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Senate OKs resolution against Trump’s emergency



Donald Trump Trade War
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New York, March 15: With a rebellion by 12 Republicans, the US Senate has voted against President Donald Trump’s national emergency that is criticised by his own party members as a presidential overreach.

Immediately after Thursday’s vote in the Senate controlled by his own party, Trump tweeted his threat: “VETO!”.

The veto would make the Congressional resolution against the emergency only symbolic as his opponents do not have the two-thirds majority to overturn the first veto of his presidency and he would be able to use the declaration to finance the Mexican border wall for which Congress had refused to allocate funds in the budget.

The House of Representatives had already voted for the resolution last month and it will go to Trump for his promised veto.

Democrat House Speaker Nancy Pelosi summing the opposition said: “President Trump’s emergency declaration is an unlawful power grab that does violence to the Constitution and fundamentally alters the separation of powers.”

Defying Trump’s assertion that a vote for the resolution would be supporting “crime and open border Democrats”, the 12 Republicans joined Democrats to vote for it for a tally of 59-41 signalling their disenchantment with some of his policies in a highly polarised nation.

Senator Mitt Romney, who had been the Republican Party candidate for President in 2012, said before the vote on the emergency that he was “seriously concerned” about the overreach that could lead to “abuse by future president”. He clarified, as did many others, that he was not against increased border security.

In another act of defiance, the Senate had voted to end military support by the Trump administration to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

The setbacks for Trump came while the nation awaits the report of an inquiry into whether his election campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.

His campaign chairman Paul Manafort was sentenced on Wednesday to additional prison term on charges relating to his consulting work for a pro-Russian party in Ukraine.

The House voted with near unanimity on Thursday to demand the publication of the Russian inquiry report, which the attorney general is permitted my law to withhold. Some lawmakers fear that he may block the release of sensitive portions of the report.

Unlike in India, a national emergency in the US does not lead to suspension of civil liberties or similar restrictions but is used mostly for finance-related matters or to organise aid in natural disasters. Former President Barack Obama had invoked it about 10 times.

Trump is obsessed with the wall, which he has scaled back to a series of steel slats along some sections of the Mexican border, having made it a signature pledge of his election campaign.

He says it is required to keep out illegal immigrants, human traffickers, criminals and drug smugglers and it has gained urgency with over 7,000 Central Americans who came to the frontier in a convoy earlier this year hoping to crash through and are now camped on the Mexican side.

The nation went through 35 wrenching days of a government shutdown in December and January over the wall when he refused to sign the budget because it lacked funding for it. But finally he caved in to rising opposition and agreed to a budget that reopened the government, while declaring the emergency to allow him to divert $8.6 billion for the project from elsewhere.

Before the vote he told the media: “We are going to have a very strong border very soon… And we’re going to have hundreds of miles of wall up fairly soon.”

He used the interaction to plug his campaign for immigration reforms that would switch to a merit-based system, potentially helping Indian professionals waiting for as much as a decade for green cards, but it would come at the cost of those seeking to immigrate as relatives of citizens.

He said: “We also have to change the laws. Because whether it’s visa lottery (for green cards), whether it’s chain migration (by relatives), whether it’s catch and release (of illegal immigrants), or anything else, they are horrible, horrible laws.”

By Arul Louis



Pompeo confident democracies will unite to face China’s challenge

He mentioned India’s ban on 56 Chinese apps from operating on cell phones within the country because of the threat to the country’s security.



mike pompeo

New York, July 15 : US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that he is confident that the world’s free nations will join together to face the challenges from China to India and other countries in Asia.

“I think that the whole world is coalescing around the challenge that we face (from China)… I am confident that democracies, the free nations of the world, will push back on these,” he said while replying to a question about the Chinese confrontation with India in the Ladakh region.

He said that India was “an important partner” of the US and “I have a great relationship with my Foreign Minister counterpart (S Jaishankar). We talk frequently about a broad range of issues. We talked about the conflict that they had along the border with China, we talked about the threat that emanates from the Chinese telecommunication infrastructure”.

He mentioned India’s ban on 56 Chinese apps from operating on cell phones within the country because of the threat to the country’s security.

On China’s claims to the maritime territories of Asian countries and aggressive actions there, he said that the US “will use the tools we have, we will support all countries across the world that recognise that China has violated their territorial claims, their maritime claims as well. We will provide them with assistance”.

China has maritime conflicts with Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, the Philippines, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan and has increased its aggressive conduct in the region even as its troops clashed with the Indian Army in Ladakh.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

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US undermining South China Sea stability: Foreign Ministry

Zhao stressed that China will continue to determinedly safeguard its national sovereignty and security, friendly and cooperative relations with regional countries, and the South China Sea’s peace and stability.




Zhao Lijian

BEIJING, July 14 : The United States was undermining peace and stability in the South China Sea and intended to drive a wedge between regional countries, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said here on Tuesday.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement on Monday that many Chinese maritime claims over the South China Sea were illegitimate, and the United States urged relevant countries to oppose China’s maritime claims. Pompeo added that the so-called award of the South China Sea arbitration was legally binding to both China and the Philippines.

In response, spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a news briefing that the U.S. statement disregarded the history and facts on the South China Sea issue, and violated its commitment of holding a neutral position on relevant territorial sovereignty disputes. It also violated and distorted international law, deliberately provoked territorial maritime disputes, and undermined regional stability and peace, he added.

