Trump heads to UN with long list of deals he’s yet to close

By Deb Riechmann | Associated Press

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump, a self-described deal-maker, is saddled with a long list of unresolved foreign policy deals he has yet to close heading into his U.N. visit this coming week.

There are challenges with Iran, North Korea, the Afghan Taliban, Israel and the Palestinians — not to mention a number of trade pacts. Some are inching forward. Some have stalled.

Trump has said repeatedly that he is in “no rush” to wrap up the deals. But negotiations take time.

He is nearly three years into his presidency and the 2020 election looms, which will crimp his ability to tend to unfinished foreign business.

“I don’t blame the president for having so many deals open,” said Nicholas Burns, a former undersecretary of state who has worked for Republican and Democratic presidents. He gives Trump credit for going after China on its trade practices and talking to the Taliban to try to end 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

“But I do think you have to be tough-minded as citizens and grade him,” Burns said. “How’s he doing? Well, in my book, he doesn’t have a single major foreign policy achievement in more than 2½ years in office.”

Trump’s critics say that lack of success means the president is going to the United Nations in a weakened position.

Some foreign policy experts give Trump credit for opening up international negotiations. Yet there is plentiful criticism of his brash negotiating style — blasting foreign leaders one day, making nice the next — because they think it makes the global chessboard more wobbly.

In his defense, Trump says: “It’s the way I negotiate. It’s done very well for me over the years, and it’s doing even better for the country.”

Trump’s “America first” mantra hasn’t gone over well at the United Nations before. Now, as tensions …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Letter: Yes, Earth’s choking to death–but our economy’s based on cars

Earth’s choking to death but
our economy’s based on cars

Re: “Green New Deal pushes a society without oil” (Letter to the editor,, Sept. 17):

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A letter-writer slams the Green New Deal and asks us to “consider the consequences of a society without oil.” In the hundred years since we’ve been using oil — now at a worldwide rate of 100 million barrels per day — we’ve learned that we’re choking the planet to death and we are in grave danger. But our economy is based on cars and oil. Can’t live with it, can’t live without it.

David Ogden
Walnut Creek

Submit your letter to the editor via this form
Read more Letters to the Editor

…read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


Ukraine minister denies Trump put pressure on Zelenskiy during call: report


KIEV — Ukrainian Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko on Saturday denied suggestions President Donald Trump had put pressure on Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a phone call in July.

In an interview with media outlet Hromadske, Prystaiko said Ukraine was an independent state and would not take sides in U.S. politics even if “in theory” the country was in a position to do so. He added that Kiev appreciated the assistance it received from Washington.

On Friday reports by U.S. media outlets said Trump repeatedly pressured Ukraine’s president to investigate Joe Biden, one of Trump’s chief political rivals, in a July phone call.

The call featured in a classified whistleblower complaint that has sparked a political battle between Democrats warning of a national security threat and Republicans turning it into an attack on Biden, a frontrunner in the field of Democrats seeking to challenge Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

Reuters has not confirmed details of the whistleblower’s complaint, but a source familiar with the matter said it alleged “multiple acts” by Trump, not just a phone call with a foreign leader. The source requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Zelenskiy’s office has so far declined to comment on the allegations.

“I know what the conversation was about and I think there was no pressure,” Prystaiko said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on many questions, sometimes requiring serious answers.”

Trump dismissed the Sept. 12 complaint from the whistleblower within the intelligence community as a partisan hit against him.

Trump had spoken to Zelenskiy less than three weeks before the complaint was filed. Trump is due to meet Zelenskiy during a United Nations gathering in New York.

Prystaiko said Zelenskiy had the right to keep conversations with other leaders confidential.

“I want to say that we are an independent state, we have our secrets,” he was …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Politics


The worst oppo researcher in Washington

If President Trump wants good, honest dirt on his potential 2020 rival, former Vice President Joe Biden, let him have it. The occasional positive campaigning pledge aside, this is the stuff of ordinary politicking. It never hurts to remind the public “of what scoundrels your opponents are,” advised Quintus Tullius Cicero, the younger brother of that Cicero, in 64 BC, and to “smear these men at every opportunity with the crimes, sexual scandals, and corruption they have brought on themselves.” Negative campaigning is a stubbornly persistent part of politics.

But for some baffling reason, Trump can’t seem to do it the normal way, as we’re seeing anew with this week’s scandal apparently involving Hunter Biden and Ukraine. (Read this timeline from my colleague Peter Weber if you need a quick summary of what we know so far.) The president, his family, and his team instead appear to prefer convoluted schemes with foreign governments that, ironically, provide Trump’s critics with a stickier charge than anything these bumbling forays into international corruption have uncovered.

Here is how a regular politician would do it:

Hire an opposition research firm to investigate an opponent.
Pay them above the table with campaign funds duly reported to the Federal Election Commission.
Review the information they gather.
Put it in television ads with scary voiceovers, feature it in direct mail and email campaigns designed to frighten elderly supporters’ fixed incomes right out of their checkbooks, and mention it at every debate or interview possible.

Here is what Trump seems to do instead:

Either personally or through one of his children or underlings (and the extent of Trump’s own involvement isn’t always clear) make contact with a foreign official or some other shady person with ties to a foreign state.
Have compromising communications with that person, whether by email (“If it’s what you …read more

Source:: The Week – Politics


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