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Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be visiting our European neighbours this week before the G7 conference in Biarritz:

Reuters reports (emphases mine):

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel that the Westminster parliament cannot stop Brexit and a new deal must be agreed if Britain is to avoid leaving the EU without one.

In his first trip abroad as leader, Johnson is due to meet his European counterparts ahead of a G7 summit on Aug. 24-26 in Biarritz, France.

He will say that Britain is leaving the European Union on Oct. 31, with or without a deal, and that the British parliament cannot block that, according to a Downing Street source.

Despite Parliament’s summer recess, Remain MPs have been in various discussions as to how to stop our leaving, deal or no deal, on October 31:

It is, however, unclear if lawmakers have the unity or power to use the British parliament to prevent a no-deal Brexit on Oct. 31 – likely to be the United Kingdom’s most significant move since World War Two.

Sky News reports that No. 10 says Brexit will be but a small part of Boris’s discussions with France and Germany:

… Number 10 said it expects there to be “very little discussion” of Brexit during the visit to Berlin on Wednesday and Paris on Thursday, with other topics to be the focus.

Discussions are expected to centre around the next G7 summit in Biarritz, France, next weekend, with trade, foreign policy, security and the environment set to be on the table.

Number 10 said Mr Johnson would discuss issues such as climate change with his fellow leaders, adding: “The EU are our closest neighbours and whatever happens we want a strong relationship after we leave.”

Thanks to Boris’s leadership thus far, the Conservative Party once again leads in the polls:

British voters believe that Boris would make the best PM:

Nevertheless, Labour MPs think they can overturn triggering of Article 50. Whether this can be done is of some debate:

The Speaker of the House, John Bercow, is supposed to be impartial, yet, he, too, is said to be plotting against No Deal:

Boris’s government tied up one loose end at the weekend:

This was something Theresa May was supposed to instruct Stephen Barclay (pictured) to do — but didn’t:

There were two significant leaks in the past few days.

One was Boris’s Brexit ‘script’, left behind in a London pub, allegedly by a civil servant. Tell me this was not deliberate:

The other was a copy of Operation Yellowhammer, which contains all the worst case scenarios in case of No Deal:

The Sunday Times made this look like news, but Yellowhammer first surfaced on Wednesday, March 20 in preparation for our original March 29 exit date.

That day, the Express reported:

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told Cabinet ministers in a letter the plan will be implemented on March 25 unless a new exit date is agreed. Operation Yellowhammer is the UK Treasury’s contingency plan for no deal exit from the bloc. The plan drafts what would happen for factors such as money, citizens, trade and customs.

According to the Daily Telegraph, if no date is set by Monday Operation Yellowhammer will be implemented.

In a letter to Cabinet ministers, Mr Barclay wrote: “Operation Yellowhammer command and control structures will be enacted fully on 25 March unless a new exit date has been agreed between the UK and the EU.”

The Guardian‘s story, also published that day, had more information:

With the country placed on a knife-edge by Theresa May’s latest Brexit crisis, the government is preparing for “any outcome” with a decision on Monday on whether to roll out the national Operation Yellowhammer contingencies for food, medicine and banking.

Some measures have already swung into place, including Operation Fennel’s traffic management in Kent.

The Europe minister, Alan Duncan, has also said the Foreign Office staff deployed to its Brexit “nerve centre” are working to help UK citizens in the EU in the event they get caught up in a Brexit mess.

The Department of Health was due to activate emergency supply chain operations, with instructions to medicines suppliers to book space on ferries to ensure they are not caught up in queues from next weekend in the event of no-deal.

They are just two of the 12 Operation Yellowhammer areas of risk the government has planned for in the event of a crash-out, according to a National Audit Office report [pdf]. It will decide next Monday if they should all become operational, enacting no-deal plans in 30 central government departments and 42 local councils, two devolved governments and in Northern Ireland.

Yellowhammer also had measures in place for Gibraltar. Fortunately, the government there was quick to point out that Yellowhammer as published is now out of date:

Interestingly, the week before, the island’s government reminded residents to prepare for a No Deal Brexit:

But I digress.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, tweeted:

Sky News had more about Gove’s explanation:

Sebastian Payne of the Financial Times tweeted:

Boris is also displeased with Theresa May’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond, who has been predicting all manner of Project Fear disasters if No Deal comes about on October 31:

However, Germany had an important leak of its own at the same time as Yellowhammer resurfaced in the UK:

Good. I was also heartened to see the view of Boris from Berlin:

Absolutely correct.

I wish Boris Johnson all the best in his meetings this week with our European partners.

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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were in England and Normandy for commemorations of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

The night before, he hosted Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall for dinner at the US ambassador’s residence in Regent’s Park, London. The guests at his table were also in Portsmouth the following morning. Theresa May is on the right in the photo:

On Wednesday, June 5, the Royal Family’s Twitter account summarised D-Day’s importance:

Also:

The Allied landings on the Normandy beaches marked the start of a long and costly campaign to liberate north-west Europe from German occupation.

This was the scene in Portsmouth, on England’s south coast that day:

A short time later, veterans who had been involved 75 years ago began taking their seats:

The Queen, who served as a mechanic during the war, arrived:

This is a photograph for the history books:

Warm exchanges took place beforehand:

The Queen stood between Prince Charles and President Trump to watch the proceedings:

She addressed the crowd, referencing her father, George VI:

President Trump read then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s prayer for the troops:

D-Day veterans appeared on the dais to grateful applause.

Actress Celia Imrie (speaking in the next video) compered (emceed) the various performances:

The following ABC News video has the Portsmouth commemorations in their entirety:

The BBC has a set of photographs covering the day’s events.

Afterwards, the Queen, Prince Charles and the Trumps met with veterans who so bravely served in D-Day operations:

Trump also met with British veterans as well as US Navy personnel based in England:

The Queen then bade farewell to the Trumps, who were leaving for Ireland, where the president met with the prime minister there that afternoon:

The Trumps went to Normandy the following day for D-Day ceremonies before returning to Ireland, then onwards to the United States.

The Q Tree has the Trumps’ schedule after Portsmouth for the rest of June 5 (emphasis in the original):

2:50pm BST / 9:50am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Southsea Commons en route to Southsea Castle Landing Zone, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

2:55pm BST / 9:55am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Southsea Castle Landing Zone, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

3:05pm BST / 10:05am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Portsmouth, United Kingdom, en route to Southampton Airport, Southampton, United Kingdom, Portsmouth, United Kingdom

3:25pm BST / 10:25am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Southampton Airport, Southampton, United Kingdom

3:35pm BST / 10:35am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Southampton Airport en route Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland, Southampton, United Kingdom

U.K State Visit Concludes ~

4:50pm IST / 11:50am EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland

5:00pm IST / 12:00pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Shannon Airport en route to Shannon Airport Terminal, Shannon, Ireland

5:05pm IST / 12:05pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Shannon Airport Terminal, Shannon, Ireland

5:15pm IST / 12:15pm EST THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland, Shannon, Ireland

5:20pm IST / 12:20pm EST THE PRESIDENT participates in an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Taoiseach Leo Varadkar of Ireland, Shannon, Ireland

6:00PM IST / 1:00pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Shannon Airport Terminal en route to Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland

6:05pm IST / 1:05PM EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Shannon Airport, Shannon, Ireland

6:15pm IST / 1:15pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY depart Shannon, Airport, en route to Trump International Doonbeg Landing Zone, Doonbeg, Ireland, Shannon, Ireland

6:35pm IST / 1:35pm EST THE PRESIDENT and THE FIRST LADY arrive at Trump International Doonbeg Landing Zone, Doonbeg, Ireland

The Clare Champion featured their arrival:

At the end of Tuesday, Trump tweeted:

He and his entourage would fly from Ireland to Colleville-sur-Mer in the département of Calvados of Normandy the following morning.

