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Trump is focused on crowd size as he heads to India for state visit – CNN



1. Trump’s Indian adventure

President Donald Trump heads to India this week for a state visit — and says he can’t wait to see the crowds Indian Prime Minister Nehendra Modi has promised will be there to greet him.
“He will be welcomed with a rally in the world’s largest cricket stadium,” NPR White House reporter Tamara Keith said. “This trip doesn’t have a big trade deal to be announced, it doesn’t have a lot going on. What it has is very large crowds, and Prime Minister Modi is going to make sure President Trump sees those crowds.”
The two-day trip will also include a tour of the Taj Mahal and a state dinner in New Delhi. But it’s the crowd at the stadium he seems to be most focused on.
“President Trump has already been inflating the crowd size, saying there will be millions and millions,” Keith said. “The stadium only holds 100,000. But that’s still huge.”

2. Edging toward a peace deal in Afghanistan

While the President visits India, his foreign policy team will be watching Afghanistan, hoping a 7-day “reduction in violence” agreement with the Taliban holds. That could pave the way to a peace agreement with the US that brings the 18-year-war to an end.
“It’s really a significant step toward ending America’s longest war,” Associated Press Washington bureau chief Julie Pace said. “But this is going to be an anxious week. The US and Taliban agreed to … reduction in violence before they sign the agreement. So there’s a lot of concern that violence could erupt and derail progress here.”
But even if a peace deal is signed next weekend, that doesn’t mean an immediate withdrawal of American troops.
“There are big questions about how the US does end this war,” Pace said. “The Afghan government is in total disarray. So how fast do American troops that have been in this country for 18 years start to come home?”

3. The other billionaire in the race

Billionaire Tom Steyer spent more than $15 million on ads in Nevada, far more than any of his rivals.
But all it bought him was a sixth-place finish.
“A lot of Democratic strategists and campaign advisers were eying the bottom of the list of results,” CNN political correspondent Abby Phillip said. “The question for Democrats right now is what does money buy you … and how durable is that support? That’s a question not just for Steyer as we go into South Carolina, but also for Mike Bloomberg.”
One piece of good news for Steyer — he appears to have qualified for Tuesday night’s debate in South Carolina, after a poll out Sunday morning had him in third place there with 18%.

4. Reid and Romney make up

Former senator Harry Reid has spent the past three years of retirement at home in Nevada, where he’s fighting pancreatic cancer. And Washington Post senior congressional correspondent Paul Kane says Reid is reaching out to old enemies.
“I was in Las Vegas and went to visit Reid,” Kane said. “And I was stunned. I know politics make strange bedfellows, but he said he and Mitt Romney have kind of calmed things down.”
It was hard to find a bigger Romney critic than Reid back in 2012 — when Reid was the Senate Democratic leader and Romney was the Republican nominee for president.
“Reid was on the Senate floor almost every day accusing Romney of never paying taxes,” Kane said. “It was not true. And there were very hard feelings.”
But Reid told Kane that after that election, Reid — who, like Romney, is a Mormon — reached out to make peace.
“He says it was a good talk, and that Romney is a very nice man,” Kane said. And after watching his impeachment vote, Reid “sent a letter congratulating him.”

5. A test for AOC

And from CNN chief national correspondent John King:
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is enjoying her rising liberal stardom: emerging as a top surrogate for 2020 Democratic frontrunner Bernie Sanders while also launching a new political action committee designed to promote like-minded congressional candidates.
But the freshman congresswoman’s high profile also means there are no shortage of critics, and some of those critics believe they may now have an opportunity to at least complicate her 2020.
That hope rests in a new primary challenge launched by Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, a longtime CNBC anchor and contributor.
Caruso-Cabrera is the author of a book promoting the virtues of free-market economies and limited government, and is clearly not a fan of the Democratic socialism espoused by Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders.
It is an uphill primary fight, given the liberal leanings of the Bronx and Queens neighborhoods that make up New York’s 14th Congressional District. Plus Ocasio-Cortez is already proving her national progressive standing is an asset when it comes to fundraising.
But Ocasio-Cortez won the seat two years ago by knocking off a Democratic incumbent in the primary, and there is still some bad blood among establishment Democrats. The CNBC work gives Caruso-Cabrera high recognition with Wall Street donors who are not fans of the Ocasio-Cortez agenda.
One wild card to watch is whether organizations that are most often found supporting Republican candidates decide to take an active role in the primary. The Chamber of Commerce, for example, is among the GOP-leading organizations exploring whether to support Caruso-Cabrera.
Again, it is an uphill challenge and a smaller scale test of the criticism Sanders now faces from centrists on the presidential campaign trail. Caruso-Cabrera’s book, published a decade ago, seems an odd fit in today’s Democratic Party.
“You Know I’m Right: More Prosperity, Less Government,” is the book’s title. This, too, is an interesting wrinkle for a woman running in a Democratic primary: the forward is written by Larry Kudlow, then a CNBC colleague, but now the chief economic adviser to Trump.

