Politics Roundup: February 20 – 26, 2017

politicsroundup

Welcome to the weekly compilation of the ins and outs, the ups and downs, the comings and goings from the alternate world of reality – politics!

My Words of Wisdom: Politics is like WWE Raw
Governing is like 60 Minutes

Monday, 2/20/17:

BREAKING NEWS: PRESIDENT TRUMP ANNOUNCES APPOINTMENT OF ARMY LIEUTENANT GENERAL H.R. MCMASTER AS NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER AND RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL KEITH KELLOGG AS CHIEF OF STAFF FOR THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL IN AN IMPROMPTU ANNOUNCEMENT FROM MAR-A-LAGO, FLORIDA BEFORE FLYING BACK TO WASHINGTON DC AROUND 3 P.M. TODAY.

Disconnect.

Wow!

What a week I have missed as I once more found myself in the hospital.

President Donald Trump conducted a wide-ranging, rambling press conference, which people in the Heartland seem to applaud while the national press corps and the chattering class are scratching their heads and discombobulated.

Vice President Mike Pence is shoring up ties in Europe.

Defense Secretary James “Mad Dog” Mattis is re-enforcing US commitments in the Middle East and the war on the Islamic State.

A hunt is on to find a new National Security Adviser.

The candidates for the job reportedly included Trump’s acting adviser, retired Army Lieutenant General Keith Kellogg, as well as former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton, Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, the Superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point.

One Cabinet nominee, Andy Puzder, is out for Labor and new nominee named.

The battlelines are drawn between the national press and the White House.

Both sides are right and both sides are wrong.

People are taking to the streets this Presidents’ Day in “Not My President” protests. Which is oxymoron to what we are – the United States of America.

It runs contrary to the idea of “one President at a time.”

Have these protesters renounced their citizenship?

Have these protesters made plans to leave the nation?

Like it or not until the next election or some other unforeseen outcome, agree or disagree with him, Trump is President of the United States of America and all of its citizens.

We’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil,” Mattis told reporters after arriving in Iraq on an unannounced visit today.

Vice President Pence told European Union officials today that the Trump Administration wants to “deepen our relationship” with the 28-nation trading bloc.

The Administration is working on a new pause in immigration, according to the President at a “campaign” rally in Melbourne, Florida over the weekend.

Speaking of campaign, reportedly the Prez has already filed for re-election in 2020.

Trump’s not planning going anywhere.

There are those prognosticating a mental burnout, calling for impeachment, calling for invoking the 25th Amendment by the Vice President and Cabinet declaring Trump unfit.

Another rough-and-tumble presidency was that of the 7th President of the US of A, Andrew Jackson.

Here is an interesting look at the similarities with between Jackson and Trump: https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/trump-election-has-parallels-to-andrew-jacksons-presidency/2017/02/20/974b70d2-f745-11e6-aa1e-5f735ee31334_story.html

State Politics: New Jersey get ready. Funnyman turned talk radio host, Joe Piscopo, says he may run for Governor.

I’m very serious about it,” Piscopo said. “I’ve never been more serious about anything in my life.”

Global Politics: No, Sweden is not a hotbed of terrorist activity, though crime is up a tad – but not because of the refugees that have poured into he country.

People were not reassured,” said Daniela Schwarzer, Director of the German Council on Foreign Relations. “They think that Trump is erratic and incalculable.”

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte ran a death squad that killed many people, including a journalist and a pregnant woman, when he was mayor of a southern city, a retired policeman who claimed to be part of the group said today.

North Korea’s Ambassador to Malaysia today denounced the country’s investigation into the death of the exiled half brother of North Korea’s ruler, calling it politically motivated and demanding a joint probe amid increasingly bitter exchanges between the once-friendly nations.

Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has died in New York, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement today.

The hand-picked candidate of Socialist President Rafael Correa took the lead in preliminary results from Ecuador’s presidential election Sunday, and was just under the threshold needed to win outright and avoid a runoff against his nearest rival.

Iran today criticized what it said was coordination between Israel and regional rival Saudi Arabia, describing attempts to create an “international atmosphere” against Tehran.