Speaking of Normandy, two British veterans were preparing to re-enact their jumps from 1944. Here is one of them undergoing a refresher course:

This is what happened on Wednesday, June 6:

This is what the Trumps saw as they landed in France that morning:

The following is an excerpt of President Trump’s speech on Omaha Beach:

The Q Tree has his speech in full on Omaha Beach, excerpted below (emphases mine). More than 60 surviving American D-Day veterans flew to France for this important anniversary. Many more Second World War military survivors also attended:

President Macron, Mrs. Macron, and the people of France; to the First Lady of the United States and members of the United States Congress; to distinguished guests, veterans, and my fellow Americans:

We are gathered here on Freedom’s Altar. On these shores, on these bluffs, on this day 75 years ago, 10,000 men shed their blood, and thousands sacrificed their lives, for their brothers, for their countries, and for the survival of liberty.

Today, we remember those who fell, and we honor all who fought right here in Normandy. They won back this ground for civilization.

To more than 170 veterans of the Second World War who join us today: You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You’re the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic. And we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

Here with you are over 60 veterans who landed on D-Day. Our debt to you is everlasting. Today, we express our undying gratitude.

When you were young, these men enlisted their lives in a Great Crusade — one of the greatest of all times. Their mission is the story of an epic battle and the ferocious, eternal struggle between good and evil.

On the 6th of June, 1944, they joined a liberation force of awesome power and breathtaking scale. After months of planning, the Allies had chosen this ancient coastline to mount their campaign to vanquish the wicked tyranny of the Nazi empire from the face of the Earth.

The battle began in the skies above us. In those first tense midnight hours, 1,000 aircraft roared overhead with 17,000 Allied airborne troops preparing to leap into the darkness beyond these trees.

Then came dawn. The enemy who had occupied these heights saw the largest naval armada in the history of the world. Just a few miles offshore were 7,000 vessels bearing 130,000 warriors. They were the citizens of free and independent nations, united by their duty to their compatriots and to millions yet unborn.

There were the British, whose nobility and fortitude saw them through the worst of Dunkirk and the London Blitz. The full violence of Nazi fury was no match for the full grandeur of British pride.

There were the Canadians, whose robust sense of honor and loyalty compelled them to take up arms alongside Britain from the very, very beginning.

There were the fighting Poles, the tough Norwegians, and the intrepid Aussies. There were the gallant French commandos, soon to be met by thousands of their brave countrymen ready to write a new chapter in the long history of French valor.

And, finally, there were the Americans. They came from the farms of a vast heartland, the streets of glowing cities, and the forges of mighty industrial towns. Before the war, many had never ventured beyond their own community. Now they had come to offer their lives half a world from home.

This beach, codenamed Omaha, was defended by the Nazis with monstrous firepower, thousands and thousands of mines and spikes driven into the sand, so deeply. It was here that tens of thousands of the Americans came

One of those men in [Colonel George] Taylor’s 16th Regiment was Army medic Ray Lambert. Ray was only 23, but he had already earned three Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars fighting in North Africa and Sicily, where he and his brother Bill, no longer with us, served side by side.

In the early morning hours, the two brothers stood together on the deck of the USS Henrico, before boarding two separate Higgins landing craft. “If I don’t make it,” Bill said, “please, please take care of my family.” Ray asked his brother to do the same.

Of the 31 men on Ray’s landing craft, only Ray and 6 others made it to the beach. There were only a few of them left. They came to the sector right here below us. “Easy Red” it was called. Again and again, Ray ran back into the water. He dragged out one man after another. He was shot through the arm. His leg was ripped open by shrapnel. His back was broken. He nearly drowned.

He had been on the beach for hours, bleeding and saving lives, when he finally lost consciousness. He woke up the next day on a cot beside another badly wounded soldier. He looked over and saw his brother Bill. They made it. They made it. They made it.

At 98 years old, Ray is here with us today, with his fourth Purple Heart and his third Silver Star from Omaha. Ray, the free world salutes you. Thank you, Ray.

Trump related a few more real life stories about what is known as the Longest Day, unimaginably harrowing. God was with the Allied troops.

Trump concluded:

The men behind me will tell you that they are just the lucky ones. As one of them recently put it, “All the heroes are buried here.” But we know what these men did. We knew how brave they were. They came here and saved freedom, and then, they went home and showed us all what freedom is all about.

The American sons and daughters who saw us to victory were no less extraordinary in peace. They built families. They built industries. They built a national culture that inspired the entire world. In the decades that followed, America defeated communism, secured civil rights, revolutionized science, launched a man to the moon, and then kept on pushing to new frontiers. And, today, America is stronger than ever before.

Seven decades ago, the warriors of D-Day fought a sinister enemy who spoke of a thousand-year empire. In defeating that evil, they left a legacy that will last not only for a thousand years, but for all time — for as long as the soul knows of duty and honor; for as long as freedom keeps its hold on the human heart.

To the men who sit behind me, and to the boys who rest in the field before me, your example will never, ever grow old. Your legend will never tire. Your spirit — brave, unyielding, and true — will never die.

The blood that they spilled, the tears that they shed, the lives that they gave, the sacrifice that they made, did not just win a battle. It did not just win a war. Those who fought here won a future for our nation. They won the survival of our civilization. And they showed us the way to love, cherish, and defend our way of life for many centuries to come.

Today, as we stand together upon this sacred Earth, we pledge that our nations will forever be strong and united. We will forever be together. Our people will forever be bold. Our hearts will forever be loyal. And our children, and their children, will forever and always be free.

May God bless our great veterans. May God bless our Allies. May God bless the heroes of D-Day. And may God bless America.

The Q Tree has full coverage, including this 90-minute video of the day’s commemorations:

This is NBC’s video, which begins with an analysis of D-Day:

French president Emmanuel Macron also addressed the American veterans. I was in France at the time and watched part of his speech on BFMTV. It was highly evocative and really captured the idea of Americana. Whoever wrote it should get a pay rise. I was very moved by it. He spoke, as did Trump, of young soldiers from farms in the Midwest mixing with their comrades from Manhattan and New Jersey, writing their girlfriends farewell letters.

Afterwards, Macron shook hands with all the veterans and spoke with each individually. I’m not a Macron fan at all, but I have to give him credit for that.

Trump tweeted a short video recapping his day in Normandy:

This is the view of the Trumps’ departure, returning to Ireland before flying back to Washington:

Reflecting on D-Day, someone online posted this excellent graphic from Gab:

We should be so grateful for everything that God has given us — especially peace and freedom in the Western world.

However, it would also be prudent to look at how we have squandered the opportunities for our young people in peacetime. The safe space generation is not equipped to deal with the horrors of life such as it is.

May the good Lord grant us the wisdom to get us out of a navel-gazing attitude towards one of genuine progress and ingenuity, such as that of the post-war years.

In closing, let us give thanks to the Greatest Generation for their immense courage and bravery.

Not knowing the circumstances surrounding the inferno at Notre-Dame in Paris is bad enough.

Now lovers of the mediaeval cathedral, the French capital’s monumental house of worship, wonder what is meant by the words ‘restoration’ and ‘rebuilding’.

Does the French government consider the two words to be the same as the average person who treasures what was lost? What about expert architects? What about building contractors?

This was what the cathedral looked like at the end of the day on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. Protective coverings were placed over the vulnerable parts of the structure:

One week later, on Tuesday, April 30, Paris police released aerial footage of the protective sheet covering the cathedral’s massive roof from a drone’s eye view:

That day, Le Huffington Post reported findings of a YouGov poll they commissioned in France which showed that 54 per cent of people want a restoration ‘identical to the original’. Only 25 per cent support President Macron and Prime Minister Philippe’s plan for an ‘architectural gesture’:

Twenty-one percent of the people surveyed were undecided.

The more conservative the participant, the greater the desire for a full, authentic restoration: from 66 per cent to 69 per cent, depending on political orientation.

A design firm from Lyon, NAB, released its plans for a greenhouse roof garden and spire containing beehives unlikely to please those who love the original structure with its dramatic vaults. Le Huffington Post published NAB’s shocking images on April 26. Have a chair nearby, because you’ll need a sit down and a cuppa after seeing them.

