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President Donald Trump has replaced Rex Tillerson with Mike Pompeo as Secretary of State.

Tillerson is likely to remain in the post until March 31.

Mike Pompeo has been the director of the CIA since last year. Prior to that, he was a congressman for Kansas’s 4th district. He served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and questioned Hillary Clinton — then Secretary of State — about Benghazi in 2013.

Soon, Pompeo will be in the same office that was once Hillary Clinton’s. How interesting will that be?

This is the video, which includes recordings of Pompeo’s questioning of Clinton during the Benghazi hearings:

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton says that Rex Tillerson’s State Department would not conduct damage assessment on Hillary’s emails:

Soon we will have someone who will have the gumption and desire to see that justice is done. Imagine what Pompeo can — and will — uncover.

In the meantime, expect the media to pile on Pompeo.

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Many years ago, this little boy lived in Queens:

Today, the man lives at the White House.

Friday, January 19, 2018, marks the end of President Donald Trump’s first year in office. Below are incredible achievements he and his administration have made, despite the most hateful efforts on the part of Democrats, the media and Republicans to oppose him and even end his presidency.

This is a long post of the Trump administration’s achievements. It has most of the news Big Media won’t tell you. They’re too busy nattering about how many scoops of ice cream, hamburgers and Diet Cokes he consumes.

If you prefer a short version, the GOP can oblige (scroll down past the Fake News Awards).

Health

Last week the president, aged 71, had a health examination, which Rear Admiral Dr Ronny Jackson conducted:

The president requested — and received — a cognitive examination in addition to a physical.

Contrary to media reports, he isn’t crumbling under the pressure of the presidency:

Foreign policy

Because so many people around the world still think Trump will start World War III, below are excerpts of what Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on December 15. Emphases mine below.

North Korea

The main strategy involves economic sanctions:

We have put in place now over the past many months the most comprehensive set of economic sanctions that I think have ever been assembled through two very comprehensive UN Security Council resolutions with the support, notably, of both China and Russia, clearly indications of how they view the seriousness of the threat as well.

These sanctions now have banned all coal exports from the North – from North Korea. They have ended their textile exports. They have put limits and will bring to an end the export of forced labor. They have also limited the imports of fuel and reduced all imports, each – with each action increasing the pressure on North Korea.

We do know that these are having effects on the North. This is evidence in terms of what we see happening with fuel prices for North Korean citizens, which initially jumped 90 percent. They’re now back to where they’re up only 50 percent. We also know there are shortages beginning to appear, and there’s also, though appearing on the shelves of North Koreans, products which previously had been exported. So now they have to be consumed internally.

These are combined with diplomatic sanctions where we have called on nations the world over to not just fully implement the UN Security Council economic sanctions, but where they have a sense and a desire to do so, to also isolate the North Korean regime further by recalling their diplomats, closing their offices, and letting North Korea know that with each one of these provocative tests, they only become more and more isolated.

More than 22 countries have sent North Korea’s diplomats back home. And for some, it may not seem significant, but for small countries that may not have a lot of economic influence, it is yet another important signal. So from nations like Peru to Spain to Italy to Portugal have cut off the diplomacy ties as well. And we know the regime notices when that ambassador comes home because they’re not representing that office elsewhere, further isolating them from their contact with the rest of the world.

China and the Indo-Pacific

The US is working well with China and India on creating a free and open Indo-Pacific region:

So I think with respect to our relationship with China, we now have a very active mechanism in which we can put complex issues on the table. And we have differences, such as the South China Sea and China’s building of structures, militarization of these structures, and how that affects our allies in the region as well in terms of free and open trade. As we’ve said to the Chinese, we hope we can find a way to freeze this particular activity. Whether we can reverse it remains to seen. But it is not an acceptable – it’s not acceptable to us that these islands continue to be developed, and certainly not for military purposes.

In Southeast Asia, we had a – we put forth a policy here not too long ago of a free and open Indo-Pacific, and this was built on the back of some of our views about China’s One Belt, One Road policy. China’s One Belt, One Road, we understand, is a policy they have to continue their economic development, and our policies do not seek to contain China’s economic development. But China’s economic development, in our view, should take place in the system of international rules and norms, and One Belt, One Road seems to want to define its own rules and norms. I like to quote Secretary Mattis’ comment on One Belt, One Road. For China, he said: Well, the U.S. and the rest of the world has many belts and many roads, and no one country gets to decide what they are. So a free and open Indo-Pacific means all countries have access to continue their economic development and free access for trade through the region.

As part of the free and open Indo-Pacific, we have elevated our engagement with India. We’ve long had a trilateral relationship in the Indo-Pacific between Japan, Australia, and the U.S., and we’re now working towards whether this will become a quad relationship to include India because of the importance of India’s rising economy as well and I think shared national security concerns that we have with India.

ISIS

Obama’s ‘JV team’ is defeated in Iraq, and good progress continues in Syria:

In moving to the defeat ISIS campaign quickly, in Iraq and Syria, as the President entered office, he took a significant policy shift in the war to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria and ordered aggressive new strategies and empowered our military commanders on the ground to carry out battlefield decisions in a way that would win the war on the battlefield. After fully activating the DOD approach of buy, with, and through others, with his authorities the military has, in fact, begun to make significant gains. And as we know today, Prime Minister Abadi recently declared ISIS defeated in Iraq. We are still defeating ISIS in Syria, but significant progress has been made.

