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On Friday, July 13, 2018, President Trump met with the UK’s two most powerful women.

In the morning, he met with Prime Minister Theresa May at the prime ministerial weekend residence, Chequers, regarding US-UK trade deals post-Brexit. Philip May, meanwhile, was with Melania Trump at Royal Hospital Chelsea.

Before arriving in Brussels for the NATO conference, Trump made frank remarks about the UK. On July 10, the Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Speaking to journalists as he set off for Europe, Mr Trump said there were a ‘lot of things’ going on in the UK at the moment and the country seemed to be ‘somewhat in turmoil’.

‘The UK certainly has a lot of things going on,’ he said.  

Boris Johnson’s a friend of mine. He’s been very, very nice to me. Very supportive.

‘And maybe we’ll speak to him when I get over there. 

I like Boris Johnson. I’ve always liked him.’ 

Asked by DailyMail.com whether Mrs May should continue as PM, Mr Trump said ‘that is up to the people’.

However, he added that he had a ‘very good relationship’ with Mrs May. 

Mr Trump joked that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin might be the ‘easiest’ leg of his trip to Europe.

The Mail said that the Prime Minister was unruffled and looked forward to meeting with Trump:

Asked directly abut his incendiary comments, she said: ‘I am looking forward to seeing president Trump not only at the Nato summit in the next couple of days but also when he comes to the UK. 

‘There is much for us to discuss.’

She added: ‘We will be talking positively about how we can continue to work together in our special relationship for the good of people living in the UK and the United States and, actually, for the wider good‘ …

Downing Street insisted they were ‘relaxed’ about the intervention, pointing out that Mr Trump also stressed his ‘very good’ relations with Mrs May. A spokesman said the president was ‘being humorous’ with his remark about the Putin meeting.

The weekend before, Mrs May convened ministers at Chequers to put forward a ‘soft’ Brexit plan, released as a government white paper on the day of the dinner at Blenheim Palace, July 12. A number of MPs resigned their ministerial posts as a result. A leadership contest could well be in the offing. In addition to Boris Johnson, another front runner is the ‘hard’ Brexit MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, who took London’s LBC talk radio calls on July 10:

This seems off-topic until one considers that Trump said that the US might not be able to make trade deals with the UK in the case of a ‘soft’ (EU-tied) Brexit. Instead, the US might have to negotiate with the EU to trade with Britain.

Whilst the dinner May put on for the Trumps, the American entourage and British business leaders at Blehneim Palace on July 12 went very well, Trump had sounded a warning on future trade negotiations in a Sun interview that appeared that evening. BT.com reported:

Donald Trump has warned Theresa May her Brexit plan could “kill” any UK-US trade deal because Britain would remain so closely aligned to the European Union.

The US president said he would have done the Brexit negotiations “much differently” and claimed the Prime Minister did not listen to his advice, in an interview with The Sun.

His highly-controversial remarks came at the end of a day in which he had already waded deeply into the Brexit row over Theresa May’s white paper ahead of his first official visit to Britain as President.

He had used a Thursday morning press conference in Brussels to attack the Prime Minister’s Brexit plan and highlight Cabinet divisions.

In a Sun interview released while Mr Trump and First Lady Melania were being entertained by the Prime Minister at Blenheim Palace, the president said: “If they do a deal like that, we would be dealing with the European Union instead of dealing with the UK, so it will probably kill the deal”.

The comments, following on from the morning press conference, will a cause of great concern for Mrs May.

She had used the Blenheim black tie dinner with political and business leaders to press Mr Trump on the benefits of a free trade deal after Brexit …

Speaking to reporters in Belgium after a fiery Nato Summit, Mr Trump had described the UK as a “hot spot right now with a lot of resignations” and dismissed the Prime Minister’s Chequers plan on the next stage of Brexit.

That day, May’s 98-page white paper appeared, proffering an ‘Association Agreement’ with the EU. BT.com reported:

The 98-page document sets out a significantly “softer” version of Brexit than desired by more eurosceptic Tories, and prompted the resignation of Boris Johnson and David Davis from Mrs May’s Cabinet earlier this week.

Extracts of Mr Davis’s alternative White Paper, published on the ConservativeHome website, show that the former Brexit secretary was planning a “Canada plus plus plus” free trade deal based on mutual recognition of independent systems of regulation.

By contrast, Mrs May’s plan involves the UK accepting a “common rulebook” on trade in goods, with a treaty commitment to ongoing harmonisation with EU rules.

It envisages the UK entering an Association Agreement with the EU and making continued payments for participation in shared agencies and programmes.

And it states that an independent arbitration panel set up to resolve UK-EU disputes will be able to seek guidance from the European Court of Justice, but only on the interpretation of EU law.

The Eurosceptics are correct: that is not what 52% of voters had in mind when they voted to Leave on June 23, 2016. Trump was diplomatic:

Mr Trump said it seemed the Prime Minister’s plans meant the UK was “getting at least partially involved back with the European Union”.

Borrowing one of Mrs May’s old slogans, Mr Trump told a Brussels press conference: “I would say Brexit is Brexit. The people voted to break it up so I would imagine that’s what they would do, but maybe they’re taking a different route – I don’t know if that is what they voted for.”

That was part of the backdrop to Trump’s meeting with May.

However, there is also a historical aspect to America’s trade with Britain, explored below:

Over the past few years:

Meetings had taken place beforehand between Liam Fox and Woody Johnson:

Defence is highly important …

… as is international co-operation:

With the last two areas of shared interest in mind, it was not surprising that the Prime Minister hosted Trump at Sandhurst that morning before their meeting at Chequers:

After the bilateral meetings at Chequers concluded, May and Trump held a joint press conference (YouTube video here), excerpted below.

PRIME MINISTER MAY: … This morning, President Trump and I visited Sandhurst, where we saw a demonstration of joint working between British and American special forces. Just one example of what is today the broadest, deepest, and most advanced security cooperation of any two countries in the world …

That partnership is set to grow, with our armies integrating to a level unmatched anywhere, and the UK set to spend £24 billion on U.S. equipment and support over the next decade.

Today, we’ve also discussed how we can deepen our work together to respond to malign state activity, terrorism, and serious crime. In particular, on Russia, I thanked President Trump for his support in responding to the appalling use of a nerve agent in Salisbury, after which he expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers. And I welcomed his meeting with President Putin in Helsinki on Monday. We agreed that it is important to engage Russia from a position of strength and unity, and that we should continue to deter and counter all efforts to undermine our democracies.

Turning to our economic cooperation, with mutual investment between us already over $1 trillion, we want to go further. We agreed today that, as the UK leaves the European Union, we will pursue an ambitious U.S.-UK free trade agreement. The Chequers Agreement reached last week provides the platform for Donald and me to agree an ambitious deal that works for both countries right across our economies, a deal that builds on the UK’s independent trade policy, reducing tariffs; delivering a gold standard in financial services cooperation; and, as two of the world’s most advanced economies, seizing the opportunity of new technology …

And that is why I’m confident that this transatlantic alliance will continue to be the bedrock of our shared security and prosperity for years to come.

