Closing Of US Mexico Border: Trump’s Real Intent is to Close Ports of Entry

Apparently feeling high on the belief that he has been exonerated from special counsel Mueller’s report of a possible collusion with the Russian government, US president Donald Trump stirs up another controversy. At a rally held in Michigan on last Thursday (March 28, 2019),and in a brief press conference in Mar-a-Lago, in Florida last Friday, Trump reiterated his signature campaign promise of closing the US Border to prevent migrating asylum seekers from coming in.

Trump’s announcement actually came as a threat directed at the Mexican government. He accuses Mexico of not doing anything to stop the unending flow of refugees arriving at the border, coming from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. Naturally, his threat drew negative reactions, more so when he followed up his threat with tweets that he will make good on that threat this week.

Does Trump Really Have the Power to Close the US Mexico Border?

If Trump insists on imposing such action, he will do so at the risk of violating immigration laws that forbid anyone to deny protection to people seeking sanctuary in the country, regardless of the manner with which they gained entry. It can be recalled that Trump previously attempted to suppress the entry of a massive number of immigrants arriving at the border by invoking national security rules. However, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the San Francisco District Court placed a restraining order on Trump’s planned action.

Closing the border therefore, and specifically for that purpose is in defiance of immigration laws and of the judge’s order as well.

Trump is Using Border Wall Closing as Excuse to Carry Out Another Tactic

A senior Trump administration officer explained by way of telephone interview with Dara Lind of Vox, is that what the president had actually meant was to control the flow of people coming in by closing official ports of entry at the border. Although the senior administration officer added that closing of port entries is a last resort, border agents are currently being moved to the border areas to àttend to the refugees apprehended.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney explicitly stated

”we need the people from the ports of entry to go out and patrol in the desert where we don’t have a wall”

As a result, reduced number of border agents manning the ports of entry has already slowed down flow of traffic. Business communities at El Paso are already apprehensive about the long- waits occurring at the ports. San Diego, does not want a repeat of the November 2018 temporary shutdown of the San Ysidro port of entry. Even if the border agents were deployed only for a few hours to respond with force against an organized group of asylum seekers, the temporary closure resulted to the loss of $5.3 million in business revenues.

What Trump wants to happen is to discourage American companies from moving operations to Mexico, using it as leverage for Mexico to act on the asylum seekers making their way to the US border. To Trump, he considers it as the price Mexico has to pay. Yet, he seems to disregard the fact that an estimated $1.5 billion worth of business transpires daily along the US Mexico border, as millions of people legally cross the border as part of their daily routine.

Congressional Committee Investigations: Will Genuine, Downright “Truth” Prevail?

Michael Cohen, the ex Donald Trump personal attorney sentenced to serve three years in prison for pleading guilty to several charges, including lying to Congress,  had once again testified in different Congressional Committee hearings.

As a backgrounder, Cohen’s guilty plea was said to be a result of a cooperation deal, entered into with a team of lawyer working with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The latter, is the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (2001-2013). He has beeb tasked by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee ongoing investigations into accusations about Russia’s pivotal interference in the 2016 presidential elections won by Donald Trump.

Senate and House Committee Hearings

Recently, Cohen had spent three consecutive days giving testimonies in support of damning allegations raised by Special Counsel Mueller against Donald Trump.

The first and third were Intelligence Committee hearings held by the Senate and the House, on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. The two separate investigations are also delving deeper into Trump’s involvement in certain private dealings (Moscow Trump Tower) with certain Russian officials.

Inasmuch as it was a closed-door hearing, both Republican and Democratic committee members present in the hearings, refused to give specific details on the results of their investigations.

Summary of House Committee on Oversight and Reform Proceedings

On Wednesday, Cohen testified at the hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform. Unlike the Intelligence Committee hearings, the event last Wednesday was televised nationwide. Millions of Americans heard Cohen’s testimony and had glimpses of documents he presented as evidences against Donald Trump.

Among evidences presented included checks signed by Donald Trump, which the latter denied to have paid as hush-money, and after announcing that he no longer had control over the string of Trump businesses. Cohen also presented email related to a meeting called by Trump, as well as drafts of the statements Cohen was to falsely testify during the House Committee Investigation in 2017.

