Dammit Donald: Canadian Update Edition

Raeesa Ashique - 3B Electrical
Posted on: July 2, 2017

Besides a minor reference to our Prime Minister, here is your exception to the Canadian theme of this issue. This update has its own theme of anti-Islamic sentiments, which has been a surprisingly quiet topic in recent months.

Trump Meets His Soulmate

India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi was in Washington early last week, and appeared to become fast friends with Donald Trump. The bromance is real: their dialogue consisted of mutual praise and multiple hugs.

Modi praised Trump’s “vast and successful” business experience, and invited his daughter, Ivanka, to a conference of entrepreneurs. Trump called him a “true friend”, and said, “We agree on most things and I would say by the end of the day we’ll agree on everything,” which is an interesting statement considering the number of unaddressed topics throughout the course of the meetings.

There was no mention of climate change, on which the two leaders have opposing views. Trump recently pulled out of the Paris agreement, which Modi supports. Combating climate change is a vital issue in India, as much of their population is poor and subject to extreme weather conditions including heat and drought.

Their similarities include platforms built on hate, nationalism, and empty rhetoric. Modi’s Make in India initiative parallels Trump’s Make America Great Again. They also share a passion for social media, as world leaders with two of the largest Twitter followings: Trump has over 32 million followers, and Modi has almost 31. Trump even called attention to this, saying “I am proud to announce…that Prime Minister Modi and I are world leaders in social media.” What an accomplishment to be worth mentioning.

They also share anti-Islamic sentiments. Modi was denied a US visa in 2005 as a top official over suspicions regarding his role in religious riots in his home province of Gujarat, resulting in the deaths of over 1000 Muslims. After becoming prime minister in 2014, he has visited the US four times, as Obama overturned this during his administration.

The military relationship of the two countries is complicated. India is the world’s largest importer of weapons, and the US is the largest seller, leading to an obvious conclusion. However, the US would like to treat India like a “major defense partner”, in the Obama administration’s words, while “continuing our cooperation with Pakistan”. Basically, they want to stay on everyone’s good side. Just before the trip, India signed a $2bn arms deal to buy twenty-two American drones – a deal made more disturbing when considering the number of Indians living in poverty.

There also seemed to be some passive aggressive comments directed toward China throughout the meetings. Trump is currently frustrated with Chinese President Xi Jinping’s lack of action with putting pressure on North Korea to curb its nuclear program. India seemed to take advantage of this situation by competing for Trump’s favour in the region. Walking the line between competing countries is a delicate business – it’s too bad Trump has no sense of diplomacy.

They have also agreed to work together to combat terrorism.

Travel Ban

On Monday, June 26, the Supreme Court voted to partially lift the injunction on the travel ban President Trump attempted to implement early in his presidency, refusing entry to people from six Muslim-majority countries – Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This also includes a 120 day ban on refugees.

However, this does not apply to “foreign nationals who have a credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.” The Court further clarified that a bona fide relationship includes someone coming to visit or live with a family member, a university student, an individual employed by an American company, or an invited lecturer; it does not include “someone who enters into a relationship simply to avoid [the ban].”

Trump had said the week prior that this will come into effect within seventy-two hours of court approval.

While Trump said that, “Today’s ruling allows me to use an important tool for protecting our nation’s homeland,” immigration lawyers have said the limited nature of the ban means this is not much of a victory for Trump. This exception vastly reduces the number of people who can be affected.

However, there is still concern as to how this order may be interpreted and applied.

Trudeau’s government said it is waiting for more details, but a spokesperson for the Immigration Minister said dual nationals traveling on a Canadian passport would not be affected.

The Supreme Court has a 5-4 Conservative majority, since Trump’s nominee joined the bench in April. Three of the conservative judges – Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, and Neil Gorsuch – have said they would have allowed the full ban to go into effect. Thomas’ reasoning that national security outweighs hardships experienced by people turned away at the border echoes Trump’s sentiments. He has said this ban is necessary following terrorist attacks across Europe, saying, “As president, I cannot allow people into our country who want to do us harm.” Critics have called this ban Islamophobic, because it targets Muslim-majority countries. In addition, Trump has a history of anti-Islamic comments.