As a result of the military success, we in the State Department have really had to run fast to catch up with the military success with the diplomatic plans as to what comes after the defeat of ISIS, and we’ve executed much of this through the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, a coalition of 74 members, 68 countries and including organizations such as NATO, INTERPOL, EU, and others.

Seven and a half million people have now been freed of ISIS’ clutches in Iraq and Syria; 95 percent of territory previously controlled by their caliphate has now been liberated. Our efforts now are to stabilize these areas after liberation to avoid a re-emergence of ISIS but also to avoid a re-emergence of local conflicts between various groups.

So our work with the DOD is to deconflict the battlefield and to stabilize areas, and we’ve had success working with Jordan and with Russia in Syria to create de-escalation zones that prevent the re-emergence of a civil war – all directed towards moving the talks in Syria to Geneva to fully implement UN Security Council Resolution 2254, which calls for a new Syrian constitution and elections be overseen by the United Nations in which all Syrian diaspora will vote. So this includes the voting of Syrians who have been displaced because of the fighting, whether it be due to the civil war or subsequently due to ISIS’ emergence.

A very important joint statement was issued by President Trump and President Putin on the margins of APEC in Danang, Vietnam, in which both leaders affirmed their commitment to this process as the way forward to ensure a unified, whole, democratic, and free Syria. Talks have begun in Geneva again with a reformed opposition representation. And we have asked Russia to ensure the regime participates in these talks, and the regime has been present at the talks. And now, we need to keep everyone at the table. We will continue to work with Russia in areas where we can and Syria to continue to promote a de-escalation of the violence, stabilization of the areas, and a resolution for Syria that will be a product of the Geneva process.

In Iraq, the liberation of all areas is now complete, and in both the campaigns we’ve now recaptured the caliphate’s capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. I think the early engagement in Iraq with Arab neighbors has been important to the future of Iraq also being sustained with its democratic government and sustaining Iraq as a unified country. Having Arab neighbors engage early as the war to defeat ISIS progressed, importantly with the historic visit because it’s been more than three decades since the Arab world had relationships with Baghdad, the Saudis were the first to engage and have created now economic talks and consultative committees. They’ve reopened two border crossings, they’re resuming flights between Baghdad and between Riyadh, sending an important message to all Iraqis that – and reminding them that Iraqis are Arab, and you should re-engage and reunite with the Arab world.

Central and South America

The State Department is working well with nations in Central and South America:

So lastly, in the Western Hemisphere, the things that we’ve been concerned with are obviously migration from Central America, from Mexico, transcriminal organizations, the narcotics trade in particular, which also supports human trafficking trade. But we do see many other opportunities with Central and South America. We have developed strong transcriminal organization dialogues with Mexico. We’re hosting another round this week at the ministerial level. We co-hosted an event in Miami this year to – on Central American security and prosperity. And we are working together on the situation in Venezuela, both through the OAS and through the Lima Group.

Economy

On December 14, 2017, Reuters reported that the economy was on a roll. Retailers had an unexpectedly good November, with a 0.8% increase in sales. October’s sales showed a 0.5% increase, surpassing the previously reported 0.2%.

Also:

Retail sales accelerated 5.8 percent on an annual basis. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing only 0.3 percent in November.

The dollar .DXY rose against a basket of currencies after the release of the data, while prices for U.S. Treasuries fell. U.S. stocks were trading higher.

In 2018:

2018 could be historic:

Stock market

The stock market has never been healthier:

In 2018:

Industrial production

Contrary to what naysayers predicted, 2017 saw an increase in industrial production:

Energy

For the first time in 60 years — 1957the United States became a net gas exporter, thanks to exports of LNG (liquid natural gas). That means America’s trade imbalance got that much smaller.

On November 27, 2017, Shale reported that the Rust Belt could boom again thanks to the Marcellus and Utica Shale development:

which has proven to be an answer to the prayers of communities up and down the Ohio River. These communities are now reporting that union halls are empty due to a surge of oil- and natural gas-related work. Shale has not only been a game-changer — it’s been a life-changer for thousands of families in some of the hardest hit regions of the country. Manufacturing is starting to come back, and we are even making and shipping domestically produced steel again along the Ohio River. It’s hard to imagine now, but the Rust Belt may soon shed its longtime persona and emerge as a new hub where domestically produced products proudly display “Made in America.”

For the past few years, the building and construction trade unions have been aggressively fighting against fringe environmental activists and the “keep it in the ground” agenda. From a political perspective, this trend played out on the national stage in November: For the first time in years, a majority of Ohio union households voted Republican in a presidential election. President Trump won the union vote by 9 percent over Hillary Clinton in the Buckeye State. Why? Because the building and construction trades are going back to work thanks to shale development, which Trump unabashedly supports.

Please take the time to read the rest of the article, which is really encouraging. Thousands of people are back to work.

In early July, just in time for Independence Day, gas prices were the lowest since 2005. Politico reported:

AAA said Monday that the national average of $2.23 per gallon was the cheapest gas has been all year.

A further drop took place just before Christmas.

Unemployment

On December 14, Reuters reported:

the number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits dropping to near a 44-1/2-year low last week.