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China, Russia face sanctions from US states now. That’s dangerous



Sanctions have become all the rage in international politics. The United States and its allies are imposing them on rivals with increasing frequency and severity. And those rivals are reciprocating where they can.

Now, American states, too, are increasingly getting in on the act. And that’s bad news — for the world, and for US foreign policy. A much-publicised episode of a Chinese balloon entering US airspace seems to have created new energy for such restrictions and has led to legislation being proposed in at least 11 states.

On Wednesday, the South Carolina State Senate passed a bill barring ownership of land in the state by citizens of US geopolitical adversaries Russia, China, North Korea, Iran and Cuba. The bill’s top sponsor even compared a planned purchase of South Carolina land by a Chinese biomedical firm with the Trojan Horse plot of Greek mythology.

Meanwhile, Texas State Senator Lois Kolkhorst has proposed a similar law that has drawn strong condemnation on human rights grounds but has been defended by Greg Abbott, the state’s Republican governor. A simple reading of the original version of this bill would lead one to conclude that any individual who holds citizenship from any of the mentioned countries, or any firms which they own, would be barred from owning property. This would have included American citizens who hold dual citizenship. Since then, the language has been softened to protect dual citizens and permanent residents but not citizens of those countries residing in Texas on a visa.


Implementation of such language would impose new and unusual due diligence requirements on common land transactions. Meanwhile, creating special restrictions on various immigrant communities to own property poses human rights concerns.

Existing sanctions laws and Treasury Department designations already block leaders from those American adversaries from transferring money into the US or owning property in the country. Meanwhile, recently introduced federal legislation aims to ban US adversaries from purchasing large swaths of farmland in the US.

So why would a state engage in what is essentially a foreign policy and national security matter?

Why sanction?

On the one hand, some scholars see sanctions as often being a product of domestic politics, aimed at portraying muscle to the electorate, at times influenced by pressure groups such as “ethnic lobbies”. Those in this camp of scholars are more inclined to believe that sanctions are not particularly effective. If sanctions are for the satisfaction of domestic onlookers, they will not be designed and implemented with an eye towards efficacy and the security context.

Other scholars, however, argue that sanctions are indeed imposed due to a meaningful effort to address national security concerns.

Like many in the national security decision-making scholarship community, I feel both of these binary constructions frequently fail when confronted with the history of economic sanctions. The truth is that foreign policy choices are a product of complex national security matrices that accommodate both foreign policy and domestic political considerations.

Who sanctions?

Yet irrespective of one’s overall view on the efficacy of sanctions more broadly, it is hard for anyone to deny that policies against foreign nationals adopted by state governments can have little explanation other than domestic and even local politics.

In the US, the executive branch has always been best suited to make foreign policy decisions due to its clear mandate and wherewithal in this field. Congress has a constitutional role in foreign policy matters but it’s far more likely to be influenced by domestic political pressures and national anxieties.

The executive branch largely controlled sanctions policy throughout the Cold War era. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, as major threats to the homeland faded, Congressional and sub-federal forces became increasingly involved in this field.

While Congress has largely ceded its war power authority in the modern era, it has become more active in sanctioning due to an impulse of members to be seen as projecting power against American adversaries even when it interferes with the president’s efforts to engage in strategic policy.

What about state legislators and governors? They have no real national security staff nor the relevant mandate, as their elections almost always lack any meaningful foreign policy discussion and are decided based on provincial issues, whether taxes or abortion rights.

Yet their meddling in foreign policy isn’t superfluous — it can actually be reckless, for global diplomacy and for US foreign policy. Here’s how.