Yemeni rebels have abducted a dozen local staff working for the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Red Sea district of Hodeida, a minister and local sources said today.

Tuesday, 2/21/17:

Get ready, a new travel ban may be out this week, if not today.

The same seven nations will be targeted, but the White House says it the new order will be compliant with the rulings of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the federal judges across the country.

The new order, according to a draft obtained by the Associated Press, would only bar entry to those without a visa and who have never entered the United States before.

Unlike the original order, people from those countries who already have permanent U.S. residency (green cards) or visas would not face any restrictions.

Provocateurs are finding out they do not have carte blanche to say anything and get away with it.

Just ask Milo Yiannopoulos.

As noted in Breaking News on Monday, active duty Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster has been named as National Security Adviser by President Donald Trump.

McMaster is getting praise from across both sides of the political aisle.

On those “Not My President” rallies on Presidents’ Day, “While we acknowledge that Donald Trump holds the current title, the policies he’s trying to put in place are not the beliefs shared by the majority of the people,” said Nova Calise, a TV production manager and an organizer of a New York rally.

After postponing his visit last month, the President toured the National Museum of African American History today.

This tour was a meaningful reminder of why we have to fight bigotry, intolerance and hatred in all of its very ugly forms,” the President said. “The anti-Semitic threats targeting our Jewish community and community centers are horrible and are painful and a very sad reminder of the work that still must be done to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

The national press corps and others have blasted the President for not coming out more forcefully in denouncing anti-Semitism before today.

At issue in part has been a question from a Hasidic Jewish reporter last week to the Prez about the uptick in activity, which the press corps said the President did not answer.

Today watching and listening to that reporter, the reporter’s reaction was different. He thought the President did respond and correctly. He also, contrary to the negative reaction to today’s statement by Trump, thought it was forceful and appropriate.

That reporter also said he was less concerned with what the Prez said and more about what actions the President may be taking out of the light to stem racism and anti-Semitism.

What a disconnect compared to the principal reporter!

Oh – and Hillary Clinton chided the Prez today in a tweet for not coming out sooner and more forcefully to condemn anti-Semitism.

The blueprint for the Trump Administration immigration program was released today.

Membership in the Democratic Socialists of America, founded in 1982, has surged since Trump’s election on November 8, putting the movement in a position to make inroads on the Democratic Party’s energized left.

The membership gains are fueled by supporters of Bernie Sanders, who mounted a vigorous challenge for the Democratic presidential nomination last year.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday said both he and President Trump support a “free and independent press.”

But you can anticipate that the president and all of us will continue to call out the media when play fast and loose with the facts,” Pence said during a news conference Monday from Brussels, Belgium.

The truth is that we have in President Trump someone who has a unique ability to speak directly to the American people, and when the media gets it wrong, I promise you, President Trump will take his case straight to the American people to set the record straight.”

State Politics: Anti-vaccine parents in Texas are taking heart with a President who questions if there is a link between autism and childhood vaccines. They are making their case known to the Texas State Legislature.

Oh to be a fly: Ohio Governor John Kasich is tentatively scheduled to meet with President Trump this week.

Global Politics: Thousands of protesters rallied outside British Parliament Monday calling for lawmakers to oppose a planned state visit by President Trump. Though Members of Parliament are debating the issue vigorously, do not expect the invite to be rescinded.

Parliament does not have the power to cancel the visit and the government has defended it as an appropriate way to reaffirm the “special relationship” between the United Kingdom and the US.

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced Monday that the country is “increasing its support for family planning and safe abortion,” joining an international effort to raise money to offset President Trump’s ban on US funding for international groups that offer information on abortion.

Euro Zone Finance Ministers agreed Monday to start new bailout negotiations with Greece as soon next week.

China’s Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng appealed to the US Monday to avoid a trade war.

Cooperation benefits both, while confrontation can only hurt,” Gao said.

Very serious preparatory work is going on in the Kremlin, including a paper — seven pages — describing a psychological portrait of Trump, especially based on this last two to three months, and the last weeks,” said Russian Foreign Minister Andrei Fedorov, who said he has known Trump since 2000, when talking with NBC News.

