end

Urging end to Iran deal, Netanyahu envisions march of the sanctions

NEW YORK — In 2012, it was the nuclear duck. A year later the Iranian president wanted to have his yellow cake and eat it, too. And now it is the penguins who can recognize that some things are black and white, are right and wrong.

When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers major policy speeches, the metaphors are manifold, colorful, often humorous — but the core messages are usually the same: Iran is a danger to the free world, we have no stronger friend than the US, and Israel is ready for peace with the Palestinians and indeed the entire Arab world (though his commitment to the principle of “two states for two peoples,” expressed last year, was absent from Tuesday’s speech.)

Tuesday’s address was different. Mostly discarding the cartoon bombs and other cutesy quips his speeches have been remembered for (aside from the penguins), Netanyahu got down to brass tacks on what to do about the hated nuclear deal, emboldened by the presence of US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office.

He railed last year too against “Iran’s aggression and Iran’s terror” and vowed not to let the regime ever obtain nuclear weapons, but he could not dream about having an American president who would talk about canceling or amending the deal.

This year, though, Netanyahu went all in. Israel’s policy vis-a-vis the nuclear accord is very simple, he declared: “Change it or cancel it. Fix it or nix it.”

A clever soundbite, to be sure, but Netanyahu also explained what that means, at least partially.

“Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability,” he said. “Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation. But above all, fixing the deal means getting rid of the sunset clause.”

In advocating to reopen the Iran deal, Netanyahu — who said he had discussed with Trump ways to “fix” the agreement — is betting mainly on the power of sanctions. It was crippling sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating in the first place, his thinking goes, and with even harsher sanctions, the Islamic Republic can be forced to entirely dismantle its nuclear ambitions.

Supporters of the deal, which Iran signed with six world powers, disagree. They posit that it took years and many rounds of tough negotiations to create the sanctions regime, and that it would be impossible to do the same thing over again.

Even if the US were to unilaterally withdraw from the deal, and again impose harsh sanctions on Iran, other major players — such as Russia, China, Japan and others — are unlikely to follow suit, neutering the impact of US sanctions to a degree.

With international sanctions removed, corporations in Europe and elsewhere have happily re-entered the Iranian market, and countries are unlikely to cease trade with Tehran just because Netanyahu and Trump don’t like the deal, supporters of the pact say.

In his speech, Netanyahu did not address such concerns. But during a briefing for reporters Monday, he expressed his full conviction that if the US were to rip up the deal — as Trump has indicated he might do — other world powers would follow suit.

What gives Netanyahu the confidence to believe the entire world will fall in line with the US position is the supremacy of its financial power.

Just as he did before the deal was signed, Netanyahu still believes that the world’s largest economy has significant leverage over all other countries. If the White House threatened to cease or limit trade with countries that don’t join its anti-Iran policies, the nations of the world would be sure to quickly join a new international sanctions regime, Netanyahu’s thinking goes.

As one senior Israeli official put it this week, “To have Iran’s economy — that’s nice. To have the American economy — is a must.”

Sanctions of that type are incredibly rare and can backfire by isolating the sanctioning regime, so its not clear why Netanyahu thinks Trump, in the midst of a drive to make the American economy great again, would be willing to punish every country that does not impose sanctions on Iran.

The senior official did not offer any clarity on the issue.

As much as Trump loathes the nuclear accord — he called it an “embarrassment” on Tuesday — it remains to be seen if he will risk hurting America’s own economy by potentially barring crucial trade partners from its markets.

Sometimes, unlike penguins, things are not so black and white.

Advertisements

Why You Should End a Shower with Cold Water

http://www.renegadetribune.com/end-shower-cold-water/
By Joe Martino

There’s nothing like a warm shower when we want to relax or even warm up on a cold winter day. The idea of subjecting ourselves to cold showers can actually seem crazy at times given how luxurious it has become to enjoy hot showers. But the truth is a cold shower can provide a lot of benefits that you may want to consider.

I’ve had many cold showers in my day, almost all by choice. It all started when I was a kid and felt that the cold had a potential to heal certain things. Although I lived in Toronto, Canada, and we had cold winters, I almost never wore a winter coat from the age of 16 up until now (I’m 30). I’ve just always felt strongly about the power of the cold and what it can do for mental strength and increasing your mind body connection on a spiritual level.

