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US wall problem remains as February 15 deadline nears



E CARTOON FEB 13, 2019United States President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with two Asian leaders within the next two or three weeks, meetings with such great significance for us in the Philippines.

He will  meet  North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un in Vietnam on  February 27-28, to follow up on their recent meeting in which North Korea called for a “denuclearization” of the entire Korean Peninsula. This would end  North Korea’s threats  to send nuclear missiles  to the  US mainland,  which would set off a nuclear war that would certainly involve  the Philippines,  Japan,  China,  and Korea’s other  neighbors.

The  US  president   is also meeting  China President  Xi  Jinping  if they are to reach agreement  on their trade war which has slowed down economic growth not only in the two countries, but also in nations like the Philippines which  export to the two.  After  imposing retaliatory tariffs on each other’s exports,  they recently  suspended  any further  moves and set  a March 1 deadline to achieve a trade deal.

Although  these  expected meetings  directly affect us in  the Philippines, it is a domestic  American issue that  continues to hold the world’s attention – whether  the US federal  government  will have to shut down again on February 15 – two days from today.

Over 800,000 US federal employees  had to stop working as most  federal  agencies, notably Homeland Security,  had to close down  at midnight  of Friday, December 2, 2018, as President  Trump  refused to sign  the budget approved by Congress  because  it  did not contain $5.7 billion he demanded for a wall he wanted to build along the US-Mexico border.

After  several  weeks during which work  stopped or slowed down in many US agencies, including airports,  Trump  agreed to reopen  the closed  government agencies but  only up to February 15. On that day, the  reopened  agencies  may have to close down and  their workers  sent  home again. It all depends on President Trump  —  whether   he will yield on his wall or take  a stand in the face of Congress’ refusal  to  appropriate $5.7 billion for it.

In his State of the Union address last Tuesday, February  5, President  Trump called on Washington to cast aside “revenge, resistance, and retribution” – referring to the wall controversy. And  he  called  for an  end to “ridiculous partisan investigations” – referring to the congressional  probe of Russian involvement  in  the Trump presidential campaign in 2016.

On his border wall, he vowed, “I will build it,” but said nothing about the February 15 deadline he  gave for  a resumption of the government shutdown if Congress continues to deny him the $5.7 billion to build it.

That is on  Friday midnight – that would be Saturday noon,   Manila time – and the world  will see if the  United  States,  the world’s lone superpower, looked upon by  the rest of the world’s nations, including ours, with  the  greatest  respect,   will be able to solve its problem  over  a  wall.

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