Trump calls media ‘enemy of the American people’

Donald Trump ratcheted up his attacks on the media Friday, describing the press as “the enemy of the American people!” in a tweet.

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Shortly after landing at his holiday home in Mar-a-Lago, Florida – where he is spending a third consecutive weekend – the president lashed out in 140 characters.

“The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Trump wrote.

The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017

Trump had tweeted an earlier post which targeted the New York Times, CNN, NBC “and many more” media – and ended with the exclamation “SICK!”

But he swiftly deleted that missive before reposting the definitive version – adding two more “enemies” to his blacklist.

Many US presidents have criticised the press, but Trump’s language has more closely echoed criticism leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.

Trump, who regularly accuses the media of overstating his setbacks, also has accused journalists of failing to show sufficient respect for his accomplishments – including in their coverage of a rambling press conference on Thursday in which he voiced a litany of grievances against their industry.

Many reporters were taken aback by the ranting press conference described by some as bizarre, but Trump echoed the words of praise he got from one rightwing commentator and insisted that Thursday’s outing had been a bravura performance.

“‘One of the most effective press conferences I’ve ever seen!’ says Rush Limbaugh. Many agree. Yet FAKE MEDIA calls it differently! Dishonest,” Trump wrote on Twitter about an hour after the earlier tweet.

The 70-year-old built his campaign on criticizing the press as biased.

On Thursday, he launched a long diatribe at a grievance-filled news conference, in which he blamed the media for his one-month-old administration’s problems.

In four tumultuous weeks, Trump has seen his national security adviser ousted, a cabinet nominee withdraw, a centerpiece immigration policy fail in the courts and a tidal wave of damaging leaks.

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Philippine Church in ‘show of force’ against drug killings

More than 6,000 people have died since Duterte took office seven months ago and ordered an unprecedented crime war that has drawn global criticism for alleged human rights abuses, but is popular with many in the mainly Catholic nation.

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In the biggest rally yet against the killings, members of one of the nation’s oldest and most powerful institutions chanted prayers and sang hymns as they marched to condemn a “spreading culture of violence”. 

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“We have to stand up. Somehow this is already a show of force by the faithful that they don’t like these extrajudicial killings,” Manila bishop Broderick Pabillo told AFP before addressing the crowd. 

“I am alarmed and angry at what’s happening because this is something that is regressive. It does not show our humanity.”

Duterte, 71, has attacked the Church as being “full of shit” and “the most hypocritical institution” for speaking out against a campaign that he says would save generations of Filipinos from the drug menace. 

About eight in 10 Filipinos are Catholic, making the former Spanish colony of more than 100 million people Asia’s bastion of Christianity. 

The Church helped lead the revolution that toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986 and a 2001 uprising against then-president Joseph Estrada that saw him ousted over corruption charges. 

The Church had initially declined to voice opposition publicly to Duterte’s drug war but, as the death toll of mostly poor people mounted, it began late last year to call for the killings to end.

Saturday’s event, called the “Walk for Life”, gathered 20,000 people, according to the organisers. Manila police estimated the crowd at 10,000.

Filipino men are rounded up and have zip ties on their wrists following a police raid at an alleged drug den as part of the continuing “War on Drugs.”AAP

‘Tears and fears’

“It is obvious that there is a spreading culture of violence. It is saddening to see, sometimes it drives me to tears how violent words seem so natural and ordinary,” said Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle, the country’s highest-ranking Church official. 

“In your surroundings, in your neighbourhood, there are so many lives that must be saved. They will not be saved by mere discussion.” 

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had called on the faithful to gather at the Quirino Grandstand, where Duterte held a huge pre-election rally, from 4:30am. 

“Why dawn? It’s because it is during these hours that we find bodies on the streets or near trash cans. Dawn, which is supposed to be the hour of a new start, is becoming an hour of tears and fears,” Archbishop Socrates Villegas, president of the bishops’ conference, told the crowd. 

Villegas this month issued the Church’s strongest statement against the drug war, warning against a “reign of terror” in poor communities. 

Among those who attended Saturday’s event was Senator Leila de Lima, a former human rights commissioner who is one of Duterte’s most vocal opponents.

The government on Friday filed charges against her for allegedly running a drug trafficking ring using criminals in the country’s largest prison when she was justice secretary in the previous administration. 

De Lima, who has repeatedly insisted the charges against her are trumped up to silence her and intimidate other Duterte critics, said she attended Saturday’s event as a show of solidarity.