That same day, Le HuffPo released a short video wherein an architect, a historian, an urban design expert and a sociologist gave their opinions of the current buzz by government officials, architects and building firms about the cathedral’s reconstruction. Interviewed separately, they said the same things. The project seemed to be politically motivated, with an objective of proposed plans devised too hastily involving companies eager to make money at the expense of France’s — and the world’s — heritage. One said that the stone needs at least a year to dry out thoroughly, therefore, completing the reconstruction in five years’ time was a nonsense:

Those hoping to be part of Prime Minister Philippe’s working group on the way forward for Notre-Dame will need to take UNESCO’s perspective on board, too. Fortunately, UNESCO agrees with the French public with whom YouGov spoke:

The Art Newspaper‘s editorial begins with this (emphases mine):

The 28 April appeal by over 1000 academics, restorers and architects for an extension to President Macron’s five-year deadline for the restoration of Notre Dame can find comfort in the the cathedral’s status as a Unesco World Heritage site, because the guidelines on how to approach restoring such a great monument already exist.

They are implicit in the conditions accepted by France when Notre-Dame was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1991 as part of a grouping that includes the great buildings along the Seine from the Pont de Sully to the Pont de Bir-Hakeim.

First and foremost, Notre Dame’s World Heritage status calls for international principles of restoration to be integrated into the discussions on how to restore it. Decisions will have to be taken on how to consolidate its structural parts, restore the damaged surfaces, reconstruct the roof, the spire and the stained-glass windows. All these choices need to be made in accordance with the conservation principles promoted by the World Heritage Convention and expressed in the Conservation Charters of the International Council on Museums and Sites (Icomos). While the international documents, starting with the 1964 Venice Charter, do not bear legal value per se, they are recognised by the French Codes as the basis for decisions on the conservation and reconstruction of historical monuments.

So far, so good.

The editorial goes on to say that this does not preclude using modern technologies and techniques to achieve a more ‘resilient and secure’ result. These would not affect what a visitor or regular worshipper sees, however:

The “contemporaneity” of this gesture will lie in its in its construction techniques and monitoring technologies, rather than the visible forms of the building.

But — and it’s a big ‘but’ — more modern stained glass might be part of the renovation and restoration:

if new windows are needed, it could be a great opportunity for contemporary artists, as with the designs of Marc Chagall and Imi Knoebel for Reims cathedral.

UGH. No, just no. Those modern stained glass designs are horrible, and I’ve viewed a number of them in European cathedrals from the 1970s to the present.

So, although that is just one man’s opinion, he happens to be Francesco Bandarin:

an architect and former senior official at Unesco, director of its World Heritage Centre (2000-2010) and assistant director-general for culture (2010-2018).

I do think a lot of French people will be upset if Notre-Dame is not restored to the original design. Admittedly, the following discussion took place on Holy Thursday, three days after the fire, when emotions were running high. From RMC’s Les Grandes Gueules:

One of the panellists, a young Protestant, said she wanted the cathedral restored to the original. She put forward her case with passion:

She said that she was quite conservative when it comes to restoring historic buildings because they are testaments to their respective eras:

Traditionalists could find 21st century help a boon to their cause.

In 2015, Andrew Tallon, an architectural historian, had the foresight to capture the complete design of Notre-Dame digitally:

As for the actual building work, BFMTV’s high-tech expert Anthony Morel said that the use of 3D design enabled one monument in Egypt to be rebuilt to the original, down to the smallest detail. He says the same can be done with Notre-Dame. This is a great little video. Just watch the pictures:

As for recreating the Forest — the oak roof — offers have been coming in from around the world from owners of large estates with old oak forests who are willing to cut down trees a few hundred years old and replant new ones.

So, although one of France’s heritage experts said on April 16 that rebuilding the Forest cannot be done

Bertrand de Feydeau, vice-president of Fondation du Patrimoine, said the cathedral’s roof cannot be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire because “we don’t, at the moment, have trees on our territory of the size that were cut in the 13th century.”

… do a search online for offers of oak donations and there are many news articles to read, including this one from England’s Nottingham Post on April 19:

The Duke of Rutland has pledged to send ancient oak trees from the Belvoir Castle estate to France to help with the rebuilding of Notre-Dame following a devastating fire.

The historic cathedral in Paris was hit by fire on April 15, causing huge damage to the building, large parts of which were made from wood.

Donations have been pouring in from around the world to help with the project, and British estates and gardens have also got in on the act.

Around 100 historic homes have pledged to donate oak trees which were planted hundreds of years ago to be used for timber, including the Duke of Rutland, who owns Belvoir Castle.

He said: “Anyone who lives in an old building knows there’s something special about the way it was built and the materials used.

“The trees in the original roof at Notre-Dame probably started growing over a thousand years ago.

“We’re able to donate replacements because my great-great-grandfather had the foresight to plant trees that would only be valuable long after he died.

“And in turn we’ll replant every tree we fell – someone will need them for something in another few hundred years …

Belvoir Castle itself has been destroyed by fire, last being rebuilt in 1832.

It is a member of Historic Houses, an association for independently owned historic homes and gardens in Britain.

It was the Duke of Rutland who suggested to the members they should donate oaks towards the rebuilding of Notre-Dame.

And even though they will only be able to donate a fraction of what is needed, they hope it will inspire others to do the same.

There is hope. People WANT to help — and ARE helping!

Let us continue to pray for the proper and full restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris.

My next post will look at Notre-Dame from the perspective of the positive influence of aesthetics on the meaningful religious experience.

As French investigators continue to try to determine the cause of the inferno at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris on Monday, April 15, 2019, I continue to pore over the dozens of bookmarks I have of this horrific blaze.

A friend of mine quickly alerted me to the fire, which started during the evening rush hour. Here is one news channel’s breaking coverage. The tweet says, ‘Major fire in progress … significant destruction’:

Already, some of those those commenting on the tweet said that President Macron was behind it, whilst others said it was an Islamist extremist attack. Another person blamed the gilets jaunes — yellow vests.

Here is another view:

And another:

And another:

The following image of a man on the roof appeared on Twitter early on, while it was still light. On Tuesday, the man from the scaffolding company says there were no workers present when the fire started. Also note the word ‘accidental’. But who was the man on the roof?

And who is this on one of the towers filmed by a Spanish-language news network? This appeared on Twitter soon after the fire started (my Twitter time stamp says ):

It made the rounds fairly quickly and appeared again on Tuesday. (Here’s another copy of the same video, in case the other two get deleted.)

Vernon tweeted a thread on this video, excerpted below:

This 23-minute video shows the early stages of the fire:

Macron tweeted about the nation’s collective emotion — from Catholics and all French people. He added that he felt their sadness in seeing part of their identity burn:

Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo ended her tweet with the city’s Latin motto of resilience which translates as ‘tossed (by the waves) but not sunk’. She said she hadn’t words strong enough to express her sorrow about the fire, which caused not just Parisians, but all French people, to cry. She added that they would find the strength to recover:

Messages poured in from all over Europe, including from Sweden’s Carl Bildt:

And Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May:

President Trump gave his advice …

… but the department of civil safety rejected it, saying that water from planes could damage the cathedral’s entire structure:

Eighty kilometres away, the mighty bells of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Chartres tolled, urging the faithful to pray for Notre-Dame in Paris:

In Paris, Christians watched and prayed for the indomitable structure that even the Nazis did not destroy:

Not surprisingly, the anti-terror brigade arrived that evening:

As darkness fell, the blaze lit up Paris — and the world. Notre-Dame’s future lay in the balance:

This was the scene from the blazing rooftop. Firefighters allowed a photojournalist to film while they worked tirelessly:

Here is an earlier view:

Here is a horrifying aerial view:

Fortunately, later on, the fire brigade chief announced that the main structure was sound enough to be rebuilt:

He also said that the two iconic towers were safe:

Macron also gave a brief address in front of the cathedral. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and Paris’s mayor Anne Hidalgo were also there:

In closing, a strange tweet appeared during the early stages of the fire. It subsequently disappeared.

It says:

A Jesuit friend in Paris who works in told me cathedral staff said the fire was intentionally set.

Fortunately, someone took a screenshot of it:

Whatever we think of Jesuits, they are rarely wrong.

More tomorrow about what was saved inside and what was rescued from Notre-Dame.

The mystery continues.

Prime Minister Theresa May went to Brussels on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.

