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.

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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.

  • Published in World

Trump And Putin To Hold First Summit Talks As Twitchy West Looks On

Helsinki: After months of exchanging long-distance compliments, Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin sit down on Monday for their first ever summit, a potential political minefield at home for the  US president but a geopolitical win for his Russian counterpart.

Neither side expects major breakthroughs from the talks in the Finnish capital beyond warm words, an agreement to begin repairing battered US-Russia relations, and maybe a deal to start talks on issues such as nuclear arms control and Syria.

The two men, who have praised each other's leadership qualities from afar, could also agree to start restocking their respective embassies and returning confiscated diplomatic property after a wave of expulsions and retaliatory action prompted by the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain.

Ahead of the summit, both sides talked down the event, however, with Trump telling CBS he was going in with "low expectations" and John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, saying on ABC's "This Week" that the United States was not looking for "deliverables" and that the meeting would be "unstructured."

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia's RT TV station that he also had low expectations. He would regard the summit as a success if there was an agreement to merely reopen severed lines of communications across the board, he said.

For Putin, the fact that the summit is even happening despite Russia's semi-pariah status among some Americans and  US allies is a geopolitical win because, in Russian eyes, it shows that Washington recognises Moscow as a great power whose interests must be taken into account.

For Russia, it is also a powerful sign that Western efforts to isolate Moscow have failed.

But for Trump, whose White House victory was actively supported by 12 Russian military intelligence agents, according to a recent  US indictment, and whose entourage is still being investigated for possible collusion with Moscow, the meeting is freighted with domestic political risk.

"We can say confidently that Putin's political risks are lower than those of President Trump," said Andrey Kortunov, head of RIAC, a Moscow think-tank close to the Russian Foreign Ministry.

"Putin has less to lose and more to gain because he does not have a domestic opposition, a potentially hostile legislature, and is not begin investigated like Trump. But if you look at the  US media they mostly focus on potential risks. Nobody there really believes that any good can come out of this summit."

A probe over allegations of Russian meddling in the 2016  US presidential election has clouded Trump's presidency. Trump has denied any collusion with the Russians by his campaign and Russia denies it meddled.

The Helsinki summit is the capstone to a nearly week-long trip for Trump during which he has sown doubts about his commitment to the NATO military alliance, Washington's so-called special relationship with Britain, and  US relations with the European Union that he called "a foe" in trade terms.

Against that backdrop and swirling uncertainty about what Trump might do or say next, his summit with Putin, which will include a one-on-one session with the Russian leader with only interpreters present, has both  US allies and  US politicians worried lest he make hasty and sweeping concessions.

 US Fears

Some politicians in the West believe the summit is happening at one of the most crucial junctures for the West since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Certain NATO allies fear Putin might seek a grand deal that would undermine the  US-led transatlantic alliance.

Trump has said that he will raise the alleged Russian election meddling with Putin but does not expect to get anywhere, has spoken vaguely about the possibility of halting NATO war games in the Baltic region, and has said repeatedly that it would be good if he could get along with Russia.

When asked last month if he would recognise Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea, he replied: "We're going to have to see."

On Friday, 12 Russians were indicted on charges of interfering in the  US 2016 election, a development that prompted some Democratic leaders to call on Trump to cancel the Putin meeting, a demand he quickly dismissed.

On the summit's eve, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, a political opponent of Trump, said he had told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo the Helsinki meeting was a mistake.

"First, I don't believe the meeting should take place but if it is going to happen, President Trump must press Putin hard on the issue of election interference. He can't simply raise it, accept Putin's denial and then let him off the hook," Schumer said in a statement.

"Second, the President must demand that the 12 Russians named in the indictment be sent to the  US to stand trial. And third, President Trump should not agree to weaken, lift, or curtail any of the sanctions on Russia."

Any Trump request for Russia to extradite hacking suspects is likely to fall on deaf ears, however, as the Kremlin, citing the Russian constitution, has a policy of not handing over suspects wanted by other countries.

Many Western politicians remain angry over Russia's annexation of Crimea, its backing of pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, and its support for Syria's Bashar al-Assad.

