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Trump agrees to end government shutdown without border wall money

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U.S. President Donald Trump agreed under mounting pressure on Friday to end a 35-day-old partial U.S. government shutdown without getting the $5.7 billion he had demanded from Congress for a border wall, handing a political victory to Democrats.

The three-week spending deal reached with congressional leaders, quickly passed by the Republican-led Senate and the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives without opposition, paves the way for tough talks with lawmakers about how to address security along the U.S.-Mexican border.

The Republican president’s agreement to end the shuttering of about a quarter of the federal government without securing wall money – an astonishing retreat – came three days after he had insisted “We will not Cave!”

But Trump vowed that the shutdown would resume on Feb 15 if he is dissatisfied with the results of a bipartisan House-Senate conference committee’s border security negotiations, or he would declare a national emergency to get the wall money.

A lapse in funding had shuttered about a quarter of federal agencies, with about 800,000 workers either furloughed or required to work without pay. Many employees as well as contractors were turning to unemployment assistance, food banks and other support. Others began seeking new jobs.

With polls showing most Americans blamed him for the painful shutdown – the longest of its kind in U.S. history – Trump embraced a way out of the crisis that Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been pushing for weeks. The shutdown, which pitted Pelosi against Trump – was her first test since assuming the post three weeks ago. She drew praise from fellow Democrats for what they said was an outmaneuvering of the president.

Democrats remained unyielding in their opposition to a wall, one of Trump’s signature campaign promises that they call ineffective, costly and immoral. Trump has said it is needed to curb illegal immigration and drug trafficking.

Asked by reporters if she could guarantee there will not be another government shutdown in three weeks, Pelosi said, “I can’t assure the public about anything that the president will do, but I do have to say I’m optimistic.”

Speaking in the White House Rose Garden on a chilly, sunny winter day, Trump said he would act to ensure that federal workers get their back pay “very quickly, or as soon as possible.”

Trump had previously demanded the inclusion of the money to help pay for a wall in any legislation to fund government agencies, but Democrats had blocked him.

An administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that stories of law enforcement officials not being able to do their jobs at full capacity helped convince Trump to agree to a short-term solution to re-open the government. The official said the White House ultimately would accept a deal with lawmakers if it includes wall funding, even if it is less than $5.7 billion.

“We really have no choice but to build a powerful wall or steel barrier,” Trump said. “If we don’t get a fair deal from Congress, the government will either shut down on Feb 15 – again – or I would use the powers afforded to me under the laws and the Constitution of the United States to address this emergency.”

He previously has indicated he was considering an emergency declaration to circumvent congressional funding powers if lawmakers do not fund his wall, an action that almost certainly would be swiftly challenged by Democrats as exceeding his authority under the U.S. Constitution.

Trump triggered the shutdown, which began on Dec. 22, with his wall-funding demand after being criticized by conservative commentators for being willing to sign legislation funding the government without securing wall money.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter lashed out at Trump for capitulating on Friday, calling him on Twitter “the biggest wimp ever to serve as President of the United States.”

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer said he hoped the experience would be a “lesson learned” for Trump and his party that it is self-defeating to shut the government over policy disputes. Schumer said Democrats and Trump have “so many areas” of agreement on border security but not a wall.

“The walls we are building are not medieval walls,” Trump said. “They are smart walls designed to meet the needs of front-line border agents and are operationally effective. These barriers are made of steel, have see-through visibility, which is very important, and are equipped with sensors, monitors and cutting-edge technology, including state-of-the-art drones.”

“We do not need 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of concrete wall from sea to shining sea. We never did,” Trump added. “We never proposed that. We never wanted that because we have barriers at the border where natural structures are as good as anything that we could build.”

Pelosi said she would discuss with Trump “a mutually agreed date” for his annual State of the Union address, which she had effectively forced him to postpone amid the shutdown showdown. A senior White House official said the address will not be on Tuesday, as originally planned, and it is up to Pelosi to reschedule it.

The effects of the shutdown had been spreading. Hundreds of flights were grounded or delayed at New York-area and Philadelphia airports on Friday as air traffic controllers called in sick. And FBI Director Christopher Wray in a video message to his employees called the shutdown “mind-boggling””shortsighted” and “unfair.”

The deal was reached a day after Wilbur Ross, Trump’s commerce secretary who amassed a personal fortune buying distressed companies, said unpaid federal employees should get a loan if they have a financial squeeze. © Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

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Behind Trump’s Push for ‘Patriotic Education’ in US History

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Amid the ongoing national crisis over the deadly COVID-19 virus, the President of the United States warned of another national crisis on Thursday: the “ideological poison” of “radical” history education.

Speaking on Constitution Day from the National Archives—where original copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights are on display—during a White House conference on American History, President Donald Trump announced that he was signing an executive order to establish the “1776 Commission,” a group that would “promote patriotic education,” and that the National Endowment for the Humanities would be awarding a grant to support the development of a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history.”

