Trump defends Charlottesville response at raucous rally, blasts 'dishonest' media

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President Donald Trump gestures to the crowd while speaking at a rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
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Protesters raise their hands after police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona on Tuesday. Protests were held against President Donald Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)
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Protesters yell after police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center on Tuesday in Phoenix, Arizona. Protests were held against President Donald Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)
Updated 23 August 2017

Trump defends Charlottesville response at raucous rally, blasts 'dishonest' media

PHOENIX, US: President Donald Trump revved up supporters on Tuesday with a defense of his response to a white supremacist-organized rally in Virginia and a promise to shut down the US government if necessary to build a wall along the border with Mexico.
Under fire for saying “both sides” were to blame for the violence between white supremacists and left-wing counter protesters in Virginia on Aug. 12, Trump accused television networks of ignoring his calls for unity in the aftermath.
“I didn’t say I love you because you’re black, or I love you because you’re white,” Trump said. “I love all the people of our country.”
Police used pepper spray to disperse crowds after protesters threw rocks and bottles outside the convention center where Trump spoke, police said.
Trump, who often uses news organizations as a foil, repeatedly singled out the media for criticism of how it covered the violence in the Virginia college town of Charlottesville and the resulting political fallout.
“These are truly dishonest people. They’re bad people. I really think they don’t like our country,” Trump said. “The only people giving a platform to these hate groups is the media.”
Adopting a glib tone, Trump said many reporters ignored his condemnation of white supremacists, including the Ku Klux Klan.
“I hit ‘em with neo-Nazi, I hit ‘em with everything ... KKK? We have KKK. I got ‘em all,” he said.
James Clapper, a former director of US national intelligence, expressed concern at Trump’s performance, calling it “downright scary and disturbing.”
“I question his fitness to be in office,” Clapper told CNN.

Government shutdown
Funding for the border wall has flagged in the US Congress as many lawmakers question whether Trump’s main promise during the 2016 presidential election campaign is really necessary.
But with a budget battle looming, Trump said he would be willing to risk a politically damaging government shutdown in order to secure funding for the wall.
He visited the border region in Yuma, Arizona, earlier on Tuesday.
“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” Trump said. “We’re going to have our wall. The American people voted for immigration control. We’re going to get that wall.”
With thousands of supporters cheering him on, Trump also weighed in on another racially charged issue, hinting he would pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Arpaio, 85, who battled illegal immigration in the Phoenix area, was found guilty last month of criminal contempt for violating the terms of a 2011 court order in a racial profiling case.

NAFTA, North Korea
Trump covered the gamut of issues, from NAFTA trade talks to the US showdown with North Korea, during a raucous, rambling and defiant political speech lasting an hour and 15 minutes.
He said he might terminate the NAFTA treaty with Mexico and Canada to jumpstart negotiations, and said the standoff with North Korea over its weapons programs might have taken a positive turn.
However, it was unclear whether the speech would help lay the foundation for a comeback from the deep political crisis Trump finds himself in after only seven months in office and an approval rating below 40 percent.
He expressed frustration that the Republican-controlled Congress was unable to approve health care legislation that failed to pass the Senate by one vote last month.
One of the votes against the legislation was cast by Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.
Without mentioning their names, Trump criticized both McCain and his fellow Arizona Republican, Senator Jeff Flake.
Neither McCain nor Flake attended the event.
Trump complained repeatedly about the “one vote” that stopped the Senate from repealing and replacing Obamacare, the signature domestic policy of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
“One vote away. I will not mention any names — very presidential. And nobody wants me to mention your other senator, who’s weak on border, weak on crime. Nobody knows who the hell he is! See, I haven’t mentioned any names, so now everybody’s happy,” he said.

'Sheriff Joe'
The White House had said earlier when asked about Arpaio that “there will be no discussion of that today.”
That did not stop Trump from raising the subject.
“Do the people in this room like Sheriff Joe?” Trump asked, sparking loud applause and a chant of “Pardon Joe!“
“Was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked, before predicting that Arpaio would be just fine. “I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. But Sheriff Joe can feel good,” he said.
Trump drew broad criticism for blaming both white nationalists and counter-protesters for the deadly violence at the Charlottesville rally, which was organized by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. One woman was killed.
He mocked left-wing protesters in his speech.
Protesters outside Tuesday’s rally yelled: “Shame, shame, shame” and “No Trump, No KKK, No fascist USA” as the Trump supporters began filing into the Phoenix Convention Center.
Supporters, who lined up for hours in the Arizona heat ahead of the event, chanted: “Build the wall.” Many wore red hats with Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”
Trump has held a series of 2020 re-election campaign stops despite only having taken office in January.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, had asked him to postpone Tuesday’s event while the nation healed from outrage and division after the deadly rally in Charlottesville.
A heavy police presence was deployed around the Phoenix venue for Trump’s first trip as president to Arizona, which he won in the 2016 election.


Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ if they face deadly weapons from protesters

Updated 17 November 2019

Hong Kong police warn of ‘live fire’ if they face deadly weapons from protesters

  • Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June
  • China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent

HONG KONG: Hong Kong police Monday warned for the first time that they may use “live rounds” after pro-democracy protesters fired arrows and threw petrol bombs at officers at a beseiged university campus, as the crisis engulfing the city veered deeper into danger.
Protests have tremored through the global financial hub since June, with many in the city of 7.5 million people venting fury at eroding freedoms under Chinese rule.
China has repeatedly warned that it will not tolerate the dissent, and there have been concerns that Beijing could send in troops to put an end to the spiralling unrest.
Three protesters have been shot by armed police in the unrelenting months of protests. But all in scuffles as chaotic street clashes played out — and without such warnings being given.
A day of intense clashes, which saw a police officer struck in the leg by an arrow and protesters meet police tear gas with volleys of petrol bombs, intensified as night fell.
Clashes rolled across Kowloon, with the epicenter around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), where scores of defiant demonstrators set large fires to prevent police from conducting a threatened raid on the campus.
They hunkered down under umbrellas from occasional fire from water cannon and hurled molotov cocktails at an armored police vehicle, leaving it ablaze on a flyover near the campus.
Police declared the campus a “riot” scene — a rioting conviction carries up to 10 years in jail — and blocked exits as spokesman Louis Lau issued a stark warning in a Facebook live broadcast.
“I hereby warn rioters not to use petrol bombs, arrows, cars or any deadly weapons to attack police officers,” he said.
“If they continue such dangerous actions, we would have no choice but to use the minimum force necessary, including live rounds, to fire back.”
Police said they fired at a car late Sunday that had driven at a line of officers near the campus — but the vehicle reversed and escaped.
Protesters at the campus appeared resolute — a twist in tactics by a leaderless movement so far defined by its fluid, unpredictable nature.
“I feel scared. There’s no way out, all I can do is fight to the end,” said one protester joining the barricade in front of the university building.
“We need a base to keep our gear and have some rest at night before another fight in the morning,” another called Kason, 23, told AFP.
On Sunday, activists parried attempts by police to break through into the PolyU campus, firing rocks from a homemade catapult from the university roof, while an AFP reporter saw a team of masked archers — several carrying sports bows — patrolling the campus.
Violence has worsened in recent days, with two men killed in separate incidents linked to the protests this month.
Chinese President Xi Jinping this week issued his most strident comments on the crisis, saying it threatened the “one country, two systems” model under which Hong Kong has been ruled since the 1997 handover from Britain.
Demonstrators last week engineered a “Blossom Everywhere” campaign of blockades and vandalism, which forced the police to draft in prison officers as reinforcements, shut down large chunks of Hong Kong’s train network and close schools and shopping malls.
The movement, characterised by its fluidity and unpredictability, has started to coagulate in fixed locations, showing the protesters’ ability to switch tactics.
The protests started against a now-shelved bill to allow extradition to China but have billowed to encompass wider issues such as perceived police brutality and calls for universal suffrage in the former British colony.
The financial hub has been nudged into a recession by the unrelenting turmoil.
A poster circulating on social media called for the “dawn action” to continue on Monday.
“Get up early, directly target the regime, squeeze the economy to increase pressure,” it said.
The education bureau said schools will remain closed again on Monday.
Earlier on Sunday, dozens of government supporters gathered to clear barricades near the university campus — a sign of the divisions slicing through the city.
Many residents are wearied by the sapping protests. Others support the Chinese-backed city government.
Some applauded a Saturday clean-up by Chinese troops from a garrison of the People’s Liberation Army in Kowloon.
The garrison is usually confined to the barracks under Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, although it can be deployed at the request of the city’s government to help with public order breakdown or natural disasters.
Hong Kong’s government, which presides over a city that enjoys greater freedoms than the mainland, said it did not ask the PLA for help on Saturday.
The choreographed troop movement “has only compounded the impression that Beijing has simply ignored” Hong Kong’s unique political system, said analyst Dixon Sing.