Former Navy SEAL Clint Emerson, author of “100 Deadly Skills: The SEAL Operative’s Guide to Eluding Pursuers, Evading Capture, and Surviving Any Dangerous Situation,” explains why it can be healthy for you to end a shower with cold water.

Here are 5 great reasons to have cold showers regularly.

1. Improves Immunity & Circulation

Running cold water over your body at the end of a shower can improve circulation as blood is sent throughout your arteries to surround your organs. It can be viewed in the same way we run certain systems at high performance every so often to keep it maintained and well oiled. Increased blood flow can also help certain skin and heart issues as well as lower blood pressure, help clear blocked arteries and improve our immune system.

2. Improves Hair and Skin Condition

Hot water can dry out your skin and hair. Of course, it doesn’t help that there are high levels of chlorine coming out of our showers which has a drying-out effect on skin and hair as well. If you can run your shower colder or finish cold at the end, it’s a natural way to keep your skin and hair from drying out as cold water tightens cuticles and pores. This helps to prevent natural oils on the scalp and skin to be stripped away so easily. By keeping a proper oil balance you will have soft, shiny natural looking hair. This also helps to keep the skin and scalp cleaner as well.

3. Increase Alertness

Have you ever woken up early in the morning and felt tired hopping in the shower and as you feel the warm water running over your body you want to jump right back into bed? This is where cold showers can come in handy. As cold water hits your neck it causes you to do that almost slightly shocked deep breath. This increases oxygen intake and also gets the heart rate up which pumps blood through the body faster giving the body a nice natural surge of energy.

4. Eases Stress & Depression

Cold showers have also been shown to help decrease stress levels. One study found that exposure to cold helped decrease uric acid levels and increase glutathione, an antioxidant considered to be one of the most important for a healthy body.[1] The participants swam regularly in ice-cold water during the winter months and it was found that they adapted to repeated oxidative stress.

Another study found that cold hydrotherapy (i.e. cold showers) helped to improve moods and had an anti-depressive effect with no bad side effects or creation of dependency. Subjects were tested with one to two cold showers at 38 degrees Fahrenheit that were two to three minutes long. These were followed by a five-minute gradual adaptation to make the procedure less shocking.[2]

5. Speeds Up Muscle Soreness and Recovery

A study conducted in 2009 found that people who rested or immersed themselves in cold water after their exercise saw a decrease in onset muscle soreness caused by resistance training, cycling or running. It was found that a 24 minute bath in water with temperatures around 10 – 15 degrees celsius (50F – 59F) was most effective. Taking a cold shower after your workouts would still have a positive effect on muscle soreness as well. The longer you go the greater the benefit.[3] Research also believe that alternating hot and cold at the end of a shower after a workout may help reduce pain and speed recovery by decreasing blood lactate concentration.[4]

How To

So how do you do it? Well you turn on the water cold and hop in.. sort of. There’s actually some differing ideas on exactly how to take a cold shower and one of the ways that I’ve used most is listed below from blog.iamgary.com.

  1. Turn the water on, set to cold. Some people will tell you to start warm and decrease the temperature slowly each time you shower, then start a little colder each day. Yes, that method will eventually result in taking a cold shower but you’re going to miss out on the heart-pounding exhilaration that you only experience fully the first couple times you take a cold shower. It doesn’t have to be ice cold, just cold.
  2. Feet first. Your feet will adjust to the temperature fastest so get them under the spray and work your lower body under the water as quickly as you can. By the time the water is splashing your stomach you’ll be looking for a distraction so…
  3. Hands second. Get your hands and arms wet, then splash water over your torso. By now your legs and front should be thoroughly wet.
  4. Head under! You’re going to be be breathing heavily and involuntarily so be careful not to inhale any water through your nose or mouth. You’re going to feel alright, like hey I can do this, but you’ve forgotten part of your body…
  5. Back last. Millions of nerve fibres are routed through your spine so getting your back wet is the hardest part. You’re going to feel a lot of sensations, almost an electrical charge crackling up and down your back. Get this wet last then finish washing and scrubbing. Good job, you’ve taken a cold shower.

This article originally appeared on Collective Evolution.

Charlie Gard’s parents end legal fight to take him to U.S. for treatment

LONDON — A five-month legal battle to take terminally ill baby Charlie Gard to the United States for experimental treatment ended Monday after his parents told a British court they were withdrawing their legal challenge.

