Connect with us

Politics

Melania Trump launches campaign to help children stay ‘healthy and balanced’

First lady announces ‘Be Best’ program, which aims to promote physical and emotional wellbeing in today’s ‘ever-connected world’

Published

on

 

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Melania Trump launches campaign to help children stay ‘healthy and balanced'” was written by David Smith in Washington, for theguardian.com on Monday 7th May 2018 20.14 UTC

Melania Trump, the first lady of the United States, briefly stepped out of her husband’s larger than life shadow on Monday to launch a campaign against cyber-bullying – before putting on a show of unity with Donald Trump.

Just as Hillary Clinton was once scrutinized during her husband Bill’s sex scandal, Melania faced the cameras even as Donald Trump kept changing his story about an alleged extramarital encounter with the pornographic film actor Stormy Daniels.

“As a mother and as first lady, it concerns me that in today’s fast-paced and ever-connected world, children can be less prepared to express or manage their emotions and often times turn to forms of destructive or addictive behaviour such as bullying, drug addiction or even suicide,” Melania told an audience in bright sunshine in the White House Rose Garden, which is normally reserved for events hosted by the president.

“I feel strongly that as adults, we can and should be best at educating our children about the importance of a healthy and balanced life,” she added.

The words were likely to ring hollow with Trump’s many critics. During the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton ran a campaign and ad entitled “Role Models” featuring clips of Trump referring to Mexicans as “rapists” and mocking a disabled reporter. The ad said: “Our children are watching. What example will we set for them?”

But Melania, in her speech on Monday launching the campaign, entitled “Be Best”, continued: “Social media can both positively and negatively affect our children. But too often, it is used in negative ways. When children learn positive online behaviors early on, social media can be used in productive ways. I do believe that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and remind them that when they are using their voices – whether verbally or online – they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion.”

Her husband, however, has become notorious for using Twitter to hurl insults and slap demeaning nicknames on a variety of perceived foes. Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, said on Monday: “I think the idea you’re trying to blame cyberbullying on the president is kind of ridiculous.”

Melania also spoke about the need to help children in communities affected by America’s devastating opiods epidemic. After her remarks, she invited her husband to the lectern, as he smiled broadly. He put a hand on her waist and kissed her on the cheeks three times, then told the gathering: “That was a truly beautiful and heartfelt speech. That’s the way she feels, very strong.”

Melania and Donald Trump in the Rose Garden, where the first lady launched her campaign.
Melania and Donald Trump in the Rose Garden, where the first lady launched her campaign.
Photograph: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Trump said America was “blessed” to have her as first lady. He told her: “Your care and compassion for our nation’s children – and I have to say this and I say it all the time – inspires us all.”

The president then signed a proclamation declaring 7 May as “Be Best Day”. The couple then went back into the White House together.

Guests in the Rose Garden were greeted by a jazz band and included the vice-president Mike Pence, the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.

Slovenian-born Melania, 48, is Trump’s third wife. She was rarely seen in Washington during the first six months of the administration. Her role as first lady to a dramatically divisive president is uniquely challenging.

Anita McBride, the former chief of staff to the ex-first lady Laura Bush, said: “Whenever the president is controversial, it’s sometimes hard to be given credit on your own. You just have to keep plugging away on your own.

The Washington Post reported on Monday that the couple are leading “remarkably separate” daily lives, sleeping in different bedrooms and seldom eating or spending leisure time together. Videos of Melania resisting the president’s attempts to hold her hand have gone viral.

McBride, executive in residence at the department of government at American University in Washington, added: “Only the two of them know what their relationship is like and it’s very hard to lead a personal life in the public eye. It may lead to chatter but it doesn’t seem to be affecting the job she’s doing. God knows, the Clintons had their fair share of troubles on the public stage and they seemed to make it through just fine.”

The Be Best initiatives offer few surprises. Melania had made numerous visits to hospitals and schools and recently turned the blue room at the White House into a mock classroom and invited school pupils to share their aspirations. She pledged to continue with such activities and trips.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

Published via the Guardian News Feed plugin for WordPress.

News

Trump threatens to withdraw from World Trade Organization

Published

on

President Donald Trump said he would pull out of the World Trade Organization if it doesn’t treat the U.S. better, continuing his criticism of a cornerstone of the international trading system.

“If they don’t shape up, I would withdraw from the WTO,” Trump said Thursday in an interview with Bloomberg News at the White House.