2017 was the best year for employment figures since … 1973!

This was good news for the whole country:

Deregulation

On December 14, The Conservative Treehouse posted an excellent article explaining the Trump administration’s progress on promised deregulation.

In the following tweet, you see two stacks of paper. The small one represents the amount of regulation in the United States in 1960, and the gigantic one is today’s:

This costs small businesses an astounding amount of money:

Mick Mulvaney, head of the Office of Management and Budget, says that huge progress was made in 2017:

The Conservative Treehouse article says:

Notably, President Trump said his administration plans to keep regulations that have been beneficial to our nation. Those will remain on the books, he said, specifically ones tailored for protecting workers, ensuring clean water and air, and protecting our country’s natural beauty. But POTUS described each unnecessary page in the stacks as representing hidden tax and harmful burdens for workers and businesses. “Unnecessary regulations,” he said, “threaten our entire Constitutional system, not just the U.S. economy.”

Tax cuts

On December 19, Trump tweeted:

Democrats are downplaying this legislation, but it immediately had a huge effect in the United States:

On December 20 — when the bill passed — a number of large companies made announcements about bonuses and investment:

Comcast announced it would give $1,000 bonuses to more than 100,000 eligible employees and:

invest $50 billion over the next five years in infrastructure “based on the passage of tax reform”.

Boeing announced:

$300M employee-related and charitable investment as a result of legislation to support our heroes, our homes and our future.

AT&T said it would give $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees and:

invest $1.0 billion.

FedEx said the new tax plan would add to their earnings, fund the pension plan and facilitate hiring more employees.

First Third Bancorp raised their hourly minimum wage to $15 and gave employees $1,000 bonuses.

Wells Fargo also raised their hourly minimum wage to $15 and said it would aim to give $400m in philanthropic donations in 2018.

On January 17, 2018, Apple announced it would be hiring 20,000 more people in the United States and open a new campus. The company also gave employees $2,500 bonuses in the form of restricted stock units. It will be investing $350 billion over the next five years in the US. Trump applauded the move.

Other corporations also reacted positively to the new legislation.

Veterans Affairs

Dr David Shulkin has done sterling work this year on improving the healthcare, housing, wellbeing and job prospects for American veterans. His full report is here.

The Veterans Administration has been a shambles for decades. Much work remains to be done, but in one year it has undergone many positive changes and reforms.

Trump’s supporters

Unlike past presidents, Trump’s base has probably increased over the past year:

Among Trump voters, the mood is buoyant. I understand CNN broadcast this clip only at 4:50 a.m. and at 7:50 p.m. (better pic/video here):

Fox News also interviewed Ohio voters. I bet they broadcast this clip more often than CNN did theirs:

Conclusion

I’ll let the president say it in his own inimitable way (includes video):

AMERICA will once again be a NATION that thinks big, dreams bigger, and always reaches for the stars. YOU are the ones who will shape America’s destiny. YOU are the ones who will restore our prosperity. And YOU are the ones who are MAKING AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!

Trump gave that speech in Pennsylvania on January 18.

Reach for the stars, Americans! MAGA!

On Sunday, November 12, 2017, President Donald Trump left Vietnam for the Philippines.

The ASEAN summit in Manila, including a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, was Trump’s final event prior to his return to Washington DC.

Mrs Duterte gave President Trump a warm welcome. Duterte is characteristically less expressive:

This video shows the reception going on while every attendee was personally welcomed and had a photo op with the Dutertes.

Later, a group photo was taken:

The men are wearing barongs, the traditional Philippine shirts for men. Many of the women — see the lady on the right — are wearing a terno dress or jacket. The pointy shoulders are traditional for Philippine women.

Toasts were made. Trump was seated next to Duterte:

A lavish dinner followed. Trump, apparently, asked Duterte to sing:

The Conservative Treehouse has a good post on the importance of ASEAN and Trump’s objectives:

Those who have walked in the deep weeds of geopolitical strategy know the emphasis the Trump administration has placed on ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) as a counter-balance (control leverage) to the Chinese trade and military expansion.

The ongoing trade and security relationship between the U.S. and India, as well as other regional partners, is a large part of the overarching dynamic. The ASEAN Summit in Manila[,] Philippines is an opportunity for President Trump to expand the conversations; enter into deeper discussions surrounding the terms of partnership; and deepen commitments toward larger U.S. international objectives.

The ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) region including India, comprises a combined population of 1.85 billion people, one-fourth of the global population.

Here is a graphic of all the attendees:

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was delighted to renew his friendship with President Trump:

NDTV reported:

Prime Minister Modi is likely to reassert India’s push to create a global approach to deal with terrorism. He will also pitch steps to boost regional trade. One of the more significant meetings will be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Donald Trump.

India Today has more on the geopolitical situation in Asia and with the Trump administration.

Here is a photo from the gala dinner that night. Stephen Miller, adviser and speechwriter, is on the left (Trump’s personal assistant John McEntee is next to him, followed by Press Secretary Sarah Sanders). On the right are General HR McMaster and Communications Director Hope Hicks:

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Manila, violent anti-Trump protests broke out. Sky News Australia reported:

Hundreds of leftist activists, farmers and students have burned an effigy of US President Donald Trump in the shape of a swastika after clashes with anti-riot police in Manila left at least 16 people injured.