Charlie Gard’s parents, supported by an American neurologist and Italian medical researchers, had wanted the 11-month-old to be given the legal right to receive an untested therapy in the U.S. that they admitted was unlikely to work. The child has a rare, incurable genetic disorder.

But a lawyer representing Chris Gard, 32, and Connie Yates, 31, told Britain’s High Court that “time had run out.”

The London hospital where Gard has received all his treatment believed there was no medical evidence to support claims the therapy could work. It also feared it could prolong his suffering. Gard’s disease has left him with brain damage and unable to move. He can’t see or hear and needs a ventilator to breathe. In Britain, disputes between families and doctors over how to treat a patient are decided by courts. In the U.S., it is the family that typically makes that decision.

The judge scheduled the two-day hearing to consider fresh evidence related to the proposed treatment, after Michio Hirano, a neurology professor at Columbia University Medical Center, traveled to London to evaluate Gard and provide more detail about the therapy he wants to administer. The court previously ruled that Gard’s life-support machine should be turned off and that he should be allowed die with “dignity.”

The case has drawn massive international interest including high-profile interventions from President Trump and Pope Francis in support of the family. Congressional Republicans are seeking passage of legislation that would give the Gard family U.S. residency and a potential route to treatment there, although it’s not clear whether that would ultimately enable them to obviate a British court decision.

Over the weekend, the Great Ormond Street Hospital in London revealed its staff had received death threats over the case. “Thousands of abusive messages have been sent to doctors and nurses whose life’s work is to care for sick children. Many of these messages are menacing, including death threats,” the hospital said in a statement.

“Families have been harassed and discomforted while visiting their children, and we have received complaints of unacceptable behavior even within the hospital itself.”

Last week, Great Ormond Street Hospital in London told Gard’s parents, Chris Gard, 32, and Connie Yates, 31, that the latest scan of Charlie’s brain made for “sad reading.”

‘We don’t need them’: Austrian FM wants to end Islamic kindergartens to boost integration

Shutting down Islamic kindergartens where children have little or no command of German would be an efficient way to ensure the integration of migrants, Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz said.
The comment was made at a public event set up by Kurier newspaper.

“Of course, we don’t need them. There should be no Islamic kindergartens,” Kurz said when asked whether he would agree to completely get rid of such facilities.

According to the foreign minister, proficiency in German must become a gateway to Austrian society.

Immigrant children and others “who have little or no command of German” would have to attend kindergarten one year longer than their Austrian peers, he said.

Consequently, many Arab or Chechen kindergartens will fail to meet the requirements for state benefits and will be left with no choice but to close, Kurz said, adding, “This is the easiest way in terms of the law.”

In the meantime, the government “does very much” to improve integration efforts, Kurz said. He added, however, that success “depends very much on the number of those [who should be] integrated.”

Opposition parties say it is the policy of the current government, which Kurz is a part of, that has led to a situation in which the state sponsors childcare facilities that contribute to the creation of parallel societies.

It was Kurz’s Austrian People’s Party (OVP) that “always voted for more subsidies for those kindergartens and it was his party and his [policy] that tried to cater all these Muslim and radical Islamist movements in Austria,” Johann Gudenus, the Vice Mayor and a City Council of Vienna, told RT.

Gudenus, who is a member of the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPO), went on to say that the current “sudden” change of heart of the Austrian government is just an attempt to gain more support ahead of parliamentary elections which are scheduled for October 2017.

The foreign minister’s initiative also drew criticism from the Austrian Muslim community, which called it “institutionalized discrimination.”

If one “just forbids a religious minority, the Muslims, [to establish kindergartens] but allows other [communities] to do that … than this is a very clear institutionalized discrimination of a religious community,” Tarafa Baghajati, the chairman of the Austrian Muslim Initiative group, told RT.

Baghajati further accused Kurz of using Islamophobia to advance his political interests.

Controversy regarding Muslim kindergartens was recently stirred when a study by Austrian-Turkish Professor Ednan Aslan found more than 10,000 children aged from two to six attend around 150 Muslim preschools in Vienna which teach the Koran and pave the way for “parallel societies,” according to AFP.

“Parents are sending their kids to establishments that ensure they are in a Muslim setting and learn a few suras (chapters from the Koran),” Aslan, who researches Islamic education at Vienna University, told AFP.
“But they are unaware that they are shutting them off from a multicultural society,” the scholar said. According to his estimates, up to a quarter of Islamic kindergartens were being sponsored or supported by ultraconservative Salafist groups or organizations.

