Is there point in talking to US until midterms? China seems to think it’s a ‘no’

Beijing doesn’t appear to be interested in more negotiations with Washington until after November’s mid-term elections, according to a report, after talks between the countries locked in a trade war ended inconclusively.

The officials from both sides of the Pacific haven’t scheduled further talks, a person familiar with the discussions told Bloomberg. But the Chinese delegation “had raised the possibility” that no further negotiations could happen until after the US mid-term elections, which are to take place November 6.

 

Chinese workers make flags for Donald Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign © Aly Song

US and Chinese officials held contentious trade talks this week amid low expectations. A Chinese delegation headed by Vice Minister for Commerce Wang Shouwen, travelled to Washington for two-day negotiations which started on Wednesday. Treasury Undersecretary for International Affairs David Malpass represented the US. 

According to a short statement from the Chinese Commerce Ministry after the meeting, the negotiators had “constructive and frank exchanges” over trade issues, and the parties would “keep in touch.”

Washington’s remarks were even more vague. White House Deputy Press Secretary Lindsay Walters said only that the sides “exchanged views on how to achieve fairness, balance, and reciprocity in the economic relationship.” 

The rivalry between the two economic powerhouses has escalated in recent months, as US and China slapped billion of dollars’ worth of retaliatory tariffs on one another.

READ MORE: China ditching US coal imports for domestic supply in trade tariff tit-for-tat

The US trade war with China will be “extremely damaging” for American businesses and ordinary people, Arvin Vohra, 2020 presidential hopeful for the US Libertarian Party, told RT. “We’ve already seen it is damaging because now businesses have to spend more money on things like steel rather than spending money and resources on innovation, skilled labor, better computers, etc. This is a massive drain on American innovation, on the American economy.”

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FARC: Venezuelan Military Intervention, Catastrophic for LatAm

The FARC urge "the progressive and democratic peoples and governments of Latin America, the Caribbean and the world, not to allow more interference on sovereign Venezuela."

The Revolutionary Alternative Forces of the Commons (FARC) party stated, in a release, Thursday that "Colombia cannot support a foreign intervention against Venezuela."

RELATED: 'We Are No Longer Your Backyard': Bolivia's Evo Morales Condemns US Interventionism in Venezuela, Latin America

In the statement, the political party rejected the Colombian Government favoring a military intervention against Venezuela, led by the Venezuelan far-right and its foreign allies.

The release highlighted that "the political, diplomatic, economic, social and military siege aims to destabilize and overthrow the legitimate government of President Nicolas Maduro and to reverse the Bolivarian Revolution, resorting to whatever means that are within its reach; it is a real element that the Venezuelan national extreme right, its allies abroad and the empire itself cannot deny."

|| Colombia no puede prestarse para una intervención extranjera contra Venezuela.

The FARC party also said that the repercussions of a military intervention would be catastrophic for Latin America in general and for Colombia in particular, "with the burden of death and desolation that it would imply."

The group is urging for the unfriendly and aggressive actions against Venezuela to stop, and calling for "the progressive and democratic peoples and governments of Latin America, the Caribbean and the world, not to allow more interference on sovereign Venezuela."

FARC call on the Latin American people to reject foreign intervention in the South American continent and highlighting that the "continent is a zone of peace and we must not allow ourselves to be deprived of that right."

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Negative Impact of Lack of Staff in US Embassy in Cuba Worries Congressmen

Washington, Aug 23 (Prensa Latina) The negative impact of the reduction of personnel in the US embassy in Cuba ordered by the Trump Administration was today reflected in a memorandum from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), some media reported.

Democratic representative Eliot Engel, ranking House Foreign Affairs Committee member, announced this week he asked the CRS to assess the effects of the situation in the diplomatic legation in Havana, after the number of staffers was reduced from over 50 to only 14. The Hill, a newspaper on Congressional affairs, highlighted staff at the U.S. embassy in Havana are taking on multiple responsibilities and say they are undermined in their ability to carry out embassy duties by drastic staff reductions imposed by the Trump administration. The administration  unilaterally took the decision to cut personnel in September last year, following alleged health incidents reported by US officials who worked in the Cuban capital, but providing no evidence of the ailment whose causes are unknown until now.

Additionally, the US Administration suspended the delivery at its mission in Havana of visas for immigrants and non-immigrant's, expelled 17 Cuban diplomats from Washington and increased to level three, of a maximum of four, its travel warning to Cuba.