Mr. President.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Thank you. Prime Minister, thank you very much. And it is my true honor to join you at this remarkable setting — truly magnificent — as we celebrate the special relationship between our two countries. On behalf of the American people, I want to thank you for your very gracious hospitality. Thank you very much, Theresa …

Today, it’s a true privilege to visit historic Chequers that I’ve heard so much about and read so much about growing up in history class, and to continue our conversation, which has really proceeded along rapidly and well over the last few days …

Before our dinner last night, Melania and I joined Prime Minister May, Mr. May, and the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough for a tour of the Winston Churchill Exhibit at Blenheim Palace. It was something; it was something very special. It was from right here at Chequers that Prime Minister Churchill phoned President Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. In that horrific war, American and British servicemembers bravely shed their blood alongside one another in defense of home and in defense of freedom. And together, we achieved a really special, magnificent victory. And it was total victory …

In our meetings today, the Prime Minister and I discussed a range of shared priorities, including stopping nuclear proliferation. I thanked Prime Minister May for her partnership in our pursuit of a nuclear-free North Korea. She’s been a tremendous help.

The Prime Minister and I also discussed Iran. We both agree that Iran must never possess a nuclear weapon and that I must halt, and we must do it — and I’m going to do it and she’s going to do it, and we’re all going to do it together. We have to stop terrorism. It’s a scourge. We have to stop terrorism. And we have to get certain countries — and they’ve come a long way, I believe — the funding of terrorism has to stop, and it has to stop now.

I encouraged the Prime Minister to sustain pressure on the regime. And she needed absolutely no encouragement, because she, in fact, also encourages me. And we’re doing that, and we’re doing that together — very closely coordinated.

The United Kingdom and the United States are also strengthening cooperation between our armed forces, who serve together on battlefields all around the world.

Today, the Prime Minister and I viewed several U.S.-UK Special Forces demonstration — we saw some demonstrations today, frankly, that were incredible. The talent of these young brave, strong people. We saw it at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. Seamless cooperation between our militaries is really just vital to addressing the many shared security threats. We have threats far different than we’ve ever had before. They’ve always been out there, but these are different and they’re severe. And we will handle them well.

We also recognize the vital importance of border security and immigration control. In order to prevent foreign acts of terrorism within our shores, we must prevent terrorists and their supporters from gaining admission in the first place …

I also want to thank Prime Minister May for pursuing fair and reciprocal trade with the United States. Once the Brexit process is concluded, and perhaps the U.K. has left the EU — I don’t know what they’re going to do, but whatever you do is okay with me. That’s your decision. Whatever you’re going to do is okay with us. Just make sure we can trade together; that’s all that matters. The United States looks forward to finalizing a great bilateral trade agreement with the United Kingdom. This is an incredible opportunity for our two countries, and we will seize it fully.

We support the decision of the British people to realize full self-government, and we will see how that goes. Very complicated negotiation and not an easy negotiation, that’s for sure. A strong and independent United Kingdom, like a strong and independent United States, is truly a blessing on the world.

Prime Minister May, I want to thank you again for the honor of visiting the United Kingdom — a special place. My mother was born here, so it means something maybe just a little bit extra; maybe even a lot extra. And we had a wonderful visit. Last night, I think I got to know the Prime Minister better than at any time. We spent a lot of time together over a year and a half. But last night, we really — I was very embarrassed for the rest of the table. We just talked about lots of different problems and solutions to those problems. And it was a great evening.

As we stand together this afternoon at Chequers, we continue a long tradition of friendship, collaboration, and affection between ourselves and also between our people. The enduring relationship between our nations has never been stronger than it is now.

So, Madam Prime Minister, thank you very much. It’s been an honor. Thank you. Thank you, Theresa.

BT.com reported that Trump apologised for the biting statements he had made to The Sun (article since updated to show photos of his UK visit) before he arrived. The article also has a photo of Mrs May smiling broadly:

Mr Trump said he apologised to Mrs May over the Sun front page story, and she replied: “Don’t worry it’s only the press.”

But he repeated his praise of Mr Johnson, saying: “Boris Johnson, I think, would be a great prime minister.”

Mrs May said it was “all of our responsibility to ensure that transatlantic unity endures”.

The PM said the United States is “keen” to do a deal with the UK.

“We will do a trade deal with them and with others around the rest of the world,” she added.

Then it was time for the US president to rejoin his wife and meet the Queen at Windsor Castle.

Elizabeth II has met every serving US president during her reign, except, it seems, for Lyndon Johnson. She has met Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John Kennedy, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, George W Bush, Barack Obama — and, now, Donald Trump.

Visiting the Queen meant a lot to President Trump, because his mother, born in Scotland, was an avid fan of hers and watched her appearances when they were transmitted in the US.

He gave The Sun his longstanding impressions of her earlier in the week:

You can see how pleased he was here:

BT.com reported that the visit, which included tea, lasted longer than previously scheduled:

The president, whose visit to Windsor Castle lasted 57 minutes – 17 more than expected – kept his jacket unbuttoned.

The Queen greeted the Trumps:

The monarch and the president then inspected a Guard of Honour:

Then:

The video below gives a view of where the Queen and her guests stood in relation to the Guards:

Afterwards:

Here is a bit of history about the Coldstream and Grenadier Guards:

Then it was time for a tour — and tea:

The Queen provided a reception for those accompanying the president, which included his press secretary:

These two short videos nicely recap the Trumps’ first official visit to England:

Then it was off to Scotland for the weekend at the president’s Turnberry golf resort:

More about Trump’s weekend tomorrow.

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President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump left NATO for England on the afternoon of Thursday, July 12, 2018.

Mrs Trump enjoyed her time in Brussels:

The day before the Trumps’ arrival in England, a distinguished former British ambassador to the United States had been brutally attacked at Victoria Station. One possible reason? He defended President Trump:

Prayers for Sir Christopher’s full and swift recovery. He must be in much pain. The Daily Mail reported (emphases mine):

Sir Christopher Meyer, 74, was at Victoria when he was set upon by two attackers, his wife said to The Times

The retired diplomat, who was on his way home, was left with a bleeding and swollen eye socket, a burst lip and a suspected broken nose

Sir Christopher’s wife, Baroness Meyer, said he does not remember the attack, but that police believe the pair may have wanted to rob him.

I’m absolutely shocked by the level of the brutality. They really beat him. It’s appalling — like something you would see in a war zone,’ she said.

‘He looks terrible.  

His left eye is like a golf ball and bleeding, the nose looks like it could be broken. At first I thought that the attack was politically motivated

He is opinionated, and sometimes people have different opinions, but the police told me they believe that it is more likely that they might have wanted to rob him’ …

Fortunately:

Baroness Meyer told The Times nothing was stolen and police ‘acted quickly’ and the first thing her husband remembers was them being by his side.

Sir Christopher served as ambassador to the US during the latter end of the Clinton years and the first two of Bush II’s tenure:

He spent six years in Washington, from 1997 to 2003, becoming the longest-serving holder of his office since 1945.

As ambassador, he welcomed around 35,000 guests to his home a year and was made Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George.

After retiring, he became chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, the former newspaper regulatory body.

For President Trump, the UK is a yuge danger zone. The Conservative Treehouse explained:

The U.K. is considered the most dangerous nation in the world for a terror threat against the President. The scale of the security force assigned to protect President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump is three times larger than the traveling military deployed/needed during the 2017 Mid-east trip to Saudi Arabia.

