President Donald Trump said he would impose a 5% tariff on Mexican goods until that country stops immigrants from entering the U.S. illegally – brandishing a weapon used against a widening group of countries and perhaps jeopardizing a new North American trade agreement.
The tariff would take effect June 10, “until such time as illegal migrants coming through Mexico, and into our country, STOP,” Trump said in a Twitter post-Thursday night.
He warned the levy “would gradually increase until the illegal immigration problem is remedied at which time the tariff will be removed.”
The tariffs could rise as high as 25% on Oct. 1, Trump said in a statement released by the White House.
The move, which has major implications for American automakers and other companies with production south of the border and the U.S. economy as a whole, represents Trump’s latest expansion of his trade wars.
It comes just days after he removed steel tariffs on Mexico that had caused retaliation against U.S. farm products.
Jesus Seade, Mexico’s undersecretary of foreign relations for North America, told reporters in Mexico City on Thursday at a previously scheduled event that the country won’t retaliate before discussing the matter with the U.S.
But the tariff threat, he added, “if turned into reality, would be extremely serious.”
Trump launches re-election bid
US President Donald Trump formally launched his 2020 re-election campaign on Tuesday in front of a large crowd in Orlando, Florida.
“We are going to keep making America great again and then we will indeed keep America great,” Trump said as he attacked his opponents and the media.
“We are going to keep it better than ever before and that is why I stand before you tonight to officially launch my campaign for a second term as president of the United States,” Trump told the crowd at an arena in Orlando.
The announcement comes amid calls for impeachment, continuing congressional probes into his presidency and administration and deepening divisions over his hardline immigration policies. But Trump’s speech also comes as the economy continues to grow and the Republican president maintains deep support among his base.
Although Tuesday’s speech is being billed as the official beginning of Trump’s 2020 bid, the businessman-turned-politician filed the paperwork officially announcing his bid within hours of his inauguration on January 20, 2017. He has since held campaign-style rallies throughout the United States.
On Tuesday, Trump’s attacks against socialism and his doubling down on conservative stances on nationalism, abortion, family, the judiciary and guns were positively received by the loyalist crowd, who often erupted in “USA” and “Make America Great” chants throughout the event.
Two-and-a-half years into his tenure, Trump sees plenty of positive factors, led by a growing economy with low unemployment.
“If the economy stays strong, he is very likely to get re-elected,” said Trump confidant Newt Gingrich, a former Republican speaker of the US House of Representatives.
Trump touted the economy throughout Tuesday’s speech, saying “it’s soaring to incredible new heights”.
The US president also received a large round of applause when he brought his tax cuts, saying, “we’ve done so much … with the biggest tax cut in history.”
But according to an Associated Press fact check, Trump’s tax cuts are nowhere close to the biggest in US history.
It’s a $1.5 trillion tax cut over 10 years. As a share of the total economy, a tax cut of that size ranks 12th, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Former President Ronald Reagan’s 1981 cut is the biggest, followed by the 1945 rollback of taxes that financed World War II.
Despite the packed crowd at the Orlando arena on Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, coupled with a presidential style marked by name-calling and eye-popping tweets, has undermined some Americans’ confidence in Trump before the November 2020 election.
Vatican contemplating married men as priests
The Vatican has formally opened debate on letting married men be ordained as priests in remote parts of the Amazon where priests are so few that Catholics can go weeks or months without attending a Mass.
The call for study on the proposal was contained in the working document, released on Monday, for an October meeting of South American bishops on the Amazon.
The document, prepared by the Vatican based on input from the region, affirmed that celibacy is a gift for the Catholic Church.
But it suggested officials study “the possibility of priestly ordination for older men, preferably indigenous and respected and accepted by their communities, even if they have stable families, for the region’s most remote areas”.
The idea of ordaining so-called “viri probati” – married men of proven virtue – has been around for decades to cope with a priest shortage and decline in vocations overall.
But it has drawn fresh attention under Pope Francis, history’s first Latin American pope, thanks to his familiarity with the challenges facing the Amazon church.
The October 6-27 meeting on the sacramental and environmental needs of the Amazon will draw bishops from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname and Venezuela.
Brazil’s bishops have long pushed for the Church to consider ordaining viri probati to minister in remote parts of the Amazon where by some estimates there is one priest for every 10,000 Catholics.
The celibacy question has been a mainstay in Catholic debate given it is a discipline, not a doctrine, and therefore can change.
The Church has had the tradition since the 11th century, imposed in part to spare the Church the financial burdens of providing for large families and to ensure that any assets of the priest would pass to the Church, not his heirs.
Proponents of a relaxation of the rule say more men would consider a vocation to the priesthood if they could marry, a surefire fix to the decline in priests globally.
Opponents say relaxing the rule for the Amazon will certainly fuel calls for it to be relaxed elsewhere.
Already, married men can be ordained in the Eastern rite Catholic Church and married men who convert from Protestant churches can be Catholic priests.
In addition to ordaining married men, the document called for the synod to identify “the type of official ministry that can be conferred on women”.
It said women, who already play important roles in indigenous communities, must be guaranteed leadership roles.
But it stopped short of recommending debate on whether women could be ordained as deacons.
One of the organisers, Monsignor Fabio Fabene, said the female diaconate was essentially off the table since Francis has recently determined that the issue needs further discussion.
Overall, the synod bishops are expected to debate a host of measures to better minister to indigenous and migrant communities in the Amazon amid deforestation and exploitative industries and competition for souls from Pentecostal churches, which are more present in the region with indigenous, local leaders.
