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Trump, Mexican President Peña Nieto to meet in Washington

Mexico's President Enrique Pena Nieto delivers a message after
         U.S. Republican candidate Donald Trump won an unexpected victory in the presidential election, at Los Pinos presidential residence
         in Mexico City, Mexico, November 9, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso - RTX2SWMF

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ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: President Trump said today that he will begin to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement when he meets with the leaders of Canada and Mexico. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto will be coming to Washington on January 31st. Pena Nieto says he wants an open dialogue with Mr. Trump who’s vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and make Mexico pay for it.

For more analysis of this meeting, I am joined by Skype from Mexico City by “Washington Post” reporter Josh Partlow.

So, Josh, what is the biggest issue facing the Mexican people as these two presidents meet?

JOSH PARTLOW, WASHINGTON POST:
I think the biggest issue that will affect most Mexicans is the trade issue. You know, President Trump has said he’s going to scrap the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA, and for Mexicans, that’s a huge deal. The economic changes that have happened here over the past two decades have been pretty extreme and that’s something they don’t want to lose.

So, I think the wall while it may have a more symbolic or — symbolic impact, the trade issues are really the ones that strike fear into the heart of the government here.

STEWART:
Let’s talk about that Mexican wall that Mr. Trump says he’s going to build and claims he is going to get Mexican pay for it. Where has the Mexican president come down on this?

PARTLOW:
They’ve been really clear all along that they’re not going to pay for the wall. That’s one thing they have been consistent with. The Mexican government has said that over and over, and that Mexican President Pena Nieto had said that over and over, including just a couple of days ago.

So, that’s something that I don’t think at least — you know, I don’t think that’s going to change.

STEWART:
Pena Nieto’s approval rating has been in a downward spiral, at least at 12 percent by one account. How much of that has to do with how he’s handled things at home, and how much of that has to do with how he’s handled Mr. Trump thus far?

PARTLOW:
How he’s handled Mr. Trump has definitely given his approval ratings another kick downwards. I mean, he hasn’t been popular here for a couple of years. There have been a lot of scandals here in Mexico during his administration, which has lasted about four years now. The economy is not doing very well. And he’s not very popular. He has not been popular for a long time.

But the Trump visit, particularly in August, was a big deal for a lot of Mexicans. President Pena Nieto invited Donald Trump to come visit while he was still a candidate. And they stood side-by-side and it was seen by many here as something that legitimized Donald Trump’s campaign, even after Trump had said numerous insults against Mexicans. So, that was seen — that was something that really was unpopular for a lot of Mexicans.

STEWART: Mexico’s foreign minister said this about Mexico’s position in this negotiation about trade, that Mexico will negotiate with, quote, “great self-confidence, without fear, knowing the economic, social, and political importance that Mexico has for the United States.” That framing is very different than what we’ve been hearing. Is there truth in that, that we’re so intertwined, that Mexico can come to these trade negotiations from a power — a position of power in some ways?

PARTLOW: Yes, I think it there is definitely truth that the two economies are extremely interconnected. There is something like $500 billion of trade each year, back and forth, between the two countries. But, you know, it’s also clear that Mexico is the weaker partner here. And they have a lot more to lose than the United States does.

I don’t think they have no leverage. They can impose tariffs on American goods, coming too Mexico just as easily as the United States can do that to Mexican exports going to the United States.

STEWART: Joining us from Mexico City, Josh Partlow from the “Washington Post” — thank you.

PARTLOW: Thank you.

The post Trump, Mexican President Peña Nieto to meet in Washington appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Eastern European countries back NATO support against Russia

U.S. army soldiers attend an official welcoming ceremony for U.S.
         troops deployed to Poland as part of NATO build-up in Eastern Europe in Zagan, Poland, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
         TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RTSVJLW

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ALISON STEWART, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: To discuss the security situation in Europe, I am joined from Warsaw by Paul Jones, the American ambassador to Poland. He’s a career foreign service officer appointed by President Obama in 2015 and is staying on with the Trump administration.