Other proofs submitted were the overstated financial statements submitted by Donald Trump to suit a business purpose, which were also understated for IRS taxation purposes.

Will Cohen’s Testimony and Evidences Hold Water in Ending Trump’s Presidency?

Cohen’s testimonies are largely under scrutiny as violations of lawyer-client relationship, and for his own admissions that he had previously lied to evade payment of large taxes.

In all three Congressional committee hearings, Trump’s Republican allies capitalized on Cohen’s previous lies which he later admitted as such. Democrats on the other hand believe that this time, Cohen is telling the truth. Cohen’s testimonies are mostly a case of his words pitted against Donald Trump’s, whose capability for telling the truth is just as questionable. Yet, according to some Democratic committee members, Cohen is only one of key witnesses they will call on.

Numbers of Bankruptcies in Agricultural Sector Soar After Trump Tariffs

Trade rifts with other countries borne by the Trump Tariffs signed by Donald Trump in January 2018, is now taking its toll on U.S. farmers. Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently reviewed federal data pertaining to the Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Protection extended by US courts to farmer or fisherman families. The results of WSJ’s review revealed that the rate by which US farmers have filed for Chapter 12 Bankruptcy Protection, has soared.

District Courts covering the states of Arkansas, Indiana, Illinois, and Kansas, among others are seeing sharp increases in petitions for bankruptcy protection. The Eight Circuit Court of Appeals shows a swelling of numbers by 96%; the Seventh Circuit garnered twice the number of petitions received when compared to the 2008 figures, while the Tenth Circuit saw a 59% increase from what they had a decade ago.

The Bankruptcy Trend is Expected to Transpire in Other Business Sectors

Initially, the sets of tariff imposed on importation of solar panels and washing machines, and later on steel and aluminum, seemed far from creating adverse impact on the agricultural sector. However, as the exports of foreign trading partners suffered a blow from Trump’s importation tariffs, their nation retaliated by also imposing import tariffs on US products entering their respective territories. Retaliatory actions came not only from China, but from EU member countries, Canada, and Mexico.

Exportation of US homegrown agricultural products like soybeans, coffee, oranges and other produce such as pork, dairy and whiskey, just to name a few, has become less competitive. Retaliatory import tariffs had weakened the trading positions of US agricultural exporters.

The trade rift with China turned into a full-blown Trade War, when Trump announced in July 2018 that all Chinese products and goods purchased by U.S. businesses from China will be meted with 25% importation duties. The value estimated at $50 billion worth, all the more created an impasse. Trump’s move only increased the cost of materials and components used by US manufacturers in assembling or in producing their goods.

Although negotiations are currently underway, US farmers and other affected businesses are not seeing enough income that will allow them to recover from ballooning debts; or even in continuing their operations.

Job Loss Looms as U.S. – China Trade Tension Lags on in 2019

A report released by Trade Partnership Worldwide shows that the U.S. economy is bound to lose 1 up to 2 million jobs, if in 2019 Trump imposes the 25 percent tariff on all Chinese exports. The research report was paid for by “Tariffs Hurt the Heartland”, a pro-free trade lobby group.

Although the Trump administration asserts that the 25% tariff aims to revive the U.S.manufacturing industry, the timing by which the tax plan surfaced gave way to a different interpretation. Other than it being perceived as a retaliatory tariff on levies imposed by other countries on U.S. exports, the singling out of U.S. products exported to China is perceived as a political retaliation against China.

Trade tension between U.S. and China started when in April 2018, Chinese smartphone maker ZTE was found to have been illegally-shipping American-made components to Iran. The discovery resulted to a 7-year trade ban between American software companies and ZTE. However, the finality of imposing the 25% tariff on all Chinese exports will also impact U.S. import. As it is, U.S. manufacturers also import materials and components from China, which they use in producing U.S. branded products.

Currently Chinese negotiations with the Trump administration are ongoing, using as leverage the US$250 billion Chinese exports to the U.S. At present, tariffs on products imported by American companies from China varies, pegged at either 10% or 20%. If by March 02, 2019 negotiators fail to reach an agreement, it is likely that China will also impose a 25% levy on all Chinese exports contracted by American manufacturers. Instead of revitalizing the U.S. manufacturing industry, increased costs of products procured from China, may only lead to the weakening of the industry.

