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US: Shutdown looms as talks stall over detention policies | USA News

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Bipartisan border-security negotiations seeking to avert another government shutdown in the United States have broken down in a dispute over immigration detention policies, according to lawmakers and aides.

“The talks are stalled right now,” Republican Senator Richard Shelby told the Fox News Sunday TV programme, adding that he hoped negotiators would return to the table soon.

Efforts to resolve an impasse over border security funding extended into the weekend as a special congressional negotiating panel aimed to reach a deal by Monday.

The group of 17 lawmakers are hoping to reach a deal to allow time for the legislation to pass the US House of Representatives and Senate and get to President Donald Trump by Friday, when federal funding is due to expire.

Democratic Senator Jon Tester played down any breakdown in talks. “It is a negotiation. Negotiations seldom go smooth all the way through,” he told the Fox programme. He said he was hopeful a deal could be reached.

However, no further talks were reportedly scheduled.






State of the Union: What Trump said on wall, economy, Venezuela (3:26)

Trump agreed on January 25 to end a 35-day partial US government shutdown without getting the $5.7bn he had demanded from Congress for a wall along the border with Mexico, handing a political victory to Democrats.

Instead, a three-week spending deal was reached with congressional leaders to give legislators time to resolve their disagreements about how to address security along the border.

One sticking point has been Democrats’ demands for funding fewer detention beds for people detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) than the Trump administration seeks. Republicans want to increase the number as part of their drive to speed immigrant deportations.

“I am hoping we can get off the dime later in the day or the morning,” Shelby said. “We have some problems with the Democrats dealing with ICE detaining criminals … They want a cap on them. We don’t want a cap on that.”

While a number of Republicans in Congress have made it clear they would not embrace another shutdown, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said he could not rule it out.

“You absolutely cannot,” Mulvaney, who is also Trump’s acting chief of staff, told NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday. “Is a shutdown entirely off the table? The answer is no.” 

But Mulvaney did signal that the White House would prefer not to have a repeat of the last shutdown, which stretched more than a month, left more than 800,000 government workers without paychecks, forced a postponement of the State of the Union address and sent Trump’s poll numbers tumbling.






TALK TO AL JAZEERA: Migrants at the US-Mexico border: Overcoming walls and prejudice (26:11)

As support in his own party began to splinter, Trump surrendered after the shutdown hit 35 days without getting money for the wall.

This time, Mulvaney signaled that the White House may be willing to take whatever congressional money comes – even if less than Trump’s goal –  and then supplement that with other government funds.

“The president is going to build the wall. That’s our attitude at this point,” Mulvaney said on Fox. “We’ll take as much money as you can give us, and we’ll go find the money somewhere else, legally, and build that wall on the southern border, with or without Congress.”

The president’s supporters have suggested that Trump could use executive powers to divert money from the federal budget for wall construction, though it was unclear if he would face challenges in Congress or the courts. One provision of the law lets the defense department provide support for counterdrug activities.

But declaring a national emergency remained an option, Mulvaney said, even though many in the administration have cooled on the prospect. A number of powerful Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have also warned against the move, believing it usurps power from Congress and could set a precedent for a future Democratic president to declare an emergency for a liberal political cause.

The fight over ICE detentions goes to the core of each party’s view on immigration.

Republicans favour tough enforcement of immigration laws and have little interest in easing them if Democrats refuse to fund the Mexican border wall. Democrats oppose the proposed wall and, in return for border security funds, want to curb what they see as unnecessarily harsh enforcement by ICE.

As most budget disputes go, differences over hundreds of millions of dollars are usually imperceptible and easily solved. But this battle more than most is driven by political symbolism – whether Trump will be able to claim he delivered on his long-running pledge to “build the wall” or newly empowered congressional Democrats’ ability to thwart him.

Predictably each side blamed the other for the stall in negotiations.

“We were, you know, progressing well,” Republican Tom Graves said on Sunday on ABC’s This Week. ”I thought we were tracking pretty good over the last week. And it just seems over the last 24 hours or so the goalposts have been moving from the Democrats.”

House Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, a Democrat, countered by telling the same show, “The numbers are all over the place.

“I think the big problem here is this has become pretty much an ego negotiation,” Yarmouth added. “And this really isn’t over substance.”

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Ottawa announces new funding to combat online child abuse

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Ottawa has announced $22 million in funding to fight online child abuse.

