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George Floyd protests power on as he is put to rest

The latest on the George Floyd case and protests

Early last week a twelve-man panel from the Minneapolis city council was put in place to look into George Floyd’s nationwide firestorm. Nine of the members came out on Sunday, June 12, to announce that the council had plans to disband the city’s police department. However, they did not offer a timeline on actions they intend to take. “We are taking intermediate steps towards ending the force,” they said.

Nationwide curfews begin to lift in George Floyd protests

With major cities lifting their curfew, protesters nationwide are still pushing forward in their efforts for change even though it has been two weeks since George Floyd’s killing. They continue to voice out the bias entrenched by law enforcement agencies, especially the police, when carrying out their duty and call for immediate changes in the system.

Trump hesitates investigation Minneapolis police

According to two top Trump administration officials, “We do not believe in systemic racism in the country’s police” has led to a stark contrast on Sunday. The Attorney General William P. Barr said that President Trump is reluctant to investigate the problems in the Minneapolis city police where the national outburst began.

George Floyd gets put to rest amongst friends, family and public figures

George Floyd’s public memorial took place on Monday, June 8, and was held at Fountain of Praise church in Houston where many celebrities and political figureheads were in attendance.

Houston’s Jack Yates High School, where Floyd graduated in 1993 will have a hsted a candlelight vigil, which was held before a private service at the Fountain of Praise church that took place on Tuesday, which was followed by Floyd’s burial at Houston Memorial Gardens cemetery.

Here are other significant developments

  • On Sunday morning, President Trump said he is ordering the National Guard troops to begin withdrawing from the nation’s capital.
  • The ideology of withholding funds from the police has already begun a hot topic of interest as protests continue nationwide.
  • Philonise Floyd is scheduled to testify before Congress on Wednesday, which happens to be the first congressional hearing on the law enforcement since his brother’s killing in police custody on Memorial Day.
  • In a statement made by the Denver Police Department on Sunday said that there are making rules to ban all uses of chokeholds as part of a broader effort to address the use of force by its officers, amending the ongoing protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
  • Former President Obama and his wife Michelle addressed the unrest caused by George Floyd’s protest and the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday’s Class Of 2020 event for graduates. “It’s fair to say that your generation is graduating into a world that faces more profound challenges than any generation in decades,” Barack Obama said.

Also Read: The Cards We Are Dealt: Being Black in Lyric Opera

capitalist peace

Help Shape a Post-Trump World Order

Pardon me, but can you lend a little sovereignty to help prevent the coming world war and major climate disaster?

Everyone is born sovereign. Nations may be independent, but they are no more sovereign than Kings. We, the people, lend our sovereignty to various levels of government to solve our common problems. In return, we demand representation, checks, and balances to secure our unalienable rights and prevent tyranny.

Today, citizens from all nations are facing an entangling web of socioeconomic and environmental problems that we must solve together.

  • NATO—alongside EU—enlargement at the expense of Russia has rekindled Cold War tensions.
  • Russia and China are rapidly forming a new economic bloc to counter the Western economic order.
  • Brexit threatens to erode the pacifying effects of the European Union and will likely undermine Atlantic unity.
  • Attempts to create a democratic peace in the greater Middle East has spawned forever wars and caused a major humanitarian crisis that encourages unsustainable levels of migration.
  • Multinational corporations (MNCs) continue to take advantage of workers at home and abroad who lack socioeconomic mobility. It’s a form of neoslavery.
  • Developing nations keep their wage, labor, and environmental standards artificially low to attract foreign investment. It fuels economic inequality and climate change.

Working together, we can find solutions to the above problems using the citizens’ convention approach.

In January of 1962, an Atlantic Convention composed of representative citizens from NATO nations was held in Paris, France. Citizen delegations explored evolutionary ways to enhance and strengthen the Atlantic Community. They drafted the Declaration of Paris and encouraged their respective governments to establish a supranational Atlantic union.