The U.S. statement said the dotted line in the South China Sea was announced by China in 2009, which is completely untrue, Zhao said, adding that China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea were established throughout a long course of history.

He said China has exercised effective jurisdiction over relevant islands, reefs, and waters in the South China Sea for thousands of years, and as early as 1948, the Chinese government announced the dotted line in the South China Sea. This was under no doubt from any country for a long time, he said, adding that China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests in the South China Sea have sufficient historical and legal basis, which is consistent with relevant international laws and practices.

China doesn’t strive to build an “empire” in the South China Sea, always treats countries surrounding the South China Sea as equals, and always maintains the utmost restraint in safeguarding the sovereignty, rights, and interests of the South China Sea, Zhao said.

“On the contrary, the United States refused to join the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), frequently pulls out of international treaties and organizations, abides by international rules that suit its purpose, and discards those that it finds obstructive. It frequently promotes militarization of the South China Sea by dispatching large-scale, advanced warships and aircraft. The United States is the destructor and troublemaker of peace and stability in the region. The international community sees this very clearly,” Zhao said.

As for the arbitration case and the award, Zhao said China’s position is consistent, clear, and firm. The arbitral tribunal expanded its power to exercise jurisdiction, and made obvious mistakes in the determination of facts and the application of laws, which was questioned by many countries.

The U.S. hyped up the South China Sea arbitration for their own political agenda, which was abusing the international law of the sea, and China would never accept it, he said.

According to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) reached by China and ASEAN in 2002, China is always committed to resolving disputes on territory and jurisdiction through negotiations and consultations with the related sovereign states, maintaining the peace and stability in the South China Sea with the ASEAN countries, Zhao told the briefing.

“With joint efforts of the relevant countries, the situation in the South China Sea remains sound and stable at the moment,” Zhao said, adding that China and the ASEAN countries not only abide by the DOC, but are also speeding up negotiations on a more binding code of conduct (COC) to safeguard the peace, stability, and freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Now the consultations have made positive progress, and the relationships between China and the ASEAN countries have further consolidated and developed during their cooperations against COVID-19, Zhao said.

However, the United States, as a non-regional country, has repeatedly stirred up trouble regarding the South China Sea for its own selfish agenda, played off the relationships of regional countries against China, and ruined the joint efforts made by these countries, he said.

Meanwhile, the U.S. statement deliberately misinterpreted the Chinese representative’s statement at the ASEAN Regional Forum Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2010. Zhao said the fact was that China’s representative said China has always advocated that all countries are equal, and relevant disputes should be settled peacefully by the direct parties concerned through negotiations and consultations.

“China expressed its strong indignation and firm opposition to the U.S. wrongdoing,” he said, urging the United States to immediately stop making trouble in this regard, and not to go further down the wrong path.

Zhao stressed that China will continue to determinedly safeguard its national sovereignty and security, friendly and cooperative relations with regional countries, and the South China Sea’s peace and stability.

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Trump administration drops visa ban for online only students

Foreigners make up over 75 per cent of graduate students in electrical, computer, petroleum and industrial engineering fields, according to Inside Higher Ed.



Donald Trump

New York, July 15 : In a victory for universities and foreign students, President Donald Trump’s administration has dropped its order to deny visa status to those taking only online cases because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Federal Judge Allison Burroughs said on Tuesday that the government agreed to rescind the rule that would have required foreign students on F-1 or M-1 visas to leave the US or transfer to another university if they cannot take at least some in-person courses. Those staying on could have faced deportation.

The judge made the announcement about the government backtracking during an emergency hearing asked by the two institutions that was held by teleconference and lasted only a few minutes.

The case was brought in the federal court in Boston by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University on July 8 and it had snowballed with scores of colleges and tech companies backing them in court briefs and 18 state attorneys general filing another case against the order.

The Trump administration’s order issued last week reversed another issued in March that permitted students to take all their courses online because of the national COVID-19 emergency — which still continues.

Many universities, including Harvard, have announced plans to conduct only online classes in the Fall semester starting in August or September, while some like Columbia and Yale plan to offer a hybrid programme that combines online and in-person teaching if local authorities permit classroom attendance.

The administration’s order against online only teaching seemed to be a tactic to force educational institutions to comply with Trump’s agenda to open the nation fully before the November election.

When the case was filed, Harvard President Larry Summers said, “It appears that it was designed purposefully to place pressure on colleges and universities to open their on-campus classrooms for in-person instruction this fall, without regard to concerns for the health and safety of students, instructors, and others.”

At least two other cases against the government’s order are pending before other federal courts: One is by Johns Hopkins University in Washington and the other is by the University of California in San Francisco.

Harvard and Yale said in court documents that although it may be argued that the students can continue their studies online from their home countries, “they may have their research and learning inhibited by time zone variations, unavailable, unreliable or state-managed Internet connections, and other barriers to online learning”.

They said that students can suffer irreparable harm from the order if they are forced out of the country.

Tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Facebook said in their brief that “America’s future competitiveness depends on attracting and retaining talented international students”.

According to the International Institute of Education, there are over one million foreign students in the US and of them about 200,00 are from India.

several US institutions are dependent on tuition from foreign students, many of whom pay full fees.

But another factor of importance to both the universities and the economy is the pre-ponderance of graduate students in engineering and science.

Foreigners make up over 75 per cent of graduate students in electrical, computer, petroleum and industrial engineering fields, according to Inside Higher Ed.

They not only back up the faculty as teaching assistants and researchers, but go on to work for or found tech companies.

(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

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