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Trump can use military funds for border wall: US Supreme Court

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Donald Trump Trade War

Washington, July 27 The US Supreme Court has cleared the way for President Donald Trump to use $2.5 billion from the Defence Department funding to construct a wall on the southern border with Mexico that the government calls necessary to protect national security.

The justices on Friday voted 5-4 to overturn a decision by a lower court in California that barred the Trump administration from employing the money for a purpose other than that designated by Congress.

The wall, dividing the US and Mexico, was Trump’s major campaign promise during the 2016 presidential election. It is fiercely opposed by Democrats.

In a tweet, Trump described the ruling as a “big victory”. He has argued that a new wall would help to curb illegal immigration, which he says is fuelling crime and placing a strain on the economy.

Democrats, however, say that Trump has “manufactured the border emergency” and that the wall has become a symbol of his anti-immigration platform.

Trump resorted to tapping funds from the Defence Department funds after failing to persuade Congress to appropriate more money for the wall in a standoff that led to a 35-day-long partial shutdown of the federal government.

On February 15, he declared a national emergency on the border to justify the diversion of funds.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted to block the emergency declaration and the Senate, where Trump’s Republicans are in the majority, followed suit, but the President vetoed the legislation and the White House announced plans to spend $8 billion on the wall.

That sum would include just under $1.38 billion from a Homeland Security appropriations bill that Congress passed on February 14 to avert a new government shutdown, while the remaining $6.6 billion in funds was to be shifted from other programmes through a combination of executive actions and the national emergency declaration.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed suit against the administration on behalf of the environmental group Sierra Club and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which represents organisations from San Diego to southeastern Texas.

Environmental groups say building the wall can have a negative impact on wildlife. About 20 states also filed lawsuits to stop the President from using the emergency declaration to bypass Congress, the US media reported.

The federal district court in California sided with the plaintiffs, finding that the public interest was “best served by respecting the Constitution’s assignment of the power of the purse to Congress, and by deferring to Congress’ understanding of the public interest as reflected in its repeated denial of more funding for border barrier construction”.

The Trump administration challenged the decision, which was upheld by a panel the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, based in San Francisco.

The White House then appealed to the Supreme Court, insisting that the district court misinterpreted the law.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the apex court ruling “deeply flawed”.

The ACLU, meanwhile, vowed to seek an expedited decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals “to halt the irreversible and imminent damage from Trump’s border wall”.

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France’s Macron urges UN mission to visit China’s Xinjiang region

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,”

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Uighur Muslim rights

PARIS : France’s president on Tuesday called for an international mission under the auspices of the United Nations to visit China’s Xinjiang due to concerns over the Muslim Uighur minority.

U.N. experts and activists say at least a million ethnic Uighurs and other Muslims are held in detention centres in Xinjiang. China describes them as training centres helping stamp out terrorism and extremism and giving people new skills.

“Fundamental rights are not a Western idea that one could oppose as an interference … these are the principles of our organisation, enshrined in texts that the member states of the United Nations have freely consented to sign and to respect,” Emmanuel Macron said in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

“This is the reason why … France has requested that an international mission under the aegis of the United Nations go to Xinjiang in order to take into account the concerns that we collectively have on the situation of the Muslim Uighur minority,” he said.

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Disaster

Israel reports 2,445 new Covid-19 cases; 193,374 in total

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Jerusalem, Sep 23 : Israel’s Ministry of Health reported 2,445 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday, bringing the total confirmed cases to 193,374.

The total count of deaths from the coronavirus in Israel rose by 12 to 1,285, while the number of patients in serious condition rose from 653 to 668, out of 1,352 patients currently hospitalised, Xinhua news agency reported.

The number of recoveries in the country increased by 3,971 to 140,751, while the number of active Covid-19 cases stood at 51,338.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Israeli government approved a plan to expand the national economic safety net to deal with the pandemic’s impact.

“Expanding the plan will enable immediate economic assistance for businesses and wage-earners who are expected to be hurt by the current Covid-19 nationwide lockdown,” said a joint statement by the Prime Minister’s Office and Finance Ministry.

The expansion includes the lowering of damage threshold for businesses to receive fixed expenditure grants to 25 per cent, providing advances against the fixed expenditure grants, a comprehensive worker retention plan, and deferring the reduction in unemployment benefits.

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Disaster

United States Covid deaths top 200,000 as questions linger over halting virus spread

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Coronavirus Death US

The US death toll from the coronavirus exceeded 200,000, as some guidelines and practices for stopping the disease’s spread have been called into question.

While the data compiled by Johns Hopkins University indicated that 52,000 new cases had been reported on Monday, some 21,800 of those new cases came from the release of backlogged data in Texas.

The US logged 36,695 new cases on Sunday, Johns Hopkins reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention caused uncertainty Monday when it removed from its website newly posted guidelines saying the coronavirus could be transmitted by tiny particles that linger in the air.

The agency said a draft version of proposed changes was posted in error.

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