Vote counting in Ecuador’s presidential election dragged into a third day today with ruling party candidate Lenin Moreno still just short of a definitive first-round victory and supporters and opponents of outgoing President Rafael Correa trading heated accusations.

Iran’s Supreme Leader called on Palestinians today to pursue an uprising against Israel, suggesting the Israeli government was a “cancerous tumor” that should be confronted until Palestinians were completely liberated.

“… by Allah’s permission, we will see that this intifada will begin a very important chapter in the history of fighting and that it will inflict another defeat on that usurping regime,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.

Southeast Asian countries see China’s installation of weapons systems in the South China Sea as very unsettling and want to prevent militarization and urge dialog to stop “recent developments” from escalating, the Philippines said today.

Foreign Ministers of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) were unanimous in their concern about Beijing’s reclamation and militarization of manmade islands, Philippine Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said.

Wednesday, 2/22/17:

Not enough.

That is the sentiment from critics after President Donald Trump condemned anti-Semitism on Tuesday during a visit to the African American Museum of History and Culture.

Civil rights activists and other critics said Trump’s comments were too little, too late.

The Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect called the President’s remarks a “pathetic asterisk of condescension” after his extended silence on the topic.

Denying that a deportation task force has been set up for mass deportation of illegal immigrants, this from the Department of Homeland Security:

All of those present in violation of the immigration laws may be subject to immigration arrest, detention, and, if found removable by final order, removal from the United States.”

New Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt had this to say to his regulators yesterday, “The only authority that any agency has in the executive branch is the authority given to it by Congress. We need to respect that.”

Democrats are out en masse similar to the Tea Party in 2010 taking on Republican lawmakers during town halls.

My take on the situation: Children of Liberty Rising

Remember when I wrote this one year ago: An American Revolution

Secretaries of State and Homeland Security, Rex Tillerson and John Kelly respectively, are traveling today to meet with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto to unruffle feathers.

The President is expected to revoke the guidance by the former Administration’s Education Department on transgender bathroom use in public schools across the nation. Press Secretary Sean Spicer noted on Tuesday that the President believes this is a states rights issue.

President Trump and his aides said today they will roll out a proposed budget, a revamped health care plan and a new tax reform package over the next two months.

The Prez will address his first joint session of Congress next Tuesday in prime time.

Vice President Mike Pence made a surprise visit to a historic Jewish cemetery near St. Louis to condemn the recent vandalism that took place there.

From the heart, there is no place in America for hatred or acts of prejudice or violence or anti-Semitism,” Pence said.

A month into office and the Prez is seeing his approval number starting to rise to 48%, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll.

House Speaker Paul Ryan made his first ever trip to the U.S.-Mexico border today as tensions over immigration policies mount and the initial work towards construction of President Trump’s wall is set to begin.

Rank-and-file Republicans are more concerned about leaks to the media of conversations between Trump advisers and the Russian government than they are about the conversations themselves, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll.

State Politics: A federal judge on Tuesday temporarily blocked Texas from cutting off Medicaid money to Planned Parenthood over secretly recorded videos released by anti-abortion activists in 2015.

Global Politics: Ukraine is blocking the United Nations expressing condolences from the world body to the nation of Russia on the death of its UN Ambassador this week in protest of the Russian support of separatists in Eastern Ukraine and the illegal annexation of Crimea.

Amnesty International lumped President Trump in with other world leaders like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

The human rights group said their “divisive fear-mongering” was a danger to the world.

Former President Obama didn’t escape Amnesty’s wrath, either. The group also smacked his human rights record, labeling his legacy of mass surveillance and drone strikes as a human rights failure.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who in the past wouldn’t even admit to a problem, just announced an increase in food vouchers after a new study showed that on average his people have lost 19 pounds in weight due to lack of nourishment.

Malaysian police today said they wanted to question a North Korean diplomat and an employee of the North Korean state-owned airline Air Koryo in the investigation of the killing of Kim Jong Nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

I want to say clearly and emphatically that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept provisions that one government unilaterally wants to impose on the other,” Mexico’s Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told reporters at the Foreign Ministry.