The study, published last year, resonated widely in the community, but some rejected the findings citing the unreliability of Aslan’s methodology. Biber, a local magazine, dispatched an undercover reporter who posed as a Muslim mother looking for a place for her son at an Islamic kindergarten.

She found no evidence of Aslan’s claims that Islamic preschools were nurturing future Salafists, but acknowledged many of those kindergartens were cutting off or isolating children from mainstream society. There were also questions about the “openness” of some staff and their command of German.

Kurz, the youngest foreign minister in the EU at the time of his swearing-in back in 2013, has previously advocated putting more curbs on immigration. In March, he proposed the opening of refugee centers outside the European Union, suggesting the Republic of Georgia and countries of the Western Balkans as possible locations.

Last year, he also made some incendiary remarks on refugees being rescued on their way across the Mediterranean, saying a rescue from a boat in distress should be “no ticket to Europe.”

Refugees who are rescued from boats in the Mediterranean Sea “must be returned immediately, ideally to their country of origin,” Kurz vowed at the time.

For the First Time, Lawsuit Forces US Court to Review Fluoride Toxicity, Could END Fluoridation

http://www.renegadetribune.com/first-time-lawsuit-forces-us-court-review-fluoride-toxicity-end-fluoridation/
By Matt Agorist

Despite the overwhelming mass of scientific literature and studies showing the harmful effects of ingesting fluoride, those who question it or advocate for the cessation of fluoridated water are labeled as kooks, conspiracy theorists, and shouted down by the mainstream. Even when the mainstream admits it — as in the case of the highly publicized Harvard Study — people remain in denial about this most horrific practice of mass medication without consent using the poisonous byproduct of fertilizer production.

However, all that appears to be changing. For the first time in US history, the courts will hear the evidence on the neurotoxicity of fluoridated water which could out an end to this practice once and for all.

Thanks to the vigilant work of the folks at the Fluoride Action Network, who’ve refused for years to be silenced, we are now witnessing an unprecedented move to stop this practice. Thousands of pages of research put together by dozens of scientists and doctors has been included in a lawsuit that could end water fluoridation in the United States.

Simply put, the evidence has reached critical mass and even the government can’t deny it.

Fluoridation, Americans are told, is necessary for the prevention of tooth decay. We must drink it and we must give our children fluoridated water in order for everyone to have a healthy smile — or so we have been advised for the last 60 years.

A whopping 43 studies have linked fluoride ingestion with a reduction in IQ. A study out of the Harvard School of public Health concluded, “children in high-fluoride areas had significantly lower IQ scores than those who lived in low-fluoride areas.”

Even more independent studies have linked the associated health risks of fluoride to interfering with the endocrine system and increasing the risk of impaired brain function. Two studies in recent years, for example, have linked fluoridation to ADHD and underactive thyroid.

Dozens more studies show the ineffectiveness of fluoride ingestion in preventing dental caries; they actually show an increase in dental fluorosis instead of a reduction in decay.

Approximately 1.2 grams of sodium fluoride will kill an adult human being. That was the low estimate that Dominic Smith ingested when he died from an overdose of fluoridated water at Hooper Bay, Alaska on May 23, 1992. Approximately 200 mg will kill a small child.

In spite of this evidence showing that the mass drugging of the American population is harmful, the CDC and the EPA maintain that it is 100% safe and that drinking the extremely deadly byproducts of fertilizer production is just fine and dandy.

It is because of the government’s continued denial and dismissal of scientific evidence that the Fluoride Action Network (FAN) has filed this landmark lawsuit.

FAN is not some ragtag group of conspiracy theorists sitting around in their basements reading fake science on the internet. The group is comprised of dozens of medical doctors, dentists, PhDs, and scientists, who’ve joined forces to bring an end to this most unethical and dangerous practice.

Stuart Cooper, FAN’s Campaign Director issued an open letter this week, noting how the “Fluoride Action Network (FAN), along with a coalition of environmental and public health groups has filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to their denial of our petition under Section 21 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) seeking a ban on water fluoridation.”

“We believe this lawsuit is an unprecedented opportunity to end the practice once and for all in the U.S., and potentially throughout the world, based on the well-documented neurotoxicity of fluoride.” You may read the official complaint here. According to FAN’s attorney and adviser, Michael Connett:

This case will present the first time a court will consider the neurotoxicity of fluoride and the question of whether fluoridation presents an unreasonable risk under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). And, in contrast to most other legal challenges of Agency actions, TSCA gives us the right to get the federal court to consider our evidence ‘de novo’ — meaning federal courts are to conduct their own independent review of the evidence without deference to the EPA’s judgment.”

According to FAN, the reason for the lawsuit was due to the fact that the EPA dismissed their massive cache of information submitted to them, via petition, last year.

On November 22, 2016, a coalition including FAN, Food & Water Watch, Organic Consumers Association, American Academy of Environmental Medicine, International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology, Moms Against Fluoridation and several individual mothers, filed a petition calling on the EPA to ban the deliberate addition of fluoridating chemicals to the drinking water under provisions in the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA).

The petition includes more than 2,500 pages of scientific documentation detailing the risks of water fluoridation to human health. We presented the FDA with a large body of human and animal evidence demonstrating that fluoride is a neurotoxin at levels now ingested by many U.S. children and vulnerable populations. We also presented the agency with evidence showing that fluoride has little benefit when swallowed and, accordingly, any risks from exposing people to fluoride chemicals in water are unnecessary.

Despite this petition, the EPA, who illustrates through this move and many others that it is beholden to special interests only and not the people, denied it.

There is now a significant consensus happening in the scientific community noting that fluoride is, indeed, neurotoxic. For the EPA to dismiss scientific facts is not only irresponsible but it is now proving to be criminal.

The question now is not if fluoride damages the brain — it is at what dose does fluoride damage the brain.

According to FAN, EPA’s own Guidelines for Neurotoxicity Risk Assessment highlights the importance of having a robust margin between the doses of a chemical that cause neurotoxic effects and the doses that humans receive. FAN presented the EPA with over 180 studies showing that fluoride causes neurotoxic harm (e.g., reduced IQ), pointing out that many of these studies found harm at levels within the range, or precariously close to, the levels millions of American children now receive.

Since the petition was submitted to the EPA in November and subsequently denied, more damning evidence has surfaced in the case against fluoride — and, this time, it’s from the EPA’s own scientist.

As FAN reports, some children in the U.S. may be consuming enough fluoridated water to reach doses of fluoride that have the potential to lower their IQ, according to a research team headed by William Hirzy, Ph.D., a former senior scientist at the EPA who specialized in risk assessment and published an important risk analysis in the journal Fluoride last year.

Hirzy explains the significance of this study:

The significance of this peer reviewed risk analysis is that it indicates there may be no actual safe level of exposure to fluoride.Groups of children with lower exposures to fluoride were compared with groups having higher exposures. Those with higher exposures performed more poorly on IQ tests than those with lower exposures.

One well-conducted Chinese study indicated that children exposed to 1.4 mg/day had their IQ lowered by 5 IQ points. Current average mean daily intakes among children in the United States are estimated by EPA to range from about 0.80 mg/day to 1.65 mg/day. Fluoride may be similar to lead and mercury in having no threshold below which exposures may be considered safe.”

The fight against fluoride across the globe is winning. According to FAN, millions of citizens in hundreds of municipalities throughout the world have forced their governments to stop drugging them without consent using this toxic waste. This action is working and the lawsuit is proof of its effectiveness.

For those who’d like to support the Fluoride Action Network or would like to know how you can get involved, there are some tips below. Please share this article with your friends and family to let them know that we the people are finally making progress when it comes to our health and the health of our children.


This article originally appeared on The Free Thought Project.

US, Gulf States, sign deal to end financing for terror

US President Donald Trump signed a memorandum on Sunday with leaders of the oil-rich Gulf monarchies to cut funding for terrorism, a day after Washington told their arch rival Iran to dismantle its “network of terrorism.”

White House adviser Dina Powell told reporters that a memorandum of understanding signed by Trump and leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council represents the “farthest reaching commitment” to not finance terrorist organizations.

She said it includes a pledge to prosecute the financing of terrorism, including individuals. The memorandum also calls to establish a center to combat the financing of terrorism, Saudi official news agency SPA reported.

Along with the US, the participants included Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The meeting took place on the second day of Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia, part of his first foreign tour since taking office, hours before his address an Arab Islamic American Summit.

The White House did not immediately release a text of the agreement.

