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Trump threatens to declare emergency as he heads to border | USA News

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US President Donald Trump threatened on Thursday to declare a national emergency to circumvent Congress if he can’t reach a deal with Democrats to fund his promised border wall, which has been at the centre of the ongoing partial government shutdown.

The comments came ahead of his planned trip to Texas to press his case that the country is facing a crisis that can only be solved by spending billions of dollars to construct a wall along the border with Mexico.

His trip to the border town of McAllen, Texas, comes on the 20th day the shutdown that has left some 800,000 Americans out of work or working without pay. 

Prior to the shutdown, he said he would be “proud” to shut the government down over the issue but has since blamed Democrats.

He also has been considering whether to declare a national emergency and use it to circumvent Congress by building the wall with money allocated for the Department of Defense. 

On Thursday, Trump said it would be “very surprising” for him not to declare a national emergency if he can’t make a deal with Democrats.

“I’m not prepared to do that yet, but if I have to, I will,” Trump told reporters. “We’re either going to have a win – make a compromise – because I think a compromise is a win for everybody – or I will declare a national emergency,” he said.

It’s not clear what a compromise would entail, as Trump has so far refused to give up on his demand for $5.7bn in border wall funding, and if he went through with the threat to declare a national emergency, it will likely be challenged in the courts.  

Democrats who control the House of Representatives refuse to approve the funding, saying a border wall is ineffective, expensive and immoral. They have instead said they will allocate more than $1.3bn for border security measures that don’t include a wall. 

Texas visit

On his trip to Texas, Trump will travel with the state’s two US senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz. After Trump’s midday visit, Cornyn will host a roundtable discussion with area mayors, judges, law enforcement personnel and others involved with the border issue. 

McAllen is located in the Rio Grande Valley, the busiest part of the border where individuals cross between official ports of entry.

Trump has expressed his own doubts that his appearance and remarks in Texas will change any minds as he seeks money for the wall that has been his signature promise since his presidential campaign.

On December 22, about 25 percent of the government – excluding mainly the Department of Defense and health-related programmes – shut down because of Congress’ inability to complete work by a September deadline on funding. 

‘Another temper tantrum’ 

The impasse has continued while Trump’s meetings with Democratic congressional leaders have ended in bitterness. On Wednesday, he stormed out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, calling it “a total waste of time”. 

Trump says undocumented immigrants and illegal drugs are streaming across the border from Mexico, despite statistics that show irregular immigration is at a 20-year low and that many drug shipments likely are smuggled through official ports of entry.

Democrats accuse Trump of using fear tactics and spreading misinformation about the border situation in order to fulfill a 2016 campaign promise as he looks toward his race for re-election in 2020.

“Again, we saw a temper tantrum because he couldn’t get his way,” Schumer told reporters on Wednesday after Trump walked out the meeting with Democrats. 





Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi speak to the news media as they depart the West Wing after meeting with Trump on Wednesday [Carlos Barria/Reuters] 

The president has been working to make his case to the public, and bolster any congressional Republicans who might be wavering. 

Pressure on them could intensify on Friday when hundreds of thousands of federal employees – including border patrol agents and airport security screeners – miss their first paychecks.

On Tuesday, Trump said in his first prime-time television address from the Oval Office that there was a growing security and humanitarian crisis at the border.

On Wednesday, he visited Republican politicians at the US Capitol, emerging from a meeting to say his party was “very unified”. 

Less than two hours later, eight Republicans in the House voted with majority Democrats on a bill that would reopen the Treasury Department and some other programmes, and did not include any funding for the wall.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear, however, that he will not allow that chamber to vote on any measure that does not includes wall funding.

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Ottawa transit commission hopes to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for OC Transpo workers

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Ottawa’s transit commission is pushing local and provincial health officials to recognize the role OC Transpo operators have played in keeping the city running during the COVID-19 pandemic, hoping to bump train and bus drivers in the vaccination queue amid a recent surge in coronavirus infections affecting transit workers.

More than 100 OC Transpo staff across the entire organization have tested positive for the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, according to an update at Wednesday morning’s transit commission meeting.

Of those cases, 26 employees are currently recovering from the disease in self-isolation.

OC Transpo has seen a recent jump in COVID-19 cases, with Ottawa city council receiving reports of eight operators testing positive for the virus over a recent eight-day period.

Transit commissioner Sarah Wright-Gilbert attempted to find out how many of the total cases are traced to workplace transmission, but OC Transpo boss John Manconi said he’s been advised by medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches that he can’t share that information for privacy reasons.

Transit operators are listed in the second priority group of essential workers as part of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccine sequencing plans, but several commissioners speaking Wednesday wanted to get the city’s bus and train drivers bumped higher in the order.

Councillors Riley Brockington and Glen Gower both put forward motions looking to get front-line OC Transpo employees prioritization in vaccine sequencing, but others pointed out that the much-debated public health topic of who gets the vaccine and when is well beyond the scope of the transit commission.