On July 4, 1962, speaking at Independence Hall, President John F. Kennedy had the courage speak truth to nationalistic power:

“Acting on our own, by ourselves, we cannot establish justice throughout the world; we cannot insure its domestic tranquility, or provide for its common defense, or promote its general welfare, or secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. But joined with other free nations, we can do all this and more. We can assist the developing nations to throw off the yoke of poverty. We can balance our worldwide trade and payments at the highest possible level of growth. We can mount a deterrent powerful enough to deter any aggression. And ultimately we can help to achieve a world of law and free choice, banishing the world of war and coercion.” 

Truth be told, President Kennedy was inspired by the vision of Clarence K. Streit, author of Union Now (1939).

From 1949 to 1980, Members of Congress attempted to transform NATO into an Atlantic Union using the same convention approach used by our Founding Fathers in 1787 to draft the Constitution. Advanced by Streit and the Atlantic Union Committee, this proposed transatlantic union was designed to gradually evolve into a world federation. If successful, they would have created one transatlantic nation out of many with the promise of extending liberty, prosperity, and justice for all in a peaceful, yet deliberate, manner.

It is time to revisit and reshape the Atlantic Union idea of the past to meet the needs of the future.

Let’s take a giant leap of faith and hold an online Capitalist Peace Exploratory Convention modeled after the Atlantic Convention of 1962. This time, economists from around the world should meet and explore ways to replace globalization with a world federal trade system based on sustainable capitalism.

We can prevent the coming world war; avoid a major climate disaster; lift billions out of poverty; and meet growing demands for new social programs if we establish a capitalist world federation that works for all citizens in all nations.

Americans must show the world that we are ready to lend a little sovereignty and demand representation, checks, and balances on an international scale. World trade should serve individuals—not nations or MNCs.

Capitalist Peace

If you are looking for a purpose, join the Capitalist Peace Committee.  

We need volunteers from all academic disciplines to join our emerging online research and political action committee. It’s time to prepare for a post-Trump world order.

Your new adventure starts by visiting capitalistpeace.com.

 

Rod Blagojevich freshly released from prison Tuesday evening

Rod Blagojevich Released from Prison by President Trump

Tuesday evening, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was released from his 14-year prison sentence due to President Donald Trump commuting his sentence. Immediately after being released Rod Blagojevich hopped onto a plane and touched down in the Windy City of Chicago where curious and admiring fans met him.

Home sweet home Chicago & Trump-ocrat

“There’s no place like home,” he retorted to the bystanders and onlookers at O’Hare International Airport.

“I’m profoundly grateful to President Trump and I will be as long as I live,” Blagojevich graciously explained. “He didn’t have to do this. He’s a republican president. I was a democratic governor. But he’s a man who’s not only tough and outspoken, strong but he has a kind heart. And I’ll be forever grateful.”

Dubbing himself a “Trump-ocrat” after the President prompted his early release, Blagojevich has a lot more in common with President Trump than just both being in politics. Blagojevich was accused of large amounts of corruption, notably in the category of finances. Blagojevich was convicted of attempting to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat after he went on his presidency campaign. He was also accused of shaking down children’s hospital executives and the horse-racing industry for campaign contributions.

“And they lied on me”

Blagojevich claims he was actually the victim, in the situation and did absolutely nothing wrong. “That if I were given in to the pressure and give in to the shakedown that was done to me, that I would be violating my oath of office to fight for the Constitution and fight for the rule of law and keep my promises to (the public),” he said. “Cause I didn’t do the things they said I did. And they lied on me.”

President Donald Trump hasn’t been silent about his thoughts on the long prison sentence Blagojevich received for the corruption charges. Previously having set to be released in March 2024, Trump made it clear when asked he thought the hefty sentence was way too harsh.

Stain on Illinois politics

The Rod Blagojevich controversy was a huge stain on Illinois political circles, and current Illinois governor, J.B. Pritzker was highly opposed to the release, which he expressed in a statement.

“Illinoisans have endured far too much corruption, and we must send a message to politicians that corrupt practices will not be tolerated,” Pritzker said. “President Trump has abused his pardon power in inexplicable ways to reward his friends and condone corruption, and I believe this pardon sends the wrong message at the wrong time.”