We will not accept it, because there’s no reason why we should, and because it is not in the interests of Mexico.”

Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev on Tuesday appointed his glamorous wife as first vice president, the latest move seen as tightening the family’s iron grip on the oil-rich Caspian nation.

Iceland’s President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was forced to clarify his views late Tuesday on, uh, well, pineapple as a pizza topping. (Although ham was not mentioned, which is technically needed to complete the “Hawaiian.”)

I like pineapples, just not on Pizza. I do not have the power to make laws that forbid people to put pineapples on pizza,” Jóhannesson wrote on Facebook. “Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding what I don’t like. I would not want to live in such a country.”

Thursday, 2/23/17:

South of the border.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly traveled to Mexico to smooth ruffled feathers and rekindle more friendly relations with that nation.

As expected, the Administration of President Donald Trump rescinded the opinion of the former Administration of President Barack Obama that denied restroom use by transgender students to the gender with which the student identifies.

In its statement, the White House emphasized that restricting bathroom use was not covered by Title IX and was a states rights issue, not federal.

Not all Republicans, including Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are happy with the transgender decision. DeVos did eventually give, however.

Florida GOP Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, whose son is transgender, blasted the change in policy.

This lamentable decision can lead to hostile treatment of transgender students and studies have shown that bullying and harassment can be detrimental to the emotional and physical well-being of teenagers,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement Wednesday. “Evidence has shown that acceptance of transgender students lowers their risk of suicide. Jared and I introduced our SNDA bill to prevent discrimination of transgender young people and we will re-introduce it because our country benefits when everyone is accepted and we live up to our nation’s promise of inclusiveness.”

The Justice Department of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is poised to take a firmer and more aggressive stance on marijuana use, which is still illegal under federal law.

That position will even play out in those states where voters have legalize such use.

What a difference one word can make.

The Prez called the current operation to remove violent illegal immigrants from the country as a “military operation.” If he would have only made that “military-style“, there would have been no reason for Kelly to stress in Mexico today that no military troops are or would be participating in any of the activity of the Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Oh…and “The Wall” never came up during a press briefing from Mexico City by Tillerson and Kelly with their Mexican counterparts.

A new nuke race?

The Prez stated late today in an interview with Reuters that he wants to strengthen the US nuclear arsenal.

I am the first one that would like to see everybody – nobody have nukes, but we’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.

It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Trump said.

That new travel ban expected to be roled out this week has been pushed back to next week.

Reportedly, the White House asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation was asked to squash stories about members of the Trump Campaign having conversations with the Russians.

The FBI refused.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions sent a memo today to the Bureau of Prisons rescinding the President Barack Obama Administration’s August 16 order advising the Bureau not to renew any contracts with private prisons.

Democrats are out en masse similar to the Tea Party in 2010 taking on Republican lawmakers during town halls.

My take on the situation: Children of Liberty Rising

Remember when I wrote this one year ago: An American Revolution

Speaking of Democrats, who will emerge as the new head of the Democratic National Committee when delegates vote on Saturday?

Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, one of the leading candidates to chair the Democratic National Committee, left open the possibility of pushing for the impeachment of President Trump, in a break with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi just days ahead of the DNC election, last night.

Thousands of emails made public Wednesday revealed that new Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt was tangled up with the oil and gas industry when he was Attorney General of Oklahoma, filing numerous suits against the EPA.

CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Convention, got underway today in the nation’s capitol.

Today White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Chief Political Strategist Steve Bannon took center stage together with Bannon talking about being the fiery one with Priebus being the one who makes it work for the President.

Bannon describe the US role in the world as a “culture that deserves to be a nation.”

Tomorrow the Prez takes his turn at CPAC.

Politico found the Prez with a 48% favorable rate, but Quinnipiac found him with a 38% favorable rate today.

Personally, I think it falls somewhere in the middle and depends on which political party you identify as favoring.

State Politics: Discrimination is alive and well in the Diamond State. The Arkansas Supreme Court struck down an anti-discrimination ordinance in Fayettevillw, because it provided protections for the gay community.