The Vatican’s working document acknowledged this competition, saying the Catholic Church must transition from being a church that merely visits vast regions to one that has a full-time presence with ministries, liturgies, sacraments and social services.
It called for a Church that has a more indigenous face, with local songs, dance, costumes and the Bible translated into various languages.
Nigerian ambassador to UN elected as its 74th general assembly president
Members of the United Nations General Assembly have chosen the Nigerian ambassador to the world body as its next president.
They elected Tijjani Muhammad-Bande by acclamation Tuesday to preside over the 74th U.N. session for one year, starting in September.
He’s the second Nigerian president of the 193-member General Assembly. Joseph Nanven Garba was president during the 1989-1990 session.
Muhammad-Bande succeeds Maria Fernanda Espinosa of Ecuador.
He told General Assembly members that when they convene in September, priorities will include climate change, universal health coverage, gender equality and the eradication of poverty and hunger.
The 61-year-old diplomat was born in Zagga, in northwest Nigeria, and has a master’s degree in political science from Boston University and a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Toronto.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has applauded the emergence of Prof. Tijjani Muhammad – Bande, as the President of the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly.
The ministry’s Acting Spokesperson, Mr Friday Akpan, in a statement in Abuja said the election is a positive development and demonstrates the confidence in Nigeria’s ability to pilot the affairs of the revered global institution.
Muhammad-Bande, the sole candidate for the position, was elected through acclamation at the 87th plenary meeting of the Assembly in New York.
”Prof. Muhammad-Bande is the second Nigerian to occupy the position.
”Maj.- Gen. Joseph Garba (Rtd) was the President of the 44th session of the United Nations General Assembly between 1989 and 1990,” he said.
Theresa May set to resign as Britain’s Prime Minister
British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in an emotional address on Friday, ending a dramatic three-year tenure of near-constant crisis over Brexit.
“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” May, her voice breaking, said outside her Downing Street office.
May, 62, said she would step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7.
She would remain as prime minister in a caretaker role until a replacement is elected by the party.
May, who took charge in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum, was forced to make way following a mutiny in her cabinet and Conservative Party over her ill-fated strategy to take Britain out of the European Union.
She will become one of Britain’s shortest-serving post-WWII prime ministers, remembered for presiding over one of the most chaotic periods in the country’s modern political history and for her inability to deliver Brexit.
“I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold — the second female prime minister but certainly not the last,” May said.
“I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love,” she said, appearing close to tears as she turned back abruptly and walked back into her office.
Brexit in limbo
May was pushed into the humiliating spectacle of announcing her departure from office following a meeting with the head of the Conservative Party committee in charge of leadership elections.
She had previously said she would step aside once her unpopular EU divorce deal had been passed by parliament, and this week launched a short-lived bid for lawmakers to approve it in early June, that has now been postponed.
MPs have overwhelmingly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with European Union leaders last year three times, brutally weakening May on each occasion.
With her resignation, the manner of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union appears more uncertain than ever.
She had been under growing pressure to quit following months of political paralysis over Brexit, which have intensified in recent weeks following disastrous results in the May 2 English local elections.
The Conservatives are expected to fare similarly badly in this week’s European Parliament elections when the results are announced late Sunday.
‘One last roll of the dice’
May’s latest effort to force through her despised Brexit deal, which included giving MPs the option of holding a referendum on the agreement, proved her final undoing.
The move prompted a furious reaction from Conservatives — including cabinet members.
“I thought she deserved one last roll of the dice. But she took those dice and threw them off the table,” a senior minister told The Times.
The clamour for her to stand down reached fever pitch after Andrea Leadsom — one of cabinet’s strongest Brexit backers — resigned on Wednesday from her post as the government’s representative in parliament.
She became the 36th minister to quit May’s dismally dysfunctional government — a modern record.
In her resignation letter Leadsom told the prime minister she no longer believed her approach to Brexit would deliver on the 2016 referendum result to leave the EU.
Several senior cabinet ministers reportedly then held “frank” talks with May on Thursday.
May’s departure will kickstart a Conservative Party leadership contest — already unofficially underway — that is expected to encompass more than a dozen candidates and favour a Brexiteer.
That could lead to Britain, which has already twice delayed its departure from the European Union, opting to leave the bloc without a deal on October 31, the extended deadline agreed with Brussels last month.
Tory MPs will hold a series of votes to whittle the contenders down to a final two that will be put to the party’s more than 100,000 members.
Former foreign secretary and gaffe-prone Brexit cheerleader Boris Johnson is the membership’s favourite, but a considerable number of Conservative MPs are thought to hold serious reservations about his suitability for the top job.
He has repeatedly said Britain should not fear a so-called no-deal Brexit.
May was the surprising victor in a 2016 leadership contest to replace predecessor David Cameron after he resigned in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum
Despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, she embraced the cause with the mantra “Brexit means Brexit”.
However the decision to hold a disastrous snap election in June 2017, when she lost her parliamentary majority, left her stymied.
May will leave office without any significant achievements to her name — other than the bungled handling of Brexit, according to political analysts.
“She doesn’t really have a legacy that she can call her own other than just having to manage what is a very difficult issue,” said Simon Usherwood, from the University of Surrey’s politics department.
“I think anybody in her position would have had great difficulty.”
Others were more brutal in their assessment.
“It was only an impossible job because she made it one,” said Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London.