Blagojevich not only praised and gushed over the president because of his release, but he also noted his wife, Patti Blagojevich as a major reason because of her non-stop dedication in attempting to get her husband pardoned.

“I love her,” Blagojevich doted. “I made a lot of mistakes in my life. But the best thing I ever did was falling in love and being in love with Patti, and I can’t wait to see her and our daughters Amy and Annie. It’s been a long time.”

Because Rod Blagojevich was commuted and not pardoned, he still will have felonies on his record. No one knows what his future holds, but in the meantime we expect the silver-haired former governor to have a lot of time to make up for.

See the whole press conference at Blagojevich’s Chicago Ravenswood home below:

Bernie Wins New Hampshire Primary, Buttigieg a Close Second

Following the indecision and bungled caucus in Iowa, the race for Democratic nominee for President finally has a result to rally around. Senator Bernie Sanders narrowly won the New Hampshire primary on Tuesday with a tight lead over more moderate candidate former mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“This victory here is the beginning of the end for Donald Trump,” declared Sanders last night.

The other 2020 frontrunners, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Warren, finished third and fourth respectively. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who many previously believed would be the nominee, finished in a far fifth place, giving his campaign a tough road ahead.

Technology entrepreneur Andrew Yang who campaigned heavily on the issue of setting a Universal Basic Income dropped out of the race after securing less than three percent of the vote and no delegates. Colorado Senator Michael Bennet also ended his campaign.

In New Hampshire Primary, Bernie Sanders benefitted from a field that has divided voters

With only 26 percent of the vote, Sanders eked out the lowest winning Democratic primary vote share in New Hampshire in almost 70 years. This is especially noteworthy, as in 2016, Sanders beat Hillary Clinton with 60 percent of the vote to her 38 percent.

However, the race is strikingly different this time. The field has divided voters between two progressive candidates (Sanders and Warren) and three moderate ones (Buttigieg, Klobuchar and Biden). Historically, by the time candidates reach the New Hampshire primary, the field has narrowed dramatically. And while the field has been culled from its initial 28 down to its current nine, that’s still more strong candidates than voters typically encounter in New Hampshire.

Some needed momentum after Iowa

After last week’s debacle in Iowa, candidates felt robbed of a chance to head into New Hampshire with some momentum from a declared victory. A mishandled app, combined with an already complex system of counting votes, lead to prolonged period without any clear results.

Pete Buttgieg declared victory before any results were in, leading many to criticize him campaign. #MayorCheat began trending on Twitter, and reporters pointed out the financial connection between the tech company that designed the caucus app and Buttigieg’s campaign.

After a recount several days later, the results did show that Buttigieg had won with a narrow victory of 0.1 percent and one delegate. However, the momentum candidates usually gain from a victory in Iowa—historically, this is when Barack Obama’s campaign really gained traction—was lost in a packed news week that included a highly divisive and showy State of the Union speech and President Trump’s impeachment vote that resulted in an acquittal.

An emboldened President Trump, watching chaos in the first Democratic caucus and certain he was to be acquitted later that week, declared himself the winner of Iowa. Polling reflecting this claim, with Trump’s approval rating going up 0.4 percent between the beginning of last week and the end.

After New Hampshire primary, is Bernie a sure thing?

The New Hampshire primary is historically the point in the race when the front runner becomes, if not inevitable, nearly so. After New Hampshire, often the electorate sees candidates end their campaigns, throwing their endorsements behind the frontrunners. And while Tuesday’s race did see Yang and Bennet drop out, neither candidate was a clear threat to any of the five leading figures.

Sanders’ campaign is already benefitting from his strong performance in New Hampshire, as well as Iowa. He’s also the only frontrunner who has raised enough money to finance a robust advertising and get-out-the-vote effort in Nevada and South Carolina, the next two states to vote, as well as in the 15 states and territories that vote on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Strong results and a flush purse are weighing heavily in Sanders’ favor. However, he still faces daunting obstacles. Most notably, he has not yet demonstrated an ability to build a broader coalition beyond his loyal faction of progressives.

