Majority of Americans think Trump mishandling Russia: Reuters/Ipsos poll

(Reuters) - More than half of Americans disapprove of the way U.S. President Donald Trump is handling relations with Russia, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted after his controversial summit and joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Trump’s performance at the Helsinki summit, where Trump refused to blame the Russian leader for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and cast doubt on the findings of U.S. intelligence agencies, did not seem to have an impact on his overall approval rating.

Forty-two percent of registered voters said they approved of Trump’s performance in office in the latest opinion poll, compared with a daily average of between 40 and 44 percent so far in July.

The poll found that 55 percent of registered voters disapproved while 37 percent approved of his handling of relations with Russia.

Among Republicans, 71 percent approved of his handling of Russia compared to 14 percent of Democrats.


Trump still enjoys broad support among Republican voters despite criticism from party leaders about his words and actions while standing alongside the Russian leader answering questions from reporters, the poll results showed.

Trump surprised even his supporters when he praised the Russian leader during the news conference for his “strong and powerful” denial of meddling.

On Tuesday, Trump attempted to calm the political storm following his remarks, saying he misspoke at the news conference and had full confidence in U.S. agencies. But he appeared to veer from his script to add: “It could be other people also - there’s a lot of people out there,” he said.

A majority of registered voters, 59 percent, agree with the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia attempted to influence the U.S. election, the Reuters/Ipsos poll found. But only 32 percent of Republicans think that is true compared to 84 percent of Democrats.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll also revealed a distinct split among Republican and Democratic voters over whether Russia should be considered an adversary of the United States.

Overall, 38 percent of registered voters agreed that Russia is an enemy of the United States. About the same percent considered Russia “a competitor” while 8 percent said it was “a friend.”

However, half the Democrats said it was an enemy while only about one in three Republicans considered it so.

Forty percent of Democrats described Russia as an imminent threat while only 14 percent of Republicans agreed.

Overall, 27 percent of registered voters considered Russia an imminent threat. Only North Korea got a higher response on that question, 31 percent.

The poll also asked Americans whether they think authorities will find evidence of an illegal relationship between the Trump administration and Russia. A slim majority, 51 percent, said it was likely, while 77 percent of Democrats and 19 percent of Republicans did.

The same general split was true when asked if Trump or someone from his campaign worked with Russia to influence the 2016 election. Overall, 52 percent of registered voters agreed. But 81 percent of Democrats said that was true versus 19 percent of Republicans.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll gathered responses from 1,011 registered voters throughout the United States, including 453 Republicans and 399 Democrats. The poll has a credibility interval, a measure of precision, of 4 percentage points.

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'Disgraceful,' 'Shameful': Trump's Defense Of Putin Finds Few Supporters

President Donald Trump's refusal Monday to denounce Russian President Vladimir Putin for interfering in the 2016 US presidential campaign sparked pointed criticism from Republican leaders, including several of Trump's legislative allies who warned that his actions could ultimately hurt national security interests.

At a joint news conference with Putin in Helsinki, Trump spoke admiringly of Putin's denials and said he did not "see any reason why" Russia would be a fault for election-year hacking, effectively siding with the Russian leader over the assessment of the US intelligence community.

Within hours of the event's conclusion, Republicans had joined Democrats in criticizing the president's comments. Many more in the president's party reasserted the findings of Russian culpability, distancing themselves from their leader.

"The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally," said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis. "The United States must be focused on holding Russia accountable and putting an end to its vile attacks on democracy."

Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., a Trump ally and a fierce critic of the FBI's investigation of election meddling, released a statement calling on top administration officials to tell Trump "it is possible to conclude Russia interfered with our election in 2016 without delegitimizing his electoral success."

Republican senators also were quick in their criticism of Trump's statements. "Shameful," tweeted Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona. "Bizarre and flat-out wrong," wrote Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska in reference to Trump's separate assertion that both countries were to blame for their deteriorating relationship. "Missed opportunity," said Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who added that Trump's answer "will be seen by Russia as a sign of weakness and create far more problems than it solves."