Another trip to Brussels for her, another Brexit extension for us. This one is called a ‘flextension’. It expires on Halloween. You couldn’t make it up:

There will be a progress check on June 30, but that is likely to be a mere formality:

It would be nice if this actually were the final deadline, unlike others, such as March 29 and April 12 …

… but the Brexit timetable continues to roll on and on and on:

Sadly, No Deal preparations have now stopped:

Emmanuel Macron and his EU team tried their best to block an extension, but the EU project is much bigger than Macron:

His scheduled press conference did not take place late Wednesday. Someone higher up in the EU is displeased with him:

Meanwhile, talks with Labour have not been going well. No surprise there:

The flextension is unhelpful for the UK:

That said, MPs will be happy …

… just like schoolchildren:

More Brexit news will appear as and when.

Of course, the EU will do everything possible to keep the UK’s money coming in. It looks as if this will be until the end of the year.

As I write in the middle of the afternoon, this is the current status of Brexit with regard to an EU extension.

On Monday night, Yvette Cooper’s Bill No. 5 passed the House, preventing No Deal from the British side. PM Theresa May must now seek a further extension date with the EU to at least June 30, but probably longer:

Today’s parliamentary debates involved discussing an extension until June 30, possibly longer. Talks also continued between Conservatives and Labour to arrive at a way forward for Brexit conditions.

EU leaders meet on Wednesday, April 10, to discuss whether to grant the UK another Article 50 extension. Currently, the deadline is Friday, April 12, however, this is likely to be extended.

Meanwhile, MPs advocating a No Deal on Friday are being realistic. Germany already has proposals for No Deal deals with Britain in that event:

In any event, PM May went to Berlin and Paris to propose a new extension date with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, respectively.

This morning, France’s finance minister Bruno Le Maire did not think that there was any rationale for a further extension without solid justification. The Guardian reported that he said:

There is need for clarity on why the delay and how it will in the end facilitate an agreement.

I prefer an agreement. But Theresa May should give us the reasons why she wants the delay and these reasons must be credible.

EU ministers were meeting in Luxembourg today, where Brexit was on the agenda ahead of tomorrow’s summit. Germany’s Michael Roth, France’s Amelie de Montchalin and Ireland’s Simon Coveney all expressed their frustration and hoped that May had a decent justification for a further extension.

After the EU ministers met, they held a press conference. George Ciamba, the Romanian foreign affairs minister, said that No Deal was still a possibility. He said that May’s plan — the Withdrawal Agreement (a treaty) — was the only way forward in terms of exiting the EU. Michel Barnier, the UK’s chief negotiator from the EU, said that a long extension — e.g. until the end of the year — might be reliant on the addition of customs union membership to the Political Declaration accompanying the Withdrawal Agreement. UGH! He affirmed that the EU does not want No Deal.

He also said that the current Withdrawal Agreement was final — no further negotiations on the Irish border:

Just before lunchtime, PM May arrived in Berlin to meet with Chancellor Merkel.

While they greeted each other and posed for a photo op, Conservative MP Liam Fox, Britain’s international trade secretary issued a letter firmly stating his opposition to a customs union. He is entirely correct:

It is thought that French president Emmanuel Macron could say on Wednesday that the UK will not be granted an extension beyond December 31 and that three-monthly compliance checks on Britain’s progress might be obligatory.

More to follow tomorrow.

On Friday, March 29, 2019, Britain is — or was — supposed to leave the European Union.

That date has now been extended to April 12 and possibly further, should Parliament agree to participate in EU elections this summer.

It was not supposed to end like this. Brexit was supposed to happen by March 29, as Prime Minister Theresa May had pledged it would.

My personal suspicion is that Remainer MPs have been running down the clock for months so that the PM would be forced to go to Brussels to get an extension from the EU.

This week, anything could happen. It is doubtful a third vote on the PM’s deal — a softer Brexit — will pass. It is also unknown whether we will see a no deal exit, even though I’d be quite happy with that:

This week, we will see all sorts of Remainer MP amendments which Remainer Speaker of the House John Bercow will table for a vote.

It should be noted that the Leader of the Opposition, Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn, was in Brussels on Thursday, April 22, at the same time as Theresa May. Hmm. What will he be announcing this week?

What follows are possible routes Brexit negotiations could take.

Incidentally, I wrote this on Friday, March 22, based on available information at the time.

The reason for a possible Brexit delay

As you read the rest of this post, it is important to keep in mind the figures on this graphic from Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset and member of the pro-Brexit European Research Group (ERG). The important item is the last one, visible only if you click on the image:

From that last item, you can see that the overwhelming majority of MPs are Remainers.

Extension dates

As it stands, the PM walked away from her discussion in Brussels with an immediate extension to Friday, April 12:

However, if she gets momentum with Parliament on a way forward, that could be extended to May 22:

This is a good summary:

There is also the possibility that, if Parliament decided to go down a route whereby the UK could get an even longer extension, then we would take part in EU elections. Personally, I hope this does not happen.

The following comments from a thread at PoliticalBetting.com explain more. MV3 — Meaningful Vote 3 — is the third vote MPs will have on Theresa May’s exit plan on Tuesday, March 26. HOC is House of Commons:

F: … the need for an enabling bill for the Euro elections is why the date is April 12th. It is a prerequesite for a longer extension. If MV3 fails then voting against a Euro elections bill means voting for No Deal.

B: I am so pleased we are on the same page Foxy

It has been a battle over the last few days and this morning especially, to explain the 12th April was selected by the EU as it is the last date before the campaign for the EU elections and we have to take part if we want an extension of any kind

It is up to the HOC, but I am truly dismayed at how journalists, media and politicians are not explaining this in detail, as it was one of the most important issues coming from the EU

Also:

P: But according to Wiki at least the repeal of the European Elections Act hasn’t been enacted yet. Therefore if we wish to hold elections we can presumably do so under the old act that is still legally current legislation. We just need to commit to do so as the law is still on the books. 

Political parties are preparing to take part in EU elections, as is top Leave campaigner, Nigel Farage, MEP and former UKIP leader:

Possible MV3 result

In order for MV3 to take place, PM May must amend her deal.

As she has not succeeded in getting her deal passed in the previous two Meaningful Votes, it is uncertain whether Tuesday’s vote, even with changes, will be any different — especially if MPs can vote freely and not follow a party line. That could spell bad news for Leavers:

Also:

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn spent time in Brussels with Martin Selmayr, the Secretary-General of the EU commission. The Labour plan appears to entail joining a UK-EU customs union that would exclude other countries. Yet, Selmayr celebrated the European Economic Area Agreement (EEAA), which would also oblige the UK to follow EU rules, even if we were no longer formally in the EU. Selmayr conveniently leaves that out of his tweet:

A hiccup could result in one less vote for the PM’s deal because of the following:

In principle, should MV3 fail, May would go for a no deal exit on March 29:

However, the EU extension and further negotiations between the PM and Parliament could change that:

Confusion reigns

One thing of which we can be certain: May’s trip to Brussels has delayed Brexit.

The EU extension to Brexit was subject to unanimous approval of the 27 member nations. Given Matteo Salvini’s criticism of the EU, it seemed that Italy would vote against. Ditto Poland. But no:

The only real public comments came from France’s president, Emmanuel Macron:

At the end of last week, even May’s own cabinet members were in a state of confusion, although to be fair, they have been known for leaking:

May seems to be more conciliatory since her announcement on Wednesday night at No. 10, wherein she was critical of MPs for not moving Brexit along. On Thursday, after her day in Brussels:

All possibilities on the table

The chart below shows all the complex possibilities surrounding Brexit at the moment.

Click on the graphic and it will automatically open in a new tab. Then click on the image to enlarge the text:

Deal or no deal?

The border situation between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland is a primary sticking point in Brexit negotiations and parliamentary voting.

Currently, the border is open. With no deal, Remainers say it would be closed.

However, that might not be the case — even as far as the EU is concerned.

While former Conservative MP Michael Portillo threw cold water on no deal on Thursday:

On Friday, good news emerged from no less than Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel:

Leave supporters can but hope that Mrs May is able to get the UK out of the EU by April 12.

More to follow when significant developments occur.

