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Trump invokes slain Indian American cop to make case for border wall, end shutdown

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New York, Jan 9: US President Donald Trump has invoked an Indian American “hero” police officer killed by an illegal immigrant to make an appeal to the American people to pressure legislators to fund the border wall he wants and end the government shutdown.

In his Tuesday night address to the nation from the Oval Office, Trump referred to the killing of Corporal Ronil Singh, saying: “America’s heart broke the day after Christmas when a young police officer in California was savagely murdered in cold blood by an illegal alien who just came across the border. The life of an American hero was stolen by someone who had no right to be in our country.”

Speaking in a measured, calm and composed way in contrast to his usual blustery, hectoring style, Trump said the border wall on the Mexican border was necessary to not only keep out illegal immigrants and criminals, but also the drugs that were ravaging country resulting in thousands of deaths every year.

As he spoke, the partial government shutdown caused by the standoff over the wall entered its 18th day, while a caravan of an estimated 7,000 Central Americans who had marched through Mexico were camped on border waiting to enter the US.

Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who took over as Speaker after her party wrested control of the House of Representatives, in her rebuttal appeared to make a case for opening the border to them.

“The women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge – a challenge that President Trump’s own cruel and counterproductive policies have only deepened.”

Trump has demanded $5.6 billion in the federal budget to build the border wall that he had promised during his election campaign but the Democrats have blocked it and with both sides standing firm all but the essential parts of the government have been shutdown without a budget to pay for them.

The President is scheduled to meet on Wednesday with Congressional leaders in an attempt to break the impasse, but a compromise seems unlikely for now with both obstinate in their stances.

He made a distinction between legal immigrants like Singh and his alleged killer who came in illegally and was not deported despite prior arrests.

“America proudly welcomes millions of lawful immigrants who enrich our society and contribute to our nation. But, all Americans are hurt by uncontrolled illegal migration,” he said.

To gain sympathy from ordinary Americans, Trump focused on illegal drugs flowing in through the southern border, which he said kills more Americans each year than during all of the Vietnam War (about 58,000) and said the wall would stop the drugs.

He spoke at length about the victims of crimes by illegal immigrants and said: “This is a humanitarian crisis, a crisis of the heart and a crisis of the soul.”

He left no room for a compromise on the demand for wall barrier beyond saying that he would agree to a steel fence instead of a wall.

He asked voters to call their legislators and ask them to support the barrier.

In their televised reply to Trump, Democrat Chuck Schumer, the minority leader in the Senate, and Pelosi were equally firm about not funding an “ineffective, unnecessary border wall”.

But affirmed that they were for strengthening border security by using technology and improving the infrastructure.

They accused Trump of holding government workers hostage to get his wall and Schumer said that a way of the standoff would be to delink the wall and the shutdown by having a budget passed while continuing debate on the border barrier.

Pelosi accused Trump of trying to “manufacture a crisis, stoke fear, and divert attention from the turmoil in his administration”.

Schumer said: “We don’t govern by temper tantrum. No president should pound the table and demand he gets his way or else the government shuts down, hurting millions of Americans who are treated as leverage.”

Democrats are counting on the prolonged shutdown creating a split in the Republican ranks and having members of Trump’s party pressuring him to compromise.

Trump, though, is expecting his new persona of a self-possessed politician turning attention to the drug problem and minorities’ loss of jobs due illegal immigration would sway voters to call their legislators to support the wall.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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