Trump: No emergency declaration to end US govt shutdown

As a result, 800,000 federal employees — including FBI agents, air traffic controllers and museum staff — received no paychecks on Friday. (File/AFP)
Updated 13 January 2019
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Trump: No emergency declaration to end US govt shutdown

  • Trump fired off a series of tweets Saturday in an effort to defend his stance and goad Democrats to return to Washington
  • The impasse has paralyzed Washington — its impact felt increasingly around the country — with the president refusing to sign off on budgets

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said he was holding off on declaring a state of emergency to end the partial US government shutdown that dragged into a 23rd day Sunday, as he insisted on $5.7 billion to build a Mexico border wall that congressional Democrats oppose.
Asked by Fox News why he didn’t immediately declare a national emergency to secure the funds without congressional approval, Trump said he wanted to give opposition Democratic lawmakers more time to strike a deal.
“I want to give them the chance to see if they can act responsibly,” he told Fox in an interview late Saturday.
The US government shutdown became the longest on record at midnight Friday, when it overtook a 21-day stretch in 1995-1996 under president Bill Clinton.
Trump fired off a series of tweets Saturday in an effort to defend his stance and goad Democrats to return to Washington and end what he called “the massive humanitarian crisis at our Southern Border.”
“Democrats could solve the Shutdown in 15 minutes!” he said in one tweet, adding in another, “We will be out for a long time unless the Democrats come back from their ‘vacations’ and get back to work. I am in the White House ready to sign!“
But most lawmakers left town on Friday and will not return before Monday, leaving little chance for any solution to the stalemate before then.
The impasse has paralyzed Washington — its impact felt increasingly around the country — with the president refusing to sign off on budgets for swaths of government departments unrelated to the dispute.
As a result, 800,000 federal employees — including FBI agents, air traffic controllers and museum staff — received no paychecks on Friday.
At a White House meeting Friday Trump described an emergency declaration as the “easy way out,” and said Congress had to step up to the responsibility of approving funding for the wall.
“If they can’t do it... I will declare a national emergency. I have the absolute right,” he said.
Trump however acknowledged that such a move would likely trigger a legal battle ending in the Supreme Court.
Opponents say such a unilateral presidential move would be constitutional overreach and set a dangerous precedent in similar controversies.
Trump pushed back Saturday on a media report that his White House was “chaotic” with no plan or strategy to end the shutdown.
To understand the plan “you would have to understand the fact that I won the election, and I promised... a Wall at the Southern Border. Elections have consequences!” he tweeted.
Both Democrats and Republicans agree that the US-Mexican border presents challenges, but Trump has turned his single-minded push for more walls into a crusade that opponents say is a stunt to stoke xenophobia in his right-wing voter base.
For the president, who visited the Texas border with Mexico on Thursday, the border situation amounts to an invasion by criminals. Only in recent days has he begun describing the problem as “humanitarian.”
Some studies show that illegal immigrants commit fewer crimes than people born in the United States.
And most narcotics are smuggled through heavily guarded checkpoints in vehicles, the government’s Drug Enforcement Administration said in a 2017 report.


David Attenborough makes impassioned plea for natural world in Davos interview with Prince William

Updated 23 min 37 sec ago
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David Attenborough makes impassioned plea for natural world in Davos interview with Prince William

DAVOS, Switzerland: Naturalist David Attenborough won a standing ovation from delegates at the World Economic Forum after warning them that the planet faces destruction if climate change is not dealt with imminently.

In an interview conducted by Prince William, Attenborough said it is “difficult to overstate the climate change crisis.”

He said humans have become “so numerous” and possess a “frightening” array of destructive mechanisms that “we can exterminate whole ecosystems without realizing.”

Attenborough was the star turn on the first day of the gathering of the business and political elites in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

Attenborough urged participants to preserve the childlike wonder with which they first encountered the natural world. “I don’t believe a child has yet been born who doesn’t look at the world around it with those fresh eyes and wonder,” he said. “If you lose that first wonder, you’ve lost one of the great sources of delight, and pleasure, and beauty in the whole of the universe,” he said.

“Caring for that brings joy and enlightenment that is irreplaceable.”

Nature filmmaking, he noted, has benefited immensely from the advance of technology. “The facilities we now have are unbelievable. We can go everywhere. We can to the bottom of the sea, we can go into space. We can use drones, we can use helicopters … we can speed things up, we can slow things down, and film in the darkness. The natural world has never been exposed to this degree before,” he said.

But with these technological advances came a growing awareness of the dangerous power in the hands of humanity. “When I started 60 years ago, in the mid-50s, to be truthful there was no one who thought we might annihilate the world. The notion that human beings might exterminate whole species seemed the exception. Now we are well aware that … we can do things to accidentally to destroy whole parts of the natural world and exterminate whole species,” Attenborough warned.

Even as the ready accessibility of nature programs and the ability of filmmakers to reach the remotest corners of the world have made it easier for people to learn about nature, humanity’s connectedness with the natural world is more tenuous than ever. “Now there are more people living in towns, in conurbations, than living in the wild,” said Attenborough. “The majority of people are out of touch to some degree with the richness of the natural world.”

The threat posed by anthropogenic climate change is “difficult to overstate,” he said. “We are now so numerous, so powerful, so all-pervasive, and the mechanisms we have for destruction are so frightening that we have really to be aware of the dangers,” he warned. Humanity has done “appalling damage upon marine life, the extent of which we don’t fully know,” said Attenborough.

“I think the paradox is that there’s never been a time when more people are out of touch with the natural world, and yet we have to recognize that every breath of air and every mouthful of food comes from the natural world – and if we damage the natural world, we damage ourselves. It’s not just beauty and wonder: it is essential to human life. We are in the danger of wrecking that. We are destroying the natural world, and with it, ourselves,” he said.

But his outlook is not pessimistic. “We are discovering more ways in which we can get in front of [the pending disaster]. The fact we are now beginning to get power directly from the sun, with no need to pollute the world with by-products of our devices, is becoming reality all over the world,” he said. “We have the power, we have the knowledge, to live in harmony with nature.”

Attenborough then previewed powerful scenes from his latest film, which will debut at the World Economic Forum. The scenes of an Arctic glacier calving, with skyscraper-sized blocks of translucent blue ice crashing spectacularly into turbulent seas, were shot, as Attenborough explained, by skilled teams on helicopters maintaining steady positions despite powerful and unpredictable updrafts. “Within 20 minutes,” Attenborough narrates,” 75 million tons of ice break free.”

Attenborough is spearheading efforts to strengthen conservation efforts for a summit in Beijing in 2020.

Attenborough told the audience that, “Every breath of air we take, every mouthful of food comes from the natural world and that if we damage the natural world we damage ourselves.”