“For as long as I can, I will continue to fight. They cannot silence me,” De Lima, who is expecting to be arrested in the coming days, told AFP.

Bone cancer survivor Lucy Castillo, 56, turned up in a wheelchair along with dozens of other people with disabilities. 

“When I was in so much pain, I could have taken my life but I did not. Only God can take it,” she told AFP. 

“I was diagnosed 40 years ago but I was given a chance to live. I want to give these drug addicts another chance.”

Friends save Qld shark victim’s life

Three Queenslanders are being hailed as lifesavers after plucking their mate from the water and desperately applying a tourniquet to his seriously wounded leg after he was bitten by a shark.

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The officer in charge of the Cardwell ambulance station, Martin Taylor, has praised the quick actions of the trio after their friend was attacked while spearfishing about 10.20am on Saturday.

Mr Taylor said the 26-year-old was bitten when he jumped into the water at the popular fishing spot of Eva Rock near Hinchinbrook Island, off the coast of Cardwell in far north Queensland.

“From what I’ve been told he was in the water, he’s been hit, they’ve heard a noise and they’ve dragged him in as soon as they’ve realised what’s gone on,” Mr Taylor said.

He said the three friends pulled him into their boat and one of them, an ex-military serviceman with first aid training, tied a tourniquet high up on the man’s thigh to stop the massive blood loss.

“The initial actions by the three friends have definitely saved this gentleman’s life,” Mr Taylor said.

He said ambulance officers treated the man at the scene before taking him to the local sporting field to await a rescue helicopter, which then transported him to a Cairns hospital.

The man, who has been awake and talking, remains in a stable but critical condition.

Cairns ambulance officer Neil Noble said they believed his chances of survival were high.

“We believe that he may have a very positive outcome,” he said.

“He’s been stabilised by the resuscitation team in the emergency department and he’s been rushed up to theatre for emergency surgery.”

There are unconfirmed reports the shark was either a bull shark or a tiger shark.

White House denies seeking to hamstring national security advisor

Trump, at his Mar-a-Lago getaway in Florida, was set to interview four candidates to replace Mike Flynn, the retired general who was ousted as national security advisor for deceiving Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russia’s ambassador to Washington.

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Meanwhile, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus hit the Sunday television talk shows to push back at reports of disarray at the National Security Council, the president’s main forum for decision-making about issues of national security and foreign affairs.

On Fox News Sunday, he was asked whether Trump was insisting that his controversial chief political strategist Steve Bannon play a major role in the NSC, reportedly a source of concern to candidates for the national security advisor position.

“The answer to that is no,” Priebus said.

Job Search

Trump’s search for a replacement has narrowed to acting national security advisor Keith Kellogg, a retired three star general; former US ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton; Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster, an expert on counter-insurgency warfare; and Lieutenant General Robert Caslen, the superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point, the White House said.

Another leading candidate, retired general and former CIA chief David Petraeus, is no longer in the running.

The president told reporters on Saturday that he would make a decision over his new national security advisor “over the next couple of days.”

Retired General Jim Jones, who served as national security advisor under former president Barack Obama, said the post requires a strategic thinker who enjoys direct access to the president and the confidence of key cabinet members.

“That relationship (with the president) has got to be a very strong and very direct,” Jones said on CNN’s State of the Union. 

‘Total and complete say’

Robert Harward, a retired vice admiral and former Navy SEAL, turned down Trump’s offer of the national security advisor job earlier in the week, citing financial and family reasons.

Media reports said he was concerned he wouldn’t be able to bring in his own team to staff the NSC. Other reports said he was put off by apparent chaos in the White House. 

Priebus said the staffing issue was never raised in the talks with Harward.

“The president has said very clearly that the new (national security advisor) will have total and complete say over the makeup of the NSC and all of the components of the NSC, and there is no demand made by President Trump on any candidate,” he said.

Set to appear on the ABC’s Sunday talk show “This Week,” Harward dropped out at the last minute. 

With the National Security Council reeling from Flynn’s ouster, the White House delivered another shock on Friday when it abruptly dismissed the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs, Craig Deare, for criticizing Trump and his top aides, Politico reported.

However, Priebus told “Fox News Sunday” any implication that the White House wants the national security council under the control of political operatives is “fake news.”

He also dismissed a New York Times report this week that members of the Trump campaign had repeated contacts with Russian operatives during the campaign as “garbage.”

“The top levels of the intelligence community have assured me that that story is not only inaccurate, but it is grossly overstated,” he said, declining to say who had given those assurances.

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