Since Trump's inauguration, members of his party on Capitol Hill have stifled much of their criticism of the president to preserve their own electoral viability and their ability to maintain private channels of communication with him. Trump's statements on Tuesday threatened that stance perhaps more than at any time since his defense last summer of Nazi sympathizers in Charlottesville during a dispute over Confederate statues.

At the Capitol on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., declined to respond to a reporter's questions about whether he was disappointed with Trump's statements.

"As I have said repeatedly, the Russians are not our friends and I entirely agree with the assessment of our intelligence community," he said as he walked into the Senate chamber.

Some of the sharpest words Monday came from senators who have focused on foreign policy, a position that has often left them at odds with a president intent on upending traditional U.S. relationships.

Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said Trump's comments made the United States look "like a pushover."

"I think sometimes he forgets the fact that these intelligence agencies report and work for him," Corker said. "Time and time again, he makes decisions not based on what's good for the country but how someone treats him. And that was very evident today."

In a statement, Republican Sen. John McCain who is being treated for brain cancer in his home state of Arizona, said: "Today's news conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant."

Russia experts warned that Trump's refusal to blame Putin for the election interference would fulfill what U.S. prosecutors have described as a central Russian goal of its covert campaign in the United States: to sow domestic discord.

"We are now going to fight amongst ourselves," said Michael McFaul, who served as ambassador to Russia under President Barack Obama. "We are not going to develop strategies to counter Russia. We are going to be diminished on the playing field."

Trump has not demonstrated a similar concern, as he has worked to shift his party's foreign policy focus.

In 2012, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney declared Russia the nation's "Number One geopolitical foe" - a position reflecting decades of Republican orthodoxy that was cheered at the time by conservatives who had criticized Obama for telling a Russian official that he would have "more flexibility" after his reelection.

When CBS News asked him on Saturday to identify the nation's "biggest foe" right now, Trump pointed to the European Union before mentioning Russia or China. (In a statement Monday, Romney, now running for a Senate seat in Utah, called Trump's words "disgraceful and detrimental to our democratic principles" and said his behavior "undermines our national integrity and impairs our global credibility.")

Yet Trump's stance has tilted public opinion, with Republicans becoming more favorable toward Russia.

A January poll by the Pew Research Center found that 38 percent of Republican-leaning voters viewed Russian power and influence as a major threat to the United States, down from 58 percent in 2015. By contrast, 63 percent of Democratic-leaning voters considered Russia as a major threat in January.

The nation's intelligence agencies, in a January 2017 assessment, concluded that Russians were responsible for stealing documents that were later released online from the Democratic National Committee and other senior Democratic officials. A federal criminal indictment was filed against a dozen Russians on Friday.

During the presidential campaign, Trump initially blamed the hacking of Democratic accounts on Democrats.

Even after winning the election, Trump refused to accept the view that Russia had targeted the campaign. "I don't believe it. I don't believe they interfered," he said weeks after his victory.

Since then, he has waffled, saying at times that it may have been Russia and at other times that he found Russian denials credible, as he did Monday. "I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today," Trump said in Helsinki.

Last week, 97 senators voted for a nonbinding resolution that called for the Trump administration to "counter malign activities of Russia that seek to undermine faith in democratic institutions in the United States and around the world." Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah, were the only senators to vote against the measure, which also reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. McCain, who was absent, did not vote.

"This is not one of these issues with respect to the intelligence community that is questionable or unsubstantiated," said Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., who wrote the resolution, noting that the Senate has been thoroughly briefed on the intelligence pointing to Russia's culpability. "And I have seldom heard any of my colleagues question that conclusion."

Former House speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., a Trump ally whose wife serves as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, wrote on Twitter on Monday afternoon that Trump must clarify his statements about Putin and the U.S. intelligence community.

"It is the most serious mistake of his presidency and must be corrected - immediately," Gingrich wrote.

