On Iran, Trump talks loudly and carries a big stick — but doesn’t use it
President Trump and U.S. troops. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: AP, Getty Images) In the space of about 24 hours, President Trump warned Iran that it had made “a very big mistake” in shooting down an American drone near its coast, then said he believed it wasn’t intentional, then scheduled a retaliatory strike, then canceled it at the last minute to avoid excessive Iranian casualties — continuing a pattern of ambivalence toward U.S. military action that has characterized his public life and presidency.It also reflects how his public statements often don’t align with traditional United States foreign policy. During a September interview in the Oval Office, he said entering conflicts in the Middle East was the “worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country.”Before taking office, Trump had been a recurring critic of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama for deploying thousands of troops to the Middle East. On Monday, the Pentagon announced it will send 1,000 more troops and military resources to the region amid an escalation in tensions with Iran.
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump Replying to @realDonaldTrump….Death to America. I terminated deal, which was not even ratified by Congress, and imposed strong sanctions. They are a much weakened nation today than at the beginning of my Presidency, when they were causing major problems throughout the Middle East. Now they are Bust!….
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump….On Monday they shot down an unmanned drone flying in International Waters. We were cocked & loaded to retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not…. Trump called the war in Afghanistan a “complete waste” in 2012. A year later he tweeted that the U.S. should end it “immediately.” But two years into his presidency, the longest war in the country’s history drags on in its 18th year with thousands of troops still deployed.In December, Trump ordered the withdrawal of half of the U.S.’s current deployment in Afghanistan, about 7,000 troops. But the actual number who will be brought home will be much smaller, the Washington Post reported.The president ordered a full withdrawal of 2,000 troops from Syria in the same week — resulting in backlash from foreign allies, the intelligence community and both Democrats and Republicans. Secretary of Defense James Mattis resigned in protest, citing his disagreement with Trump’s worldview. A full withdrawal never happened, and 200 troops remain in Syria.Trump was critical of U.S. military involvement in Syria, which Obama initiated to help fight ISIS in the region. In 2013 Trump tweeted, “Stay out of Syria, we don’t have the leadership to win wars or even strategize.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker (Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Sean Rayford/Getty Images)Welcome to 2020 Vision, the Yahoo News column covering the presidential race. Reminder: There are 227 days until the Iowa caucuses and 500 days until the 2020 presidential election.Dem candidates court Clyburn at annual fish fry Over the next week, the 2020 Democratic candidates are going to be spending a lot of time in close proximity to one another. First comes this weekend’s festivities in South Carolina, starting with the Blue Palmetto Dinner and Rep. James Clyburn’s “World Famous Fish Fry” on Friday night, which 22 of the 23 candidates will attend. (Montana Gov. Steve Bullock had other fish to fry, in New Hampshire.) On Saturday, 21 candidates are set to speak at the South Carolina Democratic Convention. With voting set for Feb. 29, South Carolina is the fourth primary state but the first where African-Americans, a key part of the Democratic constituency, will have a major say in the party’s nominating process.”It really is going to be ground zero for the campaign,” Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin told CBS News this week. „It’s going to give all of the candidates a chance to show what they are made of, to show the human side. You can’t get tired shaking hands … It’s show time.”There will also be major events in Miami, where eight candidates are set to speak at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials convention Friday. And Miami is where NBC News will host the first debates of the 2020 cycle on Wednesday and Thursday nights. (Only 500 days until the next presidential election, after all.) Wednesday night will include just one of the top-polling candidates, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Cory Booker, Rep. Beto O’Rourke and others. Thursday night has the rest of the front-runners: Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Kamala Harris and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg. In addition, night two will include the two candidates who’ve never been elected to office, entrepreneur Andrew Yang and spiritualist author Marianne Williamson.Three declared candidates, including Bullock, failed to make the cut.
United Airlines has temporarily stopped flying between the New York area and Mumbai because of security concerns about Iranian airspace, the carrier said Thursday night.
United said it had “conducted a thorough safety and security review” before deciding to indefinitely scrap the flight. United canceled its late-night Thursday departure from Mumbai to Newark, as well as its evening flight from Newark to Mumbai “because of an air space restriction over Western Asia,” according to a message on United.com.
The decision came after the United States accused Iran of shooting down one of its military drones. Iran admitted to the incident, but there’s some question about whether it happened over international airspace or over Iran’s airspace. The U.S. government, which has said the drone was over international waters, has been weighing how to respond.