Police used water cannons on the demonstrators as they marched along Taft Avenue, about 6 kilometres away from the venue of the leaders summit of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Six of the 16 injured were police officers.

The ASEAN summit opened on Monday, November 13 with a welcome ceremony, group photo and customary group handshake:

Here is a video of the photo op:

Modi was delighted with the opening ceremony’s entertainment:

This was Trump’s schedule for the rest of the day (emphases in the original):

10:15am / 9:15pm THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia – Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila, Philippines. [Duration 1 hr]

11:50am / 10:50pm THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines – Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines (Host of ASEAN) [Duration 1 hr]

12:55pm / 11:55pm THE PRESIDENT attends the 5th U.S.-ASEAN Summit – Philippine International Convention Center, Manila, Philippines.

3:30pm / 2:30pm THE PRESIDENT participates in a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India – Sofitel Philippine Plaza, Manila, Philippines.

5:00pm / 4:00am THE PRESIDENT participates in an embassy meet and greet, Manila, Philippines.

In a historic move, representatives from the US State Department met with officials from India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was the first time these countries had met since 2007. The time gap was because of objections from the Chinese and Obama.

Part of the State Department’s announcement reads as follows:

The officials examined ways to achieve common goals and address common challenges in the region, such as: upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, including freedom of navigation and overflight, respect for international law, and the peaceful resolution of disputes; increasing connectivity consistent with international law and standards, based on prudent financing; coordinating on counterterrorism and maritime security efforts in the Indo-Pacific; and further cooperating to curtail the DPRK’s nuclear and missile programs and unlawful acts. The quadrilateral partners committed to deepening cooperation, which rests on a foundation of shared democratic values and principles, and to continue discussions to further strengthen the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific region.

Trump included Japan’s Shinzo Abe in his meeting with Australia’s Malcolm Turnbull:

The three leaders met with the press. An excerpt from the transcript follows (emphases mine):

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. It’s great to be with Prime Minister Turnbull and Prime Minister Abe of Australia and of Japan. You know them well; I know them well.

We’ve had many meetings. We’re having another one right now, primarily focused on trade, North Korea, other subjects. But we’re very far along. The dialogue has been very good, I think, for all countries. And we look forward to the continuation of that dialogue.

Mr. Prime Minister, would you like to say something?

PRIME MINISTER TURNBULL: Thank you, Mr. President. It is great to be with you and Prime Minister Abe. We’re working very closely together. We’ve got the same values and the same focus on ensuring that the North Korean regime comes to its senses and stops its reckless provocation and threats of conflict in our region.

Peace and stability have underpinned the prosperity of billions of people over many decades, and we’re going to work together to ensure we maintain it.

PRIME MINISTER ABE: (As interpreted.) So for three of us, the immediate challenge is the issue of North Korea. And also, three very close partners with each other — Japan, the United States, and Australia — share fundamental values, as well as strategic interest.

So I do hope that we are going to have a meaningful discussion, particularly on the issue of North Korea so as to ensure regional peace and stability.

And also, I think the key for us is to ensure very close trilateral cooperation so as to bring peace and stability on the ground. So I do look forward to having a very productive discussion with the two leaders.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: In addition, a lot of things are happening on trade. And I’ll be announcing pretty much what happened here, and also with other meetings, including China and South Korea and lots of other places. We’ll be announcing that, for the most part, in a statement. I’ll make it from the White House, as opposed to from here. We’ll probably do that on Wednesday …

Sky News Australia reported that Turnbull is beset by domestic problems but is intent on working to resolve the dangerous situation with North Korea and also terrorism:

‘These are dangerous times that we live in our region,’ Mr Turnbull told reporters in Manila, adding it was his job to keep Australians safe.

‘The threats to our peace and stability are greater than they have been for many many years.’

Turnbull understands the strategy for North Korea:

Trump met with Duterte. Beforehand, Duterte made a brief announcement to the media, absent at that point:

Duterte: “We will be discussing matters that are of interest to both the Philippines and…with you around, guys, you are the spies.”
“Hah, hah, hah,” Trump said laughing.
“You are,” Duterte repeated.
[Duterte’s reference was to “spies” (i.e. the media), not “spice.”]

Once the media showed up, Duterte wanted them gone:

PRESIDENT DUTERTE: (In progress.) But on the whole, I think I have so many things to say about (inaudible). I will just summarize (inaudible).

We are your ally. We are an important ally. (Inaudible.)

And I will request everybody to — after you’ve taken the shots, with the best angles that you would like — kindly go out.

I cannot discuss the things that they want to say. You may want to make an — just a statement so that the media is going to have something to go back home.

Trump picked up on the ‘spies’ joke:

I will say this: The media was a little bit late, and you actually missed the best part of the President’s statement. (Laughter.) I think he should make it again, but it was good.

But we’ve had a great relationship. This has been very successful. We have many meetings today with many other leaders. And the ASEAN conference has been handled beautifully by the President in the Philippines and your representatives. And I’ve really enjoyed being here …

But we very much appreciate the great treatment you’ve given us

Then:

Later, Trump addressed ASEAN (General HR McMaster is on the left and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the right):

The full transcript is here. Excerpts follow. Notice how Trump refers to the region not as Asia-Pacific but as Indo-Pacific:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: President Duterte, distinguished leaders, friends and partners: I’m honored to represent the United States of America at this U.S.-ASEAN Commemorative Summit. We gather today at a time of great promise and great challenge.

