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White House

White House Supports UK Decision to Expel Russian Diplomats

The White House supports the UK government’s decision to expel Russian diplomats residing in Britain, it has said.

The UK has concluded that the Russian government is responsible for the attempted assassination of former Russian intelligence officer Sergei Skripal, 66 and his daughter Yulia Skripal, 33, using a dangerous nerve agent in the British city of Salisbury.

The statement from the White House reads:

“The United States stands in solidarity with its closest ally, the United Kingdom. The United States shares the United Kingdom’s assessment that Russia is responsible for the reckless nerve agent attack on a British citizen and his daughter, and we support the United Kingdom’s decision to expel Russian diplomats as a just response. This latest action by Russia fits into a pattern of behaviour in which Russia disregards the international rules-based order, undermines the sovereignty and security of countries worldwide, and attempts to subvert and discredit western democratic institutions and processes. The United States is working together with our allies and partners to ensure that this kind of abhorrent attack does not happen again.”

The supportive statement from the White House comes after the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, told the UN Security Council that the US stood in “absolute solidarity” with its ally, the United Kingdom. In a strong rebuttal against the Russian government on the subject, Haley said that the US shared the UK’s assessment of the events that took place.

“The United States believes that Russia is responsible for the attack on two people in the United Kingdom using a military-grade nerve agent,” Haley said.

UK prime minister Theresa May has said that the diplomats, who have been identified as “undeclared intelligence officers”, have a week to leave the country. The UK described the poison as “a weapon so horrific that it is banned in war”.

Russia vehemently denies involvement in the attempted assassination. Mrs May has said that Russia has met the accusations with “sarcasm, contempt and defiance”.

Both victims are currently in a critical but stable condition in hospital.

Trump's America

Trump’s America: The Story So Far

His presidency has been without doubt one of the most bizarre and erratic in America’s 241-year history—whether you love or loathe him, Trump is here to stay.

Donald J Trump, self-styled ‘stable genius’ and billionaire businessman, hardly sleeps, loves cable TV’s Fox & Friends, lives in perpetual campaign mode, dines on the finest American fast-food and uses Twitter as the strangest form of diplomacy. He also thrives on controversy, relentlessly seeking out his next target—be it the ‘fake news’ media or his Democratic foes.

College News takes a look at Trump’s America, his administration so far and the legacy it’s likely to leave.

A nation divided?

For his supporters, president Trump is the best thing to happen to the USA for years. He is the standard-bearer of American business, he stands up for the nation and champions the “America first” mantra. Indeed, support from his loyal base is staunch; thousands turn up to his rallies, worshipping their idol with pseudo-religious enthusiasm.

But millions of Americans regard Trump with dismay. For them, he is a divisive figurean egotist who stokes tensions over race, the media and the environment. His approval ratings are low—they linger at around 40 percent, according to Gallupyet if Trump has taught us anything, it’s that he repeatedly defies the pollsters and disproves the naysayers.

In an administration plagued by allegations of Russian collusion, accusations of racism and serial sacking of senior staff, Trump seems invincible. What’s more, the divisions he instils serve only to make him more defiant and eager to remain in power.

The predictability of Trump’s unpredictability

One thing is certain. The most predictable thing about Trump is his unpredictability—making it nigh on impossible for political commentators to foresee his next move. From his inauguration to his state of the nation address, Trump’s tone has fluctuated. He now seems more conciliatory, offering something of an olive branch to the Democrats, though this could change at any time, as appeasement certainly isn’t his style.

What we will see of the president over the next years is anyone’s guess. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the show—because that’s what Trump does best: he entertains. (Though some may question the sustainability of an entertainer at the political helm of the free world.)

A businessman in the White House

Trump is not a politician. Rather, he is a ruthless businessman who will stop at nothing to get the job done. As such, his cutthroat approach to business has permeated the White House, with the hiring and firing of senior staff as commonplace as his scolding of the mainstream media.

Perhaps this is what the American political system needs: someone who takes no prisoners to push an agenda through. Trump has signed 33 percent more executive orders than Obama in his first year. Which is awkward, given he criticised Obama on at least six occasions for making them. In January 2016, he said: “We have a president who can’t get things done so he keeps signing executive orders all over the place.” Nonetheless, you can’t deny Trump’s got guts; and this appeals to his unswerving devotees. They love the fact that, finally, someone is strong for America, asserting the country’s place on the capricious world stage.

The ‘Trump Bump’

Much has been made of the so-called Trump Bumpthe positive the effect the president has supposedly had on the U.S. economy since his election in 2016. However, the real question is how much of this positive sentiment can be rightly attributed to the policy plans of the new administration?

Since Trump’s election, the S&P 500 is up 20.4 percent. Only George H.W. Bush (23.7 percent), Lyndon Johnson (22.4 percent), John F Kennedy (24 percent) and Franklin D Roosevelt (23.8 percent) have beaten Trump. Yet, we must be careful not to take this arbitrary yardstick as gospel. Indeed, there are warning signs markets may be in imminent decline. The alleged ‘Trump Bump’, it seems, may well be short lived.