The following video shows the arrival of Air Force One at Stansted Airport in the county of Essex, just outside of London. Ambassador Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson and UK Trade Secretary Liam Fox met the couple, who took Marine One to the centre of the capital, where they stayed at the US ambassador’s residence, Winfield House, in Regents Park:

Winfield House was commissioned by and owned by Barbara Woolworth Hutton, heiress to the Woolworth fortune, in 1936. Her grandfather Frank’s middle name was Winfield, hence the name and the branded line of Woolworth’s products.

During the Second World War, the Royal Air Force used Winfield House as a 906 barrage balloon unit and as an officer’s club. Interestingly, Hutton was married to actor Cary Grant at the time. They divorced in 1945, after three years. He used to visit Winfield House from time to time.

After the war, Hutton sold the house to the US government for one dollar. Initially, the US Third Air Force used the building as an officer’s club. It became the official US ambassador’s residence in 1955 and remains so to this day:

That evening, America’s first couple were guests of Prime Minister Theresa May at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, home to the Dukes of Marlborough and Winston Churchill during his early life. The Spencer-Churchill family still live there and parts of the palace — e.g. the state apartments — are open to the public.

The Trumps left Winfield House to be airlifted to Blenheim Palace:

The Prime Minister and her husband, Philip May, greeted the Trumps upon arrival:

The purpose of the dinner was to introduce the president to British business leaders in the hopes of forging trade between the two countries post-Brexit.

With that in mind, the Americans from Trump’s cabinet and administration were also invited:

Beforehand, there was time for a photo op and a military ceremony with music:

Then, they went inside:

Sky News reported:

The US president and First Lady Melania Trump were given a red carpet reception at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, where the prime minister pressed her case for an ambitious new trade deal after Brexit.

Addressing Mr Trump in front of an audience of business leaders at Winston Churchill’s birthplace, Mrs May insisted that Brexit provides an opportunity for an “unprecedented” agreement to boost jobs and growth.

And in an apparent plea to the president to remember his allies when he meets Vladimir Putin on Monday, Mrs May noted that Britain and America work closely on security “whether through targeting Daesh terrorists or standing up to Russian aggression”.

The military bands played music prior to departure:

No doubt the evening ended all too soon for some:

I can appreciate Dan Scavino’s enthusiasm. Everyone who visits Blenheim Palace enjoys it.

Tomorrow’s post will look at what happened on Friday, July 13.

Detailed posts on the NATO summit and President Trump’s visit to the UK will follow next week.

For now, Prime Minister Theresa May’s husband Philip May hosted First Lady Melania Trump on Friday, July 13, 2018, more about which below.

As the Trump baby balloon was being inflated before floating over Parliament Square, President Trump was on his way to Sandhurst with the US ambassador to Britain, Robert Wood ‘Woody’ Johnson.

BT.com reports:

He is expected to view a joint US-UK special forces military demonstration at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst …

The president flew into the British Army’s official training centre on Marine One, preceded by two accompanying helicopters.

Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to Britain, was onboard with Mr Trump.

Also attending Sandhurst are several of the president’s aides, including John Kelly, John Bolton and Stephen Miller.

The report left out the Prime Minister:

Meanwhile, Philip May met Mrs Trump at the historic Royal Hospital Chelsea. Suzanne Johnson, the ambassador’s wife, accompanied her. They were greeted by Lieutenant Colonel Nicky Mott, hospital CEO Gary Lashko and Chelsea pensioners John Riley, Alan Collins and Marjorie Cole:

Mrs Trump also met pupils from Saint George’s Church of England primary school, who were making Remembrance Day poppies:

When she arrived into the room, she said “good morning” and asked the children if they would like to show her how to make the poppies.

Mrs Trump had a go at making one, and told the children: “Thank you for helping me.”

She showed Mr May her effort and joked: “Very professional.”

After the poppy making, Mrs Trump listened to school children talk about values and service.

Mrs Trump sat in front of a poster which said “Be the best you can be”.

Mrs Trump recently launched a campaign for American schoolchildren called ‘Be Best’, a poster for which shows in the following tweet:

St George’s has a programme called ‘Be the Best You Can Be’:

Then it was time for bowls:

Meanwhile, Prime Minister May and President Trump were engaging in talks at the weekend home of British prime ministers, Chequers:

One can only imagine what is going through Trump’s mind. Probably something along the lines of, ‘This is a historic moment, because, next time I come here, Theresa May will no longer be Prime Minister’. Sadly, that is a very real possibility — through her own doing for a ‘soft’ Brexit.

By the time this post appears, President and Mrs Trump will have enjoyed tea with the Queen at Windsor Castle and will be in Scotland at Trump’s golf resort, Turnberry, for the weekend.

Mrs Trump tweeted her thanks for a lovely Friday morning:

In closing, for those who are interested, this BT.com article has more information on Mrs Trump’s attire.

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.

President Donald Trump attended his first Davos meeting, arriving in the Swiss resort on Thursday, January 25.

Only a few media outlets have reported that his attendance is thanks to President Emmanuel Macron of France. On Thursday, the London Evening Standard reported:

It emerged that Mr Macron was instrumental in Mr Trump’s decision to attend a gathering to which he was never invited when a businessman.

Mr Macron told RTS that he had “strongly recommended” that Mr Trump attend during a recent phone conversation “because I think it’s a good thing for president Trump to explain his strategy for the US and the world here in Davos. And that he encounters some form of confrontation and dialogue.”

Recall that Macron couldn’t let go of his new buddy — daddy? — when the Trumps were ready to leave Paris on Bastille Day 2017.

I heard soundbites of Macron’s address to the World Economic Forum (WEF) and he said pretty much the same thing about France as Trump did about the US. Essentially, France is open for business.

By the way, there was a lot of snow in Davos, which begs the question about global warming. Oh, silly me, it’s climate change. Hmm. Snow during winter. Who would have expected that?

Trump arrives

Here is a video of Trump’s arrival:

Everywhere in the media — including the Evening Standard — journalists and pundits predicted a huge flop for the ‘America First’ president. Although protests took place about a variety of issues, including Trump, the reality inside was very different:

(I wonder if Macron saw that tweet. 😉 )

The evil Soros was his usual antagonistic self in his address to the WEF, accusing Trump of setting the United States on the course for nuclear war:

Anyone who thinks Soros is a good guy should read more about the man. He has meddled in US politics for ages and is now targeting at state level with huge donations to pro-Democrat groups and causes:

But I digress.

That evening, the American delegation had dinner with the heads of 15 European companies.

The head of SAP paid President Trump great compliments on what he accomplished in his first year:

The White House has a transcript of President Trump’s conversation with his guests.

Trump’s ideas catching on in Western Europe

Earlier that day, Ireland’s finance minister said Trump was making an excellent case for lower taxes:

The CNBC article says (emphases mine):

Asked if he believed Trump was setting an example on tax policy, Donohoe was positive.

Do I believe the mood is changing on corporate tax globally? The answer is yes,” he said.

You have to look at what President Trump has done, you have to look at the state of the U.K., you have to look at what President Macron said earlier in the week,” he said, referencing the French president’s Davos speech in which he proposed cutting some of France’s infamously high taxes.

In late December, a Republican-led U.S. Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs act, overhauling the U.S. tax system and slashing corporate taxes from 35 to 21 percent. The move, Donohoe said, was making European leaders think again about their own corporate tax propositions.