Nevada’s upcoming caucus will also test the candidate’s popularity with minority voters, of whom there were not many in the majority white Iowa and New Hampshire.

Former New York City Mayor and self-funding candidate Michael Bloomberg may also be a formidable challenge in the upcoming races. Bloomberg entered the race in November—far later than the other candidates—planning to use his vast wealth to run a different kind of campaign. He didn’t competed in the first nominating states, but he’s hoping to make a strong showing on Super Tuesday. Polls currently show Bloomberg rising nationally in some of those contests, in part because he’s been one of the only candidates who has been able to buy advertising in those states.

Elusive electability

For primary voters, their concern in 2020 is less about picking a certain nominee and more about making sure that nominee is someone the electorate can rally around. The 2016 election paralyzed democratic voters who no longer trust their own analysis and instincts. Democrats are worried about one thing: Who can beat Donald Trump.

Democrats are worried about one thing: Who can beat Donald Trump.

When viewed through that lens, choosing from the myriad of candidates becomes infinitely more complicated.

Although Sanders has run a strong campaign so far, he’s proven polarizing to moderate democrats. And there are deep doubts across much of the party about his ability to win the general election. It is unclear whether he will be able to ease those concerns in time to take control of the race during March.

See also: Whistleblower’s Complaint Alleges Interference by Trump in Election
What You Need to Know from Yesterday’s State of the Union Address
Study Reveals Troubling Link Between Marijuana and False Memories

Trump Cleared of All Charges in Impeachment Trial

President Donald Trump has been cleared of all charges in his impeachment trial.

In a historic vote that took place yesterday, the Senate voted to acquit the President, ending a congressional bid to remove him from office. The Senate voted 52-48 on charges of abuse of power and 53-47 on obstruction of Congress.

The President was initially charged in December after allegations that he had pressuring Ukraine into investigating political rival Joe Biden by withholding $391m reserved for security aid. Trump was then charged by obstructing congress in investigating the issue.

This was only the third presidential trial in American history. Trump, who is seeking a second term in the 2020 November election, is the first president to be impeached in his first term and then have the opportunity to seek reelection.

The President always denied any wrong-doing.

After the trial, his re-election campaign said in a statement: “President Trump has been totally vindicated and it’s now time to get back to the business of the American people. The do-nothing Democrats know they can’t beat him, so they had to impeach him.

“This impeachment hoax will go down as the worst miscalculation in American political history.”

See Also: Trump’s Impeachment: A Simple Guide 

Former Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton reacted to the result of the trial on twitter

How did the vote play out?

The impeachment trial took place yesterday.

Mitt Romney was the only Republican to convict Trump on the first charge of abuse of power.

Some other Republican senators criticised Trump’s behavior however did not think it rose to the level of being removed from office

A two-thirds majority vote was needed in order to remove Trump from office, which was always an unlikely outcome.

The Democrats expressed concern that clearance of the Presidents charges would embolden Trump’s questionable behaviour.

The President will be making a statement on his victory at noon on Thursday.

 

Whistleblower’s Complaint Alleges Interference by Trump in Election

In the latest of what has been a series of astonishing developments surrounding the controversy concerning President Donald Trump’s phone call to the President to the Ukraine, the whistleblower complaint has now been released and it alleges White House interference in covering up the call.

What’s the background?

In mid-September, the House Intelligence Committee Chairman subpoenaed the Acting National Intelligence Director to hand over a whistleblower report. It was filed last month and was determined to be of “urgent concern.” The document was not handed over, raising eyebrows all around.

On September 18, The Washington Post reported on the document, saying that it had something to do with an unspecified “promise” Trump had made to a foreign head of state. At this point, it was not clear what the promise was and to whom it was made. President Trump responded accordingly.

Details began to slowly trickle out. The Wall Street Journal reported that the whistleblower complaint alleged that Trump had pressured the Ukrainian President Zelensky “about eight times” to work with his personal attorney Rude Giuliani to look into matters surrounding Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter, who had sat on the board of a natural gas company in the Ukraine.

