Category Archives: International news

If you can believe it, hope emerges from Notre Dame tragedy

The world is still recovering from the shock of the fire that ravaged the Cathedral of Notre Dame in the center of Paris.

The iconic church’s steeple collapsed. Its roof caved in. The interior was engulfed in flames. That’s the bad news.

However, the twin towers are still standing. The sanctuary’s crucifix is, too. Many of the church’s most cherished artifacts have been saved from the inferno; one of them is the crown of thorns believed to have been worn by Jesus Christ on the day he was crucified.

There’s more hope emerging. French billionaires have pledged as much as $300 million to restore, repair and revive the iconic symbol of the Catholic Church.

That the fire would erupt during Holy Week only adds to the heartbreak as Christians worldwide prepare to celebrate the joyous Easter holiday. Thus, the Notre Dame cathedral usually stands as an iconic symbol of the joy that Christians feel as they celebrate Jesus’s resurrection. This year, though, the cathedral — nearly destroyed by a fire believed to have started because of work being done on the 850-year-old structure — stands as a reminder of hope in another fashion.

It stands as a testament to the will of people to rebuild a cherished symbol.

I feel the need, too, to salute the heroic effort of the firefighters who faced down the flames, controlled the fire and somehow managed to prevent a horrific catastrophe from becoming even more heartbreaking.

French President Emmanuel Macron vows to “rebuild” the Cathedral of Notre Dame. It would be foolhardy to bet against it.

Mr. POTUS, just express support and then shut up

Donald J. “Idiot in Chief” Trump just couldn’t leave it alone.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris caught fire. It burned so badly, the cathedral’s iconic steeple collapsed. French firefighters have managed to control the blaze. They saved the towers. A CBS News picture shows that the altar and the crucifix in the sanctuary are still standing. A miracle? Yes!

The president of the United States posted a Twitter message lamenting the tragedy — and then offered some idiotic advice. Why not deploy firefighting aircraft to dump tons of water on the 850-year-old building? he said.

Not a good idea, Mr. President. Such water being dumped could cave in the roof, completing the destruction the heroic firefighters have managed to avoid.

My advice to you is this, Mr. President: Shut the fu** up and don’t offer advice on matters about which you know nothing!

Iconic cathedral destroyed . . . oh, the tragedy!

Fire has swept through the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the iconic Paris church and an overarching symbol for the Catholic Church.

The bell towers reportedly are safe. The spire has collapsed. Reports seem conflicted. Is the cathedral a total loss?

I know what we all are thinking now as French firefighters battle this blaze: Is this the act of a terrorist? No such organization has claimed responsibility as I write this brief post. I pray none will surface. If it’s a bogus claim from some faker, I trust French intelligence officials will know.

I’ve not been to Paris. I have not seen this iconic structure. Those I know who have seen have come away enriched beyond measure just being in the presence of this holy site.

Thus, the world should mourn what is unfolding in Paris at this moment.

My heart is broken.

We’re ‘full,’ says POTUS; France, we don’t need the Statue

I hope you’re able to see this blog post all the way over there in France, President Emmanuel Macron.

Donald Trump has declared the United States of America to be “full.” That’s right, the president of this country says we have no more room for immigrants who are “yearning to breathe free.”

So, with that, Mr. President, I want to invite you take back the Statue of Liberty. Your French forebears delivered to this country a marvelous gift in late 1880s. We got that statue. It was dedicated in New York Harbor in 1886.

I know you’re aware of this, but I need to remind others that the statue came to this country in pieces. We had to assemble it on this side of The Pond.

That was then, Mr. President.

Donald Trump is trying to eliminate illegal immigration. He wants to build The Wall along our southern border. The president wants to overhaul our nation’s process for accepting those who seek asylum. In other words, he wants to make it much more difficult for those to obtain it when they enter this nation.

He now declares that we’re “full.” He didn’t stipulate whether he meant “full” only to those seeking illegal entry. I am left to presume that he tossed that warning to the legal immigrants as well.

If that’s the case, Mr. President, our head of state has rendered the Statue of Liberty useless. It serves no purpose. It cannot welcome those who seek a better life in this country because — as Donald Trump says — we’re full. We have no room at the proverbial inn.

Don’t misunderstand, Mr. President. My wife and I are two of the millions of tourists who have seen the statue up close. We both derived great joy in seeing this welcoming symbol. We drew strength from it.

