Thursday March 21, 2019
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Will Not Bend in Wall Funding Demand: Donald Trump

Democratic leaders call the idea of a wall an immoral wasteful pipe dream.

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Trump not declaring emergency 'right now'. VOA

Another work week begins in the U.S. Monday – but not for hundreds of thousands of federal employees forced to stay home because of the government shutdown.

Hundreds of thousands of others will be on the job this week, but will not get a paycheck.

President Donald Trump said Sunday he can “relate” to the hardship of not getting paid. But he is telling federal workers to “make adjustments” because he said he will not bend in his demand for $5 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to prevent illegal immigration.

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Visitors take their pictures at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, as a partial government shutdown stretches into its third week. VOA

Congressional Democrats refuse to include money for a wall in the federal budget, with the standoff having prompted the Trump administration to order the partial shutdown.

Trump said Sunday he could make a deal with Democratic leaders “in 20 minutes if they want to. If they don’t want to, it’s (the shutdown is) going to go on for a long time.”

He also said the barrier along the southern border could be a fence made of steel instead of a wall made of concrete if that will make people happier.

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A border patrol office inside his vehicle guards the border fence at the U.S. side of San Diego, Calif., as seen from Tijuana, Mexico, Jan. 2, 2019. VOA

But Republican Senator Susan Collins called the argument over whether the wall is steel or concrete “bizarre” and says reopening the government must be Congress’ top priority.

“I’ve never thought that shutdowns are an appropriate means of trying to achieve any kind of solution. This isn’t a matter of one side or the other caving in. It’s a matter of getting to a compromise and that is a sign of strength,” Collins told NBC’s Meet the Press.

Trump says national security is his top priority and claims many federal workers are glad to give up their paychecks for a wall to stop drugs, terrorists and criminal gangs from crossing into the county from Mexico.

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The Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum is seen shuttered during the partial government shutdown, Jan. 4, 2019, in Washington. VOA

Trump says he is considering declaring a national emergency which would allow him to build a wall without congressional approval – a move some Democrats say would be challenged in the courts.

“Look, if [President] Harry Truman couldn’t nationalize the steel industry during wartime, this president doesn’t have the power to declare an emergency and build a multi-billion dollar wall on the border,” Congressman Adam Schiff said on CNN.

Also Read: U.S. And China Hold Fresh Trade Talks

Democratic leaders call the idea of a wall an immoral wasteful pipe dream. They say they are interested in border security too, but believe there are better and more tangible ways toward that end. (VOA)

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U.S. President Donald Trump Suggests, Brazil Should be Able To Join The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance

Until now, Brazilian diplomacy was a zero-sum kind of relationship, not aligned with U.S. interests and "sort of hostile in certain ways, at least at the bureaucratic level"

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President Donald Trump greets Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 19, 2019. VOA

The leaders of the Western Hemisphere’s two largest economies are pledging closer trade ties and enhanced military cooperation, with U.S. President Donald Trump even suggesting Brazil should be able to join the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO).

Trump said for that to happen, however, he would “have to talk to a lot of people.”

The U.S. president, at a joint news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also pledged American support for Brazil to join the 36-member Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), which includes most of the highly-developed economies.

Bolsonaro, speaking in Portuguese, said his visit begins a new chapter of cooperation between Brazil and the United States, adding that with his recent election, “Brazil has a president who is not anti-American, which is unprecedented in recent decades.”

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“All options are open,” Trump reiterated when asked by a reporter in the White House Rose Garden if military intervention in Venezuela by the United States is possible. VOA

The retired military officer is known as the “Trump of the Tropics” for his far-right agenda of cracking down on crime and corruption, and nostalgia for Brazil’s era of military dictatorship.

The two leaders, who met for the first time Tuesday, also discussed their mutual support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by most Western countries, including the United States and Brazil.

“All options are open,” Trump reiterated when asked by a reporter in the White House Rose Garden if military intervention in Venezuela by the United States is possible.

Trump noted that Washington has yet to apply really tough sanctions on Caracas, where Nicolas Maduro — who the U.S. president called “Cuba’s puppet” — remains in power with the backing of Venezuela’s military.

In oil-rich Venezuela there is no food, water or air-conditioning, according to Trump, while Bolsonaro said “people are starving to death” there.

“We need to put an end to this,” Bolsonaro added.

Space launches

Just ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, the United States and Brazil signed an agreement to support American space launches from Brazil. The State Department says the pact will ensure the proper handling of sensitive U.S. technology consistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy, the Missile Technology Control, and U.S. export control laws and regulations.

The two leaders “agreed to take the steps necessary to enable Brazil to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Global Entry Program,” according to a joint statement issued following the news conference.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the Oval Office of the White House, March 19, 2019, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the Oval Office of the White House, March 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

‘Common ground’

The two countries have never had particularly close relations, with Brazil traditionally wary of American influence in Latin America. But now their two leaders find themselves in sync on concerns about the Maduro regime in Venezuela, Cuba’s involvement in that country, and the threat from China’s rising influence on domestic politics in South and Central America.

Also Read: Here’s Why Some Young Adults Engage in Unsafe Sex

Until now, Brazilian diplomacy was a zero-sum kind of relationship, not aligned with U.S. interests and “sort of hostile in certain ways, at least at the bureaucratic level,” former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega told VOA.

“If we can find common ground with them on some key specific initiatives,” the U.S. relationship with Brazil and South America, as a whole, can be realigned, according to Noriega, an American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow.(VOA)