On shutdown, Trump vows to wait as long as it takes for wall funding

Border wall prototypes stand in San Diego near the Mexico US border, seen from Tijuana. The US federal government remains partially closed in a protracted standoff over President Donald Trump’s demand for money to build a border wall with Mexico. (AP)
Updated 27 December 2018

On shutdown, Trump vows to wait as long as it takes for wall funding

AL ASAD AIR BASE, Iraq: President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he is prepared to wait as long as it takes to get $5 billion from taxpayers for his U.S.-Mexico border wall, a demand that has triggered a partial shutdown of the federal government that is now in its fifth day.
With no immediate end to the shutdown in sight, Trump made his remarks during a surprise visit to Iraq and blamed the shutdown on Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who was expected to become speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 3.
Trump had previously said he was prepared for a lengthy shutdown and when asked on Wednesday how long he would wait to get what he wants, he said, "Whatever it takes."
"Nancy is calling the shots," said the Republican president, suggesting that her opposition to his demand for wall funding had to do with Pelosi's need for votes to become speaker.
Pelosi largely locked up the speakership weeks ago.
"The American public is demanding a wall," Trump said while on the ground at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq.
During a televised Dec. 11 meeting with Pelosi and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, Trump had said he would be "proud to shut down the government for border security" but has since shifted the blame to Democrats.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly promised Mexico would pay for his proposed wall. After Mexico repeatedly refused to do so, he began seeking U.S. taxpayer funding for the wall, which he sees as vital to controlling illegal immigration.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll in late November found that improved border security was a top-three priority for only about 31 percent of Americans surveyed.
Even with both chambers of Congress and the White House under Republican control for the past two years, former real estate developer Trump has not gained full funding for his wall.
Democrats and some Republicans view it as a costly, unneeded and ineffective project, but some Republicans support the idea and back Trump's demand for $5 billion in partial funding.
"His resolve is very firm," Representative Mark Meadows, a conservative Republican, told CNN.
Following weeks of failed talks between Trump and congressional leaders, parts of the U.S. government shut down on Saturday, affecting about 800,000 employees of the Departments of Homeland Security, Transportation and other agencies.
Most of the federal government, which directly employs almost 4 million people, is unaffected. The Defense Department and other key agencies are fully funded through Sept. 30.
Congress was scheduled to reconvene after a holiday break on Thursday and resume debate on the matter.


Italy’s Lombardy region to impose virus curfew

Updated 12 min 53 sec ago

Italy’s Lombardy region to impose virus curfew

  • The curfew from 11pm to 5am is expected to begin on Thursday night and last to November 13
  • More than 10,000 new Covid-19 infections were recorded in Italy on Friday for the time ever

ROME: Italy’s northern Lombardy region prepared Tuesday to impose a nighttime curfew, the most restrictive anti-coronavirus measure the country has seen since emerging from a national lockdown in the spring.
The curfew from 11pm (2100GMT) to 5am is expected to begin on Thursday night and last to November 13.
Health Minister Roberto Speranza gave his consent late Monday to the more restrictive measure proposed by the regional government, after an hours-long meeting.
“It’s an appropriate and symbolically important initiative that shouldn’t have particularly serious economic consequences,” Regional President Attilio Fontana said in the newspaper La Repubblica on Tuesday.
More than 10,000 new Covid-19 infections were recorded in Italy on Friday for the time ever, with Lombardy the hardest hit region, as it was in the beginning of the health crisis in February.
The region, which includes Italy’s financial hub of Milan, reported 1,687 new cases on Monday, with Italy’s southern Campania region coming a close second with 1,593.
Since Italy became the first hard-hit European country earlier this year, more than 36,000 people have died of Covid-19 in the country.
On Saturday, Lombardy ordered its bars to shut at midnight and prohibited the consumption of food and drink in public outside areas.
Italy has put in place recent restrictions to try to stem the new wave of infections, but none have so far imposed a curfew.
They include banning amateur contact sports, such as football matches, school trips, and restricting bars and restaurants to table service after 6pm.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has said he does not envision another country-wide lockdown, which would further sap Italy’s struggling economy, but has said that he would not rule out limited ones.
Lombardy’s curfew is expected to only allow people to leave their home for reasons of health, work or necessity.
The new decree will also call for large shopping centers to be shut on weekends, according to Italian media reports.