From the moment these measures were implemented, both the Island's Government and US sectors, including legislators, warned of the negative effects they would have for families in both countries and the risk that the United States would fail to comply with its commitments.

CRS memorandum, quoted by media such as The Hill and by the Engage Cuba coalition, referred to the fact that the majority of Cubans applying for a visa to travel to the US must resort to US embassy or consulate in a third nation.

As a result, it is more difficult for Cubans to visit their relatives in the United States, while trips of people from the private sector are also difficult and some cultural groups have had to cancel their presentations in the United States.

During the first nine months of fiscal year 2018, which began on October 1, less than 4,000 immigrant visas were granted to Cubans. The migration agreement reached in 1994 between the two nations establishes the granting by Washington of 20,000 visas a year. According to Engage Cuba, the memo also indicates that there are limited services to serve US citizens in Cuba and problems maintaining 45 diplomatic residences, most of which are now empty.

The report noted that the staff situation 'potentially reduces the capacity of the State Department to understand the situation on the ground', among other issues.

The news on this report is released after this month the US Government reduced to one year the term that its diplomats can stay in Cuba, under the argument of security reasons, although many sectors of this country recognize the island as a very safe place.

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Is Trump’s Situation Worsening?

After a long list of setbacks and scandals in the core of the United States government, now looms a situation particularly delicate for Donald Trump.

On Wednesday a journalist from the Associated Press, AP, Laurie Kellman wrote in Washington, that the current president "faces real political threats".

His former lawyer Michael Cohen and Paul Manafort, former head of his electoral campaign, made very compromising statements for the head of the White House.

Almost all conflicts derive from the investigations carried out by district attorney Robert Mueller, the New York prosecuting office and lawyers of women who suit him.

Other intimidations have to do with Michael Cohen involving the leader in financing crimes during his 2016 campaign.

Cohen also declared that he is willing to grow deeper in his accusations.

As part of his defense, Trump has said that the above-mentioned is "a witch hunt" and "fake news".

Journalist Kellman affirmed that next to what was published soon will take place the parliamentary elections in November, where North Americans will judge the work done by republicans in the presidency and the Congress.

The Associated Press writes:

What is known: The president that demands loyalty to his allies cannot assure they will give it back to him.

What is unknown: From whom, and at which point in Trump’s landscape, a new blow could come.

Among the threats against the president, his family and republicans who defend their majority in the Congress are, among others:

Cohen said that he and Trump agreed on the payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels and to the former Playboy model Karen Mc Dougal to keep them quiet on their "affairs" with the president.

Manafort was found guilty by a jury for eight charges of bank and fiscal fraud.

Mueller’s final report could go up to the Congress, which would be even more significant if democrats seize control of it in this year elections.

The first two republican legislators who supported Trump during 2016 primary elections, Duncan Hunter and Chris Colllins were accused of corruption.

The journalist Laurie Kellman points out that what was said unleashed a wave of uncertainty for the allies of President Donald Trump.

Under the current circumstances comes to mind the very same question: Will the president finish his current term in office?

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Trump hits back after Omarosa releases secret recording of president

Donald Trump has hit back at his former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman after she released tapes of secretly recorded White House conversations, including one in which the president appeared to express surprise that she had been fired from his administration.

“Wacky Omarosa, who got fired 3 times on the Apprentice, now got fired for the last time. She never made it, never will,” Trump tweeted on Monday, admitting that his response to her claims were “not presidential”.

“She begged me for a job, tears in her eyes, I said Ok. People in the White House hated her. She was vicious, but not smart. I would rarely see her but heard....”

Manigault Newman, a former Apprentice reality TV star who became the most prominent African American in the Trump White House, has been promoting her new book Unhinged, which offers a scathing account of life in the West Wing.

The memoir claims Trump is a “racist” who has used the “N-word”, alleging he was caught on mic uttering the slur “multiple times” during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice. In a series of tweets Monday night, the president hit back at those claims, too, saying: “There are NO TAPES of the Apprentice where I used such a terrible and disgusting word ... I don’t have that word in my vocabulary, and never have.”

On Monday, Manigault Newman released an apparent recording of an interaction with Trump in 2017 after she was dismissed from the White House.

“Omarosa? Omarosa what’s going on? I just saw on the news that you’re thinking about leaving? What happened?” Trump says on the tape played on NBC’s Today show on Monday.

@realDonaldTrump While I know it’s “not presidential” to take on a lowlife like Omarosa, and while I would rather not be doing so, this is a modern day form of communication and I know the Fake News Media will be working overtime to make even Wacky Omarosa look legitimate as possible. Sorry!
 