I speak to you on behalf of 350 million Americans with a message of friendship and partnership. I’m here to advance peace, to promote security, and to work with you to achieve a truly free and open Indo-Pacific, where we are proud and we have sovereign nations, and we thrive, and everybody wants to prosper.

This year we mark 40 years of friendship and cooperation between the United States and this organization. It’s a long time. I also want to congratulate ASEAN on 50 years of promoting peace and prosperity and stability in Southeast Asia and in the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Rodrigo, I would like to commend you on your success as ASEAN chair at this very critical moment in time and in the association’s history — such an important event. And I want to thank you for your incredible hospitality …

I also want to thank Prime Minister Najib of Malaysia for the excellent job you’ve done as coordinator, and I appreciate it very much. I really appreciate it. You have coordinated so well with us …

The United States remains committed to ASEAN’s central role as a regional forum for total cooperation. This diplomatic partnership advances the security and prosperity of the American people and the people of all Indo-Pacific nations

So we want our partners in the region to be strong, independent, and prosperous, in control of their own destinies, and satellites to no one. These are the principles behind our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.

So again, I wish you all the best of luck. It’s an honor to be here. And, Rodrigo, thank you very much for the way you treated all of us. Thank you. (Applause.)

Afterwards, Trump met with Narendra Modi:

Then it was time to visit the US Embassy:

That evening, Trump had dinner with Malcolm Turnbull.

Afterwards:

On Tuesday, Trump was scheduled to attend more ASEAN sessions, however, as they were running late, he asked Rex Tillerson to attend the plenary session in the afternoon on his behalf. During his brief conversation with the media on the way home, Trump told the press that he was able to make his closing remarks at lunch.

It was time to return to Washington. Air Force One made a refueling stop at Hickam in Hawaii:

Thanks to a favourable jet stream, he arrived at the White House two hours earlier than expected Tuesday night. The tarmac at Joint Base Andrews, oddly, was unlit.

A short time later:

Before leaving the Philippines, Trump expressed his delight with the hospitality he received:

Later on, social media director Dan Scavino received this anime of Ivanka:

Once back at the White House, Trump tweeted:

It is a pity that Western media did not cover those 12 days better. They are historic. Trump has built solid relationships among the principal players: Abe, Xi and Modi. He also emphasised national sovereignty, which one hopes will be a game-changer for the region.

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!

On July 7 and 8, 2017, Angela Merkel hosted the G20 conference in Hamburg.

I covered the riots and looting yesterday.

Today’s post looks at the conference itself — a first for Presidents Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron.

On Thursday, July 6, President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump spent the day in Poland. Later that day, he tweeted:

That evening, the Trumps flew to Hamburg, where the US president had meetings before the conference started:

One wonders if he and Merkel discussed the climate change pact. Only days before — on June 30 — the German chancellor appeared to be backing down because of Trump’s rejection of American participation. Breitbart reported that, publicly, Merkel is taking a strong stance, but:

Behind the scenes, however, it would appear that Merkel’s negotiating teams have been bending over backwards to tone down the climate action plan and avoid an embarrassing rejection by Donald Trump.

This can be seen by comparing the two draft climate action plans for the summit, one from March and the revised one from May. According to Climate Change News, American negotiators have watered it down considerably.

As for the conference:

Elsewhere, Trump supporters expressed concern for his safety. Click on the images below for more detail. It is true that the Trumps stayed in a guest house of the German senate:

Day 1 of G20 unfolded.

Trump was ready:

He was the only leader who refused to wear the hideous G20 lapel pin and wore his American flag pin instead.

He received questions about the Democrats:

The group photo piqued people’s interest, and not just in the media. Emmanuel Macron weirded out, making a nuisance of himself to stand next to Donald Trump.

Technically, that was the correct place for him to stand. The newest G20 participants are placed at the edges of the photo. More long-serving world leaders are in the centre. However, perhaps Macron should have stayed in the back row. He not only left a gap but disturbed everyone in attempting to get down to the first row:

It did not go unnoticed:

The same thing happened later that day in the group photo before the concert that evening. Watch Merkel position Trump and Macron:

The Macrons sat next to the Trumps at the concert, too:

The Conservative Treehouse said:

*Note* There is a coordinated effort by global political leftists (control entities within multinationals and political constructs) to physically position Emmanuel Macron next to President Trump at every opportunity. This is a structurally coordinated effort to enlarge the presence of Macron as an oppositional entity to the looming and dominant presence (figurative and literal) of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Trump had a successful day.

He and Russian president Vladimir Putin put a ceasefire in Syria in place:

Trade Secretary Stephen Mnuchin said:

We had a very productive dinner last night — Secretary Tillerson, myself, General McMaster — with President Moon Jae-in and Prime Minister Abe and their teams, discussing the importance of what’s going on in North Korea and the issues there. And then today we’ve had, already, several other bilats, and tomorrow we have another six.

