Trump, Obama tout clashing visions of U.S. as elections near

UNTV News   •   November 5, 2018   •   1808

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama (R) greets President-elect Donald Trump at inauguration ceremonies swearing in Trump as president on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Barack Obama made dueling election appearances on Sunday, offering sharply different views on the country’s problems but agreeing on the high stakes for voters in the final 48 hours of a tight campaign.

With opinion polls showing dozens of tight U.S. congressional and gubernatorial races in Tuesday’s election, the current and former presidents said the results would determine what kind of country Americans live in for the next two years.

“This election will decide whether we build on this extraordinary prosperity we have created,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Macon, Georgia, warning that Democrats would “take a giant wrecking ball to our economy.”

Trump campaigned with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is in a tight race with Democrat Stacey Abrams for the governor’s office.

Obama condemned Trump, without addressing him by name, and Republicans for what he described as their divisive policies and repeated lies. He hammered Trump and Republicans for repeatedly trying to repeal his signature healthcare law while at the same time claiming to support the law’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions.

“The only check right now on the behavior of these Republicans is you and your vote,” Obama told supporters in Gary, Indiana, during a rally for endangered Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly.

“The character of our country is on the ballot,” he said.

Trump and Obama are the most popular figures in their parties, and their appearances on the campaign trail are designed to stoke enthusiasm among core supporters in the late stages of a midterm congressional election widely seen as a referendum on Trump’s first two years in the White House.

Opinion polls and election forecasters have made Democrats favorites on Tuesday to pick up the 23 seats they need to capture a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, which would enable them to stymie Trump’s legislative agenda and investigate his administration.

Republicans are favored to retain their slight majority in the U.S. Senate, currently at two seats, which would let them retain the power to approve U.S. Supreme Court and other judicial nominations on straight party-line votes.

In the midst of a six-day national blitz of rallies ahead of Tuesday’s election, Trump will also appear later on Sunday in Tennessee, which hosts a vital U.S. Senate race.

HARD-LINE RHETORIC

In the final stages of the campaign, Trump has ramped up his hard-line rhetoric on immigration and cultural issues including warnings about a caravan of migrants headed to the border with Mexico and of liberal “mobs.”

He repeated those themes in Georgia, urging voters to “look at what is marching up – that’s an invasion.” He said Democrats encouraged chaos at the borders because it was good politics.

Ronna McDaniel, head of the Republican National Committee, said on ABC’s “This Week” program that the media had chosen to focus on Trump’s immigration rhetoric but the president was also emphasizing economic and job gains under his presidency.

The Labor Department on Friday reported sharply better-than-expected job creation in October, with the unemployment rate steady at a 49-year low of 3.7 percent and wages notching their best annual gain in almost a decade.

But in Indiana, Obama said Republicans were taking credit for the economic renewal that started under his presidency. “You hear those Republicans brag about how good the economy is, where do you think that started?” he asked.

Obama also appeared later on Sunday in his old home state of Illinois, which hosts a competitive governor’s race and several tight U.S. House of Representative races. Obama’s appearance on the campaign trail is his second in three days.

In the battle for the Senate, Democrats are defending seats in 10 states that Trump won in the 2016 presidential election, including a handful that he won by double digits.

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, who heads the Democratic Senate campaign arm, said it was “remarkable” that Democrats were even in striking distance of capturing the Senate given the unfavorable map they faced.

“The fact we still have a narrow path to a majority is a sea change from where we were two years ago,” he said on ABC. “These are some very close races and they are in states where Trump won big.”

As of Sunday morning, almost 34.4 million people had cast ballots early, according to the Election Project at the University of Florida, which tracks turnout. That is up 67.8 percent from the 20.5 million early votes cast in all of 2014, the last federal election when the White House was not at stake.

For all Reuters election coverage, click: here

Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Lisa Shumaker and Susan Thomas

Hong Kong doesn’t need “suggestions” after Trump Tiananmen comments – China

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang (Image grabbed from Reuters footage)

China’s foreign ministry said on Monday (August 19) that Hong Kong doesn’t need “suggestions” after U.S. President Donald Trump told media that a “Tiananmen”-style crackdown on Hong Kong’s recent anti-government protests would harm trade talks between the two countries.

“President Trump has previously said that Hong Kong is part of China and they must solve their problem by themselves. They don’t need any suggestions. We hope the U.S. side can live up their word,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told media in Beijing.

In recent weeks U.S. President Donald Trump has made a series of comments on Hong Kong via twitter, one of which urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to meet with protesters to diffuse weeks of tensions.