Compounding the situation was the matter of millions of dollars of aid that the U.S. had failed to release to the Ukraine, leading some to suggest this was a true mafia-style shakedown of one world leader by another.

Following the breaking news, Trump went on record to deny that he had ever tried to bribe another country to interfere in a national election while at the same time unintentionally confirmed some aspects of the story—such as a call had taken place to the President of the Ukraine and Biden’s son had been discussed.

By Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that impeachment inquiries would begin, describing the President’s actions as a “betrayal of his oath of office.” On Wednesday, a transcript of the call had been released. And on Thursday, the whistleblower complaint was de-classified and published.

The whistleblower complaint

The whistleblower complaint, which as you may recall from last year—we mean last week—had been withheld even in light of a subpoena. It had also been withheld from Congress. Its release now is the latest in a series of incriminating revelations for the Trump administration.

The complaint alleges that “senior White House officials had intervened to ‘lock down’ all records of the phone call, especially the official word-for-word transcript of the call that was produced as is customary by the White House Situation Room.”

“This set of actions underscored to me that White House officials understood the gravity of what had transpired int he call,” reads the complaint, continuing later to say: “…there was already a discussion ongoing with White House lawyers about how to treat the call because of the likelihood, in the officials’ retelling, that they had witnessed the President abuse his office for personal gain.”

Acting National Intelligence Director Jospeh Maguire, the same one who last week did not hand over the subpoenaed whistleblower report, called the complaint “unique and unprecedented” in an appearance before Congress on Thursday. He also said the whistleblower “acted in good faith.”

What happens now?

What happens next is truly anyone’s guess. To borrow from Maguire, the situation is “unprecedented.”

There are strikingly few cases of impeachment proceedings being launched in American history—just three, in fact: Andrew Johnson in 1868, Richard Nixon in 1973 and Bill Clinton in 1998. None of these events resulted in removal from office due to the impeachment. Nixon resigned before a vote could take place, and Johnson and Clinton were acquitted from all charges following a Senate trial and allowed to remain in office

The impeachment proceedings will be a long and drawn out event, likely contributing to further polarization in what was shaping up to be an extremely polarizing year anyway.

To begin with, a House committee, usually the Judiciary Committee or its subcommittee, will conduct an investigation to see if a federal official’s conduct warrants impeachment. According to the Constitution, impeachable offenses include, “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” How exactly to interpret that has been a source of vigorous debate throughout American history.

After the inquiries, the House Judiciary Committee will write up the articles of impeachment and then vote on whether to refer them to the House of Representatives. If approved, the articles will advance to the House floor where a simple majority of voting lawmakers if required to approve them.

Following a vote in the House, a trial in the Senate will take place where senators become jurors and the chief justice of the US Supreme Court presides. A supermajority, that is two-thirds of the vote, is required to remove a President from office. Control of the Senate is currently in the hands of the Republican Party, 53-45, so a vote removing Trump from office looks unlikely at this stage.

However, impeachment proceedings will be long, and there’s no telling what may happen by the end of them. Nixon’s impeachment proceedings lasted 184 days; for Clinton it was 127 days.

And just a reminder…

In the background, the 2020 election carries on. Nineteen democrats are still running for President, clamoring for attention and support as media coverage becomes increasingly crowded with more and more pressing issues. The first primary is on February 3, just 130 days from now.

See also: Essential Guide to the 2020 Election
Could Pete Buttigieg Become America’s First Gay President?
Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Could Pete Buttigieg Become America’s First Gay President?

American Presidency candidate, Pete Buttigieg is now growing fast in popularity after wining rave reviews at CNN’s town hall on Sunday and reaching out to his city’s muslim constituents following the New Zealand attack.

His entrance on CNN, before the town hall appearance, was marked by a 1 percent rating on polls in New Hampshire and Iowa and an awkward query from the CNN’s host about the pronunciation of his last name, ‘Buttigieg’. In response to host, Jake Tapper’s question of whether his name was pronounced ‘BOOT-edge-edge’, the Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, simply responded, “Back home, they just call me Mayor Pete.”

