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On Saturday, January 6, 2018, Newsbusters posted an article about a BBC interview with Michael Wolff, author of Fire and Fury, which is about President Donald Trump.

Incidentally, the book is currently available for free online. As such availability likely violates copyright law, I have not posted the link.

Nicholas Fondacaro’s article, ‘Wolff Touts Book “Will Finally Bring Down…This Presidency”’ recaps a BBC interview Wolff gave to the BBC’s Nick Robinson last Saturday. Excerpts follow (emphases in the original):

In an interview with BBC Radio on Saturday, Michael Wolff, the author of the dubiously sourced gossip book targeting President Trump, boasted to host Nick Robinson that “the story” that he told, “will finally end…this presidency” once and for all …

Now, all of this is fascinating, it’s an insight, it’s gossip some of it, it may not be enough to stop him from being president. Whereas, the allegations about Russia may be,” Robinson prefaced. “Do you believe that anything in the book will actually change the chances of the allegations of collusion with Russia being found to be true and therefore leading to the impeachment of the President?

Wolff said:

You know, I think one of the interesting effects of the book so far is a very clear emperor-has-no-clothes effect. That, the story that I have told seems to present this presidency in such a way that it says he can’t do his job. The emperor has no clothes. Suddenly everywhere people are going: ‘Oh my God, it’s true, he has no clothes.’ That’s the background to the perception and the understanding that will finally end this – that will end this presidency.

As retired courtroom lawyer Lionel says, such talk is potentially dangerous:

Incredibly, Wolff told Robinson that Trump hardly has any staff and that he will do little as president. Despite stellar economic results in 2017, Wolff said:

The economy is booming possibly because you’ll have someone who’s not capable of actually implementing any policies or regulation.

In a way, that makes no sense.

In another, such a statement implies that the economy does better with less government interference.

Trump’s insistence on rolling back Obama era regulations has helped the economy improve. Trump was also busy last year negotiating various trade initiatives, such as coal.

In June, the New York Post published an article on coal by Salena Zito, who does an excellent job of covering small town life in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

‘Don’t be so quick to dismiss Trump’s coal mining initiative’ is an eye-opener. For the first time in a decade, a new coal mine opened in Acosta, Pennsylvania. Trump sent his congratulations via video shown to local residents (emphases mine below):

The Acosta Deep Mine in Somerset County marks a dramatic upturn for the area. And while President Trump cannot claim that he brought the industry back here personally (this new mine was already being developed before the election), he is an effective cheerleader for folks who’ve been discounted by the political elite.

“We will begin by employing 70 to 100 miners and we hope to open a total of three new mines in the next 18 months — and that will mean additional hiring,” said George Dethlefsen, CEO of Corsa Coal, which owns the mine.

More than 400 people applied for the first wave of jobs that will pay from $50,000 to $100,000, Dethlefsen said.

In a region where the median household income is $29,050, and nearly 12 percent of the population lives below the poverty line, the economic injection is huge.

It also creates a ripple effect: For every new job generated by the mine, even more jobs like waitresses, hotel workers, barbers or grocery workers are needed to support the community.

Absolutely.

Furthermore, the coal mined in Acosta is being used for steel production:

The coal from this mine is not going to be used for energy — instead, it will be used for the production of steel for the next 15 years. (According to the World Steel Association, coal is used to make 70 percent of the steel today.)

Every single one of us relies on steel in our daily lives. It’s found in our cars, bikes and public transportation. Those wind turbines so loved by environmentalists? Made of steel. The utensils we use to eat? Steel. Medical devices used to save lives? Steel.

Roads, bridges, appliances and even iPhones and computers all contain steel.

Exactly.

This is a great move.

And there is more good news on the coal front. In July, The Conservative Treehouse reported on the increase in American coal exports. This came as news to me:

U.S. EIA data shows a gain of 60.3% so far this year in exports of both steam coal (used to generate electricity) and coking coal (metallurgical coal used for steel manufacturing) as a direct consequence of President Trump’s common sense energy policy.

Interestingly, the largest destinations for the growth in American coal export are the U.K. (+175%) and a doubling of tonnage to both France (+100%), and Asia (+100%). High transport costs to ship coal to the EU are being offset by U.S. coal manufacturing efficiencies and improvements in mining productivity.

Reuters has more:

“Simply to know that coal no longer has to fight the government – that has to have some effect on investment decisions and in the outlook by companies, producers and utilities that use coal,” said Luke Popovich, a spokesman for the National Mining Association.