Ambassador, what is your reaction to the Kremlin calling Operation Atlantic Resolve a provocation and, quote, “a threat”?

PAUL JONES, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO POLAND: Well, Alison, you know, these decisions have been taken over a course of time, and especially after Russian’s invasion of Ukraine and its occupation of Ukrainian territory, which led to a deterioration of the security environment here, and a lot of anxiety from some of our allies.

And so, our military together with our allied militaries took some prudent, took — made some prudent recommendations to political leadership. And that includes this deployment of a U.S. armored brigade combat team first to Poland and then to the region.

STEWART: Ambassador, why commit troops specifically to Poland?

JONES: Well, Poland is really the hub of this deployment. So, these forces, about 3,500, 4,000 soldiers with heavy armor will — are deploying from Poland because of Poland’s geographic location. And they will be headquartered here in Poland. But they will also be in the Baltic States. They’ll be in Hungary, they’ll be in Romania and Bulgaria. All of those countries have requested this support.

STEWART: Will other NATO members bordering Russia add deterrent forces?

JONES: You know, this is a bilateral deployment, this particular deployment that is happening right now. Later in the spring, we will have the NATO contingents come in, a U.S. battalion will come to Poland, British, German and Canadian battalions will go to the Baltic countries, but this is really supported by all 28 allies one way or the other. And even within this region, Poland, for example, is contributing to the security of other countries along this side of NATO because it’s the largest country and the one with the most capable military itself.

STEWART: We have a new president in the United States, one who has questioned the United States role within NATO. Is there any concern there that the U.S. troops will be asked to come home — to return home by the Trump administration?

JONES: Well, I think the government and the president of Poland are looking forward to having a detailed — there’s been some contact already. But they’re looking forward to having a detailed conversation about the security in this region and about how the United States and Poland — I mean, Poland sees the United States as its, you know, primary strategic ally. But the whole alliance can ensure security in this region.

STEWART: One of Mr. Trump’s criticisms of NATO is that all the member nations are supposed to devote 2 percent to their GDP to defense. Only five nations do that. The United States and Poland being two of the five.

Is it — is there anything that you and other diplomats can do to create more equity in that situation? And does it ever cause tensions between the member nations?

JONES: You know, as you say, Poland is contributing its 2 percent and actually is involved in a broader military modernization program, which includes very significant purchases of military equipment, and weaponry from the United States as part of that. So — but I think you see over all, a growing sense within the alliance that we have to pick up the pace of every ally reaching that 2 percent and every ally contributing.

And we see that, really, in what’s happening in this part of the alliance. And as I say, Poland is a big contributor to that and frankly, you know, wants to be part of not only the contributions militarily but the policy discussion going forward in — you know, with the new administration in Washington and also in the future meetings of the alliance.

STEWART: Ambassador Paul Jones from Warsaw, Poland — thank you for being with us.

JONES: Thank you. It’s been a pleasure, Alison.

The post Eastern European countries back NATO support against Russia appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

U.S. NATO troops surge in Europe after Russian aggression

AtlanticResolve

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CHRIS LIVESAY, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND: In the port city of Bremerhaven on Germany’s North Sea coast, approximately 4-thousand American troops and 25-hundred vehicles began arriving in early January. Known as the Iron Brigade, they’re from the Army’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 4th Infantry Division, based in Fort Carson, Colorado.

This is the largest deployment of U-S forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War 25 years ago. It’s part of the European Reassurance Initiative and Operation Atlantic Resolve — a three-and-a-half billion dollar effort paid for by the United States to reinforce NATO.

MAJ. GEN. TIMOTHY MCGUIRE: I am very proud that we’re a member of NATO.

CHRIS LIVESAY: At the start of the deployment, Army Major General Tim McGuire joked by rushing to meet the deadline set by the Obama Administration, his units weren’t able to change their vehicle camouflage.

MAJ. GEN. TIMOTHY MCGUIRE: To get them here as scheduled in January, just do not have time to paint them green.

