Trump supporters cheer his combative stance with the media

US President Donald Trump. (AP)
Updated 17 February 2017
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Trump supporters cheer his combative stance with the media

CHARLESTON, W.Virginia: Critics of President Donald Trump saw in his Thursday news conference a combative, thin-skinned chief executive who continues to blame the media for the controversies roiling his administration.
His supporters saw something else: A champion of Middle America who is taking on the establishment and making good on his campaign promises to put the country first.
The Associated Press contacted Trump supporters across the country to see how they viewed a news conference in which the president said his administration was running like “a fine-tuned machine” despite the resignation of his top national security adviser, a court setback on his immigration order, a defeat for his nominee as labor secretary and reports of internal divisions.
Here are views of some of those supporters:
Richelle Kirk of Logan, West Virginia, watched some of Trump’s news conference on Thursday and didn’t see any head-scratching comments from the president.
“I back him 100 percent,” said the 42-year-old stay-at-home mom. “You either love it or get out, is my opinion.”
During Barack Obama’s presidency, her husband was laid off from his coal-mining job, a loss they blamed on Obama’s environmental policies. She said they lost a home and “everything we owned.”
After West Virginia voters resoundingly rejected Obama during his 2012 re-election, “we didn’t show our hind ends when Obama was re-elected,” Kirk said. So she believes people shouldn’t overreact to Trump, either.
She particularly agreed with the president when he took credit for an optimistic business climate and a rising stock market, saying Trump is beginning to fulfill his campaign promise to put people back to work.
Reporters, she said, “need to leave him alone. He’s just doing what he said he’s going to do.”
Kevin Felty of Norfolk, Virginia, said it was the “most impressive presidential press conference” of his life.
“Largely because it was so unorthodox,” said Felty, 48, who works as a surgical assistant and sells life insurance. “It was hyper adversarial between the president and the press. And yet he was able to control the questioning and the tone and the mood in the room.”
Felty said the media needs to move on regarding Russia and former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
“There was nothing illegal that General Flynn had done at that time,” Felty said. “What he did do is make a mistake in not being accurate with the vice president.”
He also said he believes Trump is trustworthy as president.
“He doesn’t need the media to chide him to make the right decisions,” Felty said. “It’s something he’s been doing well for decades.”
Regina Lenoir of Picayune, Mississippi, enjoyed watching Trump’s news conference and said the president “looked more relaxed.”
Lenoir, 69, said she was most interested in the president’s comments about the alleged leaks that led to the resignation of Michael Flynn as national security adviser.
“We don’t know the conversation that happened between him and (Vice President Mike) Pence. Only they know. But the news media gets out there (and) says such and such with no corroboration,” she said. “I’m sick of them making up stories. You know, we’re intelligent people. We can make up our own mind on whether they’re telling the truth.”
She agreed with Trump’s take on how the media has covered his administration and campaign, saying those covering his administration are good reporters but biased.
She said if people gave Trump a chance, “he might just surprise everyone.
“He wasn’t my first choice, but he is my president,” Lenoir said. “I think he handled the news conference very well.”
Joseph Gatlin of Virginia Beach, Virginia, said he did not watch the news conference but heard about the question a Jewish reporter asked Trump about a rise in anti-Semitic incidents around the country.
Trump told the reporter to sit down and said it was not a simple or fair question before describing himself as “the least anti-Semitic person you’ve ever seen in your entire life.”
Gatlin, who is Jewish and who was born in Israel, said the media needs to move on from “asking the same question.”
“He’s not a racist. He doesn’t believe in racism,” said Gatlin, who owns a flooring company. “He’s not anti-Semitic at all.”
Gatlin pointed to the number of Jewish people in Trump’s inner circle, including his son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner. He said the media instead should be asking Trump about terrorism and the economy.
“I think that it’s become ridiculous,” Gatlin said. “He wants the serious questions. He wants people to ask him questions that people care about. You can’t mention racism in every speech. They’re looking at the wrong things.”
Scott Hiltgen, a 66-year-old office furniture sales broker from River Falls, Wisconsin, said he was glad to see the president push back against the media. He said reporters have no proof Trump or anyone around him did anything wrong.
“They’re trying to make up a story that Trump worked with the Russians to rig the election,” he said. “Now they’re trying to make a big deal out of (former national security adviser) Mike Flynn. He was doing what he was supposed to do. He was talking to his counterparts. He was talking to the Russians. He got fired because he lied to (Vice President Mike) Pence. There’s no story there. The left media is so excited. They think they took this guy down. No, he made a mistake. He just lied.”
Hiltgen said he remains squarely behind the billionaire president because he has done what he said he would do on the campaign trail.
“He’s accomplished more in, whatever, three weeks, regarding the stuff he talked about,” Hiltgen said. “That’s what people voted for. I can’t believe there’s actually a politician doing what he says he would do. That never happens.”


Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

Afghan children fill canisters with water from a water pump outside their temporary homes on the outskirts of Jalalabad. Files/AFP
Updated 27 May 2018
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Drought adds to Afghanistan woes

  • Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought
  • More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces

KABUL: Rain and snow are as important as peace for Afghanistan. But the landlocked and mountainous country this year had its lowest rainfall for years, causing widespread drought and leaving 2 million people facing food shortages.
Livestock in many areas have died, and some farmers have been forced to send their herds for pasture to neighboring Turkmenistan.
Thousands of people have left their homes already due to water shortages, with fears that the situation will worsen in autumn, Afghan and UN officials say.
Twenty of the country’s 34 provinces, including the northern region — Afghanistan’s food basket — have been badly affected, they said.
The aid-reliant Afghan government has begun delivering aid to affected areas. But assistance will be needed for months to come. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said rapid action was needed to enable delivery of food and water. More than $115 million was required for a six-month response in the 20 provinces, it said.
“Drought is gripping large parts of Afghanistan, with more than 2 million people expected to become severely food insecure and in need of humanitarian assistance for survival,” OCHA said.
“A quick, comprehensive response will enable the delivery of food and water to the rural villages and help to avoid the migration of families to cities where they risk losing all of their few possessions, and where they lack shelter and access to health facilities and schools for their children,” it said.
Water points and fountains across the country have dried up, and the lack of rain and snow melt has made rivers run low or dry up, the organization said.
About 1.5 million goats and sheep in northeast regions are struggling to find food and more than half of the 1,000 villages in the province are suffering from lack of water.
Intensified conflict in many parts of the country is worsening the effects of the drought, limiting communities’ access to markets.
In Helmand, village elders reportedly need to obtain special approval from the armed groups to access markets in areas under government control.
In Uruzgan province, people often cannot access the main market in Tirinkot due to fighting and insecurity on the roads to the provincial capital. Following a temporary closure of the road to neighboring Kandahar province in April due to fighting, wheat prices went up by 50 percent in the city, and the price for fresh produce quadrupled within days.
Engineer Mohammed Sediq Hassani, chief of planning in the government’s Disaster Management Department, said the drought has directly and indirectly taken the lives of dozens of people.

“The impact of drought in terms of taking lives is intangible and slow. An indirect impact can be the recent floods, which claimed the lives of 73 people. Floods happen when there is a drought because of the change of the climate,” he told Arab News.