Noting that police-reported incidents of child pornography in Canada increased by 288 per cent between 2010 and 2017, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Tuesday.

It follows a London meeting last week that focused on the exploitation of children between Goodale and his counterparts from the United States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand, collectively known as the Five Eyes intelligence group.

Major internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Microsoft, were also at the meeting and agreed to a set of rules the members of the group proposed to remove child pornography from the internet quicker.

On Tuesday, Goodale warned internet companies they had to be better, faster and more open when in comes to fighting child abuse on line.

In this Friday, Jan. 12, 2018 photo, detectives use the Cellebrite system to extract information from cellphones at the State Police facility in Hamilton Township, N.J. “Operation Safety Net,” the results of which were announced in December, netted 79 people suspected of exploiting children. (Thomas P. Costello/Asbury Park Press/Canadian Press)

“If human harm is done, if a child is terrorized for the rest of their life because of what happened to them on the internet, if there are other damages and costs, then maybe the platform that made that possible should bear the financial consequences,” Goodale said.

The government plan includes $2.1 million to intensify engagement with digital industry to develop new tools online and support effective operating principles, $4.9 million for research, public engagement, awareness and collaboration with non-governmental organizations and $15.25 million to internet child exploitation units in provincial and municipal police forces across the country.

Goodale said the strategy recognizes that technology is “increasingly facilitating the easy borderless access to vast volumes of abhorrent images.”

That, he said, makes investigations increasingly complex,

“This is a race where the course is always getting longer and more complicated and advancing into brand new areas that hadn’t been anticipated five years ago or a year ago or even a week ago,” Goodale said.

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Gas prices expected to dip in Ottawa

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If you can wait an extra day to fill up the gas tank, your bank account might thank you.

Roger McKnight of Enpro is predicting a five cent dip in gas prices Wednesday night at midnight.

This comes after a four cent drop this past Friday, just ahead of the August long weekend.

McKnight said the reason for the drop, both last week and this week, is due to comments made by US President Donald Trump. 

He says after the drop, the price will be, on average, 118.9 cents/litre in the Ottawa region.

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Oka asks Ottawa to freeze Mohawk land deal, send RCMP to Kanesatake

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The town of Oka is asking the federal and provincial governments to slap a moratorium on a proposed land grant to the local Mohawk community in Kanesatake and to establish an RCMP detachment on the First Nations territory to deal with illegal cannabis sales outlets.

The requests were contained in two resolutions adopted Tuesday night by the Oka town council.

The administration of Oka Mayor Pascal Quevillon held its first public meeting since the start of the controversy that pitted the town council against the Kanesatake band council over a decision by a local promoter to give local lands to the Mohawk community.

The three resolutions are addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, Quebec Premier François Legault’s government and the Kanesatake band council led by Grand Chief Serge Otsi Simon.

As each resolution was read into the record, Quevillon stressed that the town of Oka was only looking to live in peaceful cohabitation with the Mohawk community.

The town also called upon Ottawa to establish a consultation process that would take into account the concerns of residents in Oka and  Kanesatake.

Quevillon’s administration also wants access to the plans detailing what lands are at the centre of negotiations between the federal government and the Mohawk community for purchase, suggesting the talks are simply a disguised form of expropriation.

“They’re giving money to (the Mohawks) to buy our land and annex it to their territory,” Quevillon said.

Despite its demands, the Oka council adopted an official statement addressed to the Kanesatake band council saying the town’s population wanted dialogue and peaceful cohabitation, with Quevillon citing the 300 years of close links between the two communities.

During the council meeting’s question period, some residents suggested that the council deal with other groups that say they are speaking for Kanesatake, including Mohawk traditionalists. Mayor Quevillon replied that the town would only deal with the band council and did so out of respect for Grand Chief Simon.

The mayor also argued that the RCMP, a federal police force, was best suited to be deployed in Kanesatake, where it would ensure the law would be respected, particularly on the issue of illegal cannabis shops.

Quevillon contended such a deployment was the only way for both communities to work together toward their mutual economic development.

Meanwhile, the apology Grand Chief Simon has said he is expecting from Quevillon for remarks he made earlier this summer about the Mohawk community in Kanesatake does not appear to be coming any time soon.

Asked by a resident if he would apologize, Quevillon left the answer to those citizens who attended the meeting, the vast majority of whom replied, “no.”

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