Bilateral meetings

Trump held a number of bi-lateral meetings.

On Thursday, he met with Prime Minister Theresa May:

I know a lot of Trump supporters are angry with Theresa May. Similarly, a lot of Britons loathe Donald Trump. Both groups should read the following.

To my fellow Britons, Trump did not know about the Britain First group. He gave an interview to Piers Morgan, co-host (and friend from Celebrity Apprentice) on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday:

In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, Mr Trump said he had known nothing about the organisation when he made the social media postings.

He told interviewer Piers Morgan that he believed the videos showed “radical Islamic terror”, but if it was the case that they had been produced by “horrible racist people”, then he “would certainly apologise” …

Pressed by Morgan about the Britain First tweets during his first international TV interview since becoming president, Mr Trump said: “I knew nothing about them and I know nothing about them today other than I read a little bit.

“Perhaps it was a big story in Britain , perhaps it was a big story in the UK, but in the United States it wasn’t a big story.

“If you are telling me they’re horrible people, horrible racist people, I would certainly apologise if you’d like me to do that.”

He said he had made the retweets because he was concerned about the threat posed by radical Islamic extremists.

“They had a couple of depictions of radical Islamic terror. It was done because I am a big believer in fighting radical Islamic terror. This was a depiction of radical Islamic terror,” he said.

Now, for my American readers, Trump told Morgan that he and May get on very well:

On his relations with Mrs May, he told Good Morning Britain: “We actually have a very good relationship, although a lot of people think we don’t.

“I support her, I support a lot of what she does and a lot of what she says.”

The White House has a transcript of their meeting with the media following their discussion.

My message to both sides: stop the hate! Now!

Good things came out of the meeting (same link):

During their 40-minute meeting in Davos, Mrs May also raised the issue of aircraft manufacturer Bombardier, which has a major plant in Northern Ireland and is at the centre of a US trade dispute.

The trade dispute with Bombardier was resolved during that meeting. The Press Association reported early Friday morning:

Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier has won its case against United States proposals to impose massive tariffs on the import of its jets in a ruling which should safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast.

The US International Trade Commission (ITC) said rival manufacturer Boeing did not suffer injury from Atlanta-based Delta Airlines’ order of Bombardier’s C Series passenger jets.

The ruling means tariffs of 292% duties will not be imposed on the jets’ import to America.

The move could safeguard thousands of jobs in Belfast, where the C Series wings are produced, and unions said workers would be “breathing a huge sigh of relief” at the news.

The decision comes after Theresa May raised the issue with US president Donald Trump during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday.

He met with his friend Bibi Netanyahu afterwards:

The White House’s statement says, in part:

The two leaders reviewed their ongoing cooperation across a range of issues and stressed their goal of countering Iran’s malign influence and threatening behavior in the region. They also discussed prospects for achieving an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

On Friday morning, Trump held a short press briefing:

His first meeting that day was with President Alain Berset of the Swiss Federation (i.e. Switzerland):

Excerpts from the White House transcript of their public remarks made beforehand:

PRESIDENT BERSET: So I want to welcome President Trump and his delegation here to Davos. It’s the first time that President Trump visits Davos and Switzerland. And it has been 18 years since the last visit from a U.S. President here.

And we appreciate the significance of the gesture, Mr. President. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being here

Switzerland and the U.S. — that’s a longstanding, excellent relationship. We share a deep, historic commitment to freedom, to democracy, to human rights, to free markets. And there is one more point I want to highlight to you, one aspect: our mutual economic footprints.

We have very strong economic relations. They are very strong, and they are growing very fastly. This is really interesting: More than 500 Swiss firms in United States and more than 3,500 business locations with a (inaudible) — creation of a half a million jobs.

And I think, I believe, we can even deepen these relations to strengthen our economies, and to build up, together, solutions to global issues

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Mr. President, it is a great honor to be with you. Davos has been exciting. And in addition to that, I think we’re bringing a lot of things back to our country, including tremendous goodwill.

I yesterday and last night — dinner with some of the great business leaders of the world, as you know. And it was very interesting to see and hear. They’re very happy with what’s happening in the United States …

But I just want to thank you for honoring us. We have tremendous respect for you — and congratulations on the election — and tremendous respect for your country. And it’s an honor to be here. Thank you.

He then met with President Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda:

The White House has a transcript of their remarks afterwards. President Kagame said, in part:

Rwanda has benefitted tremendously from the support of the United States. In many areas where there is (inaudible) support operations we have carried out in different parts of the world, we had the United States, on our side, supporting us.

You have supported our economy, with trade, investment. We see a lot of tourists from United States to visit us — coming to Rwanda.

And, President, I wanted to thank you for the support we have received from you, personal, and your administration. And we’re looking forward to also working with the United States at the level of the African Union, where we are tightening out reforms of the African Union, so that we get our act together to do the right things. That helps — in cooperating with the United States, it would be more beneficial when we are organized, to know what we want from the United States —

Trump’s Davos address

Then came the moment everyone was waiting for, Trump’s address to the WEF:

The day before, CNBC’s Joe Kernen interviewed Trump.

The two men have known each other for several years. The transcript gives a flavour of what Trump wanted to communicate in his address. Excerpts follow:

PRESIDENT TRUMP: So when I decided to come to Davos I didn’t think in terms of elitists or globalists. I think I thought in terms of lots of people that want to invest lots of money, and they’re all coming back to the United States, they’re coming back to America. And I thought of it much more in those terms. After I said that I was going there were massive stories about the elite, and the globalists, and the planes flying in, and everything else. It’s not about that. It’s about coming to America, investing your money, creating jobs, companies coming in. We’re setting records every week, every day we’re setting records …

KERNEN: Yes. You’ve moved a little towards the center. But so Macron’s saying that globalism doesn’t solve problems. Suddenly other countries are saying, you know, “We need to take care of, you know, our own country to some extent.” So it’s almost like the differences between America First and Davos. I think there’s plenty of room for you …

PRESIDENT TRUMP: There’s a lot of room. And we love global, but we love home. We have to take care of our home.

KERNEN: Right. It’s not usually exclusive.

Now back to Friday, before his address:

This was Trump’s message in a nutshell — please note the teal blue box:

The president spoke for around 17 minutes:

The White House has a transcript, excerpts of which follow:

America is the place to do business. So come to America, where you can innovate, create, and build. I believe in America. As President of the United States, I will always put America first, just like the leaders of other countries should put their country first also.

But America first does not mean America alone. When the United States grows, so does the world. American prosperity has created countless jobs all around the globe, and the drive for excellence, creativity, and innovation in the U.S. has led to important discoveries that help people everywhere live more prosperous and far healthier lives.

As the United States pursues domestic reforms to unleash jobs and growth, we are also working to reform the international trading system so that it promotes broadly shared prosperity and rewards to those who play by the rules.

We cannot have free and open trade if some countries exploit the system at the expense of others. We support free trade, but it needs to be fair and it needs to be reciprocal. Because, in the end, unfair trade undermines us all

Represented in this room are some of the remarkable citizens from all over the world. You are national leaders, business titans, industry giants, and many of the brightest minds in many fields.

Each of you has the power to change hearts, transform lives, and shape your countries’ destinies. With this power comes an obligation, however — a duty of loyalty to the people, workers, and customers who have made you who you are.