The President also participated in a very important session today on trade and an important session on the environment and the economy. So I would just generally say we’ve had very productive economic meetings. There’s been very substantive issues discussed. The North Korea issue has been discussed very significantly, about the escalation in North Korea.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, in part (same link, emphases mine):

President Trump and President Putin met this afternoon for 2 hours and 15 minutes here on the sidelines of the G20. The two leaders exchanged views on the current nature of the U.S.-Russia relationship and the future of the U.S.-Russia relationship.

They discussed important progress that was made in Syria, and I think all of you have seen some of the news that just broke regarding a de-escalation agreement and memorandum, which was agreed between the United States, Russia and Jordan, for an important area in southwest Syria that affects Jordan’s security, but also is a very complicated part of the Syrian battlefield.

This de-escalation area was agreed, it’s well-defined, agreements on who will secure this area. A ceasefire has been entered into. And I think this is our first indication of the U.S. and Russia being able to work together in Syria. And as a result of that, we had a very lengthy discussion regarding other areas in Syria that we can continue to work together on to de-escalate the areas and violence once we defeat ISIS, and to work together toward a political process that will secure the future of the Syrian people.

As a result, at the request of President Putin, the United States has appointed — and you’ve seen, I think, the announcement of Special Representative for Ukraine, Ambassador Kurt Volker. Ambassador Volker will draw on his decades of experience in the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, both as a representative to NATO and also his time as a permanent political appointment.

The two leaders also acknowledged the challenges of cyber threats and interference in the democratic processes of the United States and other countries, and agreed to explore creating a framework around which the two countries can work together to better understand how to deal with these cyber threats, both in terms of how these tools are used to in interfere with the internal affairs of countries, but also how these tools are used to threaten infrastructure, how these tools are used from a terrorism standpoint as well.

Trump also held a meeting with President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico:

President Trump emphasized the strong bilateral relationship that the United States enjoys with Mexico and noted the importance of renegotiating NAFTA to help workers in both countries. President Trump thanked President Peña Nieto for Mexico’s partnership on the Central America Conference last month. The leaders also discussed regional challenges, including drug trafficking, illegal migration, and the crisis in Venezuela.

After the day’s business concluded, the leaders and their spouses attended the aforementioned concert — then had dinner.

Mrs Trump was seated next to Mr Putin:

The Daily Mail has loads of photos and more on both the concert and the dinner.

Then it was time for some rest:

Trump was happy:

Tomorrow’s post discusses Day 2.

President Donald Trump just completed a historic trip to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

It was his first trip abroad as president and the Saudis gave him and his family a royal reception the entire time.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the media continued to weigh in on possible impeachment proceedings, James Comey and anything else that detracted from the present occupant of the White House.

This is what many American viewers of Big Media missed.

The Arab Islamic American Summit — the Riyadh Summit — took place on Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21, 2017 in Riyadh. Fifty-five of the 57 Islamic nations — see the list — sent representatives to discuss with President Trump how they could prevent the spread of extremist ideology.

The summit’s slogan was ‘Together We Prevail’. Al Arabiya reported (emphases mine below):

In an unprecedented political event, Riyadh will host three summits on Saturday and Sunday

The three summits advertised under the slogan “Together We Prevail” are hosted by Riyadh, to reaffirm the shared commitment to global security, profound economic partnerships and to enforce the determination for constructive political and cultural cooperation.

Although it appeared, from White House releases, that this was a rather spur-of-the-moment trip, it had been in the planning for months:

Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi told Egypt Daily News:

… co-operation with Saudi Arabia is currently “at its highest point.”

… In response to a question about efforts to revive long-stalled negotiations between Palestine and Israel, El-Sisi said that Trump is the “decisive player” in this matter.

“I believe he does not take time in resolving matters he’s a capable person who does not work like others,” he said. The president also said that the country’s counter-terrorism situation “has significantly improved.”

He said the government is formulating a law to create a supreme council that will combat terrorism and extremism. This initiative was announced in April following two deadly bombings on churches in the cities of Tanta and Alexandria …

The Saudis gave the president and first lady a right royal welcome. White House cabinet members and other close aides also accompanied him on this trip.

.

There was also a flypast:

The Saudis also had special lighting effects on the Ritz Carlton where the Americans stayed.

The Saudi king presented the American president with the highest civilian honour, the Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud, at the royal palace. The Arab News reported that only other non-Islamic leaders this has been given to are:

Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Theresa May and Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama.

The king gave the Trumps a sumptuous lunch, which Arab News said was:

replete with cuisines from around the world.

You can see a photo of the menu at the link above.

Trump signed a historic agreement to help bolster KSA’s defence needs:

More about that in Trump’s speech below.

During the summit, Trump met separately with the Emir of Kuwait, the Emir of Qatar, the President of Egypt and the King of Bahrain. He also held a private meeting with the President of Afghanistan. The White House issued a brief statement.

Melania and Ivanka Trump had also attracted much attention and were fully accepted without veils. The Saudis treated them like a queen and a princess, respectively.

Arab News reported that Saudis viewed the first lady’s arrival attire as ‘classy and conservative’:

“Melania Trump before leaving the United States vs. Melania while landing in Saudi Arabia. Respect for the country’s traditions,” one Twitter user said with a thumbs-up. “Not only modest, but elegant at the same time.”

The loose outfit almost resembled the traditional black abaya — a loose over-garment, essentially a robe-like dress — worn by Saudi women.