Forbidden Bible Verses will appear tomorrow.

Pointman’s is a great site for socio-political commentary not only on the present but also the past.

On January 5, 2018, Pointman wrote about phony political parties, jaundiced voters and declining governments. Please take the time to read ‘The Misrepresentation of the People Act’ in full.

Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

Political party set-ups are essentially the same wherever one lives:

The actual names vary from country to country; Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Labour, Liberal or Labor. There are always a few tiddler or schism parties wandering aimlessly around the political edges going nowhere accompanied by nothing other than their own strident outrage at something or another, but the essential shape is two big mainline parties, or in some cases as in Germany, comfortable coalitions of such long-standing that they might as well be one party anyway.

As we know, one party is in power for a time, then the opposition party takes hold of the reins, then the cycle repeats. Sometimes this works. Sometimes it doesn’t:

When it works as it should, it’s a pragmatic recognition of the debilitating aspects of the same party being in power for too long, and also acts as a natural emetic to get rid of them. That hackneyed old saying about the corrupting effect of power is very true …

Where this paradigm breaks down is when the leaders of both the parties begin to treat the whole election process as a turn and turn about thing; okay, you’ve won power for a couple of administrations and then it’ll be our turn. We won’t rock the boat too hard for you other than giving you a jolly strict telling off when you make a public cockup of something. The unspoken but understood caveat on being an effectively quiescent opposition party is that the big players in it still get a decent share of the power and money floating around that’s commensurate with such tacit co-operation.

When the system doesn’t work, it is because both parties have too many commonly-shared interests:

The people running these parties, and being run themselves by big money interests in various shapes and forms, tend to share the same education, privileged background and über political world views of what used to be termed internationalism but has now mutated into a bastardised consensus of smug political globalisation, because that’s what’s really good for their super rich patrons.

For the low-information person, including a voter, a change of government looks stable and normal. However, that is not necessarily the case:

it’s inherently unstable since it lacks any feedback to correct the corruption such power in perpetuity will inevitably engender. It pushes the day of reckoning further ahead, but that day will arrive in the end.

As always, the basic cause allowing this situation to develop is electorates disinterested in politics who sleepwalk into this mess. For too many years they’ve listened to the vague promises of jam tomorrow from political con men whose only talent is stringing the mark along.

That has troubled me, personally, especially when I speak with Americans who invariably elect the same people for years and years on end. These are congress-critters and senators who are useless in serving their constituents, yet Americans keep re-electing them. It really bugs me a lot.

Now and then, someone new and fresh emerges on the scene who is elected, but they seldom seem to be around very long. But, no one cares, and the cycle of electing self-serving politicians continues:

There is a propriety Antipodean shortcut into this situation which involves electing a reasonably sane leader who’s very quickly stabbed in the back by one of his underlings who turns out to be incompetent but has the saving grace of being eminently corrupt. Anyway, this combination of lazy electorates and seemingly Alzheimer stricken populations who can’t quite connect promises made and promises not fulfilled, will eventually break down.

This definitely happened in the United States, and one man is doing his very best to rectify the situation. That said, there is still a lot of rot in both the Democrat (un-‘Democratic’) and Republican parties, to the extent that politically-aware voters have dubbed both the Uniparty. And, what follows is a highly accurate description of the end result that the Uniparty and, in other countries, long-term coalitions bring about:

It’s all about them, not you. The vested interests prosper at the expense of impoverishing the ordinary person, irrespective of their race, colour, creed or politics …

By this late stage, the bulk of electorates are totally jaundiced about any involvement in the political process and those actively engaged in it as foot soldiers are starting to suspect they’re not even a minor player in the game, but the football. They’re regarded by their betters as highly motivated, but easily manipulated drones busy at work producing honey for their masters.

By this time we’re heading into stage 4 cancer in the body politic, but the status quo of those deeply entrenched in power will start to defend itself by any and all means available, whether legal or not. Imagine getting the snouts of a hungry herd of swine out of a steaming swill-filled trough, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of the immensity of the task.

The next stage is to create a new — phony — third political party that sweeps into power:

As the new broom of the faux opposition party being elected isn’t working any more, it’s possible to invent a third party that’s making all the right reformist noises but is still a cat’s-paw of the current background interests.

Much of the time, these parties are unsuccessful.

Pointman says this happened in Greece …

It was a freshly minted party by the power mongers which just continued on in the same old way, but was quickly found out.

… and in France, with Emmanuel Macron in 2017:

with a hitherto unknown leader Fifi Macron mincing around in front of it and making all the right noises. A few months in, he promptly junked the modest tax reforms of the previous nominally left-wing administration which were a tad too expensive on his extremely rich backers who’d put him into power to do just that. At the same time, he started lumping more and more taxes on blue and white-collar workers.

Today, Emmanuel Macron is facing the prospect of a ninth weekend of demonstrations by overly taxed, low income French men and women: the yellow vest movement — les gilets jaunes:

Despite disparaging reports you might have heard about them, they’re painfully ordinary people struggling to survive in Macron’s France. There’s a lot of them and they’re composed of that most dangerous segment of any electorate, those pushed into a corner with no way out and not much to lose.

As I listen to French talk radio (RMC) every weekday, I have been following this movement with interest — and the way in which Les Grandes Gueules are covering them. For the first few weeks, the hosts and panellists were empathetic. Before Christmas, their opinions became more critical, which made for interesting discussions as some panellists are still on the side of les gilets jaunes. Fair enough, shops and restaurants lost a lot of trade in cities at the heart of the protests, but the media seemed to focus on the violence rather than the vast majority of peaceful protesters. This year, the media, including the two Grandes Gueules presenters, are shifting the narrative a bit towards the ‘we’ve all had enough of les gilets jaunes‘.

One thing that did not help the yellow jackets’ cause was the vehicular break-in at one of the French ministries last weekend. The other was a boxer who started punching policemen, also last weekend. He had no criminal record prior to that.

Once the weekend demonstrations became a regular fixture — about a month in — violent rabble-rousers started infiltrating the movement, which has attracted a few extremists from both the Left and the Right.

This ongoing violence gave the media carte blanche to negatively cover the movement as a whole. Lately, there has been less coverage of the ordinary gilet jaunes who gather to protest because they cannot make ends meet.

The media were rightly, in my opinion, taken to task for it today. Here is Michel Onfray, a philosopher, who tells them the media have been labelling les gilets jaunes racist, sexist, homophobic and everything else pejorative under the sun. And he accuses the two Grandes Gueules hosts of similar negative coverage — equally ‘staggering’ (sidérant). They did not like that at all:

This weekend, it will be interesting to see if the government — via the police — allows any protests to go ahead.

Pointman already sussed that on January 5, and referred to preventive arrests made near the end of 2018:

Riot cops or paramilitary thugs are deployed to brutally suppress public demonstrations against an administration that’s becoming a dictatorship in all but name. Not only are public demonstrations being physically attacked, but wholesale arrests and incarcerations start to become the norm. Behind the scenes, preventive arrests start to be made. With regard to the weekend after weekend protests in France, numbers like 1400 arrests made are bandied about by the Quisling media, but what’s not being disclosed is 1000 of these were preventive arrests. Arrest and imprisonment of people before any protest has even been made. When that begins, we’re on the slippery slope with occasional stops for doing things like arresting schoolchildren and treating them like POWs.

He reminds us of the situation in Venezuela:

If the government manages to put down what is in effect a rebellion, you end up with a dictatorship with a nice name like the Democratic People’s Republic of Whatever, as happened in Venezuela and with the usual dire results for the inhabitants.

The alternative is something akin to America’s Revolutionary War, which had a good outcome.

Pointman then discussed President Trump and the constant opposition he is facing:

A third and extremely rare outcome is a natural leader primarily in touch with the people rising to power. Even more rarely, if not uniquely, that person comes from the super-rich classes, who’re usually the power brokers and puppet masters behind the various thrones, and refuses to accommodate them. They will bring to bear every power at their command to destroy him, because he’s betrayed what should be his natural class, is re-energising swathes of the electorate to re-engage with politics and they’re rallying to the colours of someone who’s actually doing things for them.