US President Donald Trump (C) attends a meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

Trump and the GCC leaders watched as Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exchanged documents.

Most GCC monarchies accuse Tehran of meddling in their internal affairs and want Washington to be tougher with Iran, which secured a landmark nuclear deal with world powers when Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama was in office.

They consider Tehran to be a destabilizing factor in the region.

US First Lady Melania Trump (L) and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) chat with Saudi Crown Prince and Minister of Interior, Muhammad bin Nayef Abdulaziz, at the Saudi Royal Court in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. (MANDEL NGAN / AFP)

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Saturday demonstrated a tougher position on Tehran, saying multi-billion-dollar defense deals signed with Riyadh aim to protect Saudi Arabia from a “malign Iranian influence.”

In a joint news conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir, Tillerson urged newly re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to dismantle his country’s “network of terrorism” and end “ballistic missile testing.”

Erekat warns Trump embassy move would end peace process

DEAD SEA, Jordan — Moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would end the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat warned on Saturday.

The warning came two days ahead of a visit to Israel and the West Bank by US President Donald Trump. US officials have said that he is still considering the move, which he promised during his election campaign.

“We believe that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem would mean the end of the peace process,” said Erekat, who is also second-in-command of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) during a World Economic Forum meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan on Saturday. Erekat met with former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni, a member of the Zionist Union party, at the gathering, where the two expressed their optimism for Trump’s reported Mideast bid.

The Palestinians and the Arab world fiercely oppose a potential relocation of the US embassy, repeatedly warning that it could spark fresh unrest.

Former Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni and senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat attend the World Economic Forum held in the Dead Sea resort of Shuneh, west of the Jordanian capital Amman, on May 20, 2017. (AFP / khalil mazraawi)

The new US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who took up office on Monday, has expressed his backing of such a move, as have Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

There has been no movement so far on the pledge which would break with decades of American policy on the city. The international community, including the US, never recognized Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem after recapturing it in the Six Day war in 1967. Israel claims the undivided city of Jerusalem as its capital while the Palestinians would like to see East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state.

Erekat said a Palestinian state without East Jerusalem as its capital would have “no meaning.”

An aerial view of Jerusalem, on December 12, 2013. (Flash90)

Erekat said Saturday that he “hope[s] that President Trump would give us a chance.”

“He said… he will not impose solutions on us or on the Israelis,” Erekat said. “(But) the fact that he is going to move the embassy is imposition, is dictation.”

This is not the first time that Erekat has warned against a possible relocation of the embassy, but his strong statment comes at a time when the Palestinians appear eager to stay on Trump’s good side.

Trump, who arrived in Saudi Arabia Saturday on his first foreign tour since taking office, is set to visit Israel on Monday and then meet Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on Tuesday.

The timing of the visit led to intense speculation as to whether he would use the opportunity to fulfill his repeated campaign pledge to relocate the embassy.

Trump seemingly backed off his promise early in his presidency. It was reported that his conversation with King Abdullah II of Jordan at the National Prayer Breakfast in February was instrumental to his decision to put the issue on the back burner.

Shortly after Trump’s visit to the region, he will have to make a decision whether or not to waive a 1995 law that mandates the relocation of the embassy but allows the president to exercise six-month delays on national security grounds.

The most recent waiver, signed by Barack Obama, expires on June 1.

Trump has placed a high priority on trying to broker a peace accord between Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump asks Colombia’s help to end Venezuela political crisis

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Thursday that he intends to work closely with his Colombian counterpart to find a solution to spiraling violence in Venezuela.

Sitting side by side with President Juan Manuel Santos in the Oval Office, Trump said he will seek Colombia’s help in pressuring neighboring Venezuela to address the near-daily protests and violence that have shaken President Nicolas Maduro’s grip on power.

At least 40 people have been killed and hundreds injured in protests that erupted after Venezuela’s supreme court issued a ruling in late March stripping the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its last remaining powers. The ruling was later partially reversed amid a storm of international criticism.

The meeting came as the Trump administration rolled out new sanctions Thursday on members of Venezuela’s supreme court for alleged human rights violations.

“A stable and peaceful Venezuela is in the best interest of the entire hemisphere,” Trump said at a joint news conference. “We will be working with Colombia and other countries on the Venezuela problem. It is a very, very horrible problem.”