British Brexit Proponent Sir James Dyson Voices His Views on the U.S.-China Trade Tension

Sir James Dyson, British inventor and founder of the company that produces revolutionary vacuum cleaners, bladeless fans and other electrical appurtenances, voiced his opinion about the ongoing U.S.-China trade tension. He reiterated his advocacy for a free economy, as a way of harnessing the best technology to use in  manufacturing the best products that will benefit consumers.

Inasmuch as it is difficult to predict the resulting outcome of the trade negotiations between U.S. and China, his advice is not to wait on what changes will transpire. Sir James Dyson, cited as example his decision to build a UK-based electric car manufacturing company in Singapore, saying that there is no telling where trade relations head to in light of the continuing changes in governments and their policies. On that note, Sir James commented

“If one source becomes unavailable then we have another source to go to…. “That’s nothing to do with trade tariffs, that’s to do with supply and continuity of supply”.

In the U.S. American vacuum cleaner manufacturers like Oreck, sells machines that have been initially fabricated in China then fully assembled in the U.S.; or in some cases, import fully assembled products that will distributed under the Oreck brand.

A Cursory Look into U.S. Laws Governing Possession, Transport, Transfer or Use of Airsoft Guns

In a recent public disturbance in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the man carrying two airsoft rifles in plain sight, was merely questioned and later released by the responding police officers. Had the incident happened in another state or country, the carrying of a replica gun in public would have been treated as a criminal offense.

As it is, U.S. laws governing the use and handling of non-powder replica firearms like airsoft guns, vary from state to state; making it important for airsoft gun proponents to know what a state considers as legal or illegal before transferring, selling, transporting or buying a realistic-looking replica firearm.

U.S.Federal Laws Governing Non-Powder Airsoft and BB Guns

Airsoft and BB guns are generally used for recreational combat competitions, as props in movies and for simulated military or police training. An airsoft rifle or handgun with the most realistic-looking appearance and features, are therefore the most attractive. On a nationwide level, there are no specific federal laws that restrict the use, ownership, or sale of replica firearms.

Federal statutory limitations are mostly concerned with “substantial product hazard/s,” particularly their potential risks of causing injury to children. That being the case, the federal government explicitly prohibits the sale of replica weapons to minors.

The government agency tasked to regulate and oversee the manufacture and sale of mock weapons is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Specifically, federal product regulations require the following:

  • Replica or “look-alike firearms” must have a blaze orange plug-insert, permanently affixed in the barrel of the mock weapon.
  • A similar marking must appear on the external surface of the barrel.
  • Construction of a non-powder firearm must make use of transparent or translucent materials.
  • Additionally, federal regulations require covering the lookalike weapon using specific bright colors.

The aforementioned regulations override any state law that is inconsistent with the stated requirements.

Autonomous Power of State Governments to Impose Laws on Non-Powder Firearms

In the U.S., every state government has the autonomous power to impose statutes regulating the sale, ownership and use of non-powder, pellet-powered replica firearms. However, under federal regulations, such laws must not include prohibitions on the sale of conventional mock weapons.

The States of Delaware, Connecticut and North Dakota appear to have the most rigid laws pertaining to non-powder replica firearms, because they define such articles as “dangerous weapons.” That being the case, it is illegal in those states to carry or transport mock firearms without a duly approved permit.

In most U.S. regions, state governments define non-powder replica guns as Firearms and therefore subjecting the use, sale, ownership, transfer, and possession of non-powder guns to the state’s Firearms Law. Majority of state laws, regardless of their definition of a replica non-powder gun, strictly impose age restrictions, as well as explicitly prohibit the carrying of mock firearms in school grounds.

In some jurisdictions, low caliber, low velocity airsoft guns are excluded from the firearms definition. Click here to gather more information about airsoft rifles and handguns with low or high caliber and rate of velocity.

 

The Housing Policies in the US, Limit the Political Influence of American Homeowners

How Can a Relatively Few Number of Homeowners Influence American Politics?

Homeownership political influence is affected if a country’s government does not regard affordable housing for low-income earners as an important agenda. As far back as 1996, the Republicans have put forward a campaign platform that will eliminate the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Although scrapping of the HUD has not materialized, the department continues to operate under limited authority and inadequate budgets.