So together, let us resolve to use our power, our resources, and our voices, not just for ourselves, but for our people — to lift their burdens, to raise their hopes, and to empower their dreams; to protect their families, their communities, their histories, and their futures.

That’s what we’re doing in America, and the results are totally unmistakable. It’s why new businesses and investment are flooding in. It’s why our unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in so many decades. It’s why America’s future has never been brighter.

Ding! Ding! Ding! Even CNN had to acknowledge it as a win:

CNN’s Chris Cilizza had to admit he was wrong. He expected Trump to go in all guns blazing (sigh):

More broadly — aside from any specific piece of rhetoric — Trump’s framing and tone in the speech was more kumbaya than confrontational.

No kidding. As if a successful businessman is going to berate other successful businessmen.

These media people are all the same — terrible, disingenuous and dim.

Trump’s cabinet

Members of Trump’s cabinet arrived a day ahead to participate in meetings regarding the economy and trade. They included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielson, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Director of the National Economic Council Gary Cohn and Secretary for Transport Elaine Chao.

The Conservative Treehouse noted that, on Wednesday, January 24:

… we saw U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross commanding around 80% of panelist discussion, and factually 100% of all questions and attention from the Davos audienceTeam U.S.A. is the epicenter of the economic universe and Secretary Ross was well prepared for the severity of attention.

On Thursday, Steven Mnuchin participated in a panel discussion, The Remaking of Global Finance. The Conservative Treehouse (same link) says:

If the dollar is strategically lowered by policy, the U.S. can suck money directly out of China (or any large economic multinational) because their vaults hold dollars as an outcome of trade surpluses with the U.S.  The globalists are scared shitless that POTUS Trump and Secretary Mnuchin will start crushing their global goals by utilizing this inherent trade leverage.

There is a potential for POTUS Trump and Secretary Mnuchin to weaponize the U.S. reserve currency if they don’t get the deals they want.  That looming threat exists and is an existential threat to the entire construct and worldview of ideological globalists.

The globalists, multinational corporations and banks, and those who gain by exporting U.S. economic wealth, always want a high dollar valuation.  They spend billions on lobbying efforts because they are used to controlling U.S. policy by influencing DC politicians; and using Wall Street finance constructs to purchase influence on U.S. monetary policy.

Probably why Soros was talking about Trump and nuclear war. Anything to obfuscate the reality.

Prior to Trump’s arrival, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao gave an eloquent answer to someone objecting to Trump’s and his cabinet’s presence at Davos. The video clip does not include the question, and the answer was not aggressive as the tweet below suggests. Essentially, Chao said — politely and calmly — that those who do not wish to hear what they have to say can leave. She said that Davos is a forum where different ideas and perspectives are discussed. Worth watching to hear her words:

Melania Trump

Meanwhile, amidst salacious accusations, which have been debunked

… First Lady Melania Trump visited the Holocaust Museum on Thursday, January 25, just before Holocaust Remembrance Day, on Saturday, January 27:

January 25 was also the Trumps’ wedding anniversary.

Mrs Trump is garnering empathy from the American public. Here is a reply to her communications director, Stephanie Grisham:

I couldn’t agree more.

Back home on schedule

The president planned to be back mid-evening on Friday, January 26:

And duly was (if you cannot get the video from the tweet, click on the Periscope link — in the tweet — to see the landing):

I hope that the Trumps were able to finally enjoy a belated presidential anniversary and wedding anniversary celebration at the weekend!

Best wishes for a very happy Christmas to all my readers around the world! Have a marvellous day!

The painting above dates from 1622.  It is called Adoration of the ShepherdsGerard (Gerrit) van Honthorst, a Dutch Golden Age painter, studied in Italy and took his influences from Caravaggio’s use of chiaroscuro, as you can see from the way the light plays on the Holy Family and the shepherds.

Gospel reading

The Christmas Gospel reading is John 1:1-14, sometimes extending to John 1:18, which adds John the Baptist’s prophecy (verse 15) and this beautiful verse:

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

These posts explain more:

Christmas Day — John 1:14 (with commentary from Matthew Poole)

Happy Christmas, one and all! (John 1:1-17)

More about Christmas

These posts have more reflections about Christmas:

Unto us a child is born

Compliments of the season to all my readers! (features Dr Paul Copan on the manger scene)

A Lutheran defence of Nativity scenes and crucifixes

Christmas prayer intentions

Martin Luther on the birth of Jesus

Angel imagery in Christmas carols (Dr Paul Copan on how the Bible portrays them)

Jesuit astronomer discusses the Star of Bethlehem (2016)

The Christmas tree — a history (related to Christianity)

Christmas gifts — a history (and a Christian defence thereof)

Christmas feasting and revelry (the rehabilitation of Christmas)

Christmas carols

Christmas would not be complete without carols:

‘O Come, All Ye Faithful’

‘God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen’

‘The Holly and the Ivy’

‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’

‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’

I am adding a new one to the list.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote a poem, Christmas Bells, during the Civil War.

Accounts differ as to whether he composed the poem in 1863 or 1864, but, whatever the case, Longfellow’s life during the Civil War years was not a happy one.

What Saith the Scripture? has an excellent article from 2001 by Tom Stewart on Longfellow, his family, Christmas Bells and related Scripture verses. A summary and excerpts follow.

The Civil War started in April 1861. In early July, a lingering heat wave settled over the Boston area. The Longfellow family lived in neighbouring Cambridge, with Longfellow teaching at Harvard. The poet’s beloved wife Frances — Fanny — wrote in her journal on July 9 about their daughters:

We are all sighing for the good sea breeze instead of this stifling land one filled with dust. Poor Allegra is very droopy with heat, and Edie has to get her hair in a net to free her neck from the weight.

On July 10, Fanny cut 7-year-old Edie’s hair. The locks were so beautiful that Fanny decided to preserve them in sealing wax. Tragedy struck:

Melting a bar of sealing wax with a candle, a few drops fell unnoticed upon her dress. The longed for sea breeze gusted through the window, igniting the light material of Fanny’s dress– immediately wrapping her in flames.

Fanny ran from the room where Edie and Allegra were and dashed to Longfellow’s study. He tried frantically, but in vain, to extinguish the flames with a nearby throw rug, which was too small to be effective:

Failing to stop the fire with the rug, he tried to smother the flames by throwing his arms around Frances– severely burning his face, arms, and hands. Fanny Longfellow died the next morning.

Longfellow was still suffering from his burns when his wife’s funeral took place. He was also overcome by grief. He did not attend.

It was at this time that he began to grow his trademark beard:

Incidentally, the trademark full beard of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow arose from his inability to shave after this tragedy.

At Christmastime in 1961, he wrote:

How inexpressibly sad are all holidays.

On July 10, 1862 — the first anniversary of the incident — he wrote:

I can make no record of these days. Better leave them wrapped in silence. Perhaps someday God will give me peace.

On Christmas Day that year, he wrote:

A ‘merry Christmas’ say the children, but that is no more for me.

More sadness followed. Longfellow’s son Charles served as a lieutenant in the Army of the Potomac. Around Christmas 1863, Longfellow received news that Charles had been seriously injured:

with a bullet passing under his shoulder blades and taking off one of the spinal processes.