A U.S. withdrawal from the WTO would severely undermine the post-World War II multilateral trading system that the U.S. helped build.

Trump said last month that the U.S. is at a big disadvantage from being treated “very badly” by the WTO for many years and that the Geneva-based body needs to “change their ways.”

(Reuters)

Continue Reading

News

Michael Cohen Secretly Taped Trump Discussing Payment to Playboy Model

Published

on

 President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Mr. Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Mr. Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

The F.B.I. seized the recording this year during a raid on Mr. Cohen’s office. The Justice Department is investigating Mr. Cohen’s involvement in paying women to tamp down embarrassing news stories about Mr. Trump ahead of the 2016 election. Prosecutors want to know whether that violated federal campaign finance laws, and any conversation with Mr. Trump about those payments would be of keen interest to them.

The recording’s existence further draws Mr. Trump into questions about tactics he and his associates used to keep aspects of his personal and business life a secret. And it highlights the potential legal and political danger that Mr. Cohen represents to Mr. Trump. Once the keeper of many of Mr. Trump’s secrets, Mr. Cohen is now seen as increasingly willing to consider cooperating with prosecutors.

Rudolph W. Giuliani, Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer, confirmed in a telephone conversation on Friday that Mr. Trump had discussed the payments with Mr. Cohen on the tape but said the payment was ultimately never made. He said the recording was less than two minutes and demonstrated that the president had done nothing wrong.

“Nothing in that conversation suggests that he had any knowledge of it in advance,” Mr. Giuliani said, adding that Mr. Trump had directed Mr. Cohen that if he were to make a payment related to the woman, write a check, rather than sending cash, so it could be properly documented.

“In the big scheme of things, it’s powerful exculpatory evidence,” Mr. Giuliani.

Mr. Cohen’s lawyers discovered the recording as part of their review of the seized materials and shared it with Mr. Trump’s lawyers, according to three people briefed on the matter.

“We have nothing to say on this matter,” Mr. Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny J. Davis, said when asked about the tape.

(New York Times)

Continue Reading

News

The US is a whole lot richer because of trade with Europe, regardless of whether EU is friend or ‘foe’

Published

on

Greg Wright, University of California, Merced

President Donald Trump recently questioned the value of the long-standing United States-Europe alliance. When asked to identify his “biggest foe globally,” he declared: “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade.”

This view is consistent with his recent turn against trade with Europe but ignores the immense benefits that Americans have reaped due to the strong economic and military alliance between the U.S. and Europe – benefits that include nothing less than unprecedented peace and prosperity.

As such, Trump’s trade war with Europe and his hostility toward broader Western alliances such as NATO portend a future of diminished standards of living – as a direct result of less trade – and greater global conflict – indirectly due to reduced economic integration. In the words of columnist Robert Kagan, “things will not be ok.”

Some of my research focuses on the impact of increased international trade on U.S. standards of living, which I show are causally linked during the late 20th century. Most of the trade in this period occurred among rich nations and was dominated by the U.S.-Europe relationship.

By calling Europe a “foe,” Trump makes clear that he simply doesn’t understand why rich countries trade with one another, which, to be fair, is something that also puzzled economists for many years.

Why rich countries trade

Though in some ways it seems obvious why the U.S. and Europe trade with one another – some might enjoy Parmigiana from Italy, while others prefer Wisconsin cheddar – economists initially had trouble explaining exactly why there was so much trade among rich countries. Surely, they thought, the U.S. can produce good quality cheese at a cost that is similar to producers in Italy, and vice versa, so why would we need to go abroad to satisfy our palettes?

In 1979, economist Paul Krugman provided a clear answer that would eventually win him the Nobel Prize in economics. The first part of his answer was simple but important and boils down to the fact that consumers benefit from having a wide range of product varieties available to them, even if they are only small variations on the same item.

For instance, in 2016 the top U.S. exports to the EU were aircraft (US$38.5 billion), machinery ($29.4 billion) and pharmaceutical products ($26.4 billion). The top imports from the EU seem almost identical: machinery ($64.9 billion), pharmaceutical products ($55.2 billion) and vehicles ($54.6 billion). Although the product categories clearly overlap, there are important differences in the types of pharmaceuticals and machinery that are sold in each market. Consumers benefit from having all these options available to them.

