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Trump threatens to declare emergency on border visit | 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 an ongoing partial government shutdown.

Trump flew to the Texas border with Mexico to try to bolster his case that the country is facing a crisis which can only be solved by spending billions of dollars to construct a wall.

“We can declare a national emergency. We shouldn’t have to,” Trump told reporters. “This is just common sense.”

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

Prior to the shutdown, Trump 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 were to go through with the threat to declare a national emergency, it would 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

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

Trump travelled there with the state’s two US senators, Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

Signaling he’s ready to maintain the game of brinksmanship, Trump wrote on Twitter on arrival in Texas that he will scrap a visit to the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which runs from January 21-25.

Trump had been expected to make a brief appearance at the influential get-together, attended by many world leaders, but said that opposition Democratic “intransigence” required him to stay home.

But Trump has also 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 meet 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 fulfil a 2016 campaign promise as he looks towards 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 of 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 paycheques.

“I have never been more depressed about moving forward than right now. I just don’t see a pathway forward,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a Trump ally, who said it was time for the president to declare a national emergency.

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 along with 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 include wall funding.

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Ottawa families give mixed reviews for online schooling

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So, how’s it going with online school? Families reached by CBC Ottawa seem to have mixed reviews. 

Masuma Khan is a mother of two. Her seven-year-old, Hana Wyndham in Grade 2, is attending French immersion virtual school. Masuma is grateful it’s an option, but can’t help notice a lot of down time.

“There’s a lot of, ‘are you on mute?’ In terms of the amount of learning that’s actually happening, it does seem to be not that high,” said Masuma.

Parents who kept their children at home this fall are in the minority, but they still form a significant chunk of families in Ottawa.

In the city’s largest school board, the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB), about 27 per cent of elementary students and 22 per cent of high school students chose online learning. The Ottawa Catholic School Board says roughly a quarter of its students are online.

For Masuma, the decision to keep her daughter home was complex: extended family members are immunocompromised and she worried the in-person learning environment would be unpleasant because of precautions. She also felt her daughter might benefit from being supported at home.

“She doesn’t necessarily enjoy school. I also found out during the pandemic that she was being bullied [last year],” said Masuma. “So I thought, why not try from home?”

To help her daughter socialize face-to-face with other kids, Masuma enrolled Hana in Baxter Forest School, an alternative education program where kids spend most of their time outside, one day a week. Hana also attends virtual Arabic classes two days a week after school. 

Masuma’s husband and Hana share the living room work space, and Masuma admits he does the lion’s share of helping their daughter stay on task. There is a possibility that he’ll be required to return to his office in the new year.

“When he goes back to work … it’s probably going to be a little bit more difficult.”

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No school closures after Christmas holiday break, says Ontario education minister

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Ontario elementary and secondary schools will not close for an extended winter break, says Education Minister Stephen Lecce.

Closures aren’t needed given Ontario’s “strong safety protocols, low levels of (COVID-19) transmission and safety within our schools,” Lecce announced Wednesday afternoon. He said he had consulted with Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams and the province’s public health measures advisory table.

That ended speculation about school buildings remaining closed in January for a period of time after the Christmas break.

Earlier in the week, Lecce told reporters the government was considering having students spend “some period out of class” in January, perhaps switching to online learning.

In a statement, Lecce said that even though rates of community transmission of COVID-19 are increasing, “schools have been remarkably successful at minimizing outbreaks to ensure that our kids stay safe and learning in their classrooms.”

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Windy start to the week in Ottawa

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OTTAWA — It’s a blustery Monday in the capital with wind gusts of up to 50 km/hour expected throughout the day.

Environment Canada is forecasting a high of 4 C with a 60 per cent chance of showers or flurries before the wind dies down later this evening.

There’s a chance of flurries on Tuesday as well with a high of -1 C. The overnight low will dip to an unseasonal -9 C.  

Wednesday’s high will be just -5 C with lots of sunshine.

Seasonal temperatures return for the rest of the week..

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