Later, Mrs Trump changed into a striking magenta full length evening gown with long, flowing sleeves:

.

One report said that the Kushners received a rabbinic pass to travel on the Sabbath. Whatever the case, Arab News reported that Ivanka took the country ‘by storm’:

The hashtag #Trump’s_daughter, in Arabic, is the top trending hashtag in the country as Twitter fans heaped praise on the first daughter.

Ivanka, who is set to take part in roundtable discussions during the president’s first official visit abroad, wore a long navy dress as she arrived in Saudi Arabia as part of the US delegation.

That Saudi gave Ivanka instructions on how to stop coffee refills:

Arab women were annoyed at the attention Ivanka received. This is also worth checking out for a chuckle.

The Trump ladies had planned visits.

Mrs Trump visited the American International School:

She then went to the GE Saudi Service Center:

Ivanka met with Princess Reema to discuss women’s initiatives:

On Saturday evening, a sword dance took place. This celebrated the coming together of Arab and American leaders to celebrate a unified alliance — peace after conflict:

A Saudi-American popular music concert also took place, starring Rabeh Saqer and Toby Keith.

On Sunday, May 21, Trump gave a speech that lasted 34 minutes. The incomparable Stephen Miller co-wrote it. Excerpts follow:

My meetings with King Salman, the Crown Prince, and the Deputy Crown Prince, have been filled with great warmth, good will, and tremendous cooperation. Yesterday, we signed historic agreements with the Kingdom that will invest almost $400 billion in our two countries and create many thousands of jobs in America and Saudi Arabia.

This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase – and we will be sure to help our Saudi friends to get a good deal from our great American defense companies. This agreement will help the Saudi military to take a greater role in security operations.

We have also started discussions with many of the countries present today on strengthening partnerships, and forming new ones, to advance security and stability across the Middle East and beyond

I have had the pleasure of welcoming several of the leaders present today to the White House, and I look forward to working with all of you.

America is a sovereign nation and our first priority is always the safety and security of our citizens. We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all …

The Middle East is rich with natural beauty, vibrant cultures, and massive amounts of historic treasures. It should increasingly become one of the great global centers of commerce and opportunity.

This region should not be a place from which refugees flee, but to which newcomers flock

Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.

If we do not act against this organized terror, then we know what will happen. Terrorism’s devastation of life will continue to spread. Peaceful societies will become engulfed by violence. And the futures of many generations will be sadly squandered …

This is not a battle between different faiths, different sects, or different civilizations.

This is a battle between barbaric criminals who seek to obliterate human life, and decent people of all religions who seek to protect it.

This is a battle between Good and Evil.

When we see the scenes of destruction in the wake of terror, we see no signs that those murdered were Jewish or Christian, Shia or Sunni. When we look upon the streams of innocent blood soaked into the ancient ground, we cannot see the faith or sect or tribe of the victims – we see only that they were Children of God whose deaths are an insult to all that is holy

America is prepared to stand with you – in pursuit of shared interests and common security.

But the nations of the Middle East cannot wait for American power to crush this enemy for them. The nations of the Middle East will have to decide what kind of future they want for themselves, for their countries, and for their children.

It is a choice between two futures – and it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.

A better future is only possible if your nations drive out the terrorists and extremists. Drive. Them. Out.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your places of worship.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your communities.

DRIVE THEM OUT of your holy land, and

DRIVE THEM OUT OF THIS EARTH …

Amazingly — and I saw the YouTube of Trump delivering his rousing speech — Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, 78, fell asleep. Maybe the sword dance the night before exhausted him. It’s just as well that Reince Priebus was between him and Ivanka:

After Trump’s speech, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held a press conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir, a brief excerpt of which follows:

I think on this trip, I know the entire delegation traveling with the President has gained a much greater appreciation for this region, the rich history, the rich traditions and cultures of this region, and also a much better understanding of the Muslim faith by traveling to this special place, the special place of the two holiest sites. All of this is, I think, useful to us understanding everyone better here, and we hope – we hope people in the Muslim community will make a similar effort to understand the American people’s interest and concerns that they may have.

But I think importantly, out of this speech the President delivered this afternoon, what he said, again, is this fight is ours together. It is not between us. It is ours together. And it’s only together that we will ultimately prevail and that it is not a fight among religions, not a fight between Shia, Sunni, it’s not a fight between Christians, Jews, any of the faiths. This is a fight of good against evil, and in all of those three great faiths that millions of Americans follow, we are guided by that same tenet. This is what unites us in attacking this evil face of terrorism that has befallen us and has hurt so many around the world.

Breitbart‘s London editor Raheem Kassam contrasted Trump’s speech with Obama’s. Kassam points out that Obama prostrated himself before the Saudis in an Islam-heavy speech apologising for colonialism. Trump, on the other hand:

continued full speed into making demands of the people in the room.

Trump’s introduction of thanks was gracious yet brief:

Instead, President Trump dived right in, spending less than a page on the flattery — and there was scarcely any in that section anyway — getting to the first action point by page two of his speech: “This landmark agreement includes the announcement of a $110 billion Saudi-funded defense purchase…”

If America is going to deal with the Arab world under a Trump presidency, it is at least going to get something out of it for the American people. Cash, jobs, and importantly, leverage.

Wait, you thought that was all? The very next sentence announced the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology.