That is exactly why Trump haters should rethink their position. President Trump has done and will do more to help America and her people than any president in living memory.

As far as Europe is concerned, Macron won’t last beyond one term (if that) and Merkel has seen the writing on the wall for her chancellorship:

The heart of power within the EU was Germany with France as the supporting act, but Fifi is finished and Merkel has become an electoral liability even for her own party. Like the stricken battleship Bismarck, she’s alone and steaming around in circles with no flotilla rushing to her aid. A few more torpedoes and she, like the EU, will be out of the game.

Eastern Europe, he says, is breaking away from Western Europe’s outlook on the world, recognising the sovereignty of the nation state rather than globalism.

Ultimately, voters everywhere in the West need to wake up, smell the coffee and become more engaged with what is going on. Are we being represented or, as Pointman posits, misrepresented? I think we know the answer.

The G7 took place this month in Charlevoix, Québec.

Vladimir Putin has not been invited in recent years, something President Trump took issue with. Obama’s Susan Rice objected to Trump’s stance.

These are the participating countries:

This is another important fact:

Prior to the summit, G7 ministers met in Whistler between May 31 and June 2:

… G7 Ministers responsible for development cooperation met in Whistler, Canada, to discuss their shared priorities on some of the most pressing global development and humanitarian challenges, including advancing gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

But there was a more pressing subject, as The Conservative Treehouse (CTH) pointed out on June 2:

… as the G7 finance ministerial sessions wrapped up today, all the talk centered around their collective, and stunningly hypocritical, angst at new United States trade policy; specifically the imposition of Steel and Aluminum tariffs on imported goods.

France, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan and Italy all have trade tariffs and trade barriers far higher than the U.S. Each of the G7 nations has exploited the overwhelmingly one-sided access to the U.S. market for decades. As President Trump demands “reciprocal and fair” trade agreements – those same nations now balk at the same rules and duties they impose on the U.S. now being imposed against them.

CTH cited a Reuters article:

Finance leaders of the closest U.S. allies vented anger over the Trump administration’s metal import tariffs but ended a three-day meeting in Canada on Saturday with no solutions, setting the stage for a heated fight at a G7 summit next week in Quebec.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin failed to soothe the frustrations of his Group of Seven counterparts over the 25 percent steel and 10 percent aluminum tariffs that Washington imposed on Mexico, Canada and the European Union this week.

The other six G7 member countries asked Mnuchin to bring to President Donald Trump “a message of regret and disappointment” over the tariffs, Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau said at a press conference after the end of a three-day meeting in the Canadian mountain resort town of Whistler, British Columbia.

On June 6, two days before the G7 began, Trump’s National Economic Council (NEC) Chairman Larry Kudlow held a press conference to discuss the upcoming summit. Kudlow is a friendly economic face who can explain Trump’s strategy clearly to those with no background in finance. He has had a high-flying career in the financial industry, has written four books and has hosted his own television and radio shows. When asked about challenges with trade among G7 members, he said:

Well, look — we’re talking everything through. There may be disagreements. I regard this as much like a family quarrel. I’m always the optimist. I believe it can be worked out. But I’m always hopeful on that point. This is a G7 meeting, and the presidents and heads of state will get together.

Let me add one thought to that, though. The President — President Trump is very clear with respect to his trade reform efforts that we will do what is necessary to protect the United States, its businesses, and its workforce. So that we may have disagreements, we may have tactical disagreements, but he has always said — and I agree — tariffs are a tool in that effort. And people should recognize how serious he is in that respect.

When pressed on trade and tariffs, he explained (emphases mine):

Here’s the President’s key thought on this: reciprocity. And one of the problems, one of the reasons for the breakdown of the trading system — the world trading system, as I described, which the President is trying to fix — in the last 20-some-odd years, we’ve seen a lack of discipline; tariff and non-tariff barriers have gone up. There has been a lot of protectionism.

The United States, by the way, we have the lowest average tariff in the world. And if you go down a laundry list of industries, you will see we are much lower. Our tariff rates are much lower than our competitors.

So his point is we should all have a level playing field. He calls it “reciprocity.” I think it’s a very apt description. And that’s the problem. If you bring down the barriers, and you equalize the level of the playing field, then we’ll let nature take its course, we’ll let markets take their course, and we will see.

But I think the products we make here have improved enormously and will continue to improve enormously. And that’s really the message of this economic recovery.

So we’ll wait and see on that, but that’s the mechanism. As I said to the other question, the way you lower your trade gap, the way you increase your exports is lower the barriers.

And again, I want to say, other Presidents, in both parties, have paid lip service to this issue of the lack of reciprocity and China’s particularly bad behavior, but nothing ever comes of it. This President has the backbone to take the fight, and he will continue to make the fight because he believes it is in the best interest of the United States and also the rest of the world.

Some trade initiatives — GATT — and organisations — the WTO — were fine during their time, however, circumstances have changed over time:

Don’t blame Trump. Blame the nations that have broken away from those conditions. Very important point. All right? I’m not here at the podium to call out countries and individual names and so forth. But you know from our own work, Trump is trying to fix this broken system.

It was a good system — I agree with you — and it lasted for a bunch of decades. But that system has been broken in the last 20 years-plus. The World Trade Organization, for example, has become completely ineffectual. And even when it makes decisions, even in the rare moments when it makes decisions, important countries don’t even abide by them.

So you’re right about that framework from the mid-1940s on. I think it worked beautifully. I think free world trade is a very good thing indeed. But it is broken, and President Trump is trying to fix it. And that’s the key point.

Incidentally, Larry Kudlow suffered a heart attack a few days later. Fortunately, he’s now out and about:

Now onto the G7 summit. Before his arrival in Charlevoix on Friday, June 8, Trump tweeted:

The tension about Russia’s exclusion — and tariffs — mounted. That day, BT.com reported:

Donald Trump has dealt another blow to G7 unity after calling for Russia to be readmitted to the group – a call rejected by Theresa May.

The Prime Minister said Vladimir Putin’s Russia – thrown out of the group of leading industrialised nations in 2014 – should not be readmitted until it could demonstrate a change of course.

Mr Trump was already at odds with the rest of the group – the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan – over the imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminium.

His comments on Russia – backed by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte – added further to the tensions at the summit in La Malbaie in Canada.

Mr Trump said: “Russia should be in the meeting, should be a part of it.”

But Mrs May told the BBC: “I have always said we should engage with Russia but my phrase is ‘engage but beware’.

“We should remind ourselves why the G8 became the G7, it was because Russia illegally annexed Crimea …

“So we need to say, I think, before any such conversations can take place Russia needs to change its approach.”

The article says that Prime Minister May met formally with every other leader except President Trump:

The US president is expected to depart the two-day summit early on Saturday, leaving the rest of the group behind.

Asked if Mrs May believed she had been snubbed, a Downing Street spokeswoman replied: “No.”

But the Prime Minister twice refused to say whether she had requested a formal bilateral meeting with Mr Trump.

Trump arrived that day (videos of arrival at Canadian Forces Base Bagotville here and here; arrival in Charlevoix here).

‘Justin from Canada’, as Trump refers to Premier Trudeau, looked rather weak:

Trump’s grandfather, a German immigrant, built a hotel in the Yukon as a young man. That was during the time of the Gold Rush:

The two leaders met privately then answered questions from the press, which ended with this:

Q Prime Minister, are you disappointed the President is leaving early?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: No, he’s happy.

Strangely enough, that day:

Trump also met with French president Emmanuel Macron in the early evening:

PRESIDENT MACRON: I wanted to thank President Trump. I think we had a very open and direct discussion this afternoon. We always have this kind of discussion.

And I think, on trade, there is a critical a path, but there is a way to progress altogether. We had a very direct and open discussion. And I saw the willingness on all the sides to find agreements and have a win-win approach for our people, our workers, and our middle classes.

We will have, this evening, a group discussion on North Korea — and you will have a very important meeting in Singapore — on Syria, on Iran, obviously. But I want to say that sometimes we disagree, but we always speak and share, I think, common concerns and common values. And we share the willingness to deliver and get results together.

So I wanted to thank you for that, once again.

Their meeting had been rescheduled from earlier that day, as Trump was delayed in leaving the White House.