The audio follows other recordings released on Sunday, which she claimed she made when the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, called her into the Situation Room to fire her.
 

The recordings, if established to be genuine, could be treated as a breach of White House security.

“General Kelly – General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave,” Manigault Newman says on the tape released on Monday.

“No … I, I, nobody even told me about it,” the president appears to respond.

In her book, which is published this week, Manigault Newman paints a picture of Trump as a president who is kept out of the loop on administration decisions.

She told NBC’s Today show there were “multiple tapes” and warned that there were more to come.

“There’s a lot of very corrupt things happening in the White House and I am going to blow the whistle on a lot of them,” she said.

On Monday, Trump also responded to the author’s claim that after she was fired from the White House, the Trump campaign made her a $15,000 per month job that was, in reality, an attempt to buy her silence with an expansive non-disclosure agreement. “Wacky Omarosa already has a fully signed Non-Disclosure Agreement!” Trump tweeted.

A White House spokesman, Hogan Gidley, declined to get into specifics of Manigault Newman’s firing but emphasised that “the president makes the decisions”.

But he added: “For her to go out and praise the president lavishly after she left her post and tell the truth about how much work he’s done for the African American community and who he is as a person, I guess that wasn’t paying the bills.”

The new recording intensifies a developing controversy over the author’s apparent practice of secretly taping her colleagues, a day after she released a recording of Kelly firing her in the high-security Situation Room, where the president and senior government officials meet to discuss serious foreign policy issues.

The room, located in the basement of the West Wing, is designated a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, or SCIF, and staff are not permitted to bring in cellphones or recording devices.

“The very idea a staff member would sneak a recording device into the White House Situation Room shows a blatant disregard for our national security,” the White House press secretary, Sarah Sanders, said on Sunday.

The question of whether Manigault Newman could face prosecution for making the recordings in the Situation Room, or recording the president without his knowledge, has yet to be clarified.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani said on Monday: “She was certainly violating national security regulations, which I think have the force of law.”

Manigault Newman claimed on Sunday that she had heard a recording of Trump using the N-word and other racial epithets during taping of his reality TV show The Apprentice. She declined to say who had played her the recording.

Manigault Newman, who was once one of Trump’s most prominent defenders, said “hindsight” had changed her views of the president. “Donald Trump is a con and has been masquerading as someone who is actually open to engaging with diverse communities,” she said.

Many have questioned Manigault Newman’s claims, however. Frank Luntz, the campaign pollster who she claimed told an associate he had heard the president utter the racial slur, has emphatically denied the assertion.

“I’m in @Omarosa’s book on page 149. She claims to have heard from someone who heard from me that I heard Trump use the N-word. Not only is this flat-out false (I’ve never heard such a thing), but Omarosa didn’t even make an effort to call or email me to verify. Very shoddy work,” Luntz tweeted.

In another claim, Manigault Newman said she had seen the president eat a note handed to him in the Oval Office by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen to prevent presidential archivists getting it.

Cohen swiftly rubbished her recollection on Twitter.

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United States: Arms Paradise

As Spanish news agency EFE reported on Sunday, the White House released this week its new policy on CAT (Conventional Arms Transfer).

The document main goal is to foster the sale of arms that the United States has been taking profit for years.

The statement of the Department of State substitutes that of former president Barack Obama in 2014.

Its three main goals are:

-         *Give top priority to strategic competence

-         *Create a proper environment to close the operations of arms selling

-         *Regroup the business model to increase the chances for success

But experts believe these goals are vague and refute, once again, the Trump’s administration of lack of transparency.

The law highlights “the increasing opportunity of business” and the “importance of strengthening the sale of arms in the world.”

One of the most appealing characteristics in Trump’s policy is set in his motto: “Make America Great Again.”

According to EFE, to do so, the CAT speeds up Washington’s arms transactions with potential customers abroad.

It does not mean that Congress is fully unaware of such military negotiations.

The U.S. government reported sales worth of 41,93 billion USD in 2017.

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt are the main buyers.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

Omarosa says Trump is a racist who uses N-word – and claims there's tape to prove it

Donald Trump is a “racist” who has used the “N-word” repeatedly, Omarosa Manigault Newman, once the most prominent African American in the White House, claims in a searing memoir.

The future US president was caught on mic uttering the taboo racial slur “multiple times” during the making of his reality TV show The Apprentice and there is a tape to prove it, according to Manigault Newman, citing three unnamed sources.

