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Judge to consider bid to block Trump’s emergency border wall funds

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Judge to consider bid to block Trump’s emergency border wall funds

Funds

The states and advocacy groups are expected to ask a federal judge to block the funding.

At the centre of Friday’s hearing is the question of the president’s authority to construct a wall using funds that Congress declined to approve for the amount he requested.

In February, Congress approved 1.375 billion dollars for construction of “primary pedestrian fencing” along the border in Southeast Texas, well short of Trump’s demand for 5.7 billion dollars to build border walls in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

To obtain the additional money, Trump declared a national emergency and diverted 601 million dollars from a Treasury forfeiture fund, 3.6 billion dollars from military construction and 2.5 billion dollars earmarked for Department of Defence counterdrug programmes.

“Congress’s refusal to fund President Trump’s wall isn’t an emergency, it’s democracy,” said a statement from Dror Ladin, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents plaintiffs in the case.

The Trump administration argues the plaintiffs have not shown any injury caused by the funding decisions and that existing law gives it the leeway to redirect the money for such purposes as “an unforeseen military requirement” or a “law enforcement activity.”

Trump made a border wall the centre of his 2016 campaign for president, when he said Mexico would pay for construction.

That pledge went nowhere, and Trump also hit resistance in Congress even as apprehensions of migrants by border agents hit a decade high as of April.

The plaintiffs in Friday’s hearing include 20 states, the Sierra Club environmental group and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which advocates for immigrants.

They argued in court papers that the administration has violated the separation of power principle of the U.S. Constitution, among other claims.

The plaintiffs also said wall construction would harm the environment and the wildlife habitats for such creatures as Gila monsters and the Mexican wolf.

The diversion of Treasury forfeiture funds would undermine state law enforcement, they argued.

New York state, for example, has used forfeiture funds to buy bullet-proof vests and naloxone, a drug that counters opioid overdoses.

Although it is not a plaintiff, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives plans to argue in support of the plaintiffs at the hearing.

The House called the diversion of funds a “flagrant disregard for the bedrock principle” that Congress controls federal spending.

Foreign

N/Korean leader oversees test of ‘super-large rocket launcher’ 

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Test

North Korea on Saturday fired from a site on its eastern coast what appeared to be two short-range missiles, which flew some 380 kilometres before landing in the sea.

The North Korean leader said that the “young and promising” scientists behind the new missile system were a “precious treasure and wealth of the country”.

The recent series of missile tests were seen as a response to recently-completed joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which Pyongyang claims are rehearsals for an invasion of North Korea.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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G7 protesters throw stones, French police respond with tear gas 

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Clashes

Protesters threw stones at police who were blocking access to a bridge in the neighbouring town of Bayonne, a dpa reporter observed.

The Police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

Some 68 people were arrested, with 38 of them detained for questioning, news agency AFP reported citing local authorities.

The organisers of a larger and calmer protest earlier in the day subsequently cancelled protest actions scheduled for the perimeter of the summit security zone on Sunday.

Citing what they said was an excessive police presence and heavy-handed security, they said they could not guarantee the safety of protesters at the actions.

They instead called for a “people’s wall” in protest at “the state of siege in the Basque Country,” but without specifying a location.

The evening’s clashes came soon after the summit between leaders of major Western powers and Japan, hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, kicked off.

The earlier protest, in the towns of Hendaye and Irun on either side of the Franco-Spanish border some 20 kilometres away, passed off peacefully, with the organizers claiming 15,000 people had taken part.

The activists, who also held a counter-summit with lectures and workshops, argue that while Macron says the G7 should tackle inequality, the main cause of the problem is hardline free-market policies implemented by the leaders of wealthy countries.

French authorities have barred access to much of Biarritz except to residents and local workers for the duration of the three-day summit.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Foreign

U.S. officials criticise Macron for putting pressure on Trump ahead of G7 Summit – Reports

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Pressure

According to the publication, a flurry of criticism hit Macron after he had invited Trump to an impromptu lunch, during which the parties discussed a number of issues, including Iran and Amazon wildfires.

 Such a one-on-one lunch was not planned in advance, the newspaper stressed.

Members of the U.S. presidential administration accused the French president of focusing on such “niche” issues as climate change and the development of Africa, which meet his own political interests, the publication said.

According to a senior French official, the French president used lunch to explain his position on controversial issues, in particular, tensions in world trade.

The Group of Seven (G7) Summit officially opened in the city of Biarritz in southwestern France.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Trump notes progress on opening day of G7 Summit

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Progress

“France and President @EmmanuelMacron have done a really great job thus far with a very important G-7.

Lunch with Emmanuel was the best meeting we have yet had.

Likewise, evening meeting with World Leaders went very well. Progress being made!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Before the summit, the French leader invited Trump to an impromptu lunch, during which the parties discussed a number of issues, including trade, tensions in the Persian Gulf, the situation in Libya and Iran.

The Group of Seven (G7) Summit officially opened in the city of Biarritz in southwestern France.

YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Police hose G7 protesters in south France as summit begins

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Protesters

A few hundred people, many of whom have covered their faces with masks and scarves, have been marching though the city, screaming anti-police slogans.

The march is occurring in the part of the city surrounded by rivers from both sides, with bridges blocked by the police.

At one of the bridges protesters began provoking the police, who hosed them four times in response and then fired teargas at the crowd.

The procession is currently repeating its previous route.

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