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Cuban Parliament Maintains Links With Counterparts in 146 countries

The National Assembly of People's Power of Cuba maintains relations with parliaments of 146 countries of the five continents, links focused on the mission of promoting and defending the island’s foreign policy, deputies said here today.

In the first meeting of the Commission of International Relations of the 9th Legislature - installed on April 18 for the period 2018-2023 - the president of that working group, Yolanda Ferrer, said that the levels of interaction with the parliaments of the planet are different.

During the previous term (2013-2018), we developed these links from visits by delegations, inter-parliamentary meetings, and regional and global forums, among other ways, said the deputy, ratified in office last Saturday, in the first extraordinary session of the current period.

According to Ferrer, among the links with homologous entities are those that materialize with 32 from Latin America and the Caribbean, 48 from Africa and the Middle East, and 44 from Europe.

Regarding visits, he explained that in the 8th Legislature 222 delegations were received, 122 of them invited by the National Assembly, while the other 100 took place at the request of various agencies of the country.

According to the president of the International Relations Commission, in the analyzed stage, Cuban parliamentarians made visits to Russia, China, Serbia, Vietnam, Chile, Iran, Germany, Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, and Japan.

Ferrer said that in the 9th Legislature work will continue to strengthen ties with parliaments of the planet, facing the mission of the working group to defend the foreign policy of the Cuban Revolution.

In that sense, on Saturday the National Assembly approved friendship parliamentary groups with 93 countries.

Today will be dedicated to the first meeting of the 10 permanent commissions approved on Saturday.

The 10 working groups are composed of 380 of the 605 deputies of the 9th Legislature, who were elected last March 11 in the general elections 2017-2018.

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Noam Chomsky on Donald Trump and the Decline of the US Empire

"From the point of view of U.S. power, (Trump) is harming it, but from the point of view of U.S. elites, he's giving them everything they want," Chomsky said.

Renowned U.S. intellectual Noam Chomsky welcomed a teleSUR team into his office at the University of Arizona to discuss the presidency of Donald Trump and the decline of an empire.

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"From the point of view of U.S. power, (Trump) is harming it, but from the point of view of U.S. elites, he's giving them everything they want," Chomsky said, describing the current administration as a "two-level wrecking ball."

The political activist and cognitive scientist went on to describe the incumbent U.S. president as a "con man."

"Everyday there's one insane thing after the other... and while this show is going on in public, in the background, the wrecking crew is working.

"What they're doing is systematically dismantling every aspect of government that works for the benefit of the population. This goes from workers' rights to pollution of the environment, rules for protecting consumers, anything you can think of is being dismantled."

Chomsky reasoned that the ultra-wealthy, Wall Street and the constituents of those in power couldn't be more pleased with efforts made to increase their fortunes.

"That's why the stock market goes up: the stock market has not much to do with the economy, but it keeps booming because that's the rich people."

Chomsky pointed out that the decline of the United States, a trend tacitly expressed whenever Trump vows to "make America great again," began not recently but back in 1949 when China became independent.

The loss of China was followed, Chomsky said, by "McCarthyism, repression and the destruction of unions." It continued under President John F. Kennedy when he was weighing whether to escalate in Vietnam and said: "I don't want to be responsible for the loss of Indochina."

The decline of the U.S. empire further accelerated when Europe and other industrial societies reconstructed in the wake of World War II: "decolonization took place" and the empire has yet to recover, Chomsky said.

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The War Against Us: a Book of Love for the Struggle

Presented only a few hours ago in the Cuban capital, the book "The War against Us" speaks of love as the main weapon of revolutionaries to face that cultural war, of symbols, of thoughts against us and according to Martí, we had to win it with thoughts.  

We spoke with the author, the professor, writer and former agent of the State Security of Cuba, Raúl Capote Fernández.

A first assessment of "The War against Us ".

The book is born after the encounters we sustained after the accusation of the Reasons of Cuba in 2011 with universities, job places and mainly encounters we had with many youths in many places of the country. And we realized there was a group of knowledge, a group of topics to which new generations specially the youngest ones were unfamiliar with. And that’s the origin of the book, of the idea of filling those gaps a bit… to shape a little so that it helped as a tool in the war against us.