Trump has been haunted from around the time of his election in 2016 by allegations that outtakes from the reality TV show exist in which he is heard saying the N-word and using other offensive language.

In her book, Unhinged, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian ahead of its publication next week, the former Apprentice participant insists that the reports are true, although she does not say she heard him use the word herself.

She also claims that she personally witnessed Trump use racial epithets about the White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s husband George Conway, who is half Filipino. “Would you look at this George Conway article?” she quotes the president as saying. “F**ing FLIP! Disloyal! Fucking Goo-goo.”

Both flip and goo-goo are terms of racial abuse for Filipinos.

Critics have previously questioned Manigault Newman’s credibility and are likely to accuse her of seeking revenge against the administration after her abrupt dismissal last December.

At the time, she writes, she felt a “growing realization that Donald Trump was indeed a racist, a bigot and a misogynist. My certainty about the N-word tape and his frequent uses of that word were the top of a high mountain of truly appalling things I’d experienced with him, during the last two years in particular.”

Recalling her sudden and unceremonious departure, she writes: “It had finally sunk in that the person I’d thought I’d known so well for so long was actually a racist. Using the N-word was not just the way he talks but, more disturbing, it was how he thought of me and African Americans as a whole.”

Trump hosted NBC’s The Apprentice from 2004-2015 before running for the presidency and still likes to laud his high ratings.

His insurgent election campaign was rocked in October 2016 by the release of an Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy”. The media firestorm prompted Bill Pruitt, a producer on the first two seasons of The Apprentice, to tweet that there were “far worse” tapes of Trump behind the scenes of the show.

Further allegations emerged that Trump had used the N-word in the recordings. Then, following the New York property tycoon’s shocking victory over Hillary Clinton, the actor and comedian Tom Arnold claimed to have the video of Trump using racist language.

 https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/01e14bef7efde688dc56fbac5b58d674a6f8ed20/0_0_3000_2000/master/3000.jpg?w=620&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=3a6b22a6e8fedd33c94d00ed1a739e3b Pinterest / The White House staffer Kellyanne Conway and former aides Hope Hicks and Omarosa Manigault Newman at a press briefing last year. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images
 

“I have the outtakes to The Apprentice where he says every bad thing ever, every offensive, racist thing ever,” Arnold told the Seattle-based radio station KIRO. “It was him sitting in that chair saying the N-word, saying the C-word, calling his son a retard, just being so mean to his own children.”

But Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which owns the rights to the reality TV show, and its British creator, Mark Burnett, have resisted pressure to release the footage because of “various contractual and legal requirements”.

Once close to Trump, Manigault Newman was among his most high-profile supporters during the election campaign and drew a top salary of $179,700 as director of communications for the White House office of public liaison. She held her April 2017 wedding at Trump’s luxury hotel, close to the White House.

Hers is the second memoir from a former Trump administration member, following that of the ex-press secretary Sean Spicer, but it was always expected to be less adulatory. This week the Daily Beast reported that she had secretly recorded conversations with the president and “leveraged” this while seeking a book deal. On Sunday she is due to appear on NBC’s flagship political show Meet the Press.

Some commentators have struck a note of scepticism about her book. Brian Stelter, senior media correspondent at CNN, wrote in an email newsletter: “Is former ‘Apprentice’ star Omarosa Manigault-Newman a reliable source of info about the Trump White House? Buckle up for debates about that in the coming week. Because she’s about to betray Trump in a new tell-all book.”

For its part, the White House has previously dismissed criticisms from her. In February the deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, said: “Omarosa was fired three times on The Apprentice and this was the fourth time we let her go. She had limited contact with the president while here. She has no contact now.”

In the book, she recalls how in late 2016 Trump’s team held a conference call and scrambled for how to respond to the tape but it never came out. Then a source from The Apprentice contacted her and claimed to be in possession of it. Trump was in office and Manigault Newman continued to investigate.

She continues: “By that point, three sources in three separate conversations had described the contents of this tape. They all told me that President Trump hadn’t just dropped a single N-word bomb. He’d said it multiple times throughout the show’s taping during off-camera outtakes, particularly during the first season of The Apprentice.”

Recalling that she appeared on the first season, Manigault Newman reflects: “I would look like the biggest imbecile alive for supporting a man who used that word.” She says she confided in the former White House communications director Hope Hicks, who said, “I need to hear it for myself,” and continued to ask her frequently about what progress she was making.