There was the usual handshake and friendliness, but Macron had issued a warning to Trump the previous day via the press:

The Hill reported Macron’s remarks from Thursday, June 7:

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday delivered a stark message to President Trump, promising to resist “hegemony” and warning that no leader lasts forever.

Asked whether Trump did not care about “being isolated” from other world leaders, Macron responded, “Maybe, but nobody is forever.”

Macron’s statement comes as leaders from the Group of Seven prepare to meet at the G-7 summit in Canada on Friday — a meeting where Trump’s trade policies are expected to take center stage. 

Macron could reasonably apply his views on Trump to his own good self, as he has been lording it over the French for over a year now.

This is the reality of Trudeau and Macron:

This is what happened on Day 1:

This is a rather nice video summarising Friday’s events:

CTH has a meatier summary of what took place:

French President Emmanuel Macron responded to Trudeau’s plea and arrived two-days early to coordinate the strategic message.  Together they were looking for leverage in advance of Godzilla Trump’s arrival.  Germany’s Angela Merkel, and U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May even brought non-G7 members European Council President Donald Tusk, and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as back-up.

Apparently the six-against-one plan was considered unfair to the six, so they added two moreUnfortunately for Canada, France, Germany and the U.K., Japanese PM Shinzo Abe and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte are not foolish enough to take on Godzilla.

As an entirely predictable outcome, President Trump won again.  It’s just so darned funny to watch this play out.  The era of the titan is back, and deliciously the titan is an American President, Donald J Trump.  He’s one guy, and he has them all surrounded; and he’s laughing the entire time.  He’s impenetrable, sharp, funny as heck and monolithic in stature making all of his opposition look decidedly less-than.

This video of everyone gathering around the table is interesting:

Photographs from June 9 lent further credence to CTH‘s summary:

Trump made a new friend at the G7, who also wants Russia re-admitted to the summit in future:

Trump held a press conference before leaving the G7 for the Singapore Summit:

Among his messages were:

Economic Security is National Security

CNN is “Fake News”

Then it was time for him to depart for Singapore:

Trump later instructed US representatives at the G7 to reject the summit’s communique:

This is because he thought Justin from Canada was being disingenuous with him after he left (see Trudeau’s closing press conference):

On Sunday, June 10, BT.com reported more on that and the rest of the summit, excerpted below:

The summit in Canada was marked by the US president’s controversial trade policy which has put him at odds with the rest of the G7 leaders.

He warned that retaliation against metal tariffs – 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminium from countries including the UK and the rest of the European Union – would be a mistake after previously calling the EU approach to business “brutal”…

During the meeting, Mr Trump accused other states of “robbing” his country through their trade policies and proposed scrapping tariffs across the G7.

But Theresa May hit back, branding the tariffs “unjustified” and saying the EU would respond – although she warned against further tit-for-tat escalation.

Despite the tensions at the gathering in Canada, Mr Trump rated his relationship with their leaders as a “10” – naming Germany’s Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Mr Trudeau, but not the UK Prime Minister.

As well as criticising the tariffs, Mrs May also opposed Mr Trump’s call for Russia to be readmitted to the group of leading industrialised nations.

But Mr Trump insisted it would be an “asset” to have Vladimir Putin back at the summit table.

That day, White House Trade Policy Adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News that Trudeau had made a huge mistake — the ‘biggest miscalculation in Canadian political history‘ — and more:

Of course, as Trump was in Singapore, he couldn’t readily tweet about the G7 until he returned to Washington. On Friday, June 15, he had a few points to make:

He also told Fox & Friends that the leaders had wished him a happy birthday on June 14, Breitbart reported.

More on tariffs to follow.

Yesterday’s post was about Emmanuel Macron’s state visit to the White House.

This is the first state visit of the Trump presidency. The first state dinner, honouring Emmanuel Macron, took place on Tuesday, April 24.

Much was made of the fact that First Lady Melania Trump did not hire an event planner. Instead she worked with a closely-knit group of ten staff in the East Wing:

This was the menu. Note that President Trump agreed to have wine served. Every other event has been tee-total. I expect that an exception was made for the French, for whom wine with dinner is a must. The wine is not included on the press tweet below. The one served with the main course came from French vines planted in Oregon generations ago.

 

The day’s schedule was as follows:

History lover Macron understood the importance of everything happening that day:

Official welcome and meetings

The official arrival ceremony took place on the South Lawn (41-minute White House video here).

Hail to the Chief was played as the Trumps emerged from the White House to await the Macrons.

This is a great photo:

During the ceremony, both nations’ national anthems were played.

Both gave short speeches and spoke of the history between the two countries dating from the Revolutionary War. I am positive that the incomparable Stephen Miller had a hand in Trump’s:

Selected members of the public were invited, with local schoolchildren in attendance:

Once again, Macron sought out his father figure, who indulged him with a kiss this time:

Gateway Pundit‘s Jim Hoft enjoyed it:

Afterwards, the Trumps and the Macrons greeted members of the French delegation:

Then it was time for the restricted bilateral meeting, the topic of which was Iran. Trump rightly wants to re-negotiate the deal, Macron doesn’t.

Papa Trump led his young subject away after their public remarks:

The next meeting, the expanded bilateral one, was held in the Cabinet Room. Before it began, Trump and Macron discussed the restricted bilateral meeting. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. Please. We were going to have a short little meeting, and it turned out to be a long meeting, and it could have gone on for another two hours.

We discussed a lot of things, a lot of problems in the world, a lot of problems that we think can be solved. But we’ve come a long way, just the two of us, I think, as understanding. We talked about Iran; we talked about Syria. We talked about a lot of subjects that really are big, big, hard situations. And we think we have solutions to a number of them.

So we’re going to continue that now, and then Emmanuel and myself will meet again, I think, after this meeting. But we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts in the room. We have great experts on both sides, so we wanted to get the opinion of some of the experts …

PRESIDENT MACRON: Thank you, Mr. President, for these words. We will have this large meeting with (inaudible) together again before the press conference, just to say we have had very good discussion, indeed, on Syria, on Iran, the overall region, and some other very important topics regarding our security.

And I think we have to work together because we’ve always worked together on these issues, and it’s very important to preserve the stability of this region. And I think what we want to do in the interest of our people is precisely to preserve stability of sovereign states, without any hegemon.

As for the trade issue, you presented your perception of the situation and you were fair to remind everybody that bilateral relationship is balanced between France and the U.S.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: It’s true.

PRESIDENT MACRON: And I think it’s very important to bear in mind that, between allies — I mean, regarding so important security issues, it’s impossible to make any trade war …

After the expanded bilateral meeting, the two presidents held a joint press conference (full White House video here), which began with this:

President Trump was thorough in his remarks, enumerating not only current international challenges but also France’s helpful contributions. Excerpts follow:

France and the United States also agree that Iran cannot be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon, and that regime must end its support for terrorism all over. No matter where you go in the Middle East, you see the fingerprints of Iran behind problems.

I also want to thank President Macron for France’s vital contribution to our very successful campaign against ISIS. As we drive these ISIS killers from Syria, it is essential that the responsible nations of the Middle East step up their own contributions to prevent Iran from profiting off the success of our anti-ISIS effort. Very rich countries are in the Middle East. They have to make major contributions. They have not been doing it as they should. A major topic that we discussed a little while ago: They have to step up tremendously — not a little bit, but tremendously — their financial effort …

Both the United States and France are dealing with a challenge that has gone on for a long, long time. It’s uncontrolled migration. In the United States, we are taking strong action to regain control over our borders and over our sovereignty. It’s gone on for too long. And we’ve slowed it down very substantially, but we’re going to stop illegal immigration. I know that you face similar challenges in France. And, Mr. President, I admire the leadership you have shown in addressing them in a very honest and direct fashion, and not always popular.

Macron began his remarks by discussing the Iran deal:

Mr. President, please allow me to go back to a number of issues, which are fundamental for not only our relationship, but beyond. The first topic is Iran. You said once again, in front of the press, what your position was during the campaign and as well as the President of the United States. It’s not a mystery we did not have the same starting positions or stances, and neither you nor I have a habit of changing our stances or going with the wind.