In the course of his announcement, Trump claimed that people on the left want to “bully Americans into abandoning their values, their heritage and their very way of life,” and denounced the forces that he blamed for propagating that view in history classes. He called the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which reframes the story of nation’s founding around the arrival of the first enslaved Africans in Virginia, “toxic propaganda,” and he also singled out the late Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States. Zinn’s book, widely used in schools since it was published in 1980, is credited for helping popularize a bottom-up approach to history, as an alternative to telling the story of the U.S. via the top-down achievements of elite white men.

Such approaches to history, which encourage students to challenge long-standing narratives about national heroes, are “ideological poison, that if not removed will dissolve the civic bonds that tie us together,” Trump said. Under his plan, he said, “Our youth will be taught to love America with all of their heart and all of their soul.”

The federally-funded “patriotic” curriculum Trump promised is set to be an adaptation of Land of Hope: An Invitation to the Great American Story, by Wilfred M. McClay, a University of Oklahoma historian who also spoke at the Thursday event. Prior to the President’s speech, a panel of professors and education experts—as well as Ben Carson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development—sang the book’s praises. When it came out last year, it was hailed by the right-leaning The National Review as “essential” and “an extraordinary act of patriotism”; on the other side, Georgetown University history professor Michael Kazin argued it “ignores most social movements ” and gives the “silent treatment to the long struggle for black freedom.”

While there are voluntary national guidelines for history education, the U.S. has no specific federally mandated curriculum for the subject.

But this wasn’t the first time Trump has tackled the topic of history curricula. His speech elaborated on a tweet he sent last week expressing horror that schools were teaching the 1619 Project’s accompanying curriculum, not long after he told federal agencies to halt sensitivity trainings that incorporate critical race theory, a framework that examines American history and culture through the lens of race.

“We will never submit to tyranny,” Trump assured the audience, arguing baselessly that radicals want to keep Americans from speaking the truth. “We will reclaim our history.”

Get your history fix in one place: sign up for the weekly TIME History newsletter

And while Trump’s push for “patriotic education” via McClay’s work may be new, it in fact echoes decades of conservative efforts to counter Zinn’s narrative, says Adam Laats, historian and author of The Other School Reformers: Conservative Activism in American Education. Examples include David Barton’s WallBuilders project, “dedicated to presenting America’s forgotten history and heroes,” and A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, a 2004 book by Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen. (Zinn’s work has come in for criticism from academic historians on the left too, but the field today broadly acknowledges that a full recounting of history cannot be made without taking into account the lived experiences of people beyond the halls of power.)

More general efforts to encourage the inculcation of patriotism via the history classroom are even older than that, as TIME reported earlier this week. During the Red Scare of the 1920s, the American Legion attempted to develop a patriotic textbook. And in the 1960s and ’70s, the U.S. Supreme Court’s nixing of school-sponsored prayer, combined with busing efforts to integrate schools, fueled conservative concerns about the state of public education that continue to this day, Laats says.

But, all along, other historians have argued that, even accepting the premise that history education should instill patriotism—a premise to which many object—the way to do so is to give students the full picture, not to focus exclusively on the moments of glory. In 1948, when his work was banned from schools for seeming too favorable to communism, curriculum writer Paul Hanna argued that students would be more likely to fall for propaganda if they were spared the more unsavory parts of their own country’s history.

On Twitter, historian Joanne Freeman echoed that idea Thursday, writing that to “love a nation is to embrace it with all its complexity.”

And while Trump worries Howard Zinn and the 1619 Project will make Americans “ashamed” of their country, recent polls indicate that Americans are ready to learn. A Southern Poverty Law Center poll published Thursday found that 70% of Americans support anti-racism education policies “to reduce and prevent hate and extremism”; Pew polling found that roughly the same majority believe that acknowledging the nation’s historical flaws makes the U.S. stronger today.

Not everyone who feels that way was entirely dismayed by the President’s announcement. Nikole Hannah-Jones, one of the creators of the 1619 Project, tweeted that she takes “great satisfaction” from some aspects of the fight against her work—after all, those who try to suppress it only prove how significant its impact has been.

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at [email protected].

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Pentagon Papers leaker Ellsberg backing Assange

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Daniel Ellsberg, one of the most famous whistleblowers in American history, came to the defense of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in his legal fight to avoid extradition to the United States from Britain, claiming he would not get a fair trial in the US.

The 89-year-old, who is widely credited for helping to turn the tide against the Vietnam War, told London’s Central Criminal Court via a video link that WikiLeaks had acted in the public interest much like he did, The Guardian reported.

Australian-born Assange, 49, is fighting efforts to send him to the United States, where he is charged with conspiring to hack government computers and violating an espionage law over the release of confidential cables by WikiLeaks in 2010-2011.