CHRIS LIVESAY: But the Army is anxious to deliver a serious message: to demonstrate to allies and adversaries alike the U.S. is determined to assist NATO in defending Eastern Europe from potential aggression from Russia.

MAJ. GEN. TIMOTHY MCGUIRE: The combat power here is a tangible sign of the continued commitment of the United States of America. It is one that enables us to work with our allies and send a message that we remain committed.

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE: You’ve got tanks here…

CHRIS LIVESAY: Brigade commander Colonel Christopher Norrie describes his unit as “lethal.”

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE: So we’re an armored brigade combat team. So as part of that team we have tanks, Bradleys, we have indirect fire systems, Paladins, we have a whole range of vehicles that make up our team here.

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE:
You can see now, you’ve got one ship here, one ship there, both offloading all of our equipment in preparation for onward movement.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Norrie’s troops spent the past year training for this mission.

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE: What’s up iron strong!

CHRIS LIVESAY: Algenon Lewis and Thomas Rodriguez are Army mechanics.

PVT THOMAS RODRIGUEZ, U.S. ARMY: This is my first time in Europe, pretty excited to be here. Going to miss home, but it’s also nice to be here helping out our NATO allies.

CHRIS LIVESAY: These soldiers concede outside of their families few folks back home may know about their assignment.

PVT THOMAS RODRIGUEZ, U.S. ARMY: Probably not. Probably not, honestly. I don’t think they do.

SGT. ALGENON LEWIS, U.S. ARMY: I don’t think a lot of them know what NATO actually does.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Under NATO, the U.S., Canada, and 26 other nations pledge to defend each other in case of attack. In 2014, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. But that sent jitters across Europe, especially in the five NATO countries bordering Russian territory, Poland, Finland, and the former Soviet Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

CHRIS LIVESAY: After international sanctions were imposed on Russia, then-President Obama pledged to beef up American military presence in Europe which had shrunk from its Cold War level, over 300-thousand troops to 120-thousand in 2000 and 65-thousand in 2015.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Six days after arriving in Germany, Colonel Norrie’s military convoy reached the first of those nervous border states, Poland, where U-S troops will begin the first of their nine month rotations planned for the next seven years. This is the first large-scale continuous presence of U.S. troops in Poland.

CHRIS LIVESAY: This army video shows the symbolic moment a Polish flag was added to the lead U.S. vehicle. Colonel Norrie was officially welcomed by Polish Major General Jaroslaw Mika.

MAJOR GENERAL JAROSLAW MIKA: It is important for security not only for Poland, for Europe, and for all the world.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Why should the U.S. care about what is happening so far away here in Poland?

MAJOR GENERAL JAROSLAW MIKA:
Common cooperation, common training, and all these things provide more security for all countries. You have to be prepared for a war, yeah?

CHRIS LIVESAY: Prepared for a war?

MAJOR GENERAL JAROSLAW MIKA:
You would like to avoid any war, but you have to do a lot of training to be prepared.
CHRIS LIVESAY: Training is what these troops will be doing. Their Bradley Fighting vehicles transported from Bremerhaven by train were positioned in the snowy fields of Poland in temperatures close to zero degrees.

TROOPS: It’s cold! It’s beautiful, though.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Some American troops will remain in Poland. Others will be sent farther East for training and war exercises in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. Pre-positioning equipment and ammunition in Eastern Europe can reduce the time needed for additional troops to deploy, if ever needed. Other NATO members like the U.K., France, and Denmark, are deploying more troops to Eastern Europe as well.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Many NATO member states are boosting their military spending, but only five countries, including the U.S., the U.K., and Poland, meet the target of spending two percent of their Gross Domestic Product on defense. The rest, including France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Italy, spend less.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Overall, the U.S. accounts for three-quarters of NATO’s military expenditures.

CHRIS LIVESAY: In a formal ceremony in the western Polish city of Zagan, where some of the new American troops will be based, Poland’s prime minister and defense minister welcomed the military help, saying it would help ensure freedom, independence, and peace.