Other accusations, denied by Moscow, include that it meddled in European politics, supplied the weapon that shot down a passenger plane in 2014 over Ukraine, and was behind the poisoning of the former Russian spy in Britain.

Moscow would love to have  US sanctions - initially imposed over the Crimea annexation - eased and eventually lifted. But most in Russia do not expect the summit to produce such an outcome.

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Insults, demands & advice: Trump’s whirlwind European tour causes stir online

On his EU visit, US President Donald Trump lectured Germany on doing business with Russia, demanded tribute from NATO and offered advice on British politics. Many Europeans were having none of it, venting their spleen on Twitter.

Trump flew into Belgium for the NATO summit on Wednesday, then jetted to the UK for a state visit on Thursday. He is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, Finland, on Monday.

Trump vs Germany

The US leader started off the NATO summit by accusing Germany of being a “captive to Russia,” arguing that Berlin’s position within the military alliance was compromised because of its reliance on energy from Moscow. This led some journalists to accuse Trump of projecting his insecurities onto a rival, while others pointed out this dispelled claims he was soft on Russia.

@mitchellreports @Yamiche in Brussels: President Trump blasted his way into NATO, and for someone who is being blasted at home for being controlled by Russia, he really projected that on Germany.

@mtracey The funny part is Trump has taken far more consequential actions that are averse to Russia's interests (expelling diplomats, sending arms to Ukraine, approving sanctions, repeatedly bombing their client state) than Germany's, but listen to US media you'd assume the exact opposite

While Trump’s comments provoked fierce reaction online, Chancellor Angela Merkel was more restrained in her response. Online commentators were in no mood for civility, with some calling for Merkel to mete out some rough justice.

READ MORE: Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

@TheSarcasmShow I'm pretty sure Angela Merkel could take Donald Trump in a fight

@MrFilmkritik I can’t be the only one who just wants to see Merkel lose it and deck Trump.

One German TV network reportedly responded by digitally replacing the US president with an image of a Trump-shaped blimp made by some British protesters.

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Dh_Ua5QXkAc4DNt.jpg

He said, no one else said

If making culturally insensitive statements is a Trump trademark, so is declaring victory in disputes before being contradicted by the supposedly vanquished. The NATO summit produced a few such moments.

The former reality TV star has long berated NATO over military spending or lack thereof. Trump came to the summit looking to pick a fight with 24 alliance members failing to meet an agreed target of making their military budgets two percent of their GDP.

Trump later told the press he’d successfully pushed for a spending increase. French President Emmanuel Macron disagreed. Twitter weighed in to mediate. 

READ MORE: Trump warns NATO allies US can ‘do our own thing’ if 2% spending goal not met – reports

In another seemingly off-the-cuff remark, Trump said he wanted NATO members to double their spending, to four percent of GDP. Some felt they could see the malign hand of shady defense contractors at play.

Trump does Britain

UK Prime Minister Theresa May must have choked on her tea when she read Trump’s interview with The Sun on Friday morning. In a bizarre exclusive, Trump was scathing about her Brexit plan and even backed rival Boris Johnson to succeed her at 10 Downing Street. Later in the day, he insisted that the story was “fake news.” Online commentators knew who they were going to believe.

  • Published in World

Pence: Another Monroe Tour

The third Latin American tour of Mike Pence, the vice-president of the United States, is mainly aimed at ending the constitutional government of Venezuela. It’s no secret. North American official spokesmen have reiterated that one of the purposes of the journey is to strengthen Caracas isolation and we already know how to translate that. By the way, President Nicolás Maduro has been elected by a higher percent of votes that most leaders of the Lima Group, fragile imperialistic and anti-Venezuelan coalition. Another goal of the trip is the intent of appeasing spirits in the region before the cruel separation of migrant children from their parents, and, in general, zero tolerance politics, internationally rejected. What explains his gathering with the presidents from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, countries that have been more affected by this measure.