Shaylyn Hynes, a spokeswoman at the U.S. Energy Department, said: “These numbers clearly show that the Trump Administration’s policies are helping to revive an industry that was the target of costly and job killing overregulation from Washington for far too long.”

Coal could also be a major economic weapon used against North Korea, one of China’s principal coal suppliers.

Recall that China’s president Xi Jinping met with Trump at Mar a Lago on April 6 and 7, 2017. On April 11, Reuters reported:

Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.

To curb coal traffic between the two countries, China’s customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said three trading sources with direct knowledge of the order …

The Trump administration has been pressuring China to do more to rein in North Korea, which sends the vast majority of its exports to its giant neighbor across the Yellow Sea …

North Korea is a significant supplier of coal to China, especially of the type used for steel making, known as coking coal.

To make up for the shortfall from North Korea, China has ramped up imports from the United States in an unexpected boon for U.S. President Donald Trump, who has declared he wants to revive his country’s struggling coal sector.

Eikon data shows no U.S. coking coal was exported to China between late 2014 and 2016, but shipments soared to over 400,000 tonnes by late February.

This trend was exacerbated after cyclone Debbie knocked out supplies from the world’s top coking coal region in Australia’s state of Queensland, forcing Chinese steel makers to buy even more U.S. cargoes.

I digressed from Wolff. However, he and his fellow ilk in the media deserve to have their collars felt by the authorities. What Wolff is doing with his book and what the media have been doing with fake news could be construed as advocating the overthrow of government, or, as Lionel tweeted, sedition.

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Last week, a media frenzy ensued over President Donald Trump’s words about North Korea.

Here is MSNBC’s Brian Williams on the subject. From August 9, 2017:

He actually does say at the beginning of that segment:

Our job, actually, tonight, Malcolm, is to scare people to death.

For those who do not know, Williams has told some whopping lies in the past. In fact, they were so outrageous that he was suspended from his job as NBC news anchor in 2015. Before his suspension, he was the 23rd most trusted person in America. Afterwards, he plummeted to the 835th spot.

Unfortunately, he was given his own show on sister channel MSNBC, The 11th Hour. (The video above is from that programme.) In February 2017, Williams had the gall to devote an entire segment on his show to President Trump’s ‘lying’. Amazing.

I’m writing this post on Tuesday, August 15. This is what has happened recently between the US, North Korea and China. China holds much control over North Korea, particularly in terms of trade and labour.

It’s also worth noting that the Korean War never came to an official end (emphases mine below):

The United States has remained technically at war with North Korea since the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty. The past six decades have been punctuated by periodic rises in antagonism and rhetoric that have always stopped short of a resumption of active hostilities.

On August 8, CNBC News reported that China would pay a heavy price for abiding by UN sanctions against North Korea:

China will pay the biggest price from the new United Nations sanctions against North Korea because of its close economic relationship with the country, but will always enforce the resolutions, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said.

The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday that could slash its $3 billion annual export revenue by a third

China has repeatedly said it is committed to enforcing increasingly tough U.N. resolutions on North Korea, though it has also said what it terms “normal” trade and ordinary North Koreans should not be affected.

The latest U.N. resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the numbers of North Korean laborers currently working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures

China appreciated comments earlier this month by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the United States does not seek to topple the North Korean government and would like dialogue with Pyongyang at some point, Wang added.

The United States does not seek regime change, the collapse of the regime, an accelerated reunification of the peninsula or an excuse to send the U.S. military into North Korea, Tillerson said.

That same day, North Korea threatened to launch missiles at Guam, a strategic US territory. CNBC News reported:

North Korea said on Wednesday it is “carefully examining” a plan to strike the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

A spokesman for the Korean People’s Army, in a statement carried by the North’s state-run KCNA news agency, said the strike plan will be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision.

In another statement citing a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the United States showed signs of provocation …

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump told reporters at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

On Sunday, August 13, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson posted an op-ed, ‘We’re Holding Pyongyang to Account’, lucidly explaining what the US is doing and why. An excerpt follows:

The object of our peaceful pressure campaign is the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The U.S. has no interest in regime change or accelerated reunification of Korea. We do not seek an excuse to garrison U.S. troops north of the Demilitarized Zone. We have no desire to inflict harm on the long-suffering North Korean people, who are distinct from the hostile regime in Pyongyang.