That invitation to send us “The wretched refuse of your teeming shore”? Forget about it! We don’t need anyone’s “wretched refuse.” Trump wants to raise the bar for legal immigrants, too. You’ve heard about that one, right?

And, hey, he knows of which he speaks. Our president tells us repeatedly that he knows everything about everything. He reminds us that he’s the smartest man in human history. I am sure he’s told you the same thing.

I don’t know about you, Mr. President, but I believe our president when he makes those boasts.

My advice to you would be to disassemble the Statue of Liberty and take it home. Maybe you can repurpose it, give it to some other nation that symbolizes the welcoming theme inscribed on the pedestal of the statue.

Oh, but good luck finding that nation.

Homeland security boss out . . . yawn!

Kirstjen Nielsen is out as secretary of homeland security.

What in the name of governmental competence am I supposed to make of it?

She tussled with Donald Trump over immigration policy. I am trying to grasp what precisely caused the president’s homeland security honcho to resign — effective immediately.

Indeed, the immediate departure tells me that she pushed out the door. Reports indicate that Trump flamethrower Stephen Miller, the senior policy adviser from hell, has been engineering a top-to-bottom overhaul of the Department of Homeland Security.

Truth be told — if you want to call it that — is that Nielsen learned to lie as clumsily as Donald Trump. She had trouble justifying the parent-child separation policy the Trump administration enacted in its hideous effort to curb illegal immigration. Oh, and then this homeland security secretary of Scandinavian descent just couldn’t bring herself to acknowledge that Trump favors immigrants from that part of Europe over those who hail from “sh**hole” countries in Africa.

Now comes word that Trump wants to get even tougher on illegal immigration. So I guess Nielsen wasn’t quite on board. Is that so?

So the president has named an acting homeland security secretary, who will join the ranks of acting defense secretary, acting White House chief of staff, acting United Nations ambassador, acting interior secretary, acting EPA administrator.

Holy cow, man! The “best people” with whom the president surrounds himself keep heading for the tall grass.

No, Mr. POTUS: The U.S. isn’t ‘full’

Mr. President, how many times do we have to tell you that your anti-immigrant rhetoric is un-American?

Your recent trip to the California-Mexico border contained more of the same, tired rhetoric about how you intend to crack down on illegal immigration, how you want to stop drug traffickers from entering the United States and how you no longer want asylum seekers to even bother making the effort to escape oppression in their home countries.

You said the country is “full.” There’s no more room at the proverbial inn? Is that what you mean?

So now you give Mexico a year to shut down the illegal drug trade before you carry out your threat to “close the border.” Yeah, I heard you say that “I’m not messing around.”

Then you “mess around” by backing off on your shut it down now mantra by declaring you intention to wait a year? Do you know what that tells me, Mr. President? It tells me your initial threat was as phony as all the other threats you fire out there.

You said you want to repeal the Affordable Care Act now. Then you say you want to wait until after the November 2020 presidential election. Same thing, Hoss. That initial threat was hollow. It was phony. Bogus. It was full of crap.

Mr. President, the United States is not full. We comprise about 3.7 million square miles. We are a big and until now a welcoming country. Hey, my grandparents — all four of them — came here in search of a better life than what they had in southern Europe. They found it and contributed more to the advancement of the American ideal than you’ll ever contribute.

They believed in the American dream. You were born into immense wealth and you believe in personal enrichment.

You may stop the bloviating and the bluster about shutting down our southern border. You are now more than welcome to stop proclaiming that the door is now shut, that the “United States is full.”

No sir. It isn’t.

Border shutdown or not? Let’s go with ‘not’

Donald Trump is a malleable man. He says he intends to do one thing, then backpedals . . . sometimes furiously.

Repeal the Affordable Care Act now? Sure, but wait! Let’s do it after the November 2020 election.

Shut down the border with Mexico? Yep! Right now, or else. But, whoa! Let’s wait a year and see what happens, shall we?

The president was adamant that we should close the 2,000-mile border with Mexico. Then someone musta got to him, telling him what he should have known already: Closing the border, Mr. President, is going to cost this country tens of billions of dollars in business with one of our largest trading partners.

Then he backed off. He said he doesn’t “play games.” He had vowed that he would close the border, “100 percent.”

Not now.

Actually, the one-year delay likely means the border won’t close at all. I’m OK with that. Shutting down our border with Mexico is going to do far more harm than good.