For his first televised experience, Buttigieg produced well-delivered and insightful responses to Tapper’s challenging questions which included, if he believed Pence would make a better president than Trump. His laconic, honest answer, “How would he allow himself to become the cheerleader for the porn star presidency? Is it that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing Donald Trump?” had such calm execution, rather than sounding merely accusatory that it became Buttigieg’s most talked about highlight of the show across social media.

He continued, “His interpretation of scripture is pretty different than mine to begin with. My understanding of scripture is that it’s about protecting the stranger and the prisoner and the poor person and that idea. That’s what I get in the gospel when I’m at church and his has a lot more to do with sexuality.”

Counter-Terrorism Achievements

In addition to being Mayor of South Bend, Pete Buttigieg is a war veteran having served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve and was deployed in Afghanistan, for which he took seven months of unpaid leave from his Mayor position. His persistent efforts in counterterrorism have awarded him the Joint Service Commendation Medal. The medal is not the only praise Buttigieg has received; following the election of Donald Trump, President Obama featured Pete as one of the ‘gifted Democratic politicians’ he envisioned rising up through the party.

At his televised talk with CNN, Buttigieg informed the audience, “I have more years of government experience under my belt than the President. That’s a low bar. I know that. I also have had more years of executive government experience than the vice president. I get I’m the young guy in the conversation, but experience is what qualifies me to have a seat at this table.”

Too Young to Be President?

Not only would Buttigieg be the youngest president at age 39 years old, he would additionally be making history as America’s first gay president. After the land mark victory of the Obergefell Vs Hodges case authorising same-sex couples the right to marry, he informed a local newspaper in an inspiring opinion editorial, ‘I was well into adulthood before I was prepared to acknowledge the simple fact that I am gay. It took years of struggle and growth for me to recognize that it’s just a fact of life, like having brown hair, and part of who I am.” His move to make the announcement was even more inspiring, as it was while he was pursuing his second term as mayor.

As promising as Pete Buttigieg sounds, there will always be some inevitable uncertainty about every candidate. A few have questioned, whether Buttigieg is too young for the post, especially having not held other senior senator or a governor posts where more political experience is required.

Regardless, perhaps Pete Buttigieg is the much needed, millennial intervention we are in need of to shape and transform our current legalizations.

Following his appearance on CNN, Pete Buttigieg’s fundraising campaign raised $600K in 24 hours.

See also:

Trump’s America: The Story So Far 

What You Need to Know from Yesterday’s State of the Union Address

Transgender Americans Will No Longer Be Allowed To Serve In The Military

What You Need to Know from Yesterday’s State of the Union Address

Following the longest government shutdown in history, President Donald Trump yesterday addressed Congress in the annual State of the Union speech.

The President’s State of the Union message is traditionally meant to bring Americans together. However, even before his speech began, President Trump’s stage was marred by deep division and bipartisanship.

The annual address was delayed owing to a 35-day government shutdown, during which House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and President Trump issued statements back and forth about the date of the speech in an ongoing power struggle. The only other time a State of the Union address has been delayed was in 1986, when President Reagan made the decision to postpone the speech in light of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

Even setting aside the turmoil of the last six weeks, the President’s annual speech comes after a year that saw (among many other breaking stories) a contentious Supreme Court Justice appointment, a divisive midterm election, an ongoing battle over immigration policy and the Mueller investigation.

The shocking news comes alongside the just plain unbelievable news of the last 12 months—a porn star accepting a $130,000 payment to stay silent about her affair with the President; Kanye West visiting the Oval Office and typing in his iPhone passcode on national TV (000000); and the First Lady wearing her now-infamous coat that read “I Really Don’t Care Do U?” when she boarded a plane on a trip to visit migrant children at the border.

So, with this backdrop, President Trump took the national stage on the evening of February 5, 2019 and delivered his State of the Union address. Here’s what you need to know.

Women in white

Democratic women came to the House floor wearing white in honor of the 100th anniversary of Congress voting to grant women the right to vote. The show of solidarity was a visually striking scene amongst the usual black suits, thanks to the record number of women elected to Congress in the 2018 midterms.