On matters spiritual:

Where Obama declared “Islam has a proud history of tolerance” as the Mullahs prepared their latest homosexual to be thrown from a building, and the most recent woman to be stoned in the street, President Trump demanded: “Your soul will be condemned” for barbaric acts, a sentiment that found its crescendo when he declared: “This is a battle between Good and Evil”, insisting that Arab and Muslim leaders “drive out” the forces of terror and extremism within their ranks.

With regard to the ‘T’ word:

President Trump used the word “terror” in some way — terror, terrorism, terrorists — a whopping 31 times in his speech in Riyadh. In Cairo, President Obama used the word an even more whopping ZERO times.

Obama described 9/11 as an “enormous trauma” rather than a terrorist atrocity, opting to deploy the word “extremism” 11 times in his speech, which President Trump also used nine times.

As a result, Obama lacked action points, policy goals, or anything of substance when it came to tacking terrorism. President Trump on the other hand announced the formulation of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, insisting: “Muslim nations must be willing to take on the burden, if we are going to defeat terrorism and send its wicked ideology into oblivion”.

Oh yeah, and President Trump said: “Islamic terrorism”, just FYI.

The summit’s climax was the the Inauguration of the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology. This included a symbolic gesture of international unity as the principal leaders involved touched a glowing orb. With Trump below are his new good friends Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi:

Many online viewers compared the scene to Lord of the Rings, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and other films.

The United States and Saudi Arabia will also co-chair the new Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a collaborative approach to confronting new and evolving threats arising from terrorist financing. The initiative will also include partners from the Gulf states. A statement from the US Department of the Treasury explained:

With today’s announcements, the United States, Saudi Arabia, and other strategic partners in the Gulf are confronting new and evolving terrorist networks including ISIS, al Qa’ida, Hizballah, Lashkar–e-Tayyiba, the Taliban, and the Haqqani Network. This collaboration will also address a host of other transnational threats emanating throughout the Middle East, including from Iran, the Assad regime, and the situation in Yemen.

The Riyadh Summit concluded:

The Saudis have clearly been forward planning for the KSA.

The Saudi press viewed the visit — and the Trumps — most favourably. It must have irked CNN’s Jim Acosta to tweet these photos (click on each one to enlarge):

The Trump entourage left Riyadh the morning of Monday, May 22. Note that Melania is wearing a long dress with a slit up the back. The strong winds revealed a view of the back of her calves. Ivanka wore a midi-dress revealing her lower legs. How long before modernising Saudis change their dress code for women?

Sarah Huckabee Sanders (yes, Mike’s daughter, who works with Sean Spicer) tweeted this:

They arrived in Israel a short time later. Like the RSA, the Israelis were also preparing and rehearsing for Trump’s visit.

As I was writing this, welcome speeches took place at the airport:

More to come on Trump’s visit to Israel.

Further reading:

Multibillion dollar deals sealed at Saudi-US CEO Forum

Kingdom, Washington agree ‘Joint Strategic Vision Declaration’

Raytheon, Saudi Arabia Military Industries in strategic partnership

On Thursday, March 30, 2017, The Daily Caller reported that, during his brief trip to Turkey, the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, visited the wife of a Protestant pastor who is currently in a Turkish prison.

Tillerson had no previous plan to meet with Norine Brunson. His scheduled event was a meeting with Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In November 2016, Turkish authorities imprisoned the Revd Andrew Brunson on suspicion of terrorism.

The Daily Caller explains:

The Brunsons, who have worked in Turkey for 23 years as missionaries, were detained by Turkish authorities in October and held for deportation. Norine was released shortly after, but Andrew was kept in jail and accused of being part of a terrorist organization.

Which terrorist organization is unclear. Turkish authorities have not disclosed that information or anything else about its supposed case.

Brunson has been in a prison in Izmir since November and has had limited contact with his lawyers and Norine. The case against Brunson appears to be part of a larger crackdown against anyone who the Erdogan regime arbitrarily deems an enemy …

Erdogan’s enemy list includes Christians.

How Mrs Brunson came to meet Rex Tillerson in Ankara is somewhat supernatural. Mr Brunson (emphases mine):

had told her that he felt that God had told him she would meet America’s top diplomat.

And it turned out that he was right.

On Monday, Andrew told me he felt the Lord had said I would meet with Sec of State Tillerson. On Tuesday, I was told by the embassy and another senator that the meeting would NOT happen. I decided to come to Ankara anyway and arrived last night,” Norine Brunson wrote on Facebook Thursday, just after she met for 20 minutes with Tillerson.

That is amazing.

Details of how the meeting came to pass are unknown. The State Department is not commenting on the matter or on the Brunsons.

However, the fact that Tillerson met with Mrs Brunson is significant:

Jordan Sekulow, the executive director of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), says that Tillerson’s meeting with Norine Brunson is a positive development in the case to help free Andrew.

“This is a powerful sign that the Trump Administration is taking the plight of this wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen very seriously,” said Sekulow, who is working to help free the pastor.

Let us keep the Brunsons in our prayers and thank the Lord that Rex Tillerson met with Mrs Brunson. May God continue to bless all three of them.

I wrote more than once that the hand of God was all over last year’s election.

This year, I believe that the hand of God is all over the Trump administration.

This incredible news story goes some way in proving that.

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