Trump calls the closure threat a national security matter. He says security is more important than trade. I agree with that. However, is there an actual “national security threat” being presented at this moment? I remain highly dubious of that assertion.

So, for now the president has backed off. Good. I hope he stays backed off for as long as he is in office.

Cutting off aid will stop migration? Really?

I need someone to explain to me how this is supposed to work.

Donald Trump says the United States of America is going to cut off aid to three Central American nations — Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras — because too many people are fleeing those countries; they want to enter the United States illegally.

The aid totals something around $450 million.

So, they are fleeing their countries because their living conditions are so horrible they no longer consider them safe havens. They are plagued by gang violence. These individuals, whole families, are fleeing to escape.

Isn’t this so-called strategy only inflaming the problems that are causing people to flee? Is the president directing his punitive measures in the wrong direction?

I agree with the president that government officials in those countries need to do more to crack down on gang violence. Isn’t this where diplomatic pressure could be put to good use? Talk to these officials, offer them the best assistance we can provide. Work with them; do not cut them off and then walk away.

This foreign-aid cutoff, though, seems counterproductive — not to mention counterintuitive. 

Is the president simply playing yet again to his base that seems to believe we “spend too much” on foreign aid already?

That is what it looks like to me.

Border shutdown does more harm than good

Donald Trump wants to make good on his boast that he intends to stop illegal immigration altogether, no matter what, no matter the measure he intends to implement.

So now he’s threatening to shut down the southern border. All 2,000 miles of it. From the Pacific Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. From California to Texas. He’s gonna shut ‘er down!

OK, but at what cost?

The trade that flows between the United States and Mexico contributes billions of dollars each year in income for businesses in both countries. I long have thought that Mexico was a good neighbor.  I still do. The president of the United States acts as though Mexico is that annoying next-door neighbor who plays his music too loudly or whose dog poops on his yard.

You may spare me the comments uttered by Jeh Johnson, homeland security secretary in the Obama administration who says the border crossing numbers have reached a crisis proportion.

Shutting down the border isn’t the way you fix a problem. You don’t punish an entire nation the way Trump wants to punish Mexico. Make no mistake, the damage he intends to inflict on our southern neighbor is going to ripple into four border states: Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

He wants Mexico to stop the immigrants traipsing through its land from Central America. They can stop it, he says. If they don’t, he intends to shut down the border. “I’m not kidding around,” the president said.

I get it, Mr. President.

It’s not going to stop the drug flow that comes into this country through legal ports of entry. You know, airports and maritime docks . . . those kinds of places. Indeed, that’s where most of it enters the United States, not on the backs of asylum seekers fleeing repression in Latin America.

Send in more agents. Deploy more technology. Round up illegal immigrants, frisk ’em and then send the bad guys back. I have no problem with that.

I simply refuse to acknowledge the existence of a phony “national emergency.” It doesn’t exist. Shutting down the border is a solution in search of a problem.

Russia probe was a ‘disgrace’? What about the Russian attack?

Donald Trump has been mounting a full-throated, frontal assault on the investigation into The Russia Thing by special counsel Robert Mueller III.

Yes, the president is attacking the probe as a “witch hunt,” and a “disgrace to our country.” Mueller reportedly concluded that the Trump presidential campaign did not “collude” with Russian goons who attacked our electoral system. It’s an open question on the issue of obstruction of justice.

But Trump keeps declaring he received “total exoneration” while piling on and on and on over Mueller’s exhaustive investigation.

I am left to wonder: Why doesn’t the president declare the Russian interference in our electoral process to be a “disgrace” to the nation? Where is the president’s alarm that the Russians were able and willing — according to Mueller — hack into our election data bases and seek to distribute false information about Hillary Clinton? Isn’t that what one would call “fake news”?

Oh, and then the Russians actually did launch their attack on the same day that candidate Donald Trump invited them to look for those missing e-mails that the Clinton team reportedly trashed. Isn’t that at least as much of a national “disgrace” as the Russian attack in the first place?

Trump’s disgraceful misrepresentation of “disgraceful” conduct continues to demonstrate fully to me that the man is unfit for public office of any sort, let alone as the president of the United States.

He impugns the integrity of Mueller, a former FBI director, a decorated Vietnam War combat veteran and a man known for meticulous preparation in the performance of his legal duties.

The “national disgrace” occurred not with the probe. It occurred when the Russians interfered in our cherished electoral system.

Where is the condemnation of that, Mr. President?