The first version of the executive order was signed on January 27. It included Iraq in the list of countries, and included a full ban on Syrian refugees, sparking mass protests at American airports. This was blocked eight days later by a federal judge in a ruling upheld by the Ninth Circuit panel.

The “watered down, politically correct,” revised version of the order was signed on March 6, and struck down by federal judges in Hawaii and Maryland within a couple days.

The court will make a further decision regarding the rest of the ban’s stipulations in October, after fully considering both sides of the argument.

Ramadan

This Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting which spanned most of June, passed almost unnoticed by the Trump administration, breaking a twenty year tradition.

Hillary Clinton introduced the idea of holding an Eid dinner, which is the celebration following the month of fasting, in 1996 when she was First Lady. It became an annual tradition to host either an Eid dinner or an iftar, which is the sunset meal during which Muslims break their fast, in a reception attended by American Muslim leaders, diplomats, and legislators. George Bush hosted an iftar every year of his two terms, including after 9/11, as did Barack Obama.

According to Reuters, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused a recommendation from the State Department’s office of religion and global affairs to hold an Eid reception.

While Trump did release a statement on Eid, signed by himself and Melania, it was not posted to his social media. The statement read: “On behalf of the American people, Melania and I send our warm greetings to Muslims as they celebrate Eid al-Fitr.

“Muslims in the United States joined those around the world during the holy month of Ramadan to focus on acts of faith and charity. Now, as they commemorate Eid with family and friends, they carry on the tradition of helping neighbours and breaking bread with people from all walks of life.

“During this holiday, we are reminded of the importance of mercy, compassion, and goodwill. With Muslims around the world, the United States renews our commitment to honour these values. Eid Mubarak.”

The first iftar was hosted by President Thomas Jefferson in 1805 for a Tunisian ambassador.

Healthcare Bill

Two weeks ago, the Republican party released a draft of the healthcare legislation to replace the so-called disaster which is Obamacare, which was a promise central to Trump’s campaign.

Last Monday, the Congressional Budgetary Office (CBO), which is a nonpartisan office, released a report reviewing the legislation, in which they predicted 22 million Americans would lose their health insurance over the next decade, with 15 million of them uninsured by 2018.

They also said it would reduce the budget deficit by $321bn in the next decade.

The White House attacked their credibility – typical – responding that, “The CBO has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how healthcare legislation will impact insurance coverage.”

Moderate Republicans will be under pressure from their constituents to vote against it, because insurance premiums are expected to skyrocket in the first two years, and especially because Americans on Medicaid, a public health program for disabled and lower income individuals, will see a 26% reduction.

Democrats are also unlikely to approve it.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel wanted to push this bill through the Senate before the July 4 recess; for this he needs 50 votes, so he can only afford to lose two votes from their 52-seat Republican majority. However, there is opposition from five people, and, “If you are on the fence…this CBO score didn’t help it, so I think it’s going to be harder to get to 50, not easier,” according to Senator Lindsey Graham.

Senators Susan Collins, Ron Johnson, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Mike Lee have said they won’t approve the procedural model needed to clear the way for a vote. Paul said it would be worse to “pass a bad bill than to pass no bill.”

After the report’s release, they added a penalty for people who have a gap in coverage. The purpose in this is to help the insurance market by forcing healthy people to buy health insurance.

Ironically, Trump called the House’s healthcare bill which would cause 23 million to lose insurance “mean”; Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, said, “CBO’s report today makes clear that this bill is every bit as ‘mean’ as the House bill.”

The Wall

Last Tuesday, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency said that a bidding process is currently underway for construction of the Mexican border wall. Rival prototypes should be built by September.

In a speech last week, he proposed that this could be a “solar wall”, generating energy by putting solar panels on the border wall.