Daniel Ellsberg, who in 1971 leaked documents known as the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times and other news outlets, told the court that WikiLeaks’ disclosures had shown Americans how they had been misled about US action in Iraq and Afghanistan just as his leaks, which also revealed previously secret information, did about the Vietnam War, The Guardian reported.

Ellsberg cited a US military video, which WikiLeaks published in 2010 under the title “Collateral Murder”, showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed a dozen people, including two Reuters news staff.

“I was acutely aware that what was depicted in that video deserved the term murder, a war crime,” he told London’s Old Bailey court via videolink. “I was very glad that the American public was confronted with this reality of our war.”

James Lewis, the lawyer representing the US authorities, said Assange was not wanted for publishing the 2007 video, but for disclosing a small number of documents with the unredacted names of sources or informants, The Guardian reported.

Lewis said many of these had suffered harm or threats because they had been named. He said some had disappeared, although he conceded that there was no evidence that this was directly linked to WikiLeaks’ publication.

“How can you possibly say … that there is no evidence that Mr Assange’s publication of WikiLeaks put anyone in danger? That’s just pure nonsense,” Lewis said.

Ellsberg, who was himself charged with breaking the espionage law in a case that was later dismissed, said there was no evidence of physical harm or deaths because of the leaks, The Guardian reported.

Earlier, John Goetz, an investigative reporter who worked for Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine on the first publication of the documents in 2010, said Assange was careful to ensure that the names of informants in hundreds of thousands of leaked secret US government documents were never published.

Goetz said WikiLeaks was frustrated when a password that allowed access to the full, unredacted material was published in a book by Guardian reporters in February 2011.

Assange’s lawyers argue that he would not receive a fair trial in the United States and that the charges are politically motivated.

They have also said he would be a suicide risk if sent to the United States, where they say he could be sentenced to 175 years in prison.

In 2012, Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s London embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was accused of sex crimes.

He always denied the charges and they were later dropped. After seven years, he was dragged from the embassy by British police in 2019 and then jailed for skipping bail related to the Swedish case. He has remained in prison ever since.

Asia Times Financial is now live. Linking accurate news, insightful analysis and local knowledge with the ATF China Bond 50 Index, the world’s first benchmark cross sector Chinese Bond Indices. Read ATF now. 

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Trump Flails In Attempt To Defend High-Risk, Indoor Campaign Rally In Nevada

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Republican presidential Donald Trump listens to a question as he appears at the "Retired American Warriors" conference during a campaign stop in Herndon, Virginia, U.S. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Donald Trump attempted to defend his decision to hold an indoor campaign rally in Henderson, Nevada, on Sunday by blaming Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) and ignoring the possibility that he’s risking Americans’ health.

Speaking with the Las Vegas Review-Journal after the rally, Trump didn’t answer a question about attendees potentially getting COVID-19; instead, he talked about how he isn’t putting his own health at risk.

Here’s the line of questioning from Review-Journal White House correspondent Debra Saunders:

Aren’t you concerned about getting COVID in an enclosed room?

“No, I’m not concerned.”

What about people here?

“I’m more concerned about how close you are,” he said, ignoring the question and gesturing to Saunders’ proximity.

Sorry about that.

“Because you know why?” Trump continued. “I’m on a stage that’s very far away. And so I’m not at all concerned.”

Nevada hasn’t permitted gatherings of more than 50 people since May, a guideline based on White House recommendations, so the Trump rally openly violated that order. Sisolak condemned the “reckless and selfish” action on Twitter.

The president claimed that Sisolak had prevented the campaign’s use of six outdoor venues, thereby forcing Trump to rally supporters inside the Xtreme Manufacturing facility, which Trump’s friend Don Ahern owns. The Trump campaign estimated that about 5,000 people attended.

However, the accusation that Sisolak was actively obstructing Trump from holding outdoor rallies doesn’t seem to hold water: Trump held an outdoor rally in northern Nevada just the night before. The governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

While it is true the Trump campaign couldn’t hold a planned outdoor rally at a hangar near McCarran International Airport, it was the Reno-Tahoe Airport Authority that canceled the event over concerns the 5,000-person rally would interfere with the airport’s normal operations. Sisolak disavowed any involvement in the decision.

“This has nothing to do with politics,” airport authority CEO Daren Griffin said in a statement to the Reno Gazette-Journal. “The letter we sent is about directives and safety and not political campaigns. We would hold our tenants to the same standard whether it was a Democratic or Republican rally or any other type of gathering.”

Trump last held an indoor rally in June in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The event “likely contributed” to a dramatic surge in coronavirus cases in the following weeks, according to Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart. It’s possible Herman Cain, who died from COVID-19 in July, contracted the virus at the event, which he boasted about attending without wearing a mask. Huffington

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