That being said, I can say that we’ve had very a frank discussion on that, just the two of us. You consider that the Iranian deal, the JCPOA — the one negotiated in 2015 with Iran — is a bad deal. For a number of months, I’ve been saying that this was not a sufficient deal, but that it enabled us, at least until 2025, to have some control over their nuclear activities.

We therefore wish, from now on, to work on a new deal with Iran. What we need — and I believe that on that, our discussions allowed us to shed light on our convergence of views — is that we need to cover four topics.

The first one is to block any nuclear activity of Iran until 2025. This was feasible thanks to the JCPOA. The second is to make sure that, in the long run, there is no nuclear Iranian activity. The third fundamental topic is to be able to put an end to the ballistic activities of Iran in the region. And the fourth one is to generate the conditions for a solution — a political solution to contain Iran in the region — in Yemen, in Syria, in Iraq, and in Lebanon.

On these topics, I did not change. I constantly said that we needed to find the framework so that, together, and with the powers of the region, and with the Iranian leaders, manage to find a deal. I therefore would like us to commit to that effect in the weeks and months to come.

This is the only way to bring about stability. France is not naïve when it comes to Iran. We have also a lot of respect for the Iranian people, which, through their history — its history — has always shown its strength.

But we do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Each time we tried to unilaterally replace the sovereignty of the people, we brought about some more terror. But for our allies, we want sustainable stability …

After the press conference, the two gripped hands (Trump probably did not want another kiss):

Afterwards, President Trump went to a private lunch with the Secretary of Defense.

Lunch honouring Macron

Acting Secretary of State John Sullivan and Vice President Mike Pence hosted a lunch for President Macron at the Harry S Truman Building. Afterwards, Sullivan gave a short speech:

Then Pence spoke and offered a toast. Macron responded with a speech and a reciprocal toast. (Full transcript here.)

Presidents’ wives visit National Gallery of Art

The White House published a précis of what the presidents’ wives did during the day, excerpted below:

In tradition with State Visits, First Lady Melania Trump hosted Mrs. Macron for a spousal event, choosing to visit the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. this morning. Mrs. Trump and Mrs. Macron were met by Frank Kelly, Deputy Director of the museum. The tour of the National Gallery of Art was crafted to particularly note the incredible work of French artists to complement the long-standing friendship between the United States and France.

“Everyone understands the language of art,” said Mrs. Trump. “The historically famous and beautiful works that currently live in the National Gallery of Art are breathtaking.”

The Macrons at JFK’s grave

That afternoon, the Macrons paid a reverent visit to John F Kennedy’s grave:

The linked tweet has an excellent photo and the same text in French. The responses are very anti-Macron.

French Embassy presentation to American veterans

At the French Embassy that afternoon, Macron presented Legion of Honour medals to three American veterans of the Second World War.

The News Virginian has the story:

William Barr, who currently lives at The Legacy at North Augusta in Staunton, was honored Tuesday along with two other veterans at the French Embassy in Washington …

After personally awarding the medals to Barr and the other two men, Robert Ewald and Stanley Rzucidio, at Tuesday’s ceremony, President  Macron praised the three veterans and all of those who helped defeat tyranny during World War II.

“My generation has the opportunity to defend these values today because your generation, and especially people like you, decided to take all the risks to protect these values, to protect my country,” Macron said. “[I am] also paying tribute to the blood shed by all your comrades.”

Barr was a World War II Army Air Forces airplane mechanic who participated in the Battle of the Bulge and other key campaigns …

“Robert, Stanley, William, those are names of heroes. During World War II, your generation decided to take all the risks to protect France. You fought for freedom. Eternal gratitude from the French people,” Macron tweeted.

The article states that the Legion of Honour, which Napoleon established in 1802, is the highest French order of merit.

The State Dinner

The climax of the Macrons’ visit was the state dinner that evening, the Trumps’ first.

Laura Dowling, former chief floral designer at the Obama White House, wrote an excellent article for Fox News, describing the symbolism not only in floral decorations but also the particular symbolism that goes into a state dinner. A short video is also included, with amazing photos and statistics on this particular dinner (emphases mine):

I was honored to help design décor and flowers for two visits by heads of state from France: the private dinner that President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama hosted for President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni, in 2010; and the state visit of President Francois Hollande in 2014.

For both events, the flowers were designed to carry out diplomatic, cultural and historical themes – with the goal of honoring France and the individual leaders, as well as to celebrate cherished American traditions and ideals …

Some of the most beautiful and historic pieces in the White House collection have a French provenance – the 18th century gilt mirrored Monroe Plateau, the early 19th century marble-topped table in the Red Room by a French-American cabinetmaker, and the French Blue Room furniture acquired by President Monroe are just a few examples …

In addition to highlighting the White House collection of French decorative arts, the first lady is paying tribute to former first ladies Hillary Clinton and Laura Bush by selecting their china for this inaugural state visit.

Additional décor includes the large urns of cherry blossoms lining the Great Hall. Cherry blossoms are not only the quintessential emblem of spring in Washington, but also in Paris, where they are currently in bloom in the Jardin de Tuilieries near the Elysses Palace, the home of the French first couple.

The Daily Mail has an article on the dinner with excellent photos.

This was the menu in full, with the wines from Oregon listed. The gold rimmed plate, an edge of which can be seen underneath is a Clinton plate:

There’s a story behind this china:

The Conservative Treehouse posted on this and included the above tweets as well as a link to the 2001 ABC story, excerpted below:

Former President Clinton and his wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, have sent $28,000 worth of household goods back to Washington after questions arose over whether the items were intended as personal gifts or donations to the White House.

“We have been informed that it is being shipped back, and the National Park Service is ready to receive it, take possession of it and take custody of it,” Jim McDaniel, the National Park Service’s liaison to the White House, said Wednesday.

“The property is being returned to government custody until such time that the issues can be resolved. It may well turn out that that property is rightly the personal property of the Clintons.”

After they were criticized for taking $190,000 worth of china, flatware, rugs, televisions, sofas and other gifts with them when they left, the Clintons announced last week that they would pay for $86,000 worth of gifts, or nearly half the amount.

Their latest decision to send back $28,000 in gifts brings to $114,000 the value of items the Clintons have either decided to pay for or return.

On that subject, one of the commenters at The_Donald had an anecdote about the Clintons:

I personally know one of the White House Interior Decorators that was at The White House when Clinton’s arrived. She said it was like The Beverly Hillbillies come to town. They ruined so much historical stuff, decorated things totally trashy and they did try to and did take tons of stuff out of there. They personally ruined things, broke things trashed things that had been around a long time that had history behind them. I didn’t hear much about Bill from my friend, but she said Hillary was a piece of work and nasty. This from someone that lived through it.

Back to the present now and America’s current first couple. For interested ladies — Mrs Trump wore Chanel:

A light rain fell as the Trumps greeted the Macrons.

This video shows you how grand it was, with the military escort. The first couples pose for a photo at the 1:15 mark:

As for the guests, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-California) was the first to arrive:

Here is the only Democrat invited — the governor of Louisiana:

The following links have photos of other notable guests: the Vice President and Mrs Pence, the Speaker of the House and Mrs Ryan, Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner, the Chief of Staff and Mrs Kelly, the Press Secretary and Mr Sanders, the Director of the CIA and Mrs Pompeo, the Surgeon General and Mrs Adams, the Secretary of the Treasury and Mrs Mnuchin, the Chief Justice and Mrs Roberts, Henry and Nancy Kissinger (must see) and Rupert and Jerry (Hall) Murdoch. More guests are listed here and here.

Toasts were made before dinner (full transcript here):

Then it was Macron’s turn:

Knowing how much hard work went into the event, President Trump tweeted his appreciation to his First Lady:

Wednesday, April 25

Early the next day, Trump tweeted:

The video of Macron’s speech is here. He laid out his international policies and perspectives, which are very different to Trump’s. He received a standing ovation from both houses of Congress.

Macron then went to speak at George Washington University on a variety of topics …

… including religion, which is a hot topic for him right now in France:

He also held a press conference there:

President and Mrs Macron left for Paris later that day.

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