Even the book begins like that telling a story of one of those encounters where a student asked me a group of ideas, a group of things I was speaking about. I also realize that when I spoke to them about the CIA, they didn't know what I was talking about, for them it was something very distant, the vision they had of the CIA was almost always related to attacks, rather the terrorist actions than with the topic at hand, the war of symbols, the cultural war, of that war against us for so long time. 

That was the drive, although later I found interesting to add a few more topics: how this war started against Cuba, the role Cuba had played, maybe in history, for the first time facing a cultural war. The book is also part of a research I’m making on that topic. How in the 1895 War when Martí prepares the Necessary War the empire is also getting ready to dominate the former Spanish colonies and the whole effort they begin to win first, the battle of symbols. How they even changed, within the United States the image about the Cuban revolutionary fighters. How to turn an insurgent island into a peaceful one, docile, easy to manage and mainly, to convince the North American public opinion of the fairness of what they planned to do. Cuba underwent that experience, as Puerto Rico did, and the same happened to the Philippines, of facing that first attempt of war in field of ideas. 

The book portrays in its pages how they did it through Europe, how they steered the war against socialism in East Europe, how they even did within the United States with the counter-cultural movement which is very interesting, how they were able to transform that entire movement of struggle for civil rights, against the war of Viet Nam, how they changed it into a movement Light, how they were able to transform many of the most belligerent sectors in that confrontation into commerce, in market turning-points, like the rock music movement. 

The book comprises how the media was built, those large press media, maybe a topic that deserves a book to go deeper but… as the European press agencies were created, many agencies that people today consider free. How were they created by the CIA in certain moments, how they bought journalists, how they bought the great intellectuals from Europe so they joined the ranks against socialism, how they used cinema (…) which played a very important role in the construction of the North American capitalism and the image they want to sell worldwide.  

I also make reference to the levels achieved by the North American cultural penetration everywhere, the positive features about it, and the negative as well. (…) And my idea on how we should face that: what we can do to have countermeasures to the plan devised by the empire to the end the Cuban Revolution.

Why Dedicated to the Cuban Youth? 

The book with all intentions is written as a tool to fight. That was what I intended, a book of a Cuban teacher for his students.  

It’s written in the simplest fashion, I tried to make it comprehensible for everybody. And I hope it’s useful that really helps to wage this war. 

The book speaks of war, but the entire story revolves about love. How to understand that opposition?

I believe that it’s the main weapon we revolutionaries have. It’s our weapon of victory.  

The human being has faced for centuries the permanent hatred of what it is a class-divided society. I believe that the society divided in classes, the exploitation to which man has been subjected for years, man in every social economic body that have existed through the history of mankind, that hatred has tainted the human being. That hatred has taken the human being to degrees of separation, to war degrees. And capitalism above all has been a system marked by hatred; it has been marked by the scorn towards what’s humane. I think that war can only be won from love. 

I think that war can only be fought by freeing man of that huge burden that crushes it, that fact of being merchandise. The great founders of Marxism said it with clarity, Marx said: What relationship might be between one merchandise and another one, what relationship of solidarity might be between one merchandise and another one. Man transformed into merchandise is nothing but that; he competes to have a space, to be sold, to be bought. However, the man we propose, the different man, the man of socialism, the man of communism, should be a man endowed with great feelings of love. And it’s not me who said it, Che said it and Martí also, it is one of the main bases of Martí’s ideology, the role of transformation love plays in the human being.  

Only healing the soul of man after many centuries of disgrace, so many centuries of exploitation, so many centuries of misery, it can lead us to victory. It’s not only what can be done regarding economic transformations, it’s not only, even, what can be done regarding political transformations. If that doesn't go hand in hand with a transformation of the human being, of that new man Che spoke about, of that man different of socialism, gifted with the virtues, of all the human being was created for, if we don't achieve that it would be pointless, we could not reach what we intend to, to make the world a better place. 

  Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés



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US Ambassador To Panama Says He Cannot Serve Trump, Resigns

The ambassador declared the end of his 35-year career with the US government effective March 9.

The United States´ Panamanian Ambassador John D. Feeley announced his resignation Thursday, saying he could not serve under president Donald Trump.

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"As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies. My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come," Feeley said.

In an open letter published on the embassy's website, addressed to the Central American president, Juan Carlos Verla and Vice President Isabel Saint Malo, the ambassador declared the end of his career with the US government effective March 9.

Throughout his 35 years in both the nation’s Marines and Department of State, the ambassador dedicated his efforts to supporting integration and maintaining good relations between the Americas. According to the letter, the US ambassador leaves his position with a feeling of immense gratitude to the foreign government and the citizens of Panama who shared a relationship of mutual friendship, respect and teamwork.

Feeley’s duties with the Panamanian government will be assumed by Deputy Chief of Mission, Roxanne Cabral, until a suitable replacement can be found.


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Palestinians Reject United States Threat

Ramallah, Jan 3 (Prensa Latina) The office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the threat of US President Donald Trump to cut off financial aid to Palestinians if they do not resume negotiations with Israel.

According to Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the presidential spokesman, 'Jerusalem and its sacred places are not for sale, neither for gold nor silver.'

Peace and real negotiations must be based on Arab and international legitimacy and the Arab Peace Initiative that leads to the establishment of the independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital, the spokesman said.

If the United States has any concern for its interests in the Middle East, it must abide by the principles and resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations, otherwise, Washington will push the region to the abyss, Abu Rudeineh added.

The US government announced yesterday that it will cut funds to the Palestinians and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) as a means of pressure to resume peace talks with Israel.

Ramallah ended the negotiations on the matter after the US recognition, contrary to international law, of Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

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Impeachment Process of VP Glas Authorized by Ecuador's Assembly

Jorge Glas has been sentenced to six years in prison for corruption linked to the sprawling Odebrecht case in what his supporters are calling a 'political witch-hunt.'

A body within the Ecuadorian National Assembly has given the greenlight for an impeachment trial to take place against former Vice-President Jorge Glas after he was sentenced to six years in prison for corruption.

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Four of the seven lawmakers that make up the Legislative Administration Council voted in favor late Tuesday of the motion to authorize the prosecution commission within parliament to begin the impeachment process against Glas. 

The news comes just days after the Constitutional Court unanimously endorsed the launch of impeachment proceedings against the suspended official. The council had previously failed to pass the motion three times becausee of a lack of support in the top court. 

Glas, who was also the vice-president under former president Rafael Correa, now has five days to present his defence against the impeachment to the assembly. He can delegate a lawmaker to carry out his defence, which is likely to be the case given that he is already being held in preventive detention.

Roberto Gomez, from the right-wing opposition CREO movement leading the case against Glas, also has five days to present his own arguments for impeachment, which will be analyzed to consider whether it meets the parameters established in the constitution.

Glas has been in detention since October, when charges were brought against him over receiving bribes from Brazilian construction company Odebrecht in return for awarding the scandal-ridden firm lucrative state contracts.

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Glas was elected vice-president in the second electoral round last April, with President Lenin Moreno as leader of the left-wing Alianza Pais. He served as vice president since 2013 under Correa, who has been critical of the trial against his ally, accusing the courts of many irregularities and saying that Glas is "innocent."

Lenin ran his presidential campaign under the leftist agenda of his predecessor but has largely broken from Correa and worked to appease right-wing political and economic actors in the country.

Correa and his supporters have accused the new president of “betraying” the ideals of the ruling party AP, which was founded by Correa more than a decade ago and argue that prosecuting Glas is a entirely political.

Odebrecht allegedly paid US$33.5 million in bribes to secure contracts in Ecuador. The opposition says that Correa's government was slow to investigate, although he rejects that.

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