Besides the topic, Trump’s courier has traveled to something else than supervise and strengthen the conspiracy against the homeland of Bolívar. It’s no coincidence that his first visit was to the coup-installed government of Brazil. There is the greatest interest of Washington in keeping Lula in jail to prevent him at all cost to win the presidency next year. Let’s imagine the setback that would mean for the empire a new government of Lula in Brazil next year, next to the imminent election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico, two geo-economic and geopolitical giants that with popular governments can tip the scale of power in Latin America and the Caribbean towards the interests of the peoples.

That outcome would be a true nightmare for Washington after the huge effort to destroy in different ways the progressive and revolutionary governments of the region. Either through coup-d’état against presidents Manuel Zelaya (Honduras), Fernando Lugo (Paraguay) and Dilma Rousseff (Brazil).

In addition to the failed attempts of overthrowing Hugo Chávez and Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela where after so many failures, the South Command and the CIA experiment the "continuous" coup, threshold for the military invasion with which President Donald Trump has threatened. Likewise, the failed coups and permanent subversion against the Presidents Evo Morales and Rafael Correa (until he finished his office). Without forgetting the harsh media campaign and subversive attempts against Cristina Fernández de Kirchner that hindered greatly her time in office. The package, of course, includes the strengthening of the blockade and the subversion against Cuba.

On top of that the disintegration of neoliberal regimes, as it’s tangible the huge unpopularity of Temer and the growing distaste for Macri, or the historical advance of the left-wing in Colombia with Gustavo Petro. That on top of the growing resistance in those countries and, in general, our America, against the spoil, criminalization of the social protest and the environmental degradation caused by neoliberalism.

It’s easy to understand why Pence heads for his third conspiracy tour, besides the ones made by other government officials, like the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who admitted the devotion of Trump’s administration for the expansionary Doctrine Monroe. It should also be highlighted the feverish coup and interventionist activity against Venezuela on behalf of the Cuban-American law-makers, especially Marco Rubio, a some sort of anti-Latin American champion of Trump. Likewise, the fourth generation war tactics they set up in Nicaragua for years, he and other legislators of the same mafia. The well-known law as Nica Act, to deprive from credits Sandino’s homeland, is mainly a job of the law-maker born in Miami of Cuban origin Ileana Ross-Lehtinen.

All in all, the trip of vice-president Pence confirms the stanch will of Washington of eliminating the current and future popular governments in our region. A lot more now that the Yankee hegemony cracks under the emergency of China and Russia and their successful efforts to create a large area of Asian cooperation and unify the countries opposed to hegemony and war.

In our America the struggle for the democracy, the independence and the social justice continues, although we suffer setbacks, and the events we are witnessing indicate that victory will be of our peoples. Get into your head Mr. Pence.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

  • Published in Now

Brazil: Nobel Laureate Calls Trump's Immigration Policy 'Cruel'

Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai was visiting Rio de Janeiro to kick off the expansion of her education charity, the Malala Fund, into Latin America, starting with Brazil. 

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai described as "cruel" a policy launched by U.S. President Donald Trump to separate children of illegal immigrants from their families, during her first visit to South America to promote girls' education.

RELATED: Pakistan: Awami National Party Defiant Despite Assassination

More than 2,300 children were separated from their parents after the Trump administration began a 'zero-tolerance' policy on illegal immigrants in early May, seeking to prosecute all adults who cross the border illegally from Mexico into the United States. Trump stopped separating families last month following public outrage and court challenges.

"This is cruel, this is unfair and this is inhumane. I don't know how anyone could do that," Yousafzai told Reuters on Wednesday. "I hope that the children can be together with their parents."

Her stern words contrasted with her effusive praise last year for Canada's embrace of refugees under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. At the World Economic Forum in Davos this year, Malala also questioned Trump's record on women's rights.

Yousafzai, known widely by her first name, was visiting Rio de Janeiro to kick off the expansion of her education charity, the Malala Fund, into Latin America, starting with Brazil. 

Her aim in Brazil, Latin America's largest economy, is to advocate for more public spending on education, a tall task after the country passed a constitutional amendment freezing federal spending in real terms for two decades in order to reduce public debt.

She also hopes to get an estimated 1.5 million girls currently not in school into the classroom, with a special focus on minority groups who lag white children on key indicators like literacy and secondary school completion.  