The folly of state sanctions

As written, the mentioned measures are unlikely to meaningfully interfere with the federal government’s ability to carry out its foreign policy. But one can imagine a scenario in which sanctions imposed by states do just that.

New York state and California preside over major nodes of the global banking community and the international technology supply chain. Texas itself is a major player in global energy markets. Other states can wield a more narrow version of such powers as well.

There are already examples of when New York State has targeted European firms for their perceived violation of sanctions, ignoring objections at the federal level. States can, as the federal government has often done, impose restrictions on firms operating in their jurisdiction in a way that has extraterritorial consequences.

This in turn sets up a precarious dynamic. The federal government might have to mollify or negotiate with state governments led by ambitious politicians responding to special interests or catering to local constituencies.

Equally, state governments of the party in opposition can actively undercut diplomatic efforts of the federal government using such sanctions. For example, a federal effort to ease sanctions on Cuba could create political momentum for state sanctions in Florida, where families of those who fled communist rule are a powerful lobby.

Ultimately, sanctions are a tool of foreign policy and the capacity to modulate or even repeal them is critical to accomplishing the political goals behind sanctions campaigns. For the president or Congress to have to lobby with state governments, each representing a fraction of the overall population, to alter America’s sanctions against a country would represent a bizarre new obstacle to the federal government’s ability to carry out its foreign policy obligations.

The proposed Texas and South Carolina laws are textbook examples of sanctions as political grandstanding meant for domestic consumption. They are also a reminder of the jingoistic zeal that can be nurtured and exploited by foreign policy amateurs at the state level.

As we embark upon what scholar Peter A G van Bergeijk calls the “second wave” of global sanctions, states will likely look further to getting in on the act with human rights and global affairs.

Washington’s basic ability to carry out a coherent foreign policy hangs in the balance.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.


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Beijing denies meddling after MP Han Dong’s resignation from Liberal caucus



OTTAWA — Beijing says it has nothing to say about ongoing allegations that China has meddled in Canadian affairs, including those regarding a member of Parliament who has left the Liberal caucus.

Han Dong is now sitting as an Independent as the Liberal government has a rapporteur investigate claims of Chinese interference, including allegations the Toronto MP willingly received electoral support through Chinese officials.

Dong resigned from the Liberal caucus Wednesday night after Global News, citing unnamed security sources, published a report alleging that he spoke about Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig with a Chinese diplomat in Toronto in February 2021.

The MP says he met with the diplomat but disputes any suggestion that he urged China to delay releasing the two Canadian men, who by that point had been detained for more than two years.


Dong told the House of Commons he would defend himself “against these absolutely untrue claims” and that he did nothing to cause Spavor and Kovrig any harm.

Asked about Dong’s resignation at a press conference today in Beijing, a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry says “the Canadian side may be in a better position” to comment, and that “China opposes interference in other countries’ internal affairs.”

He adds that this applies to broader allegations about Chinese interference.

“We have no interest in and will not interfere in Canada’s internal affairs,” Wang Wenbin said in the official English transcript. “There should be no irresponsible comments on this.”

China’s detention of the men who became known around the world as the “two Michaels” occurred in apparent retaliation for the December 2018 arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver on a U.S. extradition warrant.

Beijing has insisted the cases are not linked, despite a close alignment in the timing of each being detained and then released the same day in September 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.


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Pierre Poilievre to get face time with U.S. President Joe Biden in Ottawa



OTTAWA — Official Opposition Leader Pierre Poilievre is expected to meet U.S. President Joe Biden when he visits Canada this week.

Senior U.S. administration officials confirmed Wednesday in a briefing given on the condition they not be named that Biden plans to have what is known as a “pull-aside” conversation with Poilievre.

They say the president, who is scheduled to arrive in Ottawa with first lady Jill Biden on Thursday, also plans to exchange pleasantries with other party leaders.

Earlier Wednesday, Poilievre said Conservatives want to see the White House end its “Buy American” policies, which industry leaders in Canada say risk hurting workers and the economy.


Poilievre has also called for a closure of the unofficial border crossing at Roxham Road in Quebec, and for action on the Safe Third Country agreement with the U.S.

The two-day visit to Ottawa is Biden’s first since he took office in 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 22, 2023.


The Canadian Press

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