an assurance.

He’s right, the questions (as phrased by Young) are not clear cut and there is probably overlapping sentiments. And they exclude other reasons for and against supporting visits.

Mr Little believed the almost 30 per cent who did not want the US to visit would be those who, despite any assurances from the Prime Minister, would have doubts about whether any visiting US ship was actually non-nuclear.

There’s likely to be a number of reasons for the 30% against visits, including people who are simply anti US or anti military. From the polls results given it’s difficult to determine much.

The poll suggests that most people won’t have a problem with a US navy return to New Zealand.

There will probably be a small number who are stridently against any visit and we may get symbolic protests, but my guess is that most Kiwis aren’t ‘torn’ won’t care much if at all.