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Donald Trump Threatens ‘National Emergency’ Over Border Wall Funding

The paralysis of the administration affected 10 government agencies, including Transportation and Justice, along with dozens of national parks, which are popular tourist attractions

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Caravans from Central America have inflamed the debate over U.S. immigration policy, with U.S. President Donald Trump using the migrants to try to secure backing for his plan to build a border wall on the frontier with Mexico., VOA

US President Donald Trump has threatened to declare a national emergency that would allow him to order construction of a border wall with Mexico without Congressional approval of the needed funds.

The President’s remarks came on Friday after he met senior Democrats, who refused his requests for funding, CNN reported. The impasse has seen Trump withhold support for a bill to fully fund the government till he gets money for the border wall.

He said he was prepared for the partial government shutdown — now in its third week — to last years. Around 800,000 federal workers have been without pay since December 22.

“I can do it if I want,” Trump told a press conference when asked about the possibility of starting construction on the wall without a go-ahead from Congress, due to the Democrats’ refusal to approve its financing.

“We can call a national emergency and build it very quickly… I haven’t done it. I may do it. If we can do it through the negotiating process, we’re giving that a shot.”

Trump considered the idea of building a barrier of “artistically designed steel slats” as an alternative to a cement wall, though he gave no details about that possibility.

He said there was an immediate need for $5.6 billion for the wall because “we’re not talking about games, we’re talking about national security. It’s a problem of terrorists.”

Trump, U.S.
Donald Trump. VOA

Democrats were equally dug in, saying the matter of a border barrier should only be brought up once the government has reopened. “We cannot resolve this until we open up government and we made that very clear to the President,” Democrat House Speaker Pelosi said after the White House meeting.

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said: “We told the President we needed the government open. He resisted.”

White House and Congress officials will scheduled to meet later on Saturday in a fresh bid to resolve the standoff.

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Donald Trump said he designated a group of aides, including Vice President Mike Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, to participate in the weekend discussions, which he described as meant to “determine what we’re going to do about the border”.

The government has been in a partial shutdown since December 22 as negotiations between Republicans and Democrats in Congress remain blocked by Trump’s demand to include in the budget proposal funding for the border wall.

The paralysis of the administration affected 10 government agencies, including Transportation and Justice, along with dozens of national parks, which are popular tourist attractions. (IANS)

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Trump Accuses Social Media Platforms of Favoring his Opponents

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment. Alphabet's Google, which owns YouTube, did not immediately comment.

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FILE - A man reads tweets on his phone in front of a displayed Twitter logo. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday accused social media platforms Facebook, YouTube and Twitter of favoring his Democratic opponents over him and his fellow Republicans.

“But fear not, we will win anyway, just like we did before! #MAGA,” he said in a tweet. MAGA refers to Trump’s 2016 campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

Facebook and Twitter declined to comment. Alphabet’s Google, which owns YouTube, did not immediately comment.

The president and other conservatives have repeatedly complained that these big tech platforms treat them unfairly.

Trump has previously accused Twitter of restricting the visibility of prominent U.S. Republicans, without any providing evidence, and the avid social media user has promised to investigate the company’s practices.

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FILE – House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Trump and other conservatives say Twitter targets fellow Republicans with a practice dubbed “shadow banning,” limiting the visibility of a Twitter user, including in the platform’s auto-populated dropdown search box.

Representative Devin Nunes of California has sued Twitter over the alleged practice, according to court documents.

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Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has said that algorithms have been changed to fix that issue.

The Justice Department held a meeting last fall between federal officials and state attorneys general to discuss allegations that conservative ideas are suppressed online, but so far no concrete action has been taken as a result. (VOA)