She believes that Hicks told the White House chief of staff, John Kelly, that Omarosa was close to getting her hands on the tape, and this gave him cause to terminate her job, though he found a different pretext.

Four months after her departure, she spoke by phone to one of her Apprentice sources. “I was told exactly what Donald Trump said – yes, the N-word and others in a classic Trump-goes-nuclear rant – and when he’s said them. During production he was miked, and there is definitely an audio track.”

Manigault Newman also recalls her interactions with Trump during the filming of The Celebrity Apprentice in late 2007 – a time when the little known Democrat Barack Obama was in the ascendent. “During boardroom outtakes, Donald talked about Obama often. He hated him. He never explained why, but now I believe it was because Obama was black.”

In January, Trump was widely condemned for reportedly dismissing Haiti, El Salvador and African nations as “shitholes”. Manigault Newman describes a similar experience that appears to support that account. When she told Trump that she was going to Haiti, she writes, he demanded: “Why did you choose that shitty country as your first foreign trip?”

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He added: “You should have waited until the confirmations were done and gone to Scotland and played golf at [his course] Turnberry.”

In another damning passage, she describes his “broken outlook” and how “the bricks in his racist wall kept getting higher”, wondering if he did “want to start a race war”. She adds: “The only other explanation was that his mental state was so deteriorated that the filter between the worst impulses of his mind and his mouth were completely gone.”

The book comes days after Trump faced renewed allegations of racism over his persistent descriptions of the congresswoman Maxine Waters as having a “low IQ” and CNN journalist Don Lemon as “the dumbest man on television”, as well as criticism of the basketball star LeBron James. This weekend marks the first anniversary of the white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia, that erupted in deadly violence; the president claimed there were “very fine people on both sides”.

Elsewhere in Unhinged, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Manigault Newman takes aim at Trump’s sexism. Recalling more outtakes from The Apprentice, she says he asked personal questions about female contestants such as “What do you think she’s like in bed?” and “Do you think she’s sexy?” He allegedly asked male contestants: “Who you think would be better in bed between the two of them?”

Asked about the allegations in Manigault Newman’s book, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said: “Instead of telling the truth about all the good President Trump and his administration are doing to make America safe and prosperous, this book is riddled with lies and false accusations.

“It’s sad that a disgruntled former White House employee is trying to profit off these false attacks, and even worse that the media would now give her a platform, after not taking her seriously when she had only positive things to say about the president during her time in the administration.”

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Russia to treat further US sanctions as an open declaration of economic war – PM

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned the US that any sanctions targeting Russian banking operations and currency trade will be treated as a declaration of economic war and retaliated against by any means necessary.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said during a trip to the Kamchatka region.

"Our American friends should make no mistake about it,” he emphasized.

 

Medvedev noted that Russia has a long history of surviving economic restrictions and never caved in to the pressure in the past. “Our county had been living under constant pressure through sanctions for the last hundred years,” Medvedev said, accusing the US and its allies of employing sanctions to undercut global competition. “Nothing has changed.”

The prime minister said that by targeting Russia’s gas exports to Europe, Washington wants to push its own LNG shipments to the continent. “It’s an absolutely nonmarket anti-competition measure aimed at strangling our capabilities.”

Medvedev pointed out that the US is simultaneously imposing tariffs on China. “The Chinese, obviously, don’t like it. No one does. And our goal is to resist all these measures.”

On Wednesday, the US State Department announced a new round of sanctions targeting Russian exports of dual-purpose electronics and other national security-controlled equipment, which will come into effect on August 22.

The stated reasoning behind latest punitive actions are accusations levelled against Russia over the Sergei and Yulia Skripal poisoning back in March, which the UK and its allies pinned on Moscow without due investigation. Washington subsequently accused Moscow of breaking the 1991 international law against chemical and biological warfare.

The Kremlin has repeatedly denied the allegations, while the UK authorities have provided no proof of Russia’s involvement in the case. Furthermore, Moscow eliminated all stockpiles of its chemical weapons under international obligations, unlike the US, which has still to honor its commitment.

While Russia reserved the right to retaliate against new trade restrictions, the US threatened to intensify sanctions within three months, by potentially cutting off nearly all exports and imports and banning the Russian airline Aeroflot from flying to the US.

To avoid further pressure, Washington demands that Moscow confess and provide “reliable assurances” that Russia will not use chemical weapons in the future. The US also seeks to have “on-site inspections” of alleged chemical production facilities, which Russia has already shut down.

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