These advances for women were, in fact, mentioned specifically by the President in his speech: “All Americans can be proud that we have more women in the workforce than ever before—and exactly one century after the Congress passed the constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote, we also have more women serving in the Congress than ever before.”

He was interrupted by cheers as the women—almost exclusively Democrats—high fived and hugged each other to celebrate the momentous achievement. To which the President responded, “You weren’t supposed to do that.”

The celebration of the record number of women in Congress turned into a “USA! USA!” cheer that the entire chamber took up. Despite the fact that many of the women elected in 2018 were not only driven to run but spurred to victory by their opposition to the President and his policies, he seemed to love the moment.

“That’s great, really great,” he said. “And congratulations, that’s great.”

Addressing the new Congressional reality

For the first time since President Trump has been elected, he’s facing a government that is not entirely Republican. Now that the Democratic majority that was elected to the House of Representatives in the midterms has assumed office and the government is open again, the President is facing the possibility of investigation. He addressed this specifically in his speech.

“If there is going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation. It just doesn’t work that way,” said Trump.

It’s a statement that alludes to the power the Trump presidency believes the executive branch should have—particularly given that the administration is in the midst of an investigation led by special counsel Robert Mueller, his company is in the midst of an investigation by the Southern District of New York and House Democrats are preparing a series of investigations into, among other things, Trump’s Cabinet, his taxes and the firing of FBI director James Comey.

But it’s a statement that could also be a response to the attitude behind the comments such as that of incoming Representative Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), who said just hours after being sworn in “We’re gonna go in there, and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker!”

The border wall is still a rallying point

The border wall is one of the central promises of the Trump campaign, the matter that kept the government closed for over a month and a point of contention for the administration. And it is one from which the President is not backing down.

When the government was reopened, it was through a bill offering a three-week fix to a problem to which a solution had not yet been come. In his speech, Trump noted that there are just 10 days left for Congress to pass a bill to “secure our very dangerous Southern border” in order to avoid another shutdown.

Many people were listening to find out if the President would declare a national emergency on the southern border during his State of the Union address—something that would allow the border wall to be built without Congressional approval. There were no mentions of declaring a state of emergency or whether Trump would resort to this measure in future if no other way of getting the wall built became apparent.

In a divided country, none of this means much

Part of the mass interest in the State of the Union address lies in following the reactions of the opposing party. The audience got this from New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s eye roll and California Senator Kamala Harris’ expression of dismay, as well as a few other faces caught on camera.

https://twitter.com/SenGillibrand/status/1092979700039905280

However, for most of us, watching the reactions of our Congressional representatives reminds us that one big speech doesn’t change people’s views—and the State of the Union is just one big TV show anyway.

See also: Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

Trump’s Wall: The President’s Oval Office Address

President Donald Trump delivered his first Oval Office TV address to the nation on Tuesday night.

While previous presidential speeches from the Oval Office have been rallying moments in times of tragedy, the eight-minute address did little but reiterate ambiguous immigration claims and introduce more questions during a standoff with Congress.

It is now day 19 of the partial government shutdown—the second longest in history—with no new solutions having been offered.

Here’s what you need to know.

The wall

The US-Mexico border is 1,954miles long and already has 650miles of fencing in place through California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The Republican President wants $5.7billion to build a steel barrier, which would deliver on his signature campaign promise—although his campaign promise included the caveat that “absolutely, Mexico is paying for the wall.”

Both Democrats and Republicans agree that more border security is needed, but Democrats—who recently took control of the House of Representatives—are opposed to giving Trump funds for the new structure. 

Fact or fear?

Trump’s dark vision of the country continued as he told primetime viewers that “vicious coyotes…ruthless gangs” and “vast quantities of illegal drugs” crossing the border are responsible for “thousands of deaths.”

“How much more American blood will be shed before Congress does its job?” he questioned.

The number of illegal border crossings has decreased—down from 1.6million in 2000 to fewer than 400,000 last year. Research actually suggests that undocumented immigrants are significantly less likely to commit crime than native-born American citizens.

Figures also make clear that only a small percentage of heroin sold in the US is smuggled through legal entry points.

