While the Trump administration had been accused just last week of being overly-chummy with Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, the relationship has made a dramatic turn-around in very little time. Trump went from saying that Putin was a better leader than Barack Obama, and that he hoped he (Putin) would be his new best friend, to blaming Russia for much of the situation in Syria with chemical warfare. This left many politicians’ (and my own) head spinning. What brought this extreme turn-around? What does this mean for the future of the United States’ relationship with Russia? Will the stance of the administration shift again in two weeks, as seems to be a pattern with this administration?
In response to the terrible event that occurred in Syria this week, the Trump administration issued a statement calling the event “intolerable” and “reprehensible.” However, the administration, unlike previous administrations, did not call for the removal of Syria’s leader, Bashar al-Assad. The administration called this idea impractical, and Sean Spicer said that “we would look, to some degree, rather silly not acknowledging the political realities that exist in Syria.” As the administration takes a straightforward and “America First” approach to foreign affairs, many from both political parties are concerned with what this means for human rights. Worrying only about the welfare of the citizens of America could lead to some very serious consequences.
This morning, President Trump signed an “Energy Independence” order, undoing not only the Clean Power Plan put in place by President Obama, but several other of his policies on climate change. Trump stated that with the order “we’re ending the theft of American prosperity and reviving our beloved economy… We will put our miners back to work.” However, energy economists are skeptical that the new order reaches either of those goals. With the rise in natural gas usage and increased mechanization, use of workers in coal mines was already on the decline. Robert E. Murray, CEO of one of the largest coal mining companies even stated that the order would not likely bring the coal mining industry back to where it had once been, but even so, the industry stood behind Trump and the order–literally.
Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation continues with more tension than meets the eye. Republicans believe this nomination with have no problem drumming up the sixty votes necessary to pass, but Democrats have shown no sign of any support for the candidate because they feel he is too vague and too scripted. Because there are only 52 Republicans in the senate, they will need 8 votes from the Democrats for the nomination.
The hearing has so far been filled with playful banter–but the banter often alludes to larger problems underneath. Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona stated that one of his sons suggested he ask Gorsuch whether he would rather fight 100 duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck. While the jokes are flying, Democrats are not amused. The Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York stated that “he has bent over backward to avoid revealing anything, anything at all, about his judicial policy, or the legal matters that concern the American people.” This will be an interesting hearing to follow as the two parties continue to separate opinions.
The military and government of Nigeria has declared that the area around Maiduguri–the Borno state and birthplace of Boko Haram–is “mostly safe” now. With this statement, they also said that it was time for the nearly two million displaced individuals to return home. While this appears to be a very optimistic outlook, there is no guarantee that those leaving this area will be any safer now than before. President Muhammadu Buhari has declared the war with Boko Haram to be over several times. But attacks from the terror group (declared by the Global Terrorism Index as the “world’s deadliest terror group” in 2015) have continued in the country, leading citizens to worry about the safety of themselves and their children. But Nigerian Army commander Maj. Gen. Leo Irabor stated that “Ferocious attacks are a thing of the past… we are only picking up the pieces.”
Republican leaders in Washington have been anxiously waiting for the last seven years to do away with Obamacare. However, the alternative health plan currently presented in congress is receiving a lot of backlash from the people it was meant to please. The new bill would get rid of the mandate for most citizens in favor of a tax credit method that encourages people to buy insurance from the open market. Vice President Pence stated that this plan is a “framework for reform” and is still open to suggestion. Among the representatives who oppose the bill is Utah senator Mike Lee who stated “This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we’ve been looking for… it is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction. We promised the American people we would drain the swamp and end business as usual in Washington. This bill does not do that.”
Republicans are finding that being the majority party in congress does not equal being on the same page. Going into this term, Congress was expected to push through their agenda with significantly more ease, but they have found this to not be the case. Representatives are receiving push-back for not voting conservative enough on major party issues, but finding it difficult to manage more conservative policies through. This is especially true with the health care law being addressed by Mr. Trump right now. The issue of immigration reform as also taken the floor, as Mr. Trump has made statements of granting amnesty to millions of young immigrants. If Congress wants to push anything through, something will need to change.
Trump’s proposed immigration plan takes a much more forceful approach to finding and deporting illegal immigrants. The plans include stripping immigrants of their privacy protections, publicize crimes committed by them, discouraging asylum seekers, creating new detention facilities, speed up deportations, and bring in more law enforcement. These new plans could have extreme effects. Those working with immigrants are working to try to keep them protected. Trump will have to find funding to hire all the officials needed to carry out these plans.
Article found here
Intercepted phone calls and records show that members of President Trump’s campaign team and other of his associates had made contact with members of senior Russian intelligence officials in 2016. These communications were found around the same time law enforcement found attempted interference by the Russians during the election. In an interview with the deputy Russian foreign minister, Sergei A. Rybakov, the minister stated that there was contact during the campaign. Anyone accused of being in contact with the Russians has denied the accusations.
Article found here: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/02/14/us/politics/russia-intelligence-communications-trump.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news
In response to the outrage toward the recent actions on immigration, the Trump administration has targeted the press. The White House sent out a list of 78 terrorist attacks that were “under-reported” by the media as they continue to push the new policy. Not only were those attacks reported by the media, but this list did not include attacks on Muslims and major attacks by non-Muslims. The New York Times re-posted their coverage on the attacks the White House deemed under-reported, and also lists some of the attacks that did not make the list.
Read the full article here: