In Multipolarity

 TeleSUR, Wednesday, March 1, 2017

And further below:
*  Donald Trump promises ‘historic’ increase in U.S. military budget
*  Hoax? Trump says may open citizenship to millions of immigrants

U.S. President Donald Trump has announced the creation of a Department of Homeland Security program that protects American “victims of immigration crime.”

Donald Trump delivers speech to joint session of U.S. Congress on Feb 28, 2017 (Reuters)

Trump revealed the creation of VOICE, an acronym for Victims or Immigration Crime Engagement, during his first speech before the Senate and House of Representatives on Tuesday night. The new office, which he said will “provide a voice” to families of crime victims, will publish a weekly list of crimes committed by immigrants. Families of people killed by undocumented immigrants have been “ignored by our media,” Trump claimed when announcing VOICE.

The list, as The Independent has reported earlier, resembles Breitbart‘s “Black crime” listings, which reports crimes committed by African-Americans. He did not specify whether VOICE will distinguish between crimes committed by documented or undocumented immigrants. The recently-inaugurated president also promised to construct a wall alongside its southern border with Mexico.

But immigration wasn’t the only topic Trump covered. His speech, which began at 9 p.m. Washington D.C. time, also focused on economics, foreign policy, and uniting the divided country.

“I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength,” Trump said. “A new era of American greatness is now beginning.”

On economics, Trump promised to cut taxes for business owners while increasing spending on infrastructure. He said he is planning to ask Congress to approve US$1 trillion spending in infrastructure financed through public and private capital. He also said he is going to lower the cost of health insurance.

On foreign policy, Trump reiterated his “unbreakeable” allegiance to Israel while announcing sanctions for those connected with Iran’s missile program. He also said he strongly supports NATO but said the United States must today be friends with “former enemies.”

As for his comments on a “divided America,” Trump claimed “we are one people with one destiny” who all salute “the same great American flag.”

Trump told Reuters last week that his congressional address would be “optimistic” compared to his Jan. 20 inaugural speech. At his taking of office, he painted a dark picture of security in the U.S., referring to the current state of affairs as “carnage.”

Earlier on Tuesday, CNN reported that Trump is considering introducing legislation to provide a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants. His consideration, however, does not include citizenship as an immediate option.

Trump believes a comprehensive immigration bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to hold a job and require them to pay taxes has a chance of clearing Congress, CNN also reports.

Hours before Trump’s speech, U.S. stocks slipped while the Dow Jones ended a 12-day streak of record closes, Reuters reports. Since he was elected, stocks have risen sharply, given his promises of tax reform, infrastructure spending and reduced regulations.

On Monday, while Trump met several U.S. state governors at the White House, he said he is planning “big” infrastructure spending and is seeking a “historic” increase in military spending of more than 9 percent.

The Republican Party currently controls both the Senate and the House of Representatives, giving Trump an advantage in approving his proposed economic legislation.


Donald Trump promises ‘historic’ increase in U.S. military budget

By Samuel Osborne, The Independent, Feb 28, 2017

Trump tells U.S. governors at the White House, “We have to start winning wars again.” He told the American Conservative Union on February 24, “It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history.”

President Donald Trump has promised a “historic” increase in the United States’ military budget. He says he is proposing a budget that would ramp up spending on defence but seek savings elsewhere to pay for it. He is seeking to boost Pentagon spending by $54bn (£43bn) in his first budget proposal, a rise of around 9 per cent on last year. The President will let the Department of Defence decide how to spend the extra billions and most federal agencies will see reductions in funding, an official from the Office of Management and Budget told reporters.

Another White House budget official said he will seek to cut the same amount from non-defence spending, including a large reduction in foreign aid. “We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable,” the President said in a meeting with governors in which he said he planned to propose a substantial increase in public safety spending.

“This budget follows through on my promise on keeping Americans safe,” Mr Trump said. “It will include a historic increase in defence spending.”

He told the nation’s governors at the White House he will rebuild the “depleted military”. Mr Trump said he is planning to act quickly to bring reforms to the country, including his plans for the military. He said “we never win – we never win wars” and added that the Middle East is worse off. He told governors: “We have a hornet’s nest. It’s a mess.”

Such a military spending hike would be unusual given that the United States is not engaged in a major war, although its special forces and Air Force are active against Isis in Iraq and Syria.

An official familiar with the proposal told Reuters Mr Trump’s request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding, military aircraft and establishing “a more robust presence in key international waterways and choke points” such as the Strait of Hormuz and South China Sea. That could put Washington at odds with Iran and China. The United States already has the world’s most powerful fighting force and it spends far more than any other country on defence. Defence spending in the most recent fiscal year was $584bn, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, said Trump’s plan to slash funding for federal agencies to free up money for the Pentagon shows he is not putting American working families first. “A $54bn cut will do far-reaching and long-lasting damage to our ability to meet the needs of the American people and win the jobs of the future,” Ms Pelosi said. “The president is surrendering America’s leadership in innovation, education, science and clean energy.“

More than 120 retired U.S. generals and admirals urged Congress on Monday to fully fund US diplomacy and foreign aid, saying that “elevating and strengthening diplomacy and development alongside defence are critical to keeping America safe”.

Mr Trump has previously said he would expand the Army to 540,000 active-duty troops from its current 480,000, increase the Marine Corps from 23 to 36 battalions – or as many as 10,000 more Marines – boost the Navy from 276 to 350 ships and submarines, and raise the number of Air Force tactical aircraft from 1,100 to 1,200. But he has not said where he would place the extra hardware and forces or made clear what they will be used for. The United States has been shutting some of its military bases in recent years.

President Trump also told governors that the country will “do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people”. But he promised them his budget will increase spending for federal law enforcement, moves that will help the US “fight crime”.

He said his budget proposal will also keep tax dollars in the US to help veterans and first responders.

Mr Trump said he would talk about his plans for infrastructure spending in a speech to Congress on Tuesday. “We’re going to start spending on infrastructure big,” he said.

“We have to start winning wars again – when I was young, in high school and college, people used to say we never lost a war. We need to win or don’t fight it all. It’s a mess like you have never seen before.”

His budget, once finalised and sent to Congress in mid-March, will likely set off a huge battle in Washington. Democrats and some Republicans are certain to resist the cuts to domestic agencies, and any legislation to implement them would have to overcome a filibuster threat by Senate Democrats. A government shutdown is a real possibility.

On Friday, Mr Trump told the American Conservative Union’s annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland: “Nobody is going to mess with us. Nobody.

“It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history.”

But defence experts have questioned the increase in military spending when the spend on the State Department and foreign assistance stands at $50bn per year.

The State Department’s budget could be cut by as much as 30 per cent, which would force a major restructuring of the department and elimination of programmes. However, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee called Mr Trump’s defence budget request too low. “Over the course of the Obama Administration, our military funding was cut 20 per cent while the world grew more dangerous. While we cannot repair all of the damage done by those cuts in a single year, we can and should do more than this level of funding will allow,” Representative Mac Thornberry said in a statement.

“The administration will have to make clear which problems facing our military they are choosing not to fix,” he said.


Hoax? Trump says may open citizenship to millions of immigrants

TeleSUR, March 1, 2017

U.S. President Donald Trump is considering introducing legislation to provide a pathway to legal status, but not immediately to citizenship, for undocumented immigrants who have not committed serious crimes, CNN reported on Tuesday, citing a senior White House official.

CNN said the president thinks a comprehensive immigration bill that would allow undocumented immigrants to hold a job and require them to pay taxes has a chance of clearing Congress, and it said Trump may refer to the idea of legislation in a speech on Tuesday night.

“The time is right for an immigration bill as long as there is compromise on both sides,” Trump reportedly told TV anchors at the White House shortly before his first address to Congress.

When the New York Times asked Trump’s deputy press secretary, though, she said that she had not heard his speech.

“The president has been very clear in his process that the immigration system is broken and needs massive reform, and he’s made clear that he’s open to having conversations about that moving forward,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Right now, his primary focus, as he has made over and over again is border control and security at the border and deporting criminals from our country, and keeping our country safe, and those priorities have not changed.”

CNN also cited officials that said he is looking for a negotiation and “a softening on both sides.” They also said that some Democrats are prepared to work with Trump on a comprehensive immigration reform bill, a goal that has been set by many administrations past but never completed.

Trump’s announcement represents a significant shift in his previous messages, which have caused panic in immigrant communities for promising to go after anyone with a criminal record, from traffic infractions to medical marijuana licenses.

A potential policy, which would have to pass the Republican-held Congress, would likely only apply to “Dreamers,” a narrowly-defined category of students who came to the country at a young age, reported CNN.

Read also:
The United States’ mass deportation system is rooted in racism, commentary by Kelly Lytle Hernandez, TeleSUR, Feb 28, 2017

Trump’s ‘obsolete NATO’ means Europe paying for U.S. militarism, by Finian Cunningham, RT.com, Feb 27, 2017  (interactive map at weblink showing NATO expansion eastward over the decades)

Reuters exclusive: Trump wants to expand U.S. nuclear arsenal, make it ‘top of the pack’, by Steve Holland, Reuters, Feb 23, 2017

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