Race

The successor of Obama, America’s first ever black commander-in-chief, has proved to be one of the most contentious figures in U.S. history and, more often than not, race is at the center of the controversy.

From his refusal to condemn white supremacists after a march in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a civil rights activist was killed, to which he said: “I think there is blame on both sides”, to the condemnation of American football players who “take the knee” during the national anthem to make a statement against racial injustice, Trump has done little to heal America’s endemic during social malaise around race.

The majority of Americans (60 percent) say Trump’s election has led to worse race relations in the U.S., while just eight percent say it has led to better relations, according to a national survey by Pew Research Center.

If African American turnout at the next general election is high, the Republicans could pay the price.

Russia

Trump’s first year in office has been dogged by charges of collusion between his election campaign and Russia. The steady drip of revelations may hit fever pitch in 2018, with Robert Mueller’s appointment last May threatening to bring matters to a climax.

Should Mueller accuse Trump of collusion, there will be calls for impeachment, but Republicans on Capitol Hill are unlikely to heed them. Meanwhile the world waits for Trump to utter anything vaguely critical about Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s legacy

While most people have vehement feelings about Trump, a few inevitably haven’t made up their minds, preferring to let the results of his administration speak for themselves. Regardless of your opinion, Trump will go down in history as one of the most colourful, yet deeply notorious, presidents of all time. He is the product of an era of political populism and has ridden the wave spectacularly well.

Trump—a deft maneuverer—may not be a bona fide politician, but he has read and played America’s political pulse with enviable skill. For this, he will always be remembered.

Further reading: Donald Trump’s First Days as President

Video Game Violence

Trump to Host Video Game Violence Meeting

In response to the atrocious Florida school shooting that killed 17 students last month, president Donald Trump is to host a video games violence meeting on 9 March with gaming industry professionals. Trump has often voiced his opinion that violent video games were “shaping young people’s thoughts.”

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said “As we continue to work toward creating school safety programs that protect all children, the president will be meeting with video game industry leaders and members of Congress to discuss violent video game exposure and the correlation to aggression and desensitization in children.”

Often the first to be blamed for real-life violent actions, the gaming industry has historically vehemently defended itself against such claims, saying that there is no evidence to suggest that it is true.

The Electronic Software Association (ESA) who represent the gaming industry in the United States, has said that they will be attending the video games violence meeting held by Mr Trump.

The ESA said, “The upcoming meeting at the White House will provide the opportunity to have a fact-based conversation about video game ratings, our industry’s commitment to parents, and the told we provide to make informed entertainment choices.”

CEO Strauss Zelnick, of the company that makes game favorite Grand Theft Auto, and Robert Altman, chaiman and CEO of parent company that produced Fallout will also be in attendance.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), an industry organization responsible for content and age guidance for videogames, will also be in attendance.

The White House’s press secretary Sarah Sanders has said that violence in video games was “certainly something that should be looked at and something that we want to have the conversation about.”

The president has voiced his concerns regarding video game violence translating into reality. On Twitter in 2012, Trump tweeted: “Video game violence & glorification must be stopped.”

Further reading: Dick’s Sporting Goods to No Longer Sell Assault-style Rifles

Trump Lifts Import Ban on Elephant Trophies

Trump Lifts Import Ban on Elephant Trophies

Donald Trump is to lift the import ban on African elephant trophies into the US, overturning regulations previously made by the Obama-administration.

The new administration has reversed regulations made in 2014 which forbid big game hunters to bring elephant body parts—or “trophies”—back to the US from Zimbabwe or Zambia. The Obama-administration found that hunting did not “enhance the survival of the African elephant in the wild.”

A new statement released by the US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) November 16 stated: “The US Fish & Wildlife Service will begin issuing permits to allow the import of sport-hunted trophies from elephants hunted in Zimbabwe.” The statement advocated the sport saying, “Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit the conservation of certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve the species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation.”

The elephant has been listed as a “threatened species” since 1978 under the Endangered Species Act.  Much of Africa’s megafauna is rapidly declining as a result of poaching.

This decision to lift the ban on elephant trophies has been championed by the National Rifle Association (NRA). Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said that the decision supported “sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting.” Conservation groups fear that lobbying by these kinds of organisations will have a detrimental effect on big game species in the wild.

The chief executive of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, condemned the “reprehensible” plans to lift the import ban on elephant trophies. “Let’s be clear: elephants are on the list of threatened species; the global community had rallied to stem the ivory trade; and now, the US government is giving American trophy hunters the green light to kill them.”

President Trump’s sons faced backlash in 2012 when they published photos on social media with game they had just hunted. Donald Trump Jr posted an image of himself next to a deceased elephant, holding up its severed tail.

Trump told TMZ in 2012, “My sons love hunting. They’re hunters and they’ve become good at it… I am not a believer in hunting and I’m surprised they like it.”