Therefore:

The Christmas of 1863 was silent in Longfellow’s journal.

By Christmas 1864, Charles was still alive, Abraham Lincoln had been re-elected and the Civil War was about to end. Longfellow was inspired to write Christmas Bells (emphasis mine below):

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
And with the sound
The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
And made forlorn
The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
“For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Johnny Marks, a Jewish man who loved Christmas, wrote the music for I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day, recorded many times by various artists past and present. The lyrics were also amended to make them timeless. The following video has the Longfellow story (albeit with the 1863 date) and the 20th century carol we know:

Christmas news 2017

Christians in Baghdad are celebrating this year:

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May has taken a leaf out of President Donald Trump’s playbook, emphasising Christianity, the military and first responders. On December 24, the Press Association reported:

Theresa May has urged Britons to take pride in the country’s Christian heritage at Christmas because it gives everyone the confidence to practice their religion “free from question or fear”.

In her Christmas message, the Prime Minister also paid tribute to the “heroes” in the emergency services who responded to the Grenfell Tower fire and “abhorrent” terror attacks in Manchester and London.

She also said:

And the thousands of volunteers in our country who will give up their time to make someone else’s Christmas that little bit better: from faith inspired projects like the Churches Together initiative in my own constituency – to aid workers helping those in war-torn parts of the world.

As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us celebrate all those selfless acts – and countless others – that epitomise the values we share: Christian values of love, service and compassion that are lived out every day in our country by people all faiths and none.

Let us take pride in our Christian heritage and the confidence it gives us to ensure that in Britain you can practice your faith free from question or fear.

Let us remember those around the world today who have been denied those freedoms – from Christians in some parts of the Middle East to the sickening persecution of the Rohingya Muslims.

And let us reaffirm our determination to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to speak about and practice their beliefs in peace and safety.

So this Christmas, whatever our faith, let us come together confident and united in the values we share. And wherever you are at this special time of year, let me wish you all a very happy Christmas.

I could be mistaken, but I do not recall a religious message from a Prime Minister in decades. Well done, Mrs May. May God bless you and your husband this Christmas and in the year ahead.

Yesterday’s post covered Day 1 of Donald Trump’s and Emmanuel Macron’s first G20.

I also wrote about the riots and looting which occurred in host city Hamburg during the conference.

Day 2 — Saturday, July 8, 2017 — was equally eventful for world leaders, especially President Trump.

While Big Media were banging on about Russia or Trump’s mental health, some outlets actually reported on the G20 and two major victories for the American president (emphases mine below):

Hamburg (AFP) – US President Donald Trump won key concessions on climate and trade Saturday from world leaders at the most fractious G20 summit to date, in exchange for preserving the unity of the club of major industrialised and emerging economies.

In a final statement agreed by all 20 economies, 19 members including Russia, China and the European Union acknowledged Trump’s decision to go his own way on taking the US out of the 2015 Paris climate accord.

But they also accommodated Washington’s wish to “work closely with other countries to help them access and use fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently”.

While renewing a key anti-protectionist pledge, the communique for the first time underlined the right of countries to protect their markets with “legitimate trade defence instruments”.

Such wording gives room for Trump to push on with his “America First” policy

Everyone in the media predicted that America First would not play overseas. Everyone in the media was wrong.

The Conservative Treehouse has an excellent analysis of what Trump’s wins mean not only for America but also allies who think similarly:

Team Trump focuses exclusively on bilateral trade deals with specific policy only looking out for the national interests of the United States and those who are allied with a similar perspective.

Under President Trump’s Trade positions exfiltration of U.S. national wealth is essentially stopped. This puts the multinational corporations, globalists who previously took a stake-hold in the U.S. economy with intention to export the wealth, in a position of holding interest of an asset they cannot exploit

There are trillions of dollars in economic activity now being restructured by President Trump. The downstream consequences are seismic shifts in geopolitical and strategic alliances. Through the use of economics America will engage in a process of protecting allies and simultaneously advancing freedom and democracy.

Simply put this approach destroys the cancer of elitist controlled leftist economic construct; which are entirely intended to benefit a small number of global elites who control the multinational banking and multinational corporate institutional systems …

Trump impressed Russian president Vladimir Putin during their meeting the previous day:

He was also taken with First Lady Melania Trump that evening:

On Day 2, Trump met with British Prime Minister Theresa May to discuss trade post-Brexit:

Theresa May has hailed the “powerful vote of confidence” in Britain Donald Trump and other world leaders have shown with their “strong desire” to strike new trade deals after Brexit.

The Prime Minister said she is “optimistic and positive” about a future pact with the US after the president said he believed an agreement could be reached “very, very quickly”.

Even before their meeting, Trump said:

I’d like to thank Prime Minister May for being with us. We’ve had tremendous talks. There is no country that could possibly be closer than our countries. And I just want to say thank you very much. We are working on a trade deal — a very, very big deal, a very powerful deal. Great for both countries. And I think we’ll have that done very, very quickly.

Meanwhile, Mrs Trump joined G20 spouses on a local tour before rejoining her husband at the conference:

The Daily Mail has more on Mrs Trump’s G20 attire, including stunning photographs.

Elsewhere, at the Vatican, Pope Francis fretted. He told Eugenio Scalfari, a journalist with Italy’s La Repubblica, of his concern about the G20. Leo Lyon Zagami, who is in the process of uncovering recent Vatican scandals (yes, he is a Mason but I will have more on his reporting), summarised and translated the article:

Pope Francis told him [Scalfari] during the encounter to be very concerned about the summit meeting of the “G20” in Hamburg, that witnessed President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, together for the first time.

Pope Francis said to Scalfari: “I’m afraid there are very dangerous alliances between powers which have a distorted view of the world: America and Russia, China and North Korea, Russia and Syria’s Assad in war”.

The Pope was also worried that the G20 might end mass immigration to Europe:

” … they fear an invasion of migrants. That’s why the G20 worries me.”

Then to save his idea of Europe, he promotes the destruction of the sovereignty of the single European countries, and the coming of a Federal Government for Europe, that will take over the decision making from the single countries: ”For this, and other reasons, I came to the conclusion that Europe must assume a federal structure. Laws and political behaviors arising here shall be decided by the Federal Government, and the Federal Parliament, not by individual confederated countries.”

That afternoon, a huge flap arose over Ivanka Trump presiding temporarily over a meeting when her father was called into a private one. The media — and abetted by NeverTrumpers (John Dean and Richard Painter) — went berserk:

Trump had addressed those attending the Women’s Entrepreneurship Finance Event then excused himself to attend the meeting. Afterwards, he returned.

Regardless, host Angela Merkel was bombarded with questions from the media. She explained that this is normal at a conference such as the G20:

Reaction from citizen journalists back home was outrage at the media:

Alternative media’s Jack Posobiec noted:

Media More Outraged at Ivanka Sitting in a Chair than Antifa Army Burning Hamburg

He wrote:

Today at the G20 meeting, Ivanka Trump briefly sat in a chair. The media utterly lost their minds. They also seemed to completely not notice the Antifa Army burning the streets of Hamburg outside the meeting.

Perhaps they do not think a woman should be representing the United States?

Ivanka was sitting in the back and then briefly joined the main table when the President had to step out, and the president of the World Bank started talking as the topic involved areas such as African development — areas that will benefit from the facility just announced by the World Bank.

