From washingtonpost.com

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-national-security-advisers-warned-him-not-to-congratulate-putin-he-did-it-anyway/2018/03/20/22738ebc-2c68-11e8-8ad6-fbc50284fce8_story.html

Trump did not follow specific warnings from his national security advisers Tuesday when he congratulated Russian President Vladi­mir Putin on his reelection — including a section in his briefing materials in all-capital letters stating “DO NOT CONGRATULATE,” according to officials familiar with the call.

Trump also chose not to heed talking points from aides instructing him to condemn the recent poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain with a powerful nerve agent, a case that both the British and U.S. governments have blamed on Moscow.

The president’s conversation with Putin, which Trump described as a “very good call,”

NYTimes: Trump Assails Mueller, Drawing Rebukes From Republicans

Trump Assails Mueller, Drawing Rebukes From Republicans https://nyti.ms/2GINHmV

lashing out at what he characterized as a partisan investigation and raising questions about whether he might seek to shut it down.

Mr. Trump has long suggested that allegations that he or his campaign conspired with Russia to influence the election were a “hoax” and part of a “witch hunt,” but until this weekend he had largely heeded the advice of lawyers who counseled him not to directly attack Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel, for fear of aggravating prosecutors.

Now as Mr. Mueller extends his inquiry with a subpoena to the Trump Organization evidently in search of business ties with Russia, the president appears to be losing his patience. While his lawyers had reassured him that the investigation would wrap up by Thanksgiving, then Christmas, then early in the new year, it seems increasingly clear that Mr. Mueller is not about to conclude his inquiry any time soon.

From cnn.com

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/18/opinions/trump-mccabe-firing-loyalty-opinion-obeidallah/index.html

firing of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe on Friday night felt like something you’d see in a third-world dictatorship, you aren’t alone.

It reminded many of authoritarian leaders in other nations who purge those from the government who have not shown absolute loyalty or who have dared to publicly contradict them.

In a vacuum, Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ firing of McCabe approximately 26 hours before he would be eligible for early retirement benefits could turn out to be above reproach.

From cnn.com

https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/03/politics/trump-maralago-remarks/index.html

Trump also praised China’s President Xi Jinping for recently consolidating power and extending his potential tenure, musing he wouldn’t mind making such a maneuver himself.

“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great,” Trump said. “And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

Chinese New Year Heralds New Restrictions For Christians

http://www.crossrhythms.co.uk/articles/life/Chinese_New_Year_Heralds_New_Restrictions_For_Christians/62107/p1/
Under the new regulations even established sites for religious activities must be ‘in harmony with the needs of urban planning’. This means that even state-controlled churches are subject to review. The rules give local government officials the power to decide whether churches should be recognised by the state and to forbid the use of venues as places of worship.

The first indications that the clampdown is spreading to officially recognised churches came last December, when the authorities demolished a 20-year-old Catholic church in Shanxi, even though it held authorised legal permits.

Since June last year, officials have required government-run Three-Self Churches to display the national flag and sing the national anthem at their services.

China has become a country of key concern for Release International. Persecution has grown under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, as the Communist Party tightens its control over the church.

Cross removals

China’s leaders are worried about the rapid spread of Christianity in their country. The revival of the Protestant church in Zhejiang has led to a wave of 1500 crosses being pulled down from church roofs and some churches being demolished. The authorities say this is to ‘contain the overheated growth of Christianity’. And the cross removals are now being extended to other provinces.

Christians who have launched legal protests over the cross removals have been beaten up and arrested. Some Christian leaders have been sentenced to ten years imprisonment for mounting a legal challenge.

Many human rights lawyers, including Christians, have also been arrested. They have been denied visits by their families or legal representation.