"It is important for us to reach the Indigenous and the Afro-Brazilian population in Brazil. Those girls are facing many challenges," Malala said.  

In 2014, Malala was made the world's youngest Nobel laureate, honored for her work with her foundation, a charity she set up to support education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.

The group's Brazil presence kicked off with a US$700,000 three-year grant for three Brazilian female activists focused on education issues. Malala says she hopes to expand elsewhere in Latin America.      

Earlier this year, the 20-year-old returned home to Pakistan for the first time since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head in 2012 over her blog advocating girls' education.

Weeks ahead of presidential elections in Pakistan, Malala is ruling out politics for herself for now "I'm still talking to leaders and ensuring that they prioritize education in their policy," she said. "It's easier that way than when you're on the inside."

  • Published in World

China Says Tit-For-Tat Tariffs Will 'Destroy' US-China Trade

Beijing, China: China on Wednesday said tit-for-tat tariffs will "destroy" trade between the world's top two economies, after Washington fired the next shot in a ballooning trade war, readying fresh levies on $200 billion in Chinese goods.

"The outburst of large-scale mutual levying of tariffs between China and the United States will inevitably destroy Sino-US trade," assistant minister of commerce Li Chenggang told a forum in Beijing.

US policy "actually interferes with the process of economic globalisation" and "damages the world economic order," charged Li.

On Friday, the US imposed 25-percent tariffs on around $34 billion in Chinese goods, sparking an immediate dollar-for-dollar retaliation from Beijing.

Washington on Tuesday announced it was starting the process to slap 10-percent tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese export goods as soon as September.

Analysts have warned that a spiralling trade war between the world's two financial powerhouses could have a damaging impact on the global economy.

"It is a chaotic time in international trade," said Li.

He added: "Companies in both countries will suffer losses. There is no winner in a trade war. Cooperation is the only correct choice between China and the United States."

"It seems that the US is escalating the scale of this trade friction," said Li, adding: "The negative impact of the trade friction has already appeared."

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End of U.S Blockade Against Cuba is Demanded in Streets of Miami

Washington, July 9 (Prensa Latina) The Martiana Alliance coalition, which gathers various organizations of Cuban emigrants in the U.S. city of Miami, Florida, called today for a new protest against the U.S. blockade imposed on the island.

It also called for a full normalization of relations between the two peoples and governments, and an end to restrictions on Americans traveling freely to Cuba.

With these purposes in mind, the Martiana Alliance plans to hold a caravan of cars next Saturday along important avenues in Miami.

We cannot sit idly while our families and the rest of the Cuban people suffer the consequences of these cruel and arbitrary policies by the administration of President Donald Trump,' said Andres Gomez, national coordinator of the Antonio Maceo Brigade, a member of that entity.

He also criticized the position of the Cuban extreme right wing allied with the government in the city.

On March 10, a caravan similar to the one planned became a way of protesting against Washington's decision, days before, on its embassy in the Caribbean.

The initiative was then valued as very good and timely by Damien Diaz, president of the Martiana Alliance.

There were no provocations by right-wing and anti-Cuban groups against our cars, and we felt the positive support of many people during the tour, Diaz told Prensa Latina.

We even heard shouts of Long Live Cuba! and Long Live the Revolution! as we travel down busy avenues in Southwest and near the University of Miami, he added.

As they have done on other occasions, the participants in the two-hour caravan also expressed their rejection of the economic, commercial and financial blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba more than 55 years ago.

The U.S. State Department announced on March 2 that it will continue indefinitely to reduce staff at its embassy in Havana, despite calls from various groups to allow the return of diplomats and officials.

The number of people in the legation is similar to the level of emergency maintained after the September 29 departure order when Washington withdrew more than half of its officials citing health incidents reported by them.

A few days after such a move, the United States expelled 17 diplomats from the island's embassy in Washington.

  • Published in Cuba

North Korea slams 'gangster-like' U.S. demands after satisfied Pompeo leaves

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea accused the United States on Saturday of making “gangster-like” demands in talks over its nuclear program, contradicting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo hours after he left saying the old enemies had made progress on key issues.