When other leaders stepped out, their seats were also briefly filled by others, but the media didn’t seem to notice that, either.

Precisely.

Later that day, Trump tweeted:

Here is the White House transcript of the public remarks of that meeting.

USA Today reports that Trump spent much of Day 2 with Asian leaders:

HAMBURG — President Trump met with his Chinese counterpart at the G-20 summit Saturday, hoping to revamp a relationship that he once hoped could provide the key to resolving the North Korea crisis …

In a separate meeting Saturday with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump also addressed what he called “the problem and menace of North Korea.”

Abe said the security situation in the region had become “increasingly severe.” Addressing Trump by his first name, Abe said he “would like to demonstrate the robust partnership as well as the bond between Japan and the United States.”

Trump’s final day of his second foreign trip took what his predecessor, Barack Obama, might have called an “Asia pivot.” Having already met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday, Saturday afternoon’s meetings were dominated by Pacific Rim nations

President Widodo of Indonesia was delighted to meet with Trump. USA Today reported:

Meeting with Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Trump said the U.S. would soon be doing “a lot of business” with the Island nation. “We’re going to be doing a lot of deals together — trade deals,” Trump said.

Widodo said Trump had “millions of fans” in his country who wanted him to visit.

“We’ll get there,” Trump said. “It’s a place I’d like to go.”

Singapore’s prime minister, Lee Hsein Loong, must be equally as positive:

Trump said the U.S. had a “big relationship” with the small city-state, and he expected the relationship to “get bigger.”

Before leaving Hamburg, Mrs Trump tweeted:

This brief video has highlights of Trump’s G20 conference:

Although the media emphasised the negative …

… from watching G20 coverage on YouTube, Bernie Sanders and Green supporters in the US were pleasantly surprised to find out about the ceasefire in Syria that Trump and Putin negotiated on Day 1.

Former Senator Bob Dole (R – Kansas) had high praise for the American president’s trips to Poland and Germany:

The Trumps flew back to the White House:

When Trump reached the White House, the press asked the usual questions about Russian hacking. Give it a rest, guys! The president ignored them.

Earlier, at Joint Base Andrews, he retrieved a Marine’s cover in the strong wind:

Mrs Trump did not return to the White House with her husband. My guess is she went to collect 11-year-old Barron.

I’ll close with this:

Neither Trump nor Obama was ever in the military, but you can certainly see how differently they view the armed forces.

That view, in my estimation, will determine a shift in foreign intervention during the present administration. Any US action will be carefully considered.

On Wednesday, March 29, 2017, Theresa May triggered Article 50 to begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union.

May signed the letter on March 28 and a British official presented it to Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, in Brussels the following day around 12:30 p.m. BST.

This tweet by Financial Times columnist Janan Ganesh is dated March 28, 4:15 p.m.:

Tusk takes receipt of the letter on March 29:

Nigel Farage, former party leader of UKIP who pressed hard for the 2016 referendum, gave an interview earlier that day:

He also discussed it on his talk radio programme in London:

Contents of May’s letter

Bloomberg is one of the few news sites to have the full text of Theresa May’s six-page letter to Donald Tusk.

The first four paragraphs follow (emphases mine):

Dear President Tusk

On 23 June last year, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As I have said before, that decision was no rejection of the values we share as fellow Europeans. Nor was it an attempt to do harm to the European Union or any of the remaining member states. On the contrary, the United Kingdom wants the European Union to succeed and prosper. Instead, the referendum was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination. We are leaving the European Union, but we are not leaving Europe – and we want to remain committed partners and allies to our friends across the continent.

Earlier this month, the United Kingdom Parliament confirmed the result of the referendum by voting with clear and convincing majorities in both of its Houses for the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill. The Bill was passed by Parliament on 13 March and it received Royal Assent from Her Majesty The Queen and became an Act of Parliament on 16 March.

Today, therefore, I am writing to give effect to the democratic decision of the people of the United Kingdom. I hereby notify the European Council in accordance with Article 50(2) of the Treaty on European Union of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Union. In addition, in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the European Atomic Energy Community.

This letter sets out the approach of Her Majesty’s Government to the discussions we will have about the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union and about the deep and special partnership we hope to enjoy – as your closest friend and neighbour – with the European Union once we leave. We believe that these objectives are in the interests not only of the United Kingdom but of the European Union and the wider world too.

Article 50

The European edition of Politico has the full text of Article 50, which is brief and comprised of five provisions. Wikipedia explains it further.

These are the salient items:

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

This means that the UK is still part of the EU until the exit process is complete.

However, we are no longer allowed to participate in European Council discussions. In fact, it was interesting that the English text ‘European Commission’ has been removed from signage in Brussels. It has been replaced with another European language, with the French words underneath.

From March 29 onwards, news reports will refer to 27 EU nations instead of 28.

The UK is in an EU limbo until our exit. We must still pay monies to the EU and are subject to EU law.

Article 50 means simply that the exit process begins.

The Telegraph has more. Briefly:

A withdrawal agreement, covering financial liabilities, citizens’ rights and the border in Ireland, will need to be accepted by a majority of 72 per cent of the EU’s remaining 27 member states.

The agreement would then need to be approved by the European parliament, voting by a simple majority.

The motion makes clear that the UK will remain bound by the rules of the EU and that trade talks with third party countries are not allowed for as long as it remains a member.

The irony of Article 50

There is a certain irony behind Article 50.

It was written by a Briton between 2002 and 2003 to apply to EU countries that could become dictatorships.

Veteran diplomat John Kerr, now Lord Kerr of Kinlochard — a cross-bench peer — told Politico that he never envisaged the UK invoking it. Lord Kerr:

drafted the text that sets out the procedure for leaving the European Union as part of an effort to draw up an EU constitutional treaty in the early 2000s.

That initiative was scuppered by referendum defeats in France and the Netherlands but some elements ended up in the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009.

One of the sections pasted across became Article 50

“I don’t feel guilty about inventing the mechanism. I feel very sad about the U.K. using it,” Kerr told POLITICO. “I didn’t think that the United Kingdom would use it.”

When he was writing the text 14 or 15 years ago:

the rise of Austrian far-right leader Jörg Haider was a big worry for mainstream EU leaders and some southern European EU members had returned to democracy only in recent decades. Kerr imagined that the exit procedure might be triggered after an authoritarian leader took power in a member country and the EU responded by suspending that country’s right to vote on EU decisions.

“It seemed to me very likely that a dictatorial regime would then, in high dudgeon, want to storm out. And to have a procedure for storming out seemed to be quite a sensible thing to do — to avoid the legal chaos of going with no agreement,” Kerr said.

He calls attention to the fifth provision of Article 50, the possibility of reversing a decision to leave the EU:

In other words, during the two-year negotiating period set out in the text, Britain could decide not to leave after all and simply remain an EU member. However, he says he cannot imagine how politics in Britain would allow such a U-turn.

Kerr summed up the exit process simply:

The process outlined in the text is, he noted, “about divorce … about paying the bills, settling one’s commitments, dealing with acquired rights, thinking about the pensions. It’s not an article about the future relationship.”

What is the timetable?

The BBC has a full timetable from now through March 2019. Of course, it is not written in stone, but it is the Brexit objective.