Driving the latest outrage is a decree by Maduro to begin the process of rewriting Venezuela’s constitution. The opposition rejects that plan as another attempt by the president to tighten his grip on power, and opposition leaders are calling on Venezuelans to continue to take to the streets in protest.

Santos is the third Latin American leader to meet with Trump since he took office, after the leaders of Peru and Argentina. The president’s bullish policies toward illegal immigration and his proposed border wall with Mexico have incensed many across Latin America who say they are being unfairly targeted. The dispute led Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto to cancel his trip to Washington weeks after Trump took office.

Santos has been among the critics of Trump’s proposed wall, though he avoided outwardly criticizing the plan during their joint remarks.

Trump defended his proposed border wall Thursday, saying, “Walls work, just ask Israel.”

Santos is looking for Trump’s support on a number of domestic issues. His government signed a peace accord last year with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, ending one of the world’s bloodiest and longest-running armed conflicts. The rebel group agreed to turn over 30 percent of its arsenal of assault rifles, machine guns and explosives.

 

The Trump administration is also looking to work with Colombia to stem the flow of drugs into the U.S. from Latin America. “We have a problem with drugs, and you have a very big problem with drugs,” Trump said to Santos at the start of their meeting.

Santos said he is committed to working with the United States and other countries in Latin America “to fight the other links in the chain,” saying they will join forces to “seize cocaine in transit.”

Santos is a graduate of the University of Kansas and holds a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Comey Memo Says Trump Asked Him to End Flynn Investigation

WASHINGTON — President Trump asked the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, to shut down the federal investigation into Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, in an Oval Office meeting in February, according to a memo Mr. Comey wrote shortly after the meeting.

“I hope you can let this go,” the president told Mr. Comey, according to the memo.

The documentation of Mr. Trump’s request is the clearest evidence that the president has tried to directly influence the Justice Department and F.B.I. investigation into links between Mr. Trump’s associates and Russia. Late Tuesday, Representative Jason Chaffetz, the Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, demanded that the F.B.I. turn over all “memoranda, notes, summaries and recordings” of discussions between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey.

Such documents, Mr. Chaffetz wrote, would “raise questions as to whether the president attempted to influence or impede” the F.B.I.

Mr. Comey wrote the memo detailing his conversation with the president immediately after the meeting, which took place the day after Mr. Flynn resigned, according to two people who read the memo. It was part of a paper trail Mr. Comey created documenting what he perceived as the president’s improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation. An F.B.I. agent’s contemporaneous notes are widely held up in court as credible evidence of conversations.

Mr. Comey shared the existence of the memo with senior F.B.I. officials and close associates. The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey’s associates read parts of it to a Times reporter.

“I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey, according to the memo. “He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.”

Mr. Trump told Mr. Comey that Mr. Flynn had done nothing wrong, according to the memo.

Mr. Comey did not say anything to Mr. Trump about curtailing the investigation, replying only: “I agree he is a good guy.”

In a statement, the White House denied the version of events in the memo.

“While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn,” the statement said. “The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.”

Mr. Chaffetz’s letter, sent to the acting F.B.I. director, Andrew G. McCabe, set a May 24 deadline for the internal documents to be delivered to the House committee. The congressman, a Republican, was criticized in recent months for showing little of the appetite he demonstrated in pursuing Hillary Clinton to pursue investigations into Mr. Trump’s associates.

But since announcing in April that he will not seek re-election in 2018, Mr. Chaffetz has shown more interest in the Russia investigation, and held out the potential for a subpoena on Tuesday, a notably aggressive move as most Republicans have tried to stay out of the fray.

In testimony to the Senate last week, Mr. McCabe said, “There has been no effort to impede our investigation to date.” Mr. McCabe was referring to the broad investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. The investigation into Mr. Flynn is separate.

A spokesman for the F.B.I. declined to comment.

Mr. Comey created similar memos — including some that are classified — about every phone call and meeting he had with the president, the two people said. It is unclear whether Mr. Comey told the Justice Department about the conversation or his memos.

Mr. Trump fired Mr. Comey last week. Trump administration officials have provided multiple, conflicting accounts of the reasoning behind Mr. Comey’s dismissal. Mr. Trump said in a television interview that one of the reasons was because he believed “this Russia thing” was a “made-up story.”