Other airlines continued to fly over Iran on Thursday, including Lufthansa, which operates codeshare service with United. But United, only one of three global U.S. carriers now flying to India, apparently decided it was not worth the risk.
In recent days United’s flight to Mumbai typically has crossed over Northern Europe and then proceeded southeast, over the Caspian Sea and through Eastern Iran, according to Flight Radar 24. Sometimes airlines can keep flying a route by adding flight time to avoid hotspots, but that would be challenging here.
In a statement United said it will rebook customers who planned to fly to Mumbai.
“We are contacting our customers to provide this update and assist those who may need rebooking options,” it said. “We continue to explore all our options and remain in close contact with relevant government authorities in order to provide our customers with the most efficient travel experience under these circumstances.”
After United halted its flights, the U.S. government issued a notice to airmen telling pilots they could not fly over Iran due to “heightened military activities and increased political tensions in the region.”
The notice is only binding for U.S.-flagged airliners. The Federal Aviation Administration said there was a potential for “miscalculation” or “misidentification” of civilian airliners.
US President Donald Trump once said there was „love” between him and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, but Xi Jinping is intruding into the relationship to remind them that China is an indispensable chaperone in their nuclear dance.
With his first trip to Pyongyang as president, Xi took another big step to patching up his tattered relations with Kim, whose nuclear tests prompted Beijing to join UN sanctions against its longtime ally.
Xi’s two-day visit, which ended Friday, will also serve the Chinese leader in his complicated relationship with Trump, as they prepare to hold talks on their trade war at the G20 summit in Japan next week.
Months after Trump declared that he and Kim had fallen „in love”, their nuclear talks faltered as their second summit in Vietnam in February ended without an agreement.
Trump has also repeatedly called Xi his „friend”, but their own negotiations to end the US-China tariffs war broke down last month.
With Trump’s relationship with Kim on the rocks, Xi has found an opening.
After the North Korean leader travelled to China four times in the past year, Xi has finally reciprocated, declaring in North Korea’s official newspaper that the friendship between their nations was „irreplaceable”.
Kim gave Xi a lavish welcome, inviting him to the „Mass Games”, an epic music and dance show in a packed stadium that featured the song „I love you China” and a giant portrait of Xi.
„(Xi) wants to use his visit to Pyongyang to demonstrate to President Trump that China’s role on the Korean Peninsula is indispensable,” said Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.
„And if Xi can persuade Kim to resume talks with the US, he hopes that Trump will ease up pressure on trade,” Glaser told AFP.
Glaser noted that Trump himself made the link between a trade deal and China helping with North Korea.
But Trump has also seen Xi as a potentially negative influence on Kim, calling him a „world-class poker player” last year, as he noted a change of attitude by the North Korean leader after meeting the Chinese president.
9/11 first responder pleads for victims fund from his hospice bed
An emergency first responder who was diagnosed with cancer following his work at Ground Zero in New York has spoken from his hospice bed just days after he testified alongside comedian and activist Jon Stewart about funding for those sickened by their work after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Retired New York police department (NYPD) detective Luis Alvarez used what he expects to be his final interview to give a last impassioned plea to Congress to renew the 9/11 victims fund and deal with an “epidemic” of Ground Zero-related illnesses.
Alvarez said on Thursday that after nearly 70 rounds of chemotherapy, doctors had told him there was nothing more they could do. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2016 that has spread to his liver.
“It’s an epidemic. There’s going to be more and more first responders getting sick. And our government has to take care of them. It’s just a matter of decency, a matter of doing the right thing. We did the right thing when we went down there. Now it’s the government’s turn to do the right thing by us,” Alvarez, 53, told Fox News.
UPDATE: 9/11 first responder Luis Alvarez does an interview with @FoxNews as his liver is failing after breathing in toxic dust after the Twin Towers fell https://video.foxnews.com/v/6050502126001/#sp=show-clips …
Alvarez said going through cancer has been stressful for his whole family. “We need to ease the stress on the first responders,” he added. “And let them know that they’re not alone. That the government is here to back them up, to give them the support they need, the financial support that they’re going to need when they get sick. It’s just a matter of time. You know, most of us that were down there – it’s just a matter of time before we get sick.”
It came just nine days after he received a standing ovation in Washington DC, where Stewart and other first responders addressed the House judiciary committee, to speak out against plans to cut 9/11 compensation by up to 70%.