During a day and a half of talks in Pyongyang, Pompeo had sought to hammer out details on how to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear programs, including a timeline.

As he departed, he said he had made progress on “almost all of the central issues,” although work remained to be done.

Hours later, Pyongyang gave a much more negative assessment, saying Washington had broken the spirit of last month’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“The U.S. side came up only with its unilateral and gangster-like demand for denuclearization,” a North Korean foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

He said Pompeo’s delegation insisted on unilateral complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, known as CVID. He argued instead for both sides to take a series of simultaneous steps as a “shortcut” to a nuclear-free Korean peninsula.

“The high-level talks this time brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust between the DPRK and the U.S.”

There was no immediate comment on the KCNA statement from the State Department or the White House. The contrasting comments raised questions over whether North Korea is committed to abandoning the nuclear programs it has developed for decades and has seen as key to its survival.

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‘LIKE A ROBBER’

Trump and Kim pledged at their June 12 summit meeting in Singapore to move toward denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. Trump has declared on Twitter that North Korea no longer poses a nuclear threat.

But Kim has yet to provide details of how or when North Korea might dismantle a weapons program that Trump has vowed will not be allowed to threaten the United States. Also, leaked U.S. intelligence findings concluded North Korea does not intend to completely give up its nuclear program.

On Saturday, Pompeo said he spent “a good deal of time” in the latest talks discussing a denuclearization timeline and the declaration of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities.

“These are complicated issues but we made progress on almost all of the central issues. Some places a great deal of progress, other places there’s still more work to be done,” he said, according to a pool report from U.S. reporters who accompanied him to Pyongyang.

“The North Koreans are in the game to get, not to give,” said Daniel Russel, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asia until last year.

“They have gotten the U.S. to back off military exercises, back off using ‘CVID’, back off the ‘Libya model’ of rapid denuclearization, back off on human rights, and to look the other way while China relaxes sanctions implementation. So why wouldn’t Kim Jong Un dig in his heels with Pompeo and press his advantage?”

Abraham Denmark, a senior defense official for East Asia under former President Barack Obama, said: “This is a rejection of U.S. demands for unilateral denuclearization by North Korea, and a clear message that the U.S. will need to give up more to make progress.”

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Pompeo had been “very firm” on three basic goals: complete denuclearization of North Korea, security assurances and repatriation of remains of Americans killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

Pompeo said the two sides agreed to hold discussions on July 12 on repatriation, and also discussed “modalities” for destruction of a missile engine testing facility.

KCNA said the North also offered to discuss declaring a formal end to the 1950-53 Korean War marking next month’s anniversary of the armistice agreement, but the U.S. side showed little interest, giving “certain conditions and excuses.”

Nauert said the July 12 meeting, along the border between North and South Korea, would be at working level and involve U.S. Defense Department officials.

Pompeo did not meet Kim as he had done on two previous visits to North Korea this year, but handed over a letter to him from Trump.

A letter from Kim to Trump was also delivered to Pompeo through Kim Yong Chol, a top North Korean party official and former spy agency chief, who was Pompeo’s interlocutor and played a key role in arranging the Singapore summit.

In the letter, Kim Jong Un expressed his “expectation and conviction” that future dialogue would further consolidate the sentiments of good faith between the two leaders, KCNA said.

“We still cherish our good faith in President Trump,” the spokesman said.

‘EQUALLY COMMITTED’

Asked about reports based on U.S. intelligence assessments that North Korea had continued to develop its nuclear facilities even while engaging in dialogue, Pompeo said:

“We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it’s the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to, which is the complete denuclearization of North Korea.

“Chairman Kim is ... still committed” to that goal, Pompeo said, and he reiterated that Trump was “committed to a brighter future for North Korea”.

The U.S.-North Korea talks are being closely watched across Asia. Pompeo is due to meet in Tokyo on Sunday with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Some U.S. experts on North Korea said the ongoing disputes show the risk of Washington granting premature concessions to Pyongyang. Many were surprised when Trump agreed at the summit in Singapore to end joint military exercises with South Korea.

  • Published in World
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