Nikki Haley Resigns as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

President Trump’s ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, has resigned, ahead of what Mr. Trump promised on Twitter on Tuesday was a “Big announcement” with Ms. Haley at the White House.

Ms. Haley, a former governor of South Carolina, had been an early and frequent critic of Mr. Trump, so when he named her the envoy to the world body weeks after his election in November 2016, the appointment was seen as an olive branch.

@realDonaldTrump Big announcement with my friend Ambassador Nikki Haley in the Oval Office at 10:30am.
 
The daughter of immigrants from India, Ms. Haley favored free markets and global trade and earned international attention for speaking out against the Confederate battle flag in the aftermath of the 2015 massacre at a black church in Charleston. During Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, she sharply criticized his demeanor and warned what it might mean for American diplomacy — even suggesting that his tendency to lash out at critics could cause a world war.
 
As ambassador, Ms. Haley was an outspoken and often forceful envoy — someone whom foreign diplomats looked to for guidance from an administration known for haphazard and inconsistent policy positions. She was quick to voice her own opinions on the big policy issues that are high on her agenda, like Iran and North Korea. And she has cast herself as someone who can sway her mercurial boss on issues like Russia sanctions, refugee resettlement and the value of the United Nations itself.
 
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‘Russia hacked the birds’: Social media mocks Swedish paranoia after birds take down fighter jet

News that a Swedish fighter jet crashed after colliding with a flock of birds has left some on social media joking about Russian involvement – Sweden’s go-to scapegoat for all unforeseen phenomena, real or imagined.

A JAS Gripen fighter plane crashed on Tuesday near the town of Ronneby in southern Sweden, with the pilot reportedly ejecting safely from his aircraft.

Sweden is known for pointing the finger at Moscow whenever something goes awry. From mysterious “submarine” sightings off its coasts to migrant rioters burning cars, Stockholm somehow knows that Russia is always to blame. Responding to Tuesday’s unfortunate “bird strike,” social media users jokingly seized on this peculiar brand of Swedish logic.

READ MORE: Feign outrage, act surprised, accuse Russia: How Sweden reacts every time after mass car firebombing

“Birds down Swedish fighter jet. Russian ornithologists suspected,” one cheeky Facebook user commented. “Must have been russian birds. Those pesky Russians!” wrote another.

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Other sarcastic“Russia!” comments include: “Probably Putin’s pet bird” and “Russia hacked the birds. Russian agresion (sp). The birds must be sanctioned.” 

However, one Facebook user offered up a far less sinister explanation for the accident: “Don’t text & fly.”

 

 

 

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Lula Party Reach Neutrality Pact With Socialists in Brazil Vote

The pact is a blow to center-left presidential candidate Ciro Gomes, who is running third in early polling and sought the backing of the PSB to boost his chances of making the run-off between the two most voted candidates on Oct. 7.

Brazil's former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva's Workers Party (PT) has reached a neutrality pact with the Brazilian Socialist Party (PSB) that will end their rivalries in several states in the October general elections.

RELATED: Largest US Union Federation Releases Manifesto Supporting Lula

The Workers Party announced the move in a statement on Wednesday, while the PSB must still ratify at its convention on Sunday a commitment not to back any presidential candidate since it is not fielding its own.

It also confirms that Brazil's left will enter the election divided, which could help the business-friendly center-right candidate Geraldo Alckmin and far-right hopeful Jair Bolsonaro, who is currently the front-runner riding on voter anger with political corruption and rising crime.

In Brazil's most uncertain race in decades, the Workers Party plans to nominate Lula at its convention on Saturday, even though he cannot campaign and will almost certainly be barred from running due to a contested corruption conviction. Lula, who is still Brazil's most influential politician, is expected to name a stand-in at the last minute in mid-September.

The Workers Party will withdraw Marilia Arraes, its candidate for governor who was threatening the re-election of Paulo Camara in the PSB's most important state, Pernambuco.

In return, the PSB will not run against the Workers Party governor of Minas Gerais, Fernando Pimentel, party officials told Reuters.

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"Gave Up Nothing" At Meeting With Putin, Says Donald Trump

Washington: U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he "gave up nothing" at last week's private meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin but remained elusive about their conversation as fellow Republicans and other critics questioned any potential deals.

Following the two leaders' summit in Helsinki, Trump previously said they discussed a range of issues, including efforts to denuclearize North Korea, the Middle East peace efforts and cyber attacks but has not given any details.

Russian officials have said Putin made concrete proposals to Trump during their one-on-one talk regarding conflict in Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also said the two discussed the Syrian crisis.

But top U.S. intelligence officials and members of Congress have said they do not know what was discussed and have not been briefed.

"I gave up NOTHING, we merely talked about future benefits for both countries," Trump wrote on Twitter.

Despite the fierce criticism, Trump has extended an invitation for Putin to visit Washington for a second meeting this autumn.

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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.

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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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