That being the case, homeowners remain vulnerable to the actions taken by the present government. The current Trump administration has implemented tariffs that made primary construction materials such as lumber, nails and dry wall more expensive, even for middle-income earners. The US National Association of Home Builders, estimates that costs of building a new house will increase by as much as $9,000.

The Future of Homeownership In the US Hangs in a Balance

When the U.S. Congress Congress failed to pass a spending bill that had to consider U.S President Donald Trump’s demand for an additional $5.7 billion for the ongoing extension of the US-Mexico Border Wall, a partial government shutdown took effect. On Dec. 22, 2018, the start of a long-running partial government shutdown, ceased operations of several government agencies.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development was caught unprepared, as inexperienced HUD officials appointed by the Trump administration failed to renew expired affordable housing contracts. The contracts could have lessened the impact of Trump’s tariffs on middle and low-income earners seeking to rebuild or build their home.

The prolonged shutdown made homeownership future look even more bleak. As an aftermath to HUD’s temporary closure, Pamela Patenaude, touted as the most capable political leader supervising the HUD, along with several other HUD executives, submitted their resignation.

In the latest development (January 25, 2019), President Trump agreed to sign a bill to temporarily lift the partial government shutdown until Feb. 15, 2019. After which, he is still adamant that his $5.7 billion funding demand for the Border Wall will remain a condition for the final appropriations bill.

Upholding Animal Rights: Can Animals Turn to Governments for Protection?

Animal activism pertains to social movements that assert the moral rights of animals to live not as properties of humans; but as living beings with rights to exist on their own purpose, whilst receiving protection from harm. Although provided with rational arguments put forward by intellectuals, the movement is unable to gain total support from governments.

Animal Liberalization or Animal Welfare Rights?

Apparently, countries have differing laws on how to protect animals thriving within their region. Primarily because animal agriculture plays an important role in the economy of every nation. Food and by-products (e.g. milk, cheese, butter, eggs) produced by farm animals cannot be just removed as part of daily subsistence.

Moreover, putting an end to the practice of eating meat and all other food products derived from animals will result to business closures and loss of jobs. After all, the supply chain in which farm animals have great value includes that of leather and pharmaceutical industries.

Different ideologies divide organizations engaged in animal activism. One faction calls for total liberation of animals; recognizing every species as non-human animals. Their advocacy is to liberate animals from human activities, such as partaking of animal meat, using animals for scientific researches, and/or keeping them in cages either as pets, as performers, or as business inventory.

The other faction seeks only for the enactment of laws that will ensure animal welfare while in the care of owners, breeders or users. Here, non-human animals are classified as members of species that have value to species belonging to the upper level of a hierarchical system. Even if such is the case, their movement aims to stop mistreatment of animals; including cruel methods used in slaughtering animals in order to serve a business purpose.

Other smaller factions include the veganarchists, anti-hunting activists and militant animal liberators. The latter, insists on advancing the cause by direct and if necessary, violent actions.

Recent Laws Enacted by a Country as a Result of Animal Activism

Animal liberationists contend that countries do not recognize the natural values of non-human animals. Lawmakers enact laws based on the benefits that can be derived from their use, either as sources of food products, raw materials, or as pets or as entertainers. Their case point is exemplified by the U.S. Animal Welfare Act, which exempts

pet stores … state and country fairs, livestock shows, rodeos, purebred dog and cat shows, and any fairs or exhibitions intended to advance agricultural arts and science

In contrast, European Union (EU) countries enacted laws that ban fur farming even if it meant closing an important sector of the clothing industry. The United Kingdom for one, banned fur farming in 2000, a pre-election pledge fulfilled by the then ruling Labour party. The passing of the fur-farming bill, was also influenced by the daily protests organized by animal welfare rights movements.

Thereafter, several EU members followed suit, Austria, Netherlands, Denmark and Slovenia. Several others will implement the same ban as soon as the related phase-out period of the fur farming business attains completion.

The most recent to impose such law is Serbia. The county closed down fur farms, saving thousands of chinchillas from the horrible treatment and methods used by breeders in removing velvety-soft furs. The rescued animals have since been transferred to new owners; promising to give the best care and attention needed by the creatures, including the best cage for chinchilla recuperation.