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20 Jan

First anniversary of Trump inauguration and Women’s March portends clashes

UNITED STATES (WNF) - President Donald Trump’s report card and a recent white supremacist rally all but guarantee face-offs and louder “Dump Trump” calls on the first anniversary of his inauguration and the Women’s March, which took place around the world on the following day.
Growing tensions between Trump supporters and opponents following that rally in August in Charlottesville, Virginia, increase the odds of rival events and clashes around the country on the two anniversaries. Cities around the country are posting plans to hold 2018 editions of the Women’s March on Jan 20.

The Charlottesville confrontations left one counter-protester dead and others injured. It raised a political storm and underscored the president’s controversial views about race and other issues.

Trump’s Jan 20 report card won’t be flattering. The Washington Post noted in August that newspapers “have repeated ad nauseam that Trump is saddled with the worst approval ratings in United States history at this stage of his presidency.” His 33-35 per cent approval rating in mid 2017 is widely described as politically catastrophic, but the Republican-led Congress shows no inclination to respond to calls for the impeachment of their fellow-Republican president.

The 2017 Women’s March, which brought millions of demonstrators onto city streets in the U.S. and elsewhere, amounted to the first mass resistance to the Trump presidency. Broadcaster ABC noted that the international outpouring indicated the degree to which Trump has unsettled people domestically and abroad. The main march, in Washington DC, one of the biggest demonstrations in the capital’s history, drew 400,000-500,000 people. All of the marches were notable for the absence of violence. #22305 Updated: 11/16/2017 UPDATED NOV 2017 TO SHOW NEW WOMEN'S MARCHES ON JAN 20, NOT 21st

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22 Jan

Passengers must present more secure driver’s licenses at airports

UNITED STATES (WNF) - The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) begins enforcing REAL ID requirements at airport security checkpoints. Many states have resisted the implementation of REAL ID, in effect a national identification card, and the January date will force compliance.
Congress passed Real ID in 2005 in response to the Sep 2001 terror attacks in the United States. It was designed to improve security of airline travel and access to federal buildings by establishing stricter verification and security measures for identity documents. According to US News, the Act sought to coerce states into issuing ID cards and licenses with nationally standardized data elements. The states are required to share their databases of driver information across a national data network.

The opposition has come from both ends of the political spectrum. US News noted in Oct 2016 that Republicans raise privacy issues and see the possibility of a national ID being used for gun control, financial surveillance and increased federal government control over health care. Democrats, on the other hand, see a national ID system used in religious checks and for the round up of undocumented immigrants as the system impacts immigrants’ access to a driver’s license.

As of Jan 2017, 23 states complied with the requirements and another 27 states and territories have been granted extensions. #22042 Published: 02/02/2017

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23 Jan

World’s problems and deal-making vie at 2018 World Economic Forum

SWITZERLAND (WNF) - An invitation to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos comes with some obligation to set aside deal-making to focus on the conference program. The 2018 theme is Strengthening Cooperation in a Fractured World.
Explaining the program, WEF notes that the global context has changed dramatically. “Geostrategic fissures have re-emerged on multiple fronts with wide-ranging political, economic and social consequences. . . . By coming together at the start of the year, we can shape the future by joining this unparalleled global effort in co-design, co-creation and collaboration.”

The fissures and their implications will be explored in the speeches and panel events, but most invitees will be there for the networking opportunities offered by the forum and for making deals. The event draws government figures, including heads of state, and leaders from almost every field.

Writing in the New York Times in Jan 2011, Andrew Ross Sorkin outlines the jaw-dropping costs of accepting a Davos invitation and refers to the event as “a heady power gathering that mixes business, politics and Champagne in the Swiss Alps.”

A report in the Business Insider the same year concludes that invitees pay such costs because the conference is so good for business. It notes that no other conference can get so many high-level people “to visit one tiny town at the same time, year-after-year-after-year.” #22318 Published: 09/25/2017

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26 Jan

Marchers back on the street for milestone Australia Day

AUSTRALIA (WNF) - Australia Day 2017 marks the 230th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet and 200th anniversary of the nation’s founding. The day of flag waving and barbeques will bring marchers onto the streets again to remind Australians that the Fleet’s arrival began an era of unremitting loss for the continent’s indigenous population.
The arrival of the well-armed British began a well-documented era of dispossession, disease, violence, destruction of culture, exploitation and abuse for the Aboriginal population. The protesters, Aborigines and their supporters, want another date chosen for the country’s national day. They refer to Jan 26 by other names, such as Invasion Day, Survival Day and Day of Mourning.

Aborigines account for fewer than 3 per cent of Australia's population of 24 million, according to official figures. They are the poorest ethnic group in Australia and are more likely to be jobless, imprisoned and have poor health than any other Australians.

Governor Lachlan Macquarie acknowledged Jan 26 as a public holiday on the 30th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet on Jan 26, 1788. The 11 British ships, commanded by Captain Arthur Phillip, landed colonists and convicts on the shores of what was then known as New South Wales. The previous year Macquarie, often referred to as the Father of Australia, accepted the recommendation of Captain Matthew Flinders, circumnavigator of the continent, that it be called Australia. #22096 Published: 03/10/2017

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