On Thursday, March 30, Brexit Secretary David Davis presented the Great Repeal Bill to Parliament, which will come into force as soon as the UK leaves the EU, i.e. in 2019 (all being well).

On Friday, March 31, Donald Tusk will publish negotiation guidelines that the EU will use.

In April, the 27 remaining EU members will adopt negotiation guidelines at the EU summit.

When Parliament opens again in the Spring, the Great Repeal Bill will be announced in the opening statement.

Michel Barnier, representing the EU, will begin participating in negotiation talks with the UK by late May or early June.

Late this year, Parliament will review the Great Repeal Bill in greater detail. If laws must be passed in certain areas to close any gaps, this will be done by mid-2018.

By the end of 2017, it is expected that Michel Barnier will have concluded the first round of negotiations. He expects to complete the negotiating process by September 2018.

At the beginning of 2019, both the UK and the EU will hold separate votes in Parliament and the EU Council, respectively, on the exit plan.

It is expected that the UK will leave the EU sometime in March 2019.

Impact of negotiations

The next 18 months will require careful negotiation to ensure that the UK is not adversely affected.

Attention to preserving human rights — including those for EU residents living and working in Britain as well as British expatriates living in Europe — will be essential.

Also essential will be negotiations concerning EU-sensitive industries such as farming and fishing.

The Telegraph and the BBC both have good Brexit Q&A on these topics and more (see halfway through).

Trade on food will also be negotiated. Currently, UK supermarkets sell a lot of EU fruit, vegetables and dairy products. We also export comestibles to the EU.

Banking and educational institutions are also weighing up their options. On March 30, Lloyd’s of London confirmed they will be opening a branch in Brussels. Oxford and/or Cambridge might open satellite universities in EU countries.

—————————————————————————————-

I’ll have more on Brexit soon and what we might expect to see over the coming months.

Sorry to be late to the party with this item, but it was in our two-week Christmas issue of the Radio Times, Britain’s foremost television (and radio) guide.

In the 17-30 December 2016 issue, the back page interview was with Prime Minister Theresa May, also the MP for Maidenhead. She answered a variety of questions from reporter Michael Hodges. Excerpts and a summary follow.

On Christmas Day, she and her husband Philip go to church. Afterwards, they meet up with friends for a drink, then it’s off to an ecumenical lunch for the elderly, where May takes time to talk with her constituents.

The Mays return home where the Prime Minister roasts a goose for Christmas dinner. They haven’t had turkey for several years. Although others consider goose to be extremely fatty, May points out:

if you keep the fat, it makes wonderful roast potatoes for quite a long time thereafter.

Absolutely. We also have goose at Christmas, partly for that reason, and for the unctuous stock from the wings.

May, a practising Anglican, lent the Radio Times a photo of herself as a girl with her late father, the Revd Hubert Brasier. She told Michael Hodges what Christmas past was like:

Throughout my life I have been going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve and church on Christmas Day morning. As a child I had to wait until my father had finished his services before I could open my presents.

It felt like a very long wait. Others I knew would be able to open their presents first thing in the morning.

I’m an only child and my mother played the organ. So I would sit alongside her while my father was taking the service.

The interview did not mention that May’s parents died within a year of each other. Her father died just as she completed her studies at Oxford and her mother several months later. It can’t have been easy for her, especially with no siblings for support:

When you first lose your parents, Christmas is hugely, hugely important. Now I enjoy Christmas with my husband Philip and we keep up the tradition of going to church. But, of course, it does remind me of my parents.

During her childhood, she watched only the BBC, until:

one day, my mother managed to jiggle the aerial and we got ITV and I saw Robin Hood. That music and Richard Greene as Robin Hood really grabbed me.

This is the iconic theme to which May refers:

May’s other television favourites included early series of The Avengers with Diana Rigg, then Joanna Lumley, although:

I have never had a female role model — I’ve always just got on with doing what I am doing.

As an adult, she watched the ‘very evocative’ Das Boot. These days, she enjoys Scandinavian dramas Borgen and The Bridge. Christmas Day favourites include Doctor Who and David Suchet as Poirot.

She doesn’t take recommendations for television viewing:

My advisers don’t tell me what to watch on the television — I watch what I want to watch.

May ended the interview by saying she had no idea a year ago that she would be Prime Minister today.

What follows is her four-minute New Year’s message. If her father was as eloquent a speaker as his daughter is, he must have been a splendid vicar. May speaks of the change that Brexit will bring this year but also of the unity of the four nations of the United Kingdom and the shared values and experiences that make us one people:

This is very similar to the first speech she gave as Prime Minister outside No. 10.

She and Donald Trump will get on well. Of that, I have no doubt.

When pantsuits first became a craze in the late 1960s and early 1970s, most women shied away from them.

They knew that pantsuits require a certain figure. Marlene Dietrich was the first to wear one in 1930 in the film Morocco. Katharine Hepburn also wore elegant trouser co-ordinates from that decade onward.

What characterised those women was a slim, stately figure.

The late Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) came up with le smoking paired with trousers in the 1960s. Clearly, this ensemble was made for those with models’ physiques, women such as Melania Trump, rather than her husband’s opponent:

https://anorexiarevealed.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/ab5c6938-f8a8-4dc6-b549-e0d21cdb6f93.jpg?w=441&h=441

Look how happy Melania Trump is with her femininity. She treasures it.

Today, generations of women think that pantsuits hide their less attractive physical attributes. What they do not realise is that it would be preferable for them to show heavy ankles and calves in a skirt rather than cover them up and reveal more even more with trousers: large thighs and matronly hips. Even the jackets do not fit properly.

YSL’s creation, much imitated by many other top designers and mainstream design houses, was meant for a statuesque figure. The jacket and trousers were intended to create an elegant unity, a straight line from shoulder to ankle.

Instead, this is what we have today, best exemplified by Hillary Clinton and Angela Merkel:

Women cannot hide their less attractive physical attributes in pantsuits. It would be preferable for these ladies to wear a flattering skirt paired with a chic Chanel-style jacket or a boxy sweater instead.

In 2008 Clinton’s supporters were referred to as the ‘sisterhood of travelling pantsuits’. They were paying a certain homage to her.

However, as one of my female readers — the author of Beauty Beyond Bonessays (emphases in bold mine):

Instead of trying to conform to what makes a man a man, why not celebrate the fact that, yes, I am a woman, and because of that, I bring unique qualities and talents and perspectives to the job, that make me equally and uniquely qualified to do it.

Leading a country means serving a country. It is a gift of self. Of inspiring and empowering the people.

A position that should be held by the most capable person for the job – man or woman.

Am I endorsing Hillary. No. There’s a lot more that goes into choosing a President that goes much deeper than a person’s gender. There’s … well … politics. The parties’ views on the US and our future are very different. And that is up to you to decide which issues top the list and sway your vote.

I would love to see a woman President. And think it is amazing that a woman is holding the nomination for a major party.

And I hope that the first woman president, whenever she’s elected, can confidently be sworn in wearing something other than a pantsuit. Because she’s not hiding her femininity, but celebrating her feminine genius, and embracing all the unique talents and qualities that she possesses in her very nature that make her equally qualified and able to do the job.

Just so. It would be great if all women, not just those in politics, could bear that in mind.

Even our statuesque Prime Minister, Theresa May, looks better in skirts or dresses than in trousers.

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