CHRIS LIVESAY: While Operation Atlantic Resolve might reassure leaders in Eastern Europe, it is angering Russia, which has repeatedly denounced the buildup along its borders as a provocation that demands countermeasures. “We consider this a threat to us,” a Kremlin spokesman said as the troops arrived.

CHRIS LIVESAY: The Russian military has been conducting military exercises of its own and last October, near the borders of Poland and Lithuania, Russia placed missiles that could be armed with nuclear warheads and reach the German Capital of Berlin.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Russia has called this build up a provocation. Is this a provocation?

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE: We are here to deter, and a part of that deterrence is putting this formation together as part of a really exceptionally strong team of teams. I would view it as a deterrent, and if I was looking at it through the lens of a potential aggressor, I would say it’s an exceptionally capable deterrent.

CHRIS LIVESAY: Russia has even recently aligned missiles that are capable of being mounted with nuclear warheads along the border. What are you doing to prepare for that?

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE: We’ve trained for every eventuality. I mean, the soldiers that we have in this formation, the capability by battalion here throughout the brigade, they’re ready for the full range of any kind of a threat. Our commitment to our allies is very very important. Right now we are continuing to build combat power here in Western Poland to rapidly mass our formation and then demonstrate that we are ready to fight.

CHRIS LIVESAY: In the towns and countryside of Poland, we found mixed feelings about what Operation Atlantic Resolve would mean. This Polish truck driver says he’s already comfortable with the American presence. After all, Poland is used to less friendly foreign troops dating back to the Germans who invaded in World War Two or the Soviets who occupied and oppressed Poland for decades after that.

TRUCKER: Deutschland, Ruskies.

CHRIS LIVESAY: “First it was the Germans, then the Russians, and now the Americans are in Poland,” he says.

CHRIS LIVESAY: And is that okay? Is that a good thing?

TRUCKER: “It is good,” he says. “We need protection.”

CHRIS LIVESAY: But other Poles worry the deterrent force might too easily be drawn into a fight.

TRUCKER: “The troops are for war. They didn’t come here to fish, right?”

CHRIS LIVESAY: This man works for a small communications company in Zagan.

WORKER: “Maybe it’s politics? I suppose it’s politics. Ordinary people, we are afraid. We are afraid.”

CHRIS LIVESAY: Another element of uncertainty in all of this: These American troops now have a new Commander-In-Chief, President Trump, who has voiced skepticism about NATO and has signaled he wants closer ties with Russia.

CHRIS LIVESAY: In an interview with British and German reporters a few days before his inauguration, President Trump said “NATO is very important to me,” but again called it “obsolete, because it wasn’t taking care of terror,” and said that “a lot of these countries aren’t paying what they’re supposed to be paying, which I think is very unfair.”

CHRIS LIVESAY: At a press conference before the Trump inauguration, Colonel Norrie was asked whether he expects orders to turn around and go home.

BRIGADE COMMANDER COLONEL CHRISTOPHER NORRIE: We’ve been training for this operation, for this mission for a very, very long time. And our arrival here just demonstrates how fully committed our nation and our army is to providing that credible deterrent force here and enabling security in a vital part of the world.

The post U.S. NATO troops surge in Europe after Russian aggression appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

People across the world rally for women’s rights

Demonstrators take part in the Women's March to protest Donald
         Trump's inauguration as the 45th president of the United States near the U.S. Capitol in Washington, January 21, 2017.
         REUTERS/Lucas Jackson - RTSWQJD

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IVETTE FELICIANO, PBS NEWSHOUR CORRESPONDENT: The first marchers began arriving near the Capitol building before dawn. There were women and men of all ages from all over the country, a mix of ethnic, religious, and class backgrounds. Among the many first-time demonstrators was Janet Chen (ph), who brought her eight-year-old daughter, Molly. They’re worried about the Republican rollback of Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.

MOLLY CHEN, EIGHT-YEAR-OLD: I have a heart defect, and I want to get health insurance when I’m older, but I might not be able to.