Our diplomatic approach is shared by many nations supporting our goals, including China, which has dominant economic leverage over Pyongyang. China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner. Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime. Recent statements by members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, as well as other regional and global voices, have made clear the international community holds one view regarding North Korea’s provocative and dangerous actions: They must stop. Pyongyang must stand down on those actions.

China has a strong incentive to pursue the same goals as the U.S. The North Korean regime’s actions and the prospect of nuclear proliferation or conflict threaten the economic, political and military security China has worked to build over decades. North Korea’s behavior further threatens China’s long-term interest in regional peace and stability. If China wishes to play a more active role in securing regional peace and stability—from which all of us, especially China, derive such great benefit—it must make the decision to exercise its decisive diplomatic and economic leverage over North Korea

This 2017 Brookings Institution paper written by Fu Ying, a Chinese lady who has been part of China’s government for many years, namely in foreign affairs and ambassadorships, backs up Tillerson’s words about China’s desire to secure regional peace and stability.

On Monday, August 14, President Trump took action on trade with China to level the playing field for the United States.

The first of the three actions relates to intellectual property rights:

The People’s Republic of China has implemented laws, policies, and practices and has taken actions related to intellectual property, innovation, and technology that encourage the transfer of American technology and intellectual property to enterprises in China and otherwise affect American economic interests. This restricts U.S. exports, deprives U.S. citizens of the right to fair remuneration for their innovation, contributes to our trade deficit with respect to China, and undermines efforts to strengthen American manufacturing, services, and innovation.

For example, U.S. companies can be required to enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies if they want to do business in China, resulting in Chinese companies forcibly acquiring U.S. intellectual property. Americans are the world’s most prolific innovators, creating the greatest technologies, products, and companies. They should not be forced or coerced to turn over the fruits of their labor.

The President is also standing strong against the theft of American IP, including defense-related technologies. The costs of intellectual property theft alone to the U.S. economy are estimated to be as high as $600 billion a year. Such thefts not only damage American companies, they also threaten our national security.

Consequences of China’s reported actions may include: lost or reduced U.S. sales, exports, and jobs in key technology sectors; loss of intellectual property or proprietary technology to Chinese companies; loss of competitive position in the marketplace or in business negotiations; and network security costs, legal fees, and other costs.

The president then issued a memorandum for the US trade representative. This is Section 2, allowing him to authorise an investigation into China’s practices with regard to US trade:

The United States Trade Representative shall determine, consistent with section 302(b) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2412(b)), whether to investigate any of China’s laws, policies, practices, or actions that may be unreasonable or discriminatory and that may be harming American intellectual property rights, innovation, or technology development.

The third action was the issuance of a fact sheet with regard to American intellectual property and China. This fact is worth noting:

According to the IP Commission Report, China is estimated to be responsible for between 50 percent and 80 percent of all IP theft costs that harm the United States economy.

These actions met with praise by a variety of people — retired military officers, heads of defence companies, think tank experts and others. One of them, Professor Stefan Halper of the University of Cambridge, stated:

Since China joined the WTO in 2001, 2.4 million U.S. jobs have been lost and 60,000 U.S. manufacturing firms have been forced out of business. Entire regions of the country have been hollowed out. Intellectual property theft–70% by China–now costs the U.S. some $600 billion a year. A thorough review of this problem, and a rebalancing of the trade relationship, is urgent. The Administration is to be commended for initiating that today.

Later that day, North Korea backed down for now on the threats to launch missiles. Surprisingly, CNBC News was effusive:

After a weekend filled with a series of conciliatory statements from China, some of them downright surprising, the situation with North Korea seems to be less tense right now, which could be construed as a major win for the Trump team

While these developments do not fully constitute a real solution to the potential threats North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs pose to the region and the world, everyone’s nervous meter seems to have gone down several notches

Now if these sanctions hold and North Korea simply halts its ICBM launch tests, what many saw as some kind of massive fumble by the Trump team could easily turn into the administration’s biggest triumph of the year.

It will be a very easy narrative for President Trump and his aides to pursue if they make the point that the president’s tougher talk—that so many of his domestic critics condemned—seems to have moved China to finally do something meaningful to rein in North Korea.

By replacing President Trump’s threatening rhetoric with the more conciliatory and reasoned statements of Mattis and Tillerson, the U.S. has given up nothing. But those words may have forced China’s hand at long last.

All of this stems from a classic miscalculation by both Beijing and Pyongyang

And Big Media, who fuelled the fire.

When will they learn?

You can’t stump the Trump!

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