A Colorado judge has blocked a college town’s law against women going topless, saying the law is likely unconstitutional.

If you have ’em, guess, flaunt ’em.

Global Politics: The hunt for the assassin of North Korea’s Young Leader’s half brother has now gone global.

Thousands are leaving the United States for Canada and immigration advocates say the political rhetoric of the Trump Administration is playing a role.

There exists among Mexicans worry and irritation about what are perceived to be policies that could be harmful for the national interest and for Mexicans here and abroad,” Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray told a news conference, following meeting with Tillerson and Kelly today.

Mexico needs the United States, and the United States also needs Mexico, our countries will always be neighbors so the best thing would be to have agreements that work for both equally,” Mexican Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said.

North Korea has lashed out at its only international ally, China, accusing it of giving in to American demands.

This country, styling itself a big power, is dancing to the tune of the US,” the state-run news agency of North Korea said.

Argentina lawmakers launched a fresh conflict of interest case today against President Mauricio Macri, alleging airline routes were unfairly allocated to a company controlled by his family.

A relatively unknown medical doctor, Jack Guy Lafontant, was tapped to be Haiti’s new Prime Minister, tasked with steering the government’s legislative agenda through Parliament, President Jovenel Moise said late on Wednesday.

Friday, 2/24/17:

Blocked!

CNN and a few other news organizations were blocked today from covering and attending the White House Press briefing.

This is not good.

As I wrote before the inauguration: Mr. President Elect, You Are Wrong

And the Prez and White House are wrong today. Now the White House is saying that there was no press briefing, just a gaggle of  pool reporters.

Nothing ominous.

The fix is in.

If you paid attention to former House Speaker John Boehner in Florida yesterday, you heard him say that Republicans will not repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

What the GOP may do, however, is fix the healthcare law, Boehner said.

President Donald Trump spoke to the Conservative Political Action Conference today before an adoring crowd. This is the same crowd which booed him when he last spoke two years ago.

Now the Republican Party is the party of Trump and not Reagan’s nor Bush’s GOP.

Remember when I wrote this one year ago: An American Revolution

People attending CPAC could be seen waving small Russian flags emblazoned with the word “Trump” during President Trump’s speech.

Democrats are out en masse similar to the Tea Party in 2010 taking on Republican lawmakers during town halls.

Some of those confronting lawmakers are being stirred up by political activists, but there are also those constituents with genuine concerns.

My take on the situation: Children of Liberty Rising

A plan to deal with the Islamic State is expected to land on the President’s desk today from the Pentagon.

The Prez signed a new executive order today to roll back regulations on manufacturers.

Who is at fault?

The Assistant Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation who told White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus that an article in the New York Times about members of the Trump campaign having constant discussions with the Russians was not accurate?

Or was it Preibus asking the Assistant FBI Director to tell the public what he told Priebus?

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said the White House “didn’t try to knock the story down. We asked them to tell the truth.”

Following talks in Mexico City with his counterpart, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged, “two sovereign countries from time to time will have differences.”

Democrats have tapped former Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear to deliver the party’s response to President Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday night.

A Baltimore Orioles executive says he’d prefer President Trump not throw out a first pitch at Camden Yards without first apologizing for statements that could be viewed as problematic “from a race, ethnicity, religious, gender, disability” standpoint.

State Politics: The largest and busiest airport in Arkansas would no longer be named after the only president and first lady from the state if a bill introduced in the legislature on Thursday succeeds.

You have a president who was impeached for having an affair with an intern in the Oval Office and then disbarred,” said State Senator Jason Rapert, the bill’s author and one of the Arkansas Legislature’s most outspoken conservatives.

Democratic state senators in California on Thursday unveiled a series of bills designed to freeze in place President Barack Obama Administration-era environmental regulations in the event the Trump Administration moves to weaken them.

Global Politics: VX nerve agent, an internationally banned chemical weapon, was what was used to assassinate the brother of North Korea’s Kim Jung Un.

Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray said the policies of President Trump could be “hurtful to Mexicans,” and that more talks were needed to “overcome the negative feelings that are prevailing now.”