The second part of Krugman’s answer was that, by producing for both markets, companies in Europe and the U.S. could reap greater economies of scale in production and lower their prices as a result. This has been found to indeed be what happens when countries trade. And more recent research has shown that increased foreign competition can also lower domestic prices.

These benefits have been quantified. For instance, the gains to the U.S. from new foreign product varieties and lower prices over the period 1992 to 2005 were equal to about one percent of U.S. GDP – or about $100 billion.

In short, Krugman’s answer emphasized the extent to which international trade between equals increases the overall size of the economic pie. And no pie has ever grown larger than the combined economies of the U.S. and Europe, which now constitute half of global GDP.

Pfizer Inc. is headquartered in New York. Both the U.S. and the EU import and export pharmaceuticals.
AP Photo/Richard Drew

Largest trading partner

The European Union is the largest U.S. trading partner in terms of its total bilateral trade and has been for the past several decades.

Overall, the U.S. imported $592 billion in goods and services from the EU in 2016 and exported $501 billion, which represents about 19 percent of total U.S. trade and also represents about 19 percent of American GDP.

A key feature of this trade is that almost a third of it happens within individual companies. In other words, it reflects multinational companies shipping products to themselves in order to serve their local market, or as inputs into local production. This type of trade is critical as it serves as the backbone of a vast network of business investments on both sides of the Atlantic, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs.

It is also a network that propels the global economy: the EU or U.S. serves as the primary trading partner for nearly every country on Earth.

A ship to shore crane prepares to load a shipping container onto a container ship in Savannah, Ga.
AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

Shipping and new institutions

The U.S.-Europe trade relationship also laid the groundwork for the modern system of international trade via two distinct innovations: new shipping technologies and new global institutions.

On the technological front, the introduction of the standard shipping container in the 1960s set off the so-called second wave of globalization. This under-appreciated technology was conceived by the U.S Army during the 1950s and was perfected over Atlantic shipping routes. In short, by simply standardizing the size and shape of shipping containers, and building port infrastructure and ships to move them, massive economies of scale in shipping were realized. As a result, today container ships the size of small cities are routed via sophisticated logistics to huge deepwater ports around the world.

These routes eventually made it profitable for other countries to invest in the large-scale port infrastructure that could handle modern container ships. This laid the groundwork for the eventual growth of massive container terminals throughout Asia, which now serve as the hubs of the modern global supply chain.

At the same time that these new technologies were reducing the physical costs of doing business around the world, the U.S. and Europe were also creating institutions to define new international rules for trade and finance. Perhaps the most important one was the post-war General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs, which eventually became the World Trade Organization, creating the first rules-based multilateral trade regime. A large body of research shows that these agreements have increased trade and, more importantly, raised incomes around the world.

Overall, these advancements contributed to the subsequent enrichment of hundreds of millions of workers in Asia, Latin America and Africa by helping to integrate them into the global economy.

And when the world gets richer, the U.S. also benefits for many of the same reasons noted above: demand for U.S. products increases as incomes rise around the world, as does the variety of products the U.S. can import, and the prices of these goods typically fall.

A cartoon Trump blimp flies as a protesters speak out against Trump’s visit to London.
AP Photo/Matt Dunham

Taking the long view

But it appears that President Trump sees the U.S. on the losing end of a failed relationship.

It is unsurprising that tensions with Europe have come to the forefront over perceived imbalances in trade, particularly for a president who is not afraid to take long-time allies to task.

This is because U.S. trade policy has arguably been overly optimistic in recent years, particularly with respect to China, whose accession to the WTO proved to be much more disruptive to labor markets around the world than was predicted. Previous U.S. administrations preferred patience over confrontation, leading to a perhaps inevitable backlash that has spilled into other relationships, such as the one with Europe.

However, the U.S. relationship with Europe is clearly different, primarily because it is longstanding and has been largely one of equals. But also because their shared values mean that there are many non-economic issues — such as the spread of liberal democracy and the promotion of human rights — that get advanced by the close economic ties.

It’s important to not underestimate what is at stake if the U.S.-Europe alliance is allowed to falter. Americans are likely in the midst of the most peaceful era in world history, and global economic integration, led from the beginning by the U.S. and Europe, has been a key contributing factor. Global extreme poverty is also at its lowest point ever, again in large part due to globalization.

The ConversationThese are the byproducts and legacies of seven decades of expanding international trade and should not be taken for granted.

Greg Wright, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of California, Merced

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Continue Reading

Popular

Copyright © 2018 News This Second