The Feb. 14 meeting took place just a day after Mr. Flynn was forced out of his job after it was revealed he had lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of phone conversations he had had with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

Despite the conversation between Mr. Trump and Mr. Comey, the investigation of Mr. Flynn has proceeded. In Virginia, a federal grand jury has issued subpoenas in recent weeks for records related to Mr. Flynn. Part of the Flynn investigation is centered on his financial links to Russia and Turkey.

Mr. Comey had been in the Oval Office that day with other senior national security officials for a terrorism threat briefing. When the meeting ended, Mr. Trump told those present — including Mr. Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions — to leave the room except for Mr. Comey.

Alone in the Oval Office, Mr. Trump began the discussion by condemning leaks to the news media, saying that Mr. Comey should consider putting reporters in prison for publishing classified information, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

Mr. Trump then turned the discussion to Mr. Flynn.

After writing up a memo that outlined the meeting, Mr. Comey shared it with senior F.B.I. officials. Mr. Comey and his aides perceived Mr. Trump’s comments as an effort to influence the investigation, but they decided that they would try to keep the conversation secret — even from the F.B.I. agents working on the Russia investigation — so the details of the conversation would not affect the investigation.

Mr. Comey was known among his closest advisers to document conversations that he believed would later be called into question, according to two former confidants, who said Mr. Comey was uncomfortable at times with his relationship with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Comey’s recollection has been bolstered in the past by F.B.I. notes. In 2007, he told Congress about a now-famous showdown with senior White House officials over the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program. The White House disputed Mr. Comey’s account, but the F.B.I. director at the time, Robert S. Mueller III, kept notes that backed up Mr. Comey’s story.

The White House has repeatedly crossed lines that other administrations have been reluctant to cross when discussing politically charged criminal investigations. Mr. Trump has disparaged the continuing F.B.I. investigation as a hoax and called for an inquiry into his political rivals. His representatives have taken the unusual step of declaring no need for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s associates.

The Oval Office meeting occurred a little over two weeks after Mr. Trump summoned Mr. Comey to the White House for a lengthy, one-on-one dinner at the residence. At that dinner, on Jan. 27, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey at least two times for a pledge of loyalty — which Mr. Comey declined, according to one of Mr. Comey’s associates.

In a Twitter post on Friday, Mr. Trump said that “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

After the meeting, Mr. Comey’s associates did not believe there was any way to corroborate Mr. Trump’s statements. But Mr. Trump’s suggestion last week that he was keeping tapes has made them wonder whether there are tapes that back up Mr. Comey’s account.

The Jan. 27 dinner came a day after White House officials learned that Mr. Flynn had been interviewed by F.B.I. agents about his phone calls with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak. On Jan. 26, the acting attorney general, Sally Q. Yates, told the White House counsel about the interview, and said Mr. Flynn could be subject to blackmail by the Russians because they knew he had lied about the content of the calls.

Trump, May aim to convince Moscow to end Assad support

LONDON — A “window of opportunity” exists to convince Moscow to end its support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump said in a phone call Monday.

“The prime minister and the president agreed that a window of opportunity now exists in which to persuade Russia that its alliance with Assad is no longer in its strategic interest,” a spokeswoman for May’s Downing Street office said.

The phone call between the two leaders came after last week’s suspected chemical attack on a rebel-held Syrian town that killed at least 87 civilians.

Washington retaliated with an air strike on a Syrian air base, the first time the US has directly intervened against the Assad regime which it has blamed for the attack on civilians.

Britain said it “fully supported” the US strikes and both countries have put pressure on Russia to stop backing the Syrian regime, with British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson cancelling a visit to Moscow scheduled for Monday.

Johnson said his decision came after developments in Syria “changed the situation fundamentally” and that his priority would instead be the meeting of G7 foreign ministers on Monday.

The Italy summit of the seven major advanced economies was expected to be dominated by Syria, ahead of US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson travelling to Moscow on Tuesday for talks with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

In their phone call on the eve of Tillerson’s visit, Trump and May said it “provides an opportunity to make progress towards a solution which will deliver a lasting political settlement”.

The Syrian regime has denied it was behind the April 4 attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun.

Moscow has so far stood by Assad, describing the US strikes as inflicting “considerable damage” to already “lamentable” US-Russia ties.

Russia also threatened to suspend a vital hotline established to avoid mid-air collisions or clashes with a US-led coalition targeting the Islamic State group.

More than 320,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict erupted in March 2011 with anti-government demonstrations.