“We are not in a position in transit commission to be decreeing, or making an edict, about what group of essential workers is more at risk than others and should be prioritized. That should be left up to public health experts,” Wright-Gilbert said.

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli, who also chairs the Ottawa Board of Health, reflected on the board’s four-plus-hour meeting on Monday evening, during which vaccine sequencing and prioritizing essential workers dominated the conversation.

“Vaccine sequencing is obviously a very difficult maze to get through,” he said.

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COVID-19: Ottawa police announce end of 24-7 presence at Ontario-Quebec border

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Less than two days after the Ontario government’s latest COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, calling for non-essential traffic to be stopped at the province’s borders with Quebec and Manitoba, the Ottawa Police Service has announced it is stopping its 24-hour checkpoints.

According to a statement issued by the service Tuesday evening, the around-the-clock border checkpoints were set to end as of 8 p.m. on Tuesday in favour of rotating checkpoints across the city throughout the day until Ontario’s temporary regulations end.

“Since the onset of the border operations, the OPS has been working closely with Ottawa Public Health (OPH) along with local stakeholders and interprovincial stakeholders (the City of Ottawa, the City of Gatineau, the Ontario Provincial Police etc.) to assess any local public health, traffic and safety impacts. The assessment resulted in today’s operational changes,” the statement said.

“The operational changes announced today are designed to better ensure the health and safety of all, to minimize delays and/or hazards for travellers and to ensure essential workers can get to their places of employment on time.”

The statement also said the police service, while working to comply with the provincial order, was focused on education and enforcement actions that “support improved public health outcomes and respect the concerns of our most marginalized and racialized communities”

Officers said they will be conducting daily assessments on border crossings and that there could be further changes.

In a statement to Global News, a spokesperson for Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that the border closures are ultimately subject to the discretion of local police enforcing the regulations.

“Local police services are best positioned to determine the operational deployments necessary to ensure the continued safety of their communities,” the spokesperson said, noting that the order’s regulations still apply to individuals entering the province.

The temporary order restricts Quebec residents from entering Ontario. If prompted, individuals must stop when directed by an enforcement officials and provide their reason for entering the province.

The main exemptions to the restrictions include if the person’s main home is in the province, if they work in Ontario, if they’re transporting goods, if they’re exercising Indigenous or treaty rights, if they need health care or if there’s a basis on compassionate grounds.

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COVID-19 vaccines in Ottawa: Nearly half of all residents in their 60s have at least one dose

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Public Health’s latest COVID-19 vaccination update shows that nearly half of all residents 60 to 69 years old have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, a figure that has all but doubled in the past week.

OPH’s COVID-19 vaccination dashboard shows 58,000 residents 60 to 69 have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, accounting for 49.3 per cent of that age group’s population in Ottawa. Last Wednesday, OPH reported 30,000 residents 60 to 69 had had at least one dose, which was 25.4 per cent.

As age demographics get younger, the population grows larger and the coverage by percentage may appear to grow more slowly, even if clinics are vaccinating greater numbers of people. For example, the latest figures show that 83 per cent of people aged 70 to 79 have had at least one dose. By raw population that’s 60,000 people, only slightly higher than half of all people in their 60s.

Vaccinations are open through the Ontario portal to anyone 60 and older and, this week, the AstraZeneca vaccine was approved for administration at pharmacies and primary care clinics to anyone in Ontario 40 and older.

OPH reported a new shipment this week of 25,740 doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. To date, Ottawa has received 305,130 doses of COVID-19 vaccines from the provincial government.

The number of eligible residents (i.e. 16 and older) with at least one dose of a vaccine is now up to 28 per cent.

Tuesday was Ottawa’s second-busiest day for vaccinations overall, with the OPH reporting 9,729 shots administered. Last Friday saw 9,887 shots administered in a single day.

QUICK STATS

  • Ottawa residents with at least one dose: 248,668
  • Ottawa residents with two doses: 26,722
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with at least one dose: 28 per cent
  • Percent of eligible population (residents 16 and older) with two doses: 3 per cent
  • Percent of total population with at least one dose: 24 per cent
  • Percent of total population with two doses: 3 per cent

VACCINATION COVERAGE BY AGE FOR OTTAWA RESIDENTS WITH AT LEAST ONE DOSE

  • 10-19: 1.6 per cent (1,804 people)
  • 20-29: 8.3 per cent (13,452 people)
  • 30-39: 9.5 per cent (14,999 people)
  • 40-49: 12.9 per cent (17,350 people)
  • 50-59: 28.8 per cent (40,320 people)
  • 60-69: 49.3 per cent (58,627 people)
  • 70-79: 82.9 per cent (62,808 people)
  • 80-89: 87.5 per cent (29,358 people)
  • 90+: 89.2 per cent (7,893 people)
  • Unknown age: 2,057 people 

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