Hundreds of China’s People’s Armed Police (PAP) continue to be stationed at a sports stadium in Shenzhen that borders Hong Kong.

The U.S. State Department has said it was “deeply concerned” about the movements, which have prompted worries that the troops could be used to break up protests. (Reuters)

(Wang Shubing, Irene Wang, Joseph Campbell)

Trump’s visit to mass shooting sites ‘not welcome’

Robie de Guzman   •   August 7, 2019

Flowers, messages and candles reflect the grief
of the communities where two mass shootings took place last weekend.

The communities of El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, where 31 people were killed and scores more were wounded in two mass shootings last weekend, are not open to the United States President Donald Trump’s scheduled visits to their cities.

As the communities grieve, some politicians in both cities say the president isn’t welcome.

There is a mountain of flowers, messages, and candles, which is a symbol of the heartbreak and devastation calls for the mass shooting in El Paso on Saturday.

The city’s hospitals continue to treat those wounded in the attack.

Some of the survivors are still coming to terms with the horror.

“We were going to the store to get groceries for my kids. It just went chaotic as soon as we got there. My mum was in the produce department and I was in the drink department. And then I heard a gunshot,” said Christopher Grant, a survivor in El Paso attack.

The El Paso community continues to mourn the horrid events over the weekend. This is now one of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. And tensions continue to run high ahead of Trump’s visit here.

“Don’t let him come here. That’s what I have been hearing all day,” said Veronica Escobar, a congresswoman in Texas.

Escobar is among those who say Trump isn’t welcome, saying the president has repeatedly targeted the Mexican community.

“The words that he has used to describe Hispanics and immigrants have fueled a lot of that hatred and that bigotry and have inspired some violence,” she said.

Trump is also scheduled to visit Dayton, Ohio, the scene of the other mass shooting last weekend.

The mayor of the city has criticized the president for not being stronger on gun control.

Mexican authorities are threatening legal action, claiming the U.S. failed to protect their citizens that died in the El Paso attack.

Two cities devastated by mass shootings united in grief. (REUTERS)

Kin of Filipino WWII vets now banned from staying in US while waiting for green cards

Robie de Guzman   •   August 5, 2019

FILE PHOTO: Filipino World War II veterans

The United States government will no longer allow families of Filipino World War II veterans to stay in the country while waiting for the approval of their family-based green cards.

In a news release posted on its website, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its intention to terminate the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program in accordance with President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13767: Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements.

The USCIS said the order aims to better ensure that parole is used only on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the law.

“The decision to end these parole programs ends the expedited processing that was made available to these populations in a categorical fashion. It follows an extensive review to better ensure that parole authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act is exercised on a case-by-case basis when there is a significant public benefit or urgent humanitarian reason,” the agency said.

Parole is a process that allows foreign nationals to temporarily enter or remain in the United States, including those who are otherwise inadmissible.

Categorical parole refers to programs designed to consider parole for entire groups of individuals based on pre-set criteria.

Under these programs, the USCIS said individuals with approved family-based immigrant petitions have been authorized to enter and work in the United States while waiting for their green card to become available.

“Under these categorical parole programs, individuals have been able to skip the line and bypass the proper channels established by Congress,” USCIS Acting Director Ken Cuccinelli said.

“With the termination of these programs, these individuals will no longer be permitted to wait in the United States for their family-based green card to become available, consistent with the rules that apply to the rest of the world,” he added.

“USCIS is committed to exercising this limited authority in a manner that preserves the integrity of our immigration system and does not encourage aliens to unlawfully enter the United States,” Cuccinelli further stated.

Aside from the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole program, the USCIS will also be terminating Haitian Family Reunification Parole program.

While the process for the termination of these programs begins, the USCIS assured it will continue to review all remaining categorical parole programs.

“USCIS will not terminate any program until we complete required administrative changes to Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, and the form is approved for public use,” the agency said.

“The Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) process will provide notice to the affected individuals, explain the reasons USCIS is taking action, and provide public comment periods on the termination of these programs,” it added.

The USCIS said current parolees will maintain their current period of parole until its expiration, unless it is otherwise terminated. Pending cases will also be processed to completion.

“In addition, parolees who have not adjusted status or been admitted may request parole under the non-categorical process by filing Form I-131, in accordance with the form instructions. Additional information on applying for non-categorical parole is available on the Humanitarian or Significant Public Benefit Parole for Individuals Outside the United States page,” the agency said.

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