“The cost of illegal drugs exceeds $500bn a year, vastly more than the $5.7bn we have requested from Congress,” Trump added.

“The wall will also be paid for indirectly by the great new trade deal we have made with Mexico.”

Fact-checkers have disputed the claim that the trade deal—a successor to Nafta—means that Mexico will pay for the wall, as the Mexican government has always refused to do so.

The Democrats 

Addressing the nation, Trump said that the federal government has remained shut “due to one reason and one reason only: because Democrats will not fund border security.”

The president insisted that he had already compromised by moving from a concrete wall to a barrier made of steel slats and offered no fresh solution to the situation.

In a rare turn of events, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, were allotted time after the president’s speech to deliver a rebuttal.

The California congresswoman said: “The fact is the women and children at the border are not a security threat, they are a humanitarian challenge.

“And the fact is President Trump must stop holding the American people hostage, must stop manufacturing a crisis, and must reopen the government.”

Shumer concluded: “The symbol of America should be the Statue of Liberty, not a 30-foot wall.”

The Republicans 

While most of Trump’s party is supporting him, moderate Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska sided with Democrats in calling for an end to the government shutdown before the resolution of the border wall issue.

Susan Collins of Maine and Cory Gardner of Colorado have also issued similar appeals.

The public 

According to an opinion poll, just over half of Americans (51 percent) blame President Trump for the current government shutdown.

What next? 

With no new outcomes pending from the Oval Office address, it is unclear what’s next for the immigration and border security “crisis.”

The president chose not to threaten or declare a national emergency on Tuesday night—an option that could allow him to access military spending to fund his barrier.

However, speculations have suggested that Trump may still resort to such a declaration before the impasse comes to an end.

Congressional leaders are set to return to the White House on Wednesday for negotiations and the president will head to the southern border on Thursday to continue his work.

“Thank you for soooo many nice comments regarding my Oval Office speech. A very interesting experience!” Trump said on Twitter. 

Further reading: The Midterm Results Are In and This is What They Mean 

George HW Bush, 41st President, Dies Aged 94

George HW Bush, 41st President, Dies Aged 94

George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st president of the United States and the father of the 43rd, died over the weekend at his home in Houston, Texas. He was 94.

His body will lie in the Capitol Rotunda in Washington DC from Monday evening to Wednesday morning—a rare honor.

Hailed by many around the world as the country’s greatest one-term president, Bush saw the US through a turbulent period in global relations, including the breakup of the Soviet Union and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

An announcement from his office said: “George Herbert Walker Bush, World War Two naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st president of the United States of America, died on 30 November 2018.

“He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings. He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline Robinson ‘Robin’ Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or ‘Bucky’ Bush.”

His death comes less than eight months after that of his wife, Barbara Bush. The day after her funeral, he was treated for an infection that had spread to his blood.

Bush also suffered from vascular Parkinson’s disease that had forced him to use a wheelchair in recent years. In and out of hospitals since 2012, the Republican remained active well into old age despite his deteriorating health.

In 2013, while suffering from bronchitis, he told well-wishers to “put the harps back in the closet.”

Former president Barack Obama remembered Bush as “a humble servant”, and Bill Clinton described him as “honorable, gracious and decent”.

A statement by Donald Trump also praised Bush, highlighting his “sound judgment, common sense and unflappable leadership”.

Trump and his wife Melania are expected to attend a state funeral that comes after the president cancelled a planned press conference in Argentina for the G20 summit “out of respect for the Bush family.”

America’s last war hero president, Bush served one term between 1989 and 1993. Since his death, many tributes have included a curious code word—CAVU.

CNN reporter Jamie Gangel revealed that the word was used to tell Bush’s family and friends that he had died on Friday night.

“For anyone who has been a pilot, it is familiar. For those who aren’t, it stands for Ceiling and Visibility Unlimited,” Gangel said.

“He had a plaque in his office that said that. He always said that he felt it represented his life. The sky was the limit, he had had everything.

“I think it was a great and fitting tribute to him.”

Further reading: Neil deGrasse Tyson Accused of Sexual Misconduct