NEW POLL SHOWS CLEAR MAJORITY BACKS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN
According to a new poll from POLITICO/Morning Consult, 60 percent of Americans support President Donald Trump’s travel ban, while only 28 percent oppose it outright. Trump issued his first travel ban in January but the policy has changed substantially since, as courts blocked implementation of certain measures and the administration submitted a new order with altered language to appease the judiciary’s objection.
Whereas originally the ban prevented immigration of any person, refugee or otherwise, from seven Muslim-majority nations, the latest version of the ban, based on guidelines permitted temporarily by the U.S. Supreme Court, requires visa applicants from six Muslim-majority nations to prove a direct, close family relationship with a U.S. resident to enter.
According to the poll, the new guidelines are overwhelmingly popular among Republicans (receiving 86 percent support), but also supported by a majority of independent (56 percent) and a significant portion of Democrats (41 percent). The Supreme Court plans to issue a full decision on the ban’s constitutionality after hearing arguments this fall.
AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL BLAMES EU FOR MIGRANT DEATHS
A report released by Amnesty International Thursday claims “failing EU policies” have resulted in a heightened death toll among migrants and refugees traveling on the Mediterranean.
“European states have progressively turned their backs on a search and rescue strategy that was reducing mortality at sea in favour of one that has seen thousands drown,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s international director for Europe and Central Asia said in a statement.
Already in 2017, more than 2,000 migrants have died trying to reach the European continent. Interior ministers from nations across the 28-member bloc are meeting today in Talinn, Estonia to discuss a $92 million European Commission proposal to deal with the issue. But while 50 percent of the plan’s money would help feed, house and process migrants in Italy, Amnesty International said in a statement that the plan will “make a dire situation worse” by bolstering Libyan officials ability to prevent migrants from leaving.
PRO-GOVERNMENT MILITIAS ATTACK VENEZUELAN CONGRESS
On Venezuelan Independence Day Wednesday a group of pro-government militias attacked opposition politicians with sticks and metal bars outside the country’s congress. Four members of the national assembly were injured, including one, Americo de Grazia, who left on a stretcher.
The incident follows months of clashes between anti-government protestors, who claim the government is assuming dictatorial powers by jailing opponents, and security forces. The attack Wednesday came in open view of security forced tasked with protecting lawmakers.
“This doesn’t hurt as much as watching how every day how we lose a little bit more of our country,” opposition lawmaker Armando Arias told the AP as he was being treated for injuries inside an ambulance. In spite of the violence, the Congress approved a resolution Wednesday to hold a symbolic referendum on July 16 via which voters can opine on President Nicholas Maduro’s plans to overhaul the country’s political system.
LIBYAN COMMANDER ANNOUNCES LIBERATION OF BENGHAZI
Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, the commander of the self-styled Libyan National Army, announced Wednesday that his forces had captured Benghazi, the country’s second largest city. In a speech broadcast on television, Haftar said “after a continuous struggle against terrorism and its agents that lasted more than three years… we announce to you the liberation of Benghazi.”
The announcement comes after recent brutal battles in Benghazi’s Sabri districts that saw tens of casualties on both the LNA and Islamist militants’ sides. But though Haftar announced the liberation as representing a victory over terrorists, his forces still have numerous other political opponents within Libya, a country overrun by political conflict since the overthrow of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011.
The LNA does not recognize the UN-backed government in Tripoli, instead preferring an alternative government in the country’s east. Supporters of the Tripoli-backed government have accused Haftar, a former commander in Libyan strongman Muammar al-Gaddafi’s army, of harboring dictatorial ambitions and refusing to accept civilian rule.
PLAY THE CHINA CARD ON NORTH KOREA, SAY FORMER OBAMA ADMIN OFFICIALS
In an op-ed published Wednesday evening in the Washington Post, two former national security officials from the Obama Administration argue that the U.S. should “play the China card” and push North Korea’s traditional benefactor to take leadership in negotiations over the rogue nation’s nuclear program.
Former National Security Adviser to the vice president Jake Sullivan and National Security Council director for Asian Affairs Victor Cha write that, in the wake of North Korea’s July 4 intercontinental ballistic missile test, U.S. pursuit of a new agreement with North Korea would be “fruitless.” Though the U.S. would ideally like to see China undermine the stability of the North Korean regime, the two write that China’s historical ties to North Korea’s ruling Kim family and concerns about the implications of regime collapse would prevent it from pursuing either strategy. Instead, the op-ed argues that the U.S. should push China to offer purchases of North Korean coal and security assurances, in exchange for a North Korean compliance with checks on its nuclear program. Though the strategy isn’t perfect from a U.S. perspective, “North Korea is the land of lousy options,” they write. Chinese leadership might be the best path forward.
Picture Courtesy: Twitter @NicolasMaduro