Amid a presidential campaign that has been marred by scandal, conspiracy theories, and the specter of a new far-right leader, disillusioned French voters have called for an outsider to join the race: Barack Obama. A petition launched on Monday calls on the former US president to run in this year’s French elections, which will be held in April and May.

Sunday, 2/2617:

New face: the Democratic National Party.

By a vote of 235-200, on the second ballot, former Labor Secretary Tom Perez was elected the new Chair of the Democratic National Committee in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday.

Perez promptly named his chief rival, Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, as his Vice Chair.

The recurring new theme for Democrats from the top down is: resistance.

Resistance to the President and his proposals, even if there are points of agreement.

Sounds like Republicans following the election of President Barack Obama in 2008.

We were united. And our unity is our greatest strength. And frankly our unity is Donald Trump’s greatest nightmare,” Perez said following his ascension.

We need a total transformation,” Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who backed Ellison, said on CNN‘s State of the Union.

We need to open up the party to working people, to young people and make it crystal clear that the Democratic Party is going to take on Wall Street, it’s going to take on the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, it’s going to take on corporate America that is shutting down plants in this country and moving our jobs abroad,” he added.

No show.

President Donald Trump made known on Saturday that he will not attend this years Nerd Prom or White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Following barring some national news agencies from a gaggle with the White House Press Secretary on Friday, new security rules for the West Wing are being put in place to stop leaks.

The effort includes checks of both government-issued and personal electronic devices for White House staffers, according to Politico.

President Trump’s first budget proposal will spare big social welfare programs such as Social Security and Medicare from any cuts, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in an interview broadcast today.

This Tuesday night, the Prez will deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress. It will be broadcast live during prime time.

State Politics: Governors are meeting in the nation’s capitol this weekend.

A major topic of discussion is what happens if and when the Affordable Care Act is repealed and all that Medicaid money is lost?

Republican Governors are grousing over the holes the loss will have in their state budgets.

GOP Governors intend to present Congress with a plan that they say would give states more flexibility to administer health coverage for poorer residents while protecting states from absorbing the costs of repealing the ACA.

Global Politics: French President Francois Hollande on Saturday took issue with an anecdote, which Trump shared in service to a point about fighting terrorism.

There is terrorism and we must fight it together,” Hollande said. “I think that it is never good to show the smallest defiance toward an allied country. I wouldn’t do it with the United States and I’m urging the US President not to do it with France.”

Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo previously responded Friday on Twitter, telling Trump she “celebrate[s] the dynamism and the spirit of openness of #Paris.”

Scheduled back-channel conversations between representatives of the United States and North Korea have been canceled, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, as the State Department retracted visa approval for the ranking foreign ministry envoy from Pyongyang, Choe Son Hui.

Iran’s former President Mahmud Ahmadinejad published an open letter to President Trump, welcoming his criticism of the US political system but taking issue with his visa ban and attitude to women.

Your Excellency (Trump) has truthfully described the US political system and electoral structure as corrupt and anti-public,” Admadinejad wrote.

Australia and Indonesia have restored full military ties less than two months after Indonesia suspended co-operation over “offensive” teaching material found at an Australian base.

A veteran opposition leader in Kyrgyzstan was arrested on corruption charges, security services said Sunday, as political tensions mount in the Central Asian country ahead of a November presidential poll.

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Mark

Father, grandfather, political pundit - I am Mark Ivy. I am father to two wonderful sons, Dave and Kev, of whom I am very proud;two terrific daughters-in-law, Anna and Hailey; three beautiful granddaughters: Dylan, Alaina and Amelia. On September 2, 2014, I was diagnosed with disseminated histoplasmosis, a fungal infection, discovered by a biopsy of my larynx. The infection is fatal if left untreated. For 2 1/2 years I lived under a death sentence being misdiagnosed with a non-specific bacterial infection which left my right lung a "dried up sponge" and non-functioning. I was aggressively treated for the infection with antifungals. The treatment ended October of 2015 and fortunately did not take two years. I suffer from chronic Horton's Syndrome. The effects vary widely causing various problems. Statistically, Horton's affects only 0.1% of the population. Major depression also attacks me regularly.

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