JANET CHEN, DEMONSTRATOR: I think it’s important that the next generation of little girls stand up for women’s rights and realize there’s a real threat to women’s rights in this country right now with the incoming administration.

IVETTE FELICIANO: Debbie Snowdon (ph) came from North Carolina to support abortion rights and funding for Planned Parenthood.

DEBBIE SNOWDON, DEMONSTRATOR: It’s really important to me that they’re going to probably reverse Roe v. Wade, take away abortion rights in this country. I’m very concerned. I’m at an age when I can remember us fighting for those rights, and it’s really hard to believe we’re in danger of losing them.

IVETTE FELICIANO: While the overriding message we heard from people here was anti-Trump, the issues motivating marchers were as diverse as the crowds here.

Anjum Khan (ph), from Maryland, said she’s concerned about Muslim rights and Trump’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the country.

ANJUM KHAN, DEMONSTRATOR: When he said he’s going to eradicate Islamic terrorism, that’s wonderful! Like, yes, please do that. But in doing that, don’t trample on my rights.

IVETTE FELICIANO: Rohima Miah (ph) has marched on Washington before for civil rights and was among the protestors at the inauguration yesterday.

ROHIMA MIAH, DEMONSTRATOR: As a black woman with a 30-year-old black son that lives in New York City, it should be an issue for all people — that our children are safe.

IVETTE FELICIANO: Judy Ames (ph), a gay rights activist since the AIDS epidemic started in the 1980s, was here with a group of gay musicians.

JUDY AMES, DEMONSTRATOR: We just don’t think that women’s rights and civil rights and everybody’s rights should be just trampled on and thrown away. It’s ridiculous.

IVETTE FELICIANO: The march’s wide-ranging policy platform advocated for economic justice for women, keeping abortion access safe and legal, immigration reform, police accountability, union rights, sex worker rights, and environmental protection.

RHEA SUH, NRDC: Women matter.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And we will not be shy about standing up to what matters to us.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And here’s what matters to me: that my daughter inherits a world where a healthy environment is a basic right for all of us.

IVETTE FELICIANO: March leaders, like actress America Ferrera, whose parents are from Honduras, said their rights are under attack.

AMERICA FERRERA, ACTRESS: We are America!

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

And we are here to stay. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance.

IVETTE FELICIANO: Long-time political activist Gloria Steinem called on the crowd to use their “people power” to keep a close eye on the new president.

GLORIA STEINEM, POLITICAL ACTIVIST: Trump and his handlers have found a fox for every chicken coop in Washington. And his Twitter finger must not become a trigger finger.

IVETTE FELICIANO: Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, the head of the group, Moms Rising, called for equal pay for equal work.

KRISTIN ROWE-FINKBEINER, MOMS RISING: Women make 80 cents to a man’s dollar. Moms earn only 71 cents to a man’s dollar, and moms of color earn as low as 46 cents to a man’s dollar.

IVETTE FELICIANO: And activist filmmaker Michael Moore had this word of advice for the assembled women.

MICHAEL MOORE, ACTIVIST FILMMAKER: You have to run for office! You! Yes, you!

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: Even if you’re not sitting in the White House, even if you’re not a member of the United States Congress, even if you don’t run a big corporate super PAC, you have the power! And we the people have the power.

IVETTE FELICIANO: After the speeches, the protesters intended to march about two and a half miles from near the Capitol, along the National Mall, to the White House. But they were unable to do that due to the size of their crowd.

The same thing happened in Chicago, where 150,000 people turned up for a rally in Chicago’s Grant Park — so many more than expected. In New York, some 200,000 people rallied outside the United Nations before marching through Manhattan in support of human and civil rights. In Los Angeles, tens of thousands of demonstrators converged on downtown’s Pershing Square.

Overseas, thousands of Trump protesters took to the streets of London. In Paris, thousands marched near the Eiffel Tower carrying signs saying: “We have our eyes on you, Mr. Trump.” Among the thousands of trump protesters in Sydney, Australia, one woman said, “We want to send the sign to the women in the U.S. that we are all in this together.”

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